Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New blog

If anyone is interested, I've launched a new Estevan Bruins blog.

You can check it out here.

Thanks again to everyone in Kindersley for making the Klipper Report a success.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Moving on

I've been putting this off for a few days, but time is running out.

Most of you will probably already know this, but I'll be leaving Kindersley soon. I have accepted a new sports reporter position with the Estevan Mercury effective next week.

It was a tough decision to make when the Mercury approached me about the job back in February, but at the end of the day it's an exciting opportunity and a good career move for me.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is my last day at The Clarion, and if all goes well I'll be settled in Estevan by the end of next week.

Kindersley was my first full-time sports writing job, and I learned so much in the two-and-a-half years I was here. I've covered just about every sport under the sun and met lots of great people.

Covering the Klippers has been a pleasure and I want to thank the players who have come and gone over the last three seasons for being welcoming and taking the time to chat when I shoved a recorder in their face. I've kept in touch with a few guys after they left and I can honestly say it's been a great experience.

I also want to thank Larry Wintoneak, Rockie Zinger and Kevin Edgerton for their cooperation and support. All three are good guys to deal with and I wish them the best in the future.

It'll probably be a little strange at first to cover the Klippers' division rival, but hey, newspaper guys aren't supposed to have loyalties.

I won't be around for the opening of Kindersley's second ice surface next season, but I'm looking forward to catching games in the brand new Spectra Place, which I had a chance to check out a couple weeks ago.

I've had a lot of parents and other folks in the community call me up or seek me out in person to wish me luck over the last week or two, and that means a lot to me. It's a business where most of your feedback is negative, so it's nice when people tell you that they appreciate your work.

As for this blog, I'm not sure what will happen. If my replacement at the Clarion wants to keep it going, I'll turn it over to him. Otherwise, I guess this is the end of the road for the Klipper Report. It's been a blast doing this over the past eight months. The blog not only built a good following, it also helped land me a new job.

You can still follow me on twitter, though. I haven't changed it yet, but my new handle will be @joshlewis306

Thanks for reading this season! Signing off.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday grab bag

There's enough in this post to make up for the last week of inactivity so buckle up.



The West Central AA Wheat Kings' midget girls team won the North Sask Female Hockey League championship tonight in Dodsland, defeating the Saskatoon Comets 5-1 in the third and deciding game of the league final. The Wheat Kings, who are made up of players from Kindersley and across the west central region, led 1-0 after one period and 3-0 after two.

It's the first championship for the AA program, and a lot of people have put in long hours over the past few years to get to this point, including president and Klippers assistant Kevin Edgerton.

The girls have a chance to pull off the championship double Saturday when they play Game 2 of the provincial AA final against the Prairie Storm in Dodsland. The Wheat Kings trail the total goal series by one, but will no doubt get a big boost from the unbelievable fans in Dodsland.

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Speaking of championship double, the Eston Ramblers did just that over the past week. On Saturday, the Ramblers travelled to Bredenbury to take on the Cougars in Game 2 of the provincial C final and won 5-1 to take home their first provincial banner since 2009. Their bus broke down in Lanigan on the way home and they got back to Eston at 9:30 a.m. Pretty sure no one minded though.

On Tuesday, the Ramblers won their first Sask. West Hockey League title since 2004-05 with a 6-3 win over the Luseland Mallards on home ice, completing a sweep of the best-of-five final.

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Onto some Klipper notes. It's still early, but it's looking like the team may lose Sean Flanagan over the summer. It's no secret that NCAA schools are interested in the 18-year-old defenceman and there may be an opportunity for him to start his college career next season. 

Next week, Flanagan is heading to the annual ID scouting showcase in Toronto for the second straight year (I can't remember what it's called at the moment, but it's pretty much the mecca of recruiting for a lot of Junior A GMs and NCAA schools). Flanagan's play at last year's camp attracted interest from U.S. colleges and the QMJHL, and there will no doubt be a line-up of schools interested if he decides to take the NCAA route next year.

Sean would likely be one of the best defenders in the SJ as a 19-year-old next season, and losing him would be a massive blow for the Klippers, but much like Josh Thorimbert last year, it's a big feather in the cap for an organization when you can advance players through the ranks like that.

Again, it's early days and this may or may not happen.

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As I reported on twitter earlier this week, the Klipper board and Rockie Zinger have held preliminary discussions regarding his future with the team. It sounds like the team is interested in bringing him back, but I don't believe anything is getting close to being decided.

I know Klipper fans are divided on this one, and after the team's showing against Yorkton the board certainly should be doing their due diligence and taking the time to make sure they get it right. There's also more to consider than the on-ice performance any time you make a coaching decision.

Speaking of Rockie, I was going to post an interview with him from earlier this week, but Windows Movie Maker doesn't want to cooperate with me. Oh well, you can read most of what he had to say in yesterday's Clarion.

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I'm sure you've already read it on 68 different sites already so I'm not going to go into too much detail on last week's announcement that Laury Ryan is resigning as SJHL president. It seems not many people saw it coming (heck, not long ago I heard they were talking extension) and Ryan's departure leaves a big pair of boots to fill. Being a league president is a thankless job, and while Ryan has his detractors, don't count your chickens before you find out who's coming next.

I think Ryan summed it up well in his interview with Mitchell Blair when he said there have been successes and a few failures on his watch. I think the SJ can do a lot more to market their players and get more kids into the NCAA, and the new man will have to decide what to do with the Junior A Supplement, which at the very least needs a lot of tweaking. But that's a five-headed monster.

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As Darryl Skender reported on Tuesday, the Melfort Mustangs are looking for a new coach after deciding not to renew Darrell Mann's contract. I think everyone in Melfort knew a lot was riding on the team's success this year after giving up a big ransom (supposedly) for the duo of Brayden Metz and Cody Hanson. The Mustangs couldn't build on their Game 1 win over La Ronge and are now likely facing a rebuilding year with a new bench boss.

Mann's exit makes the SJHL coaching carousel a little more interesting. The application deadline for Estevan's vacant job was back on March 21, but you'd have to think Mann might be an intriguing candidate for the B's. Add the open job in Melfort and possibly one here in Kindersley, and it's going to be interesting to see what direction these SJ teams choose to take.

***************************************

I was in Estevan last weekend for the fundraising dinner for Spectra Place, the new home of the Bruins. It's an impressive barn to be sure, complete with more than 20 corporate boxes and two press boxes. The guest speakers included Brian Burke, Dave Nonis, Darian Durant, Gene Makowsky and members of the Trail Smoke Eaters, along with Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen as the emcee.

What a night it was. There were some great lines from Burke and Bowen - they were both, shall we say, a wee bit tipsy - and it was pretty cool as a Leaf fan to hear some of Burke's insights in a more relaxed setting. Oh, and him calling someone in the crowd a name I can't repeat here was also a highlight.

More on that soon.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

End of the road

What went wrong?

That question will stick with the Klippers all summer after the Yorkton Terriers held on for a 3-2 win tonight to sweep the Sherwood Conference final.

The Klippers played their best game of the series and made the Terriers work for the win, right to the wire, but that won't be any consolation to the nine players who played their last game in junior hockey.

Andrew Dommett, Johnny Calkins, Braeden Adamyk, Sanfred King, Spencer Braaten, Kurt Leedahl, John Sonntag, Cody Lund and Sean Cahill saw their junior careers end tonight.

It's a bitter pill to swallow for a group that had RBC Cup aspirations this season but couldn't get things figured out when it mattered most.

Full credit to the Terriers, who brought their A game from puck drop on Friday to the final buzzer tonight. They were the better team and now advance to their second straight SJHL final, against either La Ronge or Melfort.

As scary as La Ronge is, I like the Terriers' odds against anyone if they continue to play like they did in this series.

As for tonight's game, the Klippers were the better team off the hop but Yorkton again took a 2-0 lead to the first intermission. Riley Paterson scored the first goal at 9:50 on a rebound that Cahill bobbled, and Justin Buzzeo scored glove side off a cross-ice feed from Clarke Breitkreuz with 4:05 to play in the period.

It was looking like the same old story from the first three games.

About five minutes into the second period, with the Klippers' goalless streak sitting at 162 minutes, 22 seconds, they finally beat Devin Peters.

John Sonntag obliterated Buzzeo at one end, and that led to a quick rush the other way for Taylor Wasden, a guy who rarely gets on the scoresheet but the kind you need at playoff time. Wasden lit the lamp to get the WCEC crowd on their feet and the Klippers back in the game.

Three minutes after that, Sonntag rocked Robbie Ciolfi behind the Klipper net. Shortly after, Andrew Dommett scored his first goal of the series to tie it up.

The momentum was all on the Klippers' side at that point and they spent the next few minutes peppering Peters and the Terriers.

Just when they were getting close - stop me if you've heard this before - the Terriers struck back, with Blaine Tendler springing Buzzeo on a breakaway at 15:19. Buzzeo deked Cahill blocker side and the netminder got most of it, but it trickled in.

Yorkton carried most of the play in the third period, and Sean Cahill stood on his head to give his team a chance to draw even again. He made some massive stops, and he can be proud of the final game of his junior career.

The Klippers also had a few excellent chances, but they couldn't get one past Peters. The closest they came was with about 15 seconds left, when Sanfred King lobbed a Hail Mary toward the net from the right half-wall. The puck got through traffic and dinged the left post before bouncing off to the side.

Here's a post-game interview with Terriers coach Trent Cassan. I'll wait a day or two before getting Rockie Zinger's thoughts.

video


Over the next few days, I'll have a post-mortem on the blog as well as some personal news.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Better effort, same result for Klippers in Game 3

Chalk up another touchdown for the Yorkton Terriers.

Despite getting off to a much better start and carrying the play for the first 25 minutes of the game, the Klippers once again surrendered seven goals tonight in a 7-0 loss in Game 3 of the Sherwood Conference final.

The Klippers have not scored in 137 minutes, 16 seconds - dating back to Jesse Mysiorek's goal in the third period of Game 1 - and they are one loss away from elimination.

The complexion of this game changed dramatically 4:47 into the second period when a Casey Rogers giveaway in the Klipper zone went right onto the tape of Justin Buzzeo in the high slot. Buzzeo, who recorded a hat trick tonight, was untouched and ripped a shot over Justin McDonald's left shoulder to give the Terriers a 3-0 lead.

Up to that point, the Klippers had been the better team and were pressing hard to get on the board. You could almost see their game unravel after the goal as the Terriers began to pull away, leading 6-0 after 40 minutes.

In the first period, Kindersley carried the shots 13-9 and were clearly the better side, especially in the last 10 minutes, but Buzzeo and Robbie Ciolfi scored in the first seven minutes, both on skilled plays that left little chance for McDonald, to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

Devin Peters was again very good tonight, but let's be real: the Klippers had several chances that they would have scored on in the regular season. Part of the scoring problem is Peters playing well; the other is the Klippers are making him look even better by failing to finish off plays.

Part of that, without a doubt, comes from the psychological effect of being drubbed three straight times by a team that only finished three points ahead in the standings. The Klippers beat this team in their last three meetings of the regular season, all coming after the deadline pickup of Buzzeo and Boyer.

McDonald was pulled midway through the second period after Boyer scored a breakaway goal off a neutral zone turnover to make it 4-0. Perhaps Mac could have been a little better, but he should in no way be blamed for the loss. He didn't have much of a chance on the two early goals and was hung out to dry on the other two.

The total damage for Yorkton was a hatty for Buzzeo, two goals for Breitkreuz and singles for Ciolfi and Boyer.

Speaking of which, the Terriers' sixth goal bothered me. They were leading 5-0 late in the second period and had a two-man advantage for almost two full minutes after the Klippers began to lose their composure. So they throw out Boyer, Buzzeo, Breitkreuz, Ciolfi and Tendler? You be the judge.

For the Klippers, I thought the Mysiorek-Hoffman-Duzan line was their best, especially in the first period. Despite all three players being injured recently, and Hoffman clearly being less than 100% - he couldn't take face-offs or shoot the puck - the line hustled all night and created many of the team's best scoring chances. Kudos to them for continuing to battle even when the game was out of reach.

Johnny Calkins also deserves some kudos for his game tonight. He, too, was playing at far from 100% and it was obvious, as he couldn't take draws, had trouble distributing the puck and lacked speed. Yet you could see he was giving it his all throughout the game, throwing a few hits, blocking shots and hustling on the forecheck.

The challenge for the Klippers now becomes sending the series back to Yorkton for Game 5 on Friday.

Game 3 quick hits

Not much time but here are a few tidbits as we get ready for Game 3 between the Klippers and Terriers tonight at the WCEC.


  • Judging by this tweet from Jordon Hoffman, the hard-working centre will be back in the line-up tonight after missing three games with an upper-body injury. That's huge for the Klippers both at even strength and on the penalty kill, which has sorely missed the Hoffman-Duzan duo of late.

  • No definitive word on Johnny Calkins' status for tonight - Rockie Zinger said yesterday he would be a game time decision - but with his last junior season on the line, my guess is he'll be in if he's at all close to 100%.

  • Rockie told me yesterday he had yet to decide whether Sean Cahill or Justin McDonald will get the start tonight. Cahill was shaky in both of the weekend games, and Mac has been solid in his last few appearances, including in Game 2. There's an argument to be made for either tender, and I wouldn't want to be the one making the call.

  • The SJHL handed David Haaf a one-game suspension on Sunday for taking his third instigator penalty of the season. It happened in Game 2 when Haaf went after Kyle McLeod to defend a teammate after a questionable hit. Losing Haaf is a blow to the Klippers, as he's been very solid over the last couple of months. Zane Morin will move back to the blueline, but it's not clear if he will take Haaf's spot across from John Sonntag.

  • Riley Down will serve the second game of his suspension for a head hit on McLeod in Game 1. If the Klippers don't get Calkins or Hoffman back, they will only have 11 forwards barring an AP being called up.

  • Game time is 7:30 at the WCEC. Be there!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Klippers get trounced again in Game 2

I haven't found the words yet to explain what happened in Yorkton this weekend, so I'll keep this one quick (that and I'm phone-blogging).

The Terriers looked even more dominant tonight than they did in Game 1 in a 7-0 pasting of the Klippers.

Yorkton outscored Kindersley 14-2 in two nights and the series everyone thought would go deep is looking more lopsided than a senior game between Rosetown and Biggar (sorry Nationals).

The Klippers again came out flat and while Sean Cahill weathered the early storm, the Dogs quickly took a 3-0 lead. That was enough for Cahill to get the hook. While he didn't get much help from the guys in front of him, Cahill also wasn't at the top of his game.

Justin McDonald came in and played very well. Yeah, he allowed four more over the rest of the game, but as I said on the broadcast, the gap between these two teams was like the freaking Grand Canyon tonight. Maybe that's being generous to the visitors.

To me, the backbreaker was a bullet shot from the point by Jeremy Boyer with one second left in the first period. Everyone yelled at him to shoot, he made no mistake and put the Klippers down 4-0 after one.

Kindersley played a better game in the second, but they weren't dominant by any stretch and when they generated a rare scoring chance, they couldn't solve an outstanding Devin Peters.

The Klipper power play was again ineffective (0-for-9), with a 5-on-3 wasted in the first period. A goal there could have changed the course of the game.

The problems for the Klippers going home are all over the place. Getting Calkins and/or Hoffman back for game 3 would be a massive boost. But they can't just rely on that, or home cooking.

They need to raise their compete level, battle harder for pucks and lay the body more. They need a lot more out of their top forwards, whether Calkins is back or not. They need timely saves, and in my mind McDonald should be in the mix for game 3.

Most of all this is a club that needs an injection of confidence. The good news is they'll be at home as they try to claw back in the series.

On the plus side, I thought Taylor Duzan was tremendous tonight in his first game back from injury. The Klippers didn't get much going offensively, but more often than not he was the one to spark it. On the back end, aside from one gaffe I can think of, Cody Lund was extremely solid.

To wrap things up, the Yorkton Terriers were all-world this weekend. This was a first place club at the very top of their game and they were SCARY good. The skill on display was phenomenal, and not just from the top guns.

Remember that January game at the WCEC when Kindersley led 6-0 after one? Yorkton played like that for the entire weekend and Trent Cassan has to be very happy with his hockey club.

Game 2 lineup

Calkins out, Duzan in. Riley Down is also out after being suspended two games for a head hit last night.


Yorkton draws first blood in Sherwood final

Both teams spent long stretches dominating the play, but in the end the Terriers were the more opportunistic team and they defeated the Klippers 7-2 last night to open the Sherwood Conference final here in Yorkton.

It was all Yorkton in the first period, all Kindersley for most of the second but the home side was able to score at crucial moments in the game and added a couple more goals when the game was out of reach.

The Klippers got a scare in the third period when Johnny Calkins got mixed up with Keon Vick and left the game in some pain. It didn't look good for him last night, but he seems to be in better shape today. No word on his status for tonight.

Riley Paterson scored twice for the Dogs to go with singles from Robbie Ciolfi, Brant Remenda, Clarke Breitkreuz, Zak Majkowski and Craig Eisenhut. Jesse Mysiorek and Spencer Braaten had the Klipper goals.

The Terriers led 2-0 after the first after throwing everything they had at the Klippers. Kindersley came out in the second and returned the favour, except Devin Peters for the most part held them at bay. A few minutes after Braaten scored on a one-timer from Sanfred King, the Terriers got a pair less than two minutes apart from Remenda and Breitkreuz and that snuffed out the Klipper momentum.

Mysiorek lit the lamp early in the third to draw his club within two, but Yorkton responded again and was able to put the game away.

Game 2 goes tonight at Farrell Agencies Arena.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sonntag named D of the week; KK-YKTN preview

Klippers defenceman John Sonntag was named the SJHL defenceman of the week on Tuesday. The Goodsoil native leads all defencemen in playoff scoring with two goals and six points through five games. He had a whale of a series against Weyburn and the honour shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

As promised, here's the Kindersley-Yorkton series preview that ran in today's Clarion.

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The Kindersley Klippers had all summer to think about their devastating loss to the Yorkton Terriers in Game 7 of last year's Sherwood Conference final, and now they have a shot at redemption.

Kevin Stringfellow's Game 7 overtime goal last March will no doubt be in the back of players' minds as they begin a rematch with the first-place Terriers this weekend in Yorkton.

The series kicks off Friday and Saturday in Yorkton, followed by the third and fourth games in Kindersley on Tuesday and Wednesday, both starting at 7:30 p.m. If necessary, Game 5 is March 25 in Yorkton, Game 6 is March 27 in Kindersley at 6 p.m. and Game 7 is March 29 in Yorkton.

Kindersley (35-20-3) knocked off Weyburn in five games in the Sherwood semifinal, while Yorkton (34-16-3-5) swept fourth-place Estevan.

"I think there’s a lot of players in there that have the image of losing in Game 7 and they definitely want to rewrite a different ending this year, but it's not something we’re dwelling on," said Klippers coach Rockie Zinger. "It's definitely something we might be able to use and grab some motivation from."

Andrew Dommett, who scored six goals in last year's series, including two in Game 7, said his club is eager to inflict some payback.

"We’re looking for revenge and the boys are hungry. Yorkton’s a very offensive team and I think if we can take away (space) from their top guys, a lot of them don’t like that physical play and we love it."

Indeed, the Terriers are a different club than the group that often pounded the Klippers physically during last year's series. This year's group is built primarily on skill, led by deadline pickups Jeremy Boyer (42-45-87) and Justin Buzzeo (31-51-82), as well as Clarke Breitkreuz (31-37-68), Robbie Ciolfi (22-30-52) and Brent Struble (19-33-52).

Terriers head coach Trent Cassan said that the addition of Boyer and Buzzeo from Humboldt is just as valuable in terms of added depth as their top flight scoring.

"They’ve fit in very well right from the start. They're very good kids and teammates. The guys were excited to get them. It also seemed like some guys were watching them too much at the start," said Cassan.

"It’s given us some more scoring, but also depth. We try to spread our scoring out. We realize they’re top-end guys, but at the same time, there are going to be nights when they get shut down."

"They’re a skilled group of forwards for sure," said Zinger of the Terriers. "They’ve got some very skilled six to eight forwards that can really skate well and move the puck and distribute it well. These two teams match up really well. Both have high-end guys, grinders, a committee-type defence that's unheralded and they go about their business."

The Klippers' high-octane attack has been well-documented and got a boost at the trade deadline with the pick-ups of Spencer Braaten and Wheaton King. Braaten scored at a point-per-game pace this year despite missing 22 games with an ankle injury, while King posted 15 points in 16 games.

Other key components are Johnny Calkins (25-68-93), Braeden Adamyk (42-40-82), Dommett (22-24-46), who missed 24 games with a broken jaw, and Sanfred King (19-45-64).

Linemates Taylor Duzan and Jordon Hoffman are both injured. Duzan was expected to resume skating Tuesday, with no word on his return, while Hoffman could play at some point in the series, according to Zinger.

Despite pitting two dangerous attacking corps against one another, fans likely won't see a boatload of goals, such as the Klippers' 9-6 win over Yorkton on Jan. 25.

"I don’t think it’ll be wide open pond hockey," said Zinger. "What you see come playoff time is every player buckles down a little more, makes smarter decisions and manages the puck better. I think what you’ll see is good end-to-end action, good hockey, but it’ll be well-managed by the players."

Stars aside, the post-season has a tendency to bring heroes out of the shadows.

"In a long playoff series, which I’m sure this one will be, it’s probably going be the guys who don’t get as much attention offensively that step in and score big goals," said Cassan. "Those guys are just as important for your team success as anyone."

Both coaches said their teams are similar on the blueline. Yorkton is led by SJHL defenceman of the year Blaine Tendler and deadline pick-up Brant Remenda, while Klippers rearguard Kurt Leedahl is widely considered one of the league's best and he shoulders the load along with Sean Flanagan and John Sonntag.

"They’re maybe a little bit bigger than our back end, but I think we’re a little more mobile," said Zinger.

"They’re a workmanlike group that goes about doing their business. That’s kind of what we are. All the spotlight shines on our top forwards. The attention seems to get focused mostly on that and that’s fine by us."

Added Cassan: "Remenda’s been a really good pickup for us. He was really good in the Estevan series.

"Some of our other older guys are like Kindersley; maybe they don’t get as much attention as Leedahl and Flanagan, but we have guys like (Kurtis) Decker and (Keon) Vick who are kind of like (Casey) Rogers and (David) Haaf. The way they play, you don’t really notice them and I think that’s a good thing."

Most would expect established veteran Devin Peters to take on Klippers tender Sean Cahill in the crease, but Cassan had yet to decide on his Game 1 starter as of Monday.

Peters was injured for the final month of the season and 18-year-old back-up Warren Shymko filled in admirably, to the point where he played three of the four games against Estevan despite Peters being healthy.

"It was good to get both guys involved. There’s always going to be a point in a series where you may see both goaltenders," said Cassan.

Zinger said the game plan for his club is to give the Terriers' top guns no room to operate and set the physical tone early in the series.

"We’re going to have to take the time and space away from them and be physical. We’ve gotta make sure we send the message early that for any inch of space out there, they’re going to have to earn it," the coach explained. "What I think it’s going to come down to is which group gets worn down the quickest, and goaltending."

Last year's Sherwood final was a seven-game barnburner worth every penny of the admission price, and Cassan expects the same the second time around.

"I think it’ll be a real exciting series for fans in both communities. The teams are so evenly matched; they’re built the same way, so when you have two teams so even, it should be a long series and it should have a lot of ups and downs."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kindersley-Yorkton series dates

The dates for this series are pretty much the usual SJHL playoff format, but I thought I should put it out there for anyone wondering.

All games start at 7:30 p.m., aside from Game 6 in Kindersley, which may be a 6 p.m. start - not decided yet.

UPDATE: Game 6 will indeed be a 6 pm start.

Game 1: Friday, March 18 in Yorkton
Game 2: Saturday, March 19 in Yorkton
Game 3: Tuesday, March 22 in Kindersley
Game 4: Wednesday, March 23 in Kindersley
x-Game 5: Friday, March 25 in Yorkton
x-Game 6: Sunday, March 27 in Kindersley - 6 pm
x-Game 7: Tuesday, March 29 in Yorkton

x-if necessary

Stay tuned for a series preview on Wednesday, and I'm still planning to put up interviews from Games 3-5 of the Weyburn series when time permits.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Klippers knock off Wings in 5 to set up rematch with Yorkton

It was a lot tighter in the end than many people expected, but the Klippers hung on in the dying minutes to hand the Weyburn Red Wings a 3-2 win Friday at the WCEC, taking the quarter-final series in five games.

Braeden Adamyk, Spencer Braaten and Wheaton King powered the Klippers to a 3-0 lead, which they held until late in the third period.

Drew George ruined Sean Cahill's shutout bid with 4:29 to play. Then, with 2:56 left, Kevin Morrison drew Weyburn to within a goal, and a lot of people in the building got worried. The Red Wings dominated most of the final three minutes, but the Klippers managed to hang on and avoid going back to Weyburn on Sunday.

With Yorkton defeating Estevan 6-1 on Friday, they swept that series and will now take on the Klippers in the Sherwood final for the second straight year. There are a lot of players in that Kindersley locker room who would love to avenge their Game 7 overtime loss last year and they'll get their chance.

The dates haven't been announced yet, but it appears the series will kick off Friday and Saturday in Yorkton.

More to come from the Game 5 win, including interviews with Andrew Dommett, Wheaton King and Rockie Zinger.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Red Wings pull out a win to send series back to Kindersley

The Weyburn Red Wings were a desperate hockey club tonight and they made the most of their chances to hand the Klippers a 4-1 defeat in Weyburn.

The Klippers now lead the series 3-1 heading back to Kindersley for Game 5 on Friday. None of the players wanted it to go back to the WCEC but I don't think anyone expected a sweep when the series started.

Weyburn led 2-0 after one on goals by Tanner McCall and Drew George, and built an insurmountable 4-0 lead after two when Scott Kirkham scored two goals 1:18 apart.

The Klippers struggled to generate quality chances despite firing 41 shots on Mitch Kilgore. They came close late in the second but didn't get on the board until three minutes into the third when Braeden Adamyk flew down the left side and fired a wrister past Kilgore. It was a shorty.

Kindersley had their chances after that but couldn't score more.

Kilgore was once again outstanding. Aside from that the Klippers got virtually no traffic in front - especially on a power play that looked anemic - and I thought they failed to match Weyburn's physical tempo.

The Klippers' board work was dominant on Tuesday; not so much tonight.

Give Weyburn credit. They needed this win and they came out and played with urgency.

Tanner Kissick left the game after being cut by a skate blade in the elbow area and getting stitched up.

Sean Cahill got the hook after the fourth goal and Justin McDonald was outstanding in relief, keeping his team in it.

That's enough blogging from my phone for now. See you Friday at the WCEC.

No. 14 ends it 14 seconds into double OT

Braeden Adamyk went forehand to backhand on a breakaway 14 seconds into double overtime to give the Klippers a 3-2 win and a 3-0 series lead tonight at Crescent Point Place in Weyburn.

It was Adamyk's second of the night for the Klippers, who tied the game 2-2 on a Ryan Elliot goal in the second period. After a scoreless third, the Klippers got the better of the chances in the first overtime period and gradually wore the Wings down, but weren't able to solve a brilliant Mitch Kilgore.

After another break, the Klippers won the face-off to start the second OT, went D to D and, in Adamyk's words, he tipped the puck forward. He then blew past the Weyburn defence and caught up to the puck for a breakaway, where he deked Kilgore inside the right post to take the wind out of the Wings' sails.

Blake Kirkham and Keegan Bruce scored Weyburn's goals, both in the first period and both on the power play.

This was a huge swing game in the series and the Klippers were able to take a stranglehold. Had the Wings won, they would have gotten new life and tons of momentum going into Game 4 tomorrow.

It was a very clean game, with no extracurricular stuff. Weyburn knew they had to win this game and with Wees and Ulmer out, there was little chance of the Klippers starting anything.

I'll put up interviews with Adamyk and Andrew Dommett when we get back to Kindersley.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Comments on the Game 2 incidents

Well, the extracurricular stuff from Game 2 on Saturday is garnering a lot of attention, from today's Sports Cage with Rod Pedersen to various twitter and blog postings to the 25+ comments on this blog.

There are good arguments to be made on both sides and no one is necessarily wrong. I welcome debate on here, as long as people keep their emotions in check. Some of the comments are starting to include personal attacks and name calling toward players and coaches on both sides, and I can't allow that, especially when they come from anonymous commenters.

It's unfortunate because most of those comments made some good and well-written points, but people lose credibility when they start to throw around attacks on teenaged hockey players and their coaches.

By all means, continue to weigh in, but stay away from the attacks or your comment may not be published.

As for the incidents themselves, the SJHL was still reviewing game tape today and investigating the alleged incident involving Dwight McMillan. It sounds like further disciplinary action may be announced in the morning.

If there's any way you can get to Weyburn tomorrow, I'd strongly advise it as this will be a game you don't want to miss.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bad blood spills over as Klippers take 2-0 series lead

I'm not sure where to start with this one. The Klippers drubbed the Weyburn Red Wings 9-2 tonight to take a 2-0 series lead in a game that ended with some very ugly incidents, on the ice, on the benches and off the ice.

Tensions had been building up throughout the third period, and the Klippers had a 8-2 lead when everything rose to the surface.

With 1:27 left in the third, Wings defenceman T.J. Wees lined up Jesse Mysiorek in the corner with a brutal hit. He took several strides toward Mysiorek (only playing his second game back from a groin injury), who was facing the boards the entire time trying to win the puck, and plastered him from behind. Mysiorek's face may have hit the dasher on the way down. I couldn't tell for sure, but his head was awfully close to it.

Jesse is spending the night in the hospital and I would expect he'll be out for some time. No firm update as of yet though. The good news is he was at least well enough to send out a couple of tweets from the hospital.

After the hit, Wees tried to go after Cody Lund and there was a fracas in front of the Weyburn net. In the middle of that, everyone's attention shifted to the benches where the sticks were flying. That went on for a good two minutes.

I couldn't tell from my angle, but upon watching the video after the game, Wings agitator Lucas Ulmer was the first to swing his stick, reaching around the glass to do so. His stick hit Klipper trainer Neal Bruetsch on the top of the head; fortunately he was okay.

Four or five Wings (including Blake Kirkham, who swung his stick well over his head and then brought it down) continued at this, swinging at Taylor Wasden and Riley Down, along with a couple other players who were on the ice. The Klipper players had their sticks up as well, but weren't rearing back to take big swings; it looked to me like they were merely protecting themselves.

It took probably 10 minutes to sort all this out. The upshot was Wees got 2, 5 and a game for roughing and charging. Ulmer got a gross misconduct (presumably from starting the stick war) and Jesse Ross got a 10. For the Klippers, Down was given a gross and Lund got two for roughing. 

Justin McDonald entered the game in the final minute because Rockie Zinger was worried the Wings might take a run at Cahill.

Wees racked up 23 PIMs tonight, including three minors before his hit on Mysiorek. Ulmer's gross was his third penalty of the night, and he also got away with punching Casey Rogers after the whistle early in the second. Both players will surely face suspensions.

As for the game that broke out in the middle of the violence (imagine that!), the Klippers led 2-1 after a dominant first period and the floodgates opened in the second, with the home side ahead 6-2 after two.

A charged-up Andrew Dommett led the way with two goals and an assist. If there were a bump of the game during the playoffs, he would have gotten that too for a massive hit he laid on his first shift. Dommett was a constant thorn in the Wings' side tonight.

Johnny Calkins had a goal and three assists, including perfect centering passes to set up both of Dommett's goals. Calkins' tally came when he tried to go cross-slot to Dommett but the puck went off a Weyburn skate and in.

The other goals came from Braeden Adamyk (1-2), Sanfred King, Ryan Elliot (1-1), Wheaton King (1-1), Mysiorek and John Sonntag (1-2). The goal credited to Sonntag looked like it was actually scored by Riley Down, who had a tremendous game tonight.

Sonntag, Leedahl and Flanagan were all on top of their game tonight in what was a very strong all-around effort from the Klipper blueline.

Drew George and Brock Appleyard had the Weyburn goals. George cut the Klipper lead to 2-1 late in the first when he tipped a power play point shot from Kevin Morrison. Appleyard scored on a man-advantage late in the second when he was given all kinds of space to snap a wrister past Sean Cahill from the high slot.

You have to believe the Wings were missing goalie Mitch Kilgore (flu) tonight. Riley Hengen did what he could, but he was powerless against the Klipper attack on all cylinders. Kilgore is the Wings' MVP, I think, and they need him back for Game 3 to have a shot at getting back in the series.

The shots tonight were a whopping 58-26 for the Klippers.

After the game (and this is what I was told by coaches and bystanders, as I missed the first part of it) there was a fracas in the hallway as Weyburn coach Dwight McMillan allegedly grabbed and/or hit Klippers volunteer Kim Leonard. When I arrived on the scene, local police were restraining McMillan and telling him that if he said another word, he'd be going to jail for the night.

Again, I didn't witness how it started, but if the reports are true, there's no place for that. This is the second time in the last month that Dwight has been involved in an incident in the WCEC hallway. On February 4, when the Wings beat the Klippers 5-4 in OT, someone spit on McMillan in the hallway following the game.

Still have any doubt that these teams hate each other?

Interviews

You'll want to hear these as Dommett and Zinger both had some harsh words for the shenanigans in the third period.

Andrew Dommett: two goals

video


Johnny Calkins: four points

video


Rockie Zinger

video

Friday, March 4, 2011

Game 1 victory for Klippers


It didn't look good early on, but the Klippers scored three times in the second period to top the Weyburn Red Wings 4-2 tonight in the opener of their conference semifinal.

Sanfred King, Andrew Dommett, Jordon Hoffman and John Sonntag had the Klipper goals, with Brock Appleyard and Keegan Bruce replying for the Wings.

It was a hard-fought game with a good physical tempo and solid goaltending at both ends, although it didn't seem like a high-intensity game aside from a stretch late in the first period.

The Klippers got contributions from all four lines tonight, which is always a good thing with a forward corps this deep. Each of the three scoring lines produced a goal, and the line of Down, Elliot and Wasden had a high-energy game and played a couple of shifts that really stood out where they banged bodies on the forecheck and turned the momentum.

There was no question that the Wings outplayed the Klippers in the first period. It went beyond scoring the only goal of the period. Weyburn established a strong forecheck whereas Kindersley didn't. The Klippers were also mediocre on the backcheck. Although the Klippers carried the shots in the period, they didn't generate many scoring chances and when they came close, Mitch Kilgore shut the door.

Brock Appleyard opened the scoring for the Red Wings 45 seconds into the game after a bad change by the Klippers. The Wings' leading scorer took a pass from Drew George (I think it was) and had all day to rip a shot from the top of the right circle, beating Sean Cahill over the glove.

Things got testy in the second half of the period, beginning with a semi-fight between T.J. Wees and Sanfred King (they only got roughing). A few minutes later, the Klippers found themselves on a 3-on-5 when, already killing a penalty to Cody Lund, an incredibly bad tripping call was made on Braeden Adamyk when he simply went into the corner with a Weyburn player trying to win the puck. There certainly was no trip or any other infraction on the play. 

The Klippers killed it off. Not long after Adamyk got out of the box, Taylor Desserre instigated a fight with him, for no reason that I could see. Needless to say, Desserre was the clear winner.

Kindersley came out much better in the second period, doing a better job on the forecheck and backcheck and moving the puck more efficiently. Sanfred King had his shot blocked, but he collected the rebound near the right side boards and snapped it past a surprised Kilgore to tie the game midway through the frame.

Only 1:31 later, Johnny Calkins hit Andrew Dommett with a perfect centering pass and the captain made no mistake to put the Klippers ahead for good. Late in the period, Dommett took a needless slashing penalty. The Klippers not only killed it off but scored a shorty when Jordon Hoffman took a slapper that Kilgore couldn't find, and the Major native tapped in his own rebound.

There were only two penalties in the second period. The Klippers took a 3-1 lead to the dressing room and led the shots 27-19 after two.

Keegan Bruce made it a one-goal game five minutes into the third, beating Cahill from the right circle after the Wings got him moving side to side on a series of shots. Aside from that, it was a pretty mild third period. Both teams got a couple of power plays, but there was no more scoring until John Sonntag added some insurance on a wrister from the point with 5:40 to go.

The Hoffman line was rolling tonight, in no small part due to the return of Jesse Mysiorek, who was very solid and physically engaged. Hoffman works hard all the time, but he was especially good tonight and his determination on the penalty kill led to the game winner, and that was enough to earn him the first star. Taylor Duzan also had his chances and played a strong physical game.

On the back end, Kurt Leedahl and John Sonntag both brought their A game. Leedahl was his usual collected self in his own end, saving the Klippers' bacon on more than one occasion and handling the puck with poise. Sonntag was very strong positionally, logged a ton of minutes as usual and looked confident at both ends.

Sean Cahill made a lot of big saves, especially in the third period, to preserve the win for the Klippers. Mitch Kilgore was also tremendous for the Wings, especially early on, but as the game rolled along the Klipper attack was too much for him.

There was a pretty strong crowd tonight - definitely not as many as the official 1399 figure, but probably the best crowd of the year.

Interviews
Sean Cahill - 36 saves

video


Rockie Zinger - first SJHL playoff win

video

Klippers-Red Wings series preview

It starts tonight!

There's no feeling like the first game of the playoffs. Here's the series preview that ran in the Clarion on Wednesday.

Klippers, Red Wings set to renew hostilities Friday

A long-standing rivalry will resume on Friday when the Kindersley Klippers and Weyburn Red Wings kick off the 2010-11 SJHL playoffs in Kindersley.

The two teams have had everything from spirited battles to blowouts this season and now lock horns for the right to play in the Sherwood Conference final.

Game 2 is Saturday, with both contests starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Klippers (35-20-3) finished second in the Sherwood, nine points ahead of the Red Wings (30-24-1-3). Both teams have had nearly two weeks off to rest up and heal the various bumps and bruises that come with the stretch run.

“We’ve been playing since Christmas with a lot of hard nicks and bangs on us and this was just the time we needed,” said Weyburn head coach Dwight McMillan.

The Klippers were given four days off before hitting the ice for practice on Sunday night.

Klippers’ coach Rockie Zinger said his team can’t put much stock in their hot play over the final two months now that the playoffs are here, aside from the fact that it gives them home-ice advantage.

“You can’t rest on that. You can’t be satisfied by the fact that we’re a dangerous team going in,” said Zinger. “You’re only as good as your last game. We’ve got a ticket to the dance and it’s time to show what moves we have.”

The Klippers’ depth and firepower up front will be a focal point in the series, McMillan acknowledged.

“Kindersley is very offensive and has a lot of depth. We’re coming in as the underdog. We have to work hard, do the best we can and see what happens,” said the veteran coach. “We know we can’t go nose to nose with them, so we have to try to win in different ways.”

Johnny Calkins finished fourth in league scoring this year with 25 goals and 93 points, including a league-leading 68 assists. The Red Wings’ focus will be on shutting down Calkins and his linemates, Braeden Adamyk (42-40-82) and Andrew Dommett (22-24-46), who missed 24 games with a jaw injury. Weyburn will also need to limit the production of the Klippers’ two other scoring lines, centred by Sanfred King and Jordon Hoffman.

Left winger Jesse Mysiorek, who has missed 12 games with a groin injury, is expected to return to the line-up on Friday. Right winger D. Jay McGrath, sidelined with a knee injury since Jan. 21, will miss the entire playoffs and will need surgery.

Zinger said his blueline sometimes doesn’t get the respect it deserves with so much focus on the power up front.

“Sometimes it gets overlooked that we’re a good defensive club. You gotta remember we’ve got some guys who can shut people down. It doesn’t matter if you win 2-1 or 7-1,” said Zinger.

“We feel our blueline has made great strides since October. They’ve really solidified where we’re at,” he added. “Our blueline is at its best when it keeps it simple, moving the puck up through the neutral zone for our forwards.”

Aside from the usual suspects in Kurt Leedahl, John Sonntag and Sean Flanagan, the coach said 20-year-old Cody Lund has “played some unbelievable hockey” in the last month of the season.

The Klippers’ penalty killing has been strong in recent weeks, ranking fourth in the league at a 80.5 per cent clip, and while the team’s eighth-ranked power play is an area to work on, Zinger credits it more to the strong penalty killing from other teams.

“Our penalty kill has gotten better and better as the year has gone on, so why are we taking anything away from other teams’ penalty killing? Is it that our power play is struggling or is it every team’s penalty killing getting a lot stronger?” he retorted.

Meanwhile, Weyburn owns the top penalty kill in the league at 84 per cent and the third-best power play at 24.4 per cent.

The Red Wings are not the powerhouse of years past, but they do present a challenge, particularly with one of the league’s top goalies in Mitch Kilgore, who was stuck behind two 20-year-olds last season but has blossomed as a SJHL rookie.

“We knew Kilgore was a great goaltender. We’ve had lots of confidence in him going into this year,” said McMillan.

The Outlook native was the difference the last time the two teams met on Feb. 4, stopping 55 shots en route to a 5-4 overtime win for the Wings.

“We have some big bodies up front. They just gotta go to the traffic areas and get him thinking about the big bodies in front of him instead of the little black biscuit he’s supposed to be stopping,” said Zinger.

The focus for the Klippers will be getting the puck deep behind a Red Wings blueline core perceived as slow by some.

“They‘ve got a big defence and if you don’t get pucks in behind them, you’ll make them look better than what they are,” said Zinger. “Our main focus is making their defence work, getting pucks behind them, getting opportunities off the cycle and forcing turnovers.

“They have forwards who work hard. From what we’ve seen of them, they’re a prototypical dump-and-chase team that tries to wear you down,” he added.

T.J. Wees is the main man on the Weyburn blueline, and he gets support from the likes of Tanner McCall - who has been playing forward lately due to injuries - Ryan Whitell, Eatonia native Brentt Becker and Taylor Desserre.

Up front, the player to watch is left winger Brock Appleyard (28-39-67), along with Drew George (21-36-57) and rookies Coltyn Sanderson and Keegan Bruce.

“We have to score by committee. We’re not going to have one guy score a bunch of goals. We have three lines that aren’t prolific scorers but can score,” McMillan said.

Many thought the Red Wings’ playoff hopes had taken a hit when forwards Shawn and Rodney Cowie left the team in late January, but the team played well down the stretch.

“It gives the other guys a chance to play. The attitude and character sometimes comes out. You never know how dressing rooms are going to go.”

Zinger said he looks forward to seeing how his players will respond at playoff time.

“Every playoff, there are always different guys who raise their game. It’ll be interesting to see who those guys are for our club. We’re hoping it’s a new one every night.”

**********************************************

Here's a look at the two teams by the numbers.

Records
Kindersley: 35-20-3, 2nd in Sherwood
Weyburn: 30-24-1-3, 3rd in Sherwood

Goals For/Against
Kindersley: 240/194
Weyburn: 193/191

Special Teams
Kindersley: PP 19.4% (8th), PK 80.5% (4th)
Weyburn: PP 24.4% (3rd), PK 84% (1st)

Leading Scorers
Kindersley: Calkins (25-68-93), Adamyk (42-40-82), S. King (19-45-64)
Weyburn: Appleyard (28-39-67), George (21-36-57), Bruce (22-26-48)

Home
Kindersley: 21-5-3
Weyburn: 18-11-0-1

Away
Kindersley: 14-15
Weyburn: 12-13-1-2

Overtime/Shootout Record
Kindersley: 5-3
Weyburn: 5-4

Last 10 Games
Kindersley 7-2-1
Weyburn 5-4-1

Head-to-Head
Kindersley 3-2-1
Weyburn 3-3

Leading Scorers Head-to-Head
Kindersley: Adamyk (4-6-10), Calkins (3-5-8), S. King (4-3-7)
Weyburn: Ross (5-1-6), Appleyard (2-4-6), Bruce (4-1-5)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A look back at the season that was

After the craziness of last season, with the arena fire and the team being forced to Eston for the last three months of the season, you couldn't blame Klipper fans for wanting things to be a little more... well, normal this year.

But between losing their captain for two months and a coaching change, it was anything but. Here's a look back at the Klippers' regular season as we head into the playoffs.

It started with the team still not being able to get into their home. The West Central Events Centre didn't re-open until Oct. 1, resulting in training camp and exhibition play being held in Eston at the Complex. The team also had to play their first four games of the season on the road, but it could have been worse given the circumstances.

Speaking of training camp, it ended with the granddaddy of logjams up front. I remember that first road trip to North Battleford and La Ronge, with 16 forwards on the bus. It was a packed house for a while, and the decisions were anything but easy. It got even harder in October when D. Jay McGrath was re-assigned from Everett, but eventually the players who stuck were Justin Gerwing and Tanner Kissick, and both guys have played their roles well and made solid contributions.

The season opener was a wild one in North Battleford and the Klippers won 7-6 on Andrew Dommett's second goal of the night with 27 seconds left in the third period. Kurt Leedahl scored the team's first goal of the year late in the first period and added another one 98 seconds later. Nothing like a big win over a rival to start the season. It was all optimism on the ride up to La Ronge the next day.

At the Mel, the Klippers got off to a 2-0 lead in the first 11 minutes, including Dommett's third goal in less than four periods. The captain was rolling.

Exactly three and a half minutes after Dommett's goal, all hell broke loose. Just as Dommett was letting a shot go from the slot, La Ronge forward Justin Ducharme caught him with a blindside hit to the head. Johnny Calkins stood up for his linemate and best friend by going after Ducharme, and a donnybrook ensued in the corner and in front of the La Ronge bench.

While this was going on, the captain was on the ice, bleeding everywhere. I knew the news would be bad after the game, but it was worse than I expected: shattered jaw on both sides, several teeth lost. The mood on the bus that night was palpable. The players knew this injury would have a major impact on their season.

The Klippers floated around .500 for the next 10 weeks or so. They went a long time without winning back-to-back games, and couldn't separate themselves from the pack in the Sherwood Conference. Part of it was due to the absence of Dommett, with Calkins and Adamyk struggling with consistency while playing with different linemates all the time. Part of it, I believe, was a team trying to establish chemistry, with all the extra players who had been around for the first part of the season.

A big part of it, undeniably, was goaltending. After the departure of Scott Hellyer in October, the team went through a merry-go-round of goalies, with none of them able to get the job done until Sean Cahill was acquired for Brett Penner in late November. Cahill quickly proved he was able to make the big saves at crucial times and gave the team the confidence they needed playing in front of him.

On Nov. 19, two months to the day after his injury, Andrew Dommett made his return to the lineup two weeks ahead of schedule. It took him a few games to get back into the swing of it, but his return was a huge boost for the club and a sign of better days to come.

The SJHL Showcase was in Weyburn in early December, and almost to a man, the Klippers said their 2-1 OT win over Flin Flon on Dec. 4 could be a turning point in the season. That was one reason why it was such a surprise to a lot of people when head coach Larry Wintoneak was relieved of his duties on Dec. 13. The announcement came that assistant Rockie Zinger, who had been hired in October, would be taking over for Wintoneak on an interim basis. Some people were surprised by the axing; others weren't. In talking with several players after the fact, there was some hinting that everything wasn't rosy in the dressing room.

When the team embarked on an eight-game winning streak, six of them under Zinger, it became clear something in the off-ice dynamic had changed. The team had the talent all along; maybe they just needed a shake up to play to their potential. And it's hard to argue with the 19-5-1 record the team posted under Zinger. That includes a five-game winning streak to end the regular season that got lost in the shuffle of trying to catch Yorkton for first place.

The Klippers were fairly busy leading up to the Jan. 10 trade deadline. With Humboldt selling off their veterans, the Klippers scooped up forward Spencer Braaten for futures. Braaten didn't return from an ankle injury until Feb. 4, but he has looked right at home on a line with Sanfred King and brother Wheaton, who was re-assigned by the Brandon Wheat Kings at the deadline.

Braeden Johnson of the Saskatoon Blades was also re-assigned, and with no room to add another scoring forward, the team shipped him and 20-year-old defenceman Lance Tabin to Battlefords just before the midnight deadline for midget forward Justin Lund and Regina Pats forward Michael Sagen. Sagen was then flipped to Melville for a player to be named later. Suddenly needing another defenceman, the Klippers acquired 18-year-old Zane Morin from La Ronge for futures.

Over the final two months of the season, the Klippers focused their attention on tracking down the Yorkton Terriers for first place. Considering the gap had once been 15 points, the team did well to narrow it down to three, but it wasn't enough. Yorkton's comeback overtime win over Estevan on Feb. 15 sealed the deal.

The Klippers finished with a record of 35-20-3 for 73 points. That's four more wins and six more points than last season, when they finished third in the Sherwood and were eliminated in overtime of Game 7 of the conference final.

Calkins named to second all-star team

The SJHL announced its year-end awards and all-star teams this morning. You can have a look here.

The only Klipper to get some recognition was Johnny Calkins, who was named to the centre position on the second all-star team. Congrats to Johnny on a fantastic final season in junior hockey.

As for the rest of the awards, I was surprised that no one else got as much as an honourable mention, especially Kurt Leedahl and Braeden Adamyk. I don't think there are many people who wouldn't consider Leedahl one of the top four defencemen in the league, but he didn't make either all-star team or get a runner-up nod for defenceman of the year, which went to Yorkton's Blaine Tendler.

As for Adamyk, I'm not sure how a guy who finished sixth in league scoring doesn't at least get a nod on the second all-star team. No offence meant to Flin Flon's Andrew Johnston, who is a heck of a player in his own right, but how does the guy with 42 goals and 82 points get snubbed in favour of someone with 66 points? Of course, there's a lot more to the game than points, but that's usually what these things are based on.

The team's focus is on the playoffs right now, obviously, but I just felt these two guys deserved some recognition.

I promise I'll have the regular season recap up by the end of the day. I've been under the weather the last couple of days, but feeling better now and it will be up for sure, followed by the series preview from this week's Clarion.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mysiorek expected to return for Game 1

This will be a quick one as I still have some work to get to tonight.

I spoke to both Rockie Zinger and Dwight McMillan this afternoon for a series preview that will run in The Clarion on Wednesday. Both coaches had some interesting comments, some of which I posted on my twitter account.

Rockie said Jesse Mysiorek, who has missed 12 games with a groin injury, will "most likely" make his return to the line-up for Game 1 against Weyburn on Friday.

That's great news for the Klippers. The Hoffman line isn't the same without Mysiorek's physical play and drive to the net. Kissick, Elliot and Morin were all tried on that line and got decent results, but having Mysiorek on the left side will make that unit a lot more dangerous.

Rockie confirmed that D. Jay McGrath is indeed done for the season and waiting for knee surgery, as McGrath had said earlier in the week. That's a big loss, especially with the way he'd been playing since Christmas, but the Klippers still don't need to worry about their depth up front.

That's it for now, but check back over the next few days for more analysis heading into the series.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Leedahl named defenceman of the month

The SJHL released its players of the month for February today and Klipper rearguard Kurt Leedahl was named the defenceman of the month.

The 20-year-old Saskatoon native has been a rock for the Klippers all year long and posted seven assists in eight games in the final month of the regular season.

From the SJHL release:

"The 1990 born blueliner from Saskatoon helped the Klippers try to chase down the Yorkton Terriers for first place in the final month of the season. While the Klippers were unable to do so, Leedahl played perhaps his best hockey of the season. If Leedahl can continue playing at the level he did in February during the playoffs, he will make life miserable for many forwards across the league."

Former Klipper Travis Eggum is the player of the month while Humboldt's Andrew Bodnarchuk is the goalie of the month.

**********************************

Both survivor series got started this weekend and both are now tied following last night's action. Flin Flon blanked Battlefords 3-0 last night to even up that series and Melville edged Estevan 5-4 when Michael Owen scored the winner with 53 seconds left. 

My guess is the Stars and Bruins both advance, but it won't be a cakewalk for either of them. Both series resume Monday night.

***********************************

If you haven't checked out the SJHL broadcasters poll spearheaded by Craig Stein, you should. It was a great idea that yielded a lot of interesting responses. Unlike the NHL, it's hard to get a consensus on the top players in various areas due to less media saturation in the SJHL. 

Among the Klippers getting some recognition were Andrew Dommett, Johnny Calkins (named best playmaker), John Sonntag, Taylor Duzan (named toughest to play against and most underrated) and Braeden Adamyk.

***********************************

As for the blog, it's been a crazy week for me but I plan to put together a regular season recap, along with a Kindersley-Weyburn preview, in the coming week. I expect to talk to Dwight McMillan on Monday, so I'll post his thoughts on the series sometime early in the week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Klippers-Red Wings playoff dates

The SJHL announced the dates for the Klippers-Red Wings series this morning. Pretty much as expected.


Friday March 4 –Weyburn at Kindersley 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 5- Weyburn at Kindersley 7:30 pm

Tuesday, March 8- Kindersley at Weyburn 7:30 pm
Wednesday, March 9- Kindersley at Weyburn 7:30 pm

x-Friday, March 11-Weyburn at Kindersley 730 pm

x-Sunday, March 13-Kindersley at Weyburn 600 pm

x-Tuesday, March 15-Weyburn at Kindersley 730 pm

x-if necessary

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Klippers get Weyburn in first round


The race for third place is over. Weyburn defeated Notre Dame 5-3 today to lock up third in the Sherwood and a date with the Klippers in the first round of the SJHL playoffs.

You won't want to miss any of this series as the bad blood will be flowing everywhere, I'm sure.

Weyburn finishes at 30-24-1-3, anywhere from seven to nine points behind the Klippers (34-20-3) pending the outcome of Tuesday's season finale against the North Stars.

For the Hounds, today's loss knocks them out of playoff contention, pitting Estevan against Melville in the survivor series.

All SJHL playoff series are now set.

I'll work on getting a series preview up later in the week. Both teams now have two weeks off to get healed up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday odds and ends

First, my apologies for making it such a slow week on the blog. I'd been planning to post an entry on the shootout win over Melfort Tuesday, but other things got in the way that night. I've been battling an illness since Wednesday and also dealing with a personal matter, so it really wasn't a priority. Sorry.

I was planning to go to North Battleford with the Klippers today, but due to being sick and it being a short week at the Clarion (because of the Monday holiday) I changed my mind.

Although this home-and-home with the Stars is essentially meaningless for both sides, it does give them a chance to work on various parts of their game and get a sense of where they're at heading into the playoffs.

The Stars begin their survivor series against Flin Flon, so they might rather not play that Tuesday game in Kindersley. The Klippers, meanwhile, will have two weeks off to rest up.

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Here's the Klippers-Yorkton story that ran in Wednesday's Clarion (ignore the parts that say they still have a shot at first place):

Hoffman leads Klippers over Terriers to keep hopes for first alive

Jordon Hoffman scored 46 seconds into overtime to give the Kindersley Klippers a 4-3 win over the Yorkton Terriers on Saturday and keep their slim first-place hopes alive.

Hoffman tipped a Sean Flanagan point shot past Terriers’ goalie Warren Shymko to move the Klippers within three points of the Sherwood-leading Dogs, with three games left and a game in hand.

One of those contests was last night against the Melfort Mustangs. The Klippers close out the regular season with a home-and-home series with the Battlefords North Stars, Friday in North Battleford and Tuesday in Kindersley at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s overtime winner was Hoffman’s second in a game that saw the Klippers trail 2-1 and 3-2.

“It was a broken play. (Riley Down) walked it over to Flanny and he flipped it on net, I got a stick on it and it changed directions an inch or two and went in the net,” said the Major product.

Saturday’s game was much tighter defensively than the last time Yorkton came to Kindersley, which resulted in a 9-6 Klipper win. It was their third straight victory over the Terriers.

After a scoreless first, Andrew Dommett struck first when he beat Shymko less than two minutes into the second. Yorkton replied with two goals in a three-minute span midway through the frame.

Clarke Breitkreuz pounced on a loose puck in the slot and slipped it past the left pad of Sean Cahill at 8:13. Then Jeremy Boyer hit defenceman Devon McMullen with a brilliant slap pass in the crease for an easy tap-in.

The Klippers tied it up at 13:31 when Hoffman finished off a Taylor Duzan set-up with a glove side deke. But Robbie Ciolfi put the Terriers up again 36 seconds into the third on a weak shot that beat Cahill five-hole.

The game’s turning point came with five minutes left when Keon Vick took a double-minor for high-sticking Braeden Adamyk to set up a Klipper 4-on-3.

Johnny Calkins scored top shelf only 12 seconds into the man-advantage, although the Klippers failed to score on the second minor, leading to overtime and giving the Terriers a crucial point in the standings.

The win clinched second place for Kindersley and home ice advantage in the first round.

“There’s still mathematically a chance that we could catch Yorkton, but at this point in time our focus switches a little bit,” said coach Rockie Zinger. “It doesn’t really matter where you finish or what points you get, now you’re gauging. You’re seeing where you are against this team, against that team, what it takes to beat those teams.”

Zinger praised Hoffman and Duzan for their work away from the puck and said it was good to see them rewarded after a bit of a dry spell on the score sheet.

“In the last month and a half, Jordon Hoffman and Taylor Duzan have been the best two penalty killers in the SJHL. Any team we’ve seen, there haven’t been two guys who penalty kill like they do. It’s good to see (Hoffman) get rewarded in terms of points.”

Added Hoffman: “We were working hard all night, chipping pucks in, doing what we’re told, hitting guys and we got rewarded in the end.”

The Klippers killed off all five of their penalties with relative ease, but Zinger wasn’t happy with his team’s discipline.

“There were some real needless penalties, some penalties in the offensive zone. There are penalties coming off the bench and that’s a cardinal no-no,” said the coach. “It’s going to stop on its own because if you keep doing those types of things, there will be other guys that plug into the lineup that won’t do it.”

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For anyone who follows the Red Lions and senior hockey in the area, several players on the team are now on twitter, including Chris Wellar, Chad Dorsett, Dustin Garrett and Adam Bowden. Also, John Sonntag is the latest Klipper to join twitter (D. Jay McGrath did not obey the will of the people, which is unfortunate).

Wellar had one of the best lines I've read in a while earlier this week. The Red Lions were recently eliminated from provincials by the powerhouse Maidstone Jets, a heavy favourite for the provincial A title which has assembled players from four or five teams for their run.

Wellar tweets: Breaking news: Peter Forsberg signs with the Red Lions after 9-0 loss in Macklin

I ask why there hasn't been a press conference.

He replies: Not really worthy of the press conference due to the fact Maidstone cut him cause he couldn't crack their lineup

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This was the scene at the WCEC grounds on Tuesday as the sod-turning ceremony was held for the new arena. The weather wasn't ideal as papers (and my hair) blew all over the place, but it went ahead. Now it's time to get to work - see next week's Clarion for the details on what will happen next.

From left: Sherry Magnuson (town CAO), Ted Inman (Clark), Tom Geiger (councillor), Patrick Johnston (youth council mayor) and Wayne Foster (Kindersley mayor).
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The Leafs finally traded Tomas Kaberle today after three years of "will they or won't they" at every trade deadline and draft day.

I didn't expect it to happen, especially after they dealt Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim. But if Kaberle was going to walk as a free agent, the Leafs had to get something for him and Brian Burke got a whopper of a return in my opinion.

Joe Colborne is a bit of a gamble, I admit, but he has a tantalizing mix of size and skill that made scouts drool the year Boston picked him 16th overall from the Camrose Kodiaks.

As long as Colborne is given a year or two in the AHL to hone his game, and people don't expect him to be Jesus, I like his odds of filling the void in the middle, on the second line or perhaps even the first.

On top of that, Boston gave up their first round pick (which will be late in a somewhat weak draft) along with a conditional second rounder in 2012, if Kaberle signs an extension in Beantown or they make the final this year.

Sure, the deal probably means Toronto's first rounder (sent to Boston in the Kessel deal) will be higher, but that's why the B's gave up as much as they did. I really like the deal for Toronto.

In the last two weeks, Burke has acquired two first round picks, two recent first rounders in Colborne and Jake Gardiner, along with Joffrey Lupul, a third rounder and probably a second rounder in exchange for Kaberle, Versteeg and Beauchemin. He gets a big A+ from me. This is the direction I wanted him to take when he joined the Leafs.

Speaking of trades - will there be any left to make by Feb. 28? Trade targets are dropping like flies this week!