Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday's stuff . . .

Alan Millar, the director of hockey operations with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and Dave Hunchak, the team’s ex-head coach, have taken issue with something that appeared here on Friday.
That bit, which dealt with the Warriors’ decision not to renew Hunchak’s contract despite the club’s having won 40 games this season, included this bit:
“It also seems that Millar and Hunchak, 37, perhaps didn’t see eye-to-eye. That became obvious late in February when the two engaged in a morning yelling match deep in the bowels of the Crushed Can that was overheard by a handful of folks.”
A source had told me that the incident to which I referred occurred on Feb. 20, one day after the Warriors had dropped 3-2 decision tot he visiting Prince Albert Raiders.
“The information about Dave Hunchak and I having a screaming match . . . is completely false,” Millar told me Friday afternoon. “It never happened. . . . it’s completely not true. Never happened. . . . All my dealings with Dave, including my meeting (Thursday) morning with him, were always professional.”
As for my source, who indicated that at least two others had heard the dispute, Millar said: “they have their information wrong. They’re full of (bleep).
“I’m just telling you that it never happened. . . . I don’t really care about the date because I can honestly tell you it did not happen.”
Hunchak also said “that stuff never happened.”
Asked who it might have been, Hunchak said: “I have no idea. It wasn’t us. I guarantee it wasn’t us.
“We have never had an altercation like that. We never got into it . . . ever.”
During our conversation, Millar also provided some information on the club’s two assistant coaches — Trevor Weisgerber and Mike Vandenberghe.
Millar said Weisgerber “had not been told he’s not coming back.”
The club holds an option on Weisgerber until July 15, while Vandenberghe’s contract expires on April 17.
Millar said both coaches “have been told there’s a process that we’re going to go through. They will get a strong recommendation from me to be part of the organization. I want to give the new head coach some flexibility in the hire. I’ve also told both of those guys that we understand other opportunities may come their way and we may lose them.”
Millar also said Vandenberghe “has some other things on the go to. I also think we’ll probably interview Mike for the head coaching job.”
The hockey community in Spokane is mourning the death of Novelli (Nels) Venerus, who played for two Allan Cup winners in that city.
Steve Bergum of the Spokane Spokesman-Review has more right here.
In the final game of the WHL’s regular season, Brandon Wheat Kings F Shayne Wiebe put a hit on Moose Jaw F Quinton Howden and found himself in a bout with Warriors D Dylan McIlrath.
McIlrath, a first-round pick by the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2010 draft, has a three-year NHL contract in his pocket and is finishing the season with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale.
Wiebe signed an ATO (amateur tryout) deal with the Whale earlier this week.
So . . . guess who is rooming together with the Whale?
You got it.
“It’s kinda  funny,” Wiebe told Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun. “But he’s a really good guy.”
Portland Winterhawks F Brad Ross has been handed one of those ‘tbd’ suspensions after he was hit with a charging major for a first-period check on F Zach Franko of the visiting Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal on Thursday night.
Franko left the game and didn’t return. He is believed to have a concussion and is doubtful for Game 2 on Sunday. You can look for Ross to at least sit out Sunday’s game as well, and perhaps one more after that.
“He’s a hard-hitting guy,” Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune after Game 1. “Those type of players, that’s their job — to deliver hits and play physical. He never intended to catch (Franko) like that. He was coming in from the side and caught the guy leaning into his shot. At the NHL level, all those hits are under scrutiny nowadays.
“Brad is a key player for us. He played so well for us in the first series. You don’t want him to take a penalty like that, you don’t want a hit like that, but there’s a fine line. If the guy were turned one more step to the left, (Ross) would have been fine on that hit.”
F Jonathan Parker of the Prince Albert Raiders has joined the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors for the remainder of the season. Parker, 19, is from Solana Beach, Calif. He had 86 points, including 45 goals, in 71 games with the Raiders this season. . . . F Tyler Johnson, the WHL’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, is expected to play tonight as his Spokane Chiefs open their series against the visiting Tri-City Americans. Johnson (concussion) missed the last two games of the Chiefs’ five-game victory over the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . F Ryan Stone (Brandon, 2001-05) set a franchise single-game record with five points Friday night to lead the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat to a 6-0 victory over the host Grand Rapids Griffins. Stone had two goals and three assists. G Leland Irving (Everett, 2003-08) stopped 27 shots for his 30th victory and eighth shutout of the season.
Yikes! What’s going on here? The visiting teams are 3-0 in the second round of the playoffs, and have outscored the home teams 18-3. . . .
In Saskatoon, G Nathan Lieuwen stopped 35 shots as the Kootenay Ice dropped the Blades 4-1 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. . . . Game 2 is in Saskatoon tonight. . . . The Blades had beaten the Ice four times as many meetings in the regular season. . . . F Matt Fraser scored twice for the Ice, the second into an empty net. He has seven goals in seven postseason games. . . . Ice F Kevin King scored his first goal of these playoffs, at 11:57 of the second period, to break a 1-1 tie. . . . The Ice was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Blades were 0-for-3. . . . Saskatoon G Steven Stanford stopped 29 shots. . . . Each member of the Blades’ big line — Curtis Hamilton, Brayden Schenn and Jake Trask — was minus-2. . . . Kootenay had F Sam Reinhart, the 15th pick in the 2010 bantam draft, in the lineup. . . . Attendance was 7,612. . . . The Ice had D Luke Paulsen (shoulder) back in the lineup after a six-week absence, but F Drew Czerwonka (upper body) was scratched. . . . Saskatoon remains without F Ryan Olsen (upper body). . . .
In Red Deer, F Linden Vey, the reigning WHL scoring champ, had two goals and two assists as the Medicine Hat Tigers skated to a 9-1 victory over the Rebels. . . . Game 2 in the Eastern Conference semifinal is scheduled for Red Deer tonight. . . . The Tigers, who finished 6-for-11 on the PP, scored three goals in the first half of the first period and never looked back. . . . D Matthew Konan had four assists for the visitors, while F Wacey Hamilton had a goal and three assists, D Jace Coyle was two and one, and F Emerseon Etem was one and two. . . . Medicine Hat G Tyler Bunz made a triumphant return with 36 saves. He missed his club’s last five games with a concussion. . . . Vey now has a WHL-leading 16 playoff points, two more than Kelowna Rockets F Shane McColgan. . . . Attendance was 5,926.
Two minors:
Saskatoon F Curtis Hamilton.
Red Deer F Brett Ferguson.
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