|Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews|
- Is it just me or does it feel like way longer than a week since the Pats were eliminated in game 7 in Red Deer? The season came to an end only 8 days ago but for whatever reason it seems like a month ago. I miss it and I'm sure the fans wish we were talking about two home games this week against the Brandon Wheat Kings. What a great run and here is to a longer one next season!
- The Pats focus is now firmly set on the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft in Calgary next week Thursday. Here is what the team is looking at in terms of picks for the draft:
1st round - No pick, traded to Red Deer in the Jake Leschyshyn deal.
2nd round - The Pats will pick in the 2nd round with Medicine Hat's selection which was acquired in the Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt trade. The Pats do not own their 2nd rounder, as it was traded to Medicine Hat for Boston Leier three years ago.
3rd round - Regina will not pick in the 3rd round, their pick was traded to Medicine Hat as well when the team acquired Daniel Wapple and Logan McVeigh.
4th round - Two selections, their own pick as well as Prince George's which was acquired in the Lane Zablocki for Jesse Gabrielle trade.
5th round - Do not have their own pick but have Kelowna's from the Marc McCoy trade.
6th round - The Pats have their pick.
7th round - No pick, traded to Prince George for Aaron Maclin.
8th round and later - The Pats have all their picks for the rest of the draft.
I will have an in depth draft preview coming up early next week.
- I know it's early but looking at next season, there will certainly be a couple of new faces on the roster. Head Coach and GM John Paddock will be looking at adding an overager for the year with only two on the current squad in Adam Brooks and Chase Harrison. The draft could be a place where a trade is made but I suspect it will wait until later in the off-season or even after the season starts. I would expect the acquisition would be a winger to play with Sam Steel. The other new face will come from the 2016 CHL Import Draft. I would venture Paddock will look at a winger there as well. The club is solid down the middle with Adam Brooks, Sam Steel and Jake Leschyshyn and the back end is all returning aside from Colby Williams and 2015 first round pick Dawson Barteaux will push for a roster spot along with the other 7 returning guys and other prospects. It will be an exciting off-season.
- It will be interesting to see if the Pats American prospects make their way north of the border for training camp next season. 2015 3rd round pick Bryan Lockner was at training camp last year but played just four games this season because of injury. Lockner looked like a player in the limited time we saw him last year and would puch for a spot as a 16-year-old. Forward Landon Langenbrunner was listed by the Pats and is the son to former NHLer Jamie Langenbrunner. Landon played in Minnesota this year and will be entering his 16-year-old season. Another list prospect is 18-year-old defenceman Scott Perunovich out of Hibbing Minnesota. He had 68 points in 25 games this season but is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 161st in North America so if he is drafted their is always a chance he could come to the WHL. Lastly forward Trevor Janicke from Maple Ridge MN is another listed prospect. He is committed to Notre Dame and had 30 points in 25 games this year as a 15-year-old. It certainly seems like their is some quality players here but we will have to wait and see if the CHL is a route they want to take.
- The WHL's Conference finals have been awesome. The Brandon Wheat Kings won two absolute thrillers on home ice over the Red Deer Rebels to start the East Final but dropped game 3 last night 6-2. The Rebels scored four times in the first and that was enough to get on the board in the series. We know in Regina that Red Deer is tough to beat at home. After the first two games I thought Brandon might make quick work of the Rebels and that might hold true if the Wheat Kings can win game 4 tonight on the road.
Out West the Seattle Thunderbirds took a 3-0 series lead over Kelowna with a 2-1 win last night, The Thunderbirds are simply put, huge. Their size is causing Kelowna tons of problems and on top of the size, they are skilled and have Landon Bow whose numbers are nothing short of incredible. Bow in 12 games has an 11-1 record with a goals against under 1.50 and a save percentage approaching .950. The Rockets have managed just 4 goals in the first three games of the series and face elimination tonight in game 4.
- I am thoroughly enjoying the NHL Playoffs. Three series really got me in round 1. The Blackhawks and Blues was the best in my opinion. St. Louis finally excercised their demons in the first round and advanced to take on the Dallas Stars. While Dallas won the conference, the Blues are a better all around team in my opinion, I think they advance to the Conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals. I like their team and they just beat the best team in the Western Conference in Chicago. I predict they will take on San Jose in the Conference championship.
In the east I loved the Washington, Philadelphia series. What a fun physical matchup that was. Michal Neuvirth gave the Flyers a chance but the Caps are just too good. Now we get to see Crosby vs Ovechkin in round 2 and I can't wait. The Penguins looked really good in their first round win over the Rangers despite missing starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Evgeni Malkin showed up big and the young players on that team are fast and dangerous. The Capitals have the skill to match and under Barry Trotz play an incredible game. They also have maybe the best goaltender this year in Braden Holtby. I love the matchup and can't pick a winner but I think whoever comes out of this one will face St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Final.
The last series I really enjoyed was Minnesota - Dallas. The Wild minus some key players gave the Stars a ton of trouble and almost made an incredible comeback in game 6 but fell just short. The Stars can score there is no disputing that but keeping the puck out is a problem. That's why I have them losing to the Blues in round 2.
Can John Tavares will the Islanders past the Lightning in round 2? Maybe? I'm not too confident however in New York and their chances in this one. Tampa, despite missing Stamkos and Stralman they made quick work of the Detroit Red Wings. They are a good team despite missing those two key pieces. The move on in this one.
- The Regina Thunder are holding their annual spring training camp starting Friday night at Mosaic Stadium. There will be 130 players in camp competing for 90 spots in the team's main camp this fall. The three day spring camp will culminate in a scrimmage on Sunday afternoon. It's a big weekend for the club to get a look at the progress of the returning players and the quality in the recruitment class. QB Sawyer Buettner is entering his first year as the teams starter with Jaeden Marwick having moved on to the CIS and Bishops University. Running back Colton Klassen has also moved on to the Universoty of Saskatchewan and offensive lineman Matt Halbgewachs to Concordia so right there are two starting positions up for grabs. Keep it here for coverage from this weekend.
- Big congrats to former Regina Thunder coaches Mark Becker and Ventson Donelson who were named to the U of R Rams coaching staff for this season. Becker will serve as the Rams Tight Ends Coach and Scout Team Coordinator. Donelson is the new defensive backs coach. Two good guys who will perform well.
- Be sure to catch tonight's final episode of the season of Pats TV on Access 7. My guests are the three graduated Pats, Colby Williams, Cole Sanford and Aaron Macklin. It all gets started at 6:30.
That;s all I have for today, have a great week!