Saturday, March 3, 2012

Damien Cox of the Toronto Star:
“Well, whether you look at the NHL or the OHL or any league that currently only penalizes fighters with five-minute major penalties, there’s absolutely no correlation between winning and teams that fight a lot or teams that don’t, no evidence that scrappin’ squads win or lose more than teams that don’t.
“It’s just irrelevant, really. Irrelevant and pointlessly dangerous.
“Again, it’s one thing for professionals to do it, quite another for teenagers getting paid less than $100 a week to trade blows for the amusement of the paying public.
“That’s sick.”
His complete column is right here.
The WHL, if you were wondering, is on pace for an 800-fight season.
John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal offers up his take on the debate -- to fight or not to fight -- right here.
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times writes right here about Spokane Chiefs F Liam Stewart, the son of you know who and you know who. The big news here is that Liam’s father and a few other family members apparently are planning on attending a game or two in Spokane in the immediate future.
The Phoenix Coyotes have signed F Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans to a three-year entry-level NHL contract. Shinnimin, an undrafted free agent, attended the Coyotes’ camp prior to this season. . . . In the last few days, Shinnimin has been named the WHL player of the week and player of the month, and the CHL player of the week and player of the month. That came after he put up an amazing 43 points in 14 February games. Shinnimin, who turned 21 on Jan. 7, is from Winnipeg and is represented by Mark MacKay, a former WHL rookie of the year.
Russ Parker, the owner of the Regina Pats since 1995, is one of the latest members of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted as a builder in the sports of baseball and hockey. He has a long-time love affair with baseball, going back to before he managed the Alberta Dodgers in the mid-1960s. He later owned professional teams in Calgary. . . . In fact, if pushed, Parker, a native of Moosomin, Sask., would surely admit that baseball is his first love; yes, even over hockey.
(If you’re on Twitter, follow @WHLFacts for lots of facts and numbers.)
In Prince Albert, the Moose Jaw Warriors scored two late goals and beat the Raiders, 4-3. . . . F Cam Braes tied the game at 13:45 of the third, with his 38th score, and F Torrin White won it with his 10th at 15:21. . . . Braes had two goals, while F James Henry had a goal, his 15th, and two assists. Braes and Henry, both 20, were acquired by the Warriors at the trade deadline. . . . Raiders F Chance Braid, a 17-year-old from Chauvin, Alta., opened the scoring with his first point in 54 games. . . . F Justin Maylan drew three assists for the Raiders, while F Anthony Bardaro had a goal, his 31st, and two helpers. . . . Moose Jaw has won three in a row. . . . The Warriors, who lead the East Division, are four points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings, who lead the Eastern Conference. . . .

In Brandon, F Brenden Walker scored twice to help the Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Alessio Bertaggia had three assists for Brandon, while F Michael Ferland had two. . . . Brandon scored the game’s first three goals and the last three. . . . The Wheat Kings had F Kevin Sundher and F Jason Swyripa back from injuries. . . . Brandon D Ayrton Nikkel had one assist and was plus-4. . . . Brandon is 7-0-1 in its last eight and has moved into seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Saskatoon Blades and one ahead of the Regina Pats. . . .

In Calgary, F Cody Sylvester scored his second goal of the game at 3:46 of OT to give the Hitmen a 4-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Blades held a 3-1 lead halfway through the third period. . . . Sylvester scored at 10:18 and F Victor Rask tied it, with his 30th, at 14:01. . . . Sylvester won it with his 22nd goal of the season. . . . F Jimmy Bubnick got his 30th goal for Calgary. . . . F Matej Stransky got his 35th for Saskatoon. . . . Calgary G Chris Driedger came on after Saskatoon’s third goal. He stopped all six shots he faced and got the victory. . . . The Hitmen, with three straight victories, clinched a playoff spot. They are fourth in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Medicine Hat and five ahead of the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Blades are sixth, a point behind Kootenay and a point ahead of Brandon. . . .

In Red Deer, G Jon Groenheyde stopped 45 shots to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 4-0 victory over the Rebels. . . . It was his second 4-0 shutout over the Rebels this season. . . . That is the most saves by a goaltender in recording a shutout this season. There have been 58 shutouts in the WHL this season. . . . Groenheyde has two shutouts this season and two in his career. . . . The Broncos have put up two shutouts this season; the Rebels have been blanked five times. . . . F Brad Hoban had a goal, his 19th, and two assists. . . . F Josh Derko’s eighth goal, at 6:42 of the first, stood up as the winner. . . . The Broncos were 2-2 on the PP. . . . F Taylor Vause scored his 35th goal of the season. . . . The Broncos swept the four-game season series. . . . The Rebels, with eight regulars on the shelf with injuries, are nine points out of a playoff spot with eight games left. . . .

In Kamloops, F Brett Bulmer and F Shane McColgan each had two goals to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 6-3 victory over the Blazers. . . . Kelowna G Adam Brown stopped 43 shots in picking up his 20th victory. . . . The Blazers held a 46-18 edge in shots, including 22-5 in the third. . . . Bulmer, with his 30th, and McColgan, with his 16th, got the Rockets going with goals 49 seconds apart early in the first period. . . . F Zach Franko had three assists for the Rockets, who clinched a playoff spot with the victory. . . . Kamloops F Jordan DePape, playing his first game since suffering a shoulder injury on Oct. 10, scored the Blazers’ last goal, his third of the season. . . . These teams will play tonight in Kelowna with the Blazers needing one point to clinch the B.C. Division pennant. . . . Kelowna clinched a playoff spot and will finish sixth in the Western Conference. The Rockets will face the second-place team from the U.S. Division, either the Portland Winterhawks or Tri-City Americans, in the first round. . . .

In Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last four goals as they beat the Cougars, 4-1. . . . Spokane G Mac Engel stopped 17 shots, 17 fewer than Prince George’s Drew Owsley. . . . Spokane F Darren Kramer scored his 20th goal. . . . With the victory, the Chiefs, who have won three in a row, moved into fourth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants. Those two teams are headed for a first-round clash, with the Chiefs now holding home-ice advantage. Each team has eight games remaining. . . . The Cougars have dropped seven in a row. They are five points out of a playoff spot with eight games left. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., F Taylor Leier scored the game’s last two goals as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-4. . . . The Winterhawks, who have won four in a row from the Americans and 10 of their last 11 overall, took a 4-2 lead in the second period, only to have the Americans tie it on goals by F Adam Hughesman, his 39th, at 12:28 and D Zach Yuen, his 11th, at 15:42. . . . Leier, who has 11 goals, scored at 3:23 of the third to break a 4-4 tie. He added an empty-netter at 19:44. . . . F Brendan Shinnimin had one assist for the Americans, who had won their previous seven games. . . . F Oliver Gabriel drew three assists for Portland, while F Brad Ross had two goals, giving him 38, and a helper. . . . F Justin Feser scored twice for the Americans, giving him 34. . . . Portland G Mac Carruth stopped 22 shots in winning his WHL-leading 40th game. . . . Tri-City’s Ty Rimmer turned aside 33. . . . The teams will meet Sunday in Portland. . . . With the victory, the Winterhawks moved into first place in the overall standings, one point ahead of the Americans, two up on Kamloops and three ahead of Edmonton. . . . Portland is 11-0-1 in its last 12 games. . . . Attendance was 6,121, the second-largest crowd in the Americans’ history in the Toyota Center. . . .

In Vancouver, the Medicine Hat Tigers erased a 3-1 first-period deficit and beat the Giants, 6-4. . . . Tigers D James Bettauer forged a 4-4 tie with his 20th goal, on a PP, just 35 seconds into the third period. . . . Tigers F Boston Leier broke the tie with his 13th at 5:11 and F Emerson Etem got his WHL-leading 54th goal at 5:45. . . . Vancouver G Adam Morrison gave up six goals on 19 shots, including three on four shots in the third period, before being hooked. . . . The Tigers were 3-7 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-8. . . . The Tigers went 3-0 on a short but long trip that took them to Prince George and Vancouver. . . . The Giants will catch a ferry to Victoria this morning where they will play the Royals tonight and again Sunday at 1 p.m. . . . Vancouver F Austin Vetterl (leg) was injured in practice this week and the team says he will be out four weeks. . . . Pro cheerleader Cameron Hughes, who was in Kamloops on Friday night, is due in Victoria tonight. . . . The Tigers were playing their 3,000th regular-season game, which means the legendary Bob Ridley, the Tigers’ radio voice, was calling his 2,999th game. . . . Ridley will get to No. 3,000 on Wednesday when the Kootenay Ice visits Medicine Hat. . . . The Tigers are third in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of Calgary. . . . The Giants slipped a point behind fourth-place Spokane in the Western Conference. . . .

In Everett, G Kent Simpson stopped 25 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Simpson has one shutout this season and five in his career. . . . It was the sixth time this season that Seattle has been blanked. . . . F Josh Birkholz had a goal, his 27th, and an assist, as did F Reid Petryk, who has 15 goals. . . . D Ryan Murray scored his ninth goal. . . . Seattle took 50 of 76 penalty minutes. . . . The Silvertips were 1-8 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 0-5. . . . The victory lifted Everett past Seattle and into eighth place in the Western Conference. . . . The Silvertips are a point ahead of Seattle and one behind the seventh-place Victoria Royals. . . . Interestingly, the Silvertips are in possession of a playoff spot despite having the fewest victories (18) of any team in the league. They do have nine loser points, though.
D Jesse Forsberg, Prince George.
F Mitch Elliot, Seattle.
Swift Current at Edmonton
Calgary at Kootenay
Lethbridge at Moose Jaw
Saskatoon at Red Deer
Brandon at Regina
Tri-City at Everett
Kamloops at Kelowna
Seattle at Portland
Spokane at Prince George
Vancouver at Victoria
The WHL has awards to honour executives and head coaches, referees and marketing people and on and on. So, Mr. Commissioner, why aren’t there awards to honour the league’s hardest-working people, the assistant coaches, the trainers/athletic therapists and the equipment managers?

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