Saturday, February 16, 2019
DUPONT'S AROUND THE DUB
1. This is my sixth full season covering the Western Hockey League after stepping into the radio booth for Saskatoon Blades broadcasts in the fall of 2013. The team had just finished hosting the 2013 Memorial Cup the season before and we were all starting fresh! It's been a long road, but it appears as though for the first time (in my time doing games) the team is ready to head back to the playoffs. Whew! I was starting to feel like it was my fault. 🙈
2. Speaking of the Blades, they are red hot having picked up points in 11-straight games (9-0-2) and sit eight points ahead of Edmonton for second in the conference and 10 points up on Moose Jaw for second in the division. The Warriors have three games in hand.
3. I still can't quite figure out the Regina Pats. This is a team that is supposed to roll over and die but they continue to be a very exciting team to watch night in and night out. They have just returned home from a Central Division road trip that saw them go 2-2 with wins over Lethbridge and Red Deer. Since Returning from illness, goaltender Max Paddock has been sensational making at least 31 saves in each of his six outings. He has a save percentage of .922 over that span! 5,000 a night and often pushing 6,000.
4. The Lethbridge Hurricanes will be bumped from their home for up to three playoff games and are making alternate arrangements. The team has announced plans to play games at the 1,176 seat Nicholas Sheran Arena while the 2019 Men's World Curling Championships take over the ENMAX Centre. The Hurricanes' temporary home is the home ice for University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men's and women's hockey teams.
Hurricanes' season ticket holders will be placed in a draw for the opportunity to claim the limited seats. There are alternate arrangements being made for a viewing party to accommodate all of the team's fans.
5. Geoffrey Brandow is a freelance sports reporter from Guelph who covers the CHL and had tweeted this a couple of days ago from his account @geoffreybrandow:
#WHL Highest scoring trios:
1) @MJWARRIORS - 219 (Langan/Almeida/Tracey)
2) @PARaidersHockey - 211 (Leason/Gregor/Fonstad)
3) @pdxwinterhawks - 207 (Blichfeld/Glass/Newkirk)
4) @BladesHockey - 177 (Davidson/Gerlach/Dach)
5) @WHLHurricanes - 176 (Cozens, Bellerive, Ross)
A couple things to note here. First, what an amazing year it's been for 20-year old Tristin Langan of the Warriors. I often talk about the value of a summer for junior hockey players and this is a great example. Langan's 85 points put him 3rd in the WHL scoring race. He's more than doubled his point total from last season and has played 18 less games. Incredible stuff and a big reason the Warriors are challenging for second place in the conference.
6. The second thing to note is that, of the highest scoring trios in the league, three of them come from the East Division. Wasn't this supposed to be a down year for the division after Regina, Swift Current and Moose Jaw were the class of the league a year ago?
7. STREAKING: Saskatoon Blades' 20-year-old sniper Max Gerlach is riding a 12-game point streak. In that time he has 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points. His 35 goals on the year are 4th best in the Western Hockey League.
8. Jeff Hamilton (@jeffkhamilton) covers the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Winnipeg Jets for the Winnipeg Free Press and noted this week that the Winnipeg Ice will open the 2019-20 season with a home-and-home with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He also noted that the two teams will meet a whopping 10 times next year!
Put me on record as saying I believe this is a good thing for the league. I mean, Winnipeg will need to support the Ice if they are going to have success but, it's a great thing to create an instant rivalry inside the Manitoba boarders and should make things more interesting come playoff time.
9.The Everett Silvertips are once again at the top of the US Division and, once again, they are getting solid goaltending. Yes, Carter Hart is having a great season, but he's doing it with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. The Silvertips crease is being manned by 17-year-old Dustin Wolf of Tustin, CA.
The young Wolf leads the WHL in ALL major statistical areas. He is first in Wins (34), GAA (1.75), Save % (0.934) & shutouts (6). His six shutouts are just one behind the 7 Carter Hart put up as a 19-year-old last season and three back of Hart's 18-year-old mark of 9. The WHL record for shutouts in a season is 13 set by three different goaltenders:
• Kelly Guard, Kelowna Rockets, 2003-04 (62 games)
• Bryan Bridges, Seattle Thunderbirds, 2004-05 (58 games).
• Darcy Kuemper, Red Deer Rebels, 2010-11 (62 games).
10. The Regina Pats will take their turn Friday night to wear special edition Don Cherry Jerseys for the WHL Suits up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation game. Each of the 17 WHL clubs in Canada host a game and get to wear the custom jerseys.
The jerseys will be auctioned in support of the Kidney Foundation at the game.
The Swift Current Broncos will host theirs on February 22nd while the Saskatoon Blades will do the same on March 9th.
(Follow Darren on Twitter at @darrendupont)