Friday, September 23, 2011

You can bet Portland fans remember Red No. 23 . . . and now
he's an opening night hit with the Wheat Kings.
D Shawn Belle (Regina, Tri-City, 2000-05) signed a one-year contract with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL) after a successful tryout. He had six goals and 20 assists in 51 games with the Oklahoma City Barons and Lake Erie Monsters (both AHL) and no points in nine games with the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche (both NHL) last season.
Remember just over a year ago when an anonymous player dazzled everyone in attendance — and raised a few eyebrows — during a one-workout stint with the Portland Winterhawks?
Remember how much fun everyone had — well, other than the Winterhawks’ brass, perhaps — trying to figure out: Who was that anonymous player?
Well, who could have guessed that Red No. 23 would score the first goal of the WHL regular season just one year later? And who would have guessed that he would finish his first regular-season game with three goals.
But that’s exactly what happened Thursday night as Swiss F Alessio Bertaggia helped the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 4-1 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw.
Bertaggia’s performance ruined the Warriors’ party as they opened their new arena, Mosaic Place, before 4,480 fans.
Brandon F Mark Stone, named the team captain earlier in the day, had two assists.
The big number out of Moose Jaw was the 50-50 draw. Someone went home with $12,375, a Warriors record.
F Cody Beach of the Moose Jaw Warriors returned from the camp of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues in time to get into last night’s game against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
And he took a major penalty and game misconduct for checking to the head after a hit on Brandon F Bruno Mraz in the third period. Mraz made it back to the bench under his own power and will be re-evaluated later today.
Beach, then, will be the first regular-season test of the WHL’s crackdown on headshots.
In the exhibition season, Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s disciplarian, handed out four suspensions for checking to the head — three were two games in duration, the other drew four games.
There isn’t much doubt about the biggest story in the WHL on Thursday. Well, prior to the puck dropping in Moose Jaw, that is.
The Regina Pats dealt D Myles Bell, 18, to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for D Colton Jobke, 19, a second-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft and a fifth-rounder in 2013.
Bell, preparing for his third WHL season, had 45 points, including 14 goals, and 86 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Pats last season. He hadn’t been in camp with the Pats for personal reasons but was skating and training. He practised in Kelowna on Thursday and is expected to be in the Rockets’ lineup on Saturday when they open the season in Everett against the Silvertips.
The Rockets are looking for someone to give them some offence from the back end, with Tyson Barrie, who did it better than anyone the last couple of season, likely to play with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche or in its organization. Barrie had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss to the host Dallas Stars last night.
There isn’t any doubt that the Rockets could use a suitable replacement. And Bell could be that guy, so long as he has things straightened around. Of course, it could be that a change of scenery will be the best thing that has ever happened to him.
“I was really excited for the opportunity to come to a great franchise in Kelowna,” Bell told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “Hopefully things go well.
“I’m hoping to bring some offence to the back end. Obviously, I take care of my own end first, but definitely putting numbers up from the back end is a big priority from me.”
The Pats, meanwhile, get Jobke, who also is going into his third WHL season. He has signed a three-year NHL deal with Minnesota and has just returned from the Wild’s camp. Jobke had 10 points and 84 penalty minutes in 51 games last season.
Jobke is a solid defender who definitely won’t hurt Regina. And the draft picks will help an organization that — while GM Chad Lang doesn’t like to use the word “rebuilding” — certainly has hired a a couple of cement trucks to pour a new foundation.
Jeff Hollick, the radio voice of the Kootenay Ice, reports that the club will be without F Drew Czerwonka (shoulder) for up to three weeks. He was injured while in camp with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The defending-champion Ice, which for some reason wasn’t featured on the WHL’s regular season-opening night, begins defence of its championship on Friday in Red Deer against the Rebels. Kootenay‘s home-opener will be Saturday against the Calgary Hitmen — a game that will feature the WHL‘s last two championship franchises. The Ice remains without F Max Reinhart and D James Martin, both of whom are with the Calgary Flames. Reinhart has been injured and just resumed skating on Thursday. . . . Martin signed a contract with the Flames on Thursday. As a 20-year-old, he is eligible to play in the Flames’ organization.
Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun tweeted Thursday afternoon that D Zach Hodder has left the Vancouver Giants and returned home to await a trade. Hodder, 18, was the 20th overall selection in the 2008 bantam draft. He is from Delta, B.C.
It’s was only a few days ago when Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos on The Eagle 94.1 FM, was ringing alarm bells over the apparent apathy in that community towards its WHL franchise. Season-ticket sales, Mullin reported, just weren’t where they needed to be for the Broncos to be able to make a go of it.
Today, we have Drew Wilson the radio voice of the Prince Albert Raiders on CKBI, doing the same in that city.
Wilson writes on his blog:
“The team has followed up on a captivating end to the 2010-11 regular season and exhilarating playoff run with a competitive training camp and memorable exhibition schedule, scoring 21 goals while registering a 3-1 record.
“However, as of the Thursday morning opening at the box office, season-ticket sales stood at about 1,570. Sure, it's a modest increase over last (season), but 130 short of their goal. The 1,700 figure wasn't just pulled out of a hat; it's the estimated benchmark needed for a projected break-even regular season on the balance sheet.
“Although the harvest is a factor, the sales of season-long subscriptions have stalled over the past three weeks. Also as of Thursday morning, only 1,814 tickets had been sold for Saturday's 900 CKBI home opener.”
JUST NOTES: F Brendan Gallagher, the Vancouver Giants’ captain, will miss the club’s opener at home to the Victoria Royals. He is in camp with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and will be in their lineup against the host Ottawa Senators. No word on whether Gallagher might be back for Saturday when the Giants are in Victoria. . . . F Turner Elson, 19, of the Red Deer Rebels has signed with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. After two seasons with the Rebels, he was in camp with the Flames on a free-agent tryout deal. . . . The Kootenay Ice has reassigned G Brett Teskey, 18, but it isn’t yet sure where he will play. That leaves the Ice with veteran Nathan Lieuwen, 20, and freshman Mackenzie Skapski, 17, as its goaltenders.
Among players returning from NHL camps are F Adam Lowry, Winnipeg to Swift Current; F Kendal McFaull, Winnipeg to Moose Jaw; D Sebastian Owuya, Winnipeg to Medicine Hat; D Zach Yuen, Winnipeg to Tri-City; G Brandon Anderson, Washington to Lethbridge; F Blake Gal, Calgary to Spokane; F Kale Kessy, Phoenix to Medicine Hat; F Cody Beach, St. Louis to Moose Jaw; and D Alex Petrovic, Florida to Red Deer.
It’s doubtful that Owuya, who is from Sweden, will stay in Medicine Hat, however. He’s 20 and he’s an import, so would be a two-spotter. The Tigers already have two imports, in Czech F Adam Rehak, who turns 19 on Monday, and Finnish D Patrik Parkkonen, 18. They also have three other 20-year-olds on their roster — F Cole Grbavac, F Kellan Tochkin and D Matt Konan.
If you are keeping track, or trying to, of the saga of the sale of the Dallas Stars, here is the latest.
The Stars, of course, filed for bankruptcy in Delaware last week.
According to Dave Shoalts of The Globe and Mail: “The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., approved the bidding procedure put forward by (Tom) Gaglardi, the Stars, the NHL and the consortium of banks that hold current owner Tom Hicks’s debt on the team. On Nov. 23, the court will hold a confirmation and sale hearing and if no other bids are made, Gaglardi will own the team.”
Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, has offered US$267 million. He would pay some cash and assume some debts.
At this point, there aren’t any other bidders for a package that also includes half of America Airlines Center, the facility in which the Stars and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks play.
Mark Cuban, who owns the Mavericks, also owns 50 per cent of the arena. He has said he won’t be bidding on the Stars.
Chuck Greenberg has indicated that his interested in the Stars, as has Doug Miller.
Greenberg was part of a group that purchased baseball’s Texas Rangers but has since taken his leave.
Miller, who owns the Central league’s Allen, Texas, Americans, indicated this week that he also is interested in the Stars.
For the latest, check out this blog by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald takes a look right here at D Ryan Murray who, despite not yet being 18 years of age, may be the best player ever to pull on an Everett Silvertips’ jersey. . . . If you haven’t yet watched this young man play, you best do it this season. Because he’s certain to be an early NHL draft pick in 2012 and is likely to be in the NHL in 2012-13.
Reece Scarlett of the Swift Current Broncos (@reecescarlett), on behalf of pal Adam Lowry”
“welcome @ALowsyPlayer17 to twitter. You can expect very smart tweets from him as he's a former CHL Top Nerd.”Alessio Bertaggia
Who are the WHL’s top 30 players . . . and in that order? Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province accepted the impossible mission. His list is right here.
There was a nasty incident during an NHL exhibition game in London, Ont., on Thursday night.
Puck Daddy has more on what happened right here.
The aftermath on Twitter was most interesting.
It all began when Scott Norton tweeted:
“As a friend of #Simmonds and his Agents, I will personally put up $500 reward 4 anyone who turns in #RacistPig to myself or police!”
Immediately, people began pledging money and the reward quickly grew to more than $1,200.
It wasn’t long before Wayne Simmonds was trending worldwide. And fans began posting their thoughts right here.
Taking Note on Twitter

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