Calgary Herald article (Hitmen aim to improve game as series shift to Tri-City)May 3 2010 at 12:39 PM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Hitmen aim to improve game as series shift to Tri-City
By John Down, Calgary Herald
May 3, 2010
Fists fly in last 16 seconds of game as Calgary Hitmen pull off a 7-0 win over Tri-City Americans during the WHL final at Pengrowth Saddledome on Friday. Tri-City's Brock Sutherland, left, dukes it out with Calgary's Cody Beach.Photograph by: Ted Jacob, Calgary Herald
CALGARY - The Calgary Hitmen continue to strive for the complete game. Up to 2-0 in their Western Hockey League championship series, they have outscored the Tri-City Americans 11-1, chased the starting goaltender in both games, killed all 12 short-handed situations and scored the only two power-play goals.
But they aren't entirely satisfied as they roll into Game 3 Tuesday night at the Kennewick Toyota Centre.
"For us to be successful going into that building, with the confi dence they play with, the fans and enthusiasm, we're going to have to be extremely alert and focused and not have any stretches where we turn pucks over and stuff ," said coach Mike Williamson. "I thought we did that at times . . . we're happy with where we're at, we found a way to get it done, but we know we have to be better."
Williamson likens these next two games in the U.S. to the recent series against Medicine Hat, a building notoriously intimidating to all who come to challenge the Tigers.
"Tri-City is a similar team that feeds off their home crowd," he said, "so we're going to be have to be that much stronger. Nobody's won anything and we just have to stay sharp and focused.
"We're a team that has to have an edge, play with an edge. As soon as we get loose and lose that edge and focus, we're not a very good hockey team, so we'll talk about it. There's things we have to improve, there's always adjustments to make, adjustments to counter so we have to take a businesslike approach and we will."
One adjustment will be to the power play. It scored on its first two chances in Game 1, but has been held safe in the next six, including a couple of two-man advantages and seven-minute chance during Game 2. Williamson said the league's No. 1 unit was "trying to be a little too cute, moving the puck instead of letting it do the work for us."
Tri-City is one of the swiftest teams in the league, also one of the smallest, but the Americans stepped up their physical play early in Game 2 and had the Hitmen back-pedalling during the first three minutes when they rung up a 3-1 edge in shots. Just as suddenly, the Hitmen swung the momentum when Ian Schultz took a breakaway pass and drew a penalty when he was hauled down from behind.
"I think we kind of matched their physical push at the start, got off our game a little bit," said Schultz, who shares the captaincy with defenceman Michael Stone. "For the most part, we're happy with the win, but we're not satisfied with where our game's at. . . . We feel we can be better, not only in the offensive zone and on power plays, but defensively as well.
"We have to bear down in the neutral zone especially because Tri-City is a very good transition team."
A quick-strike offence is a big part of its game plan.
"We usually start quick and score the first goal, but obviously that hasn't been the case here," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "A bit of a breakdown, a key goal by them on a turnover, but up until then I thought we were playing pretty well. We haven't played that badly. We just have to generate more, get a little more puck luck, get some good bounces and we can turn this around."
This And That: Calgary F Del Cowan was helped off the ice with a banged up knee late in the third period after he slipped and fell into the corner boards while turning back up ice. No word on whether he'll play in the next game.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
|N. W. Bruin|
Calgary Herald article (Back on the Bus: Life in the WHL means rolling along highways)No score for this post
|May 3 2010, 12:41 PM |
Back on the Bus: Life in the WHL means rolling along highways and byways
By George Johnson, Calgary Herald
May 3, 2010 10:13 AM
Hitmen hockey player Zak Stebner loads his bag on the bus for the 10-hour trip south to face the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday.Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald
Life in the Western Hockey League means long days and nights
rolling along North America’s highways and byways
“The wheels on the bus go round and round,
Round and round, round and round,
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
All through the town.”
— Popular children’s song
And other towns, too. Through Piapot. Into Portland. And Kamloops. Into the teeth of wicked winter whiteouts, on black ice. And over the bodies of bone-stupid prairie dogs.
In darkness and daylight. On ice-slickened highways. Past the flatlands of Saskatchewan and into the scenic mountain passes of British Columbia.
If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium? Not in the Western Hockey League. If it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, you might be passing the Dairy Queen in Moosomin rumbling along the Trans-Canada.
“The bus travel,’’ argues Calgary Hitmen coach Mike Williamson, “is not as bad as people think.’’
Maybe. But Michael Stone won’t use public transit, regardless.
“When I was 16 here, there were three of us, and no car. So I had to take the C-Train to school,’’ recalls the Hitmen captain.
“But buses?’’ Nothing personal, understand, but Stone shakes his head, sorry.
“No, thanks. I spend enough time on buses.’’
The call is for a 9:15 board on this Sunday morn, or roughly 10 hours after dismissing the Tri-City Americans to grab a 2-0 hold on their Western Hockey League championship series. The bus leaves 15 minutes later. The trek to Kennewick, Wash., will last another 10 hours or so, the Hitmen rolling into town for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday-Wednesday around 6:30.
Ripped yellow foam piled atop a set of grey lockers outside the Hitmen dressing room down at the Pengrowth Saddledome is used as floor bedding, for those who went to stretch out and catch 40 winks in the aisles. A new card game, Kaiser, introduced by sniper Joel Broda, is all the rage at the moment.
There’s a pecking order for seating. And unlike airlines, with business class, the most coveted are found at the back. Based on seniority. No choice of chicken or steak, though.
“I’ve been here for four years and worked my way back,’’ says Stone. “I’ve got three seats to myself now. Man, is it . . . nice. When I was 16, we’d have to double up every so often depending on how many guys we had on. Then, at 17 I moved back to a seat in front of the TV. That was sweet. Last year, made it three-quarters of the way to the back.
“This year, I graduated to ALL the way back.’’
“Kids today have so many options to kill the time,’’ says Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio. “DVDs. Their own DVD players if they don’t like the movie selection. IPods. Games. And, yeah, they still play crib and cards. Which is nice to see for those of us of an . . . uh, older generation.
“Back in the day, you had nothing to do but read, play cards or stare out the window. For 15 hours sometimes. Arm rests between the seats that didn’t move, so you couldn’t lie down, you had to sleep sitting up.”
Now a lot of buses have fold-out beds. All kinds of stuff in the armrests.’’
Any movie that got a quick Siskel-and-Ebert Thumbs Down?
“Oh yeah. A couple of years ago, someone slipped in one of those Jackass movies while I wasn’t looking. I mean, there’s a limit.
“After about five minutes, I went up and shut the thing off.
“Jackass is right.’’
The Brandon Wheat Kings reportedly face a more punishing schedule that any team in the WHL.
“I haven’t any idea how many miles we travel in a year,’’ confesses coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon. “I thought it might be Prince George, but apparently we get the honour. Hey, it’s part of junior hockey. Three games in the three nights. Some late nights. People make a lot out of it, like to tell you all kinds of sad stories, but . . .
“We’ve had some challenging trips, like any other team. Last year we played Kootenay in the playoffs, for instance. We left Brandon at 10 o’clock at night and ran into some weather issues between Moose Jaw and Swift Current. Got stuck behind a semi that couldn’t make it up a hill. So we sat behind him for seven or eight hours before we could continue. That makes a long trip even longer.
“We rent our bus from a Winnipeg company. It has fold-out beds. Seats to beds in 60 seconds. Can’t beat that.’’
In his rookie year, Stone remembers having to get on and off the bus, attaching and detaching chains to get the bus through a blizzard in Washington.
Most of the players learn quickly enough how to at least temper the monotony of the long trips.
“We had a player on our team in Portland, Doug Strobel, who could absolutely not sleep on a bus,’’ recalls Williamson. “No matter what. The two years we had him I bet he didn’t sleep a wink. At night, in the middle of nowhere, you’d be trying to get comfortable at the window. The bus was quiet, three or four in the morning. You’d be fidgeting, glance back and Doug would be sitting up, straight as board, and without fail — didn’t matter, day or night, where you were — he’d just give you a little wave.’’
If anyone can relate to junior hockey bus travel, it’s Medicine Hat CHAT Radio legend Bob Ridley. The 65-year-old institution has been driving the Tigers’ bus for 39 years, almost since he began calling the games on radio.
“The equipment,’’ says Ridley, “is so much better now. No comparison. They give the buses the once-over twice a year and they’re always in real good shape, ready to go. There are very strict rules and regulations about upkeep and safety. Makes a driver’s job a lot easier.
“The first bus I drove had Armstrong steering. Not power. You were crawling up hills, and in real strong winds, especially side winds, you’d get off the bus and your arms would be numb from trying to hold ’er straight.’’
The list of alumni during his time at the wheel is familiar: Lanny McDonald, Trevor Linden, Bryan McCabe, Chris Osgood, ESPN mullet-man Barry Melrose. Any of them stand out in Ridley’s mind?
“If you’re the regular driver, you get to know the kids really well. Almost became a kind of second dad.
“I don’t like to pinpoint just one player but . . . I’d say Kelly Hrudey. He always used to ride up front of the bus. Said he couldn’t sleep. I’d want to talk about hockey and you know what? He’d want to talk about media. About broadcasting. Funny, huh, that he’d end up on Hockey Night in Canada? But I guess I’m not really surprised.
“Even as a kid, he showed an interest in the business.’’
Right now, the business at hand for the Hitmen is polishing off the Americans in five games, max. Not only to reach the Memorial Cup, but so they can save themselves another 10-hour junket to Washington.
“Riding the bus gets old pretty quick,’’ sighs Stone. “But, actually, it isn’t that bad. You get used it.
“You’re a junior hockey player. Goes with the territory.
“They tell you when to show up. You get on. You go.’’
And so the wheels of the bus go round and round, Round and round, round and round . . .
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
|N. W. Bruin|
Edmonton Journal article (Spitfires goalie on fire as Windsor closes in on Memorial Cup)No score for this post
|May 3 2010, 12:45 PM |
Spitfires goalie on fire as Windsor closes in on Memorial Cup
By Jim Parker, Windsor Star; Canwest News Service
May 3, 2010
Windsor Spitfires' Adam Henrique celebrates one of his three goals against Barrie Colts goalie Peter Di Salvo in Windsor on Sunday.
Photograph by: Nick Brancaccio, Canwest News Service, Windsor Star; Canwest News Service
It's been a rocket rise from the bench to a starring role for Windsor Spitfires goalie Philipp Grubauer.
Benched two weeks ago, the 18-year-old Grubauer has bounced back with seven straight wins and now has the Spitfires on the verge of a second straight Ontario Hockey League title and a return visit to the Memorial Cup.
"Philipp saved our bacon so many times throughout the game," Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner said after his goaltender's 42-save effort Sunday in a 5-2 win over the Barrie Colts before a sold-out crowd of 6,556 towel-waving fans at the WFCU Centre.
Windsor now leads the best-of-seven series for the J. Ross Robertson Cup 3-0 and can clinch their second straight league title at home on Tuesday.
"It was a great performance by their goaltender," Colts head coach Marty Williamson said.
Top prospect Taylor Hall assisted on three goals for the Spitfires.
After dropping the first two games in the Western Conference final to Kitchener, Boughner put Grubauer on the bench, but had him back in the starting role for Game 4.
"I got a break," Grubauer said. "It was good for me to refocus. Every game I get at this time is more confidence."
Williamson turned to former No. 1 netminder Peter Di Salvo on Sunday.
Di Salvo hurt his knee in the second round of the playoffs and hadn't been in net for the Colts since April 4.
He and Grubauer were solid in a scoreless first period, but the Spitfires broke the game open with three goals in the first 13 minutes of the second period.
Adam Henrique had three goals, completing his hat trick, and the scoring, with less than five minutes to play.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
|N. W. Bruin|
Leader-Post article (Windsor firing on all cylinders)No score for this post
|May 4 2010, 6:51 AM |
Windsor firing on all cylinders
Canwest News Service; Windsor Star
May 3, 2010
The Windsor Spitfires are one win away from a second straight Ontario Hockey League title.
The Spitfires scored a 5-2 win over the Barrie Colts before a sold-out crowd of 6,556 towel-waving fans at the WFCU Centre Sunday.
The Spitfires hold a 3-0 advantage in the best-of-seven final for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, which would send the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup for the second consecutive season.
After a scoreless first period, the Spitfires took control of the game with three goals in the first 13 minutes of the second frame.
Justin Shugg scored on a two-man advantage and Adam Henrique added the next two to stake Windsor to a 3-0 lead.
The Colts countered with two goals in just over two minutes as Zac Rinaldo, playing his first game after a 12-game suspension, and Stefan Della Rovere pulled the Colts to within 3-2.
Scott Timmins gave Windsor a two-goal lead before the period was out and Windsor goalie Philipp Grubauer didn't allow the Colts to get any closer.
Grubauer finished with 42 saves and was named the game's first star while Henrique completed his hat trick with the only goal in the third period.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post
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