The experienced Wolves came into the Gatorade Garden City Arena in St. Catharines to do battle with the young Icedogs team on this cold Fall night. Sudbury was not sure what they would find from the home side but learned that the Icedogs would chase them around the rink but Niagara would give up plenty of scoring opportunities. Combine that with the more than adequate goaltending by Frankie Palazzesse and the Wolves would easily skate away with the victory tonight.
The first period saw two similar plays by the Wolves where they were able to walk in from the sideboards in the offensive zone and get quality scoring chances from the slot. The first goal came from the stick rugged forward Baptiste on the powerplay. The second would come from Dunnville’s Matt Schmaltz to give the visitors a 2-0 lead after one period. Shots on goal favoured the visitors 13-11. The teams were even in the face off dot at eleven wins each.
The second period would see the visitors score twice more on Brent Moran. Once was from a wrist shot at the point which deflected off Harris’ skate and went in the top corner blocker side on the frustrated Dogs’ keeper. The next goal came almost five minutes later with 8:42 remaining in the period. This shot was a stiff shot from the point which the goalie didn’t see. Immediately after the goal by Leblanc, Moran started towards the bench as he knew a change in the nets was imminent. The Wolves’ third goal of the period would come less than 20 seconds later from a wrist shot which deflected off a skate again and found the back of the net on the reliever Chris Festarini. A short time later, a solid check on the side boards by Caron in the offensive zone saw Harris require trainer attention – it also broke open a fight between #27 and #7. The ensuing penalties saw 4 on 4 action where the Dogs would have the better scoring chances, but Palazzesse would stand tall. After some back and forth action, the aggressive Dogs pinched in the offensive zone, a 2 on 1 materialized in the opposite direction where Baptiste would draw the defender towards him so that he could set up Connor Crisp for the one timer to put the game way out of reach for the home side. The visitors would go the changeroom with a healthy 6-0 edge and the shots on goal still favoured the Wolves 29-20.
The third period was equally frustrating for the fans as they were eager for the home side to put at least one puck behind Palazzesse. Four minutes into the period, the Dogs put a lot of offensive pressure on the Wolves resulting in a goal mouth scrum, but the puck would remain out of the net and the Dogs would remain stymied. Jesse Graham had a handful of offensive rushes in the third, but didn’t have anything to show for it until very late in the period. Difruscia’s work in the corner allowed Perlini to scoop the puck back to the point where Graham would let a stiff point shot from the high slot for the Dogs lone goal of the night with 2:24 remaining. Final score was 6-1 for the Sudbury Wolves.
A bright spot in this game for the Icedogs was the developing chemistry on the all-rookie forward line. Newly acquired Billy Jenkins showed his speed and adequate puck handling skills tonight while on a line with Jordan Maletta and overager Eric Ming. Maletta was 7/15 in the faceoff dot, while Verhaege was a little better at 9/15. The Wolves had solid defending from their blueliners. Senior players Baptiste(3 pts) and Campagna(2 assists) were steadying influences throughout the game.
The Wolves are in Erie tonight to take on the Otters (who lost at London last night 4-1). The Dogs are on the road in Peterborough Saturday night and then Ottawa on Sunday afternoon to round out their weekend schedule.