The Moose Jaw Warriors are butting heads
with the Red Deer Rebels in the second round of the WHL’s playoff season. After dropping both of the first two games of
the series at home, the Warriors had the unenviable task of venturing to Red
Deer to try and even the best of seven series at two games apiece.
With Edmonton Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson in
attendance, Kyle Brodziak led his club into hostile territory and they
came away with the victories they so desperately needed.
playing an up-tempo and hard forechecking sixty
minutes. Game 4 went to overtime but
again it was the Warriors who escaped with the road win and thus knotted the
series up as the scene shifted back to their turf.
round draft pick in 2003, wears the captaincy for the Warriors with pride and
he leads the team in much more then character.
The fourth year player who will turn 20 at the end of May has led
scoring all season and finished third in the WHL with 93 points. When it comes to individual stats, Brodziak
also made several lists. He led the
league with 9 shorthanded goals, he was fifth overall in both goals and assists
and he also had an impressive plus-30 rating.
“He’s had an
outstanding season and he’s a young man that’s not going to quit,” Edmonton’s
VP of Hockey Operation Kevin Prendergast complimented recently. “He’s had a great year, finished third in
scoring in the league, captain of his hockey club; he did everything that was
asked of him. Kyle’s got great offensive
tools, he’s very good in his own end, and he’s just a solid hockey player. He’s going to get a little bit bigger and
stronger like all of them do at that age but anybody in Moose Jaw will tell you
that he’s been their MVP this year.”
His being named to the WHL
team that, back in November, played a two-game series against the traveling
Russian Select club has highlighted Brodziak’s season. A month later the Vegreville Alberta native
was invited to Team Canada’s National tryout camp but unfortunately was one of
the last players cut from the squad.
Hockey’s Future spoke with
Kyle Brodziak after Game 3 in Red Deer and the chief of the Moose Jaw Warriors
had plenty of interesting things to say about the playoffs, the regular season
and also about what might lay ahead for him.
HF: If we can reflect back for a minute, are you
happy with the way the regular season worked out for your team?
KB: We battled all year and I think we really
came together as a group in the last half of the season and we’ve played some
great hockey since then. We’re a
confident bunch and we just want to go as far as we can here in the playoffs.
HF: For you personally, the point production was
obviously exceptional but how was the regular season overall for you?
KB: It went pretty well! It was something I didn’t really expect
coming into the season but a lot of things happened that I didn’t really
expect, like the World Junior camp in December.
It was a really fun year; we have a great group of guys in the room this
year so it’s just been a fun year.
HF: Coming into game 3 of this series you had 9
points in 6 games so you must be happy with how you’re playing in the playoffs
KB: The playoffs have been going good so far
too. It wasn’t the toughest first round
but this second round has definitely been a battle and we’re going to keep
battling right until the end. It’s fun
hockey we’re playing right now, this is the way hockey is meant to be.
HF: You mentioned the WJC tryouts and obviously
it must have been disappointing not to make the team.
KB: Actually I wasn’t overly disappointed
because, like I said, coming into the year I wouldn’t even have imagined getting
invited to the camp. I think a lot of
those guys had been preparing for that for a few years and it would have been
worse if I was in that situation but to me, it was unfortunate but I still
watched it and I felt bad that they got silver.
I went to the camp and the only thing I could control was the way I
played so that was the only thing I could worry about.
HF: I spoke with you the morning of the game
against the Russians back in November.
How do you feel about that two-game set now that you can look back on
KB: They weren’t the toughest team or anything
like that but it was still good international experience. I think it was fun just to play with the
calibre of players that were there. It
was a good time and a good experience.
We knew coming in they were weak because of the way the OHL and the
QMJHL teams walked all over them but it was going to be a fun weekend.
HF: Tell me how important the Oiler mini-camp
last summer was for your success this year.
KB: I think it was pretty important. It gave me a good feel for what camp was
going to be like in September and going into things like that when you’ve never
experienced it before, you can get a little nervous so I think it was good to
get a feel of what it would be like and to get to know some of the other
players who’ll also be there.
HF: Tell me how disappointed will you be if the
Oilers’ prospect mini-camp is not run this year?
KB: It would be nice to go out a play again with
the guys and see where I fit in but if it doesn’t happen then we’ll have to
move on of course. I’ve heard that the
AHL will still go on so we’d still have that camp to see where I fit in.
HF: Your plan for next year is still to turn pro?
KB: That’s what I’m hoping for, sure, but you
never know what’s going to happen. For
now I’m just taking care of what I can control and that’s going out and playing
and hopefully everything works out.
HF: The Oilers have to sign you by June 1st
I’m told, do you foresee any potential roadblocks preventing that from
KB: No, I don’t think they have to.
HF: I’ve been told that both you and Jeff
Deslauriers have to be signed by June 1st.
KB: Oh really?
I don’t know if that’s true or not because I was drafted just last
HF: Maybe it’s an age issue?
KB: Oh maybe, I don’t even know. I’m not going to worry about it, I’ve got
enough on my plate right now so I’ll worry about that when it comes.
HF: At times in this game you were going pretty
hard against Dion Phaneuf, including when you blocked his slap shot near the
end of the third and I can tell by the way you are limping that I don’t have to
ask if it stings.
KB: I was a little more frustrated tonight
because I lost the puck a few times and I didn’t play as well as I would have
liked but it’s playoff hockey so you have to keep battling. When I saw him winding up I went down to
block it but I was holding my breath because I knew it was going to hurt if I
got it. I think he’s got one of the
hardest shots in the league. We’ve
battled all year and we’ll continue to do it through this series and it’s
HF: Was tonight’s effort and performance a
typical game for you?
KB: No, I think I’ve had a lot of better
nights. I think our line still
maintained a lot of pressure on them and we didn’t give up too much in our end. Personally I don’t think my hands were all
there but I’ve had better nights for sure.
HF: Is yours a team that can go all the way to
the Memorial Cup?
KB: I seriously think we can. I think we have the skill and the heart in
the room to do it; we just have to come out and play every night like we did
HF: Once the season is over, one of the things
you like to do is play ball hockey in the off-season?
KB: Yeah, I play ball hockey in the
hockey league in the city, I play for the Vegreville Pysankas. It’s a fun team; once or twice a week we play
a game and that’s all it is, for fun and to keep in shape.
Warriors were expected, before the playoffs began, to be a serious contender
from the Eastern Division to advance to the WHL finals. After game 5 on Good Friday, Moose Jaw finds
themselves behind the eight ball again and will have to find a way to beat the
Rebels in their barn for a third time in the series to stay alive. Red Deer captured the fifth game by a narrow
2-1 margin and could close out the series on Easter Sunday.
Comment on this story at the Oilers section of the Hockey’s Future