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11-11-2012, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Hollywood3 View Post
Compared to last year I would say:
Alberta - better
Sask - weaker
Manitoba - almost the same
Calgary - same
UBC - same
Regina - better
Lethbridge - weaker
Hollywood et al

i am not sure how Saskatchewan can be regarded as weaker when they have the record they do and they have added some serious firepower and depth. their roster is improved over last year (admittedly losing Kyle Ross is huge). I understand they have been outplayed this year in several games and have been fortunate to win but as you say a win is a win. their goaltending seems to be very good this year.

I also wonder about the Bisons. I think they are a better team (at least up front and in the pipes) this year but last year were so ready to start the regular season after the powerful team-building Europe trip. This year they met a very ready Alberta team in Edmonton in week 1 and then had Sask back home in week two before heading to Calgary back to back weekends for weeks 3 & 4. very tough schedule.

They are starting to round into form. Here is my take.

Dittmer - DuVal - Macaulay (outstanding first line - even improved over Dittmer - Walker - Macaulay last year, a faster line i do not know of)
Rowinski - Cowan - Lowry (snake bit and still finding chemistry but very good line - not yet at where Hellyer - DuVal - Lowry were last year - Rowinski and Lowry need to find their past form esp Rowinski, Lowry has been exceptional despite the lack of scoring)
Cain - Henry - Feakes (fantastic third line - I like them better than Rowinski - Benias - Cowan from last year, and there is more offensive potential here - Henry is going to be a star in CIS, Cain is very smart and effective and Feakes is an experienced, gritty player with a bit of an offensive side - even if he missed two breakaways last night)
Kelly - Ciarelli - Lauder (very impressive fourth line and a big improvement over last year's Bestland - Davis/Lauder - Flynn trio)

Depth with Green, Paradis, Chartier and Scott is very good. Last year we had to keep moving dmen up front.

Losing Walker, Hellyer and Benias up front is tough but with Cain, Henry, Feakes, Kelly, Ciarelli, Paradis and Green we have not only reloaded we have upgraded our weaponry - both in calibre and size. As the year goes along my thinking is we will be putting the puck in the net more often than we did last year.

Defence is not as big or mean as last year but this year's version is a bit more adept at moving the puck and joining the rush. We miss Erb, Rumsey, Mealy and Schmidt but the new group is very solid and returning vets are better than last year. Mestery is coming along nicely, Bestland is much improved, Christensen is a real player and Sutherland will be good. Bobbee and Lockerby are really smart and move the puck well. Crowley and Schappert are all-stars.

Deckert and Caligiuri have 1 more year of experience and it seems Deckert is healthy and focused.

All in all, I think the Bisons are at least as good if not better than last year.

Last year at the 10 game mark we had scored 31 goals and allowed 22 with a record of 6-2-2 for 14 points (and had played both Regina and Lethbridge at that point).

This year we 6-3-1 with 29 GF and 24 GA for 13 points and are 5-0-1 in the last 6 games, 6-1-1 in the last 8). we scored 4 and allowed 11 in the first series in Alberta. And, we have played 6 on the road and 4 at home. Admittedly we have a long way to go to match the 20-5-3 record of last year.

this weekend is huge in Vancouver. Last year we split this series to go to 7-3-2. If we can manage two victories (tough i know as we seem to struggle there) we will be 8-3-1 and on a serious roll. My prediction is that Matt Lowry breaks out this weekend, Rowinski gets a nice goal and the second line finds some serious chemistry. I also think the Cain - Henry - Feakes line will do some damage as well. Henry goes back to his Junior home to play in front of a lot of friends and former teammates.

After UBC two home series to round out the first half. It really emphasizes the very small margin of error in a very tough conference and a 28 game regular season.

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