If you enjoy junior hockey and you love a good hockey story, the Winnipeg ICE could be right up your ally as a team to cheer for. Yes, it’s a first year team in the city, and yes, growing pains are expected throughout the 68-game schedule.
But, in my mind, that’s even more reason to keep up to date with everything ICE, especially if you’ve seen some of the victories the team has put together so far.
On today’s Week in Review, we’ll quickly take a look at some of the ICE’s biggest wins of the season and what’s coming up for the club.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out a Winnipeg ICE “Week in Review” in the past, don’t worry. Come back every Tuesday throughout the season and you will find one.
Now, let’s get down to business. Winnipeg is 4-4-1 this season, and they currently sit second in the Eastern Conference wildcard. If the season were to end today, Winnipeg would have a playoff spot. But, it doesn’t. And let’s be realistic — there is a ton of hockey to be played so we won’t really talk much about that.
However, the way Winnipeg has been winning games has been impressive, to say the least. The most notable win as of late came over the weekend when Winnipeg stunned Swift Current. They were down 5-1 and came back to win in a shootout 6-5.
They fired 57 shots in the game, and Owen Pederson and Isaac Johnson netted a pair of goals, wrapping up a weekend split for the squad.
“The work ethic in the second period was outstanding and I was pretty proud,” said James Patrick, courtesy of winnipegice.ca.
“It shows what type of team we have. We had a few minutes where we didn’t pay attention in the first, but we battled back,” said Isaac Johnson. “It was a tough game in Medicine Hat, but we regrouped and played the way we usually do. We’re playing well on the road and we got it done.”
If things continue the way they have gone so far, Winnipeg will love their end result of playing in Saskatchewan. They’ve won three of four games in Saskatchewan, and they earned a point in the other game in an overtime loss against Prince Albert.
They will return to Saskatchewan on October 25 to challenge Saskatoon.
Before that, Winnipeg gets back at it this weekend. They play on Saturday and Sunday at the Wayne Fleming Arena against Saskatoon. It’ll be the second and third meetings of the season between the clubs, and the first was a historic one for Winnipeg.
Nino Kinder scored three goals in the first period as Winnipeg shocked Saskatoon 7-6 after trailing 4-2.
Saskatoon seems to have found their stride as of late. They are 7-3-0-1 as of publishing. They hammered Calgary last night 9-3, and Eric Florchuk had three goals. So, it’s safe to say, the games won’t be easy and Saskatoon will be looking to get some revenge.
Keys to success
- Get some home confidence. There are 22 teams in the Western Hockey League and the Winnipeg ICE are the only team without a win on home ice. They’re 0-3 and they’ve been outscored 15-2.
- Score while up a man. Winnipeg is 17th in the league with a 17.1% power-play conversion rate.
- Stay out of the box. Saskatoon is lethal offensively and they most recently showed that against Calgary, a team that is one of the best in the league. Winnipeg has to stay disciplined if they want to have a chance, at least based on past performances. They are dead last in the league at 67.9% on the penalty kill. They have given up nine goals while down a man. Let’s keep in mind — it’s early in the season so this number will improve as the season goes on.
The biggest news around the ICE late last week was the return of Jesse Makaj. The 18-year-old played 39 games with the team in Kootenay last year, but he was sidelined to start this season with an illness.
His return this year wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, as he struggled somewhat against Medicine Hat. On Saturday, however, when he was called upon to relieve Gage Alexander, he did step it up. He made 21 saves on 22 shots, helping Winnipeg win the game.
He’s expected to get plenty of opportunities moving forward and has the capability to steal a game.
Matthew Savoie watch
In 2022, Matthew Savoie is expected to hear his name first at the NHL Entry Draft. He’s a guy we haven’t talked about in a little while, and that’s because he hasn’t made much noise in the WHL. However, he is getting a ton of points with the Rink Hockey Academy Prep team. He’s averaging a goal-per-game and has 13 assists for 20 points in just seven games.
Still without a WHL point, that’s bound to change sooner rather than later if he continues to get opportunities and ice time with the big boys.
Like I mentioned before, if you’re a fan of junior hockey and you enjoy a good story, the Winnipeg ICE are the perfect team to watch for. They have a future #1 overall NHL Draft pick and a ton of talent on the ice now, young and veteran.