Wolves show composure
Sudbury erases three-goal deficit, falls 4-3 in shootout
The Sudbury Wolves made some youthful mistakes Wednesday night, but showed the kind of resilience that should encourage the hometown faithful.
The Pack fell behind 3-0 early in the second period of a pre-season contest against the North Bay Battalion, but battled back to tie before falling 4-3 in a shootout at Sudbury Community Arena.
Brandon Bastasin, Zach Wilkie and Dawson Baker scored for Sudbury, which outshot North Bay 44-19 over three periods. David Bowen made his debut in goal for the Wolves, stopping 16 shots.
“It’s a good step in the right direction,” Wilkie said. “Our young guys are already buying in, which is really good, and us older guys have to keep being leaders out there and showing them the ropes, but it’s good that we have that resilience and we’re going to carry that into the regular season, for sure.”
Brandon Coe, Simon Rose and Adam McMaster scored for North Bay. McMaster and local product Bradley Chenier added shootout goals and Mat Woroniuk was solid in turning aside 41 shots for the visitors.
“We dug ourselves a hole here, being down 3-0,” Wolves head coach Cory Stillman said. “One-0 after the first was OK, we were outshooting them and changed momentum of the game early, but then to give up two quick goals within 1:30 in the second period is tough, but we battled back and started to play with energy and started to create turnovers and obviously, when you create turnovers, you create chances. We did score three goals and it would have been nice to score a few more.”
The Wolves had a much better start than in their loss to Mississauga last week, outshooting the Battalion 16-6 in the first 20 minutes and creating a handful of quality chances. Bowen announced his arrival with a highlight-reel glove save to pop a crowd that included his father, longtime Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen.
It was North Bay’s Coe who opened the scoring, however, taking advantage of a defensive lapse to convert a nice feed from McMaster at 14:12.
Rose floated a point shot past Bowen just 1:05 into the second frame, then McMaster took advantage of a Sudbury miscue to drive off the wing and lift a shot over Bowen’s shoulder at 1:33.
Bastasin was sent off for checking from behind near the midway mark of the second stanza, but emerged from the sin bin to convert a Drake Pilon feed and cut North Bay’s lead to 3-1 at 11:03. Owen Lane had the other assist.
The Wolves had several more quality scoring chances, including Dawson Baker on a shorthanded two-on-one with Nolan Hutcheson, Anthony Tabak on a breakaway and Lane from pointblank range, but they couldn’t beat Woroniuk before the buzzer.
Wilkie fired a rocket from the point and past Woroniuk just 15 seconds into the third to make it a one-goal game. Owen Gilhula and Anthony Tabak assisted.
One of two overagers on the Sudbury blueline, Wilkie wants to play a key role this season.
“Being an older guy, I have to be a leader back there,” he said. “Whatever the coaches’ plans are, that’s up to them, but I have to do my job and that’s what I plan on being, a hard, physical defenceman and if I can chip in on the offence like I did tonight, that’s great.”
Darian Pilon nearly got a breakaway of his own while coming out of the penalty box, but Woroniuk dove well out of his crease to stop the Wolves forward. North Bay’s goalie couldn’t cover the puck, however, allowing the trailing Baker score the tying marker at 5:52.
Baker was the second Wolves rookie to tally in pre-season, following Hutcheson last week. Stillman was pleased with the effort from his younger players.
“They’re playing well and they’re making it tough on everybody,” Sudbury’s coach said. “You can sit there and ask who stood out ... but overall, to me it becomes a team game. We’re working hard and the young guys are starting to realize the pace of the game keeps getting faster every game we play and every week, and as long as they continue to climb, to get better, they’re going to stay in the lineup.
“If you look, I think you’ll see I have been playing everybody. Everyone has been killing penalties, playing on the power play, four on four, five on five. As a new coaching staff, we want to see who can go in and play in different situations, because when the season starts, not everyone is going to play power play and not everyone is going to play penalty kill, so find your normal line and find what you can do on specialty team ice in order to get on the ice more.”
The Wolves will finish their exhibition schedule with a homeand-home series against the Soo Greyhounds, starting with a game in Sudbury on Friday at 7 p.m. and wrapping up with a visit to Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Stillman expected to ice a different lineup and special teams for the last two pre-season contests. Among the players available will be forward Michael Pezzetta, who returned from the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie camp this week.