Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cougars, Raiders in two-player swap . . . Why do scouts do it? . . . Kennedy, Yuill to be honoured


F Tomáš Kopecký (Lethbridge, 2000-02) has signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 38 games.
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The Prince George Cougars have acquired F Josh Maser, 17, and a sixth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft from the Prince Albert Raiders for F Adam Kadlec, 17. . . . The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Maser, from Houston, B.C., was a fourth-round pick by the Raiders in the 2014 bantam draft. Last season, he had 20 goals and 17 assists in 32 games with the Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . This season, Maser is with the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He has three goals and two assists in two games. . . . The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Kadlec is from Edina, Minn. The Cougars selected him in the 10th round of the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he was pointless in six games with the Cougars.
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Without too much effort, you easily can make the case that the most important people in any junior hockey team’s organization are the scouts. If you are looking for the teams that scout well and draft well, just look at the top of the standings. . . . But what makes these scouts tick? Why do these men, almost all of whom have full-time jobs, choose to spend so many winter nights watching hundreds of minor hockey games? . . . Mike Fraser is one of those scouts. He is into his 12th season as a WHL scout; he also does some writing for the Westman Journal, a Brandon-based newspaper. In this piece right here, Fraser explains why he scouts. It’s good stuff.
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Yes, it’s early. But you have to think there are concerns about the number of butts in seats, or not in seats, not only in major junior hockey but all over the sporting world.
If you have been watching NHL games in the regular season’s early days, you will have noticed a lot of empty seats in lower bowls. NFL stadii are littered with empty seats, as are those facilities that play host to CFL teams.
In the WHL, the Medicine Hat Tigers used to announce an attendance of 4,006 — game after game, season after season. That was when they played in The Arena. Now they are into their second season in the Canalta Centre, which, according to last season’s WHL Guide, has a capacity of 6,016 for hockey.
Through seven home games, the Tigers have an average announced attendance of 3,904. In their last three home games they have drawn announced attendances of fewer than 4,006 fans.
The Moose Jaw Warriors, playing their sixth season in the 4,414-seat Mosaic Place, are averaging an announced attendance of 3,276 fans through five home games. The Warriors’ previous home, the Civic Centre (aka the Crushed Can), had a capacity of 3,146 fans.
The Kootenay Ice, meanwhile, has averaged announced crowds of 1,763 through five home games. That is well off even last season when the final figure was 1,957. 
In Swift Current, where the Broncos’ hockey operation lost about $90,000 in 2015-16, the announced average attendance is 1,942, down 28 per game from last season. (The Broncos showed a $140,000 profit for 2015-16, thanks primarily to extraordinary income from the 2016 Womens’ World Curling Championship that was played in Swift Current and the 2016 Memorial Cup that was held in Red Deer.)
The Prince Albert Raiders have played five home games this season and their average announced attendance is 2,189, down from last season’s final number of 2,369.
And what of the Kelowna Rockets, the team for which Regan Bartel does the play-calling? Last season, they had an average announced attendance of 5,242. That number now, through four home games, is at 4,784.
Again, it’s awfully early and with a small sample size it doesn’t take much to move the numbers up or down. Still, the empty seats have to be causing some concern. If nothing else, it shows just how hard junior hockey teams have to work to get people, who don’t have near the disposable income that they used to have, into the seats.
It’s interesting to note that the CFL reacted to slow Grey Cup ticket sales on Tuesday by reducing prices for the game that is to be played at BMO Field in Toronto on Nov. 27. Originally, tickets were going for $169 to $199. Now, according to The Canadian Press, “Tickets will start at $89 with thousands available for under $150.”
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Sheldon Kennedy and Bill Yuill, two men with WHL ties, will be in Edmonton on Wednesday where they will be two of eight people to become members of the Alberta Order of Excellence. This is the highest honour an Albertan can receive.
Kennedy captained the Memorial Cup-winning Swift Current Broncos in 1989. His story, one that includes having been sexually abused by Broncos general manager/head coach Graham James, is well known by now. These days, Kennedy spends his time advocating on behalf of abused children.
Yuill, from Medicine Hat, is the owner, CEO and governor of the Everett Silvertips. He has long owned minor league baseball and hockey teams. He also is well known in the Medicine Hat area for his philanthropy.
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JUST NOTES:

Raymond Bolduc, the QMJHL’s director of player safety, has suspended D Zachary Malatesta for seven games for the headshot that left Victoriaville Tigres F Pascal Laberge concussed on Saturday night. . . . The QMJHL has video of the hit and the reasoning behind the decision right here on its website. . . . 
theqmjhl.ca/video/malatesta-suspended-7-games
Former WHL G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) made it to the NHL on Tuesday night. Hewitt, now in his fourth season with the UBC Thunderbirds, got the call from the Vancouver Canucks to back up G Jacob Markstrom after G Ryan Miller experienced some “tightness” so was scratched from a game against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . In the tweet shown above, that’s former Brandon Wheat Kings D Sven Butenschon (1993-96), now UBC’s head coach, seated to Hewitt’s left. . . . 
If you’re keeping track, F Mathew Barzal wasn’t in the New York Islanders’ lineup Tuesday as they played host to the San Jose Sharks. That means that Barzal, who must be returned to the Seattle Thunderbirds if he doesn’t stick in the NHL, has dressed for only one of the Islanders’ first four games. 
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