Marois makes statement as Paper Kings halt Cubs’ win streak

Marois makes statement as Paper Kings halt Cubs’ win streak

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No stranger to the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, Espanola Paper Kings goaltender Jake Marois returned to his hometown in fine form.

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Marois, a 19-year-old Sudbury player who tended the nets for both the Greater Sudbury Cubs and their predecessors, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, had one of his best games for a NOJHL club on Thursday, stopping 41 shots , as the Paper Kings scored a 4-1 decision to end the league-leading Cubs’ nine-game winning streak.

“It’s obviously huge for us overall and we want to beat top teams like the Cubs,” said Marois, whose roster improved to 15-11-2-2 and extended his own winning streak to three games. “Especially for me coming from last year and not having a chance to play, coming here and getting a chance to play it, this one just feels really good.”

Greater Sudbury opened the scoring when the red-hot Pierson Sobush chased a cleared puck while outnumbered at 4:43 of the opening frame, he hit the spot between Marois’ shoulder and the crossbar but Alexander Christopoulos used a skillful backhand to beat Cubs starter Noah Metivier at 11:28 and the Paper Kings added three more unanswered hits to secure the win.

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“I would have liked the first set, but it’s only 1-0 and you’re fighting back,” said Marois. “The guys got one back quickly and that helped us a lot and we made a really good game.”

Espanola head coach Jason Rapcewicz rated his team’s performance as one of their best this season and certainly one of their best against Greater Sudbury.

“I just told them in the dressing room that I’m like the Grinch,” Rapcewicz said with a smile. “Every time we win I’m never happy, but you know what, every time we can come to Sudbury and end a nine-game winning streak, take two points off a national standings, I’m happy with the effort. We started a bit slow but I called them out and asked them to recover and I’m happy with those two points. We take them.”

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Greater Sudbury celebrated a goal near half-time of a goalless second but it was immediately flagged down for a high stick. Just moments later, Marois made an excellent save, giving the Cubs a rare 2-for-0 opportunity to keep the game scoreless. Not to be outdone, Metivier made a couple of excellent saves of his own to stop 23 of 26.

After a relatively quiet few nights, Espanola striker Lucas Signoretti continued his blistering pace of goalscoring since entering the league in late October, starting a three-point night on Thursday by taking a feed from Jonathan Lush by just 1:34 in the third for his 12th converted goal in just 15 games.

Greater Sudbury were pushing for the equaliser, but Marois proved up to the task and his team-mates did well to hold off some of the Cubs’ attempts on the outside.

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“I think the lads played a really solid game defensively,” said Marois, who has shared netkeeping duties with Creedon Dyck since standout rookie Drew Gaulton was injured in early October. “A lot of shots were taken from the outside and I saw most of them. It was just a tour de force and that feels really good.”

Marois improved his save percentage to .924 in 13 games after just missing .900 once in his last six appearances.

“We had some big plans this year and we’re still very happy with our goalkeeping performance, but I know that with Drew out, Jake and Creedon were under a lot of pressure to move up,” Rapcewicz said. “Nothing in life is perfect but I don’t think we could ask much more from these guys to step in and allow us to be a 500+ club and stay in midfield.

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“Jake’s a great kid, we were lucky enough to get him from Sudbury and tonight it might have bitten her back you know?”

After withstanding continued pressure from the Cubs attackers, Paper Kings forward Hunter Friesen added some safety at 8:52 of the final frame, burying a close-range rebound. Ben Lacroix capped the contest with an empty Netzer and a well-deserved assist for Signoretti at 19:36.

Greater Sudbury fell to 25-5-2-0, the nation’s leading local competitor suffering defeat for the first time since November 10. One of the Cubs’ most frequent opponents, the Paper Kings, ended a four-game drought against their neighbor rivals after winning the first game of the season’s series in overtime.

“The last few times we played them, we didn’t respect how good they are,” Rapcewicz suggested, before rhyming names like Sobush, Oliver Smith, Billy Biedermann and Kyloe Ellis. “They have a really good hockey team and I think if you can go in there and respect their abilities you have a little better chance – not just of getting caught and going, oh no, there’s Smith again, but focus on these guys.” to let in.”

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Cubs head coach Darryl Moxam insisted his players had just as much respect for the Paper Kings but may have been caught overestimating their own abilities in one of their final games before the Christmas break.

Greater Sudbury was due to visit French River on Friday night and then take on Powassan in a home-and-home series on December 21-22.

“I can say one thing: We don’t take anyone lightly when it comes to our opponent,” said Moxam. “I think what’s happening is we’re getting a little cocky within ourselves. Tonight, honestly, I think we came across as like it doesn’t matter who we play against, we’re just going to win, and that’s not the case. Espanola plays hard every night, they have all the credit in the world and there are some very dangerous players in this hockey club. I thought both goalkeepers put on a great game tonight but in terms of respect for opponents we respect everyone we play against but sometimes we got a little cocky. It was one of those times when we thought we could roll into the Christmas holidays, which isn’t the case.

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“Sometimes it’s good to be a little humbled no matter who we’re playing against and I think that was the case tonight. We cannot take our foot off the gas.”

He welcomed a quick turnaround and a visit to Noelville to face a Rapids sextet who scored an upset against Powassan on Wednesday.

“I think some of the guys in there realize where they’ve been and some of the mistakes and lack of effort at times, and if you were to ask everyone in this room they’d be happy to get back to that right away,” Moxam said. “The good thing is that we can continue tomorrow night. French River played great and it’s the same message. We need to focus on ourselves, not who we’re playing against, and we need to go full 60, not 40 or 20.”

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Twitter: @ben_leeson


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