October 7, 2009
Eberle sparks Pats in returnOilers first-rounder makes immediate impact
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
One player is not supposed to be a hockey team.
But there is no arguing the kind of impact Jordan Eberle has had on the Regina Pats.
The Pats lost four of their first five games, scoring just 10 times in the process.
But before fans in the Queen City could light their torches and storm the Brandt Centre, the saviour arrived.
Eberle returned from the Edmonton Oilers, put the Pats on his back, and carried them to three blowout victories.
"Coming in, I expected to help the guys put some pucks in the net," Eberle said after yesterday's practice.
"But I didn't expect we'd score 22 goals (in three games).
"We've been playing really well and I don't think that has anything to do with me."
Yeah ... OK.
Despite the humble superstar's attempts to share the credit with his teammates, Eberle's numbers speak volumes: Eight points and a plus-five in three games.
Linemate Jordan Weal, the WHL player of the week, has picked up nine of his 11 points since Eberle's return.
"Me and Wealer played together last year," Eberle said. "(Linemate Brett) Leffler has a great shot and is a hard guy to get off the puck."
The 5-foot-11, 184-pound-er, who will be one of the most dangerous snipers in the league this year, said he enjoyed camp with the Oilers, but is now focused on more immediate goals.
"I thought I played well," he said. "Obviously not well enough to play on the team, but they were happy with what I did.
"For them, it was a numbers game. They had 14 guys on one-way contracts, so I knew it would be tough going in."
Being returned to his hometown Pats wasn't that bitter a pill to swallow.
Especially when it means he'll have a shot at another world junior gold medal in a few months.
"How many guys get to play at the world juniors twice -- let alone in their home province?" he asked.
"It's definitely something I'm looking forward to, and it's something that helped keep me excited to come back."
The world junior tourney will be held in Regina and Saskatoon, with all of Team Canada's games being played at the home of the Blades.
"I think they'll accept watching me play," Eberle said with a chuckle.
"That's a fun rink to play in. They're passionate about their hockey, so it should be fun."
The Pats host the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight before welcoming the Calgary Hitmen Friday night.
Connolly's not hip
Things have gone from bad to worse in Prince George.
With two wins in the club's first seven games, the Cougars are now facing life without it's brightest star.
Brett Connolly, who was named the CHL's top rookie last spring, is on the shelf with a hip injury.
"I felt it and I went right off," Connolly told the Prince George Citizen after re-injuring his hip Saturday.
"I think we caught it early. I think I'll be OK. I think I've just got to stay off it, ice it, and go to physio -- all that stuff."
Connolly, who has four goals and six points in seven games, first injured the hip while helping Team Canada win the Under-18 championship in the Czech Republic.
The 17-year-old missed the pre-season in an attempt to get healthy.
Cougars bench boss Dean Clark said the team will be careful with its top gun.
"We kind of thought we were good last time with the precautions that we took," Clark told the Citizen.
"I think it's something that has to be really examined now.
"Obviously, we don't want this to be a reoccurring thing. I think we've really got to get to the root of it and find out exactly what we have to do to make sure that it doesn't reoccur.
"As far as a timeline (for recovery), we won't know any of that until we get a real good examination from the doctor, and then we'll find out exactly how we're going to go about this."
Connolly scored 30 goals and 60 points during his rookie campaign.
The Kelowna Rockets hopes of getting Tyler Myers back are growing slimmer by the day.
The 6-foot-8 defenceman made his NHL debut Saturday night with the Buffalo Sabres and was named the game's third star.
Myers, Buffalo's first-round draft pick this summer, played 16 minutes.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said the team will decide what to do with Myers after the Calgary product plays nine NHL games, but it appears the big blueliner is ready for primetime.
Myers was named MVP of last fall's WHL championship series.