Friday, October 5, 2012

F Michael Grabner (Spokane, 2004-07) signed a lockout contract with hometown team Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had 20 goals and 12 assists in 78 games with the New York Islanders last season. Grabner is scheduled to arrive in Austria today and hopes to be in the lineup on Sunday when Villach plays at home against Dornbirn. The Villach club press release thanks six local sponsors for coming up with the funds to pay Grabner, with a special thanks to Kleinen Zeitung, the regional newspaper, which is picking up half the tab. . . .
F Lukas Vantuch (Calgary, Lethbridge, 2005-06) has been reassigned on loan by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has no points in five games with Liberec this season and had no points in one game on loan to Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1.Liga). Last season, Vantuch had nine goals and five assists in 52 games with Liberec.
Former WHL D Kevin Kraus (Kamloops, Tri-City, 2006-08) is fortunate to be alive today.
Kraus, a 23-year-old from Garden Grove, Calif., fell asleep while driving on Wednesday night and ended up in the ditch, his truck wrecked. He was on the Trans-Canada Highway, just outside of Sicamous, which is 73km west of Revelstoke.
Kraus now is the general manager and head coach of the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Here’s what he wrote Thursday morning on Facebook: “Fell asleep at the wheel last night and totaled my truck... very lucky to be able to walk away from it and be alive right now, very thankful for the people who helped me last night. Life changing experience.”
On Thursday night, I asked him how he managed to survive.
“I have no idea . . . must be destined to do something!” he told me. “Very lucky and blessed to be alive right now and walk away with no injuries.”
As he dozed off behind the wheel, he said, “I went over a barrier and flipped and landed in between trees.”
If you are at all familiar with the terrain off the Trans-Canada Highway in that neck of the woods, you know just what a disaster this could have been.
The Grizzlies (4-2-0-1) return to action tonight in Armstrong, B.C., against the North Okanagan Knights.
Followers of the Spokane Chiefs got a taste Thursday afternoon of what Twitter can be like when there’s a race to be first.
Here it is, in order of appearance:
SpokaneChiefsFanPage (@gochiefsgoblog): “Waiting for an official announcement but goaltender Mac Engel is gone from Spokane”
Ben&StephenTH (@BenStephenTH): “Heading @chiefshockey G Mac Engel has been traded. Wonder if Vancouver may have been interested”
Foofieq (@Foofiebrown): “@gochiefsgoblog: Waiting for an official announcement but goaltender Mac Engel is gone from Spokane”
Susie Bush (@AgateShadow): “Is it true that Mac Engel is leaving the Chiefs? @ChiefsHockey)”
Jess Brown (@jbrown_SRSports): “Just got off the phone with @chiefshockey GM Tim Speltz. Says G Mac Engel HAS NOT been traded. That’s as much as I have right now.”
Ben&StephentH (@BenStephenTH): “Per @jbrown_SRSports who just got off the phone with Chiefs GM Tim Speltz. Mac Engel has NOT been traded.”
Through it all, Engel’s name remained on the Chiefs’ roster.
Granted, the Chiefs are carrying three goaltenders, with Engel, a 19-year-old from Red Deer, one of them. Also in the mix are Eric Williams, a 19-year-old from Langley, B.C., who was acquired last season from the Prince Albert Raiders, and Garret Hughson, a 17-year-old freshman from Foremost, Alta.
Chances are the Chiefs will get down to two goaltenders and it very well could happen in the next few days.
But it simply isn’t fair to anyone when people to start spitting out gossip and rumours on the Twitterverse.
The Regina Pats should have D Colton Jobke, 20, in the lineup tonight when they play host to the Red Deer Rebels. Jobke, who likely will be named Regina’s captain, had been in camp with the AHL’s Houston Aeros but was returned yesterday. That leaves the Pats with four 20-year-olds, the others being F Lane Scheidl, F Andrew Rieder, who is coming off shoulder surgery and has yet to play, and G Matt Hewitt. . . . Tonight’s game in Regina features the return of D Brandon Underwood, 20, to the Saskatchewan capital. Caught with too many 20s, the Pats dealt him to Red Deer late last month.
So . . . what is wrong with the Vancouver Giants, who lost 7-0 to the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday and go into the weekend with the poorest winning percentage in the 22-team WHL?
“I’m not frustrated,” head coach Don Hay was telling reporters on Thursday, and if you believe that you are expecting the NHL to be back in action in 10 days.
As Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province points out, the Giants have picked a bad time to lay an egg, what with the NHL’s Canucks on the sidelines and there being lots of hungry hockey fans to try and get into your building.
The Giants also are walking a bit of a tightrope because they are planning on bidding for the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament. Which means they need to hang on to their good, young players in order to ensure that they are competitive then.
Anyway . . . Ewen takes a look at the situation right here.
Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun writes about the Giants’ start right here.
The Giants entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight. Vancouver is expected to start G Tyler Fuhr, who has the club’s only victory, having beaten the visiting Spokane Chiefs 3-2 on Sunday.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are in Kennewick, Wash., to play the Tri-City Americans tonight, which means it’s something of a Topping family reunion. . . . Mitch, 19, is a defenceman with the Americans. Joel, 17, is a freshman defenceman with the Hurricanes. . . . This will be the first time they’ve lined up against each other. . . . Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald reports right here that Mitch was planning on taking his younger brother for some Baskin-Robbins ice cream on Thursday.
If you were watching Thursday’s NFL game on Sportsnet, you saw at least two plugs for Friday night hockey, featuring the Calgary Hitmen at the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Unfortunately, Sportsnet got a bit ahead of itself. That game is next Friday (Oct. 12). . . . Tonight, you will have to get by with the Shaw TV game, which features the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Kamloops Blazers.
F Logan McVeigh scored the game’s first goal and finished plus-3 as his Prince Albert Raiders went into Edmonton and beat the Oil Kings, 4-1, in the night’s only game. . . . Raiders G Luke Siemens stopped 33 shots. . . . Edmonton F Dylan Wruck was back in the lineup after recovering from shoulder surgery. He was reunited with T.J. Foster and Michael St. Croix but it wasn’t a night to remember as each was minus-3. . . . The Raiders are 4-0-1 and own the WHL’s best winning percentage (.900). They meet the Hitmen in Calgary tonight and the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook on Sunday. . . . The defending-champion Oil Kings have lost two in a row, both at home. The last time that happened was in January 2011 when they dropped four straight at home. . . . The Oil Kings get back on the horse Saturday against the visiting Saskatoon Blades.
Joel Topping (@topping9): “RT if you think @mitchtopping and I should fight tomorrow”

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