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Cobras win three of four, including perfect road trip

The Cobras headed into the Christmas holidays on a positive note, with a dominant 11-3 win over the visiting Ituna Avalanche on Dec. 23.

CANORA - The Canora Cobras were victorious in three of their past four games in their quest to grab first or second place in the North Division of the Sask East Hockey League, and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cobras headed into the Christmas holidays on a positive note, with an 11-3 win over the visiting Ituna Avalanche on Dec. 23 at the Canora Civic Centre.

Shots on goal at the end of the first period were tied at 13-13, but the Cobras were able to grab a 3-0 lead, thanks largely to the strong work of goaltender Rylan Palchewich.

“We were a little sluggish in the first period,” said Cobras Coach Darren Schwartz, “but we had a chat during the intermission and our guys took it to them later in the game.”
Ituna scored early in the second to narrow the deficit to 3-1, but the Cobras responded with a goal of their own less than a minute later.

“They got the momentum, but we got it right back. That 4-1 goal makes a world of difference,” said Schwartz.

The Cobras handed out a number of big hits during the game to the delight of their fans, which is a key to their success according to Schwartz.

“We’ve got a bigger team so I like it when we play physical, especially in our little home rink. We’ve got to be physical to be successful.”

Kody Rock of Canora led the way with four assists. Sean Kolodziejski of Hyas, Colby Jacob, Troy Zulyniak and Skyler Hladun each potted a pair of goals, with Jacob, Zulyniak and Hladun chipping in with one assist each. Carson Dennis, formerly of Canora, contributed three assists. Toby Olynyk of Buchanan scored a highlight-reel goal and added a pair of assists.

After a two-week break for Christmas, the Cobras were back in action against the visiting Grandview Comets on Jan. 7.  The Cobras had the opportunity to stretch their lead over the Comets for third place in the SEHL North Division, but the Comets played a strong road game and skated away with a 5-3 win.

Schwartz said the Cobras were not at their best in the first period, resulting in a 4-0 Grandview lead after 20 minutes.

“We were coming off the Christmas break where no one had been skating, and it was tough for our guys to get going at the start.”

The Cobras appeared to find their legs in the second period, and cut the deficit to 5-3 after 40 minutes.

“I liked the way we came back,” said Schwartz. “But the Grandview goalie had a good game and we couldn’t get the puck past him in the third period. Give Grandview credit, they played a good road game.

“But I have faith in our guys. It was good to see they were upset after the game. They knew it was a game they could have won.”

Ryley Stefanyshyn of Canora, Tyler Shankowsky and Kolt Konan were the goal scorers for Canora, with Konan also adding an assist.

The Cobras hit the road for their next two games, starting with a visit to Ituna on Jan. 13. Apparently still upset about the loss to Grandview, the Cobras took out their frustration on the Avalanche and skated to a dominant 7-0 victory behind the shutout goaltending of Durban Hleboff of Canora.

“We played solid right from the drop of the puck in the first period,” said Schwartz. “Everything worked for us, plus we had great goaltending.”

Ryley Stefanyshyn scored a pair of first period goals, starting the Cobras on the way to the victory. Skyler Hladun also chipped in with a pair of goals, and set up two more. The other goal scorers were Cole Rathgeber, Colby Jacob and Troy Zulyniak.

The next evening, the Cobras paid a visit to Wapella. The road to victory wasn’t quite as smooth as the previous evening, but Canora came out on top over the Blackhawks by 6-1.

“The roads were bad and we were a little late getting to Wapella,” said Schwartz. “We started well, and had a 2-0 lead after the first period. In the second period, we went ahead 3-0, but then we laid back too much and they made it 3-1. In the second intermission, I didn’t even go in the dressing room. Our guys have to figure it out on their own, and they did. We played a solid third period, scored three goals, and didn’t give up anything.”

Skyler Hladun was the big shooter on the evening with a hat trick and one assist, giving him five goals and eight points for the weekend. Other goal scorers for the Cobras were Sean Kolodziejski, Ryley Stefanyshyn and Kody Rock. Rock also added an assist.

Durban Hleboff was the winning goalie for the second evening in a row.

With the playoffs coming up fast, Schwartz said every game is a big one from now until the end of the regular season. Next action for the Cobras is Friday (Jan. 20) at Swan Valley, presently in first place in the North Division. The next home game is Saturday (Jan. 21) against the Langenburg Warriors, sitting in second place in the south division.




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