of The Clarion
The Kindersley Red Lions are still searching for the consistency that makes for a championship team.
The team again split weekend Sask West Hockey League games, losing 9-2 to the Wilkie Outlaws on Friday before coming back to beat the Huskies in Eatonia 4-3 on Saturday night.
At the halfway mark of the season, the Red Lions sit in fourth place with a 5-4-1 record.
Coach Wayne Samson said they’re not overly worried about their record, considering most of the games have been on the road.
“We’ve played seven of 10 games on the road and now we have seven at home,” he said. “You like to go .500 on the road when you can and we did that. We’re pretty confident that we can have a strong second half. We always play well at home and I think we will make a run here in the second half.”
[emember_protected for=”2″ custom_msg=’For more on this story, please see the Dec. 13 print edition of The Clarion.’]
The team will have this weekend off before three games next week, starting on Wednesday (Dec. 20) at home against Luseland. They then travel to Biggar on Friday, before hosting Luseland again on Saturday.
After a short break for Christmas, the Red Lions will host Unity on Dec. 29 and Eatonia on Dec. 30 to close out the year.
On Friday, the Outlaws proved to be too strong for the under-manned Red Lions.
“We got off to a slow start and we just couldn’t come back,” said Samson. “Wilkie is a very good team and they know how to make a team look bad.
“We did have a pretty good third period and had some chances, but we just got too far behind,” he added.
The Outlaws scored just 55 seconds into the game and continued to pour it on throughout. The score was 4-0 after one period and 8-1 after two.
Scoring for the Red Lions were Ethan Wigley and Jonny Calkins.
Sharing the goaltender duties for the Red Lions were Luke Sproule, who played 34 minutes and stopped 32 of 34 shots, and Travis Vogel, who came on in relief and stopped 19 of 20 shots the rest of the way.
Wilkie’s Jared Herle stopped 32 of 34 shots to pick up the victory, their 10th in as many games.
On Saturday, the Red Lions squeaked out a comeback win over the fiesty Eatonia Huskies in a penalty-filled tilt.
“We had our top six defenceman in the lineup this time, but we were missing six of our forwards so we knew that we had to hold them down defensively,” said Samson. “They are a good team, you can’t look at the standings and you have to respect them. They are a team that could surprise many during the playoffs.”
The Huskies got on the board first. Following a scoreless first period, Cody Marshall scored within the opening two minutes of the second and David Brown added another near the halfway mark.
Byron Ismond scored near the end of the period to come within one, heading into the final frame.
In the third, Matt McKinnon added to the Huskies’ lead at the 13:32 mark, but the Red Lions fought back. Shayne Neigum and Byron Ismond scored 23 seconds apart to tie things up and Jessey Pocock completed the comeback, finding the back of the net with just over a minute remaining in the game.
Sproule would stop 38 of 41 shots in the win, while the Huskies’ Lane Michasiw faced 28 shots.
The two teams combined for 36 power-play opportunities. Kindersley went zero for 14 and Eatonia went zero for 22, according to the score sheet.
Samson said it was good to see the guys come back.
“Calkins and Neigum really took the squad under their wings and I think they were out there every second shift in that last period,“ he said. ”They led the way for us and everyone battled hard.”
Samson said the team will work hard to move up in the standings in the second half of the season. They’ll be working on special teams, key components for any team to be successful.