While traditional Memorial Day weekend activities like grilling tasty meals and getting drenched in National Forests were going on, a few members of the Avs org continued on with their post-season play on the ice. Nick Henry and the Regina Pats earned a spot in Friday’s semi-finals of the Memorial Cup by eliminating Josh Anderson and the Swift Current Broncos last Wednesday. On the same night our beloved Eagles had an improbable and incredible comeback win in a game 7 OT vs Ft Wayne, setting up a Kelly Cup Finals matchup with the Florida Everblades over the holiday.
Avs 2017 4th round choice Nick Henry had 5 goals, including a hat trick, and a couple of assists in round robin play for the Pats. Given they were the host team and eliminated early in the WHL playoffs just making it to the semis meant playing with house money. The Pats scored first but the Hamilton Bulldogs answered immediately. From there Regina goalie Max Paddock played out of his mind, stopping 44 or 46 shots total while the Pats were a very efficient 4 goals on 24 shots. No points for Henry but he was on the ice for the final 3 Regina scores.
That set up a final with Acadie-Bathurst where the Pats luck ran out. The Titan shut them out 3-0 but it was much closer than that sounds. Henry ended up 3rd leading scorer in the tournament behind leader and linemate Sam Steel and onetime Avs rookie camp invitee Jeffrey Truchon-Viel of Bathurst.
The Pats had 46 days off between post-season elimination and day 1 of the Mem Cup and time to rest and heal seemed to do Henry a world of good. What we saw was a lot closer to the player that scored 81 points in 72 games in his draft year before getting off-season shoulder surgery. We will get our first look at him in training camp this year and it should be exciting.
Last year’s Eagles seemed like a team of destiny, this year they are a team of resiliency. Coach Schneekloth has a lot more on his plate this year with the team being a bit light on scoring and heavily reliant on goaltending. In game 1 of the Kelly Cup finals the Eagles got a rare power play goal early in the 1st then added an unassisted score by Drayson Bowman late in the period to go up 2-0. From there they hung on through a chippy 2nd, where Florida managed to make it 2-1, then all hell broke loose in the 3rd with multiple fights and altercations and each team picking up 43 minutes in penalties after Shawn St-Amant slipped in an ENG with a minute left.
Game 2 was also a bit chippy with a total of 16 minors called in the first 40 minutes. J-C Beaudin scored late in the 2nd to make it 2-2 going to intermission and each team scored within a minute early in the 3rd. The Everblades dominated on the shot board 12-6 in the 3rd but couldn’t find the back of the net until Avs 2012 2nd round pick Mitch Heard got an unassisted score off a turnover with 36 seconds left in the game. That was pretty deflating for many reasons.
Anyway, the next 3 games are in SW Florida on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. If the Eagles win just one there will be a game 6 in Loveland on June 6th. Best case of course is that they win 2 and have the clincher set up at home so stay tuned.
Longtime radio and tv play-by-play announcer Mike Haynes has resigned from his post with the Avs. Reasons why are unknown at this point as is any guidance on a replacement. We’ve seen a lot of shuffling of the studio personnel on Altitude over the years but they seem to have hit on a really good mix of knowledgeable and entertaining folks now with Kyle Keefe, Mark Rycroft, John-Michael Liles and Lauren Gardner. Perhaps the thinking is that it’s time to find someone that meshes into that style now.