Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Blazers' top pick back with Vees . . . Howe ashes to be interred by statue of Mr. Hockey

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has been assigned on loan by the Nuremburg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL) to Beyreuth (Germany, DEL2). Meilleur signed a two-year contract with Nuremburg in April. Last season, with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2), he had 11 goals and 14 assists in 50 games.
One day after recording two assists in the Kamloops Blazers’ intrasquad game, F Massimo Rizzo was back in the Penticton Vees’ lineup for a BCHL exhibition game against the host West Kelowna Warriors on Wednesday night.
BCHLRizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., was selected by the Blazers with the 15th overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He put up 137 points, including 60 goals, in 61 games with the bantam AAA Burnaby Winter Club Bruins last season.
Rizzo, who hasn’t signed with the Blazers, played in one game with the Vees last week, before joining the Blazers in time for their rookie camp. He was held over and took part in main camp, before rejoining the Vees on Wednesday.
It is quite evident that Rizzo and his family plan on keeping his NCAA option open, at least for the short term.
As for the Vees, general manager/head coach Fred Harbinson likes what he has seen.
“He’s an elite player, a player we are excited about,” Harbinson told Fraser Rodgers, the Vees’ radio voice, prior to Wednesday’s game. “I think he’s excited about us. Obviously, he has some decisions down the road but right now it looks like he’s going to be an affiliate player with us for this (season). We’ll see how many games he can get into.
“It’s more about building a relationship with him and his family and kind of seeing how it goes from there.”
If you’re wondering, the Vees and Warriors played to a 2-2 draw.
The Victoria Royals have signed three players — D Jeremy Masella, D Matthew Smith and F Tarun Fizer. . . . Masella, 17, is from Phoenix. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder had a goal and 10 assists in 25 games with the U-16 Arizona Bobcats last season. . . . The 5-foot-10, 140-pound Smith, 16, was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had seven assists in 41 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers last season. . . . Fizer, 15, was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. From Chestermere, Alta., he had 57 points, including 33 goals, with the Rocky Mountain Raiders of the Alberta Major Bantam League last season. . . . F Blake Bargar scored three goals in the Royals’ intrasquad game on Wednesday, helping Team White to a 6-3 victory over Team Blue. Bargar, 18, was acquired in May from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a conditional eighth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Torrance, Calif., he had one goal and five assists in 59 games as a freshman, and one goal and one assist in 60 games last season.
The Saskatchewan government has given the OK to a request by the City of Saskatoon to declare the area around a Gordie Howe statue a cemetery. The statue is located near the Sasktel Centre, the home of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . This all but clears the way for the Blades to honour Howe prior to their home-opener on Sept. 25. 
From a Blades’ news release:
“The Blades can now move forward in the planning to have the ashes of Gordie Howe and his wife Colleen interred in front of his statue on Sept. 25 at Sasktel Centre. This will happen in a private ceremony for Howe’s immediate family. Following the ceremony, the Blades will take the Howe family to the newly christened Gordie Howe Bridge for the official naming of the bridge.
“The celebration of Mr. Hockey’s life and legacy will then shift back to Sasktel Centre where a tailgate party is planned prior to the Blades home opener against the Swift Current Broncos. The Blades also have a spectacular pre-game ceremony planned to thank Gordie for everything he has done for the game of hockey, our city, and most importantly our people.”
The Blades will announce more details on Sept. 6.
The Regina Pats have signed F Logan Nijhoff and F Duncan Pierce to WHL contracts. . . . Nijhoff, 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, is from Comox, B.C. Last season, with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team, he had 27 points, including 11 goals. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Pierce is from Winnipeg. Pierce, 16, had seven goals and six assists in 39 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers last season.
The Saskatoon Blades got their roster down to 30 players on Wednesday. Among the players released was D Chance Patterson, 19, of Foam Lake, Sask. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder had one assist in 57 games over the past two seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Dalton Gally, a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from Eagle River, Alaska, who played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins. Gally, 18, had three goals and four assists in 50 games. In 2014-15, he played four games with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and 15 with the U-16 Omaha Lancers. . . . He was a sixth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2013 bantam draft.
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Coaching Game

Riley Armstrong has joined the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers as an assistant coach. Armstrong, 31, played two seasons (2002-04) in the WHL, with the Kootenay Ice and Everett Silvertips before going on to a pro career that ended following last season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals. A native of Saskatoon, Armstrong will work alongside Jeff Christian, who is preparing for his first full season as head coach.

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