|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
Players will report Thursday for testing and will be on the field for the first time Friday night. It's a season of optimism for the Thunder and in my opinion will likely challenge for their second National Championship in three years. I had a chance to catch up with Head Coach Scott MacAulay to give us a bit of a preview:
ON GETTING THE SEASON GOING: "I know our coaches are super excited. We've been having several meetings and stuff and I think it's just time to quit talking and quit scheming and actually get on the field there and put it all to work. Looking forward to the guys reporting Thursday night and getting out on the field. We are going to have a strong team. The last three years we spent a lot of time getting out to Saskatchewan high schools and recruiting as hard as we can to get these guys to come to us. I am really happy with the crop of the recruiting talent that we have brought in the last three years and especially this year. I think that we are going to start to see that make a big difference you know having our coaches be able to develop these guys from day one until they get into their 3rd and 4th year when they are actually going to get onto the field and participate. I think this is going to be a big year for us and we will see what happens."
ON THE YOUNG GUYS: "We've always said that when you are an 18-year-old kid coming to play junior football that's not the automatic. (to travel or start). We still have a lot of great veteran players. The one thing is with the guys we were able to recruit out of high school is that they are great athletes. They are guys that were highly sought after by several CIS teams or NCAA teams and I think a lot of them are going to get some playing time. Sawyer Beuttner for example at the quarterback position. As we go into camp Jayden Marwick is our guy but we know that Sawyer is going to get some reps and hopefully we can get up on teams and give him some opportunities to get some plays in and build up his confidence. Then at the receiver position Kris Calcutt, he's a phenomenal receiver, he's fast, he's very football intuitive and I expect him to get some playing time as well."
SPECIFIC POSITIONS TO WATCH IN CAMP: "If there is a theme about 2015 it's depth. If we have any type of injuries or whatever happens through the season the next guy is in and we aren't going to miss a step. That's one thing that our coaching staff really worked hard on this off-season in regards to our recruiting. There three areas that I am most interested in watching."
One: Defensive back. "The reason I am interested in defensive back is because they have pretty much all returned besides Chris Tunnicliffe who graduated. But we were able to bring in a guy named Robbie Lowes and also Ryan Fillick and both these guys are phenomenal athletes and great football players and they should be starting for us but the thing is we also have five other guys that should be starting for us. So that's one position I am excited to see who is going to come out on top and who is going to take that leadership role."
Two: Linebacker. "Last year we graduated 4-5 linebackers which is a lot. So now just to see whats happening with these other guys. We do have Paul Toth who is in his 4th year, we do have some guys in their 3rd year but there is also some second year guys I am expecting to step up like Spencer Bear for example. He is one of the guys I expect to come out and fight for a spot right away."
Three: Offensive Line. This is a very similar group to our defensive backs. We already were good at offensive line and now I think we have become great. There's some young guys that came to us last year that really worked hard in the off season, Chad Teskey being one of them and I expect him to push and possibly start here right out of the gate. Then we were also able to recruit a big kid out of LeBolus that graduated back in 2014, Matt Wallace. He is about 6'4 and 300 lbs and he's going to come in. We do have out returning 5th and 4th year tackles in Matt Halbegewachs who is with the Riders and Kyle Deschene who is an all-star type of guy but Teskey is going to bring some competition and really push those guys during training camp."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR VACANCY: "Dave Jackson was given an opportunity to go to the Riders. He is a legitimate coach on their staff, full time. They created a Canadian coach spot so basically they were looking for some young up and coming CFL caliber type coaches. He was given this opportunity to go there and we talked about him maybe being still with the Thunder and then also doing the Rider games but I think at the end of the day, Dave's dream and his goal is to be a coach in the CFL and when you are given the opportunity it's best for him to go and be all in. So we did some shuffling around and I am really excited about this. Brent Glenn is going to be taking over as defensive coordinator. Brent and I have been coaching together since we did spring league eight years ago. Him and I have done linebackers together, we have run defences together and last year we spent a lot of time working on coverage's and also installing some of our plus 1 blitz and short yards together. He is a guy that has been able to come in and raise that whole intensity level with the players as well. He's a very intense coach, the kids really respect him and he has also been really smart in drawing on some of our other coaches for their expertise. We also have Luc Mullinder coming to help with our defensive line and Brent has been asking him to help out with some of the schematics with the defensive line. We also have Vincent Donaldson who played for the Riders and has been a winning coach in high school and he is helping us out as well. I am excited for Brent Glenn and I think a lot of great things are going to happen that way."
The team will report on Thursday night and then hit the field Friday at 7 o'clock for their first session. Saturday and Sunday they will go at 9-11 AM and then again at 11:30-1:30. I will have full coverage of the weekend so stay tuned.
Exhibition Stadium was built in 1919 and the Pats played there until 1977 when the Agridome, now the Brandt Centre was constructed. The organization, whether named the Monarchs or Pats won four Memorial Cup Championships while playing there to go along with 21 junior league championships. 19 as the Pats, 1 as the Monarchs and 1 as the Falcons. A full breakdown is below. Big thanks to Kevin Shaw for getting that info for me! You can check out his blog here.
Regina Pats League Championships (21)
1921-22 Inter-City Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1922-23 Regina City Junior Hockey League
1923-24 Inter-City Junior Hockey League
1924-25 Regina City Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Champions)
1926-27 Regina District Junior Hockey League
1928-29 Inter-City Junior Hockey League
1929-30 Regina City Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Champions)
1930-31 Regina City Junior Hockey League
1931-32 Regina Junior Hockey League
1932-33 Regina Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1933-34 Inter-City Junior Hockey League
1949-50 Western Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1950-51 Western Junior Hockey League
1951-52 Western Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1954-55 Western Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1955-56 Western Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1957-58 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Finalists)
1960-61 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
1964-65 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
1968-69 Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League(Memorial Cup Finalists)
1973-74 Western Canada Hockey League (Memorial Cup Champions)
Regina Falcons League Championships (1)
1925-26 Regina District Junior Hockey League
Regina Monarchs League Championships (1)
1927-28 Inter-City Junior Hockey League (Memorial Cup Champions)
The Pats played in the Stadium from 1920-27, 1928-34 and 1947-77. In 1927-28 the Pats and Falcons merged to become the Monarchs. In 1934 the Pats folded due to financial issues and were brought back for the 1946-47 season.
- Clark Gillies was a part of the Pats last Memorial Cup Championship in 1974 and the organizations second to last league title in that same year. He says it was quite the rink to play in. "It was a loud little place I can tell you that. There are a couple of things I remember and one specifically was that when I was playing with Dennis Sobchuk and Mike Wanchuk. Wanchuk was blind as a bat and I don't know if anyone knew that. He would ask me 'Clarky, how much time is left on the clock?' I would say 'Well the clock is right there' he said 'I can't see it, I can't tell what time it is.' I said 'How the hell can you catch the puck when I pass it across the ice when you can't see the clock from here?' He said 'I don't know, it's weird'. That old clock that used to go around and it would be like a regular clock with a second hand and on the minute it would click, I remember that old thing. The other thing I remember was the lighting system in the place. They had light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling. It was horrible, the place looked dark half the time. Last but not least, the biggest memory was they had the steel girders that they just put some pads around and they were right there when you were going down the boards and if anybody hit you they would pile you right into the things. That was fairly dangerous when you think about it, how many problems you could have had with those things."
That being said, Gillies says they had some great success and excitement playing in that rink. "We had some good times in there, there is no question about that. Fortunately our dressing room was a part of the building that was attached to the rink so we actually had a pretty nice dressing room in there compared to most of the places we went. Going to the Memorial Cup, some pretty exciting nights in there. beating Swift Current in the Eastern Division and then beating Calgary and going on to the Memorial Cup in 74. Those are obviously very exciting times."
Gillies, a Moose Jaw native, played his rookie season in 1971. "I do remember going town there when I first went to Regina. Del Wilson was the GM and Earl Ingarfield was the coach. I wasn't sure if I was good enough to play in the WCHL so I went down with my dad and sat up in the stands watching a game. I said the Civic Centre (in Moose Jaw) is nicer than this place but this will be an interesting place to play and I thought I could do it."
Clark says he will always remember the atmosphere in the old barn. "Very loud, oh my god. I remember when it was full. You could get 3000, 35 hundred people crammed into that little space and it was very loud. They loved their hockey there is no doubt about that."
Gillies went on to play 14 seasons in the NHL, 12 with the New York Islanders and 2 with the Buffalo Sabres. He won four consecutive Stanley Cups on the Island from 1980 to 1983 and was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. Now Gillies works a lot of charity golf tournaments down south and learned a skill he uses now when playing here in Regina. "The attached building used to have the bull sales over there. I used to get out of school early and be out of there at about 2:30 and we didn't practice until about 4 so I would go down and sit where they had the bull sales and listen to them do the auction and stuff. That has worked out pretty nice for me because whatever I learned there I do a lot of these charity golf outings and I do the auctioneering and people always ask me 'Where did you learn to do that?' I tell them believe it or not I learned it playing junior hockey in Western Canada."
Gillies is just one of so many who played in Regina, had success or didn't, and moved on. While the history will live on in memory, the place it all happened will be gone soon.
- In other WHL news the Portland Winterhawks have signed three players this week. The biggest of which is 19-year-old defenseman Jack Dougherty, a second round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Predators signed Dougherty to a three-year entry level contract this past Friday and he has decided to move from the University of Wisconsin to play in the WHL. The club also signed their two CHL Import Picks from June, 19-year-old forwards Rodrigo Abols and Carl Ericson.
- I don't even know what to say about the Riders anymore. The injuries keep piling up, Kevin Glenn is 50/50 at best to play Friday in Edmonton. CKRM sideline reporter Micheal Ball reported that Glenn was throwing in the tunnel in the 4th quarter on Sunday, trying to see if he could get back in the game but in the end did not. I guess the one positive is that if the injury was serious he would not be throwing a football. That being said Friday is must win and if Glenn can't go then I don't see the Riders picking up their first win. Maybe Brett Smith will surprise us?
- The defence has to get it figured out. No turnovers Sunday and are minus 4 overall in the differential. They have only generated 2 turnovers in 5 games this season and just 7 sacks. Injuries have hurt them big time, they have some talent but it’s not translating. Guys need to be better and the penalties are killing them. The mistakes come at the worst times possible and then it snow balls. It’s all been said already so I will just leave it there.
- How about the Toronto Blue Jays trade on Monday. Sending Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco to Colorado for Troy Tulowitzski and closer LaTroy Hawkins. My initial reaction was of surprise and disbelief. Thought Alex Anthopoulos would go get some starting pitching and a reliever who wasn't 42 but now that I've had a chance to digest everything my tune has changed a little. Tulo is a major upgrade on Jose Reyes who has struggled defensively this year and is not on the same level offensively. Hawkins will add some experience but I don't expect him to have a big impact. It's not a terrible trade, the Jays got better. However I hope it is a sign that the club is going for it this year and we will see a big trade for a starting pitcher and another reliever before Friday's trade deadline. Fingers crossed.
That's it from me today. Have a great week!