The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings will be putting their eight-game point streak on the line Thursday night, as they welcome the Flin Flon Bombers to Crescent Point Place. Weyburn is currently the hottest team in the SJHL, with six wins and two overtime losses in their last eight games. Flin Flon has a streak of their own coming into the game, having won four games straight.
“A few things have kind of aligned for us, I guess,” said head coach Cody Mapes. The Red Wings have seen a few players step up as of late, with four different players holding the title of top goal scorer on the team during the month of January. They have also been playing strong at home, and look to continue that as their homestand continues through the weekend.
“There’s no taking the foot off the gas,” added Mapes. “We’re chasing Nipawin, we’re chasing Estevan and just trying to play well.”
Coming into the game Thursday, Weyburn is four points back of the Hawks, with a game in hand, and eight points back of Estevan with three games in hand. At the same time, Weyburn has Notre Dame nipping at their heels. The Hounds are in ninth place, six points back of the Red Wings with two games in hand.
The matchup Thursday will be the third meeting of the season between the Red Wings and the Bombers this year. The last time they faced each other was back on October 14th, when Flin Flon picked up a 6-3 win over the Wings at Crescent Point Place. Both teams have seen quite a few changes since then in terms of the roster, but the Bombers have had perhaps the biggest change.
Flin Flon acquired Zach Cain from the Melville Millionaires at the January roster deadline, in exchange for Jaxon Martens. Since coming to the Bombers, Cain has put up seven points in nine games. The top three scorers for the Bombers are also able to get the puck in the net, with Cole Duperreault, Jeremi Tremblay and Jaeden Mercier sitting with 56, 53 and 50 points respectively.
The Red Wings have seen a flurry of offense of their own as of late. The acquisition of Ryley Morgan from the La Ronge Ice Wolves has seen a spark, with Morgan getting 22 points in his 18 games in Weyburn. Right behind him is Ty Mason, who is second on the team with 40 points, and leads the squad with 19 goals. Then, Jakob Kalin and Jackson Hassman are right behind them, with 18 goals apiece.
An early lead in the game will also be crucial for Weyburn, as the Bombers come into the game without a regulation loss if they head into the dressing room after 20 minutes with the lead. If Flin Flon has the lead after the second, they have gone 21-0-1-0 on the year. Trailing after the second, though, is a different story for the Bombers, as they have only been able to muster a third period comeback twice this year, while the Wings have done it six times.
Fans of the Red Wings are also familiar with the rivalry that has developed between the two clubs over the years. That rivalry, though, is something that the Wings aren’t too concerned with.
“Nobody here from the coaching staff to the players was part of that kind of stuff, so I don’t think there’s that rivalry that might have been four years ago, five years ago,” Mapes pointed out. “They’re in a race of their own trying to pass Humboldt, and we’re trying to make sure Notre Dame and Yorkton don’t catch us, and we’re trying to make sure we give ourselves a chance to catch Nipawin and Estevan. The intensity is going to be high, maybe for different reasons.”
The game Thursday will also have a special meaning for Mapes. This will be his 100th game behind the bench for the Red Wings.
“I consider myself very lucky to be able to come to the rink every day and work with the group of kids that we’ve got,” Mapes said. “Everything from top to bottom here is pretty good, so we continue to strive to be better every day, and I consider myself lucky to be in this position.”
The puck drops on the game Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.