Let's use the original Clash of the Titans movie for that title, shall we? I don't really want to think about the new one. Today's game is one that everyone's been waiting for since December 1st. Once the trade deadline hit, the want to see these teams was only intensified as the Mustangs loaded up on talent.
When it comes down to it, this is one of the final instalments of this battle for the regular season and one of the few chances to preview what could be the Bauer Conference final. If these teams clash in the playoffs it will be like Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader, Batman vs. Joker or Mario vs. Bowser. Yeah, I just hit you with a video game reference. If you're wondering who plays as the bad guy, like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, it's all about your point of view. (See what I did there?)
If random good vs. evil movie references don't get you psyched up, I'm sorry you may be a lost cause... or you just don't share my taste in movies. Regardless of your cinematic inclinations this should be a pretty good hockey game, but, as George Lucas has shown us over the years, you can take a darn good formula and disappoint folks.
I can put as much hype into this games as I want, but if the teams don't play it out... well it doesn't matter how much hype I gave it. Really, this season series hasn't been all that amazing. "But Daniel, the first two games were Ice Wolves OT wins, how is that not awesome?" The finishes of those to games were close and pretty exciting in overtime, but as I said on Saturday's webcast, neither team has shown up for 60 minutes yet.
The number one culprit in this has been La Ronge. The Wolves haven't really seemed to deem it necessary to get rolling early on against Melfort. The Wolves have one goal in four first periods against the Mustangs. The Wolves have rolled at times in this series, but they are either fighting from behind or end up running into a guy named Charles Corsi.
Charles Corsi is the league MVP in my opinion. Marc-Andre Carre is the Player of the Year and has been the driving force in the Ice Wolves' league leading offence, but without Corsi, the Mustangs are not where they are now. Not a chance. His play in net has been excellent this season (23-9-3, 2.62 GAA, 0.920 Sv%) and he has been giving the Ice Wolves fits with his quick pads. My scouting report on Corsi is get pucks high, but that's obviously no guarantee. I've always found he gives up plenty of rebounds, but the trick is then getting those rebounds past him or getting to them before Corsi because he is very quick.
When it comes to the Mustangs, you can't help but look at some of the key acquisitions Darrell Mann made at the trade deadline. Brayden Metz, formerly of Melville, has 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in ten games with the 'Stangs and Cody Hanson, also formerly of Melville, has 13 points (5 G, 8 A) in eleven games. The addition of Scott Brkich from the Nipawin Hawks was a big addition to the blue-line. Melfort does have some bumps and bruises, like pretty much every team in the league right now. Metz apparently is suffering a lower body injury and it's unclear if he will play tonight.
If Metz is the only one out for the 'Stangs, the Wolves' injury situation is a little more troubling. Ducharme is getting closer, he went down to Saskatoon last week I believe for another look. Belanger could be back soon depending on how his symptoms are doing. Phil Cliche apparently took a slash in a previous game and was a last minute scratch for Saturday's affair with Nipawin, don't know how long he'll be out or the severity of the injury. Finally, Steven Cook won't be back for awhile, fans at the game on Saturday would have noticed his arm in a sling.
The lineup tonight will take on a more normal look. Especially if Cliche plays in this game. Verret will likely be in as well, moving Nick Keller back to a forward line. He did play very well on defence and that has to give Bob Beatty a measure of relief knowing that option is available.
I can't wait for this game to get going, and I know from talking to some of the Wolves, they feel the same way. Hopefully that anticipation from the Ice Wolves leads to a great start.
Ice Wolves vs Mustangs
(37-12-0-2 - 76 pts) Record (30-13-3-5 - 68 pts)
1st in Bauer Standing 2nd in Bauer
25.0% PP% 20.9%
79.2% PK% 82.2%
More franchise records about to fall for the Ice Wolves. Doug Lindensmith only needs one assist to tie Justin Rohr's single season assist record
(60 A - '02-'03). That assist will also make him the Ice Wolves all-time assist leader (Rohr/Lindensmith - 108 A).
Lindensmith is also 17 points away from the Ice Wolves all-time points record (Jordie Johnson - 197 pts). It's an outside shot, but who knows? Marc-Andre Carre will have a great shot at it next year, as of now, he has 137 career points.
The race for 100 pts is on. Travis Eggum and Marc-Andre Carre sit six points away from the century mark with Doug Lindensmith 13 points back. With seven games remaining can all three get there?
Jesse Mireau has been the Mustangs' Ice Wolf killer. In three games against La Ronge, he has four goals and four assists for eight points. Sean Aschim has been nearly as deadly with six points (2 G, 4 A) in the four games.
On the other side, Marc-Andre Carre has racked up points against Melfort with ten in four games (4 G, 6 A). Logan Herauf has enjoyed his time against the Mustangs as well with seven points (2 G, 5 A) in the four meetings.
Melfort has effectively eliminated the Ice Wolves' deep scoring, with only one goal coming from the third or fourth line in the four meetings, and the second line only contributing three.
On Corsi giving the Ice Wolves fits... in three games against the Ice Wolves, Corsi has not lost in regulation. He owns a GAA of 2.59 with a Sv% of 0.942.
Adam Bartko has been in tough against the Mustangs this season. In the four games against Melfort, he has allowed 17 goals with a GAA of 4.22 and a Sv% of 0.876. These numbers are far below his season stats of 3.02 and 0.907.
The game gets going at 7:30, as per usual the webcast will begin shortly before puck drop. I should also have an answer for you about play-by-play for the Flin Flon game webcast. We will be testing out the patching and how to get the audio on both the phone line (CFAR) and the webcast.
I'll post a post game/preview tomorrow,
Enjoy the game!