Thursday, December 13, 2007

Schenn-sational Win vs. Wheat Kings

  • Rockets forward Colin Long finds himself 3rd in WHL scoring after his 5 point effort Wednesday night in a 5-4 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings. Long’s two goals and three assist effort gives him 50 points on the season. What makes Long’s totals so impressive is last years team leader in points, Cody Almond , had 43 points in 68 games played. Long has exceeded that total after just 35 games. Long is having fun playing the game, and it shows with his effort, confidence and willingness to make an impact offensively.
  • Long had a great night offensively, but his two way play late in the game shows why he is so valuable. Long spent the final minute of the game trapping the Wheat Kings in their own zone by winning puck battles, before setting up line mate Brady Leavold at the side of the net with what appeared to be a sure goal. Unfortunately Leavold shot the puck wide. Long’s hard work hemmed the Wheat Kings in their own zone as they attempted to break up the ice looking for the equalizing goal.
  • While the Rockets have gotten behind in games this season, this year’s team has the ability to dig themselves out of a hole. A 2-0 deficit is not out of reach for this highly skilled team, who would have folded had they faced the same obstacle just a year ago.
  • It was my first look at Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn, and the young fella didn’t disappoint. Schenn deserves all the praise he receives, and is the early favorite to be the Eastern Conference rookie of the year. I’m glad Schenn elected to play in Brandon this season because he provides the league with another skilled forward that hockey fans can enjoy. Schenn is another in a series of young and up-in-coming stars that makes the WHL such a great developmental league for future NHL players.
  • David and I interviewed Brayden Schenn before the game and he has so many of the same mannerisms as his older brother Luke. We chuckled when we introduced ourselves to Brayden. He said to David and I “I know you guys, I listen to you guys a lot.” If Brayden turns into the quality individual his brother is, how can you not cheer for this kid down the road? My first impression of Brayden is he is already following in his big brothers footsteps.
  • The Wheat Kings are a fun team to watch. Obviously the goaltender had a rough night Wednesday, but the Wheat Kings play an up tempo style that have them atop the Eastern Conference standings. I tip my hat to Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon for the series of banners hanging from the Westman Place rafters. The guy builds winners, and again the Wheat Kings will challenge for another division pennant.
  • A good crowd in Brandon, with just under 6 thousand taking in Wednesday’s game. Sure it was rain check night, but why wouldn’t hockey fans in that city come out in big numbers to watch the talented hockey club? Season tickets for the Wheat Kings are just 250
  • Hat’s off to the goal judge at the North end of Westman Place for being honest when Rockets forward Colin Long scored what stood up as the game winning goal in the third period. Long shot the puck with so much force, it went in and out in the blink of an eye. Both referees’ didn’t signal a goal, yet the red light did go on. After the play was eventually whistled down, the referee’s met with the goal judge before Long was awarded the goal. While goal judges across the league should be impartial, they are volunteers who love the game of hockey and the home team that they work for. To side with the home team would appear to be an automatic, so I give props to the goal judge for calling it the way he saw it.
  • Westman Place has two interesting features. The benches are directly across from one another, not adjacent to one another, which is common place in most arenas in the WHL. The only other building I can think of that has a similar setup is the Medicine Hat Arena. The other interesting aspect of Westman Place is the coaching staff of both team’s must walk through the crowd to get to and from the bench. I don’t anticipate the visiting coaches getting into a confrontation with fans, but the possibility exists. That said the Wheat Kings have security nearby if such an altercation developed.
  • The Rockets stopped in the Saskatchewan community of Whitewood for the pre-game meal. Arguably it was the best meal of the trip so far. Rockets defenseman Tyler Myers was in heaven, and couldn’t get enough of the place.

Talk about a tight squeeze. The Rockets bus backs into Westman Place to unload the gear prior to game time. While the bus is out of the cold and snow, a skilled bus driver is needed to negotiate down the narrow runway. Getting the gear out from the storage bins is never easy, as the doors on the bus want to slam against the side of the concrete wall. The players are cautious though, under the watchful eye of Roger Von Dach. Let me go on record as stating the smell of cattle was no where to be found when I hopped off the bus.

This is a picture of the ice surface at Westman Place. The Wheat Kings logo? You have to love it!

Here is a picture of my favorite sports writer. Doyle Pontenteau of the Daily Courier makes the trek with the team when they make their Eastern Conference road swing. Pontenteau is a good friend, a good writer, and a darn good dresser.
The Wheat Kings wore their retro jersey in last night's game. The jersey is the same color scheme and logo that the Wheat Kings wore in the 80's. The jersey's are a favorite of the local fans from what I understand, yet color analyst David Michaud had a different take when the Wheat Kings came on the ice for warm up.


g.k said...

Great to see Colin Long succeeding as he is, keep it up Colin & you'll be #1 very soon!! Though before the season began I thought it would be Cody Almond there not Long, what has happened to him Regan?? Congrat's to Luke for making the World Junior squad.

Regan Bartel said...

Cody's lack of production this season is a carbon copy of a year ago. Cody had 5 goals before Christmas last season before scoring 10 after the break. With no goals this season on the road, the coaching staff have to be concerned. That said, he is playing harder the last couple of games, and the break may recharge his batteries for the second half. He's needed more after the break as the games get tougher to play. Second line scoring is the only way this team will be able to keep with the big dogs after Christmas.

poppapuck said...

You may or may not know in England many surnames have 'official' nicknames- for example all CLARKES are called 'Knobby' all WHITES are 'Snowy' all SMITHS are 'Smudger' and all LONGS are 'Dodger'.Nicknames are considered complimentary.With the acknowledged skills of Colin Long-'Dodger' may not be too bad an appellation for him-especially as his Dad is from England.