For whatever reason, the Ice Wolves and Klippers just seem to provide games with lots to talk about. Last season, the Justin Ducharme hit on Andrew Dommett sparked plenty of controversy. This season they've been in three very chippy affairs culminating with their last meeting and the "bomb" going off in the first forty seconds. Bomb was the word Bob Beatty used to describe the check from behind, followed by cross check followed by line-brawl that took about 20 minutes to sort out. That was a blast to try and talk through.
Now the powder keg is reset for the teams' final meeting of the season. Will there be an explosion? No clue, but odds are it'll be a good contest.
The Klippers are a depleted team at the moment. They traded the bulk of their experience leading up to the December 1st deadline in Jesse Mysiorek (Flin Flon), Jordon Hoffman (Weyburn) and Taylor Duzan (Humboldt). That leaves the Kindersley lineup a little thin on experience, but still a dangerous team. A good example to look at are the Humboldt Broncos last season. After dealing most of their experienced 20-year olds, the Broncos surged late in the season as players battled for ice time. Bob Beatty expects something similar with the Klippers.
"I would expect that with the transactions Kindersley made, they'll be battling for ice time," Beatty told me, "when you reset the pecking order, ice time is up for grabs. They've won two in a row and I think they'll be hungry tonight."
Top of the scoring pecking order for Kindersley definitely goes to Wheaton King who holds an eight point lead in the Klippers scoring race. Kindersley will be looking for guys like Brennan Bosovich to to step up with some big numbers now that the Klippers 2nd, 3rd and 4th leading scorers are gone.
The Klippers defence remains relatively untouched from the last time the squads met. It's still a young crew, and it shows with the team having allowed the second most goals in the SJHL this season.
Early in the season, the Klippers were something of an enigma with their ridiculously strong special teams clashing with their uninspiring record. Now the numbers seem to be evening out as the Klippers have fallen to the middle to low end of the pack in special teams (though their PP numbers are still better than La Ronge's).
The Klippers have been quite competent in net, as Wolves fans saw in the teams' last meeting when Justin McDonald made 49 saves in a 3-1 loss to the Wolves. The Klippers also recently acquired Brandon Stone from the Estevan Bruins, and he has been great in two games for Kindersley putting up two victories along with a 1.94 GAA and
The Ice Wolves freshly acquired forward, Brennan Wright will not be in the lineup tonight (heh, rhyme). He'll likely make his debut against the Nipawin Hawks, Tuesday. With two players reassigned by the Wolves last night (Tyson Valette and Scott Helmkay) and the flu making it's rounds, La Ronge will have some fresh faces in the lineup in the form of AP's. Forwards Jaryd Watson ('95) and Brendan Boyd ('94) make the trip up to La Ronge from their usual Midget AAA hangout with the Beardy's Blackhawks. Both played with the Wolves in the pre-season, and I get the impression Watson could make a strong push next season to crack the squad as a seventeen year old.
It's a gametime decision as to who won't line up for the Wolves against the Klippers. It's always interesting to see how the AP's perform. Jason Duret was great in two games earlier in the season and even earned his first SJHL point. Tyson Hudon was solid playing forward and defence for the Ice Wolves and Brett Kealey was good in limited action against Weyburn.
On defence, I'm curious to see if Brett Hope remains up front or heads back to defence. So far I believe the coaching staff has been happy with Hope's performance as a forward and of course playing the point on the powerplay. Louis-Joseph Sawyer comes into tonight's game looking to continue his impressive three game goal streak. After scoring his first of the season against Humboldt, Sawyer proceeded to score three in two games against Flin Flon. It's fun to watch Saywer play with the confidence he's displaying right now. Otherwise it remains business as usual for the Ice Wolves blue-line as they continue to gel with the addition of Brennan Ritchie and recovery of Alex Vandenameele.
In goal, I spoke to Myles Hovdebo yesterday who looked like he was over the nasty bug he had last weekend. So look for him to get the start tonight after Alex Rajotte had the pair of games last weekend. The Wolves don't have to worry about a back-to-back or anything like that for the first time in a while.
It should be an interesting game to watch, especially from the Kindersley perspective. A quick way for the Ice Wolves to lose tonight will be to overlook the Klippers without Hoffman, Duzan or Mysiorek. There will be some hungry players in the Kindersley lineup, and if Stone starts, a hot goalie.
Curtis and I will have the webcast shortly before puck drop at 7:30 from the Mel.