(Originally published in the Kindersley Clarion, Dec. 3/2014)
Give these Klippers some room, and they’ll make you pay. At least, that’s the message the Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers sent in a come from behind overtime victory last week against the Melfort Mustangs.
The Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers elevated itself in the SJHL standings with two more wins at home. The most monumental win of the week was on Nov. 29 when the Klippers forced overtime against the Melfort Mustangs and rallied for a 2-1 win.
“I thought we had a lot of chances. It was just a really good, tight-checking hockey game,” head coach Rockie Zinger said.
The game was back-and-forth with neither team really gaining an upper-hand early in the game. The Klippers had chances, but ‘Stangs goalie Richard Palmer seemed to have an answer for every shot. Owen LaClare and the Klippers were getting a little perturbed heading into the third period and trailing 1-0.
“In the first two periods no bounces were going our way and guys were getting frustrated. They’re hard to play against and I think they were wearing us down,” LaClare said.
At second intermission Zinger told his team he wanted to see the Klippers shoot the puck more, stay with the rebounds, and be difference makers. The first difference maker was alternate captain Marc Dubeau who scored his first goal since Oct. 19 and tied the game 1-1. That goal set the pace for the rest of the game.
“I thought in the third period we really dominated them and that was the key to success in the game,” Zinger said, noting his team made more of a commitment to bring pucks in at the blue line instead of turning them over. “Melfort’s got a good d-core. They’ve got a good squad so it made it tough for us to get into the zone. Then we just figured out if you put pucks in and forecheck them, they’re susceptible to make mistakes.”
The aggressiveness seemed to catch Melfort off guard, and while the Klippers couldn’t score a game winner in the third period, they started overtime with the momentum.
The Klippers seem to have a knack for being resilient and forcing extra time in a game. The Klippers are 7-3 in games that extend to overtime or a shootout. Cody Young believes it’s the mindset and attitude of this team that makes them successful in those must-score situations.
“We know that if we want to win every game, we need to go in with a work ethic,” Young said. “It was a really mature third period. We knew [a goal] was going to come because we were out battling them the entire third period.”
And that goal did come 3:28 into overtime. Klippers forward Landon Gross received two minutes for roughing while in overtime, and it looked like the Klippers were going to have to kill a 4-on-3 penalty. The tides turned when Melfort defenceman Luc Lemire received two minutes for hooking. The penalty turned the game into a 3-on-3 overtime opportunity that LaClare took advantage of.
LaClare picked up the puck in the neutral zone off the wall and used speed and size to his advantage.
“Rockie was saying keep possession of the puck, especially since there weren’t that many guys on the ice. I took a look back and had seen two guys on me. One guy had backed off and I seen a little open ice. So I skated, got some speed up ice and the defenceman kind of cut to the middle so I just took him wide,” LaClare said.
When LaClare took the defender wide, he got himself in position right in front of the net and put it over the glove of Palmer for the 2-1 victory.
The win was especially sweet considering the Klippers dropped a 2-1 decision to Melfort on the road exactly one week earlier.
The Klippers opened the week with a 5-0 victory over the Humboldt Broncos on Nov. 26 at the West Central Events Centre. Joel Webb opened the game with a power play goal from new additions Darcy DeRoose and Braden Oleksyn. LaClare followed up with back-to-back goals that extended into the second period. Not to be outdone, Devin Case scored two goals of his own that gave the Klippers a big win.
Goaltender Evan Weninger turned away 60 of 61 shots this week, only allowing one goal in the Melfort game.
The Klippers maintain their lead atop the SJHL with a 20-6-1-2 record and 43 points. Within the Kramer Division, both the Battlefords North Stars and Notre Dame Hounds have three games in hand and have 35 and 34 points respectively. Across the league, the Melfort Mustangs’ record compares to the Klippers. The Mustangs have 39 points this season and a 17-5-1-4 record.
The Klippers have traded defenceman Ty Lindberg to the Grande Prairie Storm of the AJHL in return for forward Hayden Berra and future considerations.
Berra has played all over Western Canada, starting his career with his hometown Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL. After a stint with the Cowichan Valley Capital (BCHL), Berra spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the Winkler Flyers of the MJHL. This season he was with the Storm and had four goals and three assists in 27 games.
Lindberg played 18 games for the Klippers this season, scoring one goal and four assists and accumulating 55 penalty minutes.