Wednesday, October 7, 2009
On the injury front both Chad Suer and Cody Smuk practiced Monday and Tuesday. Smuk left Sunday’s game in Calgary with a charley horse. He will be a game-day decision Wednesday, but looked pretty likely to play.
Suer skated on the weekend and practiced Monday with no contact. His shot looked fine and he practiced with contact to his injured shoulder for the first time Tuesday. He will also be a game-day decision.
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Clinton Atkinson was wearing the grey practice jersey of a forward Tuesday rather than one of the black defenceman jerseys. Warriors head coach Dave Hunchak said they were experimenting in practice and left it at that.
While Atkinson played defence in 2007-08 with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, he was a forward in 2006-07 with the midget AAA Vancouver Northwest Giants. That Giants team featured current Warrior Kevin Smith on defence along with Saskatoon’s Stefan Elliott, Calgary’s Matt McKenzie and Red Deer’s Landon Ferraro.
The Warriors are looking to get down to seven defenceman from the group of eight (including Atkinson). They currently have 14 forwards which is the number they’re hoping to carry for the rest of the season.
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Wednesday’s Times-Herald will have an advance story with Hunchak and defenceman Ryan Stanton discussing how the Warriors need to approach the potent Regina Pats offence.
Speaking of Stanton, I suspect many fans would be surprised to learn that the player who scores some of the most highlight reel goals in practice is the Warriors rugged blue liner.
Anytime the Warriors do a penalty shot practice or drills in close with the goaltender, Stanton consistently shows off an impressive array of moves and very quick hands.
Some of the moves seem destined to be confined to practice — I can’t see him dropping the puck between his skates and kicking it to his backhand in a real game — but for a guy with nine career goals in nearly 200 games Stanton has a lot more flash than you’d expect.
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I’m not a real big fan of the instigator rule, but one of my biggest pet peeves in the game is players who can’t take a clean check or feel they need to retaliate if their teammate is hit hard, but cleanly.
I’m all for standing up for a teammate, but if you get caught with your head down or try to be cute as you cross the blue line I don’t think the hitter should have to defend themselves for doing their job. If fighting is “part of the game” then surely a good open-ice hit should be respected as part of it too.
I bring this up because one of the turning points Sunday was Rigby Burgart’s decision to go after Stanton in the third period. I’ve got a lot of respect for Burgart who is one of the toughest players in the WHL and is only 5-foot-10.
Stanton had laid a heavy, but by all accounts clean, hit on Calgary’s Jessi Hilton. Burgart stuck up for his teammate and was dutifully given the instigator minor and the Warriors tied the game on the ensuing power-play.
Stanton’s last fight came against Red Deer when Jordie Deagle went after him after Stanton laid out Red Deer’s Andrej Kudrna with a big hit.