For the last few weeks, it looked like the La Ronge Ice Wolves were destined for a date with the Melfort Mustangs in round one of the SJHL playoffs, but the Ice Wolves found out last night their first-round opponent will be the Yorkton Terriers.
The Melfort Mustangs blanked the Flin Flon Bombers 2-0 Monday at Northern Lights Palace, which vaulted the Mustangs to third in the SJHL standings despite having less wins than La Ronge and Yorkton. The Melfort victory pushed the Ice Wolves down to fifth spot and the Terriers slipped to fourth, which sets up a first-round series between two franchises that have met twice in the SJHL Finals.
“They got the best player in the league in (Chantz) Petruic, so we’re going to have to do a very good job of shutting him down,” said Ice Wolves Head Coach and GM Kevin Kaminski. “He can also make plays too. Against his line, we’ve got to do a good job of playing away from the puck and picking up guys.”
Petruic was named the SJHL Player of the Year and he also took home league MVP honours. The Moose Jaw, SK product had 109 points in 52 games this season. The Ice Wolves also have several players who can put the puck in the net, including Daylon Mannon, who finished the season with 80 points in 58 games.
The Ice Wolves ended the 2019-20 campaign with a 33-19-6 record and a .621 winning percentage, which is the second-best in franchise history. La Ronge enters the post-season for the first time since 2016 on a four-game winning streak and the Ice Wolves have picked up points in seven straight games.
The Terriers were 35-20-3 this season and they recorded eight wins in their last 10 games. Yorkton tallied points in nine of their last 10 games and the Terriers ended the season with a 3-1 loss to the Melville Millionaires Saturday night.
La Ronge was 2-0-2 versus Yorkton this season and the Ice Wolves came from behind and beat the Terriers 5-4 in Pinehouse back on Dec. 5 during the last meeting between the two clubs.
For La Ronge forward Jake Gudjonson, getting to the playoffs is special. The Golden, B.C. product is in his fifth and final season of junior hockey, but Gudjonson will play his first playoff game Friday night in Yorkton. Gudjonson played 141 regular season games with the Golden Rockets in the KIJHL before suiting up 110 times in the SJHL as a member of the La Ronge Ice Wolves.
“I’m definitely really excited,” said Gudjonson. “Fifth year, finally get a chance to play in some playoffs and I couldn’t ask for a better group of boys to do it with this year.”
Game one between the Ice Wolves and Terriers is scheduled for Friday night in Yorkton at 7:30 p.m. You can catch the action live on MBC Network Radio with Braden Malsbury. The pre-game show gets underway at 7:15 p.m.
Following game two in Yorkton Saturday, the Ice Wolves return home for the third installment of the series next Tuesday at the Mel Hegland Uniplex.
Game 1 – Friday, March 6 @ Yorkton 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Saturday, March 7 @ Yorkton 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Tuesday, March 10 @ La Ronge 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 – Wednesday, March 11 @ La Ronge 7:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday, March 13 @ Yorkton 7:30 p.m. *
Game 6 – Sunday, March 15 @ La Ronge 7:00 p.m. *
Game 7 – Tuesday, March 17 @ Yorkton 7:30 p.m. *
* If necessary
Bold = Game available on MBC Network Radio
(PHOTO: Spencer Kennedy celebrates a goal earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Brandon White.)