Saturday, March 21, 2015

New arena in Regina? . . . Wheat Kings on top of WHL . . . Americans get last playoff spot


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It was only fitting that the final regular-season game in the Medicine Hat Arena should have featured two of the WHL’s longest-tenured play-by-play men — Bob Ridley, the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Les Lazaruk, who calls the play for the Saskatoon Blades.
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Might the Regina Pats, at some point in the not-too-distant future, have a new home? And might that new home be in downtown Regina? Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has the goods on that story right here. And if you read between the lines . . .
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The Vancouver Giants dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night. You may have been watching on Sportsnet when the Rockets were gifted a PP in OT and won it shortly thereafter. It turns out that Vancouver head coach Claude Noel wasn’t happy with the officiating. Ch-ch-ching! . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more right here.
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Steve Nash, the greatest of all Canadian basketball players, made it official on Saturday — he has retired, done in by a body that just won’t allow him to continue. Lee Jenkins of si.com takes a terrific look at Nash and the impact he had on the game right here. . . . While you read, ask yourself if Nash had as much impact, or more, on basketball than Wayne Gretzky had on hockey.
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Terry Bonner, the Vancouver Giants’ scouting director, has been honour with a WHL Distinguished Service Award. Bonner has been with the Giants since Day 1, in 2001. All told, he has been involved in scouting in the WHL since 1991 when he worked for the Tri-City Americans. He is the father of Scott Bonner, the Giants’ GM, and Kamloops Blazers GM Craig Bonner.
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THE WHL PLAYOFF PICTURE:

EAST DIVISION:
1. Brandon (0 games remaining) won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for the first time since 1995-96. It beat visiting Moose Jaw last night to finish atop the overall standings. . . . The Wheat Kings will meet Edmonton in the first round with the series opening in Brandon on Thursday.
2. Regina (0) will finish second in division and will meet Swift Current in the first round. That series opens Friday in Regina.
3. Swift Current (0) won in Lethbridge last night to clinch third place.
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CENTRAL DIVISION:
1. Medicine Hat (0) is one point ahead of Calgary after beating visiting Saskatoon last night in The Arena’s final regular-season game. . . . The Tigers have one more victory than the Hitmen, 45-44.
2. Calgary (1) trails Medicine Hat by one point. . . . At home to Kootenay this afternoon. . . . If Calgary wins, it gets Kootenay in the first round; a loss and the Hitmen draw Red Deer. A loser point doesn’t do the Hitmen any good.
3. Red Deer (0) will finish third in the division and meet the second-place team in the first round.
4. Kootenay (1) has wrapped up the conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Will meet the division’s first-place team in the first round. . . . In Calgary this afternoon.
5. Edmonton (0), the defending Memorial Cup champion, will finish in the conference’s second wild-card spot, meaning a first-round series that opens Thursday in Brandon.
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B.C. DIVISION:
1. Kelowna (0) finished first in the Western Conference. . . . The Rockets will open the first round at home against Tri-City on Friday.
2. Victoria (0) will finish second and meet Prince George in the first round. . . . In the regular season, the Royals sent 5-3-0; the Cougars were 3-3-2. . . . That series opens in Victoria on Friday.

3. Prince George (0) is in the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2011.
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U.S. DIVISION:
1. Everett (1) lost in a shootout to visiting Victoria last night, while Portland lost to host Seattle. That allowed Everett to clinch first place for its fourth divisional banner in its 12 seasons, but its first in eight years. . . . The Silvertips will meet Spokane in the first round, starting Friday in Everett. . . . Everett will conclude the regular season in Spokane tonight.
2. Portland (1) trails Everett by three points but only has one game remaining. . . . Portland will meet Seattle in the first round, the first time they have met in the playoffs since 2006. That series will start Saturday in Portland. . . . The Winterhawks visit Tri-City tonight.
3. Seattle (0) will finish third in the division, so will meet second-place Portland in the first round.
4. Spokane (1) has been locked into the conference’s first wild-card spot, so gets the division winner, Everett, in the first round.
5. Tri-City (1) beat visiting Spokane so clinched the conference’s second wild-card spot. The Americans get Kelowna in the first round. That series opens in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Americans are at home to Portland today.
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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
Everett vs. Spokane
Victoria vs. Prince George
Portland vs. Seattle
(NOTE: Team with home-ice advantage shown first.)
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SATURDAY’S GAMES:

In Brandon, the Wheat Kings clinched first place overall with a 9-2 victory over Moose Jaw, a loss that ended the Warriors’ playoff hopes. . . . The Warriors are out of the playoffs for a third straight season. . . . Brandon D Reid Gow broke a 1-1 tie with his second goal, at 18:52 of the first period, and the Wheat Kings went from there. . . . Brandon F Nolan Patrick scored his 30th goal. He is the first 16-year-old to reach that mark since F Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars in 2008-09. F Patrick Marleau of the Seattle Thunderbirds did it in 1995-96. . . . Patrick also had three assists. He finished with 56 points in 55 games. . . . F Stelio Mattheos, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, made his WHL debut with the Wheat Kings and scored his first goal. He was the first overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, with the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild, he had 25 points, 14 of them goals, in 27 games. An undisclosed injury kept him out of the Canada Winter Games and the Wild’s playoff games. . . . F Duncan Campbell was among Brandon’s scratches. He suffered an undisclosed injury during Friday’s game in Moose Jaw. . . . D Eric Roy played his 322nd regular-season game with the Wheat Kings, leaving him in second place on the franchise’s all-time games played list. Only D Dwayne Gylywoychuk played more games (323) in a Wheat Kings uniform. . . . Roy also picked up an assist for his 200th regular-season point. . . . Attendance was 5,312, the largest crowd in Brandon this season. . . . Brandon F Jayce Hawryluk scored his 30th goal. . . . Warriors F Brayden Point ran his goal streak to nine games. He finishes with 38 goals this season. . . . F Jack Rodewald got his 35th goal for the Warriors. . . . Brandon G Jordan Papirny stopped 26 shots as he won his WHL-leading 44th game of the season. He was 4-0-0 against Moose Jaw. . . . The Wheat Kings (53-11-8) are 6-0-1 in their last seven games. . . . The Warriors (32-35-5) had won their previous three games. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has a game story right here. . . .

BroncosIn Swift Current, F Colby Cave scored twice to help the Broncos to a 6-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Cave finished with 35 goals. . . . All three of the Broncos’ 20-year-olds scored in this one. Cave, of course, had two, while F Coda Gordon got his 25th and F Carter Rigby scored No. 18. . . . Broncos G Landon Bow stopped 22 shots in his 66th appearance of the season. That tied the franchise’s single-season record for goaltenders. He now shares the record with Mark Friesen (2002-07). . . . Broncos F Jake DeBrusk had three assists and D Griffin Foulk had two. . . . F Tyler Wong scored his 27th goal for the Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos (34-33-5) have won two in a row. . . . The Hurricanes (20-44-8) finished on an eight-game losing skid. . . . Interestingly, the WHL online scoresheet has this game having been played at Credit Union Place in Dauphin, Man. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders scored the game’s first five goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Raiders G Rylan Parenteau stopped 22 shots. He lost his shutout when F Adam Brooks scored his 30th goal at 19:45 of the third period. . . . Raiders F Craig Leverton scored his 20th goal. . . . Regina head coach John Paddock was on a scouting mission, so assistant coach Dave Struch ran the bench. D Colby Williams, the Pats’ player of the year, was scratched. Instead, he was on the bench as an assistant coach. . . . The Raiders (31-37-4) won their last two games. . . . The Pats (37-24-11) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). . . .

In Red Deer, F Mads Eller broke a 2-2 tie at 6:52 of the second period as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Rebels, 3-2. . . . F Brett Pollock gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead with his 32nd goal at 4:20 of the first. . . . Red Deer F Preston Kopeck tied it with No. 21 at 5:16, on a PP. . . . Edmonton F Davis Koch got his 11th goal at 7:02 of the first. . . . Red Deer F Adam Musil tied it with his 15th at 17:58. . . . Edmonton G Patrick Dea stopped 24 shots, 11 fewer than Red Deer’s Rylan Toth. . . . Red Deer F Brooks Maxwell had two assists. . . . F Conner Bleackley, the Rebels’ captain, was back in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 6. . . . The Oil Kings (34-31-7) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Rebels (38-23-11) went 1-1-1 in their last three games. . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers defeated the Saskatoon Blades 6-2 in what was the final regular-season game at The Arena. . . . The Tigers will move into the brand new Regional Event Centre next season. . . . The teams combined for 135 penalty minutes, with the Tigers taking 86 of those. . . . That included 32 to D Ty Lewington, their captain. At 13:03 of the third period, he was hit with an instigating minor, two fighting majors, a misconduct and a game misconduct. That’s enough to make one wonder if he might be suspended when the playoffs open. . . . Lewington also had a goal, his ninth, and two assists. . . . F Steve Owre scored his 20th goal for the Tigers, while F Trevor Cox got No. 29. . . . F Brett Stovin, the Blades’ captain, scored his 29th goal in his final junior game, while F Ryan Graham got No. 20. . . . According to Blades radio voice Les Lazaruk, the game “was nasty, chippy . . . at times dirty. Like old days!” . . . The Blades again scratched D Brycen Martin with an undisclosed injury. He could be assigned to the AHL’s Rochester Americans as soon as Monday. Martin was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the third round of the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . The Tigers (45-23-4) are 4-0-1 in their last five. . . . The Blades (19-49-4) lost their last nine games. . . .

In Kamloops, F Cole Ully set up three goals as the Blazers dumped the Prince George Cougars, 5-2. . . . The Blazers took a 3-0 lead into the second period. Kamloops had a 25-5 edge in shots in the first period. . . . The Blazers were eliminated from the playoff chase moments after their game ended when the host Tri-City Americans beat the Spokane Chiefs, 2-1. . . . It’s the first time in franchise history that Kamloops has missed the playoffs in two straight seasons. . . . F Matt Needham scored his 25th goal for Kamloops and also had an assist, while F Logan McVeigh, playing his last WHL game, got his 10th goal and added an assist. . . . Ully finished with 94 points, including 34 goals, in 69 games. He has signed with the NHL’s Dallas Stars so may end up with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, next week. . . . The Cougars scratched G Ty Edmonds, F Zach Pochiro and D Tate Olson, all of whom had played in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Blazers on Friday night. . . . The Blazers (28-37-7) had lost their previous four games. . . . The Cougars (31-36-5) had a three-game winning streak end. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., F Brian Williams snapped a 1-1 tie at 19:31 of the second period and the Tri-City Americans went on to beat the Spokane Chiefs, 2-1. . . . The victory clinched the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot for the Americans, eliminating the Kamloops Blazers from the chase. . . . D Brandon Carlo gave Tri-City a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal at 15:02 of the first period. . . . Spokane F Keanu Yamamoto tied it with No. 12 at 10:23 of the second. . . . F Richard Nejezchleb had two assists for Tri-City. . . . Williams’ 17th goal came via the PP. . . . Tri-City G Eric Comrie made 29 saves, four more than Spokane’s Garret Hughson. . . . The Americans were 1-for-9 on the PP; the Chiefs were 0-for-4. . . . F Hudson Elyniuk was among Spokane’s scratches. He had returned to the lineup Friday night after being out since Dec. 28. . . . The Americans (31-37-3) have won two in a row. . . . The Chiefs (34-33-4) have lost four straight. . . .

In Kelowna, F Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and added an assist as the Rockets got past the Vancouver Giants, 5-2. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s first four goals. . . . Draisaitl, who joined the Rockets from the NHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings in January, finished with 53 points, 19 of them goals, in 32 games. . . . F Gage Quinney had four assists for Kelowna. . . . Giants F Zane Jones scored his 29th goal. . . . Rockets G Jackson Whistle stopped 21 shots, 25 fewer than Vancouver’s Payton Lee. . . . D Mason Geertsen, 19, was among Vancouver’s scratches. A fourth-round selection by Colorado in the NHL’s 2013 draft and is believed close to signing with the Avalanche. Should that happen, chances are he would finish the season with Colorado’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, who are coached by former WHL player/GM/coach Dean Chynoweth. . . . The Rockets (53-13-6) are 3-0-1 in their last four outings. . . . The Giants (27-41-4) went 1-1-1 in their last three games. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Ryan Gropp scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 6-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The result set up a first-round playoff meeting between these two teams. . . . Gropp, who scored three goals on Friday night, wound up with 30 goals. . . . Seattle erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals, but the Winterhawks got back to within one, at 4-3, when F Oliver Bjorkstrand scored on a penalty shot at 12:50 of the third period. . . . Seattle D Jerret Smith provided insurance with a PP goal at 13:11. He’s got 11 goals. . . . Seattle D Shea Theodore got his 13th into an empty net at 18:41. . . . Bjorkstrand scored three times. He leads the WHL in goals (61) and points (115), all in 58 games. With one game remaining, he is assured of winning the WHL scoring race. . . . Bjorkstrand is the first Portland skater with 60 goals since F Lonny Bohonos scored 62 in 1993-94. . . . Thunder birds G Logan Flodell stopped 35 shots, six more than Portland’s Adin Hill. . . . Seattle was without D Sahvan Khaira. He drew a one-game suspension for a kneeing major and game misconduct he incurred on Friday in Spokane. . . . Attendance was 6,220, the largest crowd in Kent this season. . . . The Thunderbirds got a scare in the third period when F Mathew Barzal took a shot off the right ankle and needed help getting to the bench. He was back in action shortly afterwards. . . . Barzal and F Roberts Lipsbergs each had two assists. . . . Seattle (38-25-9) has won four straight. . . . The Winterhawks (42-23-6) have lost two in a row. . . .

In Everett, F Brandon Magee scored in the fourth round of a shootout to give the Victoria Royals a 4-3 victory over the Silvertips. . . . Victoria F Jack Walker and Everett F Ivan Nikolishin exchanged goals in the first round. . . . Victoria D Joe Hicketts scored his 12th goal, on a PP, at 17:46 of the second to tie it 2-2. . . . Everett F Matt Fonteyne got his seventh goal at 19:50 of the second. . . . F Taylor Crunk of the Royals tied it with his 10th goal at 9:57 of the third. He finished with two goals and an assist. . . . Victoria G Justin Paulic stopped 23 shots. Everett F Kohl Bauml came up short on a penalty shot at 17:02 of the third period. . . . G Carter Hart, 16, made his eighth straight start for Everett and stopped 24 shots. . . . The Royals (39-29-4) had lost their previous two games. . . . Everett (42-20-9) has points in its last four games (2-0-2).
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SUNDAY’S GAMES

(all times local)
Kootenay at Calgary, 2 p.m.
Tri-City at Portland, 5 p.m.
Everett at Spokane 5:05 p.m.
END OF REGULAR SEASON
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