Well isn't this nice? An blowout affair filled with bad blood and mayhem on Friday, and round two already!
Yes, the Ice Wolves and Hawks, apparently the nastiest rivalry in the SJHL through two games gets its second go 'round tonight at the Cage. Fans in Nipawin, I wouldn't expect the yard sale we saw in La Ronge. That was a sort of one off where the game situation and climate were just right. The conditions likely won't be met for another explosion, but who knows? Bob Beatty said in his pre-game interview on Saturday that he wasn't unhappy with how things went in that second period fracas. He felt the Ice Wolves were justified in their retaliation that was quickly retaliated by the Hawks, which was retaliated by the Wolves... you get the picture. It's one of the obvious story lines in this game, something I'll talk with both coaches about in the pre-game show, but I doubt we'll see anything come of it.
I expect we'll see the game I thought would go down at the Mel on Friday, which will be a considerably closer affair. I know a lot of people were surprised to see Nipawin beat La Ronge, but these are very different teams from last season. I was, however, surprised at the margin of victory for Nipawin. The Ice Wolves will likely take the identity of a tight checking, defence first team, and they looked anything but on Friday. The Hawks looked every bit the youthful speed and offence team they're billed as and because of that we had our stretched score. If La Ronge plays more like it did in Melfort, I think we'll see a much closer score.
The big news for the Ice Wolves in the past day or two is the reassignment of Jared Iron ('94) to the club. If you remember, he was one of the players I was keeping a close eye on at Kootenay Ice training camp. He played well in Kootenay, but was a victim of some younger players having ridiculously good camps. Kootenay's loss is the Ice Wolves gain as Iron is a player who has a nose for the net. He had 48 points (28 G - 20 A) in Midget AAA last season and has enormous potential. I wouldn't be surprised to see him follow a similar path to Rhyse Dieno, spending the season with the Ice Wolves and making his way onto a WHL roster next season. Speaking of which, congratulations to Rhyse who, at least for the time being, seems to have caught on with the Medicine Hat Tigers. A bunch of goals in the pre-season will do that for you. Hopefully he can keep it up.
I don't know if Iron will be in the lineup in Nipawin, I would imagine he'll join the club on the road sometime this week.
It may be game three for these teams, but I think it's an important one for the psyche of the Wolves and maybe to a lesser extent, the Hawks. If the Wolves can put out a better showing and take a win out of the Cage, then I think you'll see them have a very strong road trip. If they fall in similar fashion, there could be some serious early season frustration setting in, and that's never a good thing. For the Hawks, if they come out expecting to blow out La Ronge, they could end up being sorely disappointed. They need to come out with all the guns blazing like they did on Friday.
Players to Watch
Marc-Andre Carre (F) - Though he's shown his usual flair for guiding the puck through defenders, Carre has been guilty of maybe trying to do too much. If he can use his linemates more, he'll be truly effective.
David Greyeyes (D) - The Ice Wolves offensive leader through two games. Greyeyes is showing every bit of skill the Wolves were looking for as the quarterback of their powerplay. If the Wolves can get a little more traffic in front, Greyeyes could put up serious numbers.
Tyler Paslawski (F) - The early points leader in the SJHL with seven points in his first two games. Playing with Adam Reichert and Tad Kozun, Paslawski has a start every player envies. His linemates are doing okay too as Kozun has six points and Reichert has four.
Nipawin's Goalie... - I don't know who that will be as of yet. Davis Jones picked up the first couple of starts, so we may see Stephen Klein tonight. Jones had some tense moments in La Ronge, but apparently rebounded nicely in Flin Flon. Either goalie is a pretty good choice between the pipes.
Well, time for me to hit the road, so I bid you adieu! I'll have the pre-game show at 7:15 and puck drop at 7:30. Lorne Hill joins me on colour commentary and who knows what we'll end up talking about?
Enjoy the game!