Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blazers, Rockets make a deal . . . Ex-Pats coach back behind bench

You know what they say about some things depending on whose bull is being gored?
Well, on March 4, D Joe Gatenby of the visiting Kelowna Rockets stepped up in the neutral zone and drilled F Jake Kryski of the Kamloops Blazers with as hard a check as was seen in the WHL last season.
It was the second period of a game that was televised nationally in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet.
Kryski, who suffered a broken nose on the play, skated one more shift and called it a night. The Blazers weren’t happy with the hit, and F Deven Sideroff went right to Gatenby and dropped the mitts.
The next day, the Blazers filed for supplemental discipline; however, Kryski subsequently passed the concussion protocol and Gatenby wasn’t suspended. In fact, both played that night in Kelowna.
So, on Thursday, you guessed it . . . 
The Blazers acquired Gatenby, 19, and his brother Danny, a defenceman who will turn 18 on Sept. 17, from the Rockets for Kryski, 18. Kamloops also received a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. The Gatenbys are from Kelowna.
Shortly after the trade was announced, the Blazers, now with Joe Gatenby on their roster, were on Twitter . . . 
The Blazers made the trade in the hopes that the older Gatenby will be able to eat up some of the playing time created by the departure of Ryan Rehill, who played out his eligibility last season. Rehill played a regular shift, was on the point of the first power-play unit and also killed penalties. Yes, Gatenby is going to get his fill of playing time in Kamloops.
Joe Gatenby, 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds, is preparing for his fourth WHL season after being a second-
round pick by the Rockets in the 2012 bantam draft. He has 44 points, including five goals, in 174 regular-season games, all with the Rockets. Last season, he earned 23 points, three of them goals, in 66 games. He also has played in 52 playoff games and five Memorial Cup games. An alternate captain, he was honoured by the Rockets as their top defenceman last season.
Danny Gatenby, 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, split last season between the Rockets (22 games) and the major midget Okanagan Rockets (15 games). He had one assist with Kelowna and 10 points, including two goals, with Okanagan.
With the two Gatenbys on board, the Blazers have nine defencemen on their roster with at least some WHL experience, the others being Dallas Valentine, 20, Cameron Reagan, 19, Dawson Davidson and Ondrej Vala, both 18, and Nolan Kneen and Conner McDonald, both 17. As well, Luke Zazula, a highly skilled 16-year-old from Langley, B.C., got into three games last season and is expected to be on the roster when the new season opens.
From Vancouver, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Kryski was the 13th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft, taken by the Prince Albert Raiders. He was dealt to Kamloops in a trade that had G Cole Cheveldave go the other way. Kryski had 65 points, including 23 goals, in 136 regular-season games with the Blazers. Last season, he recorded 39 points, 12 of them goals.
The Rockets have lost F Tyson Baillie, their leading scorer from last season, to graduation, while F Rourke Chartier and F Justin Kirkland are likely to at least start the season as professionals. The Rockets, then, are hoping that Kryski can become one of their top six forwards. If they are fortunate, he will find some chemistry with the sublime F Nick Merkley, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury and create some offensive magic.
If you’re wondering, the Blazers and Rockets last pulled off a meaningful trade on Oct. 14 when F Gage Quinney, 20, was dealt to Kamloops for a third-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. Quinney provided the Blazers with 50 points in 48 games; the Rockets used the pick to take F Dallon Wilton of Beausejour, Man., who had 48 points in 32 games with the bantam AAA Eastern Selects.
The Saskatoon Blades will celebrate the life of Gordie Howe, aka Mr. Hockey, on Sept. 25. As plans
now stand, the ashes of Howe, who died on June 10 at 88, and his wife Colleen, who passed away in 2009, will be buried near a statue of Howe that stands by the Blades’ home arena, the SaskTel Centre. . . . Steve Hogle, the Blades’ president, asked city council to declare the area around the statue a cemetery, in order to allow this to happen. City council now has asked the Saskatchewan government for the OK. . . . The interment is only part of a special day that the Blades are planning. . . . Included in the goings-on will be a noon tailgate party and a pregame ceremony at 2 p.m. The Blades and Swift Current Broncos will play at 2:25 p.m. . . . Andrea Hill of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.
With the state of Alaska battling budget deficits, it seems the hockey programs at the U of Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks may be in trouble. . . . “The Alaska university system released a Strategic Pathways report Thursday that detailed ‘options to be considered’ to address a state legislative mandate to trim $50 million from the budget of the university system,” College Hockey News reports. “The report addressed three options specifically related to athletics at both Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks, and all three would affect the hockey programs of at least one of the schools.” . . . One option would eliminate both schools’ athletic departments. Another option would have the schools merge their athletic departments and cut the number of sports in which the new department would participate. A third option would eliminate Division I sports — that would include hockey — and compete on with existing sports in Division II. . . . “We are in a crisis (in Alaska),” Keith Hackett, the athletic director at Alaska-Anchorage, said. “And there’s no two ways about it.” . . . The College Hockey News piece is right here.
The Colorado Avalanche is about to begin interviewing potential head coaches as it works to replace Patrick Roy, who quit last week. Reports indicate that three of the candidates are former WHL players, two of whom have coached in the WHL. . . . Travis Green, the head coach of the AHL’s Utica Comets, is believed to be on Colorado’s radar. He played in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs and Medicine Hat Tigers (1986-90) and coached with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Lane Lambert, an assistant coach with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, spent two seasons (1981-83) with the Saskatoon Blades and coached with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince George Cougars. . . . Jared Bednar, who played with the Saskatoon Blades, Spokane, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders (1990-93), is the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, who won the 2015-16 AHL title as the Lake Erie Monsters.  
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Former Regina Pats head coach Brad Tippett has signed on as director of hockey operations and head coach of the junior B Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Tippett takes over as head coach from Rob Mortin, who left the team to pursue other opportunities. . . . Tippett, a brother to long-time NHL coach Dave Tippett, coached the Pats for four seasons (1989-93). . . . Steven Heywood of the Peninsula News Review has more on this story right here.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have hired Scott King as assistant coach/co-ordinator, player development. . . . From Saskatoon, King played one season at Boston U and then joined the Kelowna Rockets for the 1996-97 season. He went on to a pro career that included 14 seasons (2001-15) in Germany. Last season, King served as the Warriors’ skills coach and also was Hockey Canada’s head skills development coach. . . . King, 39, is the son of veteran coach Dave King.
The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have hired T.J. Millar as an assistant coach. From Calgary, Millar, 22, had been the Tri-City Americans’ video coach.

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