Don’t be fooled by the 5-3 score. This was not a pretty win by the Ice Wolves.
The Wolves rolled in the Elgar Peterson Arena as the first team to face the Humboldt Broncos without Boyer, Buzzeo or Gillies. Before the game, Coach Beatty said the Broncos would come out hungry, and the Wolves needed their A-game.
Well, the Broncos played hungry and in the words of Master Yoda, “Mmmm A-Game the Ice Wolves bring did not…” but… they did come away with the win.
The Ice Wolves were outshot in the first period 10-5, but came out with a 1-0 lead. Nathan Boyer put home his own rebound for the Wolves lone goal. The goal was originally credited to Graham Smerek, but he made the change. Now we see if the stats change accordingly. Boyer’s goal was the fourth shot of the period by the Wolves, and it was just over seven minutes into the frame. Yup, just one shot in 13 minutes.
The rest of the game was very similar. Pretty sloppy and not the Ice Wolves I’m used to seeing.
The Broncos looked very strong capitalizing on the Ice Wolves’ mistakes and putting them off balance. When it came down to it though, the Ice Wolves’ talent and a bit of luck were too much for Humboldt.
After the Broncos had come back from a 3-1 deficit late in the second and early in the third, Graham Smerek tossed a puck on net and somehow it landed in behind Humboldt netminder Matt Hrynkiw giving the Ice Wolves a lead.
Marc-Andre Carre would add the skill on a nice move into the middle of the ice and shelf the puck giving the Ice Wolves a 5-3 lead that they would manage to hold onto till the end of the game. Just barely.
In the last minute, the Broncos ended up on a 5 on 3 powerplay. It shortly became a 6 on 3 by virtue of an empty net, but Myles Hovdebo came up with some solid saves at the right time to maintain the lead. Right at the end of the game, something set off a couple of fights. Because of the shenanigans that occurred, this might not be the last we hear of this game.
Maybe one of the most disturbing things about this game was how heavily the Ice Wolves were out shot. Nine shots to be exact... mainly because they are so rarely out shot, but it was in convincing fashion tonight. Lots of shots blocked and lots of giveaways. They will need to be better in Weyburn.
Here are the 3 Stars:
1. Graham Smerek – LR – 1 G, 1 A – The young fourth liner is on a streak right now. He and his linemates were the best Wolves out there. He was also in 2 fights during the game.
2. Ward Szucki – HMBT – 1 G – The Broncos’ forward was all over the Ice Wolves this week, both on Tuesday and tonight. His clutch goal at the end of the second set up the Broncos third period momentary comeback.
3. Myles Hovdebo - LR - 25 Saves - Hovdebo came up with the big saves when he needed to, plain and simple.
Now for a look at Saturday's game in Weyburn. It's pretty simple. Weyburn did the Ice Wolves a favour tonight by knocking the Melfort Mustangs off-stride, but, the Red Wings would love to knock back a double dose of Bauer Conference victories.
The only team hotter than Weyburn in the South is Kindersley, but nobody's hotter than Kindersley. The Red Wings have a very good team that are looking to exact revenge against the Wolves for the two victories the Wolves have against the Wings.
Expect Adam Bartko between the pipes for the Wolves. He shut out the Wings in their first meeting of the season and will look to replicate that effort as he works to round into playoff form. This will be a good test for the Ice Wolves as they have yet to face a remotely warm team in 2011.
I'll have the pre-game show from Crescent Point Place at 7:15 followed by puck drop at 7:30. Ice Wolves President Terry Helary is on the trip and at the post-game meal I was working on him to join me as Colour Commentator. So who knows? If you want to hear Terry you should leave lots of comments so I can use it as leverage.
Catch ya after tomorrows game!