The Ice Wolves put forward a showing more what fans are used to in Game 3 of the Anavet Cup with a 6-3 win over Portage.
After La Ronge fell victim to bus-legs and travel weariness in Game 1 of the series in Portage, that seemed to be the case for the Terriers as they just ran out of gas.
Like in Portage, not all the credit goes to the long drive as the winning team, on this night the Ice Wolves, played a solid game and capitalized on their chances.
The Ice Wolves got some help from early shakiness by Terriers goaltender, Kirk Croswell as he had trouble hanging on to a couple of shots and the Wolves were there for the rebounds. The big difference in Game 3 compared to Games 1 and 2 for La Ronge was the shot total. The Wolves racked up 40 shots through 60 minutes compared to a total of 51 in Portage. The high number of shots exposed some weaknesses in Croswell's game in Game 3 and he watched the third period from the bench as Jason Kasdorf finished out the game. We have yet to see both starting goalies make it through an entire game in this series. Expect Kasdorf to get the start in Game 4.
The big Ice Wolves threat came from the new line of Doug Lindensmith, Justin Ducharme and Aaron Enns. This line has lots of speed, grit and skill on it and it was showing early. They were moving the puck very well and crashing the net at every opportunity. When it was all said and done, they combined for eleven points. Absolutely huge for La Ronge to get Lindensmith back in the lineup and his game looked great in Game 4. The Terriers will need to find away to stop a much more threatening second line from the Ice Wolves.
The danger line for the Terriers was once again their top unit. Brendan Harms, Tyler Moore and Brent Wold look dangerous whenever they get into the zone. There's so much speed with that group and Harms is great down low at creating chances. Moore has shown a couple times in this series he can pretty much score from anywhere and the Ice Wolves blue-line needs to be right on him.
Looking at the Wolves' top unit, they were about 1-3 inches off their game last night. Travis Eggum did pot a powerplay marker (man is it nice to see that Ice Wolves powerplay reunited), but he had about 4 more chances to bury the puck that went skittering wide or off the heel of his stick. Carre rang one off the post and had one just miss wide as well. If they can break this slump, look out.
The Terriers seemed to have trouble adjusting to the smaller ice surface last night. A lot of offside calls against them and the Wolves trapped them up in the neutral zone on many occasions. Portage was at its best getting the puck deep and using their speed to get the defence to turn. Sound familiar? It should, because the Ice Wolves play a very similar style. When both teams are rolling like they were a couple of times last night, it was really fun to watch. I imagine that's the kind of game we'll see tonight in Game 4.
1. Doug Lindensmith - LR - 4 A - His return was the boost the Wolves were looking for. Lindensmith's four point night was a great arrival to the series after missing most of the playoffs. He was all over the offensive zone and the Terriers were having a lot of trouble containing him. It didn't look like the time off slowed his step at all, and as the freshest player in the series, it showed.
2. Aaron Enns - LR - 2 G, 1 A - It seems Enns comes up with two goal efforts when the Ice Wolves need it most. His two in the first got the ball rolling for the Ice Wolves. He started a comeback in Game 5 of the SJHL Finals, did he start a series comeback for the Anavet Cup?
3. Brendan Harms - PORT - 1 G, 1 A - This guy is the real deal. Unfortunately for Terriers fans I wouldn't be surprised to see this kid going on to the WHL next season. He's so strong for a 16 year old that it really never occurs to you how young he is. A couple points in last night's game brings him up to five in the series and a share of the points lead with Tyler Moore.
I would expect a quicker game with a lot of back and forth tonight. The goalies will have to be sharp tonight or we could be in for a high scoring affair. Adam Bartko shut out the Terriers in the third, so that should go a long way to getting his rhythm back. Kasdorf has been solid whenever I've seen him, though he was definitely surprised when Justin Ducharme let one go from the half boards in Game 3.
Should be a great one tonight, just under 900 people at Game 3. Ice Wolves fans, pack the Mel and get it pumping in there! Only two Ice Wolves home games left this season.
Curtis and I will have the call of the game at Livesports.com. We were getting close to having the replay system up and running last night, we just couldn't quite get it going. We're hoping to get it sorted out tonight. We'll be on the air shortly before puck drop!
Enjoy Game 4 of the Anavet Cup!