Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tigers double Giants . . . Silvertips complete sweep . . . Ingram stars again for Blazers

In the first period of a Tuesday night NHL game, Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers was ejected for a nasty hit on Pittsburgh Penguins D Kris Letang.
Rinaldo not only drilled Letang from behind, he left his feet to make the hit.
He will certainly be suspended by the NHL; the only question is for how long.
Long after the game had ended, former NHL referee Paul Stewart tweeted twice.
The first one read: “When do we start holding coaches responsible, too, for sending out idiots like Rinaldo in 1st place? Chief knows what player is all about.”
Chief would be Flyers head coach Craig Berube.
The second tweet read: “That is NOT exclusive to Berube. . . . I am referring to all coaches who deploy players of that ilk. Finish your check has become bane of sport.”
Bingo! The last statement — “Finish your check has become bane of sport” — hits hockey’s nail squarely on the head.
Coaches at all levels of the sport need to stop impressing upon their charges to “finish your check.”
If they won’t do that, then they need to change the definition of “finish your check.” Instead to trying to hammer an opponent into next week, players need to be taught how to separate that opponent from the puck.
As one veteran hockey coach loves to ask me on a regular basis, “What happened to angle-man-puck?”
Yes, there was a time when players were taught how to angle a puck-carrier into the boards, freeing up the puck for a teammate to swoop in, gather it up and begin the transition to offence.
At some point, however, some of that seems to have gotten lost as players, wrapped in more and more body armour, started to hit to hurt, or, in hockey speak, to “finish their checks.”
That has led to more checking from behind, more players leaving their feet in order to deliver the blow, more head shots and more injuries.
Which is exactly what happened Tuesday night when Rinaldo met Letang.
Get players back to playing angle-man-puck and you will see better transition games and fewer injuries.
No, it won’t take hitting out of the game. There still will be ample opportunity for hitting. But maybe players can be educated to finish their checks in a different fashion.
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Alan Caldwell, over at Small Thoughts At Large, has spent some time researching some of this season’s numbers inside the WHL. The results of his work are right here.
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Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 30 Thoughts on Wednedsay. It’s always a good read and it’s right here.
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An NHL franchise in Saskatoon? One of the men interested in just that says the effort has “stalled out,” at least for now. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here, including an update on lease negotiations between the Saskatoon Blades and the SaskTel Centre.
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Have you heard about the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ puck that has been globe-trotting? Paul Kingsmith of Global TV in Lethbridge has more right here.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES:

In Medicine Hat, F Markus Eisenschmid, F Curtis Sanford and F Dryden Hunt each scored twice as the Tigers doubled the Vancouver Giants, 8-4. . . . Eisenschmid broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal, on a PP, at 9:46 of the first period. . . . The Giants were chasing the game from that point on and never were able to equalize. . . . Eisenschmid has 12 goals, Sanford 37 and Hunt 20. . . . Hunt ran his point streak to 17 games, which is tied for the longest in the WHL this season. . . . F Matt Bradley and F Chad Butcher each had three assists for the Tigers, while F Trevor Cox, who leads the WHL points race, scored his 18th goal, shorthanded, and added an assist as he got to 75 points. . . . Cox leads the WHL in assists (57) and loins (75), all in 45 games. . . . He’s got an eight-point lead over Sanford, whose 37 goals are one behind F Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Medicine Hat D Kyle Burroughs had two assisgts. . . . Vancouver F Jackson Houck scored his 15th goal and added an assist. . . . The Tigers were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Giants were 2-for-4. . . . D Ty Stanton was back in the Tigers’ lineup after not playing since Jan. 3 because of an undisclosed injury. . . . Vancouver F Thomas Foster sat out as he completed a three-game WHL suspension. . . . The Tigers (31-12-2), who are home to Prince George on Friday, have won two in a row. . . . The Giants (19-25-2), who are two games into a six-game Central Division trip, have lost five straight. Their trek continues Friday in Lethbridge. . . .

In Prince George, F Kohl Bauml scored two goals for the second straight night as the Everett Silvertips beat the Cougars, 4-2. . . . Bauml, who has 23 goals, scored twice on Tuesday as the Silvertips dumped the Cougars, 6-1. . . . Last night, his two third-period goals stretched a 2-1 Everett lead. . . . Bauml also had an assist. . . . Everett F Carson Stadnyk scored his 18th goal, on a PP, and added two assists, while D Ben Betker had two assists. . . . F Nikita Scherbak scored his 21st goal for the Silvertips. . . . F Aaron Macklin scored the Cougars’ lone goal, on a PP, at 8:06 of the second to cut into a 2-0 deficit. . . . The Cougars were 1-for-7 on the PP; the Silvertips were 1-for-2. . . . The Cougars were without D Sam Ruopp, who took a kneeing major and game misconduct in Tuesday’s game. Everett D Jordan Wharrie, who was on the other end of that hit, is expected to be out at least through the weekend. . . . Everett D Noah Juulsen and Prince George F Jansen Harkins are at the Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, Ont. . . . The Silvertips (30-12-4) have won six in a row. . . . The Cougars (20-26-2) have lost seven straight (0-5-2) as they head to Medicine Hat and a Friday night game with the Tigers. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald points out that the Silvertips in 2015 “are 9-1 and have outscored their opponents 44-13. Eight of those 10 games have been on the road.” . . . The Silvertips will stop off in Kelowna and play the Rockets on Friday and Saturday nights. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored three times before the game was 11 minutes old and went on to a 3-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kamloops G Connor Ingram stopped 26 shots, and was especially sharp in the second period when the Americans held a 14-1 edge in shots. . . . Ingram, a 17-year-old freshman from Imperial, Sask., was selected as the game’s first star for a fifth straight home game. . . . Tri-City G Evan Sarthou, who was making his 17th straight start, was coming off back-to-back shutouts. . . . Kamloops D Patrik Maier scored the game’s first goal 46 seconds into the first period. He has four goals this season, two of them against the Americans. . . . F Matt Needham had two assists for Kamloops. One of them came on F Cole Ully’s 21st goal.  Ully also had an assist. . . . Tri-City F Ty Comrie scored the game’s last goal, his fifth, at 15:35 of the first. . . . The Americans came in with the 11th-best PP in the WHL, but went 0-for-6 with the man advantage against a penalty-killing unit that was No. 20. . . . D Brandon Carlo was among the Americans’ scratches. He is at the Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, Ont. . . . The Americans also scratched D Riley Hillis, F Braden Purtill, F Vladislav Lukin, G Eric Comrie and F Brian Williams, all of whom are injured. . . . With Comrie injured, Beck Warm, a 15-year-old from the major midget Vancouver-North West Giants, backed up Sarthou. . . . F Michael Rasmussen, 15, made his WHL debut with the Americans. From Surrey, B.C., he was the seventh overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, in 36 games with OHA Prep White in Penticton, he has 45 points, including 24 goals. That team is coached by former Regina Pats head coach Malcolm Cameron. . . . The Blazers (17-24-6) have won three straight for the first time this season. They now are tied with Vancouver for fourth place in the five-team B.C. Division, just two points behind Prince George. . . . The Americans (22-22-2) had won their previous two games. . . . The Blazers will play in Victoria on Friday and Saturday. . . . The Americans return home to face Seattle on Friday.
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