Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tigers Win First Ever Game @ The Canalta Center

First Impressions 
This was my first Canalta Experience.  The lineup in the front of the building was massive, so I headed to the back for a lineup that was half the size and fast moving.

 I think it was a poor decision to not let people in until 50ish minutes before game-time, it led to massive lineups in front of the building. I don't expect this place to sell-out continuously, therefore lineups will be shorter, but with sellouts in winter and cold temperatures, these lines will need to shorten and I'd highly suggest opening the doors earlier to help alleviate that. I think with more experience under their belt the staff will also be able to move people quicker as well.

I arrived 45 minutes early and the parking lot was jam packed. I did my pre-scouting and had a good spot that allowed a quick exit so I'm not going to give out my secret:P but I"ll give you a hint that the back way had virtually no lineup to get out and was likely faster heading to the #1 and avoiding the mass of cars going down the box springs road.

I was absolutely blown away. The rink has a professional feel. The clashing of sticks and pucks even sounded like an NHL arena. The sound perhaps could have been a half notch louder, but not having the exact same songs play that the old arena had, was refreshing.

The glass along the boards had a lot of give compared to the old arena so hopefully that will reduce some injuries.  The open floor concept was neat. The arena was brightly lit, and had an NHL calibre jumbotron. Replays after highlight reel plays. A video tribute to Bob Ridley, Kisscam, the works. Shaw was broadcasting the event, so I wonder if "The works" and replays will still be there on non televised days.

 I think in the first intermission virtually everyone was out to explore. It was very difficult to move around. People standing in the middle. No real flow.  Concessions had long lineups, it was difficult to maneuver past the 50-50 booths. The 2nd floor was neat, you could look down on the hoards of people struggling to get past each other on the main concourse.

 The second intermission had a little better flow, but I guess one can expect the lineups to be longer when 6000 people are in this building. The official attendance was 5947. 1941 more fans than the 4006 old arena could hold. It will be interesting to see if the new Arena consistently breaks the 4006 mark.

The Game
The Tigers roared out the gate. Scoring 4 goals when the game was only 10 minutes old, they cemented the win before the seats were even warm. Max Gerlach scored the first goal with a beautiful setup from Butcher and Schultz on the powerplay.

After those 4 goals I'd give the edge in terms of gameplay to the Hurricanes.  The Hurricanes shut the Tigers down in the second period changing up their forecheck. The Tigers appeared to be sleeping and just playing with the lead. In the third the Tigers adapted and had more scoring chances, but the canes managed to pot a couple goals late to make things interesting.

It was hard to concentrate on the hockey with the new building. Their powerplay was real good with the cross crease pass connecting twice. They had some troubles in the second period with the 2 man forecheck the canes pressed on them. What did you think of the new arena?

Up Next: The Tigers take a 2 game road trip to Saskatoon and Prince Albert. They are back in town Oct 6 (next tuesday) when Kelowna Visits.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dryden Hunt Traded To Moose Jaw|Schneider Signs with Flames

Two Big Pieces of New today.

Schneider Signs with the Flames
Massive accomplishment for a goaltender who was a free agent invite and hasn't performed as a full season starter yet. Congratulations to Schneider!

The Tigers expect him back in the lineup for Friday.

Hunt Traded to Moose Jaw
Due to the overage numbers it was expected.

 The Tigers received a 2nd in 2016, and a 3rd in 2018. For the glut of overagers this season, those returns are pretty good.  The Tigers recovered the picks sent away in the Hobbs >Hunt/Burroughs deal last season.

Current Tigers Away At Camp
Markus Eisenschmid (Montreal Main Camp)
Nick Schneider (Flames Main Camp)

Trevor Cox was returned to the Tigers today.

Eisenschmid is looking for a contract in montreal. and could be a late returnee, if he does not get signed. Also Rylan Rommelare, and Marshall Skapski are no longer listed on the Tigers Season Roster. Their roster appears to be set.

Forwards   (Depth Purposes Just threw names together)
Sanford(20) Owre(19) Cox(20)
Mowbray(19)  Bradley(18) Butcher(19)
Rassal(18)  Shaw(17)  Fischer(18)
Jevne(17) James Hamblin(16) Fantillo(17) 

Max Gerlach(17)
Tyler Preziuso(16)
Markus Eisenschmid(20)

Ty Stanton(20) OA Tamas Laday(19)
Ty Schultz(18)   David Quenneville(17)
Brad Forrest(18) Connor Clouston(19)
Alexei Platonov (17)

Nick Schneider(18)
Evan Johnson(19)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NHL Camps

Last Edit: Sept 21st

Current Tigers Away At Camp
Trevor Cox (Washington Main Camp)
Matthew Bradley (Surgery for Benign Tumour)
Markus Eisenschmid (Montreal Main Camp)
Dryden Hunt (Returned to MH)
Ty Stanton (Released From Detriot)
Cole Sanford (Returned to MH)
Nick Schneider (Flames Main Camp)

3 Tigers still in Main Camps. The Flames have split squad games today with the Oilers, but Schneider is not slated to be dressed.

Markus Eisenschmid last known status was injured in Montreal. Not much at all in Washington about Trevor Cox. Washington opens their pre-season today, but Cox is not dressed on their initial roster.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tigers Aquire Clouston

Connor Clouston that is....

Medicine Hat, AB -- The Medicine Hat Tigers have acquired 6'3" defenceman Connor Clouston from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for a 2016 5th Round Bantam Draft pick.

Clouston is entering his third WHL season and split time with the Kamloops Blazers and Warriors last season collecting 2 assists in 47 games. Overall in 102 WHL games, Clouston has 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points and 128 penalty minutes.

The Tigers are continuing their preseason against Clouston's former team this weekend as they start a home and home with the Warriors beginning Friday evening in Ralston and continuing Saturday at Mosaic Place.

Clouston is a big defenceman with a bit of a mean streak. This gives the Tigers more options to run with and room to make a cut. Connor is the son of GM Sean Clouston.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pre-Season Outlook

I had the chance to view the Tigers in Swift Current on the weekend. Let's go through what the roster looks like this season.

The First number is total players still on the Roster, The second number is the actual number after ineligible players are removed. (using the 2 Forward, 1 Dman Overage ratio)

Forwards  (16)(15)   (Depth Purposes Just threw names together)
Sanford(20) Owre(19) Hunt(20)/Cox(20)
Mowbray(19)  Bradley(18) Butcher(19)
Rassal(18)  Shaw(17)  Fischer(18)
Jevne(17) James Hamblin(16) Fantillo(17) 

Max Gerlach(17)
Tyler Preziuso(16)
Markus Eisenschmid(20)

The Tigers really only have 1 more cut to make here, minus the 15's, and 20's, barring trades. They very well may decide to keep them all if no one falters or lags behind. Eisenschmid is still on the roster.

Defence (9)(8)
Ty Stanton(20) OA Ty Schultz(18)  
Tamas Laday(19) David Quenneville(17)
 Brad Forrest(18) Connor Clouston
Alexei Platonov (17)
Marshall Skapski(17)
Matt Staples(20) Overager*

The Tigers have 0 expected cuts to make minus the 15's and overagers, barring trades. The inexperience is quite high, but that is to be expected with their top 4 Dmen moving on.

Nick Schneider(18)
Evan Johnson(19)
Rylan Rommelaere (16)

One cut to make with the Goalies.

Unusual Numbers
This is highly unusual for the Tigers this year. Going into their first exhibition game cutswise they don't have many decisions to make minus the 15's and overagers. 0-1 Forward Cut, 0 defensive cuts, 1 Goalie Cut. Their roster is very close to being set minus the OA and 15 yr old cuts.

One wonders about the quality of camp this season or if they just decided to make more decisions earlier or invite less players.

Pre-Season Viewings

I was impressed with David Quenneville, Brad Forrest, Chad Butcher, Nick Schneider, Mason Shaw All 5 stood out in their play and looked like they were playing among prospects. 

New Guys
Tomas LadayLaday looked like an intimidating presence. He wasn't afraid to stand up for teammates, in my first viewing he reminded me of former Tiger Matt McCue, tall and lanky not afraid to get physical but sometimes takes an extra half a second to get control of the puck.

Alexei Platonov - Looks like he will need some seasoning as he appeared quite raw. He was quite passive  and stayed away from play along the boards. He did display a smart and quick first pass out of the zone. He did finally show some aggression after he got hit in the corner. I'm expecting him to be a 3rd line/depth player this season.

James Hamblin - 1st rounder last season had exceptional speed. He was pushed around/off-balance quite a bit but his speed definitely stood out. When he grows into that speed he could be a very fun player to watch.

Ryan Jevne - We saw some of him last season,  his shot stood out beating bronco goaltender top shelf stick side from the half wing.

The Defense has changed significantly from last season with lots of veteran experience graduating to the pro's. Right now the Tigers stand at 6 defenceman not including overagers. If you plug in 1 Defensive overage that puts them at 7 men which makes it appear to look like they are going to go with the 1 OA defense option.  If they do happen to move both defensive OA's, it is highly likely that a move will need to acquire another defenseman for depth purposes.

Their are 4 big question marks with the Defense. The 2 Euro's. Laday was a 2nd-3rd line guy from Spokane. Standing 6'6 the Tigers will need him to provide a top 4 presence and help take care of the smaller lineup. Platonov stands 6'5 after watching him I think he is more of a 3rd line/depth defenseman for this season.

Another big 2 questions will be how much has Schultz/Quenneville improved.  Those 2 have huge opportunities this season to make big splashes in the lineup. This appears to be a  group that has "potential", Sometimes potential flattens out, sometimes it performs better than expectations. Quenneville impressed me in his pre-season play in Swift, and I expect to see some real good things with schultz as well.

In regards to Defensive skill they have 1 bonda-fida top line defenceman, and a bunch of guys that are 2nd pairing/3rd pairing guys. I want to say that their  top end depth won't be as good as the top teams in the league, however I am almost expecting Schultz and Quenneville to have breakout years.  Still the variables on defense are unproven. I'm on the fence putting this group as slightly below average with potential but that is my first instinct until proven otherwise.

 Arguably the best 1st line in the CHL, The 2nd line has potential to be very good as well with Butcher, Bradley, and possibly Shaw. They are 1 player away from having a solid top 6 so one of the new guys (shaw/mowbray?) will have to fill that role. They will need Matt Bradley and Chad Butcher to step up and provide some solid secondary scoring.

After that it is a bunch of unproven players with a good deal of potential looking to make their mark. I don't believe the Tigers will have trouble scoring goals purely because their top line is likely to score almost every night.  The question will be whether their depth can step up and take some pressure of the top 2 lines and coach so the first line doesn't have to be solely relied on.

 Is this group is a one line team? or will some of the rookies/last year's 4th liners step up and make this more of an all-around offense? I really we see some players breakout because looking to next season with the loss of sanford/cox/hunt they really need a couple rookies to hit 40 points.

Even with the Off-season acquisition,  I think Schneider will probably get the majority of the starts. In my viewings I give Schneider the #1 spot, and Johnson/Rommelaere are fighting for the backup spot.

With my viewing of Johnson he was solid but put out of position very quickly which is a sign of inexperience or maybe over-eagerness. Pre-season is much different than regular season in regards to shot strenght watching the zip from the veterans to the knuckleballs of the rookies. The Tigers aren't crunched for numbers this year so they have time to make the goalie decision if needed.

Trevor Cox - Washington
Cole Sanford - Edmonton
Dryden Hunt - Montreal
Ty Stanton - Detroit
Matt Staples - ??
Markus Eisenschmid - Montreal

The Roster is shaping up with 2 forwards and 1 defenceman. It would be very hard to breakup the dynamic duo of Cole Sanford/Trevor Cox. Those 2 led the league in points for the majority of the season. Likewise if someone offered up an arm and a leg for both the Tigers would still have 2 very capable forwards in Markus Eisenschmid and Dryden Hunt.

In terms of size I would very much like to see Hunt on the roster, but again breaking up something that works is not a good thing either.

Moose Jaw had one import but their Russian just got approved to come over. Swift  has room for an import, and could possibly be open to upgrading their 20's

Probability of an OA getting snapped up
One of the things I like doing is looking at the depth of the NHL/AHL teams and guestimating the possibility of who is coming back. It is a combination of roster numbers, talent, and room that determines where a player will end up.

Ty Stanton - Detroit has 7 signed NHL and AHL guys. If Stanton gets signed I think he is still likely to come back. Not a whole lot of room in their system.

Trevor Cox - Washington could use a couple more signed guys in their system. It is almost unheard of for unsigned/undrafted undersized players to get signed and make the jump.  He is more of a playmaker so if he can continually set guys up he could warrant a long look. I think he is likely to be sent back even if signed.

Cole Sanford - I do not like the way the Oilers have handled their prospects. They continually risk pulling them up too fast for teams that have been in the basement. Not only does that risk ruining them, but they also burn a year of their ELC in a down year.

Oilers have 25 signed forwards and 24 spots. Thier might be a sliver of space available. I wouldn't be surprised to see some movement with their new guys in office. I'm not as confident in saying he will be back if signed, but I think it would be the right thing to do for his development. If he gets signed and the Oilers make a few trades with their prospects he is less likely to be headed back.

Dryden Hunt - Montreal has some room for 1-2 forwards in their system. I expect they are looking for a prospect or two to sign and put in their system.
Markus Eisenschmid - Same as above

Dryden Hunt is a very montrealish sounding name. I almost want to make a waaay off prediction and say he gets plucked up just for that. If either gets signed I'm unsure on their path back.

NHL Rookie Camps
NHL Rookie Camps open up this weekend. As usual I will scour the forums/twitterverse and keep you up to date on whatever I can find.

Note - Former Tender Tyler Bunz was not re-signed with Edmonton and is currently a free agent.

Their are a lot of new players or last years 4th line players looking to provide more of an impact this season.  In the game against Swift even without their top line their speed was too quick for the broncos to handle which is a very good sign considering swift was playing their top line, and the Tigers were not.

I don't really know what to expect from them this season. Their are quite a few variables. The rebels will make moves as they are hosting the memorial Cup. Calgary still retains a good deal of defensive talent. Edmonton Kootenay are looking at rebuilding years, and lethbridge is ripe for having their parents push them out of the basement.

 I think a safe prediction would be that we could expect them to fight for the #3 spot in the division, depending on their variables I could see them as high as #2, as low as 4. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blake Penner Retires

Bob Ridley tweeted a couple hours ago that Medicine Hat Product Blake Penner has decided to retire from hockey due to recurring back problems.

Best of Luck to Blake in your future endeavours.