Wednesday, 30 December 2015

WHL People's Power Rankings #6

Welcome to the post Christmas edition of the WHL People's Power Rankings. Let's not waste any time and get right to it.
Eastern Conference
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes - Winners of 11 of the last 14 before the break. 18 PPG in those 14 games. Handily beat Red Deer in their last game before Christmas. Doesn't look like a team that needs to buy at the deadline.
2. Calgary Hitmen - 15 wins in 19 games puts them in a tie with Red Deer for 2nd in the division. Possibly getting Virtanen back is insurance. Will be a contender if he returns.
3. Red Deer Rebels - Play of late has not been up to par, extended stay near the top of the conference helps them immensely here. Play does not appear inspired for Memorial Cup hosts.
4. Brandon Wheat Kings - Still appear dominant often but have lapses in stretches. When McCrimmon returns to the team he will look to tighten up their game to last year's lofty standards.
5. Prince Albert Raiders - Keeping pace in a tight race with Brandon and Moose Jaw. Goaltending is their biggest asset will they look to add a defender or a forward come deadline day?
6. Moose Jaw Warriors - Missing Brayden Point for so many games and yet they are still keeping the division leaders within their grasp. Team game is key here and the continued growth of forwards not named Point. Sawchenko is a rock in the net for this team.
7. Regina Pats - Struggling to produce wins, having just 1 in the 8 games preceding the break. It is possible they move some parts around to build for next season.
8. Edmonton Oil Kings - Streakiest team in the league. Finding this team has a very "me first" attitude, definite drop off from the top 3 divisional teams. Likely stuck in one of the 2 wild card spots.
9. Saskatoon Blades - A very interesting team with plenty of gimmicks to bring fans into the arena but the on ice product is suffering. Have not won more than 2 games in a row all season.
10. Medicine Hat Tigers - Just can not find a winning combination. Had won 4 of 5 before the break and a few against the Oil Kings but are just too far back. At least they have the new Arena right?
11. Swift Current Broncos - 2 and 14 over the last 16 and traded their best asset to the Rebels. Things couldn't be much worse could they?
12. Kootenay Ice - I guess things could be worse. 12 straight loses and only 6 wins on the season. Nothing doing here.

Western Conference
1. Kelowna Rockets - Lost back-to-back for the first time this year, but still maintain a healthy five-point lead for best record in the WHL.
2. Victoria Royals - Royals are dropping Divisional games consistently without head coach Dave Lowry and d-man Joe Hicketts.
3. Prince George Cougars - They appear to be setting up an epic battle for the number two seed and home ice advantage in the B.C. division with Victoria
4. Seattle Thunderbirds - Really hurting without their top three centers, who are all at the World Junior Championships
5. Spokane Chiefs - Suffered through Adam Helewka's six-game suspension and a slew of injuries. They will need some wins in upcoming games vs. Portland, who is right on their heals in the U.S.
6. Everett Silvertips - Flailing a bit lately and will need some points out of two huge games vs. Kelowna this week.
7. Kamloops Blazers -5-1 road trip through the prairies has the Blazers right in the thick of the playoffs
8. Portland Winterhawks - Welcomed the return of two of their top-six forwards with an epic OT win over T.C. A few big wins and fans might want Hawks to start buying at the trade deadline
9. Vancouver Giants - Red-hot Giants are now only four back of Portland for the final playoff spot
10. Tri-City Americans - Deal for McKenzie Stewart adds some size up front, but what does it mean for their other three overage players?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

People's Power Rankings 5th Edition

Welcome to the 5th Edition of

EASTERN CONFERENCE
1) Prince Albert 104 pts. UP 1 (3-3)
- Up and down recently, put together a better string with wins against Lethbridge and Red Deer in the last week.
2) Lethbridge 94 pts. UP 3 (5-1) 
- Biggest mover with PG this edition. Only loss was to PA Raiders in the last 2 weeks, beat Calgary, Red Deer and Brandon. 
3) Red Deer 85 pts. DOWN 2 (3-3)
 - Back to back losses against Lethbridge and PA have the team reeling just a little bit. 3rd time they have lost 2 straight this season, have yet to lose 3 in a row. 
4) Brandon 82 pts. DOWN 1 (3-1-1)
- Is this team toying with everyone until after Christmas? Stretches of dominance followed by surprising loses. Right in the mix for top spot, but are playing better on the road than at home.
5) Calgary 72 pts. DOWN 1 (4-1-1)
- would be higher ranked but everyone is playing well around them. Points in 10 of the last 11 games, has them in a tie for 1st in the East Division following a TERRIBLE start.
6) Moose Jaw 61 pts. EVEN (4-1-1)
- went 2-2-1 through the US Division despite missing Point for all 5 games. Won their 2 home games over the past weekend.
7) Regina 55 pts. EVEN (4-2-1)
- Finished up their 9 game road trip a respectable 4-3-2-0 
8) Edmonton 41 pts. UP 1 (4-0)
-the only team to not lose over the period, seems no one has noticed the 4 game win streak (now 5 at time of writing)
9) Saskatoon 35 pts. DOWN 1 (1-6) 
- traded goaltender Nik Amundrud to Calgary, proceed to lose 3 straight. Team appears to be sinking quickly. 
10) Medicine Hat 25 pts. EVEN (1-5)
- Returned from BC with just 1 win which came against the Blazers. Shut out to the lowly Giants. Trades are just not panning out, goaltending situation is still not resolved.
 11) Swift Current 19 pts. EVEN (0-3-2)
- just 2 points out of a possible 22 over the last 11 games, no wins. Are the Broncos the first team to put up the for sale sign for the coming trade deadline?

12) Kootenay 11 pts. EVEN (0-7)
- Injuries are piling up, trading future draft picks to fill roster spots. Appears this team is folding up the tent for next season already.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
1)Kelowna 80 pts. EVEN (5-1) *UNANIMOUS VOTE*
-Rockets lead the WHL with 22 wins through their first 29 games. Now that they have a healthy Rourke Chartier in the fold, this could be their spot to lose for the duration of the season.

2)Victoria 67 pts. UP 1 (3-1)
-They Royals have been trading the two spot with Seattle over the last two weeks. They will assuredly be without star defenseman Joe Hicketts for a month while he plays for Canada at the World Juniors, how will they hold up without him?
3)Seattle 66 pts. DOWN 1 (2-3)
-Escaped Seattle Metropoltians' night with a win over Tri-City, saving themselves from a disastrous two weeks.
4)Prince George 58 pts. UP 3 (5-0-1)
-The net is now firmly in the hands of WHL goalie of the week Ty Edmonds. He came into a game vs. Portland after backup Nick McBride was pulled and still was able to leads the Cougars to a win.
5)Everett 49 pts. EVEN (4-2)
-Dealt for Buffalo Sabres' prospect Brycen Martin, giving up a lot of their future to do so. The offensive d-man has been pointless through his first three games in Everett and will need to start producing in the absence of Noah Juulsen.
6)Spokane 37 pts. DOWN 2 (3-2)
-Their 7-1 thrashing of top U.S. Division team Seattle served as a message to the rest of the division, that they are a contender.
7)Portland 29 pts. EVEN (2-4)
-Injuries have ravaged the forward unit so much, that d-man Keoni Texeira played forward for the first time in his WHL career.
8)Kamloops 29 pts. DOWN 1 (2-2-1)
-12 game road trip through Saskatchewan should tell us a little bit more about this Jekyll and Hyde squad.

9)Tri-City 15 pts. EVEN (2-4)
-Slowly getting healthier and it has shown on the ice with a big 4-1 win over Everett this last week. Yet another team that will be missing a big-time defenseman for almost a month as Brandon Carlo figures to be a big part of Team USA at the World Juniors.

10)Vancouver 10 pts. EVEN (3-3)
-Season is officially in the toilet after the only General Manager the team has ever know: Scott Bonner stepped down.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Top & Bottom 5s: November 30th

Here we go again with another edition of WHL Top & Bottom 5s. I have added a twist for everyone and for all the Rebels fans.

Top 5 Shooting Percentages (doesn't include Shootouts)
1. Kelowna Rockets 13.307%
2. Lethbridge Hurricanes 12.121%
3. Kamloops Blazers 12.077%
4. Victoria Royals 11.453%
5. Seattle Thunderbirds 11.321%

7. Red Deer Rebels 11.183%

LEAGUE AVERAGE 10.248%

Bottom 5 Shooting Percentages
1. Kootenay Ice 7.768%
2. Swift Current Broncos 7.965%
3. Everett Silvertips 8.495%
4. Edmonton Oil Kings 8.553%
5. Vancouver Giants 8.824%

Top 5 Save Percentages (doesn't include Shootouts)
1. Everett Silvertips .933%
2. Victoria Royals .917%
3. Swift Current Broncos .914%
4. Portland Winterhawks .910%
T5. Prince Albert Raiders .908%
T5. Kelowna Rockets .908%

T10. Red Deer Rebels .905%

LEAGUE AVERAGE .898%

Bottom 5 Save Percentages
1. Medicine Hat Tigers .865%
2. Tri-City Americans .872%
3. Saskatoon Blades .877%
4. Vancouver Giants .884%
5. Edmonton Oil Kings .885%

Top 5 Goals For Per Game
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes 4.00G/PG
2. Kelowna Rockets 3.96G/PG
3. Red Deer Rebels 3.85G/PG
4. Seattle Thunderbirds 3.60G/PG
5. Brandon Wheat Kings 3.58G/PG

LEAGUE AVERAGE 3.21 Goals Per Team Per Game.

Bottom 5 Goals For Per Game
1. Kootenay Ice 2.04G/PG
2. Swift Current Broncos 2.42G/PG
3. Vancouver Giants 2.65G/PG
4. Everett Silvertips 2.70G/PG
5. Edmonton Oil Kings 2.79G/PG

Top 5 Goals Against Per Game
1. Everett Silvertips 1.83GA/PG
2. Victoria Royals 2.26GA/PG
3. Red Deer Rebels 2.74GA/PG
4. Brandon Wheat Kings 2.75GA/PG
5. Seattle Thunderbirds 2.76GA/PG

LEAGUE AVERAGE 3.20 Goals Against Per Team Per Game

Bottom 5 Goals Against Per Game
1. Medicine Hat Tigers 4.09GA/PG
2. Kootenay Ice 4.07GA/PG
3. Saskatoon Blades 4.04GA/PG
4. Tri-City Americans 4.00GA/PG
5. Vancouver Giants 3.85GA/PG


Saturday, 28 November 2015

2nd Time This Week: Game Day Blog #27

The Rebels return home to face the Regina Pats, again.
Cam Ward Bobblehead Night! Presented by Carpet One Red Deer

The Rebels return home after going 2-0 on a mini Central Division road trip. They are coming off a 6-4 win in Medicine Hat last night. Regina is coming off an exciting 4-3 Overtime win in Calgary last night. They are now 3 points back of the Moose Jaw Warriors for 3rd in the East Division with 2 games in hand.

Red Deer's Ivan Nikolishin is now on a 6 game point streak, with 6 goals and 6 assists in that time. He is 5th in WHL scoring at 39 points (17G, 22A) Conner Bleackley has points in 4 straight (2G,3A)

Adam Brooks - Regina Pats
Regina's Adam Brooks is 15th in WHL scoring, he has points in 6 of his last 8 games for a total of 14 points (4G, 10A)

The Rebels have the 3rd ranked Power Play, scoring on 27 of 109 chances (24.8%), while the Pats are ranked 21st, scoring on 15 of 111 chances (13.5%) In the 2 games played thus far Red Deer is 2 of 12 on the Power Play against Regina (16.6%) while Regina has scored 3 on 12 chances (25%).


Preston Kopeck - Red Deer Rebels
The Penalty Kill for Red Deer is another story, ranked 15th in the WHL at 79.0%. They have been scored on 22 times while killing off 105 short handed situations. Regina is again 21st in the league at 73.6%. Teams have scored 29 goals against them on 110 opportunities.

While Rylan Toth allowed 4 goals last night against the Tigers, I would guess that he will be the starter again tonight. He has only lost 2 games out of his last 8 and both losses were against the Pats. He will look to have turn around game and lead the boys to victory. Look for the Pats to start Tyler Brown (5-7-0-0, 3.39GAA, .910sv%)



Tonight is Cam Ward Bobblehead night at the Centrium brought to you by Carpet One Red Deer. It is suggested you arrive early if you want one as they are limited to the first 1500 fans.  Doors open at 6PM tonight, puck drop is at 7PM. The game will be on 106.7 the Drive here in Red Deer and Phil Andrews will have the game in Regina on 620 CKRM about 25 minutes prior to puck drop with the Pre-game show.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Cats Meow: Game Day Blog #26

The Rebels traveled to Medicine Hat following Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Ice.

Red Deer Rebels (17-8-0-0) 34pts. AT Medicine Hat Tigers (7-11-2-1) 17pts.

The 1st place in the Central Division Red Deer Rebels take their 8-6-0-0 road record into Medicine Hat where the Tigers are 6-6-0-1 at the CanAlta Centre. Their new arena has not been as kind as the old Medicine Hat Arena.

Ivan Nikolishin enters tonight's contest riding a 5 game point streak. He has 6 goals and 4 assist during the streak. Add Conner Bleackley to the list of hot players as he has a 3 game point streak heading in the 'Hat. (1G,3A).

I expect that Rylan Toth will get the start tonight in the Rebels net. He is 12-6-0-0 on the season with a 2.62 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. Against the Tigers he is 1-0-0-0 in 1 start with a 1.00 GAA and a SPARKLING .976 save percentage.

Medicine Hat has been struggling this season all around. Their biggest concern appears to be in net as they have a league low .865 team save percentage. The fans of Medicine Hat have been so accustomed to the great goaltending Marek Langhamer provided. Mack Shields was brought in after Austin Lotz went down with an injury and it still hasn't turned the teams fortunes around. I presume he will be the starter this evening. His record with the Tigers is 1-2-0-0 with a .854 save percentage and 4.02 GAA.
Adam Musil - tsn.ca

In the head to head contests Red Deer is 2-0-0-0 and Medicine Hat is 0-1-1-0. Adam Musil and Evan Polei lead the charges in Red Deer with 2 goals and an assist each. 5 players have 2 points each. On the Tigers side of the ice, Steven Owre has 1 goal and 3 assists and leading scorer Chad Butcher has 1 goal and 2 assists. 2 others have 2 points each. Don't forget Cole Sanford who was injured during the 2 games against the Rebels. He has 5 points in 6 games since his return.

Steven Owre - tigershockey.com

Red Deer will be without Kayle Doetzel, Brayden Purtill and Josh Mahura. Medicine Hat has only 2 players on the injured list, Forward Zach Fischer (week-to-week) and Goalie Austin Lotz (indefinite). Alex Mowbray will be back in the line-up after serving his suspension.

Tonight's game is underway from Medicine Hat at 7:30 PM. The game is on 106.7 the Drive in Red Deer. Medicine Hat will have the game on 94.5 CHAT FM.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

People's Power Rankings #4

Welcome to the 4th Edition of the People's Power Rankings.



Eastern Conference

1. Red Deer Rebels - 96pts. (3-1-0) EVEN
The Rebels continue to play well, finished East Road Trip with wins against Prince Albert, Brandon and Moose Jaw. Home record is 9-1-0-0.
2. Prince Albert Raiders - 85pts. (3-0-1) UP 2
Remain at the top of the conference in points despite having a 3 game losing streak. Recently turned it around with a better last 3 games.
3. Brandon Wheat Kings - 84pts. (3-2-0) DOWN 1
Wheat Kings are better of late, had a 3 game losing streak earlier in the month for the first time this season.
4. Calgary Hitmen - 70pts. (5-0-0) UP 2
After making a pile of moves this team is finally turning the corner. 5 game win streak has them right back in the thick of the Central Division leaders. Back to form?
5. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 66pts. (2-4-0) DOWN 2
'Canes are struggling in their last 10 games. Need to find the goaltending and the offensive magic of the first 10 games.
6. Moose Jaw Warriors - 54pts. (1-3-1) DOWN 1
Definitely falling back to earth after their hot start. Point being injured is worrisome as the team is already fairly thin on offense beyond the first line.
7. Regina Pats - 51pts. (3-1-1) UP 3
Had won 3 straight before a season long 9 game road trip. Visit the Eastern Conference #1 ranked team twice this week.
8. Saskatoon Blades - 38pts.(1-3-0) DOWN 1
3 games in 3 night on the road lead to 3 losses, road game is suffering.
9. Edmonton Oil Kings - 33pts.  (1-5-0) DOWN 1
Lost 5 of 6 on BC Division Road Trip. Only win came against the lowly Vancouver Giants.
10. Medicine Hat Tigers - 22pts. (2-4-0)  UP 1
The loss of Lotz is still showing, no changes made in net since he went down. The team is just not playing up to its usual standards in their new rink.
11. Swift Current Broncos - 19pts. (0-6-0) DOWN 2
Have lost 6 straight, including all 5 games on the US Division Road Trip. Injury to Martin proves very costly.
12. Kootenay Ice - 10pts. (2-3-0) EVEN
Playing better of late, remain in the basement despite better play. Injuries to 7 line up regulars.









Western Conference

1. Kelowna Rockets - 69pts. (4-0-1) UP 1
Tyson Baillie’s seven point week was good enough for player of the week honors. Rockets have not lost in regulation since October 30th.
2. Seattle Thunderbirds - 64pts. (5-0) UP 1
The Thunderbirds are taking a six-game winning streak into a showdown with Kelowna this Wednesday night. Could this be a Western Conference final preview?
3. Victoria Royals - 56pts. (2-2-1) DOWN 2
Two straight losses to Seattle at home had to sting. Both Alex Forsberg (24) and Joe Hicketts (25) are in the top five in the league in assists.
4. Spokane Chiefs - 42pts. (4-1) UP 1
Adam Helewka’s return to the lineup has definitely helped the Chiefs. He has nine points over the last four games for Spokane.
5. Everett Silvertips - 39pts. (1-2-0-1) DOWN 1
The Silvertips have lost three games in a row by a one-goal margin.  They already have an astounding nine games that have been decided by one goal. Riley Sutter scoring his first WHL goal in front of his family in Medicine Hat was a feel good story.
6. Kamloops Blazers - 36pts. (2-0-3) UP 2
Three-on-three hockey is apparently not their cup of tea. Only blemishes on their record over their last 10 games have come in extra time.
7T. Portland Winterhawks - 29pts. (4-1) EVEN
Missed a huge opportunity in Kent on Saturday, falling to the first place T-birds. Lost key cog Alex Schoenborn to an upper body injury which hurts.
7T. Prince George Cougars - 29pts. (4-1) DOWN 1
Only loss over last two weeks was by a whopping eight goals to Kamloops. New acquisition Nick McBride has been stellar since being acquired (except the Kamloops game of course).
9. Tri-City Americans - 14pts. (3-3) EVEN
They gave up eight goals over their last two first periods combined. They need better goaltending from Evan Sarthou, whose season GAA is 3.66 and save percentage is 0.881.
10. Vancouver Giants - 7pts.(1-4-1) EVEN
It’s not even December and they are already eight points out of the last playoff spot. They have only won two of their last 17 games overall and it appears that G.M. Scott Bonner is running out of moves.































































Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tuesday Night Spectacular! Game Day Blog #24

Regina visits Red Deer tonight and then again on Saturday!

Enmax Centrium - Red Deer, AB - Rebelshockey.com


Regina Pats (10-9-2-0) 22 points AT Red Deer Rebels (16-7-0-0) 32 points.

The Rebels look to avenge an 8-5 loss to the Pats on November 13th in Regina. They lead the season series 1-0 and will play each other tonight, Saturday here in Red Deer and then not again until February 29th in Regina.

Red Deer has been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference (along with the Calgary Hitmen) over their last 10 games. The Rebels are 7-3-0-0 in that time while scoring 40 goals to the opposition's 28.
The Rebels also remain hot at home with the second best win percentage (.900) on home ice. They are 9-1-0-0.

Ivan Nikolishin remains Red Deer's top point producer at 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points. He is also a very responsible +8. Last Saturday he had a Hat Trick against the Saskatoon Blades and remains in the Top 10 in WHL scoring. 


Colton Bobyk and Haydn Fleury each have 15 points on the season and look to continue contributing from the blueline. The Rebels' Power Play is in 5th overall at 23.7% on the season, scoring 9 goals in 36 opportunities over their last 10 (25%). The Penalty Kill is currently 15th at 78.9% The Penalty Kill has allowed 7 goals in the past 10 games on 42 opportunities. (83.3%).

The Pats enter the game in 4th place in the East Division, with a 1 point lead on the Saskatoon Blades for the 1st wild card playoff spot. They are only 4 points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors. Regina has gone 4-4-2-0 in their last 10 games and that includes the win over Red Deer on Nov 13th.

Tonight is the 3rd game of a 9 game road trip for the Pats, they are 4-5-1-0 on the road this season and 0-1-1-0 so far on the trip. 

Adam Brooks - 620ckrm.com
Adam Brooks leads the Pats in scoring this season, he has posted 26 points (10G, 16A) in 21 games. Chase Harrison is the leading Defenseman on the team with 3 goals and 9 assists from the back end. Lane Zablocki has the rookie scoring lead for the Pats, he has contributed 5 goals and 5 assists. 

Regina has abysmal special teams this season. Their Power Play is ranked 21st in the WHL at 13.7% they have just 13 Power play goals on 95 opportunities. They did score 3 goals against Red Deer on 8 chances back on Nov 13. The Penalty Kill is ranked last in the league at 71.6%, allowing 27 goals against on the Penalty Kill. They have been shorthanded 95 times. 

Tonight's game will be contested at the Enmax Centrium. Tune in on 106.7 the drive at 6:30 to hear Cam Moon Mike Moller and Troy Gillard with the pre-game show. Phil Andrews will have the game on 620 CKRM in Regina, his pregame show goes at 7:35PM Central Time.  

Friday, 20 November 2015

Back to the Centrium: Game Day Blog # 23

The Rebels return home after the long East Division road trip to take on the Saskatoon Blades.

Saskatoon Blades (9-7-3-0) 21 Pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (15-7-0-0) 30 Pts.

The Rebels return home to the Enmax Centrium, following a 17 day hiatus for the annual Agri-Trade. The team went 3-2 on the East Division trip, scoring wins in Prince Albert (4-0), Brandon (4-0) and Moose Jaw (4-1). Between those games were 2 losses to Saskatoon (4-2) and Regina (8-5). The Rebels are now 7-6-0-0 on the road through 13 games.

Red Deer is currently 1st in the Central Division, 4 points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Saskatoon is tied for 4th place in the East Divison with the Regina Pats. 2 points up on the Edmonton Oil Kings for the last Wild Card Playoff spot. Tonight's game will be just the second game in the last 13 days for the Blades.

Trevor Martin - @TrevorMartin30
At home the team is another story altogether. They are 8-1-0-0, outscoring the opposition 40-21. The Rebels are enjoying the home crowd which has increased to an average of 5353 on the season. This is about 686 more fans per game than after the same amount of home games last season.

Tonight's game will be the 3rd tilt between the 2 clubs this season. Red Deer is 1-1-0-0 and has an identical record as Saskatoon. Each team won their home game. Red Deer has outscored Saskatoon 9-5 in the 2 prior games.

Goalies
Red Deer Rebels
Rylan Toth Reg. Season: 11-5-0-0 2.70 GAA .908 sv%    VS. Saskatoon: 0-0 11.08 GAA .667 sv%
Trevor Martin Reg. Season: 4-2-0-0 2.93 GAA .898 sv% VS. Saskatoon: 1-1 2.16 GAA .886 sv%
Saskatoon Blades
Brock Hamm Reg. Season: 6-2-2-0 3.37 GAA .894 sv% VS. Red Deer: 1-0 2.00 GAA .943 sv%
Nicm Amundrud Reg. Season: 3-4-1-0 4.23 GAA .873 sv% Vs. RD: 0-1 7.00 GAA .781 sv%

Hamm / Amundrud - StarPhoenix.com
Hamm has started the last 2 games for the Blades, one of which was a win over the Rebels. 

For the Rebels, Wyatt Johnson leads the team in scoring against the Blades with 3 goals and 2 assists in the 2 games. Colton Bobyk leads Rebels defensemen with 2 goals and is a +4 against the Blades.

Ryan Graham and Cameron Hebig both have a goal and an assist against the Rebels, while Defenseman Brycen Martin added 2 assists in the 2 games.

This will be former Rebel Connor Gay's second trip back to the Centrium. The last time these teams met here, Connor was involved in an altercation with Rebels defenseman Haydn Fleury. Both players ended up with 2 game suspensions for their part in the fracas.

Keep an eye on Libor Hajek, he is currently riding a 5 game point streak. He has 5 assists during his hot streak. Also hot is Brycen Martin who has 1 goal and 7 assists in his last 4 games.

Tonight's game is at 7PM, it can be seen live at the Centrium or on WHL Live or it can be heard here in Red Deer on 106.7 the drive. You can also find it online at 1067thedrive.fm 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Queen City: Game Day Blog #21

Looking to continue a decent road trip the Rebels travel down Highway 1 from Brandon to Regina.



Red Deer Rebels (14-6-0-0) 28 pts. AT Regina Pats (7-8-1-0) 15 pts.

The Rebels will look to remain in the Central division drivers seat as they take on the Pats in Regina. Red Deer is currently 2-1 on this East Division swing, the final two games being this weekend against the Pats and the Warriors. Red Deer has a 6-5-0-0 record on the road this season, bolstered by wins in Brandon and Prince Albert over the last week. Red Deer is two points clear of the Prince Albert Raiders in the East Conference (PA has a game in hand). The Rebels were the top ranked team in the BMO CHL from the WHL at #5, followed closely by Victoria Royals at #6.

The Regina Pats enter the contest in 6th in the East division, good for 10th in the Eastern Conference. They have lost 2 straight, coming off a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Victoria Royals last Saturday. Regina sports a 4-4-0-0 record at home this season. The Pats are 3 points out of a wild card spot with a couple of games in hand on the teams in front.

Preston Kopeck - Ottawa Citizen
A guy who we haven't heard too much from lately is Preston Kopeck. The 20 year old forward, brought in from the Portland Winterhawks on Dec 10, 2013 in the Matt Dumba trade. Preston is currently riding a 3 game point streak (0g, 3a) and has quietly put up 11 points (2g, 9a) on the season. Kopeck has been wearing an 'A' on his sweater and is looked at as a leader on this Memorial Cup hosting team. He has 6 penalty minutes this season and is even in the plus minus department. Look for Preston to continue his hard hitting and dishing the puck to linemates every chance he gets.

Rookie Brandon Hagel has been impressive this season. Despite a 4 game pointless streak, snapped on Wednesday in Brandon against the tough Wheat Kings, Brandon has put up 11 points on 3 goals and 8 assists. This is good for a tie for 7th in team scoring. Brandon has improved in every game he has played, and has only taken 1 penalty this year. He is a very responsible +5 on the year.

I had a chance to ask Phil Andrews of 620 CKRM in Regina for a little on the Pats as well as about a familiar name with fans of the Rebels.

"The Pats are the third youngest team in the WHL and are still trying to find consistency through 16 games of the season. It's been a stretch of win one then lose one for the club so far and they sit a game under .500. Goal scoring has been hard to come by at times and that's a main focus heading into the weekend." says Phil Andrews.

A name that is a reminder of one of Brent Sutter's only "bad" trades is that of Jake Leschyshyn. He was sent to the Pats with a conditional 4th round pick in exchange for Connor Gay (now with the Blades) as well as a 2nd round pick in 2015 (Eli Zummack) a 1st round pick in 2016 and a 7th round pick in 2017.  Below is what Phil Andrews had to say about Jake.
Jake Leschyshyn - ReginaPats.com

"As for Jake Leschyshyn, he has a quality you wish every player had. An incredible work ethic. That combined with his skating ability and skill will ensure he grows into an impact player in the WHL. Fresh off representing Team Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Jake is hoping to transfer his play and scoring touch at that tournament back herein Regina."

There you have it folks, tonight's tilt will likely see Tyler Brown make the start for the Pats. He is 2-5-0-0 this season and has a 3.64 GAA to go with a .902 save percentage. It is unsure who will start tonight for the Rebels but if I was a betting man I would say that Rylan Toth, he of the 141:17 shut out streak will make his 16th appearance between the pipes for Red Deer.

Tonight's game will be brought to you live on 106.7fm the Drive in Red Deer as well as on 620 CKRM in Regina. Puck drop is 6pm (MTN) in Red Deer and 7 pm (CST) in Regina. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Tough Test: Game Day Blog #20

The expected Number 1 and 2 in the Eastern Conference battle it out on Remembrance Day.

Red Deer Rebels (13-6-0-0) 16 Pts. AT Brandon Wheat Kings (11-5-0-2) 24 Pts.

Red Deer is off to a 1-1 start on their East Division road swing during the annual Agri-Trade in the Centrium. The team lost 4-2 in Saskatoon on Saturday night after a huge 4-0 win in Prince Albert the night before. Red Deer is tied with the Prince Albert Raiders with 26 points, good for 1st in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Not far behind (2 points) sit the Brandon Wheat Kings. They are expected to be the Kings of the East this year despite the fact Red Deer will be Memorial Cup hosts.

Red Deer had Haydn Fleury, Conner Bleackley and Ivan Nikolishin playing in the WHL vs. Russia Super Series over the last two nights.

Brandon had Kale Clague, Jayce Hawlryluk, injured John Quenneville and Nolan Patrick on the roster for Canada, while Ivan Provorov suited up for Russia.

I spoke with Gregg Drinnan briefly last night and it was determined that all the player would be flying from Kamloops to Calgary and then on to Brandon in time for tonight's game. For the guys from Red Deer that would represent 5 games in 6 nights.

Last year the Rebels were just 1-3-0-0 against the Wheat Kings. They are also just 3-6-1-0 over the last 10 games when facing off against Brandon.

Red Deer ranks 4th in the WHL in goals for per game at 3.68. The Wheat Kings are right behind in 5th at 3.67. The offenses for both teams are powerful and Brandon has 4 players registering a point per game plus. Red Deer has 3.

On the other side of the ice, the teams are very different. Brandon allows the 3rd fewest goals per game at 2.67 while Red Deer allows 2.84 good for 6th least. Rookie goaltender Logan Thompson has played lights out for the Wheaties, going 5-1-0-0 in 7 games this season with a .918 sv% and only a 2.07 Goals Against Average. Likely starter Jordan Papirny is 6-4-0-2 with a .889 sv% and 2.73 Goals Against Average in 12 games.

Rylan Toth - RedDeerRebels.com
I would suspect that Rylan Toth will be back between the pipes for the Rebels tonight. In his last game he shut out the conference leaders 4-0. He is now 9-4-0-0 on the season with a 2.84 Goals Against Average and .903 sv%

Today's game is an early one, 106.7 the drive will have the pregame show at 2:50PM from Brandon Manitoba. Puck drop is at 3PM.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

3rd WHL People's Power Rankings


Courtesy - @hawkeyblog
Eastern Conference Power Rankings

1. Red Deer Rebels (3-2) 105 pts. Have won 8 of last 10, hottest team in the East. Beat Previous number 1 (PA) 4-0 on the road. Still looking to upgrade goaltending? UP 2
2. Brandon Wheat Kings (3-3) 97 pts. Home losses to VIC, EDM and CGY raise an eyebrow. Went 3-2 on recent US road trip. DOWN 1
3. Lethbridge Hurricanes (4-3) 90 pts. Hanging up with the conference heavyweights despite playing fewer games. Ended longest road trip of the year at .500. UP 1
4. Prince Albert Raiders (2-3-1) 75 pts. Poor showing this weekend with 2 home losses, outscored 10-4. They are still 6-3-1-0 in their last 10, tops in the East Division. DOWN 3
5. Moose Jaw Warriors (3-2-1) 73 pts. A bit up and down of late, still in the better half within the conference. Riding points leader Brayden Point (16g, 23a). EVEN
6. Calgary Hitmen (2-4) 54 pts. Losers of 3 straight, and some trades made in the last few weeks has this team in a bit of disarray. Virtanen staying in NHL hurts. EVEN
7. Saskatoon Blades (2-4) 48 pts. Playing .500 hockey but have cooled WAY off since a very hot pre-season. Did beat Red Deer at home. EVEN
8T. Edmonton Oil Kings (4-2-1) 43 pts. Winners of 4 of their last 5 games, includes 2 vs. Hitmen. Slow start to the year and penalties hurting them here. UP 3
8T. Swift Current Broncos (3-2) 43 pts. Missing DeBrusk but still able to post wins in 3 of last 4 games. Beat Brandon over the last weekend. EVEN
10. Regina Pats (1-3) 28 pts. Traded their starting goaltender, have yet to replace him. DOWN 1
11. Medicine Hat Tigers (1-1-2) 23 pts. A lot of turnover and injuries means their continued struggles surprise no one. Suffered back to back Overtime losses vs Red Deer and Kootenay. DOWN 1
12. Kootenay Ice (2-2-1) 10 pts. A couple of recent wins keep them to within shouting distance of the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Western Conference Power Rankings
1. Victoria Royals (6-0-1) 66 pts. Going into the WHL's East Division and winning all 6 games is not easy. Is it time to take the surprising Royals seriously as a title contender? UP 2
2. Kelowna Rockets (4-1) 65 pts. Nick Merkley appears to have rounded into form with 6 points in two games versus Portland. DOWN 1
3. Seattle ThunderBirds (3-4) 56 pts. Defense and goaltending appear to be weaknesses in an othereise great team. Blowing 2 straight 3rd period 3-1 leads is not a great sign. DOWN 1
4. Everett Silvertips (3-2) 48 pts. Five straight 1 goal games. It's clear the defense and goaltending will always keep them in a gave, but their lack of offense will always keep you in it too. UP 1
5. Spokane Chiefs (4-2) 38 pts. Kailer Yamamoto had 9 points over 4 games and appears primed for a break out season. UP 2
6. Prince George Cougars (2-3) 35 pts. Cougars need more from Jansen Harkins, who somehow only has 1 goal this season. The Winnipeg Jets' 2nd rounder has the talent but where are the points? EVEN
7. Portland Winterhawks (2-3) 31 pts. Lower in the rankings than deserved? The team's strengths of defense, goaltending and penalty killing were put to the test last weekend vs. Kelowna. EVEN
8. Kamloops Blazers (5-0) 24 pts. Deven Sideroff and Collin Shirley capped off a great week by being named to the WHL select team that takes on Russia. UP 2
9. Tri-City Americans (2-3) 15 pts. Injury bug is going again in Kennewick this season. They are down to 5 healthy defensemen including Brandon Carlo, who was hurt during a fight vs Portland DOWN 1
10. Vancouver Giants (0-5) 8 pts. Trades galore as GM Scott Bonner tries to fix what's wrong with his team. More players have left the team and trades have been made to no avail. DOWN 1



Friday, 6 November 2015

Agri-Trade Road Trip: Game Day 18

The Rebels look to begin a 5 games in 8 days trip through most of the WHL's East Division.

Red Deer Rebels (12-5-0-0) 24 points AT Prince Albert Raiders (12-3-1-1) 26 points

Red Deer is coming off a come from behind 4-3 victory at home against the Seattle Thunderbirds. It was Red Deer's first time coming back from a deficit after 40 minutes. They are now riding a 2 game win streak and are 7-3-0-0 over their last 10 games. The win put Red Deer into a tie with Brandon for 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference.

Prince Albert also had a come from behind victory, they were down 2-1 in their last game, against Calgary and stormed back with 2 goals in the final 1:11 of the third period to win 3-2. This brought the team back to the winning side of the ledger following a loss and an overtime loss. Prince Albert is 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 and are a surprising 1st overall in the WHL.

The Rebels will look to get off to a quick start on the Prince Albert netminders. The team is 10-0-0-0 when having a lead after the 1st period. Hopefully Red Deer can continue to score first from guys like Grayson Pawlenchuk, who has 2 first goals of the game on the season, the team has 7. The first period is something they will look to improve upon as they have scored 18 goals but also allowed 18 goals.

Red Deer will look to get even more out of their imports this coming weekend as Ivan Nikolishin scored the eventual game winner in Tuesday's come from behind win. He leads the team in scoring, with 11 goals and 15 assists (26pts.) this is good for 6th in WHL scoring 6 behind leader, Brayden Point. Michael Spacek was held scoreless for the 3rd time this season but still has 22 points on the year (8 goals, 14 assists).

Kayle Doetzel  - RedDeerRebels.com
Not often talked about or "seen" on the ice is Kayle Doetzel ('95, undrafted). He is among the league leaders as an overager with a +10 plus/minus rating. He has 4 assists on the season, and he has this epic fight from Tuesday night http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/130347?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter against Jared Hauf. Kayle likes to throw the body around and make it generally difficult for the opposition to get the puck in the tough areas. He always works hard for his team mates and has few mistakes in his own end.

Prince Albert has taken over as the surprise team of the season, taking the crown so to speak from Lethbridge. No one saw this coming. They have had some excellent goaltending from Ian Scott and Rylan Parenteau (2015 Draft Eligible). I would suspect Parenteau to get the start over third string, Curtis Meager. Meager lost all 3 games he started in the preseason and does not have any WHL experience. Parenteau is 7-2-1-1 in 12 games this season. He sports a .910 save percentage and has a 2.98 goals against average.

Reid Gardiner - PA Herald
A large part of the Raiders success this season comes from 4th year Raider Reid Gardiner( '96, undrafted). He has scored 12 goals and 16 assists in 17 games this year. This is good for 3rd overall in WHL scoring. He is a + 14 and just passed 150 points in his WHL career. He now has 156. Prince Albert has 5 scorers over 14 points on the year, where they really get you is in the 3rd period, where they outscore the opposition 26-15. They have a sparkling .920 save percentage in the 3rd period and have started the period with a lead in 9 of their 17 games.

The game starts at 6PM local time, Cam Moon will have the pregame show starting at 5:50. Listen in on 106.7 the drive. Some friends and I will be making the trip this morning to watch our guys live, hopefully we can make it on to the radio. Good luck to the boys while they are away from the cozy confines of the Enmax Centrium for Agri-Trade.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Statement regarding tweets

I felt the need to write a blog regarding some tweets I made in an exchange with a scout who will remain nameless on my blog. The tweets were regarding the play of Haydn Fleury. I will explain my reason for the tweets below.

First of all I would like to offer Haydn an apology for the content of the tweets, which I know he was privy to last night. While I will stand behind my statements, this is not the full story of how I regard Haydn as a player with the Red Deer Rebels or as a draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes.

While I am not a scout, or a person who is actually in the media, I do watch an awful lot of hockey. I do believe that Haydn has APPEARED lazy in the defensive end, and has not been what I would expect of a Power Play quarterback. These are my opinions and while you or anyone else may not agree, these are my own thoughts. I will go on to say that Haydn is an excellent skater and can set the tone of a hockey game when he chooses, I just wish he would choose it more often. I don't claim to know how he is in the dressing room or his team mates but the team must feel he is worthy of the "A" on his sweater. I don't make those choices nor will I question the choice of the team.

Haydn has played well enough in his career to earn invitations and play for Canada's national team, be selected 7th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes, ahead of his team mate, Conner Bleackley in the same draft. Clearly he is a gifted athlete. I don't know how it feels to be sent back from an NHL Camp, which I am sure has put pressure on himself to achieve better.

Out of all of this I have learned that twitter may not be the best place to discuss players, I don't want anyone on the team to think anything differently of me because of things I have observed as a fan of the Rebels and of the game. Hopefully Haydn understands that while I don't personally always enjoy the way he plays the game, I know he is a good player and from what I can tell a really great person. Best of luck to you the rest of this season Haydn and the Rebels, as well as your future with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Sincerely,
Paul Figler

Sunday, 1 November 2015

New Digs: Game Day #16

The Rebels travel to Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers at the "New" Canalta Centre

Red Deer Rebels (10-5-0-0) 20 points AT Medicine Hat Tigers (5-6-1-0) 11 points

Red Deer suffered a loss to the Spokane Chiefs at home on Friday night. Spokane got out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period, Rylan Toth was puled for the 3rd time in 6 games and Red Deer was able to shut the door for the rest of the game, unfortunately they could only sneak 1 goal past Tyler Verhelst and the team lost its first game on home ice this season 3-1. The Rebels remain in a tie for first place in the Central Division with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

In the only other game between the two teams this season, the Rebels skated to a 3-1 home ice victory. Preston Kopeck scored the game winning goal against the team from his home town and Rylan Toth had a shut out going until 3:19 left in the 3rd period. Ty Stanton had the only goal for the Tigers. Red Deer went 1 for 2 on the power play while the penalty kill was successful on all 4 opportunities.  Last season Red Deer was 2-3-1-0 against the Tigers, and also 1-4-0-0 in the playoffs.

Red Deer is 3-4-0-0 on the road this season while Medicine Hat is 4-3-0-0 in the new arena.

David Quenneville - MedicineHatTigers.com
Tonight could see the return of David Quenneville and Cole Sanford, both whom have been out with injuries. Quenneville was last in action on October 24th while Sanford has been out since October 17th. Sanford had 12 points (4G, 8A) in his 9 games before his injury. The Tigers will have Clayton Kirichenko, whom they acquired from the Vancouver Giants this week in their lineup as well.

Red Deer remains without Josh Mahura, it appears his injury is severe enough to keep him out of the line up for the duration of the regular season. Jeff de Wit and Evan Polei both made their returns to the Rebels line up on Friday following minor injuries that took them out of games last week.

This Medicine Hat team is not one to be overlooked. They have recently added Austin Lotz in goal to help shore up a team that is allowing 3.92 goals per game. Red Deer did have an opportunity to play against Lotz as a Tiger and got 3 pucks past him.

The Tigers high powered offense is lead by Steven Owre, he has 6 goals and 10 assists in 12 games to lead the team.  Rookie Max Gerlach has already put up 5 goals and 4 assists in his first 12 games of the season, which places him 8th among all rookies in the WHL this season. The Tigers score an average of 3.58 goals per game this year. They also shoot the puck a ton, 35.25 shots per game, good for 2nd in the WHL.
Brandon Hagel - RedDeerRebels.com

Red Deer will counter with their own high powered offense, both Michael Spacek and Ivan Nikolisihin are in the top 11 scorers. Nikolishin leads the way with 10 goals and 12 assists and Spacek, considered a rookie at 18 in the WHL as its his first season, has popped 7 goals in the net and added 14 assists. Another rookie playing well is Brandon Hagel who has 10 points (2G, 8A) after being picked up just as the season got underway.

Tonight's game has a 6PM start at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat, AB. Cam Moon will be live on 106.7 the drive at 5:50.
 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Top and Bottom 5s

I've decided to combine the two lists into one blog this time, the data has been much easier to sort. Please find the lists below! My numbers do not line up exactly with CHLStats.com but the site is a great source for information as well.

Shooting Percentage
Top 5
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 13.54%
2. Moose Jaw Warriors - 12.32%
3. Prince Albert Raiders - 12.24%
4T. Kelowna Rockets - 12.11%
4T. Saskatoon Blades - 12.11%
Bottom 5
1. Edmonton Oil Kings - 7.16%
2. Everett Silvertips - 7.31%
3. Kootenay Ice - 8.05%
4. Swift Current Broncos - 8.20%
5. Prince George Cougars - 8.31%

Save Percentage
Top 5
1. Portland Winterhawks - .929%
2. Victoria Royals - .926%
3T. Moose Jaw Warriors - .925%
3T. Everett Silvertips - .925%
5. Prince George Cougars - .915%
Bottom 5
1. Calgary Hitmen - .869%
2. Medicine Hat Tigers - .871%
3. Tri-City Americans - .874%
4. Vancouver Giants - .878%
5. Kamloops Blazers - .879%

Shots For Per Game
Top 5
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 41.2
2. Medicine Hat Tigers - 35.25
3. Red Deer Rebels - 34.20
4. Edmonton Oil Kings - 33.533
5. Moose Jaw Warriors - 32.462
Bottom 5
1. Calgary Hitmen - 27.867
2. Kootenay Ice - 27.938
3. Spokane Chiefs - 29.429
4. Saskatoon Blades - 29.5
5. Kamloops Blazers - 30.077

Shots Againsts Per Game
Top 5
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 24.133
2. Seattle Thunderbirds - 25.364
3. Victoria Royals - 27.8
4. Calgary Hitmen - 28.067
5. Red Deer Rebels - 28.2
Bottom 5
1. Swift Current Broncos - 37.571
2T. Moose Jaw Warriors - 35.846
2T. Regina Pats - 35.846
4. Kootenay Ice - 35.438
5. Portland Winterhawks - 34.615

Goals For Per Game
Top 5
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 4.38
2. Brandon Wheat Kings - 4.07
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 4.00
4. Prince Albert Raiders - 3.87
5. Kelowna Rockets - 3.86
Bottom 5
1. Edmonton Oil Kings 1.60
2. Everett Silvertips 2.20
3. Kootenay Ice - 2.25
4. Swift Current Broncos - 2.50
5. Calgary Hitmen 2.60

Goals Against Per Game 
Top 5
1. Victoria Royals - 2.07
2. Seattle Thunderbirds - 2.27
3. Everett Sivlertips - 2.30
4. Portland Winterhawks - 2.47
5. Brandon Wheat Kings - 2.52
Bottom 5
1. Vancouver Giants - 4.14
2. Kootenay Ice - 4.13
3. Spokane Chiefs - 4.00
4. Medicine Hat Tigers - 3.92
5. Tri-City Americans - 3.71

Friday, 30 October 2015

Every Other Year: Game Day #15

The first of 5 US Division teams make their way to the Centrium

Spokane Chiefs (5-7-1-1) 12pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (10-4-0-0) 20 pts.

I am no one really in the WHL world, I barely make a dent in the fan base in Red Deer let alone the entire league but if I had a say in only 1 thing in this league, it would be that every team plays every other team at least once in each arena. I know that it is difficult with the way the league is laid out geographically and it is not economical but that would be my one and only wish.

The Rebels come in to tonight's contest winners of their last 5 games. They are also undefeated on home ice, going a solid 7-0-0-0 at the Centrium. 35 of their 55 goals have also come in the cozy confines of home. The team is in a 3 way tie points wise with Lethbridge and Brandon for 2nd overall in the WHL based on points.

The Chiefs drove up the QE2 following a 6-3 win in Calgary last night over the Hitmen. Spokane has not had a great start to this young season and are currently 2-6-1-1 in their last 10 games. The Chiefs are 3-4-1-0 away from Veterans Memorial Center in Spokane, WA.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan - Chiefs Twitter
Spokane brings with them Kailer Yamamoto, a 17 year old from Spokane, WA. He 57 points in 68 games a rookie last season and has continued to score points this season. he has put up 17 points (2G, 15A) in 14 games. He already has two 3 point games this season. Overage Defenseman Jason Fram is in his 5th season with the club and is their Captain. He enters the night with 11 points on the back end in his 14 games. Keep an eye on 16 year old rookie Jaret Anderson-Doyle, he is expected to be among the rookie scoring leaders this year and a top choice in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He has 4 goals and 2 assists so far this year.

Red Deer's two imports players continue to light it up for the Rebels this year. Ivan Nikolishin leads the team in goals with 10 and points with 22. He has points in 3 straight games and has only been held off the scoresheet twice all season. Michael Spacek has 7 goals and 14 assists on the year and also has points in 3 straight. He has only been pointless in one game through 14.

Haydn Fleury - NHL.com
Haydn Fleury is expected to return to the line up following his 2 game suspension. He has a 4 game point streak heading into tonight's action. Jeff de Wit and Evan Polei could be game time decisions based on their day-to-day status following injuries to both players in games last weekend. Ryan Pouliot has been returned to the roster following his recent injury. Braden Purtill will get his first chance to play his former teammates.

Tri-City currently lists Brandon Carlo, D, out for 2 weeks, Riley Hillis, D, out indefinitely and Austyn Playfair, F, out 1 week. 2 players will also be attending the U17 challenge, Kyle Olson and Michael Rasmussen.

Look for tonight's starting goaltenders to be Rylan Toth for Red Deer (7-3-0-0, 2.90GAA, .899 sv%) and  Tyson Verhelst for Spokane (5-5-0-1, 3.31GAA, .891 sv%)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Player Profiles: Austin Pratt

Every now and then throughout the season, I will be writing a short blog about a player on the Rebels, he could be a rookie, an import, or just someone who I've maybe noticed hasn't gotten a lot of coverage in the WHL media.

Today's blog will be about Red Deer Rebels rookie forward Austin Pratt. He was drafted by the team in the 4th round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Before he was drafted into the WHL, there were many folks who considered Pratt to be a 1st or 2nd round talent but the fact he was from Lakeville, Minnesota meant he may choose the NCAA route. It would be up to the coaches and staff of the Rebels to convince him that Red Deer was the premier destination for his development.

Austin Pratt Shattuck St. Mary's
A 30 mile drive from home would take Austin to the beginning of his 2017 NHL Draft aspirations. Shattuck-St.Mary's hockey program has put forward some top NHL talent including Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Austin spent 2 seasons with the program, his first year with the Bantam tier 1 team as a 14 year old. He registered 30 goals and 43 assists in 65 games with the team. In his midget (U16) season he played in 55 games, potting 20 goals and adding 32 helpers. His Midget team won the national championship last year.

After showcasing his skills with SSM, Austin was being courted by NCAA teams and was considered a top 2018 college class prospect. He was also being looked at to be a top draft pick in the 2014 USHL draft. Leaving these options and selecting the Canadian Hockey League (more exactly the WHL) would mean foregoing his amateur status and the ability to play in the NCAA. He then signed with the Rebels on April 10, 2015.

Austin made a good showing in the preseason, with 4 goals and an assist. He also had a really good training camp with the team. This earned him a spot on the opening day roster as a 16 year old. He has been playing mostly 4th line minutes, which has seen him with line mates such as Jeff de Wit, Reese Johnson, Lane Pederson and Brandon Hagel. Austin has 2 goals and 2 assists in 12 games and is a very responsible +3. He scored his first regular season WHL goal on October 3rd against the Kelowna Rockets. Austin doesn't back down from the tough spots or opponents, he has shown a willingness to mix it up in front of the net as well as dig for loose pucks in the corners. He is also a good skater, as he has showcased when on the ice with some of Red Deer's big guns like Conner Bleackley and Grayson Pawlenchuk.

Austin Pratt - Red Deer Rebels
What does the future hold for Austin? Will he be similar to a Shane McColgan or a Brian Williams, 16 year old american born players who have carved their own path through the WHL? Or will he be another player that doesn't live up to the hype in the WHL? One thing that is for sure, he has already won the hearts of many fans here in Red Deer as he competes every second he is one the ice. I am quite certain he will carve a spot in Rebel lore for years to come and will succeed with every opportunity that Brent Sutter gives him to excel. Give the future superstar a follow on Twitter @AJPratt14

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

WHL Power Rankings #2

Welcome to the second edition of the WHL Power Rankings. Some media and bloggers throughout the league have joined me in creating a ranking of the WHL teams by their conference. Today will be the second edition of the Rankings. Let's get to it! All records are since the last rankings on October 11th, 2015. Thank you to the members who contributed to the write-ups and everyone for their votes.

Eastern Conference Rankings

1T. Prince Albert Raiders - 100pts. (6-0-0-0) - A successful road trip through the US Division is ridiculously hard to accomplish and the Raiders did. Time to consider them as the real deal? We're almost there. (UP 5)
1T. Brandon Wheat Kings - 100pts. (5-1-0-0) - Need to find a way to stay hungry all year when they could just turn it on in February. (EVEN)
3. Red Deer Rebels - 92pts. (5-2-0-0) - They could upgrade their goaltending duo, their defence is touch 'n go, another injury could derail them. (EVEN)
4. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 83pts. (4-0-0-0) - Could be higher, have only beaten 1 team ahead of them in the standings. Still better than expected, this team is for real. (UP 1)
5. Moose Jaw Warriors - 74pts. (3-3-0-0) - Is the recent slide a sign of them coming back to Earth? (DOWN 2)
6. Calgary Hitmen - 62 pts. (2-5-0-0) - Injuries taking their toll, standings are not reflective of how good they are when healthy. (DOWN 5)
7. Saskatoon Blades - 54pts. (3-2-0-0) - Better than they have been in years but still a work in progress. (EVEN)
8. Regina Pats - 43 pts. (3-2-1-0) - After a rough start the Pats are still finding their footing. (UP 2)
9. Swift Current Broncos - 36pts. (2-3-1-0) - Aquiring Jon Martin from Kootenay proving to be a brilliant move. Bow keeping them in games. (UP 2)
10. Medicine Hat Tigers - 30pts. (2-3-0-0) - Addition of Lotz will pay off, injuries hurting them even more than the Hitmen. (DOWN 1)
11. Edmonton Oil Kings - 20pts. (0-4-1-0) - Work hard and are in every game but can't put the puck in the net. 5-game losing streak, last 4 were at home. (DOWN 3)
12. Kootenay Ice - 9pts. (1-4-1-0) - Worst team in the East, no signs of improvement on the horizon. (EVEN)

Western Conference Rankings

1. Kelowna - 67 pts. -(4-1-0-0) The Rockets’ team defense has improved since their roller coaster start and does not seem to be the weakness it looked like to start the year. Jackson Whistle shut out Calgary and is rounding into form. (EVEN)
2. Seattle 66 pts. - (4-1-0-0) The T-birds got Barzal back from the Islanders and they instantly won six games in a row. That streak was ended by Carter Hart and Everett, but it still has placed Seattle in first in the U.S. by a five point margin. (UP 3) 
3. Victoria 55 pts. - (1-4-0-0) The Royals ended a four game skid with a shut out from Outhouse in his first start of the season. One has to think he will start spelling Vollrath a little more often. (DOWN 1) 
4. Portland 45 pts. -(4-2-0-0) The surging Winterhawks have won three in a row and WHL goalie of the week Adin Hill is a big reason why. He had two shut outs over the weekend and now leads the league with three on the season. (UP 4) 
5. Everett 43 pts. - (2-1-0-0) Hart stoned Seattle on Sat. but more scoring from their younger, depth players is likely needed for the Tips to make a run this year. (DOWN 2) 
6. Prince George 37 pts. - (4-2-0-0) Jesse Gabrielle was named WHL player of the week this week after notching seven points this week. Could he be the star P.G. has been looking for ever since Brett Connolly was there? (UP 2)

7. Spokane 25 pts. - (1-3-1-0) Was the 2-1 defensive win last week over Victoria an anomaly? After giving up 12 goals over two games to P.A. and Kamloops, the Chiefs certainly hope not. (EVEN)

8. Tri-City 20 pts. - (1-5-0-0) The Americans are scoring more this year and never seem to be out of a game. But they need to stop falling behind big in the first place. (DOWN 2) 
9. Vancouver 19 pts. -  (1-3-0-0) The Giants got their star center Tyler Benson back, but still lost consecutive 3-1 games on the weekend and are struggling scoring goals and have now lost three in a row. (DOWN 4)
10. Kamloops 7pts. - (3-2-0-0)The cellar dwellers once again on the list, and their GM resigned, so yeah, things are not looking good for the Blazers. Is it time for the fan-base to just concentrate on how many former Blazers they can get on the WHL's Top 50 players of all time list? (EVEN) 


 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Time to Tame the Tigers Game Day #13

Red Deer's arch nemesis, Medicine Hat makes its first trip to the Enmax Centrium.

Medicine Hat Tigers (4-4-1-0) 9pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (8-4-0-0) 16pts.

The Rebels are coming off a huge 7-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday night. Wyatt Johnson scored the first Red Deer hat-trick since Brooks Maxwell got 4 vs Saskatoon on March 3rd, 2015. This was the 3rd win in a row for the Rebels.

Red Deer is now 5-0-0-0 on home ice this season. Twice since the Rebels inception they have won 29 games at home first in 2000-01 season and then again in the 2002-03 season. The team went on to win the Memorial Cup in 2000-01, and host this season's penultimate tournament.

Medicine Hat comes into tonight's game winners of their last 2 games, both coming in the cozy confines of their new arena, CanAlta Centre. The Tigers are 1-2-1-0 on the road this season. Tonight's game will be the 1st of 6 games between the two hockey clubs. The next game will be contested in Medicine Hat on November 1st.

Evan Polei - Getty Images
Evan Polei enters the night with 4 goals and an assist on the season. He also has two fights, one with Rodney Southam of the Kelowna Rockets and the other with Taylor Crunk of the Vancouver Giants. The Rebels lean on Polei to carry the load when it comes to muscle and willingness to mix it up with the opposition. He has grown in his 3rd season with the team, posting 27 goals to go with 17 assists over his 125 games as a Rebel. He attended Detroit Red Wings Training Camp earlier this year. Polei has also become a fan favorite, especially in this household.

The Rebels added 18 year old Winnipeg, MB native, Braden Purtill from the Tri-City Americans. The team gave up a 3rd round pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft. Purtill has participated in 111 games with the Americans and has scored 11 goals to go with 10 assists. Braden can play both Wing and Defense and looks to be an integral part of the Memorial Cup season.

The team will be without the services of Haydn Fleury for 2 games following his hit to the head of Saskatoon Blade, Nick Zajac. Conner Gay was also suspended for 2 games for his cross check to the face of Fleury after the hit.

Cole Sanford - YahooSports
Medicine Hat will be without the services of Trevor Cox, Zach Fischer and Cole Sanford. All suffering from various ailments. Cox and Sanford make up 204 points from last season's team that beat the Rebels in 5 in the first round of the playoffs.

Austin Lotz was picked up by the Tigers to shore up their inconsistent goaltending. He is 20 years old and in his 4th season. He is 2-0-0-0 since the move and sports a 1.50 GAA and .948 sv%. Also the Tigers no longer have an import on their roster as they released Tomasz Laday on waivers this week and Alexei Polotonov decided to return home, this also leaves the Tigers with just 6 defensemen on the roster. Thanks to Gregg Drinnan and Taking Note.

Tonight's game at the Centrium is expected to be a full house, there is a benefit for the Bott family that lost three daughters in a farming incident recently. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to them as well as any donations from the game's patrons this evening. Please come out and support a local family that has had to deal with a very devastating tragedy. Doors open at 6PM, puck drops at 7. Come early parking will be at a premium!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Return to the Centrium: Game Day #12

After a quick 4 games in 5 nights road trip through the BC Division, the Rebels return home.

Saskatoon Blades (4-2-3-0) 11 pts. AT Red Deer Rebels (7-4-0-0) 14 pts.

Red Deer enters tonight's contest riding a modest 2 game win streak following a wild 6-4 victory in Vancouver on Saturday night. They finished the road trip at 2 wins and 2 losses.

Saskatoon is coming off an overtime win in Edmonton last night. Wyatt Sloboshan had the winner in the 3-on-3 while Nik Amundrud saved 37 of 39. They are 2-0-1-0 on the road this year.

This is the first of 4 contests between the teams, they meet again in 17 days in Saskatoon, the 2nd game of a 5 game East Divison road trip during Agri-Trade at the Centrium.

Last year the Rebels went 3-1-0-0 against the Blades and have the slight edge in the last 10 games at 6-4-0-0. This game will see the return of Connor Gay to the Centrium he was traded to the Blades for a 3rd round 2015 Bantam Draft pick. So far this season Connor has 3 goals and 9 assists in 9 blades games.

Connor Gay - StarPhoenix.com
Ivan Nikolishin and Michael Spacek continue to lead the team in points with 17 a piece. This is good for a tie for 6th place in the WHL. Haydn Fleury has 8 points since his return, good for 11th in WHL defencemen scoring. In the 15th spot is Colton Bobyk with 7 points.

Red Deer's Power play is currently 11th at 22.4%, while Saskatoon's is 15th at 20.0% On the Penalty Kill Red Deer sits 19th at 71.1% and Saskatoon is 7th at 81.4%

Cameron Hebig - StarPhoenix.com
Saskatoon's Cameron Hebig is an offensive threat. He has scored 7 goals to go with 7 assists in 9 games this season. He usually lines up with Connor Gay and Ryan Graham. Defenceman Brycen Martin has chipped in on the back end with a goal and 8 assists in 9 games.

Brock Hamm and Nik Amundrud have mostly split the 9 games of action and have a team save percentage of .887% and a goals per game of 3.78. Amundrud is the "better" of the two sporting a 3.08 GAA and a .906 save percentage in 4 games.


Tonight's game is the first of 4 in a row at home for the Rebels. As always the game will be broadcast on 106.7 fm the Drive, Cam Moon will have the play by play. He will be joined by Mike Moller and Troy Gillard at 6:30 for the pregame show. Puck drop is at 7PM.



Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bottom 5s

While I wait for the games tonight to end, I figured I would do a bottom 5s for the same categories as the last blog post. I have found it to be a lot of fun to put these together. I would also like to thank Gregg Drinnan of thecoachessite.com for putting these numbers in to words and a format that gives everyone an opportunity to think about a few things. So without further ado, here is the bottom 5s list.

Bottom 5 team shooting percentages
1. Kootenay Ice 7.095% - Zak Zborosky 6 goals 12th  (tied) overall
2. Edmonton Oil Kings 7.22% - Lane Bauer 6 goals 12th (tied) overall
3. Prince George Cougars 7.658% - Jesse Gabrielle 4 goals 32nd (tied) overall
4. Portland Winterhawks 7.925% - 3 players with 3 goals each
5. Kamloops Blazers 9.091% - 3 players with 4 goals each (includes newcomer Gage Quinney)

Bottom 5 team save percentages
1. Medicine Hat Tigers .863% - Nick Schneider 6GP .852 sv% 36th overall
2. Spokane Chiefs .866% - Tyson Verhelst  7GP .892% 23rd overall
3. Vancouver Giants .869% - Payton Lee 6GP .886% 26th overall
4. Kamloops Blazers .870% - Conner Ingram 8GP .874% 31st overall
5. Tri-City Americans .870% - Evan Sarthou 8GP .871% 32nd overall

Bottom 5 shots per game
1. Kootenay Ice 26.909 s/g - season high 33 (twice)
2. Spokane Chiefs 27.778 s/g - season high 38
3. Kamloops Blazers 28.111 s/g - season high 44
4. Tri-City Americans 28.556 s/g - season high 36
5. Swift Current Broncos 29.000 s/g - season high 43

Botton 5 shots against per game
1. Swift Current Broncos 40.500 sa/g - season high 55
2. Kootenay Ice 36.636 sa/g - season high 49
3. Kelowna Rockets 36.545 sa/g - season high 44
4. Regina Pats 35.100 sa/g - season high 43 (twice)
5. Vancouver Giants 34.400 sa/g - season high 44

Bottom 5 goals for per game
1. Kootenay Ice - 1.91 G/G
2. Edmonton Oil Kings - 2.40 G/G
3. Prince George Cougars - 2.43 G/G
4. Kamloops Blazers - 2.56 G/G
5. Portland Winterhawks - 2.63 G/G

Bottom 5 goals against per game
1. Vancouver Giants - 4.50 GA/G
2. Kootenay Ice - 4.36 GA/G
3. Spokane Chiefs - 4.33 GA/G
4. Medicine Hat Tigers - 4.11 GA/G
5. Kamloops Blazers - 4.00 GA/G
5. Saskatoon Blades - 4.00 GA/G

Take what you will from these stats, it is early but clearly seeing Kamloops and Kootenay represented here frequently shows in the standings. Take care and have a great night!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Top 5s

I love lists. That's it plain and simple. Lists are my thing, and stats tell a huge story. I'm going to create a Top 5 list once a month to see where teams sit. This will help explain the season so far and why your team is doing great or doing poorly. So without further ado, let's get the show on the road.

Top 5 team shooting percentage
1. Lethbridge Hurricanes 13.732% - Tyler Wong 12 Goals #1 overall
2. Moose Jaw Warriors 13.589% - Brayden Point 9 Goals #3 overall
3. Prince Albert Raiders 12.798% - Reid Gardiner 9 Goals #3 overall
4. Saskatoon Blades 12.698% - Cameron Hebig 6 Goals #11 overall
5. Kelowna Rockets 12.535% - Tyson Baillie 9 Goals #3 overall

Top 5 team save percentage
1. Moose Jaw Warriors .926% - Zach Sawchenko .924 sv% 8th overall
2. Brandon Wheat Kings .923% - Jordan Papirny .923 sv% 10th overall
3. Victoria Royals .923% - Coleman Vollrath . 930 sv% 5th overall
4. Swift Current Broncos .921% - Landon Bow .930 sv% 5th overall
5. Lethbridge Hurricanes .914% - Jayden Sittler .947 sv% 3rd overall

Top 5 shots for per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings 44.56 s/g - season high 55 shots
2. Medicine Hat Tigers 35.56 s/g - season high 47 shots
3. Lethbridge Hurricanes 35.5 s/g - season high 43 shots
4. Red Deer Rebels 33.5 s/g - season high 48 shots
5. Edmonton Oil Kings 33.3 s/g - season high 53 shots

Top 5 shots against per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings 23.33 sa/g - season low 16 shots against
2. Seattle Thunderbirds 25 sa/g - season low 20 shots against
3. Calgary Hitmen 27.22 sa/g - season low 19 shots against
4. Victoria Royals 27.3 sa/g - season low 22 shots against
5. Red Deer Rebels 27.73 sa/g - season low 21 shots against

Top 5 goals for per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 5.11 G/G
2. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 4.88 G/G
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 4.33 G/G
4. Kelowna Rockets - 4.09 G/G
5. Saskatoon Blades - 4.00 G/G

Top 5 goals against per game
1. Brandon Wheat Kings - 1.78 GA/G
2. Victoria Royals - 2.10 GA/G
3. Moose Jaw Warriors - 2.56 GA/G
4. Prince George Cougars - 2.71 GA/G
5. Lethbridge Hurricanes - 2.75 GA/G

These are just the best of the best. The rest can be found on the spreadsheet located to the right on the blog under WHL Statistics.