Saturday, September 18, 2010

Klips vs. Stars Live Blog

6:54 p.m.: Warmup is underway. It's so weird seeing Down and Tabin wearing 22 and 24. Just finished reading the first SJHL Overtime magazine of the season. It has previews for every team, written by their local radio/newspaper guy. Good to know what I wrote about other teams in my Sherwood preview was on the money.

7:00: Half an hour to game time and I have goosebumps. There is nothing in the world like a season opener.

7:20: Lights have dimmed. Here come the North Stars player introductions. Vince Sauvie is in the line-up wearing #25.

7:25: Klippers' starting line-up is Dommett, Calkins, Adamyk, Leedahl, Flanagan, Hellyer.

I'll only be posting period recaps from here on out.

8:02: What a finish to the period for the Klips. Colin Phaneuf had scored with 3:08 left to put Battlefords ahead 1-0. In the final two minutes, Kurt Leedahl put the Klippers ahead all by himself. His first goal came with 1:57 left when he lobbed a soft wrister from the right point past Sirard off the face-off. He had just finished a 30-second argument with ref Kyle Paulsen. Then, with 19.9 seconds left and the Klips on the power play, Leeds struck again with a wrist shot from the outer edge of the left circle.

After 20 minutes, Kindersley leads 2-1 and also has the edge in shots at 11-10. Both teams have had one PP. It was a very sluggish start for the visitors, with the Stars dominating most of the first 12 minutes or so. The Klippers started to push back and really started to roll once their timing kicked in. There's also a bit of bad news, as Riley Down left the game at the 14-minute mark. It looked like possibly his shoulder, but I can't say for sure.

Brett Penner and Pearce Gourley both look great out there. Both guys have been physical and making some smart plays, especially Penner. Sanfred King's line logged a ton of minutes in the period - I'd say as many as the Calkins unit - and was in on both of Leedahl's goals. King assisted on both and Jesse Mysiorek had a helper on the second goal.

8:54: It's Stars 4, Klippers 3 after two periods. Penalty trouble hurt the Klips big time in period two, although I'm at a loss for why a couple of them were called. I'll just put this out there - Kyle Paulsen is the same ref who called eight straight penalties against the Klips in a game against Nipawin last year.

Cade Kimery tied the game 2-2 at the 7:15 mark, beating Hellyer with a wrister from the top of the left circle on a 5-on-3. Pearce Gourley was already in the box when John Sonntag facewashed Colin Phaneuf in front of the Klipper net and also got the gate, giving the Stars a two-man advantage of about 1:40.

Only 35 seconds after that, with Sonntag still in the box, Shayne Morrissey one-timed a centering pass past Hellyer to give the home side a 3-2 lead. But Andrew Dommett tied it up less than two minutes later, converting a rebound to the left of Alexandre Sirard.

With five minutes left in the period, Taylor Wasden was called for slashing and the Stars regained the lead on Brett Miller's low shot from between the dots.

Battlefords also had a pair of near misses. Only 57 seconds into the period, they had a goal called back because Phaneuf had bowled over Scott Hellyer. And late in the period, Miller had a half empty net but hit the left post.

In total, the Klippers received five penalties in the frame compared to zero for Battlefords. They will be shorthanded for the first 43 seconds of the third thanks to a slashing call on Lance Tabin. Shots are 26-22 KIN.

9:44: Andrew Dommett just scored with 27.4 seconds left to give the Klips a 7-6 win. The puck bounced off of someone up front, right to Dommett at Sirard's left, leaving the tender helpless. Calkins was penalized with 6.4 seconds left but the Klips held on.

Other goal scorers were Shay Neufeld, Sanfred King, Brett Penner, Tim Rollins and Braeden Adamyk.

More later tonight when we get to the hotel in PA.

Tonight's roster

Dommett - Calkins - Adamyk
Duzan - Hoffman - Mysiorek
Gourley - King - Exner
Taylor - Penner - Wasden

Leedahl - Flanagan
Sonntag - Bartel
Tabin - Down


Scratches: Benn, Gerwing, Kissick, Long, Haaf


On a personal note, this roadie started on a brutal note for me. I got on the bus and everyone was laughing at me. I sat down and Larry pointed to my butt. I looked around and there was a huge hole in my pants, with only my wallet pocket there to hide my right cheek. I just got a new wallet and it hasn't really broken in yet. Somewhere between my apartment and meeting the bus, that wallet ripped a hole in my pants.

I had to gun it back to my place and change my pants.

It can only get better from here.

Game Day.

The day we've all been waiting for is here. The quest for the 2010-11 SJHL championship begins in less than 10 hours.

The team is leaving Kindersley around 3 p.m. and arrives in North Battleford at 5.

I hope to see at least a few folks from Kindersley tonight. Two hours isn't that far to drive for a season opener. I will post tonight's roster when I get it. I'll also do a game blog, but the updates will be a little sporadic because I'll also be busy getting photos for the Clarion.

Turns out ex-Bruins goalie Alexandre Sirard will be between the pipes for Battlefords tonight. They cut Garrett Montour earlier this week and picked up the 19-year-old tender from Estevan for futures.

The Klippers only saw Sirard once last year in a 3-2 home win on Jan. 31. Sirard gave up three goals on 26 shots in a game that also happened to be Scott Hellyer's second SJHL start. Full game summary is here.

This means Stars coach Ken Pearson will have a tough decision to make when Kyle Birch and Graham Hildebrand return to the line-up. Birch is 20 while the others are 19. Which goalie do you get rid of? Personally, I was more impressed with Hildebrand last season, although Birch had his moments too (like that 7-6 OT win over the Klippers on showcase weekend. Birch and Joshua Baker were both phenomenal that night despite all the goals).

One more note before I start my day - I'll be doing colour alongside Brenden Ullrich for tomorrow's game in La Ronge. I did colour a few times last year with Kris Hussey and, as someone with a play-by-play background, I love getting to do it, although it can't replace the thrill of PxP.

See you in North Battleford!

EDIT: I just checked my gmail account (my secondary email) to discover a new email from Larry Wintoneak. Lo and behold! The team roster complete with jersey numbers.

It also includes the team's alternate captains for the year, which had not been released until now. They are Kurt Leedahl, John Sonntag and Braeden Adamyk.

Aside from the new players, the other changes this year are Riley Down moving from #2 to #22 and Lance Tabin going from #3 to #24.

For your viewing pleasure:


#30 - Scott Hellyer - April 14, 1990 - Brandon, MB
#31 - Justin McDonald - March 16, 1992 - Turtleford, SK


#3 - Jeff Bartel - May 27, 1992 - Steinbach, MB
#5 - David Haaf - Sept. 17, 1992 - Medicine Hat, AB
#7 - Kurt Leedahl (A) - April 13, 1990 - Saskatoon, SK
#8 - John Sonntag (A) - Aug. 13, 1990 - Goodsoil, SK
#20 - Sean Flanagan - May 18, 1992 - Kindersley, SK
#22 - Riley Down - April 30, 1991 - Kindersley, SK
#24 - Lance Tabin - March 23, 1990 - Regina, SK


#6 - Kiley Long - Dec. 31, 1992 - Loreburn, SK
#9 - Andrew Dommett (C) - July 15, 1990 - Major, SK
#11 - Taylor Duzan - March 8, 1991 - Saskatoon, SK
#12 - Brett Penner - Nov. 29, 1992 - Medstead, SK
#14 - Braeden Adamyk (A) - March 3, 1990 - Neepawa, MB
#15 - Tanner Exner - April 23, 1991 - Regina, SK
#16 - Johnny Calkins - Dec. 10, 1990 - Kyle, SK
#17 - Ryan Benn - June 19, 1991 - Spruce Grove, AB
#18 - Jesse Mysiorek - July 5, 1991 - Fort Qu'Appelle, SK
#19 - Beau Taylor - Feb. 1, 1991 - Wamberal, Australia
#21 - Pearce Gourley - June 15, 1992 - Saskatoon, SK
#23 - Jordon Hoffman - Aug. 12, 1991 - Major, SK
#25 - Taylor Wasden - Aug. 26, 1991 - Saskatoon, SK
#26 - Justin Gerwing - Feb. 21, 1992 - Saskatoon, SK
#27 - Tanner Kissick - Aug. 6, 1993 - Kerrobert, SK
#28 - Sanfred King - Jan. 14, 1990 - Brandon, MB

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guess tomorrow's line-up

With 16 forwards heading to Battlefords and La Ronge, it's going to be interesting to see which guys actually play. Safe to say we'll see a different line-up for each game as Larry tries to get a look at everyone in regular season action.

The first three lines are more or less set in stone with Dommett-Calkins-Adamyk, Duzan-Hoffman-Mysiorek, Gourley-King-Exner.

After that you have Benn (LW/C), Taylor (C), Wasden (RW), Gerwing (LW), Penner (C/RW), Kissick (RW) and Long (LW) in the mix on the fourth line. Obviously the first three are the returning players, but it would be a little hard to make the final cuts if the new kids all sat in the press box.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to construct the fourth line we'll see against Battlefords. Players must be in their natural positions listed above. Go!!!


Estevan defeated Melville 6-4 in the first SJ game of the season last night at Melville Stadium. I have a dish, so I wasn't able to watch it on Access, but I did listen to Craig Stein online (great work as always Steiner). Estevan led 3-0 at one point in the second, although Melville had a PP marker called back for being kicked in that sounded like it might have been legit.

On that note, I want to say that Melville has the best-named rookies in the league. Godric Tham. Roger Tagoona. Nuff said.


I was going to write a brief tribute to Pat Burns in this space after hearing reports he had passed away this morning. Except now it's becoming clear that someone jumped the gun. All the media outlets who reported this have pulled their stories, and numerous reports are now saying Pat is in fact alive.

This from Bob McKenzie on twitter: 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Exner expected to play this weekend

Several points of interest this afternoon.

1) I just booked my room in Prince Albert for Saturday night (that's where the team is staying before heading up to La Ronge). I'm excited to catch the first two games of the season, and I've never been to La Ronge (or PA for that matter) so I'm looking forward to that, too. I love going to new places.

2) Larry Wintoneak told me this afternoon that Tanner Exner should be able to play this weekend. I don't think it's 100% just yet, but he seemed pretty confident that he'll be in the line-up.

3) Guess how many forwards are going on the trip? 16. Yeah, that's right, 16 forwards. Dommett, Calkins, Adamyk, Duzan, Hoffman, Mysiorek, King, Exner, Taylor, Wasden, Benn, Kissick, Gourley, Penner, Long, Gerwing.

It's gonna be a crowded bus trip.

Luke Boechler to undergo stem cell transplant tomorrow

This week brought fantastic news for Luke Boechler. The Yorkton Terriers goalie, who has been battling leukemia since January, is scheduled to undergo a blood stem cell transplant tomorrow in Calgary. Craig Stein's blog has the latest update from Luke's dad. It's great to see that Luke is at a stage where he can make some real progress in this battle. I don't know what the timeline is like after a stem cell transplant, but I sincerely hope to see him finish off his junior career at some point this season.


This isn't a Battlefords North Stars blog, I swear, but they seem to be the only team making moves this week. The Stars have pulled the trigger on a major trade with Estevan, sending 1991 defenceman Dominic Perrault to the Bruins for a pair of Ds in 20-year-old Dakota Johnson, a Nova Scotia product with QMJHL experience, and 17-year-old Nathan Zimbaluk. They also picked up ex-Humboldt blueliner Cade Kimery. Details are on Dan O'Connor's blog.


I've said before that I don't put much stock in pre-season power rankings, and the Klippers being third in the SJHL rankings released this week really means nothing until they hit the ice. That said, it's good to see them get some recognition. Mike Stackhouse also has a set of power rankings up on his blog and he has the Klippers second behind the North Stars.

Here are the SJ rankings:

1.   La Ronge Ice Wolves. They are the defending champions so why not put them at the top of the ladder. The team may have lost playoff MVP Dustin Stevenson and many other core players that were key to winning, but Bob Beatty still has many players left from last year’s team that would love nothing more than to make it two in a row.
2.   Battlefords Stars. Head Coach Ken Pearson already has a very good lineup with a talented group of forwards including Brett Miller and Colin Phaneuf. They should be near the top of the rankings if not at the top many times this season.
3.   Kindersley Klippers. The line of Andrew Dommett, Braeden Adamyk and John Calkins might be the best one in the league.  This trio will be hard to stop with all possibly finishing in the top 10 in this year’s scoring race.
4.   Estevan Bruins.  Head coach Karry Biette admits this is probably the best team he has had during his tenure in Estevan at the start of the season. The addition of Ben Findlay and Joel Danyluk from La Ronge makes this team a serious contender.
5.   Weyburn Red Wings. The Wings would love to make their 50th season a special one. If Drew George gets on a roll, he could take Weyburn a long way.
6.   Nipawin Hawks. This team has not done well over the past few seasons, but only three players from last year’s team are not back. It’s a nice situation for new coach Doug Johnson to walk into. The Hawks may have the hottest player going into the season as Tanner Dusyk had four goals in his last two pre-season games.
7.   Notre Dame Hounds. They lose leading scorer Travis Janke, but the Hounds are confident they have enough offensive production to take a serious run at the title.
8.   Flin Flon Bombers. I realize the Bombers are the highest ranked team in the opening CJHL rankings of the year, but they have a major hole to fill with the loss of Matt Weninger.  Matt Lecours, Cory Tyrell, and Tanner Korchinski are solid players in this league and can take their game to the next level. If they do it quickly, the Bombers will rise in these rankings.
9.   Humboldt Broncos. The Broncos welcome back SJHL MVP Andrew Bodnarchuk in goal, but with the Broncos hosting the RBC in 2012, will coach Dean Brockman trade guys like Bodnarchuk, and Justin Buzzeo in order to make sure his team is ready to compete for a national title as the host team in 2012? It’s tough to know what way they will go.
10.  Melfort Mustangs. There is a good mix of young and new in Melfort. How long will it take for Darrell Mann’s crew to gel.
11.  Yorkton Terriers.  They have the goaltender in Devin Peters, but who is going to score. Trent Cassan needs to know who he can count on for goal-scoring and hope that Peters can limit the damage until the answer is found.
12.  Melville Millionaires. The Millionaires are in the same boat as the Terriers. Great goaltending, but who puts the puck in the net.  Jamie Fiesel can perhaps answer that question for me when I visit his fine city Thursday for the season  opener.
Here's what Ian Hamilton of the Leader-Post had to say about the Klips in his season preview today
Head coach-GM Larry Wintoneak is stringing a line this season when it comes to his team.

Three 20-year-olds -- Andrew Dommett (who tied for the league lead with 36 goals last season en route to a team-best 60 points), Johnny Calkins (50 points) and Braeden Adamyk (47 points) -- comprise a unit that Wintoneak calls "a very, very dynamic trio."

They're joined up front by vets like Taylor Duzan, 19, and Jordon Hoffman, 19. The defence is led by 20-year-olds Kurt Leedahl and Johnathan Sonntag and 18-year-old Sean Flanagan, while Scott Hellyer, 20, is the No. 1 goalie.

Joining the 15 returnees are rookies like 18-year-old forward Pearce Gourley and goalie Justin McDonald, 18.

"We have to be consistent," Wintoneak says. "One of the things we've talked about as a group is our road record. We had 11 road wins last year. With the group we have back, we have to be better in that area."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday tidbits

A few news items and personal thoughts as the Klippers get ready to open the season in three days in North Battleford.

First, it's looking like the Klippers will fire shots at Garrett Montour again. He was the Stars' goaltender in the rookie game last week and he didn't look too bad despite giving up eight goals. Now, he's probably going to get the call for the season opener, with both Kyle Birch and Graham Hildebrand unavailable.

Birch will serve the last game of his three-game suspension for fighting Dauphin goalie Brett Willows on Friday, and it sounds like Hildebrand won't be ready to return from a knee injury he's been nursing.

This will be the first time I've seen a third-string goalie start a season opener. Bizarre. You can bet the Klippers will be taking shots from everywhere in the first few minutes.


In other North Stars news, they have added Vince Sauvie to the camp roster, according to Dan O'Connor on twitter. Sauvie was the main attraction for the West Central Rage in Kerrobert last season. As a first-year PJHL team, the Rage managed only four wins on the season, but Sauvie lit it up. The 1991-born right winger led the league in scoring with 37 goals and 80 points in 42 games. It was a phenomenal feat for a player on a last-place club.

I know the Klippers were interested in Sauvie for a time last season. I'm not sure how much they pursued him. His rights were owned by the Neepawa Natives (MJHL), who traded him to the OCN Blizzard earlier this summer. After going through training camp with OCN, he apparently wanted to be closer to home (Cando SK) so he was sent to Battlefords.

This is a team that's already quite deep as far as forwards go, so it may be tough for Vince to grab a roster spot. 


During my quick chat with Larry Wintoneak yesterday morning, I asked him about the extent of Tanner Exner's shoulder injury. He gave me the "loose lips sink ships" routine. Normally Larry is pretty good with talking about injuries and how long players might be out - although he never reveals what the actual injury is, which is understandable. I'm going to chalk this one up to the charged atmosphere that comes with opening the season.

If Exner isn't ready to start the season, I wonder what Sanfred King's line will look like. It's a good bet he'll have Pearce Gourley on his left side, but who on the right? My first guess would be Taylor Wasden, as he's one of the few right shots among those bottom six candidates (heck, maybe the only one). Or perhaps it'll be Ryan Benn, who's got a little more offensive creativity and might be a good fit with King if he's comfortable playing his off wing.


Here are the suggestions for a new nickname for the Dommett-Calkins-Adamyk line:

-Banjo line (Braeden-Andrew-Johnny)
-TSN line - The Scoring Network
-ATM line - Money in the bank
-CAA line (Calkins-Adamyk-Andrew) - There when you need us

I really don't have a favourite, so I might just ask the boys what they think this weekend. That's if I end up going on the bus to Battlefords and La Ronge, which is the plan right now.

It's Credit Union Cup or bust for Klippers

This is the season preview in today's paper. It's long. Like really long. If you have a doctor's appointment in an hour you might want to save this for later.

Larry Wintoneak doesn’t mind admitting that his team has thought about what it would be like to win the Credit Union Cup.

The Kindersley Klippers will open the season on Saturday in North Battleford with that goal in the cross-hairs.

“We haven’t even played our first game yet, but we’ve talked about winning a championship and getting to the dance,” said Wintoneak, who enters his fifth season behind the bench fresh off a two-year contract extension. “We may not be the star-studded guys, but we build from within and we want to be able to prove that that’s the right process to win.”

The Klippers were one goal away from the league final last season and had their dreams shattered in overtime of Game 7 against the Yorkton Terriers.

“When you lose Game 7 in overtime, you understand how close you really were,” said the coach. “We were five wins from going to the Royal Bank Cup. We’re one of a handful of teams in the country that can say that.”

The team’s biggest strength is undoubtedly up front, but the Klippers’ top four on the back end is nothing to sneeze at and last year’s backup, Scott Hellyer, is out to prove he can backstop an SJHL contender.


The Klippers enter the season boasting what is arguably the deepest forward group in the SJHL. They also have the league’s top line in the 20-year-old trio of Andrew Dommett, Johnny Calkins and Braeden Adamyk.

Most coaches, including Wintoneak, talk about a top six forward group. This year, he’s talking top nine, and the decisions don’t get any easier after that.

As of Saturday, six spots were still up for grabs, with returning forwards Beau Taylor, Ryan Benn and Taylor Wasden, along with newcomers Pearce Gourley, Justin Gerwing, Brett Penner, Brennan Bosovich and Tanner Kissick, in the mix.

The unit expected to dominate the SJHL this season features newly named captain and resident sniper Dommett, playmaker Calkins and jack-of-all-trades Adamyk.

Wintoneak described it as a puck-possession line, with Calkins’ vision and puck distribution complementing the skill sets of both wingers.

“They want to be the best line in our league and they also want to have the opportunity to be one of the best lines in this country,” said the coach.

All three players have seen the success Kellen and Connor Jones have reaped with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. That team won back-to-back national championships thanks largely to the Jones twins, who also played for Wintoneak at last year’s World Junior A Challenge.

“These guys want to have that opportunity,” he said.

Beyond the big line, the Klippers will start the season with basically two second lines.

One features Taylor Duzan and Jordon Hoffman, who developed some chemistry last season, along with bruising right winger Jesse Mysiorek. All three are 19.

“That Hoffman line is real good down low, going to the net, creating some havoc. They’re so quick on loose pucks,” said Wintoneak.

He said you could “flip a coin” between that line and another one including 20-year-old Sanfred King and right winger Tanner Exner. Gourley has been tried out on that unit. However, Exner injured his shoulder in Saturday’s exhibition game in Humboldt and his status is unclear.

King is expected to play a much larger role this season. He broke his femur in early 2009 and was still getting his game back when the Klippers acquired him last November. Now he says he’s 100 per cent.

“He’s got good hands and I think he’s a smart, intelligent kid who can really distribute the puck, similar to what Calkins does,” said Wintoneak.

As for the final cuts, the coach said each player has done everything asked of him and that one of the biggest factors will be whether a player can move up a line in the case of injury or poor play.

When it’s all said and done, the Klippers feel they can ice four solid lines capable of wearing down opponents with “our tenacious forecheck and our ability to work hard,” Wintoneak said.


The Klippers have quality on the back end, but lack the kind of depth they would like to have.

All-star defender Kurt Leedahl and hard-hitting John Sonntag, both 20, will anchor the blueline.

“Kurt has been an all-star in our league and I think Sonntag can now become that same thing,” said Wintoneak. “I think our back end is going to surprise some people.”

Although Sonntag’s all-around play took major strides last season, the Klippers want to see even more toughness from the Goodsoil product. He also added a noticeable offensive dimension to his game last year and should continue to improve in that regard.

Leedahl will play with 18-year-old Sean Flanagan to start the season. Sonntag’s partner has not been decided.

Flanagan is earning his share of attention in the hockey world, with Hockey Canada scouts watching him in two pre-season games last week. The smooth-skating blueliner is a strong candidate to be invited to the training camp for Team West’s entry at the World Junior A Challenge.

Lance Tabin, 20, rounds out the top four. The Regina native, acquired with Exner for Travis Eggum last season, lost some weight over the summer in an effort to improve his mobility. He impressed Wintoneak at training camp.

Kindersley’s Riley Down played almost exclusively on the wing last season, and that’s where the Klippers feel he is more effective, but with the logjam up front and a shortage on the back end, he will start the year as a rearguard.

Two fresh faces will start the season on the Klipper blueline, both 18-year-olds.

Jeff Bartel, 18, was forced to play single-A hockey in Manitoba last season after breaking his arm. Former Klippers head scout Jim McInnes noticed him and recommended the player to Wintoneak.

“He’s a kid that I think sees the ice pretty good, moves the puck well, he’s efficient. What he needs to do is continue to work on his feet and he’ll get better at every level,” said the coach.

Cody Thiel, 17, had stuck with the team out of camp but decided this week to return to midget AAA.

Wintoneak picked up 18-year-old David Haaf, who is from Medicine Hat, on Monday. He said he hasn’t seen him play but needed the depth. Haaf totalled two goals and 17 points in 34 games with the AAA Tigers last season.

“In the perfect world, I would get two defencemen,” Wintoneak said last week. “We would get an older power play guy with some experience and a steady younger guy.”


The loss of last year’s SJHL rookie of the year Josh Thorimbert has some wondering whether the Klippers will have the goaltending to go far.

Wintoneak is determined to put those questions to bed.

“I’ll put this to rest right now. I’ve been fielding this question from not only you, but everybody else,” he responded. “Scotty Hellyer is our guy right now. He’s our guy. It’s for him to lose that position. He’s earned the right to have that opportunity. He’s worked hard in the summer.

“I know Joe Blow might say, well, he’s this. The armchair coaches might not see what I see in Scotty Hellyer.”

For many, it’s simply a case of not having seen Hellyer, 20, play much last season. The Brandon native was acquired on Dec. 1, 2009, and saw limited action behind Thorimbert, not getting his first start until Jan. 17.

With only four starts in the league, Hellyer’s stats were inflated by a few cases of mop-up duty. He finished the year with a 2-2 record along with a 3.93 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.

That said, Hellyer was spectacular in three of those starts, stopping about 40 shots on two occasions. He also looked solid during training camp and in Tuesday’s pre-season game in Brooks, where he made 41 saves in a 5-2 loss.

“He was a top-end goaltender in midget AAA and I had a chance to watch him play. I liked him then, we tried to recruit him here to Kindersley, he made a choice, the choice wasn’t Kindersley,” Wintoneak recounted.

When Hellyer became available last season, he was “the perfect fit” because he had a year of eligibility left and was already familiar to the coaching staff, Wintoneak said.

“Scott Hellyer right now is our guy and our guys believe in him and it’s his job right now.”

Backup Justin McDonald, 18, comes from the Beardy’s Blackhawks. Wintoneak described him as a well-conditioned athlete and a hard worker in practice.

“I think he just needs some experience. Around his net, he’s gotta clean up in that area and look for pucks. Those loose pucks are important. Every goaltender at this age has to understand how to control a rebound and where to put it.”

Room for improvement

It’s no secret the Klippers weren’t happy with their penalty kill last year, which ranked eighth in the league at 80.4 per cent.

That said, Wintoneak wants to take advantage of his team’s speed by shooting for lots of shorthanded markers this season.

“If you’re sixth in the league in penalty killing, but you lead the league in shorthanded goals, that’s a pretty good give and take,” he said. “We feel we have the personnel and speed to go after teams and we’ll see how they react to the pressure.”

Meanwhile, a major priority will be improving on the team’s road record, which was just 10-17-1-1 last season.

“That’s not good enough. We were fortunate that we had a great, great, great home record.”

Around the Sherwood Conference

The Sherwood is a difficult conference to predict this season.

The Klippers and Estevan Bruins - who are planning to move into their new arena mid-season - are the early conference favourites.

Estevan cashed in on several futures deals from last season, adding a pair of 20-year-olds in centre Ben Findlay and goalie Joel Danyluk from the defending champion La Ronge Ice Wolves, as well as 20-year-old right winger (and new captain) Troy Hunter from Dauphin and 19-year-old winger Ward Szucki from Battlefords. The additions add to a strong young core already in place.

Experienced head coach Karry Biette is clearly tired of his team’s lack of success in recent years.

“Fire me by Christmas if we’re not in the top three,” he told last week.

After Kindersley and Estevan, it gets a little murky.

Certainly the Weyburn Red Wings can never be counted out, especially not with an attack boasting Drew George, Brock Appleyard and brothers Shawn and Rodney Cowie. That said, the Wings have lost a lot of talent on the back end and in goal.

The defending conference champion Yorkton Terriers will again have stalwart Devin Peters in goal, but the club’s blueline recently took a double whammy with the loss of Clark Byczynski to a trade and Austin Bourhis to the WHL. Torey Stott, Rylan McDonell and Brent Struble highlight the returning forward corps.

The Notre Dame Hounds have their second new coach in as many years, with Kevin White taking over the reins. He has a decent core to work with.

Rosetown’s A-Jay Moore will get support from fellow forwards Trevor Cameron and Patrick Thompson-Gale. The team lost several 20-year-old blueliners and this year’s version figures to be led by James Howden and 18-year-olds Carson Grolla and Troy Murray. Both goaltenders, Russell Abbott and Matthew Smidt, are back.

The Melville Millionaires are less than a year away from opening their new arena, though it’s not clear what kind of a team will play in it.

Go-to players include Brayden Metz and Michael Desjarlais up front, Justin Hollinger and Craig Karius on the back end, and 20-year-old newcomer Kyle Jahraus between the pipes.

Calkins line will be crucial cog in Klippers' fortunes

From today's paper:

Two years ago, the Kindersley Klippers had the best line in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, featuring Brett Leedahl, Jordan Braid and Kirk Pearce.

Fast forward to 2010 and that looks to be the case again.

Newly named captain Andrew Dommett, along with linemates Johnny Calkins and Braeden Adamyk, all return to the club as 20-year-olds looking to go out with a championship.

They will have a better shot at that goal than the 2008-09 Klippers, in large part because this year’s edition has much more offensive depth.

“This is the year for the Klippers to do something, so if we can accomplish... you don’t want to say too much too early, but we know what we have to do to be successful and hopefully we can do that,” said Adamyk, a native of Neepawa, Man.

The trio spent their summer working in the area - Dommett and Adamyk in Kindersley, Calkins in Rosetown - and they’re eager to get back in action.

“I think we’re as ready as we can be,” said Calkins, who is from Kyle. “It’s just going to be good to get on the ice and start the year.”

The three players - who are all natural centres - were put on the same line from the beginning of last season and were asked to step up their game. They delivered tenfold.

Dommett, a native of Major, tied for the SJHL lead with 36 goals - the second-highest total in franchise history - and finished with 60 points.

Calkins, primarily a playmaker, started to shoot more often and broke out with 17 goals and 50 points.

Adamyk, acquired the previous season for goalie Matt Weninger, made the adjustment to playing on his off-wing and produced 20 goals and 47 points.

Entering their final season in junior hockey, each of them feels they have room for improvement.

“I think each of us wants to improve - not so much point-wise, but in aspects of the game,” said Calkins. “Maybe be better defensively, or small things like face-offs. I don’t think we really have personal goals other than to be better.”

Dommett has a legitimate shot at the SJHL scoring title this season and his linemates should both end up in the top 10 if all goes well.

“It’d be nice for one of us to maybe get 40 (goals) or even reach that 50,” said Adamyk.

It is exceedingly rare for a line to stay together over a whole season, at any level of the game. Dommett said the keys to the trio’s chemistry are communication on the ice and cohesion off it.

“We understand each other and we don’t get mad if we don’t get a pass, because we know there was a reason for it,” said the captain.

“We talk a lot. We have full conversations on the ice. If a guy’s coming to hit me, Adamyk’s telling me, ‘There’s a guy coming to your right,’ just stuff that makes it so much easier. It’s great playing with them.”

Added Adamyk: “We’re all like brothers. We’re on each other’s case pretty good and I think that makes us better hockey players and better people too, outside the rink. We have our differences like everyone else, but we work around those and leave it off the ice because that’s why we’re here.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Klippers acquire 18-year-old defenceman

Just got off the phone with Larry Wintoneak. The Klippers have signed 18-year-old defenceman David Haaf, who played AAA with Medicine Hat last year.

Haaf produced two goals and 17 points in 34 games last season, to go with 36 penalty minutes.

He went to camp with Weyburn earlier this month before being cut.

Haaf will meet the Klippers today in Eston. No idea what kind of role he'll be expected to play - Larry hasn't even seen him in action - but as he said, "We need some depth."

EDIT: Haaf and Beau Taylor were teammates with the Tigers in 2008-09. Haaf racked up 71 penalty minutes that year in 32 games.

EDIT #2: Forgot to mention - defenceman Cody Thiel has decided to go back for his last year of midget. I'm not sure if this happened before or after the Haaf signing, but he would have been the odd man out regardless. I really liked him at camp, but it's much better for him to play top minutes in AAA this season than be a #7 or #8 defenceman in the SJHL. He'll play in Kindersley next season.

So the D now looks like this (don't bank on these pairings though, aside from the first one):