The WHL announced Wednesday that it will be involved in an outdoor game on Feb. 21 when the Calgary Hitmen meet the Regina Pats at McMahon Stadium.
For those who may not be aware, McMahon Stadium is home to the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders. With temporary seating, the attendance record for the facility is 46,020 for the 2009 Grey Cup game.
The WHL game will be played one day after the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames play an NHL game at McMahon Stadium.
Later Wednesday, in an interview with Dan Russell, the host of SportsTalk on Vancouver radio station CKNW, WHL commissioner Ron Robison revealed that the league is working towards holding a second outdoor game during the approaching season.
“We have had a number of different scenarios that we’ve been working on,” said Robison, pointing out that the WHL has been looking at an outdoor game, or games, for at least a couple of years.
Robison told Russell, who also is the voice of the WHL on Shaw TV, that the WHL worked extensively in conjunction with the 2010 World Junior Championship in hopes of holding a game at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
“We did a very significant feasibility study there as part of the World Junior Championship,” Robison said. “It also would have included a Western Hockey League game.”
Robison also said the WHL looked at holding an outdoor game in Kamloops last season during the Olympic torch relay. The relay was in Kamloops the night of Jan. 27.
“Kamloops gave very serious consideration to an outdoor event,” Robison said, “led by the City of Kamloops.”
Robison emphasized that the WHL has spent a great deal of time and effort looking at various situations.
“These things are major undertakings with a high degree of risk associated with them at our level,” he said. “We respected the fact that when those feasibility studies are taken there are a lot of resources needed to pull it off.”
As for other locations within the WHL for an outdoor game, or games, he said: “I think there are a number of ideal locations within our league. Obviously, we have in Edmonton a very serious group there who launched the first ever outdoor game in the Oilers and Oil Kings organization.”
The host Edmonton Oilers met the Canadiens in the NHL’s first outdoor game, the Heritage Classic, which drew 57,167 fans to Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003.
“We used their resources over a period of time to look at other situations,” Robison said. “We are exploring them as we speak and there may be another announcement soon regarding another outdoor game this (season) as well.”
Asked by Russell if he was referring to a second game in the upcoming season, Robison said: “Yes. There could very well be two. We are just in the final stages of planning for the second and that announcement may be made very soon.”
As for a location, Robison wasn’t about to spill any beans, saying only that “we’ve had other centres, even the U.S. centres, looking at this possibility.
“It’s a location that we can’t announce right now. We’re working closely on it. It’ll be something that we’ll be looking forward to getting announced very soon.”
So there you have it.
And now you may let the speculation begin.
Regina, Edmonton, Portland, Vancouver, Kamloops . . .
THE MacBETH REPORT:
G Rejean Beauchemin (Prince Albert, 2002-05) signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany 2.Bundesliga). He had a 2.63 GAA and a.892 save percentage in 39 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) and a 4.39 GAA and a .816 SP in two games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) last season. . . .
D Steve Makway (Kootenay, Tri-City, 2000-03) signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (UK Elite). He had seven goals and 27 assists in 43 games split between the Mississippi Riverkings and Wichita Thunder in the Central Hockey League last season. . . .
F David Hruska (Red Deer, 1995-96) has been assigned on loan to Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic Extraliga) by Chomutov (Czech Republic 1.Liga). He had seven goals and six assists in 35 games for Slavia Prague (Czech Republic Extraliga) and four goals and 14 assists in 10 games for Chomutov last season. The loan assignment is through the end of December. . . .
D Richard Seeley (Lethbridge, Prince Albert, 1996-99) signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (UK Elite). He had one goal and six assists in 28 games for Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia, plays in Austria Erste Bank Liga) last season.
Dwayne Gylywoychuk, the popular Brandon Wheat Kings’ assistant coach who holds the franchise record for games played, is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a broken back at work on Tuesday afternoon. The 36-year-old Gylywoychuk, who has been in Brandon for eight seasons now, was at work when he was involved in a serious fall. Ironically, he was working in the Keystone Centre complex, which, of course, is where the Wheat Kings play. He is being treated in the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
The Tri-City Americans announced Wednesday that D Eric Mestery, 20, has retired “from the sport of hockey.” . . . Mestery, the seventh overall pick in the 2006 bantam draft, played four WHL seasons, splitting them between the Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Americans reacquired his rights from Lethbridge in November. According to a news release, Mestery “plans to utilize his WHL scholarship and enrol in a post-secondary school” rather than return as a 20-year-old. . . . “I talked to Eric (on Tuesday),” Americans GM Bob Tory said, “and he informed me that the passion and commitment needed to play at this level were gone . . . that the game was no longer fun for him. Eric had asked that he not be traded, instead making a responsible and mature decision in regards to getting on with life after hockey.”
Jarrett Toll, who played five seasons with the Tri-City Americans, has been named to the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League’s second all-star team. Toll, who completed his WHL eligibility last season and was the Americans’ captain, had four goals and six assists in 16 games with the New Westminster Salmonbellies.