Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cooper Holick tells his story . . . Habscheid gets four years from Raiders . . . Great day for Thoma








F Ty Morris (Swift Current, Vancouver, Red Deer, 2003-05) signed a one-year contract with Peiting (Germany, Oberliga). This season, with Landshut (Germany, DEL2), he had 13 goals and 16 assists in 45 games. he is a dual Dual Canadian-German citizen.
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TUESDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
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KELOWNA VS. PORTLAND: The Winterhawks are scheduled to leave for Kelowna this morning. . . . The Winterhawks are the first team to reach five straight conference finals in the WHL’s bantam draft era. . . . Another note from a Winterhawks’ news release: “The five straight appearances in the conference final tie the Winterhawks for the second-longest streak in WHL history, a feat also accomplished by the Medicine Hat Tigers and New Westminster Bruins. The Kamloops Blazers hold the record with 13 straight from 1984-96.” . . . Each team has a first-year head coach. Kelowna’s Dan Lambert moved up from assistant coach when Ryan Huska left for the Calgary Flames’ organization as head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Flames. In Portland, Jamie Kompon, who had been an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, took over from Mike Johnston, who now is head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

BRANDON VS. CALGARY: These teams last met in the playoffs in the spring of 2012, with the Wheat Kings winning the first-round series in five games. They took Game 5 in OT in a game that was played at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. . . . They last met in the Eastern Conference final in 2010. The Hitmen won that series and went on to earn the WHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup, which was played in Brandon that year. The Wheat Kings beat Calgary in the semifinal game at the Memorial Cup and then lost to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in the final. . . . The Wheat Kings had F Ty Lewis, a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, at practice on Tuesday, and he will be there again today. Lewis started the season with the Wheat Kings, but a broken arm limited him to two games. He spent the latter half of the season with the midget AAA Wheat Kings, who have been done since March 28.
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“The hockey world can be a tough place for a young player, with intense pressure and high expectations,” reads the start of a story on the website of Prince George TV station CKPG. “Cooper Holick walked away from the game at the age of 18. Now, he and his dad are trying to reduce the stigma around young athletes living with mental illness.” . . . Cooper’s father, Mark, is the head coach of the Prince George Cougars. . . . Their story is right here.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have signed head coach Marc Habscheid to a four-year contract. They also picked up one-year options on Dale Derkatch, their director of player personnel, and Duane Bartley, the athletic therapist. . . . Habscheid, 52, replaced the fired Cory Clouston on Nov. 1, and went 24-28-4. . . . The Raiders have yet to re-sign associate coach Dave Manson or assistant coach Kelly Guard. The team holds one-year options on each of those men. . . . The club also holds an option on general manager Bruno Campese. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of PAnow has more right here.
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“The state Senate and House each voted to approve a bill that would clarify that Western Hockey League players are amateur athletes and not employees who should be paid minimum wage and fall under state child labor laws,” reports Steve Hunter of the Kent, Wash., Reporter. . . . Hunter’s complete story is right here.
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Jim Swanson, a former sports editor of the Prince George Citizen, is part of the new ownership group with the West Coast Baseball League’s Victoria HarbourCats. . . . Ownership has been transferred by Bhootan LLC to Shwing Batter Investment Group, which features Swanson, his brother, Ken, Richard Harder and Jim Wilson. The move is subject to approval by the WCL’s board. . . . Ken Swanson of Burnaby is the new group’s president, with Wilson, who is involved at the ownership level with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies and VIJHL’s Peninsula Panthers, as vice-president (business), Harder, from New Westminster, as treasurer and Jim Swanson general manager and vice-president (baseball). . . . Jim Swanson was the team’s general manager in 2014 and the HarbourCats led the WCL in attendance, averaging 1,576 fans per game. . . . The HarbourCats open the exhibition season on May 31; the regular-season home-opener is June 5.
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Here’s sports columnist Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
“NHL and WHL referees habitually swallow their whistles in the latter stages of playoff games. The ‘let 'em play’ mindset is supposedly employed because referees are reluctant to influence the outcome. Well, guess what? By not calling obvious penalties, they are influencing the outcome.
“A second-round WHL playoff series between the Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings showed that officials are far too reluctant to call penalties, period. Too much clutching and grabbing was ignored when the Pats and Wheat Kings collided. And whatever happened to an interference penalty? Or a major penalty for a careless hit near the boards?”
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These are interesting times for the Medicine Hat Minor Hockey Association, where the president, association manager and secretary have resigned. Kevin MacKay, who resigned after just one season as manager, told Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News that “they are quite a few years behind the times.” . . . Rooney’s piece is right here.
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In the QMJHL, the Val d’Or Foreurs, who lost the first three games of the series, beat the host Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4-3 in OT to win a second-round series, 4-3. . . . There wasn’t a post-game handshake line as a bit of a tussle broke out just prior to it and the Drakkar left the ice. . . . In the other series, the Moncton Wildcats beat the Halifax Mooseheads 6-3 in Game 7. . . . The Foreurs will meet the Rimouski Oceanic in one semifinal, with the Wildcats and Quebec Remparts in the other one.
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Two forwards and a defenceman from the Victoria Royals have moved up to the professional ranks. F Austin Carroll has joined the NHL’s Calgary Flames as one of the black aces, while F Greg Chase has been assigned by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers to the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. D Joe Hicketts, who signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, has joined the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
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Sergei Mikhalyov, the head coach of the Russian team that finished second at the World Junior Championship in 2006, has been killed in a car accident. Mikhalyov, 67, had coached the KHL’s Salavat Yulayev Ufa. He had just attended the funeral of former Traktor Chelyabinsk coach Valery Belousov when the accident occurred. . . . The Moscow Times has more right here.
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THE COACHING GAME:

It’s doubtful that anyone had a better day than Bryce Thoma, the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. Thoma and his wife Jenn welcomed a son, Smith Matthew, to our world on Tuesday morning. He is a brother to Collins Helene, 3, who is thrilled with the new arrival. . . . Later, the Red Wings announced that they have signed Thoma, 32, to a two-year contract. Thoma has been the Red Wings’ head coach for two seasons and the GM for one. They made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2011-12. They won a first-round series with the Humboldt Broncos, then were ousted by the eventual-champion Melfort Mustangs. . . . Thoma, a defenceman, played four seasons (1999-2003) with the Red Deer Rebels. He also spent five seasons on their coaching staff.
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Head coach Jarrod Skalde and the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals “have mutually agreed to part ways,” according to a news release from the team. The Admirals, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, are relocating to San Diego before another season arrives. . . . Skalde, 44, went 27-39-6-4 in his first season as an AHL head coach. He spent one season as an assistant coach with the Admirals before taking over as head coach.
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Rich Pilon, who played in the NHL and WHL, is the new head coach of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. He had been an assistant coach with the Blazers’ cross-town rivals, the Contacts. . . . Pilon takes over from Curtis Leschyshyn, who decided to step down. Scott Scissons, Leschyshyn’s assistant coach, also has left the Blazers. . . . Pilon’s assistant coaches will be Bobby Braybrook and Dean Seymour. . . . Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has the story right here.
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