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BLUES NOTES: January 24, 2022

Weekend Wrap:

Blues Record: 1-1-0 (5-4 W (SO) @ SEL, 6-4 L vs SEL)

Playing an East Division foe for the first time since November 20, the Winnipeg Blues and Selkirk Steelers split a home-and-home set with the road team taking both victories. 

On Friday, Winnipeg came back from down two goals in the third to win in overtime thanks to Mathieu Moreira’s breakaway goal. Moreira’s first point of the year capped off an impressive effort by the Blues that saw them hold Selkirk to just eight shots through the first two periods. It was even more impressive given the situation – seven players and a coach were out for various reasons.

The Blues three game win streak was snapped Saturday night thanks to Selkirk flipping Friday’s script and locking the Blues down in the first. Winnipeg had just three shots in the first, a season low. On the bright side, Ryan Ostermann had his second multi-goal game with the Blues in his 100th career MJHL game. 

Upcoming week:

Winnipeg has its final week of four straight days of practice before two more games against the Steelers.

Selkirk has won four of their last five games, and they are desperate to put as much distance between themselves and the Portage Terriers in the standings as possible. If the Steelers want to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019, they need every point available.

Winnipeg and Selkirk each have three wins against each other this season. Head coach Taras McEwen’s main message to his players is to win every season series. The Blues have a chance to do so if they can win their games this week, but they’ll have to play their best hockey to slow down Selkirk’s hot offense.

The first game is on Friday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the RINK Training Centre. On Saturday, January 15, the Blues and Steelers battle again at 7:00 p.m. Saturday’s game is not in Selkirk, though – the final meeting of the season between these two teams is at Seven Oaks Sportsplex.  

News and Notes:

Keenan Allan Close to Return, Eric Fawkes Still Out

Keenan Allan resumed skating at practice last week, and the team is hopeful the former Steeler will be ready to go this Friday. Allan has missed six games since suffering an upper body injury in the last game before the Christmas break, and the Blues are looking forward to having their shutdown centre back.

Eric Fawkes remains out, though he will skate this week in a non-contact jersey.

Three Keys for the Week:

1st: Defense First Hockey

Selkirk has scored 30 goals in their last four games – since the new year, they’ve never scored less than four goals in a game. 

Selkirk’s entire offense is feeling confident and playing completely different hockey compared to earlier this season. Winnipeg did manage to slow them down in the first two periods of Friday’s game, so they know they have the ability to cool the Steelers down. The coaching staff will have a lot of video examples for their players on how they can repeat last week’s effort this week.

2nd: Keep Secondary Scoring Going

Winnipeg had offensive contributions from all over the lineup last week. Blue liners, bottom sixers, and stars all helped the Blues win Friday and stay competitive Saturday. Earlier this year, Winnipeg had some depth issues. Now, this team is morphing into the four-line machine it’s capable of becoming, but everyone has to keep pitching in to keep progress moving.

3rd: Full Review

This will be the last week this season where the Blues have a five-day gap between games. After this, the schedule gets tighter on the way to the playoffs, leaving little time to rest and to work on details in practice. Anything the team wants to tweak or test before the drive to the playoffs goes full speed will have to get done this week.