Let the countdown begin … 214 days to go.
The Road to the TELUS Cup is officially underway for the Sudbury Nickel
Capital Wolves, who will welcome five regional champions to Canada’s
National Midget Championship next spring.
But there is plenty of hockey to be played before then, and the long, long
road to April 23 began for the Wolves with four wins in as many games to
open their Great North Midget League season.
Led by the dynamic duo of Tommy Vlahos (three goals, one assist) and Hunter
Chiblow (one goal, three assists), Sudbury scored early and often in a 10-2
win over the New Liskeard Cubs on Sept. 10, getting their 32-week journey
off to a successful start.
Adam Bertrand got the scoring started just four minutes in, the Wolves
added three more in the first period and never looked back, winning their
opener for the seventh year in a row.
They were just as good on the road in Sault Ste. Marie, riding five-point
performances from Joe Mazur (three goals, two assists) and Carson McMillan
(two goals, three assists) to a 7-2 victory over the Greyhounds, before
Chiblow and Bertrand had two goals and an assist apiece in a 9-5 win over
The Wolves finished off their four-games-in-eight-days run with a narrow
2-1 victory over the Kapuskasing Flyers thanks to a Chris Clark
game-winning goal with just 13 seconds to go.
Not surprisingly, Sudbury skaters dominate the scoring race in the GNML;
Mazur (5-6—11) and McMillan (5-5—10) occupy the top two spots, with Vlahos
(5-2—7), Chiblow (3-4—7), Parker Savard (3-4—7) and Joel Mongeon (1-6—7)
also finding a place in the top 10.
No. 1 goaltender Joel Vendette has starred between the pipes; the
second-round pick of the Sudbury Wolves in the 2017 OHL U18 Priority
Selection has allowed just five goals in four games, fashioning a 1.67
goals-against average to lead the league.
Sudbury has been the class of the GNML in recent years, claiming three of
the last five league championships, and adding a trip to the TELUS Cup in
2012, and with a roster built for the national tournament they will once
again be considered among the favourites in northern Ontario.
“There's one team in the country right now who knows they'll be playing at
the end of April and that's us,” general manager Albert Corradini told the Sudbury Star before the season started. “It'll afford us the
luxury of building towards going through a season, going through our
playoff run, hopefully get to an OHF [Central Region] championship, but not
burning ourselves out.”
Seven players are back from the team that made a run to the semifinals of
the Central Regional on home ice last spring, including Vlahos, who was
third in Sudbury scoring with 52 points, and Vendette, whose 1.78
goals-against average was third-best in the league.
History is not on the side of the Wolves; a host team has not won Canada’s
National Midget Championship since the Calgary Northstars in 1991, and
hosts have qualified for the semifinals only three times in the last