Well, the Ice Wolves had a bit of an extended break this week after the Bombers couldn't make it to La Ronge during that snap of bad weather. Would have been nice if they told me that before I wrote my preview...
The Wolves head on a trip down Highway 2 this weekend for a pair of neutral site games. First up, Coach Bob Beatty's home town of Watrous to face the Notre Dame Hounds.
I'm curious to see the rink as they apparently just finished renovating. It's going to be cozy in their sound booth with me doing the game on MBC, and Access 7 in the house as well. Though the Hounds are technically the home team, I have a hunch the crowd may be leaning towards the Ice Wolves.
Now to talk about what's going to go down on the ice.
The Ice Wolves had six days off after beating Weyburn 6-3. That might bring in some rust, but I don't think it will be too much of a factor. The bigger danger to me is taking the Hounds lightly. The Wolves have owned Notre Dame this season, winning all four meetings so far. The latest edition was at the SJHL Showcase. La Ronge won the game, but didn't look all that spectacular doing it. They essentially won 3-2 over a team they led in the standings by near 20 points, and the Hounds came close to evening the game before Phil Cliche scored an empty netter.
I don't want to take anything away from the Hounds, but these are games the Ice Wolves should win if they're going to challenge the Terriers for top spot in the SJHL, which they will do if they can come away with a couple wins leading into the break.
The Hounds are such a strong defensive team that if you let them get ahead of you, it's going to be a long night trying to beat their lock down D.
The Notre Dame hasn't been stellar of late, with only two wins in their last ten. However, their win over Battlefords was a solid effort in which they notched seven goals. A great number for any team, but with the Hounds' 2.8 goals per game average, offensive nights like that are sorely needed.
As always, fans listening to the game can expect to hear Notre Dame defenseman James Howden's name all night. I swear the guy logs like 40 minutes a game and never looks worse for wear. Notre Dame will count on their captain to spend those minutes shutting down the combined 190 points of the Carre/Lindensmith/Eggum line.
The goaltending situation appears to be pretty clear heading into the game. I'm guessing it will be Russell Abbott (7-8-1-2, 2.92 GAA, 0.902 Sv%) going for the Hounds. He's a great keeper that keeps the Hounds in games if the defense breaks down. For the Ice Wolves, it's a little less certain, but only because Myles Hovdebo has played every game against the Hounds this year. Even if the plan was to get Hovdebo in against Notre Dame every game this season, you don't keep Adam Bartko (15-8-0-2, 3.32 GAA, 0.898 Sv%) on the shelf for over a week. It might have been different if the Wolves/Bombers game had gone, but it didn't, so expect Bartko to lead La Ronge onto the ice.
So, how do the stats measure up? Let's take a look...
Ice Wolves vs Hounds
(22-9-0-2 - 46 pts) Record (11-18-1-3 - 26 pts)
1st in Bauer Standing 6th in Sherwood
26.8% PP% 18.1%
78.3% PK% 74.4%
Of their combined 190 points on the season, Carre/Lindensmith/Eggum have a total of 79 goals... 15 less than the Notre Dame Hounds.
This will be Richard Cameron's final meeting with his old mates. The former Ice Wolf has three goals in six games with the Hounds. That matches his goal total in 21 games with the Wolves.
The Ice Wolves have a better goal differential than anyone in the league. They sit at a +44. Next closest? Yorkton with a +24.
With only 557 penalty minutes against them, Notre Dame is the second most disciplined team in the league. That's good because the Hounds PK hasn't been that strong this year, surrendering 41 powerplay goals on 163 opportunities.
I'll have the call of the game from Watrous, starting at 7:15 p.m. CST with the Canaqua Pre-Game Show followed by the game at 7:30 p.m..
This will be the first opportunity for me to upload audio after a game, so if you miss any interviews, come over to the site after the game and check out the Audio on Demand page.
I'll catch ya after the game when I write my post game report.