Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hitmen back in first; Raiders, Rebels in dead heat

There were a couple of backup goaltenders with ties to the WHL on NHL benches on Tuesday night. That’s Pat Conacher Jr. (top), who backed up Vancouver starter Eddie Lack in Phoenix after the Canucks traded Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers. Conacher is the son of Pat Conacher, who was an assistant coach with the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?) in 2010-11 and the Regina Pats’ head coach in 2011-12. He now is director of hockey operations with the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ AHL affiliate. Conacher Jr. also is a scout with the WHL’s Victoria Royals. Meanwhile, in Edmonton, former Portland Winterhawks/Kamloops Blazers G Kurtis Mucha backed up the Oilers’ Ben Scrivens after they sent Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild. Mucha now plays for the U of Alberta Golden Bears and is a second-team Canada West all-star. (Top photo: Sportsnet screen grab; bottom photo: Edmonton Oilers)

SM-liigaF Josh Green (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98) has signed a one-year extension with Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga). In 41 games, he has 29 points, including 20 goals. Seventeen of those 20 goals have come at even strength. Green made the announcement of the extension himself, in Finnish in a video posted on the Tappara website.
F Tim Bozon of the Kootenay Ice remains in a Saskatoon hospital, where he is being treated for meningitis.
On Tuesday morning, he parents, Helene and Philippe, posted this on their son’s Twitter account:
“Our Timmy is keeping fighting but...thank you so much for your wonderful wishes.helene and Phil Bozon”
Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
“We’re not for sale, nobody’s come, again, to talk to us about the sale of the hockey team. The board of directors of the hockey team are in charge of running the hockey team and that’s what we’re doing.” And, he added, the team hasn’t been sold. . . . That was Brian Wichers, the vice-president of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, in conversation with Dylan Purcell of the Lethbridge Herald. . . . Oh, Wichers also said the franchise still will be community-owned when next season gets here. . . . Purcell’s piece is right here.

The Kamloops Blazers are nearing the end of their 10-game stint away from home. They returned to Kamloops on Sunday morning, following a three-game swing into Alberta. But they remain out of Interior Savings Centre because of the Tim Hortons Brier. The Blazers, who are 1-6-0 in their last seven games, are to play the Giants in Vancouver tonight. Kamloops is expected to be without D Sam Grist and F Chase Souto, both of whom left a Friday game in Calgary with undisclosed injuries and didn’t play Saturday in Medicine Hat. . . .
The Giants are likely to be without D Dalton Thrower (ankle), G Jared Rathjen and F Dominik Voley, the latter two with undisclosed injuries. Thrower, who skated on Monday but left the ice after tweaking the ankle again, was wearing a walking boot on Tuesday. Thrower will sit out for the 17th straight game tonight. . . .
Prospera Credit Union, the home of the Kelowna Rockets, will maintain naming rights to Prospera Place in Kelowna for five more years, through January 2019. The credit union and RG Properties Ltd. made the announcement Tuesday morning. Prospera Place, built by RG Properties, opened in 1999 and the credit union has held naming rights since 20-03.
Eastern Conference
Calgary (1) vs. Red Deer/Prince Albert (8)
Regina (2) vs. Brandon (7)
Edmonton (3) vs. Swift Current (6)
Medicine Hat (4) vs. Kootenay (5)
Western Conference
Kelowna (1) vs. Tri-City (8)
Portland (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Victoria (3) vs. Everett (6)
Seattle (4) vs. Spokane (5)
WEDNESDAY’S WHL GAMES (all times local):
Calgary at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Regina, 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
Spokane at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Portland at Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
In Brandon, the Calgary Hitmen scored the game’s first five goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . Calgary moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference with the victory. . . . The Hitmen have won three in a row and have points in 13 straight. . . . Calgary F Brady Brassart had a goal, his 34th, and an assist as he ran his point streak to 16 games. . . . Calgary D Ben Thomas also had a goal, his sixth, and an assist. He has three goals in four games against Brandon. . . . F Connor Rankin of Calgary, who scored his 20th goal, via the PP, in the second period, left the game favouring a shoulder. . . . Calgary G Chris Driedger stopped 23 shots. He lost his shutout bid at 18:31 of the third period when F Rihards Bukarts scored his 24th goal. . . . The Hitmen were 2-for-4 on the PP. They have at least one PP goal in each of their last 13 games. . . . Calgary (44-15-7) is atop the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Brandon (31-27-9) is seventh, four points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . .

In Swift Current, F Jay Merkley broke a 3-3 tie at 17:04 of the third period as the Broncos beat the Edmonton Oil Kings, 4-3. . . . F Henrik Samuelsson had two goals, giving him 32, and an assist for the Oil Kings, his second goal, at 6:50 of the third period, giving them a 3-1 lead. . . . F Nate Burns scored his 24th at 12:58 and F Colby Cave tied the score with his 31st at 13:21. . . . Merkley has 28 goals this season. . . . F Jake DeBrusk had two assists for the Broncos, who got 26 saves out of G Eetu Laurikainen. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry stopped 31 shots. . . . The Broncos (34-25-9) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Oil Kings (45-17-3) are two points behind Calgary and hold a game in hand. . . .

In Prince Albert, D Josh Morrissey and F Leon Draisaitl each scored twice to help the Raiders to a 9-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Draisaitl, who has 32 goals, also had two assists. . . . Morrissey, who has 25 goals, added one helper. . . . Raiders D Tomas Andrlik had three assists. . . . Moose Jaw G Justin Paulic stopped 27 shots. With Zach Sawchenko, their other goaltender, unavailable because of illness, the Warriors had Logan Morhart of the midget AA Prince Albert Raiders on their bench as an emergency backup. The only way they could have lifted Paulic was due to injury. . . . F Brayden Point scored twice, giving him 31, for the Warriors. . . . Prince Albert G Nick McBride, making his third start in the team’s last four games, made 19 saves. He stopped F Torrin White on a first-period penalty shot. . . . The Raiders last scored nine times in a game when they beat the visiting Regina Pats 9-4 on Jan. 9, 2013. . . . The Raiders (31-30-5) are tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. . . . The Warriors (17-40-9) are 2-7-1 in their last 10. . . .

In Cranbrook, G Patrik Bartosak stopped 32 shots as the Red Deer Rebels beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-0. . . . Bartosak has seven shutouts this season and 13 in his career. He is tied with Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings for the WHL lead this season. . . . Three of Bartosak’s shut outs this season have been against the Ice, all of them in Cranbrook. . . . According to Jeff Hollick, the radio voice of the Ice, it was the sixth time Kootenay has been shut out this season and the third time on home ice, both of which are franchise records. . . . F Aspen Sterzer and F Rhyse Dieno each had a goal and an assist. Sterzer has 26 goals, while Dieno, who got an empty-netter, has 23. . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 28 shots. . . . The Ice dressed 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . Red Deer (31-30-5) is tied with Prince Albert for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. Each team has five games remaining. . . . The Ice (37-25-4) is fifth in the conference, one point ahead of Swift Current. . . .

In Everett, the Silvertips scored two first-period goals 22 seconds apart and went on to a 5-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . F Jujhar Khaira, with his 16th, and D Ben Betker, with his sixth, scored at 11:07 and 11:29 of the first period to get the home boys started. . . . Everett F Josh Winquist scored twice, giving him 41, and added an assist. . . . Khaira also had two assists. . . . Winquist is within one of the franchise records for goals in one season (Shane Harper, 2009-10). . . . Everett G Austin Lotz stopped 23 shots, losing his shootout on goal by F Justin Kirkland, his 15th, at 4:49 of the third period. . . . Everett had a 38-24 edge in shots. . . . Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets, called his 1,000th Kelowna game. Back in the day, he also did 360 games with the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Silvertips, who have won four in a row, had lost eight straight to the Rockets. . . . Everett (34-23-9) is sixth in the Western Conference, one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (52-10-4) leads the overall standings.

From Brad Robson (@BKCanes): “The @WHLHurricanes send their prayers to @timbozon94 , his family & to the @WHLKootenayICE organization. #keepfighting”
Robson, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, echoes the sentiments of the hockey world.

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