Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ferguson writing great story . . . Silvertips make moves . . . Patrick's return is nigh


F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has been released by Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL). He had three goals and three assists in 31 games.
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Dylan Ferguson hasn’t received a lot of attention during a WHL career that is in its second season.
But he has written one of the 2016-17 regular-season’s best stories over the past month.
Ferguson, an 18-year-old from Lantzville, B.C., is expected to make his 14th consecutive start for the
DYLAN FERGUSON
Kamloops Blazers tonight (Friday) when they entertain the Everett Silvertips. With starter Connor Ingram enjoying some downtime after playing for Canada at the World Junior Championship, Ferguson also is expected to start Saturday against the visiting Vancouver Giants.
Last season, Ferguson had 11 starts among his 16 appearances as he went 4-10-0, 4.13, .875.
This season, before Ingram left to join Team Canada, Ferguson had started only six games and hadn’t played at all between Nov. 18 and Dec. 10. Prior to this stretch, Ferguson had never started more than two games in a row.
Kamloops head coach Don Hay admits that the Blazers really didn’t know what they had in Ferguson before Ingram left. Ferguson began his run with six straight starts on a pre-Christmas swing through the Central Division.
“We were all wondering how he would respond with the opportunity, and I don’t think anybody thought the response would be what he’s done and where it’s at,” Hay said. “It’s really nice to see because he’s worked so hard behind Connor and competed so hard in practice. When (Ferguson) got his opportunity he’s gotten better and better.”
The Blazers went 4-1-1 on that road trip as Ferguson allowed only 14 goals. That was enough to bring out the NHL scouts when play resumed after Christmas, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Ferguson hasn’t disappointed.
Since Christmas, he is 4-2-1. Overall, he is 11-6-2, 2.74, .922.
He also has backstopped the Blazers into the heart of the B.C. Division race. The Blazers (25-15-3) are tied for second with the Kelowna Rockets (25-15-3), with both teams seven points behind the Prince George Cougars (29-12-2), but just three games back in the loss column.
Not bad for an eight-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft.
So . . . how will Hay handle the goaltending situation when Ingram returns next week?
“Connor is No. 1 and Dylan is No. 2,” Hay said. “But we’ll definitely get some more (time for Ferguson) . . . we’ll pick some games and they’re both going to play.”
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The Everett Silvertips made two roster moves on Thursday, returning D Gianni Fairbrother, 16, to the B.C. Major Midget League’s Vancouver Northwest Giants and G Dorrin Luding to that league’s Valley
West Hawks.
Fairbrother, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, is pointless in three games with the Silvertips this season.
Luding made the last five saves in a 5-0 shutout over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday night. He made his WHL debut with 7:24 left in the third period and ended up sharing the shutout with Mario Petit.
The two moves would seem to indicate that D Noah Juulsen and G Carter Hart are back with the Silvertips for the first time since playing for Canada at the World Junior Championship.
The Silvertips, who also were without D Aaron Irving and D Lucas Skrumeda on Wednesday, are scheduled to visit the Kamloops Blazers tonight (Friday). No, the game won’t feature Hart against his Team Canada goaltending partner, Connor Ingram. That’s because Ingram was given the week off and has been at home in Imperial, Sask.
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D Chaz Reddekopp had an 11-game point streak snapped on Wednesday when his Victoria Royals dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Kelowna Rockets. Still he set a franchise record for longest point steak by a defenceman, breaking the mark of eight games that had been shared by Travis Brown (Victoria, 2015-16) and Brandon Manning (Chilliwack Bruins, 2010-11). You will recall that the Royals once were the Bruins, right? . . . The Rockets and Royals meet again tonight in Victoria.
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F Tyler Ho is set to make his WHL debut tonight as the Vancouver Giants play host to the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Langley, B.C., Events Centre. . . . Ho, 16, was acquired from the Prince George Cougars in a deadline deal that had F Radovan Bondra go north. . . . Ho, from North Vancouver, was a third-round pick by the Cougars in the 2015 bantam draft after putting up 87 points, including 30 goals, in 64 games with the North Shore Winter Club’s top bantam team. . . . This season, he has 35 points, 14 of them goals, in 26 games with the major midget Valley West Hawks.
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F Nolan Patrick, the consensus No. 1 pick for the NHL’s 2017 draft, is scheduled to return to the Brandon Wheat Kings’ lineup tonight for the first time since Oct. 11.
NOLAN PATRICK
Patrick has played only six games this season, and has nine points, including four goals. He has maintained that No. 1 position because of what he accomplished in his first two WHL seasons.
The son of former WHL/NHL F Steve Patrick, and the nephew of former NHL D James Patrick, Nolan had 56 points, including 30 goals, as a freshman in 2014-15. Last season, he put up 102 points, 41 of them goals, in 72 games. He then added 30 points, including 13 goals, in 21 games as the Wheat Kings won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Patrick was named the WHL’s playoff MVP.
However, he was injured during the playoffs and, although he played through the final game, he underwent surgery in July for a sports hernia. He missed training camp but started the season, only to be shut down shortly thereafter.
The Wheat Kings have never explained why Patrick hasn’t played. Bob McKenzie of TSN reported this week that Patrick “had to shut it down when his other groin started to bother him.”
The Wheat Kings (20-17-4) go into this weekend in fourth place in the East Division, 11 points behind the third-place Swift Current Broncos. Brandon holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Brandon is at home to the Kootenay Ice tonight and Saturday.
The Wheat Kings likely will be without F Reid Duke, at least for the first game of the doubleheader. Duke was tossed from Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Tri-City Americans with a kneeing major and game misconduct.
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THURSDAY’S GAMES:

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

Kootenay at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Everett at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Prince George at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Spokane at Portland, 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Regina, 7 p.m.
Moose Jaw vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Kelowna at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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