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Wolves close the gap in Central Division with win over IceDogs

Pack extend winning streak to eight straight
The Sudbury Wolves pulled to within two points of the Central Division-leading Niagara IceDogs thanks to a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon.

The Sudbury Wolves pulled to within two points of the Central Division-leading Niagara IceDogs thanks to a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon.

The Wolves came out flying in the first period and peppered IceDogs goalie Stephen Dhillon with 18 shots in the opening frame, but managed just a single goal.

Jack Thompson put the home team on top five minutes into the game with Quinton Byfield and Blake Murray adding assists.

Los Angeles Kings draft pick Akil Thomas responded for the IceDogs on the power play with just under four minutes remaining in the first, netting his 27th goal of the season. The Wolves outshot the IceDogs by a count of 18-7 in the first period.

Sudbury would carry that strong play into the second period, as Blake Murray put home his 26th goal of the season less than a minute into the middle frame to put the home team back on top.

The teams traded chances throughout the second period, with the Wolves edging the IceDogs in the shot department 15-12. Things got chippy at times as the Central Division's top two teams made it clear that they're not too fond of one another.

In total, the teams racked up nearly 50 minutes in pentalties on the afternoon, with the IceDogs amassing 22 PIM and the Wolves accounting for 26 PIM of their own. 

Shane Bulitka was one of a handful of Wolves players who didn't spend any time in the penalty box Sunday afternoon, and he made the most of it, netting the eventual game-winning goal at the midway point of the third period.

The IceDogs would strike again on the power play, with captain Ben Jones scoring his 32nd goal of the season to pull Niagara to within one a minute later. That was as close as the IceDogs would get, despite pouring on the pressure in the final minutes of the third period.

Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen did not let down the Finnish faithful on hand at the Sudbury Arena Sunday, as he turned aside a number of quality scoring chances by the IceDogs in the third period, and stopped 32 of 34 shots on the game in total, earning first star of the game honours.

The Wolves now sit just two points back of Niagara in the Central Division with one game in hand. With the win, the Wolves have now won eight straight games. 

Sudbury and Niagara will renew acquaintances on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Meridian Centre. The Wolves will have two home games before they take on the IceDogs again, facing off with the North Bay Battalion on Wednesday, before welcoming the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds to the Sudbury Arena on Friday night.