2018 telus cup sudbury feature

Wolves take aim

With the regular season behind them, the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves are ready for playoff hockey – the final stretch on the Road to the TELUS Cup

Katie Brickman
March 1, 2018

The Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves realized that going through some adversity only made them stronger.

The TELUS Cup hosts started the Great North Midget League season with a blazing 14-1 record and never looked back, finishing with a line of 31-4-1-0, good for second place with 63 points.

“We’re very happy with the regular season. We ended up one point behind North Bay,” says head coach Peter Michelutti Jr. “All in all, we were satisfied by the way we played. We had a game plan and we wanted to make sure we were improving and working on the things we needed to do to be successful at the end of the season.”

The highs and lows that come with a hockey season are expected. A rough patch in November and into December sparked the Wolves into action to finish the season strong and earn a first-round bye

“I think to go through a long season with adversity and going through ups and downs is important, and you learn a lot of lessons,” says Michelutti. “We started off strong, and over the course of the year, in November and December, we struggled a bit. We made some good adjustments in the New Year and we are strong and building momentum for the national championship.”

In a decade of coaching in Sudbury, including the 2007-08 TELUS Cup-winning season, Michelutti has never seen as many injuries as he did this season, but he hopes it helps his team in the long run.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries. There were some games where we had 10 or 11 skaters,” he says. “It has been a team effort as everyone stepped up and contributed in different ways. It has been an adjustment, but a good way for our kids to learn how to do something differently. I think that will be a benefit come later in the year because of that experience.”

One of those key injuries was to captain Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis, who has been out since October to a broken wrist – the same one he broke last season. He is expected to return to the line-up soon.

“The majority of our young steps stepped up when he went down,” says veteran forward, Tommy Vlahos. “Our goalie, Alex Vendette, is one of the best goalies in the league and he definitely carried the load for us.”

Vendette was a workhorse for the Wolves, leading the GNML with 1,411 minutes played and a 2.04 goals-against average, and tying for the league lead with four shutouts.

It was scoring-by-committee up front, with Vlahos (49 points), Joe Mazur (47), Carson McMillan (46), Parker Savard (44), Brett Shawana (43) and Joel Mongeon (39) earning places in the top 12 of GNML scoring.

But even with a strong regular-season record, the Wolves struggled during tournaments, including an 0-3 finish at the CCM Midget AAA Challenge in Quebec in December. It was that tournament, though, that helped shape their goals for the rest of the season.

“We didn’t showcase ourselves the best, but since our struggles in Quebec, we recognized what kind of team we want to be and who we are,” says Vlahos. “We realized that we don’t just want to get to the TELUS Cup because we are the host team, we want to earn our way there.”

The ultimate goal is to win the GNML and Central Region championships to qualify through the front door, but with those expectations come the stress of being host to Canada’s National Midget Championship.

“You want to do well and perform well, especially in front of the home crowd,” says Michelutti. “Our goal is just to work hard, compete every game and get better as that week goes on. We also want the guys to have fun and enjoy the experience.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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