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Wolves clip Spitfires on late goal by David Goyette

Windsor the top team in the OHL’s Western Conference with a record of 28-11-3-1

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A packed Sudbury Community Arena, a deafening “Go Wolves Go” chant, a human wave and two points for the home team – sounds like a pretty good Friday night in Nickelodeon.

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David Goyette’s second of the game and 29th of the season with just 2:24 left in regulation gave the Sudbury Wolves a terrific 3-2 win over the Windsor Spitfires, the OHL’s top team in the Western Conference with a record 28: 11. 3-1

The main draw for some fans was Shane Wright, Windsor’s prized trade-deadline acquisition, who vacationed in Canadian living rooms and won gold at the World Junior Championships. Unfortunately, the Canadian captain and Seattle Kraken candidate was sidelined with a lower body injury and left the line-up. The game featured former Wolves captain Jacob Holmes, who was dealt out by Sudbury Windsor for a package of draft picks on deadline day.

Wolves harnessed the energy of a standing-room crowd to dominate the first period, overtaking the Spits 15-6 and taking a 2-0 lead after goals from Goyette and Chase Coughlan.

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Ethan Larmand
Ethan Larmand, center, of the Sudbury Wolves, looks for a rebound in front of Joey Costanzo, of the Windsor Spitfires, during OHL action at the Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, Ontario. on Friday January 27, 2023. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network Photo by John Lappa /John Lappa/Sudbury Star

Windsor shot away with a goal in the second and another in the third to equalize, setting up Goyette’s late-game exploits.

It was exactly the kind of outing that Wolves manager Derek MacKenzie has wanted to see from his team since arriving in November, where they find a way to win a close one.

“I was proud of the boys, I think it shows a bit of the growth of our hockey team after that tough loss in North Bay (last Sunday) where I thought the game could have gone either way,” MacKenzie said after the Win against Windsor just moments before boarding the team bus for a road trip.

“These guys just got into work this week and they wanted to do something extra and spend a lot of time on the ice just working on the little details of the game. It really paid off for us tonight. We’ve been talking about it all year, you know, just being comfortable in these games.”

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Wolves receive contributions from many places in the lineup due to the absence of front-line strikers Quentin Musty and Kocha Delic. Veteran winger Marc Boudreau didn’t score a point on Friday but was a force all night and Coughlan’s third goal of the season was huge.

MacKenzie thinks the 17-year-old, who was acquired from Guelph Storm, and 18-year-old linemate Nicholas Yearwood, the ex-London Knight, fit right into the line-up.

“By the deadline we only wanted competitive guys that we could rely on,” he said. “You know, guys who just wanted to be team guys and don’t necessarily care about who gets what point or how much ice time I have, they only care about two points.

“Right now, those two points are very important.”

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Nathan Villeneuve
Nathan Villeneuve, left, of the Sudbury Wolves, attempts to run past Jacob Holmes of the Windsor Spitfires during OHL action at Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, Ontario. on Friday January 27, 2023. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network Photo by John Lappa /John Lappa/Sudbury Star

Wolves remain in a dogfight to stay ahead of Oshawa for last place in the playoffs and attempt to climb past eighth place overall. The Generals beat the Frontenacs on Friday night, keeping Sudbury three points ahead of Oshawa and temporarily putting them just a point behind Hamilton and three behind Kingston.

It was a terrific start for Wolves on Friday as they were thrilled with the release of the puck, firing 15 shots at Spitfires goalie Joey Costanzo in the early stages and going 2-0 into the dressing room.

Goyette’s first of two put the Wolves on the board early when he buried his own rebound at the 2:07 mark. Evan Konyen made a nice backhand cross crease pass to take it to Goyette for his 28th of the season. Jakub Chromiak had the extra assist.

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Coughlan and Yearwood then combined for a 2-0 at 13:42 as Coughlan jammed out of the crease in his third of the season. Matthew Mania drew the second assist.

It was a better second half for the Spitfires who would score the only two goals in the middle stanza. However, only one goal counted. The visitors appeared to be 2-1 after 4:02 but after a quick check the officials waved it off and determined the game was offside.

Windsor didn’t wait long to get it back as Alex Christopoulos buried one on the power play at 8:43, with assists for Liam Greentree and Matthew Maggio.

Nicholas Yearwood
Nicholas Yearwood, left, of the Sudbury Wolves, and James Jodoin, right, of the Windsor Spitfires chase the puck during OHL action at the Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, Ontario. on Friday January 27, 2023. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network Photo by John Lappa /John Lappa/Sudbury Star

Aidan Castle took the air out of the building 6:54 into the third, leveling the game 2-2, but Goyette would eventually break the deadlock at 17:36 with his second of the game and 29th of the season. Matthew Mania did a great job of keeping the puck at the blue line and played a quick pass to Nathan Villeneuve who spotted Goyette in the slot and the Wolves leading scorer found the back of the net.

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Kevyn Brassard stopped 23 of 25 for Wolves, including a number of quality chances, some of which came in the dying seconds when Windsor’s net went empty.

MacKenzie was delighted with the surplus netminder acquired by the QMJHL in time on interleague waivers.

“He was great too,” said the bank boss, expressing his confidence in the experienced puckstopper. “Just another kid who walked in, put his head down, wanted to prove himself, and you know, I think he did. We have to make him comfortable in our system and it would be nice to give him a little more walking support sometimes. I think our team is capable of that and I think obviously we’re missing some pretty big pieces up front.

“We know it’s going to have to be a stingy game that we’re going to win and this is a great hockey team and it should give us some confidence that we can play with anyone.”

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It’s a rare western weekend for the Wolves, who headed out after Friday’s game to attend the Owen Sound Attack on Saturday night and the Guelph Storm on Sunday afternoon. It won’t be easy, but it’s an opportunity to get back up to the .500 mark if they succeed in the south. Friday’s win improved Sudbury’s record of the season to 18-19-3-2.

game notes

The Wolves wore limited edition indigenous designed jerseys for Friday’s game, which will be auctioned off to support indigenous youth in sports and mental well-being. There was a special ceremony before the game which ended with former Wolves captain Jacob Holmes performing the ceremonial face-off for Windsor. Wolves also produced a nice tribute video for Holmes, which was shown midway through the first period.

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