Thursday, July 6, 2017

Quiet Thursday rocked by two WHL trades; d-man, goalie on move ... Hey, Tri-City, Eli's coming!


G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has signed a one-year contract with Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL), he was 9-14-3, 2.80, .917 in 30 games. He also had two shutouts. . . .
D Alex Plante (Calgary, 2004-09) has signed a one-year extension with Anyang Halla (South Korea, Asia HL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 12 assists in 48 games. He led all Asia League defencemen in goals. Plante has dual South Korean-Canadian citizenship.

The Saskatoon Blades have acquired D Seth Bafaro, 17, from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a
pair of WHL bantam draft picks — a third-rounder selection in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Bafaro, who is from Revelstoke, B.C., had one assist in 28 games with the Americans last season as a 16-year-old freshman. He battled injuries through the season, which limited his playing time.
Tri-City selected him in the third round of the 2015 bantam draft.
With the addition of Bafaro, the Blades could have seven defencemen in training camp with WHL experience. Only Bryton Sayers, who has used up his eligibility, won’t be back.
The Americans, with a surplus of young defencemen, were able to move Bafaro and get a decent return in a pair of draft picks.

The Spokane Chiefs have acquired G Declan Hobbs from the Kootenay Ice for a seventh-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.
A third-round pick by the Ice in the 2013 draft, Hobbs, who is scheduled to turn 19 on Aug. 19, got into
three games with Kootenay last season, going 0-3, 7.16, .800. He spent most of last season with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks (1.94, .929 in 13 games).
In 2015-16, Hobbs, who is from Saskatoon, made 24 appearances with the Ice, going 2-14-3, 4.66, .873.
With the acquisition of Hobbs, the Chiefs now have one goaltender from each of five age groups on their depth chart, the others being Dawson Weatherill, 18; Donovan Buskey, 17; Ross Hawryluk, 16; and Campbell Arnold, 15. Hawryluk, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, and Arnold, taken in the second round in 2017, aren’t signed to WHL contracts.
Weatherill was 11-14-6 in 36 games last season, while Buskey, in four games, went 0-2-1, 4.25, .866.
Hobbs is the younger brother of Regina Pats D Connor Hobbs, who has signed with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
Barring more moves, the Ice is expected to go into camp with Mario Petit, 20, and Jakob Walter, 18, scrapping for the starting role. Petit was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in May for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
In Everett, Petit backed up veteran workhorse Carter Hart. In 22 games, Petit was 11-5-4, 2.93, .896.
Walter, a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, got into 30 games while backing up Payton Lee, then 20, last season. Walter finished 4-17-2, 5.02, .868.
Also on the Ice depth chart are the likes of Jesse Makaj and Carter Woodside, both 16. Makaj, from North Vancouver, was a second-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, while Woodside, from Asquith, Sask., was a sixth-round selection in that same draft.
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Concussion Report

“Former B.C. Lions’ defensive lineman Rick Klassen may have died of lymphoma in December, but an autopsy of his brain has shown extensive chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological disease that has led to such suspected symptoms as erratic behaviour and dementia,” writes Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail. . . . This one hits close to home, because Klassen’s son, Chad, is an acquaintance as he is a reporter with CFJC-TV here in Kamloops. As well, Rick Klassen played in the CFL while I was involved in coverage for the Regina Leader-Post. . . . One really has to wonder how many more stories like this one will develop as players of Rick Klassen’s generation reach 60 years of age? . . . Maki’s story is right here.

The Tri-City Americans have hired Eli Wilson as their goaltending coach. He replaces Rejean Beauchemin, who had been with the Americans for two seasons. . . . Wilson is a veteran goaltending coach who has worked with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators. He also has been on staff with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . Jerry Price, the father of G Carey Price of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, remains with the Americans as a goaltending consultant. Carey spent four seasons (2003-07) with the Americans.
Jason Christie, a former WHL player, is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. Christie is a veteran ECHL coach, having put up a record of 547-349-111 in 14 seasons. He also has a history with the Jets, having worked with previous affiliates in Ontario and Tulsa. He spent the past two seasons as the Tulsa Oilers’ head coach. Prior to that, he was the Ontario Reign’s director of hockey operations and head coach for four seasons. . . . Christie, from Gibbons, Alta., played four seasons (1986-90) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Jacksonville franchise has morphed from the Muskegon Fury (1992-2008) to the Muskegon Lumberjacks (2008-10) to the Evansville IceMen (2010-16). The franchise sat out the 2016-17 season.

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