Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Nov. 24, the Portland Winterhawks beat the visiting Everett Silvertips, 4-2.
After the game, Portland F Oliver Gabriel told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune: “We’re a serious contender for the Memorial Cup. We’re going to get better, so it will get even scarier for the other teams. Out there tonight, (the Silvertips) were intimidated by our skill.”
Gabriel had scored twice in that game, giving him six goals on the season, so no doubt he was feeling his oats.
But I’m thinking that when GM/head coach Mike Johnston read that quote, he about fell off his chair.
Since that victory, the Winterhawks have played seven games. They have won one of those. In those seven games, they have been outscored 32-20, including 9-3 Wednesday night as they lost to the Chiefs in Spokane.
Just what the Vancouver Giants didn’t need . . . another long-term injury.
D David Musil, who is likely to be an early first-round pick in the NHL’s 2011 draft, has a hairline fracture in his right leg and will be out indefinitely.
Musil, 17, left the Giants’ 3-0 victory over visiting Kamloops early in the second period Tuesday, after blocking a shot by Blazers captain Chase Schaber. Musil ended up with a hairline fracture to the fibula, the smallest of the two bones in the lower leg. (The other bone, the bigger one, is the tibia.) . . . Musil was expected to play for the Czech Republic at the 2011 World Junior Championship, but that, of course, now would seem to be in doubt. . . . He has 17 points in 30 games with the Giants, who already are without F Marek Tvrdon (shoulder), F Randy McNaught (ankle), F Connor Redmond (shoulder) and D Zach Hodder (shoulder), all of whom have long-term injuries. They lost F Greg Lamoure (shoulder) for a couple of weeks on Saturday, while D Luke Fenske (shoulder) is day-to-day. . . . The Giants already have lost more than 150 man-games to injury.
There was a brief flurry of trade activity on Tuesday with the Tri-City Americans doing two deals, one with the Everett Silvertips and another with the Kelowna Rockets.
You are free to wonder if that might have been a harbinger, but chances are it wasn’t.
Asked why there hasn’t been much activity on the trade front, one GM told me: “Teams are too close in the standings would be my guess.”
What that means is that teams haven’t yet been able to decide if they are buyers or if they will be sellers.
The top six teams in the Eastern Conference are starting to separate themselves from the bottom six, with only the Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen in dire straits. The Pats, who have eight victories in 30 games, are seven points out of a playoff spot, while the Hitmen, with seven in 30, are 12 points out.
In the Western Conference, the Portland Winterhawks hold a 13-point lead, even with their struggles of late.
But the other nine teams are within five points of each other.
The same general manager also added a qualifier to his statement, saying: “That, and I guess as is often the case, lack of consensus on what players might be worth.”
It could be, too, he said, that teams don’t have the depth “to pay the price realistically required.”
It is interesting that Tuesday’s brief flurry involved three Western Conference teams, with general managers Bob Tory (Tri-City), Bruce Hamilton (Kelowna) and Doug Soetaert (Everett) obviously not too concerned about doing business with conference rivals.
The WHL’s annual trade moratorium runs from Dec. 15-27, with the trade deadline arriving on Jan. 10.
Some highlights from Wednedsay’s WHL games . . .
In Calgary, F Michael St. Croix continued to burn it up, scoring three times and setting up another as his Edmonton Oil Kings dumped the Hitmen, 5-2. . . . The Oil Kings have taken three of four from Calgary this season. . . . It was St. Croix’ second straight four-point game. . . . St. Croix has 17 points in his last six games and 19 in an eight-game point streak. . . . This was the first time an Edmonton player has scored three goals in a road game since the Oil Kings entered the league for 2007-08. . . . He has four multi-goal games in his WHL career, two of them in his last two games. This was his first hat trick. . . . St. Croix, who is eligible for the 2011 NHL draft, has 38 points in 29 games; he had 46 points in 66 games last season. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2008 bantam draft. . . . Edmonton is 6-1-1 in its last eight games. . . . F T.J. Foster added a goal and two assists for Edmonton, which got 24 saves from G Jon Groenheyde, who is 5-3-1 with the Oil Kings. . . . D Alex Roach scored his first WHL goal for the Hitmen. From Quesnel, B.C., he was an 11th round pick in the 2008 bantam draft. . . . Attendance was 7,094. . . . The Hitmen continue without F Tyler Fiddler (leg) who has missed five games. . . .
In Brandon, the Everett Silvertips scored two shootout goals and beat the Wheat Kings, 4-3. . . . F Tyler Maxwell and D Ryan Murray scored in the shootout, while G Luke Siemens, who stopped 30 shots through OT, turned aside both Brandon shooters. . . . Everett F Parker Stanfield picked up his 50th WHL goal. . . . Maxwell and F Josh Winquist each had two assists for the Silvertips. . . . Brandon trailed 3-1 in the third period before getting PP goals from D Darren Bestland, at 1:51, and D Brodie Melnychuk, at 14:29. . . . F Brayden Schenn had two assists for Brandon in his second game back from the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . Brandon is 0-8-2 in its last 10 games. . . . Earlier in the season, the Wheat Kings went through a nine-game losing streak. . . . Everett is 3-1-0 on its East Division swing. It will play the Blades in Saskatoon on Friday and the Raiders in Prince Albert on Saturday. . . . Attendance was 3,723. . . .
In Prince Albert, F Max Reinhart scored four goals and G Brett Teskey stopped 33 shots as the Kootenay Ice beat the Raiders, 5-0. . . . That was Reinhart’s first career hat trick -- he has 15 goals this season -- and Teskey’s first career shutout. . . . Reinhart, who now has 102 points in 164 regular-season games, went into last night with three career two-goal games. . . . He scored once in the first period, once in the second and twice in the latter half of the third. . . . F Erik Benoit had two assists. . . . The Ice held a 52-33 edge in shots. . . . Attendance was 1,845. . . . The Raiders are without F Igor Revenko (knee), who will miss up to four weeks. . . .
In Medicine Hat, the Tigers got shootout goals from F Linden Vey and F Wacey Hamilton and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-3. . . . The Warriors trailed 2-1 going into the third period, but took the lead on goals by F Antonin Honejsek, his 17th, at 4:07, and F Quinton Howden, his 19th, at 11:22. . . . Medicine Hat F Kale Kessy forced OT with his sixth goal at 17:17. . . . Vey, who leads the WHL scoring race, was pointless through OT. . . . Neither Honejsek nor F Cody Beach was able to beat Tigers G Tyler Bunz in the shootout. . . . Bunz stopped 24 shots, nine fewer than Moose Jaw’s Thomas Heemskerk. . . . Hamilton drew an assist on each of the Tigers’ regulation-time goals. . . . Honejsek scored twice for the Moose Jaw, while Beach and D Joel Edmundson each had two assists. . . . Attendance was 4,006. . . . The Warriors were 0-for-8 on the PP. . . .
In Spokane, the Chiefs counted five times in the first period and went on to beat the Portland Winterhawks, 9-3. . . . F Steven Kuhn had two goals and an assist for the Chiefs, while D Brenden Kichton also scored twice. . . . The Chiefs, who have won three in a row, had beaten the visiting Winterhawks 4-3 on Saturday. . . . Spokane now is 13-4-4 after a 2-5-0 start and has picked up at least one point in 12 of its last 13 games. . . . Spokane D Tyler Vanscourt and F Blake Gal each had three assists, with F Matt Marantz and F Dominik Uher each getting two. . . . F Riley Boychuk had two assists for Portland. . . . Attendance was 3,564. . . .
In Kelowna, F Cody Eakin had a goal, his 16th, and two assists as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Rockets, 4-1. . . . The Broncos scored the game’s last three goals, all of them in the third period. . . . The Broncos opened their B.C. Division swing on Tuesday with a 5-4 victory over the Chilliwack Bruins. Eakin had three goals and an assist in that one. . . . The tour continues Friday in Kamloops against the Blazers. . . . Swift Current will play 11 straight road games before it next plays at home on Jan. 2. . . . Eakin broke a 1-1 tie at 4:59 of the third period, just 26 seconds after F Cody Chikie pulled the Rockets into a 1-1 tie. . . . F Jordan Peddle had a goal, his third, and an assist for the Broncos. . . . Swift Current G Mark Friesen stopped 31 shots. . . . D Zak Stebner, acquired Tuesday from the Tri-City Americans, was in the Rockets’ lineup. He and D Tyson Barrie each went minus-3. . . . Attendance was 6,021.
One minor:
Prince Albert D Nathan Deck
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