Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Portland, P.G. schedule released . . . What if a W had been worth 3 points? . . . Milestone for ex-scoring king



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The WHL has released the schedule for a first-round playoff series between the B.C. Division-champion Prince George Cougars and the Portland Winterhawks, the Western Conference’s first wild-card team. . . . Portland had wanted a 2-3-2 format; the Cougars had insisted on a 2-2-1-1-1 schedule. . . . In the end, it was decided to go 2-2-1-1-1, but one slight change was made. The series will open in Prince George with games on Friday and Sunday, rather than Friday and Saturday as originally was announced. . . . The teams will play in Portland on March 29 and 30 (Wednesday/Thursday) and then, if necessary, return to Prince George for a game on April 1. . . . If further games are needed, they will be played in Portland on April 3 and in Prince George on April 5.
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The Regina Pats will open the playoffs without F Nick Henry as he sits out a one-game suspension. Henry was suspended after taking a boarding major and game misconduct during a 6-0 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday. . . . The Pats open at home against the Calgary Hitmen on Friday. . . . Henry, the MJHL’s rookie of the year last season with the Portage Terriers, enjoyed a fine first WHL season, finishing second among freshmen in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81). He played in all 72 games.
The WHL also suspended F Adam Berg of the Edmonton Oil Kings after he took a charging major and game misconduct in Sunday’s 5-4 OT victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. Berg, who will be a 20-year-old, will serve the suspension at the start of next season.
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The WHL has scheduled its bantam draft lottery for this morning (Wednesday) — 11 o’clock Mountain time — in Calgary. The lottery will determine the order of the draft’s first six selections. . . . It involves the six non-playoff teams — the Spokane Chiefs, Saskatoon Blades, Edmonton Oil Kings, Prince Albert Raiders, Vancouver Giants and Kootenay Ice. . . . If you’re interested, the lottery will be carried live on a webcast at whl.ca. . . . The bantam draft is scheduled for Calgary on May 4.
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The WHL plays out its regular-season schedule awarding two points for a victory of any kind, with one point going to an overtime or shootout loser. So what if the WHL had awarded three points for a regulation victory this season, with two points for an OT victory and one for a win in a shootout?
Charlie Seablom, a fan of the Everett Silvertips, decided to find out.
He reports:
“So, is there a difference? Not much. The top nine teams are the same ones but in a different order. The bottom six are the same, too, just in a different order. With the three points per win system there are 11 teams with a .500+ winning percentage and 11 with .499 or worse, which should make some people happy.”
For starters, the Regina Pats and Medicine Hat Tigers still would have run away with the East and Central divisions, respectively.
However, the Seattle Thunderbirds would have put up 128 points and finished atop the U.S. Division, three points ahead of the Everett Silvertips. In reality, the Silvertips wound up two points ahead of the Thunderbirds.
The Prince George Cougars still would have won the B.C. Division, by one point over the Kelowna Rockets.
In terms of playoff matchups, things would have remained the same in the Eastern Conference — Regina vs. Calgary, Medicine Hat vs. Brandon, Moose Jaw vs. Swift Current, and Lethbridge vs. Red Deer.
However, there would have been changes in the Western Conference.
When the playoffs begin this weekend, it’ll be Everett, which finished atop the conference, vs. Victoria, Prince George vs. Portland, Seattle vs. Tri-City, and Kelowna vs. Kamloops.
Under the three-point plan, Seattle would have won the Western Conference title and would open against Victoria.
Portland and Tri-City would have tied for third in the U.S. Division, with the Winterhawks getting the edge on the first tiebreaker (32-31 in victories). That would put Prince George up against Tri-City, which would slide into the first wild-card spot. Everett, then, would draw Portland.
The other series would remain the same — Kelowna vs. Kamloops.
So there you have it, for what it’s worth.
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D Libor Hajek of the Saskatoon Blades has signed a three-year, two-way entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. Hajek, a native of Smrcek, Czech Republic, flew out of Saskatoon on Tuesday, headed to the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. . . . Hajek had four goals and 22 assists in 65 games with the Blades this season. In 134 career games, he has seven goals and 45 assists.
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F Hudson Elynuik of the Spokane Chiefs has joined the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers on an amateur tryout basis for the remainder of this season. Elynuik was selected by the parent Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. This season, he had 73 points, including 29 goals, in 64 games with Spokane. From Calgary, Elynuik, 19, has 53 goals and 84 assists in 209 regular-season WHL games.
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Two WHL officials — referee Brent Iverson and linesman Nathan Van Oosten — will work the IIHF World Championship that is scheduled to be held in Paris, France, and Cologne Germany, from May 5 through May 21. Iverson, from Richmond, B.C., worked at the 2016 World Championship in Russia. Van Oosten, from Surrey, B.C., will be making his World Championship debut after working the lines in the 2017 World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto.
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F Casey Pierro-Zabotel recorded his 300th career ECHL regular-season assist on Monday as his Colorado Eagles beat the host Utah Grizzlies, 5-3. He drew four assists in the game, the last one getting him to the milestone.
Pierro-Zabotel, 28, won the WHL’s scoring title when he put up 115 points with the 2008-09 Vancouver Giants.
In 470 career regular-season games, Pierro-Zabotel has 127 goals to go with his 300 assists.
He has played in the ECHL with Wheeling, Cincinnati, Bakersfield, Gwinnett, Florida, Allen and Colorado.
F Louis Dumont, who played in the WHL with the Regina Pats and Kamloops Blazers (1990-94) holds the ECHL’s career assists record, with 566. Dumont played with Tallahassee, Wheeling, Louisiana, Augusta, Pensacola, Mississippi and Utah (1994-2006).
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Coaching

Tom Anastos has resigned after six seasons as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. . . . Assistant coach Tom Newton has been named interim head coach while the school searches for a replacement. . . . The Spartans reached the NCAA tournament in Anastos’ first season, but weren’t able to get back in any of the preceding five seasons. This season, they went 7-24-4 (3-14-4 in the Big Ten), putting up the fewest victories since 1977-78. . . . Anastos, who was 78-122-24 as head coach, is a former MSU player (1981-85) and assistant coach (1990-92).
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The Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League have signed Norm Johnston as head coach for 2017-18. Johnston joined the Stars with six games left in the 2016-17 season after Jean Fauchon, who was in his first season, was fired. . . . A veteran junior A owner, general manager and head coach, Johnston last coached on a full-time basis (2008-13) with the Regina Pat Canadians. He is familiar with the Battlefords area as he owned the SJHL franchise there (1988-90). He also did two coaching stints with that team (1983-86, 1988-90). He won an SJHL championship with the Flin Flon Bombers in 1992-93. In 1994-95, he was the head coach of the Regina Pats.
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MONDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

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

(Game 1, best-of-seven series)
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.
Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Red Deer at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

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