Monday, December 12, 2016

Four WHL contenders at this point . . . Check out DUBNetwork . . . Blades facing big week


Some thoughts and some questions as we scattershoot on a Monday . . .

1. The real WHL season begins in about a month. That’s when players have returned from international tournaments and the nervousness and uncertainties caused by the approach of the Jan. 10 trade deadline are gone. Right now, the contenders, in alphabetical order, are the Everett Silvertips, Medicine Hat Tigers, Prince George Cougars and Regina Pats. It remains to be seen if any of the pretenders can make moves between now and Jan. 10 that will help close the gap.

2. Will the WHL’s 2016-17 Media Guide be available for download before Santa Claus downloads himself through your chimney?

3. Is it time to have the Teddy Bear Toss somehow morph into something that puts more cash into the hands of non-profits? I keep hearing that our food banks, which you may recall were to have been a temporary measure, are under increased strain as they struggle to keep up with demand. Could the money spent on thousands upon thousands of stuffed toys not stock a lot of food bank shelves, especially when there are food bank workers out there who say they can turn a $1 donation into $5 worth of food? Just sayin’ . . .

4. Is there a neater bunch of people in Kamloops than the Harley Owners Group? Some of us, including Santa and kidney foundation folks, gathered at Barnes Harley-Davidson on Iron Mask Road a couple of Saturdays ago and six local groups were presented with more than $5,000 in cheques that will help with annual endeavours. You should know that there was ham on the buffet table but the only hogs I saw were on the display floor.

5. Isn’t it great to see a player like Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors explode offensively in his 19-year-old season. Halbgewachs, in his third season, has paid his dues and it’s great to see him having this success. ICYMI, he has goals in nine straight games and leads the WHL with 27 scores.

6. If you’re a WHL follower and haven’t checked out DUBNetwork, you really should. A year ago, the gang — well, it was a two-man gang, at best — at dubnetwork,ca was making its way as a stats-based site. Today, it’s that and a whole lot more. If you haven’t already, take a minute out of your day and check it out. If you do, I guarantee that you’ll go back again and again and again and . . . They’re also looking for a marketing/social media manager. If you’re interested, visit the website for particulars.

7. If you go by winning percentage, 15 of the WHL’s 22 teams are at .500 or better. If you go by wins and losses, the number is 11. That’s what happens when some games are worth three points and others just two.

8. So far, the WHL has handed out 77 loser points, and that’s 77 too many. It also means that the Vancouver Giants, Kootenay Ice and Prince Albert Raiders will be hard-pressed to make a playoff charge, while the Calgary Hitmen really are on the bubble.

9. That sound you hear is Vancouver general manager Glen Hanlon’s phone ringing and ringing and ringing. Yes, the vultures will be circling for the next four weeks.

10. Every November/December, as we put up Christmas lights and decorations, I wonder: Does anyone have more spare mini-lights than I do?

11. Cam Cole. Ian Hamilton. Scott Cruickshank. Scott Fisher. George Johnson. Kirk Penton. Lowell Ullrich. Brad Ziemer. Elliott Pap. Greg Douglas. If you’re a sports fan and a reader in Western Canada, those sports writers — and I’m sure I’ve missed some — no longer are plying their trade. More will be exiting stage left before the snow is gone. I don’t know what Postmedia’s end game is but it really is cutting back on the number of reasons sports fans should purchase newspapers.

12. Has there ever been a better head coach-athlete combination than Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots?

13. If you think you’re having a bad today, just spare a moment to think about that bettor.
In case you haven’t noticed, the push is on for Christmas. We’re close enough to the big day that you need to sharpen your elbows and eat half a loaf of garlic toast with some Caesar salad before going shopping, 
Here, at Taking Note, we begin our countdown with Band Aid from 1984. Right here is . . . Do They Know It’s Christmas?
For more of the Christmas spirit, there is a message right here from the Tri-City Americans.
F Sam Steel of the Regina Pats scored twice on Monday night as a team of Canadian national junior team hopefuls beat the U Sports All-Stars, 5-3, in an exhibition game played in Broisbriand, Que. . . . Team Canada jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and upped that to 4-0 early in the second period. The Canadian university all-stars cut the deficit to one before Team Canada iced it. . . . G Connor Ingram of the Kamloops Blazers went the distance for the university side, stopping 24 shots. . . . G Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips started for Team Canada, and was perfect on 10 shots in 30:39. Michael McNiven of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack relieved Hart and gave up three goals on 13 shots. . . . The teams will play again today (Tuesday) at 1 p.m. ET. . . . There is speculation that the Team Canada staff might make some cuts after the game.

The Red Deer Rebels are scheduled to play host to the Kamloops Blazers tonight (Tuesday). The Rebels will do it without F Adam Musil and F Michael Spacek, both of whom are in Montreal at the Czech Republic national junior team’s selection camp. . . . Red Deer also will be without F Grayson Pawlenchuk, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Friday’s 3-2 OT loss to the Hitmen in Calgary. Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ GM/head coach, has said Pawlenchuk will be out at least six weeks, and there is speculation that the injury might be season-ending. Pawlenchuk, 19, has four goals and five assists in 19 games. . . . As well, Red Deer F Jeff de Wit is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
The Blazers will be without G Connor Ingram, who is in the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp; D Ondrej Valaj, who is with the Czech Republic team in Montreal; and F Matt Revel, who suffered an undisclosed injury in a 3-2 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Saturday.
The Saskatoon Blades have to be feeling pretty good about themselves as they prepare for three rather important games before they start their Christmas break. . . . On Saturday night, the Blades went into Regina and beat the Pats, 2-1, in OT. That was the first time this season that the high-flying Pats had been held to fewer than two goals in a game. . . . One night later, the Blades dumped the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 5-3. . . . This has the Blades back in the Eastern Conference playoff conversation as they are only two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and Brandon Wheat Kings, who hold down the two wild-card spots. . . . The Oil Kings are in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. The Blades then go home-and-home with the Wheat Kings, playing in Brandon on Friday and in Saskatoon on Saturday. . . . The Blades will be without D Libor Hájek, who is in Montreal at the Czech Republic junior team’s selection camp. . . . However, the Blades may get F Wyatt Sloboshan, their captain, back on Wednesday. He has missed three games with an undisclosed injury.
There are a couple of midweek doubleheaders on tap with the Tri-City Americans in Prince George to play the Cougars tonight (Tuesday) and Wednesday. . . . On those same nights, the Portland Winterhawks will be playing the Royals in Victoria. . . . F Vladimir Bobylev, 19, is expected to be in the Royals’ lineup after returning to the team from a stint in his native Russia. Bobylev had 67 points, including 28 goals, in 72 games with the Royals last season. He signed with Spartak Moscow of the KHL over the summer — his surname became Bobylyov — but had only a goal and two assists in 20 games there. He was sent to a VHL-affiliate, Khimik Voskresensk, where he had a goal and an assist in three games. This could be a huge move for the Royals who, if Bobylev produces, will have added a top-six forward without losing anything off their roster.
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No Games Scheduled.

TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Kelowna at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Spokane vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Portland at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.


Friday, Dec. 16: Saskatoon at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 16: Portland vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17: Brandon at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17: Portland at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17: Vancouver at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21: Vancouver vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Nov. 26: D Micheal Zipp, 19:47 1st period, Lethbridge 4 at Calgary 2.
Dec. 2: D Artyom Minulin, 13:24 1st period, Calgary 1 at Swift Current 5.
Dec. 2: F Jordy Bellerive, 14:00 1st period, Red Deer 3 at Lethbridge 5.
Dec. 3: F Adam Musil, 14:27 1st period, Lethbridge 2 at Red Deer 3 (OT).
Dec. 3: D Ondrej Vala, 10:38 1st period, Vancouver 2 at Kamloops 5.
Dec. 3: F Nick Merkley, 6:54 2nd period, Brandon 1 at Kelowna 3.
Dec. 9: F Austin Glover, 0:32 2nd period, Moose Jaw 7 at Prince Albert 3. 
Dec. 9: F Riley Woods, 11:45 1st period, Swift Current 1 at Regina 8.
Dec. 9: F Keanu Yamamoto, 4:01 1st period, Kootenay 3 at Spokane 4.
Dec. 10: D Josh Thrower, 12:13 1st period, Prince Albert 4 at Moose Jaw 5 (SO).
Dec. 10: F Nick Bowman, 13:38 2nd period, Kamloops 3 at Edmonton 2.
Dec. 10: D Troy Murray, 1:51 2nd, Kelowna 7 at Kootenay 3.
Dec. 10: F Max Gerlach, 5:26 1st period, Calgary 4 at Medicine Hat 7.
Dec. 10: F Skyler McKenzie 2:21 1st, Everett 2 at Portland 5.
Dec. 10: F Josh Curtis, 6:02 2nd period, Seattle 4 at Prince George 6.
Dec. 10: F Tyler Sandhu, 0:36 1st period, Victoria 3 at Tri-City 4.

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