THE PIPELINE SHOW: USHL Season Preview, NCHC Season Preview, Quinton Byfield, & in the Dub!
This week on The Pipeline Show we get set for the USHL season with a recap of the Fall Classic plus a primer on the NCHC conference of NCAA hockey. The 2020 Draft Spotlight gets turned on for the first time this season, the segment features one of the top-rated players for the 2020 NHL Draft. Lastly, an early-season look at the newest rivalry in the Western Hockey League.
USHL Season Preview
With the USHL Fall Classic in the books, the new season is officially underway. I called on Ryan Wagman from McKeen’s Hockey to preview the season and recap what he saw first hand in Pittsburgh.
We began with the goalies to watch in the USHL this year of which Ryan singled out several as already having been drafted and a couple that will be on scout’s radar this year.
The 2018 NHL Draft was dominated by the USNTDP but this year there is far less buzz and I asked Ryan if he felt it might even be a below-average year for the program.
From there we went into the top three teams he expects this year and why they top his list at this point. I also asked him for a few more players to take note of for either the draft or just to make an impact in the USHL this season.
Lastly, an update on the latest things you can find at McKeen’s Hockey.
2019-20 NCHC Season Preview
Can the University of Minnesota-Duluth pull off a feat that has only been managed once in recorded history? That’s the plan as the Bulldogs go for the incredibly rare 3-peat as national champions. To find out if they are considered the favourites or not, I called on one of the finest sports reporters out there, Brad Elliot Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald.
We began with the UMD Bulldogs and whether or not they are the unanimous top seed in the country – spoiler alert – they aren’t and it’s only because Schlossman didn’t vote for them. Seriously. He’s the only person who didn’t. Why? And if not them, then who? I asked; he answered.
We went through the rest of the NCHC conference from top to bottom so Brad touched on all 8 teams giving the strengths and concerns for each club.
Before we were done I also asked Brad to mention a few non-NCHC teams he thinks will make noise this year.
2020 Draft Spotlight: Quinton Byfield
For the first edition of the Draft Spotlight segment, I figured it made sense to start the regular segment off with a player that everyone expects to be chosen very early next June. Quinton Byfield of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves is my guest and we get to know him during this lengthy chat.
We begin with current events and that means the hot start for the big forward and for his team. At the time we spoke, Byfield’s 12 points were tops in the OHL and the Wolves were sharing top spot in the Central Division.
Byfield shared details about his athletic background and why playing soccer, football and more sports helped make him a better hockey player. We discussed being chosen 1st overall in the OHL draft and how he handled the pressure that comes with that distinction. Of course, we talked about the 2020 NHL Draft, the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and what the 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward is focusing on this year.
We covered a lot of ground and I think you’ll enjoy the conversation with one of the top rated prospects this year.
In the Dub: Brandon & Winnipeg
There is a new rivalry in the Western Hockey League thanks to the off-season relocation of the Ice franchise from Cranbrook, BC to the Manitoba capital of Winnipeg. The teams played twice in the pre-season and opened the regular season with a pair of home openers and it didn’t take long for the animosity to arrive. 21 seconds into opening night, Brandon forward Ridly Greig was ejected for a hit to the head and consequently suspended for three games.
I spoke with Brandon Sun reporter Perry Bergson about the 1-3-0 start to the season for the Wheat Kings and he explained why expectations are much higher this year for the team. New head coach Dave Lowry and his new club may need some time to smooth out the transition and Bergson explained why.
We also spoke about the marquee names on the Wheat Kings roster and who has and has not gotten it done through the first couple of weeks of play. Brandon plays three games in three days this weekend against tough opponents so the Wheat Kings are using the games as a measuring stick for themselves.
Meanwhile, are the Winnipeg Ice generating any buzz in their new home city? Bergson describes the Ice as an exciting club to watch but explains how much competition there is in Winnipeg for the hockey fan’s dollar.
Which players on the Ice are leading the way so far and do we know yet who the starting goaltender is going to be? How about 15-year-old Matthew Savoie’s performance through two pointless games he’s appeared in thus far?