Saturday, March 31, 2012

Think about this for a moment or two . . .
There were 18,890 fans at Rogers Place in Vancouver on Friday night as the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars, 5-2.
There were 7,044 fans at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre to watch the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat beat the Chicago Wolves, 4-3 in overtime. The Wolves, of course, are affiliated with the Canucks.
Meanwhile, there were 6,328 fans at Pacific Coliseum and they saw the Spokane Chiefs beat the Vancouver Giants, 5-1, in Game 5 of their first-round WHL playoff series.
Add it up and that’s 32,262 fans in attendance at three hockey games on B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
In the meantime, there is an arena situated between Vancouver and Abbotsford that seats almost 5,000 seats. In fact, you may remember that Prospera Centre in Chilliwack used to be home to a WHL franchise.
Now what if that franchise was competitive enough that it could forge a rivalry with the Vancouver Giants? What if an established team with a solid track record on and off the ice was to relocate?
What if . . .?
The AJHL’s St. Albert Steel notified the city on Wednedsay that it has filed a request to the league in the hopes of relocating to Whitecourt. AJHL officials held a conference call regarding the situation on Friday afternoon. . . . Whitecourt is 175 kilometres northwest of St. Albert, which is just northwest of Edmonton. . . . Glenn Cook of the St. Albert Leader reports “the AJHL has struck a committee of six governors, which will convene in Edmonton on Friday, April 6, to address the situation. Both the Steel and the City will have a chance to make a presentation to that committee.” . . . Greg Parks is the owner/GM/head coach of the Steel.
The Minnesota Wild announced Friday that Everett Silvertips D Josh Caron and Kelowna Rockets F Brett Bulmer will join the AHL’s Houston Aeros. . . . Caron signed with Wild as a free agent prior to the 2010-11 season. Bulmer started this season with the Wild before he was returned to the Rockets.
(If you want WHL facts and stats, open a Twitter account, if you haven’t already, and follow @WHLFacts)

In Moose Jaw, the Warriors outshot the Regina Pats 14-0 in the first as they scored four times en route to a 5-2 victory. . . . The Warriors won the series 4-1, winning four in a row after losing the opener, and now will meet the Medicine Hat Tigers in Round 2. . . . That series will open Friday in Moose Jaw. The first three playoff games in Mosaic Place were sell outs (4,714). . . . That leaves the Edmonton Oil Kings and Brandon Wheat Kings to go at it in the Eastern Conference’s other semifinal. That series will begin in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Moose Jaw F Justin Kirsch scored 16 seconds into the game and the Warriors were away to the races. . . . F Cam Braes and F James Henry, the two 20-year-olds acquired by the Warriors at the trade deadline, each had two points. Braes drew two assists; Henry had a goal, his second of the series, and an assist. . . . Moose Jaw F Brayden Point, who turned 16 on March 12, had his third goal of the series. His first two were game-winners. . . . The Warriors, who use five forwards on their first PP unit, were 8-for-27 with the man advantage. Regina was 2-for-16. . . . The Pats were without G Matt Hewitt (broken wrist), D Brandon Davidson (separated shoulder), F Andrew Rieder (shoulder) and F Dyson Stevenson (one-game suspension). . . . D Morgan Rielly (knee) remains among Moose Jaw’s scratches. . . . With Hewitt out, the Pats brought in Tanner Burgardt, the 115th pick in the 2010 bantam draft, to back up Adam Beukeboom. Burgardt ws 20-2-1 with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos this season. . . . The Pats also had D Nathan Zimbaluk in the lineup. He played 15 games with the Pats earlier in the season, before being assigned to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs. . . . After the game, the head coaches — Regina’s Pat Conacher and Moose Jaw’s Mike Stothers — didn’t shake hands. “My reaction to that is the same reaction I had when they sat guys out in the regular season. I have no reaction to it," Stothers told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. "I just keep marching ahead and focus on my team and make sure we conduct ourselves professionally.” . . . For his part, Conacher said he couldn’t find Stothers. “I looked for Mike and he walked off the bench so I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Conacher told Harder. “I’m not going to chase him down the hallway.” . . .

In Vancouver, F Mitch Holmberg scored twice as the Spokane Chiefs bet the Giants, 5-1. . . . The Chiefs dropped the first two games in this series but now hold a 3-2 edge. This now is the only first-round series that has yet to be decided. Game 6 is Sunday in Spokane. . . . . This was the first time in the series that a visiting team won. . . . F Liam Stewart, at 7:20 of the first period, and F Darren Kramer, at 1:09 of the second, gave the Chiefs a 2-0 lead. . . . F Brendan Gallagher got Vancouver into it with his fifth of the series at 15:06 of the second, on the PP. . . . The Chiefs put it away with three in the third, the last two just 23 seconds part. Holmberg got his side’s third and fourth goals, giving him five in the series, with F Blake Gal getting the last one. . . . The start of the game was delayed almost 20 minutes by a broken pane of glass in the warmup. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province was paying particular attention in the warmup and tweeted about Kramer chatting up Vancouver F Cain Franson, and then exchanging howdy-dos with D Blake Orban and D Wes Vannieuwenhuizen. . . . Kramer finished the game by being assessed a minor penalty for “leaving penalty box” at 20:00 of the third period. . . . Referees Chris Crich and Trevor Hanson handed out 22 minor penalties. . . . The Giants were 1-6 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-4. . . . Spokane F Mike Aviani came up empty on a third-period penalty shot with the Chiefs leading 3-1. . . . Spokane G Eric Williams, who has started each of the last three games, stopped 23 shots, four more than Vancouver’s Adam Morrison. . . . The Giants added F Brodyn Nielsen to their lineup while scratching Russian F Alex Kuvaev, who hasn’t scored in 26 games. Nielsen, 18, had one goal in 14 reguar-season games with the Giants. He spent the season with the junior B North Vancouver Wolf Pack.

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