Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday's highlights . . .

Stung by injuries, the ECHL’s Texas Wildcatters added two WHLers, D Tysen Dowzak and F Erik Felde, and then released Felde after one game. Dowzak, 20, has one year of eligibility left with the Kelowna Rockets and is expected back in the fall, while Felde played out his WHL elgibility with the Swift Current Broncos. Dowzak has played in two playoff games. Felde played Friday and was released after D John Adams was reassigned from the AHL’s Houston Aeros. The Wildcatters’ roster includes former WHLers Moises Gutierrez, A.J. Thelen and David Schulz. . . . The Kamloops Blazers will introduce Craig Bonner as their newest general manager at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at Interior Savings Centre. . . .
Finally, the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans decided a game in regulation time. After opening with back-to-back double overtime games, with each team winning once by a 1-0 count, in Kennewick, Wash., the scene shifted to Spokane on Monday night. . . . This time it was Spokane G Dustin Tokarski posting the shutout, his 25 saves helping the Chiefs to a 2-0 victory in front of 5,921 fans. . . . LW Ondrej Roman, who scored the winner in Game 1, had Game 3’s first goal at 8:21 of the first period. . . . C David Rutherford, who assisted on Roman’s goal, closed out the scoring at 8:59 of the third. . . . Roman has seven goals in these playoffs, while Rutherford has six. . . . Tri-City G Chet Pickard made 34 saves. . . . Tokarski, with three shutouts, leads the WHL with a 1.22 GAA and a .951 save percentage. . . . Pickard, who also has three shutouts, is second at 1.62 and .945. . . . Just asking, but is this series turning into one of the great goaltending duels in WHL history? . . . The Chiefs were 0-for-6 on the PP, while the Americans were 0-for-5. . . . Four goals have been scored in this series, all of them at even strength. Combined, the teams are 0-for-35 on the PP — Spokane is 0-for-21. . . . Game 4 goes Tuesday night in Spokane. . . . The teams went into Game 3 knowing that the last five times they had met in the playoffs they had gone into OT. That included three times (Games 3, 4 and 5) in a first-round series in 2002. . . . Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald reports: “According to the WHL office, Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference final series are the first to go into double overtime tied 0-0 since at least the 1996 season. The two games could be a league record, but the WHL’s available playoff records only go back to 1996. Records before 1996 are on paper and in storage.” . . .
The decision faced by many young hockey players — WHL or NCAA, NCAA or WHL — is one of the toughest with which they will be faced.
One player who found himself in that position was centre Dan Bertram, who was selected second overall by the Vancouver Giants in the 2002 bantam draft. He eventually decided to attend Boston College and play for the Eagles, who won the NCAA championship earlier this month. He then signed with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News spoke with Bertram’s father, Jim, over the weekend for a story that appears in Tuesday’s edition. Here’s an excerpt of what Jim Bertram, who played with the Tigers in the early 1970s, had to say.
“Dan was always a bright kid and he had tough decisions to make. College versus the (WHL), which is certainly a great choice as well.
“I didn’t try to steer him. I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite. I loved playing in the WHL and especially in Medicine Hat.
“Vancouver was one of the best franchises and Dan really struggled with what he was going to do and he struggled when he was 17 coming back after his first couple years (in college), because it was always an option to put school off and go back to junior hockey for a couple years.”
After the Giants got the right to play host to the 2006 Memorial Cup, there was speculation that Dan Bertram would leave school for the NHL.
“I get caught up in the debate,” Jim told Gallant. “Back and forth about the merits of the WHL — (commissioner) Ronny Robison’s a good friend of mine — and college hockey. There’s no right answer. Every kid’s an individual and they have to make up their mind.
“Dan was a good student and he decided that he wanted to do both.”
The Calgary Hitmen will try to get back into the Eastern Conference final with the Hurricanes as it resumes Tuesday in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes go into Game 3 up 2-0 after winning twice in Calgary.
Trevor Kenney of the Lethbridge Herald points out that “of the 12 playoff series contested (this spring), the eventual winner of the series was victorious in Game 3 on 11 occasions, the only dissenting series being Swift Current’s victory over Regina in six games in the first round.” . . . Lethbridge F Zach Boychuk is the Boston Pizza WHL player of the week after putting up five points, including four goals, in the first two games of the Eastern Conference final. . . . The WHL also nominated Tri-City G Chet Pickard as the ADT CHL goaltender of the week. He stopped 81 of 82 shots in winning 1-0 in double OT and losing 1-0 in double OT. . . . The Swift Current Broncos have announced that former players Andy Schneider and Tyler Wright will be inducted into their hall of fame this summer. Both played four seasons for the Broncos, from 1989-93. The induction banquet is scheduled for June 24.

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