The Sudbury Wolves made a good first impression on team brass in its first exhibition game despite dropping a 6-4 decision to the visiting North Bay Battalion on Sunday at Sudbury Community Arena.
As is the case with all exhibition games, it wasn’t as much about the score as it was about players sending the right message to the coaching staff. The coaches wanted players who compete, and that is what they got Sunday.
“It was good,” Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter said about the overall performance of the team.
The Wolves cycled through all four lines and all six defenders and all showed up to play. There was plenty of the hitting and wide-open play typically seen in exhibition matches.
It was a lot to take in, and Fixter did his best not to blink during the game to get a good first read on players looking to make the cut.
“I thought Trenton Bourque was effective,” Fixter said. “I thought he played a very good game. There are a lot of positives out of the game. We gave up too many shots and too many goals, but we scored and generated. There are things that need to be worked on. We turned the puck over too many times. All in all, pleased.”
One line combination stood out to everyone at the rink -- rookies Michael Pezzetta, Pavel Jenys and Ivan Kashtanov. They combined for two goals and three points and sparked numerous offensive chances with their speed, skill and grit. It wasn’t lost on Fixter.
“Pezzetta was good … Jenys and Kashtanov both score, you got to be happy,” Fixter said.
The Wolves surrendered a couple of goals due to defensive miscues in their own zone. Considering the raw talent on the blueline for the game, Fixter wasn’t bothered by it.
“On the defensive side, we are young. We made some mistakes and I can live with youthful mistakes,” he said.
The Wolves got goals from Jacob Harris, Kashtanov, Connor Burgess and Jenys in the loss. North Bay got two goals from both Kyle Moore and Mike Amadio, and singles from Jared Steege and Brett McKenzie.
“Overall, I thought the team played well,” said Sudbury defenceman Kyle Capobianco. “We have to keep it more simple and not cause as many turnovers.”
Pezzetta, Sudbury’s first-round pick in the 2014 Priority Draft, was glad to get his first taste of OHL hockey, and it didn’t take him long to shake off the nerves and feel at home.
“It’s a lot faster than what I am used to,” he said. “After about five to 10 minutes, I got use to the game speed and felt more comfortable.”
Sudbury started goalie Michael Muzyka for the first half of the game and then allowed Samuel Tanguay to finish off the game. Both showed promise, but have to do more.
“I thought Mike was OK,” Fixter said. “I thought Tanguay might have been a bit better. We have three goalies battling for an opening, so somebody has to take charge.”
The Wolves play their next exhibition game on Monday in North Bay. Game time is 2 p.m.
-- Sudbury scratched Jack Moylan, Troy Timpano, Jeff Corbett, Nick Baptiste, Evan de Haan, Khadyn Butterfly, Nathan Pancel and Brody Silk.
-- North Bay scratched Marcus McIvor, Miles Liberati, Mike Baird, Alex Henriksson, Jamie Lewis and Brendan Miller.
-- North Bay outshot Sudbury 52-41.
-- Sudbury’s Kyle Capobianco finished with two assists.
-- The Wolves lost the services of defenceman Conor Cummins in the second period when he went down hard during a play. His status was unclear after the game.