Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Maxwell leads Rebels . . . Winterhawks win big in Everett . . . Soy fills hat in Kelowna

Rob Vanstone, writing in the Regina Leader-Post:
“The Regina Pats have announced that their pricing structure for home games will be overhauled, effective with the 2015-16 WHL season. On the surface, the restructuring makes sense, and is perhaps overdue. As per the current pricing format, which allows for discounted senior and youth rates, the highest revenue isn't always derived from the prime seats. But here is a cautionary note: Leading up to the 1985-86 season, the Regina Exhibition Association imposed a $1 parking fee. It was a nominal cost, but customers nonetheless balked and sub-2,000 crowds quickly became the norm. The owner, Saskatoon-based Herb Pinder Jr., quickly became fed up and sold the team — which was perilously close to moving to Swift Current. And it was all over a dollar.
“This is not to suggest that the Pats are in any danger of facing instability.
“An Anthony Marquart-led ownership group is committed to the franchise, and the city of Regina, for the long haul. But it has been demonstrated, albeit nearly 30 years ago, that Regina hockey fans can be resistant to a fundamental change in the cost of attending a game. The customers will ultimately decide whether the division of the Brandt Centre into ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ sections is a sound idea or a reason to spend more time watching hockey on television.”
Ahh, yes, the memories from early in 1985-86 and the $1 parking charge at the arena, then the Agridome, in Regina.
How close were the Pats to moving to Swift Current? Close enough that they moved towards cancelling two games and rescheduling them for Swift Current. Close enough that the marquee above the Agridome’s main entrance indicated that the team’s next game was to be played in Swift Current.
Of course, the deal fell apart when the WHL, not wanting to lose one of its flagship franchises, stepped in and bought the Pats. The league later sold the Pats to a group of Regina businessmen.
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F Connor McDavid of the OHL’s Erie Otters had his 27-game point streak come to an end last night. The Otters beat the visiting Niagara IceDogs 3-0 but McDavid was blanked. He had 67 points, including 26 goals, in the streak. The last time he was held without a point was on Nov. 6, also against the IceDogs. . . . F Tim McGauley of the Brandon Wheat Kings now is riding the CHL’s longest point streak, at 23 games. The Wheat Kings are at home to the Saskatoon Blades on Friday.
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F Liam Stewart of the Spokane Chiefs is on the 31-man national team roster named Tuesday by Great Britain head coach Pete Russell. The roster will be trimmed to 23 in about two weeks. . . . Great Britain will play two exhibition games against Poland in Nottingham on April 9 and in Coventry on April 10. It then will play in the IIHF Division 1B World Championship in Eindhoven, Netherlands, from April 13-19. Also there will be Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Korea. . . . There is more right here, including some great photos of Liam and his father. . . .
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The Everett Silvertips have signed D Alex Astasiewicz, who is from Salmon Arm, B.C. Astasiewicz, 16, was a third-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. He played this season with the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Ty Davidson was the Rockets’ general manager and head coach; he is the son of Everett GM Garry Davidson. . . . Astasiewicz had 25 points, five of them goals, in 46 games with the Rockets. He has been added to the Silvertips’ roster.
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If you are wondering what is happening regarding the NHL and the nine concussion-related lawsuits it is facing, John DeWispelaere of Sport In Law has a solid piece right here. . . . It’s solid because the layman is able to read it and understand it.
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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 on Friday.
2. Regina (5) clinched second in division. Will meet third-place team in first round. . . . Won on the road last night but was missing freshman F Sam Steel. He suffered a leg injury on Tuesday. . . . In Moose Jaw on Friday.
3. Swift Current (5) has lost seven in a row. Leads Moose Jaw by two points. . . . Coaches held soul-searching session after last night’s loss to visiting Regina. . . . In Prince Albert on Friday.
4. Moose Jaw (5) remains two points behind Swift Current. . . . At home to Regina on Friday.
5. Prince Albert (6) has won four in a row and is four points behind Moose Jaw. . . . Entertains Swift Current on Friday.
6. Saskatoon (4) is in Brandon on Friday.
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CENTRAL DIVISION:
1. Medicine Hat (6) is tied with Calgary atop the division. Medicine Hat has more victories (41-40) at the moment. . . . Tigers play in Cranbrook on Friday.
2. Calgary (6) has two games left in a franchise-record 11-game road trip. . . . Plays in Red Deer on Friday.
3. Red Deer (5) won at home last night and is three points off the pace. . . . At home to Calgary on Friday.
4. Kootenay (5) holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Edmonton. . . . At home to Medicine Hat on Friday.
5. Edmonton (4) is in the second wild-card spot, one point behind Kootenay. . . . In Lethbridge on Friday.
6. Lethbridge (6) is at home to Edmonton on Friday.
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B.C. DIVISION:
1. Kelowna (5) has clinched first place in the Western Conference and will play the second wild-card team in the first round. . . . Is tied with Brandon for first place in the overall standings. . . . In Kamloops on Friday.
2. Victoria (5) will finish second and meet the division’s third-place team in the first round. . . . Won in Kelowna last night. . . . In Vancouver on Friday.
3. Prince George (5) is third, but lost in Kamloops last night and now is just two points ahead of the Blazers. . . . Will visit Tri-City on Friday.
4. Kamloops (5) beat visiting Prince George last night and now trails Cougars 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 on Friday.
5. Vancouver (5) has lost seven straight and is four points behind Kamloops and Tri-City. . . . Plays host to Victoria on Friday.
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U.S. DIVISION:
1. Everett (5) leads the division by two points over Portland (7) but Portland has a higher winning percentage — .654-.649. . . . Portland won big in Everett last night. . . . On the road to play Seattle on Friday.
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 on Friday.
3. Seattle (6) trails Portland by 10 points. . . . At home to Everett on Friday.
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 on Friday.
5. Tri-City (6) is tied with Kamloops for the second wild-card spot, four points ahead of Vancouver. . . . Entertains Prince George on Friday.
(NOTE: If two teams were to 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 second wild-card spot, a play-in game would be held. At the moment, Tri-City has more victories — 28-26.)
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IF THE WHL PLAYOFFS BEGAN TODAY:

Eastern Conference
Brandon vs. Edmonton
Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay
Regina vs. Swift Current
Calgary vs. Red Deer
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Western Conference
Kelowna vs. Tri-City/Kamloops
Everett vs. Spokane
Victoria vs. Prince George
Portland vs. Seattle
(NOTE: Team with home-ice advantage shown first.)
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES:

In Swift Current, the Regina Pats scored three times in the third period and beat the Broncos, 4-1. . . . Regina F Jake Leschyshyn scored his second WHL goal at 17:22 of the first period. . . . Broncos F Jay Merkley got his 16th goal of the season at 18:49 of the first. . . . Regina F Pavel Padakin broke the tie with his 25th goal at 6:40 of the third. . . . The Pats then got insurance when F Jesse Gabrielle scored twice, at 6:50 and 12:16, the latter via the PP. . . . Gabrielle has 23 goals. . . . Regina D Connor Hobbs had two assists. . . . Regina G Daniel Wapple stopped 29 shots, six more than the Broncos’ Landon Bow. . . . Regina was 1-for-1 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-for-5. . . . The Broncos had GM/head coach Mark Lamb back on the bench after a two-game absence. He spent Friday night in hospital in Swift Current and missed a game in Moose Jaw. He was released from hospital on Saturday, but didn’t go to Brandon for a game that night against the Wheat Kings. . . . Regina F Braden Christoffer took a major and game misconduct for a hit from behind on F Carter Rigby at 8:01 of the first period. . . . The Pats were without freshman F Sam Steel, who suffered a leg injury in their previous game. . . . Regina (36-22-9) had lost its previous two games. . . . The Broncos (30-32-5) have lost seven straight. . . .

In Red Deer, F Brooks Maxwell scored four times to lead the Rebels to a 6-4 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Rebels scored the game’s first two goals and the Blades were chasing all night. . . . F Scott Feser scored his 14th, via the PP, at 4:26 and Maxwell made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 12:21. . . . Maxwell added his second goal at 17:51 on a PP, then got No. 3 at 4:10 of the third. He added his fourth goal, and 25th of the season, at 10:16. . . . Maxwell had never had a three-goal night in the WHL. . . . Feser finished with two goals, the second one shorthanded. . . . Red Deer F Riley Sheen had three assists, with D Nelson Nogier and F Wyatt Johnson each earning two. . . . The Blades made it close with two goals by F Cameron Hebig, who has 18, in the latter half of the third period. . . . F Ryan Graham had two assists for Saskatoon. . . . Red Deer was 2-for-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 1-for-2 with two shorties against. . . . Red Deer G Rylan Toth stopped 26 shots, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nik Amundrud. . . . Red Deer had F Evan Polei back in the lineup. He last played on Jan. 24. . . . The Rebels (36-21-10) have won four in a row. . . . The Blades (19-45-4) have lost five straight. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers broke a 3-3 tie with two goals late in the second period and went on to beat the Prince George Cougars, 7-4. . . . Former Cougars D Marc (Jimmy) McNulty snapped the 3-3 tie with his eighth goal at 18:52 of the second, and F Nick Chyzowski made it 5-3 with his fifth goal with 37.1 seconds left in the period. McNulty drew an assist on Chyzowski’s goal. . . . Cougars F Brad Morrison had scored his 22nd goal at 17:19 to get the visitors even. . . . Cougars F Chase Witala got his guys to within one with his 34th goal just 45 seconds into the third. . . . Kamloops F Jesse Zaharichuk restored the two-goal lead with his third goal at 15:15 and F Matt Revel hit the empty net at 18:04. . . . Kamloops F Cole Ully continued his terrific season with his 33rd goal and two assists. He’s got 87 points in 63 games. . . . Blazers F Matt Needham had two assists and was plus-4. . . . After a four-game absence, Kamloops F Deven Sideroff was back on the right wing alongside Needham and Ully. . . . Cougars D Tomas Andrlik scored his fourth goal and added two assists. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-2 on the PP; the Cougars were 0-for-6. . . . The Blazers (26-34-7) had lost their previous game. . . .The Cougars (28-34-5) had points in six straight (5-0-1). . . .

In Everett, the Portland Winterhawks erased an early 1-0 deficit with six straight goals as they beat the Silvertips, 6-1. . . . Everett F Dawson Leedahl scored his 14th goal at 3:18 of the first period. . . . D Keoni Texeira tied it with his seventh at 8:29 and it was all Portland from there. . . . F Oliver Bjorkstrand broke the tie with his WHL-leading 53rd goal at 11:39. . . . D Adam Henry scored twice in the second period, giving him eight this season. . . . F Nic Petan added his 12th at 127:46 of the second. Petan’s previous 21 points all had been assists. He also had two assists in this one, giving him 68 helpers in 47 games. . . . Bjorkstrand later scored No. 54. He was playing in his 52nd game. . . . He also has 99 points, one off the lead in the scoring race. . . . Portland F Keegan Iverson and F Evan Weinger each had two assists. . . . When the season began, you may not have predicted that a game of this magnitude would feature two freshman goaltenders — Carter Hart for the Silvertips and Adin Hill for the Winterhawks. . . . Hill stopped 27 shots. Hart surrendered four goals on 23 shots before being replaced by Austin Lotz with Portland ahead 4-1 at 12:04 of the second. . . . Portland was 1-for-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-for-3. . . . Portland (40-20-5) is 9-0-2 in its last 11 outings. . . . Everett (40-20-7) had won its previous three games. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald has a game story right here. . . .

In Kelowna, F Tyler Soy score three times to lead the Victoria Royals to a 6-3 victory over the Rockets. . . . It was the first time this season that the Rockets had given up as many as six goals in one game. . . . Soy, who has 27 goals, broke a 2-2 tie at 14:29 of the second period. He scored again at 1:36 of the third, on a PP, for a 4-2 lead and completed his second hat trick of the season at 16:29 of the third period with the game’s final goal. . . . D Joe Hicketts, F Jack Walker and F Greg Chase each had two assists for Victoria. . . . F Nick Merkley scored twice for the Rockets, giving him 20 this season. . . . Victoria was 2-for-2 on the PP; the Rockets were 0-for-3. . . . Victoria G Coleman Vollrath stopped 44 shots, 24 more than Kelowna’s Jackson Whistle. . . . The Rockets again were without F Rourke Chartier and D Josh Morrissey. Also missing were F Justin Kirkland and F Gage Quinney. . . . Former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was on the ice with the Rockets on Tuesday. He and Rockets head coach Dan Lambert are friends. They both were selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL’s 1989 draft and later played together with the IHL’s Long Beach Ice Dogs. . . . The Royals (36-27-4) have won two straight. . . . The Rockets (50-12-5) were 2-0-1 in their last three games.
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THURSDAY’S GAMES

No Games Scheduled
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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.
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