An element of prophecy for Guy Blanchard and the Trappers
by Randy Pascal
A short Christmas break and then gearing up for the playoffs as we catch up with the league leaders in this latest edition of Peter Michelutti's
End of the Roll GNML Weekly Report.
Back on October 10th, the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves were firing on all cylinders, taking it to their Great North Midget League rivals
to the tune of an 8-2 win, on home ice, over the North Bay Major Midget Trappers.
Since that time, the Trappers have twice blanked the Caps (3-0 on Oct. 17th and 5-0 on Nov. 24th) before dropping a 2-1 overtime decision in mid-December,
leading up to their final clash of 2017 on December 19th in Sudbury.
Prior to this match, North Bay head coach Guy Blanchard reflected on some of the prior battles. "Our goaltenders would say that they did not
have their best game (on October 10th)," stated the long-time North Bay hockey man.
"To be honest, I thought we played better that game than we did on Saturday, and Saturday, we ended up stealing a point. They're a good team, we're a good
team. If both teams don't show up to play, there are going to be some lopsided scores."
Blanchard could not have been more prophetic, as the Trappers claimed a measure of retribution, scoring five unanswered second period goals en route to
a 10-4 win over the Nickel Capital Wolves.
An extremely balanced North Bay attack featured Sam Garagan and Nick Davis with two goals apiece, joined on the scoresheet by Matt
Hardwick, Ian Denomme, Ryan Mills, Jacob Peterson-Galema, Hunter Foreshew and Kobe Seguin.
Alexander Fowke, Patrick Musico, Brett Shawana and Joel Mongeon replied for Sudbury, as goaltenders Alex Vendette and Deric
Rivet experienced an evening similar to the early season encounter their North Bay counterparts had endured.
"I don't think either team can take a night off when we play against each other, and if we do, someone's going to end up with an "L" in the column that
they don't want," added Blanchard.
With his team now sporting a record of 23-2-0-2, six points clear of the Nickel Capital Wolves (though Sudbury has two games in hand), the Trappers'
bench boss has far more good than bad to say about his squad.
"The guys have been playing well," admitted Blanchard. "We have been playing fairly consistent. Overall, I'm happy with the guys. They work hard, I
really don't have a lot of complaints. I know we have to get better in certain areas and we're working on it."
Expanding somewhat, Blanchard noted that taking care of business in their own end likely comes a little easier for his 2017-2018 collection of midget
"AAA" hockey talent. "We've been playing really good defense, generally, allowing teams 15-20 shots," he said.
"I would say that 90% of the time, we're strong in that area. We pick up our guys, we battle strong in that area. We just need to be able to create more
offensive opportunities and then finish when the time comes. That's more about getting to better areas and then hitting the net."
"Our transition game has been not bad - we still need to get going a little better there. Those are the two areas that we really need to get better at if
we want to compete in the playoffs against these guys," Blanchard summarized.
And like most hockey coaches across every level of the sport, the talkative former NOJHL bench boss acknowledged that he knows of no magic elixir that
creates instant goal scoring ability.
"I don't know anybody that can work something in practice where a guy becomes a 50 goal scorer and he started as a five goal scorer the year before,"
deadpanned Blanchard. "You can teach him to be in a better area, learn how to get open a little bit better, so that at least they have an opportunity to
"What he does once the puck is on his stick is completely different. There's certain things you can teach and certain things that come naturally. If you
have eleven guys that work hard but just can't score, you're in trouble."
The setback against North Bay left the Sudbury Major Midgets sitting at 21-4-0-0, set to resume their schedule with a three game homestand from January
5th to the 7th. The Nickel Capital Wolves play host to the Timmins Majors (10-13-0-1) both Friday and Saturday, and welcome the New Liskeard
Cubs (5-20-1-0) to town on Sunday afternoon.
The team is once again without the services of captain Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis, having undergone surgery on his wrist earlier this month in the
hopes of being back in time for the playoffs. Coach Peter Michelutti Jr had Copper Cliff Midget "AA" call-ups Lindon Shanks and Jamie Wahamaa
at his disposal against North Bay, taking a couple more affiliates (Josh Boucher, Ethan Bronicheski) on the road before Christmas.
The locals, who play host to the 2018 Telus Cup, continued to spin their wheels, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Timmins Majors as third period
tallies by Kobe Barrette and Cameron Dutkiewicz, with a pair, broke open the game that was tied at one.
The Wolves did manage to salvage one big win from the weekend, downing the Kapuskasing Flyers 7-4 on the road, as Parker Savard (2),
Brett Shawana (2), Hunter Chiblow, Alexander Fowke and Michael Laliberté found the back of the net for the visitors.
Finally, the Sudbury Minor Midget "AAA" Wolves enter the holiday season on something of an upswing, sweeping a pair of games in Sault Ste Marie
before proving themselves extremely competitive in a 5-2 loss to the North Bay Major Midget Trappers.
The Minor Wolves doubled the Sault Minor Midget Thunderbirds 4-2, as Ethan Masson netted a pair of third period short-handed markers,
lifting Sudbury to the win. Masson, in fact, accounted for all four goals for his team, with Michael Chaffey and Brock Santa Maria replying
in a losing cause.
The additional confidence was evident the very next day as the Minor Midget Wolves jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two periods of play, silencing the
Soo Major Midget Greyhounds 7-3. Amazingly, the contest featured a second straight four goal effort, this one from Gavin Brown, which included
a natural hat trick in giving the Wolves a 3-0 lead.
Masson, Hunter Brazier and Nicholas Faught also pulled the trigger for coach Mardy St Jacques, with Avery Rebek, Colby Arbour
and Parker Morgan handling things for the Hounds.
Trailing just 2-1 after forty minutes of play on December 23rd in North Bay, the locals eventually came up short, despite markers from both Brazier and
Jean-Sebastien Giguère. That wasn't quite enough to offset goals from Davis, Garagan, Ethan Allair, Peterson-Galema and Foreshew of the Major
Great North Midget League play starts up after the break this coming Friday (December 29th), with the Sault Major Midget Greyhounds hosting New Liskeard
for a two game set that concludes on Saturday, while the Minor Midget Wolves and Timmins Majors faceoff that same evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Sudbury