Saturday, March 31, 2012

What's Next For Jordan Weal

With the Regina Pats season ending last night at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors, the question is now being asked what becomes of Jordan Weal and what plans do the Los Angeles Kings have for him. Former King Daryl Evans is the color commentator on TV for the Kings and he has this look at Weal and what the future may hold.

Pats Season Ends In Moose Jaw

(photo courtesy

The Moose Jaw Warriors will take on the Medicine Hat Tigers in Round 2 of the WHL Eastern Conference playoffs after disposing of a short-handed Regina Pats crew 5-2 in Game 5 of their first round matchup. 

The Pats knew they would be without the services of Dyson Stevenson who was serving a one game suspension for his controversial clipping major in Game 4 of the series, but about two hours before faceoff we learned goalie Matt Hewitt was done with a broken wrist and that Brandon Davidson would not play because of a separated shoulder making it tougher. 

The team needed a good start, but they once again sputtered as Justin Kirsch scored at the 12 second mark of the game while Brayden Point added another at 521 with Torrin White making it 3-0 8 minutes in. The first period was absolutely horrific for the visitors as they were outshot 14-0. Yes, 14-0. 

It ends what I think you would have to agree was a successful season for this team. Not many people, including myself, thought this squad would make it to the playoffs this year, but Chad Lang made the find of the year in hiring Pat Conacher and you know the rest of the story. Jordan Weal and Martin Marincin have likely played their last games as members of the hockey team, but if there is an NHL lockout, the pair could be back and if that''s the case, they have a great foundation to start building from. If they don't, players like Chandler Stephenson and Morgan Klimchuk will be the ones who will be expected to get this team back to the playoffs where they have now gained some valuable experience. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Random Thoughts

--Has everyone calmed down after the chaotic Game 4 between the Pats and Warriors? The Dyson Stevenson clipping call has certainly gotten many worked up including this blogger who thought the call made against the Pats forward was a BS one--especially when it happened. It happened and both sides have had their say so its time to move on and concentrate on Game 5. Are the Pats going to go away without Stevenson and possibly Brandon Underwood and Brandon Davidson or will they force a Game 6 back at the Brandt on Saturday? Moose Jaw has had problems knocking out teams the last couple of years and if they don't win Game 5, one might suggest it will be back to Mosaic Place for Game 7. While the Pats have been a resilient bunch all year long, I don't see them winning another game in Moose Jaw.

--I have no idea how the WHL hands out playoff assignments when it comes to the men in striped shirts. However, I will say that Nathan Wieler and Derek Montsion should not do another game in this year's playoffs after the embarassment they were responsible for in Game 4. The two men were terrible all night as they missed calls on both sides while calling some penalties that left me and others scratching our heads. The league needs better work at this time of year. It happens in the NHL when refs blow games come playoff time so I hope it happens here as well. 

--As I clawed my way out of the Brandt Centre after Game 4, I was reminded why I usually leave with about 5 minutes to play. It is a horror-show trying to get out of Evraz Place. I don't know what can be done to alleviate this, but patience runs thin amongst some. Then again, when it takes you 30 minutes to get out of the lot as it took me, I can understand the frustration. 

--Rumour has it the next playoff series on SHAW will be the Medicine Hat Tigers vs the Warriors should Moose Jaw hang on to win the series. That's too bad because I think the Brandon-Edmonton 2nd round matchup will be a tremendous one featuring two of the hottest teams in the league. 

--Crowds in Saskatoon for Games 3 and 4 of their series against Medicine Hat were 4800 and 4200 meaning they were what only a third full for the two games. This from a city looking for an NHL team. Yeah, OK. Support your junior team if you are serious about moving up the ladder. Jack Brodsky should be furious with that. 

--Canada's justice system has failed three times over the past two weeks. 

--Can we as Canadians live without the penny?

--NHL13 will have a fan vote to determine who is their coverboy next year. Jordan Eberle has tweeted people to vote for him. I concur!

--If the Edmonton Oilers knew Taylor Hall had a bad shoulder that needed surgery to repair, why has he been playing? I don't like that one bit being an Oilers fan.

 --Will Brian Burke be the Leafs GM next year?

-- Will Pierre McGuire be Montreal's GM?

 --The Blue Jays have only lost four times this spring. Are they going to be a contender? I think they might.

--Will the Cubs be a contender? Yes, until about mid-May. 

--With Will Ferrell telling us this week that Anchorman 2 will be made, I can only welcome the return of Ron Burgundy by giving you this.


 --The Calgary Flames now own the Stampeders. Does this mean the Stamps, like the Flames, will miss the playoffs year after year. Is Jarome Iginla going to be Jon Cornish's back-up? Will Jay Bouwmeester be a defensive back?

 --Blogger, the engine used to create this blog has gone through some changes. I'm not for them. It makes it a little tougher to do this on a day-to-day basis.

 --It does not look right to get to the corner of Albert and Dewdney heading East and look north to see an empty lot where the Bonanza once stood.

 --When will the Southland Mall do something with the empty store once used by Wal-Mart. How long has it been since the store closed its doors to move to Harbour Landing? That mall is dying.

--I don't know who is doing the releases for the Lingerie Football League, but I got one this week saying the league is ready to enter the Saskatchewan province and that media attending this weekend's tryouts should get their credentials early because of space. Ummmmmm, the tryouts will go in the same spot where the Riders have held practice and there has been plenty of space. I don't think the North American media will be converging on the Credit Union Eventplex Saturday night. If they are, go to the Pats-Warriors Game 6 if there is one first.

--If you are on Access Communications, go to 508 to get Global Regina in HD and 510 to get CTV Regina in HD. Why wouldn't Access inform their customers of this through an e-mail or something.

--Revving your engine is the same as getting a megaphone and screaming "I have a tiny penis!". Yes, I am talking to the punks that do this on a nightly basis on Albert Street. Don't hurt Daddy's car.

Pats Pay For Clipping Fiasco

The Western Hockey League has suspended Regina Pats forward Dyson Stevenson for one game after he was assessed a clipping major in last nite's double overtime 5-4 win by the Moose Jaw Warriors. Pats president Brent Parker has also been fined $2500 dollars for his actions following the game.

Game 5 of the series will go Friday at Mosaic Place. A Warriors win will send them to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Flames Buy Stampeders

The Calgary Stampeders announced today that the Calgary Flames Limited Partnership is increasing its holdings in the football club and will become majority and operating partner of the Stampeders.
John Forzani, chairman and partner of the Stampeders, made the announcement on Thursday in the players’ lounge at McMahon Stadium along with Lyle Bauer, Stampeders president/COO, John Hufnagel, the team’s head coach/general manager, Ken King, president/CEO of the Calgary Flames, John Bean, senior vice-president and CFO of the Calgary Flames, and Alvin Libin from the Flames ownership group.

“This is a positive step for the Stampeders and is in the best interest of the football club to ensure its strength for the long term,” said Forzani. “Our No. 1 goal has been, and will always be, to make Calgarians proud of their football team.”
“We’re proud to have been a part of the community ownership group that took over the team in 2005 and look forward to continue working with the group in the future,” said King. “Increasing our ownership and involvement with the football club is a natural progression, fits perfectly with our group of community sports assets and will provide the Stampeders with an augmented business infrastructure.”
Bauer became the Stampeders’ 28th president on Jan. 18, 2010, and enters his third season with the club. Bauer will continue to oversee all business operations with the Stampeders.
“It is no secret that we have plans on improving the fan experience at McMahon Stadium and that is a high priority in our business model,” said Bauer. “The Flames will bring significant expertise and infrastructure to this and other initiatives. I know our dedicated staff will embrace this opportunity and look forward to working with the Flames to provide our fans great entertainment value.”
Hufnagel, who also signed a 5 year contract extension,  became the Stampeders’ head coach and general manager prior to the 2008 season. Last season, Hufnagel moved into second place on the club’s list of all-time coaching wins and now has 47 regular-season victories to his credit. Hufnagel led the Stampeders to the 2008 Grey Cup title — the sixth in the franchise’s storied history — and was named the CFL’s coach of the year that season.
“The ownership group has been terrific to work with and I look forward to the new structure,” said Hufnagel. “John and Ken have assured me that it’s business as usual. My coaching staff and football operations staff will continue to do everything possible to ensure the Stampeders are a Grey Cup contender every season. We will continue to work hard to find talent at free-agent camps, scout up-and-coming players from the CIS level and ensure that the Stampeders are a force on the field.”
Closing of this transaction is subject to league and other approvals and is expected to take place in the next few weeks.
“This is an exciting development for the Stampeders and the Canadian Football League because it has the potential to take this franchise to even greater heights,” said Mark Cohon, commissioner of the CFL. “The entire ownership group that took over the Stampeders in 2005 has done an exemplary job of building a strong franchise that competes on the field, is a positive force in the community and has significant value as a business. We’re encouraged that the Stampeders will continue to draw on that group’s experience and expertise at the same time as they tap into the Flames’ first-class organization and considerable resources. The potential here is tremendously promising.”
The Calgary Flames Limited Partnership operates the Calgary Flames, the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks and the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat.

CFL's Top Defensive Player in 2011 Staying In Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are pleased to announce that import cornerback and the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Jovon Johnson has extended his contract with the team. As per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Johnson is entering his fifth season with the Blue Bombers, coming off a 2011 season which saw him continue to showcase his versatility but not only dominating the league defensively, but also was finishing as the Bombers’ primary punt returner. His 594 punt return yards moved him up to fourth place on the Blue Bombers’ all-time list. He was named a CFL All-Star for the second time in his career and an East Division All-Star for the third straight season. In 2011, Johnson returned two of his league-leading eight interceptions for touchdowns, giving him six interception majors for his career which currently ranks him third in CFL history. 

"I’m very excited to remain a Bomber beyond next season,” said Johnson. "This organization gave me an opportunity in 2008 and I am very grateful for that. We were so close to achieving our ultimate goal last season and I think this year we are in a great position to move to the next level.”

"Clearly, Jovon Johnson is one of the marquee players in this league and we are thrilled to lock him down for the foreseeable future,” said Vice-President and General Manager Joe Mack. "His versatility to play special teams in addition to his regular role on defence makes him an even greater asset for us. We are looking for him to take an larger leadership role this season and are confident he is in a position to do so.”

For Those Wondering

The talk around the water cooler today will certainly be the controversial "clipping" penalty Dyson Stevenson received last night that resulted in a five minute major and the Moose Jaw Warriors tying Game 4 of their playoff series against the Pats in a game they eventually won in double overtime. Many (including myself) had no clue that there was such a penalty. Here is what it says in the NHL rulebook

Rule 44 - Clipping
44.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent.
A player may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s knees.
An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player or goalkeeper who may or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees.
44.2 Minor Penalty - A player who commits these fouls will be assessed a minor penalty for “clipping.”
44.3 Major Penalty - If an injury occurs as a result of this “clipping” check, the player must be assessed a major penalty (see 44.5).
44.4 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by clipping.
44.5 Game Misconduct Penalty - A game misconduct penaltymust be assessed anytime a major penalty is applied for injuring an opponent by clipping.
44.6 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for clipping, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer toRule 28).

Habs Fire Gauthier

The Montreal Canadiens have fired General Manager Pierre Gauthier. No replacement was named.

 Canadiens President Geoff Molson will hold a press conference at 11:45 a.m. to discuss the move.

 The Canadiens have won just two of their last eight games (2-2-4), and enter Thursday's games 15th in the Eastern Conference and 28th in the League. Gauthier had held his current position since Feb. 8, 2010, when he replaced Bob Gainey.

 The Canadiens finished eighth in the Eastern Conference that season, but led by goalie Jaroslav Halak, they upset the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the conference finals, where they lost in five games to the Philadelphia Flyers. Last season, the Canadiens finished sixth in the East with 96 points, and after taking a 2-0 first-round lead on the Boston Bruins, fell in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

 This season, however, things slipped early. When the team won just once in its first eight games, Gauthier responded by firing assistant coach Perry Pearn hours before an Oct. 27 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. That sparked a four-game win streak, but it didn't last. Gauthier fired coach Jacques Martin prior to a Dec. 17 game against the New Jersey Devils, replacing him on an interim basis with assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth. However, that decision sparked controversy as Cunneyworth spoke no French.

Ron Burgundy Returns!!

Will Ferrell has delighted Anchorman fans by confirming his comedy creation Ron Burgundy will be back for a second movie outing.

A follow-up to 2004 cult comedy Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, which starred Ferrell as an obnoxious 1970s newsman, has long been mooted, but Ferrell has now revealed he is working on a sequel.

The actor appeared in character as Burgundy during an appearance on Conan O'Brien's TV talk show on Wednesday to announce the news to fans.

He said, "As of 09:00 Mountain Time, Paramount Pictures and myself, Ronald Joseph Aaron Burgundy, have come to terms on a sequel to Anchorman. It is official! There will be a sequel to Anchorman. There will be a sequel.”
It is not yet known if Ferrell's co-stars Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate will be returning in the new film.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Double Overtime Thriller

Brayden Point has the Moose Jaw Warriors one game away from advancing to the 2nd round of the WHL playoffs. The recently turned 16 year old scored in double overtime as the Moose Jaw Warriors outlasted the Pats 5-4 in what was an absolute thriller at the Brandt Centre Tuesday night.

I give both teams a lot of credit for keeping up the pace in that one as it was back and forth hockey for most of the night. They both deserve every accolade that comes their way. As for referees Nathan Wieler and Brett Montsion, they should be lucky to call a Timbits game again this season after their effort. I am not going to sit here and tell you the Pats got screwed by the officiating in Game 4, but one call certainly changed the complexion of this game and arguably the series.

With just over seven minutes to play, a Warriors defenceman and Dyson Stevenson went into the corner to chase a loose puck. Stevenson hit the Moose Jaw player and the refs arm came up. I didn't know what the ref was going to call against Stevenson and I still don't know if I believe what he called. A five minute major for "clipping" was assessed. Clipping? Yes, clipping. In all the years I have watched hockey, I have never seen a clipping penalty called. I verified each and every SJHL gamesheet last year and at no time, did I ever see a clipping penalty. I don't think I even knew hockey had such a penalty. In a game in which the two teams were battling tooth and nail, I don't even think a penalty would have been warranted in that situation and before you Moose Jaw fans start crowing, I'd be just as harsh if this happened to one of your players as well. While I, and many others supporting both teams tried to figure out what had been called, Moose Jaw tied it up setting the stage for Point's heroics in the 5th period. I kept waiting in the overtime for a roughing the passer call to be made or an illegal skater downfield. I'm sorry, but that's a terrible call. Would Moose Jaw have scored to send the game into overtime? We will never know, but Regina fans will tell you this series could be easily tied at 2 going back to Mosaic Place and some Moose Jaw fans will say the same thing because they did say it on the way out.

The result leaves Moose Jaw with a 3-1 lead in the series. They can close it out Friday night on home ice. For the Pats, they can only hope to get one more home game in this series. If this was the last time that Pats fans see Jordan Weal in a home uniform, they can say that in his last game on Brandt Centre ice his team got a raw deal and for that they can thank Misters Wieler and Montsion for their poor, poor performance which was inconsistent and horrible for both sides yet magnified by the horrid and somewhat mystifying clipping call.

Comment away!

BTW: If you listened to "Sportscage" before the game, who said it was going into double overtime?

Raiders Make Some Changes

The Board of Directors of the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League  has finalized its’ Hockey Operations staff for the 2012-13 season.
     General Manager Bruno Campese, Head Coach Steve Young and Athletic Therapist Duane Bartley have all had the option year of their contracts with the club picked up and are retained on staff for the 2012-13 season.
     Assistant Coach Dave Manson has been promoted to Associate Coach.  Manson joined the Raiders as an Assistant Coach this past season.
     Assistant Coach Craig Bedard, who has been with the Raiders since the 2007-08 season did not have the option year of his contract renewed.
     The Raiders are pleased to announce the addition of Tim Leonard as an Assistant Coach. Leonard has been with the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Major Midget Hockey League the past 10 years. The past 7 seasons he was the Head Coach after being Assistant Coach the previous 3.
     Leonard led the Mintos to back to back Telus Cup Championships in 2006 and 2007, the first time that had ever been accomplished, with the Mintos going 14-0 in the two national championship tournaments. The Mintos were 3 time Saskatchewan League Champions and twice Western Canadian champs under Leonard.  
     “After 3 years of continued improvement, this year was an unexpected disappointment” said Dale McFee, President of the Board of the Raiders. “The Board has reviewed all the documentation and is confident with some tweaking we have the right people to bounce back next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Craig Bedard for his 5 years of dedication and service to the Raider Hockey club.”


Something For The #WHYQR Guys

If you haven’t seen it (go back a couple of posts), a group of local film-makers took to Regina streets lately to produce a video about the great things that this great city has to offer. They are asking you to go on Twitter under hashtag whyqr to give your reasons for Regina being so great. In no particular order, here are some sports reasons as to why this city is so great.

 There is no better place to be in Canada than Mosaic Stadium on game day

. Watching the Regina Red Sox while drinking a cold one on a warm summer night at Currie Field.

 The Luther Invitational Basketball Tournament

. Saying I was able to watch Jordan Eberle and Jon Ryan hone their crafts before becoming the stars they are.

The volunteer spirit that shines brightly whenever a major sporting event comes to our town.

 The Ken Goff boxing classic.

 Reading the stories of those that make our sporting community special whether they be pro or amateur from Rob Vanstone and his cronies at the Leader-Post which is the best sports section in Western Canada if not Canada.

 Cheering on the likes of Amber Holland and Mark McMorris and knowing they are from right here.

 The Sandra Schmirler Curling Classic

. Braving a 30 below night to watch the Pats.

 The Sportscage

 The Co-Operators Centre.

 The Centre for Kinesiology Health and Sport.

 Leibel Field.

 Making sure that the young athletes who have a chance at shining on a brighter stage and the coaches and others that help get them there get their 15 minutes of fame.

 I know I’ve certainly forgotten a few things, but you get my gist. There is no better sporting community in this country than right here in Regina. We shouldn’t need a video to get talk of that going should we?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Warriors Take Game 3

The Moose Jaw Warriors have taken a 2-1 series lead in their best of 7 series with the Regina Pats after a 5-3 victory at a sold out Brandt Centre Tuesday night. After getting demolished 8-1 in Game 2 on Saturday, it looked as if the Warriors, without super pest Cody Beach, were going to deliver another one sided beating to the Pats as they led the game 5-1 after just 20 minutes. I did not see the first 10 minutes of the hockey game, but Phil "The Thrill" Andrews quickly told me on 620 CKRM that Moose Jaw had silenced the pro-Regina crowd by scoring twice in the games first minute. As I walked into the Brandt Centre, the Warriors had made it 3-0 and they quickly followed suit with two more goals making me wonder if I should just turn around and go home. I will give Regina credit though. While some players just seemingly didn't want any part of this one for whatever reason, this team did not fold its tent. They delivered some pushback and they outplayed the Warriors in the final two periods. This should bode well for Game 4. Some will say Moose Jaw might have taken their foot off the gas a little after that first period and that's fine, but it doesn't take away the fact that Regina was the better team in the 2nd and 3rd. Game 4 will be at a soldout Brandt Centre tomorrow. I'll go out on a limb and say it goes back to Moose Jaw tied at two.

More Tickets Available

As of 1:30 this afternoon, the Regina Pats have released a limited number of seats for tonight's Game 3 against the Warriors. The tickets are ones not being used by the WHL or by the Warriors. You can get them in person at the Brandt Center ticket office, phone 543-7800 or go to

Who Has The Best Hockey Name?

The Hockey News asked readers a few weeks ago to submit the best hockey names as they seek to find out who in the game has the best name. They have narrowed it down to 64 and are asking you to help decide. Here is the list. Enjoy!

Rider Camp At U of R This Year, U of S Next

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they will hold 2012 Training Camp at the University of Regina.

The team also announced they have an agreement in place to hold 2013 Training Camp at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to kick-off the Grey Cup season which will see the 101st Grey Cup Championship played at Mosaic Stadium.

This year’s Training Camp will also feature two evening practices. One will take place on Monday, June 11th at the University of Regina and the other will take place down the highway in Moose Jaw at their new Fieldhouse Facility on Monday, June 18th.

The team will once again travel to Saskatoon for Green and White Day on Saturday, June 9th to give fans in northern Saskatchewan an opportunity to see the Rider hopefuls while getting autographs and pictures with all the players and coaches.

To open training camp this year, rookies will take to the University Field in the Queen City on Wednesday May 30th and Thursday May 31st, with main camp set to begin on the U of R field Sunday, June 3rd.


Wednesday, May 30 – Friday, June 1:
•Rookie camp at University of Regina

Saturday, June 2:
•Veterans report

Sunday, June 3:
•First day of training camp at the University of Regina

Saturday, June 9:

· Green and White Day in Saskatoon at Griffiths Field

Evening Practices:

· Monday, June 11th – University of Regina – 7:00 - 9:00 pm

· Monday, June 18th – Moose Jaw Fieldhouse – 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Monday, March 26, 2012

Warriors Lose Their Agitator For Game 3

The Moose Jaw Warriors will be short-handed tomorrow when they take on the Regina Pats in Game 3 of their WHL first round playoff series. Chief agitator Cody Beach has been given a one game suspension by the league. The league says it is for a derogatory comment made towards the Pats bench during Game 2. I have no idea when he said it or what was said.

NHL Three Stars Of The Week

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending March 25.


Malkin led the League with nine points (five goals, four assists) in four games as the Penguins (47-22-6, 100 points) kept within one point of first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. He began the week with two goals and three assists, his fourth five-point game of the season, in an 8-4 victory against the Winnipeg Jets March 20. Malkin then scored twice in a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators March 22 and recorded a goal and an assist in a 5-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils March 25. The 2008-09 Art Ross Trophy winner leads the NHL with 46-51—97 in 68 games and is on pace to break his career high in goals (47, set in 2007-08).


Miller led the NHL with four wins, posting a 1.26 goals-against average and .956 save percentage as the Sabres (37-29-10, 84 points) won four consecutive games to keep pace with the Washington Capitals in the race for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. He made 24 stops in a 7-3 victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning March 19, recorded his career-high sixth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens March 21, stopped 26 shots in a 4-1 triumph at the New York Rangers March 23 and closed the week with 24 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 24. The 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner is 29-18-7 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 56 appearances.


Ovechkin led the League with six goals and added one assist as the Capitals (38-30-8, 84 points) earned six out of a possible eight points to maintain the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. He recorded two goals in a 5-3 victory at the Detroit Red Wings March 19, scored 26 seconds into a 2-1 shootout loss at the Philadelphia Flyers March 22, tallied two goals in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Winnipeg Jets March 23 and finished the week with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 25. The two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner is tied for fourth in the NHL with 36 goals in 72 games and has scored in five straight contests dating to March 18 (seven total goals). Ovechkin has 10 goals in March, the 12th time in his career that he has reached double-figures in one calendar month.

Check This Out

I don't know who is responsible for this, but a video showcasing why Regina is a great place to be is out on Youtube. I came across it this morning and I think its great. Take a look.

A Monday Morning Joke

Courtesy of my friend James up in Prince Albert...

An old, blind cowboy wanders into an all-girl biker bar by mistake.
He finds his way to a bar stool and orders a shot of Jack Daniels.
After sitting there for a while, he yells to the bartender, 'Hey, you wanna hear a blonde joke?'

The bar immediately falls absolutely silent.
In a very deep, husky voice, the woman next to him says,

'Before you tell that joke, Cowboy, I think it is only fair, Given that you are blind, that you should know five things:

1. The bartender is a blonde girl with a baseball bat.

2. The bouncer is a blonde girl.

3. I'm a 6-foot tall, 175-pound blonde woman with a black belt in karate.

4. The woman sitting next to me is blonde and a professional weight lifter.

5. The lady to your right is blonde and a professional wrestler.

Now, think about it seriously, Cowboy. Do you still wanna tell that blonde joke?'

The blind cowboy thinks for a second, shakes his head and mutters, 'No...not if I'm gonna have to explain it five times.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Sunday HA-HA

You work your way from the neighbourhood sandlot to high school to college and then to the pros. You sign a contract with a major league organization and during a spring training baseball game that's on TV, you get your chance to show the whole world who you are and you get this. What a downer!

Pats Get Smoked-Series Tied

The Regina Pats had a chance to really drive a spike into the playoff hopes of the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday. After winning the opener in a game that maybe they didn't deserve to win when you looked at the shots on goal clock, the Pats had the Warriors on the ropes. Moose Jaw just wasn't finding a way to beat this team and it was getting in their heads. Another solid outing at Mosaic Place and you are up 2-0 in the series. Instead, the team basically mailed in Game 2 as they looked uninspired right from the opening puck drop and were embarassed by a score of 8-1.

Former Rider Matt Dominguez might have summed it up best when he tweeted late in the game that he went to the Warriors game and saw nine goals. He would have said the Pats-Warriors game, but Moose Jaw was the only team to show up. You can't argue with him.

Moose Jaw had the intensity level on overdrive for this one right from the opening faceoff and the Pats just couldn't match it. They also couldn't for the second straight game generate much offence registering only 13 shots on goal. At one point, the shots were 29-4. Some guys in blue looked disinterested and I'm sure Pat Conacher noticed it.

I also wonder if the Pats noticed that late in the 3rd period the Warriors played the "goodbye song" over the PA system. I don't know about you, but I found that to be a little presumptious since this series is still tied at 1. Yes, that's a pretty weak motivator for Conacher to use, but it was something that I thought was a little off base.

It sets up what will be a good game 3 on Tuesday at the Brandt Centre as the locale changes.
Who in Moose Jaw opposed the building of a new multiplex facility and what are those people saying now? Mosaic Place is simply an outstanding building from top to bottom and Moose Jaw should consider themselves fortunate to have such a first rate building in their great city. There's a big time feel when you walk around the place. The only thing that I don't like is they didn't bring the old grill with them from the Civic Center because that rink had the best burgers in the WHL and you didn't have to wait long to get one. That isn't the case at Mosaic. An entire intermission and then some for one burger. YIKES!
Mosaic Place also doesn't have the same atmosphere as the old Civic Center did, but there was no way you could replicate that. We all know how intimidating the old building could be. However, Warrior fans do "bring the noise" in the new place as fanatically as they did in the old place. They get it going early as their mascot--James Gallo---uh I mean Mortimer Moose (forgive me as the two look similar) starts banging his drum and getting the people going before the Warriors make their entrance. Regina needs something like that to get the crowd going and to get the crowd pumped up. We all know Regina hockey fans don't like to make a lot of noise for whatever reason. Regina needs more than the golden tones of Darren Szabo telling you to get loud and get proud. Regina needs some noise and they need it right from the beginning of Game 3. You cheer your butt off at Rider games so try it at a Pats game and lets see what happens.
Just some other thoughts...

--The Brad Wall government is taking some heat for basically killing off the provincial film industry. That's a battle that isn't over yet, but I would like to applaud the Saskatchewan Party for having a plan in place to create some passing lanes on Highway 10 between Balgonie and Fort Qu'Appelle. This is long overdue. I say go all the way to Yorkton on this one. In fact, lets go one step better and twin Highway 10 and while you are at it, twin the highway between Regina and the US border at North Portal too. With all the trucks on that stretch of road, its something that should have been done years ago in my mind.

--Heather Nedohin won't win gold at the World Womens Curling Championship in Lethbridge and I'm not surprised. The rink basically collapsed down the homestretch. I've known Heather from my days working in the Peace Country and she is a tremendous individual, but I wasn't convinced she was the best rink at the Scotties in Red Deer even though she got the hardware. Korea's rink said she wanted another shot at the Nedohin rink because she thought her group was better and she backed up her words. The two rinks meet in a bronze medal match today. I don't care who wins that game and I wish curling would get rid of it.

--How much do TSN's curling numbers go down when Canada isn't involved. I guess we'll find out when the ratings come out.

--I am not a fan of TSN's Nabil Karim. I'm not the only one. You have a guy like Lee Jones who does fantastic work for the network when called upon and you go and hire this dull as dishwater guy. OK!

--A story earlier this week suggested Patrick Roy was ready to become the Habs GM once this season is over and that former Colorado bench boss Bob Hartley would be the new coach. There are now some rumblings that Roy is waiting for the Coyotes to be transferred to Quebec so he can take the position with the Nordiques or whatever they will be called. Oh, how Montreal fans would love that with the word love being used facetiously.

--I continue to shake my head at those who don't like the Odell Willis trade saying the Riders gave up too much. Willis is a guy the Riders have needed since John Chick and Stevie Baggs left. Players like him don't come around every day and you need to give up a lot to get him. The fact Willis is going into his option year is admittedly a little scary, but if the Riders can keep Odell happy and keep him around for a while, I think this deal is huge for the /=S=/. Lets let the season play out before making judgment on this deal. There is also talk that the Riders have let a good receiver get away by not having the #8 pick. Did I hear Brendan Taman or anyone in the organization say they were going with a WR with the 8th pick? This team has solid Canadian depth right now and at receiver they have Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg, Jordan Sisco and Scott McHenry. They are fine.

--I couldn't be happier to see Luca Congi get a 2nd chance with the Tiger-Cats. We all know here what type of individual Luca is and it was tough to see him go especially considering his last appearance in a Rider uniform was getting carried off the field. You know the guy loved being a Rider when he broke down while being interviewed on "The Sportscage". He is pure class all the way and I wish him nothing but luck with the exception of two games. Who's kidding who, if he kicks four field goals in those games against the Riders and Saskatchewan still wins, I am happy.

--With Wes Cates gone, I was asked the other day if we could see Neal Hughes get more touches of the football this season. I don't know what head coach Corey Chamblin and his offensive staff have planned for number 32 this year, but I would be all for it. We know what Hughes could do when he carried the rock for the Rams. Yes, I am a big fan of his. I've always wondered why I don't see more fans with Hughes jerseys in the stands considering he is a Regina boy. Hopefully, the reason is I'm not looking hard enough.

--Its no secret that I'm not a fan of Tom Renney and that I hope the Oilers remove him from the position. I had someone ask me the other day who I would recommend to take over for Renney. With all apologies to Brent Parker and the Pats, my answer was Pat Conacher.

--If you are reading this before Sunday afternoon and you are in Regina, head down to the Conexus Arts Centre today and help out my good friend Rob Vanstone with his annual raise a reader memorabilia sale. Rob has found many great items over the years (sorry I couldn't find anything for you this year big guy) and its an event that he is very passionate about. You can also get your picture taken with the three Grey Cup rings that have been presented to the Riders which is very cool. All proceeds go to the Raise a Reader promotion that the Leader-Post has done for years and one that I endorse highly. Go check it out if you can. If you're a collector, chances are you will find something you like. Chances are, you will find something you like even if you aren't a collector. Its a big collectibles show so take it in if you can. I may see you down there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pats Take Game 1

The Pats and Warriors played four games against one another at Mosaic Place in the regular season and the final in each game was 3-2. It should come to no one's surprise then that Game 1 of this best of 7 between the two rivals ended in a 3-2 final, but it was the visitors taking the win and not the home side.

I think it would be a fair statement to say that the Warriors controlled this game on a territorial basis, but when it came down to the play between the pipes, Luke Siemens did not get it done and Matt Hewitt did--albeit I didn't think his 33 save performance was that great as there were really no tough saves he had to make.

The star on this night as a collective unit was the Regina defence corps. Brandon Davidson, Colton Jobke and company basically kept Moose Jaw to the outside and didn't allow many second shot opportunities. Meanwhile, Siemens will wish he would have went out to play the puck on Tanner Olstad's short-handed marker in the 2nd as he would have easily beaten the Regina forward to the puck but instead waited to see what Olstad would do and then turned out to shovel the puck out of the back of the net.

Game 2 is tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how the Warriors come out. Its no secret that Regina gave them everything they could handle in the regular season, and I don't think Moose Jaw wanted Regina for that reason. That trend continued in Game 1. You can't tell me that team will be gripping their sticks a little tighter in Game 2 after outshooting Regina over 2 to 1 and not getting the result. They don't want to lose the first two in this series going back to the Brandt Centre for Games 3 and 4, but they may be wondering what they have to do to beat this pesky group. As for the Pats, they are not even supposed to be here, but they are so expect the looseness to continue. As it was on Friday, I expect Game 2 to be a ring-a-ding dong dandy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chamblin & O'Day Discuss Willis Trade

Riders head coach Corey Chamblin and assistant GM Jeremy O'Day were all smiles today after the football club acquired Odell Willis from the Bombers. Hear what the two men had to say starting with Chamblin.....

Is He Now The Mayor of Riderville??

Saskatchewan Roughrider General Manager Brendan Taman announced that the team has made a trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Riders will receive import Defensive End Odell Willis and a conditional fifth round draft pick in 2013, in exchange for second (8th overall) and fourth (23rd overall) round selections in the upcoming 2012 CFL Draft, as well as a conditional draft pick in 2013.

Willis (6’2 – 255 lbs) began his CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders in 2009, where he signed as a Free Agent prior to the season. The 27-year-old Mississippi native was acquired by the Blue Bombers via trade midway through the ’09 season.

The former University of West Georgia star enjoyed a career season in 2011, piling up 27 tackles and 13 quarterback sacks (both career highs) and was named an East-Divison and CFL All-Star.

“Odell is arguably the best pass-rusher in the CFL,” noted Taman. “I’m very confident he significantly upgrades our club on the defensive side of the football.”

Since entering the league in 2009, Willis has been a pass-rushing force from his defensive end spot, his 13 sacks in 2011 tied him for the league lead with Justin Hickman, while his totals in 2010 (11) and 2009 (10) placed him third each season.

During his three seasons in the CFL, Willis has tallied 78 tackles, 34 quarterback sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Luca Has A New Home


Non-import kicker/punter Luca Congi has signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hamilton is expected to make the announcement official on Friday.

The Tiger-Cats have been looking for kicking help since Justin Medlock, an East Division all-star last year for the Cats, signed with the Carolina Panthers of the NFL earlier this off-season.

Congi, 28, has five years experience in the league, all with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He missed the start of last season recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2010 before losing his starting job to rookie Chris Milo.

Congi has hit on 166 of 209 career field goals for a 79.4% success rate. He has a career punting average of 38.1 yards.

The Ticats have one other kicker on roster in 23-year-old Josh Maveety. Congi and Maveety will compete for kicking duties in training camp.

WHL 1st Round Playoff Primer

The 2012 WHL Playoffs open this week as the quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a spot in the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament in Shawinigan, QC, begins on Thursday, March 22nd.

The Edmonton Oil Kings were the top team in the WHL’s Eastern Conference this season, skating to a 50-win season and capturing the Scotty Munro Memorial trophy as the WHL’s to regular-season club. Now, they look forward to a first-round playoff match-up versus the defending champion Kootenay Ice. The Moose Jaw Warriors were beasts of the East Division this season. Can they prevail in a first-round series versus archrivals the Regina Pats?

The Tri-City Americans were the Best in the West during the 2011-12 WHL regular season. Can the red-hot trio of Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland propel the Ams on a deep playoff run? The Kamloops Blazers burned a path to the B.C. Division title for the first time since 2001-02. Can Brendan Ranford’s Blazers keep their torch going well into the spring? What about the high-flying Portland Winterhawks? Last year’s Western Conference champions will be gunning for another shot at the Ed Chynoweth Cup after falling short last spring.

Here's a look at the first-round Husky WHL Eastern Conference and Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Quarter-Final match-ups (Also find attached).



2011-12 regular-season record: (W-L-OTL-SOL, PTS)
Edmonton: 50-15-3-4, 107pts (L10: 10-0-0-0)
Kootenay: 36-26-6-4, 82pts (L10: 3-5-2-0)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Edmonton: 6-0-0-0, 12pts
Kootenay: 0-3-2-1, 3pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Rhett Rachinski 6gp-3g-4a-7pts
Dylan Wruck 5gp-0g-7a-7pts

Max Reinhart 6gp-2g-5a-7pts
Sam Reinhart 5gp-2g-2a-4pts

The Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Kootenay Ice for their first ever playoff series. The series will feature Edmonton defenseman Griffin Reinhart matching up against his brothers, Sam and Max, from Kootenay.

The Oil Kings are making their third playoff appearance in their five-year history, and come into the 2012 post-season as the WHL’s top-ranked team. The Oil Kings also enter the playoffs on an 11-game winning streak. Edmonton’s success this season was due largely to their proficiency at both ends of the rink. They owned the WHL’s second-ranked offense and power play as well as the second-ranked defense and penalty killing unit. Led by 105-point man Michael St. Croix, the Oil Kings boast seven players with 20 or more goals and seven with 50 or more points, meaning they have plenty of depth. A defense corps led by Canadian World Junior vet Mark Pysyk held the Ice to just one goal in four of their six meetings this season. Griffin Reinhart, along with the rest of Oil Kings blue liners, will need to pay attention to his brothers, Sam and Max Reinhart, the top two Ice scorers. In Laurent Brossoit, the Oil Kings boast one of the WHL’s best goaltenders. Brossoit, though, has just two games worth of playoff experience under his belt.

The Ice may have slid down the standings over the final two weeks of the season, but they still come into the post-season as the defending WHL champions. The team boasts 13 players who were a part of the 2011 WHL Championship side, so there is no shortage of playoff experience. The Reinhart brothers, veteran Max and rookie Sam, co-lead the Ice in goals with 28 apiece this season, but were two of just four players on the team to top the 20-goal mark. The Ice will need more from the likes of Jesse Ismond, Joe Antilla and Dylen McKinlay if they are to match the Oil Kings’ high-octane offense. Kootenay’s team defense ranked second in the Eastern Conference and third in the WHL. However, the Ice gave up at least three goals in five of six meetings versus the Oil Kings this season. Led by veterans Joey Leach and Jagger Dirk, Kootenay’s defense will need to tighten up if they are to limit the Oil Kings’ offensive output. Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen is a well-known playoff performer. The 20-year-old Buffalo Sabres prospect was the MVP of the WHL Championship series last year.

Series Schedule (All Start Times Local)

#1 – Kootenay @ Edmonton; Friday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#2 – Kootenay @ Edmonton; Sunday, March 25 (5:00pm)
#3 – Edmonton @ Kootenay; Wednesday, March 28 (7:00pm)
#4 – Edmonton @ Kootenay; Thursday, March 29 (7:00pm)
#5 – Kootenay @ Edmonton; Sunday, April 1 (2:00pm)**
#6 – Edmonton @ Kootenay; Tuesday, April 3 (7:00pm**
#7 – Kootenay @ Edmonton; Wednesday, April 4 (7:00pm)**
**If Necessary


2011-12 regular-season record:

Moose Jaw: 45-19-6-2, 98pts (L10: 7-2-1-0)
Regina: 37-27-6-2, 82pts (L10: 4-4-1-1)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Moose Jaw: 4-2-2-0, 10pts
Regina: 4-2-2-0, 10pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:

Moose Jaw:

Cody Beach: 7gp-2g-6a-8pts

Kenton Miller: 10gp-4g-3a-7pts


Jordan Weal: 7gp-5g-10a-15pts

Chandler Stephenson: 7gp-5g-1a-6pts

The Moose Jaw Warriors face East Division archrival the Regina Pats for the first playoff series between the teams since the 2003-04 season. Kyle Brodziak and the Warriors swept Dan Waschuk and the Pats 4-0 in the opening round of the 2004 WHL playoffs.

The Warriors come into the 2012 WHL post-season as the East Division champions for the first time since 2005-06. That year, they went all the way to the WHL championship series where they lost to the Vancouver Giants. This year’s Warriors team boasts plenty of size, character and competitiveness with gritty, talented forwards like Cam Braes, James Henry, Kenton Miller and Cody Beach making life difficult for opposition defensemen. Quinton Howden, Justin Kirsch and Sam Fioretti round out an offense that boasts good depth, and helped the team to the eighth-ranked power play in the WHL. Defensively, only Edmonton, Kootenay and Medicine Hat surrendered fewer goals among Eastern Conference teams. An imposing group of defensemen, led by New York Rangers prospect Dylan McIlrath, will need to make life difficult for the Pats’ Jordan Weal. Goaltender Luke Siemens was a steady presence in the Warriors’ net all season after coming over from Everett in early October. He posted four wins in seven appearances versus Regina this season.

The Pats are back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season after posting a solid 37 wins this season. The Pats have been largely carried by veteran star Jordan Weal, who had a hand in over half of the team’s 230-goal output this season. With 116 points, the Los Angeles Kings prospect made it three straight years finishing among the top five scorers in the WHL. Weal also put up five goals and 15 points in just seven games versus the Warriors this season. Aside from Weal, only Lane Scheidl and sophomore Chandler Stephenson cracked the 20-goal mark this season for the Pats. They will need big contributions from the likes of Dominik Volek, Dyson Stevenson and impressive rookie Morgan Klimchuk if they are to crack Moose Jaw’s tough defense. Goaltender Matt Hewitt posted a 4-1-1 record and a solid .917 save percentage in six games versus Moose Jaw this season. At the top of his game, Hewitt can be a huge difference-maker for the Pats. The big challenge for the Pats will be winning in Moose Jaw, where the Warriors are 30-3-2-1 this season. They did win once while losing twice in overtime in four tries there this season, and all four of their visits to Moose Jaw ended with a 3-2 score line.

Series Schedule

#1 – Regina @ Moose Jaw; Friday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#2 – Regina @ Moose Jaw; Saturday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#3 – Moose Jaw @ Regina; Tuesday, March 27 (7:00 pm)
#4 – Moose Jaw @ Regina; Wednesday, March 28 (7:00pm)
#5 – Regina @ Moose Jaw; Friday, March 30 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Moose Jaw @ Regina; Saturday, March 31 (7:00pm)**
#7 – Regina @ Moose Jaw; Monday, April 2 (7:00pm)**


2011-12 regular-season record:
Calgary: 44-25-2-1, 91pts (L10: 8-2-0-0)
Brandon: 39-28-1-4, 83pts (L10: 7-2-0-1)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Calgary: 3-1-0-0, 6pts
Brandon: 1-3-0-0, 2pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Victor Rask 4gp-2g-4a-6pts
Trevor Cheek 4gp-4g-1a-5pts

Alessio Bertaggia 4gp-4g-2a-6pts
Mark Stone 3gp-2g-3a-5pts

The Calgary Hitmen and Brandon Wheat Kings meet up for their second playoff series in the last three seasons. Brandon Kozun and the Calgary Hitmen defeated Brayden Schenn and the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-1 in the 2010 WHL Eastern Conference championship series.

The Hitmen are back in the post-season after missing the playoffs last year for the first time in 13 years. After a slow start to the 2011-12 season, the Hitmen found their game and were among the WHL’s most consistent clubs from the midway point in November. Calgary’s offense tied Brandon’s for the second-best in the Eastern Conference, having scored 273 goals. A balanced attack was the key to the Hitmen’s offense this season, with six players who topped the 20-goal mark and another three players with at least 14 goals on the season. Veterans Jimmy Bubnick and Cody Sylvester, along with defensemen Jaynen Rissling and Peter Kosterman, are holdovers from Calgary’s 2010 WHL championship side, giving them some valuable playoff experience. Defensively, the Hitmen owned the WHL’s fourth-best penalty killing unit this season. They will need a strong PK to shut down the Wheat Kings’ lethal power play. Sophomore Chris Driedger and veteran Brandon Glover give Calgary two solid options in goal. Both played very well this season, and both could be go-to guys in the playoffs.

The Wheat Kings charged their way to a sixth-place finish with a very strong stretch run, and come into the playoffs playing some of their best hockey of the season. Offense is the key for the Wheat Kings, who boast six players with at least 20 goals this season. Mark Stone, the WHL’s second-leading scorer, and Michael Ferland propel Brandon’s third-ranked power play, while Kevin Sundher, Brenden Walker, Alessio Bertaggia and Darian Dziurzynski add terrific offensive depth. The Wheat Kings also boast two of the WHL’s best puck-moving, offensive defensemen in 17-year-olds Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy. Defensively, the Wheat Kings will need to be vigilant to stop Calgary’s attack. The Wheat Kings allowed 17 goals to the Hitmen over their last three meetings. They will need to improve on that stat if they are to beat the Hitmen in the opening round. Goaltender Corbin Boes has been outstanding down the stretch for the Wheat Kings, posting an 11-4-0-1 mark with a 2.48 GAA and a .928 save percentage over his last 16 games. He could be a difference-maker in the series.

Series Schedule

#1 – Brandon @ Calgary; Thursday, March 22 (7:00pm)
#2 – Brandon @ Calgary; Friday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#3 – Calgary @ Brandon; Sunday, March 25 (6:00pm) In Winnipeg
#4 – Calgary @ Brandon; Tuesday, March 27 (7:00pm) In Winnipeg
#5 – Calgary @ Brandon; Thursday, April 29 (7:00pm)** In Winnipeg
#6 – Brandon @ Calgary; Sunday, April 1 (4:00pm)**
#7 – Brandon @ Calgary; Tuesday, April 3 (7:00pm)**


2011-12 regular-season record:
Medicine Hat: 42-24-2-4, 90pts (L10: 6-3-0-1)
Saskatoon: 40-29-1-2, 83pts (L10: 4-4-1-1)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Medicine Hat: 1-1-1-1, 4pts
Saskatoon: 3-1-0-0, 6pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Medicine Hat:
Hunter Shinkaruk 4gp-5g-2a-7pts
Curtis Valk 4gp-3g-2a-5pts

Josh Nicholls 4gp-2g-3a-5pts
Jake Trask 4gp-2g-2a-4pts

The Medicine Hat Tigers and Saskatoon Blades meet up in the post-season for the first time in six years. Kris Russell and the Medicine Hat Tigers swept Devin Setoguchi and the Saskatoon Blades 4-0 in the second round of the 2006 WHL Playoffs.

The Tigers are in the playoffs for the 10th straight year, and have advanced past the first round in nine of those 10 post-season appearances. They also come into the post-season having topped the 40-win mark for the eighth time in nine years. The team’s success this season has been largely defined by the scoring exploits of their dynamic duo up front, Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk. Etem became the first WHL player to hit the 60-goal mark since 2000-01 while Shinkaruk fell just one goal shy of the 50-goal mark as a 17-year-old. Aside from those two, only sophomore Curtis Valk and veteran defenseman James Bettauer topped the 20-goal mark. Bettauer and fellow veteran Matt Konan anchored the Tigers to the third-best team defense in the Eastern Conference. It will be up to them to stop Blades’ scorers like Matej Stransky, Josh Nicholls and Lukas Sutter. Tyler Bunz was another key player in Medicine Hat’s solid season, posting 39 wins and a stellar .921 save percentage in 61 appearances. The Edmonton Oilers prospect can be a dominant force in the post-season as well, and has 24 games of playoff seasoning under his belt.

The Blades started the season on a hot streak, but have endured some inconsistent outings over the final few weeks of the 2011-12 regular season. Yet, when firing on all cylinders, the Blades have shown they can be a dangerous club. Led by Stransky, Nicholls and Sutter, Saskatoon boasted five players with 20 or more goals and another four with at least 15 goals, giving them good offensive depth. Defensively, only Brandon allowed more goals than the Blades among Eastern Conference playoff teams. Dalton Thrower and Darren Dietz combined for 33 goals from the point, while Connor Cox boasted a team-leading +26 rating. Yet, they will need to be vigilant on the defensive side of the puck if they are to limit the firepower of Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk. A physical group of rearguards, the Blades’ defense must make life difficult for the Tigers’ star snipers. Goaltender Andrey Makarov may have endured some inconsistencies this season, but has shown with his play for Russia’s junior team that he can step up and play a major role when needed. Makarov’s play will be a key factor in determining the Blades’ fate.

Series Schedule

#1 – Saskatoon @ Medicine Hat; Friday, March 23 (7:30pm)
#2 – Saskatoon @ Medicine Hat; Saturday, March 24 (7:30pm)
#3 – Medicine Hat @ Saskatoon; Tuesday, March 27 (7:00pm)
#4 – Medicine Hat @ Saskatoon; Wednesday, March 28 (7:00pm)
#5 – Saskatoon @ Medicine Hat; Saturday, March 31 (7:30pm)**
#6 – Medicine Hat @ Saskatoon; Monday, April 2 (7:00pm)**
#7 – Saskatoon @ Medicine Hat; Wednesday, April 4 (7:00pm)**



2011-12 regular-season record:
Tri-City: 50-18-2-2, 104pts (L10: 6-3-1-0)
Everett: 22-40-2-8, 54pts (L10: 5-4-1-0)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Tri-City: 6-2-0-0, 12pts
Everett: 2-5-0-1, 5pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Brendan Shinnimin 8gp-10g-10a-20pts
Adam Hughesman 8gp-9g-7a-16pts

Josh Birkholz 8gp-4g-3a-7pts
Josh Winquist 7gp-2g-3a-5pts

The Tri-City Americans meet the Everett Silvertips in the post-season for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign. Taylor Procyshen and the Americans beat Shane Harper and the Everett Silvertips 4-1 in the first round of the 2009 WHL playoffs.

The Americans come into the post-season as U.S. Division champions for the fourth time in the last five seasons, and as the top seed in the Western Conference. They boast the most dangerous and productive line in the WHL, the top power play in the WHL, the League’s stingiest defence, and one of the best goaltending tandems in the WHL. The trio of WHL scoring champion Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland racked up a whopping 133 goals and 359 points this season, and will cause havoc for even the WHL’s best defensive units. Add in 37-goal man Justin Feser, veteran Jordan Messier and sophomore Connor Rankin and the Ams have solid offensive support for their top line. On the other end, Zach Yuen and the Ams’ defense corps allowed the fewest number of goals in the WHL and boasted the seventh-ranked penalty killing unit. Veteran goaltender Ty Rimmer turned in an all-star caliber season in the Ams’ net while rookie Eric Comrie enjoyed a very strong season as a 16-year-old. Both could provide the elite-level netminding the Ams will need for a long playoff run.

The Silvertips snuck into the playoffs on the last day of regular-season play, thanks to Seattle’s loss to the Portland Winterhawks. Though they have made the playoffs every year they have played in the WHL, the ‘Tips have not advanced past the first round since the 2006-07 campaign. The Silvertips scored 185 goals this season, which is the lowest total for any playoff-bound team Josh Birkholz led the way with 29 goals, including four in eight games versus the Ams, while Reid Petryk had three goals in four games versus Tri-Cities. Aside from Birkholz, only Ryan Harrison was able to crack the 20-goal mark. If JT Barnett can return from injury, it would add another offensive element to the ‘Tips’ forwards. Defensively, the Silvertips gave up 268 goals, which is also the most of any playoff-bound club. Ryan Murray may be one of the best defensemen in the WHL, but he and his fellow blue liners will need to find another level of play to stop the Ams’ top line and dynamic power play. Goaltender Kent Simpson was at his best during the stretch run for the ‘Tips, and can be credited with helping the team qualify for the post-season. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect will see plenty of action versus the high-powered Americans.

Series Schedule (All Start Times Local)

#1 – Everett @ Tri-City; Friday, March 23 (7:05pm)
#2 – Everett @ Tri-City; Saturday, March 24 (7:05pm)
#3 – Tri-City @ Everett; Tuesday, March 27 (7:05pm)
#4 – Tri-City @ Everett; Wednesday, March 28 (7:05pm)
#5 – Everett @ Tri-City; Saturday, March 31 (7:05pm) **
#6 – Tri-City @ Everett; Monday, April 2 (7:05pm) **
#7 – Everett @ Tri-City; Wednesday, April 4 (7:05pm) **


2011-12 regular-season record:
Kamloops: 47-20-2-3, 99pts (L10: 4-5-1-0)
Victoria: 24-41-3-4, 55pts (L10: 4-5-1-0)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Kamloops: 7-1-0-0, 14pts
Victoria: 1-6-1-0, 3pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
JC Lipon 8gp-5g-8a-13pts
Tim Bozon 8gp-7g-4a-11pts

Logan Nelson 8gp-4g-7a-11pts
Jamie Crooks 8gp-3g-3a-6pts

The Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Royals meet up for the first ever playoff series between the B.C. Division rivals.

The Blazers enter the playoffs having enjoyed their finest regular-season performance since the 1998-99 campaign, and as B.C. Division champs for the first time since 2001-02. A well-rounded club with great offensive depth and a very solid defense corps, the Blazers are equally adept at putting the puck in the net as they are keeping it out of theirs. Brendan Ranford, Colin Smith and Tim Bozon all scored at least 35 goals and helped the Blazers to the third-best offensive output in the WHL. Offensive depth is there with Dylan Willick and Brandon Herrod among eight Blazers with 50 or more points this season. Defensively, Austin Madaisky and the Blazers’ blue liners boasted the League’s fifth-best team defense. Madaisky and Bronson Maschmeyer combined for 28 goals and 93 points from the blue line, and led the Blazers’ rearguards to a collective +113 rating. They will have to pay close attention to the Royals’ top guns like Jamie Crooks and Logan Nelson. Cole Cheveldave enjoyed a terrific rookie season in the Blazers’ net, posting 34 wins and a .909 save percentage in 55 games, and was a huge factor in the team’s success. He will be getting his first taste of the WHL playoffs this year.

The Royals won their way into the post-season, beating the high-octane Portland Winterhawks twice over their final two games to secure a post-season berth in the team’s first year on Vancouver Island. Yet, the Royals are in tough versus a Blazers team that dominated them during the regular season, outscoring them 35-19 while winning seven of eight meetings. Offensively, the Royals do have scoring punch with Jamie Crooks, Logan Nelson and Robin Soudek leading the way. However, they may be missing sparkplug Brandon Magee, which would be a blow. Defensively, the Royals surrendered the most goals of any team in the WHL this season. They will need to find another level of defensive acumen if they are to stop Kamloops’ potent offense. Goaltender Keith Hamilton appeared in 58 games this season for the Royals, and posted a 4.10 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage. He will have to better those numbers for the Royals to have any chance in the series.

Series Schedule

#1 – Victoria @ Kamloops; Friday, March 23 (7:00pm)
#2 – Victoria @ Kamloops; Saturday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#3 – Kamloops @ Victoria; Tuesday, March 27 (7:05pm)
#4 – Kamloops @ Victoria, Wednesday, March 28 (7:05pm)
#5 – Victoria @ Kamloops; Friday, March 30 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Kamloops @ Victoria; Monday, April 2 (7:05pm)**
#7 – Victoria @ Kamloops; Wednesday, April 4 (7:00pm)**


2011-12 regular-season record:
Portland: 49-19-3-1, 102pts (L10: 6-4-0-0)
Kelowna: 31-31-4-6, 72pts (L10: 5-3-1-1)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Portland: 4-0-0-0, 8pts
Kelowna: 0-3-0-1, 1pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Ty Rattie 4gp-4g-5a-9pts
Derrick Pouliot 4gp-2g-2a-4pts

Zach Franko 4gp-3g-1a-4pts
Brett Bulmer 4gp-2g-2a-4pts

The Portland Winterhawks meet the Kelowna Rockets for the second straight year in the post-season. Ryan Johansen’s Winterhawks downed Tyson Barrie’s Rockets 4-2 in the second round of the 2011 WHL Playoffs.

The Winterhawks come into the 2012 WHL playoffs as the defending Western Conference champs, and looking to seal the deal this year after losing to Kootenay in the WHL championship series last year. Portland’s bread and butter has been their run-and-gun offense. Led by 121-point man Ty Rattie, the Winterhawks had six players average better than a point per game this season, and nine players with 40 or more points. Sven Bartschi led all WHL players with a 2.00 points-per-game average this season while Brad Ross fired home 42 goals. Add in high-scoring defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Joe Morrow, and skilled forwards like Cam Reid, Oliver Gabriel, Marcel Noebels, Brendan Leipsic and rookie Nick Petan, and it’s no wonder the Hawks’ power play clicked at a League-best 29.1% success rate this season. Defensively, the Hawks allowed 99 fewer goals than they scored, but often won by simply outscoring teams instead of playing stifling defense. Morrow, William Wrenn and the Hawks’ defense corps will need to pay close attention to Rockets’ forwards like Shane McColgan and Brett Bulmer. Goaltender Mac Carruth enjoyed a strong season, tying for the WHL lead with 42 wins. He also has his experience from last year’s run to the final to fall back on.

The Rockets are in the playoff for a fifth straight season, and come into the post-season as the conference’s sixth seed – a position they have been locked into for some time. One of the youngest teams in the WHL, the Rockets endured many ups and downs this season. Offensively, the Rockets scored the second-fewest goals of any playoff-bound team. Brett Bulmer, Colton Sissons and Carter Rigby all set career highs for goals this past year, but were the only three to crack the 20-goal mark. If Shane McColgan can rediscover his dominating form from last year’s post-season, he will give the Rockets a better chance at winning. Defensively, a young Rockets’ blue line will be tested by the Winterhawks’ firepower. Myles Bell has proven he can contribute offensively, but will be tasked to step up his defensive game versus the offensively-gifted Hawks. Four of the Rockets’ seven regular rearguards are 17 years old or younger. However, youngsters like Madison Bowey and Jesse Lees should gain valuable experience from this series. Though goaltender Adam Brown has struggled at times this season, he still has the ability to be a difference-maker for the Rockets.

Series Schedule

#1 – Kelowna @ Portland; Friday, March 23 (7:00pm) MC
#2 – Kelowna @ Portland; Saturday, March 24 (7:00pm) MC
#3 – Portland @ Kelowna; Tuesday, March 27 (7:05pm)
#4 – Portland @ Kelowna; Thursday, March 29 (7:05pm)
#5 – Kelowna @ Portland, Saturday, March 31 (7:00pm)** VENUE TBD
#6 – Portland @ Kelowna; Monday, April 2 (7:05pm)**
#7 – Kelowna @ Portland; Wednesday, April 4 (7:00pm)** MC
MC = Memorial Coliseum


2011-12 regular-season record:
Vancouver: 40-26-2-4, 86pts (L10: 5-3-1-1)
Spokane: 38-25-5-4, 85pts (L10: 5-3-1-1)

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Vancouver: 2-0-0-0, 4pts
Spokane: 0-1-0-1, 1pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Cain Franson 2gp-1g-1a-2pts
Brendan Gallagher 2gp-1g-1a-2pts

Collin Valcourt 2gp-0g-2a-2pts
Darren Kramer 2gp-1g-0a-1pts

The Vancouver Giants meet the Spokane Chiefs in the playoff for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Evander Kane and the Giants beat Drayson Bowman and the Chiefs 4-3 in the second round of the 2009 WHL Playoffs.

The Giants are making their 10th straight playoff appearance, and will be looking for a better showing after being swept for just the second time in franchise history last year. The Giants found themselves in the middle of the pack offensively and defensively this season. Brendan Gallagher has once again been the straw that stirs the Giants’ drink. He topped the 40-goal mark for the third straight season this year. Marek Tvrdon, Jordan Martinook and Cain Franson all scored at least 27 goals this season to carry the bulk of the offense. However, no other player had more than 12 goals for the team. The Giants will need to spread around their scoring if they are to consistently break down Spokane’s stingy defense. The Giants lost David Musil on the back end, which leaves a big hole in the defensive plans. Rookie Brett Kulak has been terrific on the blue line for the Giants this season, putting up a team-best +29 rating. He and veteran Neil Manning will need to take on big minutes in the series to offset the loss of Musil. Goaltender Adam Morrison has performed admirably for the Giants, earning an entry-level NHL contract with Boston for his efforts. Morrison, however, has yet to play in the post-season in his career.

The Chiefs dipped below the 40-win mark for the first time since the 2006-07 season, and come into the post-season without home-ice advantage in the first round for the first time since the 2007 playoffs. Led by top offensive defenseman Brenden Kichton, the Chiefs managed 255 goals this season, which is just two more than the Giants scored. Dominik Uher was the team’s most consistent forward during the regular season, scoring a career-best 33 goals. The Chiefs do spread around their offense, with 12 forwards who topped the 10-goal mark this season. Defensively, the Chiefs are among the top 10 in the WHL in goals against. A tight defensive structure helps the team allow very few shots on goal. As good as Kichton is offensively, he also boasted a +24 rating this season, and helped the Chiefs’ defense corps to a combined +90 rating. Look for Kichton and Co. to keep a close eye on the shifty Brendan Gallagher. Goaltenders Mac Engel and Eric Williams both posted save percentages below the .900 mark this season. Engel, who is likely to start, will need to find consistency if the Chiefs are to prevail in the series.

Series Schedule

#1 – Spokane @ Vancouver; Friday, March 23 (7:30pm)
#2 – Spokane @ Vancouver; Saturday, March 24 (7:00pm)
#3 – Vancouver @ Spokane; Tuesday, March 27 (7:05pm)
#4 – Vancouver @ Spokane; Wednesday, March 28 (7:05pm)
#5 – Spokane @ Vancouver; Friday, March 30 (7:30pm)**
#6 – Vancouver @ Spokane; Sunday, April 1 (6:00pm)**
#7 – Spokane @ Vancouver; Wednesday, April 4 (7:00pm)**