By John Langdon
After drawing first blood in their playoff opener, the Sudbury Wolves have put the Ottawa 67′s in a hole by defeating them 5-3 on Monday night and taking a 2-0 series lead in the OHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Wolves were lead by Andrei Kuchin who earned the first star selection after recording 2 goals and 1 assist in the win.
The Russian-born forward now has 8 points in two games and leads the league with 5 goals in the playoffs.
“I feel amazing today,” Kuchin said. “I’m so happy right now.”
Kuchin, along with linemates Michael Sgarbossa and Joshua Leivo continued their offensive production on Monday by generating a combined three goals and eight points for Sudbury. The trio have combined for 10 goals and 24 points in two games this post-season.
“We’re taking what Ottawa is giving us,” Sgarbossa said. “We’re playing well down low as a unit, we’re cycling, we’re going good off the rush, and we want to keep it rolling.”
Ottawa goaltender Petr Mrazek was phenomenal between the pipes as the Czech netminder made 48 saves, including several spectacular stops to keep his team alive.
“We saw tonight why their goalie is one of the best in the league,” Wolves Head coach Trent Cull said. “He’s a real solid goalie. He made some huge saves for them.”
The 67′s often found themselves quarantined within the defensive zone at the hands of the Wolves’ relentless attack as Sudbury outshot Ottawa 53-18 throughout the contest.
“As a team, I liked our overall performance,” Cull added. “But I liked our team defence as well. There’s always room for improvement, but we got pucks to the net and we got rewarded for it.”
Wolves defenceman Charlie Dodero scored the game-winning goal on a penalty shot after being held on a shorthanded breakaway. The Illinois native made no mistake as he ripped a quick wrist shot past the left side of Mrazek causing an explosion from the 3, 960 fans in attendance at Sudbury Community Arena.
Ottawa tallied two shorthanded goals in the game. OHL regular season scoring leader Tyler Toffoli registered his third goal of the post-season by beating Wolves goaltender Alain Valiquette on a shorthanded breakaway and later set-up Marc Zanetti on another shorthanded opportunity.
The Wolves will look to take a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series when they host the 67′s in game #3 Tuesday night at Sudbury Community Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7:30pm.