The Ice Wolves accomplished the task set out before them in Flin Flon Monday night. They went in looking to get out of the Survivor Series in three games and avoid giving any momentum back to the Bombers on home ice. A solid 3-1 victory got the job done and the Wolves ousted their Northern rivals from the post season for the third straight year.
It was a pretty convincing victory despite how close the score was. The Wolves really controlled the play to start the game and it was key in the victory. Byron Sorenson got the Wolves an early lead and things looked pretty good. The Ice Wolves kept pressing their advantage, but a couple Bomber powerplays turned things around for the home side. Despite looking a little uncomfortable between the pipes, Alex Rajotte held the Bombers off the scoresheet with some help from his defence.
The second period had the Bombers playing with more jump to start the frame than the first, but the Wolves weathered the storm and pressed back the other way. The penalty kill was called upon frequently and did a fantastic job of shutting down the Bombers. Towards the end of the period, the Ice Wolves took another penalty and something interesting would happen. Alex Vandenameele took a boarding penalty with 1:36 remaining in the second. The Wolves got to the break still leading 1-0, the game clock showed 23 seconds remaining on the PK. The penalty was run down over the intermission so the score clock could time the break. When the teams came back, though, 36 seconds went up for the remaining time on the penalty kill. Oops. So the Bombers had an extra 13 seconds to work with on the man advantage, but it was the Ice Wolves who would benefit. Nathan Boyer stole the puck and at the Wolves blue-line and raced in alone on Devin Buffalo. The Bomber goalie stopped Boyer's first chance, but Boyer buried the rebound to give the Ice Wolves the 2-0 lead. If that timing mistake isn't there, we can be reasonably (not 100%) certain Boyer doesn't score at that point. Both teams would have been in different set ups with the penalty having closed off ten seconds ago. What looked like a bad break for La Ronge, turned around on the Bombers.
Flin Flon, knowing the season was in jeopardy, turned up the heat. The physical game ramped up and you could sense the desperation. The Bombers just couldn't seem to gain any purchase, though, and Aaron Enns iced the game with an empty netter in the final couple minutes. Riley Storzuk gave Bomber fans something to cheer about, breaking the Alex Rajotte shutout bid with 16 seconds left in the contest.
The Ice Wolves never trailed on the scoreboard in the series as they move on to face the Humboldt Broncos and will try to upset the third ranked team in the country. The Wolves are no stranger to upsetting the first place team coming out of the survivor series. They accomplished that exact feat two years ago when they came out of the Survivor Series (against Humboldt) and beat the Bombers who were in first. Two players still remain from that team in Carre and Enns while Hladun and Boyer were around the team as AP's.
The Conference Semi-Finals get going for all four series' Friday night. Both Friday and Saturday's game will be broadcast on MBC as the Ice Wolves look to win their first game of the season against Humboldt. The Wolves need to win at least one game at the Elgar Peterson Arena to complete the upset and their best chance may be Game 1 with the Broncos coming off a long layoff.
I'll have a series preview up ahead of Game 1.