Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hitmen get goalie; Royals get assistant coach

F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) signed a one-year contract with Zell am See (Austria, Nationalliga). He had seven goals and two assists in 35 games with Dukla Trencin and Zilina (both Slovakia, Extraliga) last season. . . .
D Darcy Werenka (Lethbridge, Brandon, 1989-1993) signed a one-year contract with Rouen (France, Ligue Magnus). He had 10 goals and 20 assists in 54 games for Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga) last season. . . .
F Adam Hobson (Spokane, 2002-07) signed a one-year contract with Borås (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He had four goals and 11 assists in 35 games for Rögle (Sweden, Allsvenskan) last season. . . .
D Ryan Constant (Kelowna, 2003-04) signed a one-year contract with Milano Rossoblu (Italy, Serie A2). He had 11 goals and 23 assists in 52 games for the Stockton Thunder (ECHL) last season.
One of the highlights of doing this blog is hearing, unsolicited, from so many people. Such was the case over the last couple of days following my mention of the passing of Ralph Borger, the former owner of the MJHL’s St. Boniface Saints. He died Sunday at the age of 81.
Shortly after that post, I heard from Dale Hughesman, who is involved in the ownership of the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers and is the father of Tri-City Americans F Adam Hughesman.
Dale played for the Saints and sent along this anecdote . . .
I was fortunate to play on Ralph's 1981 St. Boniface Saints MJHL championship team, along with some pretty good  players including Mike Ridley and Darren Boyko.
We won Manitoba and were playing the mighty Prince Albert Raiders (coached by Terry Simpson) . . . I think 11 players from that team went on to pro, including Dave Tippett, James Patrick, Robin Bartell, Bill Watson . . .
Ralph thought it would be a good idea to move our team into the Birchwood Inn (now the Holiday Inn) on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. At the time, the hotel was one of the classiest places in town and we had the whole seventh floor.
The games were being played at the Winnipeg Arena, which was in close proximity to the hotel.
I can't remember the game but we lost and we ended up in the lounge as Ralph wasn't around but our coach, Joe Cyr, was and he didn't seem to mind us being there.
Well, one thing led to another and we closed the place down and, of course, charged the entire bill to Ralph's account. He was a very frugal man and we knew this would drive him nuts. But at that point
we didn't mind.
Believe it or not, we never heard a word about that night. We thought we had gotten away with murder . . .
Skip ahead 25 years to the night Ralph was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. We were there as we had just bought the Selkirk Steelers. Most of us had played on that team and we were there to honour Ralph.
The induction dinner was at the Birchwood (Ralph's hotel).
Ralph got up to do his speech and did the usual thank yous and so on.
At the end of the speech, he said: "Oh and one more thing . . . I would like to ask the Selkirk Steelers table to stand up as four of them at that table played on the 1981 championship team."
As we stood up, Ralph reached into a pocket and pulled out a receipt that was about five-feet long and unrolled it in front of the entire room.
He looked at us and said: "Oh, by the way, there is an outstanding bill at the desk in the lounge for about $700. . . . if you guys would kindly look after that before you leave."
It was 25 years later and he did know . . .
The Calgary Hitmen have acquired G Chris Driedger, 17, from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2012 banta draft.
Driedger, from Winnipeg, was 6-6-1, 3.50, .881 last season, his first in the WHL, as he backed up Drew Owsley with the Americans. Driedger was one of four WHL goaltenders invited to Hockey Canada’s goaltending camp this season.
The deal leaves the Hitmen with three goaltenders as Driedger joins Mike Snider, 20, and Brandon Glover, who turns 19 on Aug. 21, on their roster. . . . Snider has been with the Hitmen since 2008-09, when he got into 12 games. Last season, he was 10-25-3, 3.54, .883 in 41 appeareances. . . . Glover was acquired last season from the Moose Jaw Warriors. In 31 games with Calgary, he was 9-16-2, 3.54, .891.
By moving Driedger, the Americans cleared the way for highly touted Eric Comrie, 16, to back up Owsley. Comrie, from Newport Beach, Calif., was the 13th overall pick in the 2010 bantam draft.
The WHL’s Victoria Royals have hired Ben Cooper as an assistant coach. Cooper has been with Hockey Canada, where he has done extensive video work. He has been the video coach with the national junior team for three years, the U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament for two years, the U18 team at the 2011 world championship, the men’s world championship team in 2009 and the 2010 men’s Olympic team. He also has served as an assistant coach with the SAIT Trojans. . . . 
Is there a coach out there who will made a bigger move in terms of mileage than Mark Morrison? The Winnipeg Jets have hired Morrison as assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, which is located in St. John’s Nfld. Morrison, 48, spent the last five seasons as head coach of the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings, who now are defunct. . . . Morrison will work alongside St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge. . . .
The AHL’s Rockford IceHogs have promoted assistant coach Ted Dent to head coach. The IceHogs are affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks. Dent, an assistant coach in Rockford for the last four seasons, replaces Bill Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs head coach, who left to sign as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings. Peters was Rockford’s head coach through three seasons. . . .
Eric Rud has stepped down as GM/head coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers to return to Colorado College as an assistant coach with the Tigers. Earlier, he spent five seasons on the Tigers’ coaching staff. He also played at Colorado College. . . .
Kevin Dean has signed on as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Dean, a defenceman as a player, was head coach of the ECHL’s Trenton Devils last season. Dean, 42, will work alongside Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy.
JUST NOTES: F Shayne Wiebe (Kamloops, Brandon, 2007-11) has signed an AHL deal with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. Their AHL affiliate will operate out of St. John’s, Nfld. Wiebe, who captained the Brandon Wheat Kings last season, finished with 65 points, including 44 goals, in 72 games. After Brandon’s season ended, he joined the AHL’s Connecticut Whale but got into just one game. . . . The U of Calgary Dinos have four former WHLers set to join them for 2011-12. Three of the four — F Tyler Fiddler (Calgary Hitmen), F Max Ross (Lethbridge Hurricanes) and F Taylor Stefishen (Prince George Cougars) — all played in the WHL last season. F David Robinson (Chilliwack Bruins) joined the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers in 2009-10 and helped them two a pair of BCHL titles and one national championship.
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