Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Changes in Saskatoon; Cougars sold . . . not yet!

A trust fund has been established to assist the Bozon family with medical- and rehabilitation-related costs with which they now are faced.
You are able to make a donation at any BMO Bank of Montreal branch in Western Canada.
Should you live outside of that area and want to donate, please mail donations to:
Western Hockey League
c/o Tim Bozon
Father David Bauer Arena
2424 University Drive NW
Calgary AB
T2N 3Y9
The new owners of the Saskatoon Blades, Mike and Colin Priestner, began putting their stamp on the the franchise Tuesday when, as expected, they dumped general manager Lorne Molleken and head coach Dave Struch overboard.
The Priestners purchased the franchise from the Brodsky family, with the deal being approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Sept. 4.
Molleken, who was in his first season as general manager after a run as GM/head coach, had two years left on his deal. He apparently will stay on for a while in a consulting role and is expected to be involved in the hiring process.
Struch, a former Blades stick boy, player and long-time assistant coach, completed his first year as head coach. His contract was to expire in July. The Blades, who were rebuilding after an attempt to load up last season when they were the host team for the Memorial Cup, went 16-51-5 and missed the playoffs.
Also gone are assistant coach Curtis Leschyshyn and goaltending coach Tim Cheveldae, both of whom are going to join the coaching staff of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers.
Interestingly, Craig Button, a former NHL GM who works as an analyst with TSN and the NHL Network, is working with the Priestners during the hiring process.
According to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Button “has been hired by the Blades as a part-time, volunteer consultant.”
Nugent-Bowman’s piece on Button’s involvement is right here.
Nugent-Bowman’s story on the day’s activities is right here.
It doesn’t seem likely that Dean Clark will get back into the coaching or management game with the Blades or any other team.
Clark, a veteran of 958 regular-season games as a WHL coach, is in a construction management position with SNC-Lavalin, a corporation that is a big player in the construction and engineering business. Clark, who also has his journeyman’s papers in pole-climbing and was a lineman before getting in coaching in the WHL, has been working for SNC-Lavalin since May and, while he works out of his home in Kelowna, he spends ample time on the road.
“It’s got all the benefits, like a pension,” he told me Tuesday night from a Vancouver hotel room, “and you don’t get all that stuff in the WHL.”
The Blades are the second WHL team to be looking for a head coach, joining the Kamloops Blazers.
You may recall that the Blazers, on the morning of Jan. 11, announced via a news release that head coach Dave Hunchak “has taken a leave of absence from the team effective immediately.”
Hunchak actually had left the team on Jan. 9 in Spokane and returned home, leaving associate coach Mark Ferner to run the bench in a game against the Chiefs on Jan. 10.
Upon the Blazers’ return to Kamloops, Guy Charron resurfaced as head coach. Charron had stepped down after last season and moved into the position of advisor to hockey operations.
The Blazers’ season, one that was the poorest in Kamloops franchise history, ended on March 14 and management has yet to clarify that situation, although general manager Craig Bonner has indicated to Kamloops This Week that he is looking for a head coach.
That, of course, begs the question: If a head coach is on a leave of absence is he still the head coach?
Meanwhile, the sale of the Prince George Cougars has yet to be completed.
It will happen, you can bet the house on that; it just hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, once it does happen and new owners are in place, the futures of head coach Mark Holick and assistant coach Jason Becker will have to be decided.
Holick just completed his first full season and is believed to have two years left on his contract.
Early on Tuesday, WHL Facts (@WHLFacts) sent this tweet: “Mar. 25, 2003 - 11 years ago today, the longest game in WHL history was played (136:56) as the @WHLKootenayICE defeated Kamloops 3-2 in 4OTs.”
Now that was a fun time.
Had the game taken up another 10 minutes of real time, the Kamloops Daily News would have gone to press without a game story. As it was, the press was held for 50 minutes.
During the intermissions between the OT periods, I actually wrote two leads, one with the Ice winning, the other with the Blazers winning.
No, there weren’t any quotes in either story.
I can tell you, too, that I wasn’t cheering for either team, but I was cheering for the next goal. Had the game continued, I would have been past my last deadline and it wouldn’t have mattered then had the game gone until dawn.

The Brandon Wheat Kings aren’t likely to have F Peter Quenneville or D Eric Roy in their lineup for Game 3 against the visiting Regina Pats tonights. Neither played in Game 2 in Regina on Saturday night and Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun reports that neither skated Tuesday. . . . Henderson also reported: “Also missing the session was Jordan Papirny, with (GM/head coach Kelly) McCrimmon refusing to give a status update on his No.1 goalie.” Papirny went the distance in each of the first two games. If he can’t go, Curtis Honey, 19, will get the call. Honey has played in 73 regular-season games, but has yet to see playoff action. . . .
Brandon F Nolan Patrick was given credit for his first WHL playoff goal in Sunday’s 8-4 victory in Regina, but that goal has since been awarded to F Chad Robinson. Patrick, the fourth overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft, didn’t even get an assist on the play, with those going to F Rihards Bukarts and D Ryan Pilon.

In Swift Current, F Jake DeBrusk broke a 1-1 tie at 13:51 of the third period and the Broncos went on to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-1. . . . The Tigers lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 in Swift Current tonight. . . . F Nate Burns gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead on a PP at 11:32 of the first, with Tigers F Curtis Sanford tying it at 16:21. . . . Burns also drew an assist on DeBrusk’s goal. . . . Broncos D Julius Honka iced it with an empty-netter at 18:51 of the third. . . . Swift Current G Eetu Laurikainen stopped 30 shots, six fewer than Marek Langhamer of the Tigers. . . . The Broncos were 1-for-5 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-for-2. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Edmonton Oil Kings overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to beat the Raiders 4-3 and take command of their first-round series. . . . The Oil Kings lead 3-0 with Game 4 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Edmonton F Riley Kieser broke a 3-3 tie at 17:28 of the third period after F Edgars Kulda had equalized at 13:37. . . . The Raiders took a 2-0 lead into the second period on goals by F Jayden Hart and F Leon Draisaitl. . . . The Oil Kings got even with second-period goals by F Brent Pollock, on the PP, and D Griffin Reinhart. . . . Raiders F Chance Braid gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 12:49 of the second. . . . Edmonton D Ashton Sautner had two assists. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry kicked out 24 shots, nine fewer than Prince Albert’s Cole Cheveldave. . . . The Oil Kings were 1-for-3 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-for-4. . . .

In Cranbrook, Kootenay F Jaedon Descheneau broke a 4-4 tie with 51.6 seconds left in the third period as the Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen 5-4 to even their series at 2-2. . . . Game 5 is scheduled for Calgary on Thursday night. . . . Descheneau was coming off a six-point night in Monday’s 7-6 OT loss. . . . He also had an assist in this one, as he became the first player in these playoffs to reach 10 points. . . . In what has turned into a wild-and-crazy series, the Ice held 2-0 and 3-1 leads before having to erase a 4-3 deficit. . . . F Greg Chase, Monday’s OT hero, pulled Calgary into a 3-3 tie at 3:29 of the second period and F Pavel Padakin gave the visitors a 4-3 lead with a shorthanded score at 6:26. . . . Ice F Levi Cable tied it at 7:43 of the second. . . . F Sam Reinhart and F Zach Franko each scored his fourth goal of the series for Kootenay. . . . F Jake Virtanen got his first goal of the playoffs for the Hitmen, on a first-period PP. . . . The Hitmen were 1-for-6 on the PP; the Ice was 1-for-7. On Monday, the Ice had been 5-for-6 on the PP. . . . Ice G Wyatt Hoflin, who relieved starter MacKenzie Skapski after Padakin’s goal, stopped all 20 shots he faced and picked up his first playoff victory. Skapski had given up four goals on 18 shots. . . . Calgary G Chris Driedger stopped 27 shots. . . .

In Vancouver, the Portland Winterhawks built up a 4-0 lead en route to a 6-3 victory over the Giants. . . . With a 3-0 series lead, the Winterhawks get their first opportunity to wrap it up tonight in Vancouver. . . . F Brendan Leipsic had two goals and two assists for the Winterhawks. He scored two of his club’s first four goals. . . . Leipsic has four goals in the series. . . . F Taylor Leier, F Oliver Bjorkstrand and D Derrick Pouliot each added a goal and an assist for the Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver F Joel Hamilton scored shorthanded at 9:33 of the third and F Trent Lofthouse added another goal at 11:55, getting the home side to within 5-3. . . . Portland F Paul Bittner put it away at 15:48. . . . Portland, with the WHL’s top regular-season PP, was 2-for-5 with the man advantage, getting its first two goals that way. . . . Vancouver was 0-for-3. . . . Portland G Brendan Burke stopped 25 shots, while Vancouver’s Payton Lee turned aside 28. . . . G Jared Rathjen, who took 15 stitches near an eye after being struck by a puck while on the bench during Game 2 on Saturday in Portland, backed up Lee. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Mathew Barzal, the first overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft, was credited with his first WHL playoff goal in OT to give the host Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Thunderbirds lead the series 3-0, with Game 4 scheduled for Everett on Friday night. . . . Barzal was given the goal, which came at 3:47 of OT, but that may be changed to F Justin Hickman. After the game, Barzal and Hickman were of the opinion that Hickman had tipped in the winner. . . . Everett F Patrick Bajkov opened the scoring on a PP at 5:54 of the first period and the teams alternated goals through regulation time. . . . F Branden Troock pulled Seattle even at 13:32 of the first and Bajkov restored the lead, on a PP, at 19:00. . . . Seattle pulled even again, at 4:02 of the second, when F Scott Eansor scored, only to have Everett go out front again, this time at 17:54 on D Mirco Mueller’s goal. . . . Eansor tied it with his second of the game at 4:31 of the third. . . . Eansor, a freshman from Englewood, Colo., scored three goals in 52 regular-season games. . . . Everett F Manraj Hayer drew three assists. . . . Seattle G Taran Kozun, who earlier in the day was named the CHL’s goaltender of the week for the third time in 2014, turned aside 28 shots, three more than Everett’s Austin Lotz. . . . Everett was 2-for-7 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-3. . . . Everett lost D Noah Juulsen in the first period, following a hit by Seattle F Jaimen Yakubowski, who took a double minor for checking from behind. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Eric Comrie made 52 saves to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Rockets, who finished atop the overall standings in the regular season, hold a 2-1 lead in the series, with Game 4 in Kennewick tonight. . . . The Americans are the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed. . . . Comrie has a 2.71 GAA and a .941 save percentage in this series. . . . Tri-City broke open a scoreless game with three goals in the last five minutes of the second period. . . . F Jessey Astles, a former Rockets skater, opened the scoring at 15:43, and was followed by F Phil Tot (16:51) and F Brian Williams (19:06). . . . The Rockets cut into the lead in the third period on goals by F Myles Bell, at 7:22, and F Justin Kirkland, on a PP, at 14:05. . . . Americans F Justin Gutierrez gave his side a 4-2 lead at 17:07, before Kelowna F Marek Tvrdon scoed on the PP at 18:57. . . . Gutierrez, who had three goals and 18 assists in 70 regular-season games, had a goal and two assists, as did Tot. Those were Gutierrez’s first WHL playoff points and came in his eighth career game. He is the younger brother of Moise Gutierrez (Kamloops, Everett, 2002-07). . . . Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Americans were 0-for-4. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke made 33 saves.
THE FIRST ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WHL team logo EDMONTON (1) vs. PRINCE ALBERT (8)
Season series: Edmonton, 2-1-1; Prince Albert, 2-2-0.
Saturday: Prince Albert 3 at Edmonton 5 (6,534)
Sunday: Prince Albert 1 at Edmonton 3 (6,584)
Tuesday: Edmonton 4 at Prince Albert 3 (2881)
Wednesday: Edmonton at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday: Prince Albert at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday: Edmonton at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Prince Albert at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Edmonton: F Brandon Baddock, 3-5 weeks; D Blake Orban, indefinite; F Reid Petryk, day-to-day.
Prince Albert: D Graeme Craig, indefinite.
WHL team logo
REGINA (2) vs. BRANDON (7)
Season series: Brandon, 5-3-0; Regina, 3-3-2.
Saturday: Brandon 6 at Regina 3 (6,200)
Sunday: Brandon 8 at Regina 4 (5,014)
Wednesday: Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.
Friday: Regina at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
x-Saturday: Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.
x-Monday: Regina vs. Brandon, at Dauphin, Man., 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday, April 2: Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.
Brandon: F Peter Quenneville, day-to-day; D Eric Roy, day-to-day.
Regina: D Tye Hand, indefinite; G Daniel Wapple, day-to-day.
WHL team logo
Season series: Calgary, 4-4-0; Kootenay, 4-2-2.
Thursday: Kootenay 5 at Calgary 2 (6,649)
Saturday: Kootenay 0 at Calgary 5 (9,019)
Monday: Calgary 7 at Kootenay 6 (OT) (1,992)
Tuesday: Calgary 4 at Kootenay 5 (2,102)
Thursday: Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Calgary at Kootenay, 7 p.m.
x-Monday: Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Calgary: F Cal Babych, day-to-day; F Connor Rankin, day-to-day.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Tyler King, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
WHL team logo
Season series: Medicine Hat, 2-2-0; Swift Current, 2-2-0.
Friday: Swift Current 1 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,512)
Saturday: Swift Current 2 at Medicine Hat 4 (3743)
Tuesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Swift Current 3 (2,840)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Swift Current at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
x-Sunday: Medicine Hat at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Swift Current at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, indefinite; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Steve Owre, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Swift Current: None.
WHL team logo
KELOWNA (1) vs. TRI-CITY (8)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-4-0; Tri-City, 0-3-1.
Saturday: Tri-City 1 at Kelowna 3 (5,827)
Sunday: Tri-City 1 at Kelowna 3 (5,041)
Tuesday: Kelowna 3 at Tri-City 4 (2,010)
Wednesday: Kelowna at Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Tri-City at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
x-Saturday: Kelowna at Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Tri-City at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
(NOTE: Tri-City plays home games in Kennewick, Wash.)
Kelowna: D Jesse Lees, indefinite.
Tri-City: F Taylor Vickerman, indefinite.
WHL team logo
Season series: Portland, 4-0-0; Vancouver, 0-3-1.
Friday: Vancouver 3 at Portland 4 (9,756)
Saturday: Vancouver 0 at Portland 3 (10,947)
Tuesday: Portland 6 at Vancouver 3 (5,680)
Wednesday: Portland at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
x-Friday: Vancouver at Portland, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday: Portland at Vancouver, 2 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Vancouver at Portland, 7 p.m.
Portland: None.
Vancouver: F Tyler Benson, indefinite; G Jared Rathjen, day-to-day; F Jakob Stukel, indefinite; D Dalton Thrower, indefinite.
WHL team logo
Season series: Victoria, 1-3-0; Spokane, 3-1-0.
Saturday: Spokane 1 at Victoria 2 (OT) (6,615)
Sunday: Spokane 3 at Victoria 4 (OT) (4,629)
Wednesday: Victoria at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Victoria at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
x-Saturday: Spokane at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
x-Monday: Victoria at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
x-Wednesday, April 2: Spokane at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria: None.
Spokane: D Colton Bobyk, week-to-week; F Adam Hascic, day-to-day; F Blair Oneschuk, week-to-week.
WHL team logo
Season series: Seattle, 5-4-1; Everett, 5-4-1.
Saturday: Everett 1 at Seattle 2 (4,650)
Sunday: Seattle 3 at Everett 1 (4,150)
Tuesday: Everett 3 at Seattle 4 (OT) (5,176)
Friday: Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
x-Saturday: Everett at Seattle, 7:05 p.m.
x-Monday: Seattle at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
x-Wednesday, April 2: Everett at Seattle, 7:05 p.m.
(NOTE: Seattle plays home games in Kent, Wash.)
Seattle: F Connor Honey, indefinite.
Everett: F Kohl Baum, indefinite; F Tyler Sandhu, day-to-day.

From the Regina Pats (@WHLpats): “With your support we were able to raise $2,000 for the Tim Bozon Trust Fund on the weekend! #ThankYouFans #RockTheRed”
From Colby Chartier (@ColbyChartier): “Well @_Chartier27 you helped dad out tonight! Got pulled over in Sandpoint turns out the cops a big Chiefs fan! #Warning #GoChiefsGo”

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