Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cougars' home getting enhancements . . . Get your 'He's Back' t-shirt here

Mike Johnston and the Portland Winterhawks haven’t been the most popular parts of the WHL's operation in recent seasons. But I don't thank they lose any sleep over it. Johnston was the general
manager and head coach when the WHL thrashed the Winterhawks for “violations related to player benefits” in November 2012. Since then, he had a stint as head coach of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, before returning to the Winterhawks in May as vice-president, general manager and head coach. . . . And now the Winterhawks’ store is selling “He’s Back” t-shirts at US$20 a pop. In a league where blandness often seems to be the rule, this is a stroke of marketing genius. . . . If you want one of these t-shirts, click right here. . . . No, I’m not in on the action. I just think this is a terrific marketing idea.
The CN Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, is getting something of a different look, all of which should be completed by some time in October. According to a news release: “The CN Centre is being enhanced with new flooring in the lobby, a new score clock, enhanced media 
experiences for patrons, and new seating arrangements.” . . . The City and the Cougars are picking up the tab. . . . When a decision was made to replace the score clock, the cost estimate was $390,000, but that price ended up at $546,000 after a request for proposal. “The City will provide these funds and the Cougars will invest additional funds to enhance graphics capability and increase the number of camera locations and other media inputs,” according to a news release. “These improvements will tie in with the enhanced digital goal judge system recently installed by the Cougars to provide the same quality and type of automatic replays used in the NHL.” . . . There also will be change to some of the seating. As the news release explains: “The Cougars have worked with the City to renovate an existing area of seats to provide a new seating arrangement that is emerging in many modern arenas and stadiums. Called loge seating, this renovation consists of high-end chairs arranged along a table or small counters and provides an option between regular seating and suites. The loge seating renovation is being funded by the Prince George Cougars and will involve 44 seats.” . . . Greg Pocock, the Cougars’ governor and president, said his organization has put more than $1 million into the facility. “Most recently,” he said, “my partners and I asked the City to go beyond just replacing what we had before, and the Cougars stepped up to pay the additional costs for a vastly improved system. These investments, along with the new loge seating, the digital goal judge system, additional speakers for the sound system, upgrades to the media box, and renovations to the Cougars office and dressing room, have all been done to enhance the experience for our fans and players. Our investment in the CN Centre over the last 28 months totals more than $1 million.”
The Calgary Hitmen have welcomed their two new imports to the Alberta city. D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 17, is from Vitebsk, Belarus, while F Andrei Grishakov, 17, is from Chelyabinsk, Russia. You can learn more on both players right here. . . . Last season, Calgary’s imports were Belarusian F Pavel Karnaukhov, now 19, and Russian F Radel Fazleev, now 20. The Hitmen revealed prior to the CHL’s 2016 import draft that Karnaukhov had signed with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. He had 31 points, 12 of them goals, in 49 games with Calgary last season. One season earlier, as a freshman, he put up 20 goals and 22 assists in 69 games.. . . Fazleev is expected to play in the Philadelphia Flyers organization this season.
Fans of the Medicine Hat Tigers will be able to watch their favourite WHL team in training camp later this month, which is something they weren’t able to do a year ago. . . . Back then, the Canalta Centre wasn’t completely ready for occupancy and the Tigers and City of Medicine Hat hadn’t agreed on a lease. Thus, for insurance reasons, fans weren’t allowed into the arena to watch training camp. . . . This year, the Tigers, who open camp on Aug. 26, are inviting fans to come out and watch through next weekend. With the Tigers not having scheduled any home exhibition games, it will be the only opportunity for fans to see their favourites in action before the regular season opens.
The major midget Cariboo Cougars, who play out of Prince George, are making strides as they work to make everyone associated with their organization aware of issues involving mental health. . . . They are calling their program MindRight and it is all-encompassing — they have a Twitter page (@CCMindRight) that states “MindRight is a mental health lifestyle program designed to educate and support (Cougars) players, coaches, parents and supporters.” . . . You should consider giving the page a follow — @CCMindRight. . . . They also are on Facebook — just search for MindRight — and have a website ( that is under construction. . . . The Cougars also have Myles Mattila involved as their spokesperson, and that is a splendid move. . . . This is an organization that obviously is a step ahead of the game when it comes to mental health awareness. A tip of the hat to Trevor Sprague, the Cougars’ GM and head coach, his staff and the volunteers involved in all of this. Well done!
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