I seem to get sent for a loop with a head cold / sore throat for about a week around this time every year. I escaped it last year, at least during the hockey season, but it's making up for that this year. Towards the end of the Terrier game in Humboldt on Friday, my voice was starting to go, and all Saturday/Sunday, it felt like my melon was full of cement, and the sore throat was still there too.
It's a little better today, but when I speak, every second or third word is a whisper. Tried ordering a coffee on my way to the hospital this morning... that was interesting!
I got the vibe from the nurse that I shouldn't be coming to emergency for what is simply a bad "cold", but I can never get into my family doctor for at least a few days after I call, and the only walk-in clinic is only open from 6-8 pm. Figured I'd get some drugs and try to sleep it off. But, I'm told it's nothing bacterial, so I don't need anti-biotics... just some Tylenol Cold & Sinus, and a nasal spray.
Hoping this is the only sick day I have to take, but my voice will have to improve a lot in the next 18ish hours.
I've got a Junior 'B' broadcast Wednesday in Fort Qu'Appelle, and of course the Trade Deadline is tomorrow. I always head into the station that evening and bother the heck out of our four local GM's until midnight, and would love to do that again!
Last year, it was January 7th when the Terriers acquired Boyer & Buzzeo from Humboldt. Metz and Hanson also went from Melville to Melfort prior to deadline day, while Swan Valley got Nick Keller from Humboldt on the 7th (and they sent him to La Ronge on the 10th). On the 10th, Yorkton got Brant Remenda from Nipawin (most underrated trade I've ever seen... he was outstanding), and Wayway scooped up Josh Daley from Dauphin, a trade that gave them two solid scoring lines.
Being sick all weekend, I've had little or no contact with coaches/GM's the last few days, and I'm not much for speculation... I'm not gonna sit here and "guess" on a public site that this or that 18 year old kid is gonna be traded or re-assigned, but in real general terms... here's a few lines about each of our local teams heading into the deadline.
It's all really foggy, because none of our teams are proving to be powerhouses who would be looking to load up, but both SJ teams are (basically) guaranteed playoff spots, but will both probably finish somewhere in the middle (not first, not last).
In Manitoba, one team probably makes it, one team probably doesn't.
YORKTON TERRIERS: 2nd in the Sherwood (21-16-1-2)
It's highly improbable that anyone's catching Weyburn, so Yorkton, Melville, and Estevan will fight it out for 2nd and 3rd... the odd one out probably gets home ice in the Survivor Series, probably against Notre Dame (notice I say PROBABLY and LIKELY a lot? It's because every team still has 40 or so points on the table and things CAN change). This is a team that's been to the SJHL final in each of the last two seasons, and has a promising future, with forwards like Majkowksi (92), Murray (92), Giebel (93), Thompson (93), Oliver (93) and others. On defense, the Norrish twins and McMullen lead a strong crop of 93's, and they've got three goaltenders eligible to return next year. I don't see them messing with their 92's and 93's to give it another go this year, and I think the south is that wide-open that their current group has a fair chance of winning a round, and then ya never know! GM Don Chesney said on the air in Humboldt that 20-year-old forwards Riley Paterson and Brent Struble will finish their 3 year careers where they started, and aren't going anywhere. He also said they won't have 3 goaltenders after January 10th. Warren Shymko hasn't played since he saw Melville twice over New Year's Weekend. I would say that means they're letting the other two fight it out for the other job... NOT that Shymko's the odd one out. But Kale Thomson and Dawson MacAuley didn't make that decision an easy one... as Thomson made 39/42 saves in Humboldt (he played all 4 games against the Broncos and was solid in all of them). MacAuley, while he did see the the bottom team in each Conference, allowed just one goal in road games in Melfort and Kindersley. He's only 17, which means he has to play Junior 'A' in Saskatchewan, and he's got WHL aspirations next season. Hiding a goalie in Junior 'B' could be an option, but a Junior 'A' team can claim them for a nominal fee, as long as the player agrees to go. Whether it's through a trade or a re-assignment, the Terriers will likely be down to 2 goalies by tomorrow night, and may look to add a bigger, older defenseman, as they are generally younger and smaller back there. Much like this time last year, the addition of any of Austin Bourhis (PA Raider), Davis Vandane (Spokane Chiefs) or John Niebrandt (Kootenay Ice) would fill that void immediately. Niebrandt's got one of the best plus-minus's in the WHL, and I would is probably the safest of the three to stay. Vandane plays regularly... his numbers aren't what they were last year, but neither is Spokane as a team. Bourhis has played 4th line wing for the most part, and a little bit on defense in PA. The Raiders have been active on the trade front lately, and a appear to be getting younger. All three are 19, and the Terriers have a good chance of seeing 1, 2, or all 3 next year, but they're not banking on it right now (it would be exactly what they need though!)
Terrier 20 year olds: 6 (Struble, Paterson, Sookro / Leismeister, Rockwell, Cann)
MELVILLE MILLIONAIRES 3rd in the Sherwood (19-14-2-3)
The Mils are in that same log jam in the middle of the Sherwood with Yorkton and Estevan. The Mils have are two points back of Yorkton with 2 games in hand, and are tied with Estevan with 6 in hand. So getting a top three spot is pretty simple: Pick up more points in 20 games than Estevan does in 14 games. That's not a guarantee by any stretch, especially with Estevan almost done all their road games, but it does mean the Mils' fate is in their hands. Melville has room to add players, and I think they will. They played in the Survivor Series in each of the last two seasons, and won't be happy if they're there again. You can also add in the fact that Jamie Fiesel's in the last year of a contract. They had high hopes for this season, but injuries have played a big part in them being lower in the standings than they'd like to be. They've picked it up since Christmas, going 3-and-0, and are starting to get healthy. The Mils are set in goal with Blake Voth (91) and Alex Wakaluk (93). They've got four solid 20-year-olds on defense, while up front, they've been carried offensively a lot by their first line of Mireau-McNulty-Trudeau. Their other forwards are playing solid, but they could use some scoring help, and I wouldn't doubt they add one, who can play on their second line, and maybe another to play in the bottom six, with the departure of Andre Parker. Some of the high hopes rested with the likes of Sean Aschim and Levi Cable being in the fold. Ashcim was traded from Moose Jaw to Seattle early in the year, and on a team that struggles to score, Ashcim had 5g-4a in 29 games, and his +/- is even. Again, the Mils aren't banking on seeing Ashcim... but his return would mean the Mils' centremen would be: McNulty, Aschim, Desjarlais, Kilback. Not too shabby! Cable's playing more lately in Kootenay, but one of his teammates, defenseman Jeff Hubic, was a scratch in their last game, after the Ice added a D-Man from Swift Current. Kootenay has 8 regular defenseman on their roster, and Hubic, 17, and 16-year-old Spencer Wand appear to be the two playing the least. Wand's also a SK product and his SJ rights are held by Melfort. Aschim would make this team an instant contender, and if they don't see him, I expect the Mils to be active.
Millionaires' 20-year-olds: 7 (Mireau, Desjarlais / Newell, Christensen, Pond, Kipling / Voth)
WAYWAY WOLVERINES 3rd in the MJHL Sherwood (16-19-5)
The Wolverines have a full compliment of nine 20-year-olds, and if they can maintain a playoff position, they've got a chance to upset someone in the post season. The Wolverines aren't playing their best hockey right now though, going 2-6-2 since Decemeber 1st. A lot of that could have to do with the temporary departure of leading scorer Shane Goodrunning, who is now back with the team. He rejoined the Wolverines for their 3-2 loss in Neepawa on Sunday, where they out-shot the Natives 52-19, but still came up a goal short, as their former teammate Riley Feser stood on his head making 50 saves. Wayway's a dangerous team, with a top-four on defense as good as anyone's... and Cory Simons has really shored up their goaltending. Barry Butler said on his latest Coach's Show that they're in a position to add, as they're only carrying 20 players, but obviously if it's a 20-year-old, someone would have to be moved out. The Wolverines don't really have any WHL possibilities that I can see. 93 F Jens Meilleur in Brandon played in Wawyay as a 16-year-old, but is back from injury and playing pretty regularly, while 94 G Spencer Tremblay is the backup goalie in Moose Jaw. I think I said it around December 1st, that a deal LIKE the one that brought Daley to Wayway last deadline day would help them out... and give them more of a threat after Goodrunning, Pinkerton, etc. The Sasky boys (Veitch, Howie, Walker) have provided solid secondary scoring lately though. So, possibly another scoring forward up front, and/or someone to compliment Simons in goal could be in order. I haven't seen Jared Knott, infact he hasn't played any action since joining the Wolverines, but it's been a goaltending carousel in Wayway, and we'll see if Simons/Knott is the tandem they stick with or not.
Wolverines 20-year-olds: 9 (Goodrunning, Howie, Little, Pennell, Posch / Robidoux, Duda, Janzen, Landry)
SWAN VALLEY STAMPEDERS 4th in the MJHL Sherwood (15-20-6)
What a difference a month makes. It looked like the Stamps were already in sell-mode when they dealt Anthony Nobili to Winkler and Jesse Enns to Dauphin prior to December 1st, and got younger by brining in the likes of Derek Falloon, Brett Charette, Kyle Smart and Jeff Bartel. Since December 1st, the Stampeders are 7-3-1 in their last 11, and a perfect 3-0 since Christmas. That, along with Wayway's recent struggles, leaves the Stampeders only one point back of the Wolverines for 3rd, and with a cross-over likely, 3rd place would be the final playoff spot in the Division. Tony Partridge would certainly give any team a boost offensively, but with the playoffs now in reach, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Stampeders hang on to their remaining over-agers, and possibly try to add another piece up front or on the backend. Dwayne Kirkup likes guys who can play defense, and has already somewhat overhauled the blueline. The Regina Pats also just added another defenseman, and now have 9, including Landon Peel, who spent most of last season in Swan. It's pretty obvious who Regina's top 5 defensemen are, just by looking at the lineup/stats, and if the newcomer Fenske plays regular, that gives them 6, all 18-and-over... and leaves Peel (17, played 19 games), Nathan Zimbaluk (18, played 15 games), and Kyle Burroughs (16, played 34 games) as guys who don't play every game. Can't see them staying with 9, but whether that means trades, re-assignments, etc, I guess we'll find out by Tuesday afternoon, when the WHL has their deadline. You might think that given their record, the Stamps should sell regardless, but the thing is, in small-market Junior 'A' hockey, if you miss the playoffs, you lose money, and the Stamps aren't really in a position to lose cash. Do they have the horses to give Dauphin a run for the Sherwood title? Let's face it, probably not... with Dauphin's first line all former Major Junior players and a wealth of depth and experience behind them at all positions. But, expectations weren't exactly high in Dwayne Kirkup's first year as coach, and the Stampeders beat Portage, and then gave the RBC Host Kings a good series. And last year, outside of Ryan Marshall and Shelby Gray, there wasn't a lot of top-end skill on the team... and they played the eventual Anavet Cup Champion Portage Terriers, and took them to double OT in the first two games, won Games 3 and 4, before bowing out in 6. So I've learned not to question Coach Kirkup, as he always seems to get the most out of his teams. They've also got a goalie capable of stealing games, and a series, in Jayson Argue.
Stampeders 20-year-olds: 3 (Partridge, Taylor, Riddell)