Sorry I didn't have anything on the site after Saturday's Game 2 loss.  I was late getting back to the hotel and early on the bus.  So I figured I would maintain some sanity and pass on a post.

All I have to say about Game 2 are these concise points:

-Great first half, dominant even.
-Problem was chances were going wide.  No rebounds to work with.  Fine tuning too much?
-Faceoff domination by the Terriers leads to three goals off of faceoffs.
-Powerplay effective once, but no more than that for La Ronge.
-Second half of the game... ouch.

That's some of it at least, but like the Ice Wolves and Terriers, I'm moving on to Game 3.

The Ice Wolves need to get by the kick to the jaw they received in Portage.  The Wolves are a team that hasn't come up against a ton of adversity this post-season.  They lost the first game against Melfort then rattled off three straight wins, they went to Game 7 with Yorkton after Game 6 slipped away.  That's really about it.  Now they need to come back from losing the first two of a series (which never bodes well) and a pair of games that saw the Wolves just not ready to go.

There are any number of reasons the Wolves went up against it.  Tired, Game 7 hangover, whatever.  Point is, they just weren't ready for a very good Terriers team.  I actually wasn't surprised at what Portage brings to the table.  Hard working team, very quick and physical along with some definite skill on that top unit.  That said, I don't think the first couple games are a great representation of how this series could start to go if the Wolves find their game.  It will be a lot closer than four goal spreads to be sure.

For Ice Wolves fans hanging their heads already and Terriers fans booking tickets to Camrose, here are some points for this series going back to Portage 3-2 for somebody.

-Ice Wolves are 8-2 on home ice in the playoffs, 3-0 in deciding games
-Smaller ice surface will be an adjustment for the Terriers
-Ice Wolves haven't lost three in a row all season, and have been a good bounce back team all season
-Marc-Andre Carre put up 20 of his 30 playoff points on home ice.

If there's someone the Wolves need to get rolling, it's M-A-C.  The Terriers were playing him perfectly in the first couple games with a double team that would make most NBA teams jealous.  However, with a double team, comes opportunities.  I'm sure the Ice Wolves coaching staff has picked up on the issue and will address it today.  If Carre can find his linemates before that double team completely closes... there could be a lot of chances coming the Wolves way.

With those chances, they need to get it on net.  The Terriers have very active sticks and are good at getting in the way of shots.  That said, there were a lot of opportunities going wide and not testing the Portage netminders.  The Ice Wolves play best when they are shooting the puck.  They score a lot of goals right in front of netminders off of rebounds and they need more shots to create those chances.

The true questions for La Ronge come at the opposite end of the ice from the Terriers' net.  The question is out, because I've been asked it a lot since we got back.  "Who starts in Game 3?"  Adam Bartko was instrumental in winning the Ice Wolves their second SJHL Championship, evident with his co-playoff MVP status with Dayton Fossum.  He didn't have the same form in Portage, for whatever reason.  He started very well, making some showstopping saves, but after a soft goal on a faceoff, it kind of spiralled from there.  Maybe there was a shot to his confidence?  Maybe he's just downright tired after playing in 19 straight games?  Whatever the reason, the question wouldn't have arisen if Myles Hovdebo hadn't stepped in and run with the opportunity.  After forgetting to take off his skate guards when he hopped on the ice in Game 1, Hovdebo played very solid in what amounted to 36 minutes of work in Game 1 and 20 in Game 2.  Does Bob Beatty give the veteran, Bartko, the chance to regain his mojo?  Or does the youngster, Hovdebo, get the chance of a lifetime to possibly backstop the Ice Wolves to a series comeback?  I wouldn't be surprised either way.

{UPDATE} Coach Bob Beatty confirmed Adam Bartko will get the start today.  If there was a game for him to get his game back, this is it.  Bartko's a big game goalie, so it's go time for him.

The Terriers situation in net is fine.  Justin Kasdorf looked slightly more solid than Kirk Croswell, but Kasdorf wasn't tested too often.  He made a couple good saves, but nothing too taxing.  Neither Terriers goalie has been peppered or faced the tough test that P.J. Musico, Charles Corsi and Devin Peters ran into through the SJHL Playoffs.  A lot of that was a result of the Wolves overall game in the first two contests and of course not the fault of Croswell or Kasdorf.  So once again, it wouldn't surprise me to see either in net, but I'll take Croswell as my guess mainly on the experience side of things.

The Ice Wolves need to get on the Terriers early in Game 3.  Portage was travelling yesterday and since they apparently practised yesterday afternoon, didn't arrive at their lodgings until late.  After how I feel post-drive (can't move my neck at all), I imagine the Terriers will be a little stiff today.  To make things tougher, they still have the 45 minute trip from where they're staying to get to La Ronge.  That extra hour and a half total per day could play in the Wolves favour.

It'll be up to guys like veteran Tyler Moore to provide jump for the Terriers.  His speed was a problem for the Ice Wolves in the first two games as he was beating guys outside and inside.  The smaller ice surface will help the Wolves out in that department a little, but it also means he doesn't have as far to go to get to the net.  With less space out there, physical presences like Shaq Merasty will need to put forward gritty performances.

The Terriers blue line needs to be aware of the Ice Wolves knowledge of the Mel.  There are going to be bounces the Terriers won't be expecting.  Mind you, there were plenty of weird bounces to be had at the PCU Centre on the weekend.  Though the boards at the Mel can provide some odd bounces, they're relatively predictable.  That will play into the Wolves favour.  Especially if they can get their chip and chase game going.  Reaction time will be important for the Terriers defence as things happen very quickly in the Mel, both ways, but the Wolves will be ready for that.

When it comes down to it, the odds are stacked against Portage in this first game in La Ronge.  Bus legs, unfamiliarity with the rink and the Ice Wolves fans will be all over the Terriers.  A hostile environment if I ever saw one.  So they'll have to do what any team going to the RBC Cup needs to do, overcome the challenge.  If there's one thing the Terriers don't want, it's to let the Ice Wolves grab some momentum.  We'll see what the Terriers are made of tonight.

On the flip side of that coin, if there was ever a time this season that the Wolves might feature a fragile psyche, it's tonight.  After the absolute high of winning the SJHL Championship in one of the best seven game series I've seen in a long time, they got a staunch wake up call in Portage.  This team rebounds better than most, hence not losing three in a row all season.  You have to wonder about the up and down over the last week.  Will it help them focus in for the battle to get back in this series, or could an early Portage lead cause problems.  The Ice Wolves will get their own test of character in Game 3.

The Ice Wolves could get a shot in the arm via veterans returning to the lineup.  Doug Lindensmith stayed behind in La Ronge to skate and continue to heal up.  He was headache free on the day of Game 7 of the SJHL Final and if that continued through the rest of the week, he could be ready.  I'll try and get an update on his status soon.  Robert Monfore could also make a return to the lineup.  He suffered a lower body injury against Yorkton in Game 7 of the SJHL Finals and was hoping to play in Game 2 of the Anavet Cup.  The Wolves could use his nastiness on the blue-line to deal with some of the larger Terriers forwards.

{UPDATE} Coach Beatty confirmed Doug Lindensmith will be in the lineup tonight and is feeling good.  Robert Monfore will have the night off to keep on healing.  That works because the Wolves need to sit a twenty year old.

Players to Watch

La Ronge

Marc-Andre Carre (F) - The SJHL MVP is rarely ineffective, and though he picked up points in both Games 1 and 2, he wasn't his usual dominant self.  The Ice Wolves need him to strike fear into the Terriers hearts whenever he touches the puck.  That's not how it's going right now.  He'll likely figure it out, but will it be in time?

Doug Lindensmith (F) - Does he play? Does he continue to rest?  The Wolves could certainly use him back in the lineup as his game centres around the chip and chase the Wolves weren't utilizing in Portage.  His return and the re-convening of the Big Three could be just what La Ronge needs to get back in this series.

Ice Wolves Goalie (G) - Whoever it is, Hovdebo or Bartko will have a spotlight melting the ice in his crease.  The Wolves need a stronger goaltending performance if they're going to win four of the next five games to move on to the RBC Cup.


Tyler Moore (F) - Only one player in this series has seen the Anavet Cup more than Moore, and that's Taylor Piller.  Moore's in his third trip to the annual SJ/MJ matchup.  He was a problem for the Ice Wolves in both games and put away the Wolves in both games.  He's a tough player to contain, but the Ice Wolves will have to find a way.

Stephane Pattyn (F) - One of the most impressive Terriers in Games 1 and 2 aside from Moore.  Though he only has one assist, he's very strong on the puck and created quite a few opportunities.  He was strong on faceoffs helping the Terriers along to dominating that stat line in Portage.

Kenton Valiant (D) - The former Humboldt Bronco will be valuable not just for his strong defensive play, but his experience at the Mel.  Valiant knows more of what to expect than most of his teammates and will be relied upon to contain the Ice Wolves in their home rink.
While Curtis and I said our good-byes after Game 5 of the Melfort series, we're back for the Anavet Cup.  We got some new toys for tonight's broadcast (thanks Al) that we're both very excited about.  Whether or not we can get it working... that'll be interesting.  I'll leave that portion in Curtis' hands, he's the one with 'Director of Information Systems' in his title for his real job.  Blame him if it doesn't work, heh.

For those of you from the MJHL, just head over to the Listen/Watch Live page and click on the Webcasts logo to head to the SJHL Livesports page.  Hope you enjoy the webcast.  I apologize for Curtis' obsession with the fish on the ice if the Ice Wolves score.  We don't call him the 'Burbot' for nothing.  

Enjoy the action from Game 3 of the Anavet Cup!

Dorothy Hovdebo
4/19/2011 02:02:36 pm

Hi Daniel & "Dimples" "Burbot" Skalicky
Great webcast guys! It was a pleasure to be able to hear as well as see what was happening, with only two minor glitches - that I can live with.
As we now live in Alberta, we really appreciate the game coverage. (I even bought a new computer which I haven't even got set up yet. Job for tomorrow!
Good job! Myles' Grammie

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