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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let the Abbotsford rumours begin . . .

Dan Kinvig of the Abbotsford News reports that “the commissioner of the Western Hockey League says the major junior circuit has interest in Abbotsford as a potential market.” . . . In a story that is right here, Kinvig reports that commissioner Ron Robison said the WHL is not going to expand and “does not have any pending applications for relocation from existing franchises.” . . . All of which would seem to cut down on the odds of Abbotsford getting a WHL franchise in the near future.
Earlier this week, the city of Abbotsford and its AHL franchise, the Heat, announced that the Heat would be leaving after this season, with the city having paid $5.5 million to terminate its agreement with the team. That deal, under which the city underwrote losses suffered by the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, had five years left on it.
Robison told Kinvig:
"We are familiar with the building – it's an outstanding facility, and it's a market we have interest in. At this particular stage, we do not have any future plans for expansion, so the only way we would consider Abbotsford would be through the relocation of one of our existing teams.
"But having said that, we always continue to look to explore other options in the event we do have a request for relocation. Certainly, we'll put Abbotsford on our list and do some further due diligence as to its potential for a WHL franchise."
With the commissioner having opened this can of worms, let’s cut to the chase, shall we.
Which WHL franchise/franchises do you think is/are ripe for relocation?
OK, let’s take the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos out of the conversation. Those franchises are community-owned and aren’t going anywhere.
The Prince George Cougars are in the process of being sold and they are staying put.
In the East Division, the Saskatoon Blades changed hands during this season and aren’t relocating. Neither are the Brandon Wheat Kings nor Regina Pats, although there again are strong rumours that the Pats will be sold before another season arrives, perhaps to Calgary oil interests.
None of the other B.C. Division teams -- the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals -- would seem a likely candidate for a move.
The Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans, all of whom reside in the U.S. Division, are five of the league’s strongest franchises.
The Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings, both owned by NHL teams, finished atop the Central Division and aren’t moving anywhere. The same holds true for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels.
Yes, that leaves the Kootenay Ice.
Jeff Chynoweth, the Ice’s majority owner, president, governor and general manager, has issued repeated denials whenever he has been asked if he is working to sell the franchise or to relocate it.
It wasn’t that long ago when a rumour had Chynoweth relocating the Ice to Lethbridge with the Hurricanes moving to Winnipeg. Yes, there were more denials.
Robison’s comments to Kinvig almost certainly will result in more smoke but no flames, and there will be still more denials from Chynoweth.
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If you are thinking about attending the fourth annual Hockey Coaches Conference, powered by Hockey Now, you should know that the deadline for the early bird special arrives on Sunday.
The conference is scheduled for July 18 and 19 at the Doug Mitchell Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia.
The early bird cost is $250 plus GST; the regular price is $349.99 plus GST.
Aaron Wilbur of the HCC assures me that the names of presenters will begin being released next week. In the past, though, the likes of Ray Ferraro, Ken Hitchcock and Mike Keenan have been involved.
For more info, visit the website right here, or click on the ad at the top of this page.
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G Cole Cheveldave, who played out his eligibility with the Prince Albert Raiders this season, has decided he will attend St. Mary’s U in Halifax and play for the Huskies. . . . Cheveldave, who will turn 21 on June 8, is from Calgary. He played two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, who dealt him to the Raiders before this season began. With the Raiders, he was 23-24-3, 3.57, .892. . . . Last season, he helped get the Blazers to the Western Conference final. He was 36-16-2, 2.38, .908 in the regular season and 9-6, 2.80, .901 in the playoffs.
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D Dennis Cholowski, a 16-year-old from Langley, B.C., has committed to the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for next season. He played this season at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., and did get into one game with the Chiefs. . . . Cholowski suffered a broken arm and hand, which limited him to 12 games, during which he scored 16 points. . . . Cholowski was selected in by the Prince George Cougars in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft.
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Rick Williams was a defenceman who played with the Saskatoon Blades and Victoria Cougars (1971-74). “Last year,” writes Heather Yourex of Global Calgary, “at the age of 59, Rick was forced to move into long term care.” . . . In recent years, Williams, who suffered a number of concussions during his hockey career, showed all the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). . . . Friends are holding a fundraiser on May 3, hoping to provide some financial help for Williams’ care costs and for CTE research. . . . Yourex’s report is right here.
There is more information right here on the fundraiser.
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THE COACHING GAME:
The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired general manager and head coach Gord Thibodeau on Thursday. He had been with the Oil Barons for 12 seasons, winning the AJHL title eight years ago. . . . This season, the Oil Barons compiled the AJHL’s second-best regular-season record, their 45-11-4 better only by the Spruce Grove Saints (47-10-3). The Oil Barons’ season ended earlier this month when they lost Game 7 of the North Division final to Spruce Grove. . . . The Oil Barons are the host team for the 2015 Crescent Point Western Canada Cup.
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
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EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 26: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
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From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts), with the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues into OT: “136:56 - In case you forgot ... Back in 2003, @WHLKootenayICE alum Adam Cracknell (@ACracknell79) played in the WHL's longest game in history.”
Cracknell now is with the Blues.
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From Adam Cracknell (@ACracknell79), in response to WHL Facts: “Did you also know. I did not also play ONE shift. So I had the best seat for the longest game also. #truestory”




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Wednesday, April 16, 2014



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Tigers into conference final; Williamson dumped by Hitmen







F Tim Traber (Chilliwack/Victoria, Vancouver, 2009-14) has signed a one-year-plus-option contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). This season, with Vancouver, Traber had 23 points, including 12 goals, in 64 games. According to a Genève-Servette news release, Traber has dual Canadian-Swiss citizenship. . . .
D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia, Erste Bank Liga), Ross had 28 points, including eight goals, in 39 games. On Feb. 17, he moved to Asiago (Italy, Serie A), where he had seven points, two of them goals, in six games. . . .
F Tyson Mulock (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, Regina, 1999-2003) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 33 points, 16 of them goals, in 48 games. . . .
D Patrick Baum (Swift Current, 1997-98) has signed a one-year contract with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2). This season, Baum played with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2), getting 13 points, including three goals, in 47 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .
F Sean O'Connor (Moose Jaw, 1999-2002) signed a one-year extension with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). He started this season with Red Bull Munich (Germany, DEL), getting six points, five of them goals, in 13 games. He signed with Schwenningen in December, and put up 13 points, including eight goals, in 24 games. . . .
F Daniel Boháč (Spokane, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract with Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Boháč began the season with Slovan Ustecti Lvi (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), putting up 23 points, including 12 goals, in 35 games. He was loaned to Ceske Budejovice in December, where he had seven points, three of them goals, in 16 games. . . .
F Brad Moran (Calgary, 1995-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Linz (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 50 games, he had 51 points, including 16 goals. . . .
F Matt Pettinger (Calgary, 1999-2000) signed a one-year extension with the Hamburg Freezers (Germany, DEL). This season, in 47 games, he had 28 points, 12 of them goals.
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There now are three WHL teams looking for head coaches, with the Calgary Hitmen having started searching on Wednesday.
The Hitmen went 48-17-7 and finished tied atop the Eastern Conference with the Edmonton Oil Kings (50-19-3), who held the tiebreaker with more victories. However, the Hitmen weren't able to get out of the first round of the playoffs, losing in six games to the Kootenay Ice.
Calgary head coach Mike Williamson paid the price on Wednesday when the Hitmen announced they won't exercise the option on his contract for 2014-15.
Mike Moore, the team's general manager and vice-president of business operations, made the announcement.
“Under Mike’s leadership, the Calgary Hitmen were a team that challenged for the top position in our conference,” Moore said in a news release. “It was a difficult decision for us today, but we believe that a change is necessary in order for our team to reach the next level of success."
Williamson just completed his fifth season as head coach of the Hitmen. In his first season, 2009-10, they won the WHL championship and reached the Memorial Cup semifinal in Brandon.
Williamson put up a 210-129-13 reglar-season record with the Hitmen, who made the playoffs in four of his five seasons. They twice lost out in the first round and once were beaten in the Eastern Conference final.
According to the news release, "Associate coach Brent Kisio, assistant coach Joel Otto and goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk will remain with the team."
The Hitmen, who are owned by the NHL's Calgary Flames, are preparing for their 20th anniversary season.
George Johnson of the Calgary Herald has more on Williamson's departure right here.
The Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades also are looking for head coaches, and you have to think someone from both organizations will be contacting Williamson, if they haven’t already. His 429 head-coaching victories have him in 11th spot on the all-time list.
The Blazers have yet to clarify the status of Dave Hunchak, who didn't complete his first season as head coach. He left the team on Jan. 10 and the Blazers announced Jan. 12 that he was on a leave of absence. General manager Craig Bonner has since admitted that he is looking for a head coach, but nothing more has been said on Hunchak's situation. Hunchak’s contract with the Blazers runs through the 2014-15 season.
The Blades underwent an ownership change during the season and will need a new coaching staff, with head coach Dave Struch, assistant coach Curtis Leschyshyn and goaltending coach Tim Cheveldae all gone.
Colin Priestner, the Blades’ governor and managing partner, has told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he doesn’t expect to hire a general manager or a head coach before the bantam draft that is scheduled for May 1.
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The NHL now is facing three concussion-related lawsuits. A third one, featuring retired players Bill Bennett, Dave Christian and Reed Larson, was filed this week in federal court in Minneapolis. There is more right here.
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D Keegan Kanzig of the Victoria Royals will finish his season with the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Kanzig was a third-round pick by the Flames in the 2013 NHL draft. . . . Kanzig had eight points, three of them goals, in 63 games with the Royals this season.
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The Heat also has added D Eric Roy of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the rest of this season. . . . Roy had 44 points, 11 of them goals, in 66 games with Brandon this season. He was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Flames in the NHL’s 2013 draft.
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THE SECOND ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. BRANDON (7)
(Edmonton wins, 4-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 3-1-0; Brandon, 1-2-1.
Thursday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 5 (5,899)
Saturday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 3 (7,115)
Tuesday: Edmonton 5 at Brandon 2 (3,522)
Wednesday: Edmonton 2 at Brandon 5 (3,246)
Friday: Brandon 1 at Edmonton 5 (6,356)
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MEDICINE HAT (4) vs. KOOTENAY (6)
(Medicine Hat wins, 4-3)
Season series: Medicine Hat, 3-3-0; Kootenay, 3-3-0.
Saturday: Kootenay 4 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,750)
Sunday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 5 (3,755)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Kootenay 3 (2,461)
Thursday: Medicine Hat 4 at Kootenay 7 (2,578)
Saturday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 9 (3,624)
Monday: Medicine Hat 2 at Kootenay 1 (2,732)
Wednesday: Kootenay 1 at Medicine Hat 4 (4,006)
(NOTE: Kootenay plays home games in Cranbrook, B.C.)
INJURIES
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Landon Cross, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. SEATTLE (4)
(Kelowna wins, 4-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 2-1-1; Seattle, 2-1-1.
Thursday: Seattle 2 at Kelowna 6 (4,581)
Saturday: Seattle 3 at Kelowna 6 (5,675)
Tuesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 4 (5,029)
Wednesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 2 (2,219)
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PORTLAND (2) vs. VICTORIA (3)
(Portland wins, 4-1)
Season series: Portland, 1-1-2; Victoria, 3-1-0.
Friday: Victoria 2 at Portland 8 (6,152)
Saturday: Victoria 3 at Portland 6 (10,947)
Monday: Portland 1 at Victoria 2 (6,505)
Tuesday: Portland 4 at Victoria 3 (6,745)
Thursday: Victoria 1 at Portland 5 (8,083)
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE

KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
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EASTERN CONFERENCE

EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 26: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
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WHL Playoffs
WEDNESDAY’S GAME:
In Medicine Hat, F Trevor Cox scored twice to break a 1-1 tie and the Tigers went on to beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-1, in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . . The No. 4-seeded Tigers move into the Eastern Conference final that will open in Edmonton against the No. 1 Oil Kings on Friday night. Shaw-TV will televise all games in that series. . . . The Ice held a 3-1 lead in this series but wasn't able to get that fourth victory. . . . Cox, an 18-year-old from Surrey, B.C., scored his seventh goal of these playoffs 11 seconds into the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. He added a second goal at 11:19. . . . F Cole Sanford, who assisted on both of Cox's goals, iced it with an empty-netter at 17:49. . . . The Tigers' line of Sanford, Cox and Curtis Valk combined for 37 points, including 17 goals, in the seven games. . . . Ice D Landon Peel scored the game's first goal, just 41 seconds into the first period. . . . Medicine Hat F Steve Owre tied it at 6:44. . . . Cox has 21 points in 13 playoff games. He is one point off the playoff scoring lead held by F Sam Reinhart of the Ice. . . . Medicine Hat G Marek Langhamer stopped 43 shots and was the first star in the building. . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 24 shots. . . . The Tigers had the only two PP opportunities of a scoreless first period, but the Ice ended up with a 16-8 edge in shots. . . . The Tigers were 0-for-2 on the PP; the Ice was 0-for-1. . . . The Ice was 1-for-22 on the PP in the seven games. . . . The Tigers are 5-1 in Game 7s over the past 12 playoff years. . . . In franchise history, the Ice is 1-4 in Games 7s.
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From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “0 - This was the first time since 2000 that we went an entire round without having a single overtime game (excluding the WHL final).”
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From Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) of Yahoo! Sports: “Death. Taxes. Inconsistent OHL justice. Questionable Q reffing. WHL brawls. #CircleOfLife”


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Victoria fined 10 grand; WHL interested in Lower Mainland . . . again!







D James Bettauer (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, 2010-12) has signed a one-year deal with the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Hamburg Freezers (Germany, DEL), Bettauer had seven points, including three goals, in 50 games. . . .
F Vaclav Varada (Tacoma/Kelowna, 1994-96) has announced his retirement. This season with Trinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine points, four of them goals, in 36 games. Varada was a player-assistant coach this season; next season he will be strictly an assistant coach for Trinec.
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The Victoria Royals and two of their players have paid the price for some silliness that occurred during Game 5 of their second-round playoff series with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday night.
The Royals were fined $10,000 for, according to the WHL, “actions by club deemed detrimental to the league.”
F Brandon Magee, who turned 20 on Jan. 23, was given a 12-game suspension after he took a match penalty for attempt to injure. According to the WHL, “It is the second match penalty for the player this season. There were separate cross-checks to the heads of two opponents during incident.”
If you haven’t seen the video, Magee cross-checked Portland F Nic Petan on the back of the head and then cross-checked an onrushing Brendan Leipsic in the face area.
Victoria F Steven Hodges, who turned 20 on May 5, got five games after taking a game misconduct in the same game. According to the WHL, “He threw two separate punches at an unsuspecting opponent during altercation.”
Portland won the game, which was televised by Shaw, 5-1 and took the series, 4-1. Hodges was tossed at the end of the second period. Magee’s match penalty occurred at 15:10 of the third period.
(Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to take advantage of the media that is available to it by posting video of such incidents, along with having a league official explain the reasoning behind the disciplinary decisions. The NHL and the OHL, to name two leagues, provide such information; it’s time for the WHL to do it, too.)
Meanwhile, F Richard Nejezchleb of the Brandon Wheat Kings drew a two-game suspension for a clipping major and game misconduct in Game 5 against the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday. Nejezchleb, a Czech, will be a 20-year-old next season, so, as a two-spotter is unlikely to return to the WHL.
Ryan McGill, the head coach of the Kootenay Ice, was touched for $500 after he was hit with a game misconduct following Game 6 against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Monday night. Darren Steinke of the Medicine Hat News reports that McGill was “shouting at the officials."
The Tigers won that game 2-1 to even the second-round series, 3-3. They will decide the issue tonight in Medicine Hat.
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AHLThe WHL, having failed once on the Lower Mainland of B.C., is interested in setting up shop there again, now that the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, are leaving the area.
WHL commissioner Ron Robison told Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun that “the market is of interest to us and now that it appears to be available, we will certainly put it on our radar screen.
“At this point, we don’t have any franchises that are considering relocation and there is no expansion coming in the foreseeable future. In our view, we’ve expanded sort of beyond our ideal number of 20-22 teams. So the only way we could be there is through relocation.
“We do believe the Fraser Valley would support a WHL franchise, but we just felt that the impact of having both Abbotsford and Chilliwack sharing, to some extent, the Fraser Valley market, it was difficult to operate under those circumstances.”
The Chilliwack Bruins operated for five seasons before the franchise was sold and relocated to Victoria, where it has operated as the Royals for three seasons.
Brian Burke, the Flames’ president of hockey operations, was a part-owner of the Bruins.
At a Tuesday news conference announcing the Heat’s departure, Bruce Banman, Abbotsford’s mayor, said that the city would be interested in attracting a WHL team as the facility’s anchor tenant.
Pap’s story is right here.
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Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts is right here. Yes, it’s always worth reading. No, it doesn’t include anything on his future after Hockey Night in Canada.
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The Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have signed F Zach Pochiro to a PTO. Pochiro played out his junior eligibility with the Prince George Cougars this season, putting up 66 points, including 27 goals, in 63 games. . . . He then joined the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings with who he picked up two assists in nine games. . . . He was a fourth-round selection by the Blues in the NHL’s 2013 draft.
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G Chris Driedger, who completed his junior eligibility this season with the Calgary Htimen, has joined the AHL’s Binghamton Senators on an ATO. Driedger, a third-round pick by the parent Ottawa Senators in the 2012 NHL draft, was 28-14-7, 2.64, .918 with the Hitmen this season. . . . After the Hitmen were eliminated from the playoffs, he joined the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. He got into four games there, going 1-2-0, 3.92, .893.
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The NHL’s Dallas Stars have signed F Branden Troock of the Seattle Thunderbirds to a three-year, entry-level contract. Troock was a fifth-round selection in the NHL’s 2012 draft. . . . Troock has battled injuries during his WHL career. He had 28 points, including 14 goals, in 58 games in 2011-12, then was limited to 19 games -- he had 11 points -- in 2012-13. This season, in 58 games, he put up 58 points, including 24 goals. . . . Troock, from Edmonton, turned 20 on March 20.
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The OUA’s Windsor Lancers have received a commitment from F Daulton Siwak (Red Deer, Prince George, 2008-13). Siwak, 20, has used up his junior eligibility. He played this season with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings and the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves.
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F Mitch Holmberg, who won the WHL scoring title this season with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors, who have placed him on their playoff roster. . . . After the Chiefs’ season ended, Holmberg joined the Oklahoma City Barons, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who own the Condors.
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THE COACHING GAME:
The junior B Kelowna Chiefs, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, have named Jason Tansem as their new head coach. Tansem was an assistant coach with the Chiefs. . . . Grant Sheridan remains as the Chiefs’ general manager, while former head coach Ken Andrusiak is assistant GM and video coach. . . . The Chiefs just finished their fourth season in Kelowna after making the move from Chase, B.C., over the summer of 2010.
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When you talk about the greatest defenceman in WHL history, Barry Beck has to be in the conversation. He played for the New Westminster Bruins (1974-77) and they won the WHL championship in each of his three seasons. . . . So where is Beck these days? He’s coaching in Hong Kong. . . . Daniel Gerber has more right here.
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THE SECOND ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. BRANDON (7)
(Edmonton wins, 4-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 3-1-0; Brandon, 1-2-1.
Thursday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 5 (5,899)
Saturday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 3 (7,115)
Tuesday: Edmonton 5 at Brandon 2 (3,522)
Wednesday: Edmonton 2 at Brandon 5 (3,246)
Friday: Brandon 1 at Edmonton 5 (6,356)
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WHL Playoffs
MEDICINE HAT (4) vs. KOOTENAY (6)
(Series tied, 3-3)
Season series: Medicine Hat, 3-3-0; Kootenay, 3-3-0.
Saturday: Kootenay 4 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,750)
Sunday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 5 (3,755)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Kootenay 3 (2,461)
Thursday: Medicine Hat 4 at Kootenay 7 (2,578)
Saturday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 9 (3,624)
Monday: Medicine Hat 2 at Kootenay 1 (2,732)
Wednesday: Kootenay at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
(NOTE: Kootenay plays home games in Cranbrook, B.C.)
INJURIES
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Landon Cross, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. SEATTLE (4)
(Kelowna wins, 4-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 2-1-1; Seattle, 2-1-1.
Thursday: Seattle 2 at Kelowna 6 (4,581)
Saturday: Seattle 3 at Kelowna 6 (5,675)
Tuesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 4 (5,029)
Wednesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 2 (2,219)
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PORTLAND (2) vs. VICTORIA (3)
(Portland wins, 4-1)
Season series: Portland, 1-1-2; Victoria, 3-1-0.
Friday: Victoria 2 at Portland 8 (6,152)
Saturday: Victoria 3 at Portland 6 (10,947)
Monday: Portland 1 at Victoria 2 (6,505)
Tuesday: Portland 4 at Victoria 3 (6,745)
Thursday: Victoria 1 at Portland 5 (8,083)
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
---
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)/KOOTENAY    (6)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
Season series: Edmonton, 4-2-0; Kootenay, 2-2-2.
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Other dates TBA.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
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From Bob Ridley (@BobRidley_CHAT), the Medicine Hat Tigers’ legendary radio voice and bus driver: “Tigers had bus egged by idiot Kootenay ice fans (Monday) nite. Not classy at all.”
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From Ron Jones (@hockeydraft411): “What the hell happened to Burke's hair? I don't feel so bad balding after that. #eaglefromthemuppets”

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Monday, April 14, 2014



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Tigers, Ice going to Game 7







G Riku Helenius (Seattle, 2007-08) signed a two-year contract with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL). Helenius split this season between the AHL and ECHL. With the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he was 3.43 and .875 in five games; with the Florida Everblades (ECHL), he was 6.08 and .797 in four games. . . . Helenius, a first-round selection (15th overall) by Tampa Bay in the 2006 NHL draft, had his NHL contract terminated by the Lightning in February. The NHLPA had filed a grievance over that release and the case seems headed to arbitration. Lindsay Kramer of syracuse.com has more right here.
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D Nick Holden of the Colorado Avalanche was in Vancouver recently, which gave Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province the opportunity to chat with him. And guess what? Holden says his junior team, the Chilliwack Bruins, would have survived just fine had the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat not arrived on the Lower Mainland hockey scene. . . . That piece is right here.
Interestingly, the city of Abbotsford has called a news conference for this morning at 10 a.m. PT, at which it is expected to address the future of the Heat. Again, there are rumours that the franchise is about to be sold and moved, this time to Glens Falls, N.Y.
Gord McIntyre of the Province reported last night that the Canucks aren’t interested in moving their AHL franchise, which is in its first season in Utica, N.Y., to Abbotsford at this time. That piece is right here.
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F Sean MacTavish, who once was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets, has committed to Boston University. MacTavish, the son of Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, was taken in the ninth round of the 2009 WHL bantam draft. He played the last two seasons with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . MacTavish will turn 20 on Nov. 21.
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The Vancouver Canucks inducted former general manager Pat Quinn into their Ring of Honour on Sunday. Ed Willes, a sports columnist with the Vancouver Province, wrote a column on Quinn that appeared in Sunday’s paper. Buried deep in that piece was a quote from Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, that is rather interesting. It seems that Quinn, a minority owner with the Giants, isn’t all that enamoured with the Giants’ style of play of late.
Quinn’s teams, Willes writes, “have always been characterized by an uptempo pace and an emphasis on puck movement.
‘He doesn't really like the way we've played the last couple of years," Toigo says of the Giants' defensive style. ‘He likes the offensive game and defencemen who can move the puck. He says winning is important, but we still have an obligation to entertain.’ ”
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Justin Crann of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has been following the situation in that city involving the Warriors and their bringing back a 30-year-old logo as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations. Crann writes that the Warriors are too deep into this anniversary to turn back now, but adds that “it can be used as a positive learning opportunity.” . . . That piece is right here.
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Tom Gaglardi, the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, was back in a Kamloops courtroom on Monday. Gaglardi was on the stand as he faces two charges of harmful alteration of a fish habitat. . . . According to Tim Petruk of Kamloops This Week, Gaglardi spent part of his time in the courtroom apparently playing with line combinations as his Stars get ready to open the NHL playoffs this season. . . . Petruk’s story is right here.
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AHLD Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings will finish his season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders. Pulock was a first-round selection, 15th overall, by the Islanders in the 2013 NHL draft. . . . Pulock played his first game with the Sound Tigers on Monday night, going pointless in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Adirondack Phantoms.
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The 106th Allan Cup competition, for the championship of Canadian senior AAA hockey, is underway in Dundas, Ont. Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator takes a look at the field right here, explaining how each of the six teams qualified.
In Monday night’s opener, the Brantford, Ont., Blast edged the Kenora, Ont., Thistles, 5-4. F Sean McAslan (Calgary, 1996-2001) scored one of the Thistles’ goals.
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THE SECOND ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. BRANDON (7)
(Edmonton wins, 4-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 3-1-0; Brandon, 1-2-1.
Thursday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 5 (5,899)
Saturday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 3 (7,115)
Tuesday: Edmonton 5 at Brandon 2 (3,522)
Wednesday: Edmonton 2 at Brandon 5 (3,246)
Friday: Brandon 1 at Edmonton 5 (6,356)
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MEDICINE HAT (4) vs. KOOTENAY (6)
(Series tied, 3-3)
Season series: Medicine Hat, 3-3-0; Kootenay, 3-3-0.
Saturday: Kootenay 4 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,750)
Sunday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 5 (3,755)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Kootenay 3 (2,461)
Thursday: Medicine Hat 4 at Kootenay 7 (2,578)
Saturday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 9 (3,624)
Monday: Medicine Hat 2 at Kootenay 1 (2,732)
Wednesday: Kootenay at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
(NOTE: Kootenay plays home games in Cranbrook, B.C.)
INJURIES
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Landon Cross, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. SEATTLE (4)
(Kelowna wins, 4-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 2-1-1; Seattle, 2-1-1.
Thursday: Seattle 2 at Kelowna 6 (4,581)
Saturday: Seattle 3 at Kelowna 6 (5,675)
Tuesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 4 (5,029)
Wednesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 2 (2,219)
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PORTLAND (2) vs. VICTORIA (3)
(Portland wins, 4-1)
Season series: Portland, 1-1-2; Victoria, 3-1-0.
Friday: Victoria 2 at Portland 8 (6,152)
Saturday: Victoria 3 at Portland 6 (10,947)
Monday: Portland 1 at Victoria 2 (6,505)
Tuesday: Portland 4 at Victoria 3 (6,745)
Thursday: Victoria 1 at Portland 5 (8,083)
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE

KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 22: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
---
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)/KOOTENAY    (6)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
Season series: Edmonton, 4-2-0; Kootenay, 2-2-2.
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 20: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Other dates TBA.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
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WHL Playoffs
MONDAY’S GAME:
In Cranbrook, F Curtis Valk broke a 1-1 tie with 35.6 seconds left in the third period as the Medicine Hat Tigers beat the Kootenay Ice, 2-1. . . . The second-round series is tied 3-3 with Game 7 scheduled for Medicine Hat on Wednesday night. . . . The winner of the series will open the Eastern Conference final in Edmonton against the Oil Kings on Friday night. . . . F Miles Koules gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 8:10 of the first period with his fourth goal of these playoffs. . . . The Ice tied it at 15:46 of the third period when F Jon Martin got his second goal off a rebound. . . . Valk, known as The Incredible Valk around the Tigers, won it with his 10th goal of the playoffs. It was his sixth goal of this series, all of them coming in the last five games. . . . It also was Valk’s 20th playoff goal in 43 games. He has scored 19 times in his last 28 post-season games. . . . Valk and F Jaedon Descheneau of the Ice lead the WHL, each with 10 goals. . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 28 shots, two more than Marek Langhamer of the Tigers.
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From Darren Steinke (@MHND_Steinke) of the Medicine Hat News: “(Monday) night will mark the 392nd post-season contest Bob Ridley calls as the play-by-play voice of the #MHTigers.”
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From F Anthony As (@AAST18) of the Medicine Hat Tigers: “Curtis Valk is my man crush Monday right now. Someone sign this guy to a NHL contract. That is all #CaptainClutch #TheIncredibleValk #Game7”
Ast was scratched from Monday’s game.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014





Long-time actor Mickey Rooney died this week at the age of 93. Yes, he liked to play the ponies. As he once said: “I lost a $2 bet 65 years ago and have spent about $3 million trying to get it back.” . . . When DH David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox homered on Wednesday, it took him 32.91 seconds, including standing around time, to get back to home plate. Apparently, it was the slowest home run trot ever recorded, and he was going as fast as he could. . . . Something like that is just one more reason not to cheer for the BoSox. . . .

“A British fishmonger was robbed by two youths who grabbed a fish, hit her on the side of the head with it and ran off,” reports RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “As a result, the victim suffered a loss of herring.” . . . One more from Currie: “Pope Francis fired a German bishop whose newly-renovated $43-million home angered Catholics. If the bishop is looking for work, he has the makings of an Alberta premier.” . . .  Is there anything more frustrating in this life than attempting to do your own income tax? Sheesh, does it have to be that difficult? . . . And that was before Heartbleed was discovered feasting on the Internet. . . .

Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard is due to hit book stores on Oct. 14. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter John Branch, this book is certain to put the spotlight squarely on fighting in junior and professional hockey. . . . Branch has written extensively about Boogaard for The New York Times. . . . All is fair in love, war and business, so should we congratulate Rogers Sportsnet for all but killing off CBC’s sports department? . . . The CFL and CFLPA are back at the negotiating table. According to the aforementioned Currie, the CFLPA’s top three demands are: “3. An end to coin-operated showers; 2. Paycheques must always round up to the nickel; 1. Compensation for brain damage caused by Rod Black.” . . .

"It’s still fun watching Ichiro play baseball," writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, "even now that he’s 90 years old." . . . . A note to Capital One Canada: I blocked your promoted ads from my Twitter account. When that Martin Short TV commercial has been mothballed, have your people call my people and we’ll see what can be done about unblocking. . . . If you didn’t hear, the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes are going to take a look at Chad Johnson, who isn’t related to Billy (White Shoes) Johnson. Surely, there are ochocinco reasons why this won’t work. . . . But, hey, what if Terrell Owens came along for the ride, too? . . . There is some good news for CFL fans as Chris Cuthbert, play-by-play man extraordinaire, has signed on for six more years with TSN. . . .

“Forget David Letterman,” suggests Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express. “What’s going to happen to Paul Shaffer?” . . . Here's Kansas basketball star Andrew Wiggins, after declaring for the NBA draft: "I wish I just had more time. College goes by so fast.” Uhh, he was at Kansas for seven months and no one is pushing him out the door. . . . To listen to all the goings-on in Vancouver this week, you would think it took Mike Gillis three years to make the Canucks into a mess and Trevor Linden an hour to clean it all up. . . . It’s also been fun watching members of the Vancouver media trying to decide which side of the John Tortorella debate they want to be on. . . . Ahh, which way is the wind blowing today? . . .

Headline at SportsPickle.com: Crips release DeSean Jackson over concern about his affiliation with Washington Redskins organization. . . . Headline from fark.com: Dodgers Brian Wilson goes on disabled list; Mike Love immediately called up from Triple A. . . . SportsPickle.com selected the top nicknames in fantasy baseball, among them: Honey Nut Ichiros, Concerto in Mike Minor, and Los Jhonny Beisbols. . . . Hope you enjoyed Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, and, yes, its coverage of Ryan Smyth’s farewell was live TV at its best. But that’s it for HNIC as we know it. . . . Now we are left to wait and wonder what will happen to the two best parts of HNIC -- Glenn Healy and P.J. Stock. . . . Just kidding! Elliotte Friedman and Jim Hughson are the stars and you have to wonder where they will be when another NHL season arrives. . . .

If you missed it, the Columbus Blue Jackets were in Dallas for a rescheduled game with the Stars on Wednesday night. This game actually began on March 10, but was halted early in the first period after Dallas forward Rich Peverley collapsed at the players’ bench. The NHL chose to replay the entire game, with Columbus opening with that 1-0 lead. That makes Nathan Horton an instant trivia answer to this question: Which NHL player scored a goal in a game in which he didn’t play? . . . An injured Horton didn’t make the trip to Dallas for Wednesday’s game. . . .

When NASCAR held its Duck Commander 500 in North Texas, folks had to go through a metal detector in order to enter the facility. The Vancouver Province’s Torben Rolfsen notes that “fans were refused admission unless they were carrying firearms.” . . . One more from Rolfsen: “Someone needs to tell Yasiel Puig that the L.A. sports tradition of showing up to games late and leaving early is just for the fans.” . . . Some Kamloops gas stations pumped the price of a litre of regular gasoline from $1.23.9 to $1.36.9 this week, making me wonder, because we all know we’re not being gouged, if Vladimir Putin had marched on another country. . . . Or, as my friend Doug the Mechanic, suggested: “Maybe another plane went down.” . . .

“Former Dancing with the Stars host Brooke Burke-Charvet tweeted that she was OK after crashing her Maserati,” writes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “And millions of men were thinking, ‘Fine, but how’s the Maserati?’ ” . . . Here’s Hough with a really good question: “So in the cellphone, wifi, texting era, can someone explain why the ‘call to the bullpen’ still takes place using a landline?”

(Gregg Drinnan is a former sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post and the late Kamloops Daily News. He is at gdrinnan.blogspot.ca and twitter.com/gdrinnan. Keeping Score appears here on weekends, except when it doesn’t.)

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