Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ch-ch-ching! WHL coach reaches for wallet . . . Hicketts living quite a story . . . Rockets whistle past Wheaties



D Joe Hicketts of the Victoria Royals has lived one of hockey’s more interesting stories over the last couple of years. Hicketts, who is from Kamloops, suffered a serious injury last season and then was bypassed in the NHL draft. But -- and all undrafted players should take notice -- that hasn’t kept him from earning an NHL contract. Glen Erickson of hockeysfuture.com has more right here.
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In a Saturday OHL game, F Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists as the Erie Otters dumped the host Sudbury Wolves, 8-1. McDavid is on a 12-game season-opening point streak. In those 12 games, he's got 34 points, including 23 assists.
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THE COACHING GAME:

Former NHL/WHL D Curtis Leschyshyn has taken over as head coach of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Leschyshyn, an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades last season, had been an assistant coach with the Blazers, who now are 2-7. Former WHL F Randy Smith, who had been the head coach, has stepped up to be the general manager. . . . Tip of the cap to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix for the tweet.
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Willy Alexander Thomas, a high school student and a hockey player, had his whole life to live. But he committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. He was 17. His parents now are wondering if concussions may have played a role in what happened. Pete Croatto of The New York Times has that story right here.
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Another concussion-related lawsuit has surfaced. As Kevin Harden of the Portland Tribune writes right here, Billy Jack Haynes, a former pro wrestler, has filed suit against the WWE. Harden writes that Haynes, now 61, "is suing WWE in federal court for 'egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as its concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers,' according to the 42-page lawsuit filed Thursday, Oct. 23, in Portland’s U.S. District Court. Haynes is also asking the court to grant class-action status for what his lawyers say could be 500 people who suffered injuries while wrestling or performing in the WWE ring."
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SATURDAY'S REPORT:

In Kelowna, F Nick Merkley had a goal and three assists to spark the Rockets to a 6-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon, which had been 2-0-0 to start a seven-game road swing, got the game's first goal when F Quintin Lisoway scored at 6:39 of the second period. . . . The Rockets scored the last six goals, four of them in the third period. . . . Merkley, who has four goals, figured in Kelowna's first four goals. . . . The Rockets got two shorthanded goals, from Merkley and F Austin Glover. . . . D Madison Bowey scored twice for the Rockets, giving him six on the season. Both goals came via the PP as the Rockets went 3-for-6 with the man advantage. . . . Brandon was 0-for-5 on the PP. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle stopped 31 shots, 15 more than Brandon's Jordan Papirny, who started for the 12th time in 14 games. . . . Brandon F Jesse Gabrielle failed to score on a penalty shot just 58 seconds into the game. . . . The Wheat Kings had scored 33 goals in winning their previous four games. . . . What kind of a game was it? "Had it not been for Whistle, who had his best game in a Rockets uniform, Brandon could have walked away as 6-1 winners after dominating the first two periods," wrote Doyle Potenteau of The Okanagan Sunday. . . . When it was over, the Rockets were 12-1-0 and the Wheat Kings 10-2-1. Unfortunately for hockey fans, the only way these teams meet again this season is if it's in the WHL final. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has a game story right here. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Taylor Cooper had a goal and an assist as the Lethbridge Hurricanes dumped the Raiders, 3-1. . . . The Hurricanes have won three in a row for the first time since Nov. 3-9, 2012. . . . The Hurricanes scored the game's first three goals. . . . Lethbridge G Stuart Skinner, who doesn't turn 16 until Nov. 1, stopped 24 shots. He lost his shutout bid when F Jayden Hart scored at 19:20 of the third period. . . . The Raiders were without F Reid Gardiner, who took 16 stitches to the forehead after a high hit from F Alex Schoenborn of the Portland Winterhawks on Friday night. Gardiner also is undergoing the concussion protocol. . . . F Marcus Messier, 20, was pointless in his debut with the Raiders. . . .

In Red Deer, F Conner Bleackley scored once and added two assists to lead the Rebels to a 5-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Bleackley broke a 1-1 tie at 8:13 of the second eriod with his third goal of the season. . . . Red Deer F Wyatt Johnson scored the game's first goal, his sixth of the season. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Oliver Bjorkstrand scored three times to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 6-1 victory over the Blades. . . . Bjorkstrand gave the visitors a 3-1 lead at 9:56 of the third and later scored the game's last two goals. He's got nine goals this season. . . . F Chase De Leo had a goal, his ninth, and an assist on his 19th birthday. . . . The game was the last of a six-game East Division swing for the Winterhawks, who went 4-2-0 on their tour. . . . The Winterhawks played without F Alex Schoenborn, who drew a TBA suspension for a headshot on F Reid Gardiner of the Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has a gamer right here, including the latest on the Blades' injuries.

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored the game's last five goals and beat the Prince George Cougars, 5-1. . . . Edmonton is 5-0-1 in its last six games. . . . F Mitchell Walker broke a 1-1 tie with this first goal at 16:18 of the second period. . . . F Luke Bertolucci scored his first two goals of the season 27 seconds apart late in the third period. . . . F Jari Erricson scored his 10th goal of the season for the Cougars, losers of four in a row. . . .

In Regina, G Landon Bow stopped 39 shots to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 2-1 victory over the Pats. . . . On Friday night, the Broncos had beaten the visiting Pats, 3-1. . . . After last night, the Broncos are 14-0-2 against Regina over the last two-plus seasons. . . . D Brett Lernout broke a 1-1 tie with his third goal of the season at 10:06 of the third period. . . . Broncos F Jake DeBrusk scored his 10th goal, on a PP, at 5:47 of the first period. . . . Regina D Sergey Zborovskiy tied the score with his first goal at 11:33 of the second period. . . . Pats G Daniel Wapple turned aside 25 shots. . . . The Broncos have won won three in a row, while the Pats now have dropped four in a row. . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers outscored Calgary 3-1 in the second period en route to a 7-5 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Tigers, 11-1-1 overall and 8-0-1 in their last nine, scored the game's first two goals, but Calgary got those back before the first period ended. . . . Tigers D Ty Stanton broke a 3-3 tie at 19:09 of the second period and D David Quenneville added a PP goal at 19:54. . . . F Markus Eisenschmid scored twice for the Tigers, giving him seven, while F Trevor Cox had his second goal, into an empty net, and added two assists, and F Chad Butcher had three assists. . . . F Jake Virtanen, in his second game since returning from off-season shoulder surgery, had two goals and an assist for Calgary. . . . The Hitmen also got two goals and an assist from F Pavel Kamaukhov, who has eight scores, and a goal and two helpers from D Ben Thomas. . . . Calgary was 3-for-6 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 2-for-4. . . .

In Spokane, F Calder Brooks and F Adam Helewka each scored twice as the Chiefs beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-3. . . . Helewka's second goal, at 7:47 of the third period, on the PP, gave the Chiefs a 4-1 lead. . . . The Ice made it close with goals from F Matt Alfaro, his second of the game, and F Zak Zborosky 37 seconds apart late in the period. . . . Brooks, who also had two assists, and Helewka, who had one assist, each has five goals this season. . . . Spokane F Kailer Yamamoto, the third member of the line with Helewka and Brooks, had three assists. Yamomoto is a 16-year-old Spokane native who scored a goal in each of his previous two games. . . . Ice G Wyatt Hoflin stopped 41 shots, 20 more than Spokane's Tyson Verheist. . . . The Ice has lost five straight and is 1-9-0 in its last 10. . . .

In Victoria, F Austin Carroll's second goal of the game, at 13:27 of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie as the Royals edged the Vancouver Giants, 3-2. . . . Carroll has 10 goals this season. His first goal of the game gave the Royals a 2-1 lead at 9:08 of the second period. . . . Vancouver D Mason Geertsen tied it with his first goal at 5:38 of the third. . . . F Axel Blomqvist had two assists for the Royals, while F Matt Bellerive had a goal, his fourth, and an assist for the Giants, who are 0-6-0 on the road. . . . The Royals are riding a four-game winning streak. . . .

In Everett, F Ivan Nikolishin scored 41 seconds into OT to give the Silvertips a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The winner came off a feed from fellow Russian F Nikita Scherbak. . . . Seattle F Scott Eansor scored the game's first goal, at 4:50 of the first period, and now has goals in three straight games. . . . Everett F Cole MacDonald tied the score on a PP at 7:01 of the third. . . . Everett D Kevin Davis had two assists. . . . Nikolishin has four goals this season. . . . Everett G Austin Lotz stopped 24 shots, four fewer than Seattle's Taran Kozun. . . . The Silvertips have won their last two games to get to 8-1-3. . . . Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk wasn't happy with the officiating and you can bet it's going to cost him some coin. Ch-ch-ching! . . . "The officiating's got to get better," Konowalchuk told Andy Eide of 710 AM ESPN. "It’s atrocious, it's (expletive) atrocious." . . . Eide wrote: "Konowalchuk's frustration boiled over after the game as he felt the Silvertips embellished the plays and the bad calls cost his players a hard-fought game and a chance at picking up the win." Here’s more from Konowalchuk: "Two embellishments, I am so tired of the officiating in this league. I can't find it on the tape, I can't find it. I asked my player 'honestly did you touch him' he said 'my stick was up but I didn't touch him.' The guy at the red line calling it, the guy in the corner doesn't call it." . . . Eide's complete report is right here. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Connor Ingram stopped 25 shots as the Kamloops Blazers blanked the Tri-City Americans, 2-0. . . . Ingram, a 17-year-old goaltender from Imperial, Sask., posted his first WHL shutout in his fifth appearance. . . . F Matt Revel scored the game's first goal, his fifth of the season, at 18:02 of the second period, and D Patrik Maier added insurance at 9:25 of the third. . . . Tri-City G Evan Sarthou stopped 25 shots. . . . The Americans have lost three in a row. . . . Tri-City was without veteran F Brian Williams, who suffered an undisclosed injury in a Friday game.

Saturday, October 25, 2014





An observation from Norman Chad, in his Couch Slouch column from the Washington Post: “Can you imagine the buildup and the hype — think of the length of the pregame show alone — if ESPN were around for the creation of the world?” . . . When the Seattle Seahawks dealt receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets, the New York Post headlined it: Percy snatcher. . . . The gang at Fark.com went with: Ppppercy and the Jets. . . . Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com noted: “Seattle will apparently receive a conditional draft pick in 2015. Percy Harvin will receive the month of January off.” . . .

After arriving in London, England, where they play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the Detroit Lions released running back William Powell. So much for him getting the royal treatment. . . . Headline at TheOnion.com: Calvin Johnson is out until back is healthy enough to carry team again. . . .

Jimmy Kimmel of ABC-TV yearns for the good ol’ days. “I love baseball,” he says. “You know, baseball was our national pastime before selfies took over.” . . . One of the college football bowl games this festive season will be the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Len Berman of ThatsSports.com points out: “Yup, nothing goes together quite as well as spicy wings and a citrusy drink. What’s next, Guantanamo Bay sponsoring the Liberty Bowl?” . . . Here’s Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald making a valid point: “At a WWE event, the Big Show ripped down a Russian flag. Before World War III starts, can someone quickly explain to the Russians about pro wrestling? Thanks.” . . .

Thanks to Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times for passing along a note from Vox.com. Wanting to see how much action there is in a televised NFL game, the folks there took an in-depth look at what was shown during the telecast of the Oct. 6 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. The results:
• Players standing around: 35.5 per cent
• Commercials: 24.5 per cent
• Replays: 10.7 per cent
• Coach shots: 4.9 per cent
• Referee shots: 3.2 per cent
• Halftime: 3.2 per cent
• Sideline player shots: 2.2 per cent
• On-screen promotions: 2 per cent
• Other (crowd shots, cheerleaders): 5.5 per cent
• Actual football being played: 8.3 per cent.

“According to an ABC News report,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, “clowns carrying baseball bats have been terrorizing people in Bakersfield, California. ‘We feel your pain,’ said Cubs fans.” . . . A note to the talking heads doing the highlight shows who refer to the NBA as the Association. There is only one Association and they sang Windy. Feel free to Google it. OK? . . . “The Canadian Ebola vaccine looks very promising,” notes comedy writer Alex Kaseberg. “If Canada can rid themselves of Justin Bieber, they can get rid of anything.” . . .

Hey, TSN, you can ditch those fantasy football commercials as soon as you can find the delete button. Thanks. . . . “The NBA is experimenting with shortening games,” writes Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, “while some players wish for a shorter season. But when it comes to sports in general on TV, what I want is a lot less pre-game chatter – none would be good – from the overcrowded panels whose analysis amounts to nothing. And I get what I want simply by not watching until the ball is in play.” . . . But, gee, without the panels, what’s left? . . . Gee, where would the likes of P.J. Stock and Glenn Healy go to be heard? . . .

Here’s Molinaro, again: “Media accounts of Kansas City’s undying love for its Royals go real easy on the inconvenient truth that the team ranked 25th out of 30 in attendance. The https://twitter.com/Royals were one of only six MLB clubs that didn’t break the 2-million mark this year. But don’t expect the facts to get in the way of a good story.” . . . Michael Beasley has played his way out of the NBA and signed with the Shanghai Sharks. Which got Greg Cote of the Miami Herald to asking: “How do you say ‘got weed?’ in Chinese?” . . .

With Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos putting a hammering on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, Vancouver comic Torben Rolfsen tweeted: “Finally, something positive to take Coloradans minds off worrying about weed-tainted Halloween candy.” . . . Have to wonder how many major league managers called their realtors when they found out Friday that Joe Maddon had left the Tampa Bay Rays. . . .

We close this week with a thought or two from Jack Finarelli, the Sports Curmudgeon, who is quickly becoming our resident sports philosopher: “With regard to Dallas Cowboys’ running back Joseph Randle’s arrest for shoplifting some cologne and some underwear because he supposedly did not want to wait in a long line at the cashier to pay for those items, can I please get someone at ESPN or FOX Sports1 to stop calling this a bad decision. That was so far beyond a simple ‘bad decision’ that it is insulting to every person on earth who ever made a bad decision. Buying and holding Enron stock was a bad decision; wasting two hours of one’s life to see the movie Ishtar was a bad decision; shoplifting items because the cashier line was too long to wait in is not a bad decision; it is an indicator of a massive case of entitlement. The fact that he is now some kind of spokesthing for the underwear company ought to be embarrassing to the max – but entitled people seem not to understand the concept of embarrassment.”

(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.)

Bozon, Virtanen back in action . . . Tigers' defence rules . . . Wheaties scoring and scoring some more












D Tomáš Mojžíš (Moose Jaw, Seattle, 2000-03) has signed a one-year contract with TPS Turku (Finland, Liiga). He played for TPS in 2011-12. This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had a goal and an assist in six games. Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had five goals and eight assists in 50 games.
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Should the Edmonton Oilers keep C Leon Draisaitl, 18, or should the NHL team return him to the Prince Albert Raiders? Mark Spector of Sportsnet offers up his opinion right here. . . . Spector offered his opinon before a Friday night game in which Draisaitl scored his first NHL game as he Oilers beat the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, 6-3.
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Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail takes a look right here at the Alberta coaching tree and how idea sharing is such a big part of the way the men on that tree approach the game. He also points out how it all started with Clare Drake, a legend who somehow isn’t yet in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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FRIDAY'S REPORT:

In Red Deer, F Wyatt Johnson scored twice to help the Rebels to a 6-3 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Johnson, who has five goals, broke a 2-2 tie at 12:12 of the second period and made it 4-2 at 16:54. . . . F Grayson Pawlenchuk scored once and set up two others for Red Deer, which was 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Conner Bleackley drew three assists for the Rebels. . . . F Jari Erricson scored his ninth goal of the season for the Cougars. . . . F Tyler Sandhu, acquired by Red Deer from the Everett Silvertips earlier in the week, had a goal and an assist in his first game with the Rebels. . . .

In Cranbrook, defenceman-turned-forward Kenton Helgesen and F Greg Chase each scored twice as the Calgary Hitmen rattled the Kootenay Ice, 9-2. . . . Calgary held period leads of 2-0 and 5-1 as it outshot its hosts, 42-21. . . . The Hitmen broke open a 2-1 game with three goals in 2:07 late in the second period. . . . Calgary D Colby Harmsworth and F Terrell Draude each was plus-5. . . . Calgary had 13 skaters with at least one point. . . . Two of the WHL’s top offensive players returned to action for the first time this season. Calgary F Jake Virtanen had yet to play because of off-season shoulder surgery; Kootenay F Tim Bozon, who went through that battle with Neisseria meningitis in March, was out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Virtanen and Bozon each had one assist. . . . The Ice also had D Renat Valiev back in the lineup. He came back from the camp of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs with an injury and had yet to play. . . .

In Swift Current, the Broncos scored two power-play goals and beat the Regina Pats, 3-1. . . . F Carter Rigby snapped a 1-1 tie with his eighth goal, via the PP, at 1:37 of the second period and F Coda Gordon added another PP goal, his seventh goal this season, at 17:29. . . . Swift Current G Landon Bow stopped 32 shots. . . . The Broncos were 2-for-5 on the PP. . . . F Sam Steel got his third goal for the Pats. . . . Regina has recalled D Ryan Krushen, 16, from the minor midget Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings and he was in the lineup for this one. Krushen played in three exhibition games with the Pats before being released from their roster. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Portland Winterhawks scored three times in the third period and beat the Raiders, 5-2. . . . The Winterhawks are 3-2-0 on a six-game East Division swing that wraps up tonight in Saskatoon. . . . Portland D Layne Viveiros, whose father Emanuel starred on the Raiders' back end in the mid-1980s, had a goal and two assists, all in the third period. . . . F Mile Koules added a goal, his fourth, and two assists for Portland. . . . Portland G Bolton Pouliot stopped 29 shots. G Michael Bullion of the NAHL's Wenatchee, Wash., Wild was on the bench backing up Pouliot. . . . The Winterhawks lost F Alex Schoenborn to a headshot major and game misconduct at 10:06 of the third period for a hit on Raiders F Reid Gardiner, who left with a cut to his forehead and didn't return. . . . Jeff D'Andrea of panow.com has a gamer right here.

In Saskatoon, F Carter Folk scored three times to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 7-2 victory over the Blades. . . . The Hurricanes have won two in a row, both on the road. . . . The Blades had won their past three. . . . F Riley Sheen had three assists for the Hurricanes, while F Zane Jones scored twice and added an assist. . . . Lethbridge G Stuart Skinner stopped 33 shots. . . . Lethbridge was 2-for-6 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-for-6. . . . It was a costly loss for the Blades as they lost F Wyatt Sloboshan to a broken jaw suffered when he took a puck to the face in the first period. He'll be gone for up to two months. As well, F Alex Forsberg was injured in the first period and went for X-rays, but his status was unknown after the game. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported that the Blades, who are at home to the Portland Winterhawks tonight, are expected to call up F Luke Gingras, 16, from the major midget Valley West Hawks. Gingras, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft, is second in the B.C. Major Midget League scoring race, with 20 points in eight games. . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers scored the game’s first two goals, both on the PP, and went on to beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-1. . . . The Tigers, the WHL’s top defensive club to this point, have allowed 18 goals in 12 games. . . . The Warriors have dropped 11 straight regular-season games in Medicine Hat. . . . D Tommy Vannelli scored his fifth goal at 3:04 of the second period and D David Quenneville added his second at 8:35 of the third. . . . Tigers F Chad Butcher got his 10th goal of the season late in the third period. . . . Medicine Hat was 2-for-7 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-4. . . . Moose Jaw F Jack Rodewald had one assist to run his point streak to nine games. . . . Tigers G Nick Schneider stopped 24 shots to run his record this season to 4-0-0. Schneider, a 17-year-old from Leduc, Alta., was 6-0-0 with the Tigers last season, after being acquired from the Regina Pats. . . .

In Victoria, the Royals scored two PP goals and beat the Vancouver Giants, 2-1. . . . The Royals have won three straight. . . . D Travis Brown, at 12:52 of the first period, and F Brandon Magee, at 4:32 of the second, gave the home side a 2-0 lead. . . . F Carter Popoff scored for the Giants, at 3:02 of the third. . . . Victoria G Coleman Vollrath stopped 28 shots, one more than Vancouver’s Payton Lee. . . . The teams meet in Victoria again tonight. . . .

In Everett, F Nikita Scherbak broke a 1-1 tie with a PP goal at 8:30 of the third period as the Silvertips got past the Tri-City Americans, 3-1. . . . Scherbak added an empty-netter, his seventh goal in eight games, at 18:28. . . . Tri-City G Eric Comrie stopped 35 shots, including all 21 he faced in the first period. The Americans were outshot 21-3 that period. . . . Everett D Kevin Davis, the 11th overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft, had two assists. Davis is from Kamloops. . . . Everett G Carter Hart stopped 12 shots. . . . The game almost didn’t come off as the Silvertips gave serious consideration to postponing it following a shooting earlier in the day at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. The Silvertips have a number of season-ticket holders from Marysville. According to Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “Silvertips executive vice president Zoran Rajcic said the team was leaning toward postponing Friday's game at Xfinity Arena. However, after consulting with leaders in the community, including representatives from the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville School District, the Tips decided to play the game as scheduled.” . . . Patterson also reported that the Silvertips “planned several steps to honor the victims during Friday's game. A moment of silence was scheduled prior to the singing of the national anthem; game operations were to be toned down, including not using the goal horn during pregame introductions; and staff members wore red jerseys, which is Marysville-Pilchuck's primary color.” . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Justin Hickman scored twice and added two assists as the host Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 5-3. . . . D Jason Fram gave the Chiefs a 1-0 first period lead, but Seattle scored three times in 4:46 in the second period, with two of those coming via the PP. . . . Hickman’s goals were his first of the season. . . . His second goal, 29 seconds into the third period, proved to be the winner. . . . F Mathew Barzal had a goal, his sixth, and two assists for Seattle. . . . Seattle D Ethan Bear returned from a three-game absence. He sat out after suffering a nasty cut during a fight. . . .

In Kamloops, F John Quenneville returned from injury to score a goal and add three assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings dumped the Blazers, 8-5. . . . The Wheat Kings have won four straight games, scoring, in order, 8, 10, 7 and 8 goals. . . . Quenneville took part in his first full practice on Thursday in Kamloops after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. . . . F Jayce Hawryluk got his 10th goal and three assists for the Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Rihards Bukarts, giving him 23 points in 13 games, while D Ryan Pilon and F Jayce Hawryluk each had three assists. . . . Pilon was plus-5, as was his partner, Russian freshman Ivan Provorov, who ran his goal-scoring streak to four games with his seventh goal. . . . Bukarts has goals in five straight games and points in nine straight. . . . F Cole Ully drew four assists for the Blazers, leaving him with 26 points, tops in the WHL. . . . Ully came out of the game atop the scoring race, three points ahead of Bukarts. . . . F Deven Sideroff, who plays on a line with Ully, scored three times, while F Matt Needham, the centre on the line, had three assists. . . . Sideroff, a freshman from Summerland, B.C., has eight goals. . . . Brandon G Logan Thompson stopped 29 shots in his second start of the season. You can bet that Brandon will go back to starter Jordan Papirny tonight in Kelowna against the Rockets. . . . The Blazers, meanwhile, rode the bus all night to Kennewick, Wash., where they will play the Tri-City Americans tonight. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has a gamer right here.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whoa! Check out that third sweater . . . Warriors talking mental health awareness . . . Raiders add veteran forward








F Martin Filo (Moose Jaw, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). Filo had been released last week by Unia Oświęcim (Poland, Ekstraliga) without playing a game.
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I don’t get too excited over the third sweaters that are trotted out on a regular basis by sporting teams in this day and age. The novelty has long since worn off.
But every once in a while one comes along that catches my eye and makes me say: Whoa!
The Prince Albert Raiders have come up with just such a sweater, one that they trot out on Nov. 7 against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, which is only fitting. Seattle is the only WHL city that also is home to a Major League Baseball team, and Conexus Baseball Night will definitely have a baseball theme.
Thus the baseball-themed sweaters.
The Raiders will wear these sweaters and they will be auctioned off live right after the game. Proceeds will go to the Raiders education fund.
A special guest in the person of former MLB pitcher Jack Morris will be on hand, too.
According to a Raiders news release: “The entire night will revolve around baseball! We will be playing some baseball themed music, having special promotions, hot dogs will be on sale in the concessions and we encourage fans to wear their baseball jerseys!”
Morris will be in Prince Albert as he is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the Kinsmen Sportsman Dinner on Nov. 8 in the Art Hauser Centre.
BTW, the Victoria Royals will get into the third sweater act tonight as they open a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the visiting Vancouver Giants. Just a hunch, but I’m thinking black might figure in the Royals’ new-look colour scheme.
The Royals, who are opening a five-game homestand, are coming off a six-game road trip that produced four victories. Earlier this season, the Giants twice beat the Royals, 3-1 and 5-3, in Vancouver.
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A tip of the hat to the Moose Jaw Warriors for the work involving mental health awareness that the organization is doing. Donna Boyer, the Moose Jaw branch director with the Canadian Mental Health Association, held a three-hour presentation for the Warriors on Tuesday, dealing at length with the safeTALK program. In attendance were players, billet families and the team’s staff. Katie Brickman of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has more right here.
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What the Moose Jaw Warriors are doing is terribly important as we work hard to increase mental health awareness in all corners of our society. . . . “I think, first and foremost, we just wanted them to understand that they can talk,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, told Brickman. “There are people within the organization and people outside the organization that if for any reason they are overwhelmed or not feeling right or anything that there are people to talk to. I think the education is about eliminating that stigma that you hide from it.” . . . While the OHL has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association on a program called Talk Today, the WHL appears to be content to allow individual teams to address the situation. In Prince George, the Cougars are working with Dr. Saul Miller, a long-time performance consultant and mental coach. He is in daily contact with Cougars head coach Mark Holick and deals individually with players. If Holick feels a player is acting out of character, he is quick to inform Dr. Miller, who has a PhD in clinical psychology. He is available to players on a 24/7 basis and the emphasis is definitely not on game performance.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have added veteran F Marcus Messier, 20, to their roster. Messier’s arrival gives the Raiders three 20-year-olds as he fills the spot that opened up when F Dakota Conroy left the team and was placed on the suspended list. . . . Messier, from Canmore, Alta., also has played with the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He played two games with the Chiefs this season before getting caught up in the 20-year-old game and being released. In 229 regular-season games, he has 67 points, including 26 goals. Messier was a second-round selection by the Americans in the WHL’s 2009 bantam draft.
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The Kootenay Ice is struggling to score goals; in fact, they are the second lowest-scoring team in the WHL. So they really are looking forward to the return of F Tim Bozon, something that is supposed to happen tonight against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has more right here.
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Daniel Nugent-Bowman, who covers the WHL and the Saskatoon Blades for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, takes a look right here at the fallout from the class-action lawsuit that was filed against the CHL on Oct. 17. “Combine the unexpected news with rumblings of a players’ union that re-emerged this summer,” he writes, “and there appears to be at least some appetite for systematic change.” However, as he points out, people need to be careful what they wish for.
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The Regina Pats are averaging 3,642 fans through six home games. The franchise’s new owners would like to see more bums in the seats, but they aren’t about to push the panic button. "We have a long-term plan. It's early. We're still learning ourselves,” Anthony Marquart, the president of Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group, tells Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post right here. "(But) we're committed to doing our best to put the best product on the ice and improve the game-day experience. Over time I'm confident we'll have more people coming to the games."
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NHLChico Resch, one of hockey’s good guys, will be honoured tonight by the New Jersey Devils. Resch, who was born in Moose Jaw, was a long-time member of the Devils’ broadcast crew before retiring after last season. There was a time back in the day when he had a stint as the head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. . . . Rich Chere of nj.com has more right here.
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Elliotte Friedman starts his weekly 30 Thoughts with a look at the value of young NHL defencemen. These days, it seems, a team can’t win a Stanley Cup without one. Friedman’s piece is right here.
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In case you missed it, the Toronto Blue Jays have raised the price of most of their season-ticket packages. The announcement was made on Thursday. Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star has that story right here. Two questions: 1. When will the price increases end, and I mean the cost of everything, from utilities to fruits and veggies to event tickets; and, 2. Rogers, which owns the Blue Jays, wouldn’t be using money from the Blue Jays to fund the 12-year NHL package, would it?
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Two of the highest-scoring teams in the WHL meet up tonight in Kamloops as the Blazers (8-5-1) entertain the Brandon Wheat Kings (9-2-1). The Blazers have scored 51 goals in 14 games, including seven in their last outing, a 7-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. The Wheat Kings, who opened this road trip with a 7-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday, have scored 66 goals, including 25 in their last three games. . . . Kamloops F Cole Ully leads the WHL scoring race, with 22 points, including nine goals. Brandon F Rihards Bukarts has 20 points, seven of them goals, in 12 games. . . . Bruce Luebke, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted yesterday that F John Quenneville, who has missed six games with an undisclosed injury, is back practising without any restrictions. . . . Join me on Twitter tonight if you want to follow along. . . .

An interesting tidbit from Neal’s Notes. Andy Neal, who works WHL games for Shaw-TV, was in Swift Current this week and chatted with Portland Winterhawks assistant coach Kyle Gustafson.
Neal writes that Gustafson “paid quite the compliment to (Brandon Wheat Kings D Kyle) Clague . . . saying he might be the best 16-year-old defenceman he’s ever seen. Remember, this comes from a coach who just had Derrick Pouliot to work with the last four years and was pretty impressive in his rookie year, too.”
Keep in mind, too, that Gustafson is into his 11th season on the Winterhawks’ coaching staff. . . .

Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that Silvertips F Dawson Leedahl has “damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and likely will need surgery which will sideline him for four to six months.” Leedahl, 18, was injured Saturday as the Silvertips bet the host Spokane Chierfs, 3-2, in overtime. . . .

F Dillon Dube of the Kelowna Rockets won’t be taking part in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge next month in Sarnia, Ont. Warren Henderson of the Kelowna Capital News reports that Dube suffered an undisclosed injury on Saturday during a 5-2 loss to the host Tri-City Americans. According to Henderson, Dube will be out for up to six weeks. He missed the start of the season with another injury and has only played in two games. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades have won five of their last six games and they’ll entertain the Lethbridge Hurricanes tonight. Saskatoon’s power-play is 6-for-11 over its last four games, three of which have been victories. . . . Saskatoon D Ryan Coghlan injured a shoulder during a fight on Wednesday night and won’t play tonight. . . .

Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reported via Twitter on Thursday that Giants F Jakob Stukel (hand) “got some skating in on the side at the end” of the team’s practice. Stukel “avoided pucks,” according to Ewen, who added: “Still seems ways away.” . . .

The Regina Pats got their roster down to 23 on Thursday by releasing F Rylee Zimmer, 17, from their roster. He will join the MJHL’s WayWayseecappo Wolverines. Zimmer, from Russell, Man., had one goal in four games this season. He was pointless in 44 games last season. He was a fifth-round selection by the Pats in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes 14 forwards and six defencemen, along with three goaltenders.
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THE COACHING GAME:

Billy McGuigan is back with the Maritime Hockey League’s Summerside Western Capitals. McGuigan has signed on as their head coach, replacing Tom Schurman who was fired earlier in the week. McGuigan was the Capitals’ head coach for two seasons before spending last season as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Regina Pats.

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Dickson Liong: Canucks represent country with win over Blues

Dickson Liong

A Canuck is more than someone who plays for the Vancouver Canucks.
At 10 o’clock every morning in most cities, children are in school studying, while other folks are busy in their work places.
Not in Ottawa on Wednesday. 
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian honour guard, was in front of the National War Memorial. He was on location to greet anyone who came by. But, on this day, he met a man with a rifle and was shot dead.
That gunman was later identified as 32-year-old Michael Zehab-Bibeau.
After killing Cirillo, Zehab-Bibeau made his way to Parliament Hill, where all three of the major political parties were holding their weekly caucus meetings. He managed to enter the building and began firing.
Officers returned fire, and Zehab-Bibeau was shot dead.
Immediately, a lot of the city was placed on lockdown. People were told to stay at home, employees stayed in their offices, and students were locked in schools. No one was doing what they had expected to be doing.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators were scheduled to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs at 4 p.m.
“I can't speak for the players,” Dave Nonis, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager said when asked how the team was handling the situation. “From what I saw, they handled (the situation) very well. We're very fortunate to be in a safe environment here. You think more about what's going on outside.
“You hear a lot, obviously from the sirens and what you follow on television, that it was a serious and  significant event. I don't think the players could probably shield themselves from that. It's something that was in every players' room and, unfortunately, that's the world we live in today.”
The NHL only had one decision to make, though, and that was  to postpone the game after such tragic events.
“It catches you off-guard,” Nonis told reporters. “But unfortunately these events have happened in the past, (just) not necessarily with hockey. The league was quick to react to it. We were aware very early on that this was a possibility that the game may be cancelled. The players prepared to play, they went through the morning rituals that they normally would. But, unfortunately, the situation put out that it wasn't possible.”
It goes to show that there are more things in life than hockey.
“Well, obviously, we respect the league's decision to cancel the game,” Nonis said. “(These) events far outweigh a hockey game. We look forward to coming back and playing the game when they see fit to schedule it. Our thoughts go out to all the people affected and the police force that you could hear working so hard all day. Again, a hockey game is definitely secondary (to this).”
The shootings didn't just affect Ottawa and the everyone in the city. They took a toll on the entire country.
“On behalf of our organization, we'd like to (send) all of our thoughts and prayers (to) everyone affected by the events this morning in Ottawa,” Edmonton Oilers' head coach Dallas Eakins said. “It's a sobering day.”
While the game in Ottawa was postponed, the Oilers were scheduled to play host to the Washington Capitals.
Barry Trotz, the Capitals' head coach, was born in Winnipeg, so has Canada in his blood.
“That's just where society is right now,” Trotz said. “I mean, we probably face a little more of that type of thing in the United States, but we also have 10 times the population. It is becoming a little more common. I think the NHL is doing the right thing by keeping people safe and keeping people off the streets until they can find if there's more people involved. I think it's a real strong move by not only the city of Ottawa, but also by the NHL to recognize that, (to) keep people in their houses and safe.”
A moment of silence was held prior to Edmonton facing off with Washington.
The Oilers were able to honour the military with a 3-2 victory over the Capitals.
As well, the United States showed great support during Canada's difficult times. So did the Pittsburgh Penguins.
When two American teams play, as a rule only the Star Spangled Banner is played prior to a game. When a Canadian team visits an American team or vice versa, both anthems are played.
But the Penguins decided Wednesday would be an exception to the rule. They played host to one of their arch-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, and O Canada, the Canadian national anthem, was included as a way to pay tribute.
One day after the horrific goings-on,  the Vancouver Canucks had to find a way to do the same. After all, a Canuck is a Canadian.
Vancouver not only represented the city, but also the country.
The visiting Canucks defeated the host St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Thursday night, snapping their two-game losing streak.
“I think that was a total team effort,” Vancouver forward Nick Bonino, who finished with a goal and an assist and was a plus-2, said. “That's something we've had all season. We just weren't getting the wins the last two games. So it's good to get (this) one, especially for (goaltender Ryan Miller, who played his former team for the first time). He was a wall back there. He made some huge saves and we are happy to win it for him.”
Miller made 31 saves.
But this victory was more than just two points. It was more than just the end of a two-game losing skid. It was more than a victory for Miller, who played against his former team.
This was a victory for all the soldiers who put on the uniforms for the nation.
They are the true Canucks.
NOTES: The game between Toronto and Ottawa has been re-scheduled for Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. PST. . . . Canucks F Daniel Sedin's point streak ended at six games in St. Louis. . . . Vancouver D Alex Edler played in his 500th career game. . . . The Canucks are right back at it on Friday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

(Dickson Liong is Taking Note’s Vancouver correspondent. Follow him on Twitter at @DLLiong.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another former WHLer checks in . . . Wheat Kings have an import overload . . . Another shutout for Whistle












F Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Kometa Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Honejsek started the season with the Espoo Blues (Finland, Liiga), scoring once in two games. He was loaned to Kiekko-Vantaa (Finland, Mestis), and had one assist in one game. He was released on Oct. 3.
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THE EMAIL BAG:

Following yesterday’s post that included some observations from a former WHL player, another emailed arrived from another former WHLer. Hopefully, this one also will provide some insight into life in the WHL.
Some excerpts, with team names changed to provide requested anonymity:
“Not to sound crazy, but looking at your post about how CHL teams pay their players, it seems there is a discrepancy in the payouts to players from each team. In (City A), I personally got $60 every two weeks, or $120 a month as a 16-year-old. So it outrages me when I hear people complain when they got more than me.
“In all, It was said that I made around $400-$500 as a player (according to tax records) every two weeks, but most of that went to my billets. It was included in my pay.
“There was a major difference between the teams in (City A) and (City B) when I played for them. The team in (City B) paid for gas and the team in (City A) did not. When I was 19 in (City B), I would make $185 or so plus gas, but in (City A) there would be no gas bonus.
“The league needs to hold each team accountable for fees to be paid to players, and not find loopholes or tax breaks in order to pay players less. Do you know how hard it is to fill up a car with gas to drive around your teammates when you make $60 every two weeks as a 16-year-old? Especially if your parents can't give you a MasterCard?
“The university promise has done wonders for me, but I wish there was more when I played hockey for my team, the team I bled and battled for.
“For a kid in the CHL, as a 16-year-old, $500 a month would be a lot, but logical. They would be able to not worry about those things when having to spend 40 to 50-plus hours a week at the rink or doing other things for the team. Players are not looking for millions, but fairness.
“Yes, the CHL does produce the most players and graduates more than any other league to high professional ranks, but this cannot be indicative or the main argument on why not to pay players more money. Make them feel like professionals and also like human beings.
“The best part about the ‘student-athlete’ part is that I graduated from high school at 17 years of age. For the two years after I graduated and still played in the WHL was I still considered a ‘student-athlete?’ Many players who I played with didn’t graduate high school, so how can they be all ‘student-athletes?’ This is all shady to me.
“Sorry for venting, but SOMETHING has to be done. Not for me, but for future, struggling players who do not have wealthy parents. Also, for what is most important, fairness.”
It also says something about the situation that this former WHL player twice asked for anonymity.
First, there was this: “I do not wish to be in the spotlight or even mentioned, as I have kids who will be participating in hockey in the upcoming years and I do not wish to impact their hockey careers.”
Later, this: “Please: Do not mention my name as mentioned before. My anonymity is important for my future and my children's future. Thank you.”
It would seem that intimidation, perceived or otherwise, still is a force in the game of hockey, on and off the ice. Of course, it has long been said that perception is reality in a lot of minds.
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Czech F Richard Nejezchleb, 20, has been returned to the Brandon Wheat Kings. A fifth-round pick by the New York Rangers in the 2014 NHL draft, he had been with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. . . . Nejezchleb suffered an undisclosed injury while with the Rangers team at the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and hasn’t played since. However, he now is healthy. . . . Once he rejoins the Wheat Kings, they will have 14 days to get down to the maximum of two import players. Their roster also includes Latvian F Rihards Bukarts, who turns 19 on Dec. 31, and freshman D Ivan Provorov, a 17-year-old Russian. . . . Brandon will be faced with a tough choice as Bukarts went into Wednesday night with 17 points, five of them goals, in 11 games. Last season, he put up 54 points, including 28 goals, in 65 games. Provorov is an early candidate as the Eastern Conference’s rookie of the year, with 12 points, five of them goals, in 11 games. . . . In 101 regular-season games with Brandon, Nejezchleb has 81 points, including 43 goals. Last season, in 66 games, he put up 57 points, 32 of them goals. . . . Should Brandon keep Nejezchleb, he would become its third 20-year-old, joining F Peter Quenneville, who was named captain earlier in the week, and D Eric Roy, who turns 20 on Friday. . . . As well, Nejezchleb has a two-game suspension hanging over his head, something left over from last season’s playoffs. . . . If you are wondering who might have room for a 20-year-old import: Only the Prince Albert Raiders have fewer than three 20s, and that’s after they suspended F Dakota Conroy who left them earlier this week. Each of the other 21 teams has two imports on its roster.
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WEDNESDAY'S REPORT:

In Swift Current, F Colby Cave scored with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to give the Broncos a 5-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Cave has two goals this season. . . . F Paul Bittner scored twice for Portland, pulling it to within a goal, at 4-3, at 17:50 of the third and getting them even at 19:17. He's got five goals this season. . . . D Max Lajoie had two goals and an assist for the Broncos. . . . F Chase De Leo scored his eighth goal of the season for Portland, now 2-2 on an East Division swing. . . . The Winterhawks, with goaltenders Brendan Burke and Adin Hill injured, started Bolton Pouliot and had Chantz Vinck of the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires on the bench as the backup. Michael Bullion, who has been with the NAHL's Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, is expected to join the Winterhawks today. . . . Vinck, 17, is from Weyburn, Sask., the hometown of former Portland D Derrick Pouliot. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Alex Forsberg's two goals helped the Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Forsberg's second goal, at 17:22 of the first period, broke a 2-2 tie. He has five goals over his last three games. . . . Blades G Nik Amundrud stopped 31 shots to earn his first WHL victory. . . . Ice F Jaedon Descheneau picked up his 200th regular-season point in his 203rd game when he scored his club's second goal, his sixth this season. . . . The Ice, which has lost three straight, is hoping that F Tim Bozon, who is out with an undisclosed injury, can make his season's debut on Friday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Calgary expects to have F Jake Virtanen play his first game of the season after off-season shoulder surgery. . . . In the NHL last night, F Sam Reinhart, who is eligible to be returned to Kootenay, played 9:51 for the Buffalo Sabres in a 4-1 loss to the host Anaheim Ducks. In faceoffs, he was 1-for-8. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has a game story right here. Ice head coach Ryan McGill said: “Our performance was embarrassing.” . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has a gamer right here. He reports that Blades D Ryan Coghlan suffered a shoulder injury in a second-period fight and will be re-evaluated today.

In Kamloops, the Blazers had 16 players get at least one point as they whipped the Vancouver Giants, 7-2. . . . The Blazers (8-5-1) moved into second place in the Western Conference. . . . The game turned early in the second period when the Blazers took a 3-0 lead by scoring twice in 12 seconds, F Jake Kryski getting his fifth at 3:09 and F Matt Needham his seventh at 3:21. . . . F Cole Ully had a goal, his ninth, and an assist for Kamloops. He's atop the WHL scoring race with 22 points, two more than Kelowna F Nick Merkley and Medicine Hat F Cole Sanford. . . . The Blazers put it away with four third-period goals. . . . Vancouver's PP was 0-for-7. . . . Kamloops G Cole Kehler stopped 28 shots in a solid outing. . . . The Giants were 8-0-0 against Kamloops last season and had won the only meeting this season, beating the visitors 3-0 on Friday. . . . These teams won't meet again until Dec. 30 in Vancouver. . . . Prior to the game, a moment of silence was held in memory and in honour of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. . . .

In Prince George, the Brandon Wheat Kings opened a seven-game road swing with a 7-4 victory over the Cougars. . . . Freshman F Nolan Patrick and sophomore F Rihards Bukarts each had two goals and an assist for the Wheat Kings. . . . Bukarts has at least one assist in eight straight games. . . . Bukarts has seven goals; Patrick has four. . . . Brandon D Ivan Provorov scored his sixth goal. . . . The Cougars got to within 5-4 at 12:07 of the third, when F Chase Witala scored his seventh goal, but the Wheat Kings, who were 4-for-8 on the PP, put it away with two late ones, from Patrick on a PP and Bukarts into an empty net. . . . The Wheat Kings are in Kamloops on Friday. . . . Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has a game story right here.

In Kelowna, G Jackson Whistle stopped 22 shots as the Rockets beat the Tri-City Americans, 4-0. . . . Whistle has two shutouts in 11 appearances this season and five in his career. . . . The Rockets had taken their 10-0-0 record into Kennewick, Wash., on Saturday night and lost 5-2 to the Americans. . . . F Tyrell Goulbourne scored twice for Kelowna. He's got four goals this season. . . .

In Everett, F Kailer Yamamoto broke a 4-4 tie with 12.1 seconds left as the Spokane Chiefs beat the Silvertips, 5-4. . . . Yamamoto, 16, is a native of Spokane. . . . Everett (6-1-3) is the last of the WHL's 22 teams to lose in regulation time. . . . That was Yamamoto's first WHL goal. . . . F Nikita Scherbak had forged a 4-4 tie with his fifth goal at 11:06 of the third. . . . The Chiefs are 5-0-2 inside the U.S. Division.
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The Victoria Royals have acquired G Jayden Sittler, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Sittler, who is from Red Deer, was with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, going 2-2-0/3.04/.903. His acquisition leaves the Royals with three goaltenders, the other two being veteran Coleman Vollrath, 19, and Evan Smith, 17. . . . General manager Cam Hope told Marlon Martens, the radio voice of the Royals, that Smith was injured in practice on Tuesday. “That sped up our need to solidify the goaltending position with a player who can come in and play for us right now,” Hope said.
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F Skylar McKenzie of the Portland Winterhawks was handed a charging major and game misconduct in the final minute of their 3-1 victory over the Pats in Regina on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the WHL said it had “reviewed the charging major and GM . . . There will not be any further discipline.” . . .
In case you missed it, here’s Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill, in conversation with Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, after a 3-2 loss to the Raiders in Prince Albert on Tuesday: ““When you have a good game plan, you’ve got to execute. “Unfortunately, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him wear a bathing suit.” . . .
Don’t forget that WHL teams will have players leaving next week to compete at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge that runs Oct. 31 through Nov. 8 in the Sarnia, Ont., area. . . .
Another KHL head coach has bit the dust. Traktor Chelyabinsk fired Karri Kivi on Wednesday, replacing him with Andrei Nikolishin. Traktor was 7-13 under Kivi, leaving it ninth and out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Kivi is the fourth KHL head coach to be fired this month.
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