Writing a weekend roundup when the Sudbury Wolves managed only one point from a three-game weekend requires a minimum three cups of coffee before sitting down, more to calm myself than anything.
We knew coming into this season that things were not going to instantly click. There were so many moving parts that changed over the course of the Ontario Hockey League off season, so to expect immediate drastic changes was unrealistic.
However, 22 games into this season, I’m not seeing the things that were talked about before this season commencing, and it’s starting to show in the faces of these young players. No one likes to go out every night and head to the dressing room after 60 minutes with another loss.
Coming into this season, coach Cory Stillman was brought in to lead this group, and although the record doesn’t indicate it, he has made a significant difference to this hockey club. A guy who comes in who has a long history of coming in to teams to help guide and develop young hockey talent, and has a proven track record of doing just that.
If you doubt it, check out his ring collection, he’s got two pretty impressive Stanley Cup rings. He knew coming into this season there was going to be a learning curve.
I spoke with him prior to the season started when we were filming our ‘Behind the Play’ segments for the Eastlink Wolves hockey broadcasts, and he said: “It takes time. Guys will need to buy into the system. They will need to be held accountable, they will need to disciplined.”
The goal was to be in a playoff spot come the Christmas break. The Wolves find themselves on the outside of the playoff bubble right now, but there is a lot of hockey left to be played, there is no question about that.
Friday night, the Wolves faced off against the Central Division leading Barrie Colts, with Nolan Hutcheson tying the game up in the third, to send it to OT. Macauley Carson was called for slashing in OT, which, considering what had transpired throughout the game, was a weak call, but in OT they will call it every time. The penalty lead to the power-play goal by Ben Hawerchuk, to finish this one off, with the Colts skating out of town with two points before they headed home.
Saturday night, there were signs of resilience from the Wolves, although down all game, would keep trying to claw back into the game. It wasn’t until the third period where this one really got out of hand, with the Wolves losing 7-3. The Wolves were outshot 44-21. Tough to win hockey games when you aren’t getting the puck on net.
Facing off against the Guelph Storm on Sunday afternoon, not much went right. The Wolves lost their rearguard Kyle Rhodes, who has arguably been the best D man for the Pack since the start of the season, to an injury suffered after taking a hard hit in the first period. He is set to be reassessed this week to see how long he will be out of the lineup for.
It’s been a tough season with injuries, with Ryan Valentini expected to miss the season with a shoulder injury, David Levin out with a knee injury for at least another month, Zach Malik, who has been out for almost three weeks, is hoping to be back in another week. Excuses of injuries or not, this team needs to figure out a way to win hockey games.