Saturday, March 14, 2015

Oil Kings d-man gets NHL deal . . . Wheat Kings move to top . . . Rebels in title hunt

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F Tony Hand (Victoria Cougars, 1986-87) has announced his retirement from playing. This season, with the Manchester Phoenix (England, Premier), he had nine goals and 40 assists in 38 games. . . . He will continue as Manchester’s head coach, a position he has filled since 2006. Hand was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2004 for services to ice hockey in Britain. . . . Hand’s career numbers in Britain: 34 seasons, 1,320 games played, 1,221 goals, 2,340 assists, 3,561 points. . . . Now 47, he was 14 when he first appeared in the Scottish National League. . . . Hand put up eight points, four of them goals, in three games with Victoria in 1986-87. He eventually returned home to play for the Murrayfield Racers of the British Hockey League, totalling 216 points, including 105 goals, in 35 games that season.
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A note from The MacBeth Report about NCAA Division 1 hockey . . . 

There used to be Division 1 hockey west of the Rockies, and still is if you consider Anchorage and Fairbanks west of the Rockies. Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff) and United States International University (San Diego) were NCAA Division 1 in the 1980s.
There was a short-lived Div 1 conference, the Great West Hockey Conference. It ran just three seasons (1985-88) and was NAU, USIU, UA Anchorage, and UA Fairbanks. Otherwise, both schools played as independents.
NAU was active from 1981-82 through 1985-86, then the school dropped hockey after the ice plant failed at the school's domed stadium, Walker Skydome.
USIU ran its hockey program from 1979-80 through 1987-88 when it dropped it for financial reasons. The school went bankrupt three years later.
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The Vancouver Canucks and all of hockey lost a friend on Thursday when Mark Slavin, who was a rep for Easton Hockey, died in Vancouver. Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun has more right here.
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The No. 4 Université de Quebec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) scored the game’s last four goals and beat the No. 5 Acadia Axemen 6-5 in OT at the CIS men’s hockey championship in Halifax on Friday. In the other game, the No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears dropped the No. 8 StFX X-Men, the host team, 5-1. . . . Vincent Marcoux scored the winner for UQTR at 8:40 of OT. . . . Acadia had taken a 5-2 lead at 6:41 of the third period. . . . F Zach Franko had two assists for Acadia, while F Boston Leier had a goal and an assist, and F Taylor Makin had a goal. . . . In the other game, all six goals came from former WHL players. Kruise Reddick, Jordan Hickmott, T.J. Foster, Travis Toomey and Brennan Yadlowski scored for Alberta, which got 12 saves from G Kurtis Mucha. Blake Gal scored for the X-Men. StFX G Drew Owsley, a former WHLer like Mucha, stopped 29 shots. . . . In today’s semifinals, No. 3 Guelph meets No. 2 UNB, while No. 1 Alberta takes on No. 4 UQTR.
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D Ashton Sautner of the Edmonton Oil Kings has signed his entry-level deal with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Sautner, the Oil Kings’ captain, is an undrafted 20-year-old. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix broke the story and it’s right here. . . .
The 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be played at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on Jan. 28. This will be the eighth time that the game will have been played in a WHL city and the second time for it to be in Vancouver. It also was there in 2005. . . . Next season, the WHL will celebrate its 50th anniversary and playing host to the Top Prospects Game will be just one of a number of special occasions. . . .
Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail takes a look at the AHL and what has led it to form a Pacific Division. That piece is right here.
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THE WHL PLAYOFF PICTURE:

EAST DIVISION:
1. Brandon (4 games remaining) leads the overall standings by two points over Kelowna (4). . . . The Wheat Kings will play the conference’s second wild-card team in the first round. . . . Have won 50 games for the fifth time in franchise history and first time since 2009-10. . . . In Saskatoon tonight.
2. Regina (4) will finish second in division. Will meet third-place team in first round. . . . At home to Moose Jaw tonight.
3. Swift Current (4) leads Moose Jaw by four points and Prince Albert by seven. . . . At home to Prince Albert tonight.
4. Moose Jaw (4) now is four points behind Swift Current. . . . In Regina tonight.
5. Prince Albert (5) is 4-0-1 in its last five and is within three points of Moose Jaw and seven of Swift Current. . . . Visits Swift Current tonight. . . . Completes its first three-in-three of the season in Medicine Hat on Sunday.
6. Saskatoon (3) entertains Brandon tonight.
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CENTRAL DIVISION:
1. Medicine Hat (5) is tied with Calgary atop the division. Medicine Hat has more victories (41-40) at the moment. . . . At home to Edmonton tonight.
2. Calgary (5) completes franchise-record 11-game road trip tonight in Lethbridge.
3. Red Deer (4) is one point off the pace after winning last night while Medicine Hat and Calgary lost. . . . At home to Kootenay tonight.
4. Kootenay (4) holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Edmonton. . . . The Ice has clinched a playoff spot for a 17th straight season, the longest active streak in the WHL. It also will finish above .500 for a WHL record 16th straight season. . . . In Red Deer tonight.
5. Edmonton (3) is in the second wild-card spot, one point behind Kootenay. . . . In Medicine Hat tonight.
6. Lethbridge (5) is at home to Calgary tonight.
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B.C. DIVISION:
1. Kelowna (4) has clinched first place in the Western Conference and will play the second wild-card team in the first round. . . . Now trails Brandon by two points in the race for first place in the overall standings. . . . Entertains Kamloops tonight.
2. Victoria (4) will finish second and meet the division’s third-place team in the first round. . . . Faces visiting Vancouver tonight and Sunday afternoon.
3. Prince George (4) is tied for third with Kamloops. . . . In Portland tonight.
4. Kamloops (4) is tied with Prince George. . . . Will meet Prince George three times in the next while — March 18 and 20 in Prince George, and March 21 in Kamloops. . . . In Kelowna tonight.
5. Vancouver (4) has lost eight straight and is six points out of a playoff spot. . . . In Victoria tonight and Sunday afternoon.
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U.S. DIVISION:
1. Everett (4) leads the division by three points over Portland. . . . At home to Seattle tonight.
2. Portland (6) is on a 9-1-2 roll after losing last night in Spokane. . . . At home to Prince George tonight.
3. Seattle (5) trails Portland by eight points. . . . In Everett tonight.
4. Spokane (6) has clinched a playoff spot for a ninth straight season. . . . The Chiefs, seven points behind Seattle, hold the conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . At home to Tri-City tonight.
5. Tri-City (5) is tied with Prince George and Kamloops for the second wild-card spot. Of course, Prince George and Kamloops are tied for third in the B.C. Division. This could get messy. . . . Tri-City is in Spokane 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. . . . Should Prince George and Kamloops end up tied for third in the B.C. Division, the first tiebreaker is total victories. Prince George has a 28-27 edge at the moment.)
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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/Prince George/Kamloops
Everett vs. Spokane
Victoria vs. Prince George/Kamloops
Portland vs. Seattle
(NOTE: Team with home-ice advantage shown first.)
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FRIDAY’S GAMES:

In Brandon, F Tim McGauley had a goal and two assists to lead the Wheat Kings to a 4-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . McGauley scored his 42nd goal at 3:54 of the first period to run his point streak to 24 games, the longest in the WHL this season. He’s got 51 points, including 17 goals, in that stretch. . . . McGauley also took over the WHL scoring lead. He’s got 103 points, two more than F Trevor Cox of the Medicine Hat Tigers and three more than Portland Winterhawks F Oliver Bjorkstrand. . . . The last Wheat Kings skater to win a WHL scoring title was F Eric Fehr, with 111 points, in 2004-05. . . . F Morgan Klimchuk scored Brandon’s second goal, breaking a 1-1 tie, to run his point streak to 12 games. . . . Klimchuk finished with two goals, giving him 32. . . . Wheat Kings D Ivan Provorov scored his 15th goal. . . . F Peter Quenneville had two assists for Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings had F Kirklan Lycar in their lineup. Lycar, a 17-year-old from Elma, Man., played this season with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. He had 20 goals and seven assists in 53 games. . . . Brandon, already without F Nolan Patrick, F Reid Duke, D Kale Clague and F Quintin Lisoway, also scratched F John Quenneville. . . . Brandon G Alex Moodie stopped 19 shots in beating his former club. . . . Brandon was 3-for-7 on the PP; the Blades were 0-for-4. . . . The Wheat Kings (50-11-7) have won three in a row. . . . The Blades (19-46-4) have lost six straight. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels erased a 2-0 deficit with three second-period goals and beat the Calgary Hitmen, 3-2. . . . D Travis Sanheim, with his 13th goal, and D Ben Thomas, with his seventh, scored 44 seconds apart late in the first for Calgary. . . . Red Deer F Riley Sheen got his guys on the board with a PP goal, his 21st, at 1:17 of the second. . . . F Preston Kopeck tied it with his 20th at 9:08 and D Brett Cote broke the tie with his ninth, on a PP, at 14;15. . . . Red Deer was 2-for-5 on the PP; Calgary was 0-for-2. . . . Rebels G Rylan Toth made 28 saves. . . . Calgary started Brendan Burke, who was beaten three times on 12 shots. Mack Shields played the third period, stopping seven shots. . . . Attendance was a season-high 7,058. . . . The Rebels (37-21-10) have won five straight. . . . The Hitmen (40-22-5) have lost three in a row. . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Regina Pats scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Warriors, 4-3. . . . Moose Jaw took a 3-0 lead when F Axel Blomqvist scored his 24th goal at 14:19 of the first. . . . Regina F Patrick D’Amico got his 19th goal at 14:48 of the first. . . . Pats D Colby Williams got his side to within a goal with his 10th goal at 19:19 of the second. . . . Regina F Rykr Cole scored his ninth goal to tie it at 1:03 of the third. . . . F Pavel Padakin got the winner, his 26th, shorthanded, at 15:12. . . . The Pats thought D’Amico had scored just before that, but he ended up with a penalty instead. . . . After the game, Regina head coach John Paddock told reporters. “I got whacked once already this year, but all I know is that there were two game-winning goals.” . . . Moose Jaw F Brayden Point, celebrating his 19th birthday and playing in his 200th game, scored his 34th goal. . . . Regina G Tyler Brown stopped 33 shots, three more than Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko. . . . Warriors F Jaimen Yakubowski, just off a stint on the injury list with a shoulder injury, didn’t finish the game. He left after taking a check from Regina F Austin Wagner. . . . The Pats (37-22-9) have won two in a row. . . . The Warriors (29-34-5) have lost two straight. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has a game story right here. . . .

In Cranbrook, F Jaedon Descheneau and F Matt Alfaro each scored twice as the Kootenay Ice dumped the Medicine Hat Tigers, 7-1. . . . Ice F Austin Vetterl snapped a 1-1 tie with a PP goal at 8:49 of the first period and the home side took it from there. . . . Descheneau, who has 32 goals, also had an assist. . . . Alfaro has 12 goals. . . . D Tanner Lishchynsky, D Tyler King and F Levi Cable each had two assists for the Ice, while F Luke Philp scored his 30 goal and added two helpers. . . . Vetterl added two assists to his goal. . . . Ice F Sam Reinhart scored his 18th goal. . . . The Tigers’ goal came from F Trevor Cox, his 26th. He scored while shorthanded at 8:20 of the first period. . . . Kootenay G Wyatt Hoflin stopped 32 shots, setting a franchise single-season record in the process. That record (1,724) had been held by Tim Winters (1996-97). . . . The Tigers were missing D Ty Stanton and D Tommy Vannelli. . . . The Ice (35-29-4) has won two straight. . . . The Tigers are 41-23-3. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has a game story right here. . . .

WHLIn Prince Albert, the Swift Current Broncos scored two shootout goals and beat the Raiders, 2-1. . . . F Glenn Gawdin and F Jake DeBrusk scored for the winners in the shootout; F Reid Gardiner scored for the Raiders. . . . D Brendan Guhle gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with a PP goal at 5:18 of the first period. He’s got four goals. . . . Broncos F Coda Gordon got his 24th goal at 9:38 of the second period. . . . Broncos G Landon Bow stopped 46 shots, six fewer than Prince Albert’s Nick McBride. . . . The Raiders were without F Austin Glover, who isn’t likely to play tonight or Sunday either. . . . The Broncos (31-32-5) ended a seven-game losing skid. . . . The Raiders (28-35-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped. . . .

In Lethbridge, F Mads Eller had a goal and two assists to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Oil Kings D Jake Kohlhauser broke a 1-1 tie with his first WHL goal at 2:59 of the second period. . . . Kulda upped the lead to 3-1 with a PP goal, his 13th, at 17:41. . . . F Jamal Watson, with No 24, and F Tyler Wong, with No. 26, scored for Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton G Patrick Dea stopped 24 shots. . . . The Oil Kings (33-29-7) have won three in a row. . . . The Hurricanes (20-39-8) have lost three straight. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers snapped an 18-game losing streak against Kelowna as they beat the Rockets, 5-1. . . . Yes, Kelowna had beaten Kamloops in 18 straight regular-season games. . . . Kamloops F Collin Shirley scored his side’s first two goals, at 0:33 and 15:59 of the second period. The second goal came via the PP. . . . Kelowna F Gage Quinney got his 16th goal at 19:30 of the second, via the PP, but the Blazers scored the game’s last three goals. . . . Kamloops F Cole Ully and F Jesse Zaharichuk each had two assists. . . . Among the Rockets’ scratches were F Tyrell Goulbourne, F Rourke Chartier, F Justin Kirkland and D Josh Morrissey. . . . With the injury situation, the Rockets have familiarity and communication issues on the ice, and that leads to players going 1-on-1 a lot. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Blazers in this one. . . . Kamloops G Connor Ingram stopped 22 shots in winning for the 20th time in his freshman season. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle turned aside 31 shots. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-6 on the PP; Kelowna was 1-for-4. . . . The Blazers (27-34-7) have won two in a row. . . . The Rockets (50-13-5) have lost two straight. They have been beaten twice in a row in regulation time for only the first time this season. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans erased a 2-0 second-period deficit and beat the Prince George Cougars, 7-4. . . . F David Soltes, with his 11th, and D Josh Connolly, with No. 13, gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead. . . . The Americans stormed back to lead 3-2 on second-period goals by F Ty Comrie, his seventh, F Brian Williams, No. 16, and F Max James, his third. . . . Cougars F Chase Witala got his 35th at 16:19 of the second, to tie it 3-3, only to have F Jordan Topping score his 10th goal at 17:55 for a 4-3 Tri-City lead. . . . Americans F Justin Gutierrez, who also had two assists, scored his 10th goal at 3:35 and F Lucas Nickles added his 23rd at 8:45 for some insurance. He later scored into an empty net. . . . The Americans got two assists from each of D Justin Hamonic, F Richard Nejezchleb and D Parker Wotherspoon. . . . Cougars F Zach Pochiro scored his 17th goal and added two assists, while F Brad Morrison had two assist. . . . Tri-City G Eric Comrie made 36 saves. . . . The Americans (29-35-3) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Cougars (28-35-5) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald has a game story right here. . . .

In Spokane, the Chiefs blew a 3-0 lead but then scored the game’s last two goals and beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-3. . . . The Chiefs held a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by F Adam Helewka, his 39th, on a PP, F Riley Whittingham, his 15th, and F Kailer Yamamoto, his 20th, shorthanded. . . . Portland D Anton Cederholm got his guys going with his eighth goal at 9:43 of the second. . . . F Oliver Bjorkstrand got his WHL-leading 55th goal at 19:47 of the second, via the PP, and F Chase De Leo tied the game with his 34th at 5:29 of the third. . . . Whittingham broke the tie at 9:39 of the third period, while on the PP, and F Dominic Zwerger added an empty-netter. . . . Bjorkstrand’s goal was his 100th point of the season. He now has back-to-back 100-points seasons. . . . Chiefs D Jason Fram had two assists. . . . Portland F Nic Petan drew one assist, giving him 350 career regular-season points in 246 games. . . . Spokane was 3-for-7 on the PP; Portland was 1-for-4. . . . The Chiefs (33-29-4) have won two in a row. This victory was head coach Don Nachbaur’s 200th with the Chiefs. . . . The Winterhawks (40-21-5) are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games and 17-2-2 in their last 21. . . .

In Vancouver, G Coleman Vollrath stopped 25 shots to lead the Victoria Royals to a 2-0 victory over the Giants. . . . Vollrath has five shutouts this season. He now shares the franchise’s single-season record with Lucas Gore (2009-10, 2010-11) and Patrik Polivka (2013-14). . . . F Brandon Magee scored his 21st goal, shorthanded, at 7:49 of the first period. . . . F Alex Forsberg got No. 26 at 2:11 of the second. . . . Vancouver G Cody Porter stopped 23 shots. . . . F Parker Smyth, a 16-year-old from Red Deer, made his Vancouver debut. He was a second-round selection by Saskatoon in the 2013 bantam draft. The Giants acquired him in January for a 2016 sixth-round pick. He played this season with the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. Smyth is the son of former NHLer Kevin Smyth, who played with the Moose Jaw Warriors (1990-93). . . . The Royals (37-27-4) have won three straight. . . . The Giants (26-39-3) are on an eight-game skid. . . .

In Kent, Wash., D Jerret Smith scored in the seventh round of a shootout to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 3-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . F Roberts Lipsbergs scored for Seattle in the second round after Everett F Carson Stadnyk had scored in the first round. . . . Lipsbergs scored both of Seattle’s regulation-time goals, the first on a PP at 14:11 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. That goal followed a diving call against Everett F Ivan Nikolishin. . . . Lipsbergs’ second goal, and 14th of the season, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead at 9:57 of the third. . . . D Noah Juulsen scored his eighth goal for Everett at 15:13 of the first and Stadnyk’s 26th, at 17:59 of the third, forced OT. . . . F Kohl Bauml and D Cole MacDonald each had two assists for Everett. . . . Seattle G Taran Kozun stopped 21 shots, one fewer than Everett’s Carter Hart. . . . Seattle (34-24-9) has won two in a row. . . . The Silvertips (40-27-8) have lost two straight.
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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.
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