Saturday, November 1, 2014

Raiders make coaching change . . . Ex-player hits WHL with lawsuit . . . Reinhart on way back to Ice

The Prince Albert Raiders made the first coaching change of the WHL season on Friday morning when management pulled the plug on head coach Cory Clouston.
Clouston signed on with the Raiders on June 1, 2013. He was in the second-year of a two-year deal, with the club holding an option on a third season.
The Raiders were 41-41-5 under Clouston. They made the playoffs last season, going 35-32-5 and then winning a sudden-death play-in game over the Red Deer Rebels. Prince Albert then was swept from a first-round series by the Edmonton Oil Kings, who went on to win the Memorial Cup.
General manager Bruno Campese, who also is in the final year of his contract, announced that associate coach Dave Manson would step in as interim head coach.
Manson was in control Friday night as the Raiders won 6-3 over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. That improved Prince Albert’s record to 7-9-0. (It was an interesting day for the Manson family, as Dave’s son, Josh, made his NHL debut last night, playing 12:30 with Anaheim as the Ducks beat the Stars 2-1 in OT in Dallas.)
The Raiders are at home to the Saskatoon Blades tonight, then don’t play until Wednesday when they meet the visiting Calgary Hitmen.
The Raiders were beaten 5-2 by the Hurricanes in Lethbridge on Wednesday night. That was the Raiders’ last game under Clouston, who also has been a WHL head coach with the Kootenay Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings.
Prince Albert’s players were informed of the decision Friday morning in Moose Jaw.
Campese told paNOW that a special meeting of the community-owned team’s board of directors was held Thursday night and a decision was made then to fire Clouston.
"It’s never easy, but it was something that the organization thought, moving forward was in the best interest of the hockey team," Campese told paNOW. "People can speculate all they want, but it was something that . . . I think has been discussed at a board level for . . . a few days, but the actual decision was made (Thursday) night."
The Raiders are expected to hire a new head coach in the next few days, perhaps even on the weekend.
The Raiders’ news release had hardly landed on the Internet when speculation began. In this day of social media, it doesn’t take much to start rumours.
First, I heard that the Raiders had asked the Regina Pats for permission to speak with assistant coach David Struch, who spent last season as the head coach of the Blades.
Then it was Lorne Molleken’s turn. Speculation had Molleken, the Blades’ general manager last season and a long-time WHL coach, taking over as the Raiders’ head coach for the remainder of this season.
Next up was Malcolm Cameron, who was fired as Regina’s head coach during the summer, shortly after new owners took over the Pats. Cameron now is coaching at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C.
No, Dan Bylsma’s name wasn’t mentioned. At least, not yet.

After dropping a 5-2 decision to the Pats in Regina on Friday night, the Saskatoon Blades revealed that two players had suffered suspected concussions.
According to a story on the Blades’ website, “Alex Henry left in the second period after being on the receiving end of a headshot by Dryden Hunt, while Nik Amundrud was forced from the game early in the third after a run-in with Braden Christoffer, who collided with the netminder at full speed on a foiled breakaway attempt.
“Both players are suspected to have concussions.”
Henry is a 20-year-old defenceman, while Amundrud is a 17-year-old goaltender.
The Blades, who are to visit the Prince Albert Raiders tonight, recalled G Trevor Martin, 18, from the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires and D Nolan Reid, 16, from the midget AAA Notre Dame Argos.
Martin has a 0.74 GAA and a .977 save percentage with Melville.
Saskatoon also is without F Wyatt Sloboshan (broken jaw) and D Ryan Coghlan (shoulder).
There were five games played in the WHL on Friday night, which also happened to be Hallowe’en.
Only one of the games, Saskatoon at Regina, drew more than 3,000 fans, with attendance there announced at 3,072.
In Moose Jaw, 2,943 fans showed up to watch the Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. There were 2,351 fans in Lethbridge where the Hurricanes played the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In Swift Current, 1,911 fans saw the Broncos play the Calgary Hitmen.
And, in Cranbrook, only 1,901 fans were in the house as the Kootenay Ice played host to the Red Deer Rebels. After the game, Jeff Hollick, the radio voice of the Ice, tweeted that the attendance “was the smallest in team history.”
It will be interesting to see how many games are on the WHL schedule on Oct. 31, 2015, which will fall on a Saturday.
The Spokane Chiefs will hold a Chiefs Care auction at the main entrance of Spokane Arena tonight, with proceeds directly benefiting former D Cole Hamblin in his fight against cancer.
Hamblin played for the Chiefs from 2010-12. He is battling Stage 4 mucoepidermoid carcinoma. He learned of his condition after experiencing severe back pain and weight loss as he prepared for this season at the U of Guelph. Hamblin has been hospitalized since Sept. 22.
“As an organization, it is important for us to support Cole and help his family through this,“ Tim Speltz, the Chiefs’ general manager, said in a news release. “We have had a number of fans ask how they can help, and (we) feel this auction as well as providing everyone with the online fundraiser information are the best ways to provide people the avenues to support the Hamblin family. Cole is a strong person who is facing his challenges head on and we have him in our thoughts through his recovery."
Included in the auction are a variety of items, including but not limited to:
* Cole Hamblin game-worn Chiefs jersey;
* Tyler Johnson game-worn signed Memorial Cup Chiefs jersey;
* Wayne Gretzky game-worn signed Chiefs jersey;
* 2013-14 Chiefs Breast Cancer Awareness theme jersey (blank, game style);
* 2013-14 Chiefs military theme jersey (blank, game style);
* George Brett signed baseball bat;
* Kyle Beach signed 50th goal stick;
* Mitch Holmberg signed stick & puck;
* Mitch Holmberg and Pat Falloon signed pucks (No. 1 and 2 career goals scored in franchise history);
* Disney On Ice suite (eight tickets);
* 2013-14 team-signed Mike Aviani game-worn helmet;
* Framed Tyler Johnson Tampa Bay Lightning photo; and,
* Photos donated by team photographer Gary Peterson.
The Chiefs, who are at home to the Red Deer Rebels tonight, also are encouraging fans to visit the gofundme campaign online. It was created in order to allow donations to be made to benefit Hamblin. The gofundme campaign is available at:
Lukas Walter, who played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans (2011-13), has his name on lawsuits totalling $110 million that have been filed against the WHL and the QMJHL.
Walter, a 21-year-old from Langley, B.C., played last season with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, picking up one assist and 141 penalty minutes in 53 games.
According to Rick Westhead of TSN:
“In his $50-million case against the QMJHL, Walter alleges that the league's teams conspired to rewrite standard player contracts last year to avoid paying players the legal minimum wage.
“In a second, $60-million case filed in Calgary against the WHL, Walter alleged that the work visa the Tri-City Americans secured for him to play for them is proof he had an employer-employee relationship with the team, and should be paid at least minimum wage.”
Westhead’s complete story is right here.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star’s Robert Cribb reports:
“Junior hockey player employment records, league contracts, U.S. immigration documents and two new class-action lawsuits in Quebec and Alberta imply — or explicitly state — that Canadian Hockey League clubs treat some of their players as employees, despite contrary public statements by league officials, an ongoing Star investigation has found.
“Six leading employment and tax lawyers interviewed by the Star say the 60-team CHL faces an uphill battle trying to defend against class-action lawsuits alleging its players are employees deserving of minimum wage and benefits.”
Cribb’s complete story is right here.
The Kootenay Ice received some good news on Friday when the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres chose to send back F Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 overall selection in the NHL’s 2014 draft. Reinhart, who turns 19 on Nov. 6, had one assist in nine games with the Sabres. . . . Reinhart didn’t play last night, as the Ice dropped a 6-3 decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels, and isn’t expected to be in the Ice’s lineup tonight against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. That being the case he likely would make his debut on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Last season, he had 105 points, including 36 goals, in 60 games with the Ice. . . . You can bet, too, that Reinhart will be part of the Canadian team at the World Junior Championship. . . . "I told Sam, you're my top pick. I was cheering for him,” Buffalo GM Terry Murray said. “But it's about doing what's best for him and us," he said. "The issue wasn't skating, or hockey sense, for me it was strength."
With Reinhart on his way back to the Ice, Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province wonders whether the Vancouver Giants should try and make a blockbuster deal with Kootenay.
Ewen’s piece is right here.


In Lethbridge, F Rihards Bukarts scored a PP goal at 1:41 of OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge F Jamal Watson had forced extra time with his second goal of the game, and seventh of the season, at 16:54 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings had sat Bukarts, a Latvian who is their leading scorer, for two games in order to get in Russian F Richard Nejezchleb. Last night, they flipped it, playing Bukarts, 19, and sitting Nejezchleb, 20. . . . D Ivan Provorov, 17, is their other import. He had a goal, his eighth, and two assists last night. He drew the primary assist on the winner. . . . The Wheat Kings, who dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, were without D Ryan Pilon, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over the Giants in Vancouver. . . . Lethbridge G Zac Robidoux stopped 31 shots. Brandon F Tyler Coulter wasn’t able to beat him on a first-period penalty shot. . . . Brandon G Logan Thompson stopped 23 shots in his third career start. . . . Lethbridge lost F Ryley Lindgren in the first period. He left with an undisclosed injury after being involved in a collision with Provorov. . . . The Wheat Kings are 5-1-0 on a seven-game road trip that concludes tonight in Medicine Hat against the Tigers. The Wheat Kings, who now lead the overall standings, go into the game at 13-3-1, while the Tigers, who didn’t play last night, are 11-2-1. This will be Brandon’s seventh game in 11 nights. . . .

In Regina, F Patrick D’Amico scored twice to help the Pats to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Pats, who have won their last nine meetings with the Blades, scored the game’s first four goals, with D’Amico, who has eight goals, getting the first one, on a PP, and the fourth, while shorthanded. . . . The Blades had F Alex Forsberg back in the lineup after he missed two games with an undisclosed injury. He scored his seventh goal of the season on a second-period PP. . . . D Colby Williams and F Morgan Klimchuk each had two assists for Regina. . . . Saskatoon G Nik Amundrud stopped 27 of 31 shots before leaving the game following a goal-mouth collision at 11:02 of the second period. Alex Moodie came on in relief and was 7-for-7. . . . In an interesting pre-game note, Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, pointed out that Saskatoon is 7-6-0 in Halloween games. The only time the Blades played the Pats on Oct. 31 was in 1967. The host Pats won, 9-3. . . .

In Cranbrook, the Red Deer Rebels built a 4-0 lead and then withstood a brief Kootenay comeback before beating the Ice, 7-3. . . . F Scott Feser, who had a goal and two assists, gave the Rebels a 4-0 lead with a shorthanded score at 2:17 of the second period. . . . The Ice got to within one, at 4-3, on F Vince Loschiavo’s second goal of the season at 9:44 of the third. . . . However, Red Deer F Meyer Nell got his second of the game, and sixth of the season, just 15 seconds later. . . . Red Deer D Brett Cote drew four assists. . . . The Rebels now have won four straight, while the Ice has lost seven in a row. . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Prince Albert Raiders scored four second-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw, which has lost five straight, opened a 2-0 lead on two goals by F Tanner Eberle, at 7:15 and 7:56 of the first period. He’s got eight. . . . The Raiders scored the next five goals, two of them by F Craig Leverton, who also has eight. . . . D Sawyer Lange gave the visitors their first lead, with his second goal of the season, at 10:07 of the second period. . . . Raiders D Josh Morrissey scored his fourth goal and was plus-4. . . . The Raiders had fired head coach Cory Clouston earlier in the day, so this was interim head coach Dave Manson’s first victory. . . .

In Swift Current, G Landon Bow stopped 30 shots to lead the Broncos to a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Bow had a league-leading four shutouts this season and five in his career. The franchise record for shutouts in a season is six and is shared by Ian Gordon (1993-94), Bryce Wandler (1999-2000) and Mark Friesen (2010-11). . . . F Carter Rigby opened the scoring, with his ninth, at 18:14 of the first period. . . . F Colby Cave added a PP score in the second period and F Jake DeBrusk added an empty-netter at 19:09 of the third. Cave has three; DeBrusk 10. . . . Calgary G Mack Shields stopped 13 shots as his mates had a 30-16 edge.


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