Here's a few randoms from the weekend....
- Kelowna is doing what it takes to win games while Calgary Hitmen just don't look like the "Hitmen" we've seen this season. A lot of credit has to go to Kelowna for that. They are doing a good job defensively and playing hard. They've scouted the Hitmen PP and are doing a god job of taking away those booming point shots.
- Mark Guggenberger, as I've expected has been great in goal....especially last night in the 2nd period when Calgary pushed the pace. I had a good chat with "Gugs" after game one. I've always been a big fan of his style and game but the lack of respect he's getting from some of the media in this series amazes me.
"Guggenberger will be their weak link" is what I've heard countless times this weekend at the 'Dome. Are you kidding me? Sure he's flown under the radar to the point of "Guggawho?" but he's an elite goaltender in this league and has been for awhile now. I think he's slowly getting some respect.
Last night on the Shaw broadcast I was asked who I liked in this series and I said I was bucking the trend a little with "Rockets in seven" based on the play of Guggenberger.
Folks in Swift know what he's capable of. He's solid. He showed it when he was here posting a .918 save percentage in the calendar year as a Bronco over two seasons.
The general mood from the Calgary media was the Rockets will lose because of Guggenberger. To the contrary, I think they win because of him. The Rockets have a mighty edge in goal.
The Hitmen will make a series out of this yet. Their PP will find success and the series will continue to game six...maybe even a seven.
- Dan Russell also threw a tough question my way when he asked about the "Saskatchewan slump." The Broncos were the last Saskatchewan team to win a WHL Championship. It was 1993. I tried to answer it as best I could but it really is a tough nut to crack.
- Ran into Broncos D Ryan Molle on the concourse. He was taking in the opening games. Molle and Rockets F Cody Almond are good friends.
- Swift Current native Ryan Cuthbert maintained control of his emotions after taking both games in Calgary. The Kelowna Rockets Assistant Coach knows this series is far from over. We will hear from him on the Swift Current radio airwaves next week.
- Best line of the two post-game media conferences belongs to Rockets Head Coach Ryan Huska when asked how he's getting his team to dedicate to strong defensive play and blocking shot after shot in the opening two games.
"Because they want to win"
Short, to the point but left a last impression with me.
- There was a lot of shocked/disappointed faces in the media circles following the two games. It's really the first time Calgary media has had to use the word adversity and the Hitmen in the same sentence this season.
As the Calgary Herald's John Down put it " The Rockets are trampling all over the Hitmen's Never-Never land." A lot of things that haven't happened to the Hitmen all season long have appeared in the opening two games in this series.
- Shaw TV's Brendan Parker has the best seat in the house in the playoffs. He's parked between the two players benches and hears it all. I think the guy could write a book with some of the stories he told me about the jawing going on between the two teams. Good stuff.
- It was good to catch-up with the Kelowna crew following the opening game. I headed out afterwards with Voice of the Rockets and good friend Regan Bartel, his colorman Gord McGarva and Kelowna sportswriter Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier. This would be a fun crew to work with all season long I'm thinking.
Regan's calm demeanor in this situation is a good lesson for me. I'm not sure how I would be in a pressure-packed league final like this if the Broncos were involved. He's a pro. Then again, this is old hat for him as a veteran of three Memorial Cups.
- At last word the Kelowna trio was on the dance floor in Sicamous, BC, or so I was led to believe on an overnight message on my phone. Funny.
- I didn't get much of a chance to chat with Hitmen broadcaster Brad Curle. He was a busy guy in the opening two games. WHL radio is in the best possible hands in this Championship Series with two of the best (if not the best) broadcasters in the league. They are as smooth and as energetic as they come.
Time to get on the road....