Quite frankly it was a miracle they made it to the extra frame at all, playing like they did.
First period was pretty good and they were rewarded with the lead. Then, for some reason the team that played the first disappeared. The Ice Wolves didn't show much in the second or third period on their way to a 4-3 OT loss to the Mustangs in Game 1.
Credit the Mustangs because they did everything right to keep the Ice Wolves off-balance once they had the advantage. An aggressive forecheck had the Wolves bobbling pucks in their own end and giving pucks away like crazy. The Mustangs are a team that capitalize on mistakes and that's what they did in Game 1 and it worked well, because the Wolves made a lot of mistakes. Adam Bartko bailed the Wolves out numerous times, including a fantastic save in overtime on a Cody Hanson breakaway.
Really the overtime was a mini picture of how the second and third periods went. Good first shift, followed by uninspired play. When the Mustangs get four shots in overtime, one is a breakaway chance and the other is wide open in the slot for the winner. There is a problem.
While I've praised the Ice Wolves defence for being underrated and getting the job done night in night out, this was not one of those nights. Almost every member of the blue line had a near-costly giveaway in the Ice Wolves zone and there was just something not working on the back end for the Wolves in Game 1.
I'm sure Bob Beatty had some choice words for his squad during and after the game. I guess we'll find out if the team that dominated Flin Flon in 3 out of the 5 games will show up against Melfort tonight. The Ice Wolves have only lost back to back games twice this season and tend to respond well after a loss. Now the pressure is on and the Wolves face adversity for the first time this season. A loss tonight, and it may be the Wolves' final home game. Sounds like pressure/adversity to me. How will they respond?
1. Cody Hanson - MELF - 1 G - His shorthanded goal early in the second got the Mustangs going in the right direction. The Ice Wolves will have to pay better attention to him, as he slipped in on THREE breakaways in the game, capitalizing on one. He was all over the place in this one creating offence and generally agitating the Wolves.
2. Brody Haygarth - MELF - 1 G - Generally dangerous all game long, he was rewarded as the hero of the game, scoring the winner in OT. He found the open spot, boy was he open, and made no mistake with his opportunity. His play on the forecheck could have resulted in more goals as well, if not for the play of the third star.
3. Adam Bartko - LR - 38 Svs - The question coming into the series was, "Can Adam Bartko win the goaltending battle?" I'd say he did in Game 1. Faced with more scoring chances, Bartko came up with some fantastic saves to keep the Ice Wolves in the game. He momentarily extended Game 1 with an unbelievable save, but had no chance on Haygarth's winner. He'll have to replicate that effort again in Game 2.
I'll have the webcast along with Curtis for Game 2 starting shortly before puck drop at 7:30. Again I apologize for my weird voice cracks and such. We'll see how my voice holds up in Game 2. All I can say if we have a long overtime in this series I might not make it.
Enjoy the game!