BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
The OTHS Club Hockey Team is off to a perfect 5-0 start to this 2016-17 season, and junior defenseman Graham Sudduth is a big reason why.
Sudduth has netted a team high five goals to pace the Panthers in their early season schedule.
His four goal performance in game number one against Belleville proved heroic as the Blue and Gold failed to hold on to an early lead and needed four straight tallies from the junior to retake control of the contest.
Sudduth did not register a goal in O’Fallon’s 4-2 win over Collinsville the following evening, but teammates Ryan Boeck, Hayden Ourada, and Logan Drolet provided the scoring muscle to carry the Panthers.
Monday night featured an overpowering offensive onslaught from O’Fallon as Panther forwards swarmed the Triad zone, forcing the issue by controlling possession in the offensive zone and pushing pucks to the net.
Sudduth would again find himself in the middle of the Blue and Gold attack, netting the 7th O’Fallon goal on the night to essentially put the game out of reach. Triad would add a pair of late goals but with the junior’s goal along with two assists, the outcome was never truly in question as the Panthers walked out of the ice complex in Granite City with an 11-5 win.
“It’s always a plus when a guy who grinds through every game can be rewarded with some offensive chances, and Graham has taken advantage of seemingly every one,” Panther Head Coach Patrick Roy said. “To add his offense to a team that’s already very talented makes us that much tougher to beat.”
While the junior’s scoring touch diminished a bit this past week in wins over Columbia and East Alton-Wood River, his defensive leadership has paced a stout Panther defense which has given up the 5th fewest points in the league to date.
“A player doesn’t have to always be in the scoring column to control a game,” Roy said. “Graham is one of those guys who sets the tone for the rest of his team defensively, and that’s extremely valuable throughout the course of an entire season.”
Sudduth has been a consistent contributor during his time on the ice for the Blue and Gold, providing valuable shifts with his soft hands and great rink vision. The junior is considered one of the area’s best defensive talents and has represented St. Louis on travel select teams at times throughout his career, including the St. Louis AAA Blues Bantam Major team and the St. Louis Selects 18U team, while getting to skate at facilities in schools like Notre Dame and Boston University.