They moved the puck well, they defended with tenacity, they played effective penalty kills, they showed composure during potential flashpoints … and they scored seven goals.
The Senior Hawks returned to winning ways on Saturday evening with a dominant performance against the Gull Lake Greyhounds at the Maple Creek Community Arena.
After being shellacked by Cabri Bulldogs on the road on December 4, this was a display to hearten fans, not to mention head coach Sean Chapman. He rated it an eight-out-of-ten effort, although on further reflection, lowered the mark to seven out of ten.
“I was happy with how we played tonight,” he said. “I was specifically really, really happy with our penalty killing.”
The Hawks sit in second place in the five-team White Mud Hockey League, with eight points, having played one more game than Cabri. Their record reads: Played 5, Won 4, Lost 1.
The scene is now set for a mouth-watering home showdown against Cabri on Friday, December 17. Hockey fans will not want to miss it. The game starts at 8pm.
Chapman has little doubt that the Hawks need to bring their A game to tame the Bulldogs. What he saw in Saturday’s 7-1 demolition of Gull Lake gave him cause for hope. The outcome never seemed in doubt from the moment Ryatt Bayne opened the scoring in the first period (13:24).
“We played pretty well,” Chapman said. “Our goaltending was good and we got some scoring out of different guys tonight.
“We had a deep line-up and I thought everybody did their job. We played smart, we played the right way, we didn’t cheat in our own end, and consequently for the most part controlled the game.
“I wasn’t really thrilled about our second period. We got into a bit of penalty trouble, lost a bit of momentum, but scored three goals, so I guess I can’t really complain too much about it.”
Chapman praised the restraint of his team.
“We could have let things get out of hand emotionally, and we didn’t. A few guys tonight maybe normally would let that get the best of them, but it didn’t. I was happy with that.”
He added: “Our back end was pretty efficient tonight. We moved the puck well. We did a lot of things the right way, we didn’t take short cuts – just the way we need to be successful. Hopefully, we can carry that through to the next weekend against probably the number one team in the league, Cabri.”
Chapman wasn’t present for the weather-impacted 10-0 loss to Cabri, which saw The Hawks show up with a very short bench.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” he said. “I don’t like going to road games short, it’s not the best environment. We need to be better. We need to be more responsible. Cabri are a good team with a very potent offence. If we are to beat them, we need to have everybody there, playing the right way.”
Finding the right chemistry in the team, the right combination of players to take the Hawks into the second part of the season remains a challenge for Chapman.
He has, however, seen big improvement since the start of the season.
“100 per cent,” he said. “Tonight, for example, we had Reisdorf and Matthew Roy who were moving the puck well; they were chipping pucks in, they were playing a simple game. When they got out there, they played hard.
“We’ve got Blake Sanderson, Kaden Gramlich playing together, they worked pretty good together. They kept their game simple. You’ve got to rely on those kind of guys. You can’t always rely on your top scorers, you can’t always rely on your top six forwards. You’ve got to rely on everybody. In order to win this league, everybody has to play and play well.”