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Friday, May. 25, 2018
Locals advance and GNML confirms award winners
by Randy Pascal

The second round of the Great North Midget League playoffs await for both the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves and the Nickel City Sons. Updates from both quarter-final matchups are featured in the latest edition of Peter Michelutti's End of the Roll Great North Midget League Weekly Report.

A first-round playoff victory by a 5th place team over a 4th place adversary hardly constitutes a shocking upset. Still, that won't make the advancement of the Nickel City Sons into round two of Great North Midget League post-season play any less satisfying for coach Joel Whissell and his crew.

After picking up the split they were looking for on the road the previous weekend, the Sons took care of business on home ice, racking up two more wins over the visiting Timmins Majors and capturing the quarter-final series three games to one.

The Sons rode the strong netminding of both Kevin Labelle and Scott Vaillancourt, posting victories by scores of 3-0 and 3-2 in Levack on Saturday and Sunday.

Finishing four points behind the Majors in regular season play, Nickel City wasted little time taking advantage of the cozy confines of the (Jim) Coady Memorial Arena in game three, building up a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Ryan Punkari and Nathan Shane.

A third-period insurance marker from Punkari provided more than enough breathing room for Labelle, as the draft-eligible puckstopper limited Timmins to just two goals in racking up a pair of playoff wins over the Majors.

With their backs against the wall, the visitors proved more resilient on Sunday, though the opportunistic Sons were leading 3-1 after forty minutes of play.

Goals from Kurtis Clouthier, Matthew Neault and Sheldon Lalonde more than offset a second period tally from Timmins forward Austin Landry, giving the Sons a slight cushion heading to the third and final stanza.

That margin for error proved useful as the Majors threw everything they could at the home side, with only Tyler Romain managing to beat Vaillancourt, who kicked out a number of key saves in the final ten minutes of play.

After the game, the Rayside-Balfour product provided a synopsis of both his own play, as well as the challenges that a team like Timmins can present.

"I'm quick and can read the puck well," acknowledged Vaillancourt, a second-year midget. "They have a really good player in Tyler Romain, and I really have to watch him, to know where he is at all times."

"They move the puck quick on the power-play," added Vaillancourt. "They like to work a tic-tac-toe one-timer. I was coming into the game expecting that."

The challenge ahead will not get any easier for the Sons, who now move on to face the league-leading Soo North Stars. The defending league champions won 32 of their 34 regular season games this year.

As for the Nickel Capital Wolves, a defense-first approach continued to pay dividends as Sudbury swept aside the New Liskeard Cubs in three straight games with a 4-0 win Friday night in the gold mining town.

After a scoreless first period, power-play goals from Niibin Nashkawa and Jackson Gunner in the middle frame gave the visiting Wolves a 2-0 lead, one which they doubled in the third.

Adding two more with the man advantage courtesy of Michael Laidley and Gunner, with his second, Sudbury turned to goalie Jean-Marc Desormeaux, racking up the shutout between the pipes for coach Peter Michelutti Jr and company.

Sudbury now must battle the Kapuskasing Flyers, yet another matchup of teams seperated by just four points in regular season play. That series opens Saturday night (Feb. 23rd) at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, with game two slated for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

In other league news, the GNML confirmed their season-ending award winners for the 2012-2013 campaign, with the following individuals earning accolades for their play this year:

Quinn Trophy - Scoring Leader: Anthony Stefano (Soo North Stars)
Quinn Sports Trophy - MVP: Tyler Peters (North Bay Trappers)
NB Tim Hortons 33's Trophy - Rookie: Brenden Locke (Kapuskasing Flyers)
Kapuskasing Legion 85 Trophy - Goaltender: Jacob Kment (Soo North Stars)
GNML Trophy - Most Gentlemanly: Jaren Bellini (Soo North Stars)
Quinn Sport Trophy - Top Forward: Matt Pinder (Soo North Stars)
NB Farquhar Trophy - Best Defenseman: Jack MacLeod (Soo North Stars)
Russ Farnel Memorial Trophy - Executive: Jerry Young (Nickel City Sons)

First All-Star Team
F - Anthony Stefano (Soo North Stars)
F - Matt Pinder (Soo North Stars)
F - Tyler Peters (North Bay Trappers)
D - Jack MacLeod (Soo North Stars)
D - Brenden Pheasant (Sudbury NC Wolves)
G - Jacob Kment (Soo North Stars)

Second All-Star Team
F - Michael Laidley (Sudbury NC Wolves)
F - Jake Staples (North Bay Trappers)
F - Malcolm Bilton (Nickel City Sons)
D - Brennan Roy (Kapuskasing Flyers)
D - William Wuerch (Kirkland Lake Legion 87's)
G - Andrew Lefebvre (Sudbury NC Wolves)

Finally, in one other GNML note, Sault Ste Marie forward Ryan Vendramin has signed an OHL contract with the Sarnia Sting. The league's second leading scorer this year with 93 points was a 13th round draft pick of the Sting in the 2012 OHL draft.

“Ryan is a bit of a late bloomer who was initially passed over in his first year of eligibility," noted Sarnia GM Jacques Beaulieu in a team-issued release. "Our Northern scout (John Davison) was really impressed with him last season and convinced us to take him with a late round pick."

"It appears to have really paid off, as Ryan has demonstrated this season what a natural goal scorer he is," Beaulieu continued. "He will need to work on his strength and skating this summer, but his hands and shot are both OHL ready.”

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