Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rockets first to reach conference final

Red Ice Martigny (Switzerland, NL B) exercised its option on F Kirill Starkov (Red Deer, 2006-07) for next season. Starkov began the season with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), picking up 45 points, including 12 goals, in 31 games. He was released over issues involving betting on a game, and signed with Red Ice in January, although the transfer wasn’t approved until playoffs. In three games, he had one goal. He also is suspended for the Swiss federation for the first five games of 2014-15 because of his involvement in the betting scandal.

Ten hockey thoughts . . .
1. We are living in 2014. How is it that a WHL team, the Moose Jaw Warriors, gets caught up in a debate over a retro logo that obviously is out of place in these times?
2. When TSN analyst Craig Button gets around to doing whatever it is he is going to do to help the Saskatoon Blades in their personnel hunt, will he recommend Mike Gillis as GM?
3. On March 10, the NHL had to prematurely halt a game in the first period after Dallas forward Rich Peverley collapsed at the bench. The host Stars were trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 1-0 at the time. So what was the NHL’s thinking in replaying the entire game, but allowing Columbus to open with a 1-0 lead? Nathan Horton, the goal scorer, is injured and didn’t even make the trip to Dallas, meaning he scored a goal without being in the lineup.
4. Is it just me or have the WHL playoffs, unless you are a follower of the Kootenay Ice, been rather drab? Five of 12 series have ended in sweeps. Only two of eight first-round series went as deep as six games. It could be that only one four second-round series sees a Game 6. Right now, the won-lost record is 56-11. So much for parity.
5. If the Detroit Red Wings get F Henrik Zetterberg back, might they give the Pittsburgh Penguins a run for their money in the first round of the NHL playoffs?
6. Are the Portland Winterhawks headed for a fourth straight appearance in the WHL’s championship final? Only the Flin Flon Bombers (1967-71), Edmonton Oil Kings (1968-72) and New Westminster Bruins (1974-78) have appeared in four straight finals.
7. Is the WHL headed for a third consecutive final series between Portland and Edmonton?
8. If Vancouver fires head coach John Tortorella, might Trevor Linden, a former Medicine Hat Tigers star who now is the Canucks’ president of hockey operations, hire Willie Desjardins? Now the head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, Desjardins had success as Medicine Hat’s GM/head coach.
9. Is this the offseason in which the rumours of the impending sale of the Regina Pats actually turn out to be true, and will it be Calgary oil money that ends up owning the franchise?
10. With the NHL’s Calgary Flames searching for a general manager, will Kelly Kisio, the president of hockey operations and alternate governor for the Calgary Hitmen, be on Brian Burke’s radar? If he isn’t, he should be.

In the spirit of the opening of the MLB season, The Sports Curmudgeon, an old friend of the blog, takes a look at some of the food available at a few of the baseball parks across North American right here. You are advised not to read this on a full stomach. It also is suggested that you not try to duplicate any of these things at home.
After three tours of duty as an assistant coach, Mark Osiecki is the head coach of the U.S. national junior team that will comp[ete in the 2015 world junior championship. . . . Osiecki, presently an assistant coach with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, was an assistant coach with the team in 2010, 2011 and 2013, winning two gold medals and a bronze. . . . Don Granato, the head coach of the U.S. National Team Development Program’s U-17 team, and Kevin Patrick, an assistant coach at the U of Vermont, will work as Osiecki’s assistant coaches. . . . Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s executive director of hockey operations, will be Team USA’s general manager for a sixth consecutive year. . . . The 2015 WJC is scheduled for Montreal and Toronto, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. The U.S. will be in a group with Canada, Finland, Germany and Slovakia. . . . The U.S. will hold its summer evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., Aug. 2-9.
AHLThe USHL has approved an expansion franchise that will play out of Bloomington, Ill., as the Thunder. The franchise is owned by CSH International, which also owns, among many other things, the WHL’s Everett Silvertips and the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls. Bill Yuill, a familiar face in WHL circles, is CEO of CSH International, while Gary Gelinas, the Silvertips’ president and governor, is the president of CSH.
F Spencer Kryczka has committed to Princeton U. Kryczka, who turned 19 on March 13, was selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the third round of the 2010 WHL bantam drafat. A native of Calgary, he finished this season with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks, after playing more than two seasons with the Okotoks Oilers. This season, he had 25 points, including 12 goals, in 48 games.
If you are a follower of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, you should know that there’s a new blog out there that will endeavour to keep you up to date on happenings. You will find it right here. There also is a link to it over there on the right.
AHLF Graham Black of the Swift Current Broncos has signed an ATO with the Albany Devils, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. Black, who played out his junior eligibility this season, was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the 2012 NHL draft. . . . From Regina, Black had 97 points, 34 of them goals, in 69 games with the Broncos this season.
For today’s good read, we take you to and a piece by Charles P. Pierce about the NFL’s Washington Redskins and their owner, Dan Snyder. It is the owner, of course, who refuses to do away with what Pierce refers to as being “racially vicious.” . . . That piece is right here.
And here is a longer read for you, as Charlie Gillis of Maclean's magazine takes a look at the ugliness that seems to have entrenched itself into some areas of Canadian minor hockey. Gillis paints anything but a pretty picture; in fact, it’s likely worse than even you suspect. That piece is right here. A shower is suggested for after you have read it.
ECHLG Eric Williams of the Spokane Chiefs has signed with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. Williams, 20, went 33-19-4, 2.67, .906 with the Chiefs this season, his fourth in the WHL. The Eagles, who have a playoff spot under wraps, began a three-game series with the visiting Alaska Aces last night. . . . The Eagles head coach is Chris Stewart, who did a turn as head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders back in the day.

THE SECOND ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
(Edmonton leads, 3-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 3-1-0; Brandon, 1-2-1.
Thursday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 5 (5,899)
Saturday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 3 (7,115)
Tuesday: Edmonton 5 at Brandon 2 (3,522)
Wednesday: Edmonton 2 at Brandon 5 (3,246)
Friday: Brandon at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday: Edmonton at Brandon, 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday: Brandon at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Edmonton: F Brandon Baddock, day-to-day; D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Brandon: G Curtis Honey, day-to-day.
(Kootenay leads, 2-1)
Season series: Medicine Hat, 3-3-0; Kootenay, 3-3-0.
Saturday: Kootenay 4 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,750)
Sunday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 5 (3,755)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Kootenay 3 (2,461)
Thursday: Medicine Hat at Kootenay, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Kootenay at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
x-Monday: Medicine Hat at Kootenay, 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday: Kootenay at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
(NOTE: Kootenay plays home games in Cranbrook, B.C.)
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Tyler King, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
(Kelowna wins, 4-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 2-1-1; Seattle, 2-1-1.
Thursday: Seattle 2 at Kelowna 6 (4,581)
Saturday: Seattle 3 at Kelowna 6 (5,675)
Tuesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 4 (5,029)
Wednesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 2 (2,219)
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Seattle: F Connor Honey, indefinite; F Jaimen Yakubowski, day-to-day.
(Portland leads, 3-1)
(Series televised by Shaw-TV in Canada;
Games 6 and 7, if necessary, on Comcast SportsNet in Portland area)
Season series: Portland, 1-1-2; Victoria, 3-1-0.
Friday: Victoria 2 at Portland 8 (6,152)
Saturday: Victoria 3 at Portland 6 (10,947)
Monday: Portland 1 at Victoria 2 (6,505)
Tuesday: Portland 4 at Victoria 3 (6,745)
Thursday: Victoria at Portland (Moda Center), 7, p.m.
x-Saturday: Portland at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
x-Monday: Victoria at Portland (Veterans Memorial Coliseum), 7 p.m.
Portland: None.
Victoria: None.
WHL Playoffs
In Cranbrook, F Levi Cable scored three times to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Ice leads the series 2-1, with Game 4 in Cranbrook tonight. . . . Cable, who has six playoff goals, broke a 1-1 tie with a shorthanded goal at 16:38 of the third period, then added an empty-netter at 19:09. . . . Cable, a 19-year-old from Hudson Bay, Sask., had opened the scoring at 9:03 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat F Curtis Valk tied the game, with his seventh goal, at 7:40 of the third. . . . Cable, in his third season with the Ice, scored 10 goals in 70 regular-season games. WHL Facts (@WHLFacts) tweeted that Cable scored three goals in 45 games between Nov. 30 and March 24. Since March 25, Cable has six goals in as many games. . . . Ice F Sam Reinhart had two assists, his first points of the series, and now leads all playoff scorers in assists (14) and points (19). . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 39 shots, 12 more than the Tigers’ Marek Langhamer. . . . Kootenay was 0-for-4 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-for-3.

 In Kent, Wash., the Kelowna Rockets erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with four straight goals and went on to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-2. . . . The Rockets won the series, 4-0, giving them an 8-1 record in these playoffs. . . . The Rockets finished atop the overall standings so are the No. 1 seed through the playoffs. They now await the winner of the other Western Conference semifinal, between the No. 2 Portland Winterhawks and No. 3 Victoria Royals. The Winterhawks take a 3-1 lead into Game 5 tonight in Portland. . . . Seattle D Ethan Bear opened the scoring at 14:22 of the first period, on a PP. . . . Kelowna D Damon Severson, who had 11 points, including four goals, in the four games, tied it at 16:11 of the second period and F Cole Linaker gave Kelowna the lead at 18:14. . . . Severson and Linaker each have four goals in these playoffs. . . . Kelowna F Marek Tvrdon got his fifth at 12:46 and F Tyson Baillie added his third, on the PP, at 15:00. . . . Seattle F Sam McKechnie scored his first goal at 15:12, but Kelowna F Nick Merkley got an empty-netter at 19:33. . . . The Rockets were 2-for-5 on the PP; Seattle was 1-for-7. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke stopped 42 shots, as did Seattle’s Taran Kozun. . . . Seattle D Evan Wardley didn’t finish the game and was on crutches with a leg injury.

In Brandon, F Jens Meilleur broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period shorthanded goal and the Wheat Kings, getting 49 saves from G Jordan Papirny, went on to beat the Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-2. . . . The Oil Kings lead the series 3-1 with Game 5 scheduled for Friday in Edmonton. . . . Edmonton had won seven straight games in these playoffs. . . . Papirny has stopped 181 shots in the four games. He will celebrate his 18th birthday today; perhaps his teammates should buy him breakfast, lunch and dinner. . . . F Richard Nejezchleb scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, at 6:04 of the first period, to give Brandon its first lead of the series. . . . Edmonton D Cody Corbett tied it at 9:37, with Brandon F Tim McGauley restoring the lead at 11:35. . . . Edmonton F Luke Bertolucci, who had six goals in 63 regular-season games, tied it again, at 7:47 of the second period, with his third playoff goal. . . . Meilleur scored at 6:32 of the third, with F John Quenneville adding insurance at 11:28 and Nejezchleb, who also had an assist, getting an empty-netter during a PP. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry stopped 26 shots. . . . Brandon was 1-for-4 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-4.

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