At least for the moment, the Ice Wolves can enjoy some non-survivor series positioning in the Bauer Conference. As teams catch up to them in GP's this week that will likely change, but you've got to enjoy the little things in a 58 game schedule.
So what were the stories from the weekend? You could go with
Louis-Joseph Sawyer's awesome four goal, five point week. Ben Bula scoring his first SJHL goal a mere 91 games into his career. Or maybe Alex Rajotte's return to form. How about the Bombers' gutsy effort despite missing their top scoring unit? There's also the Ice Wolves dipping into the trade market again, and you could even go with me being about 2.45 seconds away from singing O Canada.
There's also the whole Bombers being outscored a combined 14-2 whenever I do a broadcast on CFAR.
To Bomber fans, thanks for putting up with me for a night holding the airwaves for Rob Hart. I'm always filled with a little trepidation stepping in to some very big shoes on CFAR and I only hope I could bring you the game with some measure of the quality you're used to. Also, I'm sorry for the fact I seem to be quite the bad luck charm for your Bombers who are 3-7 when I call their games.
A final note on the Bombers/broadcasting note. I met Greg Wiwcharuk's parents at the game on Saturday and they forgave me for messing up their last name. It's always amazing coincidences you run into at the rink.
Okay, onto the game action.
In the immortal words of Ron Burgandy, Friday's game, "escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast." There were no tridents hurled, but a couple of suspensions stemmed from the contest. After it became 5-1, the Bombers looked to set the tone, initiating a couple fights with some Wolves in the second period. McNevin and McCombie squared off, and McNulty and Hope dropped em. McNevin held a slight edge on McCombie, but Hope was definitely overmatched by McNulty.
The game was physical all evening, as evident by the Bombers being down to three lines by the end of the first period, including Riley Storzuk going down with an injury on his second shift of the game. It really jumped that extra notch when David Roper blasted Marc-Andre Carre after a whistle. When AP goaltender, Lukas Macdonald, froze a puck in the first minute of the third period, M-A-C stopped at the edge of the crease and Roper launched right into Carre's head after the referee blew the play dead. Seen the replay slo-mo. Not a pleasant hit. Carre would remain on the ice for a couple minutes before getting back to his feet and would be okay. Nathan Boyer stepped up for his downed teammate and went after Roper in what was actually a decent tilt. Roper has been suspended for the hit, though I'm in the dark as to how many games it was for. Which brings up my plea for the SJHL to post suspensions somewhere on the website, please!
Things got plenty chippy from then on, but only resulted in two goals from the slew of penalties. The most notable exchange came after some talking when Brett McNevin and Conrad Litke took some healthy chops at each other and McNevin ended up fighting Cole McCaig who earned 27 minutes of penalties on the play. McNevin was also suspended for his part in Friday's altercations.
Despite all the nastiness, I felt the referee and linesmen did a decent job of not letting the game get out of hand. I felt there were a couple of times the Ice Wolves earned some powerplays when it could have been evened up from the altercation, and the other way around. Overall, though, a decent job by the stripes.
After a bit of a slow start, it was a dominating performance by the Ice Wolves, who could only have been better by getting Alex Rajotte his third shutout of the season. The night, featured Rajotte getting back into a groove. He was very good for La Ronge and really needed a solid start after a couple of rough outings.
I'm not going to stay too long on the Satuday game, because there's a recap already available. I was impressed with both teams. The Ice Wolves played a pretty strong game, though it was another slow start and the Bombers put forward a fantastic effort playing without their top line. It would have been easy for Flin Flon to write off the game, but they took the Wolves to the limit. Devin Buffalo takes a lot of the credit as he was awesome, especially at the end of the game and in overtime when the Ice Wolves just dominated.
Of course the stunning news from the weekend was Ben Bula scoring his first SJHL goal. It took him 91 games to accomplish the feat which is 67 games more than it took Louis-Joseph Sawyer to score. More on that after we re-visit Bula's moment in pictures. Corey Hardcastle was at the game and was able to capture the moment.
Those are some great shots, make sure you give Corey's website a look.
Getting back to Louis-Joseph Sawyer. Not only did he score his first SJHL goal against Humboldt on Tuesday; he went on to score
2,3 and 4 this weekend. That earned him an honourable mention in the SJHL's Player of the Week category. A rarity for defencemen. It's exciting to watch Sawyer develop as an eighteen year old. His defensive game is already solid and as you can tell, he's coming along offensively as well. He's already a big part of the Wolves blue-line and will likely be one of its anchors moving forward. We'll see if his three-game goal streak continues on Friday.
I'll continue this busy recap of the weekend that was with the Ice Wolves latest acquisition. Bob Beatty added the services of forward Wilson Dumais ('93) to the team. That brings the number of Northern products on the team to three (Dumais, Franklin Cook, Jared Iron). Dumais brings plenty of grit to the team with some offensive touch. He looked solid in his first action with the team on a line with Jared Iron and Pat Tran. I like that line for a couple reasons. One, Tran is a great mentor for both players as they develop a two-way game. Two, it's a great two-way line that will spend plenty of time in the opposition's zone. Lots to like if that line gels early on.
Here are Dumais' stats:
Isn't it great? You can actually see the headings with the new white background on the website.
I'll wrap this up with my little O Canada story. At the JRMCC, there were some minor organizational issues. They didn't actually have anyone to do the in house announcing, I just found the mic and did it. Their computer was locked away somewhere, so I was running the music for warm-ups and some pre-game. Then, there was nobody slated to sing O Canada. I used to have a rendition of the anthem on my computer for previous announcing, so I ran my computer back upstairs to play the anthem which I had apparently deleted some time ago. At this point we're hooped. I have a Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson version of O Canada, but it probably wasn't appropriate. So I'm about to bite the bullet and just do it myself when someone is found and the young lady did a great job on very short notice. Crisis averted.
For those of you wondering, yes, I could have done it. I just really didn't want to.