A quick hit this afternoon to get you ready for the Ice Wolves and North Stars game tonight. The obvious storyline coming in is La Ronge’s lack of tallies in the ‘G’ column. There are some offensively talented players on the Wolves’ roster, but they’re finding every possible way to not score. Posts, goal line rollers, legs getting in the way in the last second, goals called back… you get the idea. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team hit such a string of bad luck.
Before you click away shaking your head, the early season woes of the Ice Wolves obviously run deeper than a string of tough bounces. After three road games at a combined 17-3, they would have to. A lot of the offensive impotence seems to be stemming from the breakout, which Bob Beatty addressed in his pre-game interview before the Klippers game. The Wolves give a lot of pucks away around the centre line and it’s preventing them from building any momentum. Worse still, it generally turns into an opposing rush.
Most of these issues will likely begin to sort themselves out over the next week or two as the Wolves breaks down what needs to change and apply it in practice. That’s the advantage of losing like the Wolves have, there is a lot of video evidence of what needs to be fixed.
The North Stars come into this contest having won their past two games. Kevin Hasselberg’s crew dropped their home opener to Kindersley, but bounced back quite nicely with wins over the Klippers and Mustangs. Braeden Johnson has provided some of the point production Stars fans were expecting with three points in his first three games. Johnson along with Blake Tatchell and Brett Miller could provide some serious offence for the Stars, and you can probably throw Kyle Hall into that mix as well.
Of course, offence wasn’t exactly an issue for North Battleford last season, it was definitely their defence. They scored the third most goals in the SJHL last season, but got lit up themselves allowing 256 goals, 22 more than they scored. So it will be interesting to see how their defence has come along over the off season and if they can keep the puck out of their own net.
Player to Watch
Jhoney Cormier (F) – Seemed like he was on the verge of getting the Ice Wolves some points in Kindersley. This game could be the one where he breaks out.
Brody Luhning (D) – He scored 12 goals for the Stars last season as a part of a 33 point showing. He spent training camp and the pre-season in the WHL with the Regina Pats and was one of the last players reassigned. Tonight should be his first game and he’ll be looking to prove himself.
I’ll have the call of the final game of this very tough stretch of six games in eight days from the Civic Centre with my colour man Trent Cey of the Battlefords News Optimist. Pre-Game is, as usual, at 7:15 with the puck hitting the ice at 7:30.