Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hurricanes, Cougars tie up series . . . Things are Rocky in Windsor . . . Block story amazing




Steve Ewen of Postmedia continues to keep tabs on the Vancouver Giants while he kicks cancer’s butt for a second time. In his most recent piece, Ewen looks at five things the Giants need to address before another season gets here. That piece is right here.
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Rocky Thompson, the head coach of the Windsor Spitfires, can expect a call from the OHL office early this week. Someone from the league office will be calling to lighten Thompson’s wallet.
Why?
Because Thompson officially got the playoffs underway on Sunday by ripping into the referees following a 5-2 loss to the defending Memorial Cup-champion Knights in London. The head officials were Mike Cairns, a veteran of eight OHL seasons, and Scott Oakman, an 18-year man.
Among the Thompson quotes in the Windsor Star:
“These are two veteran referees who are well respected around the league and it was just ridiculous. You’re not only playing a very tough and good opponent, you’re playing the referees as well.”
“It’s unreal to think of what happened on the ice. It’s obvious they didn’t want us to win this game and we played well enough after the first period to deserve it.”
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen it this bad since I’ve been here.”
I’m thinking Thompson should get out front of this one and just send OHL commissioner David Branch a cheque for a grand to cover this one.
BTW, the series is 1-1 and the teams head to Windsor for games on Tuesday and Thursday.
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Cam Hutchinson, in the Saskatoon Express: “Would homers in the Toronto media please quit comparing Matthews and Marner to Toews and Kane. You’re embarrassing yourselves by thinking Matthews will ever bring the intangibles to the rink that Toews does.”
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Patrick O’Sullivan, a former NHLer, made the statement that Connor “McDavid is the most explosive and dynamic skater in the history of hockey. That’s not a stretch at this point, I think it’s a fact.” . . . To which Hutchinson added: “Of course everyone at TSN, especially knucklehead Jeff O’Neill, knows the greatest skater of all-time is Auston Matthews.”
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The Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League championship on Sunday, riding G Marcus Allen to a 4-0 victory over the visiting Greater Vancouver Canadians. Allen stopped 22 shots in posting his second straight shutout. It was a best-of-three final, with the Canadians winning the opener Friday, 3-2 in 2OT, and the Cougars winning 2-0 on Saturday. . . . The Cougars will be the host team for the Telus Cup, which is scheduled for April 24-30. . . . In Saskatchewan, the Regina Pat Canadians, who enjoyed a 36-6-2 regular season, won the midget AAA title with a 7-0 playoff run.
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Kieran Block played four seasons with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. At 22, he was soon to join the U of Alberta Golden Bears, when he was involved in a cliff-diving incident in which he shattered both legs. He would spend almost a year in a wheelchair and later played for Canada’s national sledge hockey team. Block is 31 years of age now and, after numerous surgical procedures, he played senior AAA hockey this season. What an amazing story this is and Jason Hills of the Edmotnton Journal has it all right here.
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After the first weekend of WHL playoffs, a lot of people are talking about two goaltenders.
Carl Stankowski, a 16-year-old from Calgary, has stepped in for the Seattle Thunderbirds, taking over the starting role, at least on a short-term basis, for the injured Rylan Toth and has put up two victories over the Tri-City Americans.
“I can’t even imagine,” Seattle F Scott Eansor told Andy Eide of 710 ESPN Seattle after Stankowski stopped 28 shots in a 5-2 victory in Game 2 on Saturday.“My first year in playoffs I was a little starstruck. I can’t even imagine him, being alone in the net. He’s been mentally strong and you can tell right now that he’s continuing to do that on the ice, I’m really proud of him.”
Stankowski was a second-round pick by Seattle in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He got into seven regular-season games, going 3-0-1, 2.18, .910.
Meanwhile, Michael Herringer, a 20-year-old from Comox, B.C., followed a 4-0 shutout over the Kamloops Blazers on Friday with a 3-2 victory on Saturday. While Herringer faced only 15 shots in Game 1, he was a whole lot busier in Game 2 when he stopped 33 shots.
His night’s work included what may have been a game-saver off the stick of Kamloops F Collin Shirley.

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SUNDAY GAMES:


At Lethbridge, F Egor Babenko scored three times to lead the Hurricanes to a 5-2 victory over the Red
EGOR BABENKO
Deer Rebels. . . . Red Deer had posted a 4-2 victory in Lethbridge on Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Red Deer. . . . Babenko, from Tyumen, Russia, is in his third season with Lethbridge. Last season, he had 69 points, including 29 goals, in 67 games. This season, he scored 24 goals and added 31 assists in 66 games. . . . He was scoreless in five games in last season’s playoffs, so these were his first post-season goals. . . . The Hurricanes took control by scoring the game’s first five goals. . . . F Ryan Bowen got things started at 6:56 of the first period. . . . Babenko made it 2-0 at 1:17 of the second period. . . . It moved to 3-0 as F Tanner Nagel scored, shorthanded, at 11:57. . . . Babenko added two more goals, at 17:17 of the second and 2:18 of the third. . . . Red Deer got two third-period PP goals, from F Michael Spacek, at 5:59, and F Evan Polei, at 11:46. . . . Lethbridge got two assists from each of Alec Baer and Jordy Bellerive. . . . F Lane Zablocki drew two assists for Red Deer, and Spacek had one. . . . The Hurricanes got 24 saves from G Stuart Skinner. . . . Red Deer starter Riley Lamb was beaten five times on 25 shots in 42:18. Lasse Petersen finished up, stopping the four shots he faced in 17:42. . . . Red Deer was 2-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-6. . . . The Hurricanes made one lineup change, inserting D Ty Prefontaine for D Kyle Yewchuk. . . . Announced attendance: 3,380.
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At Prince George, the Cougars scored the game’s first five goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the
TY EDMONDS
Portland Winterhawks. . . . Portland had won Game 1, 4-2, in Prince George on Friday. . . . The series will resume in Portland with games on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . This series has a 2-2-1-1-1 format, so they’ll be back in Prince George for Game 5 on Saturday. . . . The Cougars had F Brad Morrison back in their lineup and he scored the game’s first goal, at 15:57 of the first period. Morrison, who has had three straight 20-goal seasons, hadn’t played since Feb. 24 — he missed 10 games — when he suffered an ankle injury during a fight. . . . F Aaron Boyd upped the lead to 3-0 with goals at 8:32 and 18:35 of the second period. . . . D Shane Collins made it 4-0 just 22 seconds into the third period and F Radovan Bondra added a PP goal 35 seconds later. . . . Portland got a PP goal from F Cody Glass at 12:53 of the third. . . . D Brendan Guhle had two assists for the Cougars. . . . The Cougars got a big game from G Ty Edmonds, who finished with 40 saves. This is his third playoff season; he had one victory in 10 decisions going into this game. . . . Cole Kehler started for Portland, and stopped 19 of 24 shots in 40:57. Shane Farkas came on in relief and stopped all 12 shots he faced in 19:03. . . . Each team was 1-4 on the PP. . . . Announced attendance: 4,141.
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MONDAY GAMES (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.
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TUESDAY GAMES (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Swift Current, 7 p.m. (Series tied, 1-1)
Medicine Hat vs. Brandon, at Dauphin, Man., 7:30 p.m. (Medicine Hat leads, 2-0)
Regina at Calgary, 7 p.m. (Regina leads, 2-0)
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m. (Kelowna leads, 2-0)
Everett at Victoria, 7:05 p.m. (Series tied, 1-1)

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rebels shock Hurricanes . . . Warriors, Royals even series . . . Barzal sighting, but not on ice

Scattershoot

The defending-champion Brandon Wheat Kings were without F Nolan Patrick for a second straight game against the host Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday. The Wheat Kings, 7-2 losers in the opener, also added a pair of 15-year-olds — D Braden Schneider and F Ben McCartney — while taking out F Baron Thompson and F Cole Reinhardt. Schneider was the 11th overall selection in the 2016 WHL bantam draft, while McCartney was taken in the second round.
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The Tigers, meanwhile, added veteran D Ty Schultz, while scratching D Brad Forrest. Schultz hadn’t played since Jan. 13 when he suffered a broken leg while blocking a shot.
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The Red Deer Rebels and the Hurricanes got their series started last night in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes had F Matt Alfaro and F Zak Zborosky back after both had played just one game since March 4. Both were acquired from the Kootenay Ice near the trade deadline in the hopes they could provide some offence.
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The Tri-City Americans added F Vladislav Lukin to their scratches prior to Game 2 against the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. He joined F Nolan Yaremko and F Michael Rasmussen. With Rasmussen’s season likely over thanks to a broken scaphoid, losing Lukin is a blow. Lukin finished the regular season with 58 points, including 26 goals, in 63 games. He missed some time late in the regular season, too.
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The Thunderbirds, 4-2 winners in Game 1, scratched F Mathew Barzal and G Rylan Toth for a second straight playoff game. Barzal (mumps) last played on March 7, while Toth (undisclosed injury) last saw action on March 11. Barzal, the Western Conference’s outstanding player, put up 79 points, 69 of them assists, in 41 games. Toth led all goaltenders with 36 regular-season victories. He made 58 appearances. . . . Barzal was seen exiting the dressing room after last night’s game. As Tim Pigulski of 710 ESPN Seattle tweeted: “That is the first we’ve seen of Barzal since he left the blue line during the anthem two weeks ago. No longer in isolation.”
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After losing Game 1, 4-0, to the Rockets in Kelowna, the Kamloops Blazers inserted D Devan Harrison and F Brodi Stuart, while taking out D Dan Gatenby and F Jackson Shepard.
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The Regina Pats, who beat the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 5-2, in Friday’s opener, got F Nick Henry back from a one-game WHL suspension. Henry was one of the Pats’ five 80-point men, finishing his first regular season with 81 points, including 35 goals. . . . In order to get Henry in, the Pats took out F Kjell Kjemhus, a 15-year-old from Grande Prairie, Alta., who was a fourth-round selection in the 2016 WHL bantam draft.
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In Everett, the Victoria Royals, 4-2 losers to the Silvertips on Friday, scratched D Scott Walford and F Blake Bargar, adding D Mitchell Prowse and D Jeremy Masella.
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It’s a big hockey day in Prince George today (Sunday). The Cougars are at home to the Portland Winterhawks for Game 2 of their series at 5 p.m. Earlier in the day, at 9:45 a.m., the Cariboo Cougars and Greater Vancouver Canadians will decide the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League championship. The Canadians won Game 1, 3-2, in double OT on Friday, with the Cougars. behind 19 saves from G Marcus Allen, tying the best-of-three final with a 2-0 victory on Saturday afternoon.
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When the Winterhawks and Cougars met Friday, it was a Mega Jackpot for the 50/50 draw and Jenny Plouffe, who is from Prince George, went home with more than $42,000. Proceeds from the draw went to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Prince George.
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F Ty Ronning of the Vancouver Giants is with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers, on an ATO. He picked up is first professional point on Friday, in a 3-1 loss to the visiting Providence Bruins, then got his first goal Saturday in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all series best-of-seven):


At Lethbridge, the Red Deer Rebels erased a 2-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . .
MICHAEL SPACEK
This was Game 1, with Game 2 scheduled for today, 6 p.m., in Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes finished second in the Central Division, 14 victories and 22 points ahead of the Rebels. . . . The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead when F Tyler Wong struck at 13:51 of the first period. . . . F Ryan Vandervlis made it 2-0 at 3:14 of the second period. . . . F Michael Spacek got Red Deer on the scoreboard at 18:42, the late-period goal maybe the most important of the game. . . . F Cameron Hausinger tied the score at 1:55 of the third period. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel snapped the tie, on a PP, at 18:03. . . . F Lane Zablocki added an empty-netter, on a PP, at 19:56. . . . The Rebels to two assists from F Evan Polei and one from Spacek. . . . Red Deer G Riley Lamb stopped 25 shots. . . . Lethbridge got 29 saves from G Stuart Skinner. . . . Red Deer was 2-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-6. . . . Announced attendance: 4,118.
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At Moose Jaw, F Brayden Burke broke a 2-2 tie at 15:49 of the third period as the Warriors beat the Swift
LUKA BURZAN
Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . The series is tied 1-1. . . . The Broncos had won Game 1, 2-0, on Friday night. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Swift Current on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F MacKenzie Wight had given the visitors a 1-0 lead at 8:36 of the first period. . . . The Warriors tied it on F Branden Klatt’s goal at 13:52 of the second period. . . . Broncos F Tyler Steenbergen scored his second goal of the series at 16:53 for a 2-1 lead. . . . The Warriors pulled even at 5:07 of the third period as F Thomas Foster scored on a wrap-around. . . . The Warriors got two assists from F Luka Burzan. He had the primary assist on Moose Jaw’s first and last goals. . . . G Zach Sawchenko earned the victory with 34 saves. . . . G Jordan Papirny stopped 31 shots for the Broncos. . . . Moose Jaw was 0-3 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-5. . . . Announced attendance: 3,610.
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At Medicine Hat, the Tigers built a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 5-3 lead over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . .
ZACH FISCHER
. The Tigers won Game 1, 7-2, on Friday. . . . The scene now shifts to Dauphin, Man., for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. With the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair having taken over Brandon’s Keystone Centre complex, the Wheat Kings will play their opening-round games in Dauphin. . . . F Zach Fischer gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with 11.1 seconds left in the first period. . . . F Max Gerlach made it 2-0 at 12:22 of the second period. . . . Fischer increased that to 3-0 with his third goal in two games, at 4:27 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings got on the scoreboard when F Connor Gutenberg scored at 7:45. . . . Medicine Hat got that one back just nine seconds later as F John Dahlstrom scored. . . . The Wheat Kings cut the deficit to one on goals from F Reid Duke, at 11:08, and F Tyler Coulter, at 18:09. . . . Dahlstrom iced it with an empty-netter at 19:44. . . . F Mason Shaw had two assists for the Tigers. . . . The Wheat Kings got two assists from F Ty Lewis, with Coulter adding one. . . . Medicine Hat G Michael Bullion made 20 saves. . . . Brandon starter Logan Thompson allowed four goals on 42 shots in 53:12. He left in the third period, favouring a leg, after Tigers F Max Gerlach was pushed on top of him. Travis Child finished up, stopping the only shot he faced in 5:42. That was Child’s WHL playoff debut. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-5 on the PP; Brandon was 0-4. . . . Announced attendance: 3,791.
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At Regina, F Sam Steel scored one goal and drew four assists to lead the Pats to a 5-1 victory over the
SAM STEEL
Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Pats had posted a 5-2 victory in Game 1 on Friday. . . . They’ll resume the series in Calgary with games scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday. . . . Last night, Steel, who won the WHL’s regular-season scoring title, drew the primary assist on each of Regina’s first four goals. . . . F Dawson Leedahl gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 11:44 of the first period. . . . Calgary tied it on F Andrew Fyten’s goal at 2:16 of the second period. . . . F Adam Brooks scored his third goal in two games, this one via a 5-on-3 PP, to put the Pats back out front, at 4:17. . . . Leedahl scored again, at 9:38, and F Nick Henry counted at 7:26 of the third period. Henry had sat out Game 1 with a WHL suspension. . . . Steel got the empty-netter at 17:00. . . . Leedahl also had an assist, for a three-point night, while D Connor Hobbs had two assists. . . . Regina G Tyler Brown stopped 26 shots, eight fewer than Calgary’s Cody Porter. . . . Regina was 1-3 on the PP; Calgary was 0-4. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.
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DILLON DUBE
At Kelowna, F Dillon Dube scored two third-period goals for the Rockets as they skated to a 3-2 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Rockets blanked the Blazers, 4-0, in Game 1 on Friday. . . . The series resumes with games in Kamloops on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Dube, who signed an NHL contract on Friday, scored shorthanded at 11:55 for a 2-0 lead, then made it 3-0, on a PP, at 13:24. . . . D Cal Foote, who also had an assist, had given Kelowna a 1-0 edge at 2:53 of the first period. . . . F Quinn Benjafield scored the Blazers’ first goal of the series at 13:59, and D Ondrej Vala added a PP goal at 16:30 to make for an interesting finish. . . . The Rockets got 33 saves from G Michael Herringer, while Connor Ingram of Kamloops stopped 34. . . . The Blazers had 15 shots in all of Game 1. In Game 2, they held a 16-13 edge after one period. . . . Announced attendance: 5,647.
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At Everett, F Vladimir Bobylev broke a tie at 15:01 of the third period to give the Victoria Royals a 4-3
TYLER SOY
victory over the Silvertips. . . . Bobylev scored from behind the Everett net, banking the winning goal off G Carter Hart. . . . The Silvertips won, 4-2, on Friday. . . . The teams will resume hostilities in Victoria with games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Last night, Everett took a 1-0 lead on a PP goal from F Matt Fonteyne at 7:53 of the first period. . . . Victoria F Matt Phillips tied it, on a PP, at 12:45. . . . Everett went back out front 49 seconds into the second period as F Patrick Bajkov scored his second goal of the series, on a PP. . . . F Tyler Soy shot the Royals out front with two goals, the first one at 1:40, the second, on a PP, at 7:30. . . . F Brandson Hein pulled Everett even at 7:49 of the third period. . . . F Jack Walker and D Chaz Reddekopp each had two assists for the Royals. . . . Everett got two assists from F Dominic Zwerger and one from Bajkov. . . . Walker set franchise records for career playoff assists (18) and points (31). He had tied F Brandon Magee for both marks on Friday. . . . Soy set a franchise career record for playoff goals (14) with his second goal. The first one tied Walker and Magee. . . . G Griffen Outhouse earned the victory with 18 saves. . . . Hart finished up with 26 saves. . . . Each team was 2-3 on the PP. . . . Announced attendance: 4,196.
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At Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Tri-City
SCOTT EANSOR
Americans, 5-2. . . . The Thunderbirds had posted a 4-2 victory on Friday. . . . The series will resume with games in Kennewick, Wash., on Wednesday and Friday. . . . Last night, Seattle took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Nolan Volcan, on a PP, at 8:55, and F Scott Eansor, at 17:14. . . . Eansor scored his first goal since Dec. 31 after missing most of the second half with injuries. . . . The Americans pulled even on goals from F Parker AuCoin, at 16:21 of the second period, and F Max James, on a PP, at 6:52 of the third. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman snapped the 2-2 tie at 15:03 of the third period. . . . F Donovan Neuls added insurance, on a PP, at 15:29, and D Aaron Hyman scored another PP goal at 19:42. . . . Seattle got two assists each from D Austin Strand and D Jarret Tyszka, with Hyman adding one. . . . Seattle G Carl Stankowski, making his second straight start in the absence of the injured Rylan Toth, stopped 28 shots. . . . The Americans got 36 stops from G rylan Parenteau. . . . Seattle was 3-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-5. . . . Announced attendance: 4,502.
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SUNDAY GAMES (all times local):

Red Deer at Lethbridge, 6 p.m. (Red Deer leads, 1-0)
Portland at Prince George, 5 p.m. (Portland leads, 1-0)
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MONDAY GAMES (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Stankowski steals show in Kent ... Papirny, Herringer perfect in goal ... Brooks sparks Pats

Scattershoot

The first goal of the WHL playoffs was scored by D Clayton Kirichenko of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Kirichenko scored at 6:46 of the first period in their game against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. A 20-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Kirichenko, the Tigers’ captain, has played in 239 regular-season games. This was his first playoff game — it was one to remember as he finished with two goals and an assist. . . . He split the first 130 of those regular-season games between the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants.
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When the series between the Calgary Hitmen and the Pats got started in Regina, there were two new pennants hanging from the Brandt Centre rafters. Prior to the game, the Pats were presented with the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champs. They then raised the East Division and Regular Season championship banners. Presumably, the Eastern Conference championship banner was saved for prior to next season’s home-opener. . . . In Everett, the Silvertips raised their two new banners as U.S. Division and Western Conference champions. . . . These teams wouldn’t lower these banners and do it all over again on opening night next season, would they?
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Raising banners prior to the start of a playoff home-opener may not be a bad idea. It allows all the players to take part, something that wouldn’t be possible prior to the following season, what with graduating 20-year-olds and others who don’t return for one reason or another.
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Of course, F Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins should have drawn a suspension for the slash he put on the hands of Ottawa Senators D Marc Methot on Thursday night. Of course, Crosby wasn’t suspended. Having a superstar do something like that is a hockey disciplinarian’s worst nightmare, because they would rather suspend slugs than aces.
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If you haven’t noticed, Crosby has become quite the nifty swordsman with his hockey stick.
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F Nolan Patrick, who remains the consensus No. 1 selection for the 2017 NHL draft, sat out the Brandon Wheat Kings’ opening playoff game last night in Medicine Hat. After having sports hernia surgery in July, he played only 33 games during the regular season. I don’t know that being scratched last night was related to his previous problems, but sporting teams are starting to realize that recovery time from that kind of surgery is much longer than previously thought.
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The other notable scratches on the opening night of the WHL playoff were F Mathew Barzal and G Rylan Toth, both of the Seattle Thunderbirds. It would seem that Barzal continues to be bothered by the mumps, while Toth, who led WHL goaltenders in victories, has an undisclosed injury. Toth last played on March 11, when he left after the first period of a 6-3 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks. That was said to be a move made for precautionary reasons, but obviously things are more serious than that.
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I’m thinking USA Hockey has bitten off more than it can chew in its dispute with its national women’s team. On Friday, Dunkin’ Donuts, a major USA Hockey sponsor, said it continues to “support the current members of the U.S. team . . .” As well, the NHL and MLB players associations both issued statements of support for the women’s team, which is the defending IIHF world champion. It is scheduled to begin defence of that title in Plymouth, Mich., on March 31. . . . You’ve got to think that USA Hockey will fold its hand before then.
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Three former WHL coaches who now are head coaches in the OHL are a combined 3-0 in the playoffs. . . . Rocky Thompson’s Windsor Spitfires beat the host London Knights, the defending Memorial Cup champions, 4-3 on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the evening, Ryan McGill’s Owen Sound Attack trounced the visiting Kitchener Rangers, 9-1. . . . On Thursday, Kris Knoblauch’s Erie Otters, playing at home, beat the Sarnia Sting, 6-3. . . . Thompson, McGill and Knoblauch all played in the WHL, too.
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In the BCHL, the host Merritt Centennials beat the Penticton Vees, 2-1, in OT last night, forcing a Game 7 in their second-round series. F Tyrell Buckley won it at 10:23 of the first OT. They’ll meet again Monday, this time in Penticton. The Vees held a 52-48 edge in shots.
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F Chad Bassen (Regina, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2000-04) has signed a one-year extension with Iserlohn (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 10 goals and five assists in 50 games. He has dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .
D James Bettauer (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, 2010-12) has signed a one-year extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). He had 10 goals and four assists in 48 games this season. Bettauer has dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .
F Jesse Mychan (Everett, Tri-City, 2011-13) has signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He started the season with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), scoring 23 goals and adding 14 assists in 34 games. He was pointless in five games while on loan to the San Antonio Rampage (AHL). He signed with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2) on Jan. 24, and had four goals and two assists in nine games there.
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F Dillon Dube of the Kelowna Rockets celebrated the start of the WHL playoffs by signing his first NHL contract. Dube signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Calgary Flames, who selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . Dube, who was born in Golden, B.C., had 20 goals and 35 assists in 40 games with the Rockets this season, this third in Kelowna. Dube missed the first seven weeks of the season after returning from the Flames’ training camp with a knee injury. . . . He also played for Team Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championship. . . . According to capfriendly.com, Dube’s NHL salary would be US$742,500, $742,500 and $892,500, with a $70,000 salary in the minors. Their are performance bonuses of $182,500, $182,500 and $32,500, with three annual signing bonuses of $92,500.
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The Everett Silvertips have signed F Mark Liwiski to a WHL contract. Liwiski, from Dauphin, Man., will turn 16 on Aug. 8. He was a third-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Liwiski played for the midget AAA Parkland Rangers of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League this season, putting up 54 points, including 25 goals, in 37 games. In his draft season, he played for Parkland’s bantam AAA side, totalling 91 points, 39 of them goals, in 35 games.
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Craig Mohr is returning for a fourth season as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Mohr, from Calgary, has coaching history with the junior B Golden Rockets and Beaver Valley Nitehawks, as well as the midget AAA Calgary Northstars and the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. . . . This season, the Ghostriders went 26-18-1-2 and finished third in the Eddie Mountain Division. They lost a best-of-seven first-round series in six games to the Kimberley Dynamiters.
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If you enjoy stopping off here and would care to make a donation to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
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FRIDAY GAMES (Game 1, best-of-sevens):

JORDAN PAPIRNY
At Moose Jaw, G Jordan Papirny stopped 40 shots to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 2-0 victory over the Warriors. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . Papirny was the starting goaltender for Brandon when the Wheat Kings won last season’s Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . Papirny, 20, stopped 14 shots in each of the first and third periods in posting his second career playoff shutout. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen, a 51-goal man in the regular season, scored the game’s first goal, unassisted, at 11:18 of the second period. . . . F Glenn Gawdin provided insurance with an empty-netter at 19:48 of the third period. . . . There was one minor penalty called, that to Steenbergen for hooking, at 13:03 of the second period. . . . The Warriors got 31 saves from G Zach Sawchenko. . . . Announced attendance: 3,353.
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CLAYTON KIRICHENKO
At Medicine Hat, the Tigers scored four PP goals en route to a 7-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Three of Medicine Hat’s first four goals came via the PP. . . . D Clayton Kirichenko got the Tigers started at 6:46 of the first period. . . . F Matt Bradley and F Mark Rassell followed with PP goals, at 18:57 of the first and 2:19 of the second, respectively. . . . F Stelio Mattheos scored for Brandon at 3:04, but Tigers F Zach Fischer got that one back, on a PP, at 8:55. . . . F Tyler Coulter counted for Brandon, on a PP, at 13:43, to make it 4-2. . . . Kirichenko scored again, at 14:48, with Rassell completing a hat trick with a PP goal at 12:32 and an even-strength score at 19:39. . . . The Tigers got three assists from D David Quenneville and two from Butcher. Kirichenko and Fischer had one apiece. . . . D Kale Clague had two assists for Brandon, with Mattheos getting one. . . . G Michael Bullion earned the victory with 26 saves. . . . Brandon G Logan Thompson stopped 45 shots. He faced 18 shots in the first period and 19 in the third. . . . The Tigers were 4-9 on the PP; the Wheat Kings were 1-6. . . . D Ty Schultz (broken leg) continues to rehab so was scratched by the Tigers. . . . F Nolan Patrick was among Brandon’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,583.
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At Regina, F Adam Brooks had two goals and an assist in the third period to lead the Pats to a 5-2 victory
ADAM BROOKS
over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Game 2 is in Regina tonight. . . . Brooks finished with two goals and two assists. . . . The Pats won it with a four-goal third period. . . . F Jake Kryski gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:50 of the second period. . . . Regina scored the next three goals. . . . D Josh Mahura tied it, on a PP, at 16:28. . . . Brooks, who had the primary assist on Mahura’s goal, provided Regina with the lead at 4:25 of the third period, then upped the lead to 3-1 at 6:03. . . . Kryski got Calgary back to within a goal at 9:04. . . . Regina closed it out on goals from F Bryan Lockner, at 14:14, and F Austin Wagner, shorthanded, at 16:59. . . . F Filip Ahl had two assists for Regina. . . . G Tyler Brown stopped 20 shots to earn the victory. . . . Calgary G Cody Porter turned aside 27 shots. . . . Regina was 1-2 on the PP; Calgary was 1-3. . . . Regina F Nick Henry served a one-game WHL suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.
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At Kelowna, F Carsen Twarynski scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Rockets to a 4-0
CARSEN TWARYNSKI
victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Rockets got three of their goals from players acquired at the trade deadline. Twarynski came over from the Calgary Hitmen, while F Reid Gardiner’s rights were acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders. He was with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the time of the trade. . . . Twarynski opened the scoring at 17:20 of the first period. . . . F Tomas Soustal, who had missed the previous eight games with an injury, upped it to 2-0 just 28 seconds later. . . . Gardiner scored on a PP at 12:40 of the second period. . . . Twarynski added his second goal, on a PP, at 8:47 of the third period. . . . Soustal also had an assist. . . . Kelowna G Michael Herringer wasn’t particularly busy, stopping 15 shots to earn his third career playoff shutout. . . . The Rockets held a 15-3 edge on shots in the first period. It was 17-3 in the third. . . . Kamloops G Connor Ingram stopped 44 shots. . . . Kelowna was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . The Blazers scratched F Luc Smith, who was injured in Game 71 of the regular season. . . . Announced attendance: 5,512.
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At Everett, the Silvertips scored the game’s first four goals, two of them on the PP, and went on to a 4-2
DOMINIC ZWERGER
victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . They’ll play Game 2 tonight in Everett. . . . D Kevin Davis gave the home guys a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:11 of the first period. . . . The Silvertips took a 4-0 lead with three goals in 4:20 late in the second period. . . . F Patrick Bajkov upped it to 2-0 at 12:04. . . . F Dominic Zwerger then scored twice, at 14:27 and 16:24, the second one coming via the PP. . . . F Jack Walker scored a PP goal for Victoria, at 19:03 of the second period. . . . Victoria F Dante Hannoun got the Royals’ other goal, on a PP, at 14:58 of the third. . . . Bajkov also had two assists, with Davis and Zwerger getting one each. . . . Walker added an assist to his goal. . . . Walker has tied the Royals’ record for career playoff goals (13), assists (16) and points (29). He shares all three with Brandon Magee (2011-15). . . . Everett G Carter Hart stopped 30 shots, nine more than Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse. . . . The Royals were 2-4 on the PP; the Silvertips were 2-5. . . . D Chaz Reddekopp and F Ryan Peckford both returned to Victoria’s lineup after being out with injuries. . . . Announced attendance: 3,241.
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At Kent, Wash., G Carl Stankowski stopped 33 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory
CARL STANKOWSKI
over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Stankowski was starting in place of the injury Rylan Toth. . . . Stankowski, who turned 17 on March 9, was making only his eighth WHL appearance. In the regular season, he was 3-0-1, 2.18, .910. . . . He stopped 18 of 19 shots in the third period. That included a save on a penalty shot by F Morgan Geekie at 9:39 of the third period with Seattle leading, 3-2. Moments later, he beat F Parker AuCoin on a shorthanded breakaway. . . . The Thunderbirds got two goals from F Keegan Kolesar, including the game’s first score at 5:37 of the first period. . . . F Ryan Gropp made it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:50, with Kolesar earning the primary assist. . . . Tri-City F Jordan Topping cut into the deficit at 10:10. . . . D Austin Strand restored Seattle’s two-goal lead at 4:50 of the third period. . . . F Austyn Playfair pulled the Americans to within a goal when he scored shorthanded, at 7:26. . . . Kolesar put it away with his second goal, at 17:46. . . . Seattle D Ethan Bear had two assists. . . . Tri-City G Rylan Parenteau stopped 27 shots. . . . Seattle was 1-6 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-7. . . . The game was delayed for a couple of minutes in the second period after Seattle D Turner Ottenbreit’s clearing attempt struck referee Kevin Bennett in the head. He went down briefly, but didn’t miss a shift. . . . The Thunderbirds scratches also included F Mathew Barzal (mumps). . . . Announced attendance: 3,359.
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At Prince George, the Portland Winterhawks scored a pair of PP goals as they beat the Cougars, 4-2. . .
KEEGAN IVERSON
They’ll play Game 2 in Prince George on Sunday. . . . The visitors took a 1-0 lead when F Brendan De Jong scored, on a PP, at 4:34 of the first period. . . . The Cougars tied it at 17:49 when F Jared Bethune scored a PP goal. . . . The Winterhawks scored the game’s next two goals, with F Skyler McKenzie counting at 18:39 and F Keegan Iverson adding a PP goal at 3:06 of the second period. . . . F Jansen Harkins got the Cougars to within a goal at 2:43 of the third. . . . Portland put it away with an empty-netter from F Colton Veloso at 19:22. . . . D Caleb Jones had two assists for Portland. . . . The Cougars got two assists from F Colby McAuley. . . . G Cole Kehler stopped 23 shots for Portland, while Prince George’s Ty Edmonds blocked 31. . . . Including the regular season, Kehler has posted nine straight victories. . . . Portland was 2-5 on the PP; Prince George was 1-3. . . . F Cody Glass, who missed the last five periods of Portland’s regular season, was in the lineup and drew one assist. . . . The Cougars again were without F Brad Morrison. He took the pregame warmup before being scratched. . . . Mike Johnston earned his 50th career victory as Portland’s head coach, the 18th man in WHL history to reach that milestone. Don Hay of the Kamloops Blazers is No. 1, at 106. . . . Announced attendance: 5,418.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

(All series best-of-seven)
Red Deer at Lethbridge, 7 p.m. (Game 1)
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m. (Swift Current leads, 1-0)
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m. (Medicine Hat leads, 1-0)
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m. (Regina leads, 1-0)
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m. (Kelowna leads, 1-0)
Victoria at Everett, 7:05 p.m. (Everett leads, 1-0)
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m. (Seattle leads, 1-0)
——

SUNDAY GAMES (all times local):

Red Deer at Lethbridge, 6 p.m. (Game 2)
Portland at Prince George, 5 p.m. (Portland leads, 1-0)

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scattershooting on playoff's eve . . . Cougars get motivation from snubs . . . Giants coach: No oil change here

Scattershoot

Doing some scattershooting on the night before the WHL playoff grind gets started . . . 

If you watched the World Baseball Classic, you will know that John Smoltz is as good as any analyst working in any sport today.
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Russ Howard, TSN’s curling guru, is pretty good, too. In fact, TSN’s curling crew — Vic Rauter with Cheryl Bernard and Howard — is a rare case of three-in-a-booth working well.
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There’s an interesting story developing in Kamloops where the junior B Storm had a disastrous season at the gate after moving from McArthur Island to Memorial Arena for the 2016-17 season. There is lots of parking on the island, not so much downtown around Memorial Arena, and that’s a recipe for disaster. Owner Barry Dewar now says he may not be able to afford to bring back head coach Ed Patterson, a former NHLer, for another season.
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The same 22 head coaches who started the WHL’s 2016-17 regular season managed to finish it. The question now is: How many of them will start 2017-18?
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I like the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats to meet in the WHL’s final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. But all bets are off if the mumps virus pops up somewhere along the playoff trail.
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Headline at whl.ca on Sunday night: Winterhawks fly north for clash with Cougars to open WHL Playoffs.
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Not so fast, Sully. The WHL prohibits flying until the championship final when it’s Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference.
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You are aware that actor/comedian/bad golfer Bill Murray is a long-time supporter of the Chicago Cubs, who ended that million-year drought by winning the World Series last spring. But are you aware that Murray also backs the Xavier Musketeers, who upset the Arizona Wildcats, 73-71, in the NCAA tournament on Thursday night? Murray’s son, Luke, is on Xavier’s coaching staff.
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Next up for Xavier? Spokane’s Gonzaga Bulldogs in an Elite 8 game on Saturday, 3:09 p.m. PT, from San Jose.
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“If I was running the NHL, I’d be terrified of offside video reviews in the post-season. One of them is going to decide a playoff series, and it’s going to be ugly.” That was Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his weekly 30 Thoughts essay this week.
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F Massimo Rizzo made his BCHL playoff debut with the Penticton Vees on Thursday night against the visiting Merritt Centennials. . . . The Kamloops Blazers selected him 15th overall in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Rizzo, from Burnaby, was the Canadian School Sport Hockey League’s MVP and freshman of the year after putting up 53 points, including 12 goals, in 28 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s midget prep team. . . . The Centennials won last night’s game, 5-4, to send the series back to Merritt. The Vees, who won 2-1 in OT in Merritt on Tuesday, hold a 3-2 lead.
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The 2017 IIHF World Women’s Championship is scheduled to open March 31 in Plymouth, Mich. What if Team USA doesn’t show up, sticking to its guns and boycotting? I covered the 2016 event in Kamloops and I couldn’t imagine what that would have been like without Canada’s national team.
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You have to wonder what the TSN pooh-bahs are thinking as they repeatedly run promos for its coverage of the IIHF World Women’s Championship, focussing on a Canada-Team USA game that is scheduled for opening night. With the way Team USA is sticking to its guns, TSN better get some darts or poker cued up and ready to go.
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G Marek Schwarz (Vancouver, 2004-05) and F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) have signed one-year extensions with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). In 31 games, Schwarz was 2.87 and .907 with one shutout. Plíhal had seven goals and nine assists in 30 games.
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The Prince George Cougars won the first pennant in that city’s 23-year WHL history by going wire-to-wire to capture the B.C. Division title. But when the WHL announced its all-star teams and award winners on Wednesday, the Cougars were blanked. Zippo. Nada.
Hey, Cougars, what do you think of that?
Todd Harkins, the team’s general manager, told Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com: “We have a lot of good players and people in our organization and I think when you win something you should be recognized for it and we weren’t recognized by anybody. I think it was us and Vancouver that didn’t have any accolades. I think this will be motivation for the players.”
The Cougars open a first-round series against the visiting Portland Winterhawks tonight (Friday). There could be some extra fire in this series — the Winterhawks wanted a 2-3-2 format; the Cougars wanted, and got, a 2-2-1-1-1 series.
“We had a lot of pressure to put the series in a 2-3-2 format,” Harkins said, “but we felt if we could move the games around enough we could give the players the experience and rest they need throughout the seven-game series if it goes that long and would still work in our favour.”
The Winterhawks’ roster boasts Mike Johnston, the Western Conference’s coach of the year, and F Cody Glass, who was named to the conference’s first all-star team.
Glass, who will be an early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, missed the last five periods of Portland’s regular season with an apparent arm injury. There has been nothing but crickets out of Portland on his status, so fans will have to wait until Johnston posts his lineup for Game 1 to find out whether Glass will play.
The Cougars likely will have F Brad Morrison back for the first time since he suffered an ankle injury during a fight in a game with the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Feb. 24. Morrison, who missed nine games, finished with 52 points, including 21 goals, in 61 games.
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If you have some information you would like to share or just a general comment, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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If you are a subscriber to Shaw TV, you will have access to a pair of WHL first-round playoff series. . . . The Shaw crew will cover the series between the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. Games 1 and 2 are set for Kelowna on Friday at Saturday nights, with the telecasts starting at 7 p.m. PT. . . . Meanwhile, Shaw subscribers also will be able to watch the series between the Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen, which will be produced by Access7 out of Regina. That series opens with games in Regina on Friday and Saturday nights, with the telecasts starting at 7 o’clock MT.
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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Trevor Longo to a WHL contract. Longo, from North Vancouver, was a sixth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Longo will turn 17 on April 23. He played this season with the Vancouver-Northwest Giants of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, putting up 37 points, 11 of them goals, in 40 games. Last season, he had 11 points, including two goals, in 38 games with the Giants.
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The Vancouver Giants missed the WHL playoffs for the third straight season and the fourth time in five seasons. Of course, general manager Glen Hanlon and head coach Jason McKee both were in their first seasons and they know this project will take some time. . . . “I have said it before, it is not an oil change, it can’t be fixed in 20 minutes; it is going to take some time,” McKee told Gary Ahuja of the Langley Times. “When I came out here, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task, I knew it was going to take some time.” . . . Ahuja’s story is right here.
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The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has named Mark Bomersback as general manager and signed head coach Matt Keillor to a new contract. . . . Bomersback, the AJHL’s all-time leading scorer, had been the Storm’s director of scouting. As GM, he is working on a month-to-month deal, at least for now. . . . Keillor, who had been the head coach of the midget AAA Ernie’s Sports Experts Storm, took over as general manager and head coach when Kevin Higo was fired in midseason. Keillor’s contract is for two hers with the team holding an option on a third season. . . . The Storm reached the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2013, finishing 15-38-7 before losing a best-of-five series in three games to the Whitecourt Wolverines.
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If you enjoy stopping off here and would care to make a donation to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you have some information you would like to share or just a general comment, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
If interested, you also are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.
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MONDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
——

FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

(Game 1, best-of-seven series)
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.
Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

Red Deer at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.


(Game 1, best-of-seven series)
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Victoria at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
(Game 2, best-of-seven series)

There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click HERE. . . and thank you very much.
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