By Darren Lum
The Haliburton Wolves bounced back into the win column with a gritty performance against the Seguin Huskies in Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League action on Thursday Oct. 22 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton.
Despite seven minutes of penalties late in the third period the shorthanded Wolves clung to a one goal lead preserving a 3-2 win.
The team’s head of hockey operations Darryl Porter who is interim coach while head coach Walt McKechnie serves one more game of a three game suspension for abuse of an official said a major factor in the team’s fourth win of the season was staying out of the penalty box.
“It’s the same story every game. Walt [McKechnie] preaches the simple fact: play smart hockey. The problem is we still take the stupid penalties after the whistle. I think we were a little better tonight but there was a few times you got to skate away” Porter said.
The team finished with 31 minutes of penalties and a game disqualification compared to the 13 minutes by the Huskies. Haliburton only had three penalties for six minutes in the second.
Wolves defenceman Justin Carchia who is among the league leaders in penalties had played a solid game on defence at both ends of the ice before he was ejected and received two penalties (two minute plus five minute major) that left the team short-handed late for the rest of the game.
The Wolves though showed their resiliency closing out the game despite those and other penalties and even when the visitors’ pulled their goalie for the extra attacker to have a two man advantage with less than 39 seconds in the game.
The crowd was definitely into it yelling at the Huskies’ players during and after the game.
“With this win and the style we had [played] it was almost playoff hockey. It was end-to-end. The crowd was into it. Maybe a little too much but what can I say they worked their asses off” he said.
Wolves forward Ivan Tamaskovic who is listed at 6’5” just did what he was told when he scored the eventual game-winner in the third period. Assists were from Malik Henry and Curtis Ballantyne.
“What we’ve been trying to tell Ivan is take the puck to the net. He’s a big body and all he’s got to do is use the body and make room. Not only will he make room for himself but for his teammates as well. So finally we yelled at him on the bench: Go North. Go North. And he finally went North and took the shot so it was a huge huge goal for us” he said.
Tamaskovic finished with two points (goal and assist) and named third star of the game.
Getting the start and the first star of the game was Wolves American goalie Mitchell Volmert who was solid at home turning aside 45 shots in the game for a .957 save percentage according to the online scoresheet. Gooderham’s Nick Hunter scored the team’s second goal of the game.
Wolves forward Tanner Hamilton who scored the team’s first goal was left with what the team is describing as an “upper body” injury after he was cross-checked to the ice from behind and then hit repeatedly as he lay on the ice in the second period. He was motionless and remained faced down on the ice for minutes as the trainer attended to him. Hamilton was helped off the ice noticeably in pain and did not return for the third period. Following the game Porter said they were going to have him checked out to decide his playing status.
The day after the win the Wolves suffered a 15-7 loss to the Sturgeon Lumberjacks at the Sturgeon Falls Arena. However Tamaskovic finished where he left off scoring a hat-trick and an assist in the loss. Another highlight was that the team only received three penalties. It didn’t help that they only iced about half of its eligible players. The others are still injured or serving suspensions.
The Wolves next game this Thursday is against the South Muskoka Shield of Gravenhurst. The Shield lead the head-to-head 1-0. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Porter can’t stress enough the importance of staying out of the penalty box is particularly during this recent stretch where the team has lost close to half its roster to either injuries or suspensions.
“If the guys realize the penalties … if they can cut it down we can compete. We can compete with anybody in the league” he said.