The Ontario champions bounced the Moncton Rockets 5-1 to even their record at a win and a loss at the 2014 Esso Cup in Stoney Creek. Sudbury had dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Weyburn Gold Wings on opening day, while Moncton was spanked 8-1 at the hands of the host Stoney Creek Sabres.
The Lady Wolves got the momentum going early as Karli Shell twice displayed her deft scoring touch in tight. Taking advantage of a loose puck off to the side of the net, Shell broke the ice by bouncing a shot off the goal pad of Rockets' netminder Jordan Carrier and in.
Less than three minutes later, Shell was back at it on the power play, lifting a rebound up and over Carrier with the goaltender sprawled out due to the initial save. Looking to put the game out of reach in the second, Sudbury outshot Moncton 18-1 but could not get another puck past Carrier, misfiring on several good scoring chances.
It would take a lucky break to help get the Lady Wolves untracked offensively. With a Moncton defender carrying the puck in front of Carrier, Sudbury forward Victoria Pitawanakwat alertly swatted at the puck, deflecting it off the Rockets' stick and up and over the shoulder of a surprised puckstopper.
The goal seemed to have a ripple effect through the lineup as the Lady Wolves then received goals from Taylor McGaughey and Kennedy Lanktree, on a setup from Shell, increasing the lead to 5-0.
Making her first start of the tournament, Sudbury goalie Danika Lefrancois was solid, especially with the score at 2-0 or less, turning aside 18 straight shots before she was beaten by Hayley Hallihan with a shot that went off the skate of defenceman Deidre Debassige.
"Coming off of a loss last night, we knew that we had to come out strong and hard," said Sudbury co-captain Shelby Small. "The game plan really didn’t change much from normal."
As for the young lady who accounted for the first three goals her team would score at the 2014 Esso Cup, her success came part and parcel of following her own advice.
"A big thing was simply going to the net, because there are going to be rebounds," Shell said. "And also to make sure our sticks are on the ice. We knew that we had to keep firing shots at them, and that the bounces would come."
While Shell was displaying her ability to cash in while the play is tight to the net, there was no doubt the prettiest goal of the game came courtesy of her back-door cross-ice feed to Lanktree, who one-timed it perfectly on the power play late in the third period.
"I actually like play-making better," said Shell. "I see the ice really well. I like setting people up, it looks just as good as scoring goals."
The Lady Wolves will now take their 1-1 record into a big game against Stoney Creek, the same team they faced in the provincial final.
The Sabres put themselves in great shape to secure one of four semifinal berths thanks to a 3-0 win on Monday over the Fraser Valley Phantoms, while Weyburn also improved to 2-0 thanks to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Thunder.
"It will be really important for us to come out strong tomorrow, have our legs going, our hands going," said Small. "It would be ideal to get that first goal. We don’t really want to give them any room to breathe."
Sudbury will close out round-robin play with games against Fraser Valley on Wednesday and Edmonton on Thursday. Semifinal play is set for Friday, with the medal games slated for Saturday.