Wild­cats spin­ning their wheels in play­off stretch drive

Southwest Booster - - CLASSIFIEDS / SPORTS - STEVEN MAH SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

The Swift Cur­rent Di­a­mond En­ergy Wild­cats’ hopes of climb­ing the Saskatchewan Fe­male Midget AAA Hockey League standings took a hit over the weekend as they strug­gled against two teams be­low them in the standings. The Wild­cats picked up one reg­u­la­tion win but suf­fered two shootout losses dur­ing a busy weekend.

Fri­day, the Wild­cats dropped a 2-1 shootout loss to the host Notre Dame Hounds.

The Wild­cats failed to score on all three of their shootout at­tempts, while Kate­lyn Bre­itkreuz scored for the Hounds to earn the ex­tra point.

The Wild­cats led 1-0 af­ter one pe­riod on a powerplay goal from Brenna Thom­son with an as­sist from Jes­sica Pele. Swift Cur­rent fin­ished one-for-11 on the powerplay and al­lowed the ty­ing goal late in the mid­dle stanza when Robin Nimegeers scored short­handed.

Jasey Book suf­fered the shootout loss with 20 saves, while Kylee Styles picked up the win with 31 saves be­fore stop­ping Kar­lie Bell, Pele, and Brook­lyn Haubrich in the shootout.

Satur­day, the Wild­cats got things turned around with a 2-1 win over the vis­it­ing Melville Prairie Fire. Bell and Merissa Zerr both scored in the win with as­sists from Haubrich and Danya Winzer. Brook­lyn Weis­ger­ber picked up the win with 16 saves on 17 shots as the Wild­cats out- shot the visi­tors 30-17.

Sun­day, the Wild­cats were not at their best in a costly 2-1 shootout win. Chloe Smith scored the only goal for Swift Cur­rent in reg­u­la­tion to tie the con­test 1-1 mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod with as­sists from Keely Chalk and Pele. Book made 22 saves in reg­u­la­tion and over­time and stopped the first three Melville at­tempts in the shootout be­fore Brit­tany Keisig scored to end the game.

All four Wild­cats failed to score in the shootout as they dropped to 4-3 in the skills com­pe­ti­tion af­ter open­ing the sea­son with four straight wins. The Wild­cats have now scored on six of 40 at­tempts and al­lowed five goals on 39 shootout at­tempts.

“To­day they just out­mus­cled us,” said head coach Terry Pavely. “They won a lot of bat­tles for pucks. We just didn’t have op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have to be stronger on pucks. When other teams raise their com­pete level then we have to raise ours. I don’t think at times we did to­day.”

Pavely re­fused to use the easy ex­cuse of fa­tigue af­ter the team’s third game in as many days.

“I wouldn’t blame it on that, we just keep los­ing to bad hockey teams.

“We are the only team that loses to Melville and Bat­te­ford over and over. We keep mak­ing steps for­ward to give our­selves hope of mov­ing for­ward and then when we play the bot­tom two teams they get points off us. You can say what you want, yeah three games in three days, but you have to beat the teams be­low you and we just are not do­ing it.”

The Wild­cats sit fourth in the eight-team SFMAAAHL with a 9-9-4-3 record, al­though all four teams be­low them hold games in hand. Their in­abil­ity to se­cure points against teams be­low them in the standings has left them vul­ner­a­ble and Pavely was un­sure why his team has strug­gled against Bat­tle­fords and Melville.

“I don’t know, I wish I knew the an­swer. We keep say­ing that ev­ery time we take two steps for­ward we take one back. When we get op­por­tu­ni­ties we have got to make the most of them. We score four goals in three games and you are not go­ing to win. Ev­ery game we have had more powerplay chances and we are not scor­ing on the powerplay. We just have to buckle down.”

The Wild­cats seemed poised for a big sec­ond half in the SFMAAAHL af­ter a strong show­ing at the Mac’s Midget AAA World In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment in Cal­gary over the hol­i­day break where they fin­ished with a 3-1 record and scored 15 goals in four games. They played five league games in Jan­uary against three teams be­low them in the standings and earned only nine of a pos­si­ble 15 points.

“We scored a lot of goals at the Mac’s and we thought it was go­ing to be a spring­board and it re­ally hasn’t helped us,” lamented Pavely. “It is a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing right now be­cause we have been play­ing teams, Notre Dame, who is a de­cent team right with us in the pack, we played Melville and Bat­tle­ford since then and we are not get­ting the points. The teams above us are get­ting the points against those teams and that is why we are go­ing to end up in fifth or sixth place be­cause we have just given too many points away against the bot­tom teams.”

The Wild­cats now have only three reg­u­lar sea­son games re­main­ing and will have their hands full when they host the league lead­ing Regina Rebels this weekend.

The two teams will meet Satur­day at 5:15 p.m. and Sun­day at 1 p.m. at Fairview West Arena. The Wild­cats lost 3-0 and 21 on the road to Regina way back in Oc­to­ber. The Rebels are run­ning away with top spot in the league with a 20-2-0-1 record and fea­ture the top four scor­ers in the league, led by Chelsea Pere­peluk’s 48 points in 23 games. Goal­tender Sum­mer Roberts also leads the league with a 1.32 goals against av­er­age.

“We are go­ing to have to ob­vi­ously find a way to score goals be­cause they score goals. They are the only team in the league that av­er­ages more than three goals a game. We are not go­ing to hold them to one, so we are go­ing to have to find a way to get pucks past their goal­tender and score some goals,” said Pavely.

The Wild­cats will con­clude the reg­u­lar sea­son on Wed­nes­day when the Hounds visit Fairview West Arena at 8 p.m.

Photo by Steven Mah

Cap­tain Brook­lyn Haubrich had the Wild­cats’ best scor­ing chance Sun­day when she beat two Melville de­fend­ers for a late break­away in a 2-1 shootout loss.

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