March 29, 2012
Where do you even start on a Game 4 post-game blog?
I'll dive in with something I had meant to get in my game story, but that was the Warriors' first playoff overtime game since Matthew Hansen scored on Apr. 28, 2006 to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers and clinch the Warriors' first Eastern Conference title. I should point out that Brayden Point was 10 when that game was played — just to make us all feel old.
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That was my first playoff overtime game since I took over covering the Warriors from Rick Moore. They didn't give me a short one and my stories looked pretty ragged today in my extreme haste to try to get something in the paper by our deadline. My apologies for that.
One thing I got wrong was that it was Joel Edmundson and not Kendall McFaull who was on the receiving end of Dyson Stevenson's five-minute clipping major.
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Speaking of that call, I have never heard so much said by so many people who didn't see what happened in an incident. There must be someone in the crowd of 6,372 who saw that play, but I haven't found them.
It happened so far behind the play that I saw Edmundson go down out of the corner of my eye, but saw nothing of the cause — besides Stevenson in the vicinity. Given that it was in the corner on the same side as the benches, no one I've spoken to from either team saw it at the time. In fact I've had players ask me if I saw it.
WHL vice president Richard Doerksen — the man responsible for dishing out suspensions — said Thursday that there was no video of the play and so he had to go on the officials' report before giving Stevenson a one-game suspension. The referee who made the call was adamant on the ice and immediately started pointing Stevenson to the locker room before he had even reached the penalty box to give them the call.
Given all of that, it's kind of amazing the strength of the opinions so many people seem to have on the call.
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Speaking of the officiating, I tend to come from the school of thinking it's pointless to complaint about it and that on the whole the calls tend to balance out over the course of a long season.
That being said I understand where Pats fans (and admittedly the Pats themselves and some members of the Regina media) are coming from when they got enraged by the officiating in Game 4.
There were chintzy calls in the first period both ways and then there were plenty of non-calls, again both ways, in the rest of the game. That may not be unusual for a playoff hockey game, but to have one of those kinds of nights and have the power plays finished 8-3, with one of those being a major late in the third period and any team's fans on the end of that wouldn't be pleased.
While the Warriors power play was trying to add to their 2-1 lead with a number of chances in the second period, I thought that the Warriors better capitalize on a power play chance soon if they wanted to win because the Pats were due to get a few calls. Only those calls never came. And there were enough infractions that had been called earlier in the game that the opportunity to even the scales somewhat was there is the officials wanted to.
The Warriors scored their three goals by spending 16:20 on the power play and the Pats were goalless with 5:32 spent on the power play.
Did it determine the game? It's very possible that the Warriors could have tied the game without the benefit of the five-minute major. We'll never know. And that merely got the game to overtime where absolutely nothing was going to be called.
The Warriors may have lost a game in Regina earlier this season when Quinton Howden was tackled to prevent him from attempting a clear scoring chance. There was no call on that play and the Warriors went on to lose. Would that have changed anything? Who knows? Over the course of a long season these things do tend to come full circle.
Which might be good to keep in mind the next time that Warriors fans feel like the men in stripes had it out for them this post-season.
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Pats governor/president Brent Parker and GM Chad Lang were hot all game about the officiating and it boiled over after Brayden Point's double-OT winner.
Parker was fined $2,500 for "inappropriate conduct" after the game. Greg Harder from the Leader-Post reports that it was Parker who punched a hole in the door of the video replay booth that also houses the off-ice officials and the officiating supervisors.
Later Parker was in a loud verbal exchange with one of the off-ice officials near the locker room area under the stands in the Brandt Centre. That argument could be heard a quarter of the way around the rink by the Pats locker room.
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The Pats instituted a new policy this year where post-game interviews take place in a specific room instead of outside each team's locker rooms. Normally it was fairly informal and it wasn't unusual for members of the two teams to at least cross paths during that process as they made their way to the neutral site.
After both games in Regina all of the Warrior interviews were done first and the players and head coach Mike Stothers walked almost the entire distance around the bowels of the arena so as not to go through the area outside of the Pats locker room which is beside the Warriors room. Only once all of the Warriors were done their interviews will the Pats be available to the media.
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Warriors defenceman Travis Brown remains day-to-day with his upper body injury and has not practiced.
Dir. of hockey operations, Alan Millar announced that Morgan Rielly wouldn't be back in time for the series. That may be disappointing for Warriors fans who were starting to get excited after some media outlets reported that he would be back after he saw his surgeon on Wednesday.
Still the fact that he is recovering well and is well ahead of schedule can't be bad news. He is still making an incredibly fast recovery under the circumstances and given how much he has to play for in the future, the caution and restraint being shown is also a positive.
Rielly is officially week to week and is expected to return to Vancouver to see his doctors again before being given the green light to return.
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On the Regina side, Andrew Rieder certainly looks to be done for the series. He missed 16 games with a shoulder injury to end the season and despite the rest he appeared to re-aggravate it in Game 2 and then he didn't make it through his first shift in Game 3. He had his arm in a sling in the stands at Game 4.
Pats captain Brandon Davidson didn't return from a jarring hit in the open ice the first overtime Wednesday. He is apparently questionable for Game 5 which would be a big blow for the Pats defensive corps as he's been their most consistent blue liner — especially in his own end.
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Warriors goalie Luke Siemens played his best hockey of the playoffs after Game 4 was tied 4-4. He made a great glove save off of a Jordan Weal two-on-one in regulation and made some vital stops in close in overtime.
Siemens started to look sharper and sharper in Game 3 as he finally started to get a feel for the rubber. It can't be easy to make 12 saves in each of the first game and then be called upon to make a big stop. Couple that with the fact he hand't played for nine days before Game 1 and Siemens hand't seen a lot of recent action.
He seemed to be on his game in the third period of Game 3 and then carried that forward into Game 4. It goes without saying that Siemens is a big part of the Warriors' playoff aspirations.
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The Warriors shortened their bench to basically three line and four defencemen (Andrew Johnson also got some ice as a 10th forward) in overtime and nearly all of those players worked out off ice Thursday and didn't skate. The exceptions were Brayden Point, Cody Beach and Justin Kirsch.
Kirsch has been spending extra time after practice working on his shot. He hasn't been hitting the net as often as I'm sure he would like and he's been putting in the time to try to find his range.
His game-opening goal in Game 4 wasn't a work of art, but I'm sure it had to be relief for the sniper.