The Melfort Mustangs took a step backwards this weekend both in progress and the standings after two losses.
The Mustangs fell to last place in the Sherwood Division following a 5-2 loss to Nipawin on Friday at The Cage and another 4-2 loss at home against the Weyburn Red Wings on Saturday, November 8.
The two games came after ten- day layoff for the Mustangs, which might have made it tough for the team to stay ready for game action.
“It’s definitely a challenge for sure. It’s a long time to be away and not in any game action. It’s hard to flip that switch on. We tried to keep the guys as ready as possible through practice, but it is tough,” GM and head coach Gavin Holcomb said following the game Saturday.
The Mustangs came out of the gate quickly on Saturday scoring on just their second shot of the game on a scramble in front of the Weyburn net. Adam Fauchoux was the benfitiuary of a home-side bounce just 54 seconds into the game. The goal was Fauchoux’s sixth of the season.
The Red Wings responded midway through the first period on the powerplay with a seeing-eye point shot the eluded Melfort goalie Austin Rediron.
Just two minutes later, Kyle Oleniuk added his second goal of the game for Weyburn on a rebound.
Melfort started the second period strong with a powerplay goal four minutes in by SJHL rookie of the week Travis Mayan. The rookie now has nine goals on the season and his 16 points are second behind Anthony Pickering.
After that Melfort took five trips to the penalty box throughout the second period including two game misconduct pentalties.
“We probably have to tighten up a few things. I thought a few guys got caught in tough positions at times. We definitely can’t be in the box that much,” Holcomb said.
The parade to the penalty box resulted in two powerplay goals for the Red Wings, by Jon Burmwell and Ryan Cooper respectively.
The fourth Weyburn goal brought an end to the night for Austin Rediron. Jack Romaniuk came into the net and made 13 saves in relief.
The Mustangs couldn’t build off a quick start and it’s something Holcomb knows the team has to work on.
“We took some penalties and we weren’t able to get any flow. It is just sloppy hockey right now. I thought we picked up the urgency level in the third but by that time it was too late,” he said.
On Friday, November 8 it was a similar story for the Mustangs after jumping out to an early lead and losing the game 5-2.
Regan Wilton got the Mustangs on the board five minutes into the game and Melfort had the lead 1-0 after one.
Nipawin capitalized on two powerplay opportunities early in the second period to pull ahead. Tayler Balog and Tad Kozun scored for the Hawks. Melfort managed to tie the game halfway through the period with Mayan’s eighth goal of the year. Reece Forman scored for Nipawin to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead when the game went to the third period.
The Hawks pulled away with goals from Kozun, and Carter Danczak in the third, including another powerplay goal. Melfort wasn’t able to rally after taking five penalties in the third period. Romaniuk did all he could for the Mustangs coming away with 40 saves including 18 in the third period.
The Mustangs were informed following the game that forward Dexter Bricker would be suspended six games from an attempt to injury penalty that occurred late in the game against Nipawin. Bricker served the first of six games against Weyburn on Saturday.
Homlcomb believes the Mustangs just need to refocus in order to be ready for their next game.
“Guys just need to start being back on the same page, we have a good group and we have lot of confidence in our group. We just have to go back to work and spend some time watching the video and just make sure we are doing things with a purpose,” he said.
Next up for the Mustangs is a home game against the Notre Dame Hounds on Wednesday, November 13 at the Palace. Puck drop is 7:30.