Some would say London Knights defensemen Alec Regula is still wondering how Wolves forward David Levin got past him by pulling off a highlight-reel deke to score a fantastic goal. I would say that Levin was unleashing his inner-Patrick Kane as the Knights retired Kane’s number eighty-eight on Friday night, but the Knights came to play in his honor too.
OKAY @David_levin71 🔥🔥
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) January 18, 2020
Specifically, Knights goaltender Brett Brochu came to play this game.
Let’s talk about the key storylines from this game and how they fit the narrative of the Wolves season as they make a playoff push.
Story#1: The Wolves and Knights Savage Third Period of Penalties
There were a combined 13 penalties in the third period, with 8 of them being minors for roughing. The topic of Hockey referees and their decision-making process is always debated. This time though, the refs made all of the right calls.
If you look above, almost all of these penalties occurred during the same three plays. With 9:50 left in the third period, there were five penalties handed out to Carson and Hutcheson of the Wolves and Gruden, Merkley, and Regula of the Knights. By the way, all of those penalties were minors for roughing. With 3:16 left, Murray and Skinner got in a heated matchup that would result in Skinner getting a minor for cross-checking and Murray getting a minor for roughing.
That last major sequence of penalties would occur in the dying seconds of the game. With 3 seconds left to play, Isaak Phillps and Kirill Steklov fought it out and took 2 major penalties for fighting each. As well, Carson (SBY) got a minor for slashing, Murray (SBY) got a minor for roughing and Skinner (LDN) got a minor for roughing.
What a rough period, eh?
Overall, despite a penalty-filled game that included two fights, there were no injuries during this game and that is a good testament to the refs. They let the players release their emotions in a proper manner and properly awarded penalties to the players deserving. This game should be a good lesson to every player on the Sudbury Wolves, stay out of the box or teams will take advantage of you on the powerplay.
Story#2: Analyzing the David Levin Goal and how it showcases his Speed and Skill
There was a time where scouts believed David Levin was going to be a star player in the National Hockey League, especially when the Sudbury Wolves drafted Levin first overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection Draft. Levin is never going to be a star player in the NHL, but he does have a skill set that could make him a successful player at a professional level.
His skill set was on full display at Budweiser Garden on Friday. Levin glided through the neutral zone without any forechecking by the London Knight forwards. His Offensive awareness and Hockey Iq were the most critical part of his play in the offensive zone. Levin evaluated what options he had to attack the Knights defenders. Here were the options.
- This is a 2-on-2 situation, so Levin can attempt to continue skating forwards onto the left side of the London zone and protect the puck against Knights defensemen Alec Regula, who is 6’4 and has a crazy long reach. If a Wolves defender makes himself open, he can attempt a pass to him, or just dump the puck and potentially cause a turnover
- Levin could fire a low-percentage shot on net and hope a Brochu gives up a big rebound
- Change difficulty from superstar to easy and pull off an amazing sequence of dekes followed by a quickly shifting from the forehand to backhand shot.
Levin chose option 3, although nothing about that play seemed easy for the Knights to handle.
It has been a great year for Levin as the over-ager is playing in his last OHL season, so he really needed a great year if he wanted to take a step forward to professional for next year. Although highlight-reel dekes like this are hard to pull off every game, if Levin can continue using his skill set and creativity to generate quality scoring chances, it will do wonders for Sudbury during a championship run.
Story#3: The Sudbury Wolves are Benefitting from being in the Horrible Central Division
The Central Division standings currently look like this:
- Sudbury: 21-20-1-0, 43 points
- Mississauga: 18-22-2-1, 39 points
- Niagara: 16-19-4-1, 37 points
- Barrie: 16-20-2-2, 36 points
- North Bay: 9-30-2-0, 20 points
Sudbury has played well enough to be first in the division, but had the Wolves been in another division, this is where they would have been placed.
East Division: 4th out of 5
Midwest Division: 5th out of 5
West Division: 4th out of 5
In terms of the entire league, the Wolves are currently 4th because they lead their division. Basically, they are benefiting majorly off of being in a terrible division. There are still a few months until the OHL playoffs begin, but even after a few trade acquisitions earlier this month, there are still questions surrounding this team and whether they are deep enough to win in the playoffs.
This game is a good example as too how good of a team London is. They win every year for a reason. Matvey Guskov scored two goals for London and their goaltender Brett Brochu stopped 28 of 29 shots and Sudbury couldn’t generate enough quality scoring opportunities. To win every year, you have to draft well in both drafts and develop your players. The Wolves are way better compared to a few years ago, but will it be enough? Teams like London, Kitchener, Guelph, and Erie are fantastic at developing their players and are competitive every year. Can Sudbury ever get up to the caliber and gain the reputation of those teams?
Question of the Day: Is Sudbury good enough to win the OHL Championships?