Thursday, January 6, 2011

The tears were hardly dry Wednesday night when I got an email from Glen Erickson, who lives in Kelowna and writes for Hockey’s Future. He was pointing out that “there are 15 kids from that Russian team in the lineup in Buffalo.”
That Russian team was the one that scored a 7-6 victory over Team WHL in a Subway Super Series game in Kamloops on Nov. 17.
On that night, the WHL led 3-0 before the first period was seven minutes old, and it held a 6-3 lead with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period.
The Russians stormed back with three goals in 2:42, and went on to win in a shootout.
One night later, the Russians won 5-2 in Prince George as they wrapped up the series for the first time in its eight-year existence.
And, as we all saw last night, Russia overcame another three-goal lead and beat Canada in the final of the World Junior Championship, scoring a 5-3 victory in Buffalo.
Just like that Canada versus Russia is relevant again, and that can only be good for hockey in this country.
The Canadian Hockey League, if it hasn’t already, should send a thank you note to the Russians. The Subway Super Series suddenly means something again.
Granted, the team that won last night was loaded with 19-year-old players -- someone on TSN mentioned that only one player on the roster is eligible to play in the 2011 tournament.
But what all of this tells me is that, for whatever reason, the Russians now believe that the Super Series can be of some use as it prepares for the World Junior Championship. Hopefully that means Russia will send over another competitive team in the fall.
I have been a harsh critic of the Super Series, only because it was so uncompetitive through its first seven seasons. In 2006, for example, the CHL teams went 6-0, outscoring the Russians 32-12 in the process. That included an 8-1 victory by Team WHL in Kamloops in what was just an awful game.
If you had forgotten, the WHL won 13 of the first 14 games in the series. But it wasn’t that way in November and, hopefully, it won’t be that way again in November.
I would bet that Russia’s showing in November and its startling triumph last night mean that the CHL’s three leagues just may find teams and cities lining up to play host to the games in the next Super Series.
Suddenly, I can hardly wait for the next Super Series to get started.
(By the way, G Dmitry Shikin started and got the hook in that game in Kamloops. He started last night in Buffalo and got yanked again.)
Erickson wrote an interesting piece on Tuesday, which, of course, preceded last night’s game. Give it a look right here.
The Vancouver Giants have made their third trade in a week.
This time, they have sent F Matt McKay, 20, and a 2012 fourth-round bantam draft pick to the Brandon Wheat Kings for D Darren Bestland, 20.
Bestland has 16 points in 40 games, while his minus-24 would seem to indicate he is struggling defensively. However, the Giants obviously are hoping that is just indicative of the play of the struggling Wheat Kings.
MacKay, whom the Giants acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers over the summer, had 28 points, including 12 goals, in 40 games with Vancouver. He is the son of former Moose Jaw Warriors captain Mark MacKay, who is the only player in WHL history to be named the league’s rookie of the year as a 20-year-old (1984-85).
On Dec. 30, the Giants were involved in a big trade with the Portland Winterhawks in which F Craig Cunningham, 20, and sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft went south for F Spencer Bennett, 20, F Teal Burns, 18, a 2011 first-round pick and a 2012 second-round pick.
Then, on Tuesday, the Giants dealt F Brett Lyon, 19, to the Moose Jaw Warriors for F Nathan Smith, 17, who remains with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.
Vancouver next plays this weekend when it is in Prince George for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader with the Cougars.
From the Portland Business Journal:
“Portland’s city commissioners have unanimously backed adding the word ‘Veterans’ to an arena built as a monument to war heroes.
“The Memorial Coliseum will now be known as Veterans Memorial Coliseum. “The move is considered a nod to veterans who have protested proposals to tear down the building as part of the Rose Quarter renovation.
“The building was dedicated Jan. 8, 1961. Among early candidates for the coliseum’s name were ‘Portland Peace Memorial’ and ‘Beaverena.’ ”
JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats have reassigned F Dane Muench, 18, to the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. He had seven points in 24 games with the Pats. . . . The Pats go for their fourth straight victory on Friday when they meet the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . James Priestner of the Prince George Cougars is the CHL’s goaltender of the week. He was 2-0-0, 1.00, .956 last week. . . . The NHL’s Calgary Flames have terminated the contract of F J.D. Watt (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2003-08), who had been with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. “J.D. notified us on Monday that he was no longer interested in pursuing his career with the Calgary Flames organization,” Flames acting general manager Jay Feaster said in a press release issued by the Heat. “He informed us of his decision and as a result, he was then suspended and cleared unconditional waivers this morning. We are moving forward in the best interests of the hockey club, our players in Abbotsford and the Flames organization.” Watt had four points and 73 penalty minutes in 27 games this season. The Flames selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2005 draft.
I missed this on Tuesday, so in an attempt at catching up on something interesting, here it is, mostly from a Spokane Chiefs press release:
Willy Bietak Productions, Inc., the company in charge of installing the ice surface for the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic, has arrived in Spokane and begun the process of building the staging system that will hold the ice at Avista Stadium. The Chiefs are to play host to the Kootenay Ice on Saturday, Jan. 15 in the WHL's first outdoor game.
Fans may watch the process through a live video cam right here
Monday began the multi-step process of building the ice. A deck is being built on the field of Avista Stadium, normally the home of the Northwest League's Spokane Indians baseball club, and laser levelled to create flooring for the ice.
The ice system, consisting of 240 aluminum plates connected by over 600 feet of piping to one of the world's largest portable refrigeration units, will be moved into place today. On Saturday, boards and glass will be placed onto the decking that was built earlier in the week. After the boards have been placed, they will begin spraying ice on Sunday. On-ice logos will be painted on Monday.
The Chiefs will hold a practice on Jan. 13, 1 p.m., on the new ice surface. This will be the only time they will have an opportunity to skate on the ice prior to the game.

And, finally, this right here is from a blog that belongs to Christopher Foulds, the editor at Kamloops This Week, a twice weekly publication. . . . I thank him for pointing out that Shane Doan is incorrect in his criticism.
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