Suds Stories: Nolan Hutcheson, McCauley Carson shine in 8-4 win vs North Bay

With the absence of Quinton Byfield for Sudbury, the Wolves’ forward depth was tested. Nolan Hutcheson and McCauley Carson stepped up offensively for the Wolves in an 8-4 victory over the North Bay Battalions.

The Battalions currently have a league-worst record of 10-31-2-0, so the Wolves came into this game confident and ready to play. After the Wolves scored four goals in the first period, this game was practically over. There are some penalty kill concerns regarding the Wolves in this game and it’s time for that to be addressed.

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: Sudbury’s forward depth made up for the absence of Quinton Byfield

All four forward lines generated scoring chances and goals in this game. Owen Robinson created space for himself and scored a wrist shot from a tough angle for the Wolves’ first goal. McCauley Carson displayed a high level of poise and patience on Wolves’ second goal. He retrieved the rebound and used the open space behind the net to score a wrap-around goal.

Then, Chase Stillman and Nolan Hutcheson combine for a beautiful sequence to set up the third goal for the Wolves.

Stillman retrieves the puck in the neutral zone and Hutcheson follows behind him. The defensemen for North Bay, Simon Rose, had jumped up into the play and there was no forward covering for him. So, Rose attempts to skate back to break up the play, but Hutcheson has the extra stride on him.

After Stillman enters the offensive zone at a high level of speed, he positions himself towards the left side of the zone and makes a pass backward between his legs. Hutcheson is the first player to accept the pass and he shoots a backhand shot into the five-hole of Cameron Lamour.

This was your typical game in the OHL. A ton of scoring chances and expected goals generated by both teams and the players unleashed their skills.

Story #2: Mitchell Weeks had a bounce-back game for the Wolves

After last weekend, I wrote about how Weeks needed to improve his play for the Wolves to take their game to the next level. Although he allowed four goals to the leagues-worst team, he made 38 saves and was crucial when the time counted.

If Weeks can win games during back-to-back situations and start games over Purboo down the stretch, it will help the team by the playoffs. Here is a statistical analysis to prove that the team’s starting goaltenders play better in the playoffs after making fewer starts in their team’s last 20 games.

2019 OHL Champions: Guelph Storm

Starting Goaltender for the Guelph Storm during their Championship Run: Anthony Popovich

Popovich had played 60 games during the 2017-2018 season for the Guelph Storm, who were eliminated by the Kitchener Rangers in six games. The next season, the Storm made it their goal to start Popovich for eight fewer starts to give him the rest he needed and to use that time to work with their staff. Let’s just say, it worked out well for the OHL Champions.

Story#3: Besides the shorthand goal, the Wolves penalty kill was not very good

The Sudbury Wolves got lucky on that brutal giveaway by North Bay. It isn’t Christmas time anymore, but McCauley Carson got a nice present by that misplay. He was in the right position to shoot that missed pass into the open net.

Besides that play though, the Wolves had a 33.3% penalty kill percentage for this game. North Bay scored on 2/3 of their powerplays, and bad nights can happen for your team’s special-teams. Sudbury has the seventh-best penalty kill in the league, so it’s possible that this was just an off night for their penalty kill.

Although, the goals that were allowed were due to poor defensive positioning and decision-making.

On the first powerplay goal for North Bay, Simon Rose had plenty of room to execute a perfect one-timer. During the second powerplay goal, Liam Ross couldn’t shoot the puck out of the slot area and Mason Primeau scores on the rebound.

The Wolves better tighten up on the penalty kill if they don’t want to be exposed to more skilled teams.

Milestone Moment: Brad Chenier scored his first goal with the Sudbury Wolves since being traded from the North Bay Battalions. It was his 20th goal of the season.