Monday, July 27, 2015

Strat-O-Matic memories . . . Winterhawks sign two key forwards . . . Raiders D-man gets NHL deal

I have heard from an amazing number of people since Friday night when word got out that the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame had honoured me with its Bernie Pascall Media Award.
Friends and acquaintances have contacted me via Twitter, email, Facebook, text and the good old-fashioned telephone.
Two people I heard from on Monday brought back some terrific memories.
It began when Les Lazaruk, a long-time friend who is the veteran — that means old! — radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades tweeted this:

Les then followed that with:

Darrell Davis, with whom I shared more than a few good times while we both were at the Regina Leader-Post, chimed in with:
If you aren’t familiar, Strato refers to Strat-O-Matic baseball. Back in the day, a bunch of us, including Bill O’Donovan, now the news anchor at CFJC-TV in Kamloops, were involved in a Strat-O-Matic league that was, well, let’s just say it was interesting.
How intense was it? I remember driving home one night on Regina’s Ring Road — I lived in the east end and had been playing in the south end — after betting my butt kicked. If you haven’t played Strat-O-Matic, it involves dice and player cards. Well, on this night I decided it was time to teach the dice a lesson. So I stopped alongside a farmer’s field and threw them as far as I could. (A 1-5 meant home run with my best guys and I don't think I rolled enough of them on that night.)
I hadn’t thought of that night for a long, long time . . . before hearing from Les and Darrell. Yes, I chuckled at the memory.
However, I also remember the season in which I won the championship, my Top Cats beating John Chaput’s Zoo 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the ninth. The championship-winning blow — the Top Cats won the best-of-seven final in six games — was a sacrifice fly by Fred Lynn that scored Alan Trammell, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
You can bet the memory of that night kept me warm all that winter.
I was going through some storage containers in our shed on Saturday when I came upon the Game 6 scoresheet. Yes, I kept it. Unfortunately, I have no idea what year that was.
All I know is that, although Les and Darrell may not agree, it was a very good year.

F Ian McDonald (Tri-City, 2000-06) signed a one-year contract with MAC Budapest (Hungary, MOL Liga). Last season, with Briançon (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and 10 assists in 26 games. . . .
KHLD Juraj Valach (Tri-City, Vancouver, Regina, Red Deer, 2006-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). He had been on a tryout with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, KHL). Last season, with Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had six goals and seven assists in 43 games. . . .

F Jakub Klepiš (Portland, 2001-02) signed a one-year extension with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 21 games with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL) and 21 points, including seven goals, in 17 games with Třinec. . . .

KHLF Edgars Kulda (Edmonton, 2012-15) signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) after a successful tryout. Last season, with the Edmonton Oil Kings, he had 13 goals and 17 assists in 47 games. On Thursday, he played in a 3-1 exhibition game victory over Lada Togliatti. He was on the first line with Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) and ex-NJ Devils C Tim Sestito.

The Portland Winterhawks have signed both of their 2015 CHL import draft selections. . . . Both players — Latvian Rodrigo Abols and Swede Carl Ericson — are forwards. . . . Abols, 19, had 38 points, 20 of them goals, in 35 games last season with HK Riga of the Molodezhnaya Hockey League. He also got into 15 games with Dinamo Riga of the KHL, putting up a goal and four assists. He also played for Latvia at the IIHF World championship. . . . Ericson, 19, had 42 points, including 16 goals, in 43 games with Leksand’s U-20 side. He also got into 11 games with the Leksand team in the SHL, a Swedish pro league. . . . The Winterhawks may lose their top three scorers from last season — Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nic Petan and Chase De Leo — which means Abols and Ericson will be looked to for some offence. The Winterhawks will be wanting both to be in their top six forwards.
Meanwhile, Vojtech Budik tweeted on Monday afternoon: “Next season I will play for @PARaidersHockey.” . . . Budik, a 17-year-old defenceman, is from Czech Republic. He was selected by the Raiders in the CHL’s 2015 import draft. . . . Last season, he had 12 points, including three goals, in 12 games with the Czech U-18 team, and added five assists in 19 games with the Czech U-20 side.
If you are a Brandon Wheat Kings fan living in Manitoba, you are able to purchase a specialty license plate that salutes your favourite team. Brian Smiley, a spokesman with Manitoba Public Insurance, has told Brandon radio station CKLQ that almost 800 Manitoba motorists have purchased the plates, which go for $70 apiece. . . . CKLQ reports that “part of the proceeds from Wheat Kings plates go towards supporting the Brandon Humane Society.”
Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to send an email to

Dale DeGray, the general manager of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, has yet to hire a head coach, but he is OHLdown to a short list of three candidates. . . . DeGray is looking to replace Greg Ireland, who resigned earlier this month and now is the head coach of Adler Mannheim in Germany. . . . DeGray told Bill Walker of the Owen Sound Sun Times that he heard from more than 60 applicants. . . . DeGray hopes to have a coach in place before Aug. 6. He is managing Canada’s U-18 team that leaves then for Europe and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. . . . DeGray also told Walker that “I don't hire friends . . . I would prefer to keep friendships than to have to fire a coach and lose a friend. There are lots of qualified guys out there.” . . . Walker’s complete story is right here.

The Buffalo Sabres have signed D Brendan Guhle of the Prince Albert Raiders to a three-year entry-level contract. The Sabres selected Gulhe, who turns 18 on Wednesday, in the second round of the NHL’s 2015 draft. . . . Guhle had 32 points, 27 of them assists, in 72 games with the Raiders last season. He has 42 points, including five goals, in 123 games over two seasons with Prince Albert. He is from Sherwood Park, Alta.

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