Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Notes, quotes and anecdotes

Jordan Borstmayer is a great interview
  • From dirty to disciplined. That may best describe the Victoria Royals. No longer are they the bully in the playground. They are playing nicely in the sandbox and being rewarded for it. Last season the Royals were throwing sand in your face, especially if they were losing and weren't getting their way. But Royals head coach Dave Lowry has done a great job of altering the way his team plays. Now a smaller, less angry core of players, the compete level is still clearly evident but the propensity to make regular trips to the penalty box appear to be over. The Royals play a smart game and it starts and ends at the top with Lowry. In my opinion, Lowry more than any other coach in the WHL, has changed how his team plays. It is awfully impressive to watch and it shows in the team's unbelievably strong record. 
  • Best player interview of the week? Rockets forward Jordan Borstmayer by a country mile. The rookie receives little in the way of media attention, but the likeable 17 year-old was solid on the mic when I asked him about his first career WHL goal last Wednesday against the Seattle Thunderbirds. "It felt pretty good. It was a big relief. Hopefully it is blue skies looking forward. Any time I get out there I try to work my hardest. I believe ice time and points come with hard work."
  • Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier have been named to Hockey Canada's selection camp. Merkley had a slow start after coming back injured from Arizona Coyotes training camp while Chartier has missed 19 games with an upper body injury. The question is, will Chartier be healthy enough to participate in the camp? One would think so, or Hockey Canada wouldn't have added him to the roster. 
  • You have to hand it to Saskatoon Blades HC Bob Woods for fully disclosing why he moved goaltender Nik Amundrud to the Calgary Hitmen. The reason, Woods said bluntly, "He came to me and wasn't happy". I've never liked the notion that a player asks for a trade. In most cases, not all, it shows selfishness and doesn't make that individual accountable for his performance. It is easy for a player to blame others, but where is the logic behind looking inwardly? Oh right, that would be closer to the truth. 
  • Cal Foote has big feet. He really does. The 16 year old rookie has a size 16 shoe. "When I am looking for shoes, I usually have to buy them on line", Foote told me earlier this month. 
  • Speaking of Cal Foote, his younger brother Nolan spent last week skating with the team he hopes to join next season. Nolan was the Rockets first pick in May's WHL Bantam Draft. This season he is playing minor hockey in his home in Denver, Colorado where his hockey famous father is a coach. "I really, really like him as a coach on my team. He is an assistant coach with my team. He is a hockey brain. He knows everything", Nolan told me about his father Adam Foote, who played 1154 regular season NHL games as a defenceman. I wish my twin boys said the same thing about me. "He knows everything" has never been uttered out of their mouths.
  • Adam Foote doesn't want to be in the spotlight as his two sons make their mark in the WHL. Foote has rejected many requests to do interviews about Cal and Nolan playing with the Kelowna Rockets, but that didn't stop me from approaching him earlier this season for a quick conversation. I will share that interview with you next week.    
  • If you are wondering, Nolan Foote can't play a game with the Kelowna Rockets this season. As an underage player, 15 year-old bantam draft picks can play nine games after January 10th with the WHL team that selected them. American born players, which Foote is, can't though, because of the CHL's agreement with USA Hockey. 
  • Congratulations to former Kelowna Rockets goaltender Jordan Cooke for being named to a Canadian university team that will play two exhibition games against Canada's national junior team in early December. Cooke is playing this season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. 
  • Is Royals rookie forward Matthew Phillips the next coming of Nic Petan? Just 5'7 and 161 pounds, the 17 year-old is pretty dynamic offensively and has 27 points in 27 games (14+13=27).  Ok, maybe Phillips isn't a clone of Petan, but he sure is fun to watch. Petan had 46 goals in his 17 year-old season and 120 points.       
  • I love to talk to opposing coaches, but I am very selective in my questioning. I want to discuss issues or subjects that are slightly off the beaten path. I had a nice chat last week with Seattle Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk. My focus was on the playoff format that could be considered flawed if you are a T-Birds fan. Seattle, a 38 win team last season, had to face high powered Portland in last years opening round. "I don't know if it is flawed", Konowalchuk told me last week. "You want to get the division match ups for the fans. Two years ago we faced Everett in the first round and they were one of the top teams in the division that season. Two years in a row we have had a tough match up. One good team was going home. I think what they are trying to do is get the division match ups for the fans, so in that sense it's a success."
  • Best player I saw last week? T-Birds Ethan Bear is a solid d-man. Very gifted offensively. I was honestly surprised at how good the Edmonton Oilers draft pick is.  
  • A Victoria radio station sponsors the 'Junior Sportscaster', a live segment hosted by veteran broadcaster Ed Jolly ever Friday night during the intermission at Victoria Royals home games. It is often a delight. Jolly speaks with a young child (12 or under) for about five minutes, which is seen unrehearsed for those watching on the big screen at centre ice. The answers to Ed's questions by the 'Junior Sportscaster' is often times comical and receives a good chuckle from the fans watching below in the seats. It is a unique feature that no one does elsewhere in the WHL that I am aware of. If I haven't described the segment well, just think 'Kids Say the Darnedest Things". I for one think it is a massive hit. 


Gord McGarva said...

You had a Jr. Broadcaster for 7 years..... :)

Regan Bartel said...

Well played. You made me laugh which is half of the requirement of the 'Junior Broadcaster'.