Sudbury, Ontario is truly an historic Canadian “Hockey City” which has had a major junior hockey team known as either the Sudbury Wolves (or Club Wolves) every season dating back to World War I (roughly around 1920). Many former NHL players were either born in -or played for- Sudbury at one time in their career. Some notable NHL players who played for Sudbury are: current Nashville Predator, Mike Fisher; current Pittsburgh Penguin, Taylor Pyatt (brother of former Spirit winger, Tom Pyatt); current New York Rangers defenseman, Marc Staal; former Red Wing, Ron Duguay; former NHL stars Dave & Dale Hunter, Chris Kontos (father of current Spirit forward, Kristoff Kontos), Michael Peca, and former Red Wing, Pat “the little ball of hate” Verbeek. The city of Saginaw’s hockey history also has many ties to Sudbury, as many former Saginaw Gears, Saginaw Generals, and Saginaw Hawks players once played in, or were from Sudbury. Player’s such as: former Saginaw Gear scoring machine, Scotty Gruhl; former Saginaw Hawk, Mike Hudson; former Saginaw Hawk, Warren Rychel; and former Saginaw Hawk (Sudbury native) Glenn Greenough. Like many of the “old school” OHL cities, Sudbury ranks right up there with the best. The Wolves are currently the second best team (in terms of record 25-13-3-5 for 58 points) in the OHL’s eastern conference.
The Spirit traveled to Sudbury Friday night for their second game against the eastern conference powerhouse in their last four games. The Spirit beat the OHL’s hottest team 4-3 back on January, 18 (4 games ago) at the Dow Event Center. Since that contest, neither team had won a game; which made last night’s game in Sudbury so crucial for both teams. The Spirit were on a two-game slide, falling to Plymouth 7-2 on Monday January, 20 and losing to North Bay 5-1 Thursday evening; while Sudbury had lost three straight games, including their 4-3 loss to Saginaw on January, 18 at the Dow Event Center.
It was a total defensive battle last night, as both teams finished regulation and overtime tied at two goals apiece. Defensemen scored both Saginaw goals during regulation time as the Spirit got back to their winning ways in 2014 with a 3-2 shootout road victory over eastern conference powerhouse, Sudbury Friday night in historic Sudbury, Ontario.
Spirit veteran defenseman, Justin Sefton began his OHL career playing for Sudbury in the 2009-10 season and went on to play 234 games for the Wolves until he was traded to the London Knights last year to help shore up the Knights backend for their Robertson Cup OHL championship run. The 6’-4” 226 lb Thunder Bay, Ontario native scored a total of 11- goals throughout his four seasons in Sudbury; which likely made his game-tying power play goal (Sefton’s tenth of this season for the Spirit) in front of 4,181 Wolves faithful at the Sudbury Community Arena Friday night all the more meaningful.
The Spirit were down 2-1 late in the second period, and looking for some much needed offense -in a very tight, gritty, defensive game- between two of the OHL’s hottest teams in recent weeks. The Spirit caught a break when Sudbury left wing, Dominik Kahun was called for a two-minute hooking penalty at 14:22 of the second period. Thirty-two seconds following Kahun’s penalty, Wolves defenseman, Trevor Carrick was whistled for a cross-checking minor at 14:54, giving the Spirit a 5-on-3 (two-man) advantage. With just five seconds remaining in the Kahun penalty, Sefton took a pass from Spirit left wing, Luke Cairns and sent a rocket from the point past Sudbury tender, Franky Palazzese to tie the game at two goals apiece at the 16:17 mark of the second period. Sefton’s goal would prove to be the final goal of both the regulation and overtime sessions for either team; as the game went to a shootout where the Spirit came away with the much needed 3-2 shootout victory off of shootout goals by Cody Payne (2012 Dallas Stars NHL draft pick via Boston Bruins), Dylan Sadowy, and Blake Clarke. Spirit goalie, Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings third rd draft pick, 80 overall in the 2012 NHL draft) denied 2-of the-4 shooters he faced in the shootout, including the Wolves final shooter, Radek Faksa ( Dallas Stars first rd draft pick, 13 overall in the 2012 NHL draft) to secure the victory for the Spirit. Paterson also turned away 35-of the-37 shots he faced in regulation and OT combined Friday night.
Spirit rookie blueliner, Michael Holmes scored his first career OHL goal to get the Spirit on the board as he tied the game at a goal apiece at 5:39 of the second period. The Spirit will continue their tough road trip as they head to Guelph, Ontario tomorrow for a 6:30 pm game against another top OHL team in Memorial Cup contenders, the Guelph Storm. The Spirit will then head to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont for a very tough inter-division matchup against the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday January, 29 for a 7:07 pm faceoff. The Spirit will finally return to the friendly confines of the Dow Event Center on Friday January, 31 where they will host the Bellville Bulls to close out the month of January. The puck will drop at 7:11 pm.