TONIGHT AT 7:30PM WITH TONIGHT’S PARTNER, THE JDRF RUN
story by Play-By-Play Voice of the Red Wings, Steven Wilson, of DiscoverWeyburn.com
Weyburn Red Wings (9-3-0-1) vs. Melville Millionaires (5-8-1-0)
When the Melville Millionaires take the ice in Weyburn against the Red Wings tonight, this will be the first meeting between the two teams on the season. The teams have a few things in common coming into the game. A new head coach behind the bench, bringing with it tempered expectations. A new goaltender who is looking to continue success with a new team.
Those points have proven to not be much of a factor for the Red Wings, who come into the game on a five game winning streak, most recently knocking off the Flin Flon Bombers 5-0 at Crescent Point Place. The systems in place with first year bench boss Wes Rudy are basically those implemented by Bryce Thoma last year, with Rudy’s personal twist. Nathan Hargrave has come into his own as the go-to goaltender for the Red Wings, and has helped propel them to one of the top records in the SJHL.
At the other end of the ice, Devin Windle, the first year coach of the Millionaires, is coming into a role previously held by Jamie Fiesel. It is a new system, new methods, and some growing pains as the team rolls through the early part of the season. The Millionaires have struggled at times in the early going, but are a team capable of stepping in and winning on any given day.
The key concern for the Millionaires is their ability to score goals. Only one team has fewer goals-for, and that is the La Ronge Ice Wolves. With just over two goals a game, the Mills need to get their offense jump started, and will be in tough to turn out a high scoring game against the stinge Red Wings defense. Weyburn has the second fewest goals allowed in the league, behind only the Battlefords. Weyburn has also been able to find their scoring touch as of late, and it has worked well for them, as they have scored 27 goals in the month of October, averaging just over 4.5 goals in that stretch. Defensively, the Millionaires do have some new help at the backend with the acquisition of Evan Plotnik from the Mustangs, but his GAA of 3.50 and save percentage of .875 since coming to Melville hasn’t been able to exude a ton of confidence for fans. The other two netminders in the three man rotation, Brandon Wells and Colby Entz, have also been average so far in their starts this season.
In junior hockey, discipline is always a key factor for a team, as is special teams. For the Red Wings, with the exception of one game against Estevan in late September, discipline has been key. Taking the Estevan game out of the numbers, the Red Wings have been averaging just 14.6 minutes per game. The Millionaires have also been fairly good at staying out of the box, as they average 16 minutes in penalties per game. When their opposition has made a mistake on the ice, though, Melville knows how to make it count. They are third in the league on the powerplay, converting 22 per cent of the time. They have especially been good on the road with the man advantage, with the conversion rate kicking up to 25.8 per cent.
The Red Wings, on the other hand, have been having trouble getting their flow going on the PP. They have converted just 16.4 per cent of their power plays, despite getting a number of shots on net. They will be looking to pick things up, though, as a strong power play will be needed going forward, especially as the Wings get ready for a long road trip through the Sherwood Division.
It will be a tough game for both teams as these Viterra Division rivals take the ice tonight. The Red Wings will want to extend their streak to six games, while Melville wants to halt their two game skid before it spirals out of control. History is in favor of the Red Wings, as Weyburn has won seven of the last 12 meetings between these two teams at Crescent Point Place, including all three last year. Two new coaches, two new goaltenders, and a fresh season, though, mean it could be anyone’s game when they meet tonight.
Game Day Preview brought to you by Tim Hortons