Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday grab bag

Just a few tidbits from around the SJHL this afternoon.

Klippers winger Jesse Mysiorek is back in town after spending more than a week rehabbing his groin injury in Edmonton. It's still unlikely that he'll play against Yorkton on Saturday, with the focus on getting him 100% for the playoffs. The same is true for D. Jay McGrath.

When McGrath does return, the plan is for him to play with Sanfred King and Spencer Braaten. Makes you wonder where Wheaton King would fit in. It's certainly a good problem to have if you're the Klippers. Say you put together a line of Wheaton, Elliot and Wasden (or Kissick or Gerwing) - there's no way you can call that a fourth line. When everyone is healthy the Klippers are basically looking at a first line, followed by 2A, 2B and 2C.

Speaking of injuries, the Yorkton Terriers are also playing without some key guys. Defenceman Blaine Tendler and forwards Robbie Ciolfi and Zak Majkowski are all still out, and I don't know if any will be ready to return for Saturday's game. The Terriers ran into the same problem against Weyburn last night as the Klippers: Mitch Kilgore. He stopped 34 of 35 shots.


Playoff races are going down to the wire all over the SJHL. Notre Dame defeated Estevan 6-2 last night to pull even with the Melville Millionaires for the last playoff berth in the Sherwood. Melville has two games in hand but the Hounds have been on fire over the last few weeks. Notre Dame has six games left, Melville has eight, and two of those are head-to-head (tonight and Monday).

Weyburn and Estevan continue to jockey for that third spot and, most likely, a date with the Klippers in the first round of the playoffs. Weyburn's win over Yorkton last night vaulted them one point ahead of the Bruins, who have a game in hand. It goes without saying that their home-and-home this weekend is absolutely huge, and if one team sweeps they'll pretty much lock up third place. Estevan has five games left, four at home. Weyburn has four left including three at home. They play the same teams (each other, Melville and Notre Dame) along with Estevan's extra game being against Yorkton.

Either team would pose a strong challenge to Kindersley in the first round of the playoffs. Estevan in particular is playing good hockey of late, and with their size and small barn, they're built for the playoffs.

In the north, Humboldt has the inside track on third place although Battlefords is six back with a game in hand. The Stars are also trying to fend off Flin Flon (one point back) for fourth. There's more hockey left to be played in the Bauer than the Sherwood, so that race could get pretty tight.


Here's the story in today's paper from the Weyburn game on Friday:

First place nearly out of reach for Klippers after loss to Wings

The Clarion

Mitch Kilgore stopped 55 shots and Scott Kirkham scored with 28 seconds left in overtime to lead the Weyburn Red Wings to a 5-4 win over the Kindersley Klippers on Friday at the West Central Events Centre on Friday.

Despite getting a point for the overtime defeat, the Klippers (30-20-3) now find themselves seven points behind the surging Yorkton Terriers (32-15-2-4) in the battle for first place in the Sherwood Conference. With five games left, the task has become unlikely.

The Klippers, who hosted Humboldt on Tuesday, will go head-to-head with the Terriers Saturday in a crucial tilt at the WCEC. It doesn’t get any easier next Tuesday with the high-flying Melfort Mustangs in town. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

The Klippers, who were missing centre Johnny Calkins to the flu on Friday, also must keep an eye on Estevan and Weyburn. The Bruins are six points behind with a game in hand, and the Red Wings moved to seven points back with Friday’s win.

Head coach Rockie Zinger said his team has no cause for concern.

“People are losing sight of the fact that we’re (17-7) in our last 24 games. So we’ve lost two in a row for the first time since November, big hairy deal,” he replied, referring to a 3-2 loss in Humboldt last Tuesday that saw the Klippers blow a two-goal lead with four minutes left.

Despite peppering Kilgore with shots all game on Friday - the shot count was 59-31 - the Klippers didn’t really turn on the jets until the third period and it cost them.

“I think the first period for us was a little slow, a little flat and I think if we avoided that period, we would have had a pretty good chance of winning,” said captain Andrew Dommett, who got the Klippers on the board 14 minutes into the second frame.

Jesse Ross drew first blood for the Wings at 7:32 of the first, tapping a feed from Coltyn Sanderson past the glove of netminder Sean Cahill. Weyburn took that lead to the dressing room despite being outshot 16-4.

Lucas Ulmer put the Red Wings up by two at the 94-second mark of the middle period, cranking one past Cahill from the left boards, just inside the blueline.

Dommett made it 2-1 at 13:50, with assists to Braeden Adamyk and Sanfred King, who filled in for Calkins on the top line.

“I liked it. Kinger’s a very good hockey player,” Dommett said of playing with King. “Unfortunately, he’s a little slower with his bad leg, but he definitely makes up for that with his skill. Once he gets into the offensive zone, he’s magic with that puck.”

But Drew George restored Weyburn’s two-goal cushion 57 seconds after the Dommett goal, cutting to the inside off a quick break and beating Cahill with a point blank wrister.

Zinger said that goal was a mental letdown, coming so quickly after the Klippers had finally solved Kilgore.

“You’re firing all those pucks on net and he’s saving it and saving it and saving it, and suddenly you get one and then boom, you let them put one in the back of your net. That next shift after a goal is so crucial.”

The Red Wings stretched their lead to three early in the third stanza when Keegan Bruce slipped the biscuit just inside the left post on the power play.

The Klipper comeback began with 12 minutes left when Adamyk made a slick centering pass to Dommett, whose rebound found King’s stick and the big pivot rang it off the iron and in to make it 4-2.
Kilgore denied the Klipper shooting gallery for another eight minutes before Riley Down inadvertently tipped a Kurt Leedahl point shot to pull the home side within one.

Then, with six Kindersley skaters on the ice, Adamyk deflected another Leedahl shot past Kilgore with 23.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

The Klippers bombarded the Wings throughout overtime, missing a handful of golden opportunities and keeping the puck in the Weyburn zone for virtually the entire time. But the Wings only needed one chance, and when a 2-on-1 broke out, Kirkham kept the puck and lifted a backhander over Cahill to end it.

“When you look at the big picture, if you play that team in a seven-game series and fire that many shots on that guy on a consistent basis, there’s no way he makes that many saves per night,” said Zinger. “It was a good performance by him.”

Forward Spencer Braaten, acquired from the Broncos on Jan. 8, made his Klipper debut after sitting out two months with an ankle injury. The 20-year-old filled in for Jesse Mysiorek on a line with Taylor Duzan and Jordon Hoffman, displaying good offensive instincts and solid board play. He picked up an assist on the tying goal.

“I thought he played really well for us. You could tell his wind wasn’t there as much as he would have liked it to be, but there was zero hesitancy as far as going into corners and battling for pucks and everything of that nature,” said Zinger. “I think once he gets back into game shape, he’s going to be a real nice added bonus for us.”

King line shines in 5-2 win over Broncos

Wheaton King, Sanfred King and Spencer Braaten combined for nine points against Braaten's old team to help the Klippers defeat the Humboldt Broncos 5-2 at the West Central Events Centre tonight.

The Klippers (31-20-3) were in control from the start, leading 1-0 after one and 4-1 after two. Sean Cahill stopped 36 shots, including 16 in the third, to keep the Broncos at bay.

Sanfred King had three points (1-2), Braaten had three (1-2) in his second game back from injury and Wheaton had two (1-1) in what was a standout game for him. Sanfred originally had four points but it looks like his assist on Braaten's goal has been changed to John Sonntag.

The other goals came courtesy of Taylor Duzan on the power play early in the second, and Cody Lund on a low point shot midway through the frame.

Matt Glowa had both of Humboldt's goals. The first came on a nice passing play with Troy Gasper at 12:37 of the second, and Kindersley responded exactly one minute later with Braaten's first goal as a Klipper. Glowa's second marker came 30 seconds into the third on a 5-on-3 created by a double-minor to Jordon Hoffman and a high-sticking call on Braeden Adamyk.

Johnny Calkins played tonight but hadn't fully recovered from the effects of the flu he caught last week.

Yorkton lost to Weyburn in a shootout tonight to pick up a point. The Klippers now trail by six points with four games to go. It goes without saying that Saturday's head-to-head tilt is a must-win for them to finish in first place.

Rockie Zinger said the reports are getting better every day on Jesse Mysiorek and D. Jay McGrath, but reiterated that they won't be rushed. I wouldn't expect either player to suit up Saturday.


Spencer Braaten

Rockie Zinger

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Klippers-Humboldt preview

The Klippers come into tonight's game having lost two straight for the first time in two months, one of those losses coming to the very same Broncos squad they face tonight. Last Tuesday in Humboldt, the Klippers led 2-0 with four minutes to go before blowing that lead and losing 3-2 in regulation. No doubt the team is eager to get revenge for that.

I really like the way Rockie Zinger has been approaching everything with a playoff mentality. The latest example was what he had to say after the loss to Weyburn. The Klippers are approaching the last five games of the season as part of a best-of-7 series where they've already lost the first two games, just to see how they respond when down two games. Obviously it doesn't replicate a real playoff situation, but it's still a good idea over the final games of the season, especially with the first place Terriers pretty much out of reach.

Speaking of first place, here's a rundown of the two teams and what they have left. The Klippers do have an advantage in having four home games left, to one for Yorkton, and they have a slightly better schedule in terms of opponents. But the Klippers would need to run the table and have Yorkton lose four of five; that or win four of five and have Yorkton go winless. Both scenarios look pretty unlikely considering the Terriers have won five straight.

Yorkton: 70 points. Five games left: tonight @ Weyburn, Saturday @ Kindersley, Sunday @ Humboldt, Feb. 15 @ Estevan, Feb. 18 vs. La Ronge.
Kindersley: 63 points. Five games left: tonight vs. Humboldt, Saturday vs. Yorkton, Feb. 15 vs. Melfort, Feb. 18 @ Battlefords, Feb. 22 vs. Battlefords.

On to the preview for tonight.

Humboldt Broncos

The Broncs have been playing some inspired hockey of late, riding a four-game winning streak and posting a 7-5 record since shipping out their 20-year-olds, including Spencer Braaten, at the Jan. 10 deadline. The player every opponent needs to key on is 18-year-old defenceman Josh Roach, who boasts 14 goals and 45 points to lead the team in scoring. What this guy has done this year is just remarkable, and he could have two years left. 

Up front, a focal point is 19-year-old Ward Szucki, who was part of that Chad Filteau deal between Battlefords and Estevan last year. I really like watching this guy play. With the exodus of vets, he's getting more time to put his skills on display. Troy Gasper, Matt Glowa and Taylor Johnson are other players to watch.

The Broncos are solid between the pipes with reigning MVP Andrew Bodnarchuk, the only 1990 not traded at the deadline, along with Matt Hrynkiw, who got the win against Kindersley last week.

Kindersley Klippers

Jesse Mysiorek remains on the shelf so I would imagine Spencer Braaten will again play with Taylor Duzan and Jordon Hoffman against his old team. Braaten seemed to fit in with the unit on Friday. I was really impressed with his work on the walls, for such a small guy. He finds the open areas and creates scoring chances. Once he takes a few games to get his feet wet, he'll be a dangerous part of the Klipper attack. I've said it before but I find Braaten and Duzan are cut from the same cloth in terms of their skill set and tenacity. Having Johnny Calkins back from the flu will be a big boost, and it allows Sanfred King to go back to his highly effective line with brother Wheaton and Ryan Elliot. And have you checked the scoring leaders lately? Andrew Dommett has clawed his way up to 33rd in SJHL scoring, despite playing only 29 games, and owns the seventh-best point per game average in the SJ. Impressive.

On the back end, Kurt Leedahl has been terrific of late. He's getting more pucks on net and good things are happening. On Friday, two of the three third period goals, including Adamyk's tying marker with 23 seconds left, were deflections off Leedahl shots. I would expect Sean Cahill to get the start, but wouldn't be surprised to see Justin McDonald between the pipes either. Cahill will certainly be getting the nod for the next two games against Yorkton and Melfort.