It came down to the final home game of the regular season but playoff hockey is coming back to Sudbury as the Wolves downed North Bay 5-2.
It came a night after losing in North Bay 4-0 with the Battalion marching on their heels just a point back.
“I wasn’t worried, worried is a wrong choice of words, I wasn’t expecting Thursday night, because the same was at stake Thursday night,” said Head Coach David Matsos. Then tonight they just came possessed, what a combined effort. We asked our beasts to be beasts and they were, I thought Yak(Yakimowicz) was great, Dmitry that’s what he’s here for and he did it in a first class fashion, Sanvido. I actually should stop naming guys because we’ll be here for a while and you’ll just print my roster out, but everybody played a part.”
The Wolves coaching staff didn’t show the game film and stuck to getting the players ready to play Friday.
“I think these guys were determined. We had a funny day this morning, none of us really slept that well obviously and then I re-watched that game and had to live it for a second time around and it was no fun for me. We chose not to show video, we knew what we did wrong last night, we just had to correct little minor things and we did. They did real, real well tonight,” said Matsos.
It was a game that was 1-1 after the first period, 2-2 after the second and saw the Wolves trail twice in the game.
But the team came through and now get a bit of relief.
“That’s a playoff game and for us to win that game and be able to know that we’re in the playoffs now is unbelievable. This team’s deserved it the last two years, the city deserves it so I’m happy and the whole team’s happy,” said C.J. Yakimowicz.
Players like Yakimowicz, Patrick Sanvido and Aiden Jamieson who are all overage players, didn’t want this to be it.
“Honestly going into the game I didn’t want this to be my last home game here,” said Sanvido. “I’m very happy that we’re going to the playoffs that’s for sure.”
Now the focus shifts to Niagara who the Wolves play tomorrow and now sit ahead of by one point in the Eastern Conference standings.
But when we asked Matsos about Niagara and the possibility of playing Mississauga on Tuesday in the final regular season game, he just wanted to soak it all in.
“Are you seriously asking about Saturday already, can’t I just enjoy these one please. This is like a monkey off the back here,” said Matsos. There was a lot of nights that we looked at the score line to see who lost, and a lot of teams helped us out, but we knew our luck was going to run out. We’re going to get on the bus, we’re going to Niagara tonight and we’re going to enjoy this as a team and deservedly so,” said Matsos.
Dmitry Sokolov led the way for the home side with a hat-trick, giving him 47 on the season and his third hat-trick of the year.
With 47 he made recent Wolves history as he passed Nicholas Baptiste who had 45 goals in 2013/14 and tied Michael Sgarbossa who had 47 in 2011/12.
He continues to impress his Pack and a guy who’s been around a lot of goal scorers.
“He’s maybe the purest goal scorer I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with some good guys. He’s up there, I’ve played with Kerby Rychel and Brendan Lemieux last year, a lot of guys that have put up 40 goals before. If Dmitry is back next year I’m sure he’ll go for it again. He’s a very, very dangerous player when he gets the puck on his stick inside the offensive zone and I’m glad I’m not playing against him anymore and if you don’t play him hard he makes you pay that’s for sure,” said Sanvido.
It perhaps was one of Sudbury’s best defensive efforts of the season limiting North Bay to two goals, both on the power play, very few chances and six shots in the second period.
“Your best offence is playing quality defence. Teams got to start playing differently to try and get into your zone and work things, tonight was a defensive gem,” said Matsos.
Here’s how the Wolves were able to pull it off.
The first period got off to a tentative start with just one shot on net through the first three minutes.
But then both teams started to get it rolling and North Bay used a power play to score first.
Adam Thilander roofed a shot from the left slot to give the Troop a 1-0 lead.
The Wolves took less than a minute to respond, as Kyle Capobianco put a shot towards the net from the point, it bounced to the stick of Dmitry Sokolov who was going to the net and he tapped home his 45th of the season.
It stayed at 1-1 after one period with the shots 17-11 for the Wolves.
Daniel Vertiy put the Troop up 2-1 on a tip-in with less than three to play in the period.
Again not long after who else would respond but Sokolov, he fired a wrist shot that beat Julian Sime on the power play with exactly a minute left in the period.
The second period ended with a 2-2 score and shots 33-17 for Sudbury.
From there it was all Sudbury, Patrick Sanvido scored the eventual game winning goal with a point shot, his third of the season.
Ryan Valentini got his 18th of a breakaway where he used his speed and slid the puck five-hole on Julian Sime.
Sokolov added the empty net goal to seal it.
Sokolov finished with four points, Yakimowicz with two assists, Capobianco with two assists and Valentini had a goal and an assist.
Jake McGrath was solid stopping 27 of 29 shots.
Keep an eye out tomorrow for a reaction story to the Wolves breaking the playoff drought with Kyle Capobianco, who is the only player on the current roster to play a playoff game in a Sudbury uniform.