Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oil Kings, Winterhawks in control; WHL Popcorn Poll is here

F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) has signed a one-year extension with Zell am See (Austria, Inter-National-League). This season, he finished second in the league’s scoring race, with 72 points, including 27 goals, in 34 games. . . .
G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) has signed a one-year extension with Dresdner Eislöwen (Germany, DEL2). In 52 games with Dresden this season, he had a 2.67 GAA. . . .
F Clinton Pettapiece (Tri-City, Medicine Hat, 2003-06) has signed a one-year contract with Tingsryd (Sweden, Allsvenskan). This season, with the Dordrecht Lions (Netherlands, Eredivisie), he had 61 points, including 22 goals, in 36 games. . . .
F Yegor Mikhailov (Spokane, 1996-97) has signed a one-year contract with Visp (Switzerland, NL B). The contract includes an out clause should Mikhailov sign with a KHL team. This season, with Red Ice Martigny (Switzerland, NL B), he had 43 points, 23 of them goals, in 45 games.
The WHL’s board of governors will meet in Calgary on April 30 to, according to the league, “review applications to transfer the ownership of the Prince George Cougars and Regina Pats.”
The meeting will be held at the Deerfoot Inn, prior to the WHL awards luncheon.
From a WHL news release:
“The owner of the Prince George Cougars, Rick Brodsky has entered into an agreement with Mr. Greg Pocock of EDGEPRO Sports & Entertainment Ltd., to purchase the Prince George WHL franchise. Mr. Pocock is the head of a group consisting of local Prince George businessmen and former WHL players who formed EDGEPRO to purchase the Cougars franchise.
“It was also announced (Wednesday) the ownership of the Regina Pats franchise, Russ and Diane Parker, has agreed to sell the franchise to a group of Regina businessmen headed by Anthony Marquart. Mr. Marquart has formed Queen City Sports & Entertainment Group Ltd., to acquire the Pats franchise.
“Both franchise purchases are subject to the approval of the WHL Board of Governors. In order for the transfers of ownership to be approved, a two-thirds majority vote is required from the WHL Board of Governors at the April 30 meeting.
“Should the transfer of ownership applications be approved by the WHL Board of Governors, the sale transactions will close later in May, at which time the new ownership will be in position to take control of the franchises.”
The results of the 2013-14 WHL Popcorn Poll arrived via email on Wednesday and the Vancouver Giants are on top, once again.
The Corn Panelists, all from the Everett Silvertips, are medical trainer Marc Paquet, assistant coach Marc LeRose and equipment manager James Stucky.
While the panelists didn’t supply numbers, they did tell me that each arena’s popcorn “was graded on a 0-5 scale (5 being best) by each participant in the areas of flavor, texture and aroma/freshness." The Silvertips didn’t visit the East Division this season, so those arenas will be graded next season.
The panelists reported: “Vancouver keeps its title and is once again king of the popcorn hill for the WHL. The Giants were graded as having the best ‘Corn’ in the league in 2008-09 when we did our first popcorn poll. This time around, their ‘Corn’ was the only one to receive a perfect grade.”
In order, the results of the poll are:
1. Vancouver; 2. Prince George; 3 Medicine Hat; 4. Calgary; 5. Kamloops; 6. Edmonton; 7. Red Deer; 8. Kelowna; 9. Kootenay; 10. Portland (Memorial Coliseum); 11. Tri-City; 12. Spokane; 13. Portland (Moda Center); 14. Victoria; 15. Lethbridge; 16. Everett; 17. Seattle.
As an aside, the Corn Panelists noted that they “were appalled when testing the ‘Corn’ in Kent (Seattle). They continue to serve popcorn from their concession stands in plastic, tubular, air-sealed bags. The Showare Center completely takes the tradition and true enjoyment out of a good tub or paper bag filled with fresh popcorn.”
What? You thought a survey conducted by an Everett team wouldn’t include editorial comment involving their nearest rival?

1. Can’t anyone hold a two-goal lead in these Stanley Cup playoffs?

2. Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels hit the 500th home run of his career on Tuesday, and he did it with little fanfare. I was wondering where all the hype had gone, when I found this column right here by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

3. A tweet from former NHL referee Paul Stewart (@PaulStewart22): “I get emotional about those sorts of plays and players. I stand by that I would have given Cooke 50 games. Let the NHLPA gripe.” . . . That was after the NHL announced that Minnesota Wild F Matt Cooke had been given a seven-game suspension for that knee-on-knee hit on Colorado Avalance D Tyson Barrie.

4. If the NHL wanted to get stuff like knee-on-knee hits out of its games, it would hire OHL commissioner David Branch as its Minister of Justice.

5. Wondering why we’re paying so much for a litre of gasoline these days? . . . Well, we know we’re not being gouged, so it must by the situation in Ukraine and, according to one analyst, there’s an out-of-service pipeline in Iraq that is figuring into things, too.

6. Starter Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees was ejected from Wednesday night’s game in Fenway Park after Boston manager John Farrell asked the umpires to check for a foreign substance. Pineda had pine tar on his neck; in an earlier start, he appeared to have some on one hand. . . . The rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox just amped up a notch, if that’s possible.

7. Hitters are allowed to use pine tar (hello, there, George Brett), so why can’t pitchers use it, too?

8. Are young players over-coached? Do adults need to get out of the way and let them play? Of course, they do. Here’s Will Leitch of, with his take on a great quote from Jurgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team.

9. While the Portland Winterhawks were beating the visiting Rockets on Wednesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers were beating the Rockets 112-105 in Houston to take a 2-0 lead in a first-round NBA playoff series. They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Portland on Friday and Sunday. . . . Late in the game, TNT analyst Chris Webber said: “There’s some crazy people in Portland and I mean that as a compliment.” Sounds like he has been to a Winterhawks game or two.

10. I have saved the best for last, although it is closing in on 9 million views at, so perhaps you already have seen it. It’s Darcy Oake, an illusionist, appearing on the British TV show Got Talent, and it is amazing. It is right here. . . . As an aside, he is the son of broadcaster Scott Oake.
D Mitch Topping, who played five seasons in the WHL, has committed to attending the U of Alberta and playing for the CIS-champion Golden Bears. . . . Topping, who turned 21 on Feb. 19, spent the last three seasons with the Tri-City Americans. The Red Deer native played his first two seasons with the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . In 317 career regular-season games, Topping had 113 points, including 33 goals. He was the Americans’ captain.

THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
(Edmonton leads, 3-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 8 (7,694)
Sunday: Medicine Hat 1 at Edmonton 3 (5,763)
Tuesday: Edmonton 1 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,189)
Wednesday: Edmonton 4 at Medicine Hat 1 (3,832)
Saturday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
(Portland leads, 3-1)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland 4 at Kelowna 5 (6,218)
Saturday: Portland 5 at Kelowna 3 (6,341)
Tuesday: Kelowna 3 at Portland 4 (OT) (9,259)
Wednesday: Kelowna 1 at Portland 5 (9,744)
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday: Kelowna at Portland, 2 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.

In Medicine Hat, the Edmonton Oil Kings opened the scoring for a fourth straight game and went on to beat the Tigers, 4-1. . . . Edmonton leads the Eastern Conference final 3-1 and has its first chance to wrap it up on Saturday in Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings are looking to play in their third straight WHL championship final. . . . D Griffin Reinhart scored the game’s first goal, his third, at 7:16 of the second period. It came with the teams playing 4-on-4. . . . Edmonton F Brett Pollock scored perhaps the game’s biggest goal, because it came on a 5-on-3 PP with just 7.2 seconds left in the second period. . . . Pollock, who also had an assist, closed out the game’s scoring with his eighth of these playoffs. . . . Edmonton F Riley Kieser got his side’s third goal, his fourth, at 6:52 of the third period. (On the Oil Kings’ website, they are giving the goal to F Luke Bertolucci so perhaps a change is on the way.) . . . The Tigers got their goal from F Cole Sanford, his ninth, at 18:42 of the third on a PP. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry turned aside 22 shots, four fewer than Medicine Hat’s Marek Langhamer. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-2 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-for-6. . . . F Trevor Cox, who leads the Tigers with 23 points in 17 playoff games, left in the second period after a collision with Edmonton F Edgars Kulda. Cox didn’t return.

In Portland, F Nic Petan scored three PP goals to help the Winterhawks to a 5-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Winterhawks lead the Western Conference final 3-1 with Game 5 scheduled for Kelowna on Friday night. . . . Going back to the regular season, the Winterhawks have won 39 of their last 42 games. . . . The Winterhawks were 3-for-8 on the PP, while the Rockets went 0-for-5. . . . Kelowna F Nick Merkley scored the game’s first goal, at 13:28 of the opening period. . . . Petan tied it at 18:48, then gave his side the lead at 10:15 of the second period. . . . F Oliver Bjorkstrand made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal just 1:14 later. . . . Bjorkstrand leads the playoffs in goals (15) and is tied for the lead in points (25), with teammate F Brendan Leipsic. . . . Petan added insurance at 16:53 with his seventh goal of the playoffs. He tied a franchise record for PP goals in one game. F Dave McLay did it in a 9-6 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on March 28, 1986. . . . Portland F Paul Bittner ended the scoring with his second goal of the playoffs, an empty-netter, at 17:48. . . . Leipsic and D Derrick Pouliot each had three assists as they ran their playoff point streaks to 13 games. . . . Pouliot has 24 points, 20 of them assists, in that streak. . . . Portland G Corbin Boes turned aside 31 shots, as did Kelowna’s Jordon Cooke.

From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “13 - Getting a helper, @pdxwinterhawks Derrick Pouliot now has the WHL's longest playoff assist streak in at least 19 years (13 games).”
From Matthew Gourlie (@MattGourlie) of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald, after a Wednesday game at the Telus Cup national midget AAA championship: “PA-Okanagan finishes 1-1. Bad blood at the buzzer. Teams told not to shake hands by officials. They stand at blue lines and chirp b4 leaving.”

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