Blues Record: 1-1-0 (4-3 W @ SVS, 5-1 L @ SVS)
Winnipeg came out of the Christmas break needing a win, and they battled hard to get one.
On Friday, Josiah Vanderhooft ended the Blues’ six game slump with a shootout winner to take a 4-3 win over the Swan Valley Stampeders. Ryan Ostermann scored in his first game with Winnipeg since being acquired from the Selkirk Steelers during the holidays. It wasn’t all good news for Winnipeg, though – Eric Fawkes left during the third period with an upper body injury.
The Blues had a chance to win Saturday night, but the Stampeders scored on their chances while the Blues could not. Winnipeg fought hard with a short line up, but came up short in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
Winnipeg has some time to get ready before the Blues play two games against the Virden Oil Capitals.
The Blues and Oil Capitals haven’t played since February 22, 2020 – Virden won that game 4-3 in their home barn.
Virden has some dynamic offensive weapons Winnipeg will have to be ready for, most notably former Winnipeg Blues forward Braden Fischer. Fischer’s 21 goals sit second in the MJHL, while his 46 points place him fourth in the league. He’s been a consistent contributor all year long, so players like Joe Kraus will have to play their best hockey to shut down their old teammate.
The first game is on Friday, January 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Winnipeg’s first home game of 2022. On Saturday, January 15, the Blues bus out west to battle Virden at Tundra Oil & Gas Place with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
Three Keys for the Week:
1st: Making Special Teams Special
Winnipeg lost the special teams battle this weekend, and the team is going to be working on the power play and penalty kill a lot this week at practice.
Virden is not a great special teams team themselves, but there is still a lot of talent on their units. Winnipeg will need to be sharp on the ice and in the video room to get their PP and PK going again.
2nd: All About Finish
Winnipeg could have won both games if they had finished off all the glorious chances they generated. Players like Ostermann came within inches of breaking the games open.
Getting their chances in the back of the net is another thing the Blues will spend a significant amount of time on this week in their practices.
3rd: Mo’s Back
Mathieu Moreira will return to the Blues’ lineup after missing the past five games. With Ryan Ostermann now offering the Blues another elite right shot, how Winnipeg integrates Moreira back into the lineup could help add many goals to the team’s score in the team’s final 22 games.