The Nipawin Hawks keep on rolling as they wrapped up another perfect week finishing 3-0 to push their winning streak to 11 games.
It has been a great couple of weeks for the Hawks as they have won 11 in a row and have received a great amount of individual recognition as Kristian Stead was named goalie of the week and goalie of the month, to go along with his player of the week last week. Eric Bolden was named player of the month for January and Keegan Milligan was named player of the week for this week.
“It’s amazing when the team has success. Obviously the individual players are having success and they get recognized for it. The longer we play, the more awards, the more accolades the guys are going to get and the more opportunity they’re going to be seen by schools,” said Doug Johnson, the Hawk’s head coach.
Against La Ronge
The week kicked off for the Hawks in northern Saskatchewan as they visited the last place La Ronge Ice Wolves.
The game got off to a fast start for the Hawks as Michael Grant scored his 18th goal of the season 57 seconds in. The game slowed down after that as they managed just 13 shots on goal and just the one goal in the first period.
The Hawks exploded in the second period scoring three times in 42 seconds as Bolden, Grant and Brett Harasymuk all found the back of the net to blow the game wide open.
Tanner Thompson added to the lead with his 16th goal of the year at 11:07 but the Ice Wolves refused to roll over, scoring twice in less than 2:30 to cut the Hawks’ advantage to 5-2.
Neither team found the back of the net the rest of the way as the Hawks hung on for a 5-2 win.
Declan Hobbs picked up his sixth win of the season for the Hawks, turning aside 28/30 shots.
It was far from their best effort, noted Johnson, saying he thought fatigue might have kicked in after a busy week the week prior.
“We played a little bit down to La Ronge’s level but again we found a way to win a game when we weren’t at our best. You look at all the hockey we played and the emotional games we’ve played, we’re still happy with the outcome.”
Against Melfort away
The Hawks had a couple of days to rest before they went out on the road again, this time traveling to Melfort to take on the rival Mustangs.
It was a low-scoring affair between the two teams as Grant Baetsen and Milligan were the lone goal scorers as the Hawks skated away with a 2-0 win.
Special teams was a big factor in the game as the Hawks scored once on nine chances, while the Mustangs failed to score on eight of their own.
“They have a very good power play and I thought our PK did a good job, especially in their rink where we’ve had some issues with that in the past. And really liked how we responded and took away what we wanted to take away.”
Kristian Stead was spectacular in the Hawks’ net turning aside all 33 shots he faced for his third shutout in a row.
Against Melfort at home
The two teams returned to Nipawin the following night to wrap up the home-and-home series.
The Hawks jumped out to the early lead as Thompson scored his 17th of the season at 4:57 of the opening period.
The Hawks held the one goal edge until early in the second period when the Mustangs responded, snapping Stead’s shutout streak at over 24:00.
The game did not stay tied for long though as Baetsen scored his 12th of the year and Keegan Kjargaard added his 16th of the year to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
The Mustangs answered back with a late power play goal to send the game into the third period with the Hawks ahead 3-2.
In the third period, the Hawks exploded, scoring three times as Thompson, Grant and Josh Bly all found the back of the net to give the Hawks a 6-2 win.
“The game was maybe a little tighter than the score indicated and we got some puck luck for sure,” said Johnson.
Looking ahead, it is another tough and busy week for the Hawks as they welcome the Melfort Mustangs to the cage on Feb. 7 before heading on the road to take on the Kindersley Klippers on Feb. 10 and the Battlefords North Stars on Feb. 11.
This week is going to be another huge test for the Hawks as the Klippers and North Stars are the hottest teams in the league besides themselves.
“Every game from here on out is going to be the biggest game of the year and every shift is the biggest shift of the year and that’s got to be our mentality going into each and every game,” said Johnson.
The Hawks are going to have to do it without one of their top scorers as Brandan Arnold was recalled by the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, where he will be staying for the time being, but Johnson said they have been told Arnold will be back with the Hawks for the playoffs.
“We’d like him to be around a little longer and get acclimated a little more to our systems but we’ll do what we can. I know he’ll be good for us no matter what.”