Wildcats Thump Blackhawks in Home Opener

The Elliot Lake Wildcats season home opener didn’t disappoint fans at Friday’s game against the Mattawa Blackhawks.

A total of 803 fans attended the Wildcats first home game of the regular season. The Wildcats beat the Blackhawks by a score of 7-3 in an action-packed game.

The teams played back and forth until there was 4:02 left in the first period, which was when the Blackhawks opened the scoring on a goal by Alex Hulford, disappointing the Wildcats fans.

However, with 1:56 left in the frame, the Wildcats Tanner Bowditch got the puck by Blackhawks netminder Joe Sheppard tying the score 1-1. Assists went to Liam Knoll and David Chiarelli.

After 3:16 into the second period, Wildcats forward Alec MacKenzie slammed the puck through a narrow opening between the goal post and the netminder to put Elliot Lake in the lead for the first time in the game. He was assisted by Cole Hepler and Shane Woolsey.

At the 8 minute mark in the second stanza, Woolsey scored on a powerplay. He was assisted by Nathan Campbell and MacKenzie.

And just 15 seconds later, Samuel Gagnon knocked the puck in with help from Phil Cloutier and Mick Tourangeau, making it 4-1.

On a powerplay one minute later, Mattawa’s Hulford got his second goal of the night, bringing the score 4-2.

With 5:19 left in the period, Liam Blais made it 5-2 with help from teammates Jason Wilson and Nate Sepeda.

The first goal of the third frame was by Henry Yawit of the Blackhawks at the 3:46 mark, which wrapped up Mattawa’s scoring.

With 8:48 left in the game, MacKenzie got his second goal of the night on a powerplay. He was assisted by Jeff Wilson and Knoll.

The final goal of the game came with 6:31 left in the third when Hepler scored on a powerplay with help from MacKenzie and Jeff Wilson.

As for the penalties, there were plenty. Mattawa received 15 penalties for 41 minutes in the sin bin. Elliot Lake got 13 penalty and spent 45 minutes in the box.

Wildcats coach Nathan Hewitt said, the team came as close to executing their game plan.

“We did execute, it wasn’t perfect, we have a lot to work on. But it was nice to get a win in front of the crowd.

“I think we would have liked to be a little more disciplined. We took more penalties than we thought.

“That’s one thing that I’m not too happy about.”

He added that their power plays also need work, “But it’s early, and they need time to practice together and need time to mesh and gel.”

He said the team’s effort was much better than at the Wildcats season opener in Sudbury against the Nickel Barons on Sept. 10. The Wildcats lost that game 7-4.

“Again, it was our penalty killing that let us down. I think we only killed three or four penalties, but they went three for six.”

“We showed a lot more of ourselves tonight, and we have a lot more to give.”

He added that they team showed a lot of character on Friday night.

“Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way it worked out,” concluded Hewitt.

The Wildcats next game is on Friday against the Blind River Beavers at the Centennial Arena. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.