I got in touch with Bob Beatty today to check in on the Wolves situation at this stage of the pre-season.
He was considerably more pleased with the product on the ice, for both teams. "I thought we executed a lot better and I thought we outplayed Melfort for the majority of the game," said Beatty of the team's effort. One thing that does seem to be an issue is putting the puck in the net as he commented, "We had a little difficulty scoring, and certainly we're not pushing the panic button, but you know it's certainly an issue that's of some concern."
It seems like the veteran presence with Hladun, Bula, Vandenameele and Enns getting back in the lineup brought a lot more stability to the Wolves game, as displayed by the much stronger effort. In goal, Alex Rajotte played the full 60 minutes and looked solid. That isn't an indicator that Rajotte is moving into the starter role, Hovdebo is nursing some soreness, so didn't play in the interest of keeping healthy.
Okay, enough about the game on Sunday. A couple of roster notes for the Wolves as some guys are gone from camp now. Tom Kempinski is on his way to the Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. That's the same league Ben Bula played in before coming to La Ronge.
The Wolves also released Tyler Suchiu last week. He had the skills to be a very decent scorer, but I think the issue was there was just too much to fix for a 20-year old and an import. The Wolves have a lot of imports trying to make the club, and both Suchiu and Kempinski were imports (USA) so they were partially victims of that situation.
With those two out of camp that puts the Ice Wolves into the 22-23 player area so the roster should be just about set for Friday's home opener when the Pack welcomes Nipawin to the Mel.
A quick update on Rhyse Dieno and Jared Iron. According to blogs following the teams, both survived another round of cuts. Dieno looks to have a pretty good chance of sticking with Medicine Hat at the moment, with only 2-3 more cuts to be made from the forward ranks. Iron is still in good shape, but some young players in Kootenay are definitely putting on pressure. Good luck to both of you as the regular season approaches!
So grab your tickets for the opener, especially since the next home game isn't till the end of the month, and start the season off loud.
More to come as we progress through the week!