Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Thoughts From the 'Hat. One-on-One with Yonks
Yes.... the playoffs might be over for the Broncos.... so where does a guy turn to prolong the hockey season? Of course, Medicine Hat. For the 4th year in a row I found myself at the Medicine Hat Arena just watching the playoffs as a fan. It's becoming a springtime tradition. Maybe next year we'll out last the mighty Tigers in the post-season.
Terry Pavely and I made the two-hour trek west to the "Arena" for game seven against the Red Deer Rebels. The game was well worth the trip. The Rebels had their chances to take the lead but couldn't solve goaltender Matt Keetley. He made a couple nice saves on deflections in front to keep the Rebels at bay.
The Tigers took advantage of some momentum in the 2nd period with a powerplay goal from speedy Darren Helm and a rebound goal from Derek Dorsett just minutes apart. It was Dorsett's 2nd game back from a broken hand. He was used sparingly. He didn't see a lot of ice. No powerplay time either for Dorsett which was strange.
The Rebels top players were tired. They were leaned on heavily all season and in the first six games of the series. I've liked Brandon Sutter in the past - not last night. Brett Sutter also struggled. He made two mistakes on the Tigers first goal. Martin Hanzal didn't leave the ice in the 3rd period. He didn't play his best either. Kirill Starkov was also a non-factor. The Tigers just have too much depth. Note to the Pats - don't let the Tigers get a lead. They will skate and fore-check you to death. They are just so quick and tenacious.
Tiger fans... where's the passion? No doubt the decibel level has gone down in the Arena the last few years. A "Go Tigers Go" chant could be heard 9 minutes before face-off just a couple years ago. Now, it takes that dude on the in-stand mic to bring some life out of the crowd. The fans just don't have the jam like they used too. The Tigers also don't have a team that could run you right through the rink like they did a few years back with Hollweg, Reid, Marr, Blanshan, etc. The fans always fed off physical dominance.
The Tigers sardined their usual 4006 into the building and it's easy to see why some don't want the new proposed arena. The Tigers have a demand for their product and a good atmosphere for the team to play in. They don't want to sacrifice that. I can see their point.
Medicine Hat also has a Starbucks. Terry scoffed down his Venti Mocha while I made short work of my Java Chip Frappachino. Will Swift ever get one? Doubtful at best.
I didn't see a lot of WHL folks there. I know there was a bunch in the building though The media/scout room was void of gamenotes and coffee when I arrived, a usual sign of a packed house.
So, Tigers and Pats in round two. Game one Saturday night, game two is Monday. Kind of a strange schedule for the opening two games. Apparently there's a concert or something going on Sunday night.
How 'bout the snow in the 'Hat? It felt like January. Snow, cool temperatures... not exactly playoff weather.
Travis Yonkman... now it's your turn.
After two years of waiting in the wings behind perennial starter Kyle Moir, the job is now his for the taking next year. At 19 years of age for the 07/08 season. He will get every opportunity to be the #1 guy.
I sat down with Yonks earlier this week about his greater role next season and the increased expectations that go with it.
JK: The season's over, summer is approaching, what are your plans for the next few months?
TY: I'm going to have a little break, going to recuperate, get things together and then get back at'er. I'll be working out hard with my trainer back at home and work with Kevin Swanson (Broncos Goaltender Consultant) over the summer. So it's going to be an eventful summer.
JK: Now that this season has come to an end you must be looking forward to next year. It should be your show, you're the guy. Have you thought about that and what it will mean for you?
TY: Yeah, it's a disappointing loss but I learned so much from Kyle. Especially with him playing so many games and just watching him day in and day out. Next year is going to be great. I'm really excited to try and get that starting spot. Ian Curtis will be coming up and we'll push each other just like we always do and it should be an exciting year.
JK: I know you were ready for the full workload this year. Were you disappointed you didn't get going for the #1 spot?
TY: Well you always want to get as many games as possible but then again things didn't work out for Kyle (deadline trade), and that's just the way it played out. So you pay your dues right now and hopefully I can get my games in next season.
JK: You did see action in 30 games this year, are you confident you can handle the workload?
TY: Of course. I've got into games and I've showed people what I'm capable of doing and my confidence level is through the roof right now. I hope people can see that and I hope Dean and Dave believe in me and hopefully I can get the job done.
No doubt in my mind he's capable. He's been the goalie of the future for three years. The future is now for Travis Yonkman.
I chatted with Myles Rumsey briefly yesterday at the Broncos office. You could hear him coming from the other side of the building with his crutches hitting the floor and the squeaking sound it makes. The why he explained the injury will make anyone cringe. He talked about how his knee just gave out and the terrible sound it made. Awful stuff. You could feel his pain. More with Myles later this week.
Game seven tonight in Kootenay. As expected the series between the Ice and Hitmen has been the best of the 1st round. The winner gets Brandon in round two.