The Moose Jaw Warriors will reconvene on Boxing Day before the prepare to take off a day later for the longest road trip of the season.
It’s worth noting that the Warriors have posted a winning record on that swing once since 1998-99. Ironically that came in the 2008-09 season when the team was a dismal 19-50-1-2 for the season, but were 4-2-1-0 during the road trip.
The fact they went 10 yeas between posting a winning record just speaks to how difficult that trip really is.
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According to the fantastic Small Thoughts At Large blog (http://smallatlarge.blogspot.com) the Warriors will have 10 players at the Mac’s Midget tournament this year in Calgary. That includes players who haven’t signed and one — goalie Adam Clark from Sherwood Park — who didn’t attend camp this season.
Still it brings up two points: while that is great for the team and speaks to the young talent they’re developing, it also presents a pretty significant challenge for the Warriors as they prepare for their seven-game west coast road trip.
The Warriors will be without defenceman Morgan Rielly and forward Brayden Cuthbert who are off to the World Under-17 Challenge as well as LW Quinton Howden and likely LW Antonin Honejsek. Howden has made the Canadian World Junior team and Honejsek is at camp with the Czechs.
That leaves the Warriors with five defencemen and 11 forwards.
Travis Brown (Winnipeg Wild) and Shayne Gwinner (UFA Bisons) — who both saw time when Dylan McIlrath was injured — will be at the Mac’s. So too will 15-year-old defencemen Braiden Doucette (Leduc Oil Kings) and Latrell Charleson (Valley West Hawks).
Signed forwards Tanner Eberle (Tisdale Trojans), Torrin White (UFA Bisons) and Carter Hansen (Moose Jaw Generals) will all be in Calgary as well.
Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar didn’t indicate who may be brought in for the trip yet, but did say:
“We’ve got some options to affiliate some players and bring in some younger players,” said Millar. “One challenge that we have is that a lot of our 94s and 95s are playing in the Mac’s tournament in Calgary which is obviously great for them because it’s a very prestigious tournament. We’re working through that, but we’ll be adding two, three, maybe four bodies as part of the trip and one of those players will likely be a depth defenceman who will stay with us for the balance of the year.”
The Warriors have been looking to add a seventh defenceman for the rest of the season since moving Connor Cox to Saskatoon on Remembrance Day.
Two possibilities for the very shot term could be last year’s second round picks: defenceman Spencer Morse and forward Brandon Potomak. Both players have signed standard WHL education contracts and neither player will be at the Mac’s. Since each player is a 1995 birthday they can only play up to five games.
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The Moose Jaw Generals and the Winnipeg Wild are tied for the lead at the Mac’s with 13 of their players being drafted or listed by a WHL team.
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It was nice of the WHL web site to keep everyone on their toes by having a glitch that shows numerous players playing for the Vancouver Giants Sunday. A quick trip to look up Scott Glennie’s goal total from last season led to a quick search to see if he was the newest Giant. Apparently he is not. A short time later the Wheat Kings logo was back on Glennie’s player page.
After some early-season headaches, the new site has been quite good until this past weekend. The addition of game highlights to the video section is a great feature.
If the new WHL site is having issues, it’s worth nothing that the old site is still being updated at http://media.whl.ca
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If anyone can figure out the Edmonton Oil Kings I’d love to hear it.
The Oil Kings opened the season by posting a 5-2 record. They then proceeded to lose 12 of their next 14 games and were near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 7-13-0-1 mark.
Then just as suddenly they found their groove again and posted a 9-1-0-1 record to get back above .500 The Oil Kings dropped their final two games before the weekend and 16-16-0-2. They have a talented young team and it will be interesting to see how they start the second half.