Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1. F Ryan Gropp, the sixth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft, won't make his WHL debut in his hometown of Kamloops tonight (Wednesday) as the Seattle Thunderbirds meet the Blazers. Gropp left the BCHL's Penticton Vees to join the Thunderbirds on Tuesday, also giving up his commitment to the U of North Dakota in the process. He had said he would attend UND in the fall of 2014.
Mark Hunter of the Kamloops Daily News reports that "because of paperwork issues involved with playing for a team based in the U.S., Gropp can’t play in tonight’s game, and might not even make it into the lineup until next week."
Gropp has a late 1996 birthday (Sept. 16, one day after the NHL draft cutoff) and is projected as an early selection in the NHL's 2015 draft. He had eight points, three of them goals, in 10 games with the Vees this season, after putting up 31 points, including 12 goals, in 50 games last season.
If you have paid attention to the Gropp saga, you won't have been surprised by his decision. He didn't commit to UND until earlier this summer. Obviously, then, there have been some doubts in his mind, and you can bet that he has been hearing from Seattle freshman F Mathew Barzal, the first overall selection in the 2012 bantam draft who has put up 14 points in his first 10 WHL games, and good friend Joe Hicketts, the sophomore defenceman with the Victoria Royals. Barzal leads the Thunderbirds, who are 8-2-0, in assists (11) and points (14).

2. Chris Peters, the editor of the United States of Hockey, also writes for cbssports.com. In his latest essay, he makes a strong case that the time has come to stop the fighting. The final straw as far as Peters is concerned? The horrible incident in the USHL on Saturday night. . . . Peters' piece is right here.

3. League of Denial, the documentary that aired last week on Frontline, created quite a stir. Of course, there was quite a stir weeks before it aired when ESPN moved to distance itself from the show. Robert Lipsyte is ESPN's ombudsman; if you aren't aware of him, he also is a wonderful writer. Right here, he takes a look at all that went on from start to finish and then some.

4. Another note from a WHL fan about the league's decision not to print a Guide this season:
"I couldn't agree more with you and the others about the lack of a WHL Guide this year. As someone who lives on the U.S. East Coast and listens to games over the Internet, it has been absolutely indispensable. I can't fathom the short-sightedness of the people who manage the league."

5. It was early this year when Brent Sutter, the owner, GM and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, told Jason Gregor of the Edmonton Journal: "You just don’t have as many players today that are as good athletes as they used to be. Too much today, especially in young players, is focused on hockey 12 months a year. They don’t play soccer, they don’t play baseball or tennis or the other things that people used to do.” . . . It turns out there are a whole lot of one-sport athletes out there and it seems to be causing a bunch of problems. The headline reads: Injuries exploding as youths focus on one sport. . . . Ron Kroichick's story from sfgate.com is right here.

The Swift Current Broncos have released F Jordan Wittman, 17, from their roster and he will join the SJHL's Kindersley Klippers. A third-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft, Wittman, from Stewart Valley, Sask., had yet to play in a regular-season game, after putting up two points in six preseason games. . . .
The Regina Pats have added G Mac Engel, 20, to their roster after G Teagan Sacher, who turns 19 on Dec. 1, left the team to attend the U of Winnipeg. . . . Sacher, who is from Winnipeg, has had an undisclosed injury and played in just two games. Last season, in 26 games, he was 8-13-2, 3.87, .883. . . . Engel was claimed off waivers from the Prince George Cougars. He has career numbers of 52-51-14, 2.91, .894 in 135 games with the Spokane Chiefs and Prince George. . . . Engel's arrival leaves the Pats with three 20-year-olds, the others being F Boston Leier and F Dyson Stevenso. . . . Regina's roster includes two other goaltenders — Dawson MacAuley and Spencer Tremblay, both 18. . . .
The visiting Prince Albert Raiders and the Edmonton Oil Kings were 1:26 into the first period at Rexall Place last night when the lights went out. They stayed out for almost two hours, with play resuming at 9 p.m. . . . Naturally, the game went all the way to a shootout after Prince Albert F Reid Gardiner tied it at 2 with 16.6 seconds left in the third period. . . . In the end, Raiders G Cole Cheveldave stopped 37 shots and three more in the circus, helping his side to a 3-2 victory.

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