While the playoff result may be disappointing, the inaugural season for the Coldwater Ice Wolves was certainly a success and they have a lot to build on going forward.
After finishing 2nd in the West division, 3rd in the CPJHL, with a record of 27-10-7, the Ice Wolves took on the 3rd place Bracebridge Pioneers in the first round of the playoffs. Despite holding two-goal leads in both games one and two, the Ice Wolves fell to Bracebridge with final scores of 6-5 and 8-5 as the Pioneers swept the best-of-three series.
The expansion Ice Wolves featured players from 12 different countries and after some initial growing pains, reeled off eight consecutive wins, including a 4-0 mark at the CPJHL Bala/Port Carling Showcase, to second 2nd place in the West, a position they would not relinquish for the remainder of the season.
During the regular season the Ice Wolves were lead by their top scorer Joseph Iron as well as a quartet of player in their final season of Junior hockey – alternate captains Tyson Cronk, Guillaume Vachon and Dominik Brzek as well as captain Tyler Arsenault.
Iron finished the season with 39 goals and 67 points in 41 games, leading the team in both categories, while Brzek, Arsenault and Vachon all joined him in the 60-point club. Cronk frequently centred the top line and lead the team as a two-way player who constantly kept his composure; Cronk had the least penalty minutes of anyone on the team despite being among the team leaders in time on ice.
Goaltender Ty Betham fought through some midseason hiccups to finish the season strong, taking home CPJHL Goaltender of the Month for February and finished tied for 3rd in the league for wins. Also of note is defenseman Jiri Dvorak, who scored the game-winner in both of Coldwater’s overtime games this year, November 24th against the Seaforth Generals and February 24th against Bracebridge.
With an eye to next season, the Ice Wolves and Coach/GM Justin Beers hope to take the experience and heartbreak from these playoffs and use it to build towards next season. With their top goal scorer in Iron, assist leader in Ethan Haywood and 20-goal scorer Elias Gronberg all available to return along with top defensemen Dvorak and Eno Ulshafer, Coldwater has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
Photo Credit: Coldwater Ice Wolves