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Wolves weekly media notes - February 1st, 2023

As part of my role as team statistician for the Sudbury Wolves, my job description includes the preparation of weekly media notes, featuring various tidbits of information regarding upcoming games.

While these notes have generally been confined to circulating among media types and club officials, it seemed likely that fans of the local OHL team might also have an interest in the odds and ends that I might come across on a weekly basis.

Just one week after facing nothing but Western Conference foes, the Sudbury Wolves are looking at a week of trying to take care of business in house, at home for a three game set against the three teams that sit directly above them in the Central Division standings.

Wolves’ fans old enough to recall the days of the Brampton Battalion will almost certainly remember countless titanic defensive battles against Stan Butler coached teams that seem to specialize in 3-2 wins. Well, after combining for no less than 21 goals in their first two encounters with the North Bay Battalion this year, the Wolves have experienced the type of "second half of the season" hockey that signals the approaching playoffs, with the northern rivals finding the back of the net just 11 times (yes, between both teams) in their past three games.

Back to back 2-1 losses to the divisional leaders pave the way into their final matchup in Sudbury this season, with two later games in North Bay still awaiting. And here’s a stat that will blow your mind: prior to a 4-0 loss to the Oshawa Generals on Sunday, in their prior 23 games dating back to a 4-1 loss to Hamilton on November 25th, the Battalion had been held under three goals only a grand total of THREE times – all in games versus the Sudbury Wolves – a team whose trademark this year has not generally been viewed as stifling defensive hockey.

On January 7th (2023), the Mississauga Steelheads traded away veterans Owen Beck (to Peterborough), Ethan Del Mastro (to Sarnia) and Luca Del Bel Belluz (also to Sarnia), receiving two 16 year-olds, a 17 year-old, an 18 year-old and seven draft picks in return. The Steelheads will arrive in Sudbury on Friday with three overagers (born in 2002), but only two 2003 birthdates.

All of that said, since January 7th, Mississauga can boast a record of 6-3-0-0, a run that began with a 7-2 win at home over the Wolves. In that game, the just acquired trio of Angus MacDonell, Jack Van Volsen and Justin DeZoete all found the back of the net – along with mainstays James Hardie and Charlie Callaghan. That recent run of success has allowed the Steelheads to remain six points clear of the Wolves – despite “selling off” at the deadline.

The Sudbury Wolves opened the 2022-2023 by welcoming the Barrie Colts to the Nickel City. Dropping their home opener by a final score of 6-5, the Pack would go head to head with their divisional rivals four more times by the time that mid-December arrived, losing three of four and picking up a 5-4 win in overtime (December 10th).

Hosting Barrie for the final time this year – the Wolves still have to visit the Colts on March 11th and 23rd – coach Derek MacKenzie and company will see Clarke in action for the first time this year. The member of the gold medal winning Canadian entry at the World Juniors is quickly climbing up the ranks in team scoring, recording 10 goals and 10 assists in just nine games since his return to the OHL.

The Colts, now third in the Eastern Conference after winning seven of their last ten games, will be in Oshawa on Friday, returning home to greet the Kingston Frontenacs on Saturday before heading north for a Sunday afternoon encounter on a very busy weekend.

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