Saturday, December 8, 2012

You waited for it and here it is. The Edmonton Oil Kings Christmas video that debuted last night is right here.
Kylee Bliss has to go to her school’s main office three or four times a week. Why? Because she can’t remember the combination for the lock on her locker. She suffered a concussion more than a year ago when she and a teammate banged heads during tryouts for her high school basketball team in Kansas City.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star has her story right here. It’s worth reading.
“Kylee’s basketball career is over,” he writes, “but that’s the least of the family’s concerns. Now 16, she doesn’t go to school in the first hour because of all the commotion in the hallways, and attending sporting events is out because of the overstimulation. In class, she must have test questions read aloud, and she can only do schoolwork in short segments before needing a break.”
Dean Clark, the head coach of the Prince George Cougars, really hurt this week when his captain, forward Brock Hirsche, announced his retirement because of shoulder problems.
Clark lived the same story more than a few years ago.
"It's unfortunate for him and it's an emotional day for me," Clark told Sheri Lamb of the Prince George Citizen. "The same thing happened to me as a 20-year-old where I couldn't continue the season."
Clark had to quit in 1984-85 while with the Kamloops Blazers. He moved behind the bench and worked alongside head coach Ken Hitchcock, just like Hirsche went behind the bench with the Cougars last season and again this season.
Clark has told Hirsche he welcome to work as an assistant coach again. Hirsche has said he will think about things over Christmas. He had surgery on Tuesday and really wants to see how he feels.
"He's a great kid and a great leader," Clark told Lamb. "You just don't replace guys like that. You want to have as many of those type of guys on your team as you can have. Those are the guys you win championships with.
"Whether he decides to come back, I hope he does, but if he doesn't, that's fine, too."
D Dalton Thrower (concussion) is expected to return to the Saskatoon Blades’ lineup tonight as they play host to the Regina Pats. He has missed 11 games since Nov. 5. . . . Thrower told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he was injured during a practice “altercation between two teammates.” Thrower added: “You play the game and you’re going to get hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a practice or if it’s in a game. All you have to do is bounce back from it.”
As you may be aware, the WHL last week fined the Portland Winterhawks $200,000, suspended general manager/head coach Mike Johnston through the end of the 2013 Memorial Cup and took away a bunch of draft picks.
I am told the Winterhawks have yet to be presented anything in writing from the WHL explaining the penalties.
As for those two news releases issued by the Winterhawks last week, the team has been told the WHL is thinking about additional sanctions but, as of Friday, there was nothing official.
So, at least for now, forget the rumours of the Winterhawks having been fined $25,000 for the first one and $50,000 for the second one.
I also have been told that the WHL has said it might fine the Winterhawks another $50,000 any time they speak up on this situation.
I’m just wondering if Portland owner Bill Gallacher is running a tab with the WHL office these days.
Ray Ratto of takes a look at what he calls impasse by ass. Yes, he’s writing about the NHL lockout and he pins the tail on two people (uhh, Gary Bettman isn‘t one of them). That piece is right here.
The OHL’s London Knights are riding a 17-game winning streak after beating the visiting Niagara IceDogs 5-2 on Friday. The London franchise record is 18 (2004-05) and the Knights can tie it on Sunday when they play host to the Mississauga Steelheads.
Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail checks in right here with a mother who is working to have body checking banned from all levels of minor hockey, starting with bantam and going down.
And there are people who agree with her.
MacGregor writes:
Principal researcher Michael Cusimano says such serious injuries as concussions are often the result of aggressive bodychecking and account for 15 per cent of all injuries to hockey players ages 9 to 16. In a startling statement, the researchers said up to one-quarter of players suffer concussions in a single season.
In the Toronto doctor’s opinion, bodychecking should be banned from minor hockey for all age groups.
Emile Therien, past president of the Canada Safety Council, agrees. The injury factor in minor hockey has reached a point where, in Therien’s opinion, “it’s child abuse” not to act on it. Therien, who attended American college on a full hockey scholarship (and is the father of Chris Therien, who played 11 seasons in the NHL), says it was the medical profession that forced the hockey world to act on eye protection a generation ago.
In Moose Jaw, the Red Deer Rebels ran their winning streak to nine games with a 2-1 victory over the Warriors. . . . F Matt Bellerive scored the winner, his sixth, with 10.9 seocnds left in the third period. . . . F Justin Kirsch gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 4:50 of the first period. . . . Red Deer F Tyson Ness tied it at 4:42 of the third. . . . The Rebels are 9-0-0 since owner/general manager Brent Sutter took over as the interim head coach from Jesse Wallin. . . .

In Brandon, F Mitch Holmberg scored twice and added an assist as the Spokane Chiefs beat the Wheat Kings, 5-2. . . . Holmberg, who led the WHL in goals in the early going and then was sidelined with a concussion, has 18 goals. . . . Spokane G Garret Hughson stopped 33 shots, including 19 in the third period. . . . The Chiefs are 5-0-0 on their East Division tour and have won six in a row overall. . . . The Wheat Kings had D Ryan Pulock back in their lineup. He hadn’t played since being struck in the face by a puck on Nov. 18. . . . Brandon F Jens Meilleur also returned from an undisclosed injury. . . . Among the Wheat Kings’ scratches was D Rene Hunter, 19, who was in his third season with the Wheat Kings. He had six assists in 24 games. . . . Media reports had him leaving the team, but Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun tweeted during the game that he spoke with general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “He will not say that Hunter has left team permanently, instead saying he is on a personal leave,” Henderson reported. . . . The Wheat Kings are 0-6-1 in their last seven games and have lost 11 of 12.

In Lethbridge, F Jaimen Yakubowski scored five times but it wasn’t enough as his Hurricanes dropped an 8-7 shootout decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Yakubowski, who has 18 goals, is the first player this season to score five times in a game. The WHL’s reigning player of the week scored once shorthanded, once on the PP and three times at even strenght. . . . Tigers F Hunter Shinkaruk had two goals, an assist and the winner in the circus, while teammate Miles Koules added a goal and four helpers. . . . The Hurricanes held a 7-5 lead late in the third period when Shinkaruk got his 19th at 15:06 and F Elgin Pearce tied it with his 11th at 17:08. . . . Shinkaruk and F Curtis Valk ended it with the only goals of the circus. . . .

In Edmonton, the Calgary Hitmen erased a 2-0- first-period defict and dumped the Oil Kings, 5-2. . . . Calgary has won 12 of its last 14 games. . . . F Zane Jones broke a 2-2 tie at 11:50 of the third period and then added his eighth goal of the season at 16:42. . . . F Brady Brassart and F Brooks Macek drew assists on both goals. . . . D Keegan Lowe (ankle) was back in the Oil Kings’ lineup after a three-game absence. . . . The Hitmen are 4-0-0 against Edmonton this season. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Calgary. . . . Edmonton F T.J. Foster will play in his 300th regular-season game tonight. . . .

In Kamloops, G Cole Cheveldave stopped 23 shots as the Blazers blanked the Prince George Cougars, 3-0. . . . Cheveldave has two shutouts this season and six in his career. . . . D Marek Hrbas got the game’s first goal, at 5:08 of the first. . . . F Colin Smith got his 23rd in the second period, tying him for the WHL lead with Spokane F Todd Fiddler. . . . D Joel Edmundson, in his first game since being acquired Thursday from the Moose Jaw Warriors, scored in the third period. . . . The Cougars played without F Colin Jacobs, who was serving Game 3 of a six-game suspension, D Marc McNulty (eye infection) and F Chase Witala (undisclosed). F Alex Forsberg (concussion) was back in the lineup after missing one game. . . . Kamloops F Aspen Sterzer drew a headshot major and game misconduct in the first period. . . .

In Cranbrook, F Sam Reinhart gave Kootenay a 3-1 lead just 45 seconds into the third period and the Ice hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . D Josh Morrissey pulled the Raiders to within one with a PP goal at 11:16 but that was all the scoring. . . . G Andy Desautels made his third start of the season for the Raiders and stopped 24 shots. . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 37 shots. . . . Raiders D Evan Morden drew a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Ice D Brock Montgomery in the third period. . . .

In Vancouver, G Eetu Laurikainen stopped 28 shots to help the Swift Current Broncos to a 3-1 victory over the Giants. . . . The Broncos will play the Royals in Victoria tonight, after which Laurikainen will leave to join the Finnish national junior team. . . . Swift Current F Adam Lowry scored on a shorthanded penalty shot, the second straight game in which that has happened. . . . Lowry’s father, Dave, is Victoria’s head coach, meaning there will be a father-son reunion of sorts tonight. . . . Broncos F Levi Bews, who suffered a knee injury in a 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Tuesday, returned to the lineup and scored his side’s first goal. . . . The Broncos are 1-2-0 on their B.C. Division tour. They’ll finish it up in Prince George on Tuesday, after travelling from Victoria. . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks outshot the Tri-City Americans 46-13 but dropped a 3-2 decision. . . . G Luke Lee Knight stopped 44 shots in his second start of the season for the Americans. . . . Portland had won its last 12 home games and seven in a row overall. . . . The Americans got second-period PP goals from Connor Rankin and Malte Stomwall. The goals came 1:08 apart. . . . Rankin, who has 11 goals, scored the game’s first two goals. . . . Portland F Brendan Leipsic drew on assist to run his points streak to 17 games. . . . Portland D Seth Jones is on a seven-game streak after also getting an assist. . . . The Winterhawks are in Kent, Wash., tonight to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds and then play the host Americans on Sunday. . . . Freelancer Scott Sepich reports that Portland, at 23-5-1, is off to its best 29-game start in franchise history. . . .

In Everett, F Robert Lipsbergs scored for the 10th time in 11 games as his Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the Silvertips, 5-1. . . . Lipsbergs has 15 goals. He is riding a six-game goal streak and an 11-game points streak. . . . Seattle F Mitch Elliot scored his first goal in 27 games this season and the ninth of his 220-game career. . . . Seattle has won four in a row. . . . The Thunderbirds are 4-0-0 against Everett this season. . . . Everett F Carson Standyk was given a charging major and game misconduct after a second-period collision with Seattle G Brandon Glover. . . . Glover stopped 33 shots and lost his shutout bid when F Tyler Sandhu got his 10th goal at 19:53 of the third. . . . Everett F Ryan Harrison (knee) returned from a 10-game absence.
F Jake Virtanen, Calgary
F Taylor Peters, Portland

F Colin Smith, Kamloops
F Aspen Sterzer, Kamloops (major)
D Evan Morden, Prince Albert (major)
D Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland
F Presten Kopeck, Portland
From Portland freelance writer Scott Sepich (@SSepich): “Apparently some poor Rose Garden loading dock staffter just asked Ken Hodge if he was Tri-City’s bus driver.”
Hodge, of course, is the winningest coach in WHL history.
From Kelowna Rockets F Colton Sissons (@colton_es15): “Peeled my mandarin orange in one piece this morning, gonna be a fabulous day!”
Actually, it wasn’t. Hockey Canada announced Friday that Sissons won’t be attending the national junior selection camp because of an undisclosed injury. He is believed to have a concussion.

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