By Greg Harder, The Leader-PostAugust 26, 2009
Michal Poletin doesn't speak any English, so he's letting his play do all the talking.
The Czech rookie scored twice in the Regina Pats' annual intrasquad game on Tuesday, leading Team Blue to a 6-4 win over Team White at Lumsden Arena. The Pats selected Poletin in the first round (59th overall) of this summer's CHL import draft, hoping he had the right makeup for a smooth transition to the North American game.
So far, so good.
"From Day 1 I think he has gotten better," Pats head coach Curtis Hunt said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound winger, who was the captain of the Czech under-18 team this spring. "It's not easy to come across (from Europe) ... but he continues to work hard. I think he's going to get better every day."
It didn't hurt that Poletin was the beneficiary of some generous stickwork from linemate Jordan Weal, the runner-up for WHL rookie-of-the-year honours last season. With the score knotted 2-2 late in the second period, Weal broke free of a defender with a spin-o-rama move, then dished off to Poletin, who quickly deposited a short-handed marker past goalie Jesse Rogers.
Just 36 seconds later, Weal set up Poletin again at point-blank range, giving Team Blue a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
"Certainly when you play with a player of that calibre, if you get in the right areas, they have that ability to find you," said Hunt, who also gave credit to Poletin for his finishing touch. "He has a heavy shot, he handles the puck (well). His strength is really from the circles down, protecting the puck, making nice little plays. He reads the situation extremely well, where to be, where to get himself. He has some work to do to get himself (used to) the pace. Other than that, I'm very, very pleased with him."
Brayden Metz, Myles Bell, Dayton Reinboldt and Devon Allenby (empty netter) had the other goals for Team Blue, which got three assists from Weal. Tomas Hricina, Lucas Froese, Tyler Borstmayer and Garrett Mitchell (penalty shot) replied for Team White.
Hunt elected to split playing time between four rookie goaltenders, with the starting assignments going to Derek Tendler and Dawson Guhle. They allowed two goals apiece in 11/2 periods of work, with Tendler stopping seven of nine shots and Guhle shining with 17 saves on 19 shots.
Asked if Tuesday's contest made the muddled goalie picture any more clear, Hunt smiled and replied: "No."
"The two goalies that started, Guhle and Tendler, obviously we wanted to see them square off against each other," he added. "All the goals were good goals, probably breakdowns in other areas of the team game. It's what we wanted and what we knew we had coming in, a tough decision. We just want to make sure we make the right one."
Cory Nygaard picked up the win in relief with 16 saves on 18 shots. Rogers took the loss with 11 saves on 14 shots.
EXTRAS: The Pats made the following cuts after the game: Rogers and Nygaard; D-men Ty Ariss, Hudson Friesen and Rhett Holland; and, forwards Dyson Stevenson, Reinboldt, Shaq Merasty, Garrett Lockeridge, Matthew Hildebrandt, A.J. Fossen, Aiden Crowther, Thomas Cardinal, Ryan Baskerville, Tayler Balog and Allenby.
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