PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEFF DYCK (unless otherwise marked)
The Outlaws won their third straight at the MLC to close out the 2016 home schedule with a 4-2 win over the visiting North Van Wolfpack on Saturday.
It was another thriller that had fans at the edge of their seats until the final buzzer. Unlike the previous two home games, the Outlaws claimed both points before extra time was needed.
Mission City were looking to rebound from Wednesday’s 5-3 setback in Aldergrove, where Baylee Wright extended his point streak to 15 games with two goals and a helper.
Nicolas Bizzutto had the other goal and added an assist while Keaton Dyck stopped 35 shots. The Outlaws also played a disciplined game, allowing just one power-play opportunity to the division leading Kodiaks.
On Saturday, special teams would pay dividends early on for the Outlaws.
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As Holden Wilkerson sat in the box, Justin Bowerman capitalized shorthanded at 9:34. He scooped up a bobbling puck, out-waited a diving Wolf Pack defender, then sniped one past starting goaltender Kurt Russel unassisted.
North Van responded late in the first. With just eight seconds remaining, Kaz Minemoto took a shot from a sharp angle that fooled Matt Trulsen, a shot helped by what seemed to be a dislodged post. 1-1 after 20. Shots 10-6 Pack.
A much different story in the middle frame, as the hosts poured on the pressure. It wouldn’t be until the last minute that either team found the back of the net.
First up was Matt Mason finishing off a terrific feed from Nathan McCarnan on a 2 on 1 with :48 seconds left.
But just as the Outlaws thought they would enter the dressing room with a lead, Mitchell Ledyard’s wrist shot low along the ice snuck past Trulsen’s right pad to knot the game at 2-2. Outlaws peppered Russell with 23 shots, while Trulsen faced 10 again.
The third proved to be a tense affair. The Outlaws found themselves down a pair of men for 1:49 with just over six minutes remaining. Not only did they kill both off, but moments after Jackson Waniek stepped out of the box after serving a penalty for Jacob Dorey, he fired a shot that deflected high off of Russell and in.
The Outlaws added an empty netter, with Michael Sande banking one off the left boards in his end and into the empty cage, set up by Tyler Wickman with 27 seconds left.
Tempers ran high in the final half of the period, as referee Josh Hutchison doled out 67 penalty minutes combined.
Shots finished 47-29 in favour of the hosts. Outlaws kept the Wolf Pack power-play off the board in seven chances, while failing to score on their five opportunities.
After the game, Coach Brad Veitch thought the end result justified the work put in.
“I thought we played really well in the second period and just weren’t rewarded. It was good to get the win. I loved that our workers controlled everything, gave us a lot of energy, a lot of zone time and were good defensively.”
Matt Trulsen picked up his third win in his last four starts. He gave credit to the team being prepared from the onset.
“For sure, the boys played well off the bat. They started off strong and played really well in front of me.”
Kyle Dosanj centered a line with Ryan Sharma and Sammy Zeinab. Despite not finding the scoresheet he was excellent in the faceoff circle and were it not for the fine play of Russell, his line could have easily been rewarded with a few goals. Dosanj says it’s been a smooth transition back to the PJHL after time in Estevan thanks to his team mates.
“Everyone is so nice. We play so well together. I’ve known a few guys like Ryan (Sharma) for a long time. It helps a lot. We were put together along with Sammy during my first game and have been clicking ever since.”
Jackson Waniek says it’s been great making the MLC a difficult place for opponents to visit as of late.
“We’re beating good teams and climbing the standings. It’s a good feeling, and it’s helping that we are starting to develop some chemistry. Hopefully this continues into the playoffs and we can ride it for a long stretch.”
The Outlaws leave the friendly confines of MLC for the next 4 games. Wednesday it is a rubber match against the Pack at Harry Jerome, followed by a visit to Richmond on Thursday. In fact Minaru arena will be home base for three straight games, as they’ll kick off 2017 against the Panthers (Jan 1) then Wolf Pack (Jan 3) as part of the Winter Classic. .