Saturday, May 9, 2015

Merkley keys Rockets victory . . . Matthews to Switzerland? . . . Portland forward signs with Detroit








F Adam Courchaine (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL), he had 11 goals and 12 assists in 27 games. In five games with Olten (Switzerland, NL B), he had a goal and five assists. . . . The head coach of Hradec Králové is Peter Draisaitl, the father of Kelowna Rockets F Leon Draisaitl.
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SATURDAY’S GAME:

In Brandon, F Nick Merkley scored twice, including a key shorthanded goal, and added an assist as the Kelowna Rockets beat the Wheat Kings, 5-3. . . . The Rockets lead the best-of-seven WHL championship series, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 2-0. . . . The next three games, if needed, are scheduled for Kelowna — on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . As they did in Game 1 on Friday, the Rockets scored key goals late in one period and early in another. . . . Merkley broke a 1-1 tie at 19:57 of the first period and F Gage Quinney stretched the lead to 3-1 just 27 seconds into the second period. . . . Brandon tied it on two goals by F Peter Quenneville, at 2:49 and 6:37, in the third. He’s got 10 playoff goals. . . . Merkley got the winner, his fourth goal of these playoffs, at 10:16 while skating shorthanded. . . . Moments earlier, Brandon had come up empty on a 2-on-1 break. . . . Kelowna F Leon Draisaitl closed it out with an empty-netter at 19:39. . . . F Dillon Dube had two assists for Kelowna, with Draisaitl and F Rourke Chartier each with a goal and an assist. . . . F Morgan Klimchuk had two assists for Brandon. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle stopped 38 shots, 12 more than Brandon’s Jordan Papirny. . . . Brandon was 1-for-4 on the PP; Kelowna’s PP never got on the ice. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Reagan Vetter. . . . At one point in the first period, the Wheat Kings had a 5-1 edge in shots on goal. At period’s end, the Rockets led, 16-8. . . . There weren’t any lineup changes from Game 1. . . . Attendance, for the second night in a row, was 5,502. . . . Bruce Luebke, who calls Wheat Kings games on CKLQ, has a game story right here. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has a game story right here.
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The three most powerful men in the WHL may well be Bruce Hamilton, the owner and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets; Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, GM and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings; and Tim Speltz, the GM of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Perry Bergson takes a look right here at the relationship between Hamilton and McCrimmon, with a bit of Speltz there, too.
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F Auston Matthews isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2016, but there already is a lot of buzz around the phenom from Scottsdale, Ariz. As things now sit, he is considered by most observers to be the favourite as the top pick in that 2016 NHL draft. . . . Matthews is coming off a tremendous season in the U.S. National Team Development Program. . . . Now the $64,000 question is this: Where will Matthews play in 2015-16? . . . To date, the options have been seen as the NCAA (Boston College, Boston University, Denver, Michigan or North Dakota) and the WHL. The Everett Silvertips selected him in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft. . . . But perhaps there is another option. On Saturday, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News reported that Matthews’ advisors have said he is “fielding offers from the Swiss League.” . . . Kennedy’s piece is right here. . . . No one is saying which Swiss League team or teams are involved, but, hey, what if the Kloten Flyers are in the chase? The Flyers are owned by Avenir Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Now there is some fodder for the conspiracy theorists.
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NHLF Dominic Turgeon of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Turgeon, the son of former NHLer Pierre Turgeon, turned 19 on Feb. 25. He was a third-round pick by the Red Wings in the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . This season, he had 43 points, including 18 goals, in 67 games. In three seasons, he has 82 points., 31 of them goals, in 187 games. He scored eight times in Portland’s 17 playoff games this spring. . . . Turgeon has joined the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, for the remainder of the playoffs.
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F Joseph Veleno's application for exceptional status that would have allowed him to play in the QMJHL at 15 years of age reportedly has been rejected by Hockey Canada. The request was made well after Hockey Canada’s deadline of Feb. 15, so it apparently wasn’t even considered. . . . Veleno now is expected to attend and play hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s, the prep school in Faribault, Minn. He is from Kirkland, Que., and played this season with the midget AAA Lac. St-Louis Lions. In 41 games, he had 52 points, including 16 goals.
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OHLIn the OHL, the host Oshawa Generals scored a 5-1 victory over the Erie Otters to take a 2-0 lead in the championship series. . . . F Matt Mistele scored twice for Oshawa, giving him 10 goals in these playoffs. . . . Erie F Connor McDavid had his 16-game playoff point streak snapped. He has 43 points, including 19 goals, in 17 games. . . . Attendance was 6,085. . . . They’ll play in Erie on Monday and Wednesday nights.
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James Andrew Miller is the author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN. No outsider is more connected inside ESPN. Right here, he chronicles how ESPN came to part company with Bill Simmons. This is intriguing stuff.


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