Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Team WHL Gears Up for Russian Selects

Team photo for Team WHL that faces the Russian
Selects in Regina on Wednesday night
I have a chance to combine personal and professional this week, as I take a breather from the Western Hockey League season to visit my parents in Regina, and also take in the two games of the Subway Super Series matching Team WHL versus the Russian Selects.

The Series is tied 2-2 after Russia beat the Team QMJHL 2-0 and 5-4 (SO) in the opening two games, while the Team OHL won 10-7 and 6-3 to even up the series although, technically, the CHL leads 7-5 in points based on the IIHF formula (three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime or shootout win, one for an overtime or shootout loss, zero for a regulation loss).

That puts the fate of the series squarely on the shoulder of Team WHL tonight in Regina and tomorrow in Moose Jaw, but trying to win the series might be secondary for most of the players.

They’re also trying to catch the eye of Hockey Canada, with hopes of securing an invitation to next month’s Canadian Junior Team’s Selection Camp.

“They’re really focused, which you want, but you want to let them have some fun too and let them enjoy the moment,” said Team WHL and Canadian Junior Team head coach Don Hay after morning skate Wednesday, “They’ve all grown up watching the World Juniors, and that’s your goal is to make it. The best advice I can give them is just do what they do well, enjoy the moment and go out and play their best.”

The on-ice performance will be one consideration when evaluating the players participating in the Subway Super Series, but Hay says there are other things he’s looking for while Team WHL is together over the next couple of days.

“I want to see how they interact, and I want to see how they can play different roles. They’re going to be asked to kill penalties, block shots, play on the fourth line and things they aren’t used to doing, and how they react to that is going to be very important,” added Hay, “We have a very good depth chart across Canada, and where these players fit in is going to be important to Team Canada, and also to them.”

A pair of Manitoba products will play in tonight’s game, with Winnipeg’s Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds getting the start in goal for Team WHL and Winnipeg’s Zach Franko expected to play on a line with his Kelowna Rockets’ teammates in Colton Scissons and Brett Bulmer.

Four members of the Wheat Kings – Mark Stone, Michael Ferland, Ryan Pulock and Jordan Fransoo – will play in Thursday’s game in Moose Jaw, as will Brandon product Joel Edmundson of the Warriors.

Chaff…Stone was named an alternate captain for Thursday’s game in Moose Jaw by the WHL today. Oakbank product Quinton Howden of the Warriors will be the captain on Thursday while Vancouver Giants' forward Brenden Gallagher will wear the ‘C’ for tonight’s game in Regina...Saskatoon Blades' netminder Andrey Makarov will start for the Russian Selects tonight.

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