By John Langdon
Just five days after the Sudbury Wolves were handed a 5-4 road loss at the hands of the Oshawa Generals, the two clubs collided for the second time in a week on Friday night when the Wolves hosted the Generals in a hard-fought contest.
After battling for sixty minutes and being outshot 46-24, the Wolves got a taste of revenge by edging the Generals 6-5 in front of 3, 490 fans at Sudbury Community Arena.
Wolves Head Coach Trent Cull commented on his team’s hard-fought win in a game where the momentum was up and down.
“We knew what we had to do and then we found some ways to not do what we had to do, but we came out with a great penalty kill at the end and then found a way to win,” Cull said.
Michael Sgarbossa registered two goals for Sudbury and goaltender Alain Valiquette backstopped the Wolves to victory by making 41 saves.
Oshawa was lead by forward Christian Thomas who put on a phenomenal individual performance by netting 4 goals in the loss.
“Four goals, it’s always nice,” Thomas said. “I had a lot of chances today. Every opportunity I have I just try to score and it worked out today.”
Thomas, the son of former NHL player Steve Thomas, now has 41 goals this season and doesn’t have any plans of slowing down.
“Beginning of the year, my goal was always 50 (goals),” the New York Rangers prospect said. “Those four goals really helps out.”
Despite the individual display, Thomas focused on the game’s final result.
“First ten minutes, we were down 3-0. That really didn’t help us,” he said. “We got some bad bounces, took some penalties and they were really good on the power play. But you know what? Next time, we gotta get these guys.” The Oshawa forward added.
The Wolves opened the scoring at 6:28 of the first period when defenceman Ryan Hanes executed a beautiful display of puck carrying as the veteran blueliner went coast-to-coast, circled the Oshawa net and placed a perfect pass to Andrey Kuchin who buried a shot passed netminder Kevin Bailie.
Hanes, who recorded one goal and one assist in the win, talked about setting up the game’s opening goal.
“I just tried to get around the guy and I noticed Kuchin coming in the slot,” Hanes said. “So, I just decided to throw it out and he made a great shot and put it into the net.”
After a pair of power play goals from Sgarbossa chased Bailie from the Generals net, Oshawa climbed back into the game with two power play goals of their own.
First, Thomas buried his first of the night with a bullet one-timer from the point that gave Valiquette little chance of stopping. Then just 42 seconds later, a shot from Andy Andreoff found it’s way into the Sudbury net to cut the Wolves lead to 3-2.
Early into the second stanza, the Wolves powerplay struck for the third time after Hanes blasted a slap shot past the left pad of Peter Di Salvo, who replaced Bailie midway through the first period.
Following the Hanes power play marker, the Generals forecheck increased, which yielded several scoring chances, including a great opportunity for Thomas at 8:38 of the middle frame, but Valiquette stood tall to maintain the two goal lead.
With the momentum shifting, the Wolves netminder was called for delay of game after firing the puck over the glass in his own zone. However, Sudbury’s penalty killing unit made the best of the situation when a speedy Greg Jambrosich jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, walked in all alone and beat Di Salvo on a shorthanded breakaway to put the Wolves ahead 5-2.
After Thomas buried his second of the night, the Generals pressure mounted as the visiting team relentlessly hammered pucks on the Sudbury net during a 5-on-3 power play in the final minute of the period. Valiquette held off the attack with some stellar goaltending.
The Wolves looked to bounce back heading into the third, after being outshot 17-6 in the middle frame, and Josh Leivo got his team off to the right start when he buried his seventh goal of the season on a pass from Mike Lomas. The goal came at 4:17 of the third and it seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing for Sudbury for the remainder of the game.
Oshawa’s leading goal scorer had other things in mind, however, as Thomas completed the hat-trick not even two minutes later by grabbing his own rebound off of Hanes’ skate and fired home a shot to pull the Generals within two goals.
Then just 47 seconds later, the New York Rangers 2nd round draft pick buried his fourth goal of the game with a laser wrist shot beautifully placed in the top-right corner past Valiquette’s glove to make it a 6-5 game.
As the Generals pressed for the equalizer, the Oshawa bench was called for too many men in the final minute of play after the extra man hopped onto the ice before Di Salvo could get to the bench, squashing the visitors chances of tying the game.
The win snapped the Wolves two game losing streak and pulls them within 3 points of sixth seeded Brampton in the OHL Eastern Conference Standings.
The Wolves will look to build off their win when they return to action on Saturday night when they host the Peterborough Petes at Sudbury Community Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.