Sunday, January 15, 2017

Paddock cracking whip in Regina . . . Tigers' defence hurting . . . Seattle on five-game roll


F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has been released from a tryout contract with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga) that was signed on Jan. 10. He didn’t appear in a game for Mladá Boleslav. This season, he had two goals and nine assists in 22 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga) when he was released on Dec. 31. . . . 
F Chris St. Jacques (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) has been released by Duisburg (Germany, Oberliga). He had nine goals and 21 assists in 23 games.
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John Paddock, the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats, had seen enough. Although it was riding high atop the CHL rankings, Paddock knew that the ship was leaking. 
That was before Friday evening, when the Pats jumped out to 4-0 and 5-1 first-period leads over the Tri-City Americans, before watching it all fall apart as the visitors stormed back for a 6-5 victory.
Paddock, tired of undisciplined play and bad penalties, reacted Saturday by scratching D Connor Hobbs and F Filip Ahl before a game against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.
How’d that work?
Well, the Raiders scored the game’s first four goals, all in the first period, at which point the Pats had been outscored 9-0 over a stretch of 61 minutes 27 seconds and all on home ice.
On Saturday, it took two goals from F Adam Brooks, one with nine seconds left to play in regulation time and the other in OT, to give Regina a 7-6 victory.
The Pats travelled to Prince Albert for a Sunday game, giving Paddock lots of time to ponder what has been happening. He put Ahl and Hobbs back into the lineup, but took out F Austin Wagner and the Pats responded with a 5-1 victory. Hobbs responded to his benching with two goals and an assist.
The Pats, who have been the No. 1 team in the CHL rankings, likely will lose their spot this week because of their performance in those two home games. It will be interesting to see how they respond.
They have some time to practise before entertaining the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday and visiting the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday.
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The Medicine Hat Tigers don’t play again until Wednesday when they visit the Saskatoon Blades.
Already without D David Quenneville, who hasn’t played since Jan. 3 when he suffered a broken fibula
while blocking a shot, they now have lost D Ty Schultz. He left in the first period of Friday’s 7-3 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Yes, he ended up with a broken fibula after blocking a shot.
When he was injured, Quenneville, an 18-year-old from Edmonton, had 48 points, 20 of them goals, in 38 games.
Schultz, a 19-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., was having a career season offensively, with 21 points, 18 of them assists, in 44 games when he went down. He has equalled his career high in goals (3) and surpassed the 14 assists he recorded in 2014-15.
If things really do come in threes, that should be it for the Tigers and broken  feet from blocked shots. Last season, the Tigers lost F Steve Owre on Dec. 1 when he ended up with a broken ankle after being hit by a Quenneville shot. Owre, who had 24 points in 24 games when he was injured, didn’t play again until Jan. 25. He finished with 52 points, including 20 goals, in 55 games.
With Quenneville and Schultz out and the WHL trade deadline having passed us by, what happens with Medicine Hat now?
Well, the Tigers’ acquisition of D Jordan Henderson, 19, from the Saskatoon Blades on Jan. 5 for a fifth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft looms large. Henderson’s experience will be key to helping the Tigers through this rough spot.
As well, veteran Clayton Kirichenko, 20, will no doubt be asked to shoulder more of the load. He already is having a banner season, with career highs in assists (32) and points (37).
Latvian freshman Kristians Rubins, who turned 19 on Dec. 11, is also sure to be asked for more. He’s 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and was with Latvia at the World Junior Championship, so wanting more from him shouldn’t be much of a reach.
Quenneville isn’t expected back for at least a month, and Schultz, depending on what the X-rays showed, could be gone at least that long.
Really, though, there’s no reason for panic in The Hat. After all, the Tigers are 30-13-1 and leading the Central Division by six points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 14 over the third-place Red Deer Rebels.
For a while, at least, the Tigers will be playing with house money.
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SUNDAY’S GAMES:

At Calgary, F Matteo Gennaro completed his first career hat trick at 1:44 of OT to give the Hitmen a 6-5
MATTEO GENNARO
victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Calgary held a 5-3 lead in the third period but had to go to OT to win it. . . . D Igor Merezhko (2) gave Lethbridge the lead at 6:59 of the first period, only to have Calgary D Micheal Zipp (4) tie it 35 seconds later. . . . F Tyler Wong put the visitors back out front with No. 32 at 2:48 of the second period. . . . Calgary then scored three straight, with F Luke Coleman counting his eighth at 6:05 of the second, Gennaro getting his first of the game at 11:14, and D Brady Reagan (3) scoring at 13:29. . . . Wong’s 33rd got Lethbridge to within one at 1:11 of the third period, but Gennaro that one back at 7:14. . . . Lethbridge forced extra time as F Alec Baer (8) scored a PP goal at 8:10 and D Calen Addison got his sixth at 11:16. . . . Gennaro won it with his 22nd goal of the season. His first hat trick came in his 241st game. . . . Calgary got two assists from F Andrei Grishakov, while Zipp added one to his goal. . . . F Giorgio Estephan drew two assists for Lethbridge, with Wong and Baer each getting one. . . . The Hitmen got 16 saves from G Trevor Martin. . . . Lethbridge starter Stuart Skinner made 28 saves, while Ryan Gilchrist stopped the only shot he faced in a 56-second appearance in the third period. . . . Lethbridge was 1-3 on the PP; Calgary was 0-4. . . . The Hitmen (16-20-6) are two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and Saskatoon Blades, who are tied for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. . . . Lethbridge (24-15-7), which was playing its third game in three nights, has points in six straight (4-0-2) and is third in the Central Division, six points behind the Medicine Hat Tigerrs. . . . Announced attendance: 7,083.
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At Prince Albert, F Sam Steel had a goal and two assists to help the Regina Pats to a 5-1 victory over the
MAX PADDOCK
Raiders. . . . Steel is the WHL’s leading scorer, with 76 points, one more than teammate Adam Brooks, who had one assist. . . . D Connor Hobbs, who had been a healthy scratch on Saturday when the Pats beat the visiting Raiders 7-6 in OT, scored twice and added an assist. . . . Steel got the Pats started with his 32nd goal, at 7:19 of the first period. . . . Raiders F Spencer Moe (5) tied it at 7:06 of the second period. . . . Regina scored the next four goals. . . . F Filip Ahl, who had joined Hobbs as a healthy scratch on Saturday, got No. 20 at 10:24, with Hobbs giving Regina a 3-1 lead at 13:14. . . . Hobbs, who has 19 goals, scored again at 9:03 of the third period and F Dawson Leedahl, who also had an assist, closed it out with his 19th goal just eight seconds later. . . . Ahl is the Pats’ fourth 20-goal man this season, and they have three others each with 19. . . . The single-season record for most 20-goal scorers is 12 (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1985-86; Portland Winterhawks, 1980-81). . . . Regina G Max Paddock, 16, stopped 33 shots in his second career start. He is 3-0-0, 1.89, .938 in three appearances this season. . . . G Ian Scott turned aside 34 shots for the Raiders. . . . Prince Albert was 0-3 on the PP; Regina was 0-4. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. Regina went 2-1-0; the Raiders were 0-2-1. . . . Regina (29-5-7) has won two straight. . . . Prince Albert (8-33-5) has lost 10 in a row (0-7-3). . . . Announced attendance: 1,958.
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At Kent Wash., D Ethan Bear set up three goals as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 6-4. . . . Bear, who has seven points over his past three games, has 37 points, including 25 assists, in 39
ETHAN BEAR
games. . . . The Thunderbirds controlled this one with two three-goal bursts. . . . They took a 3-0 lead on goals from D Austin Strand (2), on a PP, at 6:10 of the first period; D Jarret Tyskza (5), at 9:31; and F Sami Moilanen (13), at 4:59 of the second. . . . The Chiefs got to within a goal when F Hayden Ostir (4) and F Kailer Yamamoto, on a PP, scored at 10:22 and 13:13 of the second. . . . But Seattle responded to that with the next three goals to put it away. . . . F Alexander True counted, on a PP, at 16:14 of the second period. F Ryan Gropp got his 11th at 4:25 of the third, and True added his 13th, on another PP, at 12:39. . . . The Chiefs got the game’s last two goals, from F Ondrej Najman (2), at 14:32, and Yamamoto, at 19:07. He’s got 28 goals. . . . F Mathew Barzal and F Nolan Volcan had two assists each for Seattle, with Moilanen adding one. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan and F Keanu Yamamoto each had two assists for the Chiefs. . . . D Turner Ottenbreit of the Thunderbirds recorded one assist and now has a career-high 17 points in 41 games. Last season, he finished with 16 in 69. . . . G Rylan Toth earned the victory with 29 saves, five more than Spokane’s Jayden Sittler. . . . Seattle was 3-3 on the PP; Spokane was 1-4. . . . The Thunderbirds (23-14-4) have won five in a row and are third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Tri-City Americans but with seven games in hand. . . . The Chiefs (18-20-7), who were playing their third game in as many days, are two points out of a wild-card spot. . . . Announced attendance: 5,003.
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At Swift Current, F Aleksi Heponiemi scored the only goal of a three-round shootout as the Broncos beat
ALEKSI HEPONIEMI
the Red Deer Rebels, 5-4. . . . Heponiemi had scored his 16th goal, at 3:42 of the first period, to give the home boys a 1-0 lead. From that point on, the teams alternated goals. . . . F Austin Glover pulled Red Deer into a tie at 7:19. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen’s 34th goal, on a PP, gave the Broncos a 2-1 lead at 9:27. . . . Glover’s 15th goal tied it 2-2, at 12:06 of the second period. . . . F Kaden Elder (9) put Swift Current back out front, at 17:20. . . . Red Deer F Michael Spacek tied it, again, at 5:30, only to have the Broncos go ahead when D Colby Sissons (6) scored, at 9:00. . . . Spacek forced OT with his 19th goal, at 17:45. . . . Heponiemi also added an assist. A freshman from Finland who turned 18 on Jan. 9, he now has 54 points, including 38 assists, in 46 games. . . . G Jordan Papirny got the victory with 33 saves. . . . Red Deer G Riley Lamb also made 33 saves. . . . Swift Current was 1-2 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-2. . . . The Broncos (25-13-8) finished a stretch of three games in as many days at 1-1-1. They are third in the East Division, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Rebels (20-18-7) are a comfortable third in the Central Division. . . . Announced attendance: 1,845.
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MONDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Kelowna at Everett, 2:05 p.m. (Martin Luther King Day)
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TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Vancouver, 7 p.m.

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