Here we go, attempt 2.0. I was 95% done the first time around when I went to check a stat and accidentally closed my web browser, deleting my entire post.
So... let's do this again. With the Mustangs in Yorkton and the Bombers in town, the time looked right for the Ice Wolves to open up a little more breathing room on Melfort. It didn't turn out anything like the Ice Wolves had hoped. In a league where anyone can beat anyone on any night, the Bombers proved it true, taking a 4-1 win on the Wolves home ice. Melfort picked up a win in Yorkton and the Wolves now only sit 4 points ahead of the Mustangs, who hold a game in hand.
Read on for a recap of Tuesday's action.
The tough night started early for the Wolves. Just 1:34 into the opening stanza, a Jesse Mychan shot came flying off the backboards, into Adam Bartko's feet, then into the net. Was it a fluke? Yup. Was it a weak goal? Debatable. Was it a killer? Definitely. The Ice Wolves just didn't seem quite right after that goal, and it could have led to the second.
Just over two minutes after the first goal, Andrew Johnston came racing off the half boards towards the net, uncontested. The play seemed like a bit of a miscommunication between the La Ronge defence, and it gave Johnston the space he needed. Bartko played it right and took away about 98% of the net from Johnston, but he snapped a perfect shot into the far top corner putting the Bombers up 2-0 on their first three shots. The rest of the period was back and forth, but neither team could solve the goalies.
The second was all Ice Wolves. They played their brand of hockey for about 30 minutes of this game, which was very telling. The Bombers played their game for a full 60, but when the Wolves were rolling, the Bombers couldn't contain them. If La Ronge puts together full, strong efforts against Flin Flon in the next few meetings, the Ice Wolves will be tough to overcome.
Nolan Souchottte scored the Wolves lone goal on a powerplay in the second. He found the puck in a scramble in front of Musico and lifted the puck off a backhand over the sprawling goalie to get the Wolves back in the game. That was as close as it would get with Musico stymieing the Wolves on multiple occasions. La Ronge seemed to have a wire disconnected in this one. Lots of passes were behind players, too far in front, in the skates, of the heel of sticks... pretty much anything that could go wrong did. Including a couple penalties early in the third.
Robert Monfore was called for interference on Ryan Fox, a bit of soft call from my angle. Souchotte, however, deserved the slashing call he received to put the Bombers on a 5-on-3 for 19 seconds. The Bomb Squad couldn't score on the two man advantage, but they set the stage for the goal on the remaining powerplay time. A point shot got knocked down in front and bounced off a few players before sliding under Bartko as he tried to get flush with the ice. Johnston got credited his second goal of the game, and the Bombers took a 3-1 lead.
Flin Flon had La Ronge on their heels to start the third, but the Wolves snapped out of it midway through the period and poured it on. Nothin doin, though, and the Wolves fell 4-1 after Corey Tyrell scored an empty netter. As the final buzzer sounded, the Bombers were all over the Ice Wolves in the post-game celebration, hooting and hollering at the home team as they went off the ice. This stretch where these teams face each other 4/9 games is going to be nasty.
The Wolves seem to go through a rotation of win 3 or 4, then lose one to reset and refocus. They'll have a couple days to practice and get that loose wire reconnected before Weyburn comes into the Mel on Friday. Next meeting between LA and FF goes this Saturday in the Flon, catch that one on MBC.
Interesting note before I hit the three stars. Out of these two teams that are notorious for relying on their strong home efforts, (though La Ronge hasn't been fantastic at the Mel this season) the road team has won all four meetings. It'll be interesting to see if this trend continues.
1. P.J. Musico - FF - 45 Svs, 1 GA - He's been unreal in two games at the Mel this season, over 50 saves last time out, 45 on Tuesday. Also, his California Surfer celebration at the end of the game was classic.
2. Andrew Johnston - FF - 2 G - A threat to score whenever he touched the puck, and he did, twice. Johnston continues to be the main goal scoring threat on this team. Things are looking good for this 19 year old.
3. Nolan Souchotte - LR - 1 G - The captain got the only goal for the Wolves at a crucial moment for the team if they were going to come back. He also threw a huge hit in the neutral zone in the first that helped swing the momentum in the Wolves direction for a time.
In case you were wondering after the preview, my car did indeed start after the game. I was happy...
Like I said before, Weyburn visits on Friday, Curtis and I will have the call for you on Livesports.com. If you're in town, I'm making your Friday plans for you. Head on out to the Mel, because you're running out of chances to see this team. Travis Eggum will be looking for a franchise record 43rd goal and the big three continue their quest for the 100 point mark on the season.
I'll have my preview for the Wings and Wolves up late Friday morning!
Catch you then!