Bolstering the local talent pool with a few key additions provided an immediate payoff for the Sudbury Minor Midget AA Wolves.
Coach Chris McInnis and company opened their 2014-2015 schedule with a four-game exhibition set in the nation's capital last weekend, winning three of their four encounters. A big part of those victories came courtesy of Timmins native Karter Renouf, as the natural goal scorer accounted for more than half of his team's offensive production.
The Minor Midget Wolves opened with a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Jr. 67's, with Renouf netting a hat trick and Hearst native Jacy Fillion rounding out the scoring.
With the Kingston Frontenacs dropping out of the weekend mini-series, the Wolves played the Ottawa Senators in back-to-back games on Saturday, sweeping the set by scores of 4-2 and 2-1.
Renouf and Fillion were joined by Brendon Clavelle and Bradley Chenier on the scoresheet in Game 2, with Renouf and Jacob Burton finding the back of the net in Game 3.
The only Sudbury loss would come Sunday at the hands of the Ottawa Valley Titans, as the Wolves dropped a 4-1 decision. Renouf maintained his hot hand, responsible for the only goal for the locals.
"It was a good start to our season," said McInnis on Monday. "We feel good about where we are at right now, this early in the season."
With the team on the ice for just a couple of weeks to date, McInnis and staff understand that the "Xs" and "Os" will come in due time.
"We were really just stressing the compete level, because we're still continuing to improve at implementing our concepts and philosophies on the ice," said McInnis. "It's early in the season, so there is a big learning curve."
Still, there is an awareness of where practices are likely to focus leading into September.
"We would like to continue working on our transition game," he said. "We think that we can be a quick transition team from defence to offence."
While McInnis has been a part of the Nickel City AAA Sons coaching staff these past few years, he acknowledged that the awareness of the overall talent at his disposal this year was strong, over and above the very familiar faces that he had already worked with day in and day out.
"We have a good grasp on what each player was capable of doing," he said.
"Obviously, Karter Renouf had a great weekend putting the puck in the net for us."
The Minor Midget Wolves now prepare for tournament play on Sept. 5-7, at the seventh annual Toronto Titans International Minor Midget Prospect Tournament.
They will do so likely down a couple of bodies. A broken wrist will sideline forward Alex Rodrigue for about six weeks, while an apparent deep Charley-horse is likely to shelve Sudbury winger Félix Coté for a couple of weeks.
A total of 55 teams will be on hand for the Titans tournament, including all four that took part in the exhibition matchups in Ottawa, as well as the Soo Greyhounds and all of the top entries from across Ontario.
The Sudbury Minor Midget AA Wolves 2014-2015 roster includes goaltenders Andrew Rocha and Justin Richer, and skaters Ethan Lavallee, Alex Laliberté, Alex Rodrigue, Karter Renouf, Keegan Gillis-McAnulty, Brendon Clavelle,Daniel Walker, Bradley Chenier, Jacob Burton, Joel Huffman, Jacy Fillion, Ryan O'Bonsawin, Nicholas Chokan, Felix Coté and Glenn Therrien.
Team staff is comprised of head coach Chris McInnis, assistant coaches Shawn Sirman, Shawn Pajuluoma and Josée Belanger, trainers Mat Paradis and Jayme Richer, and co-managers Lisa and Jack O'Bonsaawin.