THE PIPELINE SHOW: Talking Flint Firebirds, HockeyEast of NCAA, Seth Jarvis, & Manitoba Bisons
This week on The Pipeline Show, we offer a preview of Hockey East in the NCAA, chat with the broadcast voice from an OHL club that is hot out the gates this year, the 2020 Draft Spotlight finds a top player from the WHL, and a U Sports head coach with 25 years on his bench previews the season for his club.
CHL Insider: Dominic Hennig
With a franchise-record win streak already in the books, the mood around the Flint Firebirds for the 2019-20 season is one of optimism, and that in of itself is a sign of success. The franchise can gladly declare the bad headlines of the past to be distant memories, and the focus can finally be on the ice where it belongs.
Dominic Hennig is the broadcast voice of the Firebirds and he was my guest to talk about the positive start for the team. Yes, a four-game win streak is modest by comparison to most clubs but the Firebirds will take the moral victories where they can, especially early in the year to set the right tone.
I talked to Hennig about the makeup of the squad which now includes a total of four players drafted by NHL clubs over the last couple of seasons. We touched on the development of guys like Ty Dellandrea, Vladislav Kolyachonok and Ethan Keppen but also on the younger guys who are helping the team win this year.
We also spent some time talking about the fanbase, the competition for the ticket buying sports fan there and a comparison between American hockey fans and those found north of the border throughout the rest of the OHL.
2019-20 Hockey East Season Preview
One of the consistently stronger conferences of NCAA hockey is Hockey East and one of the best in the business to talk to about the league is Jimmy Connelly of USCHO.
Jimmy helped preview the upcoming season by looking at the results of the Coach’s Poll that saw Boston College and UMass as the favourites. According to Connelly, a person could make a reasonable argument for a number of teams to be contenders including Providence, Northeastern and Boston University.
The Hobey Baker winner in four of the last six years has come from Hockey East so I asked for a few contenders out of the conference who could be in the running for the top collegiate player.
We spoke a bit about the recruitment of players and whether it’s a huge benefit for a high school player to go through a season of junior hockey, on either side of the border, as opposed to stepping directly into the NCAA.
I also asked Connelly for his thoughts on the possible ramifications for college hockey in light of the new legislation in California that would permit athletes to earn money from endorsement deals.
2020 Draft Spotlight: Seth Jarvis
The Portland Winterhawks are in the middle of a road trip through Alberta which is perfect timing for me to connect with one of the top-ranked players for the 2020 NHL Draft. Forward Seth Jarvis was given a ‘B’ rating this week by NHL Central Scouting but has the speed and skill set that could see that rating evolve into an ‘A’ before June arrives.
I spoke with Jarvis the morning before the Winterhawks were set to take on the Medicine Hat Tigers. The team had dropped two in a row after a 3-0 start to the season, and we discussed the outlook for the club this year as well as for himself, now in his second full campaign.
Jarvis reflected back on the WHL bantam draft, making the long move from his home in Winnipeg to Oregon, his first impressions of the Winterhawks staff with Mike Johnston and Don Hay, but also what it’s like for him now as he takes on more of a leadership role.
Of course, we talked about his style of game, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the upcoming draft and why size (or lack thereof) isn’t a hindrance for him.
U Sports Update: Manitoba Bisons
With 15 first-year players on the roster, this year could be described as a rebuilding year for the Manitoba Bisons but don’t tell that to head coach Mike Sirant; he has a goal of making it back to the Canada West playoffs.
After a split against the Lethbridge Pronghorns on the opening weekend of the season, the Bisons played a couple of exhibition games south of the border against NCAA opponents. They lost both games but after a lopsided outcome against annual rival North Dakota, the Bisons pushed Omaha to overtime before losing 4-3. Sirant talked about the annual games against their American counterparts and why, despite a losing record, the games are important for his program.
This year’s edition of the team boats an influx of former WHL talent and the coach previewed his expectations for his squad before going into the relationship with the WHL and the growth and quality U Sports has seen because of it.
This year the Bisons are also sharing their facility with the Winnipeg Ice and we talked about how the two teams have not just coexisted but how they both stand to benefit from the new arrangement.