Saturday, February 5, 2011

Klippers fire 59 shots and lose in OT

Well, that sure felt like a playoff game.

Unfortunately for the Klippers, 59 shots on goal, a terrific comeback and an absolutely dominant overtime weren't enough to stop the Weyburn Red Wings from winning 5-4.

Scott Kirkham lifted a backhander over Sean Cahill off an odd-man break late in overtime to give Weyburn the two points in a game they led 4-1 with 12 minutes left in the third.

Mitch Kilgore was phenomenal. The 19-year-old tender from Outlook made some huge stops and although he allowed three in the third, the Klippers were throwing everything at him including the kitchen sink. He was full value for the win and easily the first star.

The Yorkton Terriers defeated Melville tonight, which puts the Klippers five points back with an extra game played. With five games left, they are very close to falling out of the race for first, if they haven't already. Needless to say, they need to win that Yorkton game next Saturday to have any chance.

The deceiving thing about the 59 shots tonight is that the Klippers were once again guilty of playing 20 minutes of hockey instead of 60. It's a concern Rockie Zinger has expressed in the past, that his club sometimes waits until the third period to play their best hockey. They certainly did that tonight.

Jesse Ross got the scoring started at 7:32 of the first after taking a cross-ice, headman pass from Coltyn Sanderson and tapping it past Cahill glove side.

Lucas Ulmer made it 2-0 at the 94-second mark of the middle frame, winding up a clapper from the left boards just inside the line. Cahill probably wanted that one back but he may have been screened, I couldn't tell.

Andrew Dommett got the Klippers on the board at 13:47 to make it 2-1, but Drew George replied 57 seconds later after streaking down the left side, cutting inside and flicking a wrister into the mesh.

Keegan Bruce made it 4-1 with a power play goal 3:39 into the third, slipping the puck just inside the left post.  But the Klippers stormed back. With 11:59 left, Braeden Adamyk slipped a quick centering pass to Dommett, who got a low shot off. Sanfred King rung the rebound off the iron and in.

Just when it looked like the Wings had it wrapped up, Riley Down tipped a Kurt Leedahl point shot with 4:11 left - without even realizing it until he turned around to face the net. It was kind of a funny moment.

Then, with Cahill on the bench and 23.1 seconds left, Adamyk deflected Leedahl's lob from the right point past Kilgore to force overtime.

I'm barely keeping my eyes open, so I'll post interviews with Rockie Zinger and Andrew Dommett tomorrow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Klippers vs. Weyburn preview

The Kindersley Klippers and Weyburn Red Wings face off in their sixth and final game of the regular season tonight at the WCEC. It's a crucial game for both clubs, with the Klippers needing to gain on Yorkton and the Wings trying to overtake the suddenly surging Bruins for third place. The Terriers (four points up with a game in hand) are playing Melville tonight.

By all accounts, the game in Weyburn last Friday was full of bad blood and I'd expect the same tonight. If you don't have plans tonight, this is definitely a game you will want to catch since it could be a first round playoff preview.

Spencer Braaten finally makes his Klipper debut tonight after practicing full tilt since Monday. That's another good reason to take in this one. I'm looking forward to seeing the diminutive scorer in action.

Also, Brenden Ullrich is reporting that Johnny Calkins will miss the game with the flu and that Sanfred King will fill his place on the top line. That's a blow for the Klippers, but with Braaten and Wheaton King back in tonight, they shouldn't be hurting for offence.

Weyburn Red Wings

The first thing you need to know about Weyburn is that Shawn and Rodney Cowie have left the team. That is a massive loss, especially during a playoff race at this time of year. I don't know the reasons, but that's a very dubious move at best at this time in the season. Either way, the Klippers won't be dealing with those two tonight. Sometimes teams rally around something like this and play at a high level despite the lost talent. Just look at Humboldt's play since shipping out their 20-year-olds. We'll see how it affects the Wings.

But make no mistake, there is plenty of talent left on this club and it starts with Brock Appleyard and Drew George, both among the top forwards in the SJHL. Add the likes of Keegan Bruce, Lucas Ulmer and Coltyn Sanderson and this is not a group to be taken lightly. And the Wings are simply a tough team to play. Opponents really have to work to get two points from them.

Weyburn doesn't have that one stud defenceman (although I really like T.J. Wees) but they get it done by committee and boast the fourth-lowest goals against total in the league. In goal, Mitch Kilgore is outstanding and has been a huge reason why the Red Wings are where they are.

Kindersley Klippers

The Klippers are well-rested coming into this one, not having played since Saturday's win in Estevan. The break was much-needed with several players nursing injuries. Injecting Braaten and King into the lineup tonight is a big boost. I'm looking forward to seeing Sanfred King on the top line. In a lot of ways, he's a similar player to Calkins. Their vision and puck distribution are definitely comparable. King showed good chemistry with Braeden Adamyk early in the season, and when you combine King's playmaking with Dommett's shot, it could be a treat to watch.

Jesse Mysiorek remains out with an aggravated groin injury and was in Edmonton this week to see a specialist. It will be interesting to see Braaten on that line with Duzan and Hoffman. To me, Duzan and Braaten are very similar players. 

Most of the Klippers' defencemen have been playing great hockey of late and with a huge divisional match-up tonight I would expect that to continue. Barring something crazy, Sean Cahill will get the nod between the pipes.

See you at the WCEC.

Sask West Hockey League playoff preview

I know a lot of the blog's local readers are fans of senior hockey, the SWHL in particular. Their playoffs begin this weekend so I thought I'd post part of the preview from today's West Central Crossroads.

I'll try to get a Klippers-Weyburn preview up later today.

I've also updated the Articles page with six or seven stories from the last six weeks or so. I've been lagging behind on that.

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The dust has settled and the match-ups have been determined for the first round of the Sask. West Hockey League playoffs, which begin tonight.

Eston defeated Luseland Sunday to earn top spot and a bye through the first round. Luseland took second and will renew their rivalry with Kerrobert in the opening round. Kindersley finished third and will take on Macklin, which lost out in a three-way tiebreaker with Eatonia and Unity. The Huskies and Miners play each other in a fourth vs. fifth match-up.

Luseland’s Kelsey Muench ended B.J. Becker’s reign atop the scoring race, winning this year’s title with 68 points to Becker’s 65.

2) Luseland vs. 7) Kerrobert
Game 1: Saturday in Luseland. Game 2: Feb. 13 in Kerrobert. Rest to be determined.

The Tigers took a leave of absence last season, but the rivalry between these clubs surely burns just as strong as before, especially at playoff time.

Kerrobert will be hard-pressed to knock off the red-hot Mallards, but Luseland coach Jerry Fischer said his team can’t let its guard down.

“Their goaltending is good and I think as a team, they’ve gotten better all winter. We have to be good at all aspects of the game,” Fischer replied. “They’ve been playing pretty good of late. We’ll try not to take them lightly.”

Tigers’ manager Doug Flahr echoed that sentiment, adding that both Rick Sobry and Mike Aldous are capable between the pipes.

“We’ve played much better of late. We seem to have more energy and we’re playing a little more organized, but we’re still battling the injuries,” said Flahr. “Our goaltending has been very good. They’ve both had lots of practice this year; we’ve allowed a lot of shots. It’s been pretty consistent and kept us in a lot of games.”

But Kerrobert is missing their top two defencemen, Mat Olson and Scott Elstad, both out for the season with shoulder injuries, which will make it much harder to keep the Mallards’ potent attack under wraps.

“Their team revolves around Kelsey Muench. We gotta keep him under control and that’s very hard to do,” said Flahr. “Not that he’s alone, they have other top end guys too, but he seems to run the show.”

The series should help both teams financially at a time when most clubs are struggling at the gate.

“It’ll be good, playing Kerrobert. They’re close. Hopefully we can fill the rinks,” Fischer nodded.

3) Kindersley vs. 6) Macklin
Game 1: Monday in Kindersley. Game 2: Feb. 13 or 16 in Macklin (depending on outcome of Kindersley-Maidstone SHA series). Game 3: Feb. 17 in Kindersley. Game 4: Feb. 20 in Macklin. Game 5: TBD.

The Red Lions took a step forward this season and the Mohawks took a step back, but it’s easy to forget that the two teams were separated by only three points in a league that had tremendous parity this year.

Kindersley has no trouble scoring goals, while Macklin is more of a defence-oriented team which relies on good goaltending, which it got this year from Mike Clague.

“Our penalty kill has been awesome this year and Mike Clague has been great,” said Mohawks coach Jim Meredith. “We just gotta start putting the puck in the net a little more consistently.”

For the Red Lions, much of the focus is on improved defensive play and discipline.

“We can score goals, we can do all the hard hitting and all that stuff, but it’s gotta come from work effort. Macklin’s a (hard working) team. We’re going to have to try to win games 3-2 or 2-1,” said Kindersley coach Dean Dorsett.

“They’re a tough team,” Meredith said of his opponents. “You gotta play them the same way and stay out of the penalty box and put them in it.”

Sheldon Reschny and Cole Fern are the focal point of the Macklin attack and Dorsett said his club will have to shut them down, especially Reschny, to have a chance.

“The guy carries the puck, he does everything. He wins 80 or 90 per cent of the draws. He carries the puck on the power play, he does everything for them. He’s their key guy, and Fern and him play pretty well together and they’ve got some key defencemen.”

Meredith concurred, adding that Reschny is “probably one of the best defensive forwards in the league.”

4) Eatonia vs. 5) Unity
Game 1: Friday in Eatonia. Game 2: Tuesday in Unity. Game 3: Feb. 11 in Eatonia. Game 4: Feb. 13 in Unity. Game 5: Feb. 18 in Eatonia.

These two teams needed a tiebreaker to determine their playoff position, and there is little doubt it will be a long series.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to win this series in three games,” said Miners coach Dale Robertson.

The Huskies came out of the gate on fire, sitting in first place for a time before Christmas. But a second-half slide knocked them to fourth and they are looking to turn it around in a hurry.

“We gotta get better defensively and we’re going to have to shut down the Adam Shirley line and play him fairly close,” said Eatonia coach Sam Somerville. “We have to get quite a few shots on (Unity goalie Ryan Knapton) and get some traffic in front of him.”

Unity has a plethora of offensive weapons, including Adam Shirley, Ashton Hewson, Justin D’Entremont and Scott Hennings, and they are without a doubt a more dangerous team than their record would suggest.

“We’ve got a team that can put the puck in the net. Our defensive team play is sometimes lacking,” said Robertson. “We have played a little better and not allowed so many goals, and hopefully that continues into the playoffs.”

The Huskies, meanwhile, have gotten standout goaltending from Clint Wirth and boast an upgraded offensive corps that includes Jarvis Smigelski, Mike Thompson, Cam Aitken and Jay Hern.

“Their work ethic is great. They’ve got a fairly big team. They’ve got good goaltending,” said Robertson. “I think we stack up pretty good against Eatonia.”

Meanwhile, here are confirmed dates for provincial action involving Sask. West teams:

Kindersley Red Lions vs. Maidstone Jets (A): Wednesday in Maidstone, Feb. 11 in Kindersley, Feb. 13 in Maidstone (if necessary).
Unity Miners vs. Porcupine Plain Blues (B): Saturday in Porcupine Plain, Feb. 12 in Unity.
Eston Ramblers vs. Allan Flames (C): Saturday in Allan, Feb. 12 in Eston.
Macklin Mohawks vs. Conquest Merchants (C): Saturday in Conquest, Feb. 12 in Macklin.
Kerrobert Tigers vs. Wilkie Outlaws (C): Tuesday in Kerrobert, Feb. 11 in Wilkie.
Luseland Mallards vs. Dinsmore/Lucky Lake Dynamos (D): Sunday in Luseland, Feb. 11 in Dinsmore. Luseland defeated Turtleford 7-6 in their first round series.
Eatonia Huskies vs. Dundurn Wheat Kings (D): Saturday in Dundurn, Feb. 12 in Eatonia.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adamyk POTM, injury updates, and more

Quite a few things to get to tonight.

First, congratulations to Braeden Adamyk on being named the SJHL's player of the month for January. It was a big month for all three members of the line and Adamyk posted 13 goals and 25 points over 14 games to earn the award. He now sits third in the league in goals with 35, behind only Travis Eggum (47) and Jeremy Boyer (36). Johnny Calkins was a runner-up for the award.

Two other Klippers were recognized with runner-up honours for their respective awards. Kurt Leedahl was a runner-up for defenceman of the month, which went to Josh Roach, and Sean Cahill was considered for the goalie honour, which not surprisingly went to Russell Abbott.

Also, the weekly honours were announced tonight. Congrats to Andrew Dommett on being named player of the week and Sean Cahill for picking up the puckstopper prize. Roach is the defenseman of the week.

The one thing that surprises me from all the rankings and awards this week is that the Klippers not only didn't crack the CJHL top 20, but fell out of the honourable mentions despite winning three of four. Melfort should also be in the top 20 and Yorkton should be getting at least an HM this week. But that's why you take them with a grain of salt.

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All of a sudden the Klippers' injury list is somewhat long.

D. Jay McGrath's knee injury was described as "week-to-week" by Rockie Zinger. If I were a betting man I'd say we won't see him until the playoffs. As Rockie keeps saying, there's no need to rush him and there will be a layoff before the first round when guys can get healed up.

Riley Down is also considered week-to-week, with the hope of having him back within two weeks. I don't know what his injury is, but he hasn't played since that fight against Craig Eisenhut last Tuesday against Yorkton (which earned him a one-game suspension) and he had been nursing a hand injury a few weeks ago.

Jesse Mysiorek aggravated his groin injury on the road trip and he will not be playing in Humboldt tomorrow (Tuesday). It also sounds highly likely that he'll miss Friday's game against Weyburn and possibly the Humboldt home game next Tuesday.

Wheaton King was injured on the road and is considered day-to-day. No word on whether he'll suit up in Humboldt.

Spencer Braaten had his first all-out practice today and could make his Klipper debut on Friday.

The Klippers have called up '93 forward Brennen Bosovich from the Prince Albert Mintos for tomorrow's game. Bosovich impressed in training camp and currently sits second in scoring in the Sask. midget AAA league. They were also planning on recalling another AP to replace Mysiorek in the lineup, but no word on who that will be.

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Regarding the NHL 94 celebration in Estevan Saturday. Of course, I wasn't in the building and I've only been told about what the atmosphere was like between fans and players. Maybe the celebration would have been better done at home, but some of the comments I'm seeing and hearing are more than a little overboard. I wonder if the Kamloops Blazers got a bunch of flack when they did it in November.

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I had a chance to talk to Rockie Zinger about the results from the road trip this afternoon. Here's what he had to say:

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