It was a night of firsts, career and season, for a number of Weyburn Red Wing players Wednesday as they topped the La Ronge Ice Wolves 3-1 at Crescent Point Place. The win is the third in a row for the Wings, while La Ronge has now dropped five straight games.
The Red Wings opened the scoring 4:42 into the first period when Jordan Kazymyra scored his first goal in the SJHL. Landon Walters and Jeremy Velazquez were credited with the assists on the goal, as the line continued to generate offense. Between the three skaters, they have picked up 14 points on the year.
“I was just coming through the middle there, and Landon (Walters) had just made a move on the defenseman,” Kazymyra said, describing the goal after the game. “It just kind of came out to me, and I threw it on net, and it worked out for me.”
The Red Wings would continue to dominate the play for much of the first period, but the Ice Wolves worked off the bus legs and started to apply pressure on Jake MacLennan, who was making his first start in goal on the season for Weyburn. MacLennan would finish the first period making seven saves, nearly all of them in the final eight minutes of the period.
Just before the halfway point of the second period, another first for a member of the Red Wings. Off a faceoff just outside the Weyburn blueline, Walters was jumped by La Ronge forward Justin Bill, who was taking exception for a hit on the previous shift. Walters didn’t want to oblige at first but then dropped the gloves for his first ever fight, which was a short one.
With it being the first fight of the season for anyone on the roster, it surprised Red Wings assistant coach Brock Appleyard that Walters was the one who dropped the gloves but didn’t fault him given the situation.
“Landon answered the bell there,” Appleyard said after the game. “”The guy jumped him off the face off and landed three or four there. Props to Lando for stepping up and taking care of himself there. It could have gone a lot of different ways.”
Shortly after the pair were sent to the locker room, the Red Wings made it a 2-0 game. With the teams skating four aside, Erik Olson notched his first of the season with 7:22 left on the clock in the middle period.
It started with Cole Woodliffe coming in on a breakaway but was stymied by La Ronge netminder Luke Lush. The puck stayed deep, was then thrown back to Olson at the point. His initial shot went just over the crossbar, and the rebound collected by Woodliffe. He skated around the net, centred it for Olson, who found the twine for the goal. Ben Hiltz was credited with the second assist on the goal.
The two-goal margin was short-lived, though. Just 34 seconds later, La Ronge got on the scoreboard, when Dawson Boehm found himself all alone at the top of the slot. He fired on net after having plenty of time to pick his spot, and snuck the puck past the 6’8” frame of MacLennan, making it 2-1.
In the third period, both teams had a number of chances, but the Red Wings steadily built the pressure up heading into the final moments of the game. With just under a minute left in the third, Lush was pulled in favor of an extra attacker, but it would be Weyburn scoring in an unusual manner.
Kazymyra came in on the blue line, passed it over to Hiltz, who played it back to Kazymyra. Kazymyra’s shot hit the post, but La Ronge defenseman Trey Doell threw his stick across the ice, trying to take the scoring opportunity away. Referee Marc Dubreuil awarded the goal to Kazymyra under an oft-overlooked rule that calls for a goal to be awarded if a stick is thrown, with the goaltender pulled in favor of an extra attacker, and the play prevents an obvious and imminent goal.
After the game, Appleyard said while the Red Wings earned the win, they could have done more to seal the victory.
“Give teams like that, and you play badly in the middle of the game, obviously it’s going to be a 3-1 hockey game,” Appleyard said. “I think we were trying to place the puck too much, and not just putting the puck on net.”
“Guys just have to concentrate on hitting the net, and hitting the net where the goalie is having a tough time making a save. It doesn’t always have to be right in the corner, bar down,” he added.
With the win, the Red Wings will now continue their homestand against opponents in the Sherwood Division, before traveling to face all four of the teams at the end of the month. The Flin Flon Bombers are the next team to come through, paying a visit to Crescent Point Place on Saturday.
The Ice Wolves return Sunday for a matinee match-up. Before the game, though, La Ronge will be making a stop in Estevan Thursday, and Notre Dame Saturday.