Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Big night for Rick the Welder . . . Hurricanes stun Pats . . . Silvertips, Royals in shootout

F Warren Peters (Saskatoon, 1997-2003) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with SønderjyskE Vojens (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Iowa Wild (AHL), Peters had eight goals and 12 assists in 69 games. He is scheduled to arrive in Vojens on Jan. 5. . . .
F Riley Armstrong (Kootenay, Everett, 2002-04) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Vita Hästen Norrkoping (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he had six goals and seven assists in 25 gmes. He was released by Vita Hästen on Dec. 8.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have released Russian F Nikita Milekhin, 17, who was the third overall selection in the CHL’s 2014 import draft. He had a goal and three assists in 16 games with the Hurricanes. He is expected to return to his home in Krasnogorsk, Russia. . . . The Hurricanes are carrying 24 players, including eight defencemen and 14 forwards.
The Medicine Hat Tigers are the top-ranked WHL team in the Buzzing The Net Dynamic Dozen, Neate Sager’s CHL rankings at Yahoo! Sports Canada. Check them out right here.
In an attempt to win back fans, the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s have reduced the price of some tickets and parking. They also are changing up the concession menu. Gord Holder of the Ottawa Citizen has more right here.
Darren Steinke, who used to cover the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Medicine Hat News, is in Saskatoon these days. And he has his own blog. In his latest entry right here, he takes a look at the Saskatoon Blades and the situation in which they find themselves. (He also gives a pretty good plug to a certain blog!)
How serious is the situation in which the Kontinental Hockey League finds itself these days, thanks to the falling ruble? Mark MacKinnon and James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail take a look right here.


The drive to a new computer for the blog master continues. One will be purchased in the immediate future. Yes, the Christmas sales are being closely watched. If you enjoy this blog and would like to help, just click on the donate button, and thanks a bunch. . . . BTW, the computer fund has received 10 donations and is at $545.


The WHL's Christmas break is upon us. The league now is closed through Dec. 26. Teams will reconvene for practices on Boxing Day, with a full slate of 11 games on the schedule for Dec. 27.
Kelowna F Nick Merkley goes into the break leading the WHL in assists (45) and points (55). Medicine Hat F Trevor Cox, with 10 points over his last two games, has 54 points, including 42 assists. Tigers F Cole Sanford has 43 points. Sanford's 26 goals trail only the 32 of Kelowna F Rourke Chartier.
Joe Hicketts of Victoria leads all defencemen in assists (30) and points (38). Brandon freshman Ivan Provorov has 27 assists and 37 points.
Why do they play the game? To win the game, of course. Kelowna's Jackson Whistle leads all goaltenders with 22 victories, one more than Brandon's Jordan Papirny.
Taran Kozun of Seattle has the top GAA (2.24), with Medicine Hat's Marek Langhamer at 2.31 and Whistle at 2.33. Aden Hill of Portland has the top save percentage, at .926, with Tri-City's Eric Comrie and Whistle at .921.
Swift Current's Landon Bow leads in shutouts, with 5, one more than Whistle. No other goaltender has more than two.


In Medicine Hat, the game's first star wore a mask but didn't make a save as the Tigers played host to the Kamloops Blazers. Rick Dumont, a welder from X-Calibre Industries, came to the rescue early in the first period as he repaired a gate that was twice broken and allowed the game to proceed, albeit after a 58-minute delay. . . . Rick should be a cinch as the WHL's nominee as the CHL's welder of the week. . . . The gate broke at 2:02 of the first period when Kamloops D Ryan Rehill checked Tigers F Trevor Cox. Eventually, it was repaired, but when the referees had Rehill test it, it broke again. . . . Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News reports that Matt Csada, the owner of X-Calibre Industries, was called. He got in touch with Dumont, one of his welders, and he fixed things up in short order. . . . On the ice, F Cole Sanford scored three times and added an assist as the Tigers won, 7-3. . . . Kamloops led 3-2 when Tigers F Steve Owre tied it on the PP at 17:23 of the second. He's got 12 goals. . . . Sanford broke the tie at 4:54 of the third, on another PP, and F Trevor Cox added to the lead with his 12th at 8:31. . . . Sanford completed the hat trick at 11:14. He's got 26 goals. . . . Cox finished with a goal and four assists, giving him 10 points over his last two games. . . . He may provide Rick with some competition as the WHL's player of the week. . . . Tigers D Tommy Vannelli had a goal, his 11th, and two assists. . . . F Matt Needham scored twice for Kamloops, giving him 12, while F Cole Ully had two assists. . . . The Blazers went 1-5-0 on a Central Division swing on which they played six games in eight nights. . . . The Tigers (24-8-2) lead the Central Division by nine points; they are two points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Blazers (13-20-5) are last in the Western Conference, one point behind the Vancouver Giants, who hold four games in hand. . . . When the schedule resumes, Kamloops will play its first five games against Kelowna (3) and Vancouver (2). . . .

In Regina, D Nick Walters scored at 1:46 of OT as the Lethbridge Hurricanes got past the Pats, 5-4. . . . Walters has two goals this season. . . . Regina F Carter Hansen gave his guys a 4-3 lead with his first goal of the season at 17:32 of the third period. . . . Lethbridge F Jaeger White tied it with his second goal of the season at 18:30. . . . The Pats led this one 2-0 before the first period was 6:30 old as F Sam Steel got his 10th goal on the PP and F Austin Wagner added his eighth, a shorthanded effort. . . . F Jamal Watson, who left in the third period with an apparent leg injury, got his 13th goal for Lethbridge, while F Tyler Wong notched his 12th. . . . Regina F Braden Christoffer ran his goal streak to five games with his 13th. . . . F Zane Jones and D Andrew Nielsen each had two assists for Lethbridge, which got 22 saves from G Stuart Skinner. . . . The Hurricanes (8-20-5) have won two straight, both on the road, where they are 5-11-1. They are 2-1-0 under GM/head coach Peter Anholt. . . . The Pats (20-11-2) had won their previous two games. . . .

WHL team logoIn Swift Current, F Glenn Gawdin, who wasn't named to the Top Prospects Game earlier in the day, drew three assists to spark the Broncos to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Broncos scored the game's first four goals, two of them via the PP. . . . F Colby Cave scored twice for Swift Current, giving him 15, and added an assist, and F Coda Gordon added his 17th. . . . Gawdin drew assists on both of Cave's goals, both of which came on the PP. . . . The Broncos were 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . The Broncos scratched play-by-play voice Shawn Mullin, who spent the evening awaiting the birth of a child. His partner went into labour earlier in the day. . . . Marc Smith, a reporter from Moose Jaw, replaced Mullin on the broadcast. . . . The Broncos (17-14-4) are four points behind second-place Regina in the East Division. . . . The Blades (7-25-3) have lost 11 in a row (0-9-2). . . .

In Prince Albert, F Reid Gardiner had a goal and two assists to help the Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Raiders scored two goals in the game's first minute as F Simon Stransky got his seventh of the season at 0:46 and Gardiner got his 17th just 10 seconds later. . . . Stransky has goals in three straight games. . . . F Jayden Hart gave the home side a 3-0 lead with his 17th goal just 32 seconds into the second period. . . . Ch-ch-ching! There was a line brawl with 33.3 seconds remaining in the third period. Just in time for the WHL's late Christmas shopping rush, too. . . . At game's end, the Warriors had five players left on their bench; the Raiders had six. . . . The Warriors to 80 of the game's 158 penalty minutes. . . . Raiders G Rylan Parenteau stopped 25 shots. . . . Moose Jaw dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . The Raiders (16-18-1) ended a five-game losing skid (0-4-1). . . . The Warriors (15-17-3) have lost three in a row. . . .

In Calgary, G Patrick Dea stopped 31 shots as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 3-1. . . . The Oil Kings scored the game's last three goals after Calgary F Layne Bensmiller scored his second goal at 18:57 of the first period. . . . Edmonton D Dysin Mayo tied it at 5:48 of the second and F Lane Bauer gave the Oil Kings the lead with his ninth goal at 12:11. Both goals came on the PP. . . . Edmonton F Brandon Baddock got his ninth into an empty net at 19:28 of the third. . . . D Ben Carroll had two assists for Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings were 2-for-5 on the PP; the Hitmen were 0-for-6. . . . The Oil Kings (15-15-5) closed to within three points of third-place Red Deer in the Central Division. . . . The Hitmen (19-12-3) had a five-game winning streak end. They are one point ahead of Red Deer. . . .

In Red Deer, F Justin Kirkland scored two goals and added an assist to help the Kelowna Rockets to a 6-3 victory over the Rebels. . . . Kelowna led 3-0 in the second period, only to have the Rebels roar back and tie it on F Conner Bleakley's second goal of the game, and 14th of the season, at 2:26 of the third period, via the PP. . . . Kelowna F Dillon Dube broke the tie, with his sixth goal, at 3:58. . . . Kirkland added insurance at 5:06 and F Tyson Baillie got an empty-netter, his 23rd, at 18:49. . . . D Brett Cote had two assists for the Rebels. . . . F Nick Merkley had two assists for the Rockets and leads the WHL in assists (45) and points (55) going into the break. . . . The Rockets went 4-1-0 on a swing into Alberta. . . . D Nelson Nogier and F Austin Adamson, acquired earlier in the week from Saskatoon, were in Red Deer's lineup. "I loved them both. . . . Those two kids are gonna fit in really nice for us," Red Deer owner, general manager and head coach Brent Sutter told reporters. . . . The Rockets (28-5-3) have 17 road victories and lead the Western Conference by 15 points. . . . The Rebels (18-13-4) have lost their last two. . . .

In Prince George, G Tyson Verhelst stopped 41 shots as the Spokane Chiefs beat the Cougars, 5-0. . . . That's Verhelst's first WHL shutout. . . . The Chiefs, who beat the Cougars 5-4 on Tuesday night, took control with three first-period goals. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto had a goal, his ninth, and two assists for the Chiefs, who got two assists from D Tyson Helgesen. . . . F Calder Brooks scored No. 13 for Spokane. . . . F Markson Bechtold scored Spokane's first shorthanded goal of the season. He's got three goals. . . . The Chiefs (18-12-3) have won four in a row. . . . The Cougars (17-18-0) have lost three straight. . . .

In Everett, F Kohl Bauml scored three times in regulation and then added the winner in the shootout as the Silvertips got past the Victoria Royals, 7-6. . . . Victoria opened the third period with three goals in 3:42 as it erased a 4-3 deficit. . . . Royals F Tyler Soy tied it with his second goal of the game and 10th of the season at 3:11. D Chaz Redekopp, who had three assists, scored his second goal of the season at 5:19 and F Brandon Fushimi got his seventh at 6:53. Fushimi also had two assists, while Soy had one and finished plus-4. . . . Bauml then took things into his own hands, scoring at 7:55 and 15:54 to force OT. He's got 15 goals. . . . Victoria F Austin Carroll got his 22nd goal. . . . Everett D Cole MacDonald had two goals, giving him nine, and an assist. . . . Everett F Nikita Scherbak had three assists. . . . F Greg Chase was among Victoria’s scratches. He drew a one-game suspension for a spearing major and game misconduct he incurred on Tuesday night. . . . The Silvertips (20-9-4) lead the U.S. Division by three points over Portland. . . . The Royals (17-18-2) have lost four straight.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's happening in KHL? . . . Robison on Hurricanes . . . Joyeux Noel in Vancouver

As James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail tweeted early Tuesday, the KHL is under financial strain. With the price of oil dropping, the ongoing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, and the subsequent drop in the Russian economy and value of the ruble, the economics of the league have changed.
Mirtle reported that three KHL teams haven’t paid their players this season and may fold, and that a number of coaches haven’t been paid. He guesses the three teams are Atlant Mytishchi, Slovan Bratislava, and Dinamo Riga, and KHLwrites that “roughly one-third of the KHL has serious problems.” That would be eight of the 24 teams.
He goes on to state that “a lot of teams are having payroll issues with players, too.”
Based on reports by Finnish broadcaster YLE, other clubs in financial difficulties include Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, Barys Astana and Sochi.
YLE in October conducted a survey of Finnish players and coaches playing in the KHL this season. From the survey results, YLE concluded that up to eight teams have had difficulties paying salaries on time. According to YLE, Barys Astana was at least one month behind in salary payments, Sochi was having difficulties paying players, and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod was "several months" late with player payments.
One Finnish player with Torpedo said, "I can't deny that I've wondered if I'll ever get all the money I'm due from the club."
Another player said, "At many clubs, money isn't paid on time. Players are badly informed about when salaries are paid. Sometimes, they're paid with the proceeds from three or four home games in a row."
YLE also reported that the Russian state energy corporation Gazprom, a key sponsor for many clubs and the league itself, has missed some scheduled sponsorship payments. This has left a total deficit league-wide running into the tens of millions of euros.
Other Russian media sources report that Atlant may begin selling players in January if finances don’t improve. This is the second season of financial woes for Atlant. In March, five players were declared free agents by the KHL for non-payment of wages.
Finnish media reports indicate that Petri Matikainen, head coach of Slovan Bratislava, has not been paid at all this season.
On Monday, Slovan Bratislava played Jokerit in Helsinki. Helsinki newspaper Iltalehti reported that Matikainen hasn’t received any pay this season and neither have any Slovan players. Matikainen refused to comment on the salary situation but said, "We have had economic problems."
Three players for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk have refused to practise or play games because they haven’t been paid. The three -- goaltender Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) and forwards Dan Sexton and Tim Stapleton -- have refused to practice and didn’t play in games Friday or Sunday. The club announced that they didn’t play due to injury.
Dinamo Riga applied for but was refused funding from the Latvian government last summer, despite a plea from Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak. The Latvian Ministry of Education and Science said that the Law on Sport doesn’t allow distribution of funds from the state budget to professional sports clubs. The club decided to continue in the KHL this season anyway.
Salavat Yuleav Ufa in late October wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking for his help in saving the charity organization Ural, the club’s main sponsor. The charity has had its bank accounts frozen as a result of a government investigation. It is unclear from the article whether the focus of the investigation is the bank holding the funds or the charity itself.
A Salavat Yulaev player confirmed at the end of October that they have been paid.
Moscow Regional Sports Minister Roman Teryushkov told the radio station Sport FM that he hopes Vityaz Podolsk will be able the finish this season and that a decision on its future will be made after the season is completed. He ruled out a merger of Vityaz and Atlant.
KHL Chairman of the Board Gennadi Timchenko noted in October that the league is helping Vityaz, Atlant and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
Vityaz president Mikael Golovkov called Tuesday for a reduction of the KHL salary cap for next season from 1.1 billion rubles to 800 million rubles with no exceptions, as part of a move to eventually reduce the cap to 500-600 million rubles. Currently, the 1.1 billion rubble cap is a soft cap with a 20 per cent luxury tax for exceeding it, and four players are exempt from the cap: Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Kostitsyn and Alexander Burmistov. In June, when the KHL set its salary cap, 1.1 billion rubles was US$32 million. Today? $15.9 million.


Pat Siedlecki, the former radio voice of the Lethbridge Hurricanes who is the corporate news director at Clear Sky Radio, interviewed WHL commissioner Ron Robison on Tuesday morning.
Siedlecki then tweeted some highlights . . .
“(Robison) says he had a very candid chat with the Board last week about the state of Lethbridge Hurricanes.”
“Robison says both the Board and the league share the same frustration the Hurricanes aren't seeing the results they would like to see.”
Robison also tells me the WHL has been monitoring the Canes situation closely, especially the financial side of things.
Ron Robison says “there's new private ownership in Regina & PG and that type of model would work well in Lethbridge in our view."
Robison says he would like to see discussion with Canes shareholders on a possible sale of the team to take place "sooner than later."
Robison says the WHL's position is that having shareholders vote on this issue at the next AGM in September doesn't serve much purpose.
Robison says he would hope to see this meeting with shareholders "moved up to sometime early in the new year."
Robison says Board has a chance to assess what they discussed, put some thoughts together and meet with shareholders as soon as possible.
(The complete interview is available on Siedlecki’s blog and is right here. There are some comments posted on Siedlecki’s blog, right after the Robison interview. The third comment is especially astute.)
Dylan Purcell of the Lethbridge Herald has his take on the Hurricanes right here, and it’s pretty much spot on. Give it a look.

D Michael Fora and D Patrik Maier of the Kamloops Blazers will be playing in the 2015 World Junior Championship. Both are in their first WHL season. Fora will play for his native Switzerland, while Maier will be with Slovakia. . . . Fora, who has gotten markedly better as this season has moved along, has 20 points, four of them goals, in 35 games with the Blazers, while Maier has six points, including three goals, in 33 games. . . . Fora didn’t play last night in Cranbrook and will miss tonight’s game in Medicine Hat, as well as four games after Christmas. . . . Maier will miss the first four post-Christmas games.
In an interesting Tuesday transaction, the Calgary Hitmen acquired the WHL rights to G Thatcher Demko from the Spokane Chiefs for conditional draft picks. . . . Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) tweeted that the conditional picks are a second-rounder in 2015 and a second- or third-rounder in 2016. . . . Demko, a 19-year-old from San Diego, is playing at Boston College and is likely to be the U.S. national junior team’s starting goaltender. He was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft. . . . This appears to be a simple roll of the dice by Calgary GM Mike Moore as there doesn’t seem to be any indication at this point that Demko is about to leave BC. . . . Moore told Calgary radio station The Fan 960 that “we don’t have any indication he’s coming to play for us. . . . This is still a longshot. we’re taking a flyer here, no doubt.” . . . The Hitmen have two goaltenders on their roster. Mack Shields is 15-8-1/2.74/.899 in 27 games; Evan Johnson is 4-3-2/2.79/.899 in 11 appearances.
The Portland Winterhawks are going to take a look at F Cody Glass after the Christmas break. Glass, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was the 19th overall selection in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He is playing with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. Glass has 22 points, including six goals, in 21 games.


As mentioned here the other day, the blog master is in need of a new computer. If you are a regular in these parts and enjoy this blog, you may want to consider making a donation in order to help make this happen. If you would like to help, just click on the donate button at the upper right. . . . Thank you, in advance. . . . BTW, the computer fund has received four donations and is at $135.


In Brandon, the Regina Pats overcame four two-goal deficits and beat the Wheat Kings 6-5 in OT. . . . F Connor Gay won it at 3:24 of extra time with his 15th goal of the season. . . . Brandon F Nolan Patrick gave his side a 5-3 lead with his 14th goal, on the PP, at 3:58 of the third. . . . Regina F Austin Wagner got that one back with his seventh goal, shorthanded, at 8:28. . . . Pats F Patrick D’Amico scored his 12th at 16:55, on the PP, to force OT. . . . Regina F Morgan Klimchuk, cut earlier in the week by Canada’s national junior team, scored his 10th goal and added two assists. . . . Pats F Braden Christoffer got No. 12 and also had two assists. . . . Brandon F Tim McGauley scored twice, giving him 22, as he ran his point streak to 12 games. . . . He’s got 14 goals and nine assists in that stretch. . . . Brandon was 3-for-5 on the PP; Regina was 2-for-5. . . . The Wheat Kings again were without F Jayce Hawryluk and F Jesse Gabrielle, both out with undisclosed injuries. . . . Prior to the game, the Pats recalled G Tyler Fuhr from the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins and he was on the bench in support of starter Daniel Wapple. . . . The Pats (20-11-1), who are at home to Lethbridge tonight, have won 15 of their last 18 games, including three in a row over Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings (24-7-4), who lead the East Division by 11 points over Regina, are 3-0-2 in their last five. . . . Regina does hold three games in hand. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Tyler Wong and D Kord Pankewicz each had three points as the Lethbridge Hurricanes ended a six-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over the Warriors. . . . Wong scored twice, giving him 11 goals, while Pankewicz got his third. . . . Wong’s goals came at 14:23 and 16:35 of the first period, giving Lethbridge a 2-0 lead. The Warriors were never able to catch up. . . . F Tanner Eberle scored his 19th goal for the Warriors. . . . The Hurricanes were 2-for-9 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-3. . . . Lethbridge (7-20-5) went into the game having won once in 16 games. The Hurricanes are in Regina tonight. . . . The Warriors (15-16-3), who play in Prince Albert tonight, have lost two in a row. The Raiders are fifth in the East Division, two points behind the Warriors. . . . This was the second meeting of the season between the White brothers, F Torrin of the Warriors and F Jaeger of the Hurricanes. The season series is 1-1 so no one has bragging rights at the Christmas dinner table. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has a game story right here. . . .

In Edmonton, D Cole Martin had three assists to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-1 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s first two goals and the last two, while going 2-for-4 on the PP. . . . Kelowna F Tyson Baillie scored his 22nd goal on a third-period PP. . . . F Justin Kirkland had two assists for Kelowna. . . . Rockets F Gage Quinney got his eighth goal; it was his second in three games since coming over from the Prince Albert Raiders in a deal last week. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle stopped 31 shots, six more than Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry. . . . The Rockets, who travel to Red Deer tonight, improved to 27-5-3. . . . The Oil Kings, who play in Calgary tonight, are 15-14-5. They have slipped to fifth in the Central Division, a point behind the Kootenay Ice. . . .

In Cranbrook, the Kootenay Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . F Collin Shirley scored twice, giving him 13, in the second period as the visitors took a 2-1 lead. . . . Ice F Jaedon Descheneau tied it with his 18th goal at 15:05 of the second. . . . Ice D Tyler King gave the Ice its first lead, with his fourth, at 8:02 and F Tim Bozon stretched it with his 13th goal at 8:55. . . . Shirley and Bozon switched teams in a trade early last season. . . . Descheneau hit the cross-bar on a first-period penalty shot. . . . Kootenay dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . Ice G Wyatt Hoflin, who made his 23rd straight start, stopped 30 shots. . . . The Ice (18-17-0) has won three in a row. It also has won 15 of 19. . . . The Blazers slipped to 13-19-5 and fell back into the B.C. Division cellar, a point behind the Vancouver Giants, who hold three games in hand. . . . It’ll be four after tonight as the Blazers are in Medicine Hat, while the Giants are done until after Christmas. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has a game story right here. . . .

In Vancouver, the Giants scored two first-period goals and held on for a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Vancouver got goals from F Tyler Benson, his seventh, at 8:12, and F Carter Popoff, his 15th, at 19:08. Popoff also had an assist. . . . F Nikita Scherbak got his 15th for Everett at 12:49 of the third. . . . Vancouver G Cody Porter stopped 24 shots. . . . The Giants (16-18-0) have won seven in a row. They are 6-0-0 under head coach Claude Noel. . . . Everett is 19-9-4. . . . The Silvertips, who lead the U.S. Division by one point over the idle Portland Winterhawks, return home to face Victoria tonight. . . .

In Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs took a 5-3 with three second-period goals and went on to beat the Cougars, 5-4. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto’s eighth goal, at 13:56 of the second period on a PP, stood up as the winner. . . . Prince George F Jansen Harkins had erased a 2-1 Spokane lead with two goals 24 seconds apart late in the first period. He’s got 11 goals. . . . Harkins also had two assists, while Brad Morrison scored twice, giving him 12, and added an assist. . . . Cougars F Aaron Macklin had two assists. . . . Spokane G Garret Hughson made 38 stops. . . . D Josh Anderson was among the Cougars’ scratches. He suffered a broken wrist on Friday in a game against the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Chiefs (17-12-3) have won three in a row. . . . The Cougars slipped to 17-17-0. . . . The teams meet again tonight in Prince George. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Ryan Gropp broke a 4-4 tie at 17:27 of the third period to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Thunderbirds led this one 3-0 six minutes into the second period, only to have Victoria score the game’s next four goals. . . . Royals F Tyler Soy tied it at 3 with his eighth goal at 11:49 of the third and F Logan Fisher gave his guys the lead just eight seconds later with his fourth goal. . . . Soy and Fisher set a franchise record for fastest two goals. . . . Seattle F Donovan Neuls tied it at 16:15, setting the stage for Gropp to score his eighth goal of the season. . . . F Justin Hickman had a goal, his eighth, and two assists for Seattle. . . . Victoria got three assists from F Greg Chase, but he also took a spearing major and game misconduct at 19:42 of the third period. . . . Royals D Travis Brown had a goal, his 13th, and two assists. . . . Seattle was 2-for-5 on the PP; Victoria was 0-for-3. . . . Seattle (14-15-4) had lost its previous two games. . . . Victoria (17-17-2) has lost three in a row as it goes into Everett tonight.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Hick Abbott's medals in HHOF . . . Hurricanes release veteran . . . Warriors add coach

Walter Gretzky (left), Dave Thomson, Scott Veber and Mark Abbott at the
Hockey Hall of Fame display that honours veterans of the First World War.

Mark Abbott (left), a representative of the Abbott family, presents Scott
Veber of the Hockey Hall of Fame with Lyman (Hick) Abbott's First World
War medals.

(Photos: Hockey Hall of Fame)
Last week was important for those of us who have worked to honour the memory of Lyman (Hick) Abbott.
Abbott, who was from Regina, was one of Western Canada’s best young athletes when he lost his life in the First World War.
Out of the Great War, he was awarded the Military Cross and Bar, along with the British War Medal. He is believed to be Regina’s highest-decorated veteran of that conflict.
Over time, those medals came to be in the possession of someone outside of the Abbott family. The good news is that recently, after a 2-1/2-year quest, those medals were secured by the Abbott family.
Last week, Mark Abbott, a representative of the family, presented the medals on loan to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. (Hick Abbott was a cousin of Mark Abbott’s grandfather, George Ira Abbott.)
The medals now are part of a display in the HHOF that honours First World War veterans.
Part of that display is the Abbott Memorial Cup, which is named in honour of Hick Abbott. Originally awarded to Western Canada’s top junior team, it was withdrawn from competition a few years ago.
Also included in the display is Abbott’s homemade identification bracelet that he was wearing when he was felled by a sniper on Aug. 14, 1918.
Mark Abbott presented the medals to Scott Veber, the HHOF’s creative director and curatorial associate, who organized the First World War display. Also on hand were Dave Thomson, who aided in the securing of the medals, and Walter Gretzky.
While the Abbott family worked to secure the medals, Hick Abbott was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in Regina last summer.
It is believed that, once the HHOF exhibit closes, the Abbott family would like those medals to go on display at the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.
(If you aren’t aware of Hick Abbott’s story, click right here.)

F Mário Bližňák (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in 28 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). . . .
F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has been traded by Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) to Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga) for Sergei Shestakov. This season, with Tyumen, Knackstedt had two goals and three assists in 15 games.

The mumps continues its run through NHL dressing rooms. The latest player to be diagnosed is F Beau Bennett of the Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Jeff Z. Klein of The New York Times takes a look at the situation right here.
The WHL’s Christmas trade moratorium is in effect through Dec. 26.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have released D Griffin Foulk, 19. Foulk was an eighth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2010 bantam draft. He never played for Edmonton, but was with the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds. Lethbridge acquired him from Seattle for D Adam Henry in October 2013. . . . Foulk, from Bloomfield, Colo., has 23 points, including six goals, in 153 career regular-season games. . . . The Hurricanes are carrying 25 players, including 15 forwards and eight defencemen.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Brennen Wray to their coaching staff as an assistant under head coach Tim Hunter and alongside Mark O’Leary and goaltender coach Jamie Hodson. . . . Wray, 26, played two-plus seasons with the Warriors (2004-07), putting up 50 points, including 17 goals, in 171 games. . . . A Moose Jaw native, he also played two-plus seasons with the Red Deer Rebels. In 346 regular-season WHL games, he had 122 points, 33 of them goals. . . . He is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier U, where he played for five seasons (2009-14) and earned a chemistry degree.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have added F Ryan Bowen to their roster for their final two games before the Christmas break. Bowen, 16, is from Chilliwack, B.C., where he plays for the BCHL’s Chiefs. He has 15 points, including six goals, in 31 games. . . . Bowen was a fifth-round pick by the Warriors in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . The Warriors are at home to Lethbridge tonight and in Prince Albert on Wednesday.
The Kelowna Rockets have added D Braydyn Chizen, 16, to their roster for their last two games before the Christmas break. Chizen, from St. Albert, Alta., was a ninth-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. The Rockets are in Edmonton tonight and in Red Deer on Wednesday.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

WHL teams monitoring mumps situation . . . Rebels add key d-man from Blades . . . Hitmen are rolling

F Jim O'Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has been released by Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, KHL). He had two goals and 10 assists in 22 games.


Officials with WHL teams aren’t overly concerned about the mumps, a viral disease that has hit at least 14 NHL NHLplayers.
The latest NHLers to be diagnosed are Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and forward Derick Brassard of the New York Rangers. Interestingly, the Rangers assigned F Anthony Duclair to Canada’s national junior team on the weekend.
The mumps issue hasn’t been discussed, at least not officially, at the league level inside the WHL. However, teams are watching closely from afar and monitoring the situation.
Bob Tory, the general manager of the Tri-City Americans, told Taking Note on Sunday evening that he isn’t at all concerned “because most younger people have been vaccinated.”
Tory also pointed out that WHL teams already are quite health conscious.
“We have always taken extra care in our room since the last virus scare,” he noted, “and even purchased a hospital-grade ionizer that they use in intensive care. I think a few teams bought them a few years ago.”
Hospitals use ionizers to combat infections.
Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, told Taking Note that his club hasn’t “done anything officially in dealing with the mumps.”
“But, he added, “between our doctors and athletic therapist we are monitoring the situation with all of our players.”
Colin Priestner, the Saskatoon Blades’ managing partner, says his organization has “no concerns.”
“Most outbreaks have been in U.S. markets,” he notes, “and our kids have been vaccinated.”
Bruno Campese, the general manager of the Prince Albert Raiders, spoke with a team doctor on Sunday.
“He wasn’t concerned,” Campese told Taking Note.
Cam Hope, the general manager of the Victoria Royals, admitted that “viral infections of all kinds are always a concern in a team setting, where guys spend so much time in close contact.”
Still, he added, “it is really about being smart and diligent” and the Royals are always on high alert.
“Hygiene is given extremely high importance,” he told Taking Note, “and we require immediate reporting of any symptoms that are cold/flu like -- to make sure we isolate any ill player right away.”
The present outbreak of mumps, he pointed out, “gives us another opportunity to stress these things with the team, and every new case in the NHL is another reminder to them to take the steps they can to minimize the risk.”
Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail takes a look at the NHL and its response to the mumps situation right here.

Two WHL teams going in opposite directions at the moment got together Sunday on a deal that involved three players and two early bantam draft selections.
The Red Deer Rebels, who have been one of the league’s hotter teams of late and are the host team for the 2016 Memorial Cup, acquired D Nelson Nogier, 18, and F Austin Adamson, 18, from the Saskatoon Blades, who are in the early days of a complete rebuild.
In exchange, the Blades get F Mason McCarty, 17, a second-round draft pick in 2015 and a first-round selection in 2016.
The Blades now hold four first-round selections, three seconds and four thirds through the 2015 and 2016 bantam drafts. (For more on what teams hold what draft picks, check out Small Thoughts At Large right here.)
The key to the deal from a Red Deer perspective is Nogier, a Saskatoon native who is the son of former WHL G Pat Nogier. Nelson was a fourth-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL’s 2014 draft. Nogier, an alternate captain with the Blades, is a responsible defender who can bang bodies. In 128 games with the Blades, he had 18 points, two of them goals.
“He’s a player we’ve had our eyes on for well over a year now, and yet we knew there would be a price,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate. “Those are the stakes in poker. It takes a first-round and a second-round pick to get a player like that.”
This season, Nogier, who played for the Blades in the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon as a 16-year-old, has a goal and seven assists in 32 games.
Nogier was a fourth-round pick by Saskatoon in the 2011 bantam draft. He was limited to 37 games last season because of a shoulder injury.
Nogier’s addition leaves the Rebels with 10 defencemen on their roster, meaning there could be more activity between Dec. 26 and Jan. 10.
Adamson, from Richmond, B.C., had five goals and five assists in 84 games over two seasons with the Blades. This season, he has three goals and two assists in 31 games. He is an undrafted list player.
McCarty, a fourth-round selection by the Rebels in the 2012 bantam draft, has two assists in nine games this season. From Blackie, Alta., he played last season with the midget AAA UFA Bisons, who play out of Strathmore, Alta. He had 42 points, 22 of them goals, in 32 games.
The Blades, who have lost 10 straight games, are 7-24-3 and know already that they won’t make the playoffs. They play their last game before the Christmas break on Wednesday when they travel to Swift Current to meet the Broncos.
Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on the trade right here.
Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate has more right here.
The WHL’s Christmas trade moratorium went into effect at midnight and runs through Dec. 26.


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George Burnett won his 600th victory as an OHL head coach on Saturday when the host Belleville Bulls beat the Ottawa 67’s, 4-1. . . . Burnett, in his 19th season as an OHL head coach, is fourth on the league’s all-time list. . . . Burnett trails Brian Kilrea (1,193), the late Bert Templeton (907) and Larry Mavety (658). . . .
In the QMJHL, G Francois Brassard of the host Cape Breton Screaming Eagles scored a goal Saturday in an 8-5 victory over the Quebec Remparts. . . . Brassard scored the game’s last goal, firing the puck from behind his net off the left-side boards and into the empty goal at the other end. He is the first goaltender in franchise history to score a goal. . . . It came in his first appearance against the team that traded him away during the off-season.


In Brandon, G Jordan Papirny stopped 22 shots to lead the Wheat Kings to a 4-0 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Papirny has two shutouts this season and three in his career. . . . F Tim McGauley scored twice, giving him 20 this season. He now is riding an 11-game point streak, with 12 goals and nine assists over that stretch. . . . F John Quenneville scored the game’s first goal, his 11th, on a PP, at 10:15 of the first period. . . . McGauley’s second goal, at 14:43 of the third, was shorthanded. . . . Wheat Kings F Ty Lewis, who is from Brandon, made his WHL debut. A third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, he had been on the shelf with a broken arm. . . . Among Brandon’s scratches were F Jayce Hawryluk and F Jesse Gabrielle, both out with undisclosed injuries. . . . D Nelson Nogier and F Austin Adamson, acquired earlier in the day from the Saskatoon Blades, weren’t in Red Deer’s lineup. . . . The Wheat Kings (24-7-3) are 3-0-1 in their last four games. They lead the East Division by 12 points over the Regina Pats. . . . The Rebels (18-12-4) had a four-game winning streak end. They are third in the Central Division, one point behind Calgary. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen ran their winning streak to five games with a 4-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Hitmen scored the game’s first three goals, two of them coming in the second period following a scoreless first. . . . F Beck Malenstyn scored his fifth at 6:13 of the second period and F Layne Bensmiller got his first at 19:28. . . . Calgary F Adam Tambellini made it 3-0 with his 19th goal at 6:02 of the third. He is on a five-game goal-scoring streak. . . . Kelowna F Dillon Dube scored his fifth on a PP at 15:46 of the third. . . . D Jake Bean of the Hitmen, a 16-year-old from Calgary, ran his point streak to seven games with an assist. He has 11 of his 12 assists in those seven games. . . . Calgary G Mack Shields, who made 17 saves, drew his fifth assist this season, breaking the franchise record of four that he set last season. . . . D Keegan Kanzig, a healthy scratch the night before, was back in Calgary’s lineup. . . . The Hitmen improved to 19-11-3 and jumped past Red Deer into second place in the Central Division. . . . The Rockets (26-5-3) lead the B.C. Division by 19 points over the Victoria Royals. . . .

In Lethbridge, the Kamloops Blazers broke open a scoreless game with three goals in 46 seconds and went on to a 4-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . F Collin Shirley scored his 10th and 11th goals, at 18:58 and 19:44 of the first period, with F Cole Ully getting No. 16 at 19:30. The first two of those goals came via the PP. . . . Lethbridge F Zane Jones scored twice, giving him 15, as the Hurricanes cut into the lead in the second period. . . . Kamloops D Ryan Rehill got his third goal, at 12:35 of the second, for insurance. . . . Blazers D Josh Connolly had his third straight two-assist game. He’s got 28 points, including 24 assists, in 33 games. . . . Lethbridge D Lenny Hackman was among the Lethbridge scratches. He had played in 174 consecutive games. . . . The game was the first behind the Hurricanes’ bench for new head coach Peter Anholt. . . . The Blazers (13-18-5) snapped a five-game losing skid and moved back into fourth place in the B.C. Division, a point ahead of the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Hurricanes (6-20-5), with one victory in their last 16 games, have lost six in a row. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., F Evan Weinger broke a 2-2 tie at 11:15 of the second period and the Portland Winterhawks went on to a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Weinger has five goals. . . . Tri-City F Jordan Topping had tied it 2-2 with his second goal at 18:31 of the first. That goal came 43 seconds after F Alex Overhardt had scored his first goal to give Portland the lead. . . . Earlier, the teams shared goals 20 seconds part, F Dominic Turgeon scoring his 11th for Portland and F Beau McCue getting his 13th for the Americans. . . . Portland F Alex Schoenborn gave his side a 4-2 lead with an empty-netter at 18:51 of the third. . . . McCue then got his second of the game at 19:44. . . .  Winterhawks F Chase De Leo had an assist to run his point streak to 12 games. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie had two assists. . . . Portland G Adin Hill stopped 45 shots, 15 more than Tri-City’s Evan Sarthou. . . . Portland was 0-for-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-for-1. . . . The Winterhawks (19-14-3) have won two straight and are one point behind the U.S. Division-leading Everett Silvertips, who hold five games in hand. . . . The Americans (17-15-1) have lost two straight and are tied for third with the Spokane Chiefs in the U.S. Division.

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