By Darren Lum
On the heels of a 7-6 win over Bobcaygeon the Haliburton Wolves put up a formidable fight against the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s North Division best Muskoka Shield this past Thursday at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton.
In the end it wasn’t enough to topple the 27-3-1 Shield who have had their way with GHML competition despite a pair of Wolves’ goals seconds apart late in the third period.
Wolves coach Josh Shaw felt a sense of pride and loved his team’s effort in the 6-3 loss that was far closer than the score illustrates.
If not for the penalties resulting from a melee that followed a collision between Wolves players Andre Roy and Connor Sikma with the Shield goalie who lost his mask the outcome could have been different.
The Wolves were not just shorthanded on the ice killing the two minute minor and the five minute major for Sikma but they were also left with only six players at the start of the third which didn’t include Ryan Hunter Jacob Bishop and Nick Hunter who was serving a variety of penalties.
Following the game Shaw told his team to keep their heads up.
“They played a helluva game. They worked their asses off and they didn’t quit” he said.
He adds in the past the team would show little fight after a deficit grew to three or four goals.
“Instead they dug deep and they never quit and we clawed our way back to make it a 6-3 game. Like I said everyone saw the last two or three minutes we were in it and we just missed a few chances” he said.
Shaw acknowledged his team’s lacklustre execution in being able to break out of their own end in the first. However his team still managed to out hit and out chance the top team from Gravenhurst.
“We outchanced them. Even though we were terrible in our end we actually had more scoring chances. They had more shots. We had more scoring chances” he said. “We pounded them pretty good in the first period and they started to cough the puck up.”
During the first period intermission he told the team to win the period and continue to work hard despite surrendering three goals. In his eyes the Wolves outplayed the Gravenhurst based team two of the three periods.
When the team finally came through with the quick two (first a highlight reel goal from James Kilgore who finished with two goals and an assist complete with dangle and top shelf shot and second from N. Hunter) late in the third period after several missed scoring chances it was a lesson to not quit.
“We’re not always going to put the puck in the back of the net. There are going to be times when we bobble a puck on a two on ‘o’ or not make a right pass or whatever … don’t quit doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Eventually it will pay off. It paid off in the end there” he said.
Following the regular season the bottom four teams in each GMHL division will play each other for a berth to playoffs with the top six teams. Currently the Wolves are second of the bottom four teams.
As of Thursday night the team is 14 points behind Bracebridge for sixth place and have a game in hand. Shaw said there is a slim mathematical chance to break into the top six but they have to go on a winning run and Bracebridge needs to lose.
On Sunday the Wolves lost 9-6 at home to Coldwater despite reeling off five goals to tie it at 6-6.
The team’s newest captain – there have been two this inaugural season – is Nick Hunter.
Hunter is a tireless skater and has been a regular contributor with 23 points in 27 games amassing a ton of minutes during even-strength and with special teams. The team’s past captain Tanner Hamilton is off the roster and playing for the Huntsville Junior C Otters while the team’s first captain Cole Rowden is off the roster. The team’s assistant captains are James Kilgore Jayden Southwind and Connor Sikma. Braydin Hollows was a healthy scratch. The Ballantyne brothers Curtis and Tanner and Justin Carchia are no longer with the team while Tyler Barry and Stewart Chaulk have left the country and are not expected to rejoin the team. Other roster changes include Ryan Salazar who has been traded for a goalie from London yet to be added to the roster online and the team has added a pair of forwards. On the injury front Malik Henry and Lachlan McKenzie are day-to-day. This past weekend Sikma suffered a concussion and is day-to-day while Masaki Watanabe is out indefinitely with a broken wrist and a dislocated shoulder.