LAND OF THE LIVING SKIES
Living in Regina, SK means that I happen to get a live look at many of the prospects who come through Regina or Moose Jaw throughout the regular season and I have to rely on watching games online from other leagues…
Enter the Memorial Cup.
MY HOME. MY PROVINCE. MY BED.
Lots of hype throughout the Regina hockey community during the season; which included the trade deadline, rebuilding team chemistry, and Pats losing in a hard fought first-round matchup with Swift Current. It’s nice to be able to see some live looks at some prospects once again.
I have tickets to Wednesday’s bought between Regina and Swift Current as the Pats look to take some revenge, which means that I’ll have seen four of the six round-robin games.
Hamilton vs Regina
Swift Current vs Acadie-Bathurst
Swift Current vs Hamilton
Swift Current vs Regina (to be seen)
Lemme offer some insight into a couple players on each of the teams if I can. Let’s Go.
- He looks as tiny as I remember. As this season comes to a close, to my eye it doesn’t seem like he’s added on any weight at all, even though I’m sure he has. Swift loves to use him for PP zone entries and he surely was successful; confidently taking the puck into three opponents and quickly dishing it off to the half-wall. That being said, Hepo hasn’t been the same since his line lost Coyotes prospect Tyler Steenbergen to injury. They replaced him with Capitals prospect Beck Malenstyn and they had a hard time generating anything. The sky is still the limit for Heponiemi but he certainly does need other skill players to play with.
- All of last season, it was hard to ignore the size and potential of Skinner. On the nights I watched him, his positioning was great but it seemed like his competitive drive and his athleticism still had a ways to go. Frankly, he was outstanding in net against Hamilton as he was busy from start to finish. After Hamilton scored the go ahead goal late in the game, Skinner lay with his mask face down on the ice after jussssssst missing the save on the cross-ice feed. He looked exhausted, but better yet, he knew he could be the big difference maker for his team. He was given the first star and rightfully so. His potential is high.
- Covering the Calgary Flames, I get the pleasure of watching Dougie Hamilton quite a bit and Dobson has a similar impact on the game from an offensive perspective. This kid wants the puck. At times on the PP, he can be found banging his stick on the ice, looking for a pass. He loves to shoot, he loves to pinch and carry the puck in deep on the right side. I was surprised at how often I approved of Dobson’s decision making process too. Even if things didn’t work out on the situation, he chose wisely and never seemed to panic. On the big stage, he’s been Acadie- Bathurst’s best player. I guarantee he’s climbed a few spots on scouts lists. He has on mine.
- I’ve never seen him play live, so you can imagine my excitement to see a first-round prospect who is on a powerhouse team of prospects like the Flyers. Sadly, Rubtsov was really quite disappointing to watch. Outside of a few quality defensive plays, he’s been fairly unnoticeable.
- On draft day, I called Will Bitten the potential steal of the draft as I certainly flirted with the idea of him as a first round prospect. The offensive flows through Robert Thomas and Bitten often finds himself with little flashes and little moments where his game changing ability can appear. His speed is still his best asset and I liked his compete level in the corners.
- He simply wasn’t very notable in Game 1 vs Regina. Despite still getting an assist, he had one shot and I was sitting near some Hamilton fans and overheard them say, “What’s wrong with him? He looks so slow tonight. He looked much improved against Swift Current but still, I have to say I was very underwhelmed.
- He’s looked confident handling the puck, physically engaged with the play, and came up big quite a few times with little plays in the defensive end against Hamilton. While Josh Mahura decided to carry the puck and dictate the offence, it seemed like Cale gave Regina everything else they needed. He is certainly not a sure-fire NHL player but with some patience he could get there.
- The forgotten man. Vegas selected him at the bottom of the second round and rumours were floating that they were shocked he was still there. Regina Pats are not going to be a good team next season, but the team will be his. As Regina rebuilds, he could be a nice deadline add for another strong WHL squad looking to make a playoff push. He’s fast, he’s smart, he’s a terrific playmaker, and yet… he still looks so so raw. I expect a nice bounce back year.
THANKS FOR READING
If you have any questions about the Memorial Cup action or the Calgary Flames…. or prospects in general you can find me on Twitter @dathockeydoe
Enjoy the rest of the Tournament.
Joel Henderson – Associate Editor