Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Special teams hold Hawks down at the Mel

The Hawks clawed a point out of the Ice Wolves in La Ronge Saturday, but penalty problems hindered their chances at the win for the second straight night.

After killing all seven Flin Flon power-plays on Friday in a 5-3 loss to the Bombers, Nipawin was down a man, or two eight times in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Mel Hegland Uniplex to cap the opening weekend of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) season.

Both the Hawks goals in the second period of Saturday’s game from Braxton Buckberger and Chase Visser were scored shorthanded, but the Ice Wolves scored two power-play goals of their own plus Niapwin didn’t capitalize on five man advantages including four in the third period and overtime.

“Special teams can win and lose you hockey games, especially at this time of year,” Head Coach Tad Kozun said on the postgame show on 750 Beach Radio. “Obviously got two shorthanded goals which is huge, but we have to find a way on the power-play when we have all those chances, especially in overtime. We’ve got to have a killer instinct.”

For the second straight game the Hawks also gave up 49 shots, attested to 15 power-plays on the weekend, which forced Damon Cunningham to be brilliant for all 125 minutes despite just collecting a point in the standings.

“I can’t say enough about him, he made some huge saves. They had some pretty good chances, you can’t fault him,” Kozun said of the 19-year-old from Sturgeon County, Alta.

The Hawks fired 48 chances of their own at Topher Chirico who rebounded from a rough opening night in Melfort.

The Hawks now have a week to prepare for back-to-back home games against Kindersley Friday and Notre Dame on Saturday night. Kozun said Sunday will be an off day before the team begins their first full week of practice.

“We have to find a way to score on the power-play and we haven’t done five-on-five much either,” Kozun lamented. “We have to find a way to do that, and we have to take care of own end because I think it’s pretty lackadaisical right now.”

Both games are 7 p.m. starts at the ‘Cage.’