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Colts break free in the third - just enough for the win

For the better part of two full periods, the Sudbury Wolves appeared to be in lockstep with the early defensive teachings of new head coach Derek MacKenzie and his staff.

Jumping out to a 3-1 lead just after the midway point of the first period, the locals held the Barrie Colts in check often enough over the ensuing 40 minutes to still sit ahead with less than nine minutes to play, the scoreboard at the Sudbury Arena reading 3-2 in favour of the home side.

Unfortunately, a pair of breakdowns, including a game-tying tally where Colts’ speedster Evan Vierling split the Sudbury defense for a breakaway effort would pave the way to a 4-3 triumph for the visitors, as Chris Grisolia netted the game-winner, his second of the game, a minute and nineteen seconds later.

Still, given just four days of practice since his arrival in Sudbury and a one goal loss to a team they now trail by five points in the Central Division standings, the former captain of the Florida Panthers was not about to throw the baby out with the bath water.

“With the amount of time that we’ve had, we couldn’t cover everything and some of that was evident tonight,” said MacKenzie. “On the other hand, I thought the guys did a lot of good things. The things that we did work on, I thought for the most part that we executed pretty well.”

“We gave ourselves a chance to win the game but just fell short.”

With the largest crowd of the season on hand, surely nearing the 4000 mark in terms of actual bodies in the building, the Wolves countered an unassisted effort by Grisolia with three straight goals of their own. It took less than a minute for David Goyette to pull the Woofers even, with the Seattle Krakken prospect setting up Quentin Musty 23 seconds later for a 2-1 lead.

With the teams having not yet enjoyed the mid-period ice cleaning break, Goyette and Kocha Delic would team up for an absolute beauty, the give and go worked to perfection as Goyette netted his 11th goal of the year. Tai York would pull the Colts to within one before the end of the frame, with the score remaining that way for the ensuing 36:39.

Outshooting the visitors 45-32 in the contest, the Wolves spent plenty of time in the offensive zone while showing early signs of improvement back at their own end of the rink. “I thought our D zone was better,” said MacKenzie. “Obviously, it’s got a long way to go – but I thought some of the little details that we implemented throughout the week, the guys were able to grasp, which is a great sign.”

It’s likely an even better sign when those buying in are among the many of this team capable of bringing the crowd to their feet once they hit the opposing blue line with speed. “We’re working hard to improve our D zone,” acknowledged Kocha Delic, remaining above the point a game with his helper tonight (3G-12A in 13 GP).

“For me, it’s a big thing to improve my D zone so I’ve been making sure to pay attention to every single detail that he’s been telling us. He’s been really tough on the D zone. Every day we’ve got video, we’ve got sticky notes on the board.”

One of 13 returning Wolves in the roster tonight, Delic wasn’t the least bit surprised by the nice start the team enjoyed, playing off the energy of the crowd.”I thought we came out hard; we were working hard the whole time,” he said. “Practices have been really good all week so it’s just on us to finish the job out there.”

The single biggest misleading stat of the night might be the 0/6 the Wolves recorded on the power play. If the team was to be rewarded solely based on the number of quality scoring chances that were created, the Wolves would have walked away a happy lot.

“We did generate quite a few opportunities,” said MacKenzie. “As the game settled in, I thought we had some great opportunities to kind of put the game away. We weren’t able to do that and when that happens, good teams like that will find a way to come back.”

The Wolves close out their seven game homestand Sunday afternoon when the Kingston Frontenacs make their one and only visit to Sudbury.

Sudbury Wolves