7:30PM TONIGHT AT CRESCENT POINT PLACE
story by Play-By-Play Voice of the Red Wings, Steven Wilson, of DiscoverWeyburn.com
Weyburn Red Wings (7-3-0-1) vs. Battlefords North Stars (8-4-0-0)
The Weyburn Red Wings will have a tough challenge ahead of them tonight when they take the ice against the Battlefords North Stars. The North Stars, who many thought may not be in the hunt early this season, have surprised many, and are continuing to impress. Meanwhile, the Red Wings have kept steady with their game, and quietly held onto second in the Viterra Division, and fifth overall in the SJHL.
The Battlefords last a number of key offensive players last season, such as Igor Leonenko. It was thought the changes up front, the Stars may be in tough in terms of getting points on the board. Others have stepped in to fill the gap, including Reed Delainey, and Layne Young, and the North Stars have continued to win.
The biggest question marks for the team was on the backend, and determining the goaltending situation. It became even tougher for the Battlefords when the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL returned Joel Grzybowski to the team. The Stars decided to eliminate the logjam at goal, and traded Ryan Rewerts to the MHL. Since then, Grzybowski and Taryn Kotchorek have carried the bulk of the work for the North Stars.
Coaching was another question swirling around the North Stars. Kevin Hasselberg resigned from the team in the summer, to go pro, as he accepted a position with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. Taking his place in the Battlefords this season is Nate Bedford. Bedford was the coach of the Keyano College hockey team in Fort McMurray. Bedford has been a good fit so far with the Stars, putting them in a strong position in the ever competitive Finning Division.
The Red Wings are entering the game on a three-game winning streak, that has seen them outscore their opponents 16-6. The offense, which seemed to be lacking at times in September, is coming fast and furious now for the Wings. A team that has been known for the past few seasons as a defensive powerhouse, Weyburn has shown they do know how to score this year, and looks to continue the trend. Every skater on the roster has picked up a point this season, a feat that no other team in the SJHL has accomplished so far this year.
Defensively, the Red Wings continue to limit the number of quality chances from the opposition, which has made things easy for Nathan Hargrave and Shaun Fleming. Hargrave has carried the bulk of the work this season for the Red Wings, and it has paid off, with the 20-year-old B.C. product picking up two shutouts so far this season. The strong play has helped the Wings immensely to their position, just behind the Estevan Bruins in the Viterra Division.
The coaching staff of the Red Wings is new to their positions as well. Wes Rudy, after a season as assistant coach, finds himself having a successful start to the year as the head coach. His assistant, former Red Wing Brock Appleyard, has been a great asset to the team, with many of the players looking up to and respecting the leadership he brings to the team.
The Red Wings will have their work cut out for them tonight when the puck drops at Crescent Point Place. That said, they know what needs to be accomplished in the game to come away with the victory. It will be an entertaining affair when the North Stars visit the Red Wings at 7:30 p.m.
Game Day Preview presented by Tim Hortons!