Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday . . .

THE CHILLIWACK-TO-VICTORIA SAGA, Chapter 57:
The Regina Moose? The Regina Gophers? The Chilliwack Pats?
The Victoria Bruins?
When the dominoes start falling, who knows how all this will shake out. And now you have to wonder if one of the dominoes might be the Regina Pats?
The Pats are in lease negotiations with Evraz Place, the landlord that controls the Brandt Centre, the arena the team calls home.
These negotiations have been messy in the past and they appear headed down Nasty Street once again.
In fact, a source has told me that the Evraz people have given the Pats “a take-it-or-leave-it offer.”
The Pats’ owners — Diane and Russ Parker — are said to be seriously thinking of leaving it. Their son, Brent, is the team’s president after a long run as general manager.
I also have been told that the Evraz Place people have had discussions with the American Hockey League, which is doing preliminary planning in case a new home is needed for the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Moose. That move would become necessary should the NHL move the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg.
All of this is nothing more than speculation, of course, but it does mean there may be a sliver of light so far as the WHL fans of Chilliwack are concerned.
Understand that the Pats have been down this road a few times before and, at the end of the day, have always reached agreement with their landlord.
However, I don’t think the Pats have ever been in a position like they are now — with an arena such as the one in Chilliwack looking for a primary tenant. (The Bruins, if you’ve come in late, have been sold, presumably to Vancouver-based RG Properties, and will be relocated to Victoria.)
Yes, the Pats could very well use Chilliwack as a bargaining chip. However, it could work the other way, too, meaning that Evraz Place might have to be careful in calling the Pats’ bluff because the hockey team just might have another landing place.
Of course, it could be that Evraz Place has its eyes on an AHL franchise.
Oh, what a tangled web . . .
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Interestingly, the Colorado-based Arabian Horse Association wasn’t able to close negotiations to keep its Royal Red horse show at Evraz Place and revealed late in March that it has chosen to move it to Brandon’s Keystone Centre. The Royal Red had been held in Regina for 22 years.
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The Parkers have a long sporting history in the west and, in fact, Russ and Brent likely would be quick to tell you that baseball is their first love. Russ owned a AAA baseball franchise in Calgary not all that long ago, but it left town when he and the City couldn’t come together on the building of a new facility or the refurbishing of an old one.
A year ago, the Parkers bought a Golden Baseball League franchise and set it up in Victoria as the Seals. Darren Parker, another son, was put in charge. However, the owners weren’t at all pleased with playing conditions — apparently, Victoria is lacking in baseball facilities and the Seals played on a soccer pitch with a portable snow fence around the outfield — and the franchise folded over the winter.
Should the Pats end up in the centre of a controversy related to a possible move, it wouldn’t be the first time. In 1985-86, the franchise, then owned by the Pinder family of Saskatoon, was so close to moving to Swift Current during the Christmas break that one game scheduled to be played in Regina was postponed. The marquee in front of the Agridome even announced that the team was on the move. Saner heads prevailed, of course, and the Pats stayed where they belong.
The bone of contention back then was a $1 parking charge that Regina Exhibition Park, then the Pats’ landlord, chose to implement.
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And if you’re wondering how the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings are doing . . . they opened a best-of-seven second-round series with the host Utah Grizzlies on Friday night. The Salmon Kings won, 4-2, with former Kootenay Ice F Adam Taylor sealing the victory with an empty-netter. . . . Attendance in the 10,207-seat Maverik Center was 3,063. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for tonight. . . . The series heads to Victoria for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 on Wednesday, Friday and April 23.
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MEANWHILE . . .
The hurt will be a while in going away, but Lorne Molleken, the general manager and head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, says he’ll be back behind the team’s bench next season.
After last season, Molleken thought about leaving the bench and focussing on the front-office duties.
“I sat down last year at the end of the (season) with (Blades co-owner) Jack Brodsky and we talked about the coaching,” Molleken told Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “The Brodsky family, at that time, their wishes were that I stay behind the bench. Jack asked me to commit for another three years, so I made that
commitment to him and we’ll move forward.”
Molleken told Wolfe that he plans “to stay coaching for a long time.”
For more on the Blades and how they are dealing with the way their season ended, check out Wolfe’s copy right here.
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DAWSON GUHLE
The Medicine Hat Tigers get their second opportunity to eliminate the Red Deer Rebels tonight. The Tigers take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 in Red Deer.
The Tigers won the first three games of the series and a lot of fans thought the series was over when Red Deer lost G Darcy Kuemper with a high ankle sprain suffered in Game 3.
However, backup Dawson Guhle, 18, stepped in and pitched a shutout, stopping 19 shots as the Rebels won Game 4, 1-0.
Guhle will be back in goal tonight, as Kuemper, 20, still is on the limp. In fact, Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate reports that Kuemper “has been fitted with a special boot which he will wear for a least a month.”
Backing up Guhle, who was acquired from the Regina Pats in November, will be Bolton Pouliot, 16, from the midget AAA Calgary Royals.
The Rebels have scored just three goals in the four games with Medicine Hat. Obviously, then, Red Deer is going to have to find some offence if it hopes to keep on playing.
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The Tri-City Americans and the visiting Spokane Chiefs are 2-2 going into Game 5 in Kennewick, Wash., on Sunday. The Americans evened the series with a 4-3 double-overtime victory on Thursday.
If you’re planning on attending Sunday’s game, perhaps you should be prepared for OT. Nine of the last 14 playoff games between these teams have needed extra time.
If you’re wondering why this series has a 2-3-2 format, with the Americans playing host to the middle three, it’s because of scheduling difficulties involving an Elton John concert, a two-day youth wrestling tournament and an Amway convention.
The wrestling tournament will be held today and Sunday in the Toyota Center in Kennewick, with the facility to be converted for hockey in time for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Bob Tory, the Americans’ GM, wasn’t at all happy about not having any Friday dates.
"It's bad management," Tory told Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald earlier this month. "When you have Spokane and Tri-City and we can't have a weekend date, that is unacceptable. We are the anchor tenant with a history of playoff success the last five years."
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ON THE ICE FRIDAY NIGHT:
JESSEY ASTLES
In Portland, F Jessey Astles scored at 7:08 of OT to give the Kelowna Rockets a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna G Adam Brown stopped 54 shots. . . . The goal was Astles third of the playoffs. He picked off a pass at the Kelowna blue line and skated in alone to beat G Mac Carruth to the blocker side. . . . Astles, an 18-year-old from Coquitlam, scored one goal in 56 regular-season games last season and three times in 59 games this season. Now, he has three goals in nine playoff games. . . . The Winterhawks hold a 3-2 lead as the series goes back to Kelowna for Game 6 on Sunday. . . . Kelowna won the first game, with Portland winning the next three. . . . F Mitchell (Dirty Harry) Callahan gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 4:38 of the second period via the PP. . . . Portland F Nino Niederreiter, on the PP, tied it at 15:09 of the second. . . . Callahan has five goals; Niederreiter has seven. . . . Portland G Mac Carruth stopped 36 shots. . . . Attendance in the Rose Garden was 8,505. . . . The Rockets lost D Colton Jobke to a boarding major and game misconduct at 16:34 of the first period. The play will be reviewed by the WHL office and he could be suspended. . . . Portland had F Brad Ross back in the lineup after he served a three-game suspension. He picked up two minor penalties, one of them coincidental, the other resulting in a Kelowna PP. . . . Kelowna F Zach Franko, who was hit by Ross in Game 1, didn’t play.
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FRIDAY’S CHECKING-FROM-BEHIND COUNT:
None.
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A tip of the cap to Taylor Piller, a 20-year-old forward with the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves. From Saskatoon, Piller has played four seasons in the SJHL — two with the Humboldt Broncos and two with the Ice Wolves. Remarkably, he has won four SJHL championships.
Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has that story right here.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
     
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
     
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