Thursday, May 8, 2008

All Hail The Chiefs!


Game 1: Lethbridge 1 at Spokane 4

Game 2: Lethbridge 2 at Spokane 5

Game 3: Spokane 2 at Lethbridge 1 (OT)
Game 4: Spokane 4 at Lethbridge 1


In Lethbridge, the Spokane Chiefs won their first WHL championship since 1991 as they beat the Hurricanes 4-1 to complete a four-game sweep and win the second title in franchise history. . . . The Chiefs will represent the WHL at the Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Ont., May 16-25. The four-team tournament also will include the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and Belleville Bulls, one as the host team and the other as the OHL representative. The Rangers take a 3-1 lead in the OHL final into Game 5 on Thursday night in Kitchener. . . . Also competing will be either the Gatineau Olympiques or Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Olympiques hold a 3-1 edge in the QMJHL final with Game 5 on Friday at Rouyn-Noranda. . . . Spokane went 18-1 in the WHL playoffs of 1991 before winning the Memorial Cup in Quebec City. . . . On Wednesday, the Chiefs, who held a 15-5 edge in goals over the four games, got the game’s first two goals, from F Mitch Wahl, at 13:14 of the first period, and F Tyler Johnson, at 3:37 of the second. Johnson, who was named the championship series’ most valuable player, is the only player on the Chiefs’ roster who is from Spokane, and he scored the game-winner in the last two games of the series. . . . Johnson was born in July 1990, so hadn’t yet had his first birthday when the Chiefs won the 1991 Memorial Cup. . . . F Nick Hotson got the Hurricanes close at 5:29 of the second, but Spokane F David Rutherford restored the two-goal lead at 2:20 of the third period on the PP. . . . F Ondrej Roman had Spokane’s last goal. . . . Rutherford and Roman added an assist apiece, while LW Drayson Bowman set up Spokane’s first and third goals. . . . Spokane G Dustin Tokarski made 17 saves in putting up his 16th victory of these playoffs. . . . Lethbridge G Juha Metsola stopped 21 shots. . . . . Attendance was 5,092. . . . Spokane D Trevor Glass now has played on back-to-back championship teams. He was acquired in January from the Medicine Hat Tigers, who won the title a year ago. . . . Meanwhile, Lethbridge F Mike Wuchterl, who played his final WHL game, ended his career by playing for the losing team for a third time in the WHL championship series. He was with the Everett Silvertips in 2004 and the Vancouver Giants in 2007. However, the Giants went on to win the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . . WHL commissioner Ron Robison presented the Ed Chynoweth Cup to the Chiefs. They are the first team to win the trophy that was renamed a year ago in honour of the long-time WHL president. Chynoweth died April 22 after a battle with cancer; a celebration of his life was held in Calgary on Monday. . . . The Chiefs last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1998 when they were the host team. The Portland Winter Hawks won it all that spring, the last time an American team has won the Memorial Cup. . . .


You can bet that this WHL title means a little something extra to Spokane general manager Tim Speltz. He was a close friend to Ed Chynoweth. "We won it our first year in Spokane and you think, ‘well, this is going to happen a lot,' and it doesn't -- it just doesn't,” Speltz told Jessica Brown of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “It's very special, especially with this group of guys with how they've come together and home we accumulated every guy -- whether it was through the draft or a trade or a free agent.” . . . An emotional Speltz then added: “For me to be the first one to win that Cup, it's unbelievable.”


The Chiefs left for home on their bus shortly after the game. The bus is to stop at Avista Stadium where it will pick up an escort that will take it through downtown Spokane to the Arena. The Chiefs have invited fans “to join the caravan from Avista Stadium and help escort the championship club to the Arena. Fans can also welcome the Chiefs when they arrive at the Arena with the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Tune into the network morning shows and listen to Cat Country KDRK for more information.” . . . The Chiefs have also announced that they have access to a limited number of Memorial Cup tickets. Packages, at $513 apiece, are available through the Chiefs’ office on Thursday (May 8) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). . . . The Chiefs open the Memorial Cup against the Belleville Bulls on May 17, play the Kitchener Rangers on May 18 and will meet the QMJHL champions on May 20. . . .


Off the ice, the Portland Winter Hawks and Medicine Hat Tigers swung a one-for-one deal on Wednesday. The Winter Hawks dealt C Tristan King, who turns 18 on Nov. 7, to the Tigers for RW Killian Hutt, 17. . . . King, from Elk River, Minn., apparently had made repeated requests for a trade out of Portland. He had 40 points in 133 regular-season games with the Winter Hawks. . . . Hutt, the 126th pick in the 2006 bantam draft, tied for the league lead with 33 goals in 36 games with the midget AAA Knights of Columbus Pats in his hometown of Edmonton. He finished third in the league’s scoring derby, with 66 points. . . .


The good people of Moose Jaw seem determined to push the WHL right to the wall. The WHL’s annual meeting is scheduled for June 17-18 in Calgary, and the league has asked Moose Jaw to make a commitment to a new or refurbished building before then. However, a decision has yet to be made. The Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports that city council awaits a final recommendation from a steering committee, something that may not be available until sometime in June. . . . The Warriors pledged $2.5 million – over a 10-year period – to the project earlier this week but only on the condition that city council approves construction of a multiplex. Still, Moose Jaw has yet to settle on a site for a possible new facility and a project that once had a price tag of $36 million now is going to cost at least $60 million as costs continue to rise. . . . According to attendance figures at, the Warriors drew 85,084 fans to 36 homes games, a decrease of 3.79 per cent over the previous season. Their total left them in 20th place in the 22-team league. . . . WHL commissioner Ron Robison has said repeatedly that the league will move the franchise if something isn’t done to bring the city’s facility up to league standards. And there doesn’t seem much sense in pouring money into the Civic Centre, which is about 50 years old. . . . Robison has been so adamant that the Warriors have a better facility in which to play that he has a lot of credibility riding on this issue, so it might be best for Moose Jaw, assuming it wants to keep its franchise, not to push the commissioner to the wall. . . . Nanaimo Warriors? . . .


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Losing in the OHL playoffs to the Belleville Bulls obviously wasn’t the thing to do this spring. . . . The Peterborough Petes have dropped head coach Vince Malette and assistant GM/assistant coach Darren Keily. The team has announced it won’t renew their contracts. The Petes went 28-36-1-3 in the regular season and were first-round losers to the Bulls. Malette, who had been an assistant coach with the Ottawa 67’s for nine seasons, went 52-75-0-9 in two seasons as head coach. . . . Meanwhile, the Oshawa Generals have fired general manager Brad Selwood. The Generals, after a 38-17-6-7 regular season, reached their conference final for the first time since 1999 where they lost, yes, to the Bulls. Chris DePiero, the assistant GM and head coach, has taken over on an interim basis. . . . LW Robin Figren of the Edmonton Oil Kings has signed a three-year deal with the NHL’s New York Islanders. Figren, 20, was taken in the third round of the 2006 NHL draft. He is expected to play with Djurgardens in his native Sweden next season. Figren, who was hampered by a wrist injury this season, was terrific for Sweden at the 2008 world junior championship.

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