F Michael Connolly of Calgary had never scored more than two goals in a game. Not in minor hockey. Not in junior A. Not in his first two-plus seasons with the University of Minnesota/Duluth Bulldogs. And then he scored five times on Saturday as the Bulldogs dumped the visiting Minnesota Gophers, 6-4. Connolly was selected by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2004 bantam draft. Kevin Pates of the Duluth News Tribune has a story on Connolly’s five-goal game right here.
Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate reports that the Red Deer Rebels will be without two defencemen tonight when the Calgary Hitmen come calling. Mathew Dumba (knee) and Justin Weller (concussion) were injured in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday and will sit out the entire weekend.
In Saskatoon, the Blades are preparing for a visit tonight by the Prince Albert Raiders. Saskatoon G Steven Stanford, who was acquired last season from the Raiders, has beaten Prince Albert five times this season. . . . Stanford will make his ninth straight start tonight. Adam Morrison, the Blades’ other veteran goaltender, is out with mononucleosis.
I’m told that F Graham Black, who leads the Saskatchewan midget AAA league in goals (43) and points (68), has agreed to sign with the Swift Current Broncos. Black, 18, will join the WHL team this season should his team, the Regina Pat Canadians, have its season end while the Broncos are still playing.
The Broncos acquired his rights from the Edmonton Oil Kings earlier this season.
Stan Butler, who spent one season (1996-97) coaching the Prince George Cougars, coached his 1,000th OHL game on Thursday night. His Brampton Battalion beat the visiting Oshawa Generals 3-1.
Butler is one of four men to have coached 1,000 OHL games. The others are Brian Kilrea, Bert Templeton and Larry Mavety.
The WHL has had two men coach 1,000 games -- Ken Hodge (1,411) and Ernie (Punch) McLean (1,067). Among active coaches, Lorne Molleken of the Saskatoon Blades is No. 1. Molleken, who won his 500th game earlier this season, is at 906. That means that Molleken could get to 1,000 early in 2012-13.
Yes, the WHL must be into the stretch run.
Last week, we had Marc Habscheid, the GM/head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins, and Kamloops Blazers head coach Guy Charron sniping at each other.
This week, it’s Lorne Molleken, the GM/head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Dave Hunchak, the head coach and assistant director of hockey operations of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
On Wednesday, the Blades beat the visiting Warriors, 6-5 in overtime.
After the game, Molleken told Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he wasn’t at all thrilled with an unpenalized two-handed slash that Moose Jaw F Cody Beach laid on Blades D Teigan Zahn.
Here’s what Molleken told Wolfe: “(Beach) could’ve hurt Zahn seriously in the third period. Any time you two-hand somebody from behind like that, it’s uncalled for and it just shows what Beach is all about. When you have two teams that compete as hard as these two and you have access to two (referees), I don’t think you put (Devin) Klein in a very fair position.”
Molleken also was unhappy with the WHL office for assigning just one referee to the game.
On Thursday, Hunchak volleyed back, telling Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald:
“I’m a little bit surprised that Lorne Molleken would go after and attack the character of a player like Cody Beach. One should not throw stones when living in a glass house.”
That may have been a zinger aimed at Molleken because he was suspended for four games during last season’s playoffs after a brawl in a first-round playoff series with the Red Deer Rebels.
But Hunchak wasn’t done.
“Nobody saw Dylan Hood’s feet get taken out from underneath him on the face-off to start the third period,” he told Gourlie. “To question Cody Beach’s character is something I wouldn’t expect from someone of Lorne’s stature.”
Bet you never could have guessed that the Blades and Warriors are to meet again this weekend. Yes, they’ll face each other Saturday in the Crushed Can.
They’ll also play there on Feb. 26, while they have two dates left in ’Toontown -- on March 5 and 16.
Now you don’t suppose Molleken and Hunchak are trying to sell a few tickets, do you?
Nah . . . never happen!