Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Busy Times, & Luber's Team WHL

I’m back after a few days away from Wheat Kings’ news.

I’d like to say I’ve been resting after Brandon’s 13-day road trip, but that would be far from the truth.

There’s been a lot of time spent on other things over the past couple of days, not the least of which was covering the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s suspensions and fines to the Neepawa Natives (a team located about 75 kilometres Northeast of Brandon, for those of you that don’t know).

If you don't know about the incident, the story I did for CKLQ is available by clicking here.

I’ve heard a lot of information about the rookie initiation or hazing incident that occurred in late September, both on and off the record, and I am still trying to come to terms on whether or not the MJHL’s penalties that were imposed were harsh enough.

Certainly, my biggest concern in the whole matter is the victims (and make no mistake, they are victims).

My hope is they getting the proper support, counseling and whatever else they need to overcome this incident and move forward with not only their hockey careers, but their lives as well.

Just by pure coincidence, Sheldon Kennedy was in Brandon today to make a presentation of his Respect in School program, and offshoot of the Respect in Sport program he launched five years ago.

I talked with Sheldon about the Neepawa incident (off-mic) and it was obviously troubling to him that this kind of thing can still be taking place.

I think one of the best points he made to me, and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this, is that this incident indicates a failure in the leadership of the organization, whether those at the top of the Natives’ organization knew about the incident before the fact or not.

Sheldon’s opinion is that the boundaries on what is acceptable behavior in the organization and what isn’t had already been set before this incident ever happened.

Now, onto some cheerier things.

The WHL will unveil the roster for the Subway Super Series that will take place in Regina and Moose Jaw on November 16th and 17th respectively on Thursday morning.

It also gives me my annual opportunity to talk about why I dislike the structure of the series, although my argument about the Russians never sending a good team can be thrown out the window after they won last year’s series with the CHL.

One of the points I always make is that even though they will be called Team WHL, a more accurate description would be Team WHL Canada, since only players eligible to play with Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship are eligible to play for Team WHL.

That eliminates roughly 150 players (or about 30 per cent) of WHL players from consideration to play in the Series, because 20-year olds, imports and Americans are ineligible.

So, in advance to tomorrow morning’s announcement, here are my picks for what would truly be a Team WHL. Names in bold are players who are NOT eligible to play under the real system.

Goaltenders (3)
Tyler Bunz – Medicine Hat
Nathan Lieuwen – Kootenay
Patrik Bartosak – Red Deer

Calvin Pickard (Seattle) is off to a slow start – sorry, you don’t make my team on past reputation. Bunz had a couple of bad starts at the beginning of the season but is 7-2, 2.32 GAA and .930 SPCT in October. Lieuwen and Bartosak have the #’s to back up their selection.

Defencemen (10)
i - Ryan Murray – Everett
Matt Dumba – Red Deer
Morgan Rielly – Moose Jaw
Derek Pouliot – Portland
Griffin Reinhart – Edmonton
Ryan Pulock – Brandon
Joe Morrow – Portland
Martin Gernat – Edmonton
Brandon Davidson – Regina

Brendon Kichton - Spokane

Have to take the big five for the draft, Gernat and Pulock are 1-2 in defence scoring, Morrow is better than a point per game and Davidson has been the Pats’ rock so far this season. I would have picked only nine, but I have to replace Murray, who won’t be able to play because of an ankle injury. I put Kichton in his spot – 81 points last season is good enough for me. Sorry Bronco fans but Reece Scarlett and Richard Nedomel are -7 and -8 respectively.

Forwards (16)
Mark Stone – Brandon
Emerson Etem – Medicine Hat
Brendan Gallagher – Vancouver
Kevin Sundher – Victoria
Adam Hughesman – Tri-City
Taylor Vause – Swift Current
Sven Bartschi – Portland

Anthony Bardaro – Spokane
Darren Kramer – Spokane
Michael Ferland – Brandon
Max Reinhart – Kootenay
Jordan Weal – Regina
Hunter Shinkaruk – Medicine Hat
Quinton Howden – Moose Jaw
Ty Rattie – Portland
Adam Lowry – Swift Current

Some might think you just go down the points leaders and pick, but I wanted to have a little physicality as well for the Russians to deal with so Kramer, Ferland and Lowry are all in. BTW, they’re putting up pretty good offensive #’s as well. The rest are all pretty obvious choices with the exception of Bardaro, but he impressed me a lot in the game against Brandon and I’ve got room for someone who’s got seven power-play goals. Although Howden hasn’t played yet this season because of injury and I’m not a big Jordan Weal fan, you have to give the hometown fans someone to cheer for, right!

That’s my team. It’s your turn, WHL.


Anonymous said...

Where is Eric Roy's name in these blogs? He is up there for points as a defencemen. Great Skater, Great Puck Mover, and needs a bit of grit to his game. We will see what happens when draft day comes. (2013)

Luber said...

Eric Roy has been progressing very well since January 1st of last year, and I agree with your assessment.

He also has a little more room to add some strength, weight to his frame.

Here's a story I did about Eric Roy earlier this month...