Expect the final word on Emerson Etem’s suspension to come down Monday from Richard Doerksen in the WHL head office.
If you watched the replays of the Etem kneeing major and the Dylan Bredo elbowing major and are wondering why one merits a suspension and the other doesn’t, I think it’s as simple as the fact that Etem’s hit injured Torrin White and Bredo’s hit didn’t injure Sam Fioretti.
Initially they put two minutes on the board for Etem’s penalty and I have to believe that if White hadn’t been so obviously injured, Etem may not have even been given a major in the first place.
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The Warriors don’t believe in petitioning the league for supplemental discipline, so don’t expect them to ask for the league to look at Hunter Shinkaruk’s hit on James Henry at the end of the first period of Game 2.
Since Henry wasn’t injured and played the rest of the game, nothing would likely have come of it anyway.
Yet, you could easily argue it was far worse than either of the plays that warranted majors in Game 1.
The sequence started with Fioretti taking a run at Shinkaruk who avoided the brunt of the hit, but lost his balance after taking something between a kneeing and a hip check. In my mind Fioretti could have easily been called for clipping or kneeing — or even charging — despite the minimal impact. It was awfully close to being ugly.
However, before the Tigers even got the puck up ice, Shinkaruk caught Henry with what looked like an elbow away from the puck. Either Henry has a really hard head, or Shinkaruk didn’t really connect because Henry didn’t see him coming.
It’s a good thing for both teams that no harm was done, because Henry and Shinkaruk are two good hockey players and this series will be better for having both men on the ice.
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After Game 1 Tyler Bunz said he actually enjoyed getting a lot of shots on goal and that he was better off when he gets a lot of shots.
Warriors goalie Luke Siemens hasn’t had that luxury.
So far in five games at Mosaic Place, the Warriors have surrendered: 15, 13, 16, 17 and 15 shots on goal against.
Read those numbers again. That’s 76 shots. It’s a hair over five shots per period.
“I’m not going to complain about getting 15 shots a night,” said Siemens about his lack of work.
While Siemens looked sharper in Regina was facing more shots, he’s been solid in Games 1 and 2 against Medicine Hat.
Before the series he also said that he would have to elevate his game to give his team a chance to win. So far, so good. He may not be making a lot of saves every night, but he’s had to make some good ones. Considering how little rubber he’s seen, you have to appreciate his play more given the degree of difficulty.
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Another day, more new line combinations from the Warriors.
Warriors head coach Mike Stothers reiterated that he wasn’t too worried about getting a forward line match-up against anyone’s top line, but early in Game 2 he was getting Fioretti, Cam Braes and Eric Arnold out against the Tigers top line of Shinkaruk, Bredo and Cole Grbavac. The Warriors trio have a lot of speed and while Braes is always gritty and abrasive, Fioretti has taken his game to another level in this series with work on the cycle and the energy he’s brought.
Arnold is arguably the Warriors best defensive forward and in the post-season he’s suddenly found his offensive touch. With his five goals and eight points he leads all WHL rookies in playoff scoring.
As the game wore on Stothers gave Henry, Quinton Howden and Brayden Point time against the Tigers top line as well and that paid off.
It speaks to the Warriors depth and the way they’ve found people to elevate their game that players of Justin Kirsch and Tanner Eberle’s calibre have been relegated to getting irregular ice time because Arnold and Andrew Johnson have been playing so well and earned a regular shift.
And you have to credit Stothers for being willing to change things up to get his best players on the night, the most ice time.