Saturday, September 4, 2010

Team Shea wins second straight

Team Shea (black) dodged a bullet tonight. Leading 4-0 after the first period, they let Team Perkins come all the way back to tie before waking up long enough to score the winner late in the third for a final of 5-4.

In fairness, the main difference in the first two periods was goaltending. With only three puckstoppers, they rotated in and out each period, switching teams in the process (FYI - Patrick Johnson is the one not available, due to a back injury. Webb is at camp after all).

Hellyer started the game in the Shea cage, with Webb playing for Perkins and surrendering the four goals. In the second period, Webb switched to Shea and Justin McDonald came in to tend goal for Perkins. In that frame, Perkins scored three times on Webb to cut the deficit to 4-3. For the third period, Hellyer played for Perkins and McDonald switched to Shea. Each goalie allowed one goal, first when Braeden Adamyk beat McDonald to tie the game with 11 minutes left, then when Hellyer surrendered the winner to John Sonntag, of all people, a few minutes later (it was the only goal Scott let in all night).

For the second straight night, the Dommett-Calkins-Adamyk line combined for four goals. In this case, it was all the offence their team mustered. Just before the second period started, I leaned over the glass and told Calkins to go get me a goal. Literally less than 30 seconds in, he wired one past Webb's left pad. Dommett scored top shelf a few minutes later and Calkins added another one immediately after that.

In the first period, Pearce Gourley scored twice for Shea, along with singles from Sanfred King and Taylor Duzan. Gourley looks good every time I see him.

Ex-captain Jordan Braid laced up tonight, wearing #55 on the Perkins blueline. He was there because the camp roster is short on defencemen, but it's funny to see after how well he did in his blueline stint last season.

Speaking of Braider, he's heading down to Georgia to play with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League. It's great to see him find a place in the pro game. He told me he's going in as a forward, but wouldn't be opposed to playing D if needed. It's quite remarkable how quickly he adapted to defence late last year - so much so that CIS coaches who considered signing him liked him better as a defenceman than a forward.

There were a few returning players who really looked terrific tonight. Jesse Mysiorek was a force, laying the body and also looking pretty damn good with the puck on his stick. He was with Duzan and Hoffman, which gave him a little more freedom in the offensive zone. He keeps that up and he might push for a top six spot. You never know.

When I got to the rink, Nancy Ternes (who retired from the marketing manager role this year) said Lance Tabin looked like a new player last night. It didn't take long into the game for me to agree. There's a lot more intensity in his game. He was a major physical presence tonight and made some nice outlet passes too.

Sanfred King told me a few nights ago that he feels 100% and it shows. You can tell he's got that extra gear, that spring in his stride that he hadn't gotten back yet last year. No goals, but he looked terrific and I'm told it was the same last night.

Another guy who I was impressed with was Beau Taylor. For a kid who only left Australia to play hockey five years ago, has he ever come a long way. In a situation like that, skating is usually the most important thing to work on and that's the case for him. I could tell tonight he's been working hard on it over the off-season. He plays in Australia's main league in the summer (his team plays in a shopping mall...) - not much of a challenge, but every minute on the ice is time well spent for a late starter. He flitted all over the ice tonight, established himself as a physical presence and seemed to be right in the middle of every scramble around the net.

Finally, he isn't a returnee, but Austin McDonald looked fantastic. The person who commented on the blog earlier today about his skill was bang on. He's got speed to burn and great hands. The younger brother of goalie Justin, he'll go back to Beardy's this year, but I'm tempted to already pencil him into next year's line-up.

After two days of training camp, Larry Wintoneak said it best tonight: "We got some real tough decisions to make."

Tomorrow night is the annual Blue & White Game. 7 p.m. at the Complex. Be there or I'll swear.

Training camp - Day 2

"This is the greatest thing about sports. You play to win the game....Hello? You play to win the game! You don't play it to just play it. That's the great thing about sports. You play to win. I don't care if you don't have any wins, you go play to win. When you start tellin' me it doesn't matter, then retire. Get out. 'Cause it matters."

Wonder if Larry pulls out something like this over the weekend?

(If you still don't know what this is about, go educate yourself.)

The second intra-squad game in Eston was this morning. I'm heading down to the Complex in a couple of hours to catch the third game (6 p.m.) so I'll have that info then. I'll try to live blog tonight's game, but I've had issues with the wireless in Eston before, so no promises.

UPDATE: If there's nothing on here by 6:30 or so, head on over to my twitter, where I'll be posting updates from my phone.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the two young tenders tonight, McDonald and Johnson. Nick Eliason will be another one to watch, now that we know the Klippers are so high on him. '94 forward Jesse Shofner is another interesting case... he's been at camp the last two years (last year as a 15-year-old) and, in Larry's words, "he's going to play for this team" at some point, most likely next year.

Eliason and Shofner both scored clutch goals in last year's midget AAA playoffs. In Game 1 of a semifinal series between the Contacts and Beardy's, Eliason scored the winner at 8:58 of double OT. Shofner, at only 15, was called up during the semis by PA and scored a goal against Notre Dame (that one also went to double OT).

Day 1 notes

I was originally planning to go to Eston tonight for the first intrasquad game of Klippers camp. Something came up this afternoon and in the end, I wasn't able to go down, which was a real bummer since I was really looking forward to this.

As a result, I don't have much from the first day of camp, but I did talk to Johnny Calkins tonight and he gave me some details on the game.

-Team Shea (black) won the game
-the Dommett-Calkins-Adamyk line scored four goals in a losing cause; two from Dommer
-the fourth goalie invited to camp, '92 Webb (his first name escapes me at the moment... Corey, I think), wasn't there. So the three other tenders played two periods each.
-Nick Eliason is back from Moose Jaw camp and played tonight. With the Klippers only having four returning defencemen, and Brett Blatz not coming, Eliason is all but guaranteed a spot. He was pencilled in with Sonntag tonight.

This was the roster for the winning Shea side. There are still a handful of guys who I don't have first names for... I'll fill those in over the course of the weekend.

Jesse Mysiorek - Jordon Hoffman - Taylor Duzan
Riley Down - Sanfred King - Tanner Exner
Pearce Gourley - Brett Penner - Tanner Kissick ('93 Kerrobert
Tanner Tyndall ('93) - Jesse Shofner ('94)

John Sonntag - Nick Eliason
Lance Tabin - Eric Webb ('93)

Scott Hellyer

For Team Perkins, wearing white:

Andrew Dommett - Johnny Calkins - Braeden Adamyk
Beau Taylor - Ryan Benn - Taylor Wasden
Kiley Long - Justin Gerwing - Austin McDonald ('93)
Jeff Olson ('93 from Kindersley) - Daniels ('94)

Sean Flanagan - Kurt Leedahl
Cody Thiel ('93) - Bartel ('92 - this kid looked great at summer camp, I just can't remember his name)
Howell ('94)

Justin McDonald/Patrick Johnson

Friday, September 3, 2010

Things looking up at the WCEC

While the Klippers are practicing and scrimmaging at the Eston Complex today, their own arena is getting closer to being re-opened.

I had a chat with Walker Projects representative Brendon Franz today. He's in Kindersley most of the time, overseeing the project on-site.

He told me - and I drove over to the rink afterward to confirm - that the structure of the new entrance/concession area behind the arena is finished. Once they finish the insulation and drywall inside, they'll be ready to install the kitchen equipment and cabinets. There are two entrances to the area, one on the left which brings you into the lobby, and another on the right at the end of the south hallway.

The Klippers' dressing room and fitness area are done, with only a few minor touch-ups to be done. The bleachers are getting a new coat of paint and that's almost completed. The fire alarm system has been certified and they are in the process of doing the same for the sprinkler system.

Four companies have been selected to submit designs to Walker by the end of October. They were picked from a group of six by an interview panel that included town administrator Sherry Magnuson, a town councillor, and three reps from Walker.

The tender for removing the cement pad from the Ex is also close to being awarded, and the block is supposed to be gone by the end of next month.

It's no secret that there's been a ton of skepticism in this town over how quickly this clean-up was going and whether it would get done on time. If you ask me, things are looking pretty good for that Oct. 1 target.

Here's a look at the addition on the back of the rink:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Five breakout players

Sorry about the inactivity over the last couple days, folks. With Monday being a holiday, it's what we call a short week at the newspaper. Deadlines are moved back, it's just hectic.

I've been thinking about players who will be expected to take on a bigger role this season. Here are five players I can see having breakout years.

1. Sanfred King, C/RW
2009-10: 34-7-6-13

It's no fluke that King has played nearly 100 games in the WHL. He has skill. Were it not for a broken femur midway through the 2008-09 season, odds are he still would have been with Brandon this past season. King scored twice in his first game with the Klippers last November, but his production lagged after that. Personally, and I've said this before, I find it incredible that he's playing hockey at all after such a brutal injury.

I haven't caught up with him since the end of last season, but you'd have to think an off-season of working on leg  strength would do wonders heading into his 20-year-old season. He's pencilled in for the second line and will be given every chance to be an impact player. I expect Kinger to top the 50-point mark.

2. Braeden Adamyk, RW
2009-10: 56-20-27-47

Might seem strange to think of a player with those totals as a breakout candidate, but I think Adamyk has a lot more in him. Moving from centre to the right side last year was an adjustment, especially as a left shot. He also has WHL experience and I think his experience as a mentor and coach at this year's summer camp will give him a sense of ownership in how the team fares.

The line enters the season as the de facto #1 line in the SJHL and Adamyk will face every team's top checkers. That said, he's got great hockey sense, a pinpoint shot and I think he's capable of finishing top five in league scoring.

3. John Sonntag, D
2009-10: 55-1-14-15

Truth be told, last year was Sonntag's breakout season. He went from the odd man out on the blueline to a legit top three defender who intimidated opposing forwards with punishing hits. His offensive game also developed with some PP time and added confidence. This year, the Meadow Lake native - who fights forest fires in the summer - will be counted on to take his game to new heights. He's already developed a rep as a devastating bodychecker, and that should only continue in his 20-year-old season. I'll be shocked if he doesn't make the all-star game. No idea if he'll start the season alongside Kurt Leedahl, but that would be a lethal pairing.

4. Scott Hellyer, G
2009-10: 2-2, 3.93, .888

Let's get it out of the way: the stats look atrocious. The fact of the matter is Hellyer was thrown into a couple of late-season blowouts and, with only a few starts under his belt, they ballooned his GAA and save percentage.

Hellyer was acquired from Winkler on Dec. 1 of last year to replace Joshua Baker. He didn't get his first start until Jan. 17 against Yorkton, on the team's first weekend in Eston (he was scheduled to start against Estevan Jan. 9. I'll let you figure out why that got derailed). He stopped 39 of 41 shots en route to a Klipper win, and turned in similar impressive outings in two of his three other starts. But the most impressive thing about Hellyer was his attitude off the ice. He worked his rear off in practice and never complained, despite sitting on the bench for six weeks straight after being acquired. He's a quiet guy.

Hellyer has experience as a Jr. A starter, playing 43 games for Winkler in 2008-09. I don't expect him to replace Josh Thorimbert, but I do think he can be, at worst, a middle of the pack SJHL starter. And when you look at the rest of the Klipper roster, they can win with that.

5. Riley Down, D/RW/LW/???
2009-10: 41-1-2-3

If hockey ever brought back the rover, Riley Down would be a perfect fit. He squeaked onto the roster in training camp last year, saw limited action on the blueline to start the year, and was eventually moved to the wing when injuries struck. Down did well enough as a forechecker and energy player that he stuck. But he became more than that.

The Kindersley native hit his stride down the stretch, scoring his first goal in the final game of the season and becoming a force in the playoffs. In eight post-season games, he scored three times and added a pair of assists. Five points! Not only that, he scored in games 4 and 6 of the Yorkton series - both road games the Klippers absolutely had to win, and did, after a pair of third period comebacks.

Down is already a fan favourite. Can he go from depth defenceman to top six forward in two years? Who knows?

Honourable mention: Jordon Hoffman, C
2009-10: 58-10-12-22

Hoffman has already established himself as probably the hardest worker on a team of hard workers. He is determination personified, the ideal third line centre. But he has offensive upside as well. He got a few extended stints in a top six role when injuries struck last year, and he has a good shot at a permanent scoring role now, especially if Braeden Johnson sticks with the Blades. I think Hoff could be a legit first line player in 2011-12.


One thing I forgot to mention in the training camp notes the other day. Larry Wintoneak confirmed to me on Monday that defenceman David Ahl is not returning. He wants to play for a team in Alberta and Larry hopes to get futures (cash) in return.


The blog is about to hit the 700 visitor mark. It's good to see a lot of people stopping by a place that's only existed for about 10 days. I'm having a blast writing this so far (wait till the season starts!) and I hope readers are enjoying the content. Comments, suggestions or info I may have missed are always welcome.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two for the price of none

New Klippers play-by-play man Brenden Ullrich is starting his own blog. Lucky fans... two places to check the latest Klipper news. You can find a link to Brenden's blog on the side of mine.

I forgot to listen to myself on Dan O'Connor's Sports Fix last night. Typical. I haven't gotten any flaming bags of you know what yet so I'll assume it sounded okay.

Opinions on the Klippers? Suggestions for the blog? Let's hear it. The more feedback, the better.

Former voice of the Klippers Darren Dupont has an interesting idea on his blog: Klippers TV. I'd be in like Flynn for something like that, if only I had the time and technical know-how.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Training camp notes

I had a chat with Larry Wintoneak earlier this afternoon. I'll try to get audio up later tonight, but for now, here are some notes:

- 40 players have been invited to camp, with the hope of adding two more defencemen (only 10 right now)
- All players have arrived in Kindersley
- 1993 D Brett Blatz has opted to return to midget AAA
- 1993 D Nick Eliason has been at camp with Moose Jaw; Wintoneak is trying to find out if he's still there
- Expects Braeden Johnson to stay with the Blades for a while
- In the market for a veteran defenceman, preferably a PP quarterback, has been "sniffing around"
- Still doesn't have an assistant to replace Trevor Weisgerber; not much on the horizon

EDIT: I tried to put up the interview audio, still have some bugs to work out. Next time...

Klippers bump camp up to Friday

Klippers training camp is now slated to open on Friday, rather than Saturday as previously planned. The blue and white game goes on Sunday at 7 p.m. Here are some details:

10 a.m. Team Shea (black) practice
11:40 a.m. Team Perkins (white) practice
6 p.m. Perkins vs. Shea intrasquad game #1 (three 17 minute stop time periods)

9 a.m. Team Perkins practice
9:45 a.m. Team Shea practice
11 a.m. Intrasquad game #2
6 p.m. Intrasquad game #3

10 a.m. Systems practice
11:15 a.m. Evaluation practice (both teams)
7 p.m. Annual Blue & White Game

The rookie game against Battlefords is Monday in Eston (7:30 p.m.) Then the Klippers travel to Brooks Tuesday and Battlefords Wednesday. My guess is cuts will be made late next week.

Monday Grab Bag

A few tidbits here and there as we get closer to the opening day of training camp on Saturday...

Left winger Braeden Johnson is still at the Saskatoon Blades' training camp in Martensville. Johnson scored in an intra-squad game on Friday and was one of 40 players picked to play in the Blue and White game yesterday. His white squad lost 7-4. Johnson stuck with the Blades for more than 30 games last year, so there's a good chance he makes the team as an 18-year-old.

Haven't found evidence of any other players at WHL camps, but I'll keep looking. If you know of someone, feel free to leave a comment.


Darren Zary of the StarPhoenix had a story last week on Josh Thorimbert, who's getting ready to make his NCAA debut when the Colorado College Tigers start their season in late September. It's incredible what Thorimbert has accomplished, but it will also be interesting to see how many starts he gets behind Joe Howe, the top freshman goalie in the country last year. Thorimbert is eligible for the NHL draft next summer, so hopefully he has a solid season. I know of several NHL teams keeping tabs on his progress.


Craig Stein is reporting a major trade in the works involving two of the teams he covers (Yorkton, Melville, Swan Valley, Wayway). No word on whether it involves the SJ, MJ or both leagues but he says two big names are moving. The Terriers and Mils could both use some offensive punch, so we'll see what develops.

EDIT: Turns out the deal doesn't involve offence at all. Craig says the Terriers have sent 20-year-old defender Clark Byczynski to Swan Valley to complete the futures part of their acquisition of Troy Smukowich at last year's deadline. Details are here

Seems like a very stiff price for Yorkton to pay. Yes, Smukowich was a huge part of their run to the final last year, but he's now gone and they lose possibly their best defenceman for a rental. Byczynski was also huge in last year's playoffs. The Dogs have a pretty balanced blueline unit, but if they lose Austin Bourhis to Prince Albert, they could really be hurting. As it is, I'd say they're looking at a survivor series berth at best. That said - it worked out pretty well for them last year.


WCEC update: Work is well underway on the new entrance/concession area at the back of the building. This will serve as the lobby for this season, and once the front of the building is repaired and a new lobby built, this area at the back will be used for storage or perhaps as the new site of the Zamboni room. Inside, the Klippers' dressing room and new fitness area are pretty close to being finished.

Also, the new synthetic ice surface arrived last week and has been installed at the WCEC parking lot, next to McGowan park. Kids are already out skating in their shorts and t-shirts. 

The 70x36 sheet will give kids a place to practice until the WCEC re-opens, and it should also take a bit of pressure off the rink schedule during the season.