SURVIVOR SERIES KICKS OFF THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHTS IN WEYBURN
by the Voice of the Red Wings, Steven Wilson from discoverweyburn.com
The SJHL postseason kicks off tonight, when the Weyburn Red Wings host the Kindersley Klippers for game one of their best-of-five survivor series matchup. The two teams come into the series with a split in the regular season, with each team picking up two wins. While many consider the playoffs to be a whole new season, it doesn’t hurt to look back at how the two teams stack up based on their regular season performances.
Kindersley comes into the game relying on two netminders: Justen Close and Nick Trenciansky. The two gave logged similar minutes, but the key is the number of shutouts posted by the two. They have seven on the season, Close with five, Trenciansky with two. When not posting shutouts, though, both have been known to give up a lot of goals. Close, over the course of the season, has posted a GAA of 2.93, and a save percentage of .912. Trenciansky, while getting the two goose eggs, has had some shaky games, with a save percentage of .902.
For the Red Wings, the three goaltender system has worked well for them. Carter Phair, Shaun Fleming and Jake MacLennan have all played well, and kept the team in a position to win most games. The trio had the Wings in the most 1-goal games of any other team in the league this season, and were one of the few teams on the year to not lose by six or more goals. Phair is the starter for the team, and his save percentage of .919 is nothing to sneeze at. Behind him for this series will be MacLennan. The rookie from Maine has been stellar when called upon, and has shown himself to be a goaltender of the future for the team.
The Kindersley Klippers have had a number of players move through the blue line this year. They are led by Clive Rozdeba, a 20-year-old who has been a key part of their defence since coming over in a trade with Nipawin last season. He is joined by Andrew McCann, a pickup last year from the Humboldt Broncos who has shown himself to be a tough player. McCann and Rozdeba are also contributors on the scoresheet, combining for 65 points from the blue line, and 31 of those on the power play. The Klippers also have a strong veteran presence outside McCann and Rozdeba. The Klippers blueline, though, has allowed their opponents to get a lot of shots on goal, averaging nearly 35.
The Red Wings have relied on the defensive prowess of returning players Mike Eskra and Blake Dempsey to steer the new faces along the blue line. Devon Becker, Carson Scheschuk, Dylan McCabe, Jamieson Ree, Erik Olson and Jevon Schwean are all in their first year wearing the Winged Wheel, and have been steady the whole time. The defensive corps hasn’t picked up huge numbers of points, compared to some other teams, but they have limited the shots against the netminders behind them. Weyburn gives up the fifth fewest shots per game in the league. The fresh faces, combined with the veteran presence (and a defenseman of the year nominee) give Weyburn a strong blue line heading into the series.
The Kindersley Klippers are a team that has scored in bunches all season, but hasn’t been able to get the bunches to come at the right time. Combined with the loss of Josh Bly in a trade to the Nipawin Hawks, the Klippers have had to go to a scoring by committee formula, which had brought them some success, but has started to die down. Brandon Wagner and Cody Hodgson have lead the way for the Klippers, with rookie Jordan Funk helping out, and also getting some scoring from gritty forward Carson Pickett. There is a sharp drop off once you get past the top two lines. The depth many teams look to for scoring in the postseason hasn’t been seen yet in Kindersley, so they will be looking for that to change.
The Weyburn Red Wings have also been scoring by committee, although as of late, a few players have stepped up to get the job done. Jake Wozney led the team in points, and now Carson Rose has regained his Midas touch around the net. The two 20-year-olds have been on fire as of late, and have been getting help from a number of players throughout the roster. Connor Burk, Cole Woodliffe, Ian Parker, Donavon Lumb, Landon Walters and more have all found the scoresheet as of late. Weyburn will need the continued offense to be able to pick up the win. Another key will be to test the goaltending of Kindersley with quality chances whenever possible.
The Klippers have been a team which has found themselves shorthanded frequently, giving up 338 power plays over the course of 58 games. That works out to nearly six power plays for their opponent per game. With a penalty kill of 82 per cent, this means the Klippers re giving up over one power play goal per game, which could be the difference maker come the postseason. When they get the man advantage, the Klippers have only been able to capitalise on 17 per cent of their power plays, less than a goal a game. This difference will be key.
For the Red Wings, they did have some struggles with the power play and penalty kill early in the season, but the players have adapted to Wes Rudy’s systems, and have been making it work as of late. For a team which had a penalty kill of close to 70 per cent just a short while ago, the Wings have picked it up, and are now clicking along at 78.4 per cent. They are also averaging less than one power play goal against per game, which will help them out in the playoffs. The power play has also improved as of late. The Wings, with just 237 power play opportunities on the season, the second fewest in the league, have scored on 16.5 per cent of their chances. Those numbers have been steadily improving in the past few weeks as well.
It all begins tonight at Crescent Point Place. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. You can catch all the action live on Red Wing Radio K106, starting with the pre-game show at 7:20 p.m.
Game Day Preview sponsored by Tim Hortons