Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seattle derails Portland; rumours flying in Lethbridge


D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year extension with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). In 49 games this season, he has 16 points, including five goals. . . .
F Ashton Rome (Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Kamloops, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract, with a club option for more, with the Schwenninger Wild Wings beginning next season. This season with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL), Rome has 21 points, 12 of them goals, in 31 games. . . .
D Renat Mamashev (Moose Jaw, 2000-01) has been released by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) by mutual agreement. With Neftekhimik, he had 12 points, including five goals, in 32 games. Mamashev started the season with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia, KHL), going pointless in four games. He also played two games with Chelmet Chelyabinsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), picking up one assist.
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Will they, or won’t they?
The Lethbridge Hurricanes, of course. Will the team that is owned by local shareholders be sold to private concerns before another WHL season gets here?
Only time will tell but, in the meantime, let the rumour mill start smoking. And you can bet that there is going to be a whole lot of rumour, speculation and innuendo in the next little while.
The only thing that will stop it will be for Hurricanes president Brian McNaughton to stand up and say that the franchise absolutely won’t be sold or that it has been sold. On second thought, that might not even stop the grist mill from churning.
In the meantime . . .
On Saturday, Darrell Romuld of CTV-Regina tweeted: “Hearing the cash strapped Leth Hurricanes will be forced to sell at seasons end. NHLer Kris Versteeg maintains his interest in buying it.”
Romuld followed that up with: “ ‘I don't deal in rumor but will say I still have a strong interest in (owning) the team’ - Versteeg on possibility Canes hit the market.”
After which, Fred Jack, the analyst on Hurricanes’ home radio broadcasts, tweeted: “Sources confirming for me this morning the Lethbridge Hurricanes will make one of their largest announcements in franchise history after end of season but by May 1.”
And then Dylan Purcell of the Lethbridge Herald chimed in with: “I'm pretty sure if you want to buy a WHL team, one's up for sale, @FreddieJack643. Unless they're already sold. League's paying bills now.”
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Versteeg, who played in the WHL with the Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers and Red Deer Rebels (2002-06), spent Saturday night playing for the Chicago Blackhawks in an outdoor game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here’s a tweet from Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada: “With his goal tonight, betting Kris Versteeg is only player to score at United Center, Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.”
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If you choose to read one essay today, I would suggest you make it this piece right here that was written by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. It is headlined: Celebrating a friend, hockey bonds. . . . It’s about rides and friends and late night hockey and life. It’s terrific.
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NHLThe Minnesota Wild announced Saturday morning that it has signed F Brady Brassart of the Calgary Hitmen to a three-year entry-level contract. . . . Brassart, 20, was an undrafted free agent. . . . This season, Brassart, who is from Vernon, B.C., has 75 points, including 33 goals. . . . In 315 career regular-season games, he has 259 points, including 110 goals. . . . Brassart was a second-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2008 bantam draft. On Aug. 18, 2011, he was dealt to the Hitmen for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. “Brady fell behind in his development with our forwards at the similar age,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said at the time of the trade. “That said, we felt it would be best for Brady to get a fresh start with another WHL team.” . . . Prior to this season, Brassart was in camp with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
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The Kamloops Blazers have added D Cam Reagan and F Deven Sideroff, both 16, to their roster for the remainder of this season. . . . Reagan, from Sherwood Park, Alta., played on Saturday night against the Tigers in Medicine Hat. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2012 bantam draft. This season, with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings, he had 25 points, four of them goals, in 35 games. Last night marked his fifth game this season with the Blazers. . . . Sideroff, a list player from Summerland, B.C., is expected to join the Blazers on Monday. He has three assists in six games with them this season. He spent the winter with the Okanagan Hockey Academy midget prep team in Penticton, B.C., putting up 66 points, including 30 goals, in 39 games.
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IF THE PLAYOFFS BEGAN TODAY:
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)
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Western Conference
Kelowna (1) vs. Tri-City (8)
Portland (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Victoria (3) vs. Everett (6)
Seattle (4) vs. Spokane (5)
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SUNDAY’S WHL GAMES (all times local):
Saskatoon at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Brandon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Everett at Seattle, 5:05 p.m.
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SATURDAY’S GAMES:
In Edmonton, the Calgary Hitmen took over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . F Greg Chase had three assists for Calgary. . . . The Hitmen got off to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by F Elliott Peterson, his 11th, and F Connor Rankin, his 19th. . . . F Edgars Kulda got Edmonton on the board with his 26th, at 1:50 of the second, but Calgary D Kenton Helgeson restored the two-goal lead at 12:31 of the second. That was his ninth goal and came via the PP. . . . Edmonton F Mitch Moroz got his 32nd goal at 13:46 of the third. . . . F Henrik Samuelsson had two assists for Edmonton. . . . Calgary G Chris Driedger stopped 38 shots, seven more than Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry. . . . Calgary F Brady Brassart, who signed a three-year contract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild earlier in the day, had one assist as he ran his point streak to 15 games. . . . According to WHL Facts (@WHLFacts), that is the longest streak by a Calgary skater since F Brandon Kozun strung together a 16-gamer in October-November 2009. . . . The Hitmen (43-15-7) lead the Oil Kings (44-16-3) by two points atop the conference. Edmonton has two games in hand. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders surrendered the first two goals and then roared back to beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-2. . . . Ice F Sam Reinhart had his 22-game point streak and his 15-game assist streak come to an end. Both are franchise single-season records. . . . Raiders F Carson Perreaux tied the game 2-2, with his 16th goal, at 19:20 of the second period and F Leon Draisaitl scored his 30th at 3:25 of the third to put his guys out front. . . . D Landon Peel had two assists for the Ice. . . . Referees Jonathan Spurgeon and Colin Watt handed out only one minor penalty, that to Perreaux. . . . The Ice was able to dress only 16 skaters, two under the maximum. Included in the scratches was F Tim Bozon, as it went with nine forwards and seven defencemen. . . . The Raiders (30-30-5) are tied for eighth with the idle Red Deer Rebels (30-30-5) in the Eastern Conference. . . . The Ice (37-24-4) appears headed to a fifth-place finish. . . .

In Swift Current, D Julius Honka scored twice to help the Broncos to a 7-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos led 3-0 before the game was 13 minutes old, only to have the Hurricanes come back and tie it. . . . Swift Current then scored the next three goals to take control. . . . Honka, a freshman defenceman from Finland, has 16 goals. . . . F Graham Black and F Colby Cave each scored his 30th goal of the season for the Broncos. Black also had two assists. . . . The Broncos (32-24-9) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Kootenay and three points ahead of Brandon. . . . The Hurricanes (12-50-5) have lost nine straight games as they head towards the end of the poorest season in franchise history. The 1972-73 Winnipeg Jets finished with 42 points (16-42-10).  The 1987-88 Hurricanes went 20-48-4, for 44 points. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Jayce Hawryluk enjoyed a five-point outing to lead the Brandon Wheat Kings to an 8-5 victory over the Blades. . . . Hawryluk, who turned 18 on Jan. 1, had two goals and three assists, giving him 62 points, including 22 goals, in 56 games this season. The sophomore from Roblin, Man., had 43 points, 18 of them goals, in 61 games last season. . . . Brandon D Ryan Pulock scored his 21st goal of the season. It was the 62nd goal of his career and broke the Wheat Kings’ record for most goals by a defenceman in a career that had been held by the late Brad McCrimmon. . . . “It’s an honour,” Pulock told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “It’s a pretty special record in the organization with Brad holding that record. I’m kind of emotional. I’m proud to be the holder of that record.” Pulock is the Wheat Kings’ captain, a position McCrimmon once held. . . . F Nick Zajac scored twice for the Blades, giving him 11. . . . Hawryluk broke a 3-3 tie with a shorthanded goal at 11:44 of the second period and F Tim McGauley, with his 19th goal, added a PP score at 15:55. . . . The Blades have lost five in a row; they also have lost eight straight home games. . . . Brandon was 3-for-4 on the PP and counted three times while shorthanded; the Blades were 0-for-6 on the PP. . . . Brandon (31-26-8) is three points behind the sixth-place Swift Current Broncos in the Eastern Conference. . . . The Blades (16-44-5) won’t appear in the playoffs. . . .

In Moose Jaw, D Dmitry Sinitsyn and F Morgan Klimchuk, both of whom missed a game earlier in the week due to illness, scored two goals each to lead the Regina Pats to a 7-3 victory over the Warriors. . . . Sinitsyn, who also had two assists, has eight goals; Klimchuk has 28. . . . Regina scored four power-play goals to lead 5-1 before the second period was 13 minutes old. . . . The Pats went 4-for-8 on the PP; the Warriors were 2-for-10. . . . F Brayden Point scored his 29th goal and added an assist for the Warriors. . . . The Pats, who swept the season series from the Warriors 8-0-0, clinched a playoff spot with the victory. . . . Regina (37-23-6) leads the East Division by seven points over Swift Current. . . . The Warriors (17-39-9) are 10th in the Eastern Conference. . . .

In Medicine Hat, F Curtis Valk and F Trevor Cox each scored two goals and added two assists to help the Tigers to a 7-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Valk, who was plus-5, has 40 goals on the season. He has 81 points in 66 games. Last season, he finished with 91 points, including 46 goals, in 71 games. . . . Cox has 75 points, including 23 goals, in 64 games. Last season, as a sophomore, he had 39 points, 16 of them goals, in 72 games. . . . F Cole Sanford, the third member of that line, scored his 30th goal and added an assist. . . . Medicine Hat F Miles Koules had three assists. . . . Tigers G Nick Schneider stopped 30 shots. He lost his shutout at 18:51 of the third period when F Matt Bellerive scored his 17th goal. . . . Kamloops was without D Sam Grist and F Chase Souto, both of whom suffered undisclosed injuries in Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Hitmen in Calgary. Souto had missed eight games before playing in Calgary. . . . Kamloops D Connor Clouston, the son of Tigers’ GM/head coach Shaun Clouston, played his first game in his hometown. . . . The Tigers (41-22-3) are fourth in the Eastern Conference, six points behind Edmonton. . . . The Blazers (13-48-5) have lost four in a row. . . .

In Prince George, F Axel Blomqvist broke a 1-1 tie at 12:34 of the second period as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 2-1. . . . One night earlier, the Royals beat the Cougars, 5-3. . . . Blomqvist, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes earlier in the season, has 22 goals. . . . F Todd Fiddler got the Cougars on the board with his 45th goal at 8:52 of the first. . . . Victoria F Jack Walker tied it with his sixth goal at 6:50 of the second. . . . Victoria G Patrik Polivka stopped 31 shots, 12 more than the Cougars’ Ty Edmonds. . . . Fiddler ran his point streak to 18 games, the longest active streak in the WHL. . . . The Royals will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. . . . The Royals (45-17-4) are third in the Western Conference, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Cougars (26-24-8) are four points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining. . . .

In Vancouver, F Marek Tvrdon broke a 1-1 tie at 6:19 of the second period and the Kelowna Rockets went on to a 3-1 victory over the Giants. . . . Tvrdon, who has 10 goals, was acquired from the Giants in January. . . . On Friday, before Kelowna scored a 6-0 home-ice victory over the Giants, Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets, tweeted: “ ‘If he figures it out he may play in the NHL. If he doesn't figure it out he may be playing back in Slovakia.’ - Don Hay on Marek Tvrdon. . . . Gee, do you think Tvrdon was aware of the comments from the Giants’ head coach? . . . The Rockets tied the franchise record for most victories in a season (52) set by last season’s club. . . . Kelowna also clinched the B.C. Division title. . . . F Cain Franson scored his 28th goal, via the PP, to give the Giants the lead at 12:51 of the first period. . . . F Rourke Chartier got his 21st, at 5:15 of the second, to tie it. . . . Tvrdon, who scored on the PP, has 21 points in 22 games since joining the Rockets from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke stopped 32 shots in winning for the 36th time this season. He is 36-5-4 after going 37-14-3 last season. . . . The Rockets (52-9-4) lead the overall standings. . . . The Giants (30-26-10) clinched a playoff spot when Prince George lost at home to Victoria. . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Portland Winterhawks’ winning streak ended at 21 games, thanks to a 4-1 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland fell one game short of tying the WHL single-season record that is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins. . . . The Winterhawks scored the game’s first goal, by F Chase De Leo, his 36th, at 2:43 of the first period. However, they weren’t able to beat G Taran Kozun again. He finished with 41 saves. . . . Kozun is 13-4-1, 1.80, .944 with the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle D Shea Theodore tied the game at 6:55 of the first, getting his 18th goal on the PP. . . . Seattle F Alexander Delnov broke the tie with his 27th goal at 11:16. . . . F Justin Hickman, with his 21st, and F Branden Troock, with his 22nd, later added insurance. . . . Portland G Corbin Boes stopped 21 shots as he lost for the first time (12-1-1) in regulation time since being acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Seattle (39-19-6) last won 40 games in 2007-08 when it finished 42-23-7. It is fourth in the Western Conference, six points ahead of Spokane. . . . Portland (47-13-5) is nine points behind Kelowna in the conference. . . .

In Spokane, G Eric Comrie stopped 34 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Comrie has three shutouts this season and eight in his career. . . . The Chiefs have been blanked in back-to-back games since they scored nine times in beating the visiting Kamloops Blazers 9-4 on Feb. 23. . . . F Parker Bowles scored the game’s first goal, his 11th, at 3:30 of the first period, via the PP. . . . D Brandon Carlo, with his third, and F Brian Williams, with his 36th, also scored. . . . Spokane G Eric Williams stopped 26 shots. . . . Tri-City (28-29-8) holds down the Western Conference’s last playoff spot, four points up on Prince George. . . . Spokane (36-23-6) is fifth, five points ahead of the Everett Silvertips.
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From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “17 - The number of points recorded by @MJWARRIORS Jack Rodewald (@_JRodey) this February, which is 3 more than he had in all of 2012-13.”
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From Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP): “Ref tosses fan in Sarnia for heckling. He comes back wearing a wrestling mask and sits in a different seat. Just another night in the #OHL.”


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