THE COACHING GAME: John Becanic has left his role as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Giants to take over as head coach of the NAHL’s Wenatchee, Wash., Wild. Becanic was in his first season with the Giants. He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds, after spending six seasons with the Everett Silvertips. The Giants aren’t expected to replace Becanic, meaning head coach Don Hay and assistant coach Chad Scharff will carry the load for the rest of this season. . . . The Wild fired Paul Baxter (Winnipeg, 1973-74) as head coach on Nov. 24 despite his having led the club to division titles in each of his first two seasons. . . . .The SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers have fired head coach Larry Wintoneak. They were 16-15-2 and fourth in the six-team Sherwood Division. Assistant coach Rockie Zinger has been named interim head coach. . . . In the OHL, the Guelph Storm has removed Jason Brooks from behind its bench, with GM Mike Kelly taking over on an interim basis. Brooks had been on the Storm’s coaching staff since 2001-02. He was in his second season as head coach. Brooks has been offered another position with the Storm. The Storm is 13-13-5, which has it tied for fourth in the five-team Midwest Division of the Western Conference.
The Vancouver Giants got some good news concerning the injury suffered last week by D David Musil.
Originally thought to have a hairline fracture in a leg, it turns out that Musil as a deep bone bruise.
Head coach Don Hay, appearing Monday night on Dan Russell’s Sportstalk on CKNW, said that Musil had undergone an MRI that showed a bruise rather than a hairline fracture.
Hay said the Czech Ice Hockey Federation will decide by Wednesday whether to invite Musil to its national junior team camp.
“He may get an opportunity to go there,” Hay said.
Hay said that Musil wouldn’t be ready to play this weekend, but that he should be back after the Christmas break.
“It’s better than we first thought,” Hay said. “I would think he’d be ready after Christmas. It’s how much pain David can take in that type of situation.”
Is any WHL team hotter these days than the Spokane Chiefs? They played three games last week and scored 22 goals, which gives them the WHL’s top offence, at 4.10 goals per game. . . . The Chiefs, in fact, are the only team in the league scoring more than four goals a game.
“And suddenly,” writes Dave Trimmer of the Spokane Spokesman-Review, “the team that lost 103 goals and 301 points from a half-dozen regulars last season is leading the league in scoring.”
Spokane also has the WHL’s second-best PP, at 24.1 per cent. And, as Trimmer points out, this PP unit once went 23 chances in a row without scoring. . . . They scored four PP goals in beating the visiting Kamloops Blazers 10-5 on Saturday and also have at least one PP goal in each of their last 13 games.
The Chiefs also are fourth in the 22-team league in defence and fourth on the penalty kill.
Veteran C Tyler Johnson scored 10 points in three games to move into a tie for third place in the WHL points derby, with 46.
You may recall that the Chiefs got off to something of a slow start, at 2-5-0. Since then, they are 14-4-4, and now are tied for second in the U.S. Division with the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Chiefs, who are 7-0-2 in their last nine outings, have one regulation loss in their last 15 games.
Interestingly, the Chiefs will meet the Seattle Thunderbirds four times in their next games, starting with a home-and-home set this week. The teams play tonight in Spokane and Wednesday in Kent, Wash.
Should the WHL just give its rookie-of-the-year award to Sven Bartschi for Christmas? Hey, just asking.
The Portland Winterhawks newest Swiss sensation has 46 points and is the league’s highest-scoring freshman, by 13 points. He and Spokane Chiefs C Tyler Johnson are four points of the lead in the WHL scoring race.
Bartschi, with seven points in his last five games, also has taken over the Winterhawks’ scoring lead. In fact, he is the only freshman in the WHL to be leading his team in points.
Rich Preston, the GM/head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is soon to be reunited with an old teammate.
Preston and Gordie Howe were teammates for three seasons with the WHA’s Houston Aeros. For part of that time, Preston played on a line with Gordie and Mark, one of his sons.
And now Mr. Hockey will be in Lethbridge on Feb. 2 as the Hurricanes meet the Vancouver Giants. Howe, along with son Marty, will attend a small gathering that is being billed as Mr. Hockey Dinner on Feb. 1 and the game on Feb. 2.
Check the Hurricanes’ website for more details.
F Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos is the WHL’s player of the week. He had nine points, including six goals, in three games as the Broncos went 2-1-0 on the road. . . . Drew Owsley of the Tri-City Americans is the WHL’s nominee as the CHL’s goaltender of the week. He was 2-0-0, 1.07, .958 last week. . . . The Kamloops Blazers have recalled F Aspen Sterzer, 16, from the midget AAA EDGE prep team in Calgary. Sterzer will be with the Blazers for games against the Winterhawks in Portland on Wednesday and in Prince George against the Cougars on Friday and Saturday. Sterzer has 27 points, including 20 assists, in 25 games at EDGE. He played four games with the Blazers earlier this season. . . . The Blazers have signed forward Cole Ully, a 15-year-old from Calgary, to a WHL contract. Ully was a second-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft. The Blazers now have signed their first four selections from that draft. Ully has 19 points, including 11 goals, with the midget AAA Calgary Flames.
Some highlights from Monday’s lone WHL game . . .
In Edmonton, F Jordan Hickmott enjoyed a career night as the Oil Kings dropped the Regina Pats, 9-3. . . . Hickmott, a 20-year-old from Mission, B.C., had six points, three of them goals. . . . He has 31 points, including 16 goals, in 31 games. Last season, he had 49 points, 21 of them goals, in 72 games with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Dylan Wruck added two goals and two assists, while F T.J. Foster also scored twice. Foster actually has scored at least once in each of his last eight games. He has 12 goals on the season, nine of them over his last eight games. . . . Edmonton F Michael St. Croix had three assists. He is on a 10-game point streak, with 23 points over that stretch. . . . Edmonton D Adrian Van de Mosselaer had a goal and two helkpers, while F Stephane Legault had three assists. . . . Regina trailed 2-1 after one period but the Oil Kings scored the game’s next five goals. . . . Edmonton had a 31-25 edge in shots. . . . The Oil Kings are 15-14-2. Last season, they finished with 16 victories. . . . Attendance was 2,967. . . . The Oil Kings are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They next play Wednesday against the visiting Swift Current Broncos, who finish up a B.C. Division tour tonight in Prince George against the Cougars.
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