Sabres hoping for ‘whiteout’ conditions this weekend

The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres are hoping for a sea of white for this weekend’s crucial home series with the Schreiber Diesels to close out the SIJHL’s regular season.
The Sabres and Diesel are locked in a fourth-place tie with 50 points (the Diesel will earn two points tonight for a forfeit win over Marathon), so this weekend’s series here will determine which team finishes fourth and claims coveted home-ice advantage for the upcoming SIJHL quarter-finals.
The sea of white concept mirrors what a number of NHL squads (most notably the old Winnipeg Jets) have done to add fervor to the crowd and fire up the home side.
Sabres’ supporters are being asked to don white jackets or hoodies, and wave white towels to create a “whiteout” effect that will energize the players.
The teams will clash at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the Ice for Kids Arena.
On the player front, Sabres’ coach Wayne Strachan said all 23 on the roster are healthy and raring to go, and that leadership will be a key component for the balance of the season.
“We’ll really be relying on our veteran leadership to inspire our younger players to win this series, and carry that momentum into the playoffs,” said Strachan.
“Schreiber are the defending league champions, and they have experience and know how to get the job done, so it won’t be an easy task for us,” he admitted.
“But we’re going to give it our all,” Strachan pledged.
The Sabres have a 3-2-1 record against the Diesels so far this season, and every game has been close, so Strachan said the home side definitely are not looking past this weekend.
Having said that, Strachan is confident he has a strong team heading into the SIJHL playoffs.
“I think with the personnel we have, our team could really turn some heads in the playoffs. . . . If we put our minds to it, good things could happen for us.”
The Sabres are coming off a 4-1 road loss to the third-place Thunder Bay Bearcats last Friday night.
The surging ’Cats scored twice in the first period to grab a 2-0 lead at the break.
Sabres’ captain Quinn Amiel closed the gap to 2-1 at the 3:42 mark of the second as he fired home a power-play goal (his 35th of the season) off a set-up from Jordan Matthews.
But the hosts sprung for two more goals in the second to close out the victory.
The Sabres outshot the Bearcats 30-24, with Ryan Faragher taking the loss between the pipes.
The Sabres did earn four points on the weekend, though, as they got credit for a pair of 1-0 forfeit victories over the now defunct Marathon Renegades.
Under the SIJHL’s playoff format, the first-place Dryden Ice Dogs and second-place Fort William North Stars would earn first-round byes.
The Bearcats would play the sixth-place Thunder Bay Bulldogs in one quarter-final series while the Sabres and Diesels will square off in the other one (with this weekend’s series determining which team gets home-ice advantage).