Saturday, November 13, 2010

Klippers light it up in 6-2 win over Millionaires

Switching it up tonight. First the interviews, then the recap. Apologies for my wonky voice; it's been messed up all week.

Casey Rogers made his Klipper debut tonight and, I thought, had a solid outing at both ends playing with Cody Lund. He looked smooth moving the puck and coming out of his own end, got some PP time and he made a good play to break up a 1-on-1 in the second.

Hard to believe tonight's hat trick was the first in the SJHL for Braeden Adamyk. He and Calkins were like clockwork tonight. And I'm not the only one with a bad voice.

Rockie Zinger talks about the win and what he thought of the play of Rogers and Alex Peck. Says he sees Rogers as a top four guy.

Adamyk and Johnny Calkins were in top form tonight. Those games have been few and far between lately but when they're on, there's pretty much no stopping them. Now they need to build on that and string together a few solid outings in a row. Riley Down was with them tonight and I thought he did a great job of banging bodies around and opening up space for them. The thought of putting Down on that line occurred to me two or three weeks ago, but I didn't expect to see it happen.

The Jordon Hoffman line had another excellent showing tonight. Taylor Duzan and Jesse Mysiorek both scored - Duzan kept pace with Estevan's Ryan Andersen, with his 19 goals one behind the SJHL leader - and Hoffman put a perfect pass on Duzy's tape to set up his goal. Mysiorek is playing with a ton of confidence right now and I look forward to seeing if he can keep putting pucks in the net.

As Rockie mentioned, D. Jay McGrath played with Sanfred King and they did look good together. King scored in the second period on a power play when he lobbed a wrister at Rakochy, inside the left post, and it snuck through. It may have hit someone, I couldn't tell.

Kurt Leedahl was a stalwart at both ends, setting up the rush well, making some big plays at the point and protecting the fort. I almost gave him third star over Duzan.

Rogers, as I mentioned, looked like he belonged and did a solid job of moving the puck up ice. His positioning was strong and I figure he'll only play a bigger role as he adjusts to his new surroundings.

Justin Gerwing sat out, serving the first game of a three-game suspension for what referee Jarrett Gelowitz deemed a staged fight against Ian McNulty on Thursday. If it was staged, they sure did a good job of making it look authentic. The thought never even crossed my mind until the suspension was announced. That's one part of the Junior A Supplement I don't agree with, because it's completely subjective and three games is nothing to sneeze at.

With Gerwing out, the Klippers dressed seven defencemen.

In goal, I thought Alex Peck still struggled with rebounds at times, but he made some good stops and did enough in the early going to keep the Klippers in it and help them build a lead.

I think I have to give the edge to Dustin Nickel at this point, but that starter's job is wide open.

The Klippers host Estevan on Wednesday and Weyburn on Friday.

Bump of the game: John Sonntag
Three Stars: 1. Braeden Adamyk, 2. Johnny Calkins, 3. Taylor Duzan

Also of note, Canada West was ousted from the World Junior A Challenge tonight with a 5-1 loss to the United States in the semifinal. Yorkton's Clarke Breitkreuz had the only goal. It's the first time Canada West has not made the final in the five years the event has been held.

Wintoneak, Flanagan and the rest of the team now face Switzerland in the bronze medal game tomorrow at 3:30 pm Sask time. Canada East faces the U.S. for gold at 7:30.

Klippers add NAHL D Casey Rogers

I've been in Delisle most of the day at the provincial nine-man final, but I can now pass on the word that the Klippers have acquired defenceman Casey Rogers, who last played with the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League.

The move had been in the works for nearly a week but had not been finalized.

Rogers, 19, is a California native who played for the KIJHL's Golden Rockets last season. He played 13 NAHL games this season, with one assist, but was pushed down the depth chart in Corpus Christi.

The previous year in Golden, he had five goals and 16 points in 30 games. The year before that, he played at the Banff Hockey Academy and also played three games with the AJHL's Brooks Bandits. He stands about 6'1", 190 lbs.

Rogers arrived in Kindersley Thursday night and will make his debut tonight against Melville. The move means the Klippers are back to having eight defencemen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Duzan, Mysiorek light it up in 8-7 OT loss to Mils

This will be a quick recap as I have a cold, flu and headache pounding me from all directions.

Taylor Duzan had four goals and six points, and Jesse Mysiorek added a hat trick, and amazingly it wasn't enough as the Klippers went down to defeat 8-7 in overtime against the Melville Millionaires.

Cody Hanson pounced on a bad turnover with 1:32 to play in overtime to pull the Mils within one point of the Klippers in the Sherwood standings.

You could tell it was going to be a wild one early, with the score 3-3 after the first period. Mysiorek scored twice in the frame, first on the rebound of his own wraparound, then on a one-timer from the high slot.

All hell broke loose early in the second. Godric Tham caught Johnny Calkins with a huge hit just inside the Klipper blueline. Calkins had trouble getting up and Riley Down immediately went after Tham - who refused to fight. As a result, Down got five and an instigator, giving the Mils seven minutes of PP time.

The hit looked clean to me at the time, but I haven't seen a replay. The good news is Calkins was back on the ice quickly.

Not long into the PP, John Sonntag got the gate on a somewhat weak cross-checking call to give Melville a 5-on-3 for two minutes. The Klippers killed that off. By the time the long PK was over, they had surrendered a goal but also got a shorthanded marker from Duzan. It was night and day from a very similar situation the team encountered in La Ronge after Dommett was injured. They allowed four goals that time.

Unfortunately for the Klippers, Cody Lund took a hooking penalty soon after that and also got two for unsportsmanlike. Melville scored twice on that power play. Duzan potted his hat trick goal before the end of the period to make it 6-5 for the visitors, and he tied it on his fourth less than a minute into the third.

Mysiorek forced overtime with 5:05 left, on the PP, when he hammered the rebound of a Duzan shot past Zack Rakochy.

The Mils play in North Battleford tomorrow night before heading back to Kindersley Saturday. As for me, I'm off to bed.

Lest We Forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

Please take a moment today to reflect on those Canadians, in world wars and in recent combat, who sacrificed their youth, their health, their happiness and even their lives so we may enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted. Freedom is not free.

Remember that those who have served in Afghanistan need our help now more than ever as they recover from the physical and mental stress of their trauma. It is a long road back.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make the team or play in a non-checking league?

Just reading some headlines from home in PEI and came across this nugget. I read it with something bordering on shock; see what you think. Can you imagine playing midget hockey and not being able to hit?

Hockey parents fired up over non-checking issue

Hockey P.E.I. logo
Hockey P.E.I. logo
Published on November 10th, 2010
Al MacLeod RSS Feed

Topics : 
Associations can ice only one A-level checking peewee to midget teams

P.E.I. Hockey AssociationPownal ,Iceland
A number of parents are upset with the decision by the P.E.I. Hockey Association to limit the number of A-level teams this season.
Starting this year, one A team will represent each member minor hockey associations from peewee to midget divisions.
Those players who don’t make the A team are then relegated to a new non-checking league.
In the past associations could apply for additional A teams to account for the number of players in the area.
But that has changed this year.
Greg Lipton, who has been a trainer and a coach in Pownal and has a son in minor hockey, said he has no issue with a non-checking league.
But when a player is faced with either earning a limited spot on the single A team or having to play in a non-checking league, he said the choice has been taken away.
“It’s not fair to the kids and that's the biggest thing. They’ve taken the right away from our kids to play hockey the way they want.”
Lipton said for many players, especially in midget, they have been learning to play with checking for years and all of a sudden they are told to play in a non-checking league.
He said this puts the players down a slippery slope where they may lose the ability to check if they are playing in that environment for a whole season, and when they go to tryouts they will likely get passed over.
“They are doomed to be in a non-checking league from here on in,” he said, adding it also creates situations where the players could get teased at school for playing in a non-physical league.
He said despite a survey issued by the Pownal hockey association where parents voted in favour of giving a choice to play checking or non-checking, a decision was made that resulted in players being forced to play in a non-checking league.
“Hockey P.E.I. has lowered the boom and that's the way it's going to be.”
Julie Allen, another parent with two children in minor hockey in Pownal, agreed.
“Our choice, our right to choose, has been taken away from us because (Hockey P.E.I.) wants to pump up the numbers in the non-checking league,” Allen said.
She said the change was not properly communicated somewhere down the line to the parents before registration and the registration sheet even had the option of selecting either a checking or non-checking league for their children.
“We didn’t know (about the change) until the whole tryout process. You pay your registration and you find out you don't have choice.”
Rob Newson, executive director of Hockey P.E.I., said the process was made clear to parents and players and the move to both incorporate a non-checking league and limit each division to one A team was communicated well in advance.
“We don’t believe we’ve taken away choice,” said Newson. “We were quite clear in early summer this change was happening. People knew before registration.”
He said it was an issue being looked at for a number of years and considering what is known about concussions in hockey and incidents where players were injured, the issue was looked at more closely for this season.
“The process from our standpoint was made clear from day one how it was going to work.”
Newson stressed the issue would be reviewed again and nothing is set in stone.
He added Hockey P.E.I. will take feedback from parents and officials from its 20 member hockey association across the Island when it looks at how year one went with the change as it did before it implemented the changes.
“We knew there would be some small repercussions, but we also knew we would have kids continue to play because of this change.”

Nickel story and photos from last night

Here's part of the Klipper story that ran in today's paper, addressing the acquisition of Dustin Nickel.

The Klippers picked up 19-year-old goalie Dustin Nickel from the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks late last week, but it doesn’t spell the end for current back-up Justin McDonald.

The move was made because McDonald tweaked a groin last week and was not available to make the road trip.

“We didn’t have a goalie to go with. Dusty was looking for a place to play,” said Zinger, who is familiar with the tender from his days with the Okotoks Oilers. “Calgary had a logjam there and they were looking to move somebody. They released him and he was free to us.”

Nickel got some game action quickly, entering both losses after Alex Peck was pulled.

McDonald will be ready to go at some point this week, but that doesn’t mean Nickel will be released right away. Zinger said he would play Tuesday or Thursday.

“Alexandre Peck was brought in to be the starter. I think we want one guy to be the guy to carry the ball, and the other guy be right there to catch it if he drops it. We don’t care who it is, as long as there’s someone who’s in there who’s hot,” said the coach.

“Right now I don’t think we have a bona fide number one. We have guys that are capable of that, but we haven’t had anyone step up yet.”

As for Nickel, Zinger said he is good laterally and covers the bottom of the net well.

“When he stays up and tracks the puck well, he’s a very strong goaltender. If he gets scrambling, there’s some holes. But that’s every goalie. His biggest asset is his quickness, his feet.”


Thought I'd also share a few photos of Nickel in his first SJHL win, and Lance Tabin's fight with Jamie Johnson in the second period (the first of two for him, about 10 minutes apart).

Nickel shuts the door on Ceci

The linesman is more intense than the guys fighting!

I think that's Scott Witt of Kerrobert. Hard to tell though. He was wearing a suit last time I saw him!

This decision definitely went to Tabin.

Dusty flashes the leather late in the second.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Klippers win a shootout nailbiter over Hawks

It probably shouldn't have gotten to a shootout, but ultimately the Klippers took care of business when it mattered in a 3-2 win over the Nipawin Hawks tonight.

Taylor Duzan scored both regulation goals - both shorties - and the shootout winner, and Dustin Nickel had a big night in his first SJHL start to give Kindersley the win.

Nickel made a big stop on Eli Lichtenwald, the Hawks' third shooter, to seal the W. Duzan was the only player to score.

Nipawin got goals from Jamie Johnson late in the second and Darius Cole midway through the third.

The shots were a whopping 46-22 for the Klippers, though I'd argue they didn't have a ton of high-quality chances. That said, Brody Hoffman was stellar for the Hawks and certainly kept them in it.

I talked to Rockie Zinger and Nickel after the game. I'll put them up tomorrow. I picked up the flu last night and it doesn't seem to care that it's my birthday.

Bump of the game: Jesse Mysiorek (with a close second to Johnny Calkins)
Three Stars: 1. Taylor Duzan, 2. Brody Hoffman, 3. Jordon Hoffman

Klippers-Hawks preview

Here we are back at the West Central Events Centre tonight, and the Klippers are looking for revenge for that disappointing loss in Nipawin on Friday.

Tonight is the beginning of a six-game homestand, and you'd have to think the boys want to go out there and give their fans a show. There are an awful lot of people around town asking questions about this losing skid as well as the recent player movement. I'm sure the Klippers would love to put that to bed. But as Rockie Zinger said yesterday, they can't just rely on a home stretch to turn it around. They still have to go out there and get it done.

Nipawin Hawks

Sure, they've been low man on the totem pole for a couple of years, but this Nipawin team has talent. Look no further than ex-Klipper Matthew Spafford along with linemates Tanner Dusyk and Jonathan Ceci. This trio burned Kindersley for three goals on Friday. None of them are making a threat for the league scoring lead, but this is a balanced Hawk attack and they are a huge part of it. Factor in 18-year-old rookie Eli Lichtenwald, who's on fire with 11 goals and 19 points, and these guys can burn you in a few ways.

Nipawin's blueline has been a source of some turmoil this year, as they recently traded captain Cory Hodgins for another defender, Chad Crawford. They also dealt 19-year-old Ryan Curzon earlier in the year. But nasty rearguard Scott Brkich is still there to anchor the troops along with 20-year-old Brentt Becker of Eatonia.

In goal, I only saw Brody Hoffman once or twice last year in a back-up role, so it was tough to get a read on him. He appears to be the guy for now, though. Backup Stephen Klein just turned 17 and gives Nipawin hope for the future.

Kindersley Klippers

Not much to say here. This club is hurting in a big way, and what better way to get back on track than at home against the league's last-place team?

It will be interesting to see if the Calkins-Adamyk-McGrath line is kept together tonight. Rockie was critical of their play on the weekend, especially in La Ronge. Sanfred King will take the warmup tonight and it would be a huge plus if he can play. He's such a versatile player and his size and hands are a big asset to this team. Check my twitter account around game time for an update on his status.

One other guy I want to mention is Ryan Benn. It sounds like he had a terrific game in Nipawin Friday. I've said it many times, but this guy could make plays in a phone booth, and when he gets a chance to play extra minutes he usually takes advantage. The thing with Benny is when he's on, he's really on. I've seen more of those games from him this year.

In goal, we could see Alex Peck or Dustin Nickel tonight. Rockie said Dustin will get his first start either tonight or Thursday against Melville.

Game time is 7:30. As always, see you at the rink, and if you can't make it, be sure to check for updates on my twitter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rockie Zinger on the weekend trip & Dustin Nickel

I had a chance to talk to Rockie after supper tonight. Here's some of what he had to say about the weekend losses, how the team can get out of its slump, and how goalie Dustin Nickel came to be acquired.

He also said that Sanfred King skated today and will take the warm-up against Nipawin before a decision is made.

On the 6-5 loss in Nipawin

(Asked about Nipawin's lengthy losing streak before Friday's game): They've got nothing to lose. I said to Kevin (Edgerton) before the game, this is a dangerous team to play. We had a couple of glorious opportunities early in the game. We bury them and that team's dead in the water. You get up a couple early and it could have been smooth sailing. Instead, it was back and forth and we couldn't really put them to bed. They had us up 5-2 and that game should have been over, but they couldn't hold the lead. We had chances to win it in the last 30 seconds. I'm proud of the boys for how they kept battling to the bitter end, but we shouldn't have let them get there.

On the 6-1 loss in La Ronge

(Not scoring on the 5-on-3 late in the first): We just don't seem to be able to be very opportunistic right now. Opportunity's going to knock on your door at different moments of the game and we don't seem to be answering.

(On being swept in the season series) You don't like to be swept by anybody at any time. I know they were making a big deal about it. Their players were quite vocal about sweeping us. That's something you put in the back of your mind if we do end up seeing them in the playoffs. 

We played with them in the first period in La Ronge. In the second period we had a 10-minute stretch where it got away from us. The same thing happened here in Kindersley (Oct. 26), we had a 10-minute lapse and they scored four goals.

Is it surprising to be swept? Yeah. In the same breath, does it really mean anything? No.

On the slump and how to get out of it:

There's no reason to (take) much from one good game or one bad game. There's a lot of games and it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. We've got all season to become a team. You'd want them to become one as soon as possible, but when I talk about becoming a team, it's not just going to happen overnight. You gotta grow, mature with each other, go through the adversity to become a better team. I think that's what we're doing right now. We gotta find out just how well our team's going to respond.

I've done a lot of thinking about this the last two days. We're all searching for answers and believe you me, no one in that dressing room is searching any less than everyone else. What's going on is right now is our best players are getting outworked by the other team's best players. When that happens, you're going to wind up on the short end a lot of times.

(Here Rockie mentioned Crosby and Ovechkin being the hardest workers on their teams. It's also worth noting that the top line was -4 in La Ronge.)

We need our most skilled players to be our hardest working players and when they do that, they'll get the result they set out to achieve. That's the only way we're going to get out of this slump. We're not going to snap our fingers or sprinkle some fairy dust. It's not that we're a lazy team, but we're not working smart, we're not doing the little intangibles that really make up a good hockey team. I have no doubt in my mind, we'll get it done. There's too much character in that room for us not to get it done.

(On looking for crutches to end the slump) "Oh, a homestand, oh, we're going to get Dommett back." No. What's going to turn us around is when we get 20 kids to play 60 minutes of hard, intense, what I call Canadian hockey. Go through a wall to get a win, win races to pucks, battle and have pride that you're not going to get beat. Right now we've got guys who put it together for spurts, and some for the whole game, but we don't have 20 guys playing for 60 minutes.

The boys are saying "must win," well no, we don't have to win. What we have to do is start developing the right habits to give us a chance of winning. If we lose, our season's not over. But if we don't start to develop the habits, we're never going to get out of the slump.

On the acquisition of Dustin Nickel (who he has seen before while coaching Okotoks):

All that happened is Justin McDonald tweaked a groin. We didn't have a goalie to go (on the road). Dusty was looking for a place to play. Calgary had a logjam there and they were looking to move somebody. They released him and he was free to us. He came on the road trip and got into a little bit of action. One way or the other, you don't carry three goalies all year. Right now, Peck's played every game since he's been here and he'll get a break this week, whether it be Tuesday or Thursday. We'll get to see Dusty and go from there. McDonald will be healthy sometime this week.

(Asked if there is a clear-cut starter) Alexandre Peck was brought in to be the starter. I think we want one guy to be the guy to carry the ball, and the other guy be right there to catch it if he drops it. We don't care who it is, as long as there's someone who's in there who's hot.

I was fairly critical of our goaltending after Friday's game, but I thought it responded on Saturday. It's not being critical of an individual. We don't care who the goalie is, let's just get it done. All three guys we got are good goaltenders. They just need to find their confidence. Alex Peck, in La Ronge, he let in four goals and got pulled for the second straight night. We put him back in the third after sitting for three minutes and he responded. Right now I don't think we have a bona fide number one. We have guys that are capable of that, but we haven't had anyone step up yet.

(Nickel) covers the bottom of the net, goes side to side well. When he stays up and tracks the puck well, he's a very strong goaltender. If he gets scrambling, there's some holes. But that's every goalie. His biggest asset is his quickness, his feet.

Klippers' slide continues

You gotta wonder how long a team this talented can keep losing.

I didn't see either game on the weekend, but Wednesday's win over the Stars gave me reason to think the slump may have been over. Obviously, I was wrong.

After losses in Nipawin and La Ronge, the Klippers (9-10-1) have fallen below .500 for the first time this season. They certainly don't look anything like the team they're capable of being.

The Wolves swept the season series with Saturday's 6-1 win. That boggles my mind, especially after the events of Sept. 19. I know Andrew Dommett would have loved to see his team pull out a win over La Ronge.

Look, I know the Wolves are a talented team. They have a ton of firepower, a solid defence and a goalie who gives them a chance every night in Adam Bartko. But they aren't that much better than the Klippers.

But on to this week's homestand, and there's nowhere to go but up.

The Klippers host Nipawin tomorrow and then the Melville Millionaires come to town Thursday and Saturday.

I'll be talking to Rockie Zinger later this afternoon. After that happens I'll have his thoughts on the weekend losses and new goalie Dusty Nickel.