Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whoa! Check out that third sweater . . . Warriors talking mental health awareness . . . Raiders add veteran forward








F Martin Filo (Moose Jaw, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). Filo had been released last week by Unia Oświęcim (Poland, Ekstraliga) without playing a game.
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I don’t get too excited over the third sweaters that are trotted out on a regular basis by sporting teams in this day and age. The novelty has long since worn off.
But every once in a while one comes along that catches my eye and makes me say: Whoa!
The Prince Albert Raiders have come up with just such a sweater, one that they trot out on Nov. 7 against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, which is only fitting. Seattle is the only WHL city that also is home to a Major League Baseball team, and Conexus Baseball Night will definitely have a baseball theme.
Thus the baseball-themed sweaters.
The Raiders will wear these sweaters and they will be auctioned off live right after the game. Proceeds will go to the Raiders education fund.
A special guest in the person of former MLB pitcher Jack Morris will be on hand, too.
According to a Raiders news release: “The entire night will revolve around baseball! We will be playing some baseball themed music, having special promotions, hot dogs will be on sale in the concessions and we encourage fans to wear their baseball jerseys!”
Morris will be in Prince Albert as he is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the Kinsmen Sportsman Dinner on Nov. 8 in the Art Hauser Centre.
BTW, the Victoria Royals will get into the third sweater act tonight as they open a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the visiting Vancouver Giants. Just a hunch, but I’m thinking black might figure in the Royals’ new-look colour scheme.
The Royals, who are opening a five-game homestand, are coming off a six-game road trip that produced four victories. Earlier this season, the Giants twice beat the Royals, 3-1 and 5-3, in Vancouver.
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A tip of the hat to the Moose Jaw Warriors for the work involving mental health awareness that the organization is doing. Donna Boyer, the Moose Jaw branch director with the Canadian Mental Health Association, held a three-hour presentation for the Warriors on Tuesday, dealing at length with the safeTALK program. In attendance were players, billet families and the team’s staff. Katie Brickman of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has more right here.
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What the Moose Jaw Warriors are doing is terribly important as we work hard to increase mental health awareness in all corners of our society. . . . “I think, first and foremost, we just wanted them to understand that they can talk,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, told Brickman. “There are people within the organization and people outside the organization that if for any reason they are overwhelmed or not feeling right or anything that there are people to talk to. I think the education is about eliminating that stigma that you hide from it.” . . . While the OHL has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association on a program called Talk Today, the WHL appears to be content to allow individual teams to address the situation. In Prince George, the Cougars are working with Dr. Saul Miller, a long-time performance consultant and mental coach. He is in daily contact with Cougars head coach Mark Holick and deals individually with players. If Holick feels a player is acting out of character, he is quick to inform Dr. Miller, who has a PhD in clinical psychology. He is available to players on a 24/7 basis and the emphasis is definitely not on game performance.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have added veteran F Marcus Messier, 20, to their roster. Messier’s arrival gives the Raiders three 20-year-olds as he fills the spot that opened up when F Dakota Conroy left the team and was placed on the suspended list. . . . Messier, from Canmore, Alta., also has played with the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He played two games with the Chiefs this season before getting caught up in the 20-year-old game and being released. In 229 regular-season games, he has 67 points, including 26 goals. Messier was a second-round selection by the Americans in the WHL’s 2009 bantam draft.
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The Kootenay Ice is struggling to score goals; in fact, they are the second lowest-scoring team in the WHL. So they really are looking forward to the return of F Tim Bozon, something that is supposed to happen tonight against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has more right here.
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Daniel Nugent-Bowman, who covers the WHL and the Saskatoon Blades for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, takes a look right here at the fallout from the class-action lawsuit that was filed against the CHL on Oct. 17. “Combine the unexpected news with rumblings of a players’ union that re-emerged this summer,” he writes, “and there appears to be at least some appetite for systematic change.” However, as he points out, people need to be careful what they wish for.
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The Regina Pats are averaging 3,642 fans through six home games. The franchise’s new owners would like to see more bums in the seats, but they aren’t about to push the panic button. "We have a long-term plan. It's early. We're still learning ourselves,” Anthony Marquart, the president of Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group, tells Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post right here. "(But) we're committed to doing our best to put the best product on the ice and improve the game-day experience. Over time I'm confident we'll have more people coming to the games."
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NHLChico Resch, one of hockey’s good guys, will be honoured tonight by the New Jersey Devils. Resch, who was born in Moose Jaw, was a long-time member of the Devils’ broadcast crew before retiring after last season. There was a time back in the day when he had a stint as the head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. . . . Rich Chere of nj.com has more right here.
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Elliotte Friedman starts his weekly 30 Thoughts with a look at the value of young NHL defencemen. These days, it seems, a team can’t win a Stanley Cup without one. Friedman’s piece is right here.
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In case you missed it, the Toronto Blue Jays have raised the price of most of their season-ticket packages. The announcement was made on Thursday. Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star has that story right here. Two questions: 1. When will the price increases end, and I mean the cost of everything, from utilities to fruits and veggies to event tickets; and, 2. Rogers, which owns the Blue Jays, wouldn’t be using money from the Blue Jays to fund the 12-year NHL package, would it?
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Two of the highest-scoring teams in the WHL meet up tonight in Kamloops as the Blazers (8-5-1) entertain the Brandon Wheat Kings (9-2-1). The Blazers have scored 51 goals in 14 games, including seven in their last outing, a 7-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. The Wheat Kings, who opened this road trip with a 7-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday, have scored 66 goals, including 25 in their last three games. . . . Kamloops F Cole Ully leads the WHL scoring race, with 22 points, including nine goals. Brandon F Rihards Bukarts has 20 points, seven of them goals, in 12 games. . . . Bruce Luebke, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted yesterday that F John Quenneville, who has missed six games with an undisclosed injury, is back practising without any restrictions. . . . Join me on Twitter tonight if you want to follow along. . . .

An interesting tidbit from Neal’s Notes. Andy Neal, who works WHL games for Shaw-TV, was in Swift Current this week and chatted with Portland Winterhawks assistant coach Kyle Gustafson.
Neal writes that Gustafson “paid quite the compliment to (Brandon Wheat Kings D Kyle) Clague . . . saying he might be the best 16-year-old defenceman he’s ever seen. Remember, this comes from a coach who just had Derrick Pouliot to work with the last four years and was pretty impressive in his rookie year, too.”
Keep in mind, too, that Gustafson is into his 11th season on the Winterhawks’ coaching staff. . . .

Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that Silvertips F Dawson Leedahl has “damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and likely will need surgery which will sideline him for four to six months.” Leedahl, 18, was injured Saturday as the Silvertips bet the host Spokane Chierfs, 3-2, in overtime. . . .

F Dillon Dube of the Kelowna Rockets won’t be taking part in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge next month in Sarnia, Ont. Warren Henderson of the Kelowna Capital News reports that Dube suffered an undisclosed injury on Saturday during a 5-2 loss to the host Tri-City Americans. According to Henderson, Dube will be out for up to six weeks. He missed the start of the season with another injury and has only played in two games. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades have won five of their last six games and they’ll entertain the Lethbridge Hurricanes tonight. Saskatoon’s power-play is 6-for-11 over its last four games, three of which have been victories. . . . Saskatoon D Ryan Coghlan injured a shoulder during a fight on Wednesday night and won’t play tonight. . . .

Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reported via Twitter on Thursday that Giants F Jakob Stukel (hand) “got some skating in on the side at the end” of the team’s practice. Stukel “avoided pucks,” according to Ewen, who added: “Still seems ways away.” . . .

The Regina Pats got their roster down to 23 on Thursday by releasing F Rylee Zimmer, 17, from their roster. He will join the MJHL’s WayWayseecappo Wolverines. Zimmer, from Russell, Man., had one goal in four games this season. He was pointless in 44 games last season. He was a fifth-round selection by the Pats in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes 14 forwards and six defencemen, along with three goaltenders.
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THE COACHING GAME:

Billy McGuigan is back with the Maritime Hockey League’s Summerside Western Capitals. McGuigan has signed on as their head coach, replacing Tom Schurman who was fired earlier in the week. McGuigan was the Capitals’ head coach for two seasons before spending last season as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Regina Pats.

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