Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bentley are Alberta Champs

The Flyers are going to have to go through Bentley to get to the Allan Cup.

The Generals won game 7 tonight against Stony Plain to clinch their 3rd consecutive Alberta Championship meaning this will be the 3rd consecutive times these two teams will meet to see who represents the Pacific region at the Allan Cup. The Flyers will be looking for a 3rd time lucky as they have lost the previous two Mac Cups that they have played against the Generals.

Game 1 goes one week from tomorrow. Thursday April 2nd live on Moose FM. Game time will come in later posts as will a detailed breakdown of the Generals and the Flyers.

Flyers are Campbell Cup Champions

It's funny how a team can come together and win something, a trophy that maybe they view as a step in a process but far from the end goal, and when that trophy gets in their hands the accomplishment starts to sink in.

The Flyers are 2009 Campbell Cup Champions.

For the first time in their history the Flyers are NPHL champs. And no one can argue they don't deserve it. They only lost twice all year in the regular season. They only lost 3 in the playoffs. And they went through Spirit River and Grand Prairie, the two other top teams in the league, to win the Campbell Cup. The MacKenzie Cup and Allan Cup, and normally the Savage Cup although not this year, are the goals. They are what this team is built for and what they have their sights set on. But once that Campbell Cup got into the dressing room you could tell, and hear from the cheering, that the Flyers were proud of their win and excited to have won the NPHL title.

The final game turned into a blowout after Matt Shuya beat Dave Larson in the GP goal with a slapshot from outside the blueline. Suddenly all the good work the A's had done in the first period had gone out the window, it was 2-2, and the Flyers smelled blood in the water. Goals came from all over, Arlo Hadland, Ian Munro and Luke Middleton to name a few and it was 6-3 after 2. The Championship was there for the taking so the Flyers took it with 4 3rd period goals, 2 of them from Jeff Fast, for the 10-3 victory and a 4-2 series win. And there you have it. The Flyers are 2008-2009 NPHL Champions.

Anytime you win a trophy as a team there is a real sense of togetherness, of coming together to achieve a common goal, the bond that is created is strong and no matter how many times you win a trophy with that group, all of them are special. So in 8 days the Flyers will start the MacKenzie Cup with the knowledge that they have already, and therefore can again, come together to get their hands on a trophy.

Ian Munro was awarded the playoffs MVP trophy. Munro has been excellent all year and has raised his game since last season. He works hard and throws his body around and no one scored more game winning goals. Hence why from now on the GWG stat will be renamed as an Ian Munro. Munro also won the dice game we played on the bus ride home. It was a good day to be Muney.

There are more steps in the process to come though. So while the Flyers enjoyed winning their first ever Campbell Cup championship and they will continue to feel good about it for a while, they will know that the more important weeks are to come. It starts where? We will know tonight but one week from tomorrow the Flyers will be headed to Alberta with another trophy on their minds. The MacKenzie Cup. You can bet there will be some twists and turns to come but I can't wait for the ride.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flyers on brink of Campbell Cup

The Flyers are on the brink of the NPHL's Campbell Cup Championship. They won two games over the weekend. One in GP Saturday night and then back on home ice Sunday night. Tyler Brough was in the lineup and sometimes you forget how good of a hockey player this guy is. He missed a hat full of chances but that might be expected because he hasn't played a lot of hockey lately. He created a ton of chances as well and looked to be in pretty good shape. Ryan Carter looked like well Ryan Carter and Adam Loncan played very well over the weekend. Troy Hunt let in a couple of soft ones but also made a couple big saves in the third. It was a typical GP game. They didn't send anyone in to forecheck. They sat in the neutral zone waiting for the Flyers. GP also like to just throw pucks out of their zone and the Flyers would pick those pucks up and dump them right back in. But GP also takes advantage of mistakes as well as any team you will see and the Flyers made about 3 or 4 mistakes all game and GP scored 3 times. But in the third the Flyers pulled away with 2 goals from Todd Alexander and put themselves on the brink of glory.

This isn't the end goal though so while it will be nice to win the Campbell Cup I think you will see muted celebrations if they clinch it tomorrow night. You can hear that game live on Moose FM at 7:15.

Still no idea who the Flyers will play in the Mac Cup as the Alberta series is going to a game 7 after each team won a home game over the weekend. So far the home team has won every game so it seems like Bentley should take the series on Wednesday but you never know. We thought Stony would win on home ice in game 7 last year and look what happened.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flyers and GP right back at it

Game 4 was almost the exact opposite of game 3 for the Flyers. They were much more physical than GP, the Flyers special teams were excellent and the score reflected the Flyers domination. 8-2 was the final in GP with Ryan Carter contributing 3 goals and his line, Loncan Kersey and Carter combined for 11 points. Vizzutti was solid and made a couple of great saves and the Dmen for the Flyers were moving the puck a lot better. So game 3 was a blowout for the A's and game 4 was a blowout for the Flyers. What will happen tonight in game 5? Who knows?

It sounds like Tyler Brough will be in the lineup tonight so it should be interesting to see what the line combinations look like. Luke Middleton should be in the lineup tonight as I don't think he will take any time off despite losing some teeth last night.

GP played Scott Taje up front in game 4 which I thought was a mistake. Taje was outstanding in game 3 and is a very solid D man who can provide offense from the back end. He did score but didn't look overly comfortable as a forward. Mike Mohr wasn't very good either and I don't know if it was GP's game plan or if the Flyers were just doing a good job on the PK but Mohr saw very little of the puck with the man advantage. He scored twice with blasts from the point in game 3 so you would have though the A's would have done more to get him shots especially when up a man.

Game time tonight is in a little over an hour at 7:30 local time.

I am going to wear my new Nike's to the game that I bought in GP last night. I also got a new watch as well. And after the game Jon and I got some poker in as well. I flopped quad queens at one point and took a big pot off of none other than Spirit River forward Shane McCormick. Shane was a super nice guy and for some reason a couple people at our table were into senior hockey so we had a great conversation going for a long time. McCormick wears number 19 and will be playing during Senior Men's A and AA provincials in Spirit River coming up this week. If they make the finals and I am not busy I would think about going to check that out. It would be sweet if Spirit met GP in the AA final. What a game that would be. Plus anytime you can go see Mark Wallman and Donny Lloyd play it is worth the price of admission.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Flyers in GP for game 4

So the Flyers look to bounce back today from their worst performance of the season in game 3. And don't get me wrong the GP Athletic's deserve a lot of the credit for the way they performed. They keep the Flyers to the outside and do a great job allowing their goalies to see shots. They also clog up the neutral zone well, their puck support is excellent and the capitalize on scoring chances. In their own building they are a little more adventurous as well and they were certainly the more aggressive team in game 3 and they out hit the Flyers. How often do the Flyers get out hit?

Ryan Carter is expected to be in the lineup and Chad Vizzutti should still be in town as well. Hopefully we will see the Shipton's, Bahm and Tyler Loney. Heck, with the Mac Cup less than 2 weeks away it would be nice to see Tyler Brough as well. It would also be nice to see the Flyers come out and pressure GP's defence and hit everything that moves. I wouldn't even mind seeing them take some penalties because they are being over aggressive. Over is better than not at all.

The game is at 7:30 local time here in Fort St John and you can catch it on Moose FM with the pregame at 7:15.

The crowd in GP was excellent on Thursday for game 3. Maybe not as loud as the crowd in FSJ but it was large and it is good to see people turning out to support what is a very good senior hockey team. And don't be surprised if GP does very well at Provincials next week. Especially if Larson is ready to go by then. Carriere is a good goalie but Larson is unreal. The guy makes saves that not a lot of other goalies could make.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Flyers worst performance of season

Wow. The Flyers were very poor last night. I mean it was bad. The running line on the bus on the way home was basically "Well we can't get any worse."

Give GP credit because they have a system, it works, and they play it very well. They are disciplined, they support the puck incredibly well and they are very good in their own end. Their trapping style seems to be frustrating the Flyers as well. Mike Mohr had two bombs from the point on the power play to make the game 2 nothing after the first. 2 more in the second without reply and Chad Vizzutti's night was done. He wasn't playing badly but coach Brash wanted to try to spark his team. It didn't work though as GP scored twice more in the 3rd before a late consolation goal from Dave Alexander broke the shutout bid of Lincoln Carriere in the GP goal. Dave Larson seems to still be nursing a bad ankle but the back up was good when he had to be.

Special teams killed the Flyers. They were 0-8 on the PP and GP was 3-5. To make matters worse the Flyers had well over 3 minutes of 5-0n-3 in the second period with a chance to get back into the game but failed to even really test the GP goal.

So now the Flyers trail the series and have less than two weeks to get it going before the MacKenzie Cup starts. Ryan Carter should be in the lineup this weekend which will help. But the loss of Kip Noble is really being felt by the Flyers and especially on the PP.

Game 4 is Saturday in GP live on Moose FM at 7:15 with the pre-game, 7:30 the puck drops. Game 5 will be Sunday here in FSJ.

Huskies season wrap up

They exceeded expectations. It was supposed to be a bad year for the Fort St John Huskies. A rebuilding year even. They lost guys like Brett Loney and Jeff Shipton. They would be without Jack Christian and Bryce Novak. Brennan Billey didn't play this season and Jordan Shipton missed the second half as well. That's a lot of talent that left the Huskies so who would step up and fill those voids? Kole Norris came out of nowhere to become one of the top offensive players in the league. As did Steve Fast. Cody Kalb and his top line showed they were ready to carry the load as a top line and provided a ton of offense. And additions throughout the year like Cam McKinnon and Cody Hildebrand stepped in and contributed. Not to mention the stalwarts on defense in Captain Jon Spence, Payden Wongstedt and Linden Apsassin.

Luckily no one told the Huskies they weren't supposed to be any good. The year started out a little slow as the Huskies tried to find their identity. They were also trying to find a number 1 goalie. But by Christmas they were rolling and the North Peace Arena was a fortress where good teams not only lost but they got thumped. Zack Blain got better and better as the season went on and really took over the goaltending duties and matured into a very good goalie right in front of our eyes. The Huskies wound up clinching the number 2 overall spot in the league thanks to a great second half and an incredible home record.

In the playoffs they stumbled a little against Slave Lake but mostly thanks to the schedule maker and a bizarre 2 game start on the road despite the Pups having home ice. But they finished Slave Lake off in 4 games and got set for the North Peace Navigators. A team with some history against the Huskies. Again the Huskies struggled at times although in a series that went 7 games the Huskies were maybe the better team in 6 of them. But it took them all 7 games to finish off the Navs thanks to some good goaltending by Zack Blain and one of the best game 7 performances I have ever seen from Dylan Apsassin. That kid is a stud hockey player and his 4 goals and 1 assist in a game 7 was truly impressive.

It may have been this 7 game series that prevented the Huskies from really pushing Whitecourt in the finals. The Wolverines are a team that ditched good local kids in order to bring in studs like Jessie Synatinski, who will be playing Major Junior in Brandon next year, in order to win a championship. It worked, although I know it annoyed some of the local players and fans. The Huskies were maybe the only team in the league capable of pushing Whitecourt in a 7 game series but unfortunately they were never able to get over the hump. A team that had already played 5 games in the last 6 days went to Whitecourt and battled. They really did play their asses off in those two games. There were just times when they didn't seem to have the energy to keep up with the Wolverines. A couple of mistakes and some missed chances and the Huskies were down 2 games to none. They had already won the respect of the Whitecourt fans though for the way they had battled and given it their all. One Whitecourt fan even went out of his way to pop his head onto the bus and tell the guys who much he respected their effort level and determination. It was a pretty cool moment.

Back in FSJ the Huskies looked poor in game 3. All year in games that the Huskies HAD to win, they found a way to get it done. I just think the exertions of the last couple weeks had taken their toll on the Pups and they didn't have the legs. They were still in the game though and they had some chances late in the second to get back into the game with some PP time but couldn't find a way to get it done. An injury to Cody Kalb didn't help either. Cody played despite probably being injured to a point where most other players would have sat out. But that typifies the Huskies. Without such a big part of their offense being at 100 percent though, the Pups weren't able to get anything done on home ice.

Game 4 saw the Wolverines win the NWJHL title on FSJ's home ice. Something I know the Huskies didn't want to see. They didn't go down without a fight though and were right in the game until the 3rd period when Whitecourt pulled away a little. So the Huskies get swept in a series that they played well in but at the end of the day, despite being a great group of guys and giving it all they had, Whitecourt was just the better team. I can't wait til next year.

My playoff MVP's for the Huskies will take a 3 stars format.
This is tough because there are a lot of guys who played well. Zack Blain gets one of the starts for sure. He was excellent and played a ton of hockey. He played all but 1 of the Huskies 15 playoff games.

1st Star- Zack Blain
2nd Star- Cody Kalb
3rd Star- Cam McKinnon

Zack is an easy one. His numbers were excellent, he made some incredible saves and the way he bounced back after a bad overtime goal in game 5 against North Peace showed how much he has matured and what a good goalie he has become.
It was tough to leave Pappin and Dylan out, especially after how good Dylan was in that game 7 and how good Pap was in the first two games of the finals in Whitecourt. But Cody Kalb lead the league in playoff points and was dynamic all the way along. If he hadn't got hurt? Who knows what would have happened on home ice against Whitecourt?
Cam McKinnon stepped up and had a great playoff. He put up better numbers than he had in the regular season and his physical play and penalty killing got him this 3rd star.
Honourable mentions went to Spence (who logs a ton of ice time), Wongstedt (a stud D man who is a game changer), and Kole Norris (who continues to impress offensively).

It was a lot of fun covering this team all year and there are some players who I have come to know a little and I want to thank all of them. The whole team is a group of guys that FSJ can be proud of. And they never gave up. They showed that hard working never say die attitude that we are known for. Dan Pappin get special mention because he is a guy who works all the time. He gives it 100% at all times and does whatever the team asks of him. If he isn't the captain next year I would be surprised.

Also a big thanks to Coach Bob Kalb, Vince Pedersen and Bill Snow and all the staff behind the scenes for helping to make this a great season. It's amazing how much time these guys put in and they do it for the love of hockey and deserve a ton of respect.

Bring on the 09-10 season.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Head Shots

Well it's been a topic of discussion for those of us who invest time broadcasting the NWJHL for a while now. Between myself and Jon Zacks, Dave Dawson from Whitecourt, Damian Gnass from Peace River, and Darren Dupont from Dawson Creek. The topic is head shots and all of us want to see more done to protect the players. It's something that all teams are guilty of and in fact Coach Bob Kalb told me on the bus recently that head shots need to penalized and pointed to 3 incidents in the game we had just watched in which a head shot wasn't penalized and he went out of his way to mention a hit delivered by one of his players as well that needed to be penalized and wasn't. Even the borderline hits have to be called. You have to clamp down hard on clear head shots and penalize borderline hits as well if you want to clean the game up. There is no bigger danger in sports and especially hockey than head shots yet no one seems willing to do anything about it. I have commented on this a number of times recently so I won't say too much more. But read this editorial from Jon Zacks it is an excellent read (and not only because he quoted this blog).

Huskies back at it after well earned break

The Huskies get back at it today after a well earned couple of days off. The Pups are on home ice for game 3 of their NWJHL Championship series against the Whitecourt Wolverines. The Wolverines took advantage of a tired hockey team over the weekend and capitalized on some defensive breakdowns to win both games by a wide score despite both games being fairly even in terms of scoring chances. The Huskies played well but weren't able to bury some chances.

So they hit the home ice tonight in search of their first win in the series in a building where they are fairly dominant. They have only lost 4 times on the NPA ice all season including the playoffs but 2 of those losses are at the hands of the Wolverines. Zack Blain will have to continue to play well in net and I am sure he will. The second line got going in game 2 and they will have to continue to be good. Fast, Norris and MacKinnon have the ability to score in bunches and if they can score a couple times and the top line can pop a couple home then the Huskies will be in good shape. The D men need to limit Whitecourt scoring chances and overall the team needs to find a way to slow Whitecourt down as they are lightning fast through the neutral zone.

A big crowd will help the Huskies as well so get down to the NPA tonight at 8pm.

Flyers even series

This was one of those games where I don't think the scoreline really reflected the play on the ice. At times the Flyers seemed to have set up camp in the offensive zone. But that is part of the Athletic's strategy. They are quite content to keep teams to the outside of the ice, tie guys up in front, let their goalies make saves and try to capitalize on mistakes. And that's what they did. The first two GP goals were scored short handed on break aways and both times it was Mike Shipton who kind of got beat to set up the breaks. And both times there was no mistake made by the GP forwards which meant Troy Hunt didn't have much of a chance. Huntsey was good last night as the only other goal that beat him was a bouncing puck that it looked like Paul Wiens kicked into his own goal. Obviously that wasn't what Wiens was hoping to accomplish.

The Flyers got most of their offense from Dustin Kersey who set up 4 goals and Adam Loncan who broke out with a hatty. The first was a perfectly placed shot from the backhand and off the post and in over the shoulder of Dave Larson in the GP net. The second goal was a tap in after good work from Kersey and the third was a professional goal. It was a goal scored by a guy who played Pro Hockey. In alone with just the goalie to beat Loncs came in on the forehand did just a little shoulder fake and shelfed the puck top cheddar with zero back lift. No backlift, just snap shelf. It was a beauty.

The other goals were from Wiens who managed to score one for each team, and Ian Munro who was set up by Kersey on a 2 on 1 and Munro went forehand to the backhand and slid the puck into a yawning cage. It was a nice goal and showed good poise. Munro also hit iron at least twice in the game. The Flyers hit the post or cross bar around 5 or 6 times.

I told Munro after the game that he was a quarter inch from being the best player in the league. He said the only reason he didn't make the show was that he always hits the post too much. It was a funny little exchange. Overall Munro was excellent all night.

So the Flyers won the game in a style you have to play against GP because they are content to allow you so much possession and then try to counter attack. Game 3 in the series goes tomorrow night at 7:30 local time on Moose FM.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some facts and some agreement

This post is a direct response to Dave Dawson's most recent post. I need to set the record straight on a couple things and agree with Dave on a couple things as well. You can read that one by going to my blog list by clicking on The Voice. -------------------->

First of all Dave is a great broadcaster and a very good blogger who always entertains me (he is not very good at Darts though) but I felt like I needed to set some things straight. In no way am I angry with Dave. There are just some facts that need to be put out there. Starting with Kyle Porter. Porter got more than 2 minutes for jumping Gerry Young in game 4 of the Navs series, I just checked that game sheet and he got 2 for cross-checking, 2 for being the aggressor, 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a game misconduct. Plus he did miss the next game as both teams came to the agreement that he should miss that game.

The reffing in the John can be bad, even laughable at times, but that statement applies to every building in the league as I am sure you know but for those people reading this who weren't in Whitecourt for game 2 I will try to explain the reffing. OK well let's start by saying the reffing was appalling. With the score tied at 3 the ref starting giving the Huskies penalties like Clowns give candy at a parade. I mean he did call Dylan Apsassin for holding. The reason that call is one of the more ludicrous I have ever seen? Apsassin HAD THE PUCK!!!!! WTF?????????? How does he hold someone while he has the puck and is trying to protect it from the Wolverines? Maybe I could see a holding the stick penalty if he had grabbed a D man's stick while protecting the puck but he didn't and that wasn't the call. Dylan got hit along the boards when he had the puck, both players fell and he got a holding penalty. So unbelievable you just have to laugh about it. Plus a clear high stick that every fan in the building saw was let go and led directly to a goal. It's something that happens everywhere. You just have to deal with it I guess but while in most games the ref doesn't affect the outcome he certainly had something to do with it in game 2. Not to mention the fact that the referee would not come over to talk to the Huskies bench. Not ONCE did he skate over to explain a decision or to let Coach Bob explain his point of view. Yet the ref was chumming it up with the Wolverines bench at every opportunity. This is the one thing that bothers me more than anything else about the reffing in this league. I might post a rant about it later.

As for Coach Kalb deserving a suspension for sending Porter out to take on Gerry Young this is where the agreeing start. Dave I think you are probably right about that but there is no way the ref would have known at the time what had happened. And I don't think the league is organized enough to sort that out after the fact. Coach Bob was doing what he had to do to protect his players and if it meant him missing a game I don't know that he would have done anything differently. Perhaps Porter didn't go about it the right way but on the other hand Gerry Young runs around cheap shotting anything that moves and then won't stand up and fight so eventually he is going to get what's coming to him. Gerry Young delivers more hits to the head than Justin Timberlake. I'm not sure if that joke worked but seriously Young leads with his hands or his elbow to the heads of players all the time. Of course they have to be pretty small for Young to reach them but that is another story. Eventually you have to take your punishment and if the refs don't take care of it then the players have to start policing themselves and that's when it can get ugly.

I agree with you about Coach Kalb in terms of his crusade against headshots. He has been saying for a while that players, even his own, need to punished heavily for head shots. That's why he sent Porter after Young. The game needs to be cleaned up in that respect but no one seems willing to do what has to be done to protect the players. For instance, how about when there is a clear head shot that the refs miss they get punished? Or give the linespeople the ability to penalize hits to the head as well as the ref. Something needs to be done to protect the players.

I'm looking forward to seeing Dave tomorrow at the NPA and joining him for what should be a great game and hopefully a very good broadcast. Maybe we will even have a good discussion at some point about what can be done about headshots. Safe to say the answer is something...anything. Nothing can be worse than what's being done right now. And that would be nothing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Huskies lose 2 in Whitecourt

Well the Huskies gave it their all and they certainly won the respect of the Wolverines fans after gutting out two games in Whitecourt. The Huskies has already played 3 games in a row before jumping on a bus Saturday morning to head to Alberta. So by the time game 2 was wrapped up it was 5 game in 5 days and 7 in the last 8 for these young men. they battled hard though and for long stretches of both games they were playing right there with Whitecourt. Unfortunately, some untimely penalties and a couple of defensive zone breakdowns were the difference in both contests. Game 1 ended 6-1 for the Wolverines with Dan Pappin getting the lone goal for the Pups. They maybe had as many scoring chances as Whitecourt in the game though but they were not able to finish. The problem is if you give Whitecourt 5 or 6 scoring chances they will score most of them. Despite Zack Blain being excellent in both games and making some spectacular saves it wasn`t enough. In game 2 the Huskies actually lead 2-1 after 2 goals from Pappin in the first but in the 2nd period with the score tied at 3 the Wolverines capitalized on a couple of mistakes and before you knew it the score was 6-3. With the score 7-4 thanks to a Kole Norris marker in the 3rd, the Huskies had a PP chance to get back into the game but they failed to convert and moments later Whitecourt sealed the win 8-4.

A Whitecourt fan actually took the time to pop onto the bus after we pulled into the arena on Saturday to tell the Huskies how much respect he had for them after the way they battled in game 1. The fans in Whitecourt turn out in numbers and are smart enough to know that when a team keeps up with the Wolverines they must be good. And to do it after having played so much hockey in so little time shows how much heart and character the Huskies have.

Dan Pappin went with Mitch Ternan I believe in game 3 in the 3rd period. This was a great tilly with Pappin standing in against a bigger guy and delivering a number of haymakers. He also took some big shots as well but was no worse for wear on the bus ride home. Pappin asked me on the bus after the game who won the tilt and I said I had to give the decision to the Whitecourt guy but just barely. Most guys in that situation would strongly disagree and bravado would lead to them claiming they beat the you know what out of the other guy. But not Pappin. Dude is a great guy and he said I was probably right as the Wolverines player maybe landed a couple more punches. The best part was the mutual respect from both players after the fight was over. They were both obviously too tired to go anymore so they tapped each other on the bum and went their separate ways. If only every guy in the league had that kind of class and respect for his opponent.

Games 3 and 4 are in FSJ on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 8. It would not be a surprise to see the Huskies win both on home ice as they are capable of beating the Wolverines. A big crowd would help as will Cody Kalb who seemed a little injured on the bus ride home. If he is out that`s a big blow to the Huskies. If he is in they have a good shot.

Flyers look to rebound

I wasn`t at the NPA as Jon and I were in Whitecourt covering the Huskies games so I have no idea how the Flyers lost game 1. But there is a possibility that they had a bit of a let down after winning a tough second round series over the Spirit River Rangers. GP has a decent team and has now won 3 of the 5 meetings between the teams this year but the Flyers are too good to lose to GP in a 7 game series. I think you will see them bounce back tomorrow night (Tuesday) at the NPA. Kersey, Shuya and Loncan won`t be held off the score sheet too many nights and the kid line has been flying lately as well so the Flyers should get going. A big crowd wouldn`t hurt either.

Puck drops at 8:30

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NWJHL Final. Game 1 Tonight

Live on 100.1 Moose FM and online at you can listen to Jon Zacks and I as the Huskies head to Whitecourt for a date with the Wolverines. The bus is leaving in about 2 hours and I think the coaches made the decision to leave an hour or two later than normal in part just to let the guys get some extra rest in their own beds. They will need it with the amount of hockey they have played this week. And there are still 2 more games this weekend of course. Game 1 will be tough for the Huskies but they do have a shot. Last year the Wolverines lost in the finals to the Peace River Navigators in an upset that most people didn't see coming. If there is a team that can pull off a similar upset this year it would be the Huskies. If they are to win tonight I think they will need to score about 3 or 4 goals in the first. The Wolverines haven't played in over a week so there will be some rust. No matter how hard Joey Bouchard has been working his troops there is a huge difference between a hard practice and game speed. So if the Huskies can use the adrenaline of a finals and jump on the Wolverines early they could find a way to get an early lead and hold on. Zack Blain has been very good for the last 2 months and will have to make some big saves to try and steal a game in Whitecourt. It can happen, but will it happen? We will find out tonight. Puck drops at 7 local time and Jon and I will have the pre-game show at 6:45 live in Moose Country.

Flyers vs Grand Prairie, Game 1 Tonight

The Flyers play a game 1 tonight against Grand Prairie in the NPHL Campbell Cup finals. The Flyers are coming off of a series against Spirit River in which FSJ won in 5. But that series was close all the way and the Rangers gave the Flyers all they could handle at times. The best team won the series as is always the case and now the Flyers can win the Campbell Cup if they can overcome GP. Of course the Athletic's are the only team that beat the Flyers in the regular season and they did it twice. In my opinion those were the worst two games the Flyers played all season but some of the credit for that must go to GP. The Flyers should be ready to go, they should be starting to peak as they are a couple weeks away from the Mac Cup so I think they will win this series and I think they will do it quickly. I know GP has a good team (Jon Zacks doesn't think I give them enough credit) but the Flyers have to start getting to their top level which they reached once or twice in the Spirit River series. They need to reach that level consistently in this series against GP and that spells bad news for the A's. Plus I think we will see Ryan Carter a couple times and he is a difference maker.

Prediction: Flyers in 4

Game 1 is tonight at the NPA. The puck will drop at 8:30 and you should be there. There will be good competitive close games in this series even if the Flyers do sweep GP.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Huskies vs Whitecourt Preview

The Huskies against the Whitecourt Wolverines. Number 1 against number 2. The league's best team against maybe the only team that are capable of giving the Wolverines a run for their money. The Huskies lost all 5 against Whitecourt this season but 1 of those losses was in the OT and the two game before that were close. It was only the first two games in Whitecourt that the Huskies struggled in but that was a long time ago. Zack Blain has been magnificent in the playoffs and seems to be a big game goalie. He will have to be good. I think the top 2 lines for the Pups will have to be at the top of their games and Spence and Wongstedt have to be flawless as well. But those things can happen and I think this will be a good series.

A dominant force in the regular season. They have stud D men who can move the puck. A top notch puck stopper and 4 lines blessed with speed, toughness and skill. Rod Lavoie is the best scorer in the league and the Huskies will have to find a way to silence him and his linemates.

Key Player: Ryan Demharter. He was the reason the Wolverines were able to win the last 3 games of the regular season matchup as the Huskies had trouble solving the puck stopped. If he is good the Wolverines as good of a hockey team as you will find. They have too many good players at the other positions as well so I have to focus on goaltending.

X-factor: Jeff Chalifoux. He is a Gerry Young type player. Don't let him get under your skin and be careful when he is on the ice because he is just as likely to dangle you for a beauty goal as he is to spear you behind the play.

FSJ Huskies:
Two very good top line with Cody Kalb and Steve Fast two of the better offensive centers in the league. Spence, Apsassin, Wongstedt and the addition of Walters give the Huskies great top end talent and depth on D. Zack Blain has been outstanding in the playoffs as his sub 3.00 GAA tells us.

Key Player: I think it has to be Steve Fast. Capable of scoring or setting guys up. When he is on he is a 2 or 3 point a game type player. The top line has to be good for the Huskies but they need the second line to take some pressure off. Fast can be a difference maker in any game.

X-factor: Scoring from the back end. The Huskies got a ton of that in the Peace River series. If that trend continues they should be able to keep up with the Wolverines and make a real series of this.

Prediction: Wolverines in 6
The Huskies are a great team. I think the schedule hurts them. But they are good at home and have the confidence of coming off a hard fought 7 game series. How will Whitecourt respond if they are challenged in this series. I think the Wolverines are too good to lose this series but it won't be easy for them.

Huskies advance in game 7 thriller

Wow. What a game. That's what a game 7 should be all about. First of all a big congratulations to the North Peace Navigators and their players and coaching staff. They made the Huskies earn every bit of this series win. And Coach Darcy Haugan is one of the classiest people you could ever meet. I approached him after the game to congratulate him and his team on a great season and a great series and he was gracious and even told me he thought the best team won. What a classy guy I can't say enough good things about coach.

The Huskies started off game 7 flying and dominated the first period taking the game to North Peace. Unfortunately the score did not reflect the way the Huskies played as Bretton Stewart was fabulous making save after save to keep his team in the game. So it was 1-0 after the first period thanks to a goal from Cam McKinnon. The second period was much more even as the Navs began to get their feet moving. The Huskies cashed their chances though and were up 3-zip when Gerry Young found a bouncing puck on his stick with an empty net to get the Navs on the board and back into the game. That's when Dylan Apsassin took over however potting a goal just 7 seconds later to get the Huskies their 3 goal lead back.

That's when the reffing (which wasn't good all night) went against the Navs a little and coach Haugan went off on the ref getting 2 for unsportsmanlike and eventually getting tossed. That is when the fun started. Coach realized he had a chance to get his team going and he took it. He threw sticks, goalie equipment, crates and more onto the ice in the best coach freak out of the season. And it worked. His team scored almost immediately after the pucked dropped to make it 4-2 thanks to a great solo effort from Mitch Kohut.

The third was the perfect period for the Huskies. They closed up shop played great defensively and went home happy. Well not quite. The Navs actually made a game of it after going down 6-2 thanks to goals from Dylan Apsassin Cody Kalb. The Navs then scored two quick ones, Tyler LeMire and Gerry Young with his second, in the middle of the period to get within 2 of the Pups and it seemed momentum was against the Huskies. The score was 7-5 and Dylan Apsassin already had a hat trick. But he wasn't finished. Dylan "The Assassin" Apsassin cashed again for his 4th goal of the game to make it 8-5 and that's how she ended. Cam McKinnon fought Joel Balfour late and we will call it a draw as no one really got a punch off.

This game was fast, physical and had it all. The only thing missing was a penalty shot and we should have had one as Robbie Sidhu was in alone from the red line when his feet were taken out from under him. A clear penalty shot. The ref somehow missed it. He said he didn't see the trip. What on EARTH was he looking at then?????????????? That's unacceptable, and he made it worse when he gave Sidhu 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike. Sidhu was right and the ref should have allowed the youngster to vent. The Navs of course scored on the power play and for a time it seemed like that might have been a real turning point in the game.

Another assured performance from Jordan Walters on the back end. It sounds like Walters, Sidhu and David Green will be making the trip to Whitecourt tomorrow morning.

Good to see Tyson Peterson out on the ice in the 3rd after taking a big hit early in the game and being seemingly out cold. He will be making the trip as well and the only notable absence will be Brendan Smith who is still dealing with a bad shoulder.

And finally a big thank you to the crowd who came it in numbers, I believe 685, and made a lot of noise. The boys have played a lot of hockey recently and don't think that didn't help. The crowd was lead by Brinkworth, Smith and Green who were banging drums all night and there is no way that the crowd didn't help the Pups in the third.

So we are off to Whitecourt.......

Huskies force game 7

Well this is why the Huskies wanted to finish the regular season in second overall in the league. This is why they played sooooo well down the stretch winning all the games they had to win to ensure that if they went to a game 7 it would be on home ice. This is the one game in a series that you want to play at home. This is where home ice advantage makes a difference. That's why the NPA HAS to be packed tonight. The puck drops at 8pm tonight.

It was last night that the Huskies showed just what they are made of. Every time they have a game where they need to step up and show what they are capable of, and where their backs are against the wall they seem to find another gear. What a complete hockey game they played last night. They scored first and by the end of the first period it was three zip for the Huskies. An early Gerry Young inspired Navs goal just 7 seconds into the 2nd made you start to wonder what would happen the Huskies confidence but they stepped up and restored their 3 goal lead thanks to midget call up Robbie Sidhu. This is a kid who has the skill to play major junior and although he looked a little jaded as the game moved on you gotta love a player who doesn't have a great game but scores a goal anyway.

The third period rolled around with the Huskies up 4 to 2 and when Cody Kalb scored just 2 minutes into the third you felt the Huskies would go on and win the game. From that goal on they played a nearly perfect road period and despite killing almost 6 straight minutes of penalties they never really allowed a clear cut scoring chance.

Zack Blain. The kid was distraught after letting in what was a bit of a weak goal in OT the night before. What a bounce back performance as Blain was excellent. But the turning point may have come early in the 2nd after the Navs had already made it 3-1 when Blain made a spectacular pad save and then found the rebound first and covered the puck for the whistle. If the Navs had made it 3-2 that early in the period who knows what would have happened?

The other player who deserves a mention is Jordan Walters. This kid has all the tools. Along with Sidhu, Walters is a midget call up that was filling in as the Huskies were a little short staffed last night. Walters started the game alongside Payden Wongstedt and there may not be a D pair in the league with that much raw talent in the entire league. Walters even broke up a 2 on 1 on his first shift and looked great after that. He was on the ice for a goal against but also had an assist so that evens out. And he was a key part of the penalty kill as well. If this kid doesn't play major junior at some point I will eat my hat. The only way I could see Walters not playing at that level is if he plays Junior A next year and then goes off to play in the NCAA.

Game 7 is tonight. NPA. 8pm.

DO NOT MISS IT!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Huskies lose in OT AGAIN!!

I am starting to wonder what is wrong with the Hockey gods. Or maybe, more specifically, what did the Huskies do to piss them off? The Peace River Navigators now lead this best of 7 series 3 games to 2 after another OT victory. The difference this time was they actually won IN Fort St John which is rare for any team this season. The Huskies trail in the series despite arguably being the better team in every game and certainly in 4 of the 5. Unfortunately for the pups Hockey games are won by the team that scores the most goals not necessarily the team that dominates.

The Huskies hit the post or cross bar at least 3 times and were robbed another half dozen thanks to Bretton Stewart who played well for pretty much the first time all year at the NPA. Dan Pappin, who had 4 goals in game 4, couldn't buy a goal and was particularly snake bitten by the goalie's best friend.

It was the second line that saved the day with less than 30 seconds left in the third and the Huskies trailing by a goal. Kole Norris found the puck on his stick as the Huskies were buzzing around the offensive zone with goalie Zack Blain on the bench for the extra attacker. And Norris made no mistake with time and the puck on his stick the kid is deadly and he rifled a wrister up under the bar to send the game to overtime.

Just as in game 3 in Peace River the Huskies should have won this game several times in OT but the finishing just wasn't there. It wasn't there all night. Chance after chance went by the board and all the lucky bounces that went the Huskies way in game 4 went the other way. Bretton Stewart continued to play well as did Huskies goalie Zack Blain at the other end. He was making the few saves he was asked to make as he would go several minutes at a time without seeing any action.

Then disaster struck as the Navs fired a slapshot on the rush from the face off circle that beat Blain five hole. Blain was understandably distraught after the game and the rest of the team seemed stunned. Now the Huskies backs are against the wall as they head to Peace River for game 6 tonight. We will have the game live on the all new Moose starting at 6:45 local time.

Can the Huskies bounce back? Can Zack Blain shake off one bad goal and continue to play well? Will the Huskies top line dominate the way the did in game 4 or be a little invisible as they were last night? There are a lot of questions but not a lot of answers until the two old rivals hit the ice tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NWJHL playoff leaders

Dave Dawson from the Whitecourt Wolverines broadcast has been putting together a league leaders for playoff stats in the NWJHL. The website that the NWJHL operates is....well.....oh I want to be diplomatic but whatever, it's crap.

Dave's blog will have the stats. Check it out in my links to other blog section.

Flyers go for the kill

The FSJ Senior Flyers can eliminate the Spirit River Rangers in tonight's game 5 at the NPA. Don't let the 3-1 series lead for the Flyers fool you though this series has been very, very close. Very close. Lots of OT and one goal games. And the physical play has been there as well. The Flyers could be up a couple goals in the third (I think they will be because they are just too much for Spirit especially on home ice) and there could be fireworks. Shuya, T. Alexander and co have some scores to settle with this Rangers team and it will be interesting to see what happens once they have secured the series. Do they leave the payback until next season or do they take care of it tonight? You will have to get down to the NPA tonight to find out.

Remember this?

Here is a video of the last time the Huskies met the Navigators in the NWJHL playoffs. Game 7 overtime. Wish I could have been here for that. Look at the talent on the ice for the Huskies though. Wendel Dyer, Jeff Shipton the rookie of the year in the NPHL this year, Brett Loney was out there and apparently was just a man amongst boys, and Bryce Novak to name a few. This years Huskies team is good and could be very good if they had everyone in the lineup but that last championship team was really good. Jack Christian was out there too. So many good players. Anyway this should get you primed for game 5 tomorrow night at the NPA. 8 pm is the puck drop and you don't want to miss it. There might be some fireworks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Huskies crush Navs in game 4

I'm not even really sure where to start about tonight's game. The Huskies are MUCH better on home ice than they are on the road. That isn't a revelation to anyone at this point but who knew they were this good at home. A 12-1 thrashing of North Peace in game 4 tonight has put the Huskies back into the driver seat in their series with the Navs. 4 goals from Dan Pappin plus the second line chipping in with a bunch of goals. You get the idea. If you want a full rundown head to

The Huskies got a lot of goals from a lot of places and I know it might seem like they ran up the score but the 4th line was out on the power play and Coach Bob rolled his four lines. The kids even stopped celebrating their goals so as not to rub the Navs faces in it. The PP was 5 for 5 and it seemed that every lucky bounce was going the way of the Huskies. When they play on home ice they seem to get the breaks. Loose pucks find their way onto Husky sticks and shots find the top corner rather then whistling just over the bar. They say you earn your breaks though and the Huskies do play well on home ice and do earn those breaks.

The game did get a little ugly in the last minute as Kyle Porter went after Gerry Young. This is where I am torn about what to write. I know Kyle Porter fairly well obviously and I know what a good kid he is. I also know that the Huskies feel that Young runs around dishing out cheap shots and particularly head shots (Kole Norris for one at the end of the regular season and Robby Sidhu a young midget call up who Young went after with a high hit tonight) and doesn't back it up by dropping the gloves. You can read a recent post on the Whitecourt blog if you want to read a good rant about head shots and not backing up your cheap shots with a fight.

So Porter was sent out to get some pay back. Perhaps he didn't go about it in the right though as he jumped Young after cross checking the Navs forward. You just can't jump a guy when he is down on the ice. Even if he is pretending to be hurt. For a guy who dishes out a lot of stick work Young does seem to spend an awful lot of time on the ice or looking at the ref when he gets a shot back. Porter as I said is a good kid and plays a certain role as a 4th liner and has to play a certain way to stay in the lineup. He has a job to do and a role to play and he plays it. But as I said it is unacceptable to jump a guy who is down on the ice. That's my on the record opinion anyway and I will leave it at that.

Apparently Cash Brinkworth wanted to go with Gaydosh as the final seconds ticked off the clock but Gaydosh wanted none of the big Husky. It will be very interesting to see what happens in game 5 Wednesday night. I think Gaydosh wants a piece of Porter but I would be surprised if the FSJ forward avoids a suspension. I think the coaching staff of the Huskies did a great job when they pulled Wongstedt off the ice with about 15 seconds left. Payden is way too good to have him getting involved in any extra curricular activities. And you know he wanted a piece of someone. Wongstedt will always stick up for his teammates. Sometimes in the wrong way though and you can't afford to have him suspended in the playoffs.

I will find a way to get to the bottom of why the Huskies are so good on home ice. And once I do I will bottle it and make a fortune. Maybe it's the home cooking. I am not sure but once I find out I will let you know.

Huskies lose OT heartbreaker

What can I say about the Huskies and their game with the Navs last night.

So game 3 was canceled because the Navs couldn't make the trip due to weather and road conditions. So Sunday night which was supposed to be game 4 turned into game 3. Confused yet? That means game 4 will be tonight at the NPA game 5 will be Wednesday at the NPA. Game 6 if necessary will be Thursday night in Peace River and game 7 will be here in FSJ if necessary although I have no clue when that game would be played.

So it was game 3 and because of the unusual circumstances of the game it was a huge pivotal game in the series. The Huskies could have gone up 2 games to 1 with 3 of the last 4 games of the series at home where the Huskies are almost unbeatable. But they weren't able to pull the victory out and they return home down 2-1 and the Navs have all the momentum and a chance, if they can steal one on the road, to return home with the series on the line. They could even win the series with 2 victories in FSJ but let's not contemplate that at this time.

So game 3 was played on Sunday night in Peace River and it was all Huskies. They were dominant in the first 2 periods carrying the play to the Navs. Their fore check was causing the Navs fits. The only time Peace River were able to release the pressure was when their top line was on the ice. That's probably why they were playing every second shift by the third period. It was Bunn, Young and Richardson almost all the time for the Navs. Other than the two times they hit the iron in the second period it was comprehensive for the Huskies. The problem? They only has a 2-0 lead and with a minute left in the period disaster struck. The Huskies took a bad penalty late in the period, the Navs won the offensive zone faceoff and scored with less than a minute left in the period. Then with about 8 seconds left in the period Payden Wongstedt blew a tire in the neutral zone, couldn't bat the puck away from Gerry Young who sped in alone and scored. 2-2 after 2 and the Huskies must have been deflated.

They come out well in the 3rd period though and managed to restore a lead thanks to Robby Sidhu who had already set up Cody Kalb earlier in the game thanks to a great pass. The young Midget call up was playing his first game as a junior and made a great play. He threw the puck to the front of the net. Steve Fast provided the screen and it floated in past Bretton Stewart in the Navs goal. It was then that the Navs really dug deep and thanks to that top line they changed the momentum and eventually got the tying goal and we went to OT for the first time in the series. The Huskies had chances including a great one for Cam McKinnon early in OT that Stewart stopped with his stick. In fact the shot broke Stewart's stick and he continued to use it. Should have been penalty but the ref missed it.

What a heartbreaking end for the Huskies who were unlucky when the puck found it's way to the in form player of the series Kyle Richardson. He was alone on the door step and roofed it over a sprawling Zack Blain and the Navs won the game with 15 seconds left in the first OT. For Richardson it was his 6th goal of the series so far in 3 games.

The Navs celebrated like a group of youngsters would after an emotional victory. Although I will say this, Joel Balfour went out of his way to celebrate in the face of Huskies captain Jon Spence after he Navs captain came off the bench to celebrate with his teammates. I mean skated straight over to Spence with his arms in the air and was yelling and celebrating while staring and Spence. It happens because these are kids and they are young and their emotion gets the best of them. I hate to criticize these kids as well. But I will say this. It lacked a little class. And my coach when I was a kid and my father if he had seen that both would have whipped my ass. If there is one thing you should never do in my opinion it is show up and disrespect an opponent.

You can't blame the Navs for being happy though as they now have a 2-1 lead in the series and a chance to do some damage here in FSJ. Game 4 goes tonight at the NPA at 8 pm.

Rangers give Flyers another run for their money

So much to blog about. First of all let's start with Saturday night because I don't think I already blogged about the Flyers huge double OT win in Spirit River. I want to start by saying that although I don't always respect the way they play the game, the Rangers that is, I do respect the heck out of the way they compete. No other team in the NPHL this year has shown the guts and effort and determination to play against this Flyers team. That's why the fact the Flyers are up 3 games to 1 in the series doesn't tell the whole story. Game 4 was a gritty affair and right off the face off Shuya got into it with Lefley. You might want to come to the NPA Tuesday night to see the continuation of that rivalry alone. Chad Vizzutti got the start and played well. The game had a good flow and there were lots of scoring chances. Tyler Loney was playing as a forward for the night and made a couple of moves, one in particular, that belied his size and strength and made him look more like Paul Coffey than Chris Pronger. Nimble is the only way to describe the move that included a toe drag and a spin-o-rama. Wade Hocking scored a beauty as well and at times the Flyers fore check and physical play threatened to overrun the Rangers. But they never quit and they have a very high level of compete to borrow a phrase from Marc Crawford.

Mark Wallman was buzzing all night and the guy has speed and all kinds of moves. He scored from his back late to get the Rangers within 1 goal with 2 minutes left and they eventually tied the game up and off to OT we went. Kip Noble was hit hard in the OT session and didn't return but fortunately the Flyers have depth on D and Tyler Loney was able to slot back into his usual Dman role. The kid line was unstoppable in the first period of game 3 and they found some of that magic in OT. Donny Lloyd, who is one of the best D men in the league and maybe the best (Noble included), reversed the puck in his own zone but instead of finding a teammate who would then have cleared the puck, he found Clayton Bahm instead. Maybe Lloyd was just as surprised as we were that Bahm actually made a road game. Thankfully he did for the Flyers as he intercepted Lloyd's pass and found Jeff Fast who couldn't dig the puck out of his skates but managed to get the puck over to Jeff Shipton who banged home the winner. What a thrilling game it was and congrats to Jon Zacks who picked Jeff Shipton to score the winner. The Flyers can now close this series out in 5 games tomorrow night on home ice but in no way is this a series that the Flyers will win easily.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Navs tie series at 1

It was all going so well for the Huskies. Leading game 2 by a score of 2-0 after the 1st and they looked to be well on their way to a game 2 victory. Peace River looked disheartened, they looked like a team that couldn't figure out how they were going to be the Huskies. Then it all fell apart. 3 goals in less than 2 minutes from Peace River, including 2 in the space of 11 seconds, and the players believed again. The Huskies had beaten the Navigators 9-2 in game 1 and 7-1 the last time they played in Peace River in the regular season. Now suddenly the Navs believed they could beat the Huskies. It was 3-3 heading to the 3rd after a nice goal from Steve Fast but once again in the 3rd the Navs found a way to get a couple og quick goals. Payden Wongstedt picked up a fighting major and a game for going after Gerry Young who recieved just 2 for roughing. The Navs scored during the 4-on-4 and then again once Young came out of the box putting the Navs on the PP. Cam McKinnon fired the Huskies back within 1 but a bad pinch from Cash Brinkworth, who was trying to push the tempo and create some offense for the trailing Huskies, led to another goal for the Navs making it a 6-4 final. The Huskies played well at times but found themselves letting in goals in bunches. Kyle Richardson had 3 goals and 2 assists. Gerry Young chipped in 2 goals for the Navs as well. Game 3 goes Saturday at the NPA.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flyers and Huskies

Lots of hockey involving the FSJ teams tonight as the Flyers look to reestablish their dominance over Spirit River and the Huskies look to continue theirs over Peace River.

The Flyers lost game 2 of their series on Tuesday night in Spirit River due in large part to a hard fought game by Spirit River and the fact the Flyers were short benched having arrived with just 11 skaters. The Flyers tend to bring more guys out to their home games and will be looking to get back to the level of play they showed in game 1 of this series. Adam Loncan was dealing with some back issues towards the end of game 2 and it will be interesting to see if he plays tonight. Puck drops at the NPA at 8:30.

As for the Huskies, they continued their dominance over Peace River with a 9-2 victory in game 1. Goals cam from all over the ice including from 4th liner Kyle Porter who scored for the third game running. The top line also really produced for the Huskies and Zack Blain continued his strong play in net. The only issue for the Huskies and it is hard to find even one is that Steve Fast has not been lighting it up in the playoffs the way he did in the regular season. If the Huskies can get Fasty going they will have a real shot at making this a short series. The last time these two teams met in Peace River the game was a 7-1 blowout for the Huskies with Kole Norris getting injured late on a hit by Gerry Young. The Huskies players got into it with the Navigators crowd a little so it will be fun to see how big the crowd is and how it responds to the Huskies. Game 2 is tonight in Peace River live on moosefm. Puck drops at 8.

Monday, March 2, 2009


1. Whitecourt vs. 5 Grand Prairie

Game 1 is tonight in Whitecourt which is a quick turn around for GP who just won their series versus Dawson in game 5 Saturday night in Dawson. The Wolverines are the best team in the league as I have said before so I don't expect this to be a long series. GP will hang with the Wolverines at times (not tonight though I wouldn't think) but I am going to call a Whitecourt sweep.

Key Players: For Whitecourt the key player in this series will be Ryan Demharter. Grand Prairie has some fire power and since we know the Wolverines will score goals as long as Demharter is solid they will win these games. For Grand Prairie I will have to go with Cody Atkinson. By the sounds of things he was a beast against Dawson and will need to continue to score for the Wheelers to have any chance of extending this series.

Prediction: Wolverines in 4

2. FSJ vs 3. Peace River

This is the matchup both sets of fans wanted to see. The age old rivalry between the two most prestigious and decorated teams in the NWJHL. A rivarly that at one point had seen 4 or maybe even 5 straight finals played between the Huskies and Navs with the Huskies winning 3 of them. I will check but I wonder if maybe all 4 of the Huskies championships have been won at the expense of the Navs. Either way this is going to be a great series and the bad blood is there. A hit on Kole Norris late in their last regular season game that resulted in an Ambulance being called and Norris being stretchered off the ice will ensure that the Huskies will be fired up to play this Navs team. I think the Huskies are too good at home for Peace River and will find a way to win a game in Peace.

Key Players: For the Huskies it's Zack Blain. He has been very good in the playoffs posting a 2.00 GAA so far in 3 games against Slave Lake. He was spectacular in Peace River the last time the Huskies were there and if he plays to that level all series the Huskies should have no problems. Honourable mention to Steve Fast who needs to get going a little offensively. Second on the team in goals in the regular season was Fast but he hasn't found the back of the net yet in the playoffs. For the Navs it's Bretton Stewart. At times brilliant and at times awful. Stewart won game 1 against Beaverlodge with the shutout in a one nothing game but let in a crap load of goals in Beaverlodge including when the Navs threw away a 5-2 lead and lost game 4 7-5. If he can match Blain the Navs have a shot.

Prediction: Huskies in 6 (I want to say 5 but the Navs are a good team and Selluck Bunn being back helps them so I will be a little more conservative)


In case you missed it I went 3 for 3 on my predictions on the first round. I even correctly picked Grand Prairie over Dawson in 5 games and Peace over Beaverlodge in 5 as well. The only thing that stopped me from running the table on the winners and the number of games was that Huskies loss in Slave Lake. I let Zack Blain hear about that the other night.

FLyers down Spirit in game 1

The Flyers continued their playoff winning streak last night with a 3-1 victory in game 1 over Spirit River. FSJ is now 4 and 0 in the playoffs so far but last night's win was much different than the previous 3 blowouts against Lakeland. The Rangers come to play and they compete hard if not always fairly and they also have fabulous goaltending in the form of Matt Yesminski. The Flyers, on the other hand, are gearing up for a MacKenzie Cup series in early April and have been looking forward to playing Spirit River to get as close to that AAA level as they can in their A league. And the Flyers played like a AAA level hockey club for the first time in a while although this has more to do with the level of competition they have been playing rather than their own performance. The Flyers pounded the Rangers physically all night, they dominated puck possession and they vastly outshot Spirit River. The coaching staff was even happy with the PP based on puck movement and getting shots to the net and not on the results of those power plays as the Flyers were 1 for 10. Goals from Shuya, Noble and an empty netter from Todd Alexander ensured the victory along with a solid performance from goalie Troy Hunt. He only saw about 15 shots and only maybe 2 quality scoring chances but made an unreal save to absolutely rob Spirit River late in the third when the score was 2-1.

Dustin Kersey told me after the game it was the most lopsided 3-1 game he had ever been a part of. Good to see the Flyers are putting revenge for some late season cheap shots by Spirit to the back burner while they focus on preparing for AAA play. Stony Plain is through the final series in Aberta by the way and Bentely has been pushed to a game 7 which will go Wednesday night to see who will play Stony in the series which will decide who hosts the Flyers in the Mac cup.

I enjoyed watching the Ref get into it with the time keeper Gary Hunt last night over 4 seconds being put on the clock. The ref eventually tossed Mr Hunt who was upset because he was sure he had stopped the clock properly. I like the passion hockey brings out and thought it was funny to see Troy Hunt's dad getting kicked out of a game as a timekeeper. Haven't seen that before.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I am going to run through the text messages I sent and received tonight on a crazy night in the NWJHL playoffs.

We had game 4 between Peace River and Beaverlodge from Beaverlodge.
Game 5 between Dawson Creek and Grand Prairie from Dawson Creek
Game 4 between FSJ and Slave Lake from the NPA

The texts I received from Dawson were from Jr Canucks play-by-play voice Darren Dupont, from Beaverlodge the texts were sent by Peace River Navigators play-by-play man Damien Gnass. I was sending to both unless otherwise stated.

8:12pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: 2-0 Peace River 5 minutes in.

8:13pm (sent) - 2-0 Huskies 6 minutes in.

8:14pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: 2-1 Peace River .

8:14pm (sent) - 3-0 Huskies All three guys on top line have 3 points.

8:21pm (sent) - 4-1 Huskies Kyle Porter.

8:23pm (received) - From Dawson Creek: 0-0 8 minutes left in 1st.

8:24pm (received) - From Peace River: 2-2. Shots are 16-2 for Navs but game is tied.

8:29pm (sent) - 4-3 Huskies. We started our backup he's made 4 saves.

8:35pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: 1st period summary. 2 to 2 score. Goals by Bagan, Bunn and Dumas twice (for Beaverlodge). Shot 21-7 for Navigators.

8:36pm (received) - From Dawson Creek: 1-0 Grand Prairie after PP goal Atkinson 19:59 mark tipped high out of air.

8:39pm (sent) - 5-3 Huskies after first. 13-11 shots for FSJ. Reffing appalling both ways.

After 1st Period:
FSJ 5 - Slake Lake 3
Dawson Creek 0 - Grand Prairie 1
Beaverlodge 2 - Peace River 2

9:03pm (sent) - 5-4 Huskies. 3 soft goals on backup goalie.

9:07pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Navs up 4-2 early in second.

9:22pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Two man advantage goal for Navs, 5-2 Navs.

9:24pm (sent) - 5-4 Huskies after 2. This would have been like 15-1 until our goalie let in the bad goals.

9:26pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Blades goal late second. Power Play. 5-3 Navs.

9:28pm (received) - From Dawson Creek: 3-1 GP after 2.

9:34pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Second Period summary. Goals from Richardson Smith and Richardson again and Cody Moulds (Blades) Shots 18-13 Navs. Score is 5-3 after 2.

After 2nd Period:
Huskies 5 - Slave Lake 4
Dawson Creek 1 - Grand Prairie 3
Beaverlodge 3 - Peace River 5

9:50pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Blades goal in first min. 5-4 Navs.

9:50pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: 5-5 in third.

9:53pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Tied at 5. Robinson (Blades) break away goal.

9:59pm (sent) - 6-5 Slave Lake MacIsaac.

10:00pm (received) - From Dawson Creek: 3-2 GP 4 min left.

10:02pm (sent) - MacIsaac just took a 4 minute High Sticking pen 6:30 left in 3rd.

10:03pm (received) - From Beaverlodge: Blades power play goal to lead 6-5 10 minutes left.

10:04pm (sent) - Wongstedt ties it 6-6 on PP for Huskies.

10:10pm (sent) - 7-6 Huskies 1 min left. Kole Norris.

10:10pm (received) From Dawson Creek: 5-2 GP FINAL. Dawson is out. 2 EN goals.

10:20pm (received) From Beaverlodge: Blades power play goal. 7-5 with 2 min left.

10:22 (sent) - 7-6 Huskies FINAL. Huskies win series 3 games to 1.

10:23pm (received) From Beaverlodge: 7-5 Final.

10:26pm (received) From Beaverlodge: Third Period summary. Shots 16-6 Blades. 4 straight goals after Navs take 8 penalties.

10:28pm (sent to Beaverlodge) - Good Calls? Or typical NWJHL dodgy reffing?

10:29pm (received) From Beaverlodge: Horrible. 2 Navs players got interference penalties at same time?

So that wraps up a crazy night in the NWJHL playoffs. The Blades come back from 5-2 down to win 7-5 on home ice and force a game 5 tomorrow night in Peace River. Grand Prairie wins game 5 on the road in Dawson Creek, win the the series 3-2.

And the Huskies win a thriller which shouldn't have been a thriller but they got the job done after trailing in the third they rally for the 7-6 win and a 3 games to 1 series victory.