|With Phil Andrews|
- I want to start with the Regina Pats and the Jesse Gabrielle trade on Monday. To say it was a surprise would be a stretch but I didn't expect it to come right now. Gabrielle and a 4th in 2017 went to the Prince George Cougars in exchange for forward Lane Zablocki who is entering his 17 year-old season as well as a 4th round pick in 2016.
Pats Senior VP of Hockey Operations, GM and Head Coach John Paddock says this deal has been in the works for months.
"It's been something that (Cougars GM) Todd (Harkins) and I have been talking about actually since late April. Lane played wing part of the year, he can play wing or center. Probably the biggest thing that brought it on was that he is 98 born. Probably the only reason I agreed to trading Jesse is just because we are trying to enhance the 98's. We went with the hybrid model last year and it was great and we were happy with that but this kid is a very good young player. He scored 15 goals last year playing junior A. Basically playing as a 15-year-old for half the season because his birthday is December 27th. He's a real good young player that I really think helps our 98 year which is sort of the bigger year if we are going to pick one in the next two or three years after this season."
Gabrielle was acquired from Brandon at last years trade deadline for Morgan Klimchuk, he scored 10 goals and 9 assists in 33 regular season games. In the playoffs he had a goal and four points in 9 games. He was drafted by the Boston Bruins this summer in the 4th round of the NHL Entry Draft.
Paddock says it was tough to send Jesse away.
"There is no trade that is easy. You don't take them lightly in your thought process with your team or your thought process personally. I like Jesse Gabrielle, he was a good welcome addition for us and we would have been more than happy to keep him for two years but we got a three year player for him. Dave (Struch) and I talked about it numerous times, we have a lot of time for Jesse Gabrielle. It was hard of course. But there are things that you feel are right for your team, whether it's exactly right at the very moment isn't the thing exactly, it's big picture. I think we got a very good big picture player."
Zablocki meanwhile was drafted in the 5th round by the Cougars in 2013. He played last year in the AJHL with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He scored 15 times and added 10 assists in 55 games. Played half of the year as a 15-year-old as he is a December 27th birthday. The year before in Midget he scored 45 goals and had 36 assists for 81 points in just 37 games. I'm told he dropped to the 5th round because he was originally an NCAA guy but Paddock says he will be here and play on the team this year.
"He is on the team. We are talking about a very good player here. Just like a 98 player in Jake Elmer who is going to be on the team. Lane Zablocki, I wouldn't have traded Jesse for a player that wasn't going to be on our team this year and a 98 born. it wouldn't have made any sense to trade a 97 for a 97, no, Lane's a really good player, this is a unique opportunity to get a good young player."
I will say this. Gabrielle has a reputation in the hockey world. I however enjoyed my time working with the young man, he is a good kid and I wish him all the best out West.
The Pats will open training camp on August 29th.
- The Regina Thunder played their one and only pre-season game of 2015 on Saturday in Medicine Hat and lost 33-17 to the Calgary Colts. The Thunder led 14-9 in the third quarter but the Colts went on to come back and win the contest. Head Coach Scott MacAulay says he got what he wanted out of the game.
"We started out the game with a lot of the guys that we thought were going to maybe be our starters. QB Jaeden Marwick for example played only two series and then we got Sawyer Beuttner in for two quarters and then were able to get the 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks in there as well. Even the other positions we got our starters int here for a while and then it was good to mix it up with a lot of the young guys and see how they were able to compete at this level. I think we got what we wanted out of it and we are looking forward to starting practice this week."
MacAulay says some guys stepped up in the game. "Some names that come to mind, Carson Bell played great, hes an 18-year-old defensive lineman out of Assiniboia and also Rylan Gibb who is a defensive end out of Prince Albert and I thought both of those guys did a great job and were pleasant surprises that they were able to carry themselves at this level so quickly. Another guy Tanner Smith at MAC linebacker, he was outstanding, he did some great things. On the offensive side we already knew how good Kris Calcutt was but man he is fast and he is athletic and he made some big plays. That was great to see. And then running back Victor St. Pierre definitely over performed. We knew how good he was because we played against him last year with the Winnipeg Rifles but man he is explosive and can definitely make plays."
The Thunder will open the 2015 season at home to the Winnipeg Rifles at 7 o'clock on Saturday night. MacAulay says they don't know much about the 2015 edition of the Rifles. "They have been super quiet. We have been googling and youtubing and everything trying to get as much information as I can. What I do know is they have quarterback named Ubeara. He was the starting QB with Vancouver Island back in 2013 and he's a hell of an athlete and has a great arm. I am assuming he will be their starter and he can definitely deliver the ball. They have a guy named Blair Mates, a guy I remember from Manitoba U18's and he is a great running back. Just from seeing on the internet it looks like he is back and so they have a lot of good athletes that are back. Even looking at their defence, I think their linebackers are definitely going to be their strength so we will see how it goes."
Tickets will be available at the doors at Mosaic. Hope you can make it!
- On to the 0-7 Riders. I know it's a little odd to say but I haven't felt better about this team since before the opening game of the season. Let me explain. The defence is getting better every week, the big name players are starting to make plays. Alex Hall, John Chick and the like have stepped up. Yes there are still mistakes but things are improving. The offense looked pretty good in Brett Smith's second career start. He was very impressive in Toronto, used his legs to extend plays, took some hits and made some great throws. Penalties hurt them but there were a lot of positives that came out of that game.
The penalties were bad. However I don't buy into the notion that the penalties are a coaching problem. How in the world is Corey Chamblin responsible for Ryan Smith and Rob Bagg going off side and taking two Chris Getzlaf touchdowns off the board? How is he responsible for a player in street clothes, who wasn't even playing, who started an altercation from the sidelines and was flagged. Sure there wee other penalties and discipline needs to be addressed but the onus has to be on the players too.
Another point on this while coaching discussion. The Riders have never given up over this streak. They have come out and played hard in every game. That to me indicates Chamblin hasn't lost his locker room. I wasn't sure before but now I am. Changing coaches does not look like the answer from where I sit. Two weeks ago I thought this team might never win a game but with Ottawa and Winnipeg making up 4 of the next 5 opponents, thee is a sliver of hope for this club to turn this around. I'm not saying they will make the playoffs but they are going to win some games.
- Pats forward Sam Steel and Team Canada is off to a great start at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. The Canadians beat the Czech Republic on Monday 3-1 and the Sweden on Tuesday 2-0. Steel has yet to record a point but he has looked good in the two games. The Wheat Kings Nolan Patrick is playing with the Vancouver Giants Tyler Benson on a line and those two are just unbelievable together. The Kelowna Rockets Dillon Dube is also having a great tournament. It's great to be watching hockey again, I gotta tell ya.
- Former Regina Pats forward Dyson Stevenson has a new pro contract for this season. I have been asked to keep things under my hat for now but will let you know as soon as I have been given the go ahead. What I can tell you is that Dyson turned down a two way deal with the Islanders farm club in Bridgeport. Good things are happening for the Shaunavon product.
- The Blue Jays made two firsts in franchise history in the last week. First Justin Smoak hit the organizations first ever grand slam in New York on the weekend. The Jays swept the Yankees in that series. Then last night the club recorded it's 9th straight win. Coupled with the 9 gamer earlier this year, it's the first time the franchise has ever had two winning streaks of that length. And my god they are fun to watch. Just a half game out of first now!
- Well it's been a road series between the Regina Red Sox and the Weyburn Beavers in the Saskatchewan Division Finals. Regina won the first two on the road and then lost games 3 and 4 at home including last nights defeat. The 5th and deciding game will be played tonight in Weyburn and for Regina's sake I hope the road team wins again. Been a great series so far.
- Anyone else excited for the last major of the year in Golf? Rory McIlroy is back, Tiger looks to have found his game just a bit, Jordan Speith is looking for 3 of 4 on the year. Whistling Straights always makes for a great tournament and I can't wait for things to get started tomorrow morning.
That's all I've got for today. Have a great week!