Monday, February 6, 2017

What is WHL franchise worth to Cranbook? ... Another injury for Giants ... Longest game set to resume


F Brett Bulmer (Kelowna, 2008-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). He was released Friday by mutual agreement by Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). He had two goals and three assists in 23 games. . . .
F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). This season, he had 12 goals and 19 assists in 31 games with Herlev (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Herlev and Esbjerg reached an agreement (details unknown) allowing Knackstedt to change teams. . . .
D Kyle Cumiskey (Kelowna, 2003-06) has been released by Skellefteå (Sweden, SHL). He had a goal and two assists in 12 games. . . .
F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has signed a five-year contract extension with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL). He hasn’t played a league game this season after tearing his left ACL in September in the last group stage game of the Champions Hockey League.
Keith Powell of Kootenay Business has taken a look at what the economic impact of the Kootenay Ice might be on its home city of Cranbrook.
Powell concluded that the Ice’s departure, presumably to Nanaimo, would mean an increase in his taxes and those of other residents and business owners simply because the Ice’s home arena, Western Financial Place, no longer would have a major tenant.
“That’s why I believe the No.1 economic development, retention or enhancement initiative that the City of Cranbrook, the chamber of commerce and the business community at large must undertake is keeping the WHL franchise in Cranbrook,” Powell writes. “It is, in my mind, such a high priority that it should be the sole focus of the City’s economic development department – 24/7.”
Powell’s complete piece is right here.
The biggest WHL-related story over the next month won’t have anything to do with happenings on the ice.
Rather, it will have to do with the future of the Kootenay Ice and the immediate future of the WHL and Nanaimo, a city of more than 90,000 people on Vancouver Island.
(The Nanaimo Regional District has a population of more than 135,000. Cranbrook’s population is around 20,000, with about 73,000 people within 150 km.)
What is especially interesting is that if the WHL is to leave Cranbrook, the home of the Ice, it won’t be back. However, if the WHL doesn’t get into Nanaimo this time, there always will be another opportunity, assuming a new arena gets built at some point in time.
There has been, and continues to be, ample speculation that the Ice could be playing out of Nanaimo as soon as next season.
Voters in Nanaimo are scheduled to go to the polls for a referendum on March 11. As noted here earlier, the question is:
“Are you in favour of the City of Nanaimo Council adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw 2017 No. 7237 which will authorize Council to borrow a sum not exceeding $80,000,000, repayable over a period of no more than 20 years, for the development and construction of an event centre that will include an ice arena and other related entertainment, cultural and recreation facilities?"
While city officials obviously are in favour of borrowing and building, the No side has organized and is working to gather support.
Merv Unger, a longtime journalist, a one-time World Wrestling Federation referee (that’s a story for another time) and a former Nanaimo city councillor, has a blog where he often offers commentary on the referendum and the lead-up to it. That blog is right here.
A tip of the hat to the Saskatoon Blades for the transparency they have shown when releasing information regarding injuries suffered by D Jake Kustra and F Braylon Shmyr during a 4-2 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Saturday.
Many people have seen the checks that resulted in the injuries, and it’s a good move by the Blades to update the conditions of the players, something that was done on Monday.
“Jake is fine and doing well,” according to the Blades. “He suffered a concussion and a laceration on his head. . . . He didn’t suffer neck or spinal injuries, and was not required to spend the night in the hospital.”
Kustra, who has a history with concussions, is in the protocol.
“Our main concern is his immediate and long term health,” the news release reads, “so obviously we aren’t prepared to make any statements on him returning to action just yet.”
As for Shmyr, he also is in concussion protocol.
“We aren’t prepared to make any statements or estimates on when he will play again as his health is the only concern right now,” the Blades said.
Saskatoon also lost F Lukus MacKenzie, a 17-year-old from Calgary, when he suffered a shoulder injury during fight with Red Deer F Evan Polei, who turns 21 on Feb. 19.
The Blades, who are one point out of a playoff spot, next play Friday when they entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Vancouver Giants, having lost seven in a row (0-5-2), open a doubleheader in Prince George against the Cougars tonight (Tuesday). The Giants appear to have added another player — F Dawson Holt — to their injury list. Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Holt, who didn’t play in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the host Everett Silvertips, was to see a doctor on Monday. Holt missed 13 earlier games with a shoulder injury. . . . The Giants had seven players with injuries on last week’s WHL roster report, including F Tyler Benson (groin), D Darian Skeoch (ankle) and D Matt Barberis (undisclosed). . . . The Giants dressed only 17 skaters on Saturday, including D Bowen Byram, a 15-year-old who was the third-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He now has played four games with Vancouver. . . . The Cougars, meanwhile, go into the two games still in first place in the B.C. Division, but they have lost two games and now lead the second-place Kamloops Blazers by six points, each team having 17 games remaining. The Cougars and Blazers will meet five times in those 17 games, with three of the games scheduled for Prince George.
The longest game in WHL history will conclude (hopefully) on Wednesday in Brandon. You may recall that the Wheat Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors opened the regular season in Brandon, but the game was stopped in the second period because of fog that simply wouldn't take the hint and leave. . . . The Warriors were leading 2-1 when play was suspended at 14:23 of the second period. . . . F Brayden Watts had scored to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 11:23 of the first period. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos tied it 31 seconds into the second period. . . . F Nikita Popugaev, now with the Prince George Cougars, gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 14:23 of the second period, which is when the game was halted. . . . On Wednesday, the suspended game will be completed, starting at 6 p.m. The regularly scheduled game is to start at 7:30 p.m.
F Owen Sillinger of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees has committed to attend Bemidji State in Minnesota and play for the Beavers next season. Sillinger, the 19-year-old son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, was a 10th-round selection by the Vancouver Giants in the 2012 bantam draft. Owen is in his second season with the Vees. . . . Earlier, he had committed to attending Arizona State and playing for the Sun Devils. . . . Owen’s younger brother, Cole, scored five goals and added three assists on Monday as his bantam AA Regina Aces scored a 13-1 victory over the Estevan TS&M Bruins. Cole, born in 2003, will turn 14 on May 16.
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No Games Scheduled.

TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Vancouver at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Seattle at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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