The Ice Wolves needed to find out who they were and it took a long bus trip to figure it out. After up and down performances in the first 11 games of the season, last Wednesday they found themselves with a 3 – 7 – 1 – 0 record and looking up at most of the teams in the standings. However, with players returning from injury and the addition of a couple of new faces, the Wolves were hopeful to turn things around on the road.
Wednesday in Humboldt the pack showed their potential by playing a full 60 minutes of well executed hockey against the talented Broncos. Despite finding themselves in a 2 – 0 hole early in the game on 2 Humboldt powerplay markers, the Wolves clawed their way back into the game with a goal in the first by Brandon Della Paolera. Ryley Morgan would add another late in the game to notch the score at 2. Overtime would decide nothing, with the Ice Wolves holding off a powerplay onslaught while killing off a 4-minute penalty taken late in the third. Finally, the Broncos 4th shooter would score to give them the edge and a final 3 – 2 score. The Ice Wolves skated away with a point which could have easily been 2 after a solid performance. Xavier Cannon put on a stellar show in net, stopping 39 of 41 shots for a .951 save percentage.
Thursday, spirits would be high in Estevan as it was Holden Knights’ second game back after being sidelined by Bruins’ Nolan Jones’ crosscheck to the head at the SJHL showcase. Jones received an 11-game suspension for that infraction so was not in the line up, but there was plenty of edge to the game nonetheless. Knights laid down some huge hits to let the Bruins know he was back to normal until late in the period when Matt Millette took exception to the hit Knights had just dished out and went after him. Knights responded in kind in a spirited tussle where he took the decision. The first period ended scoreless. Gavin Mattey and Anthoney Oviedo put La Ronge up two in the second with Estevan notching one. Late in the third, the Bruins’ Prescott Singer didn’t like a hit the Wolves new addition Conrad Mitchell put on a teammate and engaged Mitchell. The 6’5”, 230 lb native of Thorsby, AB responded and showed why he was known as a tough customer in the WHL. The game went to overtime with no scoring and again to a shoot out. The Wolves’ third shooter, Captain Nolan Doell buried his shot while Xavier Cannon was a wall in the Wolves’ net. The final score: La Ronge 3, Estevan 2.
Friday in Weyburn would see a back-and-forth battle with the score ending at 3 – 3 after regulation. Walker Jerome with 2 and Conrad Mitchell would score for the Wolves. After taking a scary hit earlier, Ethan Strik would show Weyburn he was ok by laying out big hits despite his small size as is his usual practice. Matthew Reidy was bothered by this and challenged the smaller Strik by dropping his gloves which Strik reciprocated and reminded Reidy its not the size of the wolf in the fight but the size of the fight in the wolf. In overtime, Ryley Morgan would score from a Gavin Mattey wraparound attempt to seal the deal in overtime and give the Wolves a 4-3 win.
After a day off on Saturday, the Ice Wolves would head to Notre Dame on Sunday to play the Hounds. The game turned out to be a real snoozer with only 35 shots on net total, but the Hounds snoozed less than the Wolves and came out with a 4 – 1 victory. The Wolves gave the second and third periods away to the Hounds and were reminded that it takes a full 60 minutes to win a game. Aaron Greyeyes got the lone goal for the Ice Wolves in the first.
Despite the Sunday loss, the Wolves can feel a sense of accomplishment for playing three of four very good road games and coming away with 5 points, which gives them a 5 – 8 – 1 -1 record for the season and sees them in 9th place overall. They are next in action on the weekend with back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday against Kindersley and Yorkton.