Saturday, May 6, 2017

WHL final all even ... Pats' Mahura wins Game 2 in OT ... Brooks out of action


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While the Seattle Thunderbirds welcomed back F Keegan Kolesar, their top scorer in these playoffs, from a one-game WHL suspension, the Regina Pats were without F Adam Brooks for Game 2 of the championship final in the Saskatchewan capital on Saturday night.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s the hit Brooks, a point-a-game man, absorbed from Seattle D Turner Ottenbreit in Game 1:

There was much debate after the game and well into Saturday as to whether Ottenbreit should have been suspended. This was one of those classic cases where it depends whose ox is being gored.
Regina fans, for the most part, are of the opinion that, yes, Ottenbreit should have been slapped with a suspension. Seattle fans are saying it was a legal hit.
Of course, had that been Seattle F Mathew Barzal, say, on the receiving end of a hit from Regina D Sergey Zborovskiy, chances are that the opinions would have been reversed.
While the check may have been legal, I really question, in this day and age when player safety is supposed to be first and foremost, whether that’s the kind of hit that should be welcomed in junior hockey. Keep in mind that this is precisely the kind of hit that the NFL has outlawed when it involves an defenceless receiver.
Of course, if all the junior hockey talk about player safety being a priority is just lip service, well then, hit away.
In the meantime, Brooks, who won the 2015-16 scoring champion and who put up 250 points over the past two seasons, most likely is going through the concussion protocol. He has five goals and 13 assists in these playoffs.
Brooks suffered a knee injury in Game 2 of the second-round series against the Swift Current Broncos and never skated another shift until the Eastern Conference final with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
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In the QMJHL, the host Saint John Sea Dogs scored a 4-0 victory over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Saturday night and now lead the championship series, 2-0. . . . Announced attendance was 5,872. . . . F Julien Gauther had two goals and an assist, giving him six points in the first two games of the series. . . . G Callum Booth earned the shutout with 27 stops. . . . They’ll play Game 3 on Tuesday in Blainville-Boisbriand.
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Coaching

The Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League have shaken up their front office. Trevor Sprague, a two-time coach of the year, has stepped aside as head coach, but will remain the organization’s general manager. Sprague goes out on top as the Cougars won the league championship this season; they also were the host team for the TELUS Cup national championship tournament. . . . The new head coach is Tyler Brough, who has worked as an assistant coach with Sprague for the past two seasons. . . . The assistant coaches will be Justin Fillion and RJ Berra, while Bryan MacLean, who had been an assistant coach, now is the assistant GM. . . . Fillion and Berra both played for the Cougars and the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Pam Solmonson is returning for a second season as the Cougars’ trainer.
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SATURDAY’S GAME:


At Regina, D Josh Mahura scored two PP goals, the second in OT, to lead the Pats to a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Regina scored the game’s last three goals as it erased a 3-1 deficit to tie the WHL’s championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 1-1. . . . The Thunderbirds had won Game 1, 2-1 in OT, on Friday. . . . The series will resume with Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night. In fact,
JOSH MAHURA
the next three games will be played in the ShoWare Center in Kent, meaning the Thunderbirds now have the opportunity to win their first WHL title on home ice. . . . A year ago, the Thunderbirds lost the WHL final to the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-1. The first three games all went to OT, with Brandon posting three 3-2 victories. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds appeared to take control when they struck for three goals in 56 seconds early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead. . . . The Pats took a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game as F Sam Steel (9) took advantage of a Seattle turnover deep in its zone. . . . D Austin Strand (5) pulled the Thunderbirds even at 3:56 of the second period, his shot from just above the left circle getting through traffic and changing directions before beating G Tyler Brown. . . . Just 16 seconds later, D Turner Ottenbreit’s second goal, a slap shot from the point, gave the visitors the lead. . . . Just 40 seconds after that, F Alexander True (9) scored on a rebound while on a PP. . . . The Pats’ comeback began as Mahura pinched on a 5-on-3 PP and scored from beside the Seattle net at 18:35 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it at 5:20 of the third when F Filip Ahl (5) forced a turnover deep in the Seattle and then scored off it. . . . Seattle F Keegan Kolesar was giving a kneeing minor after he gave the business to Regina D Connor Hobbs following a stoppage at 4:59 of OT. Mahura, who has six goals in the playoffs, scored just 23 seconds later, beating Seattle G Carl Stankowski with a 70-foot snapshot through some traffic. . . . Brown finished with 27 saves, five more than Stankowski. . . . Regina was 2-7 on the PP; Seattle was 1-3. . . . F Dawson Leedahl had two assists for Regina, while Steel and Ahl each had one. . . . Steel, the regular-season scoring champion, now has 27 points in the playoffs, one behind F Reid Gardiner of the Kelowna Rockets, who leads with 28. Steel leads playoff scorers in assists (18). . . . The Thunderbirds got back Kolesar from a one-game suspension. He went into the game leading them in goals (9) and points (22) in these playoffs. . . . Regina scratches: F Adam Brooks, D Dawson Davidson and F Jake Leschyshyn, all with injuries, G Max Paddock, F Duncan Pierce and F Owen Williams. With Brooks out, F Kjell Kjemhus got into the lineup. . . . Seattle’s scratches: G Rylan Toth (injured), F Elijah Brown, F Tyler Carpendale, F Dillon Hamaliuk, D Jake Lee and F Luke Ormsby. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.
Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has a game story right here.
Andy Eide of 710 ESPN Seattle has a game story right here.
Darren Steinke, the Travellin’ Blogger, posted this piece right here.
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TUESDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Regina vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m. (Series tied, 1-1)
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WEDNESDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Regina vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
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FRIDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Regina vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.

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