Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last night, the Swift Current Broncos honoured the memories of four players
who died when the team's bus crashed on Dec. 30, 1986. Board signs in memory
of Scott Kruger, Trent Kresse, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff were unveiled, and
Medicine Hat Tigers associate coach Darren Kruger, Scott's brother, took part
in a ceremonial faceoff.

(Swift Current Broncos photo)
The latest issue of DubNation is available and you can get to it by clicking on the cover — that’s JC Lipon of the Kamloops Blazers — right over there on the right.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have lost D Albin Blomqvist, perhaps for the remainder of this season, with a concussion.
Blomqvist, who turns 20 on Jan. 8, has been placed on the 30-day injured list and is at home in Sweden. He went home to Osby for Christmas and will remain there while he hopefully is able to make a full recovery.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Blomqvist, the 12th selection in the CHL’s 2011 import draft, had six points and 117 penalty minutes in 69 games with Lethbridge over two seasons.
Blomqvist, whose 17-year-old brother Axel is a freshman forward with the Hurricanes, hasn’t played since Dec. 5.
Albin Blomqvist is one of more than 37 players to have suffered concussions to this point in the WHL season.
While the league and its teams go to great lengths to hide injury-related information, close scrutiny of the weekly injury reports combined with information compiled from numerous sources reveals that the WHL is likely to finish this season with players having suffered more than 80 concussions.
As the Christmas break began, at least 37 players had suffered concussions, and that doesn’t include players like F Brayden Cuthbert, D Shane Pilling and F Shae Howorko, who suffered concussions last season and have yet to play in the WHL this season. The list does include Kelowna Rockets F Spencer Main, Seattle Thunderbirds F Tyler Alos and Moose Jaw Warriors D Reid Jackson, all of whom have had their seasons or careers ended by concussions this season.
Players like Kootenay F Brock Montgomery and Regina Pats D Dryden Hunt, who have suffered two concussions this season, are counted once.
While the number I have come up with is 37, I would suggest it is more than that, simply because the league and teams aren’t forthcoming with this information and there no doubt is some concussion-related information that has been hidden better than others.
No matter, though. The point is that the WHL needs to do more than it is doing to get the concussion number down a lot lower than it is. Two seasons ago, WHL players incurred around 100 concussions. At that point, the WHL stopped identifying injuries, choosing instead to go to the silly system of reporting injuries as being of the upper- or lower-body variety.
F Alex Forsberg, the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2010 bantam draft, chose not to return to the Prince George Cougars following the Christmas break and has asked for a trade. . . . Forsberg, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, is from Waldheim, Sask. He will turn 18 on Jan. 4. . . . He went home on Dec. 17 and didn’t return as the Cougars resumed play with a 5-1 loss to the Royals in Victoria last night. . . . Forsberg had 40 points, including 15 goals, in 51 games last season. This season, he has 19 points, nine of them goals, in 31 games. . . . His 19-year-old brother Jesse played three seasons with the Cougars and was the team captain when he asked for a trade last summer. He now is with the Seattle Thunderbirds, who gave up F Colin Jacobs, 19. Seattle also got two 2013 bantam draft picks (fifth- and seventh-rounders). . . .
Before the Christmas break, Cougars head coach Dean Clark, in speaking of Forsberg, told Sheri Lamb of the Prince George Citizen:
“Points aren’t just going to happen. With his skills he’s going to create something but it’s not just going to happen, you have to put the effort out there all the time. Mentally he has to get a little bit stronger.
“If he can understand he has to come back in some half-decent shape he’ll be fine.”
Instead, Forsberg chose not to come back at all.
The Kamloops Blazers will be without D Ryan Rehill when they play host to the Vancouver Giants tonight. Rehill will be serving a one-game suspension. He was hit with a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in a 7-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Thursday night. The penalty later was changed to a boarding major and he has been handed a one-game suspension.
Darcy Pindus will work as the head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings, at least through the end of this season. Pindus, an assistant coach, takes over from the legendary Dwight McMillan, who decided to step aside over the Christmas break after almost 40 years behind the bench. McMillan, 69, had decided this would be his final season, but he has decided to retire just a bit earlier than that. Other than two seasons in the late 1980s, McMillan had been the Red Wings’ coach since 1972. . . . Scott Sabados, the team president, has told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post that the position will be re-evaluated after this season. . . . “What (McMillan) has done for the organization can't be measured," Sabados told Harder. "Through some of the times the team has been through, there may not be a Weyburn Red Wings had it not been for a man like Dwight McMillan. It's going to be hard (to see him go). Only time will tell whether it's a goodbye or just a moving forward.”
G Mitch Gillam of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs was credited with a goal on Friday night. . . . Gillam, 20, is from Peterborough, Ont., and has committed to Cornell starting next season. . . . He was credited with the game’s first goal, an empty-netter, at 8:36 of the first period. . . . The Chiefs went on to drop a 5-3 decision to the host Surrey Eagles.
Ken Campbell, veteran columnist with The Hockey News, takes a look right here at how Donald Fehr has played the tune that NHL owners are dancing to during the lockout.
F Anthony Bardaro had a goal and three assists to help the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-4 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Bardaro’s 11th goal broke a 4-4 tie at 15:04 of the third. . . . The teams play again tonight in Saskatoon. The East Division-leading Raiders go in with a 10-point edge on the Blades. . . . Saskatoon F Brett Stovin returned from a six-game absence. He had been out with an undisclosed injury. . . .

In Swift Current, the Broncos overcame a 4-1 deficit and beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-4. . . . Broncos F Adam Lowry scored his 24th goal as he ran his goal streak to eight games, the longest in the WHL this season. . . . Lowry also had three assists. . . . F Coda Gordon helped out with two goals and three assists. . . . F Colby Cave, the third member of the line, had two goals and an assist. . . . Prior to the game, a ceremonial faceoff was held to remember the four Broncos – Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff – who were killed when the team bus crashed on its way to Regina on Dec. 30, 1986. Darren Kruger, Scott’s brother, dropped the puck in the ceremonial faceoff. Darren, the Tigers’ associate coach and Scott‘s brother, played for the 1988-89 Broncos, who won the Memorial Cup. . . . The teams play tonight in Medicine Hat. . . .

In Brandon, D Travis Brown’s eighth goal of the season broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Moose Jaw Warriors a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . F Tanner Eberle had a goal and two assists for Moose Jaw, giving him seven points over his last four games. . . . The Wheat Kings had F Michael Ferland, 20, back in their lineup after the Brandon native was reassigned earlier in the day by the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Ferland was a fifth-round pick by the Flames in the 2010 NHL draft. He had 96 points, including 47 goals, with the Wheaties last season. . . . The Wheat Kings now have four 20-year-olds on their roster, with Ferland joining F Nick Bounassisi, D Ryley Miller and D Tyler Yaworski. Brandon has 14 days to get down to the maximum of three. . . . Miller was a healthy scratch last night. . . .

F Todd Fiddler’s unassisted goal at 18:18 of the second period stood up as the Spokane Chiefs beat the Kootenay Ice 1-0 in Cranbrook. . . . G Eric Williams stopped 29 shots for his second shutout this season and the fourth of his career. . . . The Ice had three injured players back in the lineup. F Brock Montgomery had missed six games, while D Joey Leach sat out eight and D Tanner Muth missed seven. . . . They’ll play a rematch tonight in Spokane. . . .

F T.J. Foster had a goal and two assists to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 6-1 victory over the host Red Deer Rebels. . . . Foster, who has 18 goals, also was stymied on a penalty shot late in the third period. . . . The game was officiated by the four C’s – referees Chris Crich and Colin Stefanyk, and linesmen Cody Huseby and Cory Lundquist. . . . Edmonton F Michael St. Croix scored his 14th PP goal of the season, and that’s five more than any other WHLer has this season. . . . The Rebels had won 5-3 in Edmonton on Thursday night. . . . Red Deer is without D Brady Gaudet, who had his right arm in a cast after being injured in Edmonton on Thursday. . . .

G Ty Rimmer stopped 36 shots to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . F Sam Mckechnie’s 17th goal of the season, at 13:31 of the second, gave Lethbridge a 2-0 lead and stood up as the winner. . . . The Hurricanes had D Adam Henry, 18, in the lineup for the first time this season. He was diagnosed with a heart condition (myocarditis) over the summer and hadn’t been cleared to play. He had 21 points in 60 games as a freshman last season. . . . The teams will clash again tonight in Lethbridge. . . .

G Brendan Burke stopped a career-high 43 shots to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-3 victory over the host Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks have won seven in a row and are atop the WHL’s overall standings, seven points ahead of the idle Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Taylor Leier and F Oliver Bjorkstand each scored his 15th goal for Portland. . . . Portland F Brendan Leipsic came up empty on a first-period penalty shot. . . . F Justin Feser scored twice for Tri-City. He has passed F Brendan Shinnimin and tied F Brian Sakic for fifth on the Americans’ all-time goals list, with 132. Feser also tied Kruise Reddick for seventh on the team’s games-played list, at 315. . . . The Americans, who have lost four straight at home, continue to be without F Marcus Messier (undisclosed injury) and F Phil Tot (undisclosed). . . . Among Portland’s scratches was D Derrick Pouliot (undisclosed). . . . The Americans and Winterhawks will play today, 3 p.m., in Portland. . . .

In Victoria, F Ben Walker had two goals and an assist as the Royals skated to a 5-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . They’ll play in Victoria again tonight. . . . Walker has 12 goals. . . . Victoria F Taylor Crunk broke a 1-1 tie at 18:58 of the first with his second goal of the season. . . . Victoria F Jamie Crooks had a goal and two assists, and F Brandon Magee had three helpers. . . .

In Vancouver, the Kelowna scored two third-period goals and beat the Giants, 5-3. . . . The Rockets now are within two points of the B.C. Division-leading Kamloops Blazers, who are at home to the Giants tonight. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle, who started the season with the Giants, stopped 24 shots. . . . F Dylen McKinlay scored twice for Kelowna, giving him 12. His second one, the game’s last goal, was shorthanded. . . . D Colten Martin had a goal and two assists for the Rockets. . . . Vancouver F Cain Franson was unsuccessful on a second-period penalty shot but made amends when he scored with 4.8 seconds left in the frame to forge a 3-3 tie. . . . The Giants scored three goals in the second period when they enjoyed a 17-3 edge in shots. . . . The Rockets beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers 7-3 on Thursday but had just eight shots on goal through two periods last night. Ahh, the vagaries of junior hockey. . . . The Giants, losers of six of seven, had G Alex Ahnert, 19, on the bench in support of starter Tyler Fuhr. Ahnert plays for the junior B Delta Ice Hawks. . . . The Giants are short a goaltender with No. 1 Payton Lee with Team Pacific at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and Liam Liston having retired earlier in the week. . . . Again among the Rockets’ scratches were G Jordon Cooke (foot) and F Colton Sissons (concussion). . . . With Cooke out, Jake Morrissey, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, backed up Whistle. . . . Sissons and Cooke both could return Sunday against visiting Everett.

In Kent, Wash., the Everett Silvertips got 38 saves from G Austin Lotz and beat the Seattle Thunderbirds (of Kent), 2-1. . . . It was Everett’s first victory in five games with Seattle this season. . . . Everett erased a 1-0 deficit on goals by F Carson Stadnyk, at 4:56 of the second, and F Kohl Bauml, at 10:53 of the third. . . . F Ryan Harrison had two assists for Everett. . . . The Thunderbirds have lost six in a row. . . . The teams play again tonight in Everett.
F Jesse Mychan, Tri-City

D Tyler Yaworski, Brandon
D Nick Walters, Everett

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