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Indians complete another weekend sweep

The Soo Indians are on quite a roll.
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The Soo Indians are on quite a roll.

Not even the news of the team disbanding at the end of the season have slowed them down as they increased their winning streak to six games on Saturday night with a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Barons in North American Hockey League action.

After they beat the Barons 4-1 on Friday night, the Indians continued to show why they are seen as one of the top teams in the NAHL.

The Indians shook off an early goal, which was waved off after being knocked in with a high stick, and proceeded to take the play to Cleveland and score twice in the final five minutes to take a 2-0 lead into the room after one period.

Logan Bittle, who is currently sitting in first in the NAHL scoring race, opened the scoring at 15:46 by beating Barons goaltender Ross Cherry with a wrap around.

The Indians then took a two goal lead in the final minute of the period when Justin Gutwald scored on the team's only power play as his shot from the top of the right faceoff circle beat Cherry high.

R.G. Flath gave the Indians a 3-0 lead at 3:12 of the second period when he beat Cherry for his 13 goal of the season.

Despite playing to a scoreless third period, the final 20 minutes didn't go by without incident.

After a hit in the Cleveland zone and during a stoppage in play, Indians coach Joe Shawhan and Barons coach Tim Alexander got into a heated debate on the benches although nothing became of the incident.

Following the game, the two coaches exchange a handshake and had a laugh at the incident.

Cherry finished the game with 38 saves in the loss, while Derek MacIntyre stopped 22 shots for the shutout.

In Friday night's game, Jim Jorgensen, Bittle, Gutwald and Tommy Kolar all picked up goals as the Indians won the game 4-1. MacIntyre stopped 23 shots in the game. Nick Biondo scored the lone Cleveland goals while Ian Keserich stopped 31 shots.

Shawhan is happy with the fact that his team is not allowing teams to gain a high number of scoring chances on his club and, when they do get a chance, their goaltending is solid.

"We're not giving up a ton of great scoring chances," Shawhan said. "MacIntyre's been phenomenal. Him coming here is a great thing. We didn't draft him, we didn't recruit him. He came here and has been outstanding.

"We had three great goaltenders (MacIntyre, Adam Dekker and current Soo Thunderbirds goaltender Jarrett Michaels) so we sent Michaels to the T-Birds not to have three solid goaltenders and have one of them sitting all of the time."

Shawhan says that despite the news of the team disbanding, his team has taken the news well and you wouldn't know it was going to happen by the enthusiasm that the players have.

"With everything that's going on, it doesn't bother me because these (players) are so fun to be around," Shawhan said of his players.

"You can't question their work ethic. I think our guys leave it off the ice. Our guys make it enjoyable. They look forward to coming to the rink. They're great hockey players."

The wins on the weekend improve the Indians overall record to 33-2-6, which is good for 72 points and top spot in the North Division. The Indians also extended their home unbeaten streak to 19 games. In that span, the Indians have 15 wins and four shootout losses.

The Indians now hit the road for games next weekend in Cleveland on Friday and Saturday and then a game in Ann Arbor, Michigan against the US National Development team on Sunday. Next home action will be on Feb. 27 and 28 against Youngstown.






Brad Coccimiglio

About the Author: Brad Coccimiglio

A graduate of Loyalist College’s Sports Journalism program, Brad Coccimiglio’s work has appeared in The Hockey News as well as online at FoxSports.com in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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