Some quick catch-up as the young Ice put the brakes on the 8-game skid and have now won two straight.
3055 caught the show last night at WFP on school spirit night. Groups of schools with discounted tickets came in droves as Western Financial provided $500 to the school with the best spirit.
Wonder if they considered the spirit of the high-school aged Ice on this night as the club got goals from Vetterl, Descheneau, O'Connor, Reinhart and Shirley in a 5-3 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings last night at WFP. Only Vetterl, at 18, isn't in in high school still as the rest are grade 11 or 12.
O'Connor continues to impress with a goal and an assist and is helping question why the Calgary native was left off the Team Pacific U-17 camp roster in Kamloops over the summer. He was part of the Alberta portion of the camp in May but not invited the rest of the way.
F Colin Shirley however did make Team Western for the World U-17 Challenge in Quebec over the holidays. The Saskatchewan product notched his 5th of the season last night on the power play.
The discussion over the week turned to the Red Deer Rebels and Brent Sutter's firing of five-year head coach/GM Jesse Wallin and assuming the duties himself. That and hiring former Rocket head coach Jeff Truitt as an associate coach. The club also released 20-year-old uber-talented, problem child Charles Inglis. Inglis, a first round pick in 2007 (4th overall by Saskatoon) was the Rebels leading scorer with 11 goals and 3 assists and was a -8. It's his 3rd team (PG being the other) in the WHL. You know where I'm going with this...... With the Ice having a 20-year-old spot open, do they gamble and try to acquire Inglis - or at least take a chance on the waiver wire if he's outright released from the Rebels and get him for nothing - to inject some much needed scoring into the line-up?
Lots to think about.... Scoring? Yes. Leadership for a young group that's probably not going to make the playoffs? If his track record says anything, likely no. Let's say they do make the playoffs, in a loaded top five Bantam Draft in May, does making the playoffs off-set an off-year and perhaps really hurt in the young team grande scheme of things? There's five players in the Top-Five consensus of the Bantam Draft this year that could really be game-changer, franchise-type players.
There are some who are throwing out the possibility that early consensus top pick Tyler Benson of Edmonton Southside Athletic Club AAA Bantam, could play as an 'exceptional player status' in the WHL next season as a 15-year-old. The OHL has done it a few times (John Tavares, Rico Fata, Jason Spezza; Aaron Eckblad last season and this season Connor McDavid). Last year's top pick, Matt Barzal of Burnaby Winter Club - who is currently playing with Major Midget in Vancouver, hasn't signed with Seattle yet and sounds more and more like he's headed to college, and was also talk of being a player who might apply for the exceptional player status. He's played four games with the BCHL Coquitlam Express already and has one assist. Seattle's 2011 first round pick (6th overall) F Ryan Gropp also hasn't signed and is playing with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. The Kamloops product is 5th in team scoring with 16 points (Cranbrook's Sam Mellor, 20, is second in team scoring with the Vees). I mention Gropp because that must really hurt the T-Birds to have two top picks spurning the club, though Barzal hasn't completely decided as of yet.
Benson is 5'10" 165lbs and currently leads the AAA Alberta Bantam league with 30g, 39a - 69 points in 14 games, on pace to shatter Ty Rattie's (Portland Winterhawks) Bantam record of 131 points (75 goals) in 33 games. At 6-12-1 on the season and last in the WHL with 13 points past the quarter-pole of the season, a lottery pick is a very real possibility.
So where was I going with this? Oh, back to Inglis, do you pick him up and maybe (that's a big maybe) get him to help you along to possible a playoff spot or do you ride the rookies and let them gain the experience for a serious run in two years? That and have the possibility of a future star (I know, it's a stretch right now to project Benson that far out but hey, this is why it's fun to speculate) on the roster to put more bums in the seats at WFP.
So lots to dicuss....
Some parting shots....
Back-to-backs: Brandon is still here and will play again tonight. A reflection of travel costs obviously as this is the first time in recent memory that a team as played back-to-back here, if ever, other than playoffs. I'm not a fan but other than PG, where it's the norm, it's starting to happen more regularly. (Kelowna is still in TCA to play again tonight).
G Peyton Lee of Cranbrook continues to shine for the Giants, winning a shoot-out on Sportsnet last night as the Giants beat the Pats 4-3. Lee is 4-2 on the season and continues to try and wrestle the number one job from goaltenders Tyler Fuhr and Liam Liston (injured) in Lotusland. He'll also play with Team Pacific at the U-17 tournament over Christmas.
Speaking of 20's, do you fill it or leave it open? Hate to mention it again but F Elgin Pearce is now 22nd in WHL scoring with the Tigers with 25 points (8g, 17a). Again though, I like the idea of playing the kids, win or lose and be in line for a lottery pick.
Captain? Is it just going to be left open or what? It's been three weeks since Czerwonka left. Somebody needs to seize the 'C'.
Game was televised last night on Shaw, which didn't seem to hurt the crowd on School Spirit night. Saw some highlights on Shaw and then watched the 3rd period of the Giants-Pats game on Sportsnet. So, why the quality difference? Shaw owns Global now, so you'd think the quality would at least get to the Sportsnet level but they haven't, not even close. Still a ways to go in that department.
And while we're on the highlight talk, website, update, highlights ASAP. All part of the promotion of the game and fans (me) want to watch highlights after the game. They need to be edited and put together and posted online right away.
That's all for now, Wheaties-Ice tonight again for the rematch at WFP. Gametime is 7PM.