The Nickel City U13 AAA Sons had seen just about enough of their fair share of close losses.
With the exception of a 3-2 overtime win over the Sudbury U13 Nickel Capitals almost a month ago, the Sons were generally more than competitive, though not necessarily rewarded in the win column.
This past Saturday, the locals dropped the opener of a two-game set with the Soo Greyhounds, falling 3-2 to the visitors. The next morning at the Chelmsford Arena, the Sons trailed the Sault 1-0 heading to the final period of play, the only marker courtesy of a pretty individual effort from Russell McNally of the Hounds.
"It becomes frustrating," noted Nickel City head coach Dale Dubreuil, breathing a little easier after his team rallied to score a pair of power play goals, edging the Greyhounds 2-1.
"It's almost like we're a broken record, saying that we played a great game, that we did a lot of things right, but that we're just not getting rewarded for it. Our message at that last intermission is that we had to get more pucks to the net."
The strategy paid dividends early as Adrien Potvin cleanly won an offensive zone faceoff, sliding the puck to blueliner Olivia Carriere who let fly with a well-directed blast. A tip-in from Potvin evened the contest at a goal apiece.
It was a bit more of a forward collaboration on the game-winning tally as Tyler Huffman stuffed home a loose puck on a scramble, with Gillis O'Daiskey and Ty Dubreuil recording the assists.
Almost out of the woods, the Sons needed one final standout breakaway save from goaltender Brady Toulouse, building some momentum as the youngsters prepare for a key crosstown battle next Wednesday (December 1st) against the Nickel Caps.
Despite their league record of 2-5-1-0, the Sons have rarely left their coach wanting in terms of the effort.
"On the back of our practice jerseys is a saying that no one will out-work us,' said Dubreuil. "That is a true sentiment; our team is very hard-working. What we have to do better is to get into positions where we can take advantage of opportunities."
"We're a hard-working perimeter team."
With one out of town tournament already in the books, Dubreuil and his staff are trying to make up for some lost time, the pandemic perhaps creating a few more challenges in these parts than in our areas of the province for AAA hockey.
"If you look at other centres, many were still playing, full tilt," he said. "We weren't. They did a very good job locally of keeping us on the ice, but what we noticed at the first tournament was that we just weren't used to that pace."
"We have to bring our game to that pace, and that's not an easy thing to do."
Members of the Nickel City U13 AAA Sons not already mentioned include Emmett Croome, Hunter Currie, Nico Guenette, Edison Joly, Noah Lefrancois, Carter McAllister, Carter Mullen, Leighton Pelletier, Brett Rienguette, Caleb Rocheleau and Eric Thibeault.
Providing Dubreuil with a helping hand are assistant coaches Scott Rienguette and Elliot Richardson, trainers Kade McAllister and Scooter Rienguette and team manager Jody O'Daiskey.