Playing at home in front of nearly 5,000 fans, the Sudbury Wolves grabbed the early advantage in their first round playoff series Friday night, downing the Mississauga Steelheads 5-2.
Scoring for the Wolves in game one of the OHL playoffs were Nolan Hutcheson, Shane Bulitka and Blake Murray. Final shots on goal were 32-31 in favour of Sudbury.
Hutcheson opened the scoring just more than three minutes into the first period, snapping a beautiful shot from the right wing, beating Steelheads' goalie Jacob Ingham. Not long after, Hutcheson scored his second of the night off a perfect feed by rookie forward Quinton Byfield.
The first overall pick in the OHL draft, Byfield made a big impression in his freshman year, delivering 29 goals, 32 assists and coming second in overall points behind Adam Ruzicka.
Another strong performance by Wolves star goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen kept Sudbury up 2-0 moving into the second period. Luukkonen reached star status this year, setting the team record for wins in a season at 34 and the most shutouts of a season, with six. Luukkonen also tied the franchise high for shutouts, sharing the title with former Wolves goalies Mike Smith, Patrick Ehelechner and Franky Palazzese.
Early in the second, Murray brought the Wolves lead to three off an assist by Owen Robinson and Peter Stratis. Murray made waves of his own this season, potting 30 goals and 20 assists in his second year with the Wolves.
Sudbury sealed the deal in third, with another two goals by the boys in blue. Hutcheson scored his third of the night working off a rebound shot by Byfield, earning the young athlete his first OHL hat trick. Cutting across the Steelheads blue line, Bultika launched one past Ingham, to bring Sudbury their fifth and final goal of the night.
The Steelheads scored two in the final frame, but ultimately fell by a final score of 5-2.
Game two against the Steelheads starts at 7:05 p.m. this evening at Sudbury Arena.