Back…and then gone again…

Back from the long weekend (although I didn’t travel anywhere) and getting ready to head out for a business trip to Vancouver, BC, for the next few days…

The weekend was pretty jam packed with a trip to the zoo on Saturday, driving range on Sunday AM followed by the Memorial Cup Final, golf early Monday with some good friends followed by the traditional Memorial Day BBQ…

The zoo was fun…a bit crowded…but it had been awhile since we had been there and my daughter enjoyed seeing the baby elephant.

My golf round on Monday was relatively unspectactular but I did post a season low 81.  I had a putt for 79 on the 18th green, but three-jacked it and wound up with 81.  C’est la vie…

The Memorial Cup…well, it was a bit anti-climactic after the opening seven minutes that saw the Windsor Spitfires score three times on three shots, chasing former Hawk Mark Guggenberger, and despite the stellar efforts of 17 year old Adam Brown in relief, the Rockets could never recover and that was that.

The Rockets had a chance to knock Windsor out on Tuesday and couldn’t…and the Spitfires didn’t look back, winning their final four games to be the first team to come through the tie-breaker and semi-final to win the MC.  Good on them…although I was sick of watching Ryan Ellis and his four minute shifts.  Great player…but he got on my nerves a bit…and he seemed to do the same to Kelowna who were always looking to give him an extra shot.

Michael Backlund did the biggest disappearing act in the Cup for Kelowna, IMO…and the Rockets relied pretty much on Jamie Benn, Colin Long and Cody Almond almost exclusively and it was almost enough.  It will be interesting to see who the Rockets have back next season, but it is safe to say that they will lose a lot.

From the deja vu department, the Regina Pats have hired Curtis Hunt as their Head Coach, after a one year stint in the pros in the Ottawa Senators organization.  Hunt replaces Derkatch, who replaced Hunt.   I wonder if they still have the nameplate for his office?

The Penguins have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and it appears that they will get a rematch with the Detroit Red Wings, who need one more win to knock off the young Chicago Blackhawks.

The question of whether or not Marian Hossa made the right decision to move to Detroit and not to stay with Pittsburgh will be answered in that series.  Personally, I’d love to see Hossa raise the Cup while standing (and not being pushed around in a chair, ala Spokane in ’98), but it is awful hard for me to root for the Red Wings.

That’s it for now…probably won’t update from Vancouver…but you never know, there may be some things to talk about in the next few days…

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Ready for a sunny, long weekend…

I’m taking the weekend off to enjoy the sunshine and get ready for the summer crunch…

I will watch the Memorial Cup Final on Sunday with the Kelowna Rockets looking to become the third straight WHL team to bring home the Cup, against either Windsor or Drummondville.  Will four days off between the last game in the round robin and the Cup Final hurt or help the Rockets?  Can Windsor make it back from the dead and get a rematch with Kelowna?   Will there be a goaltender that plays decently?  All good questions…

If you haven’t already, go to www.winterhawks.com and you can see the schedule for the 2009 Winterhawks training camp to be held in late August at the Memorial Coliseum.  There is a link from the main page with the info.

Stay tuned for more information the Winterhawks Alumni Golf Tournament coming up in early August.  I will be out of town on a family vacation that week, so I won’t be able to participate, but I’m sure it will be a great time with Dean Vrooman and Mike Williamson chairing the event.

It will be on August 10, a Monday…mark it on your calendars now golfers!

Speaking of golf…I’m looking forward to a round of golf on Monday AM at Heron Lakes with three high school friends…looks like it will be awesome weather…FORE!

Have a good weekend, folks…

Pouliot Signs With Winterhawks…

From www.winterhawks.com

The Portland Winterhawks have announced the signing of defenseman Derrick Pouliot (pronounced Poo-lee-ott), the top overall draft choice in last month’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

Pouliot, a native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, will take part in the team’s prospect camp in Calgary in June, and will join the Winterhawks for training camp in August. He could also play in the preseason tournament in Everett before reporting to his midget team. Pouliot is eligible to play five games for the Winterhawks in 2009-10 while his midget team is in season, then can join the team for the remainder of the season following his midget campaign. He is then eligible to join Portland full-time for the 2010-11 season.

“I’m very excited to have signed my first WHL contract, especially with the Portland Winterhawks because they have a great coaching staff that I’m really looking forward to working with,” said Pouliot. “I’ve been dreaming about this for a while and I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to the team.”

“We’re thrilled to have Derrick under contract. He has the potential to be an anchor for our defense and will be a big part of our future,” said Winterhawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston. “He will gain valuable experience this summer at both our prospects camp and training camp that will give him an idea of what lies ahead of him in the WHL.”

Pouliot played for Weyburn in the South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League last season. In 26 regular season games Pouliot registered 25 goals and a team-high 38 assists for 63 total points, second on his team and sixth in the league. In five playoff games, Pouliot added a team-high five goals and an assist for a team-high six points.  At the Weyburn Minor Hockey awards night in April, Pouliot was selected as his team’s MVP.

Pouliot’s accomplishments and honors in the 2008-09 season include:

– Selected as the tournament MVP and a member of the tournament’s “All-Star Line” at the Graham Tuer Bantam AA Challenge in Regina, Saskatchewan.

– Selected as the Top Defenseman and a member of the tournament’s “All-Star Line” at the Hockey Hounds Major Bantam Tournament in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

– Called up by the Moose Jaw Warriors AAA midget team to play in the prestigious Mac’s Midget Hockey Tournament in Calgary, Alberta, and recorded three goals and two assists for five points in four games.

– Selected to the tournament’s “All-Star Line” at the GSHL Bantam AA Invitational in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

– Selected as the “Top Defenseman” and a member of the tournament’s “All-Star Line” at the Western Canadian Bantam Championships in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

I’m hoping to make it to Calgary for part of the prospect camp…nice to know that Derrick is signed and eager to be a Winterhawk…welcome to the newest official Hawk!

Rockets in Good Position…

The Kelowna Rockets are in a good position, despite having played just one game at the 2009 Memorial Cup in Rimouski, Quebec.  They are 1-0 after knocking off the host Oceanic on Friday night.

Now, after having two nights off, they will take on the Drummondville Voltijeurs, the QMJHL Champs tonight.

Sidebar — does anyone else want to go back to the scheduling of earlier Memorial Cups?  I remember in 1983 having double-header games on the weekend.  It was great to watch the first game in the afternoon and then after heading out for an early dinner, coming back into the arena for the evening game.  Now it is spread out over 10 days with teams having as many as two days off…end Sidebar…

I watched the Rockets on Friday night and they certainly looked the better team, pretty much dominating the Oceanic in every zone and guys like Tyler Myers and Jamie Benn took control and didn’t let up.  The other two games, I watched half of the Drummondville/Windsor game and the third period of yesterday’s match up between Windsor/Rimouski.

I’m not sure if it is the pressure of the tournament, of if that is just the style they play, but Windsor and Rimouski both seem to play very unorganized hockey.  Lots of running around with guys taking long shifts and trying to do a lot of one-on-one heroics.  It worked a bit for both teams in an entertaining game yesterday, but if the Rockets play their style of grind it out, dominate the puck possession hockey, I don’t see anyone who can beat them.

Speaking of long shifts…did anyone else notice Ryan Ellis of Windsor yesterday routinely taking two minute plus shifts, especially when trailing in the third period?  Sheesh…he’s good, but he’s not that good when he’s dog-dead tired.

In the NHL…it’s Red Wings/Blackhawks and Penguins/Hurricanes battling for the right to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup…my heart says ‘Hawks/’Canes…but I think we may be in for a repeat of the 2008 Cup Final.

For and ex-Hawk to get his name on the Cup, it will have to be from the Western Conference as Marian Hossa (Detroit) and Matt Walker (Chicago), teammates on the ’98 Memorial Cup team, are the only two left in the race for the championship.

The Vancouver Giants are looking for a new Director of Media Relations and Broadcast, a position held last year by Dave Sheldon, who evidently didn’t have his contract renewed.  (No, I’m not applying!)

Sheldon had made his way around the Western Conference, being the color guy for Everett, both color and play-by-play for the Chilliwack Bruins and then the pbp guy for the Giants.  Always prepared and always ready to ask the tough questions, Sheldon was always fun to chat with prior to games and I wish him nothing but the best.

That’s it for a gloriously sunny Monday…

2011 Draft Preview…

I was perusing The Hockey News 2009 Draft Preview edition and on the last page, they have a sneak peek at the 2011 NHL Draft, listing their Top 5 for a draft that will happen two years from now.

At #5 was Portland’s Ty Rattie…

A lot can happen between now and June 2011, but it was nice to see Rattie get the recognition.  Granted…on Page 20 of the same publication, there is a full page article stating that the 2011 Draft appears to be the weakest since 1999.  Portland could be well represented in that draft with Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon being eligible as well as Daniel Johnston and Joe Morrow, who are both late birthdates and 2011 will be their first year of eligibility.

The 2009 NHL Draft takes place on June 26-27 in Montreal.

Catching Up…

First off, congrats to the Kelowna Rockets for rebounding in Game 6 on home ice and defeating the Calgary Hitmen and advancing to the Memorial Cup in Rimouski.

The Rockets peaked at the right time and surprised pretty much every one with their run over the Hitmen.

Kelowna will look to bring home the Cup for the third straight time for the WHL after Spokane won it last year and Vancouver captured it in 2007.

86298776CC062_Vancouver_CanIf you didn’t enjoy the Vancouver/Chicago series (especially Game 6 last night), I don’t how you can call yourself a hockey fan.  I know that Vancouver fans are a bit down after falling to the Blackhawks, but man, did those two teams put on a show.

Great skating, incredible offense, some mean streaks, big saves and big hits…it doesn’t get much better than that.

I am rooting for Chicago, mainly because of their many WHL ties, but also it is hard to root against any team in that jersey.

If Detroit can knock off Anaheim tonight, the Red Wings will host Chicago in the Western Conference Final and putting Marian Hossa one step closer to a Stanley Cup.

If the Wings/Hawks meet, I will be rooting for Chicago, but hoping that Hossa has a dominant series.

In the East…I’m sick of hearing Crosby vs. Ovechkin and I was hoping Pittsburgh would end it last night so that would die.  But, Game 7’s are always entertaining…and the series has been hard fought and I don’t expect tomorrow night to be any different.

Carolina is much like Kelowna, IMO…a bit under the radar and underdogs in just about every series…but, they keep advancing.  I like them to knock off Boston tonight and think they could do damage against either Pittsburgh or Washington.

Back to the Winterhawks…it is interesting to read and hear the reactions on the changing of the spelling of the ‘Hawks name.   Some fans thought it was clever….while others thought it was shameful.

In the end…it did get some people talking…and since when is that a bad thing?

Space: The Final Frontier…

No, I’m not talking about the new Star Trek movie…

The Winterhawks (one word) announced today that the space between the Winter and Hawks has “retired” and it will just be Winterhawks moving forward.

The Hawks office staff started this off by posting comments on their Twitter site and cryptic messages on Facebook late yesterday afternoon.

Lame, yeah…but effective?  Well, from judging by the number of email’s I received regarding it…using the social network sites to bring attention to your product isn’t a bad idea.

To quote Rush* (as I tend to do) – “Some world views are spacious…and some are merely spaced.”

* – The band, not the radio talk show host…well…duh…

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