Sunday, August 25, 2013

Winterhawks training camp 2013


The 'Hawks had official recaps for each day:

I pretty much let you down on this one, as I only attended about 35% of camp:  the 2nd half of Saturday & 90% of Sunday.   I was tied up doing fun non-hockey things.

I took some notes on Sunday - just some things that stuck out to me:

Justin Greer (Red #4 - Defenseman)
  -  As a 15, he just seemed poised to me.  Looked confident and smooth.  2012 4th round pick.

Steven Aldridge (Black #28 - Forward)
  -  He's a 17 this year, and had 'Hawks gear on.  Spent last year in the AJHL, so he may very well be ready to move up - but his numbers might not support that notion.  I just had a gut feeling about him looking good this weekend.  Not sure how many forward spots are going to be open - should be a tough lineup to crack.  He's a list player.

Keoni Texeira (Black #44 - D)
  -  You know about this kid, right?  He's the future.  2012 2nd round pick, which was the 'Hawks first pick that year.  Coach Johnston has said that Texeira is the only 16 he expects to make this team.  Two plays that jumped out at me were one where he took the puck out of the corner RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS OWN GOALIE on his way up ice.  The usual "ooohs & aahhhhs" you hear in a crowd were evident on that play.  A shift or two later he got all Bobby Orr with it and put a nice shot on after a coast-to-coast rush.  Risk / reward should be interesting with this kid.  I clearly remember before he signed, his visit to a playoff game in the Garden.  Full house, rockin' barn - when his presence was announced, he stood up and waved to the crowd.  That had to be a pretty effective selling point.

Ethan Price (Black #25 - F)
  -  First off,  I'm incapable of being unbiased with this kid.  He's from Lincoln, Nebraska.  I'm from Nebraska.  There's never been a hockey player of note from the 37th state.  I've played on the sheet that he grew up on. There's only one rink in that town, and a USHL team plays there - its on the state fair grounds and has horses in there during the fair: literally a barn.  Its name is the Ice Box.  He makes this team, and I'm gonna love him like his parents do.

That being said, he had a good weekend.  Several goals, some nice body checks, etc.  He was on the ice in the dying minutes of a game that his team was down 5-3, and scored.  He remained on the ice for the 5-4 result.  He had 'Hawks gear on, which is a good sign.  He's a 16 this year, and the current forward corps is deep.  2012 6th round pick.

Garret Haar (Black #17 - D)
  -  There are some concerns with Haar & how he arrived in this fair city.  I'm a big 2nd chance guy, so we'll see how this goes.  He seemed pretty feisty,  which I love in a WHL game (not sure about training camp).  I also noticed him skating slowly back to the bench after several goals against on Sunday - which also could mean nothing.  It should be nothing new having a controversial #18 out there, right?  The Capitals are pretty high on the kid.  Traded a conditional pick for his rights.

Keegan Iverson (Black #13 - F)
  -  This kid has a ton of potential.  In the last 9 months, he's earned a WHL Championship, Memorial Cup berth, a Silver medal, & a Bronze medal (both with team USA) - and he's just getting started.  Looked like he was taking draws on Sunday - I believe he's listed as a center, but has been playing the wing.  Often times you see many centers listed on teams at this elite level + beyond, as your best forwards are usually your centers, and they tend to move up to the next level.  List player.

Alex Schoenborn (Red #22 - F)
  -  Seemed like he had goals in all of his games, including a hat trick.  One goal I saw was against Lane Veveiros & Garrett Haar - which ain't 15 year old kids out there.   Made a big commitment to come to the 'Hawks and burn his NCAA eligibility, and hasn't found his groove here yet.  Missing time with an injury last year certainly didn't help.  He spent some time in the NAHL last year,  and his coach speaks highly of him:
Of course, the 'Hawks are only loosing a couple forwards off of last years team, so who gets that ice time?  I'd think Schoenborn is in a tough situation.  I believe he was a list player, and I know he was a 1st round USHL pick.

Oliver Bjorkstrand (Red #27 - F)
  -  This dude is good.  I think he's a lock to make this team.  He was flying around all weekend.

Lukas Walter (Red #13 - F)
  -  He had an effort goal: hacking and whacking at the puck getting the 3rd chance to score.  Thats the kind of player he's got to be to earn an overage season - wether its in Portland or elsewhere.   There's familiarity with him, as he came real close to making this team a few years ago before Tri-city claimed him off waivers.  Again, forward spots are few, and spending an overage spot on a 3rd/4th liner isn't that appealing.  Free agent invite.

Nick Heid (Blue #5 - D)
  -  As a 15 that's been playing high school hockey in Minnesota, he seemed very comfortable.  Played both ends of the ice,  jumping up in the play as well as throwing checks in the corners.  Decent size.  List player.

Jeremey Leipsic (Blue #23 - F)
  -  Scored a few goals, threw a few hits.  Lets just hope he's like his brother, which would make him a serious fan favorite on several levels.  As a 16 year old forward, he's not going to make this team.  List player.

Zach Patterson (Grey #5 - D)
  -  Looked like he knew what he was doing.  As a 17, this is where you break into the WHL as a D man, but is there room?  2011 2nd round pick.

Taylor Leier (Blue #20 - F)
  -  He was scoring all weekend, which makes sense.  From the outside it appears as though there are no lasting effects from his concussion during the Memorial Cup - that was a nasty injury.

Brendan Leipsic (Blue #28 - F)
  -  Dude was flying all weekend.  If he can get better in his 19 year, after leading the league in scoring, then the 'Hawks are gonna win some games.  I like it.

I ended up making friends with one of the players parents, making small talk, but I think that's a different post.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ivan Hlinka final: USA wins silver

The Ivan Hlinka entry for the USA in the 2013 tournament came up a little short.  After winning their pool, they faced the Czech Republic in the first medal round game.   The Americans were victorious,  setting up a gold medal showdown with Canada.

Of course, none of us saw this game, unless you were in Piestany - but my understanding is that the 'mercians got their ass kicked.  Folks in the hockey media are reporting that USA had zero scoring chances in the game.  That's generally going to work out bad for you.

If you were pulling for the Red, White & Blue  - as a 'Hawks fan you just have to re-visit your feelings after the 2011 & 2012 WHL finals.  In an 8 team tournament, 2nd place is pretty good - much like 2nd place in a 22 team league.  However, it also sucks.  The United States has never won this tournament, although this was the 8th silver brought home.

All three of the 'Hawks involved had good tournaments, although the only way to tell from here is looking at scoresheets.  There is one video clip of a sweet Paul Bittner goal:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

USA! USA! USA! - Hlinka update

As we discussed earlier,  this tournament features 3 guys that most 'Hawks fans are pretty excited have on our team.  Also, its a really hard tournament to follow.  There is no video feed, no audio PXP, and only bits and pieces of game summaries.  Here's what I found:

There was one per-tournament exhibition game.  Turgeon scored the only goal - summary here.


 Once this tourney got going, it was time for our boys to turn it up.  The first game was against Finland, and Paul Bittner scored the games first goal.  Unfortunately, the Finns got a PPG in OT - but USA got a point.  This is format where all games are 3 point games, and an OT / shootout game splits 2 for the winner / 1 for the loser, whereas a regulation win is worth 3 points.

The 2nd game was a 4-2 victory over Russia, although none of our guys scored in this game.  This Nick Schmaltz kid has 6 points in 3 games, which is pretty good.  He was good in this game.


Going into the final game, a win puts you squarely in the medal round - and 4 goals in the 1st period against Slovakia did the trick.  Bittner had a goal + 2 assists, and Iverson also scored.  5-2 final, and USA wins their pool.

I misunderstood the format, until today.  Winner of each pool plays the 2nd place team from the other pool - in this case, its Czech Republic VS USA - as well as Russia VS Canada.  The winners of those matchups meet for the gold medal.  Those games are on 8/9 & 8/10.  

The worst the US team can do is 4th place.  Last year they came in 7th, and have never won this tournament.  Of course, they've never had 3 Winterhawks on the team, either.  Should be interesting to see how it shakes out - I like these odds.