Friday, December 14, 2012

Hawks Suffer 3-1 Defeat In Battlefords:

 Sporting their new track suits, the Nipawin Hawks headed on the road Thursday to the Battlefords, where I had a chance to see the Civic Center for the first time. Unfortunately, the game didn't end the way it started for Nipawin, who allowed a PP, SH and even strength goal en route to a 3-1 loss.

Michael Lambert scored early in the opening period on a nifty 2-on-1 with Wheaton King, while Jesse Bernard nabbed the 2nd assist. The goal came just 17 seconds in to a Joren Johnson penalty to give Nipawin some confidence on the man advantage. The rest of the period was exciting, featuring some hard hits as well as some scoring chances, but no one else could solve the netminders, ending the period with Nipawin in front. Shots in the opening period were split at 12 apiece. In the final minute, North Stars goalie Connor Creech summonded the trainer to the net, where they had a conversation for a couple minutes before Creech left the game and did not return. Reports say Creech suffered a groin injury. Luke McColgan also took his first of 2 penalties in the dying minutes, sending Nipawin to the powerplay to the start the 2nd.

In the middle frame, the Hawks started slow, unable to develop any formation in the Stars zone. The Hawks worked to get shots at backup netminder Casey Parker, but Parker looked comfortable stopping everything that came his way whether a clear shot or a deflection. The tying goal wouldn't come until late in the period, when the Hawks play started to slow up and the Stars took advantage. Austin Evans started a shorthanded end to end rush and blew by the Nipawin defenders before slipping it by Davis Jones, who made 25 stops in the loss. There was just 1 penalty per team in the 2nd as well, with Luke McColgan taking one and Jesse Bernard taking another with 1:00 left in the period. Going in to the break, Nipawin had an 11-6 advantage in shots in the 2nd.

Luckily for the Hawks, the Stars early power play could not develop any offense and Nipawin started to look for the tying goal. Just under 9 minutes in to the 3rd period, Braeden Johnson found that offense on the powerplay by grabbing a puck in the high slot and roofing it top shelf beside Jones' head to put Battlefords up 2-1. Just over 3 minutes later, McColgan would go end to end and put the Stars up a couple goals. He walked around the defensemen and then went 5-hole on Jones, getting the first even strength goal of the evening. Nipawin could not get anything flowing as the 3rd period faded away, and with the goalie pulled they made one last unsuccessful attempt to make the game closer. Casey Parker picked up his 2nd SJHL win with a 17(6 in the 3rd) stop performance, while Davis Jones made 8 of 10 stops in the final period as the Hawks fell to 14-10-1-4.

While it was one of 'those' games for the Hawks, there was a few players who brought a strong effort to the table and for that turned in their best games of the season. Michael Lambert got his 2n powerplay goal in as many games, and was going all night long. As was David Heath, who got to play some time as a forward before reverting to d. Heath made smart plays all night and proved that his skating is second-to-none. I was also pleased with the game played by Dexter Bricker, he looked a little more confident and I assume moving towards 2013, he will only continue to improve.

For the Hawks, it's a quick turnaround as 24 hours later the Kindersley Klippers will host the black 'n yellow. That game will need a see a more consistent effort for a full 60 minutes if the Hawks want 2 points. Kindersley is one of the coldest teams in the league, and is tied with 2 other clubs for the fewest points on home ice with 13. Nipawin has lost just 1 of their past 5 road games after losing all 3 on their southern swing in early November. Since then, they've won in Melfort, Melville, and twice in Flin Flon.

Tonight's roster may be a little different than last night, with a number of players questionable at present. I won't say who is out, but I can tell you Brady Zerr and Carter Danczak sat out last night and will not dress tonight. Ian Bablitz, who is now a Tri-Town Thunder, joined the team as an AP for this weekend and he will likely dress for tonight's game.

Tune in to CK750 beginning at 7:15 for the pregame show from Kindersley, where we chat with Doug Johnson and Rockie Zinger as well as preview the game-to-be. You can listen online at 

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