By the stick of Ryan Valentini, the Sudbury Wolves won back to back games on home ice for the first time this season.
It was a game that the crowd was into, there was a combined 96 shots on goal and the Wolves treated those fans to free hockey beating the North Bay Battalion 3-2.
Around two minutes into the extra period, Ryan Valentini, who came over in a trade from London at the beginning of December, found himself on a two on one with Danny Desrochers.
There was a loud "ping", and Valentini’s wrist shot went top corner, post and in, for the win.
“Right off the draw I kind of took off, saw Murph(Patrick Murphy) had the puck and trust him with the puck so, I knew he was going to get around the net and I just wanted to be open for him when he did.”
“I saw Danny(Desrochers) on the two on one, faked the pass to him and just shot it without looking and it went in thankfully,” said Valentini.
It was his fourth of the season all coming with the Wolves.
“That’s what we brought Valentini in to do, he’s a skilled guy. Three on three he excels out there, he’s got real good speed, with that much time and space. You just put him out there hoping he’s going to get it done for you and he did,” said Wolves Head Coach David Matsos.
Valentini has now scored goals in three straight games.
“My confidence is back, anytime you can score a goal and help contribute to a win is awesome so it feels good,” said Valentini.
The Wolves have won back to back games for just the third time this season, and this victory was in large part because of the play between the pipes.
Zack Bowman, who was getting his first start since New Years Eve, made key saves throughout the game stopping 49 of 51 shots.
“He was good, when we weren’t so good in front of him he was doing a very good job of killing plays for us, which allowed us to get changes and match-ups,” said Matsos.
“I felt pretty comfortable, I thought I was controlling my rebounds very well tonight, putting them in the mesh or just covering it up not giving them any opportunities. They got a lot of shots but it was a lot of shots that I could handle,” said Bowman.
The beginning of the first period looked like it could be a long night for Sudbury, but midway through the period Sudbury found a spark.
“The last nine minutes, nine and half of the first we really found our legs, we really changed the pace of our game completely,” said Matsos.
“As a result I just thought as the game went on we got better, just kept getting our legs got under us, we managed to stay physical, we were generating more quality scoring chances. So I was happy the way the game played out for the last 50 minutes,” said Matsos.
While neither team scored, both teams were on the verge, if not for some big saves by both goalies.
Bowman faced 24 shots in the opening period, but to him that’s not enough.
“24 shots is what some goalies would get in a whole game. I love it though, I love getting all the shots, it gets me all pumped up actually in the net, I always beg for more there,” said Bowman.
In the second period the action began.
Ben Garagan got in the act for the second straight game.
The North Bay native cleared the Sudbury zone and chipped a pass through two Battalion players right onto the stick of Dmitry Sokolov who walked in all alone and beat Jake Smith glove side for his 15th of the year.
Brett McKenzie answered for the Battalion with a nice individual effort, as he carried the puck out from the right corner around a Wolves player and beat Zack Bowman.
The wolves re-took the lead as Brady Pataki scored off a tipped shot for the second straight game.
Cole Mayo fired a shot from the point and Pataki, who was cutting to the net, got his stick on the puck deflecting it over the shoulder of Jake Smith.
It was Pataki’s third of the year with assists going to Cole Mayo and Chad Heffernan.
The second ended with the Wolves leading 2-1.
But that lead did not last for long as a shot from the left corner of the Wolves zone by Cam Dineen squeaked between the post and Zack Bowman’s pad to tie the game up.
The shots were blazing for the rest of the third period, but nothing came of it so the game went to overtime where Valentini sealed the deal for Sudbury.
After the game Matsos was clear that even though they have had some impressive wins against playoff teams, they need to stay grounded and focused.
“You know that old saying you can’t get too high on the high’s or too low on the low’s. We tried to keep our guys high when things were not going very well, and we don’t want them walking in the clouds right now. We got to keep them grounded and just keep pushing, this is one of those things that if you can get on a run and the teams ahead of you do go on a bit of a skid like we did. You just never know, there’s still lots and lots of points on the board,” said Matsos.
And that may just be because they have a tall order on Sunday, as the Wolves welcome the Erie Otters on Sunday afternoon.
The Otters are the best team in the league with 65 points and just five losses all year.
One of those loses came to the Wolves on Dec. 18, and another came on Thursday to the North Bay Battalion.
“We’re going to work with them, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out and rely on our work ethic to try and limit their grade A’s, limit their shots against. But we’ll get that pre-scout going tomorrow, but right now we’re excited to get our second one at home.