The Moose Jaw Warriors are still batting a flu bug going through the team, but nearly everyone practiced Monday in advance of Tuesday’s road game against the Saskatoon Blades and Wednesday’s game in Prince Albert.
Antonin Honejsek missed practice on Monday due to illness and is questionable to make the trip. Ryan Stanton is battling a groin injury and also didn’t skate. He is questionable for Tuesday as well.
As head coach Dave Hunchak noted — that’s the health situation as of Monday afternoon, but it can change pretty quickly. Friday night Riley Reinbolt was scheduled to play and 30 minutes before the pre-game skate was too sick to dress and made way for Corey Scott.
Reinbolt, Cody Smuk and Dylan McIlrath all missed Friday’s game due to illness, though Smuk and McIlrath played Saturday. The Warriors are trying to stay on top of it as best they can, but there’s not a lot you can do to limit the spread of a virus when you pack a group of people onto a bus for hours.
As Hunchak noted early in the week, the Warriors illness woes have nothing to do with H1N1.
The Warriors are far from alone. Swift Current was in the same boat when they played in Moose Jaw Friday and Seattle had seven players out with the flu Saturday — which doesn’t count the players who tried to play through illness — as they lost 11-2 to Medicine Hat. Seattle is on their trip through the Central Division. Those long hours spent on the bus are hard enough without fighting illness and being woefully under-staffed.
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Jeff Bosch will get his third straight start as he gets the nod against the Blades Tuesday. Bosch was nominated for the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the week last week as he won both games he played in and posted a shutout against Kootenay. His goals-against-average was 0.50 for the two games.
Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports that Adam Morrison will get the nod for the Blades Tuesday night. Morrison was the first star of Saturday’s contest as he made 29 saves.
Saskatoon defenceman Stefan Elliott was named the WHL’s player of the week thanks in part to his two-goal performance Saturday in the Civic Centre.
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The Warriors set the physical tone against the Blades who weren’t as physical as you’re used to seeing from a Lorne Molleken club. It took the Warriors some time to up their physical play, but once they did they were very good on the forecheck and the cycle. That helped them swing the momentum and get back in the game in the second period.
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The checking line of Jesse Paradis, Spencer Edwards and Nathan MacMaster were excellent Friday night against Swift Current.
At the same time, defenceman Clinton Atkinson doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he may have had his best game as a Warrior Friday. Atkinson wasn’t flashy, but he was composed and made the right play consistently. Atkinson played two games as a forward, but went three weeks without playing a game on defence.
Friday, Hunchak juggled his lines in the second period. He kept the Hood-Rowinski-Honejsek group together, but put Howden-Edwards-MacMaster together along with Paradis-Bast-Frazee. The move paid off once the regular lines were reunited as the Warriors. With 2:30 left in the second Bast, Howden and Frazee combined for a great breakout passing play on what ended up being the game-winning goal on one of their first shifts back together.
With their regular lines together, the Warriors dominated the third period. Whether it was the juggling or something else, the Warriors found their game in the final 25-30 minutes.
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It’s a shame the Warriors-Blades clash fell on Halloween. Only 2,091 turned out for the first -place battle. That’s the smallest gathering of the season since 2,066 showed up for the home opener.
The Warriors haven’t much luck with the Riders either. Saturday’s Warriors home game against Prince George is the third home game the Warriors will have had that was head-to-head with a Riders games. And two of were also Riders home games.
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Both Friday and Saturday night, the officials had to go to the visiting goalie and have them set their water bottles a little farther back on the top of the net, so as not to obstruct the view of the video review cameras.
Video review determined two potential Warriors goals weren’t in during Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Saskatoon. In both cases the red light didn’t go on.
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This year’s Trans-Canada Clash will be held Jan. 30, 2010 and the schedule of events will be as follows:
Friday, January 29 (Regina Brandt Centre)
1:00 p.m.: Pats Alumni practice
2:30 p.m.: Warriors Alumni practice
7:00 p.m.: Warriors vs. Pats WHL game
Saturday, January 30 - (Moose Jaw Civic Centre)
1:30 p.m.: Pats vs. Warriors alumni game
7:00 p.m.: Pats vs. Warriors WHL game
9:00 p.m.: (following the WHL game): The Trans-Canada Bash Cabaret at the Heritage Inn in Moose Jaw.
Organizers are planning to fly in broadcasters Peter Loubardias, Kevin Gallant and Bryn Griffiths back, while Rob Carnie and Mal Isaac will also be part of the festivities.
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The Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup wrapped up Sunday. The Warriors had five prospects attend the tournament. That was tied for third best amongst WHL clubs. Chilliwack had seven prospects, Brandon six, while Regina, Edmonton and the Warriors each had five.
Alberta beat Manitoba 6-4 in the final. Warrior prospects Colin Baudry and Brayden Cuthbert scored to help give Manitoba to a 3-1 lead after a period.
It was Baudry’s first goal of the tournament, but Cuthbert — a fifth rounder — scored three goals in the four tournament games for Manitoba.
Saskatchewan (2-2) beat B.C. (0-4) 4-2 to win the bronze medal with Warriors second rounder A.J. Johnson scoring for Saskatchewan.
Warriors top pick Morgan Rielly was a bright spot for B.C. as he had a goal and four assists to sit fourth in tournament scoring after the round robin portion of the tournament.
Another Warriors defence prospect, Manitoba’s Travis Brown, had three assists after the round robin to sit amongst the tournament’s leading scorers.
Brown, Johnson and Rielly have all signed WHL education contracts with the WHL club.
Moose Jaw AAA Warriors Derrick Pouliot and Ashton Sautner were on Team Sask. Pouliot was the team’s captain and scored a goal and added two assists after the round robin, while Sautner was the team MVP of the bronze medal final.
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Former Warrior Brayden Metz requested a return to the SJHL from the Regina Pats Monday. The Pats sent Metz back to the Melville Millionaires. In 15 games the 19-year-old Regina product had a goal and five assists.
Regina Pats General Manager, Brent Parker said in a statement: “Brayden’s decision to return to Jr A is disappointing to us but he just felt that his heart was not in it anymore to try to play at the highest level. The sacrifice and commitment to play in the WHL is far greater than at the Jr. A Level and sometimes kids just are not willing to do what is needed. Brayden is a good kid and we wish him all the best.”