Thursday, April 21, 2011

Long Weekend Reading

- As I fired up the BBQ for the first time this year Wednesday night, an evening of 5 NHL playoff games, a burger in one hand and a Coors in the other, I figured life was pretty good, and it is. Then it hit me that I could have been setting up in the broadcast booth at Farrell Agencies Arena for Game 4 of the ANAVET Cup had the SJHL Final gone the other way. That would have trumped any BBQ or any double overtime NHL game.

- Looking back, it was still a great playoff run, and the games I got to call on GX94, right from late February until mid-April were outstanding. I still love my job after six years of radio but the change of pace of spring/summer is always welcomed at the same time.

- La Ronge forward Travis Eggum has 75 goals in 79 games this season. Yikes. He scored 4 in Wednesday's 6-1 win over Portage to even the ANAVET up at 2 games each. I would have picked La Ronge to win the series, and they certainly still could, but will need at least one win back in Portage.

- La Ronge to Portage is roughly 1000 kilometres, and after playing Game 5 Thursday night, HOPEFULLY ending in regulation and leaving the rink by about 10:00 SK Time (11:00 Portage time)... the two clubs will do it all over again at 6:30 SK time in Portage on Saturday. I wonder if Portage stays over and drives all day Friday, or drives through the night. Infact I also wonder if La Ronge leads right after the game or waits until the next morning... decisions! Either way, one of those two teams will have a chance to punch their ticket to the RBC Saturday night, so the bus ride might not feel as gruelling... I'm thinking it's all adrenaline at this point!

- The WHL is down to its final four teams and the Conference Finals both kick off Friday night. A former Terrier defenseman will be involved in both series. John Niebrandt (and Wadena's Joey Leach) and the Kootenay Ice take on the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Eastern Conference Final, while out west, it's Davis Vandane's Spokane Chiefs up against the first place Portland Winterhawks.

Niebrandt on Kootenay's sweep of Saskatoon: "It surprised everyone, us included. We thought we had a chance to win if we played our best, but I don't think anyone thought we'd take them in four games. Everyone played their roles, we hit their top players and our goalie (Nathan Lieuwen) was there when he had to be."

Niebrandt on Kootenay holding Brayden Schenn to 1 point and a -7: "We had a checking line playing against him and they ended up scoring a few goals too. His only goal was in Game 2 in Saskatoon with about a minute left and I think it hit 4 shinpads before going in."

Niebrandt says being physical on Medicine Hat's top players, like Linden Vey, will be key in trying to advance to the WHL Final.

Vandane on 6 game series win over Tri-City: "Give them credit, they pushed us hard, the last three games went to overtime. Every game came down to one shot and if we didn't bury every chance, they made us pay."

Vandane on Portland: "We respect them a lot. They're highly skilled and very offensively-minded. At the same time you have to realize they're in the same league you are, and if we play our game, anything can happen. If we're physical and get our forecheck going I think we'll have success."

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