Thursday, October 16, 2014

Did Blazers give away goaltender? . . . Another Sutter in the NHL (that's nine!)

The Kamloops Blazers sent (gave?) G Bolton Pouliot, 20, to the Portland Winterhawks on Thursday.
Neither team made mention in news releases of anything going to the Blazers in the exchange. Pouliot wasn’t made available to the WHL’s other teams in Wednesday’s 20-year-old waiver draft, where the claiming fee was $1,000.
It would seem, then, that Kamloops gave Pouliot to Portland for very little, if anything, appearing only to want to clear a spot for an incoming 20-year-old player.
Pouliot, who was acquired by Kamloops from the Red Deer Rebels last season, went 12-32-2 with the Blazers. The Rebels got a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft for Pouliot.
Unless there is another deal in the works, the Blazers will go on with two young goaltenders with little in the way of WHL experience.
Cole Kehler, who turns 17 on Dec. 17, went the distance in a 6-4 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday night. With Ingram on the bench, Pouliot was a healthy scratch.
In four appearances this season, Kehler, who is from Altona, Man., is 2-1-1/2.99/.906. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
Kehler spent most of last season at Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C., but did get into 11 games with Kamloops, going 1-4-0/5.16/.857.
Connor Ingram, a 17-year-old from Imperial, Sask., has gotten into two games and is 0-1-0/4.40/.884. Ingram, a non-drafted list player, spent last season with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos and helped them win the TELUS Cup. He made 60 saves in the championship game, as the Mintos beat the Grenadiers de Chateauguay, 4-3, in triple OT in Moose Jaw.
Moving Pouliot leaves Kamloops with two 20-year-olds -- F Mike Winther and D Brady Gaudet -- on its active roster, so chances are there will be a roster addition made soon. The Blazers also hold the rights to 20-year-old F Chase Souto, but he is at home in California dealing with post-concussion syndrome and his career may well be over.
The Blazers (6-4-1) meet the Giants in Vancouver tonight.
The Winterhawks, who open an East Division swing in Moose Jaw tonight, have been riding Brendan Burke, 19, who is in his fourth season in Portland. . . . In seven games this season, Burke is 1-4-2/4.35/.865. Last season, he finished 34-10-4/2,75/.911. . . . Backup Adin Hill, an 18-year-old from Calgary, has gotten into four games, going 0-2-0/4.08/.899. . . . Pouliot’s arrival leaves the Winterhawks with three 20-year-olds as he joins F Miles Koules and D Josh Hanson. . . . Pouliot, from Calgary, is a cousin to former Portland D Derrick Pouliot. In 91 career regular-season games, Bolton is 20-49-6/3.56/.895.

As a rule, I don’t pay much attention to the naming of rosters for events like the Top Prospects Game or the Subway Super Series.
Why not? Mostly because it’s not worth getting all worked up about these things because those charged with picking these teams can’t win.
A WHL team will play a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Nov. 10 and in Brandon on Nov. 11. The WHL chose to name most of its roster yesterday -- two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 10 forwards -- but added the provisions that the roster “is subject to change” and “two additional players will be added.”
Not included in those 10 forwards are Cole Sanford of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Cole Ully of the Kamloops Blazers, both of whom are worthy of being on this roster.
On the morning that the roster was revealed, Sanford, a 19-year-old from Vernon, B.C., was leading the WHL in points, with 19 in nine games.
Ully, a 19-year-old from Calgary, has to be the WHL’s most under-rated and unknown player. He has 16 points, including eight goals, in 11 games.
Of the 10 forwards selected, three are injured -- Morgan Klimchuk of the Regina Pats, John Quenneville of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen. Klimchuk (wrist) and Virtanen (shoulder) have yet to play this season.
Virtanen, taken sixth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 NHL draft, was cleared for contact yesterday; the Hitmen hope to have him back in their lineup on Oct. 24 when they are scheduled to meet the host Kootenay Ice.
And let’s not forget about F Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice, who is getting fourth-line ice time with the Buffalo Sabres, and F Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who remains with the Ottawa Senators. It appears that Reinhart may well end up back in Cranbrook. Lazar, meanwhile, is having a positive impact Ottawa so may be there for the long term.
If either of them is returned to the WHL, you can bet room will be found for them on the Super Series team.
But when players like Sanford and Ully are on the outside looking in when something like this comes along, it makes one wonder if it isn’t time for the WHL to go back to holding an annual all-star game, with the Eastern Conference facing the Western Conference.
It could rotate among the home arenas of the five American franchises. After all, the U.S. Division teams don’t seem to be eligible to play host to the Super Series games, the Top Prospects Game or the Memorial Cup.
So why not give them something of a carrot, and reward some players at the same time?
Dave Lowry of the Victoria Royals, the reigning WHL coach of the year, has been named head coach of the WHL team in the Super Series.
Lowry, in his third season with the Royals, also will be an assistant coach on the Canadian junior team that will play in the 2015 World Junior Championship.
Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings, will work as Lowry’s assistant during the two Super Series games.
The Vancouver Giants got down to two goaltenders on Thursday when they released Ryan Kubic, 16, who will join the NAHL’s Brookings Blizzard. . . . Kubic, from St. Andrews, Man., got into one game with the Giants. He was a second-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . The move leaves the Giants with Payton Lee, 18, and Cody Porter, 17, as their goaltenders.
Junior hockey lost a team this week. The Fort Vancouver Vipers, who played in the pay-to-play Northern Pacific Junior Hockey League, closed their doors on Tuesday. The Vipers had lost 77 straight games and were running out of players when the end came. . . . Paul Danzer of The Columbian has the story right here.
Ernie Rucks, who played on the Penticton Vees when they won the 1955 World championship, has died. Rucks was 84 when he died in Redmond, Ore., on Oct. 2. There now are only five surviving members of that Penticton team. Ivan McLelland, the goaltender on that Vees team, has a tribute right here. . . . The Bend, Ore., bulletin has an obituary right here.

Tim Speltz, the general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, has clarified one thing about that incident from a week ago that involved some of the team’s scratched players making inappropriate comments during the national anthem prior to a game against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . As Chris Derrick wrote in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Speltz said “the players were shouting encouragement to teammates at an inappropriate time, but he said it was inaccurate that the words were aimed at the (anthem) singer.” . . .
Two KHL teams made coaching changes on Thursday. Amur Khabarovsk dumped Yuri Leonov and Vitali Karamnova and replaced them with Jukka Rautakorpi, a former head coach at Tappara in Finland, and Alexander Barkov . . . As well, Neftekhimik, with a 4-11 record, fired head coach Kari Heikkila. Rafik Yakubov, the general manager, is the new head coach. . . .
F Colton McCarthy, 18, has left the Prince Albert Raiders and returned to his home in Salmon Arm, B.C. He was pointless in eight games with the Raiders. . . . Prince Albert had acquired him from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. He had 17 points, eight of them goals, in 102 games over two seasons with the Warriors. . . .
Mark Divver, who covers hockey at the Providence, R.I., Journal, tweeted Thursday: “'97 C Auston Matthews of NTDP tells me he's 50/50 on college vs. WHL. Says he's talking to BC, BU, Denver, Michigan.” . . . The 17-year-old Matthews, from Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-round pick by the Everett Silvertips in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . He is considered a top-end talent and a potential early selection in the NHL‘s 2016 draft. Last season, he split 64 games between the U.S. National Team Development Program in the USHL (20 games), the U.S. U17 team (24) and the U.S. U18 team (20). In all, he had 70 points, including 34 goals. . . .
F Brody Sutter, 23, is the ninth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL. Brody (Saskatoon, Lethbridge, 2008-12) made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. He played 5:50 in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers in New York. Brody is the son of Duane Sutter, who scored twice in his first NHL game with the New York Islanders on Nov. 30, 1979.
Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports that F Ryan Graham, 18, is expected to play his first game of this regular season tonight against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. Graham, who had a strong finish to last season, has been out with mononucleosis. . . . Saskatoon F Brett Stovin, the team captain, is scheduled to play his 200th regular-season game tonight.


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