Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ice - Hitmen now a best-of-three

In what now has become a best-of-three WHL first round series between the Kootenay Ice and Calgary Hitmen, just like the last two games at Western Financial Place, the last goal in this series, wins.

Here, we, go....

1. Goal scoring is about cashing in on your opportunities and this series has had that in spades. Where that opportunity now lies is at the feet of 18-year-old Ice back-up goaltender Wyatt Hoflin. Through 39:24 of playing time over the last two games he's allowed zero goals. Zilch, zero, nada. The Spruce Grove product now has an opportunity to seize the number one job with the Kootenay Ice and in short order. Not to lay the blame of a 2-2 series at Mackenzie Skapski but clearly, he has not played well.

2. Is there any question as to who will get the start in goal for the Ice on Thursday in Game 5? For the record, I cant see Hitmen coach Mike Williamson being all that enamored with Chris Driedger's play either. There's no guarantee that he'll start Thursday either.

3. The last goal could indeed win this series but you can wonder how long the lack of depth on the Kootenay Ice bench, or more accurately, on the Ice blueline, will keep this series close. Another suspect checking-from-behind penalty (boarding) on Linden Penner saw Ice D Landon Cross take another blow to the head forcing him to leave the game. The Hitmen took a blow to the forward corps when they lost Mike Winther in the second period after he was hit. I didn't see it so I wasn't sure how bad the hit he took was.

4. Penner missed two games for a cross-checking major to the mouth of Ice F Zach McPhee late in game one. Wonder if this one will draw any attention from the WHL. Being a minor penalty, probably not.

5. Jaedon Descheneau and Luke Philp are ranked 122nd and 125th, respectively, in the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings. With Descheneau leading the WHL in playoff scoring as of Tuesday night with 2 goals and 8 assists, setting a team record in Game 3's 7-6 OT loss with a goal and five assists for points in a playoff game, and Philp chipping in with 3 goals and 2 assists, you have to wonder if they've garnered enough attention this season playing in the scouting shadow of Sam Reinhart, to be drafted in June.

6. The power play for the Ice is the second story of the series - behind the goaltending - and slightly ahead of the injuries, and now sits at 9/25 through four games for the Ice, a healthy 36%. On Thursday Kootenay finally beat Calgary 5-on-5, scoring four even strength goals.

7. Highlites all-around as the Ice website has the game's highlites up right away (kudos!) here.

8. As expected the crowd hasn't been great for games 3-4 in Cranbrook but hopefully that'll improve for game 6 Saturday night. For the record, Swift Current - Kootenay's small market cousin in the attendance department - was able to draw 2800+ Tuesday night.

9. With the season ending for the Prince George Cougars the cat, so to speak, is out of the bag as Canucks D-man and former Cougar Dan Hamhuis has confirmed his involvement as part of the new ownership that is buying the Cougars from owner Rick Brodsky with plans of keeping the team in PG. That article is here.

 10. Game five goes Thursday at the Saddledome.


ELL said...

Some serious minutes, Dirk, Peel, Valiev and Murray have been putting in. Impressive that they have kept it up so far against such a physical team. Peel gets my vote for favourite player. Not a big guy but always making heads up plays and not intimidated in the corners.

Jeff said...

The bigger question is whether or not the blueline injury issue is affecting Skapski or is it something else? Is the lack of 6 healthy, experience D-men not clearing the lanes; blocking those shots etc that they would normally do? The Hitmen have done their homework. I'd like to know how many of the 21 goals he's surrendered have gone over his blocker/shoulder.
I'm not sure I'd put him in the category of Lieuwen or Blackburn to be sure but he's never been this inconsistent and always bounced back after a bad game. I don't think he'll get the chance to do that, especially if Hoflin wins game five.

ICEFAN16 said...

Big game tonight!! Bring it home boys up 3-2... WFP will be rocking on sat....GO ICE GO

Anonymous said...

Tim Bozon will be in the building on Saturday dropping the puck!!!! So awesome....Go Ice GO