There isn’t any doubt about the game of the night.
On this evening, it’s in Saskatoon where the Blades will be the latest team to try and derail the Portland Winterhawks express.
The Blades are 13-5-1, including 7-1-1 at home.
The Winterhawks have the WHL’s best record (16-2-1) and have won 10 straight games. Portland already has won twice on its East Division swing, beating the Swift Current Broncos 4-2 and the Regina Pats, 5-4 in overtime.
“You’ve got two really good teams and obviously there’s a lot of pride
involved in a game like this,” Lorne Molleken, the Blades’ GM/head coach, told Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “Our guys have worked
extremely hard leading up to this game but our approach is not going to be
any different than other game.”
Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, told Steve Brandon of the Portland Tribune that his guys know this one is special.
"Yeah, they do, for sure," Johnston said. "This is one game they're definitely looking forward to.
"Saskatoon has been a good team for two or three years. A lot of people picked them as the (league) favorite last year, but they didn't make it through. They're well-coached, they've got talent, and I expect to see their best."
Last season, the Blades visited Portland on Jan. 2 and came away with a 6-5 OT victory.
Also tonight, the Blades will be showing off their denim look, with their third jerseys, as they help promote the Professional Bull Riders Canadian Finals that will be held in Saskatoon, Nov. 19-20.
On top of that, Shannon Tweed and Gene Simmons, who are in Saskatoon doing some filming, will be on hand. (By the way, Tweed went to high school in Saskatoon.)
Attendance is expected to be well over 6,000.
The Moose Jaw Warriors made two trades Thursday.
First, they dealt D Connor Cox, 18, to the Saskatoon Blades, getting back a second-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft. Cox, who is from Lethbridge, had six points in 18 games with the Blades. Two seasons ago, he had four points in 38 games. Last season, he put up 15 points in 42 games. Cox was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 bantam draft.
Later in the day, the Warriors sent F Brendan Rowinski, 20, to the Vancouver Giants for a 2011 third-round draft pick and a sixth-rounder in 2012.
Rowinski, who is from Winnipeg, is just back playing after undergoing offseason knee surgery. His return to the Warriors’ lineup left the club with four 20-year-olds, one over the maximum. The deal leaves the Warriors with G Thomas Heemskerk, F Spencer Edwards and F Dylan Hood as its 20s.
And now the Giants have four 20-year-olds, as Rowinski, who scored 30 goals last season, joins F Craig Cunningham, F Matt MacKay and F Randy McNaught.
McNaught is out with an ankle injury and would appear headed to the injury list. That would free up a spot for Rowinski. The Giants then wouldn’t have to make a decision until two weeks after McNaught’s return from the injury.
The NHL season really is still in its infancy, but it seems that Willie Desjardins is making an impact. Desjardins, the longtime general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, now is the associate coach with the Dallas Stars. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has more right here.
The Calgary Herald is reporting that F Brett Sutter (Kootenay, Red Deer, 2003-07) was “arrested and charged with assault following an alleged bar fight” on Thursday morning in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Sutter, 23, was charged after an incident outside a bar called American Junkie. He is alleged to have punched a bar patron outside the bar.
Sutter is the son of Calgary GM Darryl Sutter and a nephew of head coach Brent Sutter. Brett, who hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 16, was on the ice for Thursday’s practice.
The Herald story is right here.
A note from a column written by James Shewaga, the sports editor of the Brandon Sun:
“Friends of Brandonite Ron Popplestone will be holding a Bud, Spud & Steak night Wednesday at Canad Inns for the former Wheat Kings goaltender, who underwent the controversial liberation surgery in Mexico last week to help treat his multiple sclerosis.
“Popplestone, who returned to the Wheat City on Tuesday after the successful surgery, has been feeling much better following the procedure, which helped reduced the numbness and tingling in his hands and face. “Unfortunately, the surgery, which costs between $10,000 and $15,000, is not currently covered by Manitoba Health.
“Wednesday’s event — tickets are $20 and available from Peter Gerlinger, Mike Brolund and Ken Schneider — will serve as a fundraiser, but most importantly will offer a show of support for the Popplestone family.”
Popplestone played his entire WHL career with the Wheat Kings, with the exception of one game.
During the 1979-80 season, Pat Ginnell, then the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, ran out of goaltenders and borrowed Popplestone from the Wheat Kings. Popplestone turned in a 54-save effort in his only appearance with the Tigers who, if memory serves, beat the Regina Pats, 5-4, in overtime.
I also seem to recall the Pats not being too happy with the Tigers’ goaltending arrangement.
Perhaps someone with a better memory than mine can recall the particulars.
The WHL has added F Brendan Ranford of the Kamloops Blazers to the Team WHL lineup for the Subway Super Series game that is to be played in Kamloops on Nov. 17. Ranford has scored 17 goals in 19 games with the Blazers. . . . Saskatoon Blades G Steven Stanford (concussion) is back practising but won’t play for a few days yet. . . .
In Brandon, the Wheat Kings got two goals from each of F Shayne Wiebe and F Mark Stone and bet the Medicine Hat Tigers 5-2 on Thursday. F Scott Glennie and D Brodie Melnychuk had three assists each for Brandon. . . . F Hunter Shinkaruk had both Medicine Hat goals. . . . The host Chilliwack Bruins went 2-for-11 on the PP in beating the Vancouver Giants, 5-1. . . . Vancouver D Wes Vannieuwenhuizen was ejected with a checking-from-behind major for a second-period hit on Chilliwack F Robin Soudek. Soudek left on a stretcher and was taken to hospital. There was no official word late Thursday night, but he is believed to have checked out OK. A more thorough prognosis should be available today. . . . Vannieuwenhuizen can expect a suspension to be issued, perhaps by Saturday evening when the Giants are scheduled to face the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . In Calgary, the Kootenay Ice dropped the Hitmen, 4-2. The Ice has won nine of 10, while the Hitmen now have lost 11 in a row. . . . Calgary hasn’t won since it scored a 3-2 OT victory over the Thunderbirds in Seattle on Oct. 16. . . . The Hitmen don’t play until Sunday when they meet, yes, the Ice in Calgary. The Ice plays the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Saturday. . . . For a look at the jerseys the Chilliwack Bruins wore on Thursday, take a trip to right here.
THURSDAY’S CHECKING-FROM-BEHIND COUNT:
Kootenay D Hayden Rintoul
Medicine Hat F Kale Kessy
Vancouver D Wes Vannieuwenhuizen
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