Voice of the N.D. Hounds
Here are my 10 things for Week 11 in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League:
1. Pregame Huddles? – I got my first live and in-person chance to see both Battlefords and Kindersley a couple of weekends ago, and their respective routines just before the national anthem on the ice got me thinking – how come more teams don’t do things like the pregame crease huddle, or whatever the Stars call their whole-team fist-bumps, in front of the other team and the crowd? I’m pretty sure every team does some sort of pregame cheer in their locker room, but I like the idea of the other team seeing what is at the very least a show of team unity, right in their faces. The Hounds AAA from last year were a bunch of angry beasts in their pregame crease huddles, around Riley Kohonick or Aaron Randazzo in the ND net, and they crushed their way to the Telus Cup championship. Call me naïve if you want, but I like that stuff.
2. Nicer November for Weyburn – I’ve talked at length about Weyburn’s awakening from their October slumber, and after taking four points out of four last weekend against the Notre Dame Hounds, they now have won three of four in November. It will be a real gut-check time coming up for Wes Rudy’s men though, with a brutal run of Kindersley, and Battlefords away, Humboldt at home, then Melfort and Flin Flon away around the end of the month. Never a dull moment in Weyburn!
3. The Power of Adding – Speaking of Weyburn, they have added two veteran forwards recently in big Zac Gladu from Drayton Valley in the AJHL, and Drew Anderson from Waywayseecappo in the Manitoba league, and making the moves does seem to have spurred the club on. There are all sorts of philosophies around when to - or not to - make moves, but the little burst a group gets from adding a couple decent veterans, and not having guys too comfortable in their spots in the line-up, seems to be constant through all levels of hockey. I am not saying teams always need to be adding, even at the artificial frenzy called “the trade deadline”, and sometimes the best trade is the one not made, but a general manager isn’t doing his job if he's not consistently finding ways to improve the roster, in my opinion.
4. Flon Flon a Match-up Nightmare – The former Everett Silvertip (and SJHL point leader) Brandson Hein is loving life in Flon Flin alongside hard-workers Daylan Marchi and Donovan Houle-Villeneuve, and that fact is leaving opposing coaches to figure out how to play against Nate Hooper, and who to play against Vincent Nardone. The Bombers are a tough match-up for any D corps, so it’s no wonder they are filling the net (16 goals in three games so far in November). A two-game set in Battlefords this weekend with the also-hot North Stars is must-watch TV.
5. Melfort’s New Goaltending Tandem – The Mustangs added goaltender Shawn Parkinson, yet another Drayton Valley Alberta leaguer, on Oct. 28, and more than anything, his presence has looked to spark some real brilliance from presumed Melfort No. 1 Hunter Arps. The pair has allowed under two goals-per-game since the trade, a span of four contests, and were brilliant in a pair of 2-1 wins over their hated rivals in Nipawin last Friday and Saturday. Melfort has won six of its last eight, and even with an injury to key leader Tanner Zentner, head coach Trevor Blevins’ men have been as tough as anyone lately – and the Arps-Parkinson pairing has a lot to do with it.
6. Fun Times in Moosomin! – Had a great time calling Notre Dame and Weyburn at a neutral-site game in Moosomin last Saturday! It looked like a late great snipe from Team Japan U20 national team winger ShoTakai had the Hounds in the pole position for the full two points, but as has been the bad habit of Phil Roy’s young ND group lately, they found a way to throw them away, in lieu of a single overtime point. Either way, huge kudos to the fine folks in Moosomin!
7. Beautiful Stuff in Weyburn (and my buddy Steve) – Tip of the cap to Weyburn radio guy Steven Wilson, and the Red Wings, for their beautiful Remembrance Day tribute during the first intermission of the Nov. 10 game vs Notre Dame. The players read out the Flanders’ Field poem, and then Steve read out stories of individuals from Weyburn who fought in World War I. Well done.
8. SJ Media – And speaking of great media work, I would love to have a better venue to see all the media work being created by the talented people around the league. At the moment it’s so hard to find, but I know there is good stuff out there if you look for it! I know you can find all sorts of fun things on the Notre Dame Junior A Instagram and twitter accounts by the way…
9. Cujo! – Was great to see former ND goaltender Curtis Joseph (yes, that Cujo) sign autographs for a large number of folks at his book launch in Regina on Sunday, even though it was the same Sunday afternoon as the Rider game. Class guy!
10. Huskies Keep Rolling (bonus)–Finally, I’ll tip my cap back to the UofS men’s hockey program, again. Two more wins, this time in Vancouver at UBC, a 9-1 record on the year, and a No. 2 national ranking? Life is good for Dave Adolph’s men. Now here’s hoping the football team can reach the Vanier Cup, with a tough Mitchell Bowl draw in London, ON against the Western Mustangs on Saturday!
(Follow Jamie on Twitter at @neugsie)