It was a barnburner of a game between the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings and the La Ronge Ice Wolves Friday night to close out the northern road swing for the Wings. The Red Wings, though, would find themselves coming up just short, falling 6-5 to the Ice Wolves.
The Red Wings continued their strong play on the power play, with the man advantage counting for three of their five goals. Drew Kuzma also had a coming-out party at the Mel Hegland Uniplex in La Ronge, scoring a hat trick.
Weyburn opened the scoring at the 8:16 mark of the first period when Nik Sombrowski put his ninth of the season behind Xavier Cannon. His shot from the top of the right-hand circle beat the La Ronge netminder on the far side, making its way through the traffic. His goal was assisted by Ian Maier and Kuzma.
The Ice Wolves would tie things up two minutes and thirty seconds later. After the initial shot from Kole Chirstensson was stopped, Conrad Mitchell dove for the puck, and put the rebound past Dazza Mitchell to make it 1-1.
In the second period, Weyburn found themselves with a 5-on-3 power play in the early minutes. At the 2:16 mark, the Wings would take the lead on Kuzma’s first goal of the night. After winning the faceoff, Kuzma skated over to the top of the crease, while the puck was worked back to the point to Graham Skinner. Skinner fed it over to Braden Birnie, who took the initial shot. The rebound ended up on the stick of Kuzma, who pushed it in past Cannon to make it 2-1.
The Ice Wolves wouldn’t take long to tie things up, though.
Just 1:29 after the Kuzma goal, Nolan Doell would score his first of the game to make it a 2-2 game. Then, Gavin Mattey scored while the Wolves were on the power play at the 4:16 mark, and it was now 3-2 in favour of La Ronge.
The two teams exchanged chances throughout the rest of the period, and it looked like the La Ronge lead would carry over to the locker room. Then, in the dying seconds of the period, Weyburn tied things up with another power play goal from Kuzma.
With 1.8 seconds on the clock, a point shot from Maier was tipped and fluttered towards the top of the La Ronge crease, Ty Mason took a whack at it, and the bouncing puck clipped the shaft of his stick, going right to Kuzma who was on the back door. He put it in behind Cannon to make it 3-3 after 40 minutes.
The third period would see the two teams combine for five goals in a flurry of goal scoring.
Weyburn carried the momentum of the late goal in the second into the third.
Taking advantage of a defensive miscue, Austyn Hansen would take the puck away from La Ronge’s Nate Looft, and put the pick past Cannon while being upended. The individual effort goal made it 4-3 Weyburn just 11 seconds into the period.
A turnover the other way resulted in the Ice Wolves getting a chance to tie things up.
Benji Rutkai went to pass the puck through to the neutral zone, but the pass was intercepted by Mattey. He came in on a 2-on-1 but opted to hold on to the puck himself, beating Mitchell to make it a 4-4 game.
La Ronge would then take the lead just before the halfway mark of the period with an unusual goal. Doell would score his second of the night from a very sharp angle, the puck re-directing off the shoulder of Mitchell, who was flush against the post, into the net on the left-hand side. The goal at the 9:37 mark gave the Ice Wolves a 5-4 lead.
Doell would then score the goal that proved to be the game-winner at the 14:41 mark, finishing his hat trick bid, and making it 6-4.
The Red Wings weren’t deterred by the deficit and threw everything they could at the La Ronge goal. Finally, the Wings were able to make one of the shots count as Kuzma scored his third of the game with 1:20 left of the clock. His third of the game was assisted by Skinner and Birnie.
The Wings tried everything they could to score the even-up goal, but were unable to, with the game staying at 6-5 until the final buzzer.
After the thrilling game in La Ronge, Weyburn will now have a few nights off. They return to the ice on Friday when they host the Melfort Mustangs. They will then get a rematch with the Ice Wolves the following Monday at Crescent Point Place.