BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
Once, twice, three times equals a loss.
The Sudbury Wolves blew three leads against the Plymouth Whalers on Halloween Friday night, en route to a heart-breaking 5-4 loss.
The Wolves came out hitting, with captain Zack Stortini setting the tone early with a couple of huge, crushing hits.
The Wolves got on the board first.
Shandor Alphonso took a pass in the slot from newcomer Matt Maccarone and fired it through the five-hole of Whalers' goalie Ryan Nie at 14:49.
The Whalers didn't bend or break as they replied back moments later on the powerplay.
Gino Pisellini tipped a point shot past a helpless Wolves' goalie Patrick Ehelechner at 18:42 to tie at one a piece.
Stortini continued to be a presence right through to the end of the period, mixing it up with the Whalers at the first period buzzer.
The Wolves got a strange one early in the second to go ahead when, Kyle Martiniuk 's shot slipped through a crowd, bounced off a Whaler defender and found the back of the net at 6:11. The goal was Martiniuk's first career OHL goal.
The Whalers stormed right back. Just 38 seconds later, Whaler's Brent Mahon skated out from the corner and fired a shot that beat Ehelechner on the short side to make it 2-2 at 6:49.
Then minutes later, the Whalers seized the lead, when Nick Vernelli put the puck past Ehelechner to make it 3-2 at 10:02. The goal was a short-handed effort.
Stortini continued to be a physical menace. Just past the midway mark of the second period, Stortini dropped the gloves with Whalers pesky forward Ryan Ramsey.
After some hugging and dancing, Stortini got free and let loose with a couple of huge punches that sent Ramsey to the ice.
The Wolves tied the game on the powerplay minutes later, when Bobby Chaumont corralled a loose puck in the slot and wired it upstairs past Nie at 15:24.
The Wolves jumped ahead in the third period when, Chanse Fitzpatrick roared into the slot, pounced on a loose puck and fired it past Nie to make it 4-3 at 13:49.
The game appeared to be in the bag, just like all the Halloween treats, but unfortunately the bag would rip and it would all fall apart for the Wolves.
The Whalers tied the game when, John Mitchell jumped all over a defensive miscue by the Wolves and put the puck upstairs past a sprawling Ehelechner at 15:28.
The Whalers then sealed the deal when, Pisellini fired home a rebound past Ehelechner (who had made an incredible first save) to make it 5-4 on the powerplay at 15:04.
The Whalers were never in serious trouble again for the rest of the game and skated off the victors.
Head coach and general manager Mike Foligno knows the team didn't get the job done again and costly errors proved to be the downfall.
"We have to learn again from taking bad penalties when the game is on the line and tonight it cost us again," said Foligno.
"It's cost us a number of times this year and we can't go like that anymore. Tonight you really have to blame taking bad penalties at the wrong times, especially when the game is so close."
Foligno had no problems with his latest additions, Maccarone and Rafal Martynowski.
"We liked the game from Maccarone tonight," said Foligno. "Martynowski brought us a lot of spirit and good skill."
With a couple of new faces in the lineup, Foligno is hoping for some quick team bonding.
"You hope the chemistry is going to come together right away, but it takes time for you to figure out who's going to fit well with what other players."
Wolves forward Bobby Chaumont was obviously unimpressed with the result.
"We're losing in the last minutes of games and it's been happen a lot," said Chaumont. "We had them on the ropes for most of the game. Some stupid penalties cost us the game. We have to learn from that."
The Wolves next home game is this Friday against the Toronto St. Michael's Majors. Game time is 7:30 pm.