The Ice Wolves need some wins to try and re-distance themselves from the Melfort Mustangs. With the struggling Humboldt Broncos in town minus Justin Buzzeo, the time was right for the Ice Wolves to strike.
The Broncos must be getting pretty sick of playing against Travis Eggum. He tallied three last night, his second hat-trick against Humboldt and seventh goal in three games against the Broncos. That was all part of an Ice Wolves 7-4 win over Humboldt.
Read on for the recap.
For the second straight game, the Ice Wolves scored in the opening two minutes. Actually, a team scored in the opening two minutes of every period last night. (1st-LR, 2nd-LR, 3rd HUM) The Wolves worked themselves into a 3-1 lead closing in on the end of the first period and hoped to add to it on the powerplay. No dice. A giveaway at the top of the Broncos zone gave Humboldt a two on one, that Josh Roach made a three on one en route to scoring a shorthanded goal and closing the deficit to one. There's never a good time for a shorthanded goal, but the Ice Wolves seem to give them up at the worst possible moments. Fortunately for them, that was as close as the Broncos would get.
The Wolves rolled through the second period. Adam Bartko came up with some big saves and the Wolves rolled four lines so effectively that every line picked up a goal last night. They came out of the second period up 6-2.
The third started off quick for the Broncos with an early goal to give them some life. Travis Eggum was there to snuff it out, though, with his hat trick goal. Focus seemed to wane for the Ice Wolves in the third period, always a danger when you're up 6-2. Bartko's night was blemished by two goals he'd like to have back in the third, but overall a strong showing from him.
Three Stars (from the leaguestat gamesheet)
1. Travis Eggum - LR - 3 G - Another dominant showing
2. Marc-Andre Carre - LR - 3 A - Ties Lindensmith for SJHL scoring lead, but Carre has played less games
3. Doug Lindensmith - LR - 2 A - Went about his business last night, chatting up the Broncos the whole way
My picks differ a little from that. I would have had Neil Landry from the Broncos (1 G, 1 A) and Taylor Piller from the Wolves (1 G) as my second and third stars. Landry was easily the best Bronco last night, and Piller was all over the place against his old team.
Now back to Travis Eggum. His three on the night put him up to 37 goals on the season and back up to a goal per game pace. We're getting to see something special with Eggum's play this year. At this point 50 goals seems very possible and attainable, as well as the very rare 50 in 50 mark. Taking a look back at the stat archives (unfortunately there is one year missing from the league site and the full document I found, so I can't be positive) the last time someone notched over 50 goals was the '02-'03 season. Last season's leaders notched 36 goals for the league lead (Dommett/Janke) and simple math shows that Eggum is already passed that with 21 games to play.
Obviously Eggum isn't doing it on his own. He's gifted with having some excellent linemates in Doug Lindensmith and Marc-Andre Carre, who are now tied at the top of the SJHL scoring race. Curtis (my colour guy on the webcast) thinks this may be the best line in Junior-A right now, and I'm not inclined to argue with him.
The top line didn't see much ice time past the halfway mark of the third, with the Wolves getting everybody more ice time with the game out of reach. A line that continues to impress me with their constant improvement is the young fourth line (Hladun, Smerek, Boyer and Dieno). Last night, with Hladun, Smerek and Boyer dressed, they picked up two goals (Boyer, Smerek) and two points for each of them. I call them the Billet Line, as all three are in the same billet house, and the chemistry is evident. These guys are the future, and the future looks pretty darn good.
The Ice Wolves also have another addition to the team waiting in the wings. Steven Cook (sorry if there's supposed to be an 'e' on that I haven't seen his name spelled yet) a defenseman from Buffalo, N.Y., has been practicing with the team. Coach Beatty has yet to card him, but I was talking with some of the players last night and they seem to like Cook's game. Beatty should be getting back in the next day or two and will get to see Cook play and go from there. Maybe we'll see him in the lineup this weekend.
Speaking of this weekend, three MBC broadcasts as the Wolves do the dreaded three in three weekend road trip. To make things even more interesting, the trade deadline sits right after that trip.
Catch ya this weekend!