Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brian Sandy is leaving the Tri-City Americans for Portland . . . for the NBA’s Trail Blazers, that is.
Sandy, the Americans’ chief marketing officer and senior vice-president of business operations, is to become the Trail Blazers’ senior director of premium seating sales and service. With the NBA season to open on Christmas Day, Sandy is to start in his new position on Thursday.
Sandy was one of Top Shelf Entertainment’s first hires after taking ownership of the Americans in June 2005 and he played no small role in helping turn around the franchise off the ice. By averaging more than 4,700 fans per game last season, the team once again posted an increase in attendance, as it did in each of his seasons in Tri-City.
According to an Americans’ news release, “Season-ticket sales topped the 2,600 mark for the first time since the club was relocated to the Mid-Columbia.  And, within the community, Sandy and the club have helped raise over $1.5 million for local charities through integrated fundraising nights and promotions.”
The Americans close out their preseason schedule this weekend with a home-and-home series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. They’ll play Friday in Kennewick, Wash., and finish up Saturday in Kent, Wash.
D Brandon Underwood of the Regina Pats has a hairline crack in his left ankle and is expected to be out of action for a month. “If there’s any time to get hurt it’s around the Christmas break when you get an extra week without missing any time,” Underwood, 19, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . Underwood was injured when he blocked a shot in a 2-0 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Dec. 4. . . . Underwood, who had 13 points and 44 penalty minutes in 29 games, has missed four games. He will wear a protective boot for up to four weeks. . . . The Pats have filled the roster spot by bringing in D Tyler Borstmayer from the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings.
F Dominik Uher of the Spokane Chiefs will play for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship that opens Dec. 26 in Calgary and Edmonton. Uher, 19, has 21 points in 24 games with the Chiefs. He was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL draft. He will leave the Chiefs on Saturday and will miss Spokane’s final pre-Christmas game. The Chiefs are scheduled to play host to the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday and then take off for nine days. . . . First, though, Spokane will go home-and-home with the Everett Silvertips. They’ll play tonight in Spokane and Friday in Everett. . . .
For the second time in recent games, the Everett Silvertips have had a player escape a suspension despite taking a major penalty and game misconduct. First, F Josh Birkholz wasn’t suspended after taking a check-to-the-head major and game misconduct in a game against the host Kamloops Blazers. Now, Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that F Cody Fowlie, who was tossed with a major and game misconduct for a hit on D Michal Plutnar of the visiting Tri-City Americans on Saturday, won’t be suspended. . . . “I talked to Tips coach Mark Ferner about the hit after practice (Tuesday),” Patterson writes, “and he said after watching the video he wasn't sure it even warranted a penalty. Apparently the reason why Plutnar was injured is because the visor of his helmet came down and cut him across the bridge of the nose after Fowlie rubbed him out into the boards.” . . . Patterson reports that F Vladimir Dolnik will play against Spokane tonight and then leave for Slovakia’s pre-World Junior Championship camp. . . . F Jesse Mychan of the Silvertips completes a 10-game WHL suspension by sitting out tonight.
If you’re not aware, the BCHL’s Penticton Vees are on quite a roll. The put up their 16th straight victory on Tuesday night when they beat the Centennials 4-1 in Merritt. . . . The Vees are 28-3-2 (that would be two ties) and hold an 18-point lead over Merritt in the eight-team Interior Conference. . . . Penticton’s next game is Friday when they play host to the Westside Warriors.
In Cranbrook, the Red Deer Rebels ended their franchise-record 13-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Rebels last won on Nov. 12 when they beat the Royals 7-4 in Victoria. . . . They had been 0-11-2 since then. . . . F Colten Mayor scored twice for Red Deer, while F Chad Robinson had three assists. . . . G Deven Dubyk, in his first game with the Rebels, stopped 31 shots. . . . Red Deer D Mathew Dumba and Kootenay F Max Reinhart both played after being released by Canada’s national junior team earlier in the day. . . . “It’s nice to get that off our back and get rewarded for our effort,” Jesse Wallin, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach, told the Red Deer Advocate. “This is a tough building to come into, always a tough building to play in. And coming in here against a very good hockey team with a full lineup was a little bit intimidating from the outset. But we really dug in and got a solid effort and played a very, very good hockey game tonight.” . . .

In Prince Albert, F Kellan Tochkin scored twice as the Raiders beat the Kamloops Blazers 5-2 . . . . The Raiders have won four in a row at home. . . . Raiders F Mike Winther, the WHL’s reigning player of the week, had a goal and two assists. . . . G Cole Holowenko stopped 29 shots for the Raiders in winning his second straight start. He blanked the Rebels 5-0 in Red Deer on Sunday. . . . Kamloops is 1-2-0 on its East Division tour. . . .

In Brandon, F Darian Dziurzynski had two goals and an assist to help the Wheat Kings to a 5-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Wheat Kings won their 20th game, improving to 20-13-2. . . . Swiss freshman F Alessio Bertaggia notched his 17th goal for Brandon before leaving with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Health permitting, Bertaggia is to join the Swiss national junior team in Calgary on Saturday. . . . Dziurzynski now has 21 goals. . . . Brandon G Brandon Anderson stopped 37 shots, two more than Kelowna’s Adam Brown. . . . The Rockets are 0-2-1 on their East Division swing. . . . With G Corbin Boes out with a broken hand, the Wheat Kings had Justin Holder from the midget AAA Wheat Kings on the bench backing up Anderson. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun reports that the Rockets are hurting. “Already without six regulars including RW Brett Bulmer (Canadian junior camp), C Cody Chikie (upper body), C/RW Spencer Main (upper body) and D Myles Bell (lower body), the Rockets lost D Damon Severson and LW Tyrell Goulbourne to injuries during last night’s game.” . . .

In Kent, Wash., G Calvin Pickard stopped 37 shots as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Vancouver Giants, 3-0. . . . What’s that? You thought Pickard was in camp with Canada’s national junior team? Maybe this was his answer to Don Hay, the Vancouver head coach who also is Canada’s head coach. . . . It was Pickard’s second shutout of the season and the ninth of his career. . . . Pickard is 13-12-1, 3.31, .915. . . . Interstingly, each of Seattle ‘s scorers — F Branden Troock, Justin Hickman and Luke Lockhart — has six goals this season. . . . Troock scored the game’s first goal at 15:27 of the third period. . . . The Giants have been blanked twice this season.
D Antoine Corbin, Prince Albert.
For today’s good read we turn to old friend Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail. He writes today about, yes, the puck. Seriously! And he does it as only he can. That piece is right here.
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