It's amazing the difference 24 hours can make in Junior Hockey.
I'm not going to spend a ton of time on the 8-2 game. It was probably the Wolves worst game of the 2011-12 season, matched maybe only by the 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Notre Dame Hounds at the Mel. Both brutal games for the Wolves, though the Humboldt loss a little more pronounced.
Pretty much everything that could go wrong did for La Ronge. The perfect summary was the Broncos' eighth goal of the game when it bounced in front of Myles Hovdebo and took a wild bounce to the right and into the goal. The Wolves were completely unprepared for a Humboldt team that certainly requires everything you have, and a little more.
The Wolves knew they played a poor game, and looked to right the ship Saturday night. It was a night and day difference, though, in the end the result is still a loss. The Broncos opened the scoring on the powerplay courtesy of a beauty by Robbie Ciolfi. He went inside out on a Wolves defender then went fully across the Ice Wolves net, and found enough space to beat a sprawling Alex Rajotte to get his third in two games.
There was no rush of goals that characterized Friday night's game. The Ice Wolves just went back to work and trailed 1-0 after one. That didn't last long, as the Broncos opened up a 3-on-1 opportunity with Joey Davies finishing it off with a hard one timer that beat Rajotte as he came across to try and make the save. The Ice Wolves could have packed it in there, but kept fighting.
The hard work payed off when Matt Weisensel went into Beast Mode a few minutes later. He got the puck into the zone, then powered two Broncos away from the puck in the corner. Weisensel brought the puck in behind the goal, fought off another check and threw it in front. Aaron Enns and Zac Ashdown both got some whacks in on the puck before Weisensel came around and jammed it in. That's why Weisensel wears a 'C' on his jersey. The Wolves went into overdrive after the goal and nearly tied it up a couple of times. Dzijacky made a couple of great saves, and Marc-Andre Carre hit the post on the powerplay. That would factor in huge as Ryan Marshall came back on the ice to end an Ice Wolves 5/3. A blocked shot bounced straight onto his stick and Marshall was gone. Like he's done a couple times in the shootout against the Wolves Marshall made good on the chance in alone and restored the two goal lead.
Again, that could have been it for La Ronge, but the Wolves didn't go away. Once more, they were rewarded as Wilson Dumais brought the score within one on a great wrist shot that kissed the crossbar on its way behind Dzijacky. The Wolves still had 15 minutes to even the game, but the Broncos weren't going to surrender it easily. Humboldt played a fantastic next ten minutes dominating the puck control. They had a couple of chances to put the Wolves away, most notably Taylor Duzan whiffing on a mostly empty net. Other than that, La Ronge did a good job of limiting chances, but couldn't get the puck.
In the final couple minutes the Wolves did get the offence rolling again as urgency set in. They generated some great opportunities late in the game, but again, Dzijacky was there to shut the door. The Broncos defencemen, when there were rebounds, were also on the scene to get rid of the puck.
In the end the Broncos celebrated a 3-2 victory and a 2-0 series lead, but the Ice Wolves were able to regain a lot of confidence through this game. They put themselves in a position that a win was conceivable at the Elgar Peterson Arena, something we haven't seen this season.
The series now shifts to the Mel where the Ice Wolves room for error is approximately zip. Even if they had garnered the split in Humboldt, the Wolves were looking at a situation where they needed to win their home games to win the series. Now they need to win both or face a 3-0 or 3-1 deficit. The Wolves are confident they can do it in the building where they were very competitive with Humboldt this season.
No doubt the Mel will be its raucous fish throwing, air horn blowing self. The Ice Wolves hope that, and the smaller dimensions will be enough to help them along to a pair of victories.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!