Rich Preston, the GM and head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, put on quite a show in Kelowna on Saturday night.
And I would suggest to you that every coach in the WHL was thinking the same thing: “Good on you, Rich. Go for it.”
Preston was ejected from a 5-3 loss to the Rockets after his side had a goal disallowed at 16:20 of the third period, apparently because a linesman chose to call a spearing penalty against F Graham Hood of the Hurricanes.
“The Hurricanes thought they had scored a power-play goal with 2:59 left,” wrote Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier, “when Brody Sutter knocked in a loose puck in the crease. However, the goal was waived off, with the reason being a double spearing minor to Graham Hood that apparently took place earlier in the play. Following a lengthy review, the goal was disallowed.
“Then Kelowna scored, Geordie Wudrick with his 38th of the season on the ensuing power play, and, shortly after, Preston began littering the ice with water bottles and his clipboard.”
By the time Preston departed the bench area, there were six or seven water bottles, a clipboard and a Gatorade jug and its lid littering the ice surface. (What! No sticks?) However, an observer reports that Preston only tossed five water bottles; two others apparently were thrown by players.
As Gord McGarva, who rides shotgun with Rockets’ radio voice Regan Bartel, mentioned, the cost might be about $100 a bottle with more tacked on for the extras.
“I’ve never seen (anything like it) in all my years,” Preston told Potenteau. “The linesman made a call, but the two referees didn’t see it. And then we changed and (Hood) was sitting on the bench for a good minute because we had another line out there — our other line was out there for a minute and then scores.
“So we think we score, and then all of a sudden it was a phantom penalty call by the linesman. We might as well have three referees now because the linesman is calling penalties. Two referees isn’t enough.”
While Saturday’s incident may not have had anything directly to do with the number of officials on the ice, you can bet that frustration with the WHL officiating was an undercurrent in what happened.
There isn’t a GM or a head coach in the league who will speak on the record about the officiating in the WHL, but every one of them yearns for a return to the one-man refereeing system. They all talk off the record about how the coaching in the WHL has never been better, but how the officiating is the weak link. They all talk about how there simply aren’t enough good referees available to work the two-man system. They all will tell you — again, off the record — that the best-officiated games involve one referee.
On Saturday in Kelowna, the referees were Devin Klein and Ryan Bonnett, while Ward Pateman and Alex Teichroeb were on the lines.
Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska came awfully close to offering unconditional support to Preston when he told Potenteau: “I’ve never been a part of (throwing water bottles), to be honest. But I would probably be a little upset as well. So I can’t say I would have done anything different than Rich.”
Preston, by the way, is on the WHL’s officiating committee. Wouldn’t you like to be the fly on the wall the next time that committee meets?
In the meantime, Preston will write a cheque early this week.
The Preston implosion — actually, it wasn’t an implosion; he should get full marks for being cool and collected while he was tossing things — is right here.
The video is rather disappointing, however, as the camera isn't on the Lethbridge bench the whole time so misses a lot of the action.
Why aren’t there enough good officials? Check out this editorial from the Winnipeg Sun.
Meanwhile, on the Chilliwack Bruins front:
1. Len Barrie, a former WHL player and NHL owner who now owns the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, has denied reports that he is involved with RG Properties in an attempt to purchase the Chilliwack Bruins. “That’s false,“ Barrie told the Victoria Times Colonist. “I am not looking to buy the Bruins.” (RG Properties manages the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria; the arena is owned by the city.)
2. I have been told that Oren Koules, who partnered with Barrie on the ownership of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning before it all fell apart, “has been sniffing around trying to get a WHL franchise.” . . . So perhaps it’s Koules, and not Barrie, who is involved here. . . . Koules also is a former WHL player, who now is a producer of movies, including the Saw franchise.
3. There is one train of thought out there that has the WHL wanting badly to put expansion teams into Victoria and Nanaimo. The Victoria team would be owned by RG Properties, with the Nanaimo team going to Hockey Night in Canada analyst Kelly Hrudey and some of his partners in the ownership group of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers.
4. Don’t be expecting to hear anything out of RG Properties. Dave Dakers, the president of its sports and entertainment division, told the Times Colonist: "All comments regarding the WHL and Victoria have been made previously. To discuss rumours on a one-by-one basis is irresponsible. If and when there is any news to report, we will hold a press conference."
5. Annie Fowler, who covers the Tri-City Americans for the Tri-City Herald, was on the beat when Darryl Porter, now the Bruins’ governor, was involved in the Americans’ ownership group. She, uhh, isn’t a fan. Check out her blog right here.
JUST NOTES: The Everett Silvertips have been fined $250 “for failure to have player appear for star of game award at Tri-City” on Friday night. Hmmm! Wonder what it’s worth when the three stars aren’t announced after a game, as happened in Kamloops that same night? . . . The Vancouver Giants lost F Brendan Gallagher, their leading scorer, on the first shift of Saturday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Portland Winterhawks. Although he was feeling better Sunday, he may have a concussion. . . . Gallagher didn’t play in the Giants’ 5-1 loss to the visiting Tri-City Americans on Sunday. The Giants were without D Darren Bestland (back) and D Tyler Hart (shoulder) on the weekend. On Sunday, they lost F Spencer Bennett (hand) and F Teal Burns (shoulder) in the first period. . . . Gallagher, Bennett and Burns are to be re-evaluated today. . . .
D Brandon Manning scored three times Sunday to lead the host Chilliwack Bruins to a 6-2 victory over Portland. With 20 goals, Manning is two shy of the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenceman, set by Nick Holden in 2007-08. . . . F Ryan Howse of Chilliwack got his 48th goal, a career high, and moved into a tie with Spokane C Tyler Johnson for the WHL lead. . .. . More importantly, the Bruins have won five in a row and now are seventh in the Western Conference, three points ahead of the idle Prince George Cougars and Kamloops Blazers. . . .
A release from the Brandon Wheat Kings indicates that they won’t be increasing season-ticket prices if fans renew before June 10. This is the third straight year in which Brandon has chosen not to increase prices. . . . An adult season-ticket purchased by June 10 will cost $325; it’s $350 after the deadline. Youth tickets (18 and under) go for $175. . . . According to the Wheat Kings, “A recent study of season-ticket prices throughout the WHL shows that western Manitoba hockey fans pay more than $100 less for their season-tickets than fans of any other club.”
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