Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday . . .

In Victoria, F Adam Taylor scored his third goal of the playoffs 48 seconds into the second overtime period Friday night to give the Salmon Kings a 2-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies. . . . The Salmon Kings, who are dead things walking, swept the second-round ECHL series and now will meet the Alaska Aces in the Western Conference final. . . . F Simon Ferguson gave Utah a 1-0 lead at 2:44 of the first period on a PP. . . . F Keil McLeod pulled Victoria into a tie at 18:55 of the second period. . . . Victoria G David Shantz stopped 40 shots, 10 fewer than Utah’s Jean-Philippe Lamoureux. . . . Attendance was 6,095. . . . The Salmon Kings went into these playoffs as the Western Conference’s seventh seed. The top-seeded Aces beat the host Idaho Steelheads 4-0 on Friday to sweep that series. . . . The Salmon Kings, of course, are in their final season, at least in Victoria, after the WHL made it official this week that the Chilliwack Bruins are on their way to the B.C. capital.
Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist started his game story:
“It took seven years, news of their demise and even comparisons to the movie Slap Shot, for the Victoria Salmon Kings to finally capture the imagination of the city.
“A season-high crowd of 6,295, attracted by cheap tickets, a Marty the Marmot mascot bobblehead giveaway, and the playoff success of the Salmon Kings, was electric with excitement during Friday night's tension-laden ECHL playoff game at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The Salmon Kings won 2-1 in overtime.”
Dheensaw’s story is right here.
The Nashville Predators beat the host Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in an NHL playoff game Friday night. And you can bet that the winning goal brought a smile to the face of Prince George Cougars head coach Dean Clark. . . . The winner came off the stick of F Jerred Smithson after a nifty pass from F Jordin Tootoo. . . . Smithson was a member of the 1998-99 WHL-champion Calgary Hitmen, with Clark as the head coach. Tootoo played four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Clark was the head coach for two of those (2001-03).
Clark just happened to be in Anaheim on Friday, too. The WHL is holding its annual California camp and Clark is there as one of the coaches. He did see the winning goal, but it wasn’t live. Rather, he was at the ESPN Zone. . . . The other coaches at the Anaheim camp are Bruno Campese (Prince Albert Raiders), Don Hay (Vancouver Giants) and Derek Laxdal (Edmonton Oil Kings).
Paul Kelly, the executive director of College Hockey Inc., brought a few NCAA Division I coaches to Spruce Grove, Alta., recently. While there, there were presentations to players and their families. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal has the story right here.
THE COACHING GAME: Paul Baxter has joined the NAHL’s Wichita Falls Wildcats as head coach, general manager of hockey operations and partner. The deal is effective May 1. Baxter had been with the NAHL’s Wenatchee Wild from 2008 until he was released midway through this season. That position later was filled by former WHL coach John Becanic, who left his spot as assistant coach with the Vancouver Giants to join the Wild. With the Wildcats, Baxter replaces Mark LeRose whose contract wasn’t renewed. LeRose was an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips in 2009-10. . . . Rick Brodsky, who owns the Prince George Cougars, is the president/owner of the Wildcats. . . . Nate Leaman is the new head coach of the Providence College Friars. Leaman, who was the head coach at Union College, was named the NCAA Division 1 coach of the year by the American Hockey Coaches Association last week. He replaces Tim Army, who resigned after six seasons with the Friars. Rick Bennett, associate head coach under Leaman, has been named the head coach at Union. . . .
——— reports that Kelowna Rockets F Brett Bulmer, who has signed a three-year deal with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, will get US$67,500 as an AHL salary, with NHL salaries of $740,000, $790,000 and $900,000. His signing bonus is $270,000 over three years. . . . Bulmer has joined the AHL’s Houston Aeros for the duration of the season. . . . The Aeros, meanwhile, signed Kelowna D Colton Jobke to an amateur tryout. . . . Houston swept the Peoria Rivermen from the first round of playoffs and is waiting for the winner of a series between the Milwaukee Admirals and Texas Stars. Milwaukee won 2-1 in overtime on the road Friday and takes a 3-2 series lead back home for Game 6 on Monday.
An interesting email hit the inbox today, and here it is, in its entirety:
Conspiracy theory — Were the owners of the Calgary Hitmen "encouraged" by the WHL executive to place their AHL farm team within a 30-minute drive of Chilliwack, so that there would be "plausible cause" to move the Bruins to Victoria? I have always wondered why one of the league's members would do such a thing. Remember that the WHL said in February 2009 that it was looking to move an established team into Victoria. Sixteen months later, there is a building in Abbotsford and an AHL team playing in it. . . .”
Hmmm . . .

In Medicine Hat, F Cody Eakin scored in OT to give the Kootenay Ice a 6-5 victory over the Tigers. . . . It was the first game of the Eastern Conference final, with Game 2 set for tonight in Medicine Hat. . . . Eakin scored his fourth goal of these playoffs at 5:59. . . . This was a wild one, with the Ice leading 2-0 at 11:01 of the first period and 3-1 after one. . . . The Tigers then scored the next three goals, two of them by F Emerson Etem. . . . Ice F Matt Fraser tied it at 7:13 of the third. . . . Medicine Hat F Wacey Hamilton gave his side a 5-4 lead on the PP at 10:03. . . . Fraser forced OT with a PP goal at 18:05. . . . Fraser now has 12 goals. He had two goals and two assists on this night. . . . Ice F Max Reinhart had a goal, his eighth, and two helpers. . . . The Tigers got two goals and an assist from F Linden Vey. . . . Vey has a WHL-leading 24 points. He and Fraser lead in goals, each with 12. . . . Ice D Brayden McNabb had one assist. He leads the WHL with 13. . . . The Ice now is 8-0 in these playoffs when it scores the game’s first goal. . . . It’s worth noting, too, that Ice F Drew Czerwonka and F Erik Benoit each scored his first goal of these playoffs. . . . Injuries have limited Czerwonka, who had 14 regular-season goals among his 43 points, to six playoff games. Benoit had four goals in 52 regular-season games. . . . Ice G Nathan Lieuwen stopped 30 shots, one fewer than Medicine Hat’s Tyler Bunz. . . . The Tigers were 2-for-6 on the PP; the Ice was 1-for-5. . . . Attendance was 4,006. . . . You can bet that this was one to remember for Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth. It was the third anniversary of the death of his father, former WHL commissioner Ed Chynoweth.

In Portland, F Levko Koper’s second-period goal stood up as the winner as the Spokane Chiefs opened the Western Conference final with a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . The second game will be played Sunday in Portland. . . . Spokane F Brady Brassart, who had eight goals in 65 regular-season games, scored his first of the playoffs at 2:11 of the first period. . . . Brassart scored off a rebound of a shot by F Marek Kalus. Brassart hadn’t played since the first game of the Chiefs’ series against the Tri-City Americans; Kalus last played in Game 5 of a first-round series against the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . Koper made it 2-0 at 4:25 of the second on the PP. . . . Portland F Ryan Johansen got his side to wthin one at 19:36 of the third period. . . . Spokane G James Reid stopped 27 shots, 14 fewer than Portland’s Mac Carruth. . . . Spokane was 1-for-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-for-3. . . . Attendance was 7,642. . . . The Chiefs played without F Tyler Johnson, the WHL’s second-leading regular-season scorer. He sat out a one-game suspension for a kneeing major in Game 6 of their series with the Americans. . . . With Johnston out, Spokane head coach Don Nachbaur also scratched F Mitch Holmberg, and went with Brassart and Kalus.
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