|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
I want to start with the Regina Pats and their preseason tournament over the weekend. It was a good experience for all the young rookies that were carried over for the games. The Calgary Hitmen played a number of veterans over the weekend, simply because they are an older team and don't have many rookies. The Moose Jaw Warriors basically played their team minus Brayden Point who is their best player and the Prince Albert Raiders did play their best player in Reid Gardiner. The Pats meanwhile only dressed roughly three vets a game and they were just second year guys. Some of which are battling for a spot to stay on the club. The Pats managed one win in three games but showed some good things. Here are some of my takeaways.
- Jake Leschyshyn was the best forward on the ice over the three games. The 16-year-old has made some huge improvements over the off-season. He was already a good player at 15 but this time around he is faster and stronger. Jake is tied for the team lead in rookie scoring with 4 points and will be a big part of the offense this year.
- Forward Colton Kroeker is primed to be an impact player in his second year with the club. The Surrey B.C. product has put on almost 20 pounds from last year and add that to his speed and skill and he will make a huge improvement on his rookie point totals of 6. He has 4 points in the pre-season in 2 games.
- Trygve Many Guns is an interesting player going forward. He has shown his ability to score in the first three games. He also has four points in the preseason, 2 of them goals. His size is a huge plus but his leg strength needs to catch up to the weight of his frame. He's a a player as they say and with some development could be an even better one.
- Another guy who has taken a step is Jake Elmer. Elmer is entering his 17-year-old season and being a late birthday will not be drafted for another two years. He has been dynamic in the preseason so far with three points and will be another guy relied upon to provide offense on this young team.
- Second year forward Luc Smith has also made some real improvements in the off-season. The 6'4, 205 pound Smith has worked so hard to improve his skating and it has shown early on. Luc was seen beating defenceman wide over the weekend, something that just didn't happen last year.
- Adam Berg is going to have a great year up front as well. Looked really sharp in the one game he played. Rykr Cole too, their spots on the club are more than safe if I had to call it.
- On the back end, Nikolai Knyzhov is smooth and skilled. Might even be better than Sergey Zborovskiy was last year at this point.
- Jared Freadrich was the best defenceman in rookie camp but once the games started it seemed like the nerves got to him a bit. He will make the team and showed some good things in the games but also had his share of mistakes. A young guy that is almost a carbon copy of former captain Kyle Burroughs in my opinion.
- Brady Pouteau has done very well in the defence corps. He brings a gritty, hard hitting game. Really tough to play against.
- James Hilsendager got into a couple games because of an injury to one of the rookies on the back end and looked just how he is supposed to. Mean.
- It's not all sunshine and roses however for the returning guys. There are a couple guys that could be in tough. It's only been a week and there is a lot of pre-season left to turn things around but it's been a tough start for the both of them.
There are currently 30 skaters left with the club, 19 forwards and 11 defenceman. Plus 3 goalies. 15-year-old defenceman Dawson Barteaux is among the remaining players and so 29 that are left are able to make the team. Subtract the injured Colby Williams and Taylor Cooper and for the start of the year that makes 27. 7 of the remaining players are 16. Not many cuts left to be made, the Pats carried 22-24 players all of last year, including goaltenders, before the call-ups. This number of 27 will stay until at least after the weekend as 4 players are gone or leaving in the next two days for NHL rookie camps.
Forward Austin Wagner has already joined the L.A. Kings, Adam Brooks and Sergey Zborovskiy leave today for New York Rangers camp and tomorrow Connor Hobbs will join the Washington Capitals.
It's so good to see Adam Brooks get rewarded for his outstanding 30 goal campaign last year. I was hoping the Winnipeg product would get drafted late this summer but it just didn't happen. He does get himself a camp invite and has put in some incredible work in the off season. Assistant coach and assistant GM Dave Struch said in the 620 CKRM Sportscage on Tuesday that Brooks has come back looking like a pro hockey prospect. My how far Adam has come in the last three years.
The Pats are in Brandon on Friday night for a 6:30 puck drop Regina time on 620 CKRM. Then they will host the Wheat Kings on Saturday at the Cooperators Arena at 7 PM.
The Regina Thunder suffered their first loss of the 2015 season on Saturday in Saskatoon against the Hilltops 35-17. The game was tied 14-14 at the half but the Hilltops running game led by Logan Fischer took over in the second half and they outscored Regina 21-3 in the final two quarters. A tough loss but the Thunder get a chance at some pay back on Saturday when they host Saskatoon at 7 at Mosaic Stadium. Should be a great game, hope everyone can come down and cheer these guys on.
Here is a recap courtesy Ryan Watters on CJFL.org.
HILLTOPS 35 - THUNDER 17
The Game of the Week was played under very wet conditions in Saskatoon as the Hilltops stayed undefeated while handing the Regina Thunder their first loss in a 35-17 victory in the rain.
When Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, running the football is usually the game plan and the Hilltops ran it to near perfection collecting 350 yards against a very good run defence. The offensive line played their best game this season allowing Logan Fischer to run wild. He tallied 32 carries for 293 yards and had a touchdown. Lineman Drayke Unger and quarterback Jared Andreychuck also scored majors in their only run attempts of the game.
Through the air Andreychuck had just nine completions for 158 yards, but did throw a pair of touchdowns to Chad Braun and Evan Kopchynski.
Defensively the Toppers allowed just three points in the second half. Cole Benkic was outstanding with four tackles, a knockdown and fumble recovery return of 45 yards. Both Derek Sadownick and Arnold Osam intercepted passes and Cameron Schnitzler led the club with five tackles.
The Hilltops (4-0) snap a Thunder (3-1)four game winning streak in Saskatoon and will try to do it all over again on Saturday night when they face the Thunder again in the second half of a home and home.
This past weekend was the first set back for the Thunder this season despite collecting 373 total offensive yards. The PFC’s leading rusher Colton Klassen carried 17 times for just 83 yards, averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
Quarterback Jaeden Marwick finished 15 of 25 for 184 yards and threw two touchdowns and a pair of picks. He found Kasim Ocaya four times for a game high 97 yards, and connected with Klassen and Thomas Bresciani for majors.
Linebacker Paul Toth had a monster game compiling a Conference high 10 tackles and two assisted tackles. Matthew Williams had the lone sack while Jarrett Seck and Travis Pelletier jumped on fumbles.
The Thunder (3-1) will get another crack at the Hilltops (4-0) in the PFC’s lone Week 5 game on Saturday night in Regina.
- The WHL is following the NHL and moving to 3-on-3 overtime for the 2015/16 season. Should be very exciting. I doubt we will see many shootouts this year, there will be a ton of odd man rushes with all the open ice. Can you imagine a 3 on 2 powerplay?? Haha, I can't wait.
By the numbers, the AHL overtime model features seven minutes of sudden death, starting with three minutes of 4-on-4 and extending into four minutes of 3-on-3 if necessary, and it’s done wonders for the game, with 75 percent of overtime games decided without resorting to a shootout in 2014-15 — while 65 per cent of games extending past regulation required a shootout in 2013-14. The WHL saw 64 games decided in overtime last season, while 69 went all the way to a shootout.
- The Victoria Royals acquired defenceman Jordan Wharrie (1997) from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for the rights to unsigned defenceman Carter Stephenson (1998) on Tuesday.
- Was good to see the Riders win the Labour Day Classic. Hearing people talk about the playoffs all of a sudden. Lets pump the breaks, need to win 4 in a row here to even be in the conversation.
- Not surprised Tom Brady's four game suspension was rescinded in federal court. What could the NFL possibly expect when the evidence they had was so circumstantial. Sure that's enough for Roger Goodell to hand down a suspension but in court you need a lot more than that. I've read the Wells report and it's far from damning on the New England quarterback. This story needs to just die but it won't, the NFL is appealing.
- Can't wait for Thursday night when Brady and the Patriots kick off the NFL season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. What a matchup (as always) to kick off the year. Sunday now becomes the best day of the week!!
That's all I've got for today, have a great week!