At least four schools, some of them likely in California, are close to deciding whether to add NCAA Division 1 hockey to their athletic departments. A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday indicated that a number of schools would love to emulate the success of the Penn State Nittany Lions, a program in contention for the Big 10 title in only its third season of existence. As well, Arizona State is preparing to ice a Division 1 team. . . . Jason Gonzalez of the Star Tribune has more right here. . . . The WHL, of course, recruits heavily in California, and having Division 1 teams in the state would no doubt make things a bit more difficult. Keep in mind that there haven’t been any Division 1 teams west of the Rocky Mountains.
The Guelph Gryphons and UNB Varsity Reds advanced on the first day of play at the CIS men’s hockey championship in Halifax. . . . F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) scored four times to lead the No. 2 Varsity Reds to a 6-2 victory over the No. 7 Windsor Lancers. Braes, from Shawnigan Lake, B.C., tied a CIS record for most goals in a national championship tournament game. “I pride myself on being a playoff performer when the chips are down. I always want to elevate my game,” Braes said. . . . In the day’s other game, the No. 3 Gryphons dumped the No. 6 Calgary Dinos, 3-1. F Teal Burns (Portland, Vancouver, Prince Albert, Everett, 2009-2012) and F Seth Swenson (Portland, Seattle, Lethbridge) had goals for Guelph. Calgary got its goal from F Chris Collins (Chilliwack, Saskatoon, 2007-2012). . . . Today, the host StFX X-Men, the eighth seed, meet the No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears, the defending champions, and the No. 4 UQTR Patriots meet the No. 5 Acadia Axemen.
It was moving day on Thursday as three teams — two in the AHL and one in the OHL — announced that they will have new homes next season. . . . The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets made it official — they are moving the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps from Newfoundland to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg where they likely will play as the Manitoba Moos. . . . The Montreal Canadiens then revealed that their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, will be moving to St. John’s. They will play as the IceCaps. In another couple of years, the franchise is likely to end up in Laval, Que., where a new arena is being built. . . . In the OHL, the board of governors announced that it had approved the sale of the Belleville Bulls, who will be moving to Hamilton and will be renamed the Bullodgs. . . . Michael Andlauer sold the Bulldogs to the Canadiens, then purchased Belleville’s OHL franchise. . . . The OHL hasn’t been in Hamilton since the Dukes played there (1989-91).
Ken Hitchcock, the head coach of the St. Louis Blues, became the fourth head coach in NHL history with 700 career victories last night. When the Blues beat the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 in a shootout, Hitchcock joined Scotty Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (782) and Joel Quenneville (745) as members of the 700 club.
Jerome Bechard, the head coach of the SPHL’s Columbus Cottonmouths, got a little excited in the first period of a game last night. How excited? Well, Bechard (Moose Jaw, 1986-89) actually ended up on the ice. . . . There’s video right here.
Ch-ch-ching! Peter Anholt, the general manager and head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been fined $500 after he was hit with a game misconduct late in a 4-1 loss to the host Kootenay Ice on Tuesday night. . . .
The Brandon Wheat Kings, with 49 victories, are at home to the Saskatoon Blades tonight. They may get D Kale Clague back from an undisclosed injury. He played three games since Oct. 28. . . . F Nolan Patrick has missed 10 games and is skating, but hasn’t been cleared for contact. . . . F Reid Duke and F Quinton Lisoway remain week-to-week. . . .
The Kelowna Rockets continue to show that three of their top players aren’t about to come off the injury list in a day or two. The Rockets, who go home-and-home with the Kamloops Blazers this weekend, show F Rourke Chartier and F Justin Kirkland as being week-to-week, while D Josh Morrissey is out for two to three weeks. That would indicate that the Rockets are hoping to have them, along with F Gage Quinney and D Mitch Wheaton, ready for the start of playoffs. . . .
The Portland Winterhawks have won 40 games for a sixth straight season. That ties a franchise record set from 1978-83. . . .
F Dawson Holt has joined the Vancouver Giants and could play at some point this weekend. Holt, 16, was a first-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. He was free to join the Giants once his team, the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts, had its season end. . . .
F Taylor Crunk of the Victoria Royals has been charged with assault causing bodily harm after an incident that occurred at a New Year’s Eve party. . . . The Victoria Times Colonist has more right here. . . .
Regina Pats F Sam Steel isn’t expected to play this weekend after suffering a leg injury on Tuesday during a game in Prince Albert. The Pats play in Moose Jaw tonight and then are at home to the Warriors on Saturday. . . . While Steel may not play until the playoffs, Regina F Austin Wagner (concussion) is likely to return this weekend after missing eight games. . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors expect to have F Jaimen Yakubowski in the lineup when they play host to the Regina Pats tonight. He has missed six games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has more on the Warriors right here. . . .
F Cameron Hausinger, a 17-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, says the Saskatoon Blades are very much on his radar, especially after he wasn’t one of the 50 players invited to the U.S. National Team Development Camp. Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here. ———
THE COACHING GAME:The junior B Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are looking for a general manager and head coach. The Posse announced earlier this month that they wouldn’t be extending the contract of GM/head coach Bill Rotheisler. . . . He had been in that position since June 27, 2013. . . . This season, the Posse went 22-24-3-2 and finished fourth in the Okanagan Division. It then lost a first-round best-of-seven series to the Osoyoos Coyotes in five games.
THE WHL PLAYOFF PICTURE:EAST DIVISION:
1. Brandon (5 games remaining) — Will finish atop the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1995-96. They will play the conference’s second wild-card team in first round. . . . Tied with Kelowna (5) for first place overall. . . . At home to Saskatoon tonight.
2. Regina (5) clinched second in division. Will meet third-place team in first round. . . . Goes home-and-home with Moose Jaw this weekend. They’re in Moose Jaw tonight and in Regina on Saturday.
3. Swift Current (5) has lost seven in a row. Leads Moose Jaw by two points and Prince Albert six. . . . In Prince Albert tonight then play host to the Raiders on Saturday.
4. Moose Jaw (5) remains two points behind Swift Current. . . . At home to Regina tonight and in Regina on Saturday.
5. Prince Albert (6) has won four in a row to get within four points of Moose Jaw and six of Swift Current. . . . Entertains Swift Current tonight and then visits Swift Current on Saturday. . . . Completes its first three-in-three of the season in Medicine Hat on Sunday.
6. Saskatoon (4) is in Brandon tonight.
1. Medicine Hat (6) is tied with Calgary atop the division. Medicine Hat has more victories (41-40) at the moment. . . . Tigers meet the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook tonight.
2. Calgary (6) has two games left in a franchise-record 11-game road trip. . . . Plays in Red Deer tonight and Lethbridge on Saturday.
3. Red Deer (5) is three points off the pace. . . . At home to Calgary tonight.
4. Kootenay (5) holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Edmonton. . . . At home to Medicine Hat tonight.
5. Edmonton (4) is in the second wild-card spot, one point behind Kootenay. . . . In Lethbridge tonight.
6. Lethbridge (6) is at home to Edmonton tonight.
1. Kelowna (5) has clinched first place in the Western Conference and will play the second wild-card team in the first round. . . . Tied with Brandon for first place in the overall standings. . . . In Kamloops tonight. The Blazers visit Kelowna on Saturday.
2. Victoria (5) will finish second and meet the division’s third-place team in the first round. . . . In Vancouver tonight then goes home to face the Giants Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Seriously!
3. Prince George (5) is third, two points ahead of Kamloops. . . . Will visit Tri-City tonight and Portland on Saturday.
4. Kamloops (5) trails Prince George by two points. . . . Will meet Prince George three times in the next while — March 18 and 20 in Prince George, and March 21 in Kamloops. . . . The Blazers are tied with Tri-City (6) for the conference’s second wild-card berth. . . . At home to Kelowna tonight and in Kelowna on Saturday. The Blazers have lost 18 straight regular-season games to the Rockets.
5. Vancouver (5) has lost seven straight and is four points behind Kamloops and Tri-City. . . . Plays host to Victoria tonight, then it’s off to Victoria for games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
1. Everett (5) leads the division by two points over Portland (7) but Portland has a higher winning percentage — .654-.649. . . . Into Kent, Wash., to meet Seattle tonight.
2. Portland (7) is on a 9-0-2 roll and just two points out of first place. It has seven games left, three with Spokane. The first of those is in Spokane tonight.
3. Seattle (6) trails Portland by 10 points. . . . At home to Everett tonight.
4. Spokane (7) is in the first wild-card spot, seven points behind Seattle and nine ahead of Tri-City (6). . . . At home to Portland tonight.
5. Tri-City (6) is tied with Kamloops for the second wild-card spot, four points ahead of Vancouver. . . . Entertains Prince George tonight.
(NOTE: If two teams tie for a conference’s last playoff spot, those teams will have a play-in game at the home of the team with the most victories. So . . . if Kamloops and Tri-City were to end up tied for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, a play-in game would be held. At the moment, Tri-City has more victories — 28-26.)
IF THE WHL PLAYOFFS BEGAN TODAY:Eastern Conference
Brandon vs. Edmonton
Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay
Regina vs. Swift Current
Calgary vs. Red Deer
Kelowna vs. Tri-City/Kamloops
Everett vs. Spokane
Victoria vs. Prince George
Portland vs. Seattle
(NOTE: Team with home-ice advantage shown first.)
THURSDAY’S GAMESNo Games Scheduled
FRIDAY’S GAMES(all times local)
Saskatoon at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Regina at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Prince George vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Portland at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.
Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.
SATURDAY’S GAMES(all times local)
Calgary at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Moose Jaw at Regina, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Prince George at Portland, 7 p.m.
Seattle at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Tri-City at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Vancouver at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
“@funnyordie: Sorry, Cody. But there's no crying in baseball. #FerrellTakesTheField pic.twitter.com/gxgXKMb475” - 😢......
— Cody Decker (@Decker6) March 13, 2015
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