Thursday, November 24, 2016

Raiders still hunting playoff spot . . . Chico the man for Cougars . . . Petes in peril?


The Prince Albert Raiders traded D Brendan Guhle, who was their best player, to the Prince George Cougars on Nov. 18, getting back D Max Martin, F Kolby Johnson and two bantam draft picks — a first-rounder in 2018 and a third-rounder in 2019.
Despite the way it looks from the outside, Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt, the man who chose to make the deal, said his organization wasn’t running up the white flag.
“I expect us to get in the playoffs,” Hunt told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW. “I think our coaching staff has that
CURTIS HUNT
expectation and I sure believe and want to hope that our leadership group as players do and they sell that message throughout our team.
“I still think we’re learning how to play in some parts of the game. It is a work in progress, but we’re eight points out. I don’t think we’ve peaked as a group yet, I don’t think anybody will argue that.”
One week after the trade, the Raiders (5-17-1) had the 22-team league’s poorest record, had lost six in a row and were 10 points short of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
In order to qualify for the playoffs, the Raiders will have to climb over three other teams, a tough task at the best of times.
But in a league that rewards losing, the task is all but impossible.
In the 12-team Eastern Conference, the teams already have divvied up 36 loser points, with the Raiders having only one of them. The three teams directly ahead of them have combined to win only 22 of 69 games but have shared nine loser points.
Last season, it took 65 points to get into a tiebreaker for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. This season’s Raiders would need to gather 54 points from their remaining 49 games if they are to reach the 65-point mark. That is a .551 winning percentage, a tall order for a team that goes into this weekend at .239.
The Raiders appear to be the only team that is in dire straits when it comes to earning a playoff spot, although the Kootenay Ice is teetering on the brink. The Ice (5-13-6) is five points out of the conference’s second wild-card spot. That may not seem like much but, again, it is hard to make up ground when some games are worth two points and others three.
In the NHL, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has reported that since 2005-06 only six of 48 teams that have been four points out of a playoff spot on Nov. 1 have recovered to make the playoffs. The Anaheim Ducks did it last season. This season, not one NHL team was four points back on Nov. 1.
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The Peterborough Petes, one of the OHL’s most-storied franchises, are pleading poverty with that city’s council. Dave Pogue, the Petes’ president, has told city council that the franchise could be broke and for sale in four years unless there are changes to the lease for Memorial Arena. According to Pogue, the team has lost $658,000 over the past five years. Under the terms of a lease signed in 2003, the Petes don’t get anything from parking or concessions. . . . Joelle Kovach of the Peterborough Examiner has more right here.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have signed D Austin Crossley, 17, to a WHL contract. Crossley, who is from Fort St. John, B.C., has a goal and an assist in 25 games with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Last season, he had  a goal and eight assists in 40 games with the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . With Crossley on their roster, the Raiders are carrying eight defencemen.
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The Kootenay Ice has recalled F Eli Lieffers, 16, from the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. Lieffers, from Saskatoon, was a fourth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. This season, he has two goals and 11 assists in 16 games with the Contacts. He has played one game with the Ice, going pointless. Last season, he had one assist in five games with Kootenay.
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The Prince George Cougars have signed Chico Dhanjal to a three-year contract extension. Dhanjal, in his ninth season with the Cougars, worked his 600th WHL game on Tuesday when the Cougars beat the visiting Regina Pats, 5-2.
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The Vancouver Giants have signed F Evan Patrician, 15, to a WHL contract. From Calgary, he was a seventh-round selection in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. This season, he has 16 points, including seven goals, in 15 games with the midget AAA Calgary Flames.  
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THURSDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
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FRIDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Regina at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Victoria at Portland, 3 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Vancouver at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Seattle vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

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