F Sven Baertschi was back on the ice when the Portland Winterhawks skated earlier Wednesday. He didn't play in last night's 4-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets, though. Baertschi, 19, has 54 points in 25 games with the Winterhawks but hasn’t played for them since Dec. 11 after which he joined the Swiss national junior team for the World Junior Championship. But he suffered a concussion during the tournament and has yet to return to game action. . . . Portland freelancer Scott Sepich reported that Baertschi isn’t likely to play against the visiting Rockets on Friday and that he is listed as “possible” for Saturday and “most likely” will play Monday “if there are no setbacks.” . . . The Winterhawks are to play the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday and are at home to the Tri-City Americans for a Monday afternoon game. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds have added F Dillon Wagner, 20, to their roster after he was dropped Tuesday by the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Wagner began the season with the Swift Current Broncos, who dealt him to Portland. . . . The Winterhawks dropped Wagner after trading for F Cam Reid, 20, who left St. Cloud State to come to the WHL. . . . Wagner had seven points in 17 games with Portland. In 180 career regular-season games, he has 60 points and 193 penalty minutes. . . . F Burke Gallimore and D Cason Machacek are the other 20-year-olds on Seattle’s roster.
In Brandon, G Alex Moodie turned aside 37 shots as the Saskatoon Blades blanked the Wheat Kings, 3-0. . . . Moodie, 16, is from Winnipeg. He was to have returned earlier in the week to the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild but stayed with the Blades after starter Andrey Makarov was taken out of the lineup with a concussion. . . . F Lukas Sutter’s 16th goal, at 11:50 of the first, stood up as the winner. Sutter, who had four goals in 71 games last season, has 36 points in 41 games. . . . F Kevin Sundher, acquired by Brandon from Victoria on Monday, had his points streak halted at 12 games. . . . Each team was 0-for-6 on the PP. . . .
In Prince Albert, G Matt Hewitt stopped 26 shots as the Pats beat the Prince Albert Raides, 2-0. . . . Hewitt has three shutouts this season. . . . Regina F Jordan Weal got the game’s first goal, his 26th, at 6:47 of the second period. . . . This was Regina’s 24th victory of the season, one more than they put up all of last season when they missed the playoffs. . . . D Martin Marincin, acquired Tuesday from the Prince George Cougars, was in Regina’s lineup. . . . Regina F Morgan Klimchuk was in the lineup. The WHL chose not to suspend Klimchuck who was given a charging major a game misconduct for a hit on Saskatoon G Andrey Makarov. It appeared that Saskatoon D Darren Dietz helped Klimchuk along his way on that particular play. . . .
In Red Deer, F Max Reinhart scored the only shootout goal as the Kootenay Ice edged the Rebels, 2-1. . . . Reinhart was the first shooter of the shootout. . . . D Alex Petrovic scored for Red Deer, his fourth, at 18:14 of the first. . . . Ice F Dylen McKinlay tied it with his eighth at 9:02 of the second. . . . Red Deer G Deven Dubyk stopped 34 shots, five more than the Ice’s Nathan Lieuwen. . . .
In Kamloops, D Tyler Hansen’s goal at 17:37 of the third period turned into the winner as the Blazers edged the Tri-City Americans, 3-2. . . . It was Hansen’s first goal of the season and ended a 93-game drought. . . . F Colin Smith scored twice for Kamloops. . . . The Americans had won their last 13 games. They hadn’t been beaten since dropping a 6-2 decision to the Rockets in Kelowna on Nov. 30. . . . Kamloops G Cole Cheveldave stopped 32 shots in winning his 21st game. . . . Tri-City F Jesse Mychan scored his fourth goal of the season in his first game since coming over in a trade from the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Blazers now are three points behind the Western Conference-leading Americans. They next play each other on Jan. 21 in Kennewick, Wash. . . . This was Kamloops’ 29th victory, which is as many games as it won all of last season when it missed the playoffs. . . . This was a game with zip and pace and speed and great transition games. It didn't have the intensity of a playoff game when emotion has had time to build, but it still was pretty darn good. . . . The Americans spent the night in Kamloops and will travel into Vancouver today for a Friday night date with the Giants. . . .
In Portland, the Winterhawks scored two power-play and two while shorthanded in beating the Kelowna Rockets, 4-2. . . . The Winterhawks have won 15 straight home games, one short of the franchise record (1993-94). . . . F Cam Reid, who left St. Cloud State to join the Winterhawks, scored a PP goal at 8:58 of the first period in his first WHL game. . . . F Ty Rattie broke a 1-1 tie with his WHL-leading 38th goal and the Winterhawks got away to a 4-1 lead. . . . Rattie also had two assists and now has a WHL-leading 76 points, six more than F Jordan Weal of the Regina Pats. . . . Portland F Brad Ross wasn’t able to beat G Adam Brown on a second-period penalty shot with the Winterhawks leading 4-1. . . . Portland G Mac Carruth stopped 33 shots in winning his 25th game of the season. . . . Portland F Oliver Gabriel scored his second goal of the season. He was playing his first game since suffering a shoulder injury on Dec. 30. . . . F Brett Lyon scored his first goal for Kelowna — it was his 12th of the season — since being acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday. . . .
In Spokane, the Chiefs gave head coach Don Nachbaur his 500th WHL victory as they beat the Everett Silvertips, 6-1. . . . Spokane has won four straight games. . . . D Brenden Kichton led the Chiefs with a goal and two assists. . . . Spokane F Mitch Holmberg scored once, giving him goals in four straight games. . . . Nachbaur is the sixth coach in WHL history to get to 500 victories. He trails Ken Hodge (742), Ernie McLean (548), Pat Ginnell (518), Lorne Molleken (544) and Don Hay (542). . . . Nachbaur, in his second season with the Chiefs, won 202 games as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds and 229 with the Tri-City Americans. He has 69 victories with Spokane. . . . Jess Brown of the Spokane Spokesman-Review asked Nachbaur about the approaching milestone, and he jokingly replied: “I’d rather have 500 NHL goals as a player.” . . . We should point out that Nachbaur scored 23 goals in 223 NHL regular-season games. He also had 46 assists and 465 penalty minutes.
WEDNESDAY’S CHECKING-FROM-BEHIND COUNT:
F Colin Smith, Kamloops.
After the night’s games were done, Adam Hughesman of the Tri-City Americans tweeted: “Congrats to one of the best coaches in @TheWHL Don Nachbaur on win 500. Pretty special company to be apart of that club #WellDeserved”
There also was a funny exchange on Twitter between two Moose Jaw Warriors defencemen — Dylan McIlrath and Morgan Rielly. The latter is out after having had knee surgery, but still was rated No. 5 when NHL Central Scouting released its midseason rankings on Wednesday.
McIlrath started it with: “@mriles4 sitting on a couch for 2 months and still ranked 5th ovy #mustbenice”
Rielly replied with: “that was a sympathy ranking and we all no it. But thanks for rubbing it in #10thov #guttless”
And then there was this one, from Calgary Hitmen G Chris Driedger: “Took me 40 some games to get my first shutty then @AlexMoodie goes and gets her done in 7. Might he be the next @cpickard1? #whoknows #peg”
Driedger, Moodie and Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds all are from Winnipeg.
Scott Sepich, who on occasion writes about the WHL for Yahoo! Sports, has a piece right here in which Mike Johnston, the GM/head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, explains the thought process behind his giving up two first-round bantam draft selections to get F Marcel Nelbels from the Seattle Thunderbirds.
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