Monday, November 3, 2014

Do Silvertips belong with big boys? . . . Reinhart to play Russians. Again

F Chris St. Jacques (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) has been released by Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Serie A) by mutual agreement. He had two goals and a team-high 12 assists in 15 games. Last season, with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2), he had 61 points, including 24 goals, in 50 games.

Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province sent out a couple of tweets on Monday afternoon:
“Talked to NHL scout last night who insists that Everett is right there with the Kelownas and the Brandons of #WHL upper echelon.
“Scout said Everett opponents are lucky to get seven or eight shots in a period, but Silvertips also get after it offensively, too.”
Ever since watching the Silvertips beat the host Kamloops Blazers 4-1 on Wednesday night, I have been thinking pretty much the same thing.
The Blazers were without two of their top offensive threats in Cole Ully and Jake Kryski, but still had their moments as they outshot the visitors, 31-29. But, other than a few loose patches in the second period, the Silvertips were in control, especially after scoring two goals six seconds apart to take a 4-1 lead early in the third period.
I was most impressed with Everett’s discipline, especially when it came to playing the man with the puck. It’s obvious that the Everett coaching staff -- head coach Kevin Constantine and assistants Mitch Love and Brennan Sonne -- have put an emphasis on separating the man from the puck, as opposed to trying to put the puck carrier into the fourth row of the seats.
There are some coaches who talk about the defensive game in terms of “angle, man, puck.” In other words, when you are closing on a puck carrier, you get the right angle, you play the man and you separate him from the puck.
However, far more teams focus on “finishing your check,” with the subhead being “as hard as you can.”
The Silvertips are by far the least penalized team in the WHL and it’s no wonder. They aren’t running at people; therefore, they don’t find themselves out of position as much as other teams, or facing as many odd-man rushes as some other teams.
The Everett players also are able, for the most part, to keep their sticks down, using them to play the puck, rather than hacking and whacking. Playing in this fashion also presents the referees with far fewer opportunities to call penalties.
At this level, when it comes to officiating, the bottom line is this -- some teams give the referees far more opportunities to call penalties than others. The Silvertips, it seems, are determined not to give them any opportunities at all.
And that’s just what happened Saturday when the Silvertips beat the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 3-0. For the first time in franchise history -- the Silvertips entered the WHL for the 2003-04 season -- the Silvertips weren’t assessed even one minor penalty.
The Silvertips go into this week having been given 103 penalty minutes in 14 games. The Prince Albert Raiders (184 in 17), Edmonton Oil Kings (190 in 17), Medicine Hat Tigers (208 in 15) and Kelowna Rockets (212 in 16) are next on the list of least-penalized teams.
One thing is for sure . . . if the Silvertips maintain this style of play into the spring, they will be a feared opponent in the playoffs.
Austin Lotz gives them first-class goaltending, while Kevin Davis, the 11th overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft, is growing into a star-calibre defenceman. He and Cole MacDonald are being used as the shut-down pair and both have enough offensive flair to get the transition game going after a turnover.
And don’t forget the presence of Russian F Nikita Scherbak, who had 78 points, including 35 goals, with a poor Saskatoon Blades team last season. He has 17 points, seven of them goals, in 11 games this season and gives Everett an exciting game-breaker who is able to bring fans out of their seats and score from anywhere in the offensive zone.
The Silvertips go into this week at 10-1-3, six points behind the Rockets (14-1-1), who have played two more games. The Wheat Kings (14-3-1) are back home after going 6-1-0 on a road swing that took them through the B.C. Division.
Everett is at home to the Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday, while the Rockets entertain the Victoria Royals. Brandon next plays Friday when Saskatoon comes calling.
The Swift Current Broncos have released F Luca Leone, 18. He was pointless in seven games this season. . . . Over the previous two seasons, the Vancouver native had four goals and seven assists in 70 games with the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Broncos had acquired Leone and a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft from the Giants in May for D Bobby Zinkan. . . . The Giants released Zinkan earlier this season.
The Kootenay Ice could have F Tim Bozon and F Sam Reinhart back in its lineup when it plays the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night. Bozon, 20, has been out with an undisclosed injury, while Reinhart, 19, has yet to play since being returned by the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Reinhart, who played in nine games with Buffalo, was the second overall selection in the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . Reinhart also has been added to the WHL team that will play a touring Russian side in the annual Subway Super Series. He will be the WHL team’s captain as he takes part in the series for a third straight season. . . . The games will be played in Saskatoon on Nov. 10 and Brandon on Nov. 11. . . . While Bozon and Reinhart should return to the Ice on Friday, D Tanner Faith is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury.
The Montreal Canadiens have all but taken the fighting aspect out of their game. Sean Gordon of The Globe and Mail looks into why that has happened. That story is right here.
Mike Toth, who once played goal for the AJHL’s Drumheller Falcons, is a sportscaster whom I quite enjoyed when he had a national audience. I really felt that he knew his audience and what it wanted -- news and highlights with some shtick, but not standup, and some editorializing. These days, he’s got his fingers in a few things, including a blog. In an entry that was posted on Friday, he takes a look at Rogers’ ad campaign that features Mark Messier. That essay is right here. . . . Here’s hoping Toth’s next target is Toyota and the drum-banging mom.

Regina Pats F Dryden Hunt has been suspended for two games for a high hit on Saskatoon Blades D Adam Henry on Friday night. Hunt sat out a Saturday game and won’t play Friday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . .
In other disciplinary measures, Calgary F Chase Lang drew three games under supplemental discipline for something that happened during a game in Moose Jaw on Saturday; Portland Winterhawks D Anton Cederholm was given a one-game suspension for a headshot major and game misconduct in a game against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday; and Prince George Cougars F Chase Witala got a two-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a Sunday game against the visiting Kamloops Blazers. . . .
Congrats to Chris Mast, who loves to photograph hockey as much, or more, than anyone. The CHL is into a promotional deal with Post Cereal that includes having player photos on cereal boxes and trading cards inside. Some of the photos used were taken by Mast, who can be found at Everett Silvertips games. . . . He says that he took the photos of Portland Winterhawks F Nic Petan and Calgary Hitmen F Jake Virtanen that you will find on boxes, and the shots of Petan and Brandon Wheat Kings F Jayce Hawryluk that were used for the cards. . . . If you want a taste of Mast’s work, visit mast


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