Monday, December 3, 2012

The latest poll has closed and the Portland Winterhawks appear to be heavy favourites to finish atop the Western Conference.
Asked “which team will finish atop” the conference, 282 of you took the time to vote. Of that total, 189, or 67 per cent, selected the Winterhawks.
The Kamloops Blazers got 51 votes, or 18 per cent, with the Kelowna Rockets next at 29 votes, or 10 per cent. The Tri-City Americans got eight votes and the Spokane Chiefs got five.
Coming out of the weekend, Kamloops and Portland are tied atop the WHL’s overall standings, but the Winterhawks hold four games in hand.
There is a new poll up already. Feel free to vote.
Bob Duff of the Windsor Star, who once covered the Saskatoon Blades for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, offers up some thoughts on the WHL-Portland situation right here.
Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun tops a Monday column with a look at the WHL and the Winterhawks right here.
There was a Dan Russell special in Mississauga, Ont., Sunday as the Steelheads and London Knights went 19 rounds in a shootout before the visitors recorded a 4-3 victory. . . . That was London’s 15th straight victory, a CHL high for this regular season. . . . London's Seth Griffith scored twice in the circus, including the winner.
In Calgary, F Greg Chase had two PP goals as the Hitmen beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-1. . . . Chase broke open a 2-1 game with PP goals at 1:28 and 10:01 of the third period. . . . Calgary F Pavlo Padakin, a freshman from Ukraine, had the Teddy Bear goal. He’s got seven goals this season. . . . The 16,912 fans in attendance threw 21,453 stuffed toys onto the ice surface. . . . "Before the game, all the guys talk about who's going to score the goal," Padakin, 18, told Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun. "Everybody wants to score this goal. I was thinking ‘Oh yeah, I will score.' But I didn't believe it. They can't believe a Ukrainian guy who plays first year in Dub scored this goal." . . . F Brock Montgomery returned from a five-game absence to score the Ice’s goal. . . . The Ice has lost two straight and five of seven. . . .

In Edmonton, F Curtis Lazar had two goals and an assist to help the Oil Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings led 3-0 in the second period before the visitors came back to tie it. . . . Lazar, who went all of November without scoring, broke the 3-3 tie at 16:26 of the second period. He spent 14 games stuck at eight goals. His slump actually lasted 14 games — the last two of October and 12 in November. Still, he’s got 20 points, including 10 goals, in the first 28 games of his sophomore season. . . . F Jaimen Yakubowski scored twice for the Lethbridge, the second one on a shorthanded penalty shot. . . . The Oil Kings were without D Keegan Lowe (ankle) for a second game. . . . Edmonton F Travis Ewanyk (knee) may play Wednesday. He was injured in the Subway Super Series. . . .

In Regina, D Josh Morrissey scored twice and set up another as the Prince Albert Raiders dropped the short-staffed Pats, 8-2. . . . The victory was the Raiders’ 20th of the season. They won 21 all of last season. . . . The Pats were missing eight regulars due to injuries or illness. . . . Regina F Morgan Klimchuk didn’t get a point, ending his point streak at 11 games. . . . The Raiders had a 54-24 edge in shots. . . . “I’m not surprised by it,” Regina head coach Pat Conacher told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “Let’s face it, the dam was going to burst. You know what? No one feels sorry for you. It was a good lesson for our kids. You can’t ever go ‘woe is me.’ (The Raiders) were pounding us over there and the coach kept throwing out their No. 1 power play against us. Maybe I’m from a different school of thought or maybe a different era but I just said to them, ‘Remember that! Put that in your memory bank for the next time.’ They want to rub your face in it. No one should like it.” . . . The teams next meet Dec. 13 in Regina. . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers got goals in the circus from F Hunter Shinkaruk and F Curtis Valk and beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 2-1. . . . Medicine Hat G Marek Langhamer stopped 38 shots. He faced three skaters in the shootout and was beaten only by F Alessio Bertaggia. . . . Brandon D Eric Roy forced OT with a goal at 19:08 of  the third period and G Corbin Boes on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Brandon has lost six in a row and 10 of 11. . . . Brandon F Nick Buonassisi played his 300th regular-season game. The 20-year-old from Coquitlam played the first 211 of those with the Prince George Cougars. He also played 59 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who dealt him to Brandon prior to this season.

In Kent, Wash., F Justin Hickman broke a 1-1 tie at 16:52 of the third period as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Kamloops Blazers, 3-1. . . . Kamloops F Joe Kornelsen had tied the score at 13:29 of the third period with his first goal this season. He was scoreless in 18 games when he joined Kamloops from the Calgary Hitmen; this was his seventh game with the Blazers. . . . Latvian F Robert Lipsbergs scored twice for Seattle, the second one into an empty net. He has 25 points, including 13 goals, in 28 games in his freshman season. . . . The Blazers (21-7-3) and Portland Winterhawks (22-4-1) are tied atop the WHL’s overall standings. However, Portland has four games in hand. The Winterhawks are at home to Everett on Tuesday, while the Blazers entertain Swift Current.
D David Musil, Edmonton

D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton

From Columbus Blue Jackets F Brandon Dubinsky, who played in the WHL for Portland (@BDubi17): “Sanctions against the Portland Winterhawks are a joke! @thewhl should encourage teams to fly families out for the kids.”
More from Dubinsky: “Maybe even think about paying the WHL kids more then $200 a month to give up their NCAA eligibility at 15 years old... @thewhl”
From Edmonton Oil Kings F Henrik Samuelsson (@Hsamuelsson1994): “Saw Santa driving a 1976 ford. Thought he drove a sled #dreamcrushed”
From Prince Albert G Luke Siemens (@siems31), as the Raiders made their way home from Regina last night: “for the second time tonight and 3rd time in the last two road trips the boys are changing buses due to technical difficulties #woohoo”

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Mark said...

What do you think the bigger threat to "competitive balance" is: Flying families out to see their boys play in pdx OR the PWH owner laying down $10M for the Winterhawk specific improvements to the MC? Note that the $10M is likely more than any franchise in the whl is worth. If you want an example of what the arena improvement in Portland is worth, just look south to the University of Oregon. My Ducks have no business being at the top of college football polls. However, when I was in college, Nike founder Phil Knight decided to "invest." He paid for some of the most ridiculous facilities you have ever seen. $30M for an academic center for athletes only. Pretty much paid for the stadium expansion on his own ($90M?). The football team is currently building a 7-story "operations center." And you know what? 16 - 18 year old kids eat this stuff up. Of course you have to back it up with quality instruction; but it helps recruiting without a doubt. Look at this video of the locker room. 2 stories and the door is a wall that moves up.

Also, why is it that Portland, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary have this "large market" advantage? Nobody has EVER accused the Seattle Thunderbirds of having a market size advantage? Also, it didn't seem to matter to the Edmonton Ice. Are the dynamics different? Of course. Every club makes choices on how to compete and recruit. Victoria bought a bus full of beds. I don't see Swift Current doing these types of things. Portland has the disadvantage of essentially having zero potential players within a six hour drive. Competitive balance is a farce and will never exist in the WHL unless the league owns every team.

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