Saturday, September 22, 2012

Langnau (Switzerland, NL A) signed F Tyler Ennis (Medicine Hat, 2005-09) and D Jared Spurgeon (Spokane, 2005-10) to lockout contracts. Ennis had 15 goals and 19 assists in 48 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, while Spurgeon had three goals and 20 assists in 70 games with the Minnesota Wild. They are childhood friends and were teammates in minor hockey in Edmonton. . . .
F Stepan Novotny (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extrraliga). He had five goals and six assists in 34 games for Lev Poprad (Slovakia, KHL) last season. . . .
F Shay Stephenson (Red Deer, 2000-04) was released by Karlskrona (Sweden, Allsvenskan) by mutual agreement due to injury. He had no points in three games this season with Karlskrona. . . .
F Jakub Rumpel (Medicine Hat, 2006-07) signed a try-out contract with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, Oberliga). He had one assist in one game with Trnava (Slovakia, 1.Liga) this season. Last season, Rumpel had three assists in two games with Trnava and seven goals and 12 assists in 30 games with Frederikshavn (Denmark, AL-Bank Liga).
When the WHL gathered its head coaches for an information session in Calgary last week, there was a lot of talk about dangerous hits, about not hitting players who are in vulnerable positions, about not hitting another player in the numbers, about the respect factor.
Judging by the number of ugly hits in the Kamloops Blazers’ 6-5 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night, there is some work to be done.
Make no mistake about it – this was a nasty game. Not nasty in terms of ample stickwork and a number of fights (there was only one), but nasty because of some really dangerous hits.
It started four minutes into the first period when Kelowna F Colton Heffley hit Kamloops F Aspen Sterzer from behind.
Before the game was done, Kamloops D Tyler Hansen had twice been penalized for hits from behind, while Kelowna F Ryan Olsen also picked up one.
But two of the most egregious checks from behind weren’t called such; in fact, one of them didn’t even draw a penalty.
At 16:43 of the first period, Kelowna F Henrik Nyberg hit Kamloops D Tyler Bell in the back and wasn’t even penalized. Nyberg ended up falling on Bell, who went down awkwardly and appeared to injure his right knee. He returned to the bench for the last two periods but didn’t play again. Nyberg, a freshman from Sweden, ended up in a fight as Kamloops F Dylan Willick went straight to him. The only penalty assessed Nyberg was a fighting major.
At 10:11 of the second period, Kelowna D Myles Bell drilled Kamloops F Matt Needham from behind and was given a boarding minor.
Meanwhile, at 12:08 of the second period, Kelowna F Colton Sissons drove to the Kamloops net off the left wing. He made no attempt to pull up and barrelled into G Cole Cheveldave in the crease. Somehow, Sissons came out of this without a goaltender interference penalty; rather, he was penalized for roughing.
Cheveldave left the game after the second period with an undisclosed injury. Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said he couldn’t yet say whether Cheveldave was injured on that play. Charron wasn’t at all happy to be talking about Cheveldave being injured again. After all, Cheveldave’s last season ended late in Game 1 of a second-round series with Portland when he was run over by Winterhawks F Oliver Gabriel behind the net.
Last night, shortly after Sissons ran into Cheveldave, Kamloops F Jordan DePape had a chance to bury Kelowna G Jordon Cooke on a similar play, put pulled up short and skated past the side of the net.
The messages in all of this: The penalties for checking from behind have to be made stiffer. If that’s what it takes to make players think before they drill an opponent in the numbers, well, that’s what it’s going to take.
And the WHL officials need to work harder to protect the goaltenders. A few charging majors would be a good place to start.
In seasons past, I have done game-by-game reviews. I’m not going to do that this season; it’s simply too time-consuming and most of the information I provided is available on the game sheets on the WHL website. . . . Instead, I will try to provide some highlights, injuries, tidbits, etc. . . . If you are at a game and see something of interest, email me at . . .
The Portland Winterhawks outshot the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds 30-2 in the first period and went on to drop a 5-2 decision. Seattle G Brandon Glover pitched a first-period shutout and finished with 55 saves. . . . Seattle had a 20-11 edge in shots in the second period. . . . The Winterhawks were 11-1-0 against Portland last season. . . . Portland D Seth Jones, whose first name really isn’t Highly Touted, made his WHL debut. “I thought he was good,” Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston told Paul Buker of The Oregonian. “I thought he controlled the play. He moved the puck well. He’s a big guy when he jumps up ice. It’s amazing how quick he is with his stick when he heads up ice. He’s got really good offensive skills.” . . . Jones’ father, Popeye, was in the stands. Popeye, an assistant coach with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, played for the Portland Trail Blazers in Memorial Coliseum. . . . “The fans are crazy, and they really support this hockey team,” Jones told Buker. “I’m an old guy. I started coming here in 1993 for basketball. I played in Memorial Coliseum. That’s how old I am.” . . .

LW Tim Bozon scored three goals, the last one in OT, to give the host Kamloops Blazers a 6-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . As noted earlier, this was a particularly nasty game. . . . Kamloops lost G Cole Cheveldave (undisclosed) and D Tyler Bell (knee) to injuries, both on aggressive plays by Kelowna players. Neither is expected to play tonight in Kelowna. . . . Rockets LW J.T. Barnett (knee) left during his first shift after throwing a hit deep in Kamloops territory. He won’t play tonight either. The Rockets claimed Barnett off waivers from Everett last week. Last season, Barnett suffered a knee injury while stretching prior to a game in Kamloops. He played that night, but the injury kept him out of action after that until playoffs. . . .

The host Moose Jaw Warriors overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Swift Current Broncos 4-3 in OT. The winning goal? F Andrew Johnson scored it on a penalty shot. . . . “I saw there was a gap there (between defenders) and I tried to split it. When the ref pointed for a penalty shot my heart almost stopped,” Johnson told Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. . . . Swift Current D Reece Scarlett left the ice on a backboard after a hit from Moose Jaw F Justin Kirsch. Scarlett was on the ice for 10 minutes before being taken off. He gave the crowd the thumbs up as he left. . . . The Warriors successfully killed off two major penalties, the one to Kirsch for the hit on Scarlett and another to D Joel Edmundson who got tossed under the WHL’s new rule for instigating a fight off a faceoff. . . . Scarlett (@reecescarlett7) later tweeted: “Thanks for all the support. I am doing fine. Nothing seriously wrong. Just beyond stiff and sore. #bebacksoon.” . . .

Victoria F Stephen Hodges took a puck to the mouth in the warmup and then scored twice, both via the PP, and set up another as the Royals beat the Giants 6-4 in Vancouver. . . . Victoria D Joe Hicketts, the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, had a goal and an assist for the Royals in his first regular-season game. . . . Victoria scored six times on 18 shots. . . . Victoria head coach Dave Lowry, in his first season with the Royals, picked up the victory in the rink where he played his first NHL game with the Vancouver Canucks. They selected him 110th overall in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Hitmen and lost D Mathew Dumba in the first period when he was tossed for a head hit on F Joe Kornelson. . . . Here’s Red Deer Advocate sports editor Greg Meachem: “It was the classic open-ice hit that Dumba has made his calling card, but also one that is being frowned upon by referees and the WHL head office and earned the third-year Rebel a major and game misconduct.” . . .

In Brandon, head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk picked up his first victory as the Wheat Kings edge the Regina Pats, 3-2. . . . Gylywoychuk, a veteran assistant coach in Brandon, was named head coach of the Wheat Kings over the summer. . . . Gylywoychuk also played with the Wheat Kings. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades began their march to the 2013 Memorial Cup by beating the host Prince Albert Raiders 2-1 in a shootout. . . . Last season, the Raiders lost 19 games by one goal, which contributed mightily to their missing the playoffs. . . . The Raiders got their goal on the PP after Saskatoon F Josh Nicholls was given a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on D Zach Hodder. The Vancouver Giants selected Hodder with the 20th overall pick in the 2008 bantam draft. He had a short stay in Saskatoon last season and was making has Prince Albert debut in this one.
Madie Gylywoychuk (@Madietaylor99): “Congrats on the first win of the season @bdnwheatkings! Way to go Dad! @millchew.”
The Regina Pats have acquired F Adam Rossignol, 19, from the Swift Current Broncos for a 2013 bantam draft pick. The Broncos announced that pick as being conditional; according to the Pats, it’s a 12-rounder. . . . Rossignol, who was acquired by the Broncos form Kootenay Ice in January, had 21 points in 71 games last season. He was released by the Broncos earlier this week. . . . Rossignol played for Regina last night. . . .
The Broncos also announced Friday that they have released F Christian Magnus, 20. He came over from the Kootenay Ice on Jan. 9, 2011, as part of the  monster deal in which F Cody Eakin moved to the Ice. . . . Magnus, the ninth overall pick in the 2007 bantam draft, actually started with the Broncos, but was dealt to the Ice with D James Martin in exchange for F Michael Stickland and D John Negrin. There also were some draft picks in that deal. . . . Last season, Magnus had 24 points in 62 games with the Broncos. The announcement of his release came three days after Broncos F Graham Black (@GrahamBlack9) said farewell to Magnus via Twitter: “Going to miss my best friend on the swift current broncos @mr_mangus big beauty, unreal friend, and amazing line mate! We love you mags!!!” . . . The Broncos are left with F Chance Lund, F Ryon Moser and D Dalton Reum as their 20-year-olds. . . .
The Tri-City Americans have assigned F Brendan Persley, 19, to the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals, who acquired his rights last week from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . The Americans now are carrying 26 players, including two goaltenders and 15 forwards. . . .
F Brock Balson, 19, who was released this week by his hometown Kamloops Blazers, is back with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Balson was released by the Prince Albert Raiders prior to the start of last season. He joined the SilverBacks and put up 19 points in 20 games. He then moved to the Blazers, for whom he had six points in 42 games. . . .
F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has signed with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder. Maylan, 21, had 89 points, including 63 assists, with Prince Albert last season.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have assigned G Kenny Cameron, 19, to the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. Last season, Cameron backed up Tyler Bunz with the Tigers. His departure leaves the Tigers with Dawson MacAuley, 18, and Marek Langhamer, an 18-year-old Czech freshman, as the goaltenders. . . . Langhamer stopped 18 shots in last night’s 4-2 loss to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .
Brian Wiebe, who covers the BCHL like a glove, reports that the Surrey Eagles have added D Tommy Stipancik, 18, who was released by the Saskatoon Blades. Stipancik had three points in 34 games with the Blades last season. . . . Wiebe also has F Brayden Low, 18, joining the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials after being dropped by the Seattle Thunderbirds. Low, who played four games with the Portland Winterhawks in 2010-11, had 16 points in 44 games with the Centennials last season.
The OHL and the Windsor Spitfires have come to an agreement on disciplinary measures brought on by a violation of the league’s player recruitment policy. Originally, the Spitfires were fined $400,000 and had five draft picks taken from them. . . . The Spitfires appealed and recently met with OHL commissioner David Branch. . . . According to an OHL news release, “During the meeting . . . the Windsor Spitfires accepted that there were certain violations of the league’s recruitment policy.” . . . When all was said and done, the earlier decision was changed. The Spitfires have agreed to pay a fine of $250,000 and lose four draft picks – first-rounders in 2013 and 2016, and second-rounders in 2015 and 2017. . . . As a result of this agreement, the Spitfires won’t appeal the decision. . . . And here is the last line of the OHL news release: “Neither the League nor the Windsor Spitfires will be making any further comment in relation to this matter.” . . . So that takes care of that.
Bob Duff of the Windsor Star writes right here about how this means the Spitfires have “dropped their innocent act.”
The QMJHL’s P.E.I. Rocket franchise will change its name to P.E.I. Islanders effective next season. The team held a rename-your-team contest and Islanders got 49 per cent of the votes. Also considered were Riptide and Confederation. . . . The change can’t take place yet because Reebok is just now working on changing logos and colours.

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