Special teams can win hockey games.
The Nipawin Hawks proved that theory correct with a 3-1 win over the Flin Flon Bombers during the second game of the quarter-final at home March 17.
The Hawks scored each of their three goals on the power play, finishing the evening 3-for-9 with the man advantage, while killing off 7-of-8 power plays against.
Puck movement was key to the success of the power play, noted Doug Johnson, the Hawks’ head coach, who noted his club did a good job winning the one-on-one battles.
“If you want to keep the puck and have sustained pressure, you have to win battles. I thought we did that. You look at the guys who had points, it’s our skill guys, it’s our guys that have been there, done that. Our older guys that really took charge on our power play.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks enjoyed a solid penalty kill thanks in large part to the club keeping things relatively simple.
“We didn’t give up a lot of chances in the middle of the ice we kept things to the perimeter and that’s what you have to do to have a strong penalty kill,” noted Johnson.
The trio of Brandan Arnold finished with a game high two goals, while Josh McDougall and Grant Baetsen each finished with a game high three points, as McDougall chipped in with a goal and two assists, while Baetsen added three assists.
Isaac Jackson responded with the lone goal for the Bombers.
Jackson actually drew first blood, on the power play, for the Bombers, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead after the first period.
After a first period that saw the Hawks struggle offensively, the boys in black and gold rebounded in the second as Arnold and McDougall both found the back of the net, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead after two periods of play.
Arnold added his second of the game, and third of the playoffs with a power play marker in the third to round out the scoring as the Hawks won 3-1.
Declan Hobbs picked up his second straight win turning aside 21 of the 22 shots he faced as the Hawks outshot the Bombers 36-22.
With the win, the Hawks move ahead 2-0 in their best of seven series with the Bombers.
Being able to go ahead 2-0 is nice, said Johnson, who added his club is taking things shift-by-shift, period-by-period and game-by-game.
“I know it’s cliché almost but that’s our mindset, whether it’s at home, whether it’s away that’s our mindset. Obviously you want to get four wins as quick as possible and the easiest way to do that is by winning the first two.”
The Hawks will head out on the road looking to put a quick end to the series with Game 3 set for March 20 and Game 4 set for March 21.
With the Hawks now on the road, the important thing will be for the black and gold to keep the pedal down, said Johnson.
“We can’t rest on our laurels, we can’t think it’s going to be easy. We have to work just as hard, if not harder, on the road and play a lot simpler game… Just take care of the things we can control, keep the game simple and don’t give them offense.”