Friday, December 3, 2010

SJHL Showcase opens today

The annual SJHL Showcase opens today in Weyburn, and I wish I could be there. But it's just too far to go when there are other events to cover here at home.

I went to last year's Showcase in North Battleford and it was a blast. It's a pretty unique experience to see three or four games in a day, especially with some teams you don't see very often. Watching, say, Flin Flon and Melfort go at it at 11 a.m. is awesome, because you just don't see that.

Add in the fact that the place is packed with scouts from the NCAA, CIS and NHL, and it's a very cool experience.

As Andrew Dommett said, the scouts do come and watch you at other times in the year, but you can't tell me his four goals against the Stars last year didn't have Lake State drooling.

Josh Thorimbert had many scouts watching him at last year's Showcase, including Colorado College, and he helped the Klippers to a win over Melville while there.

The Klippers play the Stars today at 5 p.m. and Flin Flon tomorrow at 11 a.m.

I'm sure Weyburn will do a great job with this. Some people aren't big fans of their arena, but I enjoy it.

Speaking of the Stars, they traded Shayne Morrissey to the OPJHL in a late move that probably surprised a lot of people. The skilled 18-year-old from Newfoundland had been thought of as a huge part of their team this year.

In another late-breaking move, La Ronge traded Richard Cameron to Notre Dame, and he'll face his old team this weekend.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brett Penner to Flin Flon

Well, Brett Penner's time in Quesnel didn't last long. That is, if he even made it out there.

The former Klipper's rights were traded to Flin Flon today for futures. Penner, 18, left the Klippers in October and was just traded to Quesnel last Thursday for Sean Cahill.

There were quite a few other deals in the SJHL today, and the Melfort Mustangs were very busy. In their biggest deal, Melfort brought in bruising defenceman Scott Brkich from rival Nipawin for 17-year-old forwards Dustin Skilliter and Tyson Dallman.

They acquired forwards Jordan Bauer ('91) from Canmore, Devin Balness ('92) from Brooks, and Spencer Mault ('92) from Grande Prairie. They also traded 20-year-old forward Cole Gibson to Estevan for 15-year-old defenceman Mason Logan, and dealt forward Justin Bardarson ('90) to Powell River for futures.

Meanwhile, Flin Flon traded defenceman Patrick Sitko ('90) to Oakville for futures. One would think there could be something coming back next year in this case. The Bombers also got defenceman James McNulty from Okotoks in a deal that completes the recent trade of Matt Maleschuk.

Notre Dame sent 20-year-old forward Austin Lauder back to his hometown in a deal with the Winnipeg South Blues.

Battlefords swapped forwards, sending Daniel Franks ('91) to Thunder Bay for Mitch Galbraith ('90).

Finally, Estevan brought in blueliner Matt Szpak ('91) from Fort Mac.

No word on any Klipper movement at this time.

Of course, if you haven't heard, the Klippers won a big four-point game in Estevan 4-2 tonight. Goals came from Adamyk (2), Duzan and King. Klippers are now one point behind the Bruins with two extra games played. Second through fifth in the Sherwood is incredibly tight.

Duzan, Rogers named runners-up for monthly awards

I'm not sure if congratulations is the right word, but kudos to Taylor Duzan and Casey Rogers for putting themselves in consideration for the SJHL players of the month for November.

Duzan, Doug Lindensmith and Brayden Metz were the runners-up for the player of the month honour, which went to former Klipper Travis Eggum. Eggum had 30 points in just 12 games and now leads the SJ in goals with 27.

On the back end, Battlefords' Cris Neurauter was named the defenceman of the month. Rogers, Tanner Korchinski and Byron Sorensen were also considered.

I think it's a tremendous accomplishment for Casey considering he only got here halfway through the month.

For him to come in and make the adjustment from the NAHL, deep in the heart of Texas (OK I'm sorry) and to be noticed around the league so quickly, is very impressive.

Congrats to Casey and also to Duzy who had a hell of a month on the scoresheet.

Now if they could just win on the road.

Wintoneak on Cahill, trade front, weekend losses, etc.

I said I'd get this up last night, but I worked like a madman over a 24-hour stretch and didn't have time to get to it. Anyway, this is the chat I had with Larry Wintoneak on Monday afternoon. He talks about the Sean Cahill trade, the need to ship out a 20-year-old, the disappointing weekend losses and the status of Jordon Hoffman, among other things.

We had a discussion about the proper pronunciation of Cahill in PEI compared to the west, before starting the interview...

If the video won't load for you, you can watch it here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Klipper captain chooses Lake Superior State

From Wednesday's Clarion:

He weighed the pros and cons for nearly a year, and now Andrew Dommett has made his choice.

The Klippers’ captain announced Monday that he has committed to Lake Superior State University for the next step in his career.

LSSU and Ferris State, both in Michigan, had been vying for his services since his breakout performance at the SJHL Showcase last season in North Battleford.

Dommett, 20, flew down to see both campuses over the summer and eventually based his decision on his comfort level.

“What it boiled down to is where I felt comfortable,” said the Major native.

“I talked to my mom and dad about it. They can’t make the decision for me, but they want me to be comfortable and go somewhere for four years where I’m not going to be homesick.”

He said two of the biggest selling points for Lake State, as it is known, were the small town feel of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and his dealings with head coach Jim Roque.

“It’s a small town just like Kindersley, I thought it would be an easy transfer from a small town like Major,” he said.

“And their coach, I really liked him. He has a great knowledge of the game and he’s a great person ... the whole organization won me over, from the coaching to the school to the facility, everything was just great.”

Dommett also spoke to several former LSSU players, including ex-Klipper star Troy Schwab and 2009-10 assistant coach Trevor Weisgerber.

He said Schwab talked to him honestly about his experience and pointed out the flaws of each school, rather than persuading him to go to his own alma mater.

“I have to give him credit for putting in the time with me,” said Dommett.

He added that Weisgerber helped him out with the paperwork and making sure he got what he wanted out of the scholarship.

He said several other schools had some interest, including a few Division 3 colleges, but it was always between Lake State and Ferris State.

“It’s the biggest decision of my life so far, so hopefully I don’t regret it,” said Dommett.
“The offer Lake State gave me was incredible. I’d be kind of dumb not to take it.”

Roque told Dommett he will be given a chance to fill the shoes of Will Acton, the team’s top left winger, who is not returning next year. The coach told him they were very similar players.

“Jim’s such an honest guy. He told me straight up, with the amount of money they’re putting into me to come down, they don’t want me sitting in the stands.”

Despite scoring six goals in two games at last year’s showcase, Dommett urged other players not to put any more effort into that weekend than their other games.

“That’s one thing people get wrong. They try extra hard at the showcase. Schools are going to come watch you no matter what. They’re going to come on those Wednesday nights because they want to see how you play then.”

Edmonton firm awarded tender for first phase of multi-use building

This will appear in Wednesday's Clarion:

Edmonton firm awarded tender for first phase of multi-use building
Expected to break ground on $12.2 million project in February

Kindersley's new arena is one step closer to reality.

The tender for phase one of the planned multi-use facility, which includes the arena and lobby, was awarded last Tuesday to Clark Builders of Edmonton.

Of the six companies initially selected for interviewing, Clark and Stuart Olson Dominion were the two finalists.

"Both firms worked very hard, both are very capable," said Milt Walker of Walker Projects. "We had a process that involved evaluation of each proposal and meetings including representatives of the building committee and the town of Kindersley. In the final analysis, Clark won out; just a little bit better price and a little bit more features."

Clark Builders pegged the cost of phase one at $12.2 million. The final design is now in the works, but the conceptual design submitted with the proposal calls for a seating capacity of 400, all on one side of the arena, along with standing room.

Walker described the delivery of structural steel as the "critical path item" and that will not likely take place until February. As such, he expects "some mobilization" of resources in January but figures the ground breaking will come in early February. Materials could be ordered by December.

"They want to be able to have the steel arrive as soon as the foundations are finished, and so there’s requirements for some design and there’s no point in starting to do the foundations ahead of the critical path schedule," Walker explained.

He said the target is to finish the arena sometime in December 2011 and have it open the following month. He described it as "an extremely aggressive schedule."

Brian Robinson, vice president of business development at Clark Builders, said his firm has done several recreational facilities in recent years, including the North Central Community Recreation Centre at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, and a massive multi-use recreation centre in Lac La Biche, Alta.

Although most of the company's $500 million worth of work each year is done in the Edmonton area and the Northwest Territories, it is looking to expand eastward.

"We’re actively looking at doing a number of different arena projects and getting into the Saskatchewan market," Robinson said Monday. "It’s a project we feel we’re very good at doing. The design-build is one of our fortes. We have an opportunity to design it economically and work with a team of professionals. It was a good fit in terms of where we want to go."

Clark Builders has been in business for 36 years.

Kindersley mayor Wayne Foster said he is excited about the schematic designs and looks forward to seeing more detailed drawings.

"It’s an amazing-looking facility. We can’t wait until we get the renderings. That’ll probably be in January," said Foster. "We have some conceptual drawings now that are just stunning. It’s such an enhancement to that area of our town."

BBB Architects has been working on the design of the entire facility in Toronto, and Walker said the specific designs for phase one will fit into that.

He added that he was impressed by the ability of the building committee members - all 26 of them - to put their heads together and agree on what they wanted to see. Not only that, the motion was passed unanimously.

"That’s pretty darn good when you get arts and culture and sports and minor sports and the Klippers and Red Lions and the whole group to agree on something. We were very, very pleased with that," he commented.

Robinson has been involved throughout the selection process and he said he feels at ease dealing with officials from the town, the building committee and Walker Projects.

"I feel absolutely comfortable with the process and the people I’ve been involved with, particularly with (town administrator) Sherry (Magnuson) and (councillor) Tom (Geiger), and certainly the Walker people have been very fair and explained very clearly what it is they were looking for," Robinson replied.

"I think we’re really excited about it and we were able to develop a plan and a concept that excited the people we were presenting to. We brought a high-quality building and a very stylish type of building that will certainly add to the landscape of Kindersley."

More fundraising will be required to complete the multi-million dollar phase, on top of insurance money. Plans are already being made by the building committee.

"That fundraising component is a necessary evil, unfortunately," said Foster. "We’ve had a great response already without really going out and promoting and looking for funding. There’s going to be all types of opportunities to participate in funding."

Beyond the arena and lobby, the entire multi-use facility is expected to cost in the range of $35 million. Funding from the provincial and federal governments will be required to make that happen, Foster acknowledged.

"We’re waiting to hear if they’re going to come up with any more stimulus programs or green programs, those kind of things. We’ll certainly be knocking at their doors looking for funding," said the mayor.

Walker said those discussions are already underway and he also expects help from other sources, given the outpouring of support that came from the North American hockey community in the weeks immediately after the fire in January.

"When they lost their arena, all of Canada in the hockey community certainly came to the forefront in terms of support," said Walker. "Politicians are always supportive of things that are supported by a large amount of people, so we’re confident we can successfully make our case."

One group that will most certainly be happy with the new arena is the Kindersley Sledge Hockey Club. The facility will be specially designed to accommodate the sport, with everything from removable benches to see-through panels in the boards. The benches will also be installed flush with the ice surface so that players can get on and off the ice easily.

"I can hardly wait to see the first sledge hockey game," said Walker. "I'm really excited for that. That's such a heart-warming story to see."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dommett commits to Lake Superior State; goalie could move today

According to Brenden Ullrich, Klippers captain Andrew Dommett has committed to Lake Superior State University next year.

Congratulations to Andrew. He had interest from several NCAA schools beginning early last season and had flydowns to Lake State and Ferris State over the summer. It was only a matter of time until he chose where he would spend the next chapter in his hockey career. I'm sure it's a relief for him to have that over with and to be able to focus just on the Klippers now.

Lake Superior State is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, just over the Canadian border. Many SJHLers have played there over the years, including former Klippers star and 2004-05 SJHL MVP Troy Schwab.


I talked to Larry Wintoneak not long ago and he is working the phones looking to move a netminder today. He more or less said that the guys know a 20-year-old goalie is going to be moved, and while he wouldn't say outright that it's Alex Peck, that is more than likely what will happen.

I'm going to be working overtime tonight but I'll try to get that interview up later in the evening.

Roster trimming on the way

It's a hectic day for me but I do have a few seconds for a quick blog post. I talked briefly with Larry Wintoneak earlier this afternoon and he said he's in the middle of figuring out how to trim the roster.

Keep in mind, the Klippers now have 10 20-year-olds with the acquisition of Sean Cahill. Only nine can be dressed in a Junior A game (you'll notice Cody Lund was scratched Friday and Alex Peck wasn't on the game sheet Saturday). With two 20-year-old goalies, you'd have to think Peck's days are numbered, but you never know.

Speaking of Cahill, I know that in some cases, if a guy plays a game after his 21st birthday he loses a year of NCAA eligibility. But it seems that may only be true if the player hasn't committed to a school at the time. Cahill's birthday is March 15, and if this rule applies to him, he would not be able to play after that without losing a year. I've been told it doesn't apply to him, but I'll clarify this when I talk to Larry later today.

How 'bout them Riders? Too bad, so sad. The last two Grey Cups make me happy I was only cheering for the Riders because I hate Montreal.