Thursday, May 14, 2015

Looking back at WHL final . . . Hurricanes sign head scout . . . WHL involved in Tigers' lease talks


Depending on whether you are a fan of the Kelowna Rockets or Brandon Wheat Kings, you will say the WHL final was decided by timely, or untimely, goals. . . . The Rockets won Game 1, 4-3, in Brandon, erasing a 1-0 deficit with goals at 17:41 of the first period and at 0:52 and 1:19 of the second. . . . Kelowna won Game 2, 5-3, also in Brandon, scoring at 19:57 of the first period to a take a 2-1 lead and adding another goal just 27 seconds into the second. F Nick Merkley’s shorthanded goal at 10:16 of the third ended up as the winner. . . . In Game 3, the host Rockets won, 5-3. Kelowna F Leon Draisaitl scored shorthanded at 6:35 of the first period. Brandon tied it, but the Rockets scored just 59 seconds later. . . . In Game 4, on Wednesday night, the Rockets broke a scoreless tie with two shorthanded goals 19 seconds apart early in the third. . . . From Kelowna’s perspective, you will win a lot of games by scoring timely goals in that fashion. . . . From Brandon’s perspective, you can’t give up all those goals in those situations and hope to win, certainly not in a championship final. . . .
The Rockets, who won the WHL title on Wednesday night, played 19 playoff games, going 16-3. . . . They will ride a seven-game winning streak into the Memorial Cup in Quebec City next week. . . . The Rockets will open against the host Quebec Remparts one week from tonight (Friday, May 22). . . . The Rockets have played in a Memorial Cup in Quebec City on one previous occasion. They lost a semifinal game, 2-1, to the Hull Olympiques, who had won the QMJHL championship. The OHL-champion Kitchener Rangers beat the Olympiques, 6-3, in the final. . . . The Rockets also played in the 2009 Memorial Cup, which also was played in the province of Quebec. The Rockets lost the final of that one, 4-1, to the OHL-champion Windsor Spitfires. That was in Rimouski, Que. . . . Brett Iverson, one of the referees for Wednesday’s game in Kelowna, will be working his second straight Memorial Cup. . . .
Attendance in Kelowna on Wednesday was 6,428, the largest hockey crowd in Prospera Place since the final game of the 2004 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets beat the Gatineau Olympiques 2-1 on that occasion, before 6,636 fans. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle’s father, Dave, played hockey for the Brandon U Bobcats. In fact, he was a team captain before going on to play in Europe. . . . “It’s awesome. I actually moved here from Europe the year they won the (Memorial Cup in 2004), and I’ve been coming to Rockets games every single year,” Jackson, who is from West Kelowna, told reporters after Wednesday’s game. “I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else, it’s a great feeling and I’ve never been more excited in my life. Everybody wanted it so bad and it was just a great game.” . . .
Kelowna scored four shorthanded goals in the final series, and finished with nine in 19 playoff games. . . . The Rockets, however, are going to have to get their PP going if they are to have success in Quebec City. Kelowna had the WHL’s best regular-season PP, at 26.2 per cent, but it was only 1-for-13 in the final and 16-for-79 (20.3 per cent) overall. . . .
Rob Henderson, the Brandon Sun’s sports editor, has a final game story right here. . . .
Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier has a final game story right here.
Thanks to Fisher, Henderson, Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun and Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier for all of their playoff coverage.

I made an error here yesterday when I was recounting the players on the Kelowna Rockets’ roster and how they were acquired. . . . I referred to four players having been acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders. Actually, it was only three. . . . F Chance Braid was acquired from the Prince George Cougars. Braid, 20, played three seasons with the Raiders before being dealt to the Cougars prior to this season. He played 35 regular-season games with the Cougars and 30 with the Rockets.
Rob MacLachlan has signed on as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ head scout. The team didn’t reveal contract details, other than announcing that he had signed “a multi-year deal.” . . . At the same time, the Hurricanes named Todd Hassen assistant head scout. . . . MacLachlan, who is from Moose Jaw, worked for the Moose Jaw Warriors for the 14 years, the last 10 as head scout. MacLachlan, 57, was fired as Moose Jaw’s assistant GM and head scout on Jan. 23. . . . Hassen has been on the Hurricanes’ scouting staff. . . . MacLachlan replaces Blake Robson, who had been the head scout under his father, Brad, who was fired as the Hurricanes’ GM on Dec. 10. The Hurricanes didn’t announce it but Brad apparently quit shortly after his father was fired.
Another day . . . another day without a lease for the Medicine Hat Tigers, who are expected to play out of the brand new Regional Event Centre (aka The House That Bob Ridley Built) in 2015-16. However, the Tigers have yet to complete lease negotiations with SMG, the management company that has been contracted by the City of Medicine Hat to operate the facility. . . . Jordan Kanygin of CHAT-TV reports that the WHL has been involved in the lease negotiations for the past month. . . . That story is right here.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle spent part of this week in Memphis, watching, or trying to watch, the Golden State Warriors and the Grizzlies in an NBA playoff series. On Wednesday, Ostler went looking a place to watch the game. . . . “I drop into Club 521,” he writes. “A blues band is playing at Beale Street volume, which is 15 on a 1-to-10 loudness scale. Love to be an ear doctor in Memphis. A couple of TVs have the game on. Also: hockey and MMA. Based on about four joints I’ve dropped into, high-def TV is still in Tennessee’s future.” . . . The complete column is right here.
Are there cheaters on your favourite professional team, or teams? If so, how do you deal with it as a fan? Howard Cole has written a piece for Rolling Stone that deals with that question, and it’s a terrific read. It’s right here.


Danny Flynn will be the next head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, according to St├ęphane Leroux of RDS. . . . The 57-year-old Flynn will replace Ross Yates, who resigned following the season. Flynn spent this season as an assistant coach under Ted Nolan with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. . . . Before that, he spent 2007-13 as GM/head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. He also has been a head coach in the OHL, with the Belleville Bulls and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies don’t have a lease at The Q Centre, their home in Colwood, and, according to Mario Annicchiarico of the Victoria Times Colonist, “vice-president of business operations Sonya Saujani made it clear that the team has one foot practically out the door.” . . . . Annicchiarico’s story is right here.

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