Before the game, the Ice Wolves were excited to get their first crack at the Humboldt Broncos. As the RBC Cup hosts, Humboldt is a team built to win a National Championship and take the Credit Union Cup along the way. Naturally, they have a target on their backs as every team in the SJHL wants to prove themselves early on.
After 60 minutes were done, the Wolves were none too excited and it was a very quiet evening after a 7-1 loss to the Broncos in which the Ice Wolves were dominated in pretty much every aspect of the game.
Make no mistake, this Broncos team is very good. People are wondering about their goaltending situation, but Matt Hrynkiw hasn't seen too many shots come his way in two games of action and even then has looked very solid. I could go on for a while on how good the Broncos looked last night, but this isn't really a Humboldt blog, so I'll keep it brief.
The team is very fast. They made the Ice Wolves look sluggish and a step or two behind the Broncos, especially in the first period. La Ronge seemed to catch up in the second, but Humboldt showed the ability to create scoring opportunities quick off the rush and cash in on them.
The Ice Wolves floundered when trying to build offence, but a lot of it seemed to be the fact that La Ronge couldn't get on the same page. The Humboldt defence looked strong, but there were a lot of passes to nowhere coming off of Ice Wolves sticks. Passes coming into the skates, behind players, too far ahead... you name it. The Wolves definitely had trouble connecting last night and that could have been the Broncos forcing the issue, but it's something the Pack has struggled with early in the season.
The second period held the best moments for the Wolves when a team appeared that could compete with the Broncos. That's when the Wolves got physical and really started to build some momentum. When the Ice Wolves started crashing around the ice and banging bodies, they became effective and it was like someone flicked a switch. They just couldn't sustain it for very long.
It was a bad game for the Ice Wolves. So are they going to get wiped by the Broncos every meeting? Certainly not. Like I said after the Nipawin game, and at times during last night's broadcast, the Wolves are still trying to figure themselves and their linemates out. Once they get gelling, I think you'll see a squad that can sandpaper wins out of more skilled outfits like the Broncos.
The question remains how long will it take for them to get to that point? Kindersley and North Battleford will be some important games on this road trip as the Wolves try to get back to .500.
Of note from last night, Jared Iron picked up the first goal of his SJHL career. Good to see him take care of that milestone in only his second game.
The Wolves are about to hit the ice for their practice, so we'll see how Bob Beatty skates them today. I'm thinking it will be a... vigorous practice.
EDIT: Assistant Coach Ron Holloway took care of practice today, and it was indeed pretty vigorous. Here's a few of the guys going for a few laps. Each line did about five, I believe.