Wolves drop out of first spot in Central Division

By: Stew Kernan - Pack Mentality

 | Mar 09, 2014 - 11:16 PM |
The Wolves lost to North Bay 4-1 Sunday afternoon, and fell from their first place position in the Central Division. Photo by Steve Hardy.

The Wolves lost to North Bay 4-1 Sunday afternoon, and fell from their first place position in the Central Division. Photo by Steve Hardy.

Lost to North Bay Battalion 4-1

The situation couldn’t have been made any clearer; lose and you drop out of first place.

That is what the Wolves faced as they took the short trip along Highway 17 to North Bay Sunday afternoon. Sudbury has enjoyed top spot in the Central Division for much of the season, but their play of late has seen their hold on that position slip away.

A 4-1 loss in North Bay means the Wolves drop to second in the division, one point back of the Battalion. They also fall to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Head Coach Paul Fixter said on this day, they weren’t the best team.

“Despite falling behind 2-0, we had a good first period,” Fixter said. “But in the second period we ran into some penalty trouble, our energy dropped off and they took control of the game. We certainly didn’t generate enough offence."

“You have to give them some credit,” Fixter said. “They are a team that can be stifling and today they did a very good job of that. I don’t think our determination was good enough.”

After the Battalion got out to a 2-0 lead, the Wolves got a boost after a power-play goal from Nick Baptiste at 13:46 to cut the lead in half. But, late in the first period defenceman Trevor Carrick got into a fight with the Battalion’s Ben Thomson, coming to the defence of Captain Kevin Raine who lay on the ice after a Thomson hit. Carrick was assessed seventeen minutes in penalties and was lost to the team until late in second period.

“After a decent first period, we came out flat in the second” Carrick said. “We took some penalties we didn’t need to take and we were short on defense. It didn’t help that I was in the box for seventeen minutes.”

Taking a 2-1 lead into the second period, the Battalion did what they do best; protect a lead. They helped their own cause by scoring goals in both the send and third periods to secure the win.

Despite the loss and giving up the division lead, the Wolves are fully aware there are still three games left in the regular season, including another head-to-head match-up with the Battalion in Sudbury Friday night.

“The beauty of it is that we play them again and we know what to expect,” said Fixter. “We know what North Bay is going to throw at us, so our job is to be ready, be prepared and answer back. We have been punched in the face, now we have to answer back,” he added.

“The positive thing is that we’re back at it against them Friday night,” said Carrick. “We’ve got a week to get ready, re-focus and get ready for that game.”

The Wolves have three games left in their regular season, Friday night at home against North Bay, and on the road in Belleville and Oshawa Saturday and Sunday nights.

As for the Battalion, they are home to face Oshawa Thursday night, play in Sudbury Friday night and then finish at home against Ottawa Sunday afternoon.

Game Notes:

- Wolves scratches...Austin Clapham (healthy), Connor Burgess (healthy), Conor Cummins (upper body) and David Zeppieri (healthy).
- The Battalion out-shot the Wolves 26-23.
- The Wolves power-play was 1-4 while the Battalion went 0-3.
- 3 Stars: 1) Mike Amadio, NB 2) Vincent Praplan, NB 3) Jake Smith, NB.

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