Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rockets arrive in Saskatchewan. Old man winter hasn't.

Jackson Whistle practising in Regina
  • Welcome to Regina. Why is it that weather always dominates the discussion on the prairies? Face it, it is a massive factor in day to day life out here. I am pleased to report the weather (knock on wood) has been unseasonable warm in Saskatchewan. No snow was on the ground when we arrived Wednesday night and the temperature was 6 degrees. The streets were wet from any precipitation that came down and people were dancing in the streets because of it. Ok, the dancing in the streets is a stretch, but non-farming folk here are pretty happy with the ability to wear just a 'Bunny Hug' when walking from the car to the mall. The farming community won't be happy with the lack of moisture though. Trust me, I heard for years how a lack of snow had a dramatic impact on the soil conditions. Whether you are growing fruit in the Okanagan or a grain crop in Saskatchewan, farming is weather dependent and with that comes the topic of the weather.
  • The Rockets came in 'dry' when they arrived late last night in Regina after the lengthy bus ride from the Okanagan. We often joke, 'we are coming in wet' or 'we are coming in dry'. That is trainer talk which reveals if our team equipment is wet or dry under the bus after possibly having a practice, quickly loading the gear 'wet', and heading to our destination. Considering the Rockets came to Regina 'dry', there was no need to head to the Brandt Centre (the home of the Pats) before heading to the hotel for some significant sleep.
  • The team had a quick practice at the Brandt Centre in Regina Thursday morning. I thought it was a pretty good pace considering the guys spent close to 14 hours on the bus. It was nice to see defenceman/forward Riley Stadel on the ice without a yellow jersey, signifying he is health to play. Stadel has missed 14 games with an upper body injury and will be playing in his 200th career WHL game tomorrow night against the Pats.
  • The Rockets have two new faces joining them on this road trip. With Merkley, Chartier, Thurkauf and Soustal away, Alex Uryga and Connor Bruggen-Cate have joined the squad. Uryga is a listed player from North Vancouver while Bruggen-Cate is a 6th round bantam pick from 2014. The 17 year-old is from Langley, BC. Welcome to the prairies boys!!
  • Unleaded gasoline in Regina is going for 91.9 cents a litre. Just say'n.  
  • Ya, I flew to Regina while the team took the bus. Would I do it again? In a New York minute.  
  • Either a lot of people live in Regina or they need another Starbucks location on the south end of the city. The Starbucks in Chapters resembles the Tim Horton's location near our hotel in Prince George. It is constant traffic with no quiet times. Starbucks makes a killing here!
  • Jackson Whistle is making his third prairie trip of his WHL career. Tyson Baillie would also be experiencing the same thing. Whistle is upbeat about the trip, where he looks to everyone elevating their play. I look for Justin Kirkland, Dillon Dube, Tyson Baillie, Cole Linaker and Jackson Whistle making major impacts in order for the team to have success. Seems obvious considering all five of those guys are veterans. If those 'fab five' can play particularly well, this team has a good chance of coming away from this 6 game in 9 night road trip with a smile on their face. 
  • What I really want to see is some of the first year guys making major strides. How about Cal Foote? Kole Lind, come on down!! Let's see some of the rookies emerge on this swing. Hey, technically after you play 20 games you are no longer considered a rookie in the WHL. 
  • Is it a home game for Dillon Dube tomorrow night against the Pats? The 17 year-old played two seasons with the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, which is located approximately 54 kilometres outside of Regina.  
  • We will talk to you on the radio at 4:30 BC time tomorrow afternoon from Regina. The two hour time difference, while not dramatic, does take some getting used to. The game locally starts at 7 pm, which is 5 pm Kelowna time.

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