Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tigers Deal For Goaltender

http://www.tigershockey.com/article/tigers-acquire-johnson-from-portland

 In what should be a busy offseason, the Medicine Hat Tigers made their first deal, acquiring 19 year old goaltender Evan Johnson from the Portland Winterhawks over the weekend.

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This likely solves the "2nd goaltender spot". ( Notice I didn't say backup) I would imagine that Johnson will push Nick Schneider for the starters job.

 This does create more competition, depth and provides a solid position in the net for a pretty cheap price.  Incoming goal-tending prospects may be hard pressed to make the team this upcoming season.



Monday, May 18, 2015

The New Arena Kurfuffle

The introduction to the new arena seems as confusing as the initial talks to actually build the new building.


News Article
http://medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2015/05/16/lease-talk-involvement-would-be-contract-breach-city/

I've bolded 3 key parts of that article

City hall cannot get involved in lease negotiations between the Medicine Hat Tigers and SMG-Canada without breaking its contract with the Event Centre’s private operator, according to the head of the public service committee

Further, she said, a key factor in choosing SMG was its North American network and ability to attract major concerts and other events to bolster profits.


“They have a wealth of experience in running buildings such as these,” said Friesen.
Senior team officials also said that in years past, negotiating with council had led to deals that accounted for the team’s financial position.
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I'm not exactly sure what the role of the operator entitles, but I believe how the business is handled on a day to day business will be very different compared to their old lease with the city of medicine hat.  

From what I've been told ticket prices, concessions, parking, hiring, security plus a lot more will be handled by the 3rd party SMG group. The Tigers will want to make a profit, as well as the SMG group who operates the Arena. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tigers largely controlled a lot of these aspects when the city was the operator. Now new building's operator SMG in contract with the city will be potentially handling large parts of that.  I'm largely speculating here but I would guess the Tigers are uncomfortable with giving up this control, and want the city involved to re-negotiate some of this control from the contract they signed with SMG.

With the New arena also comes more possible ticket sales. Last season the Tigers had "sellouts" every game, however I think we would both agree that their were only about 3200 in the seats.
SMG saw sellouts and the Tigers still made money with lots of tickets being dumped in the fans hands. I think that could also play a big part of the discrepancy of the negotiation process.



Investigating the SMG Group
With So Many Questions being un-answered heading into a new season, I decided to do a bit of research. SMG operates 3 other Arena's within canada, the OHL Niagra Icedogs. Mississauga Steelheads, and the Kingston Frontenacs.

Season Ticket Prices
Niagra (NEW in 2014) (399,499,569)    (pay, and free parking, downtown)
Mississauga (399 ends) (459 middle) (609 middle+lounge)    (free parking)
Kingston  (496,544,612,685)  (paid and free parking)

Note: Those teams have 2 less home games than the WHL. (add $20-$30 to each numbers for whl)

All 3 teams have a pricing that is different compared to where you are sitting in the Arena. So I guess we can expect the same thing at the New Arena. Niagra's building is brand new in 2014, and they also had the Tragically Hip  for the first concert.  Niagra has glowing reviews of their building with amazing sight lines, comfortable seats, restaurants, an enjoyable atmosphere, with the exception of concession pricing.

Concessions and Parking
Cost for parking? It is unknown at this point. In all 3 places above their are free parking spots, and paid lots but I'm unsure if these spots or 3rd party or not.

Looking at reviews for concessions, Medicine Hat is likely looking at an increase. $8.50/9.50 beer for playoff game in Niagra. It was noted that food was comparable to an NHL game, as well as "pricey" in Kingston.  In Mississauga,1998 built, and low attended, food/drink was a little lower $6 a beer. either way expect the price of food/drink to increase.

Intangibles
SMG will probably bring in a bunch of other events to the Arena. The Tragically Hip also opened up in Niagra's new building for this season. My opinion is I would  pay more money for concession prices if it means this group will bring in high quality entertainment to the hat.

Thoughts
Their are many different factors into this type of lease situation so speculating without knowing is hard to do.  I've speculated above but i could be dead wrong so please do not take that info as fact.

Regardless a deal should have been done at this time. I wonder if the Tigers currently have years remaining on the current Arena's Lease? If they do I wonder if they could choose to stay at the Current Arena?

My guess is that this would not be the case as their have been no mention of this in the news articles, and business wise it would make sense for SMG to have in their contract with the city that the city wouldn't be allowed to compete with them @ the old arena.

 I wonder if a 3rd party operator could take over the cities role as operator of the current Arena?, but that is likely a venture that wouldn't be profitable with an old building, so I highly doubt that happens, and the Tigers will need to find an agreement at the new centre.

Season Ticket Holders
The last few seasons the end of June has been the deadline to purchase season tickets, but I have not received a notice yet.  The lease negotiation have a Huge effect on the prices of season Tickets. So looking at the other 3 Arena's SMG controls, One would expect a similar price structure, in the 420-640 range as mentioned above but taking into consideration a 36 game schedule.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Reviewing the 2008 & 2009 Bantam Draft

These 2 drafts have finally filtered through and graduated from the WHL, so lets take a look at how the Tigers did! Willie Desjardins last year was in 2010 he was still the GM during these drafts.

I'm going to leave a summary at the Top, then individual picks down below.

2009
Hunter Shinkaruk
Jayden Hart
Kyle  Becker
Dawson MacAuley

4 WHL Players albeit 1 of them didn't make it till after leaving the Tigers, so we will count the group as 3 players. 3 WHL players out of 1 draft would be considered a pretty average draft. 

2008
Dylan Busenius
Dylan Bredo
Boston Leier
Todd Fiddler
Reid Petryk

The Tigers only had 8 selections (3 in the 3rd round). They traded their 7th rounder, and passed on selections after that. 5 players turned out to be great WHL Players.  You could consider this year as an exceptional draft year, considering the Tigers were picking in the 16th spot.  4/5 players didn't finish their whl careers with the Tigers. 
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2009

1st Round
14th overall Hunter Shinkaruk


                               Regular Season                                                   Playoffs
Year        Team                          League    GP   G    A   PT PM|   GP G  A  PT PM
2010-11  Medicine Hat Tigers         WHL    63   14   28   42   24|  14   4   5   9   0
2011-12  Medicine Hat Tigers         WHL    66   49   42   91   38|   8   2   9  11   6
2012-13  Medicine Hat Tigers         WHL    64   37   49   86   44|   8   3   3   6   8
2013-14  Medicine Hat Tigers         WHL    18    5   11   16   29 | --  --  --  --  --

Thoughts
The Tigers did very well with this pick. Overall the first round was laden with WHL stars, The Tigers snagged a very good offensive player at the 14th position.


2nd Round
36th Overall  Dawson MacAuley

MacAuley only appeared in 7 games as a Tiger. He was released in 2012, and picked up by calgary. The Hitman then traded him to Regina for a 4th round draft pick. MacAuley then played 50 games for the pats as a 19 yr old racking up an .899 save percentage and 3.24 Goals against average.

Thoughts
Goalies are largely hit and miss. It's why prior to the CHL Import goalie ban, very few goalies were ever taken in the first 2 rounds. The import goalie ban has started to change that. This pick didn't turn out for the Tigers and they missed picking up a 4th rounder in compensation by dropping him early.

3rd Round
58th overall Jayden Hart   5'7 145 lbs

Hart  turned into a 6'2 205 lb player, quite the growth spurt after getting drafted. Hart played in 85 games and racked up 42 points before demanding a trade. Hart was shipped off to PA with Dylan Busenius for Zach Hodder, Logan McVeigh, and Connor Hobbs, 2nd in 2013 (ryan Jevne)

Thoughts
So Jayden Hart didn't work out in Medicine Hat, but the Tigers were later able to gain significant resources from his services. Interestingly enough one of the players they traded for also later demanded a trade a few years later in Hobbs. Overall the Tigers received good value for this pick.

5th Round
Luke Johnson C

Luke played in the ushl, went to the University of North Dakota, and was drafted in the 5th round in the 2013 by Chicago. So this flyer pick on a good player didn't work out.

7th Round
146th Kyle Becker   6'0 151    Ended up 6'1 213 lb

Becker was a big kid played in 11 games as a 17 yr old, and cracked the roster full time as an 18 yr old. 

Thoughts
For a 7th round pick, the Tigers found themselves a pretty good player. 3 full seasons from Becker was picking up great value for the 146th selection.


8th, 9th, 10th Rounds
These rounds are really hit and miss. 

8th (168) Mark Foster
9th (187) Austin Ho  (played college hockey)
9th (190) Connor Garden   (ajhl/sjhl)
10th (202) Nick Anderson   (us flyer pick)

Unfortunately none of the above picks worked out. 

Overall Thoughts
Shinkaruk
Hart
Becker
MacAuley

4 WHL Players albeit 1 of them didn't make it till after leaving the Tigers, so we will count the group as 3 players. 3 WHL players out of 1 draft would be considered a pretty average draft. 
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2008   (Heights/Weights not listed)

1ST Round - 16th overall
Dylan Busenius - January 30, 1993 - D - Sherwood Park, AB

Thoughts
Played 3.5 seasons for the Tigers. The first round in 2008 was hit and miss.The Tigers had 3.5 seasons where Busenius was  on the top pairing by his last season, although is overall development was a bit slow for the first couple years. With such a hit and miss draft I think the Tigers did OK in this position with the late pick.

2nd Round - 38th overall
Dylan Bredo - June 25, 1993 - LW - Edmonton, AB

Thoughts
Their were some hidden gems that came out of the draft in the 2nd round and the Tigers nailed it selecting Dylan bredo. A very smart defensive player who not only played on the top line with Emerson Etem, but played on the top pairing Defense unit a couple years later.  Bredo played in 5 seasons, and didn't miss a game for 4 straight years. The Tigers made out very well with this selection.

3rd Round - 47th overall
Boston Leier - July 9, 1993 - Saskatoon, SK

Was the steal of the 3rd round. Leier  played in 3 full seasons, and was a top line forward at the end. The Tigers also recovered a 2nd round pick trading him to Regina. This pick turned out to be one of the steals of the draft.

3rd Round - 60th Overall
Sean Collins - January 21, 1993 - D - Winnipeg, MB

This pick didn't turn out. Collins played 4 seasons in the MJHL.

3rd Round - 65th Overall
Todd Fiddler - July 13, 1993 - C - Meadow Lake, SK

Fiddler turned into quite the dynamic scorer. The Tigers used Fiddler and Austin Bourhis to Aquire Ryan Harrison from PA(who was later traded to everett) Fiddler was later traded to Spokane, Moose Jaw, and Prince George. He had 2 PG seasons. So the Tigers got decent returns for this selection.

4th Round - 70th Overall
Reid Petryk - February 2, 1993 - C - Edmonton, AB

Petryk played in 2.5 seasons with the Tigers before being traded to Everett for Miles Koules. Petryk later won a memorial cup with Edmonton. 5th round and later anytime a player makes it would be considered a good selection.

5th Round - 93rd overall
Colin Mospanchuk - July 21, 1993 - RW - Winnipeg, MB

Mospanchuk was one of the last cuts the Tigers made in his 16 yr old year. He dressed for 2 games, but didn't end up back in the WHL.

6th Round - 126th overall
Victor Newell - February 23, 1993 - D - Burnaby, B.C

Victor played in the BCHL, USHL and is now playing hockey for Harvard University

Overall
Dylan Busenius
Dylan Bredo
Boston Leier
Todd Fiddler
Reid Petryk

The Tigers only had 8 selections (3 in the 3rd round) 5 players turned out to be great WHL Players.  You could consider this year as an exceptional draft year. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

WHL Bantam Draft

1st Round
18th Ryan Chyzowski C/LW  Kamloops BC 6'0 175 lb

Father is director of marketing for the Blazers and played in the NHL for the Islanders.

Ryan's Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanchyz

Scouting Report: Hard shot, Good Hockey IQ, and work ethic
Tigers Website Article: www.tigershockey.com

2nd Round
40th Layne Matechuk D  Colonsay Saskatchewan  5'10 150 lb

3rd Round
46th (Zac Robidoux trade)
Cole Clayton Defenseman Strathmore ALberta  6' 167 b

4th Round (Garret Haar Trade to Portland)
83rd Baxter Anderson C Burnaby BC  5'9 145 lb

5th Round (91th for Kale Kessy trade to vancouver)
91st Duncan McGovern G Winnipeg MB   6'1 190lb
106th Michael Johnson RW  Calgary AB 5'10 180 lb

6th Round
128th Trevor Longo D North Vancouver BC 5'11 165 lbs

7th Round
150th Dawson Heathcote LW Nanaimo BC 5'10 155 lb

8th Round
172nd Josh McNeil C Sylven Lake AB  5'8 150 lb

9th Round
191st Brennan Davis D 5'10 140lb
194th Tucker Zdunich LW High River  5'8 145lb


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Next Year's Brief Outlook (Edit May 4th)


100% Gone to Gradation.
Kyle Becker
Marek Langhamer
Tyler Lewington

Overagers Likely Moving  to Pro's
Kyle Burroughs *signed
Tommy Vannelli * signed

The Blues have a lot of defensive contracts expiring. Their will be room for Vannelli in their system. The Islanders have some depth on Defense in their system, but I think Burroughs would probably fit in nicely as a 3rd pairing guy in the AHL for next season. Their is a small chance Burroughs may get returned but I still think at this point it is unlikely.

Potential Overagers
Cole Sanford
Dryden Hunt
Trevor Cox
Ty Stanton

I think its likely all these guys will be back. Hunt/Stanton have been to NHL Camps. Hunt is also ranked on the draft lists. They will probably all get camp invites somewhere, but I think its likely they all get returned.

It is possible that any one of them gets drafted and signed. I think even if any 4 of them do, they are still very good candidates to finish their years in junior. Since they are still slightly questionable its likely a decision won't be made until they are all confirmed to be back. If they do indeed get them all back they should all demand a pretty good price.

Overages likely moved/traded/released
Markus Eisenschmid - Euro Overage (There is just not enough room even if he came back)
Anthony Ast
Chad Labelle
Matt Staples

I don't think their will be much of a market for any of the above. The Tigers will be lucky to get any sort of pick back on any of them.

Next Year's Roster  ( 2 OA forwards, 1 defense)

Forwards  (Depth purposes, don't put too much stock into line combos I just threw them together)
Sanford(20) Owre(19) Hunt(20)/Cox(20)
Penner(19)  Bradley(18) Butcher(19)
Rassal(18)  Shaw(17)  Mowbray(19)
Jevne(17) Fantillo(17) Fischer(18)
James Hamblin(16)
Michael Spacek???
PROSPECT

Trade:Hunt/Cox

Defence
Ty Stanton(20) Ty Schultz(18)  
 David Quenneville(17) Brad Forrest(18)
 PROSPECT PROSPECT
PROSPECT

Goaltender
Nick Schneider((18) - Starter
Backup - Open

Questionable
Michael Spacek(18) Forward

Last years import selection is a highly touted prospect. ranked as the 5th overall european skater. It is unknown whether he plans to come over this season. Hopefully whoever drafts him encourages him to come over to North America.

Options
The Tigers have some options they can run with. They can go with 2 OA forwards, and 1 defense, or 3 OA forwards. If they go with 3 OA forwards their defense becomes bone dry with only 2 returning players, however their top 6 becomes pretty impressive, but will have a high turnover the following year.

I think it is possible that they ask Blake Penner to move back to the point for next season. If they do that it might be possible to keep the 3 O/A forwards if incoming defensive prospects are decent, or they can snag 2 good defenceman in the import draft. However in terms of value Hunt/Cox would demand a higher price than that of Stanton.

In terms of balance I would favor the 2 OA Forwads, and 1 Defense, but final decisions likely won't be made until they can get a look at training camp next season and see what they have.(unless a good deal is offered in the off-season)

Known Prospects
http://smallatlarge.blogspot.ca/2014/08/2014-15-prospects-medicine-hat.html

Thoughts
The Tigers will have one of the most potent 1st lines in the league. Nick Schneider should be a pretty good option in net. The Tigers have a couple good young prospect goalies that will be fighting for the backup spot.

Unfortunately their forwards will still be tiny, and the massive size they had on Defense are gone so their defenceman will be tiny as well. Lack of size will be a big issue. The 18/19 yr old forwards could be used as trade bait in grabbing a defenceman, as their forward depth seems quite high.

EDIT: Removed

 IF the import Michael Spacek comes over the Tigers could have a pretty balanced attack up front. I think they will have more goal scoring depth. Their defense will be a question mark. If they can grab another key import defenceman they could potentially surprise with up and comers schultz/quenneville getting key experience this season, and could have a decent top 4. However with a lot of turnover their may be a few bumps for next season.

Their goaltending should be OK. It is way to early for predictions, but they probably won't be contending for a title, likewise they should still be good enough to compete for a playoff spot. They have potential for both a surprising dark horse year, as well as a down year. Their are a lot of unknowns with some of the incoming prospects and higher than normal turnover rate.

CHL Import Draft
The Tigers may look at drafting in 2 defenceman to recover some of the depth they lost. Michael Spacek is last years euro pick. He is a highly touted prospect from the Czech league. It is unknown if he comes over or not. Last season he played in the Czech Extraliga ( A professional men's hockey league putting up 12 points in 40 games as a 17 yr old. He also potted 1 assist in 5 games at the world juniors)

Summer Highlights

WHL Bantam Draft (Thursday May 7th)
NHL Entry Level Draft (June 26/27)
CHL Import Draft ( Tuesday June 30th)


Season Tickets
Has anybody heard anything on season Tickets?  No lease has been signed yet, 

Future (modified thoughts from above)
The Tigers will be in an interesting position next year. They should contain a huge offensive punch up front. Their goaltending will be good with Nick Schneider taking the helm. Their defense will be ravaged. Schultz, Quenneville, Stanton will likely be a fairly decent top 3, albeit a little inexperienced. If you add penner to the mix, and a potential euro Defenceman, their defense could be anywhere from poor to above average. If they could somehow snag the next Poporov/Honka (unlikely) their defense could actually be very good, and they could be a massive darkhorse that lays a serious challenge.  All dreaming aside, right now we could project their defensive as a notch below average with the inexperience.

They could be in a similar position to last year, except reverse the defense and forwards. Their age groups are fairly balanced.

It will be a see-how-it-goes type of season. Their is potential for a sell-off to bolster the 16/17 age group. Their is potential for adding some depth on the back-end to challenge Red Deer/Brandon. Right now they look like a team that is continually poised for above average years, but nothing that stands out yet. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Season

2015 started off with quite the bang.

Pre-Season
The fates of Marek Langhamer and Tommy Vannelli were a bit up in the air. Langhamer was signed by Arizona, he could have moved up to the pro ranks, however Arizona acquired some goal-tending depth in the off-season, sending langhamer back to juniors which made him the last European goaltender in the whl.

Tommy Vannelli was sent back to the Tigers fairly early. We expected for him to compete for a spot in the AHL. Normally drafted 19 yr olds are ineligible to move up, but  since he was drafted out of high school in the US, instead of the Tigers, he was eligible to move up to the AHL. The blues sent him back fairly early

Overage Surprise
With the stacked back-end, I think a lot of people expected to see Kyle Becker moved out as the last overager, but the Tigers went the other direction sending ppg forward Miles Koules To Portland. Koules was the biggest forward on the Tigers team at the time. The Tigers average size prior to the trade deadline was the smallest and lightest in the WHL.

Season Start
 The Tigers only lost once  during the first 13 games of the season. They never gave up more than 2 goals for the first 1.5 months of the season.

Their defense and goal-tending was stingy ( we knew pre-season that their back-end would be stacked) , however it was their offense that surprised.  The games weren't even close with the Tigers dominating in both ends of the rink.

Connor Hobbs
In November up and coming defensive star Connor Hobbs left the team and demanded a trade. He was getting third line minutes as one of the younger players. He was traded at the deadline along with a 2nd and 3rd for Dryden Hunt, and Kyle Burroughs. Hobbs had an impressive last half of the season with the pats.

Season Of Injuries
The Tigers had injury troubles right from the get-go. It started with Anthony Ast injured pre-season
 Markus Eisenschmid missed some time with a knee injury.  Chad Butcher was out for a while with a couple concussions.

Mason Shaw was shutdown at christmas due to season ending knee surgery.

After christmas the defense core was ravaged by injury and suspension, at one point they needed to bring back Blake Penner as the Tigers only had 3 D eligible out of the 8 on the roster.

Kyle Becker(concussion), Tommy Vannelli(broken finger), missed significant time out of the lineup as well as Steven Owre out with a Broken Jaw. Marek Langhamer also missed some time with a hip/pelvic injury.

If I'm not mistake the Tigers only played 2 periods all regular season with a healthy lineup. If you count Mason Shaw, it's only 1 period all year. In game 2 against the rebels They had a full lineup, and in game 3 Butcher went down with a fractured hand. Butcher returned for games 4, and 5 of the Hitman series.


November
Just before Christmas the Tigers were fighting with Brandon for 1st place in the Eastern Conference, and had a big healthy lead over Calgary.

Trading Deadline
The Tigers made a splash in the trade markets acquiring key players Dryden Hunt, and Kyle Burroughs, trading away disgruntled defenceman Connor Hobbs, 2nd, and 3rd round draft picks.

Despite the New acquisitions making big impacts in the lineup, with the injuries the Tigers had been sustaining they were quickly falling down the standings.

In 2014 they amassed an impressive .730 winning percentage
In the New year it dropped to a   .571 record


New Year
The New Year did not start out very well. They were crushed by Regina, a team the Tigers had just acquired 2 of their best players from.  They were defeated on Rogers Sportsnet by vancouver who had the 3rd worst record in the league.  They were also beat by Saskatoon(at the time had the worst record in the league), and back to back losses from Lethbridge(who also at the time had the worst record in the league)

However they did have bright spots as they beat the Kelowna Rockets in Kelowna which had the leagues #1 record.  Their fall from grace allowed the Hitman back into the race and they ended up capturing the division banner.

The Tigers entered the playoffs back on a winning note with a 7-3 record in the last 10 games, including sending the Arena off in Typical Tiger Fashion with a 6-2 drubbing of the Saskatoon Blades.

Playoffs Round One
They didn't know their opponent until the very last game of the season, and the Red Deer Rebels came calling.   It was a very tough series, with the Rebels owning the Tigers in the physicality department. Every game was a 1 goal game, with the Tigers getting the better of the puck luck taking the Rebels out in just 5 games.  It was game 4 where the Tigers really adapted to the Rebels style of play. The rebels arguably had more puck possession time during the first 3 games, as they were  putting lots of pressure on the Tigers defence.

It was a very low scoring series, luckily the Tigers top Line did most of the scoring needed.
5 games flattered the Tigers, as the Rebels Connor Bleakley wasn't 100% suffering from a groin injury that took him out in February.

Round 2

In Round 2, the Hitman came calling as they took out Kootenay in Round 1 in 7 games. Due to conflicts with the Saddledome, they played a very weird schedule. a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format.

Game 1 the Tigers shot themselves in the foot. They came out with a bundle of nervous energy and gift-wrapped the hitman a 2-0 lead. The Tigers dominated the game, but Calgary shutdown the Tigers topline, and the Hitman snuck out with a 3-1 win. If the Tigers had won this game, this would have completely changed the outcome of the whole series.

Game 2 would see the Tigers only victory as an overtime shot from Centre Ice by Matt Staples would tie the Series.

Game 3 The Tigers stormed out of the gate with a quick 2-0 lead. After that they got a bit complacent as Calgary scored 5 straight goals en route to a 5-4 victory.

Game 4 was a heartbreaker. The Tigers played terrible during the first 2 periods, but came out on fire in the 3rd period and OT. Defensive breakdowns would cost them and the Hitman walked out with a 3-1 series lead. This heartbreaker would end up being the last WHL game played at the old arena.

Game 5 was another heartbreaker with Calgary scoring the series winning goal in double overtime.

Year In Review
Being  honest this year left a sour taste in my mouth. I think its the first year in the last 13 where I felt the Tigers didn't perform to expectations. A 2nd round exit is not good enough.

It's easy to point fingers on coulda shoulda, but there are a few things I was hesitant about/didn't necessarily like.

I was a bit surprised on keeping Becker over Koules. Koules did have a poor start, but he also had poor starts the previous 2 seasons.One wonders if Becker was the odd guy out, if that would have meant Hobbs staying put and more offense and a bigger body from Koules. I didn't like the move for 2 reasons because at the time the defense was strong, and the Tigers issue was scoring and size up front.

 I felt the Tigers didn't adequately address the size issue up front at the deadline. Their were bigger body players available that could put up a few points. Virtually none of their goals were garbage goals, which are important parts of any championship team, their size was just too small up front, and the Tigers had defenseman taking faceoffs, and joining rushes behind the opponents net occasionally.

They brought in hunt who scored some goals, but unfortunately something you can't predict the production from Chad Butcher and Markus Eisenschmid both suffered.

I  felt round 2 was an example of how the Tigers year went. I felt their was a lot of complacency in their game. Bad Mistakes at key moments in the game  haunted them when they lost. It seemed like the coaches would harp on the rookies if they made mistakes, but when the vets made a lazy play nothing was mentioned on the bench.. Not naming names there were some vets that at times needed benching with their lazy play.

The Tigers defense would often be forced to come in to protect sanford/cox and they took a beating over the course of the season. Lewington fought through injuries, and took on some tough fights early in the season. I don't know for sure but I expect he played through some pain this season.

Their PP never really clicked during the entire year and most often their PP would fail when they needed it most. Combine that with injury troubles and that seemed a recipe for a down year.

Like I said above coulda/shoulda/ #armchairGM

Next Year's Outlook coming up shortly. They have lots of decisions to make in the offseason.

RIP 2015. Hitman Advance with a 4-3 2OT Win

Well the Tigers hockey season came to an end late friday night.

Hitman forward Jake Virtanen scored with 45 seconds left in the third period to tie the game and Travis Sanheim scored in double overtime to defeat the Tigers 4-3 and take the series 4-1.

Good Luck to the Hitman in the rest of the playoffs.  Will post some thoughts in a few days about the current season, and the Tigers future. Bitter feeling as the last game in the arena for the Tigers was a poorly attended playoff game with a heartbreaking overtime loss. Would have liked to see it go out in style.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hitmen Take 1-0 Series Lead

Don't know what to make of that game. I though the game flow was a bit lopsided in favor of the Tigers, but they kept shooting themselves in the foot at the end of their plays. As a result the finish wasn't their and they gave the hitmen some opportunities to score that shouldn't happen.

Breaking out of their own end and coming up through the nuetral zone the Tigers played really well but once they got into the offensive zone it was like dawn approaching  a horde of trolls, with everything turning to stone once they started thinking about taking a shot on net.

They came out of the gate with a lot of nervous energy. Couldn't quite get the handle of the puck, even langhamer suffered through it, with a couple goals along the ice he normally stops. The Tigers handed the Hitman an early 2-0 lead with a few bad giveaways, and credit to the Hitman for capitalizing on their chances as they didn't get very many. It's not often 14 shots on goal will win  a regular season game, let alone a playoff game.
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Even though the Tigers were down 2-1 going into the third period it felt like they would overcome it, but somehow off a scramble play, the puck was in the back of the Tigers net.

Turnaround Play
For me the moment happened when Mack Shields somehow made a cross crease unbelievable glove hand save. That moment it could have been the backbreaker that tied the game and opened the floodgates

Next Up
Both teams get a day off and then they play back to back games in Calgary Sunday, Monday

Monday, April 6, 2015

Round Two Schedule

Game 1: Friday, Apr. 10/15 @Medicine Hat 7:30pm
Game 2: Sunday, Apr. 12/15 @Calgary 4:00pm
Game 3: Monday, Apr. 13/15 @Calgary 7:00pm
Game 4: Wednesday Apr, 15/15 @ Medicine Hat 7:00 PM

 It's going to be a weird schedule with the Tigers starting the series @ home, and game 2 taking place @ 4 PM.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Off To Round 2!!!!

Series Summary
Game 1 2-1 Tigers
Game 2 1-0 Tigers OT
Game 3 2-1 Rebels
Game 4 5-3 Tigers
Game 5 4-3 Tigers


First Two Games
For the first 3 games the series was a defensive slugfest. The ref's put their whistle's away and there wasn't much room out there to move. The rebels were hitting everything, both teams were taking care of defense first and is slowed the offensive chances to a crawl. The Tigers found out early that they would be forced to dump the puck on many occasions.

The Tigers themselves were committing to Defense, and received great goal-tending from Marek Langhamer. Despite not scoring many goals they were patient and didn't get frustrated staying away from the after the whistle rough stuff, and didn't shoot themselves in the foot.

 The first two games could have gone either way. The Tigers were fortunate to come out with both games. They capitalized on a couple chances and it was enough, as the Rebels had a real tough time scoring goals.  I though Conner Bleakley was a force in game 1. I thought after that the rebels captain wasn't as strong. I suspect he wasn't fully recovered from an injury, as he missed a lot of time late in the season, and Cole Sanford laid him out with a strong hit at the end of game 1.

In Red Deer For Games 3 & 4
The rebels were absolutely fired up in game 3, and in game 3 they hit their peak. They played great as a team and at this point it did look a bit scary that this series would go 7 games. They outplayed the Tigers, and squeaked by them with a 2-1 score.  I'd say the puck possession was probably 65-35 for them, and after this game it almost looked like they found the formula to stopping the Tigers.

Game 4 Series Turning Point
I'm pointing to game 4 for the series turning point because it was in game 4 where the Tigers were able to adapt to the Rebels intense forecheck and come out with speed.  In the second period it was all Tigers as they hounded chance after chance and potted 2 goals in the second period.

They did a lot better job at supporting each other away from the puck. I think they adapted to the rebels strong physical play, and were more prepared to take a hit to make the play. They did a better job at owning their own space and had some pushback winning more one on one battles, which the rebels had previously held a bigger edge.

Game 5
Was similar to Game 4 in terms of game flow, however the Tigers didn't help themselves getting into penalty troubles. They were a lot more aggressive and took 7 penalties. The game was more free-flowing and I think because of that the refs called a few more penalties. Despite the tie game into the 3rd period, it just felt like it was a matter of time before the Tigers would score again. The Tigers had more chances, and it felt like the rebels were just hanging on.

Then with 1:46 left in the game Trevor Cos sniped the game winner top corner glove side.

I thought the Rebels goaltender had a real tough night in the net. He was fighting the puck as evident by some of the rebounds and close calls that were happening. Their were a couple goals scored he might have liked to have back.

Tigers Win 4 Game to 1.

Next UP
They await the winner of the Calgary Vs Kootenay series. Kootenay won their last 2 games and are taking the Hitmen to Game 7 Monday night.

If Calgary wins the Tigers start on the Road. If Kootenay wins the Tigers will start at home!

Interesting Factoid: Since Willie Took the Helm in the 2002/2003 season the Tigers they have only failed to make it to round 2 just once in the last 13 years.