Friday, November 5, 2010

Some WJAC info from Hockey Canada

To start off your morning, here's another person you should follow on twitter. I logged in this morning to find that Jordon Hoffman was following me. He's the first Klipper to cave in and start a twitter account, so be sure to follow him at @jordonhoffman23

EDIT: I'm wrong. Jesse Mysiorek (@mysiorek) and Sean Flanagan (@seanflann) are on there too. Never noticed till now.

And here's a release from Hockey Canada with WJAC exhibition games and some other info about the tournament.

2010 WORLD JUNIOR A CHALLENGE BEGINS MONDAY IN PENTICTON, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. – Some of the world’s top young hockey players have gathered in Penticton, B.C. for the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, which kicks off Monday, Nov. 8 and runs until Sunday, Nov. 14.

Before the tournament begins, the two Canadian entries will take part in three exhibition games.

Friday, November 5: Canada West vs. Canada East, 7 p.m. PT, Vernon, B.C.

Saturday, November 6: Canada East vs. Russia, 7 p.m. PT, West Kelowna, B.C.
                                      Canada West vs. United States, 7:30 p.m. PT, Penticton, B.C.

On Monday, Nov. 8, the tournament opens when Canada East takes on the two-time defending champions from the United States in the early game (4 p.m. PT), while host Canada West faces Switzerland in the late game (7:30 p.m. PT). Those four teams are joined by Russia and Sweden to round out the six-team field. All 13 games at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge will take place at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

The 2010 World Junior A Challenge will follow the same format as previous years – the six teams will be separated into two groups of three teams. The group winners will receive an automatic bye to the semifinals, while the second-place and third-place teams will crossover for the quarter-finals.

CLICK HERE FOR THE SCHEDULE AND ROSTERS FOR THE 2010 WORLD JUNIOR A CHALLENGE

The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN/RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, is set for Sunday, Nov. 14 (check your local listings). All preliminary round games, quarter-finals, semifinals and the bronze medal game can be seen live via webcast through FASTHockey at http://hockeycanada.fasthockey.com.

The 2010 World Junior A Challenge marks the second time in the event’s five-year history that it is being held in British Columbia. Penticton joins Yorkton and Humboldt, Sask. (2006), Trail and Nelson, B.C. (2007), Camrose, Alta. (2008) and Summerside, P.E.I. (2009), as host cities.

Since the first World Junior A Challenge in 2006 in Yorkton, Sask., the tournament has produced 71 NHL draft picks, including twelve first-round selections (Kyle Turris, Nikita Filatov, Alexander Burmistrov, Dmitri Kulikov, Jaden Schwartz, Joe Colborne, Vladimir Tarasenko, Beau Bennett, Riley Nash, John Moore, Brendan Smith, Dylan Olsen).

Every gold medal game at the World Junior A Challenge has featured at least one Canadian team. Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, before taking silver in 2008 and 2009. Canada East was silver medalists in 2006 and 2007 and claimed bronze in 2008.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Klippers win another one for the ages against Stars

I never thought I'd say this, but miraculous comebacks are almost becoming ho-hum in games between the Kindersley Klippers and Battlefords North Stars.

It happened again tonight as the roller coaster stopped at the top for the Klippers in a 6-5 win.

Braeden Adamyk, D. Jay McGrath and Taylor Duzan each scored twice and the Klips buried four times in a span of 8:10 in the third to come back from a 5-2 deficit.

Adamyk and Johnny Calkins were reunited in the second period along with McGrath on their wing, and the combo clicked almost immediately. Calkins was a force, setting up three goals and many other chances and nearly potting a couple himself.

Adamyk wasn't terrific in the first 40 minutes, but he broke out of his slump at the perfect time with the tying and winning goals, both of them on feeds from Calkins. To me, the biggest positive to take out of this game - aside from the two points - is that Adamyk and Calkins looked like themselves again. And while no one could replace Andrew Dommett on that line, McGrath sure did a great job.

I thought Kurt Leedahl was outstanding at both ends, breaking up plays defensively, doing a great job on the PK and kick-starting the rush. He really stepped up in the absence of Sean Flanagan, as did rooks Jeff Bartel and David Haaf, who were paired together.

The Stars had their share of stars too. Graham Hildebrand was simply phenomenal in the first period and also made some big saves in the second. The Klippers fired 21 shots at him in the first and their only goal came on a Duzan PP deflection. Hildebrand robbed Calkins and Tanner Exner on what looked like sure goals.

Blake Tatchell caused problems for Kindersley all night, scoring twice and being a dynamic presence all over the ice. His line with Colin Phaneuf and Keith Grondin hit the mesh three times, although they were also scored on three times and were benched by Ken Pearson late in the third.

Brody Luhning was extremely dangerous from the blueline, scoring twice - one of them was later credited to Travis Cech - and giving the Stars a steady presence in their own end as well.

As much of a rah-rah win as this was for the Klippers, there's always room for improvement. I walked into the coach's office after the game and the first thing Rockie Zinger said was "we gave up five goals."

Interviews with Rockie and several players will be up shortly, so keep checking back.

Here's what Rockie had to say in an interview with myself and Brenden Ullrich:

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Here's Braeden Adamyk on getting off the schneid and playing with Calkins and McGrath (and you should note, most of the interruptions in the player interviews can be blamed on McGrath):


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And here's McGrath talking about his night. It took some prodding but I got him to admit that his first goal was a hell of a shot.

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Johnny Calkins on his performance and what the win does for the team's confidence. He was my first star but there was a miscommunication somewhere and a different set of stars were put on the game sheet.

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Here is goalie Alex Peck (he told me he prefers Alex, even when home in Quebec) talking about tonight's game and his experience in Kindersley so far. This was my first chance to speak with Alex and he strikes me as a nice guy with a great grasp of English.

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Kurt Leedahl talks about his night and again, we hear the message that there was never any panic in the Klipper room. You can blame John Sonntag for butting in this time...

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As you can tell, the mood around the room was pretty light and that's great to see after a tough stretch the last few weeks.

Klippers vs. North Stars preview

The cycle of weekend road trip, mid-week at home, weekend road trip, mid-week at home continues for the Klippers tonight when they take on the Battlefords North Stars for the third time this season. The Klippers have been nothing short of atrocious in their last few mid-week outings, and it's imperative that trend stops tonight if they are to turn the ship around.

Rockie Zinger will be running the show tonight with Larry Wintoneak in Penticton getting ready for the WJAC. It's rare that a young guy who just got here is thrown into a situation like this so quickly, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles this club and the skid they are in, especially against a talented rival.

I've talked to Rockie a couple times since he got here and he's a pretty well-spoken guy with a real mind for strategy. The team went 4-2 under Trevor Weisgerber last year when Wintoneak was away, so we'll see what they can do this time around.

Of course, the Klips are also without defenceman Sean Flanagan and they will need everyone to step up to fill that void. Obviously Kurt Leedahl and John Sonntag will be expected to chew up a few extra minutes, but I look to a guy like Cody Lund to step up here. He's primarily a stay-at-home guy, but he has shown the ability to handle the puck and make the simple outlet pass, and I think his poise makes him the best option to try to fill Flanagan's shoes, beyond the big two.

Lance Tabin can also handle the biscuit fairly well and he'll be relied upon more than usual, I'm sure. It's also possible that Zinger will move Riley Down back to defence on a temporary basis, but we'll see.

As I said on Dan O'Connor's show this week, both these teams are underachieving to date and they both should be amped for a big game tonight. You can be sure that the Stars will have at least some of their big guns going, so it's imperative for the likes of Johnny Calkins, Braeden Adamyk, Sanfred King and Taylor Duzan to step up in what will probably be a high-scoring affair.

I'd be shocked if Alexandre Peck doesn't get the start tonight. The Stars will pose a big challenge for him and a win would really boost his confidence after a rocky start with the team.

Speaking of those Stars, they haven't played in a week. Their last game was a 6-5 loss to La Ronge last Wednesday which saw the Wolves score four times in the third period. And before that, they took a 11-1 thrashing from Humboldt on Oct. 23.

They are a fragile bunch at the moment, much like the Klippers, and Kindersley could do themselves a big favour by dominating the first five or six minutes and pumping a lot of shots on whoever gets the start.

One player to watch for the Stars could be Brett Miller. He suffered a knee injury in the last meeting between these teams, in the Klippers' home opener, and he also missed the cut for the World Junior A Challenge after receiving strong consideration for a camp invite. He hasn't performed badly, with eight points in nine games, but after missing significant action you can bet he's motivated to start lighting it up.

If you can't make the game tonight, I'll be doing colour on the North Battleford broadcast with Dan O'Connor. Pre-game show starts at 7:15. You can tune in here.

Also, if you're interested in hearing the interview I did with Dan on the Sports Fix on Monday, you can listen here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tune in to the Sports Fix tonight

Just a heads up for anyone interested in hearing some Klipper banter. I'll be on the Sports Fix with Dan O'Connor on CJNB in North Battleford tonight. Tune in here (the CJNB icon) at 8 p.m. to listen in.

As a Monday treat, here's the Klipper story that will run in Wednesday's paper, with thoughts from Rockie Zinger and Johnny Calkins.

Klippers sink to .500 after woeful road trip

JOSH LEWIS
The Clarion

One of the most dangerous teams in the SJHL can’t buy a goal these days, it seems.

The Kindersley Klippers managed only three goals on a three-game southeast road swing, losing two of those games to drop to .500 on the season.

Kurt Leedahl scored late in the first period to give the Klippers a 1-0 win over the Notre Dame Hounds on Thursday. It was all downhill from there as the Weyburn Red Wings handed down a 6-0 pasting on Friday and the Estevan Bruins weren’t much more gracious, defeating Kindersley 6-2 on Saturday.

The weekend trip came on the heels of a 4-2 home loss to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Tuesday, their third straight loss to that club.

The Klippers (8-8-1) still sit third in the Sherwood Conference, but they are only one point ahead of Notre Dame and Weyburn, both of whom hold a game in hand.

Assistant coach Rockie Zinger said every team in the conference aside from Yorkton is struggling to make progress.

“As much as we think we’ve struggled in Kindersley, just a minute here. They’re probably saying the same things in Estevan and Weyburn,” Zinger said. “We’re all fighting and I think that’s the parity in the league. If we can get on a roll, maybe we can put a little distance between us and the others.”

Centre Johnny Calkins said his team needs to stop gripping their sticks so tight.

“We’re getting our chances. I’d be worried if we weren’t getting any chances. We just gotta bear down,” he said of the recent offensive woes.

“I think at times we’re getting too fancy,” Zinger added. “We need to get back to throwing pucks to the net, competing in the high traffic areas and winning battles to get the puck on net. When you’re having trouble finding offence, you don’t need to be looking for the tic-tac-toe plays. We’re trying to get too pretty. We need to get back to grinding goals out.”

Calkins acknowledged that linemate Andrew Dommett, who will likely miss another month of action, has been sorely missed recently.

“We do miss him. Still, we’re getting a lot of chances. We should be scoring.”

That said, the Klippers’ shot totals have been anemic over the past week, ranging from 17 to 26.

Estevan got off to a quick start on Saturday, getting goals from Mark Cross, Dylan Smith and Ben Findlay in the first period. Calkins replied for the Klippers less than three minutes in.

Braeden Adamyk made it a one-goal game three minutes into the second, but the Bruins got more scoring from Matt Dochylo, Ryan Andersen and Smith to break the game open.

“I thought the score was worse than what the game was,” Zinger said of the Estevan loss. “Our boys competed hard throughout the game and we had a couple of bad bounces.”

There were four fights in the second and third period. The Bruins outshot the Klippers 35-26.

Head coach Larry Wintoneak mixed up the lines Saturday in an attempt to spark some offence. It didn’t work, but Calkins said he felt some chemistry.

“Personally, my line with (Taylor) Wasden and (D. Jay) McGrath, I thought we actually played really well. We had a ton of chances and again, we couldn’t score. We should have had a few more goals,” said the Kyle native. “Obviously Larry was going to try something to get more offence.”

Zinger said he will stick with those lines tonight (Wednesday) when the Klippers host the Battlefords North Stars. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s game was the most humiliating for the Klippers, as Weyburn exacted some revenge for the 11-2 beating they took on Oct. 3 in Kindersley.

The Klippers managed only 17 shots to Weyburn’s 35.

The deluge began in the second period when the Red Wings beat Alexandre Peck four times, twice on the power play. Shawn Cowie, Drew George, Rodney Cowie and Brayden Kmita had the goals.

Weyburn added two more against Justin McDonald early in the third, with Jesse Ross and Shawn Cowie striking five minutes apart.

“I think it just comes down to preparation and focus. It’s not like we’re out of shape,” said Calkins. “But there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. We’re still a hard working team, we just need to work hard at better times in the game.”

After surrendering 12 goals in two nights, Zinger said the team needs to bear down defensively as well.

“You have to have pride in the fact you’re not going to get beat in a corner or get beat to a loose puck. We need to tighten up and win more battles and be there for support in the corners,” he said. “We’d like to cut down our goals against and start feeling what it’s like to play with a lead again. We’ve spent so much time playing catch-up, there’s a little more urgency and you’re forced to play differently.”

Friday’s game in Wilcox was a rare low-scoring win for Kindersley. Leedahl blasted home a power play feed from John Sonntag with 2:34 left in the opening frame and the Klippers held on to give Peck his first SJHL shutout on his 20th birthday.

Notre Dame carried the shots 26-24.

“I thought on Thursday night we played a very solid defensive game,” said Zinger.

The Klippers host the Battleford North Stars tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Calkins said his teammates need to keep their chins up and believe in themselves.

“I think we just need to keep working. We’ve had dry spells before,” he replied. “The biggest thing is to stay positive and work through things and don’t have any excuses.”

Zinger and fellow assistant Kevin Edgerton now take over behind the bench while Wintoneak and defenceman Sean Flanagan are in Penticton, B.C. for the World Junior A Challenge.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taylor, Gourley to Swan Valley

I have learned that Beau Taylor and Pearce Gourley have been dealt to the Swan Valley Stampeders of the MJHL. They were acquired on Wednesday and will get into their first game action Tuesday in Wayway.

Beau told me the people are nice and he's landed with a great billet family, which is good to hear.

Swan is leading their division, so the boys will be on a strong club. Hopefully they'll be able to get solid minutes there.

Here's a good laugh from tonight's Red Lions game to start your week, courtesy of Justin Gerwing and Tanner Exner:

Tough life for a rookie