THE PIPELINE SHOW: March 2nd
This week on The Pipeline Show, we close out the February theme by speaking with two more women working in the hockey prospect world. There are not one but two 2020 Draft Spotlight segments featuring a pair of players NHL fans will want to get to know. A massive upset in U-Sports hockey last weekend has one team on the verge of a conference title they haven’t won since before the internet was a thing.
CHL Insider: Sarah Jean Maher
You can’t get more ‘inside’ than with someone who works for the league, and that’s what we have to start this week’s episode. Sarah Jean Maher is the Manager of Communications for the Ontario Hockey League and one of my guests this week to talk about her experiences working in the male-dominated world of junior hockey.
First, we touched briefly on the season in the OHL as the stretch drive to the playoffs begins in earnest. The No. 1 ranked team in the entire CHL, the Ottawa 67s, have a target on their back but continue to play exciting hockey. Meanwhile, in the west, there are great playoff races to decide seeding with some new blood in the mix like the Flint Firebirds.
I ask S.J. to provide some background on her career and what lead her to her role with the OHL this year. We also talked a bit about The OHL This Week, the new podcast from the league to provide another avenue for fans to get to know some of the players making news.
NCAA Campus Report: Paula Weston
One of the guests I’ve had on The Pipeline Show the longest is USCHO.com writer Paula Weston who has been coming on the program to talk college puck for at least a decade. She’s been pumping out content for USCHO since the beginning, so she’s the perfect person to talk about her experience as a woman covering college hockey.
First, though, we discussed the final weekend of the regular season in the Big Ten conference and what is on the line for teams trying to finalize their playoff seeding. We looked at the situation for all seven teams and Paula shared her thoughts on several players for the way they have played this season including Cole Caufield and a number of goalies.
Then we got into Paula’s career journey covering college hockey and the experiences she has had with players, coaches and fans.
2020 Draft Spotlight: Connor McClennon
It’s almost a cliché to say it these days but 5-foot-8, 165-pound forward Connor McClennon may not be a big body, but he’s a big talent. He might currently be playing second fiddle to Winnipeg ICE teammate Peyton Krebs but McClennon is more than a point per game player this season, his second in the Western Hockey League. That production coupled with his skill set is enough that NHL Central Scouting pegged McClennon 43rd in North America in the mid-term rankings and No. 43 in EliteProspects’ February ranking.
McClennon’s biggest problem is staying healthy. A high ankle sprain limited him to two-thirds of a season last year and a broken collar bone has him currently sidelined while his team tries desperately to hold their position in the East Division.
Put in contact via his agent, I spoke with McClennon about his WHL career to this point, his view of the upcoming NHL Draft and the mental challenges that injuries have thrust on him.
2020 Draft Spotlight: Jamie Drysdale
He’s the top-ranked defenceman in the entire Class of 2020 and after a few attempts, I’m pleased to say that I finally had the chance to Jamie Drysdale for this week’s episode of The Pipeline Show.
Drysdale and the Erie Otters are currently focused on locking down a playoff spot in the OHL’s western conference.
The Otters are in eighth place but within striking distance of seventh or even sixth although they have to be wary of the Soo Greyhounds who are chasing them at the same time.
I spoke with Drysdale about his season, his recent concussion, the 2020 World Junior Championship, his time in Erie and the NHL draft a few months from now. What makes Drysdale the best blueliner this year? I asked him what he thinks separates him from the pack and to his credit, he didn’t duck the question.
U Sports Update: Colton Kehler
There are upsets and then there are Upsets. Two weeks ago the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds surprised Mount Royal with a best-of-three series victory to open the Canada West playoffs. Then the T-Birds stunned the world by punching their ticket to the Nationals when they dispatched the heavily favoured Alberta Golden Bears in another three-game series.
I caught up with second-year forward Colton Kehler about the UBC club that has a chance to win their first conference championship since the 1970s.
We started by looking back at the victories over MRC and the UofA and then ahead to the Canada West final this weekend in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Huskies took the season series over UBC but as Kehler said, they are coming in hot and feeling like a team of destiny. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will head to Halifax for the Nationals.
I also spoke to Kehler about his time in the WHL, what his three years as an Edmonton Oil King mean to him and why he chose to use his scholarship to play U Sports.