Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New blog

If anyone is interested, I've launched a new Estevan Bruins blog.

You can check it out here.

Thanks again to everyone in Kindersley for making the Klipper Report a success.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Moving on

I've been putting this off for a few days, but time is running out.

Most of you will probably already know this, but I'll be leaving Kindersley soon. I have accepted a new sports reporter position with the Estevan Mercury effective next week.

It was a tough decision to make when the Mercury approached me about the job back in February, but at the end of the day it's an exciting opportunity and a good career move for me.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is my last day at The Clarion, and if all goes well I'll be settled in Estevan by the end of next week.

Kindersley was my first full-time sports writing job, and I learned so much in the two-and-a-half years I was here. I've covered just about every sport under the sun and met lots of great people.

Covering the Klippers has been a pleasure and I want to thank the players who have come and gone over the last three seasons for being welcoming and taking the time to chat when I shoved a recorder in their face. I've kept in touch with a few guys after they left and I can honestly say it's been a great experience.

I also want to thank Larry Wintoneak, Rockie Zinger and Kevin Edgerton for their cooperation and support. All three are good guys to deal with and I wish them the best in the future.

It'll probably be a little strange at first to cover the Klippers' division rival, but hey, newspaper guys aren't supposed to have loyalties.

I won't be around for the opening of Kindersley's second ice surface next season, but I'm looking forward to catching games in the brand new Spectra Place, which I had a chance to check out a couple weeks ago.

I've had a lot of parents and other folks in the community call me up or seek me out in person to wish me luck over the last week or two, and that means a lot to me. It's a business where most of your feedback is negative, so it's nice when people tell you that they appreciate your work.

As for this blog, I'm not sure what will happen. If my replacement at the Clarion wants to keep it going, I'll turn it over to him. Otherwise, I guess this is the end of the road for the Klipper Report. It's been a blast doing this over the past eight months. The blog not only built a good following, it also helped land me a new job.

You can still follow me on twitter, though. I haven't changed it yet, but my new handle will be @joshlewis306

Thanks for reading this season! Signing off.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday grab bag

There's enough in this post to make up for the last week of inactivity so buckle up.



The West Central AA Wheat Kings' midget girls team won the North Sask Female Hockey League championship tonight in Dodsland, defeating the Saskatoon Comets 5-1 in the third and deciding game of the league final. The Wheat Kings, who are made up of players from Kindersley and across the west central region, led 1-0 after one period and 3-0 after two.

It's the first championship for the AA program, and a lot of people have put in long hours over the past few years to get to this point, including president and Klippers assistant Kevin Edgerton.

The girls have a chance to pull off the championship double Saturday when they play Game 2 of the provincial AA final against the Prairie Storm in Dodsland. The Wheat Kings trail the total goal series by one, but will no doubt get a big boost from the unbelievable fans in Dodsland.

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Speaking of championship double, the Eston Ramblers did just that over the past week. On Saturday, the Ramblers travelled to Bredenbury to take on the Cougars in Game 2 of the provincial C final and won 5-1 to take home their first provincial banner since 2009. Their bus broke down in Lanigan on the way home and they got back to Eston at 9:30 a.m. Pretty sure no one minded though.

On Tuesday, the Ramblers won their first Sask. West Hockey League title since 2004-05 with a 6-3 win over the Luseland Mallards on home ice, completing a sweep of the best-of-five final.

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Onto some Klipper notes. It's still early, but it's looking like the team may lose Sean Flanagan over the summer. It's no secret that NCAA schools are interested in the 18-year-old defenceman and there may be an opportunity for him to start his college career next season. 

Next week, Flanagan is heading to the annual ID scouting showcase in Toronto for the second straight year (I can't remember what it's called at the moment, but it's pretty much the mecca of recruiting for a lot of Junior A GMs and NCAA schools). Flanagan's play at last year's camp attracted interest from U.S. colleges and the QMJHL, and there will no doubt be a line-up of schools interested if he decides to take the NCAA route next year.

Sean would likely be one of the best defenders in the SJ as a 19-year-old next season, and losing him would be a massive blow for the Klippers, but much like Josh Thorimbert last year, it's a big feather in the cap for an organization when you can advance players through the ranks like that.

Again, it's early days and this may or may not happen.

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As I reported on twitter earlier this week, the Klipper board and Rockie Zinger have held preliminary discussions regarding his future with the team. It sounds like the team is interested in bringing him back, but I don't believe anything is getting close to being decided.

I know Klipper fans are divided on this one, and after the team's showing against Yorkton the board certainly should be doing their due diligence and taking the time to make sure they get it right. There's also more to consider than the on-ice performance any time you make a coaching decision.

Speaking of Rockie, I was going to post an interview with him from earlier this week, but Windows Movie Maker doesn't want to cooperate with me. Oh well, you can read most of what he had to say in yesterday's Clarion.

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I'm sure you've already read it on 68 different sites already so I'm not going to go into too much detail on last week's announcement that Laury Ryan is resigning as SJHL president. It seems not many people saw it coming (heck, not long ago I heard they were talking extension) and Ryan's departure leaves a big pair of boots to fill. Being a league president is a thankless job, and while Ryan has his detractors, don't count your chickens before you find out who's coming next.

I think Ryan summed it up well in his interview with Mitchell Blair when he said there have been successes and a few failures on his watch. I think the SJ can do a lot more to market their players and get more kids into the NCAA, and the new man will have to decide what to do with the Junior A Supplement, which at the very least needs a lot of tweaking. But that's a five-headed monster.

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As Darryl Skender reported on Tuesday, the Melfort Mustangs are looking for a new coach after deciding not to renew Darrell Mann's contract. I think everyone in Melfort knew a lot was riding on the team's success this year after giving up a big ransom (supposedly) for the duo of Brayden Metz and Cody Hanson. The Mustangs couldn't build on their Game 1 win over La Ronge and are now likely facing a rebuilding year with a new bench boss.

Mann's exit makes the SJHL coaching carousel a little more interesting. The application deadline for Estevan's vacant job was back on March 21, but you'd have to think Mann might be an intriguing candidate for the B's. Add the open job in Melfort and possibly one here in Kindersley, and it's going to be interesting to see what direction these SJ teams choose to take.

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I was in Estevan last weekend for the fundraising dinner for Spectra Place, the new home of the Bruins. It's an impressive barn to be sure, complete with more than 20 corporate boxes and two press boxes. The guest speakers included Brian Burke, Dave Nonis, Darian Durant, Gene Makowsky and members of the Trail Smoke Eaters, along with Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen as the emcee.

What a night it was. There were some great lines from Burke and Bowen - they were both, shall we say, a wee bit tipsy - and it was pretty cool as a Leaf fan to hear some of Burke's insights in a more relaxed setting. Oh, and him calling someone in the crowd a name I can't repeat here was also a highlight.

More on that soon.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

End of the road

What went wrong?

That question will stick with the Klippers all summer after the Yorkton Terriers held on for a 3-2 win tonight to sweep the Sherwood Conference final.

The Klippers played their best game of the series and made the Terriers work for the win, right to the wire, but that won't be any consolation to the nine players who played their last game in junior hockey.

Andrew Dommett, Johnny Calkins, Braeden Adamyk, Sanfred King, Spencer Braaten, Kurt Leedahl, John Sonntag, Cody Lund and Sean Cahill saw their junior careers end tonight.

It's a bitter pill to swallow for a group that had RBC Cup aspirations this season but couldn't get things figured out when it mattered most.

Full credit to the Terriers, who brought their A game from puck drop on Friday to the final buzzer tonight. They were the better team and now advance to their second straight SJHL final, against either La Ronge or Melfort.

As scary as La Ronge is, I like the Terriers' odds against anyone if they continue to play like they did in this series.

As for tonight's game, the Klippers were the better team off the hop but Yorkton again took a 2-0 lead to the first intermission. Riley Paterson scored the first goal at 9:50 on a rebound that Cahill bobbled, and Justin Buzzeo scored glove side off a cross-ice feed from Clarke Breitkreuz with 4:05 to play in the period.

It was looking like the same old story from the first three games.

About five minutes into the second period, with the Klippers' goalless streak sitting at 162 minutes, 22 seconds, they finally beat Devin Peters.

John Sonntag obliterated Buzzeo at one end, and that led to a quick rush the other way for Taylor Wasden, a guy who rarely gets on the scoresheet but the kind you need at playoff time. Wasden lit the lamp to get the WCEC crowd on their feet and the Klippers back in the game.

Three minutes after that, Sonntag rocked Robbie Ciolfi behind the Klipper net. Shortly after, Andrew Dommett scored his first goal of the series to tie it up.

The momentum was all on the Klippers' side at that point and they spent the next few minutes peppering Peters and the Terriers.

Just when they were getting close - stop me if you've heard this before - the Terriers struck back, with Blaine Tendler springing Buzzeo on a breakaway at 15:19. Buzzeo deked Cahill blocker side and the netminder got most of it, but it trickled in.

Yorkton carried most of the play in the third period, and Sean Cahill stood on his head to give his team a chance to draw even again. He made some massive stops, and he can be proud of the final game of his junior career.

The Klippers also had a few excellent chances, but they couldn't get one past Peters. The closest they came was with about 15 seconds left, when Sanfred King lobbed a Hail Mary toward the net from the right half-wall. The puck got through traffic and dinged the left post before bouncing off to the side.

Here's a post-game interview with Terriers coach Trent Cassan. I'll wait a day or two before getting Rockie Zinger's thoughts.

video


Over the next few days, I'll have a post-mortem on the blog as well as some personal news.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Better effort, same result for Klippers in Game 3

Chalk up another touchdown for the Yorkton Terriers.

Despite getting off to a much better start and carrying the play for the first 25 minutes of the game, the Klippers once again surrendered seven goals tonight in a 7-0 loss in Game 3 of the Sherwood Conference final.

The Klippers have not scored in 137 minutes, 16 seconds - dating back to Jesse Mysiorek's goal in the third period of Game 1 - and they are one loss away from elimination.

The complexion of this game changed dramatically 4:47 into the second period when a Casey Rogers giveaway in the Klipper zone went right onto the tape of Justin Buzzeo in the high slot. Buzzeo, who recorded a hat trick tonight, was untouched and ripped a shot over Justin McDonald's left shoulder to give the Terriers a 3-0 lead.

Up to that point, the Klippers had been the better team and were pressing hard to get on the board. You could almost see their game unravel after the goal as the Terriers began to pull away, leading 6-0 after 40 minutes.

In the first period, Kindersley carried the shots 13-9 and were clearly the better side, especially in the last 10 minutes, but Buzzeo and Robbie Ciolfi scored in the first seven minutes, both on skilled plays that left little chance for McDonald, to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

Devin Peters was again very good tonight, but let's be real: the Klippers had several chances that they would have scored on in the regular season. Part of the scoring problem is Peters playing well; the other is the Klippers are making him look even better by failing to finish off plays.

Part of that, without a doubt, comes from the psychological effect of being drubbed three straight times by a team that only finished three points ahead in the standings. The Klippers beat this team in their last three meetings of the regular season, all coming after the deadline pickup of Buzzeo and Boyer.

McDonald was pulled midway through the second period after Boyer scored a breakaway goal off a neutral zone turnover to make it 4-0. Perhaps Mac could have been a little better, but he should in no way be blamed for the loss. He didn't have much of a chance on the two early goals and was hung out to dry on the other two.

The total damage for Yorkton was a hatty for Buzzeo, two goals for Breitkreuz and singles for Ciolfi and Boyer.

Speaking of which, the Terriers' sixth goal bothered me. They were leading 5-0 late in the second period and had a two-man advantage for almost two full minutes after the Klippers began to lose their composure. So they throw out Boyer, Buzzeo, Breitkreuz, Ciolfi and Tendler? You be the judge.

For the Klippers, I thought the Mysiorek-Hoffman-Duzan line was their best, especially in the first period. Despite all three players being injured recently, and Hoffman clearly being less than 100% - he couldn't take face-offs or shoot the puck - the line hustled all night and created many of the team's best scoring chances. Kudos to them for continuing to battle even when the game was out of reach.

Johnny Calkins also deserves some kudos for his game tonight. He, too, was playing at far from 100% and it was obvious, as he couldn't take draws, had trouble distributing the puck and lacked speed. Yet you could see he was giving it his all throughout the game, throwing a few hits, blocking shots and hustling on the forecheck.

The challenge for the Klippers now becomes sending the series back to Yorkton for Game 5 on Friday.

Game 3 quick hits

Not much time but here are a few tidbits as we get ready for Game 3 between the Klippers and Terriers tonight at the WCEC.


  • Judging by this tweet from Jordon Hoffman, the hard-working centre will be back in the line-up tonight after missing three games with an upper-body injury. That's huge for the Klippers both at even strength and on the penalty kill, which has sorely missed the Hoffman-Duzan duo of late.

  • No definitive word on Johnny Calkins' status for tonight - Rockie Zinger said yesterday he would be a game time decision - but with his last junior season on the line, my guess is he'll be in if he's at all close to 100%.

  • Rockie told me yesterday he had yet to decide whether Sean Cahill or Justin McDonald will get the start tonight. Cahill was shaky in both of the weekend games, and Mac has been solid in his last few appearances, including in Game 2. There's an argument to be made for either tender, and I wouldn't want to be the one making the call.

  • The SJHL handed David Haaf a one-game suspension on Sunday for taking his third instigator penalty of the season. It happened in Game 2 when Haaf went after Kyle McLeod to defend a teammate after a questionable hit. Losing Haaf is a blow to the Klippers, as he's been very solid over the last couple of months. Zane Morin will move back to the blueline, but it's not clear if he will take Haaf's spot across from John Sonntag.

  • Riley Down will serve the second game of his suspension for a head hit on McLeod in Game 1. If the Klippers don't get Calkins or Hoffman back, they will only have 11 forwards barring an AP being called up.

  • Game time is 7:30 at the WCEC. Be there!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Klippers get trounced again in Game 2

I haven't found the words yet to explain what happened in Yorkton this weekend, so I'll keep this one quick (that and I'm phone-blogging).

The Terriers looked even more dominant tonight than they did in Game 1 in a 7-0 pasting of the Klippers.

Yorkton outscored Kindersley 14-2 in two nights and the series everyone thought would go deep is looking more lopsided than a senior game between Rosetown and Biggar (sorry Nationals).

The Klippers again came out flat and while Sean Cahill weathered the early storm, the Dogs quickly took a 3-0 lead. That was enough for Cahill to get the hook. While he didn't get much help from the guys in front of him, Cahill also wasn't at the top of his game.

Justin McDonald came in and played very well. Yeah, he allowed four more over the rest of the game, but as I said on the broadcast, the gap between these two teams was like the freaking Grand Canyon tonight. Maybe that's being generous to the visitors.

To me, the backbreaker was a bullet shot from the point by Jeremy Boyer with one second left in the first period. Everyone yelled at him to shoot, he made no mistake and put the Klippers down 4-0 after one.

Kindersley played a better game in the second, but they weren't dominant by any stretch and when they generated a rare scoring chance, they couldn't solve an outstanding Devin Peters.

The Klipper power play was again ineffective (0-for-9), with a 5-on-3 wasted in the first period. A goal there could have changed the course of the game.

The problems for the Klippers going home are all over the place. Getting Calkins and/or Hoffman back for game 3 would be a massive boost. But they can't just rely on that, or home cooking.

They need to raise their compete level, battle harder for pucks and lay the body more. They need a lot more out of their top forwards, whether Calkins is back or not. They need timely saves, and in my mind McDonald should be in the mix for game 3.

Most of all this is a club that needs an injection of confidence. The good news is they'll be at home as they try to claw back in the series.

On the plus side, I thought Taylor Duzan was tremendous tonight in his first game back from injury. The Klippers didn't get much going offensively, but more often than not he was the one to spark it. On the back end, aside from one gaffe I can think of, Cody Lund was extremely solid.

To wrap things up, the Yorkton Terriers were all-world this weekend. This was a first place club at the very top of their game and they were SCARY good. The skill on display was phenomenal, and not just from the top guns.

Remember that January game at the WCEC when Kindersley led 6-0 after one? Yorkton played like that for the entire weekend and Trent Cassan has to be very happy with his hockey club.