Bulitka, Barrie boys help Wolves end skid

Shane Bulitka, of the Sudbury Wolves, chases down the puck during OHL action against the Barrie Colts at the Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, Ont. on Friday December 7, 2018. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

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If the cheers seemed louder than usual for a Sudbury Wolves win at Barrie Molson Centre, a glance at the visitors’ roster would explain things.

Rookie goaltender Mitchell Weeks, a Barrie native, recorded his first OHL win with 24 saves in Sudbury’s 4-3 victory, while fellow local products Macauley Carson, with a goal and an assist, and Isaak Phillips performed well to help Sudbury improve to 22-14-2-1 and end a seven-game losing streak.

Shane Bulitka also played a starring role with a pair of goals, while Drake Pilon had a goal and a helper for the Wolves, who outshot their Central Division rivals 39-27 and never trailed in the contest.

Jack York, with two goals of his own, and Dalton Duhart scored for Barrie, while Kai Edmonds was strong in defeat with 35 saves.

The Wolves, who struggled mightily to score in losses to Flint and Saginaw last weekend, got a nice boost with first-period markers by Pilon and Bulitka.

Pilon followed Carson on a drive to the net to bang in a rebound for his sixth goal of the season at 11:11. Brother Darian Pilon also assisted.

Just 1:05 later, David Levin forced a turnover and made a pin-point pass to Bulitka from behind the goal before watching his teammate fire his eighth of the year over Edmonds’ shoulder and just under the crossbar.

Sudbury started the game with a 9-1 shot lead before Barrie responded with some good offensive pressure, but still held a 14-9 advantage after 20 minutes.

Barrie got on the board 4:31 into the second, when York sent a wrist shot past a screened Weeks.

Sudbury’s netminder bounced back, however, with a couple of nice stops on a Sudbury penalty kill, then a sprawling save on a chance by Ryan Suzuki near the midway mark of the middle frame.

Carson restored a two-goal lead when he popped a puck over Edmonds during a scramble for his ninth of the season at 15:42. The Barrie goaltender reached back in an attempt to snatch up the loose disc, but it had already crossed the line. Anthony DeMeo, with his first point in a Wolves uniform, and Drake Pilon assisted.

Despite Barrie’s mid-period push, Sudbury outshot the host squad 14-8 in the period and led the count 28-17 after 40 minutes of action.

The Colts showed some good jump to start the third and narrowed the lead once more when York’s point shot deflected off Sudbury defenceman Emmett Serensits and into Weeks’ goal at 4:16, but the Wolves responded with a much-needed power-play goal when Bulitka banged in his own rebound at 5:52. Newly-acquired Adam Ruzicka, as well as Owen Gilhula, assisted on Bulitka’s ninth of the year.

Barrie made it close again, however, when Duhart crashed the Sudbury goal and put a shot upstairs past Weeks while falling at 13:52.

The Colts pressed for an equalizer with Edmonds on the bench and less than three minutes to play, but an untimely penalty for too many men derailed their comeback hopes.

The Wolves return to home ice Friday, when world junior gold medallist Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is expected to make his first start in goal of 2019 against the Mississauga Steelheads. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

bleeson@postmedia.com

Twitter: @ben_leeson

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