Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Black cloud lifts from Swift Current . . . Giants to honour Howe, Quinn . . . Royals new forward gone for five

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and 11 assists in 48 games.
The black cloud is mostly gone.
Sheldon Kennedy and Liam Choo-Foo, the chairman of the Swift Current Broncos’ board of directors, both made reference to that on Wednesday as the WHL team announced it has endorsed the city’s Safe Places Initiative program, a “community-wide initiative designed to support quality
programming while reducing potential risks to children and youth.”
The Broncos are the first of the WHL’s 22 teams to take such a step.
The community-owned franchise’s board of directors passed a motion in support of the program, becoming the first organization to publicly support and commit to it. The partnership was announced Wednesday by Mayor Jerrod Schaefer and Choo-Foo.
Schaefer and Kennedy, a former captain of the Broncos who now advocates against the bullying and abuse of children, started the program.
According to the Broncos, all of their “coaching staff, office staff, scouts and billets will be taking the Respect in Sport online training, get criminal record checks and then become youth certified from the RCMP.”
If you are aware of Kennedy’s history with the Broncos and Swift Current — he was sexually abused by then-general manager/head coach Graham James while playing with the Broncos — you will understand how big this move is to the franchise and the city.
Here’s Schaefer, in conversation with Candace Woodside of the Southwest Booster:
"I know firsthand what it’s like to not want to be linked with Graham James or the stories of abuse that happened in Swift Current in the past, and know full well what it’s like to hope that not talking about it, or acknowledging it, will somehow make it better or make the problems go away.
“I just want to acknowledge the leadership of our very own former Bronco member Sheldon Kennedy. Because of his leadership and courage, he has taught us that this isn’t something that is unique to Swift Current or the Broncos, it’s happening everywhere, and that by talking about it, and getting in front of it, and training ourselves to be better, it really is a great way to stand with victims of abuse, but also makes our communities safer and better for kids.”
Choo-Foo went so far as to tell Woodside that he has noticed a change in the community since the Safe Places Initiative was launched in January. That was on a weekend during which Rogers Hometown Hockey was in town and Kennedy was saluted with an ovation at a Broncos game.
“(The ovation) almost felt like it made it OK to start to talk about this again,” Choo-Foo told Woodside. “It’s almost been like a black cloud or a secret that the community hasn’t known how to deal with . . . and by bringing it up front and allowing people, giving them permission to speak about it, has been very positive. We’ve heard nothing but positive since the Hall of Fame induction, and now, as we move forward with this, I think it’s all in alignment. Hopefully, it does continue to spread beyond our city borders and out into the rest of the country.”
The healing continued in May when Kennedy was inducted into the Broncos’ Hall of Fame.
“ . . . I think it’s been a good year, and I think the black cloud has lifted,” Kennedy said. “I think that this is now about learning from terrible things that have happened and mistakes, and being leaders and continually raising the bar to be the best we can for child protection."
Woodside’s story is right here, and it really is worth your time.

The Vancouver Giants will honour the memory of the late Gordie Howe when they stage their home-opener on Sept. 23, against the Everett Silvertips, in their new home, the Langley Events Centre. . . . Howe was a part-owner of the Giants franchise. . . . According to a news release: “The Giants will wear special uniforms to pay tribute to Howe while the two teams will also play with a special No. 9 game puck. The Howe family will be on hand for a pre-game ceremony, and every fan who attends the game will receive a commemorative pin.” . . . The Giants also will retire Howe’s No. 9. . . . Majority owner Ron Toigo offered: “Gordie was a big part of the franchise from the start. Along with Pat (Quinn), he gave us instant credibility in the hockey world. He was like family to us. We will never forget what he meant to the Giants, and to be sure no one ever does, we will honour him as we did Pat by retiring No. 9 on opening night with the Howe family. ” . . . The Howe family then will continue on to Saskatoon where the ashes of Gordie and Colleen will be interred at a Howe statue near the SaskTel Centre on Sept. 25. . . . Quinn, who died in 2014, also owned a piece of the Giants. He is to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 14 and the Giants will honour him on Nov. 10 when they play host to the Prince George Cougars. The Giants have already retired No. 3, the number Quinn wore during his NHL playing career.
F Carter Folk, now of the Victoria Royals, has been hit with a five-game suspension. On Friday, in his final game with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who traded him to Victoria earlier in the week, Folk took a headshot major and game misconduct against the visiting Swift Current Broncos. He didn’t play Saturday in Swift Current, then was dealt to the Royals on Monday. Folk is a repeat offender, having drawn a two-game suspension for a headshot major in a playoff game against the host Regina Pats on March 29. Folk will miss the Royals’ final exhibition game, on Saturday against the host Vancouver Giants, and the first three games of the regular season. . . . At the same time, the WHL suspended F Drew Warkentine of the Prince Albert Raiders for three games after he took a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a game against the Saskatoon Blades in Warman, Sask., on Saturday. He will miss the Raiders’ last two exhibition games and their first regular-season game.
F Jake Hale announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he has committed to attend the U of Minnesota-Duluth and play hockey for the Bulldogs. Hale, from Minneapolis, turned 15 on May 19. He was a 10th-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder had 19 points, including 14 goals, in 14 games with Minneapolis High last season. He also had nine points, six of them goals, in eight games with the U-15 DHI Octane Selects. . . . Meanwhile, F Marcus Mitchell, who turns 18 on Oct. 12, has committed to attend Michigan Tech and play for the Huskies. Mitchell, from Kelowna, was a 12-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2013 bantam draft. He is into his second season with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Last season, he had 21 points, nine of them goals, in 52 games.
F Tanner Nagel, 18, apparently was traded by the Portland Winterhawks to the Lethbridge Hurricanes sometime on Wednesday. He announced the move on Twitter: “I’d like to thank the Portland Winterhawks organization, coaching staff, my billets and my teammates. I loved my time in Portland . . . I am very excited to start my next chapter in Lethbridge with the Hurricanes.” . . . Nagel, a 6-foot-0, 190-pounder from Mossbank, Sask., had one goal in 38 games with Portland last season. In this exhibition season, he has a goal and an assist in five games. . . . As of Wednesday night, neither the Winterhawks nor the Hurricanes had announced a transaction involving Nagel, whose name remained on Portland’s online roster.
D Ryely McKinstry of the Vancouver Giants, who played only 11 games last season, is on the shelf again. He struggled with concussion-related issues last season, and was hurt again Saturday in an exhibition game against the host Victoria Royals. He sat out Sunday’s rematch in Ladner and hasn’t practised this week. . . . McKinstry, 18, was a second-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. He had two goals and two assists in 30 games as a freshman in 2014-15. Last season, he had one goal and one assist in 11 games.
Four of the WHL’s U.S. Division teams announced TV deals on Wednesday.
The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs each will have 10 regular-season games shown, the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans each getting eight games on the air.
Portland’s games will be televised by CW32, with eight of them featuring the Seattle Thunderbirds. The other two will involve Spokane.
From the Winterhawks’ news release: “In the Portland Metro area, Portland’s CW32 is available on Comcast Cable channel 3, and for DirecTV subscribers, channel 32. In all other areas, please contact your local cable operator.
“The eight games with Seattle will be a co-production with the Thunderbirds, to be shown in the Seattle area on This-TV. The two Spokane games will be produced separately in conjunction with the Chiefs.”
The first Portland game to be televised will be the home-opener against Seattle on Sept. 24.
According to a Chiefs’ news release, their games will be shown “live on SWX, sister station to NBC KHQ-6. SWX is available on over-the-air channel 6.2 and Comcast channel 112 (HD), as well as Comcast channel 306 (SD).”
The first Chiefs’ game to be aired will be Oct. 15 against the visiting Portland Winterhawks. Viewers will be treated to six games against the Tri-City Americans, two with Portland and one each with the Kootenay Ice and Kamloops Blazers.
Seattle’s eight televised games will be available over the air locally on This TV, channel 13.2, and on Comcast Cable channel 357. The first telecast will be the season-opener from Portland on Sept. 24. The two teams meet the following night in Kent and that game also will be televised.
Tri-City’s TV schedule with KNDU/SWX features six games with Spokane, one with the Victoria Royals and one with Seattle. The game with Victoria, at the Toyota Center on Dec. 10, is the first game on the telecast schedule.
Visit each team’s website for the TV schedules.
JUST NOTES: The Saskatoon Blades dropped F Matt Mosher, 16, from their roster on Wednesday. He had one goal and one assist in three exhibition games. He is exploring his options and is expected to return to the Delta Hockey Academy and play in the Canada Sport School Hockey League or join the major midget Valley West Hawks. Mosher was a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. The Blades are carrying 27 players, including three goaltenders and 16 forwards. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have released F Drayton Thunder Chief, 18. He is expected to join the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He had two assists in four games with the Hurricanes last season. Thunder Chief spent most of the season with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, putting up two goals and three assists in 24 games.
I must confess that I have yet to watch even one second of World Cup of Hockey exhibition play. Why? Because this is the best part of the Major League Baseball season. If you happened to catch Tuesday night’s game between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, you know exactly what I mean. If you didn’t, here’s Michael Powell of The New York Times with a terrific read on how that game turned into yet another Giants disaster.
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The Brandon Wheat Kings skated to a 10-3 victory over the Regina Pats in an exhibition game played in the Chief Denton George Memorial Multiplex on the Ochapowace First Nation. The game was played using a 3-on-3 format in two 20-minute periods. . . . The Wheat Kings got two goals from Duncan Campbell and singles from Jaeger White, Ty Lewis, Stelio Mattheos, James Shearer, Garrett Sambrook, Ivan Provorov, Daniel Bukac and Caiden Daly, with Jake Leschyshyn, Braydon Buziak and Chase harrison replying for the Pats. . . . There was a whole lot more to this game than hockey, though, and Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post was there. His story is right here.

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