Hard day of practice ahead following 6-3 home loss to Windsor
That summed up the Wolves feelings. No one was happy, and for good reason. The Wolves and Spitfires were tied 1-1 after the first period. It was a back-and-forth period that gave every indication the game was going to be hotly contested to the final buzzer.
But in the second, the Spitfires took over, scoring four unanswered goals, building up a 5-1 lead and cruising to a 6-3 victory. The defeat highlighted the Wolves’ woes in February, as the team has one win and four losses.
“Each and every one of us has to look in the mirror and re-evaluate what we are doing and figure something out because I don’t like the way we have been playing or the way we played tonight,” Raine said.
“It has to change.”
Sudbury scored the game’s first goal when Connor Crisp cashed in a rebound at 7:17. Windsor tied it late when Sam Povorozniouk scored a short-handed goal with 18 seconds left in the first.
Windsor blew the game wide open in the second, with four straight goals, including two on the power play. Povorozniouk, Brady Vail, Ben Johnson and Remy Giftopoulos tallied for Windsor. Windsor added another power play marker early in the third period when Ryan Foss scored at 2:21.
The Wolves got two late third period goals from Trevor Carrick and Nathan Cull to make the score a little more respectable, but the game was over at that point.
Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter didn’t hold back his disgust for the loss. Fixter expected a lot more out his players, especially given the fact the game was the team’s annual Pink in the Rink event for the Canadian Cancer Society. The event features a special tribute by the players to their mothers and billet “mothers,” who received flowers before the game, as did other family members in attendance.
“We had the appropriate sweaters on tonight. Pink is a soft colour and that is the way we played -- soft,” Fixter said. “We have all these family members here and I would be embarrassed if my mother was in attendance and had to watch that.
“I guess we felt sorry for ourselves. This is a tough business. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, you’re not going to accomplish anything.”
Windsor’s power play rung up three goals on six man-advantage situations. It was the key to the team’s downfall in the game. The kick in the teeth for the Wolves? The Spitfires also burned them for a short-handed goal.
Special teams play for Sudbury was anything but effective.
“They weren’t special for us,” Fixter said. “Look at some of the goals. Our determination to win a battle in the net front was non-existent. You can’t kill a penalty if you’re not going to battle. Our power play? A joke. Windsor played the right way -- chip pucks in, win the battles, do the little things and stick together. They played hard and we played soft.”
After the disastrous second period, Fixter stepped back to see how his team would respond without any verbal prodding. Fixter had no plans to tell them what to do in the final period and wasn’t going to pull goalie Franky Palazzese.
Fixter wanted to see his veterans straighten out the mess.
“I didn’t talk to them going into the third … let them figure it out,” Fixter said. “I was going to let Franky get through it, fight through it. It can’t always be easy for Franky. He’s got to fight through that stuff, too.”
The Wolves players also expected more out of themselves.
“You want to perform every game regardless of who is in the stands,” Raine said. “You have to bring your best every game and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
The Wolves are aware their play has not been at the level it should be over the past few weeks. The Wolves are also aware a lot is at stake and they need to start putting wins together.
“The team made some serious moves at the trade deadline to go for the long run in the playoffs and we haven’t played up to the standard we should be at right now,” Sudbury defender Trevor Carrick said. “Obviously it wasn’t our greatest game and we all know it. We let them score four unanswered goals in the second period. It is unacceptable. Guys are upset. No one is happy.”
Fixter already has a tough day of practice planned for his team on Saturday before they embark on a two-game road trip. The Wolves play Sunday against Niagara and Monday against Mississauga (both 2 p.m. starts). Both are Central Division rivals below the Wolves in the standings. Wins are the only thing that will be acceptable.
“No day off. A hard work day and then travel,” Fixter said. “We need to play harder, compete, care. Show a bit of pride. Play with a lot more determination. It’s gut check time. We are basically in the playoff run. You have to show up every night.”
The game’s three stars were: Sam Povorozniouk (first), Ben Johnson (second) and Brady Vail (third).
The Wolves scratched Jeff Corbett, Dominik Kahun and Brody Silk.
The Spitfires scratched Brendan Johnston, Liam Murray, Steven Janes, Chris Cobham and Aaron Luchuk.