Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gatenby burns ex-mates . . . Giants, Rebels cut deal . . . New deal for Nachbaur . . . Warriors stun Wheat Kings


D Joe Gatenby went into opening night with five goals in 174 career regular-season games with the Kelowna Rockets.
In his first game with the Kamloops Blazers on Friday night, he scored twice and added an assist in a 9-2 victory over the visiting Rockets. (Originally, he was credited with two assists, but one was taken
JOE GATENBY
away at some point after the game.)
It was his first career two-goal game and his second three-point outing.
“Joe Gatenby was probably our best player,” Kamloops head coach Don Hay said after his side had torched the short-staffed Rockets — they dressed 15 skaters — for six power-play goals on 10 opportunities.
(You’re right . . . it’s not a good idea to give up 10 PP chances when you’ve only got 15 skaters dressed.)
Anyway . . . 
“We were fortunate that we were able to capitalize on our power play early,” said Gatenby, a Kelowna native whose first goal came with the man advantage. 
Gatenby’s second goal was credited to freshman F Scott Mahovlich, but was switched during the second intermission.
“I felt kind of bad about that,” said Gatenby, knowing that it would have been Mahovlich’s first WHL goal. “I’m not sure about really what happened there.”
What happened is that the Rockets were having one of those nights. In this case, G Brodan Salmon, while being pressured, reached out with his stick to pull the puck underneath him. However, the puck went right underneath him and into the net. The goal was given to Mahovlich, who was the closest Kamloops player to the puck at the time. However, the official scorekeeper reviewed the play and the goal was given to Gatenby, because he had been the last of the Blazers to touch the puck.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Gatenby said with a chuckle.
Gatenby was acquired by the Blazers in the hopes that he would give them a strong defensive game and eat up a lot of the minutes that came available with the graduation of Ryan Rehill, who played a regular shift and also was a stalwart on the power-play and penalty-killing units. So far, so good.
“I’m really enjoying my time,” Gatenby said. “I really like my teammates and the coaching staff has been really good and really easy to work with.”
And don’t look now but he’s tied for the WHL lead in goals and points, as the Blazers go into Kelowna for a Saturday night rematch.
“I’m really good friends with pretty much the whole team,” Gatenby said as he looked ahead to tonight. “I’m focused on the Blazers right now but I know how tough it is (to lose like that). We also had a lot of fortunate power plays. They’re going to bring more to the rink tomorrow.”
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The Vancouver Giants announced late Friday night that they have acquired F Taden Rattie, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels for a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Rattie, from Airdrie, Alta., is the younger brother of former Portland Winterhawks sniper Ty Rattie. . . . Taden, 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, had one goal in 25 games with the Rebels last season. He is expected to join the Giants in time to play tonight against the host Everett Silvertips. . . . Everett beat the Giants, 7-3, in Langley on Friday night. . . . The Rebels had acquired the younger Rattie from Portland on Dec. 28 for a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. He never did play for the Winterhawks; in fact, he had committed to Western Michigan before he chose to join the Rebels.
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The Spokane Chiefs have signed head coach Don Nachbaur to a contract extension that runs through 2017-18. That would be his 20th season as a WHL head coach. Nachbaur, who is into his seventh season as the Chiefs’ head coach, was beginning the final season of his contract. . . . Nachbaur also has been head coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. In fact, he is atop the all-time coaching victories list with the Chiefs (234) and Americans (235). . . . The Chiefs open the regular season against the host Americans on Saturday night. That will move Nachbair into a tie with Mike Babcock for most Chiefs games coached (424). . . . Nachbaur also is one of only four men to have recorded more than 600 WHL regular-season coaching victories. He is third on the all-time list, at 665, behind Ken Hodge (742) and Don Hay (675). Lorne Molleken (626) is the fourth member of the 600 Club.
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The Calgary Hitmen have placed G Nik Amundrud on the injured list with an undisclosed injury suffered during the exhibition season. Brad Curle, the radio voice of the Hitmen, reports that Amundrud, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20, is “expected to be sidelined until December.” . . . With Amundrud out of the picture, at least for now, the Hitmen go into the season with two goaltenders — Cody Porter, 19, and Kyle Dumba, 18. . . . Amundrud was 10-7-0, 2.53, .899 in 21 appearances with the Hitmen last season after coming over from the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Porter, who turned 19 on Friday, was 24-11-2, 2.98, .885 in 41 games after being acquired from the Vancouver Giants. . . . Dumba, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, got into 10 games, going 2-3-2, 4.30, .857.
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The Medicine Hat Tigers have added G Jake Morrissey, 19, to their roster after he was released by the Vancouver Giants. . . . Morrissey was 1-6-0, 5.07, .853 in 10 appearances with the Giants last season. He also played with the Saskatoon Blades and two AJHL’s teams — the Drayton Valley Thunder and Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . In 2014-15, Morrissey was 8-1-1, 1.98, .932 in 11 games with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . With starter Nick Schneider in camp with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, the Tigers needed someone to partner with Duncan McGovern, 16, on their roster. . . . McGovern, from Winnipeg, was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. He got into six exhibition games, going 3-0-0, 2.00, .925 in 240 minutes. He also recorded two shutouts. . . . In 25 career appearances, split among Kelowna, Vancouver and Saskatoon, Morrissey is 9-9-1, 3.60, .885. Kelowna selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 bantam draft.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Zack Andrusiak, an 18-year-old list player from Yorkton, Sask. He had 51 points, including 32 goals, in 32 games with the junior B Kamloops Storm last season. He also played in 15 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, recording two assists. In 2014-15, he was pointless in seven games with the Tri-City Americans, while putting up 38 points, 14 of them goals, in 37 games with the junior B North Okanagan Knights. . . . He is a nephew of former Seattle Thunderbirds assistant coach Perry Andrusiak, who also did a stint as the Regina Pats’ assistant GM.
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JUST NOTES:

D Ryely McKinstry no longer is shown on the roster of the Vancouver Giants. Concussion-related issues limited him to 11 games last season. The 18-year-old Calgarian was a second-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . 
The Calgary Hitmen have released F Justyn Gurney, 16, from their roster. Gurney, from Delta, B.C., was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. He is expected to join the major midget West Valley Hawks. . . . 
D Jacob Cardiff, 20, has joined the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds, who play out of his hometown of Wilcox, Sask. Cardiff spent the previous three seasons with the Spokane Chiefs, but was released and cleared 20-year-old waivers.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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FRIDAY GAMES:

At Calgary, F Taylor Sanheim scored in the fifth round of a shootout as the Hitmen beat the Kootenay Ice, 3-2. . . . The Hitmen thought they had won with 29.3 seconds left in OT but a potential goal was waved off after video review. Both teams had gone to their dressing rooms, so had to return to the ice. . . . F Zak Zborosky gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 19:23 of the first period. . . . Calgary tied it on F Murphy Stratton’s PP goal at 3:58 of the second. . . . Kootenay went back in front when F Tanner Sidaway scored at 19:31. . . . The Hitmen forced OT on F Tyler Mrkonjic’s goal at 1:18 of the third. . . . Calgary G Cody Porter turned aside 28 shots, one more than the Ice’s Payton Lee. . . . Kootenay was 1-3 on the PP; Calgary was 1-5. . . . Announced attendance: 7,524.
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At Kamloops, D Joe Gatenby scored two goals, set up another and was named the game’s first star as the Blazers powered their way to a 9-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kelowna, with six players at NHL camps, dressed only 15 skaters, three under the maximum. . . . Kamloops was 6-10 on the PP; Kelowna was 1-8. . . . Gatenby was acquired from the Rockets in a summer deal that sent F Jake Kryski the other way. Gatenby’s brother, Dan, who was scratched last night, also moved to Kamloops in the exchange. Joe went into the game with five goals in 174 regular-season games with the Rockets. . . . Kelowna F Kole Lind forged a 1-1 tie 34 seconds into the second period. . . . Kamloops scored the next four goals, with the last three of them coming on the PP. . . . Kamloops F Jackson Shepard scored twice, while F Collin Shirley had a goal and two assists. D Dawson Davidson, F Scott Mahovlich and Conner McDonald, a defenceman who played right wing in this one, each had two assists and F Rudolfs Balcers scored once and added an assist, as did D Luke Zazula and F Spencer Bast. . . . Lind and F Jake Kryski each had a goal and an assist for Kelowna. . . . Kamloops fans chanted ‘Warm Up the Bus’ and ‘We Want 10’ as time wound down on the third period. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson stopped 29 shots. Kelowna starter Michael Herringer gave up four goals on 18 shots, with Brodan Salmond coming on at 4:56 of the second period. He was beaten five times on 16 shots. . . . The game marked the head-coaching debut of Kelowna’s Jason Smith, a former WHL defenceman (Regina, 1991-93) who went on to play 1,008 regular-season and 68 playoff games in the NHL. His only coaching experience prior to signing with the Rockets was two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Smith is the Rockets’ fourth head coach in four seasons after Ryan Huska had been in charge for seven seasons. . . . The Blazers now head out for seven straight road games, starting tonight in Kelowna. . . . Announced attendance: 4,063. That was the second-smallest home-opener crowd since the Blazers’ home arena opened in time for the 1992-93 season. Last season, attendance at the opener was 3,937 as Kelowna posted a 7-3 victory.
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At Lethbridge, the Hurricanes doubled the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-2, with four of the game’s goals coming via the PP. . . . The Hurricanes took a 2-0 first-period lead and never trailed. . . . D Calen Addison scored the game’s first goal, his first in the WHL. Lethbridge selected him second overall in the 2015 bantam draft. He also drew an assist on the game’s second goal. Early last season, with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, he suffered a broken leg that required surgery. . . . Both goals came on the PP. . . . Lethbridge was 2-5 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 2-6. . . . Hurricanes F Ryley Lindgren had a goal and two assists. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 41 shots for the winners, while Duncan McGovern stopped 16 for the visitors. . . . Announced attendance: 5,009.
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At Moose Jaw, F Tanner Jeannot scored 29 seconds into OT to give the Warriors a 3-2 victory over the defending-champion Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Warriors scored the game’s last three goals, with F Jayden Halbgewachs forcing OT when he scored with 4.7 seconds left in the third period. . . . Brandon F Nolan Patrick, who missed all of the exhibition season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in July, was in the Wheat Kings’ lineup and scored the game’s first goal at 8:57 of the first period. . . . F Stelio Mattheos gave Brandon a 2-0 lead at 18:22. . . . Moose Jaw cut into the lead at 18:09 of the third period when F Ryan Bowen scored. . . . D Matt Sozanski had two assists for the Warriors. . . . Halbgewachs, Patrick and Mattheos each had one assist. . . . Moose Jaw G Brody Willms stopped 32 shots, one more than Brandon’s Jordan Papirny. . . . The Warriors were 0-2 on the PP; the Wheaties were 0-5. . . . Darryl Anning, 30, the youngest head coach in the WHL, made his debut with the Wheat Kings, although he had served as the team’s interim head coach for a bit last season while Kelly McCrimmon was with Canada’s national junior team. . . . McCrimmon, who also had been the team’s GM, now is assistant GM with the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise. Grant Armstrong moved over from the Victoria Royals to take over as Brandon’s GM. . . . Announced attendance: 3,744.
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At Red Deer, D Aaron Irving, named team captain earlier in the day, scored 26 seconds into OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 3-2 victory over the Rebels. . . . F Akash Bains gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead at 3:31 of the first period, with F Tyler Robertson tying it at 5:50. . . . Red Deer went back out front when F Evan Polei, who was injured in the preseason, scored at 19:30. . . . Edmonton D Kyle Yewchuk forced OT with a goal at 17:27 of the third period. . . . One of the assists on Irving’s winner went to F Lane Bauer. Irving and Bauer were returned by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers in time to play in the opener. . . . Edmonton G Patrick Dea stopped 24 shots. . . . Red Deer G Riley Lamb, who was 1.98, .940 in three exhibition games, blocked 30 shots. . . . The Oil Kings were 0-5 on the PP; the Rebels were 0-1. . . . Announced attendance: 5,274.
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At Regina, F Simon Stransky’s second goal, at 2:57 of OT, gave the Prince Albert Raiders a 4-3 victory over the Pats. . . . Stransky, who returned from the Boston Bruins’ rookie camp on Thursday, also had an assist. . . . Raiders F Kolten Olynek added a goal and an assist. . . . Regina got a goal and an assist from D Chase Harrison. . . . Regina F Riley Woods scored the first goal of this regular season, sniping at 1:22 of the first period. . . . Stransky’s first goal, at 4:24 of the third, pulled the visitors into a 2-2 tie. . . . Olynek put the Raiders out front at 5:32. . . . Regina F Braydon Buziak forced OT at 15:12. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott was outstanding, with 42 saves, 12 more than Regina’s Tyler Brown. . . . The Raiders were 1-4 on the PP; Regina was 1-3. . . . The Raiders were without F Drew Warkentine as he completed a three-game suspension he picked up during the exhibition season. . . . Each team still has five players at NHL camps. . . . Announced attendance: 4,830.
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At Swift Current, F Jesse Shynkaruk, who came to camp hoping to land a 20-year-old spot, scored twice and added an assist as the Saskatoon Blades beat the Broncos, 5-1. . . . It was the first game of the Broncos’ 50th season. . . . D Mark Rubinchik added three assists for the Blades, with F Mason McCarty getting a goal and an assist, and F Braylon Shmyr chipping in two assists. . . . The game’s starting goaltenders, Logan Flodell of the Blades and Taz Burman of the Broncos, both are former Seattle Thunderbirds stoppers. . . . Flodell made 21 saves, losing his shutout when D Artyom Minulin scored on a PP at 19:28 of the third period. . . . Burman turned aside 28 shots. . . . Saskatoon was 1-7 on the PP; Swift Current was 1-4. . . . F Cole Johnson, who was limited by injury to 10 games over the past two seasons, was in Swift Current’s lineup. Johnson, 18, was a second-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Blades, points out that Saskatoon opened against the Broncos for only the second time. The first time was on Oct. 8, 1967, which was the Broncos’ first home game. . . . Yes, they opened seasons in October back in the day. . . . This marked Dean Brockman’s first game as the Blades’ head coach. He moved up from assistant coach when Bob Woods left for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. . . . Former WHL D Emanuel Viveiros was behind the Broncos’ bench for the first time as their head coach. He replaced Mark Lamb, who now is head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. . . . Announced attendance: 2,316.
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At Langley, B.C., F Graham Millar and F Devon Skoleski each scored twice to help the Everett Silvertips to a 7-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Everett, which according to the prognosticators will have trouble scoring goals, struck four times in the game’s first 11:27. . . . F Matt Fonteyne had three assists for Everett, while D Jake Christiansen had a goal and an assist. D Lucas Skrumeda and F Patrick Bajkov helped out with two assists. . . . The Giants got two goals from F Dawson Holt and two assists from F Johnny Wesley. . . . Everett G Mario Petit stopped 20 shots, while Vancouver’s Ryan Kubic turned aside 26. . . . The Silvertips were 2-4 on the PP; the Giants were 0-3. . . . Vancouver D Matt Barberis left in the second period and didn’t return. . . . This was the first regular-season game for the Vancouver tandem of general manager Glen Hanlon and head coach Jason McKee. Hanlon replaced Scott Bonner, who had been the only GM in franchise history before moving to The Sports Corporation as a player agent. McKee takes over from Lorne Molleken, who was fired with a couple of games left in the 2015-16 season. McKee, 37, had been with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for 10 seasons, the past seven as GM/head coach. . . . It was the Giants’ first regular-season game of this season in their new home, the Langley Events Centre. They had called Pacific Coliseum home since arriving for the 2001-02 season. . . . Announced attendance: 4,875.
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At Victoria, F Colby McAuley scored twice to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 3-1 victory over the Royals. . . . The Cougars also got a big game from their penalty killers, who were 9-for-9. . . . D Max Martin gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 6:53 and McAuley upped it to 2-0 at 9:49. . . . F Ty Westgard cut into the lead at 15:03 of the second, but the Cougars were able to hang on until McAuley got an empty-netter at 19:03 of the third. . . . F Kody McDonald had two assists for the visitors. . . . The Cougars got 30 saves from G Ty Edmonds, while Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse stopped 17 shots. . . . Prince George was 0-4 on the PP. . . . The Royals were without F Carter Folk, 20, as he served Game 3 of a five-game suspension he incurred during the exhibition season. . . . Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk picked up his first victory in his first regular-season game. He replaced Mark Holick, who parted company with the Cougars with a year left on his contract and now is coaching in Italy. . . . Announced attendance: 6,539.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Red Deer at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Calgary vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Seattle at Portland, 7 p.m.
Regina at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
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SUNDAY GAMES (all times local):

Swift Current at Saskatoon, 2:05 p.m.
Tri-City at Portland, 5 p.m.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

A few veterans to miss Opening Night . . . Patrick tops McKenzie rankings . . . Chiefs trying to trade goaltender


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Some opening day notes . . .

The Prince George Cougars are in Victoria to open with a doubleheader against the Royals and will have F Kody McDonald and F Brad Morrison in their lineup. McDonald had been with the NHL’s New York Islanders, while Morrison was with the New York Rangers. . . . 

The Victoria Royals still have four players at NHL camps — F Matt Phillips (Calgary Flames), D Chaz Reddekopp (Los Angeles Kings), F Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) and F Jack Walker (Toronto Maple Leafs). . . . The Royals did get back D Ralph Jarratt from the New Jersey Devils. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors have one of their two goaltenders back in the fold. Brody Willms, 18, returned after a stint with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Veteran Zach Sawchenko remains with the Nashville Predators. . . . The Warriors also have G Adam Evanoff, a 10th-round selection from the 2015 bantam draft, on their roster. He’s a 16-year-old from Penticton. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets remain without two NHL first-round draft selections. F Nick Merkley, taken 30th overall in 2015, remains with the Arizona Coyotes, while D Lucas Johansen, selected 28th overall in 2016, is with the Washington Capitals. Merkley, of course, is coming off knee surgery that prematurely ended his 2015-16 season. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, who go home-and--home with the Kelowna Rockets this weekend, had nine players in NHL camps, but six of those players have returned. Still in the NHL are G Connor Ingram (Tampa Bay Lightning), F Deven Sideroff (Anaheim Ducks) and F Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals). . . . The Blazers and Rockets are to meet Friday in Kamloops and Saturday in Kelowna. . . .

The Vancouver Giants will open their first season at the Langley Events Centre without F Tyler Benson and F Thomas Foster. . . . Benson, who suffered a shoulder injury during the WHL exhibition season, remains with the Edmonton Oilers and apparently has been cleared to resume full practices. . . . Foster was returned to Vancouver by the Oilers but came back with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Giants also got D Dmitri Osipov back from the Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Still in NHL camps are F Ty Ronning (New York Rangers), F Radovan Bondra (Chicago) and F Darian Skeoch (Anaheim Ducks). . . .  The Giants may end up dressing only 16 skaters when they open against the visiting Everett Silvertips tonight. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels will have F Grayson Pawlenchuk and D Colton Bobyk on hand as they open the season at home to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night. Pawlenchuk was in camp with the Dallas Stars, while Bobyk was with the New York Rangers. . . . But the Rebels don’t expect to see F Brandon Hagel (Buffalo Sabres), D Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks), F Adam Musil (St. Louis Blues) or F Michael Spacek (Winnipeg Jets). They may also be without F Jeff de Wit (Detroit Red Wings). . . .

The host Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders could be missing as many as 10 players when they open the regular season Friday night at the Brandt Centre. . . . The Pats are without F Adam Brooks (Toronto Maple Leafs), F Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks), D Connor Hobbs (Washington Capitals), F Austin Wagner (Los Angeles Kings) and D Serbey Zborovskiy (New York Rangers). . . . Still missing, at least as of Thursday evening, from Prince Albert are F Reid Gardiner (Pittsburgh Penguins), D Brendan Guhle (Buffalo Sabres), G Rylan Parenteau (Vancouver Canucks), D Vojtech Budik (Buffalo) and F Luke Coleman (Detroit Red Wings). . . . 

The Edmonton Oil Kings have F Lane Bauer and D Aaron Irving back in camp. Both are expected to play Friday against the host Red Deer Rebels. . . . Bauer and Irving both had been with the Edmonton Oilers. . . . 

The Saskatoon Blades will be missing at least three veterans as they open Friday night against the Broncos in Swift Current. F Ryan Graham returned from the Ottawa Senators with a leg injury, while F Cam Hebig has an undisclosed injury. . . . D Libor Hajek remains in camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . 

The Swift Current Broncos have settled on their goaltending tandem, choosing to go with Taz Burman, who was acquired last season from the Seattle Thunderbirds, and Travis Child. . . . Burman, 20, is preparing for his fourth WHL season, the first three of which were with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Child, 19, is into his third season with the Broncos. . . . The Broncos have released G Bailey Brkin from their roster. Brkin, 17, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. Last season, he got into 23 games with the Coeur d’Alene Hockey Academy prep team of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . 

F Joachim Blichfeld has been returned to the Portland Winterhawks by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Blichfeld, an 18-year-old from Denmark, was a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft. He is going into his first WHL season. . . . The Winterhawks also have Finnish D Henri Jokiharju, 17, and veteran F Rodrigo Abols of Latvia on their roster. Abols, 20, is in camp with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . With WHL teams allowed to keep a maximum of two import players, the Winterhawks will have to make a decision of Abols should return.
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Bob McKenzie, the original hockey insider, has released his top 15 preseason rankings of players eligible for the NHL’s 2017 draft. Until further notice, he says he is referring to this one as The Nolan Patrick Draft, so you know that the Brandon Wheat Kings centre, who is into his third season, is No. 1. By the way, Brandon owner Kelly McCrimmon has told McKenzie that Patrick, who missed all of the exhibition season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in July, will play Friday night against the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . McKenzie’s rankings are right here, and they include three WHLers in the top 15. . . . Just let me say that I fully expect Tri-City Americans F Michael Rasmussen, who is at No. 13, to climb up some of these lists before the draft gets here.
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The Spokane Chiefs are trying to trade veteran G Tyson Verhelst, 19, who didn’t report to training camp. Verhelst, from Kemnay, Man., was a third-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. He played in 55 games with the Chiefs last season, going 23-22-5, 3.16, .892.  When he didn’t report to camp, then-GM Tim Speltz said that Verhelst was quitting hockey. Speltz indicated that the Chiefs knew in advance that would happen, which is why they acquired G Jayden Sittler, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. “It’s a tough one,” Speltz told Thomas Clouse of the Spokane Spokesman-Review at the time. “(Verhelst) had an injury. He suddenly lost his passion. When we traded for Sittler, I knew we were in trouble.” . . . Scott Carter, who has replaced Speltz as GM now that the latter is scouting with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, told Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette this week that the Chiefs have a goaltender on their suspended list and trying to trade him. That goaltender is Verhelst, who apparently still wants to play.
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The Prince George Cougars have signed F Brendan Kochanski, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who was a free-agent invitee to training camp. A Winnipegger, Kochanski, 18, played the last two seasons with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. Last season, he had eight goals and 10 assists in 37 games, along with 136 penalty minutes. . . . The Cougars are carrying 32 players, including three goaltenders and 11 defencemen. . . . 
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The Brandon Wheat Kings have released veteran F Jaeger White, an 18-year-old from Medicine Hat who was a third-round pick by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2013 bantam draft. He began last season with Lethbridge, putting up a goal and two assists in 23 games. He then was pointless in three games with the Everett Silvertips. With Brandon, he had one assist in 13 games. . . . Brandon now has 16 forwards on its roster.
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JUST NOTES:

The Moose Jaw Warriors have dropped F Tyler Smithies, 16, from their roster. A list player from Calgary. Smithies is expected to return to the midget AAA Leduc Oil Kings. He had 12 points, including five goals, in 33 games with the Oil Kings last season. . . . 
F Adam Musil has been named captain of the Red Deer Rebels, although he still is in camp with the St. Louis Blues. F Scott Eansor will wear the ‘C’ with the Seattle Thunderbirds and F Wyatt Sloboshan is the new captain of the Saskatoon Blades. . . .
F Chase Lang, who is eligible to return for his 20-year-old season with the Vancouver Giants, is in camp with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, but is listed as being out week-to-week with a back injury.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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THURSDAY GAMES:

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

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Everett at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brandon d-man injured with Kings . . . Pats, Chiefs swing deal . . . Four WHL teams in Top 10


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The Saskatoon Blades will be without F Ryan Graham (leg) and F Cam Hebig (undisclosed) for the immediate future. . . . Hebig, 19, put up 69 points, including a team-leading 26 goals, in 59 games last season. He has played 198 regular-season games with his hometown team over the past three seasons. . . . Graham, 20, had 46 points, 22 of them goals, in 71 games. He is heading into his fifth season with the Blades. Graham is one of three 20-year-olds on the roster, joining F Jesse Shynkaruk and D Bryton Sayers. . . . The Blades open the season against the host Swift Current Broncos on Friday. . . .
Vancouver Giants F Alec Baer (shoulder) didn’t play in the exhibition season and is practising in a non-contact sweater. F Tyler Benson of the Giants also has a shoulder injury. He is with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers but didn’t play Wednesday as the Oilers rookies took on the U of Alberta Golden Bears in an annual matchup. . . . The Giants are at home in the Langley Events Centre to the Everett Silvertips on Friday. . . .
F Lane Zablocki of the Regina Pats didn’t play in an exhibition game because of a shoulder injury. But he is expected to be in the lineup Friday as the Pats open the season against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. Last season, as a freshman, he had 37 points, including 18 goals, in 72 games. He added seven goals in 12 playoff games.
——
D Kale Clague of the Brandon Wheat Kings was injured while playing for the Los Angeles Kings in a rookie game against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. It doesn’t sound like the injury is serious, but, at the same, he apparently will miss some time. Here is Mike Stothers, who coached the Kings team, in conversation with Kings Insider Jon Rosen: “It’s a lower-body injury . . . I don’t think it’s going to be bad. But it is going to be bad, because he’s a young guy and he’s going to miss a little bit of time, I would imagine. You never want to see a young kid get hurt. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt. . . . But I think he’ll be OK, shortly.” . . . Clague, 18, was a second-round pick by the Kings in the 2016 NHL draft. He had 43 points, including 37 assists, in 71 games with Brandon last season. In 21 playoff games, he added 14 points, six of them goals.
——
The Regina Pats have acquired D Tyler Jubenvill, who will turn 17 on Nov. 30, from the Spokane Chiefs for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. Jubenvill, from Gilbert Plains, Man., was a ninth-round selection by the Chiefs in the 2014 draft, but has committed to the NCAA’s Bemidji State Beavers. Last season, with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers, the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder had four goals and 27 assists in 57 games. He has returned to the Flyers this season. . . . Earlier, the Pats rolled the dice on a couple of other players believed going the NCAA route. They acquired the rights to F Nick Henry from the Everett Silvertips earlier this year and have since signed him. They selected F Bryan Lockner in the third round of the 2015 draft and also were able to sign him. . . . Also on Wednesday, the Pats dropped F Jake Elmer, who will turn 18 on Dec. 31, from their roster. He is expected to report to the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. The Calgary native was pointless in 17 games with the Pats last season. He also got into 20 games with the Storm, recording a goal and three assists.
——
Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post: “Fighting in hockey is pointless, Part 2,378,119: Jayce Hawryluk suffered a broken hand in a fight during a rookie game with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. If not for hockey’s backwards culture, the 19-year-old Hawryluk — who had 106 points, including 47 goals, in 58 games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings last season — would have more opportunities to use his hands to impress the Panthers’ brass with his abundant offensive skills. . . .Who says that nobody gets hurt in a hockey fight?”
——
The CHL’s first ratings of the 2016-17 season — as voted on by a panel of anonymous NHL scouts — were released on Wednesday afternoon and the OHL’s London Knights, the defending Memorial Cup champions, are in the No. 1 slot. . . . There are four WHL teams in the top 10: 3. Brandon Wheat Kings; 4. Seattle Thunderbirds; 8. Victoria Royals; 10. Regina Pats. . . . The Kelowna Rockets got an honourable mention. . . . Keep in mind, however, that there isn’t much on which to base these rankings this early in the season. . . . Uhh, the visiting Knights lost 4-1 to the Sarnia Sting on Wednesday night. The Sting received an honourable mention in the rankings.
——
Commissioner Gilles Courteau says the QMJHL has changed the rules regarding its draft lottery — there now will be five teams in the lottery, rather than two. With 16 of the league’s 18 teams qualifying for the playoffs, the lottery now will include the two non-playoff teams as well as the three lowest qualifiers. 
——
As you no doubt will be aware, the legendary Vin Scully will walk away from his one-of-a-kind broadcast career after calling the play of the game between his Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants on Oct. 2. . . . What you may not know is that there is a line between Scully and the WHL. Mike Benton, who is preparing for his second season as the voice of the Everett Silvertips, grew up worshiping at the Scully shrine and, at one point, had the opportunity to job shadow his hero. . . . Benton writes about all of that right here.
——
If you are a regular in these parts, you know how I feel about organ donations and you also know why I feel the way I do. When I was hired as sports editor of Kamloops Daily News, Susan Duncan was the editor. Almost three months ago, she became a kidney donor. On Wednesday, she and Lloyd Garner, the recipient of that kidney, appeared on The Jim Harrison Show on Radio NL in Kamloops. . . . The story of how she came to give him a kidney is rather amazing. . . . Take 12 minutes and give it a listen right here.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching
Former NHL F Ethan Moreau has joined the Niagara U Purple Eagles as an assistant coach under head coach David Burkholder. . . . Moreau played 15 seasons in the NHL. After retiring, Moreau spent three seasons (2012-15) as a pro scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. Last season, he was a development coach at the HarborCenter Academy Hockey in Buffalo. . . . From a Purple Eagles news release: “Among current NCAA Division I hockey coaches, only three played more games at the NHL level than Moreau: Boston University assistant coach Scott Young, Michigan State assistant coach Kelly Miller, and Michigan head coach Red Berenson.”
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———

WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
——

FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Everett at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Seattle, Lethbridge, Saskatoon settle on goaltenders . . . Shaw TV releases schedule . . . Royals sign ex-'Tips forward

D Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-20) has been released by Katowice (Poland, PHL) by mutual agreement. He was pointless in three games. 
———

Barring further transactions, the Seattle Thunderbirds will open the season with Rylan Toth and Carl Stankowski as their goaltenders. They traded G Ryan Gilchrist to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday, getting back a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Toth, 20, was acquired from the Red Deer Rebels on Friday for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Stankowski, a 16-year-old Calgarian, was a second-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. In 2014-15, he played with the bantam AAA Calgary Flames. He then moved to California with his family and spent last season with the U-16 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, going 1.87 and .935 in 16 games. . . . Gilchrist, 18, is from McLaughlin, Alta. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder played last season with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles, going 3.77 and .888. . . . With Lethbridge, it is expected that Gilchrist will back up veteran Stuart Skinner. . . . The Hurricanes made room for Gilchrist by releasing G Brandon Kegler, who will turn 19 on Dec. 4. Kegler, a fourth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2012 bantam draft, played last season with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
——

WHL on ShawThe WHL and Shaw TV have released a 36-game telecast schedule for the first half of the regular season. Shaw TV’s 13th season with the WHL begins Friday night with the Everett Silvertips visiting the Vancouver (Langley?) Giants. This will be the only Shaw TV appearance by an American team in the first-half of the season. The game, the Giants’ first regular-season game in their new home, the Langley Events Centre, also will feature a salute to the late Gordie Howe, who was one of Vancouver’s co-owners. . . . The game out of Langley will feature Peter Loubardias calling the play and Bill Wilms as his sidekick. . . . Shaw also will show Sunday’s game from Saskatoon as the Blades entertain the Swift Current Broncos on ‘Thank You, Mr Hockey Day.’ Prior to the game, the ashes of Gordie and his wife, Colleen, will be interred at the base of a statue of Howe just outside the SaskTel Centre. . . . On Sunday from Saskatoon, you get Wray Morrison and Jeff Odgers in the booth. . . . A 19-game telecast schedule for the season’s second half will be revealed in December. . . . Shaw TV also confirmed that it again will televise one series in each of the four rounds of playoffs. . . . The first-half telecast schedule is right here.
——
The Saskatoon Blades have dropped G Dorrin Luding, 17, from their roster, meaning they will open the season with Logan Flodell, 19, and Brock Hamm, 19, as their goaltenders. . . . Luding, who is from Prince George, was a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He is expected to return to the major midget Cariboo Cougars or join a BCHL team. . . . Darren Zary in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix points out that Flodell and Hamm once were teammates on a spring team, the Saskatoon Jr. Blades, during their minor hockey days. Zary also points out that when in goal Flodell catches with his right hand. But when he’s playing baseball Flodell catches with his left hand. Flodell said his dad tried to teach him to use his left hand to catch while in goal “but I was a forward and I played right-handed. I’ve only been a goalie for 10 or 11 years now.” . . . Zary’s story is right here. . . . BTW, if it isn’t already, Flodell’s nickname while in Saskatoon should be Eggs. Right?
———

JUST NOTES:

The Victoria Royals have signed F Gunnar Wegleitner, 18, to a WHL contract. He was placed on the team’s protected list earlier this month after he showed well at training camp. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Vancouverite had a goal and two assists in six exhibition games. . . . Last season, he had a goal and an assist in 14 games with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. In 2014-15, he had one goal in 43 games with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . .
The Regina Pats are down to 28 players after dropping F Riley Krane, 16, from their roster. He is expected to play for the major midget Caribou Cougars, who are based in Prince George. Krane, from Dawson Creek, B.C., was an eighth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. 
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
———

———

TUESDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
——

FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Everett at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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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Monday, September 19, 2016

Hurricanes on right side of ledger . . . Blades get d-man from Portland . . . Chiefs place veteran on waivers



The final chapter in a Saskatchewan love story will be written on Sunday when the intermingled ashes of Colleen and Gordie Howe are placed in an urn and set into a vault at the base of a statue of Gordie near the SaskTel Centre, the home of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here on the work that has gone into preparing the site and the plaque that will be left at the site.
———

One year after losing more than $486,000, the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ board of directors told shareholders on Monday night that the community-owned franchise put up a profit of $197,235 for the 2015-16 season.
That may have had something to do with why general manager Peter Anholt was named the WHL’s executive of the year after his first season on the job.
The team’s annual general meeting was attended by 120 shareholders representing 228 shares.
Shareholders also were told that the team is budgeting for a profit of $96,190 in 2016-17.
And for a change there weren’t any calls to sell the franchise.
——
The Saskatoon Blades have acquired D Jackson Caller, 17, from the Portland Winterhawks for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Caller, from Kamloops, suffered a broken wrist in Portland’s training camp a year ago. He did get into eight games with the Winterhawks, recording one assist, but spent most of the season with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies. He had 10 points, including four goals, in 18 games with Revelstoke. . . . Portland selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . On Sunday, the Blades acquired G Logan Flodell, 19, from the Seattle Thunderbirds. On Monday, Saskatoon dropped G Joel Grzybowski, 17, and he has reported to the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. Grzybowski, from Hafford, Sask., was an 11th-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The Blades are expected to open the season with Flodell and Brock Hamm, 19, as their goaltenders, but Dorrin Luding, 17, is still on the roster.
——
The Red Deer Rebels have acquired F Jordan Roy, 18, from the Tri-City Americans for a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Kimberley, B.C., had two goals and an assist in 34 games with the Americans last season, his first in the WHL. The Americans selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 bantam draft.
——
The Spokane Chiefs have placed veteran F Jacob Cardiff, 20, on waivers, while dropping F Eli Zummack and G Donovan Buskey from their roster. . . . Zummack, 16, will return to the major midget Okanagan Rockets, who play out of Kelowna. A Kelowna native, he was acquired from the Red Deer Rebels in a trade last season. The Rebels selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Buskey, 16, was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of that 2015 draft. From North Vancouver, he will join the major midget Vancouver-Northwest Giants. . . . Cardiff, who is from Regina, played 156 games over three seasons with the Chiefs, totalling 25 points, including 13 goals. . . . The Chiefs are down to four 20-year-olds — F Keanu Yamamoto, F Markson Bechtold, F Dominic Zwerger, who also is an import, and G Jayden Sittler. That is one over the maximum so obviously there will be at least one more move coming. . . . The Chiefs also are down to two goaltenders — Sittler, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes over the summer, and freshman Matt Berlin, 17, who was a seventh-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Spokane’s roster sits at 27, including two goaltenders and 16 forwards. . . . The Chiefs also are carrying three imports at the moment, with Czech forwards Pavel Kousal and Ondrej Najman, both freshmen, joining Zwerger, who is from Austria. Teams have until Oct. 15 to get down to two imports. But remember that first-year imports can’t be traded, so in order to keep Zwerger either Kousal or Najman would have to be released.
——
F Erik Middendorf, a fourth-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2015 bantam draft, has committed to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers in 2018-19. Middendorf, 16, is from Scottsdale, Ariz. He had 25 points, including 15 goals, in 32 games for the U-16 Phoenix Jr. Coyotes last season. This season, he is playing in the U.S. National Team Development Program.
———

JUST NOTES:

The Swift Current Broncos have released F Tristen Elder, who turns 19 on Dec. 11. From Kinistino, Sask., Elder had two assists in 38 games with the Broncos last season. He was pointless in four exhibition games this month. He was a sixth-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . 
F Nick Merkley, 19, has received medical clearance to return to full-contact practices with the Arizona Coyotes, who selected the Calgary native in the first round of the NHL’s 2015 draft. He suffered a season-ending knee injury while with the Kelowna Rockets last season and later underwent surgery. Merkley, who had 48 points, including 17 goals, in 43 games with Kelowna last season, is expected to return to the Rockets for a fourth WHL season. He has 196 points, 62 of them goals, in 182 regular-season games with Kelowna. . . . 
F Jayce Hawryluk, 20, suffered a broken hand during a Sunday fight while with the Florida Panthers’ prospects team. Hawryluk was fighting Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana. Hawryluk, who played last season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, now is likely to miss Florida’s main training camp as he needs surgery. It was expected that he would begin the season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. . . . Hawryluk had 106 points, including 47 goals, in 58 regular-season games with Brandon in 2015-16. . . . 
D Haydn Fleury, 20, suffered an undisclosed injury while with the Carolina Hurricanes’ prospects team in Traverse City, Mich., on Friday. Fleury, a product of the Red Deer Rebels, was injured when he fell awkwardly during a 4-3 OT victory over the New York Rangers and didn’t play Saturday or Monday. Carolina is expected to keep him off the ice until its main training camp opens on Friday. Fleury was a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. He is expected to begin this season with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
———
Coaching
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has suspended Bill Rotheisler, the general manager and head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels for 45 days and fined him $500. His sin? Tampering. . . . The KIJHL told the Rebels about the disciplinary actions on Sept. 6. The Rebels filed an appeal three days later in the hopes of having the suspension reduced. That appeal was denied. . . . Rotheisler can still run practices, but he is barred from team activities from one hour before games until one hour afterwards. . . . Chelsea Novak of the Castlegar News has more right here.
——
The junior B Port Moody Panthers fired head coach Mark Goble last week. “At this time, we have decided to make a change in the direction of our team,” Panthers general manager Frank Iantorno said in a three-paragraph statement on the team’s website. . . . Associate coach Mike Renner was named interim head coach. . . . Goble had been the head coach since April. . . . The Panthers are 1-2-0-0 and in last place, but just two points out of second, in the five-team Pacific Junior Hockey League.
———

MONDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
——

FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Everett at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.
Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

If you are interested in advertising on this site, there is information just below the banner at the top of this page. . . . 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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Mondays With Murray: Scully Handles a Mic Like Ruth Did a Bat



Jim Murray and Vin Scully were two-thirds of a sports media triple threat in Los Angeles since the early 1960s, the third being Chick Hearn.
This week we will watch (or listen as the case may be) to the last piece of that puzzle retire from the
Old friends Jim Murray (left) and Vin Scully.
broadcast booth as Scully calls his last Dodgers games.
Jim and Vin, or Kell and Murph as they referred to each other, weren’t only close in the media world but were good friends beyond the booth. They traded quips and jabs like two brothers. When Jim passed away, it was only fitting that Scully address the crowd at the memorial ceremony at Dodger Stadium.
Vin was the last of six speakers who spoke at Jim's memorial tribute at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26, 1998, attended by more than 2,500 fans.
Here are Vin's reflections:
“This is not an overcast day, nor is it a gloomy day. The Irish would call it a soft day. And considering the man whose memory we honor today in this hardhearted world, it's a perfect day. A soft day. I wear a smile today like so many of us because I smiled whenever I saw Jim. I smiled whenever I talked to Jim. And I will smile whenever I think of him.
“And yet for me this is a very precious and poignant moment. You know, for many of us, looking back over our lives, there is a period of time where it honestly took courage to live. Courage and strength and hope, and humor. But courage and strength and hope and humor have to be bought and paid for with pain and work and prayer and tears. Jim Murray had all of those virtues during his lifetime. And he also had those crosses to bear. There was a decency about him that was glorious to behold. There was an indomitable spirit. And he gazed upon life and the world with somewhat of a bemused sense of humor.
“I once introduced Jim at a dinner, and I said this from the heart. I said that if I ever had to be stranded on a desert island with a man, he would be the man. And I meant it. He was a great raconteur, especially of Irish stories. He was literate and well read without being stuffy. He had a God-given talent that was out there for the world to enjoy whether he was covering the fields of entertainment or sports. And yet, with all the honors he received, he remained ever humble, somewhat shy and self-deprecating.
“Jim Murray was my dear friend, and I sincerely thank God for the gift of his friendship. You know, the great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. And Jim Murray used his life to the extent that he has indeed outlasted it. Wherever and whenever there will be sporting events, and wherever and whenever the media will gather to cover those events, Jim will live on as an icon to emulate. 
“About 35 years ago, Jim and I were playing golf at Riviera — it was his favorite golf course. And somehow we got on the subject, he had just been starting to write the column, and he was talking about mail that you receive. And I told him I would always remember the first letter I ever received, and it was addressed to Mr. Ben S. Kelly. From that moment on, I was always either Kell or Kelly.  And to go along with that feeling, he then became Murph or Murphy.  And we would meet in crowded pressrooms and press boxes at all-star games and World Series and a voice would cry out, "Kell!" And I would turn around and say, "Murph!" And everybody would look at each other as if to say ‘The poor devils don't even know their own last names.’
“You know, Shakespeare said it best, as he usually did, and when he wrote it, he might very well have been writing about Jim Murray. He wrote, ‘His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, This was a man.
“And in closing, I have one personal request and I hope you don't mind me doing it. 
“Hey, Murph! It's Kell! Save me a seat!”
——
In 1983, Jim Murray took to his column to discuss the man, Vin Scully, and his ability to describe the game of baseball like no other. We all will miss hearing the voice that has graced the airwaves of Dodgers baseball since 1950 when he called his first Brooklyn Dodgers game at the age of 22.
——
JULY 8, 1983, SPORTS
Copyright 1983/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
  
JIM MURRAY

Scully Handles a Mic Like Ruth Did a Bat

It took baseball in its wisdom 10 years to turn Babe Ruth, the most perfect hitting machine of all time, from a pitcher into a slugger.
It took football seasons to figure out Marcus Allen wasn't a blocking back and to hand him the football.
And it took network television forever to get the message that Vin Scully should do major league baseball and stop fooling around.
It wasn't that Scully was inept at other sports. It was just that he was miscast. It was like Errol Flynn 
playing a faithful old sidekick. Scully could do golf and do it well. Rembrandt could probably paint soup cans or barn doors, if it came to that. Hemingway could probably write the weather. Horowitz could probably play the ocarina. But what a waste!
Nobody understands baseball the way Vin Scully does. He knows it for the laid-back, relatively relaxed sport it is. Scully is the world's best at filling the dull times by spinning anecdotes of the 100-year lore of the game. He can make you forget you're watching a 13-3 game, as we were Wednesday night at Chicago, and take you with him to a time and place where you are suddenly watching Babe Ruth steal home. He is like a marvellous raconteur who can make you forget you're in a dungeon. He can make baseball seem like Camelot and not Jersey City.
He knows baseball fans are ancestor worshipers, like the British aristocracy, and he can invest a game with allusions to its gaudy past that give meaning to the present. We suddenly see knights in shining armor out there carrying on a glorious tradition instead of two rival factions of businessmen trying to land the order.
Football requires screaming. "They're on the five and it's second down and goal to go!" "They're on the three and it's third down and there's 29 seconds left to play!" Baseball requires humor, deft drama, a sprinkling of candor, mix well and serve over steaming hot tradition.
Scully knows the sport as few do. He learned it at the knee of Branch Rickey at the time he was most impressionable, a young, ambitious, career-oriented student out of Fordham. Scully will tell you why a batter should try to hit to right with a man on first and none out. ("The first baseman has to stay on the bag to keep the runner close. The second baseman has to cheat a step toward second in the event of a steal or a double play. There's a hole there you could dock ships.”)
But finally, the pairing of Scully with Joe Garagiola was an inspired piece of casting, not quite like Burns and Allen or the Sunshine Boys but a matchup quite as important to baseball as Ruth and Gehrig or Tinker and Evers and Chance.
I originally thought that was a lot of ego for one stage, or one microphone, but the two have locked into place like tongue in groove, or in this case, tongue in cheek.
Garagiola is the locker-room wit, the jokester from the team bus. Scully brings out the best in him, and he brings out the best in Scully. When the ballgame starts with the pitcher throwing two baseballs out of the infield and the third baseman following suit in the bottom half of the first, Garagiola pronounced it "a real Halloween inning" and later suggested that the ritual disclaimer, "This game is the property of major league baseball," be waived since presumably nobody in the big leagues wanted to claim this game.
Later, when Scully noted that a certain pitcher had "retired 53 of 58 batters who faced him," Garagiola wondered, "Why wouldn't you try to sign those five guys?”
When a pitcher built along the general lines of King Kong took the mound, Garagiola observed, "He's an 8 on a seismograph. His birthday is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday." Later, Joe said of a pitcher with a roundhouse, hanging curve, "He throws an American Legion curveball.”
Later, when Scully said that a bearded infielder "looks as if he fell off a box of cough drops," Garagiola noted: "If he shaves, he only weighs 91 pounds." When a pitcher wearing more gold chains than a wine clerk appeared, Scully noted that "he looks as if he just came from Westminster Abbey.”
It was all good clean fun. They brought out the best in each other. No one noticed the game was boring. Because it wasn't in the broadcast booth. That's one of the things that made this game great all along.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116
—————
What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

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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