Sticks were broken and there was a lot of cursing and fury. The captain wasn’t happy taking a defeat to a team that sat in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings and fighting for its playoff life. He wanted his team to know it. Raine hopes the message was received.
“I came into the room raging and there might be a stick or two broken, but if that’s what it takes to get the message across then that’s what you got to do,” Raine said. “There was a message. I don’t think I’m going to say what that message was or what. It is what it is. We got to make some changes or otherwise we’re not going to make it very far.”
The Wolves were simply outplayed by the IceDogs, a team that entered the game 26 points behind Sudbury. Raine pointed out the previous night’s game against the No. 2 ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League, the Guelph Storm. The Wolves came back from a five-goal hole to win 6-5 in regulation. It took heart and will to pull off that victory. The same effort is required every game, every period and every shift. It was not there against the IceDogs.
“It wasn’t a long time ago when we were in the third period against Guelph and we were having fun and playing hard and playing the right way and everyone had a smile on their face,” Raine said. “It’s a day later and it seems we’ve already forgot because guys aren’t working hard and they didn’t bring their game tonight.
"For whatever reason, we think we are somebody because we were able to pull off a fluke last night. It’s garbage. It’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. I don’t even know what to call it. It’s something we said when we came in the room was guys remember how much fun this is to win and how rewarding it is to work hard and earn your wins and points, earn your next shift.”
It was a lacklustre opening period for Sudbury. Despite outshooting Sudbury by just one shot, 10-to-9, the IceDogs controlled most of the play and took a 1-0 lead into the intermission thanks to a goal by Graham Knott.
Sudbury drew even in the second period when Connor Crisp cashed in a rebound from the crease on the power play to make it 1-1. Sudbury goalie Franky Palazzese stood his ground in the second period and turned away all 18 shots fired his way to keep the Wolves on par with the IceDogs for the third period. Palazzese would finish with 36 saves overall.
Niagara pushed the pace more in the final frame and took a 3-1 lead before the period was half over thanks to a power-play goal Blake Siebenaler and a short-handed goal by Eric Ming.
Sudbury’s Nicholas Baptiste brought the Wolves to within one goal when he squeezed a shot in from the crease past IceDogs goalie Brent Moran to make it 3-2. Niagara refused to allow Sudbury to stage another comeback like they did a day earlier against Guelph. Ming scored a later power-play goal to make to 4-2 and Billy Jenkins added an empty-net goal to salt away a 5-2 win for the IceDogs.
“They threw everything they could at us and we weren’t able to match that,” Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter said. “Unacceptable. It’s not about excuses. This is about finding your passion for the game. We got outworked, outskated. They took it to us. The bottom line is we didn’t bring what we needed tonight to beat a team that is, let's face it, two points out of the playoffs. I warned the team they’re a hungry team over there and they have reason to play, make sure you find yours and they didn’t.”
The Wolves are desperately seeking consistency in their game. It is needed in all facets of the offence and defence. With the post season on the horizon, consistency has to be found and established.
“Consistency has been a problem and not only consistency game to game, but within the game. It’s a concern. You don’t have time to figure it out three weeks from now,” Fixter said.
The Wolves get back into action when they host the Barrie Colts Wednesday, March 5. The Wolves just finished a stretch of six games in eight days. The players are banged up and bruised, but must be prepared to fight through it.
“As much as we need a break, we need to work,” Raine said in preparation for the Wednesday game.
-The game’s three stars were: Graham Knott (first), Connor Crisp (second) and Eric Ming (third).
-Sudbury scratched Craig Duininck, Jeff Corbett, Conor Cummins and David Zeppieri.
-Niagara scratched Alex Protapovich, Ben Hughes and Aaron Haydon.