Going to start this quick hit off with a personal aside. Today I was off the hook for anything. No interviews, no play-by-play or anything like that. Instead of my usual do stuff to keep busy, I just let myself be a fan. For one night, drop the try to be relatively unbiased and just be a fan.
What a game to be a fan for. The rise and fall, ebb and flow of the emotion at the Mel was absolutely electrifying. My heart was pounding from puck drop. I could feel the momentum shift from every shot, hit and save. Absolutely fantastic. The game was fast paced, and honestly one of the most exciting games I've ever seen.
Certainly not helping my nervous condition up in the press box was Doug Lindensmith as he was fully along for the ride, just like everyone else. Maybe even worse, as a player stuck in the press box. When Adam Bartko stopped Craig Eisenhut on the penalty shot with 2:25 remaining in the game, the Mel Heglund Uniplex was unbelievable. A well deserved hero moment for Bartko when the fans were chanting his name. Then he tried to score, and was about three feet from doing it. Nobody cared that he iced the puck, they just started chanting again. Was it the smartest play? Probably not, but at that moment, it was the right play.
As the seconds ticked away on Game 5 and the Ice Wolves 4-3, come from behind win, you would have thought it was the clinching game. The fans were absolutely deafening. They revelled in the win as the Ice Wolves saluted, and why not? For that night, they were on top of the world. Ice Wolves fans at the Mel took the time to enjoy a rare moment, being so close to that pinnacle. Nothing can get in the way of their optimism for one night. Tomorrow they can go back to worrying about the outcome of Game 6 and if they can dare to dream their heroes will bring home a second straight Cup, but tonight... they can all enjoy the win.
A little more to business. Yorkton fans will not be too happy with what went on in this game. Why is that, Ice Wolves fans ask? Four powerplay goals for La Ronge on nine opportunities. The Terriers only got two powerplays, and in my opinion should legitimately had at least two more, or a 4 on 4/5 on 5 instead of a penalty kill. It is kind of reminiscent of Game 3 for me when Wolves fans were grumbling about only getting two powerplays to the Terriers four, but even more lopsided. Does a controversial penalty shot make up for that? Voice your opinions in the comments section, I'm curious to know what you think. I've already heard a couple of opinions on it.
Now, with all that said about the calls falling the way they did, here is what 6 of the 11 minor penalties were that the Yorkton Terriers received. Roughing. If you are going to put yourself in the position to take a penalty... you have to be prepared to face the consequences. I will say there is one, maybe two of those instances where I was surprised it only went one way, but still. Stay away from those situations and they don't happen. I realize it's easy for me to say that from my perch above the war on the ice, but an undisciplined penalty is an undisciplined penalty. If the Terriers can eliminate that from their game, they will be in much better shape for Game 6, and possibly 7.
For the Ice Wolves, they need to step up on Yorkton's skilled players. When the Wolves trap them at the blue line, there's either a giveaway, offside or dump in. When they back down and allow the Terriers access to their various lanes, bad things happen. They are becoming guilty of respecting guys like Breitkruez a little too much. As a side note, I was laughing tonight, because his go to, drive outside, cut in along the goal-line move is what I always try in NHL 11. Just noticed it tonight, funny for me, perplexing for you.
Here's one of the cool things tonight, I've heard stories about certain players guaranteeing a win for fans that couldn't be at the game and things like that, but this one tops them all. Through circumstances unknown to me, Aaron Enns needed a blade for a stick, why he didn't have a spare I don't know, but it's not really important. Insert Rhyse Dieno's dad, Trevor. In Saskatoon, he is told what blade is needed and after some figuring out, he gets it at a sports shop. He's then caught in traffic in Saskatoon, when finally free of the gridlock, he drives, umm... rather quickly (but naturally obeying all traffic laws...) to La Ronge. He arrives at 7:15, blade in hand and Aaron Enns is ready to go. Well, at 9:20 of the second period, Enns resurrected the Ice Wolves from the grave with a powerplay goal just a couple seconds after Michael Verret rocked the corner post. Then, Enns added to his fantastic night with another goal to even the game with four minutes left in the second. To cap it off... he assists on Justin Ducharme's winner. You might say Enns and Dieno Sr. 'delivered' in the clutch... sorry, had to. This little story brings me to my next point.
1. Aaron Enns - LR - 2 G, 1 A - A fantastic night for one of those unsung guys the Wolves rely on. With the three points, Enns now has seven points in the playoffs and picked the absolute perfect time to score his first two of the post season. It's efforts like his that are required for a team to succeed in the playoffs.
2. Adam Bartko - LR - 28/31 Svs - I was talking about making that one show-stopping save that can win a game, and he made it. Along with Enns, he was a hero of Game 5 for the Ice Wolves and their fans. After allowing the Terriers' third goal, Bartko locked down. There weren't many rebounds, and when there were, he cleared them. He found the zone he was in against Melfort, and it won the Wolves the game.
3. Clarke Breitkreuz - YKTN - 1 G, 1 A - The Terriers needed a solid game from their top guys, and Breitkreuz carried them early. He, as usual, was dangerous all night. He made the Wolves look silly with his very shifty second period goal, that at the time, looked like the final bell toll for the Wolves in Game 5. Expect to see him on the scoresheet on Sunday.
I can't wait for Sunday, just so I can see what happens next. This series has seen it's share of brilliant plays, outstanding efforts and the always interesting controversies. Talking to some of the Wolves after the game, they are hungry for that final win. They are happy tonight, but know they still have a hockey game to win, and they don't want to come back to La Ronge without the Cup in their hands. On the flip side, unfortunately I didn't speak to any of the Terriers, but I can guess they will be primed and ready to play some very desperate hockey in Yorkton. With I'm guessing nearly or surpassing 2000 fans in attendance, it will be a very hostile environment for the Wolves to enter into and attempt to gain the first back-to-back wins of the series.
A quick reminder before I sign off, the game on Sunday is at 6:00, so that means pre-game on MBC is at 5:45. So you aren't shocked if it happens, there is MBC Bingo on Sunday at nine o'clock. That means, no matter the situation, we will cut away for Bingo at 8:55, at the latest. Barring overtime, the game should be over by then, but with this series, who knows?
Enjoy your Saturday, and rest up, because Sunday... will be awesome.