|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
A lot has happened this week in the junior hockey world including right here in Regina.
First off the Pats lost their captain Colby Williams for about 6 weeks. He will have a follow-up surgery on his arm that was injured during the off-season and will be out until mid-February. The 20-year-old Washington Capitals prospect has played in just 16 of the Pats 40 games this season.
Head Coach and GM John Paddock says the second surgery was a necessity for Colby's future. "His hand hasn't improved. A nerve thing can be a slow thing, I'm not trying to be a doctor or anything but it can be a slow thing. He saw the doctor a couple of weeks ago and this is what was recommended. He's going to be back a lot sooner than indefinitely sounds. He is going to be back, this is just the best for him at this time, you know for his career. He can play out there obviously you can see. I don't think he is oing to be back and be much different than he is right now but the surgery needed to be done."
Paddock says it's been a tough situation for his captain. "You have to deal with the hand you have been dealt but this has been a disaster for him. Unless he gets fixed he might lose his pro career one, two it's been a disaster for the organization when you lose your best player. It hasn't been good but everybody just has to deal with it."
In Williams' absence, Adam Brooks will serve as the teams captain. Brooks leads the club with 60 points and that is good for 2nd best the WHL. Brooks says while it's a tough circumstance, he is honoured to fill the role. "Obviously you don't like seeing Colby go down again, he's the most important player on our team, he is the best player on our team so it's never easy losing him but when he goes out guys need to step up. I think early in the year when we didn't have Colby I think we did a pretty good job. The leadership group we have besides Colby stepping in and we just have to do that again. When you look at the guys that we have in the locker room, I think there are guys that are leaders and able to step up into that role and I'm obviously honoured to wear the 'C' when he is away but I think it's a group thing and we have a good group that can step in."
Brooks says being captain won't change much for him in how he carries himself on and off the ice. "I don't think so. I guess there is a reason the coaches thought they could throw the 'C" on me while Colby is away. I guess I must be doing something right and I think that's probably my play on the ice. I will try to be a little more vocal in the locker room. I won't change much and will just try to do what I can to lead this team and help lead this team with the group we have."
Brooks' play and point production has been better than any other player in the WHL over the last month. In December Brooks put up 25 points in 13 games and then last week had 2 goals and 8 assists in 4 games and was named the WHL Player of the Week. Brooks says it's an honour to be recognized at the league level. "You see some of the guys that have won player of the week, pretty good players. Just to be mentioned alongside some of those names is huge for me and huge for the confidence going forward."
Confidence is not a problem for the 19-year-old right now, he carries an 11 game point streak into Friday's game in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice. Brooks has tallied 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points over the streak.
- The Western Hockey League trade deadline is Sunday. The Pats will not be big players like last year when they sent four of their best players to other teams and got significantly younger. Head Coach and GM John Paddock says this is a much different situation. "We are at a different stage as a team. We are not looking to make anything big happen. I think you would be foolish to say you will are not going to do anything period, that doesn't make sense. Especially the way we are playing now, would I like to maybe do a little something to tweak? Yeah, but we have a lot of 97's and 98's playing. The whole team is going to be back next year except for the overagers... We are not looking to do anything really, certainly not to mess with the team in any big way. Again people take that with a grain of salt but that is what it is. We have a long term plan that we are not going to jeopardize our future for. So we are not really buyers, we are just tweakers if anything."
The Pats currently sit with 25 players on their roster, 9 of them defencemen. You have to think that number will be reduced in the next few days.
- The rest of the WHL has been busy making trades in the week leading up to the deadline. The Red Deer Rebels, to no one's surprise, have made the biggest splash. They acquired Jake DeBrusk from the Swift Current Broncos, Adam Helewka from the Spokane Chiefs and Luke Philp from the Kootenay Ice. Look out league, these guys were already good and are now the best team on paper in the league. I wonder if Brent Sutter looks to add a goaltender in the next few days.
The Brandon Wheat Kings added defencemen Mitchell Wheaton and Shael Higson from the Saskatoon Blades. Colton Waltz who left the Wheat Kings and requested a trade went the other way along with forward Braylon Shmyr. Brandon has been hit hard on the back end with Waltz and Ryan Pilon leaving the club. That is tough to overcome but this trade is a start.
The Blades got better with the Brandon trade and also added defenceman Dustin Perrilat from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Saskatoon wants to get into the playoffs, that is very evident having given up two second round picks already.
The Swift Current Broncos have been the biggest sellers, sending DeBrusk to Red Deer and Cavin Leth and Landon Bow to the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Broncos got roster players back in Jamal Watson, Sahvan Khaira and Taz Burman, they will remain competitive no doubt.
I really don't think the Moose Jaw Warriors will be trading Brayden Point. I doubt there is a team that will pay what he is worth. The Warriors could realistically make some noise in the post season, they have the leagues best player. Red Deer wont get him now with the moves they have already made. Brandon is likely interested but Kelly McCrimmon is forever frugal with his assets. Maybe Calgary would be a suitor? Lethbridge? Plus take your pick with the contending teams out West. There are certainly teams who want Point, but are they willing to pay the price? I don't know that they are.
- The Pats hit the road today for their 6 game road trip, five of which against the U.S. Division. The trip kicks off Friday against the Kootenay Ice. The Pats enter the game with a 17-17-3-3 record. Yes it will be a tough trip against some good teams but these long road swings have been pretty successful for the Pats already this season. In October the club played a 5 game road trip through the Central Division and held a 3-2-0-0 record. Then in November, again against the Central the Pats went 2-2-0-0, add in two divisional wins on the road after that trip and the away stretches have gone 3 games over 500 for Regina. They are hoping to triplicate that over the next 10 days.
- Be sure to catch tonight's episode of Pats TV on Access 7 starting at 6:30. My guests tonight are Forwards Adam Brooks and Aaron Macklin.
That's all I have for today, have a great week and I'll talk to you from Cranbrook on Friday night.