Next game to decide winner of first round
By Rhonda Cooper
“We had two teams that really wanted to play hockey,” said Lloyd Esau, coach of the Meadow Lake midget ‘B’ provincial team. “The intensity and effort was there throughout the entire game.”
Game one of the provincial two-game, total point matchup between the Meadow Lake Midget Stampeders and the Wilkie Outlaws ended in a 1-1 draw Friday, Jan. 20 in Meadow Lake. The Meadow Lake team, comprised of members from both the Meadow Lake STEP league’s midget Colts and midget Storm, have joined forces in a bid for a provincial title.
“Our guys played a really good game,” said Esau. “I was really happy with our first two periods of forechecking. I think Wilkie had a stronger third period.”
The first whistle of the game came more than three minutes into the period. Meadow Lake had an excellent scoring opportunity off the ensuing faceoff but the Wilkie goalie made the first of many stops of the evening.
Meadow Lake had the bulk of the scoring chances in the first 20 minutes but the Wilkie goalie was up to the task. Each team was assessed a single minor.
The midget Stamps opened the second frame on the powerplay and a pretty set up by Chase Paylor and Curtis Stanley saw Andy DeGruchy light the lamp to give the home town boys a 1-0 lead. Wilkie came right back with an excellent opportunity of their own but goalie Brendan Plant snatched the puck right out of mid air. Despite the back and forth play and quick game pace, the score remained 1-0 going into the third.
Wilkie took a pair of minor penalties in the third but Meadow Lake was unable to score with the man advantage. A miscommunication at the bench saw the midget Stamps called for too many men with 7:44 remaining in the game. This was the opportunity Wilkie needed as only 40 seconds later, Plant was beaten high, knotting the game at 1-1. Each team had its chances in the final minutes but it was not to be and the game ended in a draw.
“We just didn’t get the bounces,” said Esau. “How many times can you have the puck lying there and an open net, and it doesn’t go in? But Wilkie has a good goalie and he played well for them.”
As for adjustments for game two, set for Friday night in Wilkie, Esau doesn’t think there is much to change.
“The effort and everything was there. If we can take the same type of intensity there all we have to do is go down and win one. We have the skill and talent, we just have to execute,” he said. “I think if the guys relax a little bit, our execution will be there and we’ll have to go in tight and upstairs on their butterfly goalie.”