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Monday, Dec. 11, 2017
A quick start to the new season
2017-09-21
by Randy Pascal

The landscape within the Great North Midget League is still being scoped out, as the first edition of the End of the Roll GNML Weekly Report checks in with one of two local entries.

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The Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves might be off to a 4-0-0-0 start in Great North Midget League play, but all signs point to both the Kapuskasing Flyers and North Bay Major Midget Trappers providing some stiff competition over the course of the 2017-2018 campaign.

The first three games were a tad concerning, as the Wolves bounced the New Liskeard Cubs 10-2 and 9-5 in a home and home set, while also stopping the Soo Major Midget Greyhounds 7-2, a team which has traditionally run neck and neck with the locals.

This past Sunday, however, Nickel Capital Wolves' fans were treated to easily the best outing of the young season, as defenceman Chris Clark scored early in the third, snapping a 1-1 tie with the Kapuskasing Flyers and allowing the homeside to squeeze out a 2-1 victory.

Joe Mazur (Sudbury) and Gabriel John-George (Kapuskasing) traded goals earlier in the game, with the Flyers coming off an impressive 4-3 shootout win in North Bay the previous evening.

The quick start for the Caps has allowed a handful of their players to vault to the top of the GNML scoring race, with Mazur (12 pts), Carson McMillan (9), Tommy Vlahos (7), Parker Savard (7), Hunter Chiblow (7) and Joel Mongeon (7) all in the top ten.

Teammate Adam Bertrand is but one point back, with six, even as he adjusts to a new position in his second year of midget hockey. "I played defence my whole life, but switched it up last year and played some forward," noted the Garson native.

"I'm pretty comfortable now with both. I worked as a forward for the summer, just to improve my overall game. The speed and making the decisions are that much quicker. As a defence, you can see the whole ice ahead of you and you have more time."

A member of the 2016-2017 Sudbury Minor Midget Wolves team that also competed in the GNML, Bertrand has noticed a difference in the dressing room atmosphere with the Nickel Capital Wolves, even at this very preliminary juncture of the season.

"It's a different environment with the vets in the room," he said. "They give us a real positive vibe and make us go. We had a lot of positive vibes on the bench, we were communicating and working as a team."

One of a handful of players on the Sudbury team who drew some attention for OHL scouts but were not ultimately selected in the April Entry Draft, Bertrand knows what he needs to show in order to break through with his second chance come the U18 draft next spring.

"Just that I can put the puck in the net and use my physicality to dominate the game," he said. Coach Peter Michelutti Jr's troops are joining Sault Ste Marie, Kapuskasing and North Bay, this weekend, at the 5th Annual Toronto Titans International Major Midget Prospect Tournament.

The Wolves take to the ice Thursday at 4:00 p.m., facing the Barrie Colts, while the Flyers open against the Brantford 99ers, the Trappers meet up with the North York Rangers, and the Greyhounds and Kingston Jr Frontenacs do battle.

As for the teams that are not at the tournament, New Liskeard and the Timmins Majors will travel back and forth along Highway 11 on Friday and Saturday, while the Minor Midget squads representing Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie hook up for a two game set, this weekend, at the John Rhodes Arena in the Lock City.

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