Tonight the Ice Wolves take on their first Sherwood Conference opponent, and just like last season, it's the Kindersley Klippers.
The Wolves won all four meetings with Kindersley, which were all taken care of in the first twenty or so games of the season. So that was before the Klippers went on that crazy roll after Rockie Zinger took over as head coach.
The off-season was a busy one for Zinger as he had a lot of players moving though his roster. One of the big trades was Sean Flanagan asking for a trade out of Kindersley, citing the pressure of playing in his hometown. Flanagan would have been an early candidate for defenceman of the year had he stuck around, so on a team that doesn't feature a ton of returning defenders, he would have been a key cog. That deal set in motion a cascade of deals that instead of outlining here, I'll get Coach Zinger to speak about during the Pre-Game show.
The Klippers are missing quite a few of the faces that made them such an offensive threat last season. That said, there are still some guys who can put the puck in the net like Taylor Duzan and Wheaton King, fresh off of his WHL tryout. They're a team that has a little less to figure out role-wise than the Ice Wolves, but still trying to find their way early in the season. Kindersley comes into the contest 1-and-2 on the season and having lost their past two games.
Wolves getting some practice in
The Ice Wolves will be hungry to get back on the ice after their beating at the hands of the Broncos on Wednesday. The Wolves didn't skate this morning, but had a ton of energy when they practised in Humboldt yesterday.
Like their game in Melfort last weekend, it will be interesting to see how the Wolves rebound after a heavy handed loss. The Wolves come in 1-3 on the season after losing the first two games of this four game road trip. The obvious goal for the rest of the weekend is to head back to the Mel with a 2-and-2 road trip, which after losing the first two games will, I'm sure, be welcomed by Bob Beatty.
As for the Ice Wolves netminder, it will be intriguing to see who Coach Beatty puts between the pipes. Myles Hovdebo allowed seven goals on Wednesday, but didn't play poorly, making 31 saves. Like Alex Rajotte in the home opener, I'm sure there are some Hovdebo would like back, but the loss really couldn't be pinned on him. So will Hovdebo get the chance to rebound against Kindersley, or does Beatty go back to Rajotte who has played very well in his past two starts.
Players to Watch:
Jared Iron (F) - Scored his first SJHL goal Wednesday and starting to integrate himself with the team. Plays with Eisbrenner and McNevin, guys who can get him the puck.
Brett Hope (D) - On the ice for a couple goals against Humboldt, in the box for a couple more. Expect a strong bounce-back game from this young defender.
Wheaton King (F) - I didn't pick this guy up in the SJHL Broadcaster's Fantasy Draft for nothing. In two games this season, King has three assists for the Klippers, look for him to be a big part of the Kindersley offence going forward.
Casey Rogers (D) was supposed to be one of my players to watch, but Brenden Ullrich reported yesterday that he was traded yesterday to the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL in return for defenceman Troy Gedney ('93).
Brenden also revealed that Brennen Bosovich (F) will be playing with the Klippers this season after being reassigned by the Tri-City Americans. Bosovich had 69 points in 45 games last season for the Prince Albert Mintos last season. No word if either acquisitions will be featured in tonight's contest.
I'll have the pre-game show from the WCEC at 7:15 and the puck drop at 7:30. I may be joined on colour by Klippers play-by-play man, Brenden Ullrich, on colour commentary. That is unless the webcast is up and running, in which case, Brenden will have his own broadcast to worry about.
It was Ben Bula's birthday yesterday, and he got a little birthday surprise at dinner, courtesy of Alex Vandenameele and the staff at Boston Pizza in North Battlefford.
Maybe his birthday present will be his first SJHL goal tonight. Enjoy the game!