Saturday, March 15, 2014

Playoff picture coming into focus

Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse takes an extensive look at the life and career of F Tim Bozon of the Kootenay Ice right here. Bozon remains in the ICU ward at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, two weeks after he was admitted and diagnosed with Neisseria Meningitis. . . . Godin’s story is in French, so you may have to run it through Google’s translator.

 Curtis Hunt, a former WHL player and coach, is an assistant coach with the Canadian team that won a bronze medal in sledge hockey in the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, on Saturday. . . .
G Shannon Szabados stopped 27 shots Saturday night as her Columbus, Ga., Cottonmouths dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Knoxville Ice Bears. The 27-year-old Szabados, the starting goaltender for the Canadian women’s Olympic team, became the first woman to play in the Southern Pro Hockey League. . . . Attendance was 4,295.
Eastern Conference
Edmonton (1) vs. Prince Albert (8)
Regina (2) vs. Brandon (7)
Calgary (3) vs. Kootenay (6)
Medicine Hat (4) vs. Swift Current (5)
(WHAT’S LEFT TO DECIDE: Only eighth place. The Prince Albert Raiders are eighth, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. The Raiders are out of games; the Rebels will play in Edmonton today. A Red Deer victory will necessitate a tiebreaker game with Prince Albert.)
Western Conference
Kelowna (1) vs. Tri-City (8)
Portland (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Victoria (3) vs. Spokane (6)
Everett (4) vs. Seattle (5)
(WHAT’S LEFT TO DECIDE: Home-ice advantage in the series between the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds. Everett plays the Winterhawks in Portland this evening, while the Thunderbirds are in Kennewick, Wash., to finish up against the Tri-City Americans.)
SUNDAY’S WHL GAMES (all times local):
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 4 p.m. (rescheduled from Friday)
Red Deer at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Everett at Portland, 5 p.m.
Seattle at Tri-City, 5:05 p.m.
In Brandon, F Peter Quenneville scored three times to lead the Wheat Kings to a playoff spot with a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Quenneville enjoyed his first WHL hat trick in his second game back after missing 10 with an undisclosed injury. One night earlier, he scored twice and added two assists in a 4-3 OT victory in Regina. . . . Quenneville, a seventh-round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2013 NHL draft, has 21 goals, making him Brandon’s seventh 20-goal man. Only the Portland Winterhawks have as many. . . . Brandon F Nolan Patrick, the fourth overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal, tipping in a shot from the point. It came in his third game and gave his side a 3-2 lead. . . . Nolan’s father, Steve, scored 80 goals in 157 games with the Wheat Kings (1978-81). . . . Regina led this game 2-0 at 4:11 of the first period, but then gave up the next five goals. . . . Brandon D Ryan Pulock had a goal, his 23rd, and two assists, while F Tim McGauley had three assists as he ran his point streak to eight games. . . . F Jayce Hawryluk, Brandon’s leading scorer, completed his four-game WHL suspension. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, Brandon’s owner/general manager and head coach, earned his 364th career coaching victory to move past Bob Lowes into top spot on the franchise’s list. . . . The Pats (39-26-7) go into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, thanks to winning the East Division. The Wheat Kings (34-29-9) are the No. 7 seed. The series opens Saturday night in Regina. . . .

In Calgary, F Greg Chase scored two goals and drew two assists as the Hitmen doubled the Kootenay Ice 6-3 in what was a first-round playoff preview. . . . Chase, who finished plus-5, has 35 goals. . . . The Hitmen go into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed, while the loss, combined with a victory by the Swift Current Broncos, knocked the Ice from fifth to sixth. . . . The Hitmen have won four in a row, while the Ice has lost four straight. . . . The Ice went 4-2-2 in the season series, which means the Hitmen were 4-4-0. . . . The Ice again went with 16 skaters, two under the maximum, and again scratched D Landon Cross and D Landon Peel. . . . Calgary F Jake Virtanen scored his 45th goal in the second period and later got into a scrap with Ice D Rinat Valiev. . . . The Hitmen got a goal and two assists from each of F Mike Winther, who has seven goals, and F Pavel Padakin, who has 27. . . . F Sam Reinhart had two assists for the Ice, while F Jaedon Descheneau scored his 44th goal and added an assist. F Luke Philp also had a goal, his 31st, and an assist. . . . The Hitmen (48-17-7) and Ice (39-28-5) will open Thursday in Calgary. . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Swift Current Broncos clinched fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 victory over the Warriors. . . . The Broncos, who have won four straight, swept a weekend series from Moose Jaw. . . . The victory lifted the Broncos past the Kootenay Ice and into fifth. . . . F Jay Merkley, with his 34th, and F Coda Gordon, with his 26th, gave the Broncos a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . Moose Jaw F Jack Rodewald, who scored seven goals in 56 games for the Regina Pats last season, got his 28th in his 58th game with the Warriors at 19:42 of the first. . . . Broncos F Nathan Burns added insurance with his 27th goal at 17:46 of the third. . . . Broncos G Eetu Laurikainen stopped 29 shots. . . . According to a tweet from Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald, Warriors D Jesse Forsberg “is going to join the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles for the end of their season.” . . . The Broncos (38-25-9) will meet the No. 4 Medicine Hat Tigers (43-24-4) in the first round. They’ll open Friday in Medicine Hat. . . . The Warriors (21-42-9) finished 10th in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs for a second straight season. . . .

In Red Deer, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored a 7-4 victory over the Rebels to wrap up first place in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference for a third straight season. . . . The victory was Edmonton’s 50th of the season and tied a WHL record for consecutive 50-victory seasons (Kamloops, 1989-92). . . . The Oil Kings have won three in a row. . . . F Henrik Samuelsson and F Curtis Lazar each had two goals and two assists. Lazar has 41 goals; Samuelsson has 35. . . . Edmonton D Cody Corbett had a goal, his 17th, and three assists, while D Dysin Mayo had three helpers and F Edgars Kulda got his 30th goal. . . . The Oil Kings were 5-for-8 on the PP; the Rebels were 0-for-5. . . . Red Deer F Aspen Sterzer scored his 28th goal and added an assist. . . . The Oil Kings (50-18-3) will begin the first round at home against Prince Albert or Red Deer on Saturday night. . . .

In Saskatoon, the Prince Albert Raiders erased a 4-3 deficit with three third-period goals and beat the Blades, 6-4. . . . The victory lifted the Raiders (35-32-5) into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. The Raiders are out of games; the Rebels play in Edmonton today and need a victory to force a one-game playoff for the conference’s final playoff spot. . . . Raiders F Jayden Hart scored twice, giving him 14, while F Collin Valcourt got his 28th goal and added two assists. . . . Raiders F Dakota Conroy tied the game with his 30th goal at 1:12 of the third, via the PP. . . . Hart gave the Raiders their first lead at 17:41. . . . Prince Albert F Leon Draisaitl scored his 38th goal and added an assist. . . . The Blades got two goals from F Chase Clayton, who finished with 12, and three assists from F Cory Millette. . . . Saskatoon F Nikita Scherback, the WHL’s highest-scoring freshman, got his 28th goal to end a nine-game drought. . . . The Blades (16-51-5) finished the season on a 12-game losing streak. . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers scored the games first six goals and went on to a 6-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Curtis Valk scored twice, giving him 46, and added two assists for the Tigers. Last season, Valk finished with 91 points, including 46 goals, in 71 games. He duplicated that feat this season. . . . F Cole Sanford added his 32nd goal and three assists, while F Trevor Cox had two goals, giving him 25, and an assist. . . . Medicine Hat D Dylan Bredo, playing in his 289th consecutive game, had two helpers. . . . The Tigers (43-24-4) will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference and open a first-round series at home against the Swift Current Broncos on Friday night. . . . The Hurricanes (12-54-5) have lost 13 in a row. . . . The teams meet today in Lethbridge in a game that was postponed from Friday due to water-related issues in the city. . . .

In Portland, G Brendan Burke earned the shutout and F Oliver Bjorkstrand reached the 50-goal plateau as the Winterhawks beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 7-0. . . . Burke stopped 28 shots in recording his fourth shutout this season and the eighth of his career. . . . Bjorkstrand struck for three goals, getting No. 50 on the PP at 15:24 of the third period. It was his fourth hat trick this season. . . . The sophomore from Herning, Denmark, had 63 points, including 31 goals, last season. This season, he has 109 points in 68 games. . . . WHL Facts tweeted that Bjorkstrand scored 13 of his goals this season against Seattle. . . . Portland D Mathew Dumba scored his eighth goal and added three assists. . . . The Winterhawks were 3-for-7 on the PP as Seattle took 58 of the game’s 102 penalty minutes. . . . The Thunderbirds were without F Branden Troock, who drew a one-game suspension for a charging major he incurred on Friday night. . . . Portland (53-13-5) has won six in a row, while Seattle (40-25-6) has dropped three straight. . . . Portland, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, will open against the No. 7 Vancouver Giants in the Oregon city on Friday. . . . The Thunderbirds will go up against the Everett Silvertips in the first round with home-ice to be decided today. . . .

In Prince George, F Todd Fiddler scored four times and F Troy Bourke had a goal and three assists as the Cougars beat the Kamloops Blazers, 8-3, in the final game of the season for two non-playoff teams. . . . Fiddler finished with 50 goals, just the second player to do that since the franchise relocated from Victoria over the summer of 1994. . . . F Quinn Hancock scored 54 times in 1997-98. . . . Bourke, who turns 20 on March 30, finished the game with 236 career points, a record for the franchise since its move to Prince George. That broke the mark of 233 that had been held by F Eric Hunter (2002-07). . . . Bourke finished this season with 85 points, including 29 goals, in 69 games. . . . Cougars F Zach Pochiro had three assists, while D Sam Ruopp scored his fifth goal and added two assists. . . . F Cole Ully had two assists for Kamloops, which got 43 saves from G Bolton Pouliot. . . . Kamloops F Deven Sideroff scored his second goal of the season 42 seconds into the third period to get his guys to within 4-3. The Cougars, who snapped a six-game losing streak, then scored four straight goals, with Fiddler getting No. 49 shorthanded and adding No. 50 at 15:50. After scoring two goals in 14 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Fiddler struck 48 times in 42 games with the Cougars. . . . He finished the season with 98 points. . . . This may well have been the Cougars’ final game under the ownership of Rick Brodsky, who has owned the franchise since purchasing the Victoria Cougars in 1994. He is negotiating the sale of the club with a local group. While a deal isn’t yet complete, it is believed to be inching forward. . . . The Cougars (27-37-8) finished ninth in the Western Conference. . . . The Blazers (14-53-5) wrapped up the poorest season in Kamloops franchise history. They went 4-24-1 after Guy Charron replaced Dave Hunchak as head coach. . . .

In Everett, F Carson Stadnyk scored his 23rd goal at 18:32 of the third period to give the Silvertips a 3-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria F Tyler Soy had tied the score with his 15th goal at 16:29 of the third. . . . Everett G Austin Lotz stopped 22 shots, as did Victoria G Coleman Vollrath. . . . F Manraj Hayer had two assists for the Silvertips, who had won 5-3 in Victoria on Friday night. . . . The Silvertips (39-23-9) moved into fourth in the Western Conference and for the first time in their 11 WHL seasons will meet the Seattle Thunderbirds in the playoffs. Home-ice advantage for that series will be decided today. . . . The Royals (48-20-4) will open a first-round series against the Spokane Chiefs at home on Saturday night. . . .

In Kelowna, F Nick Merkley had a goal and two assists to help the Rockets to a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Merkley tied the club record for single-season goals by a 16-year-old as he got his 25th. F Shane McColgan, now with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, scored 25 as a 16-year-old in 2009-10. . . . Merkley, from Calgary, finished with 58 points in 66 games. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . The Rockets had beaten the Giants 6-5 in Vancouver on Friday night. . . . F Carter Rigby had two goals for Kelowna, giving him 18. . . . F Jackson Houck scored twice, giving him 34, and added an assist for the Giants. . . . Vancouver G Payton Lee, who was shaken up and left Friday’s game in the first period, stopped 35 shots. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke stopped 29 shots in running his record to 39-7-4. . . . The Rockets (57-11-4) are the Western Conference’s top seed and will open at home against the Tri-City Americans on Friday night. . . . The Giants (32-29-11) finished seventh and will meet the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Eric Comrie turned aside 18 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-0 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Comrie, 18, has four shutouts this season and nine in his career. . . . F Jesse Astles scored the game’s first goal, his 11th, at 14:24 of the first period. Four of those 11 goals came against the Chiefs. . . . Tri-City’s other two goals came via the PP, as F Parker Bowles got his 15th and Beau McCue added his 20th. . . . Spokane F Mitch Holmberg was held pointless. He leads the WHL with 118 points, seven more than Portland F Nic Petan, who has one game remaining. . . . The Americans had lost five in a row (0-3-2) and went in 1-5-4 in their last 10. . . . Tri-City (29-32-10) finished eighth in the Western Conference, meaning it has a first-round date with the Kelowna Rockets. They open Saturday in Kelowna. . . . Spokane’s loss, combined with an Everett victory, left the Chiefs (40-26-6), who are out of games, in sixth spot in the conference. They open at Victoria on Saturday night.

From Kelowna Rockets D Madison Bowey (@m_bows4): “Just want too thank the @WHLGiants doctors for handling the situation so well and getting me stitched up so quickly. Much appreciated!”
Bowey suffered a skate cut to an arm in the first period of Kelowna’s 6-5 victory over host Vancouver on Friday night. He came back to score two goals.
From Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) of The Los Angeles Times: “(Darryl) Sutter on availability of ailing Quick and Brown (Saturday) tonight: ‘we'll see.’ Backup if Quick can't go? ‘Ranford,’ the goalie coach. A joke there.”
If Ranford couldn’t go, presumably next up would be the other goalie coach. That would be Kim Dillabaugh, who also works with the Kelowna Rockets.
From the Kootenay Ice (@WHLKootenayICE): “Big Thank You to Bill & Daisy Pang from Bill's Peking House in Calgary for the donation for #TB20! #gracious!”

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