Late Season Survey

03/28/2011

 
Hey folks,

With the season getting down to its late stages, I've put together a 26 question survey on how I can improve the website and the quality of my broadcasts.  It only takes a couple minutes to complete and it really helps me improve if I know what my readers/listeners would like to see change.

So if you've been grumbling about something for the entire season, now is your chance to get it off your chest and I can work on fixing the problem.  

It would be greatly appreciated if you could take the time to fill out the survey.  

Click Here to Participate in Survey

*If you answer some of the questions with very low ratings, I would ask that you definitely take the time to explain what you don't like.  I can't get better if you don't tell me what you don't like.

Thanks so much for your time!

-D

Post Script:  At this time (10:31 Monday) I've had four responses to the survey and I am already finding them helpful.  Even with just a couple of comments I am able to ask myself questions about what I'm putting on the site and things of that nature.  Thanks to those who already did the survey!
 
 
What a night for the Ice Wolves organization.  After wrapping up a five game series with Melfort by a 4-2 score on Friday night, the Wolves have some time to get ready for their greatest challenge to repeat as Credit Union Cup Champs.

The Mustangs gave the Wolves everything they could handle as they fought for their playoff lives.  Adam Bartko kept them at bay while the Ice Wolves worked ahead to a three goal lead.  That would be all the offence the Wolves would need, but things would get dicey.

Read on for my recap of Game 5.
 
 
As per SJHL Communications, Laury Ryan is stepping down at the end of the season.  I'm sure this will invoke a lot of different responses, and I'm positive it will lead to interesting discussion on the SJHL Fan Forum

Here's the official release with my thoughts afterwards...
 

The Toughest Game

03/25/2011

 
As the cliché  goes, "The fourth is always the toughest win."  That even proved true in a series that was a complete blowout (see Terriers/Klippers).  The Ice Wolves might say it doesn't get much tougher than what they pulled off in Melfort at the Northern Lights Palace during the week.

A come from behind win and a win while being heavily out shot.  Now back in the friendly and deafening confines of the Mel, the Ice Wolves have a chance to repeat  as Bauer Conference Champs setting up a rematch of last years SJHL Final.  The Mustangs, however, will do everything in their considerable power to prevent that from happening.

Read on for my preview of Game 5.
 
 
After getting out of the Palace with a win in Game 4, the Ice Wolves have their foot firmly planted on the collective throat of the Mustangs.  It kind of broke down like this.

A decent first period, followed by an abysmal second with a very underrated and pretty brilliant third period to top things off.  When a team gets out shot 33-19, they don't win too often.  The Ice Wolves, who rarely get out shot, put forward their lowest shot total of the entire regular season and playoffs (tied w/19 vs Humboldt Jan. 7).  That second period was largely to blame as they put one, yes, one shot on goal in the period.  It was actually a pretty good shot on goal from Aaron Enns.

So how did the Ice Wolves win 3-1?  Read on and I will impart my thoughts on how it happened.
 
 
What a game to watch at the Palace on Tuesday night.  It wasn't pretty for either team, but it was intense and was about as close as you can get without going to overtime.  The result?  Logan Herauf plays hero in the third, tying the game and potting the winner in a 4-3 Ice Wolves triumph.

Neither team played what we would call their best game, and I'm sure the coaches agree with that sentiment.  However, this wasn't like Game 1 or 2 when a team just plain lacked intensity.  There was plenty to go around Tuesday night and at times it got the better of the Mustangs and it was almost their undoing.

In the end, Herauf was the determining factor.
 
 
That's what we're down to now.  With the split in La Ronge, the Bauer Conference Final is now cut down to a Best of Five series in which the Mustangs hold home ice advantage.  With that in mind, the Ice Wolves would love nothing more than to repay Melfort the favour of taking the first of the back to back games to earn at least a split and the opportunity to go up 3-1.

Before anyone (myself included) gets to the delusions of grandeur of either team jumping out to a 3-1 lead in Melfort, we need to focus on the first contest.

Read on for my preview of Game 3 of the Bauer Conference Final.
 
 
If you caught the webcasts on the weekend and read the Bauer Conference Final series preview a couple posts back, you will be aware that I gave a random nickname to Curtis.

Referring to him as Curtis "The Eagle" Skalicky likely isn't nearly as funny as I think it is, but he seems to find it amusing.  If I can get one person to laugh it's all good.  Even if the rest of you are just shaking your heads.  If you caught Saturday's webcast, you will be aware we were kicking around the idea of holding an open forum on the whole nickname subject.

Personally, I think a nickname needs to be earned, not just randomly bestowed.  So really, "The Eagle" probably won't carry much further as it gets old.  However, if someone was to have a nickname selected and voted on by the fans... that could hang on for at least the rest of the post-season.

In keeping with the proposed idea, this is the official DanielFink.Weebly.com "Nickname Curtis Contest".  I have absolutely nothing to give away except for the admiration of your peers for being the one to nickname Curtis.  Maybe I'll buy you a coffee or something?  Is that acceptable compensation?  

Use the comments section below to offer up your suggestions for Curtis' new nickname.  I'll take the options and put it into a poll that people can then vote on and we'll hopefully have a winner by the time Game 5 rolls around!

So get thinkin' and nicknamin'!

-D
 
 
The Ice Wolves needed a win in Game 2 to get some momentum back after a relatively poor showing in Game 1.  The Mustangs had accomplished "Mission Split" and would have been sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead heading back to Melfort.

It was clear which team was the more desperate and more intense in Game 2, the Ice Wolves were rolling on all cylinders with every line contributing to the cause and they were rewarded with a 4-0 win to even the series at two games apiece.

The Wolves were a disaster in their own end in Game 1, having no answer for an aggressive forecheck by the Mustangs.  It seemed like the 'Stangs dialled down the pressure in Game 2 for some reason and the Ice Wolves were making better decisions with the puck that limited the effectiveness of the forecheck which was still reasonably dangerous.

The Wolves looked more sure of themselves with the puck and it led to less open opportunities for Melfort and the Mustangs started to show the frustration in the third period.  Much of that frustration could be attributed to Adam Bartko who was excellent again in Game 2 nabbing the shutout and stealing the second period for La Ronge.  So far, Bartko has been the better looking of the netminders and that will need to continue for the Ice Wolves as they try to earn at least a split in Melfort.

Injuries popped up in this game for the Mustangs.  First it was Adam Wihak going into the boards and suffering a concussion that could finish him for the season.  Talking to one of the EMT's that was on the scene, it was pretty serious but he will be okay.  I didn't actually catch what happened on the play, I spoke to Ice Wolves forward, Nathan Boyer, who was on the ice at the time and saw the hit.  Ice Wolves defenceman Brett Hope gave Wihak a good shove after he let a dandy of a pass go.  Normally a harmless play but Wihak ended up crashing into the boards awkwardly.  Later in the game, Mustangs defenceman Brett Kipling fell awkwardly over an Ice Wolves player who was on the ice and wrenched his knee.  Don't know about the severity of the injury, but it didn't look good.

All in all, the Ice Wolves played a much better game in the second tilt.  It was a full 60 minute effort with every line going.  If they can string together a couple of those games, they should be able to earn a split in Melfort on Tuesday and Wednesday.  You can catch those games on MBC Radio and MBCradio.com.

Three Stars

1. Adam Bartko - LR - 30 Svs, SO - The Ice Wolves netminder has dialled in for the playoffs.  He played his best game of the season on Saturday and kept the Ice Wolves ahead when the game was close.  His fantastic rolling glove save in the first period kept the Ice Wolves in the lead at a moment when the Mustangs were poised to even the game up heading into the intermission.

2. Travis Eggum - LR - 2 G - The SJHL's regular season leading goal scorer had a bit of a slow start to the playoffs, but now seems to be in full gear.  Four goals in his last two games have him tied for second in playoff goal scoring.  The Mustangs will need to contain Eggum if they are going to win the series.

3. Brody Haygarth - MELF - The speedy forward was the biggest threat to Adam Bartko's shutout all night.  His outside speed makes him tough to handle, even for some of the fleet footed Ice Wolves defenders.  Look for him to be a factor heading forward in the series.
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Hope you enjoyed the weekend of hockey in La Ronge, I can't wait for the games in Melfort!

Have a great weekend!

-D
 
 
Quite frankly it was a miracle they made it to the extra frame at all, playing like they did.

First period was pretty good and they were rewarded with the lead.  Then, for some reason the team that played the first disappeared.  The Ice Wolves didn't show much in the second or third period on their way to a 4-3 OT loss to the Mustangs in Game 1.

Credit the Mustangs because they did everything right to keep the Ice Wolves off-balance once they had the advantage.  An aggressive forecheck had the Wolves bobbling pucks in their own end and giving pucks away like crazy.  The Mustangs are a team that capitalize on mistakes and that's what they did in Game 1 and it worked well, because the Wolves made a lot of mistakes.  Adam Bartko bailed the Wolves out numerous times, including a fantastic save in overtime on a Cody Hanson breakaway.

Really the overtime was a mini picture of how the second and third periods went.  Good first shift, followed by uninspired play.  When the Mustangs get four shots in overtime, one is a breakaway chance and the other is wide open in the slot for the winner.  There is a problem.

While I've praised the Ice Wolves defence for being underrated and getting the job done night in night out, this was not one of those nights.  Almost every member of the blue line had a near-costly giveaway in the Ice Wolves zone and there was just something not working on the back end for the Wolves in Game 1.

I'm sure Bob Beatty had some choice words for his squad during and after the game.  I guess we'll find out if the team that dominated Flin Flon in 3 out of the 5 games will show up against Melfort tonight.  The Ice Wolves have only lost back to back games twice this season and tend to respond well after a loss.  Now the pressure is on and the Wolves face adversity for the first time this season.  A loss tonight, and it may be the Wolves' final home game.  Sounds like pressure/adversity to me.  How will they respond?

Three Stars

1. Cody Hanson - MELF - 1 G - His shorthanded goal early in the second got the Mustangs going in the right direction.  The Ice Wolves will have to pay better attention to him, as he slipped in on THREE breakaways in the game, capitalizing on one.  He was all over the place in this one creating offence and generally agitating the Wolves.

2. Brody Haygarth - MELF - 1 G - Generally dangerous all game long, he was rewarded as the hero of the game, scoring the winner in OT.  He found the open spot, boy was he open, and made no mistake with his opportunity.  His play on the forecheck could have resulted in more goals as well, if not for the play of the third star.

3. Adam Bartko - LR - 38 Svs - The question coming into the series was, "Can Adam Bartko win the goaltending battle?"  I'd say he did in Game 1.  Faced with more scoring chances, Bartko came up with some fantastic saves to keep the Ice Wolves in the game.  He momentarily extended Game 1 with an unbelievable save, but had no chance on Haygarth's winner.  He'll have to replicate that effort again in Game 2.
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I'll have the webcast along with Curtis for Game 2 starting shortly before puck drop at 7:30.  Again I apologize for my weird voice cracks and such.  We'll see how my voice holds up in Game 2.  All I can say if we have a long overtime in this series I might not make it. 

Enjoy the game!

-D