(Millionaires at the end of their last full practice ahead of Tuesday's Game 7 in Weyburn)
This is what it's all about.
No one can slow us down.
We ain't gonna stop until the clock runs out.
Okay, I was just going to type that first line, then got Nickleback's "Bottom's Up" in my head. Not a bad hockey theme though is it?
Game 7 IS what it's all about. It's why players play, coaches coach, GM's manage, and broadcasters broadcast.
There's more hype, more nerves, and more on the line than any other game of the season. Soemone's going home, someone's going to the dance with the hottest babe on the floor, the Humboldt Broncos. And, whether they get bucked off in four by the RBC Hosts, or win a close one in seven, it'll be a fun ride!
And, while there is the aforementioned hype, etc, Millionaires' Coach Jamie Fiesel says they have to be careful not to make this game bigger than it is.
"It's the most exciting game in hockey. We sit in front of our TV's and watch the NHL Playoffs every year, and can't wait to see a Game 7, it's so exciting, and our guys are going to experience that. But what we're going to tell them, and I'm sure Dwight will tell his guys... it's still a hockey game. Once the emotions are gone and the puck drops, it's about execution, it's about playing team defense, using everyone, buying in, and the best team will win on Tuesday night. We're excited about the opportunity."
Fiesel has coached in just 2 Game 7's in the SJHL, and both were wins against the Yorkton Terriers, in 2007 and 2009. Both also eventually led to finals appearances against Humboldt. The 2007 game was the South Final, to go straight to the championship, while 2009 was the Conference Semi, which they followed up by beating first place Weyburn in six games.
Their 2012 script, number of games aside, has followed 2009 to a T. Beat Yorkton, now it's Weyburn in the South Final, with the Humboldt Broncos waiting patiently.
I'm not so sure ANY Mils' players have played in a Game 7. None of the three-year guys have, because the last two seasons they were ousted in the Best-of-Five Survivor Series. Melfort, I don't believe played in a Game 7 last year (beat Humboldt in 6 and lost to La Ronge in 5 I think), but may have the year before. I bring that up because FIVE former Mustangs are now suiting up for the Millionaires. Another possibility would be Lucas Froese, who went to an MJHL Final with the Winnipeg Saints in 2010. They were swept by Dauphin, but I'm not sure how many games they needed to win the Addison.
It's fair to assume that this is a first for most, or all players, on both sides. It's true for Millionaires' 18-year-old forward Michael Sagen.
"I've never played in a Game 7. I played in a Game 5 (of a Best-of-Five) in Midget 'AAA' (Saskatoon Contacts lost to Notre Dame Hounds), and a Game 5 last year against Estevan (Survivor Series), and lost them both, so hopefully the third time's a charm. We're excited but we're loose, it was a fun practice today. I think the town's just as excited as we are too."
That appears to be the case. 1844 fans (and I hear it was more) packed into the Horizon Credit Union Centre for Saturday night's Game 6, and not one but two full fan busses of Blue & White are heading to Crescent Point Place in Weyburn tonight.
If you're not one of the 100-ish on those busses, and others who I'm sure are driving, please tune us in! The Pre Game Show starts at 7:15, Play by Play at 7:30 on GX94, and www.gx94radio.com .
- The Millionaires won't have their full lineup for Game 7, and it'll be a little different than Game 6, but that's all I'll say for now... I'll tweet/announce the changes/line combos from the rink.
- As for Weyburn, it's a guessing game on my end and I won't know until I'm at the rink. Mitch Kilgore is one of the most important players in the series. Will the Wings' #1 goalie be in the stands again, hoping for his Junior career to be extended? Will he play? If he plays, is he 100%? How close to 100%? Dwight McMillan said on my Pre Game Show it was sickness, while it's widely speculated that he's hurt.
- Jack Kennelly and Miguel Pereira? The Wings are definitely easier to defend with either or both of those two out of the lineup. Bruce-Sanderson-Ross are great on their own, but when you add Pereira to the Hoffman line, and build the third line around Kennelly, suddenly the Wings are pretty deep. I think not having those two was a big reason why the 3-1 lead on Saturday appeared a lot more safe. There just wasn't as much scoring punch when the Big 3 weren't on the ice.
- Word is there will be no suspension for either Lucas Froese's hit from behind in Game 6, or Tyler Borstmayer's ensuing cross-check which he received 5 and a game for.
- Melville's powerplay went 4/8 in Game 1, then was dreadful in Games 2-5, going a combined 1/21. They scored on their first chance on Saturday, and I think John Stechyshyn's goal showed what was wrong with the powerplay in those four games. He shot the puck, while they were reluctant to shoot in those other games. It wasn't a hard shot, it just found its way through. Overall, they're 6/32, 18.8% in the series. Weyburn, who scored two huge powerplay goals at the end of a pivotal Game 3 to tie the game and eventually win in overtime, are 3/34, or 8.8%.
- 19 Millionaires have points in this series. That's what you call a balanced attack, especially when you consider 18 skaters dress for a game! Weyburn's not far off, with 17. Neither team has the top-heavy offense they had in the regular season with their top lines, and I think this blogger predicted that on this blog before the series! Defenseman Lee Christensen, and Michael Desjarlais lead the Mils with 7 points, and both have just one goal. Ian McNulty, after a hat trick in Game 6, has 6 goals, no assists in the series. Jesse Ross leads Weyburn with 5 points (2g-3a).
- If it's Voth vs Kilgore tonight, their numbers in the series are pretty much mirror images. Voth is 3-3, 2.27 GAA, .927%, Kilgore is 2-2, 2.22 GAA, .926%. Both have had one game they'd probably like back, and have been rock solid every other time out. Brett Teskey's numbers aren't as flashy, but he did enough to win Game 5, a game where Melville had maybe their worst showing of the series.
- My Game 7 stats are pathetic. Time to turn it around! Off the top of my head, I think I'm 1-4-1. The TIE, is the Melville/Yorkton 2009 one. I can't call that a win or a loss or I'd be dragged to Otthon and stoned to death! The win was Yorkton over Kindersley in the 2010 Sherwood Final, in overtime, in Eston, SK! Kevin Stringfellow. The first three losses were all in Manitoba. Dauphin (when I worked at CKDM) to OCN in 2006, Swan Valley to Portage and Wayway to Dauphin in 2008 (back to back nights, ouch!), and of course Yorkton in La Ronge in last year's final. Let's make my 7th Game 7 a good one!