Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hay chasing milestone . . . Surgery for Cunningham . . . Pats have new COO

DON HAY
(Photo: mastimages.com)
Ken Hodge holds the WHL record for most regular-season victories by a head coach. For the longest time, that record — 742 — was thought to be unassailable.
However, it’s now evident that Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, is going to take a run at that record.
Hay gets his first opportunity to post No. 700 tonight (Friday) when the Blazers (24-15-2) entertain the Kelowna Rockets. If it doesn’t happen then, it could happen Saturday in Kelowna. On Sunday, the Blazers are in Portland where they will meet the Winterhawks, the team that Hodge coached for the bulk of his 22-year WHL career. He also coached the original Edmonton Oil Kings, who moved to Portland over the summer of 1976.
Hay has also been the head coach of the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.
“I haven’t even really thought about it, but it’d be great if we could get that win against Kelowna, a big rival,” Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “I broke into the league when Ken Hodge was the head coach in Portland. I have a lot of respect for what he did.
“To be mentioned in the same breath as Hodgey, I feel good about that and I hope he does, too.”
Hay already is the all-time leader in career playoff victories, with 106, five more than Hodge.
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Here’s a look at WHL head coaches who have more than 500 regular-season victories to their credit:
1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742
2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 699
3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 681
4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626
5. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548
6. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518
7. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 515
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When last we heard from former WHLer Craig Cunningham, Christmas hadn’t yet arrived and he was expected to get out of a Tucson, Ariz., hospital in time for the big day. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, doctors took off part of Cunningham’s left leg on Christmas Eve, but that hasn’t dampened his spirits. . . . As Cunningham told Craig Custance of ESPN: “Every time I think about how I can’t play anymore, I just think back to (the fact that) I’m lucky I’m not 10 feet under.” . . . Custance’s story is right here.
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Stacey Cattell, a former marketing and game day assistant with the Regina Pats, is returning to the WHL franchise, this time as chief operating officer. Cattell will join the Pats on Jan. 30 as he takes over from Marty Klyne, who is moving on to another organization. . . . Cattell has been with Rawlco Radio for the past 13 years, most recently as national, regional and CJME sales manager. He also spent seven seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, some of that time as director of corporate development. . . . He previously was with the Pats from 1984-87. . . . According to a Pats news release, Cattell “will be responsible for the day-to-day business operations. . . . He will oversee everything from ticket sales and sponsorship to advancing the game night experience for the Pats Regiment.”
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JUST NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Justin Nachbaur, 16, to a WHL contract. From Cross Lake, Man., the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder was a seventh-round selection in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. This season, with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, he has eight goals and 10 assists in 35 games. . . .
The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed G Ethan Kruger, 15, to a WHL contract. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. From Sherwood Park, Alta., the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Kruger plays for the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. In 12 appearances, he has a 2.43 GAA and .914 save percentage.
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THURSDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.

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FRIDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Spokane vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Victoria at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.
Brandon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

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