Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Game #3 Primer

Cody Eakin and Scott Glennie find themselves on the opposite sides of the ice in the first round playoff series between the Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings.

The duo spent several seasons playing minor hockey together in Winnipeg including Bantam hockey with the Winnipeg Monarchs and one year of Midget AAA together with the Winnipeg Wild.

Eakin and Glennie still find themselves as teammates quite often during the summer but for the next 10 days, at least, they’ll be all business.

“There’s no friends out there, especially come playoff time,” says Glennie, “We’re friends off the ice but on the ice, it’s a completely different scenrio and a completely different game.”

The duo haven’t seen a lot of ice-time head-to-head so far in the series, with Brandon often playing the Raedeke-Wiebe-Stone line against Eakin’s line in the first two games.

That may change with the Broncos having last change in Game #3 tonight.

“We’ve both been here for three years and playing against each other 6-8 times per season,” says Eakin, “I know in the first game, I hit him once or twice and I didn’t really notice who it was until after. You don’t really have a lot of friends on the ice except your own teammates. After the playoff series, you can talk all you want but our tempers were heated the last couple of games.”

The Eakin/Glennie duo aren’t the only former teammates find themselves on opposite sides during this series.

Swift Current goaltender Mark Friesen and Brandon defenceman Darren Bestland are former teammates with the AAA Midget Pembina Valley Hawks.

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Swift Current GM/Coach Mark Lamb knows Game #3 is a must-win situation for his club.

“In playoffs, you treat every game as a must-win and you go one game at a time,” sayd Lamb, “We failed in the first two, so this is a must-win…we have to have this game.”

Regarding the expected atmosphere for Game #3 tonight in Regina, Lamb added that the only way to make the Brandt Centre a comfortable ‘home away from home’ is to prepare, battle and get a win, which would allow them to feel good about being in the building and use that for the next game.

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A lot of discussion about the late game brawl in Saskatoon Sunday night between the Blades and the Red Deer Rebels.

From the outside looking in, one can find a little humour in the situation but the bottom line is that an incident like that is the exact opposite of what the WHL would want to be happening right now.

As Paul Kelly (Executive Director of College Hockey Inc.) continues to try and explain to prospects the virtues of selecting U.S. College hockey over major junior, it’s that type of incident that could swing players to go the NCAA route instead of the WHL.

Why do we want to make Kelly’s job any easier?
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Expect a sea of blue during Games #3 and #4 tonight and tomorrow at the Brandt Centre.

It’s the first WHL playoff hockey in Regina since March 28, 2008 but it doesn’t appear like hockey fans in the Queen City care that much.

Crowds are likely going to be 1,500 or less both nights.

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