Saturday, October 2, 2010

Post-game reaction

Actually, the first interview I'm going to post here was done before the game.

Klippers president Rod Perkins talks about what it's like to be home again. Rod has provided steady leadership throughout this ordeal and is a big reason why the Klippers' finances have held steady over the years.

I'll be putting up more soon.

Next up, Larry Wintoneak talks about playing at home for the first time in nine months and the game itself. By the way, that sound at the beginning isn't wind - I don't know what it is. Might have had something to do with the flooding we discovered in the dressing room after the interview... apparently the shower in there flooded and it ended up seeping into Larry's office.

It was another big night for Sanfred King, who had three assists. His goal in the first period was later credited to Pearce Gourley, with King getting the helper. That gives Kinger a goal and nine points through five games. His resurgence is huge for the Klippers, especially with Dommett out long-term.

Braeden Adamyk was one of the best players on the ice tonight, scoring two goals. He and Calkins were on their best form. He chose a good night to do it, too, with his parents making the trip from Neepawa, Man.

It was nice to chat with a lot of the parents tonight, before, during and after the game. After leaving the rink, I even ran into Adamyk's parents at the 7-11 (small world). It was nice to see them again.

Klippers make triumphant return to WCEC with 6-2 win

It was an emotional night all around and the Klippers made sure the party continued well into the night with a 6-2 win over the Battlefords North Stars.

In front of a massive crowd and many of their parents, the Klippers got off to an early lead in their old/new digs and never looked back.

Attendance is listed at 916, but as far as I know the people who began counting lost track with so many events going on all day.

Andrew Dommett was in the house and he was announced as part of the starting line-up in a nice gesture. I talked to him during the first intermission and was very surprised to discover he can actually talk - a little bit. His presence tonight was a huge motivator for the Klippers.

Beau Taylor played on the top line again and he opened the scoring barely three minutes in, taking a pass from Johnny Calkins and beating Alex Sirard inside the right post. It was the first of a whopping five PP goals for the Klips.

Sanfred King put them up 2-0 at 7:23 when he hacked at a rebound that trickled through Sirard's pads. That was the only even strength goal the Klippers scored. King had a big night with three points.

The Stars struck at 15:30 when Blake Tatchell roofed a slick backhander over Scott Hellyer's glove from tight range.

John Sonntag restored the Klippers' two-goal lead nearly seven minutes into the second when his point shot found the back of the net.

The goal that seemed to crush Battlefords' spirit came with less than one second left in the second period. Braeden Adamyk scored his first of two on the night when he tipped a shot past Sirard.

Nathan Tomac made it 4-2 exactly three minutes into the third, beating Hellyer on a shot from the left circle. With under three to go, Adamyk scored glove side to put the game away. Taylor Duzan added the sixth goal with 1:17 left, finishing off a brilliant passing play with Calkins and Sean Flanagan, who had a very solid night after returning from Penticton.

The shots were 41-36 for Kindersley.

My three stars were 1. King, 2. Taylor and 3. Adamyk. There was some confusion in the booth and Kinger and Adamyk got switched, but it doesn't really matter.

The bump of the game, awarded for the biggest hit, went to Taylor Wasden. He crunched Brett Miller in the third period. Miller left the game and I don't believe he came back, although I could be wrong.

I'll try to get audio from Larry Wintoneak, Sanfred King, Braeden Adamyk and Klippers president Rod Perkins up tonight.

The Klippers were sporting their new home jerseys, with a dark green colour scheme and the KK logo on the front. They actually look a lot like the Minnesota Wild, without the red. I'll get some pics up when I can.

Home Opener Preview

I'm heading over to the WCEC soon, but here's a quick preview of tonight's game.

First, if you're in Kindersley, make sure you get to the rink well before the game. The grand re-opening ceremony starts at 6 and the place will be packed.

Battlefords North Stars

The Stars are one of the biggest surprises in the league, and not for a good reason. Battlefords was ranked among the league's elite prior to the season and they've started with five straight losses, three of them in regulation. They need a win in the worst way and from their perspective, ruining the Klippers' big night would be the perfect way to do it.

Up front, Blake Tatchell, Colin Phaneuf and Calder Neufeld are off to hot starts. The Stars could use a little more production from the likes of Brett Miller and Josh Daley, who has yet to score a goal. Don't be surprised if he breaks out tonight.

Battlefords' D has been criticized, but their fortunes could be turning after rookie Zach MacLellan was named SJHL defenceman of the week. The Stars are getting lots of offence from the back end, with six points from MacLellan and a team-leading eight from Woody Klassen.

We don't know whether Kyle Birch or Alex Sirard will get the start. Clearly Birch is the number one guy, but he's had a lukewarm start to the year.

Kindersley Klippers

Braeden Adamyk has been stepping it up in the absence of Andrew Dommett. His seven points led the league in scoring before the Klippers got the last week off. Calkins is on fine form in the playmaking department so far, but he is still looking for his first goal. The Jordon Hoffman and Sanfred King lines are both off to a good start. It will be interesting to see who plays alongside Adamyk and Calkins tonight; Beau Taylor got the first crack but several players were tried in that role last Thursday in Yorkton.

On the back end, all signs point to Riley Down remaining out of the line-up with his shoulder injury. David Haaf will be back in the line-up after serving his suspension. He's got essentially 15 minutes of SJHL experience so it will be nice to get a better look at him. As always, Kurt Leedahl and John Sonntag run the show, but we'll see how Sean Flanagan responds after returning from the Team West camp earlier this week.

Justin McDonald hasn't gotten a start yet this year, and it's hard to imagine that trend changing tonight. Scotty Hellyer will get a chance to perform before what should be a massive crowd.

No game blog tonight, unfortunately. Way too much stuff going on.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wintoneak interview

I know I promised to get this audio up last night. Unfortunately, a headache kept me out of commission. So I'll give you the quotes from yesterday now.

On the Team West camp in Penticton:

When you put that jersey on, whether you play or coach, it's a great privilege and an honour. You have a responsibility. There was some real good hockey players there, 41 in total. It wasn't an easy task. Some of these kids basically played five games in six nights, they travelled through the night, got in at 2:30 or 4 a.m., then up at 7:15 and start our routine. They were long days. Both teams practiced twice and then we played at night. It was pretty intense and we're real happy about the outcome so far.

We want to create an identity. When you go to a camp like that, it's a short-term event. There really is no time for teaching. You're not molding a player into the kind of player you want. They have to fit a certain role and be able to play the way we ask them to play.

It's a fantastic facility. It's an $80 million complex. The dressing room is a pro room, it's the best Junior A dressing room that I've seen in my hockey career. It's well put together, well organized and they treated us first class. Where we stayed was on Okanagan Lake so you wake up in the morning and the view is breathtaking. You'd have a coffee on the deck before you start heading out. It was a fantastic time, but hockey was the priority and that was the second priority. We didn't get to socialize too much.

On Sean Flanagan's performance:

Sean was a little nervous at the beginning. I thought he fought the puck a little bit, but I think he wasn't the only one. Even some of the veterans who played last year struggled a little bit. I think Sean will fit. He's solid defensively and I think he's got some offence. He moves the puck well and does a lot of good things. Time will tell, I guess. We've had our meetings and discussed it thoroughly. It was a long night, Tuesday night after the game. 

On being back in the West Central Events Centre:

Pretty exciting. Today was the first time I got to step on the ice and I felt pretty good. It's a good rink. When you're away from a place for a little bit, it really gets a lot of complaints sometimes but you come back here and step on the ice and you're pretty happy with what you see now and where we're at. Being on this side of the rink is the best thing that could ever happen to this organization. The way the whole scenario is looking with the room and the fitness room, it's hard to put in words. I sat in the stall today and just looked around and I got goosebumps.

When you build something within your space, there's some glitches and you live with it. But I think it's great. The people who have worked here put many, many hours into this and it's going to look good. I think the people of this community should be proud of what we have, not only about our room but the whole facility now. Even the flooring adds a little touch to the rink. It seems brighter in here, I really noticed with that white wall in the back, it looks pretty cool. I can't wait until we play on Saturday night.

I'll have to go for a tour. I've been through it a couple times now, but I think the whole facility has got a real positive uplift now to it. This facility is going to be taxed out this year with everybody using it, and I think the community sees how lucky we were, having two ice pads. Sooner or later we'll get that second one but I really think we need to make sure we keep this place tidy and looking respectable. When I was in Penticton, there was no garbage on the floor, the stands were pretty well spotless. I would hope that our kids have some respect and some responsibility to take care of it.

On Riley Down's injury status:

I know Riley and I know he wants to play Saturday night, and I don't think he's ready. My feeling is he's a guy that would do anything for the hockey team, but you don't win a championship in September and October. We need him on the ice when he's 100% healthy. I think sometimes it's fear that he's going to be released or cut and that's not our intention. We're not going to release a player because of a health issue. It would be because of his performance. He's probably a week or two away, in my opinion, but I don't think he likes to tell the truth sometimes. But that's the way hockey players are, and you gotta like that in a player because he wants to be here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday tidbits

I had a chance to talk to Larry Wintoneak this afternoon about the Team West camp, being back in the rink, the new dressing room and Riley Down's injury status, among other things.

I'll get the audio up tonight, but for now:

-said Flanagan was a little nervous to start the camp, but most were
-solid defensive play could help Team West
-final roster will be announced in mid-to-late October
-doesn't think Down will be ready for Saturday, says he's a week or two away (but Downer begs to differ)
-dressing room looks more or less the way he imagined it
-just doing final touch-ups on stalls today - sanding, etc.
-being on the north side of the rink is a huge plus for the organization

One thing I forgot to mention about the rink yesterday: They now have a wheelchair-accessible ramp leading to the first seat entrance (right where you used to enter the rink from the lobby, across from Larry's old office).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WCEC photos

Just got back from having a look around at the Events Centre. I checked out the Klips' dressing room and fitness areas, the new concession/kitchen, room renovations, a new hallway to connect the two sides of the rink... it's impressive.

I'll have some photos up pretty soon. The boys were on the ice when I had to come back to work to meet the Crossroads deadline, so no interviews, but I'll probably go back after lunch.

I will say this much - Larry could be a poet with all the stuff written on the walls of the new room. He's got motivational stuff coming out the ying-yang. I have pics of that too.

Check back in a few minutes.

This will be the concession area where you walk in.

New kitchen

This hallway connects the two sides of the rink (the lobby was the only way to get to the far side).

New stalls in the Klippers' room

The new gym. Stairs lead from the dressing room directly up here. Neat setup.

Here comes Chicken Soup for the Hockey Player's Soul

View from the fitness room

Another set of stairs leads from the gym to bike room

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dommett hit getting media attention

We see it at every level of hockey, right up to the NHL. Media outlets that never cover the everyday happenings in hockey will always magnify the black eyes, the controversial hits or major injuries that might even result from a clean hockey play.

The hit on Andrew Dommett in La Ronge is getting attention from sources beyond the usual suspects when it comes to SJHL coverage.

I just finished listening to a clip of yesterday's John Gormley Live where Gormley sits down with Laury Ryan and discusses the Junior A Supplement and head shots in general. The Dommett hit isn't discussed - the league does not comment on specific incidents - but there is a hint that a major suspension would be handed down later that day. It's a discussion that every league needs to have from time to time about protecting their players while emphasizing the most appealing aspects of the game. The Ryan interview begins at the 11:10 mark of the clip.

Rob Vanstone had a story in yesterday's Leader-Post about the suspension to Justin Ducharme and some quotes from Laury Ryan about the Junior A Supplement. Of course, the two major dailies do carry SJHL coverage from time to time, so that's nothing new. (I have reason to believe one bit of info in the article came from my Clarion story, which is kind of neat).

Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News mentioned the suspension on his blog, one of the most-read hockey blogs in the country.

I also got an email this morning from Evan Hammond, the voice of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, who said there had been a similar hit in the BCHL recently which only resulted in a two-game suspension. He mentioned both hits on his blog and said the Ducharme suspension was an example of "how a league correctly sends a message and protects its players."

SJHL communications director Mitchell Blair referred to the suspension on his blog (I am really getting sick of typing that word) and the reaction seems to be ranging from too much to not enough to just right - which is usually a good sign that they got it right when it comes to these things.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ducharme suspended for 16 games

This just in - the SJHL has suspended La Ronge forward Justin Ducharme 16 games for his hit on Andrew Dommett Sept. 19.

According to the official release: "The suspension comes after Ducharme delivered what is being called a 'late and blind side' hit to Kindersley’s Andrew Dommett during a game September 19 that resulted in Dommett suffering head injuries. Ducharme will not be eligible to rejoin the Ice Wolves until November 19."

I think this is a reasonable suspension. While it was a vicious hit, I don't believe there was the kind of malicious intent necessary for a 20-30 game ban - like Chris Simon taking a baseball swing at someone's face or stomping on a leg. There's intent to injure and then there's deliberately trying to end someone's season or career, and I don't think the latter was the case.

16 games is a long time, but especially in the SJ where you play 58 games. Ducharme will miss nearly a third of the season, which would equate to about 25 games in the NHL.

I'd be curious to know where this ranks on the list of all-time suspensions in the SJHL. It's gotta be up there.