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Saari helps Sudbury to a sweep of New Liskeard
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Coming off a tough weekend in the Sault that finished a little better than it started, the Sudbury U18 Nickel Capitals kicked off a three in three weekend road swing with a win, doubling the New Liskeard Cubs 4-2 on Friday night.

Sudbury did all of its scoring in the first two periods with Kohen Crane, Caden Dubreuil, Connor Desbois and Lucas Dubois doing the honours as Julien Trudel replied for the home side in the first, and Jacob Gaudet-Nickner closing the books on the offense with the only tally in period number three.

It was the second straight win for the Nickel Caps over the Cubs, having taken one from the visitors back on November 13th, a 3-1 affair at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

The locals dropped a pair last weekend to the 9-0-0 Soo Jr Greyhounds, taking it on the chin on Saturday (7-1) but coming through with a markedly better effort on Sunday in a 5-3 setback.

One of the large number of newcomers to the team this season, 16 year old St Benedict Catholic Secondary School senior Mattias Saari is gradually finding his place on the blueline brigade of his new Great North U18 League crew.

"Personally, I'm more of a defensive defenceman," said the graduate of the 2021-2022 Sudbury U16 AAA squad. "I like the rush, don't get me wrong, but my job as a defenceman is to protect the net, protect everything."

"I always try and hinge really well," he added. "If my defense partner has the puck at the blueline, I come back a little bit, just in case he makes a mistake. And gapping is a big thing."

"If you have a good gap, two stick lengths away between your stick and their stick, that's usually what you want. If you can't get that, try and angle them off as best as possible."

Saari was not one of those kids who immediately bolted to the AAA ranks, having to work on his game at both the A and AA level before finally breaking through last year. "It's a game of speed and I was a slow guy at that time," he acknowledged.

"I just wasn't fast enough; I wasn't there yet. I worked on my speed, I worked on my puck handling, shooting every day after school. I worked really hard."

With a record of 3-9-0-0, the U18 AAA Nickel Capitals will continue their trek north with stops against the Kapuskasing Flyers (6-3-1-0) on Saturday and the Timmins Majors (5-6-0-1) on Sunday.

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