The Wolves defeated the Barrie Colts 2-1 Thursday at Sudbury Community Arena to climb back in the series. The Colts lead three games to one. Game 5 goes Friday in Barrie.
The Wolves came out determined to make a statement: If they were going down, they were going down swinging, literally. The teams started the first 10 minutes of the game with ferocious play. It was nasty and physical and not for the weak. There were devastating hits. There was plenty of foul language. There was slashing and hacking. Sudbury’s Mathew Campagna and Barrie’s Liam Maaskant dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe in a drawn-out scrap. There was a penalty parade to both boxes.
It was a Sudbury-Barrie playoff game.
Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter expects the same Friday night when these two teams renew the series and hostilities in Barrie.
“They’ve screwed themselves here because they’ve raised the bar and that’s what we expected all along,” Fixter said about his players and their performance. “I say that facetiously, but it was a great effort. That was the effort we need to win and that’s the effort we expected all along. Barrie is going to come back. We've got to match what they’re going to throw at us.”
The Colts are no pushovers. It was going to take nothing less than a passionate performance from the Wolves to stave off elimination. The Wolves delivered when it mattered most. The hope is it isn’t too late. The cold hard truth is they still must win three straight games. A big mountain to climb.
“Emotions were running high, but this is an emotional game,” Fixter said. “You are a lot more effective when you play with emotion and have emotion. We need to keep playing with that emotion.”
Both teams locked horns in the first period and threw discipline out the door. There were 11 penalties called. It bordered on ridiculous. In the chaos though, the Wolves found the back of the net first and grabbed a crucial lead. Trevor Carrick launched a shot on the power play that beat Barrie goalie Mackenzie Blackwood at 4:40.
The second period was more of the same as the players kept up the rough and chippy play and the parade to the sin bins. Once again, the Wolves struck among the mayhem when a turnover left Sudbury forward Nicholas Baptiste racing in to the Barrie zone and dishing off a pass to an open Danny Desrochers, who scored at 10:10 to bulge Sudbury’s lead to 2-0.
Barrie’s Zach Hall scored a power play goal at 12:36 to cut the lead, but it would be as close as the Colts would get.
The third period saw the penalty tally increase as both teams refused to be nice to one another. In total, 29 infractions were called in the game.
“We played a completely different game than we did in the first three games of the series,” Sudbury goalie Franky Palazzese said. “We have to win again tomorrow night. Clearly, it is going to take the same thing we did tonight. We have to do it again.”
Palazzese was key to the win. He was his best when the team needed him the most. In the third periodm with Barrie gaining momentum and the Wolves taking plenty of penalties - four in the period - Palazzese turned away 15 shots by the Colts. He made 31 saves overall.
“Frank Palazzese was outstanding,” Fixter said. “He was a difference-maker tonight.”
The Wolves know they must take the same intensity to Barrie for Game 5. There is no other option. Sudbury forward Nathan Cull was at the forefront of the physical charge. Cull was nothing short of a wrecking ball the entire game and dished out numerous crunching checks.
“We had to bring energy,” Cull said.
The win pumped confidence and life back into the team. The Wolves need to use it.
“We have our backs against the wall and the guys finally realized it and bought in,” Sudbury captain Kevin Raine said. “We come with that same mindset tomorrow and we’ll win.”
Barrie head coach Dale Hawerchuk pointed to a lack of discipline as the main reason for the loss. Barrie took three straight minor penalties in the first three minutes and 39 seconds of the game. Hawerchuk expects a more composed unit on Friday night on home ice with a chance to win the series at stake.
“I thought we were a little undisciplined at the start of the game. We lost momentum right off the bat. We didn’t keep our composure. When you’re killing penalties, you lose momentum and you’re tiring your players out.”
-The three stars were: Franky Palazzese (first), Nick Baptiste (second) and Kevin Raine (third).
-Sudbury scratched Austin Clapham, Jacob Harris, Conor Cummins, David Zeppieri.
-Barrie scratched Mac Clutsam, Joseph Blandisi and Tyson Fawcett.
-Barrie went 1-for-9 on the power play.
-Sudbury went 1-for-6 on the power play.