Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tiger Power

It was simple for Tomas Kundtratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers; win Game 7 or go home.
This series against the Swift Current Broncos has been a very close evenly matched series for the most part.

Game 7 turned out to be more of a case of the Tigers simply being deeper in depth and it showed after Medicine Hat earned a 4-1 win to advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs.

The Swift Current Broncos are two classy a franchise to use injuries as an excuse but we will say that any team missing 3 key players is going to have a tough time winning any series.

Kundratek did not score, had a 2 minute roughing penalty but was an active player as the Tigers needed. No we are not ready to call Kundratek a hero in this series and there is still more that we believe Kundratek can offer the Tigers.

Still we will give Kundratek a lot of credit for 3 assists, some energized play that helped the Tigers earn a trip to the WHL second round and what we are hoping is a beginning of a maturity in when to take chances.

The Tigers are heading to the second round against a team still to be determined. Still the bottom line is that 4 Ranger prospects will be heading to the second round of their league playoffs which is a good sign.

The person we somewhat feel sorry for is Jon Keen one of our favorite reads in the WHL. Poor Jon as he lost a wager with the lovely Rhonda Carlson of CHAT-TV with Medicine Hat winning the series and now will have to wear a Medicine Hat jersey during his radio show.


Welcome to the Wolfpack

Normally we leave the news about the Hartford Wolfpack to Mitch Beck at Howlings or Bruce Berlet but hearing about David Stich being signed to a ATO (Amateur Tryout Contract) was a good move in our eyes.

Stich was with the Rangers first at Traverse City and then got to attend part of training camp spent the season with the Saint John SeaDogs in the QMJHL. Stich was their captain (and captain of the Czech Republic WJC team) and finally had the kind of season that was expected of a player selected 4th overall in the 2004 Import Draft.

Stich a 6'2 215 defenseman was projected as a future NHL first round pick but never lived up to expectations during his draft years. For his first 2 seasons in the QMJHL, Stich was more about spending time in the penalty box averaging over 100 PIMs.

However during last season's QMJHL playoffs Stich turned his career around with some solid 2 way play going 3-7-10 in 14 playoff games which led to the original Ranger interest. We knew that just because the Rangers did not sign him as they did Tysen Dowzak that they had not lost interest in Stich.

Stich went 10-17-27 -11 37 PIMs during the last season but those numbers do not tell how well and steady Stich was for the SeaDogs. A good 2 way defender who has a strong first pass but also known as a workout manic, Stich could push for playing time.

Stich can also fellow Czech Tomas Kundtratek and Tysen Dowzak as their team's advancing in the playoffs means that neither will be able to join Wolfpack for at least 2 more weeks.


Where Will Renney Wind Up?

So Tom Renney appeared at a Hartford Wolfpack game last weekend and sent word that he still does not have any defined role with the Rangers.

The problem is that Renney wants to coach still and it is going to be hard for him to find an NHL head coaching job in our eyes.Most people consider Tom Renney as one of the best thinkers in the hockey world and ideal for building programs from behind the desk.

We have heard whispers that the folks in Chilliwack of the WHL (which is owned by Sather and Brian Burke) would love to have Renney running their franchise as GM/Coach. Renney made his mark as a Memorial Cup winning coach with the Kamloops Blazers in our eyes would be perfect here.

Chilliwack is a young franchise in need of a planner, teacher, organizer and builder all of which bring out the best in Tom Renney. Tom Renney wants another NHL head coaching job but we are not seeing one for him right away as the current trend is to hire AHL coaches as NHL head coaches.

As for Mike Pelino, if he wants to be more than everyone's assistant coach then he also might think a return to the Canadian Juniors would give him a new life. There are several teams who are already looking for a head coach and Pelino would be a good fit teaching the juniors.

(Tomas Kundratek: Medicine Hat, David Stich: Saint Johns, Tom Renney: New York Rangers)

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