SUNDAY’S GAME:right here.
THE STAGE IS SET . . .The WHL’s Eastern Conference final will feature the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Calgary Hitmen, with the Kelowna Rockets meeting the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Conference final. . . . Some notes on both:
BRANDON (53-11-8, 114 pts.) vs. CALGARY (45-22-5, 95): They will open in Brandon with games Friday and Saturday nights. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Calgary on Tuesday, April 28, and Wednesday, April 29. . . . Dates for the remainder of the series, if necessary, have yet to be announced. . . . These teams last met in the playoffs in the spring of 2012 when Brandon won a first-round series in five games. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-1-0 in the season series; the Hitmen were 1-2-1. . . . Last season, the Hitmen swept the series, 4-0-0. . . . They last met on Jan. 11, one day after the WHL trade deadline. . . . Calgary won the series opener, 6-2, on Oct. 12. Brandon won the last three — 2-1, in a shootout, 7-4 and 5-4. . . . In the regular season, Brandon G Jordan Papirny was 3-1-0, 3.43, .887 against Calgary. . . . G Mack Shields of the Hitmen was 1-2-0, 2.67, .913 against Brandon. . . . G Brendan Burke has yet to face Brandon while wearing a Calgary uniform. . . . The Wheat Kings’ roster includes three players from Calgary — F Reid Duke, F Morgan Klimchuk and F Braylon Shmyr. . . . Calgary F Jordy Stallard is from Brandon; in fact, he played for the midget AAA Wheat Kings. . . . Calgary’s Sanheim twins — D Travis and F Taylor — are from Elkhorn, Man., which is 105 km west of Brandon. They grew up watching the Wheat Kings. . . . The Wheat Kings have had injury problems through the first two rounds. On Friday, when they finished off the Regina Pats, Brandon was missing F Rihards Bukarts, F Jayce Hawryluk and D Colton Waltz, all of whom are regulars. . . . Calgary F Connor Rankin missed the final game of its series with Medicine Hat. F Adam Tambellini leads the playoff scoring race with 19 points. He missed Game 4 against the Tigers, but was back for Game 5.
Mike Eaves, the head coach of the U of Wisconsin Badgers, is trying to put things back together after perhaps the worst season in school history. The Badgers went 4-26-5, experiencing the most losses ever and the fewest victories in a season since the 1933-34 team posted three.
Earlier this month, Eaves fired two assistant coaches. He also learned that F Morgan Zulinick, one of the Badgers’ top players, has decided not to return. He will stay at home in Kamloops where he has a three-year-old son.
These days, Eaves is busy recruiting and two of his top targets are WHL draft picks.
Here’s Andy Baggot, in the Wisconsin State Journal:
“It’s believed Eaves traveled to British Columbia this weekend to touch base with two major targets: Penticton teammates and close friends Tyson Jost, a winger, and Dante Fabbro, a defenceman. Both are projected as top-10 NHL draft picks in 2016.”
The Everett Silvertips selected Jost with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 bantam draft. The Seattle Thunderbirds took Fabbro with the next pick.
The 6-foot-0, 194-pound Jost, from Leduc, Alta., turned 17 on March 14. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Fabbro, from Whistler, B.C., will turn 17 on June 20.
“Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll will probably be able to negotiate a ‘slap on the wrist’ after being arrested and charged in Las Vegas on Friday for possession of cocaine and another illegal recreational drug, says a former state prosecutor.” That is according to a report by Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent. Stoll played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice. . . . Westhead’s report is right here.
With the NHL playoffs in high gear and everyone hating on everyone else, Mark Spector of Sportsnet has taken a not-too-serious look at the fine art of lying with the Stanley Cup on the line. . . . It sounds like if you ain’t lyin’, you ain’t tryin’. . . . That piece is right here.
Jeff Bromley, who has followed the Kootenay Ice for more than a few seasons, has a few thoughts right here, as he looks to next season and tries to shed some light on the departure of head coach Ryan McGill. . . .
The ECHL’s Ontario Reign has signed G Coleman Vollrath of the Victoria Royals to an amateur tryout agreement. Vollrath, who turned 20 on Jan. 19, went 28-15-4, 2.99, .905 with the Royals this season. From Calgary, Vollrath is expected to dress tonight for Game 3 of the Reign’s Pacific Division series against the host Colorado Eagles. The best-of-seven series is 1-1.
The Vincent Massey Vikings won the Westman High School Hockey League title for the first time in 20 years. Former Brandon Wheat Kings F Graham Garden is the Vikings’ head coach. . . . Robin Wark of the Westman Journal has more right here. . . .
F Jordan Thomas, an 18-year-old from Edmonton, scored at 1:38 of OT to give the visiting Spruce Grove Saints a 2-1 victory over the Brooks Bandits and their second straight AJHL championship. Next up for the Saints is the Western Canada Cup in Fort McMurray, Alta.
His nickname is Mule because he’s big and strong. But a concussion suffered on Jan. 6 brought Detroit Red Wings F Johan Franzen to his knees and his hockey-playing future is in doubt. But all he really wants is to be able to play with his children, again. . . . Ansar Khan of mlive.com has that story right here.
Veni, Vedi, Vici #WHLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/8fRB9FeqkT
— CellPhones&PlaneTix (@hawkeyblog) April 20, 2015
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