Saturday, October 9, 2010

Klippers vs. La Ronge preview

Tonight's game obviously carries negative overtones stemming from the hit on Andrew Dommett in La Ronge Sept. 19. While I do think it will be a chippy affair, with a scrap or four, I also believe Larry Wintoneak is doing all he can to keep his team's focus on the two points.

I just got a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone today, so I'll be putting out updates on Twitter tonight and will do that when I can for the rest of the season. Even on a smartphone, maintaining a game blog isn't the easiest thing, so from now on check my Twitter for in-game updates and the blog for previews and recaps.

La Ronge Ice Wolves

Believe it or not, the Wolves have played only two games since that fateful Sunday evening game on opening weekend.

They lost to Humboldt Sept. 24 and last night, they were the victims as Battlefords finally got their first win of the season, 3-2.

La Ronge got a big boost this week when star forward Logan Herauf, acquired from Melville over the off-season, returned from his stint with the NAHL's New Mexico Mustangs.

Doug Lindensmith, Travis Eggum, Marc-Andre Carre are obviously the guys to watch up front, along with secondary scorers Aaron Enns, Philippe Cliche and Richard Cameron.

Dayton Fossum and Phil Belanger are arguably the Wolves' top two defencemen. Ben Bula looked fantastic against the Klippers last month.

In goal, Adam Bartko will get the vast majority of the starts this year and tonight probably won't be an exception.

Kindersley Klippers

Kindersley native D. Jay McGrath was cut by the Everett Silvertips yesterday and assigned to the Klippers (he's an auto-protect). Quite a surprise. Sure, he didn't have a terrific rookie season (53-2-3-5) but by all accounts the club had bigger plans for him this year.

McGrath put up good numbers in midget as a 16-year-old, producing 20 goals and 32 points in 37 games with the Contacts in 2008-09. Where he'll slot onto this team, with three lines rolling, is anyone's guess, and I'm sure Larry will try him in a number of spots to start off. He's a natural centre, but I won't be surprised to see him move to the right side. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds tonight. At only 18, McGrath is a huge asset to the Klippers moving forward and should play a massive role next year after the loss of four 20-year-old forwards.

Other than that, I look to a guy like Johnny Calkins to have a big game tonight. No doubt there's an impulse to avenge his friend and teammate, but if I were a betting man I'd say we'll see Calkins torch the Wolves on the scoreboard.

On the back end, it doesn't look like Riley Down will play tonight, so the same six of Flanagan-Leedahl, Sonntag-Bartel, Tabin-Haaf will suit up.

The Klippers could use a big, strong kid like Downer in a game like this.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let's talk about football for a second.

I know this is a Klippers blog, but I just got home from a Kindersley Kobras game that local sports fans should hear about.

The Kobras came into today's game against the Martensville Royals at 2-3 on the year, tied for the last playoff spot with Warman, with two games left. Martensville was tied for second at 3-2.

Let's remember, this is a team that hasn't managed more than one win per season in several years. They haven't had a winning season in two decades.

Given how this game played out, you might call it the most important game for the Kobras in those two decades.

It was back and forth for all 48 minutes, with Martensville leading 21-16 at the half.

It was 27-22 for the Royals at the start of the fourth quarter, and it stayed that way for a while. Then, with 6:17 to go, QB Greg Gassner plunged across the plane from two yards out to put the Kobras ahead. They went for two and Gassner just caught a piece of the corner on a gutsy run to make it 30-27.

Martensville attempted a field goal of about 25 yards with three minutes left and missed for a single. That's when the Kobra defence stepped up, and they had to after Kindersley took a 30-yard penalty on a Royals punt return.

With the ball on the Kobra 31, the D stepped up with a sack, followed by a knockdown, followed by a hurry, on three consecutive plays to get the ball back.

Martensville got it back with 31 seconds left, but a Jim Borgal sack with 14 seconds left made their chances slim. On the last play of the game, with the ball at the Martensville 40 or so, the Kobras came up with an interception to pull out the win.

The Kobras host the winless Unity Warriors next week to close out the regular season. Warman faced the undefeated Delisle Rebels today. Don't know what happened there (though I can guess). Warman has Martensville next week. The Kobras are in good position to snag a playoff spot, maybe even higher than fourth.

I'll see if I can get audio up from head coach Al Neufeld shortly. For now, I'm watching my Leafs beat the Habs. Awesome!

UPDATE: Warman lost 39-7 to Delisle. They drop to 2-4.

I mspoke with Al as the rookie quarter was happening, so that's what the interruption is about.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Duzan's goal gives Klippers 3-2 win; Kiley Long cut

To be completely frank, the Klippers didn't deserve to win tonight as far as I'm concerned. They were very sloppy, had all kinds of trouble with passes, shoddy defensive coverage, and even their most steady guys seemed to be a little shaky. It's a trend I've noticed with a lot of their mid-week games over the last couple of years.

Regardless, a turnover at the Klipper blueline gave Taylor Duzan a partial breakaway and he went top cheese on Charles Corsi to put his club ahead 3-2 with 1:49 to go.

Jesse Mireau - who was a thorn in Kindersley's side all night - opened the scoring at 7:29 on a nice little backhander. It was a total individual effort from tight range.

Ryan Benn went the extra mile and managed to get his stick on the puck during a scramble to tie the game just 15 seconds later.

Nearly seven minutes later on the PP, Bo Lenard caught Scott Hellyer off his right post and sneaked a shot past his blocker.

Again the Klippers responded lightning fast, with Justin Gerwing scoring his third of the year 18 seconds later. It was a beaut. A Melfort defenceman attempted a soft outlet pass from behind the net and Gerwing, on the left side of the ice, one-timed it past a surprised Corsi.

That was it until late in the third when Duzan came up big to steal two points from the Mustangs, who always seem to give the Klippers a hard time.

Shots were 35-34 for Melfort.

Bump of the game: John Sonntag
Three stars: 1. Taylor Duzan; 2. Scott Hellyer; 3. Charles Corsi. And an honourable mention to Ryan Benn. He hustled all night and set up some scoring chances. I wanted to squeeze him in there, but I didn't feel the Klippers deserved all three stars based on their performance. Ah, politics. I tell ya.

In other news, left winger Kiley Long was cut this afternoon. He stuck around for the game tonight and will leave tomorrow. Long's father, Rick, scouts for Weyburn, so there's a chance he could wind up there. Long played in two games, both on the Melville/Yorkton road trip two weeks ago. I'm a little disappointed I never got to see him play. He's a nice kid and I wish him all the best.

Riley Down didn't play tonight. He had his shoulder checked out again and he says he won't be playing until next week in Flin Flon now. He was hoping to return tonight or Saturday.

Klippers vs. Melfort

I think I'm feeling the onset of the flu, so I'm not going to take the time to do a game preview for tonight's contest against the Melfort Mustangs. The good news, for fans out of town, is that I will be blogging the game. I'll try to do this for all mid-week home games this season, since I don't have much in the way of newspaper duties for those games, seeing as they're about a week old by the time the Clarion comes out.

EDIT: I've been told the wireless hasn't been set up yet at the WCEC, so no blog tonight. I will, though, start doing this for the mid-week games once the wireless is up.

The Stangs are 4-3-1, second in the Bauer, after handing Battlefords their astounding seventh straight loss last night (c'mon now, Stars, this is getting into Leafs territory).

Weyburn has made a very interesting deal with Neepawa, something I've never seen before. Two sets of brothers are changing hands, and no, it's not the Cowies.

If you fix it, they will come

From today's paper (there was also a Klipper story, but I'm home sick this afternoon and I don't have that one on this computer):

Kindersley unites to celebrate return of arena

The Clarion


After nine long months without a place to strap on the blades, hold social gatherings and feel the pulse of the community, Kindersley banded together on Saturday to celebrate the return of the West Central Events Centre.

Events were scheduled all day, ranging from skating to a barbecue to rink tours to a dance, designed to include as many people as possible.

"To see the kids around there again was awesome. To see everybody back in the rink was a thrill," said Kindersley Minor Hockey president Brett Sautner. "It’s overwhelming how much work was put in to get it going."

Indeed, Walker Projects worked with several local contractors to complete the massive project of restoring the arena in a period of several months.

"What we accomplished was a huge task given the time that we had to do it," said project manager Milt Walker. 

"We didn’t start thinking about the addition until May 20 and we didn’t move ahead until the first of June. We had to construct an entire addition and do the interior work in four months."

Walker credited local contractors Pro-Bilt, Luk Plumbing and Tarnes Electric, as well as town officials, for re-allocating their resources to the WCEC site.

It's no secret that there was a good deal of doubt in the community over whether the process would be finished in time. Walker said he understands why that was the case.

"The skepticism was well-founded. We didn’t get it done by much," he said. "We knew that all the dust wouldn’t be out of all the corners, so to speak, but we felt we could get it done."

Cleaning was still being done Friday evening in order to get the concession area open, and there are still various odds and ends to be taken care of.

"We knew it would be that close, but we thought we could do it," Walker added. "I felt a great sense of satisfaction. I was really proud of all the people that had worked on it."

Klippers president Rod Perkins praised all parties for the hours put in to ensure the process would cause only minimal disruption to hockey season.

"I think everybody that was involved deserves a real pat on the back. It was a lot of work, it was a short timeframe and the building looks great."

Saturday's festivities included a fall figure skating school, several goalie camps, formal tours of the new-look facility, a chamber barbecue, a re-opening ceremony and the Klippers' home opener against Battlefords. Following the game, a cabaret dance was held next door at the curling club.

The ceremony, held at 6 p.m., featured speeches from several dignitaries and local officials, including deputy mayor Tom Geiger, MLA Bill Boyd, mayor Wayne Foster, town administrator Sherry Magnuson, Walker, SJHL president Laury Ryan, Kindersley Minor Sports president Brenda Walde and Kindersley Curling Club president Randy Graham.

"I can’t tell you how excited we are to be here and we really just want to thank all the people that made this happen," said Ryan. "There were days when we were wondering if the Klippers were going to be around."

Klippers head coach Larry Wintoneak said his club is relieved to be home again. He believes this ordeal will make locals think twice about taking their arena for granted.

"For us, we’re really happy to be back in our home barn. I’ve said it many times, it’s been the longest road trip that I’ve ever been on. It’s really good to be back home," said Wintoneak.

"It’s big for our community because people realize now how important the rink is. It is part of our fabric and there’s a lot of social activity that goes on at a rink, and there’s many good ideas that come from that. It’s good to have everybody back in one building again. I think everybody’s happy, everybody’s smiling."

Perkins said the team is happy to be in its own rink again, particularly with the club's new dressing room and fitness facility.

"Every one of those players is just thrilled to be here right now."

Sautner cautioned that the ice schedule will be very tight with only one surface, and that some travel may still be necessary.

"It was a hard thing for everybody to go through, and I hope everybody keeps in mind that we only have one rink and starts putting up their hand to volunteer," he added.

As for the new arena, Oct. 20 is the closing date for design-build proposals from four firms. Walker said he hopes to have the tender awarded next month and to break ground on the new building in early January, if all goes well. He said government funding is a possibility for the project.

"I think it’s going to be very challenging to open it by (next) hockey season, the start of it," he acknowledged.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

King named player of the week; Klips second in power rankings

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Sanfred King has been named SJHL player of the week.

King had three assists Saturday against the North Stars and exploded for a hat trick along with two assists in Sunday's blowout against Weyburn.

From the league release:

"The Klippers got eight points from King in back to back wins over the Battlefords and Weyburn. The eight point week puts the Brandon, Manitoba native into a tie for the SJHL scoring lead with Yorkton’s Clarke Breitkreuz. Both have 14 points, but King has his in six games while Breitkreuz has done it in seven."

In other league news, the Klippers are second in the weekly power rankings, behind only the undefeated Humboldt Broncos.

From the release: "The Klippers couldn’t wait to get home after playing their first four on the road and it showed. They were fantastic in wins over the Battlefords and Weyburn."

The Wings' performance in Kindersley and in Humboldt landed them dead last in the power rankings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Riley Down hopes to play Wednesday

I had a chat with Riley Down after the game last night and he said he's hoping to return from his shoulder injury on Wednesday against the Melfort Mustangs or, barring that, on Saturday against La Ronge.

He said he wants to get a game under his belt before playing before a hostile crowd in Flin Flon next weekend.

Down is a valuable guy to have for his ability to play both ways and his experience will certainly help the blueline when he does come back.

Here's a quick look at the SJHL scoring leaders. The Klips have three of the top five scorers right now, even with Andrew Dommett sidelined. Sanfred King has really stepped up.

1 Clarke BreitkreuzYorkton Terriers768144
2 Sanfred KingKindersley Klippers64101417
3 Braeden AdamykKindersley Klippers649134
4 Brock AppleyardWeyburn Red Wings739129
5 Johnny CalkinsKindersley Klippers62101233

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Klippers 11, Red Wings 2 - post-game reaction

It was another huge night for Sanfred King. This is a guy who's brimming with confidence right now and everything he touches seems to turn to gold. It's not often I talk to the same guy two nights in a row, but Kinger's performance this weekend warrants it.

More on the way from Tanner Kissick and Larry Wintoneak.

Tanner Kissick scored his first SJHL goal tonight and added an assist. The 17-year-old from Kerrobert has done well to stick with the club this far and he certainly hasn't looked out of place in his first two games. He got the media scrum treatment tonight...

Wintoneak talks about tonight's power surge, focusing on Sanfred King and contributions from the younger forwards.

Something I just realized: Mitch Kilgore was left in for 10 goals tonight. Give him credit for not storming off Patrick Roy-style. I know I would have been livid.

This is what we call a blowout.


No, those are not the shots on goal in the first period. That's the score from tonight's game.

It was close through two periods, with the Klippers leading 3-2, but they put up a ridiculous eight goals in the third period, including three ginos in 20 seconds.

An impressive display to say the least.

I feel bad for Mitch Kilgore (who started) and Lucas Felbel. Both of their GAA's just ballooned.

It was Weyburn's third game in as many nights, and you'd have to think that was a factor in their third-period meltdown.

Sanfred King absolutely dominated this game. He scored a hat trick and added two assists. He now has eight points in his last two games.

Kinger is now tied for the SJHL scoring lead with Clarke Breitkreuz, who has played one more game. Fourteen points in only six games.

Not surprisingly, the Klippers also lead the league in goals (38). Humboldt is second with 32.

Tonight's scorers were:

1. Braeden Adamyk - took a brilliant stretch pass from Leedahl along the right boards, beat his man along the boards inside the blueline, cut across and beat Kilgore short side. (2:30 1st)
2. Sanfred King - took a pass from Calkins and hit the water bottle from the left circle (15:45 1st PP)
3. Johnny Calkins - his first of the season on a shot from the left side (16:32 2nd)

Here comes the third period deluge. Are you ready?

4. Taylor Duzan - a scramble in front and he poked it past Kilgore's left pad (0:39)
5. Sanfred King - this was all Adamyk. His man fell, he waited for King to cross the line, hit him with a perfect pass and King scored five-hole (5:33)
6. Sanfred King - shot on a 2-on-1 for the hat trick (9:39)
7. Ryan Benn - only 11 seconds later on a shot from the left slot (9:50)
8. Tanner Kissick - got his first SJHL goal on a nice deflection of a Leedahl point shot (9:59)
9. Taylor Wasden - by this time I honestly wasn't too worried about how the goals went in (14:07)
10. Johnny Calkins - second of the game on a wrister (15:19)
11. John Sonntag - at this point I was in the booth writing down the 3 stars. Didn't see it (18:34)

Weyburn's goals came from Brock Appleyard and Keegan Bruce, both in the first period.

Bump of the game: Taylor Duzan
Three stars: 1. Sanfred King; 2. Braeden Adamyk; 3. Kurt Leedahl

I have interviews with Sanfred King, Tanner Kissick and Larry Wintoneak. I'll get them up soon.

Klippers vs. Weyburn Preview

Ahhh. It's good to be home, ain't it?

In February, a weekend like this would have meant back-to-back 75-minute round trips. I'd be getting ready to leave right about now. Instead, I'm just getting ready to write the game preview.

So many people, including me, took for granted the luxury of having an excellent facility just a few blocks away - not to mention a second ice surface.

Last night's re-opening was a dandy and the Klippers will try to make it two straight at home when they host Weyburn tonight.

Weyburn Red Wings

The Wings are 3-3 in their opening six games and are coming off a very bi-polar two games. On Friday, they whipped the downtrodden North Stars 7-1. Last night, they were pounded 10-4 in Humboldt. The Broncos scored five times in the first period and four times in the third. Weyburn is playing their third game in three nights, so if the Klippers come out firing they could be in the driver's seat.

Up front, Brock Appleyard is off to a great start with 11 points. Drew George and Coltyn Sanderson are also putting up the points early. Shawn and Rodney Cowie have only played in two games each. I don't know what that's about, nor do I know if they're playing tonight. If not, that's a big plus for the Klippers. I obviously haven't seen the Wings play this season, but judging by the stats, they could use more out of Lucas Ulmer and rookie Zane Weal, who came in highly acclaimed.

Weyburn is getting decent production from the back end in the form of T.J. Wees and newcomer Ryan Whitell. Dmitry Adams and Tanner McCall are the other key players here.

In goal, the Red Wings are running with a three-headed monster (™ Edmonton Oilers). It was thought Mitch Kilgore had the best shot at the starting role, but he's only gotten into two games. Lucas Felbel and ex-Estevan Bruin Riley Hengen have also spent time between the pipes. Your guess is as good as mine as to who starts tonight. My guess is Kilgore.

Kindersley Klippers

This team is in good hands when Braeden Adamyk and Johnny Calkins control the game the way they did last night. Sanfred King continues to perform and is becoming a huge part of the offence. Jordon Hoffman's line is still intact and if one of the three units has a bad night, the others can pick up the slack. I thought Beau Taylor looked very dangerous last night and Taylor Wasden was a real physical presence.

On the back end, Jeff Bartel and David Haaf are starting to find their groove in Junior A hockey (Bartel got a rude welcome last night when he lost a tooth on a puck to the face). Kurt Leedahl was his usual steady self at both ends, and John Sonntag had a quiet but solid night, including a PP goal. Sean Flanagan looked very good in his return from the Team West camp and Lance Tabin had a solid outing. Don't expect to see Riley Down tonight. My guess is he comes back during the trip to Flin Flon in mid-October.

In goal, I wouldn't be surprised to see Justin McDonald make his first SJHL start tonight. That said, Scotty Hellyer was terrific last night and certainly deserves another start at home. Flip a coin on this one.

Game starts at 6 p.m. Be there!