Monday, February 13, 2017

Kehler blanks former team . . . Season over for two skaters . . . Fans paint ice in P.G.

G Michael Garnett (Red Deer, Saskatoon, 1999-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Bern (Switzerland, NL A). This season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, KHL), he was 3.15 and .903 in 17 games.
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Cole Kehler says he never doubted his abilities, but admits there were times when he wondered if he would get another opportunity to play in the WHL.
Kehler, a 19-year-old from Altona, Man., was selected by the Kamloops Blazers in the sixth round of the
COLE KEHLER
2012 bantam draft. On Monday afternoon, he recorded his first career shutout, stopping 41 shots to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-0 victory over the host Blazers.
When the 2014-15 WHL season began, Kehler and Connor Ingram were the Blazers goaltenders. When they returned from the Christmas break, Ingram took over the starting job and refused to give it up; in fact, he has played lights out since then.
Kehler, meanwhile, had a poor exhibition season in the autumn of 2015 and ended up going to the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials in order to get some playing time.
“I don’t think I doubted myself,” he said, “but I maybe doubted whether I’d get another opportunity (in the WHL).”
Well, he played well enough in Merritt that the Winterhawks, looking to replace the graduating Adin Hill, who had played in 65 games last season, acquired Kehler from the Blazers for a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.
Since then, he has played well enough in Portland — “He’s been good for us,” said GM/head coach Mike Johnston — that the Winterhawks were able to deal Michael Bullion to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Jan. 1 for a seventh-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. At that point, Portland brought in Shane Farkas, who turned 18 on Jan. 12, to back up Kehler.
“It was pretty fun,” Kehler said after Monday’s game, adding that the first shutout was special “no matter who it’s against.”
Kehler had played in Kamloops earlier this season, losing 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 20. He struggled with rebound control that night, something that wasn’t a problem yesterday.
Kehler said he has been working on that part of his game — “There’s always something to work on” is how he put it — and admitted that he had been nervous on Jan. 20. That was his first game against his former team and he said he felt “tighter.”
That certainly wasn’t the case on Monday as he earned Portland’s first shutout this season and the team’s first since Oct. 25, 2015, when Hill turned aside 45 shots in a 5-0 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

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F Jake Leschyshyn of the Regina Pats won’t play again this season, thanks to a knee injury suffered during a game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Feb. 3. . . . He is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ACL. . . . Leschyshyn, 17, had 17 goals and 23 assists in 47 games when he was injured and had played in the Top Prospects Game. . . . He is projected as a possible late first-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Regina’s acquisition of F Wyatt Sloboshan from the Spokane Chiefs in January now looks rather prescient. Sloboshan, who turned 20 on Jan. 24, had 44 points, including 19 goals, in 66 games with the Blades last season. They dealt him to the Spokane Chiefs in December, but he chose not to return there after the Christmas break. On Jan. 2, the Pats acquired Sloboshan and a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft from the Chiefs for F Rykr Cole and F Riley Woods. . . . Sloboshan, who had four goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Blades, has four goals and four assists in 18 games with Regina. In his past four games, he has had a three-point game and a two-pointer. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more on this story right here.
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F Ryan Graham of the Swift Current Broncos has had his WHL career ended by a knee injury. The 20-year-old Graham hasn’t played since Jan. 22. Graham was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Nov. 20 for a second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2018. . . . Graham,  put up 12 goals and 11 assists in 21 games with the Broncos. From Calgary, Graham was a fifth-round pick by the Blades in the 2011 bantam draft. . . . In 269 regular-season games, he had 72 goals and 68 assists. . . . Graham will stay with the Broncos through the end of the season and get his introduction to the coaching game.
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The WHL has suspended two players — they both are TBD — because of incidents during the Kamloops Blazers’ 3-1 victory over the host Victoria Royals on Saturday night. . . . F Jared Dmytriw of the Royals was suspended for a headshot major and game misconduct at 17:19 of the third period. He hit F Deven Sideroff of the Blazers, who is in concussion protocol and was scratched from their game against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Monday afternoon. . . . Kamloops D Ondrej Vala has been suspended under supplemental discipline. Vala took a cross-checking penalty for a hit on Victoria F Tyler Soy at 16:55 of the first period. Soy didn’t return from the hit.
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Fans in Prince George were invited on to the CN Centre ice surface after the Spokane Chiefs had beaten the Cougars, 4-3, on Monday afternoon. As fans ventured onto the ice, they were given paint brushes and cups of ice, and were then allowed to paint the ice. There were volunteers on the ice to show fans exactly where they would be allowed to paint. For example, stay away from the faceoff circles, goal creases, and the blue and red lines. . . . Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president of business, told Greg Fry of 250 News in Prince George, that arena staff would be sealing the ice and then building new ice over top of the art work. . . . As part of the painting package, fans taking part were  presented an opportunity to purchase half-price tickets for a game tonight (Tuesday) between the Chiefs and Cougars on the freshly painted ice. “Overall,” Beesley told Fry, “I think the players are going to get a great deal of fun out of playing on something so unique.”
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If you enjoy stopping off here and would care to make a donation to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
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Coaching

The SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers have fired head coach Kevin Hasselberg, who was in his first season there. The Ice Flyers were 15-15-5 and in seventh place in the 10-team league when the move was made on Monday. Pensacola is expected to announce a new head coach today (Tuesday). . . . From Brooks, Alta., Hasselberg headed south after spending the previous five seasons as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars.
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MONDAY’S GAMES:


At Kamloops, G Cole Kehler stopped 41 shots as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Blazers, 4-0. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Kehler from the Blazers on July 19, giving up a conditional seventh-round pick
KEEGAN IVERSON
in the 2018 bantam draft in return. . . . Kehler stopped 18 shots in the third period as the Blazers fought to get back into the game. . . . Portland had surrendered 26 shots in its previous games, going 3-1-1 in the process. . . . D Keoni Texeira’s 10th goal gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 12:07 of the first period. . . . F Keegan Iverson, playing his first game since Jan. 13, scored No. 15, on a PP, at 4:02 of the second period. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who also had an assist, added insurance at 18:52. He’s got goals in three straight games. . . . F Evan Weinger put it away with his 17th, into an empty net, at 19:47 of the third period. . . . F Cody Glass and D Henri Jokiharju each had two assists. . . . Kamloops G Connor Ingram stopped 34 shots in suffering his first regulation-time loss since Nov. 25. He had been 9-0-3 since then. . . . The Winterhawks were 1-1 on the PP; the Blazers were 0-2. . . . Kamloops head coach Don Hay turned 63 on Monday, but didn’t have to celebrate about, at least not in terms of his hockey team. . . . The Blazers were without F Deven Sideroff (concussion protocol), a 31-goal man, and D Ondrej Vala (WHL suspension), who has goals in three of his past four games. . . . The Winterhawks welcomed back Iverson, who slid right into the right wing on their top line alongside Glass and Skyler MacKenzie. . . . Iverson, 20, has 47 points, including 32 assists, in 40 games. . . . Portland won the season series, 3-0-1. The Blazers went 1-3-0. . . . The Winterhawks (31-23-3) remain fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind the Tri-City Americans and eight ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. Portland holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind the Victoria Royals. . . . The Blazers (34-19-6) had points in each of their previous five games (3-0-2). They are second in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Prince George Cougars and four ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Announced attendance: 5,605, on Faith, Family and Jermaine Loewen Bobblehead Day.
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At Kelowna, the Rockets overcame a 3-2 deficit with four goals in the second-half of the third period to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 6-3. . . . Kelowna held an 18-9 edge in shots in the decisive third period,
NICK MERKLEY
after being outshot 16-7 in the second. . . . The Thunderbirds, who have been hit by the injury bug were playing their fifth game in seven days. They went 4-1-0 in that stretch. . . . . They will make it six games in eight nights when they entertain the Red Deer Rebels tonight (Tuesday). . . . F Calvin Thurkauf gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 2:16 of the first period, with Seattle equalizing as D Ethan Bear scored No. 22 at 12:08. . . . The home side went back out front at 13:35 as F Leif Mattson got his sixth goal. . . . The Thunderbirds moved into a 3-2 lead on goals from F Keegan Kolesar (17), at 15:44 of the first, and F Ryan Gropp (23), at 5:10 of the second period. . . . Gropp has goals in seven straight games and points in 13 in a row. . . . Thurkauf’s 27th goal tied it at 12:04 of the third period and F Reid Gardiner sent the home boys into the lead with his seventh goal, at 12:28. . . . The Rockets got insurance from F Carsen Twarynski (11), at 17:52, and F Nick Merkley (17), at 18:19. . . . Merkley also had two assists, as did D Devante Stephens. Gardiner added one to his goal. . . . Seattle got two assists from each of F Mathew Barzal and Bear, with Gropp getting one. . . . G Michael Herringer turned aside 31 shots to earn the victory over G Matt Berlin, who stopped 26 shots. . . . Seattle was 1-2 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-3. . . . The Thunderbirds signed F Cody Savey on Monday and he made his WHL debut in this one. Savey, 15, is from Campbell River, B.C. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, a list player, has 26 points, including 12 goals, in 26 games with the West Vancouver Academy elite 15s. . . . The Rockets (33-20-4) have won three straight games. They are third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Victoria Royals. . . . The Thunderbirds (35-16-5) had been 11-0-1 in their past 12 games. They lead the U.S. Division by one point over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Announced attendance: 5,563.
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At Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs struck for the game’s last three goals — all via the PP — and beat the Cougars, 4-3. . . . F Hudson Elynuik reached a career high with his 20th goal to get the Chiefs to
KEANU YAMAMOTO
within one, at 3-2, at 5:59 of the second period. He had 19 goals last season. . . . The Chiefs pulled even when F Keanu Yamamoto (22) scored at 1:32 of the third period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s 31st goal, at 11:20 of the third period, snapped the tie. . . . Yamamoto drew assists on Spokane’s second and fourth goals. He has tied his career single-season high in goals — he had 22 last season — and now has 99 career assists. . . . D Tate Olson (7) had given the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 6:30 of the first period. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto, who also had an assist to reach the 200-point mark for his career, tied it with No. 32 at 11:54. . . . The Cougars took a 3-1 lead on first-period goals from F Radovan Bondra (27), at 14:27, and F Jansen Harkins (17), at 16:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan and Elynuik added an assist each, while Bondra and Harkins had one each for the Cougars. . . . The Chiefs got 39 stops from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . G Ty Edmonds stopped 28 for the Cougars. . . . Spokane was 3-10 on the PP; Prince George was 0-5. . . . F Brad Morrison was among Prince George’s scratches, as was D Brendan Guhle (ankle), who hasn’t played side Jan. 29. . . . It’s worth noting that the Chiefs played at home on Wednesday, in Portland on Friday and at home on Saturday, then rode the bus to Prince George for Monday’s game. They play there again tonight (Tuesday), their fifth game in seven days. . . . The Chiefs (24-23-9) have points in four straight (3-0-1). They are eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars (37-17-4) had points in their previous two games (1-0-1). They remain atop the B.C. Division, four points ahead of Kamloops. . . . Announced attendance: 4,442.
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At Langley, B.C., the Tri-City Americans broke a 2-2 tie with two late second-period goals and went on to beat the Vancouver Giants, 5-3. . . . F Riley Sawchuk gave the Americans a 3-2 lead with his second
RILEY SAWCHUK
goal, at 15:57, and F Parker AuCoin upped it to 4-2 with No. 18, at 18:56. . . . F Owen Hardy pulled the Giants to within a goal with his fourth at 1:24 of the third period. . . . The Americans got insurance from F Jordan Topping, who scored his 17th at 8:48. . . . Tri-City had taken a 1-0 lead on F Morgan Geekie’s 30th goal, on a PP, at 4:18 of the first period. . . . F Jordan Borstmayer (5) tied it at 10:11, snapping Vancouver’s scoring drought at 158:34. . . . The Americans went back out front on D Dylan Coghlan’s 10th goal, at 18:35. . . . Vancouver tied it when F Brendan Semchuk, who also had an assist, got his eighth goal, on a PP, at 19:11. . . . F Tyler Sandhu had two assists for the winners, with Topping and Geekie adding one each. . . . G Rylan Parenteau earned the victory with 18 saves. . . . At the other end, G Ryan Kubic turned aside 35 shots. . . . Tri-City was 1-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-6. . . . Americans F Michael Rasmussen missed his fourth straight game. They hope to have him in the lineup on Wednesday against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Americans (32-23-3) snapped a three-game skid. They are third in the U.S. Division, two points ahead of Portland. . . The Giants (18-35-5) have lost three straight. . . . Announced attendance: 4,145.
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TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Brandon at Moose Jaw, 8 p.m.
Spokane at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Everett at Regina, 7 p.m.
Red Deer vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.


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