The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings will look to take the lead in their best-of-seven quarterfinal series with the Battlefords North Stars tonight when they take the ice for game three. The series is knotted up 1-1, with Weyburn winning game one of the series 3-2 Friday night, and the Battlefords pulling out a 5-2 victory Saturday.
The Red Wings will have the advantage of playing at Crescent Point Place for the next two games – a place they have done well at so far this season. They have won nine of their last 14 games at home, with just three regulation losses in that span. Meanwhile, the North Stars have won 11 of their last 14 road games in the regular season, but only have three wins over teams that qualified for the playoffs away from the Access Communications Centre in the same span.
Special teams have proven to be a key factor in the series so far. Of the 12 goals scored, seven have come on the power play, and there has been one shorthanded goal. Four of the five goals scored by the Red Wings so far in the series have been on the power play with 13 opportunities, while the North Stars have gone 3-for-11.
“We wished it had come around a little sooner, but I mean, no better time than game one and two in the playoffs, I guess,” said Red Wings head coach Cody Mapes of the performance so far on the power play so far in the series. “It’s good to see those guys getting rewarded, but it’s definitely making a difference in the series.”
The biggest difference between the two teams has been the even-strength goals. The North Stars have scored four of their seven goals in 5-on-5 situations, something that the Red Wings have yet to do. It hasn’t been for lack of trying though, with Weyburn putting 63 shots on goal in the first two games of the series, which is roughly their average number of shots per game away from home.
The Red Wings will be without the services of captain Matthew Reidy for the two games at home. He was suspended by the league after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging in game two of the series after a hit on North Stars’ forward Holden Doell. Doell, who appeared injured on the play, would remain in the game, picking up an assist on the ensuing power play and adding two more helpers in the game.
With word of the two playoff games and the fact that three of the next five games in the series are scheduled for Weyburn, fans are coming out to get their tickets. The office at Crescent Point Place was busy throughout the day Monday and into today as everyone was ensuring they had the hottest ticket in town.
“I hope it’s a couple of good crowds, I think it should be,” added Mapes when asked about what it will be like playing at home for games three and four. “I mean, going up there and getting a win in Battleford is a good message to our fans back home, and it sounds like ticket sales are going well. I mean, our guys really feed off the loud energy in the rink, and I think the fans at home here really do make a difference.”
Game three is set to go tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Crescent Point Place. For those who won’t be able to get to the rink for the game, it will also be broadcast on Red Wing Radio BIG106, starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.