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It's a tight race at the top of the GNML

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Jan 29, 2014 - 4:02 PM |
It's shaping up to be an intriguing post-season for fans of Midget AAA hockey in Northern Ontario.

With four of the six entries in the GNML separated by just six points, predicting a winner on any given night has become something of a challenge.

Action last week would see the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves and Nickel City Sons split a home-and-home two-game set, while the Kapuskasing Flyers chalked up a pair of key victories on the road.

The Wolves enjoyed their most impressive offensive outburst of the season last Wednesday, silencing the Sons 10-4 as Owen Fransen exploded for a five-point outing that included a hat trick.

Single tally contributors included Eric Paquette, Jeff Delange, Rudy Giusti, Ryan Mooney, Jackson Gunner, Anthony Pelletier and D.J. Hancock for the winners, with Joel Grandbois, Jacob Palmerio, Sheldon Lalonde and Alex Guido responding for Nickel City.

The Nickel Caps looked strong from start to finish, scoring four times in both the first and second periods and taking full advantage of the additional skating room afforded at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

Come Sunday in Chelmsford, the tables were turned as Lalonde snapped a 4-4 tie, capitalizing on a power play with 4:12 to play, with Denver Ghent completing his hat trick into an empty net as Nickel City stopped Sudbury 6-4.

Mitchell Payette and Nathan Shane rounded out the scoring for the Sons, with David Ranger, Caleb Boman, Paquette and Pelletier answering in a losing cause.

A total of eight of the 10 goals were scored with the man advantage, in a contest that featured 25 minor penalties assessed. With six regular season games remaining, Sudbury continues to hold the upper hand in the race for first place, presently deadlocked at 34 points with the North Bay Trappers but holding two games in hand.

The two front-runners meet head to head for the final time on Feb. 5 at 7:20 p.m. at the Countryside Arena.

Nickel City, meanwhile, sits dead even with Kapuskasing at 28 points, with both teams left with just three games to play.

The key matchup in that race for third place will occur this Sunday as the Sons host the Flyers at the Chelmsford Arena for a 1:30 p.m. puck drop. Veteran Nickel City forward Denver Ghent remains in the thick of the race for league scoring champion, racking up 42 points to date and sitting just a single point back of league leader Nathaniel McLeod of North Bay.

Following is a recap from the remaining encounters that were played last week:

Jan. 24
Kapuskasing 4 Timmins 3
Looking to create a little separation from the fifth-place Majors, Kapuskasing picked up a huge win on the road, scoring three power-play goals in upending Timmins, with Shadow Reuben netting the game-winning marker.

Jan. 25
Kapuskasing 5 North Bay 4
Trevor Cheff scored the game-winner in a shootout as the Flyers and Trappers battled tooth and nail. Matthew Peterson-Galema had given North Bay a 4-3 lead with 3:45 to play, but Kapuskasing pulled even just 25 seconds later courtesy of a goal from Samuel Lacroix.

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