Quite a road trip for the Friday Night Hockey crew. All told, we logged over 1,000 kilometres, took in three WHL games, two days at Canada’s World Junior camp, hit four different hotels and called two games, in just four days.
Best moment on the trip, spending time with the Red Deer staff the morning of our FNH game. Brent Sutter, Jeff Truitt, and Bryce Thoma were more than accommodating, and RJ and I learned an awful lot.
No doubt Brent Sutter is grooming Jeff Truitt to take over the Red Deer Rebels next year. And in a candid case of self-realization, Truitt feels he’s best suited for the WHL. The Rebels are lucky to have him. Over his years in Kelowna, Truitt worked with the likes of Josh Gorges, Shea Weber, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn, Alexander Edler, Duncan Keith and a few others.
Having said that, former Rebels bench boss Jesse Wallin will be out of work only as long as he chooses to be.
Both Brandon Sutter and Kris Russell took the morning twirl with the Rebels scratches.
Rebels broadcaster Cam Moon is a true beauty. Don’t know where he gets all his energy from, but he’d make a can of Red Bull nervous.
The Enmax Centrium’s renovations should be complete after Christmas and the end suites and seats are nice additions.
This an official lobby to get a FNH game in Victoria, what a spot.
I normally don’t reserve space for a single player in this blog, but I was so impressed with Victoria’s 16-year-old defenceman Joe Hicketts, I couldn’t help but give him a little love. He’s fearless, confident, skilled and logs a ton of ice for the Royals.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Carroll family. Victoria’s Austin Carroll lost his father Phil this past week. It would be tough to imagine playing away from home knowing your father’s days are numbered. I can say that Carroll’s other family, the Royals were feeling it as well, especially Head Coach Dave Lowry who laboured to keep it together in our pre-game meeting.
The Royals pride themselves on playing hard, and that’s exactly the impression they left on Red Deer captain Turner Elson, who quipped to our Roger Millions that the Rebels 3-2 shootout win wasn’t all that fun.
Give the Lethbridge Hurricanes Board of Directors a lot of credit for its patience. In year four of his rebuild, Head Coach and General Manager Rich Preston is starting to see the fruits of his labour. His team is young, fast and the Canes play hard. While I do believe Lethbridge is a playoff team this year, lookout the next two years.
In similar fashion, the Kelowna Rockets are a year ahead of Lethbridge, and are likely one forward piece away from making a serious run in the Western Conference.
The Rockets back-end is young and exciting and is blossoming under the tutelage of Dan Lambert.
And here’s another official lobby, this time for a FNH game in Kelowna.
Great to finally see the Kamloops Blazers in action. In a ho-hum game Tuesday night against Calgary, the Blazers needed the shootout to win.
If you get a chance to watch the Blazers, keep your eye on goalie Cole Cheveldave. He’s a complete circus.
Colin Smith is the real deal, just ask Blazers Associate Coach Dave Hunchak.
The Calgary Hitmen staff is at a loss for words to describe their home record (11-6-1-2) against their road record (12-1-0-1).
Good for JC Lipon to make the squad.
Can’t help but feel for Edmonton’s Laurent Brossoit. He can’t see it now, but he’ll be better off for having gone through the experience of being cut. Same goes for Matthew Dumba.
Don’t want to say I told you so, but two weeks ago when FNH was in Kitchener, RJ and I told head coach Steve Spott he wouldn’t be able to keep Jonathan Drouin off his team.
I cautioned people that Scott Wedgewood would get meaningful minutes in last year’s WJHC, and although it’s not likely to happen that way for Saginaw’s Jake Paterson it’s still a good story.
Don’t forget to check out Patrick King’s latest right here.
Penalty Shots (all shots taken through play Dec. 17)
COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC
Isn’t an “airport” hotel supposed to be located close to the airport? In fact, this property was so far from the airport, the main road into it, didn’t even feature a sign to get there. It took 20 minutes by car, and the employees had to ask one another the best way there. By the way, thanks for the stay Sheraton Four Points Calgary “Airport.”