A couple of days removed from the game four loss in Grande Prairie, and I’m still not sure I have a ton to say about it.
Talking to a few of the coaches and players on the bus, the consensus is, the Wheelers simply wanted it more. But, that’s not to say that the pups didn’t try. In their first games of their round series against Beaverlodge, the pups didn’t try. But against GP, they put in an effort, and also got better as the series wore on. It’s tough to argue with a sweep, and while the Huskies may have had more talent on the ice, it wasn’t such a huge gap that Grande Prairie couldn’t overcome it. Inspired by internet pioneer Dave Dawson in Whitecourt, the Wheelers figured out how to play hockey, and play it very well. So props to Grande Prairie on excellent team play, team defence, and team discipline. Grande Prairie has several stud D-men, two capable goalies, a promising coach, and depth up front, so it should be no surprise that they were as good as they were this year, and no-one should be surprised to see them at least compete with Whitecourt.
But, there are lots of good things to say about the Huskies, now that the season is over. We can start with the individual awards.
Cody Kalb finally won the NWJHL scoring title, after being close for the past couple of seasons. CK continued to put up points in the playoffs, posting pretty much the same numbers as in the regular season (71 points in 34 games in the season / 20 points in 9 games in the playoffs). I think it’s safe to say goalies around the league will be glad to never again see CK play Jr. hockey, and that the pups will miss his consistent production.
Robbie Sidhu was a well-chosen NWJHL rookie of the year, and his spot on the top line amplifies his selection. When you consider that Dylan A. won the award two years ago, and Kole Norris was robbed last year, it helps show the depth of hockey in this town, and also the strength of the Tracker-Flyer program.
As soon as a team is eliminated, we naturally start looking ahead to next year, and what the 2010/2011 version will look like. For the Huskies, the challenge will be dealing with 7 guys eligible to return as overage players, with only 4 spots up for grabs. As well, there are a few guys that have already become key players (such as Sidhu, Campbell, and Gullickson) who are still junior age, but may head on to bigger and better things.
As well, the team may be needing a new coach next year, with BK now three years in. BK has so far declined to make an official statement on his return, but my sense is that he’ll be moving on, and deservedly so. I mean, it’s a lot of late nights, and weekends, and for a guy with a family and a career, that’s tough to keep up. BK has given a lot to this organization, and if he elects to move on, it’s my hope he will be answered with a resounding “okay Bob, we appreciate you doing it for 3 years.”
But, despair not. Anyone who’s seen the Trackers play this year (or knows how hockey works in FSJ) will agree there’s plenty of talent waiting in the wings. The three guys that played on the blue line for the pups in the playoffs (Poggenpohl, Walters, Green) all have bundles of skill, and the only question may turn out to be what level they decide to play at. As well, you’ve got guys like P Wongstedt, K Norris, R Sidhu, C Hildebrand, all of the Macs, and both Apsassins all still eligible to play. I know there are a ton of people in this community, so finding someone to coach this team should be feasible. I’m also of the opinion that Jeremy Clothier could do it himself, if you give him a couple of dedicated helpers.
So, at the end of the day, it’s only March, and 2010/2011 is already looking good.
And so, to wrap things up, I thought we would name JZ and MF’s 2009/2010 awards. As you probably guessed, our awards come with no trophy, no cash, no prize, and no fame.
MVP – Payden Wongstedt
Top forward – Cody Kalb
Top defenceman – Payden Wongstedt
Most improved – Cody Hildebrand
Best dice player – TSP (worst – Bill Snow)
Playoff three stars:
1) Cody Kalb
2) Luke McInerney
3) Brighton Campbell
Other names up for consideration were Tyson Pederson and Kole Norris, who both impressed in the playoffs.
In closing, I’ll just say another kudos to the Huskies on a strong season, and thanks for letting us be part of it again.