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A tight win gives way to an offensive explosion

Sometimes, such as an 8-1 win Saturday night over the New Liskeard Cubs, the Sudbury U16 AAA Nickel Capitals will rely on the offense that featured a hat-trick from Max Campbell and a pair of goals from Carter Carriere.

Other times, such as a 2-1 win last Wednesday against the Sudbury U18 AAA Nickel Capitals, the team will need to shut things down in their own end of the rink, riding first period goals from Anthony Bertrand and Liam Nootchtai to victory.

Helping out head coach Jordan Cheechoo and working with both the defense corps as well as the power play units, former OHLer Jadran Beljo was thrilled with the latter as the team bounced back from a loss to their crosstown rivals a couple of weeks before.

"We were trying to tell them to play smart, to think defensively first," said Beljo, the 35 year-old local who surpassed the 100 goal plateau during his time with the Peterborough Petes, Mississauga Ice Dogs and London Knights.

"We were in the penalty box a little too much, but our penalty kill did a great job and (goaltender) Nick Marson played a fantastic game, making some big saves, especially late."

Working with a back-end unit that includes Cale Prpic, Kyle Navarro, Carter Makasoff, Alex Valade, Carter Carriere and Carter Bubalo, Beljo has been looking to ensure the younger U16 crew understand how they need to play when facing largely U18 opponents.

"Obviously, the other teams are a little bit older, a little bit bigger," he said. "We wanted to move the puck up quick and keep it out of our end as much as possible."

With a record of 7-3-0-1, the U16 Nickel Caps continue to lead the Soo Jr Greyhounds (7-0-0-0) by a single point, with Beljo and company pleased with what they have seen through a little over two months of play to date.

"Our first game against them (Sudbury U18 AAA Nickel Capitals) did not go so well and we were already able to improve on the results," said Beljo. "We're making very good steps in the right direction."

"I think if we can reel in the discipline a little bit, it will help us that much more."

Beljo, Cheechoo and the lads will now sit tight when it comes to league play, scheduled to host the North Bay U16 Trappers on November 30th and then hitting the road for New Liskeard and Kapuskasing on the weekend of December 16th to the 18th.

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