Wednesday, December 29, 2010

F Zdenek Blatny (Seattle, Kootenay, 1998-2001) was released at his request for personal reasons by Hannover Indians (Germany 2.Bundesliga). He had two goals and four assists in five games for the Indians. . . .
F Quinn Hancock (Tacoma/Kelowna, Calgary, Prince George, 1994-98) signed a contract for the rest of the season with the Graz 99ers (Austria Erste Bank Liga). He had 13 goals and 21 assists in 53 games for Iserlohn Roosters (Germany DEL) last season. . . .
F Chris St. Jacques (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) was released by the Edinburgh Capitals (UK Elite) so he could sign a contract for the rest of the season with Bietigheim-Bissingen (Germany 2.Bundesliga). He had 18 goals and 31 assists in 29 games for the Capitals this season. The Edinburgh newspaper The Scotsman reports that the "cash-strapped" Capitals have converted all player contracts to week-to-week and players are free to leave should they find another team to play for. . . .
D Michael Busto (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Kootenay, 2001-07) signed a contract with Bolzano (Italy Serie A) for the rest of this season. He had one goal and three assists in 11 games with the Dayton Gems and Elmira Jackals (both ECHL) last season. . . .
F Riley Armstrong (Kootenay, Everett, 2002-04) signed a contract for the rest of the season with the Augsburger Panther (Germany DEL). Armstrong started the season with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), getting two assists in two games, before signing with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan KHL), where he had one goal in nine games.
Two former WHLers have been named to the lineup for the 2011 ECHL All-Star Classic that will be played in Bakersfield, Calif., on Jan. 26. . . . F Mitch Fadden (Seattle, Lethbridge, Tri-City, 2003-09) of the Florida Everblades and F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-06) of the Idaho Steelheads will be in the starting lineup in a game that will feature the all-star team against the Bakersfield Condors. . . . Fadden leads the ECHL in assists (32) and points (47). . . . Derlago is tied for second in goals (15) and fifth in points (31). . . . The all-star team was selected through voting by ECHL coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and media members.
Things are tightening up at the top of the Western Conference.
The Tri-City Americans dumped the visiting Portland Winterhawks 5-1 on Wednesday, completing a sweep of a two-game series. The Americans had put up a 5-1 victory in Portland on Tuesday.
The two results leave the Winterhawks in first place, at 25-11-3, with the Americans closing, at 21-11-2.
And let’s not forget the Spokane Chiefs, the WHL’s highest-scoring team, who put eight more on the board in beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 8-2.
The Chiefs had beaten the Thunderbirds 2-0 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night.
Spokane C Tyler Johnson scored three times last night, giving him 102 goals in his career with the Chiefs. That moved him into 13th on the franchise’s all-time list, ahead of Brandin Cote (1996-2002).
The Chiefs, having gone 9-1-1 in their last 11, are 21-10-5.
Portland leads the Western Conference, with 53 points, just six ahead of the Chiefs, who hold three games in hand. The Americans are third, with 44 points, but hold two games in hand on the Chiefs and five on the Winterhawks.
The Prince George Cougars, who beat the visiting Chilliwack Bruins 5-0 last night with G James Priestner stopping 22 shots, are the conference’s No. 2 seed as they are the top club in the B.C. Division. But the Cougars are just one point ahead of the Kelowna Rockets, who hold two games in hand.
It’s also worth noting that the Winterhawks no longer lead the WHL in points. That honour belongs to the Saskatoon Blades (27-8-1), who lead the Eastern Conference, with 55 points, after beting the host Prince Albert Raiders 4-3 last night.
F Linden Vey of the Medicine Hat Tigers had a goal and two assists in a 3-2 victory over the Kootenay Ice and moved into a tie for the scoring lead with F Brendan Ranford of the Kamloops Blazers. Each has 58 points, at least for now.
Because it seems that Ranford may have 59 points.
While the online scoresheet of Kamloops’ 6-1 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants on Tuesday night shows Ranford with three assists, he may have been given another helper sometime after the game.
Early Wednesday, a tweet from the WHL office read: “Top point getter last night and STILL #WHL leading scorer @blazerhockey Ranford with 4 assists in 6-1 win over @WHLGiants.”
If Ranford, indeed, had four assists, he will hold a one-point lead over Vey going into tonight’s games. While the Tigers are off, the Blazers travel to Kelowna.
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