Thursday, April 9, 2015

Calgary names starter . . . Silvertips hurting on back end . . . Big hockey news in Los Angeles

The second round of the WHL playoffs opens tonight with four games.
Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post takes a series-by-series look right here and suggests who he feels might emerge to play in the two conference finals.
I was going to do my own, but, hey, I hired Harder while I was the sports editor in Regina, so I’ll just ride his picks because he obviously knows what he’s writing about . . . otherwise I wouldn’t have hired him. Right?
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The WHL has yet to release the complete schedule for a second-round series between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen. That series opens tonight in Medicine Hat. The dates for the first four games are set but the WHL, as of Thursday night, had yet to release dates for the last three games, if they are needed. . . . It looks like the series will follow a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format. . . . All four series in the second round begin tonight; the schedules, as we know them, are in the graphics below (all graphics done by Terry Massey).


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A huge thank you to all who took the time to send birthday wishes to Dorothy. The last thing she said before she fell asleep on Wednesday night was: “I hope you didn’t post anything about my birthday because people don’t want or need to know that.” . . . Whoops! I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud. . . . Her reaction on Thursday morning as she opened her email on her tablet was worth it. I also made sure she saw the comments and likes that were left on my Facebook account. . . . What did I get her for her birthday? A plane ticket to Brandon so that she can spend a week with her best friend. Yes, it's a return ticket! No, I'm not going.
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The Red Deer Rebels, who lost a first-round series in five games to the Medicine Hat Tigers, will be the host team for the 2016 Memorial Cup, so they know they’ll playing in May. Still, Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner/GM/head coach, had a message for his players this week. . . . “It’s going to be a big year for our team and organization. It’s great that (the Memorial Cup) is being hosted here, it’s great for the city, our fans and the organization,” Sutter told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate. “But the reality is, as I told them, we have to have the mindset that it doesn’t matter where it’s being played. We have to want to win our league next (season), be an elite team in our league. We want to go to the Memorial Cup as an elite team and that has to be our motivation for the summer.” . . . Meachem takes a look at the Rebels’ future right here.
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G Mack Shields will start for the Calgary Hitmen as they open a second-round series against the Tigers in Medicine Hat tonight. G Brendan Burke, who was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s seven-game victory over the Kootenay Ice, wasn’t able to practice Thursday, so remains out on a day-to-day basis.
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Kevin Constantine, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, has said that he likely will have to get by without D Tristen Pfeifer for the rest of this season. Pfeifer, an 18-year-old from Phoenix, didn’t finish the Game 6 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane on Tuesday night. The Silvertips won that game 2-1 in triple OT, but Pfeifer didn’t play at all in the extra time. . . . The Silvertips will entertain the Portland Winterhawks in Games 1 and 2 of their second-round series tonight and Saturday. . . . On Thursday, Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald wrote that Constantine told him Pfeifer “is probably done for the season.” . . . Meanwhile, Everett D Noah Juulsen, who left Tuesday’s game in the first period, wasn’t on the ice Thursday. It sounds as though he won’t start the series, but might return before it’s over. . . . Everett F Dawson Leedahl also didn’t skate Thursday. He missed the last three games against Spokane and isn’t likely to be in the lineup tonight.
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After playing tonight and Saturday in Everett, the Silvertips and Portland Winterhawks will take four days off. They will play at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Thursday and Friday (April 16 and 17). . . . The Coliseum isn’t available earlier due to a national craft brewers conference having the facility booked on Tuesday, with another event in there on Wednesday. . . . So, you’re wondering, why don’t the Winterhawks simply move the games into the Moda Center? Well, it seems that Garth Brooks -- remember him? -- is in that building for a five-day run (April 12-16).
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It doesn’t appear that F Morgan Klimchuk will be in Brandon’s lineup tonight as the Wheat Kings open against the visiting Regina Pats. Klimchuk, a high-end performer, didn’t play in the last two games of Brandon’s five-game victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round. The Wheat Kings acquired him from Regina in January. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun reports that Brandon F Nolan Patrick was back on skates Thursday for the first time since the end of that first round. . . . The Pats remain without F Sam Steel (ankle), whose season may be over. Regina D James Hilsendager has two games of a three-game suspension left to serve.
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Shaw TV will show the entire second-round series between the Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals. It begins with games tonight and Saturday in Kelowna. . . . You’ll get Dan Russell calling the play, with analysis by Bill Wilms. The telecasts also will feature hosts Andy Neal and Stu Walters.
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The biggest news of the day as far as the WHL is concerned came out of Los Angeles where the NHL’s Kings announced the formation of the LA Kings High School Hockey League. . . . Something like that can only be good for the development of the game in California, meaning a bigger and deeper talent pool in the seasons to come. . . . Tryouts for the league begin in May. . . . Jim Fox, a former NHLer who now is a broadcaster with the Kings, is the commissioner. . . . Notes from the Kings’ news release: West Ranch High School in Santa Clarita is the first high school to field a team; more teams will be announced this spring; the league will be run by the Kings Hockey Development Department; hockey players in Grades 9-12 are eligible; and the League is set to begin play in September.
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A study that was published in March in the Journal of Athletic Training has provided a link between concussions and depression. Not only that, but the study’s results show how depressive symptoms increased in athletes who suffered more than one concussion. . . . “Considering that these athletes will likely have multiple concussions in their careers and that a large percentage already displayed clinically significant depression after 1 isolated concussion, our results are concerning,” the authors wrote in the report. . . . Maxwell Strachan of Huffington Post has the story right here.
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THE COACHING GAME:

Ken Pearson, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers, has signed a two-year extension. The Flyers were 31-17-12 this season. . . . Pearson is 283-182-54 in nine seasons as the Flyers’ head coach. . . . He also has coached the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits and the SJHL’s North Battlefords North Stars. At some point in 2015-16, he will stand behind a junior A team’s bench for the 1,000th time. He will go into the season having coached in 966 games, 710 of them in the MJHL. . . . He has 401 MJHL coaching victories, behind only Don MacGillivray and Doug Stokes.
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