Here's my live blog/chat for the Russia vs Slovakia game (Dec. 28th).
 
 
A little late in getting going, but here it is, the live chat from the Blackhawks and Bisons game.
 
 
Here's a Christmas present for Ice Wolves fans.  After completing a semester of school, defenceman Byron Sorenson will return to the Wolves lineup in time for their first game back from the break.

This is a huge "free" acquisition for the Ice Wolves and turns their defence into one of the top units in the league.  If you're unfamiliar with him, Sorenson was a major reason the blue-line was able to solidify last season when he arrived from the BCHL.  He finished the season as the Ice Wolves' Co-Defenceman of the Year and was a vital part of the Championship run. 

Here is Sorenson's stat-line:  
Sorenson's offensive numbers aren't exactly stunning, but he's effective rushing the puck and starting things from the Ice Wolves' zone.  Really, it's his defensive play the Wolves will be happiest to get back.  Sorenson isn't a overly physical defenceman, but his positioning is fantastic and he's very effective with an active stick.  Sorenson's arrival immediately moves him into the top three on the La Ronge blue line.  The new depth chart could look something like this:

Weisensel (91)
Sorenson (91)
Ritchie (92)
Vandenameele (92)
Bula (91)
Sawyer (93)
Cook (93)
Hope (93) (will log minutes up front)

With the additions of Ritchie and Sorenson over the last month, the Wolves blue line passed from a pretty young outfit, to an experienced one.  This sets up the Wolves to have a championship calibre defence and be they're well set for next season with the youth still on the line.

Obviously there will be some questions about conditioning, but this has been in the works for a while now.  When Sorenson arrived last season, he hadn't played a game in a while, but fit right into the action so I wouldn't be too concerned.  He'll join the team on the 29th when the Ice Wolves get back at it, so he'll have plenty of time to get back into shape.

As the Wolves continue to add pieces, they seem to be gearing up for another run.  The addition of Byron Sorenson puts La Ronge in a real position concentrate on some of the available forwards at the upcoming Trade Deadline.

It's an exciting time for Ice Wolves fans coming up on the stretch drive. For now, though, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

-D
 
 
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There won't be much of a Christmas break for five SMAAAHL teams this year.  The Beardy's Blackhawks, Tisdale Trojans, Prince Albert Mintos, Saskatoon Contacts and Blazers are all travelling to Calgary to compete in the 34th Annual Mac's Midget Hockey Tournament.  

They'll be joined by the Prince Albert A&W Bears, Saskatoon Stars and Regina Rebels who represent Saskatchewan in the women's division.

If you're not familiar with it, the Mac's Tournament is one of the largest of its kind in the World.  Teams from all over Canada attend and some international teams are usually featured.  This year is no exception with a couple teams from Russia and the Czech Republic hitting the ice in Calgary.  The list of top players who competed in the holiday event during their Midget days is impressive.  Names like Jarome Iginla ('92), 
Chris Osgood ('87,'88), Ryan Smith ('90), oh... and a guy named 
Sydney Crosby ('01) are just a few of the many

 
 
The Ice Wolves had designs on competing for second place this week, but a pair of losses to the always tough Humboldt Broncos put a stop to that.  Coupled with the Bombers taking advantage of their games in hand, and the Wolves are out of the picture for third and will enjoy some turkey and egg nog sitting in control of fourth.  Obviously not where they wanted to be, but the Wolves were pretty fortunate to come out of the weekend with two points.

Plain and simple, the Broncos were the better team for the majority of the two games this weekend.  Alex Rajotte was absolutely brilliant, and is the goalie of the week in my opinion, despite his 1-0-2 record.  You can chalk up the points under the 'stolen by goalie' category.  Aside from one weak goal in the two games, Rajotte gave the Wolves every chance to get a win, but they just couldn't get him a third goal on either night.

The Wolves had a lot of trouble getting offensive pressure built on the Broncos as that quick transition game continues to give the Wolves fits.  Talking to the players, their dump and chase is almost neutralized completely by how quickly the Broncos can work the puck ahead.  Defencemen can't chance holding the line because if they bobble the puck or it gets past, it'll be a 2-on-0 or 3-on-1.  Even when they back off it's generally an odd man rush.  The Wolves will have to put in some work on figuring out this Humboldt team, because they've shown themselves able to take out every team in the league aside from the RBC Hosts.
 
 
Here is where you can tune into tonight's Live Blog to follow along as the Ice Wolves look for their first win against the Humboldt Broncos.

I'll log on around 7:20 to get you set up!
 
 
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Ben Bula helps collection efforts
Though the Ice Wolves came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 SO loss to the Humboldt Broncos, there was plenty to be happy with Friday night in La Ronge.  The team's Teddy Bear Toss got rolling four and a half minutes in when Nathan Boyer scored a shorthanded goal to get the toys flying.

In total 108 toys ended up on the ice, plus a few stragglers that brought the total to around 115.  

Great to see so many bears on the ice and headed to new homes through Victim Services.  

After the game, the Ice Wolves took the time to skate with some of their young fans which is always a thrill for the kids.  The guys are dog tired by that point and it's a nice gesture by the team to give the kids that opportunity.

The Ice Wolves continue to have problems with the Humboldt Broncos.  Last night's game looked to be well in hand after one period with the Ice Wolves up 2-0.  Whether it was Humboldt pouring it on, or the Ice Wolves taking a step back, the Broncos took control after that.  Evening the game with eight seconds left in the second period was a blow to the Wolves.  They came out firing in the third period, but couldn't beat Hrynkiw and then I believe the short bench and fatigue began to take its toll.

It will be interesting to see how the Wolves come out at the JRMCC tonight in a building that has given them problems this season.  If the Ice Wolves can overcome that, they can be in good shape.  This is a must win for the Wolves as losing a fifth game to the Broncos will pretty much put Humboldt out of reach in the standings the way they are playing right now.

Here's Nathan Boyer on the game and scoring the teddy bear goal.  Also some of the clean up efforts along with guest commentator Braden Malsbury and I throwing our bears on the ice.
To round things out, here are some pictures from the 2011 Teddy Bear Toss!
Like I mentioned above, the game's at the JRMCC tonight (Saturday) so there won't be a webcast.  Branden Crowe will have the call for Bronco Radio, and as usual I'll have a live blog up and running so you can follow along with both of those options.

The Ice Wolves final game of 2011 gets going at 7:30.  Hope to see you on the Live Blog!

-D
 
 
The Ice Wolves welcome the Humboldt Broncos to the Mel tonight as La Ronge hopes to regain the third spot in the Bauer Conference.

So far, the season series has been all Humboldt with three wins over the Ice Wolves in their three meetings this season.  The first two were disastrous for the Ice Wolves, 7-1 and 5-1 losses.  The third was better on the scoreboard, but the Wolves defence and goaltending was pretty suspect.  Since then Alex Rajotte has been on fire and the D has been vastly improved, partially through each other, but more on that later.

In an added twist to tonight's contest, it's the Teddy Bear Toss tonight for the final game at the Mel in 2011.  
 
 
When the Ice Wolves score their first goal tomorrow night (Friday) against the Humboldt Broncos, let the teddy bears rain.  Yes with the Christmas Season upon us, it's time for a good old fashioned Teddy Bear Toss at the Mel.

The team is asking fans to bring a new plush toy to the game to hurl on the ice after the Ice Wolves score their first of the night.  Plastic bags will be provided at the Mel to make sure those bears make it to the well deserving arms of kids good as new.

To get you in the spirit of whipping soft toys onto the playing surface, here's this year's toss in Calgary.
When it comes down to it; throwing animals on the ice is second nature for Wolves fans.  Though they tend to be of the organic, frozen and slightly slimy variety as opposed to the non-organic, soft and cuddly variety.

I hope to see a packed Mel tomorrow night, full of fans with bears in hand.  I'll have mine up in the press box ready to go, maybe try for the trick shot off someone's helmet.

Also coming up tomorrow, I'll have a guest announcer for colour commentary in Braden Malsbury from Global TV in Saskatoon.  A former schoolmate of mine coming up to visit La Ronge for the weekend.  He was kind enough to help me out on colour when the Wolves visited Yorkton last year in the SJHL Finals.

I'll have a preview of the Ice Wolves and Broncos latest meeting on the blog tomorrow.

-D
 
 
Note: If you live in Saskatchewan, the game will be broadcast on Access 7 Wednesday night (Dec. 14) @ 7:30.

There were a bunch of ways this game could have gone.  I didn't really expect a shutout with the the offences involved, but maybe I shouldn't have been surprised seeing as now three of the Ice Wolves and North Stars games have resulted in a zero on one side.

Alex Rajotte was brilliant, though as a 58 save shutout goes, it wasn't a mind-blowing game from the Ice Wolves goalie.  Maybe that's because of Rajotte's 'business as usual' approach, but the Stars didn't seem to be making things horrendously difficult for him.  Rajotte did make some nice saves through traffic, but it was really his positioning that was the key.  Every shot seemed to be right in his chest or pads, rebounds were booted away and the Ice Wolves defence was there to help if things got crazy (like Woody Klassen's two-post ring around).

Graham Hildebrand was no slouch either.  As Mike Stackhouse was saying on the Access 7 broadcast/webcast, sometimes Hildebrand can run into the poor luck of playing a really good game, but not coming out with a win.  That was more of an issue last season, but interesting to see that come into play Tuesday night.