Right now, they're long lost relatives who haven't seen each other for a while and it's nice to catch up. By the end of the season, they'll be the annoying in-laws who never leave.
The Wayway Wolverines and Swan Valley Stampeders have met just twice this season, and the last time was one day shy of three months ago, October 5th in Swan, where the Wolverines won 4-1. They also played September 24th in Wayway, and the Stamps won that one, 3-2 in a shootout.
Now, they'll make up for lost time, and cram SEVEN head to head meetings into the final month and a half of the regular season (46 days to be exact), and it's an important season series too, because in all likelihood, one of these two teams will make the playoffs, and one won't.
I asked both coaches this week if they look at it like a regular season seven game series that they'll have to win to get in.
Swan Valley's Dwayne Kirkup: "In a way, yes, but I don't think winning 4 out of 7 will be enough, I think we'll need to win more than that to give ourselves a chance."
Wayway's Barry Butler: "I've never been big on that, we have 25 games left and we need to approach every game and every opponent the same."
Here are the seven remaining meetings, with most of them on GX94.
Wed/Jan/4: WAY @ SV (GX)
Sat/Jan/14: WAY @ SV
Sun/Jan/15: SV @ WAY (GX)
Tue/Feb/7: SV @ WAY (GX)
Tue/Feb/14: SV @ WAY (GX)
Sat/Feb/18: WAY @ SV
Mon/Feb/20: SV @ WAY (GX)
This is both teams' first games since the break, and both breaks were long. The Wolverines haven't played since December 18th (17 days), while the Stamps have been off since December 17th (18 days).
The Stampeders lost their last 2 games before the break, but still went 4-3-0-1 in December, after a 2-8-1-1 November.
The Wolverines were 2-4-0-1 in December.
Wayway also played the whole month of December without Shane Goodrunning. Their leading scorer went home to Alberta on December 1st, although Barry Butler said on his Coach's Show this week, "Shane had some matters to attend to back home, but we've had information that he should be returning, but we'll know more in the next few days." Goodrunning still leads the Wolverines with 37 points in 30 games played.
- The Wolverines have been getting a lot of their offense from their defense. None of the following guys are carrying long point streaks into tonight's game, but they all recently had streaks snapped:
Bobby Janzen: Points in 9 of his last 12 games (5g-8a-13).
Pierre Landry: Points in 10 of his last 12 (2g-9a-11p). Had a 7 game streak snapped vs Portage in final game before Christmas.
Stephane Robidoux: Points in 9 of his last 11 games (1g-11a-12p). Just had a 5 game streak snapped.
There's not a more consistent Wolverine of late than second year forward Curtis Veitch. The Langenburg product has hit the scoresheet in 13 of his last 17 games, and during that time has 10-goals and 21-points.
- As for Special Teams, the Stampeders rank 6th in the league in both powerplay (17.2%) and penalty kill (80.2%). The Wolverines' powerplay is 2nd best in the league at 23.8%, but that drops to 19.6% on the road. Their PK is 9th at 78.9%.
- Neither the Stampeders or Wolverines have scored a short-handed goal this season. They're the MJHL's only two teams to have that distiction.
- The Wolverines have played the fewest number of games of any team in the league, with 37 under their belts, 25 remaining. Swan's played 38 with 24 to go. The Winnipeg Blues lead the league with 42 played.
- With Shane Goodrunning not in the lineup, neither of these teams have a player at a point-per-game. T.J. Fairall (SV) is close, with 36 in 38, Justin Valentino has 33 in 38. Brett Pinkerton (WAY) has 30 in 36, while Curtis Veitch (WAY) has 30 in 37.
7:20 Pre Game Show tonight on GX94... all the action at 7:30!