By Keith Lacey
By the time the Sudbury Wolves finish their current homestand next weekend, they could be a hockey team with a winning record.
Anyone willing to bet a month ago would have had many takers willing to bet big dollars against that scenario ever happening this season.
Following their best weekend of the season - a home ice win over a powerful St. Mike's squad and road wins over Barrie (ranked fifth in Canada) and the hapless Mississauga Ice Dogs - the Wolves have all but assured themselves a playoff spot and they're turning a lot of heads with their outstanding play.
After Tuesday's contest against the Soo Greyhounds, the Wolves finish the longest homestand of the season with games against Barrie (Friday), Belleville and Barrie once again.
A team that was struggling for a playoff spot, has now won six of their past seven (not including Tuesday's game) and moved their record to a very respectable 21-24-5-3, good enough for 50 points and sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Bert Templeton says the winning streak and turnaround are all about a very young team seizing the moment and playing smart hockey.
"We're playing very well, very well," said the coach. "This past weekend, especially with the wins in Barrie and Mississauga where we were short on bodies, the kids really showed me something.
"They put in a tremendous effort to win those games."
Serious shoulder injuries to overage veteran and leading scorer Shawn Snider and tough Sudbury lad Trevor Blanchard, who is third in team scoring, are no excuse for the outstanding play to come to a screeching halt, said Templeton.
"From out standpoint, these injuries are simply an opportunity for some of the younger guys to step in and do a job," he said.
Snider and Blanchard will both be seeing specialists and will be out a minimum of two weeks and maybe lost until playoff time six weeks from now.