While the Sudbury Wolves are having a tough time getting victories, two of the newest players had no issues coming to a last place team.
Mikkel Aagaard and Zach Wilkie were acquired in a trade with the Niagara Ice Dogs late last month.
They came from a team that got off to a slow start, but managed to turn things around and quickly re-joined the hunt for the upper spots of the OHL’s Eastern Conference.
As the IceDogs’ fortunes turned around, Aagaard and Wilkie were traded to the Wolves, a team mired in a multi-game losing streak. However, instead of complaining, both players welcomed the opportunity to be a part of a team where they could play a bigger role than they were given in Niagara.
Call it a second chance.
Wolves GM Barclay Branch was thrilled to add Aagaard and Wilkie to his struggling hockey team.
“Aagaard has an abundance of experience, as well as leadership qualities,” said Branch.
“Wilkie is an 18-year-old defenceman that not only fits into what we’re doing now, but also moving forward, next year and possibly the year after.
“It’s hard to find good quality 18-year-old defenceman in the OHL and we feel like we got one in this deal.”
Both players were eager to take on more responsibility and have not disappointed.
Aagaard has come as advertised with the skill he had shown flashes of while an Ice Dog.
In five games since joining the Wolves, Aagaard has three goals and an assist, working out to almost to a point-a-game production. Almost as important are the chances he is generating, chances it’s hoped will help the Wolves offence get out of the rut it’s been in for the last few weeks.
Wilkie has shown flare at both ends of the rink.
He’s has been good in his own end, posting a +2 in his first five games in a Wolves jersey. That is more than respectable, and provides a steadying influence for a defence that has struggled all season.
Wilkie has also shown he’s not afraid to get involved offensively and has logged some time quarterbacking the power play.
Both players have embraced their new roles and have shown they can handle the extra responsibilities. It’s OK to say you deserve a bigger role, but it’s something else to back it up on the ice.
Yes, it’s true the addition of Aagaard and Wilkie have not resulted in any wins since they arrived, but there has been a different look to the team.
Aside from the recent 10-3 loss in Sault Ste Marie, the Wolves worked hard in the other four games since the newcomers were brought in — the team could very easily have won all four.
In a way, the Wolves gave Aagaard and Wilkie a second chance at the OHL. With their consistency, the transplanted IceDogs might eventually give the Wolves 2015-16 season a second chance, too — at respectability.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the news director at KiSS 105.3 and Q92.