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D-man’s ‘assist’ huge boost

Defenceman Liam Murray didn’t get a point on the scoresheet, but he did deliver a big assist in helping the Kingston Frontenacs hold on for a 3-2 win over the Sudbury Wolves on Saturday night.

It was Murray’s thunderous check on Sudbury captain Michael Pezzetta, followed a short time later by a challenge to fight that Murray fully accepted, that sparked the Frontenacs in the third period.

Sudbury’s Drake Pilon, on the next stoppage, challenged Murray to a fight and the two went at it. Both received majors and game misconducts for fighting during a stoppage.

The hit, which came four minutes into the third period, and Murray’s response clearly energized the Kingston bench.

“Murray is a big leader for us. I really think that got the guys going for the rest of the third period,” defenceman Jakob Brahaney said.

“Respect to him for answering the bell. That’s a great hockey play. It really gave our bench that extra energy to finish off the game,” Matt Hotchkiss, who scored twice for the Frontenacs, said.

Tyler Burnie had the other goal late in the second period.

Jeremy Helvig made 36 saves, including a glove save off Darian Pilon who was alone in front. The stop came about a minute before Murray delivered his big hit.

Frontenacs head coach Jay Varady liked a lot of things about the win, which came before 3,417 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

“I thought that was an extremely competitive hockey game. Fun and exciting,” Varady said. “They play hockey the right way. They played hard and heavy. They dragged us into it a little bit and I thought we responded and were able to push back.”

The goals by Hotchkiss, on a power-play and setup by Sergey Popov, and Burnie on wrap-around, came about three minutes apart late in the second period.

“We were able to change the momentum of the game slightly getting those two quick goals,” Varady said.

In the third, after the Murray hit, Jacob Paquette and Eemeli Rasanen threw some big hits, the Frontenacs blocked shots and Helvig wasn’t giving up anything.

“It was a really gutsy win. These are the fun ones. We love a good, intense game like that,” Hotchkiss said.

“Jeremy [Helvig] has been really good and he was really good tonight again,” Brahaney said. “I really think it was a full team effort. We blocked a lot of shots, took hits to make plays and got pucks out. I thought it was a really strong third for us.”

Hotchkiss, who now has seven goals in the 11 games he has played with Kingston since coming in a trade from the Guelph Storm, said playing in front of a goaltender like Helvig makes all the difference.

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