Sudbury came out attacking in the first period scoring three goals, which was more than enough to push the Wolves past the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-2.
Take away a 10-3 Sault win back on Dec. 2, and Sudbury has owned this rivalry of Highway 17, now taking three of four on the season.
Sudbury Head Coach David Matsos said defence was their key to victory.
“Our defence tonight did such a good job allowing their speed just to stay to the outside and allow us to get numbers back. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in the house and that’s a team that scares you that way,” said Matsos.
“Tonight was a relatively clean game from wire to wire,” he said.
While defence sustained the Wolves throughout the game it was the offence that supplemented the victory.
Sudbury’s three goals in the first period all had something in common, they came from mistakes from the Sault in their own zone.
First was a great job on the forecheck by the Wolves rookie line of David Levin, Dmitry Sokolov and Alan Lyszczarczyk.
Sokolov forced a turnover near the right circle and fed a pass out to David Levin who had all day to make a nifty move beating goalie Joseph Raaymakers under the pad.
It was Levin’s first goal in four games since returning from a broken hand that forced him out of action for a month and a half.
“It felt amazing, I was waiting for it so much and finally the puck got in. Good forecheck by my teammates, they help me a lot. I got my first one and now I’m excited for the next game,” said Levin.
Levin who had been looking for the assist more than shots since his return said he needs to find a mix.
“Coach told me to shoot more actually and that’s what I’m trying to do in practice. I’m a playmaker so I like to make my teammates look good around me, so I’m trying to do my best to score and to make them look good around me,” said Levin.
The second goal came as the Greyhounds provided a “how to” video on bad defence.
Kyle Capobianco skated past his defender and while three Greyhounds players stood and watched, Capobianco went forehand to backhand to beat Raaymakers.
For Capobianco that was his fourth of the year and he finished with two points on the night.
Capobianco credited the forwards for the first period goals.
“It just shows for the forwards they had unbelievable back pressure and caused the turnovers and I think we were able to capitalize on it,” he said.
Less than two minutes later the pressure from the Wolves wouldn’t allow the Greyhounds to clear the zone leading to a goal by Macauley Carson.
It’s was Carson’s third of the year.
Carson is in for some added playing time as he was a healthy scratch the last two games, but with Chad Heffernan shipped to London on Monday for a draft pick, the spot has been opened up for some of the Wolves youth.
The Wolves’ three goals were scored in the first 7:51 on five shots, which spelled the end to Raaymakers’ night.
Brandon Halverson, one of the goalies for the United States at the World Juniors took the crease.
It may have been Halverson, or maybe what was said by the Greyhounds coaching staff that changed the momentum of the game.
“It’s funny in junior hockey, you know that Drew Bannister, coach of the Sault, went in gave a talk to his team and we expected it, so we wanted to go out with a 0-0 mentality for the second period,” said Matsos.
The Soo put the pressure on the Wolves in the second and finally broke through on the power play as a shot by Jack Kopacka beat a screened Troy Timpano.
Then the leading scorer for the Hounds, Blake Speers was left open streaking down the left wing, and he used his speed and strong wrist shot to fire one past the glove of Timpano.
The score sat at 3-2 after two periods.
Period one, went to the Wolves, period two to the Greyhounds, but the third was more even.
The teams traded chances and just when it looked like the Greyhounds would pull even, Mikkel Aagaard gave the Wolves some breathing room on the power play.
Aagaard did just what the Wolves coaching staff had been preaching all season, get to the net and let good things happen.
Aanaard screened Halverson who didn’t see the point shot from Capobianco until it reached his pad, Aagaard was on the door-step ready to pounce on the rebound for his 13th on the season and 17th point in 18 games in a Wolves uniform.
While the second period was a bit of a letdown in play Matsos was positive when it was said and done.
“To me it felt like we were in high gear the first period, then we slowed down to three quarter gear in the second, but then in the third, kind of ramped it up again. I thought we played a real clean third period,” said Matsos.
Sudbury, whose struggles are well documented at home, have now won three of their last four at the Sudbury Arena.
And they also move to 6-4-0-1 since snapping their 17-game losing streak on Dec. 13.
The Wolves will have another Highway 17 rival to deal with this weekend, their next game is Sunday against North Bay.
“Good vibes in the room right now so I think have another good day at practice tomorrow and head into North Bay positive and looking for another win,” said Capobianco.