ARNPRIOR, Ont. – The Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves are at the top of the minor hockey world, with gold medals around their necks following an inspired 6-4 win over the Winnipeg Thrashers in the final of the Telus Cup on Sunday.
Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the Wolves scored three power-play goals two minutes apart before the five-minute mark to rally for a 5-2 lead.
Steve Taylor, Deven Stillar, Mathieu Lecours, Justin Lockeyer, Denis Restoule and Stefan Herrington scored for the Wolves, who became the first Central Region representative to win a gold medal at the national midget AAA championships.
David Conrad, Dan Hrabowych, Kyle Lee and Corbin Baldwin scored for the Thrashers, who went 40-0-0 during their regular season, 9-0 in the league playoffs, 3-1 in the regionals and were 6-0 this week at the Nick Smith Centre heading into the final.
“That (Winnipeg) team deserves so much credit, they never stop working and they’re such a class act,” said Wolves coach Peter Michelutti. “We’re a team that never gives up, and we found a way in the third period to come back for a win.”
The Wolves took and early 2-0 lead on goals by Taylor and Stillar, but the Thrashers responded with goals from Conrad and Hrabowych before the end of the period.
Lee had the only goal of the second period to give the Thrashers a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
Then it all fell apart for the Thrashers.
Lecours scored during a 5-on-3 advantage at 2:36 to tie the game and Lockeyer gave the Wolves a 4-3 lead 20 second later during a 5-on-4 advantage. Restoule then scored what proved to be the game-winner at 4:39, this time during a 4-on-3.
“It was the greatest goal of my life and it’s something I’ll never forget,” said Restoule. “We knew we couldn’t give up. We came back in the semifinals of the (provincial championship) and then the finals, came back (Saturday) and we never gave up and never stopped skating.”
Baldwin pulled the Thrashers to within a goal midway through the third and in the dying minutes Kyle Mulder was robbed by Wolves netminder Christopher McDougall with a glove save.
“I saw it all the way,” McDougall said of the near-goal. “I knew the guy had the upstairs, so I just threw my glove out at him to cut down the angle and it just came in.
“I’m at a loss for words. I feel amazing.”
Herrington secured the win scoring into an empty net with 24 seconds to play.
The loss was a difficult one for the Thrashers to swallow, as they felt they were in control heading into the final 20 minutes.
“We’ve always been a third-period team this year and we thought we’d be really in great shape to outwork them,” Winnipeg head coach Kevin Benson said. “Everybody talked about that in the dressing room that we had lots of gas left and they had played late (Saturday) night and maybe that caused us to relax. We seemed to be a little too casual.
“We were 58-1 and we’ve had a ton of adversity but after a while you kind of expect to get things going in the third period and today we just came up against a team that played better than us. Credit to them, they were tired and their best players really played well while our top guys struggled.”
In the bronze medal game Guillaume Asselin had a goal and two assists as the Seminaire St. Francois Blizzard from Quebec City defeated the Calgary Buffaloes 7-4 to claim their second straight third-place finish.
Tommy Giroux, Justin Ducharme, Jean-Phillipe Mathieu, Patrick Delisle-Houde and Tommy Dery also scored for the Blizzard.
The Buffaloes got goals from Jake Hayes, Chris Collins, Jordan Kanygin and Jona Szakacs.