Wings swept in season-opening series

High Prairie Red Wings’ captain Larry Yellowknee chases the puck in front of the Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawk net in the opening game of the 2020-21 Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League on Oct. 16.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The High Prairie Red Wings lost twice last weekend to the Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks to open the 2020-21 Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League season.

The Red Wings lost 10-3 to the Tomahawks on home ice at the Sports Palace on Oct. 16 and 6-3 the next night at Enoch.

“We came out strong in the first period and it was really close,” first-year head coach Kevin Hopfner says.

“We came out flat in the second period.”

The Red Wings trailed 2-1 after the opening period.

Larry Yellowknee scored a powerplay goal to tie the game 1-1 after Carson Bear opened the scoring. Darian Brown scored late in the period to give the visitors the lead.

Enoch scored five unanswered goals in the second period, including a four-goal explosion in only 1:51 just past the midway mark.

“We came out flat in the second period,” Hopfner says.

“We had a decent third period, something to grow on.”

Mikal Chalifoux and Benny Yellowknee [short-handed] scored for the Wings.

The Tomahawks outshot the Red Wings 30-21 and recevied goals from eight players.

Jamahl Eakett scored three goals while Carson Bear, Darian Brown, Joedao Pulongbarit, Calam McNabb, Shayle Ducharme, Brayden Harper and Bobby Cole each scored once.

High Prairie starting goaltender Emric Lepine was replaced by Triston Bearspaw when the Tomahawks increased their lead to 5-1 in the second period at 9:19.

The next night, on the road, the Red Wings were doubled 6-3.

“We came up against a hot goaltender,” says Hopfner.

“The good news is that we know we can beat them.”

High Prairie outshot the Tomahawks 54-22.

The Red Wings trailed 3-2 after the first period.

Damian Elias-Francis scored a powerplay goal to tie the game 1-1.

High Prairie took the lead when Benny Yellowknee scored at 16:22 assisted by Kael Lamouche and Braydan Auger.

However, the Tomahawks replied with two goals late in the opening frame and scored three unanswered goals in the second period to lead 6-3.

High Prairie completed the scoring in the third period when Braydan Auger tallied a powerplay goal at 13:33.

Riley Arcand-Auigubelle and Chance Ward each scored twice for the Tomahawks while McNabb and Johan Crowchild added singles.

High Prairie, Slave Lake Icedogs and Northern Alberta return for their second year in the West Division and welcome the Fox Creek Ice Kings in their first year.

All four teams get top credit from the GMHL for efforts to get the game back on the ice under restrictions in the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of the hard work has paid off with exciting competitive games showing an even stronger level of play than last year,” GMHL president Bob Russell says.

“I would like to thank the communities of Fox Creek, High Prairie, Slave Lake, and Enoch for hosting and providing their outstanding facilities to the GMHL hockey clubs.”

The Red Wings played in front of a maximum 100 fans to comply with health restrictions.

Hopfner reminds fans to get to the rink early to get a seat. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The regular season is being stretched out to comply with cohort regulations. GMJHL teams will play a home-and-home series for four weekends.

After a bye weekend, all four team face another opponent for four consecutive weekends.

The schedule this season is comprised of 42 games.

High Prairie Red Wings’ player Ethan Willier [No. 21] chases the puck as he is covered closely by two Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawk players in the season and home opener Oct. 16.

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