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Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018
Three straight 2-1 wins does it for the Nickel Caps
by Randy Pascal

There may not have been a more inspirational candidate for series heroics than Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis.

After missing more than half of the 2017-2018 season with a pair of separate wrist injuries, the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves' captain could not have asked for much better retribution in game four of the Great North Midget League final with the North Bay Trappers.

Pouncing on a loose puck in the slot and back-handing home the game winning goal at the 18:32 mark of the first overtime period, Dokis-Dupuis vaulted the Nickel Caps to their second straight league title.

By the time the contest was decided, a third straight 2-1 encounter was already a given. “It was kind of crazy,” said Dokis-Dupuis. “The puck just kind of popped out and I kind of swung at it and it went in.”

In a contest in which game officials did everything in their power to let the players decide matters, it was ironic that a “so obvious that we can't let this slip by” too many men on the ice call against the Trappers ultimately led to the series winning goal.

The bench minor was the only penalty assessed in overtime. “We've both got a lot of the same guys from last year, so I feel there's that same competitive rivalry between us and North Bay as last year,” noted Wolves' netminder Alex Vendette. “It was getting really chippy, I don't know if you noticed. It's always good games with them.”

The local puckstopper and Sudbury Wolves' draft pick finished with an even thirty saves in the game, with Joel Rainville notably busier at the other end of the rink, especially through the third period and overtime, turning aside forty shots when all was said and done.

In a contest this tight, it's likely little surprise that special teams played an integral role, with some interesting momentum swings along the way. An apparent Nickel Capital Wolves goal in the first period was negated when Carson McMillan was signalled for slashing mere seconds before the puck entered the net. As fate would have it, North Bay went on to open the scoring on that same power-play, with Cole Craft jumping all over a puck that squirted loose to the right of Vendette.

The 1-0 score remained unchanged until the middle of period three, when the visitors found themselves defending a five on three. Just one second after the expiry of the first penalty, Parker Savard pulled the trigger for Sudbury, again somehow coming up with a puck out of a scramble and drilling the equalizer home through traffic.

There were many occasions, throughout the series, when North Bay was the better team. This overtime session, however, was titled in favour of the Wolves. “I think we obviously have a strong leadership core in the room, and good coaches that get us going,” said Dokis-Dupuis. “I think our experience helped.”

If and when it faltered, Vendette was there to bail them out. “I think, other than the first game, I was most happy with my consistency,” he said. “Letting in just one goal per game, giving my team a chance to score two for us to win the game, that's what I was most pleased with.”

Capturing the best of five GNML final three games to one, the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves advance to represent the NOHA at the Central Region Midget “AAA” Championships from April 1st to the 8th in Rockland. “We really wanted to win that series, we really wanted this title,” stated Vendette. “We didn't want to be that team that didn't even win their own league, but is hosting the Telus Cup.”

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