It may not always be pretty, but the Sudbury Wolves are winning hockey games at the time of the year that it counts the most.
After sleepwalking their way through a very comfortable 6-1 win over the hapless Niagara Ice Dogs on Friday at home, the local juniors proceeded to squander a 4-0 lead in the opening 11:39 Sunday against the Mississauga Steelheads but pulled this one out of the fire, recording an 8-7 win as Quentin Musty, once again, handles the heroics in overtime.
While it has taken three overtime victories and another in a shootout, but the fact remains that the Wolves have emerged victorious in eight of their past nine outings, now sitting three points clear of both the Brantford Bulldogs and North Bay Battalion as they show the way in both the Central Division and the Eastern Conference.
In what was easily one of their most efficient performances of the year, the Sudbury lads secured a 3-0 lead by the midway mark of the first period over a Niagara team that was throttled the previous night in North Bay and never gave the overmatched visitors even the slightest sense of hope.
The Wolves limited the Ice Dogs to a grand total of just 14 shots on net, allowing goaltender Jakub Vondras the chance to improve his numbers a bit on a night when six different players hit the mark for the homeside - none of them named either Dalibor Dvorsky or Quentin Musty (though the latter did register three assists).
Chase Coughlan, Kocha Delic, Nathan Villeneuve, Evan Konyen, Zacharie Giroux and David Goyette all managed to put pucks past Charlie Roberston, who was under siege most of the game as Sudbury peppered the keeper with 45 shots.
That offensive production was on full display early in the matchup in Mississauga as Quentin Musty, Nathan Villeneuve, Nick Yearwood and David Goyette got the visitors off and running.
But for as much as no lead is ever safe versus the Nickel City crew's high octane offense, the same holds true in reverse.
Lukas Karmiris and Porter Martone cut the Sudbury lead in half but Yearwood, with his second, closed off the high scoring frame as coach Ken MacKenzie and company were still in pretty good shape, heading to the second.
Twenty minutes later, they were not.
Netting his 28th goal in 34 games since joining the Pack, Dalibor Dvorsky only managed to ensure that Sudbury would not be deadlocked after 40 minutes of play as Angus MacDonnell, Lucas Karmiris and Stevie Leskovar all countered for the Steelheads.
Sixty-five seconds into the third period, the game was tied as Finn Harding beat Vondras from the high slot.
Boasting one of the deadliest power plays in the league since the arrival of Dvorsky, the Wolves made it 2/2 in this affair as the afore-mentioned Slovakian buried his second of the game - only to see Angus MacDonnell force overtime with under a minute to play.
One final stat of note: the Sudbury side have won five games in overtime this year - Quentin Musty has now scored the OT winner in four of those contests.