The Canora Cobras were involved in a tight, low-scoring Sask East Hockey League game against the visiting Wapella Blackhawks on Nov. 27 at the Canora Civic Centre. Neither team had more than a one-goal lead until the Blackhawks scored an empty-net goal with one second left to wrap up a 4-2 victory.
“I thought we were more focused than the previous game against Cote,” said Cobras Coach Darren Schwartz. “But there were a lot of scrambles. From the start, we couldn’t really get into a groove, we were having trouble making that first pass to get out of our own end.”
Wapella opened the scoring about halfway through the first period, and carried that slim lead into the second. After nearly 40 minutes of frustration for Cobras shooters, Kody Rock of Canora got the home side on the scoreboard late in the middle period.
“We got a bit better and stuck to the system a bit better as the game went on,” observed Schwartz. “It was one of those games with no flow to it. There was a lot of icing the puck. We’ve got to learn to play at a high tempo consistently.”
The Cobras kept shooting in the third period, and took a 2-1 lead on a shot by Kolt Konan. It looked like the goalie never saw the puck, thanks to a screen by Konan’s teammate Colby Jacob.
“We need to have more guys go to the net like that more often,” said Schwartz. “We had other good scoring chances, but most of the time, no one in front of the net. And we need to make sure our shots hit the net. Missing the net usually means scoring opportunities going the other way for the other team.”
Canora’s lead was short-lived, as Wapella scored twice in less than three minutes to go ahead for good. The Cobras pulled goalie Durban Hleboff late in the period, but an empty-netter by the Blackhawks ended any hope for Canora.
“We made mistakes,” continued Schwartz. “We had chances to score, but the mistakes didn’t help. We need to learn to play with the lead. Panic set in a bit after we went ahead, and guys started to run around. We also had a couple injuries, which didn’t help.”
Wapella finished the game with 20 shots on goal. The Cobras had 39 shots, but Blackhawks goalie Dalton Peigan was busy and had a strong game, finishing with 37 saves.
Skyler Hladun assisted on both Canora goals. Single assists went to Troy Zulyniak and Colby Jacob. The attendance was 178.
Schwartz gave credit to the Blackhawks for their effort in coming out on top.
“They play hard. They had a short bench, but they just kept coming. As long as the game stayed close, it was better for them. If we could’ve gone ahead earlier in the game, it might have been different.”
Even after the disappointing loss, Schwartz sees cause for optimism for Cobras fans.
“I thought our players improved overall from the game before against Cote, even though a few guys were missing. But we need to play with intensity all the time, especially when we play the better teams coming up on our schedule.
“We need to stand up on defense, take the middle of the ice away, and make a good first pass. If we do those things, we should get back to our winning ways.
“You’ve got to be ready to play at all times for 60 minutes. This is a good league.”
Schwartz said he is enjoying the opportunity to coach the Cobras and work with the players.
“They’re working hard, they’ve just got to be conistent. When they do that, they’ll be tough to beat.”
The next action for the Canora Cobras is on Friday night when they make the drive to Theodore for a tilt against the Buffalos.