Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If there were any WHL teams out there hoping to acquire D Zak Stebner, 20, on waivers, well, they waited too long.
Following the return of F Neal Prokop to their lineup on Nov. 24, the Tri-City Americans had two weeks to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-old players.
The choice general manager Bob Tory was faced with was to move one of Stebner, Prokop, D Tyler Schmidt or F Kruise Reddick.
Which one?
 In the end, it came down to Prokop, who is coming back from a badly broken leg suffered in the first round of last season’s playoffs, or Stebner, who was acquired Oct. 14 from the Calgary Hitmen for a third-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft. (At the time, a source has told me, the Kelowna Rockets had offered Calgary a fourth-round pick for Stebner.)
Late Tuesday afternoon, Kelowna got Stebner and a seventh-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft in exchange for two draft picks — a fourth-rounder in 2011 and an eight-rounder in 2012.
The Rockets, in effect, replaced the 2011 seventh-round they gave the Prince Albert Raiders last summer for D Brendon Wall, another 20-year-old.
Stebner’s arrival in Kelowna left the Rockets with four 20-year-olds, so they have released Wall. Stebner joins F Evan Bloodoff and F Geordie Wudrick as Kelowna’s 1990-born players.
Stebner is joining his sixth WHL team. He started with the Red Deer Rebels, who selected him with the 32nd pick of the 2005 bantam draft, before moving on to the Prince Albert Raiders, Kamloops Blazers, Calgary, Tri-City and now Kelowna.
“This makes Kelowna a lot better,” one GM told me last night.
Stebner, 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, had seven assists in 15 games with the Americans. In 233 regular season games, he has 87 points and 298 penalty minutes.
“I was surprised,” Stebner told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “Obviously, we had four 20s, but it was still a shock. To get to a place, move in, then have to go to another place, it’s tough. But it’s good that I’m going to nice, sunny Kelowna.”
Stebner plans on driving to Kelowna from Kennewick, Wash., and hopes to play tonight against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.
“Kelowna is a first-class organization,” said Stebner, who played at Prospera Place a few times with Kamloops. “They have good fan support and it’ll be fun playing there. It’s a loud place to play in, a fun place to play in. I would imagine playing for the home teamwill be better.”
Tory said this was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make, and that he definitely was swayed by the grit Prokop has shown in coming back from a devastating injury.
“He showed that he can come back from it. It’s quite a story,” Tory said. “I felt loyalty to the guys who had been here.”
Before acquiring Stebner, Tory swung a one-for-one swap with the Everett Silvertips, giving up F Zach McPhee, 17, for D Paul Sohor, 19.
Sohor spent two seasons with the Silvertips but had seen his playing time dwindle and had asked for a trade. He was no longer with the Silvertips, who are on an East Division swing. He had six points in 109 games with Everett.
Sohor is from East St. Paul, Man., which is near Winnipeg, so Tory expects him to be a good fit on a roster that includes eight other Winnipeggers. Sohor was a fifth-round selection by Everett in the 2006 bantam draft.
McPhee, who is from Vernon, B.C., was a sixth-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft. He had one goal in eight games with Tri-City before being assigned to the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.
F Adrian Foster (Saskatoon, Brandon, 1999-2002) signed a one-month tryout contract with Örebro (Sweden Allsvenskan). He had two goals and two assists in 10 games with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) and one assist in nine games with the Frankfurt Lions (Germany DEL) last season. Foster was in training camp with the Florida Panthers (NHL) earlier this season.
USA Hockey announced the preliminary roster for its national junior team on Tuesday and it included two WHL players — F Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers and F Mitchell (Dirty Harry) Callahan of the Kelowna Rockets. All told, 29 players were invited to the camp that opens Dec. 16 in Troy, N.Y.
Callahan found out he would be on the list when he received a phone call from GM Jim Johansson on Sunday.
“I was pretty ecstatic,” Callahan told the Kelowna Daily Courier’s Doyle Potenteau. “The world junior is somethign special. Every kid dreams of playing in the world junior for their country. Even just to get a shot at making the team is pretty special to me.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings have recalled F Curtis Lazar, 15, for two games. Lazar, who was the second overall pick in the 2010 bantam draft, is expected to play tonight against the Hitmen in Calgary and on Saturday against the visiting Kelowna Rockets. Lazar, who is from Vernon, B.C., has 33 points in 24 games with the Penticton-based Okanagan Hockey Academy’s prep team. . . . F Kyle Calder (Regina, Kamloops, 1995-99) has signed with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Calder, 31, helped the Condors get to the second round of the playoffs last season. He had six points in five regular-season games and added 10 in 10 playoff games. . . . The WHL's Christmas trade moratorium runs Dec. 15-27.
Some highlights from Tuesday’s WHL games:
In Chilliwack, F Cody Eakin scored three times to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 5-4 victory over the Bruins. . . . The game had a 10:30 a.m. start time as the Bruins ran a promotion involving school children. Attendance was 4,450. . . . Eakin has 15 goals. . . . The Broncos led this one 3-0 midway through the first period and the Bruins never got back on equal ground. . . . F Ryan Howse got his 20th goal of the season for Chilliwack. . . . Eakin also had an assist. . . . Swift Current D Reece Scarlett had two assists. . . . The Broncos meet the Rockets in Kelowna tonight. . . . Eakin has three regular-season hat tricks, one in each of the last three seasons. . . .
In Regina, the Everett Silvertips opened up a 3-0 lead with three second-period goals and went on to beat the Pats, 3-2. . . . F Kellan Tochkin’s 15th goal ended up as the winner. He scored at 16:36 of the second on the PP. . . . Everett D Ryan Murray, playing in front of family and hometown friends, drew an assist on Tochkin’s goal. . . . F Jordan Weal got his 13th goal for the Pats. . . . Among the Pats’ scratches was F Thomas Frazee (knee). The Pats say he will be out indefinitely. . . . Attendance was 3,891. . . . Regina is at 8-17-5 with four of those victories over the Swift Current Broncos. . . .
In Lethbridge, F Cam Braes scored four times to help the Hurricanes to a 7-4 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Braes, who scored 25 goals last season, has 11 this season. He had one three-goal game last season. . . . Lethbridge F Brody Sutter had three assists. . . . Lethbridge got two goals from F Jacob Berglund and two assists from each of D Cason Machacek, F Mitch Maxwell and F Austin Fyten. . . . D Collin Bowman scored twice for Moose Jaw, while F Quinton Howden got No. 18. . . . Lethbridge took a 4-0 lead at 10:48 of the second period with a third straight PP goal. . . . Attendance was 2,374. . . .
At Vancouver, G Mark Segal stopped 31 shots as the Giants dumped the Kamloops Blazers, 3-0. . . . Segal has two shutouts this season and six in his career. . . . F Matt Bellerive, who turned 16 on Tuesday, scored the game’s first goal at 17:19 of the first period. It was his third goal of the season. . . . The Giants have recorded two shutouts this season; this was the first time the Blazers have been blanked. . . . Attendance was 5,481. . . . The Giants, who have had far more than their share of injuries already this season, lost D David Musil early in the second period after he stopped a Chase Schaber shot with his right foot. Musil was to undergo X-rays last night. “”We'll see where he's at (today) but he's pretty sore,” Vancouver head coach Don Hay told Elliott Pap of hte Vancouver Sun.
At Prince George, G Steven Stanford stopped 29 shots as the Saskatoon Blades blanked the Cougars 3-0. . . . That was Stanford’s first shutout this season and the third of his career. . . . F Brent Benson had a goal and an assist, including the game’s first goal, at 5:47 of the second period. . . . This was the first time Prince George has been shut out this season, while the Blades have put up two blank jobs. . . . Saskatoon went 4-1-0 on its B.C. Division swing, losing only to the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Attendance was 1,663, a figure the Prince George Citizen reports is a franchise-record low. . . . The start of the game was delayed slightly by a shattered pane of glass. The CN Centre also had a pane shattered during the morning skate.
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