Saturday, October 6, 2012

Andrew Rieder, then of the Regina Pats, and two young fans — brothers
Styles (left) and Ty Acoose.
D Vladimir Sicak (Medicine Hat, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after his release by Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has one assist in eight games with Pardubice this season. Last season, Sicak had three goals and 14 assists in 41 games with Pardubice. . . .
F Stanislav Balan (Portland, 2005-06) signed a one-year contract with HK Poprad (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had one goal and one assist in 16 games with Lev Poprad (Slovakia, KHL) before he was released. Balan then signed with SKP Poprad (Slovakia, Extraliga) and scored 10 goals and 16 assists in 26 games. . . .
F Mikael Backlund (Kelowna, 2008-09) signed a lockout contract with Västerås (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He had four goals and seven assists in 41 games with the Calgary Flames last season. Västerås announced that Backlund will arrive in Sweden today and will be in their lineup for Tuesday's game against Leksand if all goes as planned. . . .
F Stepan Novotny (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2008-11) was released by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He was pointless in six games this season. . . .
F Tomas Netik (Medicine Hat, 2000-01) signed a one-year contract with Niftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) after his release by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had three goals and three
assists in seven games with Liberec this season. Netik had 17 goals and 11 assists in 42 games with Lev Poprad (Slovakia, KHL) and one goal and one assist in 12 games on loan to Växjö (Sweden, Elitserien) last season. . . .
G Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, KHL). He had a 2.33 GAA and a .916 save percentage in 34 games with Worcester Sharks (AHL) last season.
It has become a rite of fall, like carving a Thanksgiving turkey or the falling of the leaves.
Another 20-year-old is sent packing and everyone says all the right things.
But in the end another 20-year-old is gone, cut by a WHL team simply because of a rule. He isn’t dropped because he isn’t good enough to play. He isn’t released because he isn’t a good person.
In this instance, the player is Andrew Rieder. He ws released by the Regina Pats on Friday because he’s 20 years of age.
Each WHL team is allowed to dress a maximum of three 20-year-olds per game. And each team must declare its 20-year-old players on Oct. 10, which is Wednesday.
The Pats on Friday said farewell and thanks for everything to Rieder, who from all reports is a player with terrific work ethic on and off the ice. Rieder, who is from Regina, has been rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery. He received medical clearance to return to action on Wednesday. Just 48 hours later, he was gone.
“He’s an ultimate Pat, really,” Regina head coach Pat Conacher told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post on Thursday, before the team had made its decision public. “He has been here his whole junior career. He has done so much for us on and off the ice. That’s the tough part.”
In a news release, GM Chad Lang offered: “This has been a very difficult decision to make as Andrew is everything we want our players to be. He has been a great ambassador of our hockey club in our community, a tremendous teammate and leader.”
The above photo was taken in January 2011 in the Rieder family home in Regina. Rieder’s mother had invited a couple of young fans over to meet her son.
“I can't begin to tell you how good he was with the boys — he asked them lots of questions, showed them some of his hockey keepsakes and even gave each of them an autographed stick,” offered the boys’ foster father. “From that day forward we became big Andrew Rieder fans.
“Perhaps the best part is that this wasn't a one-time deal. He always makes a point to say hi to the boys when he sees them at the rink (or even at a mall in Saskatoon). Andrew is a great kid and we'll definitely miss seeing him in a Pats jersey.”
Unfortunately for Rieder his only sin is that he is 20. So it’s thanks for everything and see ya.
Rieder had surgery May 11 on his left shoulder. His right shoulder also has caused him problems. So, really, the Pats didn’t have any choice as they kept D Colton Jobke, G Matt Hewitt and F Lane Scheidl.
Earlier, the Pats released F Tanner Olstad and traded D Brandon Underwood to the Red Deer Rebels. Both were victims of the 20-year-old game in Regina.
For years, I have felt the WHL needs to go to four or even five 20-year-olds. I even like the idea that was broached earlier this season — I think it was by Conacher, as a matter of fact — about giving teams five spots to share among 20-year-olds and imports. A team would be allowed to have a maximum of two imports, but if it only had one, it could go with four 20-year-olds. If a team didn’t have an import, it could have five 20s.
I just don’t understand how teams invest so much in some of these players, some of whom have been with the same organization for four years, and then cut them adrift simply because of the 20-yer-old rule.
But, as you may have guessed, it’s all about the money.
One WHL owner told me recently that the NHL wants the WHL developing the younger players (i.e. 16-year-olds) and not the 20s. In other words, a loosening of the 20-year-old rule likely would mean a tightening of the NHL’s purse strings.
And that isn’t something the WHL can afford to let happen.
The Spokane Chiefs have dealt D Davis Vandane, 20, to the Prince Albert Raiders for a conditional eighth-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Vandane, from Yorkton, Sask., has 43 points in 123 regular-season games. Last season, he had 25 points in 68 games. . . . The gets the Chiefs down to three 20-year-olds — D Brenden Kichton, who is the team captain, F Blake Gal and F Dylan Walchuk. . . . The Raiders, meanwhile, now have four 20s on their roster, the others being G Luke Siemens, F Anthony Bardaro and D Antoine Corbin. However, Corbin remains in camp with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Should Corbin be assigned to the Raiders, they would have two weeks after his arrival to get down to three 20-year-old players.
Later Friday, the Chiefs announced that G Mac Engel, 19, has been released “and is awaiting a trade to another WHL team.” . . . That leaves the Chiefs with Eric Williams, 19, and Garret Hughson, 17, as their two goaltenders. . . . Engel, who was entering his third season in Spokane, was 42-28-7 in 88 appearances with the Chiefs. Last season he was 28-19-4, 2.52, .909. . . . Spokane is carrying 25 players, including eight defencemen and 15 forwards.
As mentioned earlier, the Regina Pats got down to three 20-year-olds on Friday by releasing F Andrew Rieder, who has been working to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. Rieder, who is from Regina, played in 177 regular-season games with the Pats, putting up 51 points, including 25 goals. . . . Last season, he had 25 points, 13 of them goals, in 52 games. . . . The Pats are left with D Colton Jobke, G Matt Hewitt and F Lane Scheidl as their 20-year-old players.
A Friday tweet from Andrew Rieder (@Rieder28): “Want to thank everyone in the @WHLpats organization for the last 5 years couldn't have ask for more. I feel honored.”
The OHL’s Windsor Spitfires have waived Slovakian F Juraj Bezuch, who played last season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Bezuch was pointless in four games with the Spitfires, who have claimed Russian F Alex Khokhlachev and are hoping to be able to recruit the talented 19-year-old who is with the KHL’s Moscow Spartak. The Spitfires had dealt two 20-year-olds and a seventh-round 2014 OHL draft pick to get Bezuch from the Kitchener Rangers late in training camp. “It just didn’t work out,” Windsor head coach Bob Boughner told Jim Parker of the Windsor Star.
D Brendan Kichton had five points, including two goals, as the host Spokane Chiefs got past the Victoria Royals, 5-3. . . . It was the first five-point game of Kichton’s career. He had had one four-point game. . . . Spokane F Mitch Holmberg scored twice, giving him seven goals in four games. . . .

LW Brendan Ranford, in his first game since being released by the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, had a goal and four assists as the Kamloops Blazers beat the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 7-2. . . . It was Ranford’s third five-point game of his WHL career. . . . The Blazers are playing their three 20-year-olds on one line. Ranford, C Dylan Willick (two goals and an assist) and RW Jordan DePape (one of each) combined for 10 points. . . . The Blazers’ other big line totalled eight points with RW JC Lipon putting up a goal and three assists, Tim Bozon getting a goal and two assists, and C Colin Smith scoring once. . . . Kamloops broke a 2-2 tie with five unanswered third-period goals. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks opened their six-game East Division swing with a 2-1 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Portland G Cam Lanigan stopped 18 shots, while Brandon’s Corbin Boes turned aside 41. . . . Freshman F Alex Schoenborn broke a 1-1 tie at 12:15 of the second period with his first WHL goal. . . . Schoenborn, who turns 17 on Dec. 12, is from Minot, N.D., which isn’t that far south of Brandon, so you can bet he had some fans in the house. . . . With 30 minutes left until puck drop, scouts from at least 13 NHL teams had signed in for this one. They were there to watch Brandon D Ryan Pulock and Portland D Seth Jones. . . . Portland F Taylor Leier (abdominal tear) played for the first time this season. . . .

F Justin Feser had a goal and two assists as the host Tri-City Americans beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-1. . . . G Ty Rimmer, who spent last season with the Americans, stopped 24 shots for the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge had a 17-7 edge in shots in the third period, but struggled to beat a superb Eric Comrie, who finished with 36 saves. . . . The Americans were without F Jesse Mychan, who hopes to return from an undisclosed injury when Tri-City opens an East Division swing on Oct. 13 in Brandon.

The Vancouver Giants scored three times in the game’s first 5:11 and went on to beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-1. . . . Vancouver G Tyler Fuhr stopped 20 shots and now has backstopped both his team’s victories. He’s expected to start again Sunday when the Victoria Royals are the visitors and will be playing their third game in three days. . . . Medicine Hat G Marek Langhamer was gone after being beaten three times on eight shots. . . . Vancouver F Marek Tvrdon, who has yet to score, had two assists. . . . Among Vancouver’s scratches was D John Neibrandt, 20. . . .

F Chandler Stephenson’s goal with 15.4 seconds left in the third period gave the host Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Colton Jobke, named Regina’s captain earlier in the day, scored the game’s first goal. He was playing his first game since being assigned to the Pats by the AHL’s Houston Aeros. . . .

F Adam Lowry had two goals and two assists as the Swift Current Broncos went into Saskatoon and hammered the Blades, 10-1. . . . The Broncos were 5-5 on the power play. In the second period, the scored four PP goals on six shots. . . . Saskatoon is 0-3 at home. . . . “It was, to be honest with you, unbelievable,” Lorne Molleken, the Blades’ general manager and head coach, told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “We’ve hit rock bottom here and now it’s just a matter of starting all over again.” . . . The Blades are to be the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup. . . . Swift Current scored seven second-period goals and led 9-1 going into the third. . . . The Broncos are 2-0-4. . . . The Blades scratched veteran D Dalton Thrower. Why? Molleken told Nugent-Bowman that Thrower has been “playing by his own rules.” . . . F Ryan Graham, who has been out with back problems, was in the Blades’ lineup for the first time this season. . . . Swift Current F Graham Black (ill) sat this one out. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders, who have yet to lose in regulation time, went into Calgary and scored a 5-4 shootout victory over the Hitmen. . . . F Mark McNeill got the shootout winner. . . . The Raiders got a goal and two assists from D Josh Morrissey, who is from Calgary. . . . The Raiders were 3-7 on the PP, scoring twice while up two men. . . . Prince Albert now is 5-0-1. . . . The 3-0-2 Hitmen also haven’t yet been beaten in regulation time. . . . The Raiders have won all three of their road games this season; last season they didn’t win a third road game until Dec. 11. . . . Prince Albert continues to play without F Mike Winther (groin). . . . Interestingy, the Hitmen had only two minus players in the game, while the Raiders had eight, including three who were minus-3. . . . Calgary was 0-3 on the PP. . . . D Davis Vandane, acquired earlier in the day from Spokane, didn't play for the Raiders. . . .

The Prince George Cougars scored five first-period goals and beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 6-3. . . . The Cougars are 5-0-1. . . . F Zach Pochiro, an 18-year-old from Las Vegas, scored his first two WHL goals and added two assists and was plus-3 for the Cougars. . . . Pochiro played last season for the NAHL’s Wichita Falls Wildcats, a team that then had Cougars owner Rick Brodsky in its ownership group. . . . Pochiro got tossed as part of a two-fight situation at 19:31 of the third period. Up until then, only six minors had been assessed. . . . The Cougars are 4-0-1 and tied with Kamloops atop the Western Conference. Attendance last night was 1,907.
F Jaimen Yakubowski, Lethbridge
From Edmonton Oil Kings assistant coach Steve Hamilton (@hamilton_steve): “There is no worse post-event interview than MMA winner. ‘Thank you Lord for allowing me to pummel and choke that man repeatedly’ #ironic?”
For today’s good read, we go to where Jeff MacGregor takes a look at New York’s relationship with Yankess shortstop Derek Jeter. It’s right here. Read closely and ask yourself if you could be reading about Wayne Gretzky near the end of his playing career.

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