Wednesday, November 17, 2010

El Nino Is Starting To Storm

Ask any coach which is the toughest game to coach and most will tell you it is the "get away" game of a long road trip. The Portland Winterhawks were playing the last game of 6 game road trip through the WHL's Eastern Conference.

The Winterhawks left Portland on Sunday November 7th by bus and according to Andy Kemper the voice of the Portland Winterhawks; the team is not expected to make it back to Portland up about 9-10 PM on Wednesday. The team will have traveled close to 3000 miles road trip when the bus reaches home.

So when Nino Niederreiter (2010 1st NYI) and his Winterhawk teammates took to the ice against David Toews (2008 3rd) and his Brandon Wheat Kings, for us the question was more what kind of effort would we see? Both teams played on Monday so they had to travel to Brandon for the game on Tuesday.

Nino Niederreiter made sure that the Winterhawks headed home on a happy note when "El Nino" took over the game in the 3rd period breaking a 2-2 tie with his 4th goal of the season at 8:42. Nino then sealed the win when he set up Derrick Pouliot for a goal less than 2 minutes later as Portland ended their road trip with a 4-2 win.

Nino though while earning the game's first star also showed that he is human as right after helping Portland to their lead, Nino took back to back penalties that almost let Brandon back into the game. Still while those penalties showed that even stars get tired, Portland killed off the penalties and are heading home with a 5-1 record for their road trip.

On the Brandon side David Toews had a quiet almost invisible game on the ice for Portland's first goal which happened on a Brandon power play. Other than that there is not much to say about his game against Portland but to be fair Portland is in our eyes the best team in the WHL.

On the New York Ranger's side only Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) was in action as his Guelph Storm were badly beaten 7-1 by the Kitchener Rangers. The game turned ugly in the final minute, something that in our eyes should never have happened and both coaches as well as the on ice officials are at fault.

First the video as Maggio is wearing #5 in white but we ask that you watch the entire video.

In no way shape or form do we excuse what Maggio does, checking from behind in our book should carry an escalating suspension in a 5-10-season as that is not hockey. But we do have to question what was Kitchener doing putting Jason Akeson (the OHL's leading scorer) on the ice in the game's last minute during a 5 on 3 up 7-1?

The last minute of a game where the outcome had long been decided and you have your top players on the ice is classless. The coaches are supposed to set an example for the teenagers in their charge and Jason Brooks (Guelph) failed to control his players when the cheapshots started, Kitchener coach Steve Spott putting his best players in the last minute up 7-1 earns his own blame.

One day one of these junior league is going to make the coaches equally responsible for their player's action and suspend them without pay for the same length of time as the player. Wonder just how fast a coach will demand his players not pull these kinds of cheap shots when it comes out of their pocket.

We think behaviors will change real fast.

(Image: Niederreiter/Portland Winterhawks)

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