The Coldwater Ice Wolves played host to three CPJHL (Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League) regular season games over the weekend.
Friday night, the Ice Wolves hosted the third-place Maniwaki Mustangs, who had defeated the Ice Wolves in a pair of games in Quebec the previous weekend. This time with Coldwater having the home ice advantage, the Wolves came out flying with four first period goals – including two just 63 seconds apart by Maksim Kalashnikov – to take a 4-0 lead in to the first intermission. Cam Gee and Rico Opikokew scored the other Coldwater goals as they outshot the Mustangs 19-5 in the opening frame.
Maniwaki’s Carl Roy picked up two early second period goals to cut in to the deficit but Coldwater’s Clayton Hongosh would score short-handed and then Jiri Dvorak added one 36 seconds later, this time on the power play, to make the score 6-2. The teams would exchange goals twice more before the end of the period, making it 8-4 heading into the third. Josh Davis and Elijah Marchildon were the goal scorers for Coldwater; Anthony Bedard and Draymond Morrisseau picked up the goals for Maniwaki.
The score remained 8-4 for much of the third, but with less than four minutes left the Mustangs’ Alek Lemay notched a power play marker and less than a minute later Phillippe Gaudron scored to cut the deficit to two as Coldwater’s lead shrank to 8-6. In the end, Maniwaki would come no closer, as Ivan Korcak’s empty net goal made it 9-6 Coldwater and that would be the final.
On Saturday night, Coldwater played host to the Greater Toronto Jaguars, who entered the game in last place with a 2-11 record. Whether it was a case of taking the Jaguars lightly or because they were still recovering from a very physical matchup with Maniwaki, the Ice Wolves came out flat.
Greater Toronto’s Benjamin Dunn and Derek Hunter Green each notched a first period goal to make it 2-0 for the road team heading in to the first break. Braden Christian Handley made it 3-0 Jaguars early in the second before Coldwater finally showed some life with Korcak picking up a goal to make it 3-1.
Coldwater would not carry any momentum from this goal as Dunn and Christian Handley both picked up their second goals of the game to make it 5-1 Jaguars en route to a 6-2 final. Korcak would add a goal for the Ice Wolves before Dunn completed the hat trick with an empty net marker, to make that final.
In the final game of the weekend, Coldwater was out to redeem themselves against their rivals, the Gravenhurst Muskoka Anglers. The fourth-place Anglers had won the previous two meetings but this was their first trip to the Coldwater arena and they came in having lost five of their previous six games overall.
The Ice Wolves were clearly a motivated bunch in the first period, looking to make up for their poor start in their previous game. They would indeed strike first when Colin Carlson fired one in to the Anglers’ net midway through the first. Coldwater would strike again only 26 seconds later, this time it was Owen Mihalik burying a wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder to make it 2-0.
The score remained that way until 3:21 in to the second period, when Carlson picked up his second of the game to give the home squad a 3-0 advantage. Muskoka would not go down easily, as Cameron Murray and Brett Machin would each score before the end of the period, making the score 3-2 Coldwater heading into the final frame.
The third period was played at a frenetic pace with scoring chances at each end, but Coldwater’s Ty Golden and Muskoka’s Ethan Messner both stood tall in net to keep the score where it was. The Ice Wolves would finally break through with just 4:26 to play when Kalashnikov broke through the Anglers defense and beat Messner with a highlight reel goal to give Coldwater a two-goal lead.
Korcak would add a power play goal and Kalshnikov would add his second of the game over the final two minutes to make the final score 6-2 in favour of Coldwater. Golden was stellar in net for the Ice Wolves as he stopped 40 of 42 shots, and all 13 he faced in the third, to earn the victory.
Coldwater improved their record to 7-9 over the weekend and remain in sixth place, but with the one loss coming at home to the last-place team, it feels like they may have left some points on the table.
Consistency will be a key going forward, as the team has shown they can compete with anyone in the league in defeating four of the five teams ahead of them; but they also have losses against the two teams currently tied at the bottom of the standings.
“When we want to play we can really play,” said Coach Justin Beers after the weekend,”we just need to become more consistent.”
The Ice Wolves will be in action this coming weekend as they have a home-and-home with the Scaborough Wexford Raiders. They will travel to Scarborough on Friday night before hosting the Raiders on Saturday, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at the Coldwater Arena.
For ticket information or to see the full schedule, please head to www.coldwatericewolves.com