Friday, October 25, 2013

1. It was entirely predictable that, with the Lethbridge Hurricanes off to a horrid start, someone would express interest in purchasing the community-owned WHL team.
That has happened with former WHLer Kris Versteeg, who began his career with the Hurricanes, having written a letter to the Lethbridge Herald stating his interest in getting involved.
That letter, which is right here, begins: "I would like to stress the purpose of this message is not to kick this organization while it is down, but simply to express my strong interest in wanting to be a part of it."
Judging by the contents of the letter, Versteeg is aligned with a number of partners, none of whom is named, and is prepared to move forward.
Of course, this isn't the first time someone has expressed interest in purchasing a franchise that has stumbled through a lot of the most recent seasons. Twin brothers Rich and Ron Sutter have long stated that they are interested in the franchise.
It seems, however, that the Lethbridge franchise isn't for sale.
“Well, the board’s position is that the team is not for sale,” team president Brian McNaughton told Dylan Purcell of the Lethbridge Herald in reacting to Versteeg's letter. “And that’s been our position for a long, long time. We believe that the board is committed to running the hockey team and keeping the hockey team in Lethbridge and we believe that’s the most viable option.”
Purcell's story is right here.

2. Tweet from Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) of Yahoo! Sports: "Kris Versteeg's letter mentions 2 goals: Win Stanley Cup with Panthers & take Hurricanes to next level... I bet goal 3 is broker world peace."

3. A few words from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
"How long will it be before fan support, or lack thereof, becomes a major issue surrounding the Regina Pats? The Pats drew only 3,254 spectators for Wednesday’s WHL East Division first-place showdown with the Prince Albert Raiders, who won 3-1.
"The poor attendance is partially attributable to the fact that the Pats have missed the playoffs for four of the past five seasons. However, they carried a six-game winning streak into Wednesday’s game, and they are playing an entertaining brand of hockey. What will it take to entice more people to buy in?
"Once upon a time, disenchanted fans were heard to declare that they would not set foot inside the Brandt Centre as long as Brent Parker was involved with the Pats organization. Well, guess what? Parker, a one-time lightning rod for criticism, is no longer part of the team (which is owned by his father, Russ). So where is everyone?"
The Pats drew a season-high 5,432 fans to their Friday night game with the Edmonton Oil Kings, who got off to a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-2 victory.

4. In light of the headshot delivered by John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres the other night, John Shannon of Sportsnet weighs in right here with his thoughts on the situation. Yes, more food for thought. . . .

5. F Matt Anholt, the son of long-time WHL coach Peter Anholt, has committed to attend the U of Alaska-Anchorage and play for the Seawolves. From Prince Albert, Matt is in his second season with the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors. This season, he is the Warriors' captain. . . . Peter, who now scouts for the Seattle Thunderbirds, has 450 coaching victories to his credit. He coached Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer and Kelowna.

Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels will be the head coach of Team WHL when it plays a Russian side in the Subway Series next month. Ryan McGill of the Kootenay Ice will serve as Sutter's assistant coach. Games are scheduled for Nov. 27 in Red Deer and Nov. 28 in Lethbridge. . . . The WHL has suspended Prince Albert Raiders F Mike Winther for four games after he took a headshot major during a 3-1 victory over the Pats in Regina on Wednesday night. . . . After Friday's games, the WHL, thanks to loser points, has 15 of its 22 teams playing at .500 or better. That includes seven of 10 teams in the Western Conference. . . . The OHL's Erie Otters are riding a nine-game winning streak. At 11-2-1, their .821 winning percentage is second only to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (10-1-2, .846). The Otters’ head coach is Kris Knoblauch, a former WHL player and coach.

D Ashton Sautner, with two goals in each of the last two seasons, scored twice and added an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings scored a 7-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . Sautner went into the game with four goals in 121 career regular-season games. From Wolseley, Sask., which is a few slapshots east of Regina on No. 1 Highway, he has three goals this season. . . . Sautner's father, Blaine, is a former head coach of the U of Regina Cougars. . . . The Oil Kings have won three in a row. . . . The Pats have followed a six-game winning streak with two losses. . . .

F Oliver Bjorkstrand drew three assists and G Jarrod Schamerhorn earned his first WHL victory in his second start as the visiting Portland Winterhawks got past the Kootenay Ice, 6-3. . . . Portland F Chase De Leo added two goals on his 18th birthday. . . . The Winterhawks, who wrap up a five-game road trip in Spokane tonight, have won seven in a row. . . .

In Red Deer, F Nikita Scherbak had a goal and two assists as the Saskatoon Blades edged the Rebels, 4-3. . . . Scherbak broke a 3-3 tie with a PP goal at 17:56 of the third period. . . . There was a bizarre play in this one, at 2:49 of the third period, as Saskatoon F Collin Valcourt drove to the Red Deer net, scored a goal and was given a major and game misconduct for goaltending interference after colliding with G Patrik Bartosak. The puck was ruled to have crossed the goal line before Valcourt made contact with Bartosak. That goal gave Saskatoon a 3-2 lead and knocked Bartosak out of the game. He was replaced by Taz Burman. . . . After opening the season with five losses, the Blades are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. . . . The Rebels have lost four in a row, all at home. . . .

D Reid Gow picked up four assists as the Spokane Chiefs dropped the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . Gow is from Killarney, Man., which is located about an hour's drive south of Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings were playing the first of a six-game road swing that includes five stops in the U.S. Division. . . . Spokane Mitch Holmberg had a goal and two assists. He leads the WHL in goals (17) and points (35). . . . Spokane F Liam Stewart, who missed two weeks with an undisclosed injury, scored once in his return, as did F Adam Helewka, who hadn't played since suffering a back injury in the season's third game. . . . The Chiefs (11-3-0) lead the U.S. division by a point  over the Portland Winterhawks (10-3-1). Portland visits Spokane tonight. . . .

F Jessey Astles, who has eight goals in 192 regular-season games, scored the only goal of the shootout as the host Tri-City Americans beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 3-2. . . . Astles, 20, is in his fifth season. Playing with the Kelowna Rockets, Saskatoon Blades and Tri-City, he has had seasons of 1, 3, 2 and 1 goal. He has one goal in 13 games this season. . . . F Ryan Gropp, who left the BCHL's Penticton Vees earlier this month to join Seattle, scored on his first WHL shift. Gropp, from Kamloops, was the sixth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. . . . The Thunderbirds didn't have F Jaimen Yakubowski and F Sam Mckechnie in their lineup. They were acquired Thursday from the Lethbrige Hurricanes. . . .

In Prince George, Slovakian F David Soltes scored in the shootout to give the Cougars a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . With the loser point, the Hitmen have at least a point in each of their last nine games. . . .

F Manraj Hayer scored three times as the visiting Everett Silvertips got past the Vancouver Giants, 6-5. . . . Hayer, who is from Vancouver, broke a 5-5 tie at 18:01 of the third period to complete his first WHL hat trick. . . .

In Victoria, G Jordon Cooke stopped 28 shots, including two penalty shots, as the Kelowna Rockets beat the Royals, 4-1. . . . Cooke stopped F Logan Nelson on a penalty shot at 11:36 of the second period to preserve a 2-0 lead, and then beat F Luke Harrison at 10:22 of the third. . . . Cooke is 7-0-0 this season. . . . The Royals had won five straight home games. . . . D Riley Stadel was scratched by Kelowna. Head coach Ryan Huska told Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier that Stadel underwent a "minor procedure" in Vancouver and should be back with the team next weekend.

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