By Joel van der Veen
KENASTON — The Kenaston Blizzards held on Wednesday night to claim a narrow win over the Loreburn 19ers at home.
Though the Blizzards took an early lead and were ahead 5-1 by the second period, the 19ers made an impressive recovery in the latter half.
Four goals put Loreburn within spitting distance of the lead, but Kenaston prevailed to claim a 6-5 win.
It was their first game of 2018, and only their second win of the regular season.
“We got kind of undisciplined,” said Blizzards coach Mike Hertz, noting that a string of penalties in the second period for his team allowed Loreburn to take advantage. “It got a little hairy at the end.”
With a 2-10 record for the season so far, Kenaston is in a three-way tie with Loreburn and Elrose for last place in the Saskatchewan Valley Hockey League.
Hertz acknowledged that it’s been a challenging year for the Blizzards on multiple fronts: “We’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff.”
Chief among these was the death of longtime coach and player Dean Blenkinsop on Dec. 7, following a long battle with cancer.
The Blizzards had opened their season on Oct. 28 with a ceremony honouring Blenkinsop, prior to their first game.
Upwards of 350 people, including Dean and his wife Michelle, were in attendance as the team unveiled a banner with his name and number.
“He was touched and honoured,” said Hertz. “I think he was surprised a little bit with the outpouring.”
Even before he died, the team had trouble coping with Dean’s absence, Hertz said.
“There was a hole left on the team when he wasn’t there,” he recalled.
Over the past few months, Kenaston has also struggled with a short bench, with multiple players absent due to injury or family circumstances.
Backup goalie Greg Moir has joined the team as a skater a couple of times.
Hertz said he even put on his skates for one game prior to Christmas, despite not having played in five years: “It was interesting.”
Wednesday’s game was the first time since November that the Blizzards had played with three lines.
Chris Prpich, whose wife gave birth on Christmas Eve, was back on the ice, as was Mike Prpich, who had recovered from injury.
The Blizzards are still awaiting the return of a couple of players, including Dawson George, who sprained his ankle just before Christmas.
Hertz — who shares coaching duties with Josh Kerpan and Jon Zdunich — said he’s hopeful the team will be able to maintain this attendance level over the next few weeks as the season continues.
Provincial playoff draws will be announced on Jan. 12 and the schedule for the first round will be set shortly afterward.
Prior to Christmas, the Blizzards hosted the Outlook Ice Hawks on Dec. 15, losing 6-2.
They visited the Loreburn 19ers the next day, narrowly losing 6-5.
Kenaston travelled to Elrose on Dec. 22, where they lost 7-4 to the hosting Aces.
Their last game before the holidays was on Dec. 23, when they lost 6-2 to the Flyers in Central Butte.
For the full story, please see the Jan. 8 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.