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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THE WEDNESDAY THRILLER ... WITH PHIL ANDREWS

Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews
Happy Wednesday Everybody!

My apologies for the week hiatus, I was up north on the annual Andrews fishing trip with my Dad and Brother but I'm back in full force this week and there is a lot to get to!

HOCKEY CANADA CALLS - Three Regina Pats got some good news on Monday. Defenceman Connor Hobbs is among 41 players who will attend development camp for Canada's National Junior Team for the 20176-17 World Junior Championships. Forward Jake Leschyshyn has been invited to selection camp for the Under-18 squad, he is among 44 invitees. Finally defenceman Dawson Barteaux is one of 111 players that will attend selection camp for the under-17 team.

Hobbs, a 5th round pick of the Washington Capitals is the first Pat invited to development camp since Morgan Klimchuk ahead of his 19-year-old season in 2014. "Well it's pretty amazing, I've gotten the chance to wear the maple leaf a few times and it's just a great opportunity for me and I am really excited." Hobbs said.

Hobbs was a member of the gold medal winning Under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2014 and also played for Canada White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2013. He says this invite feels a little bigger than the previous two calls he got. "It's a little bit different in the respect that it's older guys and it's different competition and it's pretty cool. I am just really excited to get out there and show em what I can do."

Hobbs, originally a draft pick of the Prince Albert Raiders in 2012, was traded to Medicine Hat in 2013. Things didn't work out there for the Saskatoon product and he spent parts of the 2014-15 season in the SJHL with the Nipawin Hawks. The Pats then acquired him in January of 2015 and his career has taken off from there. "It's been a bit of a rocky road but I've had lots of people in my corner helping me out. Just to name drop a few, I mean John (Paddock) obviously and Dave (Struch) here in Regina and my family and stuff. It's just really exciting to get the opportunity that I have here this summer."

"No" Hobbs chuckled when asked if he expected the invite. "I wasn't shocked but I was very surprised and pleasantly surprised. I am really excited and will just have to take my summer to a new level and work really hard to be where I want to be and I'm beyond excited right now."

Hobbs says it would be incredible to make the team for this years tournament. "Since I was a little kid out at the farm watching out at the farm on a little screen. It's just a bit of a family tradition that way and it would be amazing to get to represent the country and be in the position those guys were in I was watching as a kid."

Hobbs will take part in Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp in Toronto July 30th to August 2nd. It  will feature a four-game series against the Finland, Sweden and the United States from Aug. 3rd to 6th in Plymouth, Mich.

Meanwhile Jake Leschyshyn will head to Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team selection camp and Dawson Barteaux to the National Under-17 Development Camp both in Calgary, at the Markin MacPhail Centre from July 26th to August 2nd.

NHL DRAFT - Just two days wait for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, New York. It is safe to assume two Regina Pats will have their names called over the two days of selection, Sam Steel and Adam Brooks. Two very different journeys led up to this week but it is an exciting time for both of these players and their families.

Steel has been synonymous with the NHL since we first heard about him in Regina three years ago. He is ranked 30th in North America in the final list from the NHL's Central Scouting Service and Steel says he got better as his draft year went on. "I thought overall it was not bad. I had a slower start, didn't play the way I wanted to off the start of the year but I thought as the year went on I started playing better and better hockey. In the last few months of the year, especially playoffs, it's my favorite time of year and I played my best hockey at that point."

"It's definitely an exciting time. I hope to hear my name, called and wherever I go it's a whole new journey after that. I'm excited to get tings going I guess and we will see what the future holds." Steel said. "Being from just outside Edmonton I have always gone to those games and cheered for them so I would say they are my favorite team but when it comes to the draft I'm definitely not picky and would be honoured to go anywhere."

While Steel has always been a lock to hear his name called this weekend, the same is not true for Adam Brooks who just completed his 19-year-old season and is headed into his final eligibility for the NHL Draft. Brooks was not on the radar of the NHL in his draft year two years ago but it seems the third time will be the charm for the Winnipeg product. It's been well documented his season, leading the WHL in scoring with 120 points.

Despite his dominance in the WHL this year, Brooks remains even keeled looking at what might come. "Excited, I mean obviously I'm not getting to far ahead of myself because I know what it's like to be passed over but just excited for the opportunity. I have one last crack at potentially being drafted and thought I had a year to put me in a position to maybe be selected."

Brooks has visited with the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres in person and has had numerous online talks with other NHL teams in the weeks and months leading up to the draft. "Yeah I guess there is some talk. Everyone heading into the drat has probably talked to a few teams and that is a part of the process. For me the whole ride of this and getting to experience this which I wasn't able to experience in the last two years and talking to teams and getting to go down to some pre-draft camps and stuff like that it's just been enjoyable for me. I'm just having some fun with it and hopefully everything works out."

"The last four years have been just a roller coaster." Brooks added. "I think it will mean a lot not only to me to a lot of people who have stuck by me, especially through the times that things were going pretty bad. There were a lot of people that stood by my side throughout that and were there to pick me up when things weren't going so well. For me it's an exciting time and I think for some other people it's an exciting time as well and whatever happens happens. It's all positive, this whole season and this whole off-season have been a positive for me and whether I am drafted on Saturday or whether I am not I will continue to work hard and hopefully continue to have some positives come my way."

There are few better stories than Adam Brooks and how far he has come in his WHL career. For him, his family and the people who know him, what a weekend this will be.

PATS PRE-SEASON SCHED - 71 days, that's all between now and the Pats first pre-season game, September 1st at the Co-Operators Centre. The Pats will be hosting a pre-season tournament again this year with Swift Current, Prince Albert and Saskatoon in attendance. The full schedule can be found here. The Pats home and season opener is set for September 23rd against the Prince Albert Raiders.

CONGRATS MARK LAMB - The Swift Current Broncos are searching for a new Head Coach and GM. Mark Lamb who filled that role for the last 7 seasons is headed to the American Hockey League and the Tucson Roadrunners as their first head coach. Lamb was great to work with over the last five years and I wish him all the best. Good people deserve these opportunities.

WHL RULE CHANGES - The Western Hockey League concluded its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday in Vancouver, and a number of changes are coming in 2016-17. The biggest of which is the adoption of hybrid icing just like the NHL uses. GREAT NEWS! I love this change and Daniel Fink and I have lobbied for it on the air numerous times. Also new video replay systems will be provided by Hawk-Eye Innovations and will be installed in all WHL facilities in time for the start of the season. Hawk-Eye, also the supplier of video replay technology to the NHL and Major League Baseball, will provide WHL Video Goal Judges with improved capabilities for all video review situations. This is also AWESOME. Finally the WHL is setting a trend when it comes to when a goal counts or does not count after it is redirected off a skate. The new rule states that unless the puck is in the goal crease, a puck that enters the net off of a player’s skate shall be ruled a goal. This will eliminate the need for a decision by the referee and/or video goal judge as to whether it was a distinct kicking motion or not. So as I understand it, a player can blatantly kick the puck into the goal as long as he is not in the crease. Quite an interesting rule change and we will see how it shapes out this season.

WARRIORS ADD 2 OVERAGERS - The Moose Jaw Warriors have added two 20-year-olds to their roster via trade. 20-year-old forward Dakota Odgers was acquired from the Vancouver Giants for a conditional 8th round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. As well 20-year-old defenseman Matt Sozanski comes over from the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for a conditional 6th round pick in 2017. The Warriors have defenceman Josh Thrower and forward Jesse Shynkaruk on their roster entering their overage years.

COUGARS ADD TO COACHING STAFF - Prince George Cougars General Manager, Todd Harkins announced last Wednesday that the team has hired Steve O’Rourke as an Associate Coach. O’Rourke has spent the past three seasons serving as an Assistant Coach with the Red Deer Rebels.

FOOTBALL CANADA ANNOUNCES JUNIOR NATIONAL TEAM -  10 Players from Saskatchewan and 3 from the Regina Thunder have been named to Team Canada for the  2016 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) U19 World Championship, June 28 – July 10, in Harbin, China. Here is a look at the full roster: http://bit.ly/28JI9Im

NBA FINALS - What a performance by LeBron James in the last three games of the NBA Championship series. The Cavaliers became the first team in history to come back from down 3-1 in the Finals and win. James put Cleveland on his shoulders and it was the best performance I have ever seen. Those are the moments we as sports fans strive to see. James is a once in a generation player and one of the best of all time and he gave us everything and more in this series. I'm not a huge Cavaliers fan but I am happy for Cleveland, 1964 is a long time ago since their last major sports title.

US OPEN - Was so glad on Sunday to see Dustin Johnson get the monkey off his back and finally win a major championship at Oakmont. It wasn't without controversy, it always seems to follow Johnson in the major tournaments. He was told by the USGA on the 12th hole that he may be assessed a penalty stroke from back on the 5th when his ball moved on the green. First off, in my opinion, he didn't make the ball move so there should be no question about a penalty stroke. But even if it was his fault, why would the USGA not just make a decision and tell Johnson and everyone else instead of waiting until the end of the round? It was a terrible way to handle the situation but in the end it didn't matter. Johnson was up by 4 and then it ended up being a 3 stroke win after the penalty. So good to see him win, he deserved it.

That's all I have for today, have a great week!

Phil
@PhilAndrewsCKRM