That's what the Ice Wolves have tonight when they welcome the Flin Flon Bombers to the Mel.
With last night's win over the Mustangs, the Ice Wolves put themselves into a position to claim their very first regular season points championship. A nice cap to an excellent regular season. Sure once we hit playoffs it won't matter any more than if they came in fourth, but it's nice to enjoy for the last couple weeks of the season.
I'll start with a quick recap of Tuesday's battle.
This was a fun game to watch. It was quick, physical and showcased the skill on both teams. Exactly what you would expect from the top two teams in the Bauer Conference. The Wolves were a bit hesitant in the first. They haven't played stiff competition for a week or so and it showed early. They didn't play poorly, they just didn't assert themselves like the dominant team they can be.
They did, however, pick up the opening goal. Travis Eggum popped one in from a few feet in front of Charles Corsi. As per usual, Lindensmith and Carre picked up the assists. It really is amazing to watch these guys come up the ice moving the puck amongst themselves. With the assist, Doug Lindensmith is now the Ice Wolves career assist leader (109). He also sits tied with Justin Rohr for the most assists by an Ice Wolf in a single season (60). The records continue to fall.
The celebration was short lived as Owen Roschuck came back and tied it up just 30 seconds later on a great shot that went in off the post. The score would remain tied, but only because the Wolves got the help of a post and one play where Jesse Mireau had a shot at an open net but had his head down gathering the puck. Mireau lost his chance and the Wolves held on.
The second period was very different from the first as the Ice Wolves became the aggressors. They were hitting everything in sight. Wolves captain Nolan Souchotte is the torch bearer of that physical game and eight minutes into the frame he laid the boom on a couple Mustangs before grabbing the puck in front and giving the Ice Wolves a lead. If the Ice Wolves need a big goal, Souchotte is there a lot of the time to get it. Very clutch player.
The third would move more to the Mustangs side of things but they just weren't getting enough shots on goal. The official listing is 4, but I would say closer to the 10 range. Still not enough. Late in the game, Rhyse Dieno picked up the puck behind the Mustangs D, and pulled a nice backhand move to beat Corsi, sealing the Wolves victory.
1. Nolan Souchotte - LR - 1 G - Captain Clutch strikes again. Nolan is the type of player that wins you games in the playoffs and he's shown multiple times why he is the leader of this team. Tuesday was just another example of one of the best leaders in the league doing his thing. Click here for Bob Beatty talking about Souchotte's clutch play.
2. Charles Corsi - MELF - 52 svs - Though many of his saves were easy to handle, and a lot of the shots debatable, he was still busy and held his team in the game. His play in the second period gave the Mustangs an opportunity to draw even.
3. Rhyse Dieno - LR - 1 G - After a bit of a slow start to the game, the 17 year old picked it up in the second and third. He threw one of the biggest hits of the game, which is unlike him, but definitely welcome. He put the final nail in the Mustangs coffin for the game with the beautiful move on Corsi. With the injuries the Ice Wolves are facing, he will be an important feature in the last few games.
Wednesday's game will likely be unpleasant. The Bombers and Wolves have a certain distaste for each other which generally translates into a fun night for the fans. What the Wolves will be trying to avoid are injuries. Belanger, Cliche and Cook were all injured against the Bombers, and the Wolves can't afford any serious injuries at this point of the season.
The Wolves will be battling to clinch that first spot on home ice. It would be great for the home fans if they could do it tonight, as otherwise it will be on the road, or even during their six day break if Melfort or Yorkton lose. The Bombers will do their best to keep the Wolves from clinching as Flin Flon has their own placement to worry about.
The Bombers are one point back of the Battlefords for the fourth spot in the conference. The North Stars actually have a game in hand, something they haven't enjoyed for a long time. Checking the scoresheet, Corey Tyrell was back in the lineup for the Bomb Squad in their win over Nipawin last night. Tyrell gives the Bombers a more balanced attack and his speed is always something that keeps teams on edge.
Flin Flon also has apparently added a new player, Ashton Bernard. A quick check of some online forums and stats puts the label of enforcer on this New Jersey Devils draft pick. We'll see if he suits up against La Ronge.
When I spoke to Bob Beatty last night, the goaltending decision had yet to be made. Hovdebo has given the Wolves solid play from the backup slot and the less Bartko plays down the stretch, the more he can play through the grind of the playoffs. It could give the Wolves a serious advantage in net as Bartko may end up as one of the most well rested goalies heading into the post season.
Click here to hear Bob Beatty talk about his goaltending situation.
The game gets going at 7:30 tonight. I'll have the broadcast on CFAR 590 and flinflononline.com starting at 7:15 with the pre-game show. We'll hook up the webcast either at the same time or some time closer to puck drop. We'll likely be starting the webcast a little early, so if you want to hear some coaches interviews get on a little early and we may be up and running.
Curtis will join me on colour for the simulcast and we hope Bombers fans listening will enjoy the radio broadcast and everyone listening/watching for that matter.
Enjoy the game!