Monday, 21 May 2018

Skinner nearly works a miracle for Broncos, Bulldogs prevail 2-1

Broncos G Stuart Skinner stones Bulldogs RW Isaac Nurse.
    REGINA, Sask. – Stuart Skinner gave his Swift Current Broncos every chance to win a game they were terribly outplayed in.
    The 19-year-old star netminder made 54 saves in Monday’s Memorial Cup round robin game against the Hamilton Bulldogs, but the Bulldogs just skated away with a 2-1 victory before an announced crowd of 5,820 spectators at the Brandt Centre.
    With the two clubs locked in 1-1 tie, the Bulldogs entered the Swift Current offensive zone on a well-executed rush late in the third period.
    Centre Brandon Saigeon passed the puck up to defenceman Benjamin Gleason.
MacKenzie Entwistle gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the first.
    Gleason found left-winger Marian Studenic with a backdoor pass across the front of the Swift Current net.
    Studenic corralled the puck at the right side of the Swift Current cage and fired a shot over top of a sprawled out Skinner with 2:01 to play in the third to give the Bulldogs a one-goal victory.
    Hamilton netminder Kaden Fulcher turned away 21 shots to pick up the win in goal for the OHL champs.
    “I felt good,” said Skinner. “I felt ready the whole time.
    “I know I want to win this thing really badly, and I know my team does too. We can make lots of excuses I’m sure. I think we just need to make sure that we come out harder to play.
    “When we show up, I believe that no team can beat us. If we show up the way that I know how we can, I think we will be just fine.”
Colby Sissons fired home a second period power-play goal for the Broncos.
    Hamilton went ahead 1-0 scoring on the power play at the 5:49 mark of the first period, when right-winger MacKenzie Entwistle fired home the rebound from a shot taken by linemate Ryan Moore.
    From that point, the Skinner made a number of huge stops for the rest of the frame, as the Bulldogs held a 22-4 edge in shots on goal.
    Early in the second period, Skinner made a huge glove stop to rob Bulldogs right-winger Isaac Nurse on a breakaway.
    The Broncos started to make a push back, and they had their first big scoring chance at the 7:47 mark of the second period, when right-winger Beck Malenstyn tried to poke a puck past Fulcher directly in front of the Hamilton net.
    Malenstyn was tackled to the ice by Bulldogs defenceman Nicolas Mattinen causing a scrum to ensure.
Broncos defenceman Sahvan Khaira wins a battle for the puck.
    The Broncos came away with a power-play chance, and they cashed in on that opportunity, when offensive defenceman Colby Sissons drove home a point shot to force a 1-1 tie.
    After that, Skinner kept filling up a highlight reel of big saves until Studenic scored late in the third.
    Shortly after Studenic’s goal, Skinner robbed Bulldogs star centre Robert Thomas with a glove stop on a breakaway chance.
    He received a big salute at the end of the game, when he came to pick up his award as the first star of the contest.
    “They came out, and they played hard,” said Skinner. “They played the right way.
    “They wanted it a lot more than we wanted it tonight.”
    The win allowed the Bulldogs to improve to 1-1 in the round robin standings.
Marian Studenic (#28) celebrates his game-winning goal.
    They face the QMJHL champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan (2-0) on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Brandt Centre in the final round robin game for both of those clubs.
    The WHL champion Broncos fell to 0-2, and they need to win their final round robin game against the host Regina Pats (1-1) on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Brandt Centre to stay alive in the tournament.
    That clash will be the final round robin game for both the Broncos and Pats.
    The Broncos hit the ice on Monday without star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen, and Broncos head coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros said Steenbergen is a game-time decision on Wednesday.
    Broncos defenceman Josh Anderson said it would have helped his side, if Steenbergen was able to go.
    “He is a great player for us,” said Anderson. “He plays a big role.
    “When a key guy goes out, you definitely miss him out there.”
Stuart Skinner salutes the Brandt Centre crowd after Monday’s game.
    Anderson said it was tough for his team to be in a spot, where they are trying to avoid elimination in the tournament.
    “Obviously, it is not a situation we want to be in,” said Anderson. “We’ve had a couple of Game 7s in the (WHL) post-season.
    “We know how to handle certain things, but it was never facing elimination in the Memorial Cup. It is something new for everyone.”
    Skinner believes his squad will come out with a big effort in Wednesday’s clash with the Pats.
    The Broncos eliminated the Pats in a tough seven-game series in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
    “It is going to be a really good game I think,” said Skinner. “Obviously, we know them well. They know us well.
    “Obviously, we got them eliminated in (WHL) playoffs, so they are going to be coming out hard. If we don’t match that or go higher than that, we could be in trouble. I know the guys will come out (hard).”

Ridley nears 3,900th call, 4,000 a possibility

Bob Ridley, right, calls a game at the 2007 Memorial Cup with Barry Prins.
   At the Memorial Cup, the question comes up.
    Someone always asks me, “How is Bob Ridley doing?”
    The question comes from the fact I spent 10 seasons from 2004 to 2014 covering the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers as a beat writer for the Medicine Hat News.
    Ridley, who is the iconic play-by-play voice of the Tigers, is not at the 100th Memorial Cup as the Tigers weren’t able to have one of the special seasons to qualify for major junior hockey’s prestige event. With that said, he is always on the minds of the people who have been involved with the major junior ranks at any level.
    Ridley’s mark for games called as the play-by-play voice of one hockey team is pretty much untouchable, and he is approaching even more astonishing grounds.
    After the Tigers were eliminated with a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 6 of a first round playoff series with the Brandon Wheat Kings on April 1, Ridley has called 3,861 of the 3,862 contests the Tigers have played in the regular season, standings tiebreakers, WHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup tournament.
    That total includes 3,435 of the Tigers 3,436 regular season games, the one standings tiebreaker game the club appeared in, all of the Tigers 405 games in the WHL playoffs and all 20 of their contests in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Tigers have appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1973, 1987, 1988, 2004 and 2007 and won the event in 1987 and 1988.
Bob Ridley gets set to drive the Tigers bus in the 2012 WHL playoffs.
    Going into the upcoming WHL regular season, Ridley needs to call 39 more games to reach his 3,900th call. Over the next two seasons, Ridley could possibly call his 4,000th game, if he calls all of the Tigers regular season games over that period of time and the team reaches the post-season once during that span. He has been the Tigers only play-by-play voice in their 48 campaigns of existence.
    Next season, the WHL regular season schedule is shrinking from 72 games to 68 games. If the schedule had remained at 72 games, a Tigers playoff appearance wouldn’t have been necessary for Ridley to reach 4,000 games called.
    As it stands already, someone could call 80 games on average between the regular season and playoffs each season for 48 seasons and still fall short of Ridley’s current total of 3,861 games called.
    Of course, Ridley drove the Tigers team bus for most of that stretch.
    Way back in August of 2006, I interviewed Ridley, who was 62-years-old at the time, and he gave a sweet quote about how long he planned to keep going.
    “One of these days I am going to have to retire,” said Ridley. “You can’t do it forever.
    “But, it has been a great ride. I hope to stay on as long as I can.”
    Ridley will be 74-years-old during the next WHL season, and he will always be “the Dean” of major junior hockey broadcasters. One day, there should be a place for him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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