The Ice Wolves missed an opportunity in Nipawin, but were fortunate to get a point in a 5-4 loss to the Hawks Wednesday night. That first sentence may be a little paradoxical, but this game was a tale of two different Ice Wolves teams.
They started the game flying, absolutely dominating the Hawks and jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in the game. Then the quick counter came for the Hawks. It's something the Wolves have struggled with all season. Keeping a team down after scoring a goal or having a team coming at them for two quick markers.
Both happened Wednesday as the Hawks got within one just over a minute after the Wolves second goal, then evened and drew ahead in a 40 second span later in the period. Fortunately for the Wolves, Brett Hope got the powerplay working with two one-time howitzers for his first multi-goal game in the SJHL. So the Ice Wolves missed a chance to pour it on and maybe come away with a lopsided victory, but were fortunate to be even after twenty minutes.
The second period was exciting, but for different reasons than the first. While the pace of the openening period was furious and offensively fantastic, the second was mistake filled and sloppy. That lead to a lot of chances, mostly coming in the Ice Wolves zone. It wasn't that the Wolves were committing all of the errors. In fact, they arguably created more turnovers than the Hawks did, but couldn't make anything happen with the puck. The second period ended up even with one goal aside as the goalies seemed to start to really get settled in.
The masked men put the icing on the cake in the third period as both teams rebounded from a poor second and were flying in the third. Alex Rajotte and Taran Kozun made some brilliant saves, but it was Kozun really making sure this game went the distance. He made save after save as the Ice Wolves created great opportunities, but just couldn't beat the young netminder.
Overtime presented two more glorious opportunities when Ben Bula was absolutely robbed on the doorstep and Aaron Enns made a great move to get in on Kozun, but fired the puck a little high. The Wolves really needed to get the game done in OT as the Hawks had won three shootouts coming into the game and Nipawin got it done again winning 2-1 in extra shots for the 5-4 final.
As Lorne Hill said on last night's broadcast, the fans got their monies worth out of the contest as it had a little bit of everything. Once again the Hawks and Ice Wolves put on a show that ranks up there with some of the most entertaining games I've seen this season.
Three Stars - As selected by Lorne Hill
1. Brett Hope (D) - LAR - 2 G
2. Skyler Hladun (F) - LAR - 1 G, 1 A
3. Taran Kozun (G) - NIP - 31 Svs (+2 in shooutout)
The Wolves are on the ice right now at the Cage, just going for a bit of a shoot-around to keep their legs moving. We'll head to Regina today to take in the Pats/Warriors game later tonight before staying in Weyburn.
It's expected Marc-Andre Carre and Zac Ashdown will join the team in Regina today and be on the ice for Friday's contest in Weyburn.
Carre's history is pretty well documented on this blog, but as for Ashdown, here are his stats on elite prospects.com:
Sorry about the black on black for the headings, I can't change the embed code for that.
As you can see, he's moved around a fair bit and even spent about a day on the Ice Wolves list before being sent back to the BCHL (which doesn't show up on the stats). Ashdown has put up effective numbers with most of his teams and we could be seeing him playing with Carre to start out with the Enns/Hladun/Ethier line rolling so well at the moment. With recent additions, the Wolves are definitely looking like a team on the move and could possibly start an assault on the Bauer Conference standings.