Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday . . .

Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president hockey, is the man who hands out the discipline.
And he is on the horns of a dilemma.
At some point next week, Doerksen will suspend Tri-City F Brendan Shinnimin for an incident that occurred during the Americans’ 5-3 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
Late in the third period, Shinnimin was given a major penalty and the accompanying game misconduct for a hit from behind on Saskatoon F Josh Nicholls, who crashed into the end boards.
According to the Blades, the 18-year-old Nicholls “has a concussion, bruised back and knee. . . . He will be out week-to-week.”
Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports that Nicholls will “miss at least a week with a concussion and bruised back.”
Shinnimin was later suspended, with the length of the sentence to be determined.
What makes this situation somewhat interesting is that Shinnimin and Nicholls are two of the WHL’s leading scorers at this early point of the season. Shinnimin is tied with F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels for the scoring lead, each with 13 points. Nicholls isn’t too far off the pace, with 10 points.
Shinnimin, a 19-year-old from Winnipeg, really came into his own last season when he put up 82 points in 70 games, a 57-point increase from his rookie season. He also had 82 penalty minutes last season, up from 25 the previous season. But he is hardly a regular on Doerksen’s carpet and certainly isn’t on his speed dial.
In fact, it’s fair to say that Shinnimin is one of the WHL’s premier performers.
The hit — if you haven’t seen it, it’s right here — was a bad one.
So it will be interesting to see how Doerksen rules.
Somehow I think the ruling will come only after a sleepless night or two.
The Americans are scheduled to play Friday in Regina, Saturday in Brandon and Sunday in Moose Jaw. Obviously, Shinnimin will sit out those three games. After playing in Swift Current on Wednesday, the Americans won't play again until Oct. 19 when they entertain Calgary.
But so long as Shinnimin remains under indefinite suspension, there really is no rush for Doerksen to put a time frame on his decision.
Unfortunately, it seems that it is going to take a suspension of some severity to wake up players in the WHL to the fact that checking from behind is a serious infraction.
It isn’t slashing. It isn’t hooking. It isn’t interference. It is a vicious, violent act, and one that has to be removed from the game.
As someone who was in the Regina Agridome on the night in which Brad Hornung of the Regina Pats was so badly injured, and who wrote extensively about that situation in its aftermath, I can tell you that the WHL doesn’t want to go through that again. Ever.
But the fact remains that these hits continue to happen. And they continue to happen despite the fact that the WHL has prepared a video showing all the dos and don’ts when it comes to checking. The video deals with blows to the head and checking from behind. It is mandatory that every player and coach in the WHL watch it.
The Blades, in fact, had their viewing on Tuesday. Nicholls was hurt the next night.
“If I wasn’t looking at where the puck was I think I would’ve had a broken
neck or it would’ve been pretty serious,” Nicholls told Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “You definitely don’t want to see things like that in the game of hockey.
“I don’t understand why people end up doing that. Everyone watches the video and you learn the consequences, so you don’t want something like that to happen to yourself. When guys are running around like that, you wonder what’s going through their heads.”
The Saskatoon Blades have assigned G Adam Iwan, 17, to the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. . . . That leaves the Blades with Steven Stanford, 20, and Adam Morrison, 19, as their goaltenders.
The Vancouver Giants have dealt G Derek Tendler, 18, to the Swift Current Broncos for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft. . . . Tendler joined the Giants midway through last season from the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, his rights having been acquired from the Regina Pats. He was 4-2-1-0 with a 3.74 GAA and a .869 save percentage in 10 appearances with the Giants. . . . He joins veteran Mark Friesen, 20, and freshman Austin Smith, 17, as goaltenders on the Broncos’ roster. . . . The trade leaves Vancouver with two goaltenders — Mark Segal, 19, and Brendan Jensen, 17.

QMJHL WHL team logo The Prince George Cougars took some of the pressure off their 20-year-old situation on Thursday by trading F Parker Stanfield, 20, to the Everett Silvertips for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. He had 100 points in 212 games with the Cougars. From Anaheim, he has four points in four games this season. . . . The Silvertips are at home to the Kelowna Rockets on Sunday. . . . The Cougars now are carrying four 20-year-olds -- D Sena Acolatse, G Morgan Clark, F James Dobrowolski and F Taylor Stefishen. . . . The Silvertips now have three -- Stanfield, along with F Clayton Cumiskey and D Chad Suer. . . . WHL teams have to be down to a maximum of three 20-year-olds on Oct. 14.
The Kelowna Rockets have settled on their three 20-year-olds. They placed F Tyler Matheson, 20, on waivers, meaning they’ll hang on to F Evan Bloodoff, D Brendon Wall and F Geordie Wudrick. . . . If Matheson clears WHL waivers, he is expected to join the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. He had three points and 87 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Rockets last season after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades.
F Oliver Gabriel of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. He attended their training camp as an undrafted free agent. . . . He has four points in three games since returning to Portland from the Blue Jackets camp. . . . Gabriel missed 30 games last season with a ruptured spleen, but came back to finish with 24 points in 41 games. . . . He is a double non-draftee as he wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft, either. . . . According to, Gabriel’s AHL salary will be US$65,000, while his NHL salary is to be $600,000, $625,000 and $645,000. His signing bonus totalled $145,000, in annual payments of $50,000, $50,000 and $45,000.
The Prince Albert Raiders open a six-game road swing Friday night in Kamloops against the Blazers. The Raiders will stop in each B.C. Division city before wrapping up the trip in Red Deer against the Rebels on Oct. 16. The Raiders will play the Cougars in Prince George the night before finishing up in Red Deer. . . . D Tyson Barrie (hamstring) and F Shane McColgan (tonsils) might be in the Kelowna Rockets’ lineup Friday night when they meet the Giants in Vancouver. McColgan, who had his tonsils out during training camp, has yet to play. Barrie was injured during training camp, tried to play in the Rockets’ first game, on Sept. 25, and hasn’t played since. . . . The Red Deer Rebels meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday night. Brandon goes into the game with a penalty-killing unit that is 25-for-25 in six games.
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