Sunday, 20 May 2018

Titan clash with Pats proves Memorial Cup up for grabs

Pats LW Robbie Holmes (#32) battles Titan D Elijah Francis for the puck.
    REGINA, Sask. – There are no guarantees at the 2018 Memorial Cup, if Sunday’s clash between the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and the Regina Pats is any indication.
    Just 13 seconds into the round robin clash, Pats overage right-winger Cameron Hebig lifted a shot over top of a sprawled out Titan netminder Evan Fitzpatrick to give his side a 1-0 lead. The Titan proceeded to rally back to take a 6-2 lead after the second period chasing Pats starting 17-year-old netminder Max Paddock from the Regina goal stopping 26-of-32 shots fired his way.
    Veteran Ryan Kubic came in at the start of the third and was beaten on the first shot he faced as Titan right-winger Ethan Crossman fired home his second goal of the contest to put the QMJHL champions up 7-2. 
The Pats celebrate a goal 13 seconds in from Cameron Hebig.
    At that point, it looked like the Titan were about to put the final stamp on a statement game to show they might be the best club in the four-team field.
    The tournament hosting Pats proceeded to counter with four straight goals to pull to within 7-6. The last tally was a long seeing-eye point shot from overage centre Matthew Bradley with 1:57 to play in the third bringing the crowd of 5,832 spectators at the Brandt Centre into a frenzy.
    Following Bradley’s goal, the Titan look fragile, and it felt like the next Pats shot could force overtime.
    After the Pats had an offensive zone faceoff with 18.4 seconds to play, Titan captain Jeffrey Truchon-Viel made a desperate diving stab to knock a Pats pass attempt along the blue-line into the centre ice zone.
Defenceman Noah Dobson had two goals and two assist for the Titan.
    Titan offensive defenceman Noah Dobson raced up ice, tracked down the puck and fired it into an empty Pats cage with one second to play to seal an 8-6 victory for Acadie-Bathurst. Dobson finished the contest with two goals and two assists.
    The Titan, who were playing on back-to-back nights, improved to 2-0 and locked up a berth into the tournament’s semifinal contest on Friday. The Pats fell to 1-1 with the setback.
    The clash between the two sides was a thriller for the fans. By the looks of the stands at the Brandt Centre, it appeared there were very few no-shows in the event’s third round robin game.
    It was an aggravating one for the coaches. Both sides had to consider the possibility of delating the video on this one.
    With the WHL champion Swift Current Broncos set to battle the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs in a battle of 0-1 squads on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Brandt Centre, the Memorial Cup is up for grabs.
Pats C Matthew Bradley (#77) steers the puck away from trouble.
    It is hard to declare any team a favourite. As the overused sports cliché goes, the club that shows up and makes the most plays on any given day is going to win.
    In the battle between the Titan and Pats, the goaltending on either side did not inspire confidence. The skilled players on both squads did net some nice goals, but a number of soft shots made it through for each side too.
    Fitzpatrick looked good over the opening 40 minutes, but in the third period, it looked like at times he wouldn’t have been able to stop a beach ball.
Captain Sam Steel had four assists for the Pats.
    Paddock looked like a rookie sensation making 31 saves in the Pats 3-2 tournament opening victory over the Bulldogs on Friday. On Sunday, he looked like a deer in the headlights type rookie, where the stage seemed to overwhelm the youngster from Brandon, Man.
    After being beat on the first shot he faced, Kubic, who is eligible to return for an overage campaign, almost mishandled a shot just seconds later nearly allowing that puck to go into the Regina goal. It took a video review to ensure the Titan did not score at that moment.
    Kubic stopped three of four shots sent his way.
    Besides getting a huge night from Dobson, Truchon-Viel and Liam Murphy had big nights for Acadie-Bathurst. Truchon-Viel had a pair of goals and an assist, while Murphy had a goal and two assists. Samuel Asselin had Acadie-Bathurst’s lone other tally.
Noah Dobson, left, and Jeffrey Truchon-Viel enjoy a Titan empty-net goal.
    On the Pats side, their top line of Hebig, captain and star centre Sam Steel and left-winger Nick Henry did most of the damage. Steel had four assists, Hebig had a pair of goals and an assist, while Henry had a goal and an assist.
    Offensive defenceman Josh Mahura had a goal and an assist to help out the Pats cause as well.
    Going forward, the Titan will close out their round robin schedule taking on the Bulldogs on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. With a win in that contest, the Titan would lock up a berth in the Memorial Cup championship game this coming Sunday.
    The Pats close their round robin schedule taking on the Broncos at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre. If the Pats pull out a win in that contest, they will lock up a spot in Friday’s semifinal.
    It remains to be seen if the Titan or the Pats can make good on the upcoming opportunities they have.

Steenbergen watch on for the Broncos

Broncos star Tyler Steenbergen, left, is listed as day-to-day due to injury.
    The anticipation is on to see if star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen will be in the Swift Current Broncos lineup on Monday.
    Steenbergen was lost in the Broncos opening game of the Memorial Cup on Saturday, when the WHL champions fell 4-3 in overtime to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
    Early in the second period, Titan captain Jeffrey Truchon-Viel hit Steenbergen from the side and sent the Sylvan Lake, Alta., product flying awkwardly into the boards. Steenbergen was assisted off the ice by Broncos athletic trainer Jamie LeBlanc and did not return to the contest.
    Daniel Nugent-Bowman, who writes for and is a former Saskatoon StarPhoenix beat writer who covered the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, caught up with Broncos head coach and director of player personnel Manny Viveiros on Sunday. Nugent-Bowman asked Viveiros about Steenbergen’s status, and Viveiros said Steenbergen is listed as day-to-day.
    The Broncos face the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Brandt Centre in a key clash between two teams who are 0-1 in the round robin.
Tyler Steenbergen has been a dynamic player for the Broncos.
    Steenbergen plays on the Broncos dynamic top line with captain Glenn Gawdin at centre and Finnish import Aleksi Heponiemi at left wing.
    During the past two regular seasons, Steenbergen had been outstanding. In the 2016-17 campaign, Steenbergen appeared in all of the Broncos 72 regular season games piling up 51 goals, 39 assists and a plus-26 rating in the plus-minus department. Thanks to those efforts, he was selected in the fifth round and 128th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes.
    In the 2017-18 regular season, Steenbergen appeared in 56 regular season games with the Broncos piling up 47 goals, 55 assists and a plus-52 rating. During the Broncos record 26-game run through the WHL playoffs to capture the league title, Steenbergen had 12 goals, 15 assists and a plus-seven rating.
    At the last world junior hockey championship, Steenbergen scored the winning goal for Canada late in the gold medal game in a 3-1 victory over Sweden on Jan. 5 in Buffalo, New York.
On March 6, Steenbergen signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Coyotes.
    In Saturday’s game with the Titan, Steenbergen scored once before departing due to injury.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.