Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Ice Wolves lose close one in North Battleford

It was a solid effort, but the La Ronge Ice Wolves dropped a 3-1 decision in North Battleford Wednesday to the North Stars. 

“I think the effort was there again,” said Ice Wolves Asst. Coach Kyle Schneider. “Obviously, giving up two to start isn’t great. I thought the boys battled for the rest of the game – second period, we were starting to take over.” 

The North Stars opened the scoring 3:50 into the contest when Tanner Gold sent a sneaky shot from the point past Dawson Smith for his third of the campaign. Smith, who was just named SJHL Goalie of the Week, was sensational, making 33 saves Wednesday.  

The North Stars took a 2-0 edge 6:59 into the first frame following a Jake Southgate marker. La Ronge outshot the North Stars 21-9 in the first frame, but Josh Kotai slammed the door shut. Kotai ended up making 39 saves for the victory. 

The Ice Wolves got on the board 10:35 into the second period when Dylan Handel knifed home his ninth of the season at the side of the net, which made it a 2-1 game. Handel has four goals in his last three games. 

North Battleford made it a 3-1 affair 13:13 into the third when Colby Bear fired home his eighth of the season. Meanwhile, the Ice Wolves pulled Dawson Smith late, but they were not able to claw their way back from a two-goal deficit. 

With the loss, the Ice Wolves slipped to 19-9-1 on the season, but they are still controlling second in the SJHL standings at the moment. 

La Ronge will look to rebound Saturday night at home when they welcome the Yorkton Terriers to town for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at the Mel Hegland Uniplex. 

“It will nice to be back at home – we hope to have a big crowd back there,” said Schneider. “I don’t really think we need to change much. We’re playing good hockey, tough one tonight, but we will just get back to work and keep going the way we know we can.”

Following Saturday’s contest with the Terriers, the Ice Wolves will get set for four games next week.