Colin Carlson’s hat trick lead the Coldwater attack and Rico Opikokew’s pair of empty netters sealed the game as the Ice Wolves defeated the Wexford Raiders 7-4 in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate.
The Raiders would open the scoring with a power play goal 3:43 into the first period. The Ice Wolves failed to clear the puck and after a scramble in front of the net, D’Andre Wooldridge flipped a backhand past Coldwater goalie Ty Golden for the early 1-0 lead.
Coldwater would even the score with just over three minutes left in the first period when Carlson ripped a shot over the glove of Raiders’ goalie Brodie Goddard to tie the game at 1.
It looked as though that score would hold into intermission, but with just 30 seconds left in the period a seemingly harmless flick up the ice from Wexford lead to a 2-on-0 breakaway and a goal by Dante Petrini to give them a 2-1 lead heading into the break.
After being outshot and outplayed in the first period, Coldwater came out firing in the second. Carlson picked up his second of the game just over two minutes into the period when he fired a snap shot off the crossbar and in, tying the game 2-2.
Carlson would go on to complete the first hat trick of his junior career midway through the frame. A strong Ice Wolves forecheck caused a turnover in the offensive zone and while Goddard was able to stop the point shot from Rico Opikokew, Carlson was on the doorstep to put home the rebound and make the score 3-2 for Coldwater.
Exactly 60 seconds later, Coldwater’s Zachary Iron found leading scorer Ivan Korčák in the slot and Korčák would wire home his 32nd goal of the season to make it 4-2 for the Ice Wolves, chasing Goddard from the game.
The goalie change seemed to spark the Raiders as they peppered Coldwater and goalie Ty Golden for the remainder of the period. Golden would stand tall, making multiple highlight-reel saves, and the Ice Wolves would carry that 4-2 lead into the third period.
Midway through the period, Korčák had a chance to extend the lead as he was hauled down from behind on a short-handed breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. However, new Raiders’ goalie Cory Richardson was up to the task and got just enough of his blocker on Korčák’s shot to steer it wide.
Wexford would continue to pressure the Ice Wolves and shortly after their power play ended, Wooldridge picked up his second goal of the game to cut the Coldwater lead to just 4-3.
However Coldwater would answer just 13 seconds later when Richardson misplayed a dump-in, allowing Korčák to jump on the loose pick and pick up his second goal of the game. The Raiders would nearly cut the lead back to one just seconds later but Golden made a spectacular save, this time on a one-timer where he came sliding across his crease to rob Wexford of a sure goal.
The Raiders would solve Golden once more as Wooldridge completed a hat trick of his own with 3:04 left to play, making the score 5-4 for Coldwater. The Raiders would come no closer, and with 1:27 to play, Coldwater’s Rico Opikokew would bury an empty net goal from his own blue line to make the score 6-4 for the Ice Wolves and seal the game.
Opikokew would add another empty net goal, set up by some great board battling by Cam Gee, to make the final score 7-4 for the Ice Wolves. Golden finished with 38 saves on 42 shots to earn the win in net.
Coldwater was coming in on a six-game losing streak, including a tough 10-5 loss to Wexford last Sunday, but with the victory they move from eighth up to sixth in the CPJHL standings. With 15 games left to play, the Ice Wolves remain within striking distance of finishing in the top four and hosting a first-round playoff series.
Despite a slow start to the game, Coldwater outshot Wexford 34-29 over the final two periods while also managing to kill off six Raiders’ power plays.
In regard to the change after that poor first period, alternate captain Colin Carlson said, “We knew what we had to do. Play as a team, pass it around, keep it simple.” As for his first career hat trick, “I just wanted to get pucks on net, and try to help out the team.”
Look for another big game out of Carlson Sunday night as the Ice Wolves head to Smith Falls to take on the Settlers, puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. “I’ve got some people coming in the crowd, so I’ll be trying my best [to repeat tonight].” Smith Falls sits just two points behind Coldwater in the standings, so this will be an important game for both teams.
The next Ice Wolves home game is this coming Saturday, January 19th, as Coldwater will host their rivals, the Muskoka Anglers. Puck drop is at 7:30, for full ticket information and for all the news, stats, schedules and updates, head to www.coldwatericewolves.com