Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday . . .

Defenceman Jared Cowen (2) and his Spokane Chiefs had it
all over forward Mason Wilgosh and the Tri-City Americans
on Tuesday night in Kennewick, Wash.

(Photo by John Allen/
F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a two-year contract with LuleƄ (Sweden Elitserien). He had 18 goals and 29 assists in 47 games for Troja-Ljungby (Sweden Allsvenskan) this season.
So . . . let’s recap.
In a deal that seems to have been in the works for a while, the Chilliwack Bruins have been sold. Presumably to Vancouver-based RG Properties who, presumably, will move the WHL franchise to Victoria.
Except that the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings, who also are owned by RG Properties,  continue to occupy the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre and will do so until at least April 22, which is the date for Game 4 of their second-round best-of-seven playoff series with the Utah Grizzlies.
Presumably the Salmon Kings will be on the move as soon as their season has ended. Perhaps RG Properties has found a buyer for the ECHL franchise, or perhaps the franchise simply will suspend operations.
But what of the arena in Chilliwack that has been home to the Bruins for the last five seasons?
The latest rumour has Lower Mainland people, perhaps a group involving long-time BCHLer Harvey Smyl, purchasing the BCHL’s Quesnel Millionaires and moving that franchise to Chilliwack.
Is there any meat to that rumour?
Well, Autumn MacDonald of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer wonders why her newspaper hasn’t been able to speak with anyone involved with Millionaires’ ownership or with anyone from the BCHL office. MacDonald’s piece is right here.
What MacDonald’s piece would seem to indicate is that there now are a whole lot of people living under Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence. That includes the WHL office, the BCHL office, RG Properties, the Chilliwack Bruins’ majority owners, the Quesnel Millionaires’ owners . . . and let’s not forget that the entire WHL is under a gag order on this subject.
Based on that, you are allowed to jump to your own conclusions.
Not to say that all of the silence has allowed this whole mess to get completely out of control, but other rumours that have arisen over the last month involve, in no particular order . . .
1. The Prince George Cougars moving to Chilliwack.
2. The Saskatoon Blades moving to Winnipeg (if the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes returned to Winnipeg, the AHL’s Manitoba Moose would go to Saskatoon, with the Blades then shifting to Winnipeg, or so the theory goes).
3. The Manitoba Moose moving to Seattle. (Again, only if the Coyotes return to Winnipeg.)
4. The Regina Pats moving to Chilliwack. (The Pats are involved in lease negotiations with their landlord. These negotiations, in the past, have turned nasty. So . . .)
5. The Kootenay Ice moving to Chilliwack.
6. An expansion franchise being awarded to former WHL/NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey, who now is an analyst on Hockey Night in Canada and owns a chunk of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Even though there isn’t an arena in Nanaimo that is close to meeting WHL standards.
Has the WHL proven to be “morally bankrupt” in the way it has dealt with the sale of the Chilliwack Bruins? Tyler Olsen of the Chilliwack Times offers up some opinion right here.
Eric Welsh of the Chilliwack Progress has a piece right here on how the fans who billet players are taking the news that the Bruins have been sold.
It would seem that the annual running of The Coaching Game has started early, early this year.
There already are five openings for head coaches in the NHL, where the Dallas Stars fired Marc Crawford on Tuesday. Also looking are the Florida Panthers (Peter DeBoer), Minnesota Wild (Todd Richards), New Jersey Devils (Jacques Lemaire) and Ottawa Senators (Cory Clouston). Lemaire retired (again); the others were dumped.
(After Richards was dismissed, Bruce Brothers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press put together a list of possible candidates for the Wild job. That list includes the name of Craig Hartsburg, a former Minnesota North Stars defenceman who now coaches the Everett Silvertips.)
As well, there are four head-coaching vacancies in the QMJHL, two of which were created Tuesday when the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fired GM/head coach Mario Durocher and Clement Jodoin resigned from the Rimouski Oceanic.
Also looking are the Halifax Mooseheads and P.E.I. Rocket,
As well, the Chicoutimi Sagueneens may end up looking, should Guy Carbonneau choose not to remain in the position he took over during the season following the firing of Real Paiement.
In the OHL, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are without a general manager and a head coach, while the Sarnia Sting appears to have an interim head coach but no GM.
And, in the WHL, the Moose Jaw Warriors (Dave Hunchak) and Seattle Thunderbirds (Rob Sumner) are in the market.
Momma, it’s like the old song says, don’t let your babies grow up to be hockey coaches.
The Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame has announced its class of 2011, and it is full of people with WHL connections, including Bob Cornell, Glen Lawson, Don Dietrich, Jayson More, Theo Fleury and Mike Keane.
There’s more right here.
A note from Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts:
Luke Schenn had a very interesting take on the Raffi Torres suspension: "I was taught on that play to fake reaching for the puck and then go for the hit. If that's going to be illegal, they are going to have to change the way young players are taught hockey."
Friedman’s blog is right here.
Wow! The Eastern Conference’s top two seeds, the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels, are in danger of having their seasons come to an end tonight. Both teams lost on the road Tuesday night and could be swept by the Kootenay Ice and Medicine Hat Tigers, respectively, tonight. . . . And who saw that coming? . . . Meanwhile, the Western Conference semifinals are following the chalk, with the No. 1 Portland Winterhawks and No. 2 Spokane Chiefs having taken 2-1 leads. . . .
In Cranbrook, G Nathan Lieuwen stopped 22 shots to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 3-0 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Ice takes a 3-0 series lead into Game 4 at home tonight. . . . F Jesse Ismond got his first playoff goal on the PP at 18:34 of the first period and Lieuwen took it home from there. . . . Saskatoon G Steven Stanford was sharp, making 33 saves. . . . Ice D Brayden McNabb, who came into these playoffs with a postseason goal, got his third of this spring and added two helpers. . . . Ice F Joe Antilla continued his hot postseason, notching his sixth goal. . . . Attendance was 3,065. . . . The Blades scratched D Tanner Sohn, who had played in Game 2, and inserted F Alex Elliott. . . . Ice F Drew Czerwonka, who had missed the first two games with an injury, was back in the lineup and drew an assist on the third goal. . . . 
In Medicine Hat, F Hunter Shinkaruk broke a 1-1 tie at 6:09 of the third period and the Tigers went on to a 3-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Tigers are up 3-0 — they have outscored the Rebels 17-2 — and can wrap it up at home tonight. . . . F Kellan Tochkin gave Medicine Hat a 1-0 lead at 14:27 of the first period, with D Justin Weller equalizing at 3:13 of the third. . . . Shinkaruk’s fourth playoff goal stood up as the winner. . . . Tigers F Cole Grbavac continued his outstanding playoff with his eighth at 16:34. . . . Attendance was 4,006. . . . . Tigers G Tyler Bunz stopped 26 shots, as did Red Deer’s Darcy Kuemper. . . . Earlier in the day, Medicine Hat F Linden Vey was named the CHL’s player of the week. He had nine points in three games last week but was pointless last night. . . .
In Kelowna, F Ryan Johansen drew three assists as the Portland Winterhawks scored a 5-4 victory over the Rockets. . . . Portland leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 in Kelowna tonight. . . . Johansen had three goals in Portland’s 6-3 victory in Game 2 and now has 13 points in seven playoff games this spring. . . . The big goal in this one came off the stick of PortlandD Tyler Wotherspoon. He broke a 3-3 tie with his first playoff goal at 18:18 of the second period, just 40 seconds after Kelowna F Brett Bulmer had pulled his side even. . . . Porltand F Nino Niederreiter scored twice, giving him six. . . . The Rockets got a goal and two assists from F Colton Sissons. . . . Portland G Mac Carruth was outstanding, with 38 saves. . . . Kelowna’s chances of winning took a hit at 8:32 of the third period. With the Rockets trailing 4-3, F Shane McColgan was penalized for hooking and then was hit with a misconduct. He is the Rockets’ leading scorer in these playoffs. . . . Portland was 3-for-10 on the PP; the Rockets were 1-for-7. . . . Attendance was 4,884 in an arena where regular-season crowds averaged better than 6,000. . . . Portland played without F Brad Ross, who served the second game of a three-game suspension for a charging major in Game 1. . . . Kelowna F Zach Franko, who was hit by Ross, didn’t play, either. . . .
In Kennewick, Wash., G James Reid stopped 20 shots as the Spokane Chiefs dumped the host Tri-City Americans, 4-1. . . . The Chiefs hold a 2-1 lead in the series with Game 4 in Kennewick on Thursday. . . . The Chiefs jumped out to a 3-0 lead before F Neal Prokop go the Americans on the board at 12:08 of the second period. . . . F Darren Kramer, with his fourth, gave the Chiefs some insurance at 17:14 of the third. Kramer has four goals and four penalty minutes in eight playoff games; he had seven goals and 306 penalty minutes in 68 regular-season games. . . . The Americans were without veteran D Tyler Schmidt, who sat out a one-game suspension after taking a clipping major in Game 2. . . . The Chiefs held a 41-21 edge in shots. . . . Attendance was 3,667. . . . The Americans won their first five game in these playoffs, but now hae lost two in a row.
Four minors:
Kootenay D Joey Leach.
Kelowna F Spencer Main.
Kelowna F Jessey Astles (two minors).
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