of The Clarion
The Kindersley Red Lions closed off 2017 in fine fashion on the weekend with two wins at home.
The Red Lions defeated the Unity Miners 5-3 on Friday night and slid past the Eatonia Huskies, 2-1 in overtime Saturday night in front of a large hometown crowd.
The two wins mean that the Red Lions are in sole possession of third place in the Sask West Hockey League with a record of 9-4-2 with just five games remaining.
The team has this weekend off and will play against the Huskies in their next game on Jan. 12 and will host Biggar on Jan. 13.
On Saturday, the two teams battled hard for 60 minutes and gave the fans a great show.
The game was scoreless after two periods of play, but in the third, Djay McGrath found the back of the net for the home side first, sniping a shot form the slot to finally get a puck past Lane Michasiw, who had a great game for the Huskies.
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Things looked good for the Red Lions, but with just over a minute remaining, big Adam Antkowiak went the length of the ice and scored a great goal on Luke Sproule to even things up and send the game into overtime.
The two teams played even up during the overtime, until Jesse Ismond found a bit of a break and got behind the Eatonia defence and scored five-hole on Michasiw with 24.4 seconds remaining to ice the victory for the home side.
Sproule stopped 32 of 33 shots in the victory, while Michasiw stopped 38 of 40 shots in the loss.
“It was a great game,” said Red Lions coach Wayne Samson. “It was a game that either team deserved to win. Eatonia was definitely looking hard for a win.”
He adds that both goaltenders played great, but he was especially impressed with the way his team played defensively.
“We have been practising in a way that we need to take care of our own end. and we did just that. We played well as a unit,” added Samson.
Neither team could score on the powerplay with the Red Lions getting seven chances and the Huskies getting eight opportunities.
On Friday, the Red Lions jumped out to an early 2-0 lead heading into the back half of the opening period with goals coming from Jon Haughn and Shayne Neigum.
However, the high flying offence of the Miners were able to return the favour, getting goals from Kristian St. Onge and Ashton Hewson before the end of the period.
In the second, Scott Brownlee scored the lone goal to give the Red Lions the lead heading into the final frame.
In the third, things got a little heated between the two teams, but on the scoreboard, the Red Lions came out on top. Brandon Cummings would score the eventual game winner and make it 4-2. Behn Robertson would bring the visitors to within one. But Kyle Cummings would put the game away with 7:37 left in the game.
Sproule stopped 28 of 31 shots in the win, while Ryan Rewerts stopped 34 of 39 shots in the loss.
“Unity is a very offensive team, but we have shut them down for the most part in the two games that we have played them,” said Samson. “We have allowed them just four goals in those two games and that just shows how well we have been playing defensively.”
Unity is second in the league in goals for with 83, thanks in large part to Robertson, the league’s leading scorer who has 46 points, which includes 19 goals and 27 assists in just 16 games. Not far behind him is teammate Kristian St. Onge, who has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in just 15 games.
The Wilkie Outlaws remain in first place in the SWHL with a record of 14-0. The Mohawks are second with a record of 11-3 followed by the Red Lions at 9-4-2; Unity Miners at 7-9; Kerrobert Tigers and Biggar Nationals at 5-8-1; Eatonia is at 3-6-4; and the Luseland Mallards have a record of 2-10 on the season.
The team surpassed Unity with the wins on the weekend to move into third place and now have their sights set on Macklin, who are just two points ahead of them in the standings, but do have a game in hand.
“We are 5-0-1 in our last six games,” said Samson. “We are on a roll at the right time and Macklin has to play Wilkie twice in their last six games. Everything seems to be working smoothly. Our leadership is excellent on and off the ice and the guys are playing really well. When that happens, good things will come our way.”
The Red Lions held their first calcutta shootout auction following Saturday’s game with fans able to bid on shooters, goaltenders and even the coaches.
Samson said it was a huge success and wanted to thank everyone for their support.
The club raised about $4,800.
Finishing in first was shooter Jessey Pocock. Coming in second was the secret guest shooter, who turned out to be former Klipper Josh Sim, and coming in third was Jesse Ismond, Saturday’s overtime hero. The top goaltender was Travis Vogel.
“It was a lot of fun and very exciting for everyone,” said Samson. “Thanks to everyone for their support and we will definitely be doing it again.”