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!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hoffman scores OT winner as Klippers clinch second with win over Terriers

It wasn't a perfect outing from the Klippers by any means, but Jordon Hoffman scored his second of the night 46 seconds into overtime to hand the Yorkton Terriers a 4-3 loss tonight.

Hoffman tipped a Sean Flanagan point shot past Warren Shymko to help the Klippers clinch second place in a game they trailed 2-1 and 3-2.

Andrew Dommett and Johnny Calkins had the other Kindersley goals, Calkins tying the game on a 4-on-3 with under five minutes to go. Clarke Breitkreuz, Devon McMullen and Robbie Ciolfi had the Yorkton goals.

The Klippers were playing without John Sonntag tonight due to a one-game suspension he incurred after his sixth fight of the season in Tuesday's game against Humboldt. The team clearly missed the big minute muncher as the blueline had far from a stellar night.

One defenceman who did stand out to me was Cody Lund. I thought he really stepped up and provided some steady minutes for the Klippers. He blocked a few shots, carried the puck with confidence and generally just played a smart game.

Sean Cahill also had a solid night between the pipes. He probably would have liked to have Ciolfi's goal back, but other than that he made some big saves and got some bounces when he had to scramble. He also got run over a couple of times.

Dommett got the Klippers on the board early in the second period after a scoreless first. He came to play tonight, not only offensively but in a physical sense. His jaw injury earlier this year hasn't scared him off from laying the body at all.

Craig Eisenhut had been awarded a penalty shot late in the first period but missed.

Breitkreuz tied it eight minutes into the second, pouncing on a loose puck in the slot, brushing past Flanagan and slipping it past the left pad of Cahill, who seemed to be caught off guard a little.

Yorkton took the lead three minutes later on a brilliant play by Jeremy Boyer. The Saskatoon native had the puck in the high slot to Cahill's right, spotted rookie defenceman Devon McMullen at the edge of the crease and put a perfect slap pass on his tape for an easy tap-in.

But the Klippers pulled even barely two minutes later on a great shift by Taylor Duzan. He set up Hoffman, who deked Shymko glove side, just inside the post.

The Terriers went ahead again 36 seconds into the third period when Ciolfi's weak shot from the right side beat Cahill five-hole.

The turning point of the game came with 5:01 remaining when Keon Vick was nailed with a double minor for high-sticking Braeden Adamyk along the boards. (I know it says 2 and 5 on the game sheet - but the Klippers didn't get a five-minute PP.)

Taylor Duzan and Nathan Murray were already in the box, setting up a 4-on-3 and tons of open ice for Dommett, Calkins, Sanfred King and Kurt Leedahl. Only 12 seconds into the PP, Calkins wired a shot into the top right corner from the right circle to tie the game.

Kindersley still had the second minor on the board and had a chance to win it, but the Terriers killed it off.

A big plus for the Klippers tonight was their penalty kill. Yorkton really never got anything going on their five PPs as the Klips did a great job of clogging the lanes, winning battles to loose pucks and getting them out.

The power play, on the other hand, continued to struggle. They did get the 4-on-3 goal from Calkins but weren't able to generate anything on the first four PPs before that. So there's still some work to do there.

As for first place, the win means the Klippers are technically still in the race, but failing to score on the second minor to Vick and giving the Terriers a point all but ended any chance they might have had at winning the conference.

The Klippers would need to win all three of their remaining games - Tuesday vs. Melfort and the home-and-home vs. Battlefords - and have Yorkton earn only one of six points in order to finish first.

But as Rockie Zinger said after the game, the team's focus now is more on gauging where they stack up against other teams. The Melfort game should be a good tilt between two of the top four teams in the league.

After Hoffman's OT goal, there wasn't enough time for me to get the three stars off, so the stars on the game sheet aren't mine. Mine would have been 1) Hoffman, 2) Dommett, 3) Breitkreuz with honourable mentions to Calkins and Lund.

Interviews

Jordon Hoffman had a terrific all-around game tonight and was rewarded with two goals. Rockie Zinger said tonight (and I agree with him) that Hoffman and Duzan have been two of the best penalty killers in the SJ over the last little while.

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Rockie Zinger (When he talks about bad penalties around the 2:40 mark, he's referring to Taylor Wasden's unsportsmanlike minor early in the third period, which he was not at all happy with.)

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