Friday, September 30, 2016

Lethbridge d-man quits hockey . . . Chiefs move out goaltender . . . Cougars win fifth straight

D Nick Watson of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has left the team and has decided to “stop playing hockey,” according to a news release. . . . “I’ve been struggling with this for the past three or four
weeks,” Watson said in the news release, “ but I tried to tough it out because hockey has been my life the whole way through. But, at the end of the day, I had to make a decision that makes me happy. Hockey is hockey, it’s a sport, but if you’re not happy playing it then there no reason to play it.” . . . From Delta, B.C., Watson was a second-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. Last season, as a freshman, he had one assist in 33 games. He was pointless in one game this season. . . . “First of all,” said Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, “this is bigger than the game of hockey, it’s a life decision for Nick, not anything to do with hockey other than he’s lost his passion to play the game. It puts it in perspective of how hard this game is to play for the guys that do stick it out. It’s not easy to lose a quality 17-year-old defenceman, but we will have to do our best to back fill in any way we possibly can.” . . . Watson agreed that he has lost his passion for the game. “I don’t think it’s fair to my team or to my coaches that if I go out there and I’m not enjoying it and giving it half effort, I just don’t think it’s fair to the team,” he said. “My plan is to go back to school back home and improve my marks and hopefully get into post-secondary and pursue my dream of entering into the sports medicine field. I need to set myself up for the future and see what happens.”
Former WHL player and coach Bob Lowes, 53, has left the Ottawa Senators for the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise, where he will be the assistant director of player personnel. . . . Lowes, who played for the Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats (1982-84) and was head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings (1992-2001) and Pats (2001-04) and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been with the Senators since 2006-07. He had been Ottawa’s chief amateur scout for the past two seasons. . . . As the coach in Brandon, he worked under Kelly McCrimmon, who now is the assistant GM in Las Vegas.
The three-year entry-level contract that D Ondrej Vala of the Kamloops Blazers signed with the NHL’s Dallas Stars has a maximum value of US$2,040,000, according to . . . The contract carries NHL-level salaries of $630,000 in 2016-17, $705,000, and $705,000, with an AHL salary of $60,000 each season. . . . There is a $165,000 signing bonus payable in three instalments. . . . Vala, 18, is from Czech Republic. He signed with the Stars as a free agent. He is into his second season with the Blazers.
The Spokane Chiefs are down to 26 players, including two goaltenders, after dropping G Matt Berlin, 18, from their roster on Friday. Berlin is expected to join the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. . . . Berlin, from Edmonton, got into six games with the Chiefs last season, going 1-1-2, 4.38, .851. . . . The move leaves the Chiefs with two goaltenders — Jayden Sittler, 20, and Dawson Weatherill, 17 — both of whom are from Red Deer. Sittler was acquired over the summer from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Weatherill came over from the Red Deer Rebels earlier this week. . . . The Chiefs also are carrying nine defencemen and 15 forwards.
Fred Marsh died Wednesday in Kamloops at the age of 81. You may never have heard of him but his handiwork is in evidence almost every time a hockey game is played on a regulation or Olympic-size ice surface. Marsh invented the Marsh Flexible Goal Peg system. . . . Adam Williams of Kamloops This Week has more on Marsh right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Hayden Clayton, 16, to a WHL contract. From Red Deer, Clayton is an undrafted list player who earned a contract with his performance in this season’s training camp. Last sason, with the minor midget Red Deer Northstar Chiefs, he had 24 points, including 16 goals, in 34 games. . . . The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder is expected to play this season with the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds have dropped F Garan Magnes, 19, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. He had two assists in 12 games with Seattle last season after being acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings. In 61 games with Edmonton over three seasons, he had two goals and five assists. . . . Seattle gave up a seventh-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft for Magnes. . . . 
F Nolan Patrick, 18, who is into his third WHL season, has been named the 59th captain in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ franchise history. . . . F Tyler Sandhu, 20, has been named captain of the Tri-City Americans. He is into his fifth WHL season, having also played with the Everett Silvertips and Red Deer Rebels. He played his 100th regular-season game with the Americans on Sunday. . . . F Keegan Iverson, 20, is the 19th captain in the history of the Portland Winterhawks. The native of St. Louis Park, Minn., was given the ‘C’ on Friday as he prepared to start his fifth WHL season.
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At Lethbridge, F Ryley Lindgren broke a 4-4 tie at 18:47 of the third period as the Hurricanes got past the Kootenay Ice, 5-4. . . . The Hurricanes (2-1-0) actually led this one 3-0 when F Jesse Zaharichuk, an off-season acquisition from the Ice, scored at 17:13 of the first period. . . . However, the Ice scored three times in the second period, tying it on a goal by F Zak Zborosky at 5:54. The three goals came in a span of 1:26, with F Kaeden Taphorn and F Barrett Sheen, who went the other way in the Zaharichuk deal, scoring the other two. . . . D Brennen Menell put the home side out front again at 6:43 of the third period, but Sheen tied it again at 12:16. . . . Zaharichuk added three assists to his goal, while Lindgren, F Colton Kroeker and F Brayden Burke had two assists apiece, and F Egor Babenko had a goal and an assist. . . . Lethbridge G Stuart Skinner made 25 saves, while Payton Lee stopped 41 shots for the Ice (1-1-2). . . . The Hurricanes were 1-4 on the PP; the Ice was 0-1. . . . Announced attendance: 2,986.
At Medicine Hat, the Tigers unleashed a 45-shot attack en route to a 5-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Medicine Hat F Ryan Chyzowski broke a 1-1 tie with his first WHL goal at 9:50 of the second period. . . . F Matt Bradley and F Ryan Jevne each had a goal and an assist for the Tigers (2-1-0), while F Caleb Fantillo had two assists. . . . Medicine Hat G Nick Schneider stopped 23 shots. The Blades (1-2-0) got 40 saves from Logan Flodell. . . . Medicine Hat was 0-1 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-3. . . . Announced attendance: 4,014.
At Moose Jaw, F Evan Polei’s goal at 1:09 of OT gave the Red Deer Rebels a 4-3 victory over the Warriors. . . . It was the third time in as many games that the Rebels (1-0-2) couldn't settle things in regulation time. . . . After F Jeff de Wit gave Red Deer a 1-0 lead at 8:12 of the first period, the Warriors (1-1-0) scored three straight goals. F Noah Gregor tied it at 19:49, with F Brett Howden making it 2-1 at 4:19 of the second period and D Jett Woo upping the lead to two at 7:09. . . . Red Deer D Josh Mahura scored a PP goal at 5:06 of the third period and F D-Jay Jerome tied it, at 12:30, with his third goal of the season. . . . Red Deer G Riley Lamb stopped 33 shots, while Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko turned aside 17. . . . Moose Jaw held a 31-12 edge in shots through two periods. . . . The Rebels were 1-2 on the PP; the Warriors were 0-4. . . . Announced attendance: 3,087.

At Prince George, F Brad Morrison’s two goals led the Cougars to their fifth straight victory, 4-1 over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Cougars are 5-0-0 for the first time in franchise history. . . . Their first four victories came on the road, so this one was their home-opener. . . . F Colby McAuley and F Brogan O’Brien each had two assists for the home boys, with F Yan Khomenko scoring once and adding an assist. . . . Khomenko, an 18-year-old Russian, had five goals and three assists in 46 games with Everett last season. He’s got two goals and two assists in five games with the Cougars. . . . F Jake Kryski gave the Rockets (1-3-0) a 1-0 lead at 2:45 of the first period, marking the first time the Cougars have trailed this season. . . . Morrison tied it at 17:21 and got the eventual winner, on a PP, at 2:34 of the second period. . . . G Ty Edmonds stopped 15 shots for the victory, while Kelowna’s Michael Herringer made 40 saves. . . . The Cougars were 3-10 on the PP; the Rockets were 0-3. . . . Announced attendance: 5,282.
At Portland, F Graham Millar’s goal with 13.2 seconds left in the second period broke a 1-1 tie and sent the Everett Silvertips on to a 3-1 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . F Patrick Bajkov gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 11:48 of the first period. . . . Portland F Alex Overhardt tied it, shorthanded, four minutes later. . . . F Matt Fonteyne provided the visitors with insurance at 3:09 of the third period. . . . Everett G Carter Hart blocked 31 shots, one more than Michael Bullion of Portland. . . . Everett (3-0-0) was 1-5 on the PP; Portland (2-1-0) was 0-3. . . . D Mackenzie Dwyer, 19, was in Everett’s lineup for the first time since Jan. 18. . . . Announced attendance: 4,151.

At Prince Albert, F Glenn Gawdin broke a 2-2 at 17:33 of the second period and the Swift Current Broncos went on to beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-2. . . . The game marked the return of Emanuel Viveiros, the Broncos’ first-year head coach, to the Art Hauser Memorial Centre. Viveiros starred with the Raiders for four seasons (1982-86) and was an integral part of the team that won the 1985 Memorial Cup. He played for three seasons with Raiders associate coach Dave Manson and two seasons with Curtis Hunt, now Prince Albert’s general manager. . . . Broncos F Arthur Miller added insurance at 16:22 of the third period and F Lane Pederson, who had two assists, got the empty-netter, at 19:59. . . . Gawdin also had an assist. . . . G Austin Glover and F Simon Stransky each had a goal and an assist for the Raiders (1-2-0). . . . G Travis Child stopped 21 shots for the Broncos (2-1-0), while Ian Scott turned aside 30 at the other end. . . . The Broncos were 0-4 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-3. . . . Raiders D Cody Paivarinta, an 18-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., played only his second game since Jan. 5. An undisclosed injury limited him to one game after Jan. 5 last season. . . . Announced attendance: 2,173. . . . The Broncos are at home to the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight (Saturday). Jamie LeBlanc, the Broncos’ trainer, will work his 1,000th CHL game.
At Regina, F Sam Steel, in his first game after returning from the camp of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, scored twice to help the Pats to a 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Steel’s first goal, just 14 seconds into the second period, gave the Pats (2-0-1) a 3-1 lead. . . . The Oil Kings tied it on goals from F Trey Fix-Wolansky, at 1:12, and F Lane Bauer, shorthanded, at 9:43. . . . Regina F Filip Ahl broke the tie at 11:18 and F Luc Smith added insurance at 12:08 of the third period. . . . Steel got his second goal at 15:22. . . . F Riley Woods and Ahl each had a goal and an assist for Regina, with F Nick Henry and F Rykr Cole each earning two assists. . . . F Tyler Robertson had two assists for Edmonton (2-1-0). . . . G Jordan Hollett stopped 34 shots for Regina, two fewer than Edmonton’s Patrick Dea. . . . Hollett stopped Edmonton F Davis Koch on a second-period penalty shot. The Pats were leading 3-2 at the time. . . . Regina was 2-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-3. . . . Announced attendance: 3,749.
At Langley, B.C., F Matthew Wedman scored two goals to help the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . F Radovan Bondra, who scored both Vancouver goals, opened the scoring at 4:56 of the first period. . . . Wedman tied it at 12:58 and F Alexander True gave the visitors the lead at 1:09 of the second period. . . . Wedman got what turned out to be the winner at 13:50. . . . D Anthony Bishop had two assists for Seattle. . . . The Thunderbirds improved to 1-1-0, while the Giants fell to 0-4-0. . . . Seattle G Carl Stankowski stopped 15 shots as he won in his WHL debut. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck turned aside 17 shots. . . . The Thunderbirds were 0-3 on the PP; the Giants were 0-1. . . . The Giants had F Thomas Foster and F Alex Baer back from injuries, while F Ty Ronning, who had been in camp with the NHL’s New York Rangers, also played. . . . Announced attendance: 3,483.
At Victoria, F Matt Phillips scored the game’s only goal as the Royals beat the Kamloops Blazers, 1-0. . . . Phillips, freshly returned from the camp of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, struck on a breakaway, at 10:20 of the third period. . . . G Griffen Outhouse of the Royals (1-2-0) stopped 34 shots for his first shutout this season and the fifth of his career, which is into its second season. . . . G Connor Ingram, in his first start since returning from the camp of the Tampa Bay Lightning, blocked 23 shots for the Blazers (1-2-0). . . . Each team was 0-6 on the PP. . . . Announced attendance: 3,980.

SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

Red Deer at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Saskatoon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Calgary at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Portland vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Tri-City at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

SUNDAY GAMES (all times local):

Swift Current at Brandon, 4 p.m.
Edmonton at Prince Albert, 4 p.m.
Red Deer at Regina, 4 p.m.
Everett vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 5:05 p.m.

Kamloops vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 4 p.m.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blazers d-man gets pro deal . . . Wheaties add blueliner. . . . Ex-Everett coach to run U.S. squad

D Stefan Elliott (Saskatoon, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). Last season, with the Arizona Coyotes (NHL), he had two goals and four assists in 19 games. He also was pointless in two games with the Nashville Predators (NHL), and he had eight goals and 11 assists in 35 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). . . .
F Cam Reed (Portland, 2011-12) has been released by Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2). He had a goal and two assists in four games. . . .
F Petr Kalus (Regina, 2005-06) has been released by Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). He was pointless in three games.
“A group of former players suing the Canadian Hockey League (is) asking a Calgary judge to order 42 major junior teams to turn over their tax returns and financial statements dating back to 2011 to establish whether those franchises are profitable or lose money,” reports Rick Westhead of TSN. “The players are also asking an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge to order Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison and Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch to produce all of their leagues’ revenue-sharing agreements.
“Robison and Branch have testified that one third of the teams in the WHL and one third of the teams in the OHL lose money each season. Neither Branch nor a WHL spokesman responded to an email requesting comment.”
Westhead’s story is right here.
D Ondrej Vala of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s
Dallas Stars. Vala, a free-agent, played for the Stars entry at the Traverse City, Mich., prospects tournament. . . . The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Vala, 18, is from Kolin, Czech Republic. Last season, as a WHL freshman, he had 21 points, four of them goals, in 72 games. This season, he is pointless in two games. . . . A lot of NHL scouts showed up in Kamloops early last season to watch Vala and were disappointed in his play as he really struggled. Perhaps it was the culture shock, because he really picked up his play after Christmas when he appeared to be much more comfortable. Still, he wasn’t drafted and ended up in the camp of the Stars, whose owner, Tom Gaglardi, is the majority owner of the Blazers.
The Brandon Wheat Kings of recent vintage never have been shy about having players from southwestern Manitoba on their roster. They added another one on Thursday when they sent a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft to the Red Deer Rebels for D Zach Wytinck, 17. He was listed by the Rebels in 2015. . . . The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Wytinck, who has been playing with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars, is from Glenboro, which is about six slapshots south east of Brandon. Last season, he had 27 points, including six goals, in 44 games with the Cougars. . . . Wytinck is expected to skate with the Wheat Kings today (Friday). They are at home to the Rebels on Saturday night and the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday afternoon. . . . Brandon’s roster, which now sits at 24, includes eight players from Brandon and area, and five others from Winnipeg.
The Saskatoon Blades have dropped D Payton McIsaac, 16, from their roster. The move was made after D Libor Hajek returned from the camp of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . A second-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft, McIsaac had one assist in five exhibition games. He will return to the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. . . . The Blades’ roster now is at 24, including two goaltenders and seven defencemen. . . . Saskatoon visits the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday and the Kootenay Ice on Saturday. The Blades continue to play without injured forwards Cam Hebig and F Ryan Graham.

The Prince George Cougars trimmed two players off their roster on Thursday. . . . G Tavin Grant, 18, will be joining the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, while F Reid Perepeluk, 16, is off to the Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . The Spruce Kings, who acquired Grant’s rights from the junior B Kamloops Storm, made room for him by dealing G Liam McCloskey, 18, to the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. . . . The Cougars’ roster now is at 30 players, including two goaltenders and 11 defencemen. . . . The Cougars, at least for now, will go with Ty Edmonds, 20, and Nick McBride, 19, as their goaltenders. However, Edmonds is one of four 20-year-olds on the roster and that’s one over the maximum, so there will be movement there before Oct. 15.

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired F Dawson Martin, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. Martin, from Winnipeg, had two goals and nine assists in 60 games as a freshman last season. This season, he has one assist in two games. . . . The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Martin was a second-round pick by the Hitmen in the 2013 draft.
Among the players returned by NHL teams to the WHL on Thursday . . .
Calgary Hitmen — F Beck Malenstyn, Washington Capitals.
Kamloops Blazers — F Garrett Pilon, Washington Capitals.
Kelowna Rockets — D Lucas Johansen, Washington Capitals.
Moose Jaw Warriors — D Dmitri Zaitsev, Washington Capitals.
Regina Pats — D Connor Hobbs, Washington Capitals; F Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks.
Tri-City Americans — D Parker Wotherspoon, New York Islanders.
Victoria Royals — F Tyler Soy, Anaheim Ducks.
By my count, and it’s strictly unofficial, these are the WHL players still in NHL camps as of Thursday evening, not including 20-year-olds:
Brandon Wheat Kings — D Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers.
Calgary Hitmen — D Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes; F Matteo Gennaro, Winnipeg Jets; F Jordy Stallard, Winnipeg Jets.
Everett Silvertips — D Noah Juulsen, Montreal Canadiens.
Kelowna Rockets — F Nick Merkley, Arizona Coyotes.
Lethbridge Hurricanes — F Giorgio Estephan, Buffalo Sabres.
Prince Albert Raiders — D Brendan Guhle, Buffalo Sabres.
Prince George Cougars — F Jesse Gabrielle, Boston Bruins; F Jansen Harkins, Winnipeg Jets.
Red Deer Rebels — F Michael Spacek, Winnipeg Jets.
Regina Pats — F Austin Wagner, Los Angeles Kings.
Seattle Thunderbirds — F Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders; F Keegan Kolesar, Columbus Blue Jackets. (Kolesar will miss about six weeks after undergoing surgery for a supraumbilical hernia this week.)
Swift Current Broncos — F Colby Sissons, New Jersey Devils.
Vancouver Giants — F Tyler Benson, Edmonton Oilers.
Victoria Royals — D Chaz Reddekopp, Los Angeles Kings.
D Connor Hobbs has been returned to the Regina Pats by the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Apparently, he is OK after taking a hard hit from behind from F Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens in an exhibition game on Tuesday night. The NHL slapped Shaw with a three-game suspension on Thursday. Yes, he will miss three exhibition games. Because they are exhibition games, he won’t even lose any money. . . . Stop laughing!


The Calgary Hitmen have their roster down to 26 after releasing F Brayden 
Brown, 19, and F Bryce Platt, 18. . . . Brown, from Calgary, was pointless in two games with the Hitmen. He had eight points, including five goals, with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2014-15. Last season, he played three games with the Oil Kings and 12 with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. . . . Platt is form Regina. He had seven points, four of them goals, in 34 games with the Hitmen last season. This season, he had one assist in two games. . . . 
F Reid Gardiner, who is eligible to return the the Prince Albert Raiders for his 20-year-old season, has been in camp with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. On Thursday, he was sent to their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . .
F Brett Howden, just back from the camp of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, has been named captain of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . 
F Matt Campese, who was released last week by the Kamloops Blazers, will play for the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Campese, who turns 19 on Dec. 10, had 10 goals and six assists in 95 regular-season WHL games, 79 with Kamloops and 16 with the Victoria Royals. . . .
The Everett Silvertips have released D Gianni Fairbrother from their roster and he will play for the Vancouver-Northwest Giants of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Fairbrother, who turns 16 on Sept. 30, was the CSSHL Elite 15’s top defenceman last season while with the Burnaby Winter Club. He got into three playoff games with the Silvertips last season. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . 
F Jaeger White, 18, has joined the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. White, who is from Medicine Hat, had been released by the Brandon Wheat Kings. In 84 regular-season WHL games — he also played with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Everett Silvertips — he had five goals and 15 assists.
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Jay Varady, a former coach with the Everett Silvertips, has been named head coach of the U.S. Junior Selects, a team that will compete in the 2016 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta., Dec. 11-17. . . . Varady, from Cahokia, Ill., is in his fourth season as the head coach of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. He was the head coach of the U.S. team that won the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. He was with the Everett Silvertips for eight seasons (2003-11), serving as an assistant coach, associate coach and interim head coach during his time there. . . . Chris Hartsburg, the head coach of the USHL’s Lincoln Stars, will be one of Varady’s assistant coaches. He spent four seasons (2009-12) as an assistant coach in Everett.



No Games Scheduled.

FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

Kootenay at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Red Deer at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Everett at Portland, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Regina, 7 p.m.
Seattle vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Paper questions Tigers' attendance figures . . . Rebels, Chiefs swap goalies . . . Cougars dynamite on road

The Canalta Centre, the second-year home of the Medicine Hat Tigers, lost $440,000 — that’s $80,000 more than expected — in its first year of operation, reports Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News. . . . There are a couple of interesting notes in his story. . . . For starters, Jeff Dunham, a comedian and ventriloquist, drew the centre’s only sellout during its first year when a crowd of 6,124 showed up on March 18. . . . Gallant also reported that while figures compiled by the WHL indicate that the Tigers’ average attendance for 36 regular-season home games was 4,247, “a study by the News suggests that number was closer to 3,100 — about half the capacity of the one-year-old $75-million arena and one-quarter less than the number of seats in the Medicine Hat Arena.” . . . According to a report presented to a city committee, the total attendance including major events during the facility’s first 12 months of operation was 165,400. According to the report, 16 non-hockey events drew about 51,300 folks. Do the math and it shows that 114,100 fans attended Tigers’ games, an average of 3,083 per game. The WHL’s figures have the Tigers’ regular-season attendance total at 152,912. . . . Gallant’s complete story is right here.
The WHL is working towards digitizing statistics from the first 30 years of its existence. At the moment, you can only find on-line information from games played after 1996.
“There has been so much change in technology and just managing the new
website and the social media platforms,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “There are
reasons why we haven’t got to it, but we will get to it. We have to get
it completed and get it completed soon.”
Bergson dug up some numbers showing that when the QMJHL did it in 2005 “it took 24 people more than 12,000 hours over three years to
snap pictures of 10,000 scoresheets and then input the data.”
According to Bergson, one of the challenges faces by the WHL “is locating all of the scoresheets, which are scattered across Western Canada and the northwestern U.S. after 50 years.”
The Red Deer Rebels and Spokane Chiefs were involved in an exchange of goaltenders on Wednesday. The Rebels acquired Tyson Verhelst, 19, and a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft for G Dawson Weatherill, 17, and a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft. . . . Verhelst played two seasons with Spokane but the Chiefs revealed prior to training camp that he had chosen to quit hockey. As a result, the Chiefs acquired G Jayden Sittler, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . It came out last week that Verhelst, who is from Kemnay, Man., was on the Chiefs’ suspended list and that they were trying to trade him. . . . In 81 games with the Chiefs, he was 34-33-5, 3.31, .889. Last season, he was 23-22-5, 3.16, .892. . . . Verhelst was a third-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Earlier, the Rebels dealt G Rylan Toth, 20, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, indicating at that point that were prepared to go with Trevor Martin, 20, and Riley Lamb, 18, as their goaltenders. . . . The Rebels play this weekend in Moose Jaw, Brandon and Regina. Verhelst will skate in Red Deer over the weekend and then practise with his new teammates next week before seeing game action. . . . Weatherill, from Red Deer, was a second-round selection in 2014. He was 1-1-0, 3.69, .881 in five appearances with the Rebels last season, but hadn’t seen any action this season. . . . In Spokane, he will join Sittler, who also is from Red Deer, and Matt Berlin, an 18-year-old from Edmonton.
Among the WHL players returned by NHL teams on Wednesday:
Everett Silvertips — F Eetu Tuulola, Calgary Flames.
Kamloops Blazers — G Connor Ingram, Tampa Bay Lightning; F Deven Sideroff, Anaheim Ducks.
Kelowna Rockets — F Dillon Dube, Calgary Flames; F Calvin Thurkauf, Columbus Blue Jackets.
Moose Jaw Warriors — F Brett Howden, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prince Albert Raiders — G Rylan Parenteau, Vancouver Canucks.
Prince George Cougars — D Sam Ruopp, Columbus Blue Jackets.
Red Deer Rebels — D Josh Mahura, Anaheim Ducks; F Adam Musil, St. Louis Blues.
Saskatoon Blades — D Libor Hajek, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Swift Current Broncos — Max Lajoie, Ottawa Senators; F Lane Pederson, Arizona Coyotes.
With G Rylan Parenteau, who is to turn 20 on Nov. 16, on his way back from the camp of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, the Prince Albert Raiders’ roster now includes four 20-year-old players. Parenteau joins F Austin Glover, F Tim Vanstone and F Kolten Olynek. That number will swell to five if F Reid Gardiner is returned by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Parenteau is one of three goaltenders on the roster, joining sophomore Ian Scott, 17, and newcomer Curtis Meger, 18.
The Prince George Cougars learned Wednesday that D Sam Ruopp, 20, is on his way back from the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. His arrival will leave Prince George with four 20-year-olds, the others being F Colby McAuley, D Shaun Dosanjh and G Ty Edmonds. . . . Edmonds also is one of three goaltenders on the roster, along with Nick McBride, 19, and Tavin Grant, 18.
The Calgary Hitmen, meanwhile, placed D Scott Allan on waivers earlier in the week. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder from Denver cleared and now will rejoin the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Allan has played in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Seattle Thunderbirds and Medicine Hat Tigers. In 93 games, he has a goal and three assists. . . . The Hitmen are left with three 20s — F Tyler Mrkonjic, F Taylor Sanheim and D Micheal Zipp.
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning have returned G Connor Ingram, 19, to the Kamloops Blazers. He will join his teammates in Victoria where the Blazers will play the Royals in a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. . . . Ingram was 34-15-9, 2.61, .922 with the Blazers last season and now is in the running to be on the roster of Canada’s national junior team. . . . The Blazers have been going with Dylan Ferguson, who backed up Ingram last season, and Carter Phair, who was acquiredfrom the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sept. 6. Ferguson has been nursing a tender ankle left over from the first period of a 5-1 loss to the host Kelowna Rockets on Saturday.


F Keegan Kolesar of the Seattle Thunderbirds will be out for at least six weeks. Aaron Portzline, who covers the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets for the Columbus Dispatch, tweeted Wednesday that Kolesar has had “surgery for a supraumbilical hernia. . . . That is a hernia in the area of the navel. . . . Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Aportzline that the hernia didn’t have anything to do with hockey, that it developed on its own. . . . Last season, Kolesar, a 19-year-old Winnipegger, had 30 goals and 31 assists in 64 games with Seattle last season. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he also brings size to the Thunderbirds’ forward ranks. . . .
G Brandon Kegler, 19, is back with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The native of Leduc, Alta., was released earlier by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Kegler was 3.09, .910 in 22 games with Salmon Arm last season. . . . To make room for Kegler, the Silverbacks dealt G Mike Botiz to the Surrey Eagles for future considerations. . . . 
F Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens will be on the phone with the NHL’s department of safety today (Thursday) after he drilled D Connor Hobbs of the Washington Capitals into the end boards from behind in a Tuesday exhibition game. Hobbs, who is likely to be returned to the Regina Pats at some point this week, was left face down on the ice. However, he apparently wasn’t injured and returned to the game. . . . 
The Portland Winterhawks are without a director of player personnel with the news that Eric Doyle has left for a scouting position with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Doyle had been Portland’s director of player personnel since 2014. He is a former WHL defenceman, having played five seasons with the Everett Silvertips, Swift Current Broncos and Portland. He moved to Portland as a 20-year-old in 2009-10. . . . 
An interesting note from Jesse Geleynse of the Everett Herald, from the Silvertips’ Tuesday practice: “Everett practised a new drill for the first time. It involved kicking pucks toward the net (from outside the crease). A new WHL rule states that any goal that deflects off a skate from outside the (crease) is a goal — regardless of whether or not there was a ‘kicking motion.’ No surprise that Kevin Constantine’s squad is looking to use any rule change to its advantage.” . . . 
F Owen Hardy of the Vancouver Giants suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the visiting Prince George Cougars and apparently won’t play in weekend games. Hardy, 17, was a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He had five goals and four assists in 45 games last season. This season, he is pointless in three games.
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At Kelowna, G Ty Edmonds stopped 32 shots to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 2-1 victory over the Rockets. . . . The Cougars have opened the season with four straight victories, all on the road. . . . The two head coaches — Richard Matvichuk of the Cougars and Jason Smith of the Rockets — are in their first WHL seasons after combining to play in 1,804 regular-season and 191 playoff games in the NHL. . . . F Jared Bethune gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the season just 56 seconds into the game. . . . Kelowna F Tomas Soustal tied it at 13:53 of the second period, while shorthanded. . . . F Yan Khomenko’s first goal broke the tie at 18:14 of the second period. Bethune picked up the lone assist. . . . G Michael Herringer turned aside 24 shots for the Rockets (1-2-0). . . . The Cougars were 0-5 on the PP; the Rockets were 0-3. . . . The teams now head north for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Prince George. . . . Announced attendance: 4,341.

THURSDAY'S GAMES (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Broncos lost $$ on hockey, but still show profit . . . Americans fighting that bug again . . . Bethune's hat trick sparks Cougars

D Tomáš Slovák (Kelowna, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), he was pointless in five games. He also had two assists in 25 games with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga).
The Swift Current Broncos, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, showed a $140,000 profit for 2015-16 despite the fact that attendance was down by 7,000 over the previous season.
How does that work?
Well, the Broncos, who held their annual general meeting on Tuesday night, received what is known
as “extraordinary income” from the 2016 Women’s World Curling Championship that was held in Swift Current, and the 2016 Memorial Cup that was held in Red Deer.
During the curling event, according to a news release, the Broncos “took on the management of the box office, the concession and the suites, and shared in the management of the beer stands with the Swift Current Curling Club.”
As for the Memorial Cup, all of the WHL teams received a piece of the pie.
According to the Broncos, they would have lost $93,000 had it not been for the extraordinary income.
Do the math and you realize that the Broncos got about $230,000 from the curling and the Memorial Cup.
“Fortunately, through the great fan support and extraordinary efforts from our staff we were able to take a difficult on-ice season and turn it into a profitable year off the ice,” Liam Choo-Foo, the chairman of the Broncos’ board, said in a news release.
For 2014-15, the Broncos declared a profit of $133,465; it got a real boost from an adjustment of about $100,000 to the team’s education fund.
For 2013-14, the team announced a profit of $197,244.
Tuesday’s news release also noted that Broncos staff and players “contributed 795 hours to Swift Current and surrounding communities last (season), up 150 hours from the previous (season), and donated $5,700 worth of merchandise and tickets to various community fundraising events.”
The Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders are the WHL’s other community-owned franchises.
The Tri-City Americans will continue to carry three goaltenders for the next while as Evan Sarthou, their No. 1 guy last season, continues to recover from an undisclosed injury suffered while in camp with the U.S. national junior team in August. He is out week-to-week. Sarthou, from Black Diamond, Wash., played in 60 games with the Americans last season, going 26-28-2, 3.46, .888. . . . With Sarthou, 19, sidelined, the Americans are going with Beck Warm, 17, from Whistler, B.C., and Nicholas Sanders, 18, of Calgary. . . . Warm went into this season having played in one game, that in 2014-15. He has played both Tri-City games so far this season, going 1-1-0, 4.62, .857. . . . Playing behind Sarthou last season, Sanders got into 23 games, going 9-6-1, 2.99, .901. . . . The Americans also will be without F Jordan Topping for a few weeks after he was injured while in camp with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Topping, 19, had 67 points, including 33 goals, in 72 games last season. . . . Tri-City lost sophomore D Kurtis Rutledge, 19, when he was injured on Sunday. He’ll be out for a month. . . . On top of those injuries, veteran F Austyn Playfair, 19, and freshman D Seth Bafaro, 16, have yet to play as they recover from off-season surgery. . . . The result of all this is that the Americans still are carrying 29 players.
The WHL has yet to release information on how the Moose Jaw Warriors and host Brandon Wheat Kings will conclude the game that was suspended by fog on Saturday night. The Warriors had just scored to take a 2-1 second-period lead when a decision was made to suspend proceedings because of concerns about player safety. . . . Neil Thomson, the general manager of the Keystone Centre, which oversees Westman Place, has told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun that the facility takes the blame for what happened. . . . "It was just really a combination of different factors coming into play that one time at the home opener to come together to do it," Thomson told Bergson. "It’s our responsibility. It’s the Keystone Centre’s responsibility and I know that. We certainly apologize to the city, to the fans, to the Wheat Kings organization, to the Moose Jaw Warriors. We’ll do what we can to have it hopefully never happen again but we can’t guarantee it." . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.
The latest players to return to the WHL from the NHL:
Calgary Hitmen — F Jakob Stukel, Vancouver Canucks; F Carsen Twarynski, Philadelphia Flyers.
Everett Silvertips — G Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers.
Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Brennan Menell, Philadelphia Flyers; F Tyler Wong, Toronto Maple Leafs.
Portland Winterhawks — D Caleb Jones, Edmonton Oilers.
Regina Pats — D Sergey Zborovskiy, New York Rangers.
Seattle Thunderbirds — D Ethan Bear, Edmonton Oilers.
Swift Current Broncos — F Glenn Gawdin, St. Louis Blues.
Vancouver Giants — F Ty Ronning, New York Rangers.
Victoria Royals — F Jack Walker, Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals added 20-year-olds to their rosters on Tuesday. . . . The Hurricanes got F Tyler Wong back from the Toronto Maple Leafs, while F Jack Walker was returned to the Royals by the Maple Leafs. . . . Wong’s arrival leaves the Hurricanes with three 20-year-olds, as he joins F Ryley Lindgren and D Kord Pankewicz. Wong, the team captain, put up 89 points, including 43 goals, in 72 games last season. Wong also will sit out his first game back with Lethbridge, thanks to a one-game suspension left over from last season’s playoffs. . . . The Royals also have three 20-year-olds, with Walker joining F Carter Folk, who was acquired from Lethbridge earlier this month, and D Ryan Gagnon. Walker had 84 points, 36 of them goals, in 72 games last season.
There may be more than meets the eye to the decision by the Brandon Wheat Kings to drop the Thompson brothers, Tyler and Baron, from their roster. The brothers, from Lakeville, Minn., had been acquired from the Victoria Royals on Sept. 1. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun reported that Grant Armstrong, Brandon’s general manager, “had no comment on the decision.” . . . Bergson also reported that “two sources told The Sun that it was a non-hockey related matter.” . . . Neither Thompson had dressed for Brandon’s first two regular-season games. . . . Armstrong, of course, spent the previous four seasons with Victoria before moving to the Wheat Kings last month. 


The New York Rangers made a number of roster moves on Tuesday and one of them included F Reid Duke of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Duke, 20, was reassigned to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Duke, who has yet to sign a pro contract, had 61 points, including 33 goals, in 68 games with the Wheat Kings last season, his fourth in the WHL. He added 24 points, 16 of them assists, in 21 playoff games. . . . 
Andy Eide, who covers the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN, reports that the teams says F Keegan Kolesar is week-to-week with an undisclosed injury suffered in training camp with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. If Kolesar, 19, is out for any length of time it will be a big loss for Seattle, especially if F Mathew Barzal earns a spot with the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . Kolesar had 61 points, including 30 goals, in 64 regular-season games in 2015-16. In 16 playoff games, he added seven goals and eight assists. . . . 
The Calgary Hitmen have dropped D Jackson van de Leest from their roster. He will play for the midget prep team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy this season. Van de Leest, 15, is from Kelowna. He was a first-round selection by Calgary in the 2016 bantam draft. He got into Calgary’s first two games this season, but was pointless.
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TUESDAY GAME (all times local):

At Langley, B.C., F Jared Bethune scored three goals, including the winner, as the Prince George Cougars ran their season-opening winning streak to three with a wild 7-6 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The last time the Cougars opened a season with three straight victories was 2012-13. That also is the last time that they won their first three road games. That season, neither of those winning streaks reached four. . . . This edition of the Cougars goes for four in a row, all on the road, tonight against the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Last night, the Cougars held leads of 3-0, 4-1, 5-4 and 6-4. . . . Goals by D Dylan Plouffe, F Brendan Semchuk and F Taden Rattie pulled the Giants (0-3-0) into a 4-4 tie in the second period. . . . However, Bethune scored his second goal, at 19:13 of the second, and F Colby McAuley added another at 5:02 of the third for a 6-4 lead. . . . The Giants came right back and tied it on goals from F Jack Flaman, at 11:05, and F Radovan Bondra, at 13:02. . . . Bethune finally won it with his third goal at 15:43. . . . Bethune went into last night with one two-goal game in 135 regular-season games. Last season, the Warroad, Minn., native finished with 16 goals and 21 assists in 72 games. In his freshman season, he recorded six goals and 14 assists in 61 games. . . . . McAuley and F Justin Almeida each had a goal and two assists for the Cougars, with D Tate Olson adding a goal and an assist. . . . Semchuk, Rattie and Bondra each added an assist to their goals, with F Dawson Holt and D Darian Skeoch each earning two assists for the Giants. . . . Vancouver D Alex Kannok-Leipert, a 16-year-old brought in from Regina to help during a back-end shortage, scored his first WHL goal. . . . Prince George G Nick McBride was beaten four times on 16 shots over 36:22. Ty Edmonds came on to finish up, stopping 10 of 12 shots. . . . G Ryan Kubic turned aside 25 shots for Vancouver. . . . The Cougars were 1-3 on the PP; the Giants were 1-6. . . . Announced attendance: 2,898.

WEDNESDAY GAME (all times local):

Prince George at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Blazers release one vet, trade another . . . Winterhawks have decision to make . . . Wheaties drop Thompson brothers

F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had nine goals and 16 assists in 41 games with Pardubice. However, he was without a contract and was training in Finland. He arrived back in Pardubice on Saturday evening.
The Kamloops Blazers have moved out two players off last season’s roster. . . . F Matt Campese, who turns 19 on Dec. 10, was released, while D Cam Reagan, 19, was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders
for a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Campese was a third-round pick by the Victoria Royals in the 2012 bantam draft. He had one assist in two games with the Blazers this season, after recording eight goals and four assists in 56 games last season. In 95 career regular-season games, 16 of them with Victoria, he has 10 goals and six assists. He is the son of former WHL GM, coach and goaltender Bruno Campese, who now scouts for the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise. . . . Reagan, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fourth-round pick by Kamloops in the 2012 bantam draft. He had five assists in 61 games last season, but didn’t get into either of the Blazers’ first two games this season. . . . The Blazers, who next play Friday against the host Royals, now have 26 players on their roster, including three goaltenders and nine defencemen. . . . That includes three players at NHL camps — G Connor Ingram (Tampa Bay Lightning), F Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) and F Deven Sideroff (Anaheim Ducks).
Among the latest players to return to the WHL from NHL teams:
Brandon Wheat Kings — F Tanner Kaspick, St. Louis Blues; D Kale Clague, Los Angeles Kings.
Kelowna Rockets — D Devante Stephens, Buffalo Sabres; D Braydyn Chizen, Minnesota Wild.
Medicine Hat Tigers — F John Dahlstrom, Chicago Blackhawks.
Moose Jaw Warriors — G Zach Sawchenko, Nashville Predators.
Portland Winterhawks — F Keegan Iverson, Minnesota Wild; F Rodrigo Abols, Vancouver Canucks.
Prince Albert Raiders — D Vojtech Budik, Buffalo Sabres.
Prince George Cougars — D Josh Anderson and F Brogan O’Brien, Colorado Avalanche; D Tate Olson, Vancouver Canucks.
Red Deer Rebels — F Brandon Hagel, Buffalo Sabres.
Vancouver Giants — F Radovan Bondra, Chicago Blackhawks; D Darian Skeoch, Anaheim Ducks.
With the Portland Winterhawks getting back F Keegan Iverson (Minnesota Wild) and Latvian F Rodrigo Abols (Vancouver Canucks) back on Monday, they now have two 20-year-olds on their roster. . . . The Winterhawks’ roster also features two freshmen imports — F Joachim Blichfeld of Frederikshavn, Denmark, and D Henri Jokiharju of Oulu, Finland. Now that Abols is back, the Winterhawks will have to trade him or release one of the other two. . . . Teams aren’t allowed to trade first-year imports; they can only be released, in which case they are placed on waivers and can be claimed by another team. . . . You can bet that Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston was paying attention Sunday when the Everett Silvertips gave up a third-round bantam draft pick to get Austrian F Dominic Zwerger, who also is 20, from the Spokane Chiefs.
The Brandon Wheat Kings have dropped brothers Baron and Tyler Thompson from their roster. Neither was in the Brandon lineup for its season-opening weekend games. . . . The Thompsons are from Lakeville, Minn. . . . Tyler, 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, had two goals and an assist in eight games with the Victoria Royals last season. He was a third-round pick by the Royals in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The Wheat Kings acquired both Thompsons in an Aug. 31 deal with Victoria that featured five players, four bantam draft picks and a conditional pick. . . . The Wheat Kings have 21 players in town, with two others — F Reid Duke (New York Rangers) and D Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers) — at NHL camps. . . . D Kale Clague was returned by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
The Prince George Cougars visit the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., in Tuesday’s only WHL game. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has a look right here at what’s in store for the two teams, who’s hurt, who’s back from the NHL and who isn’t.
Darren Steinke, a former Medicine Hat News sports reporter who now freelances out of Saskatoon, was in attendance on Sunday as the Blades celebrated the lives of Gordie Howe and his wife, Colleen. . . . How did the Blades do? . . . “The Blades hit all the positive checkmark points,” he writes on his blog, “which included ones you didn’t even think of.” . . . His complete report is right here. . . . And a big tip of the cap to Blades president Steve Hogle for the work he put into this really special event.


We got the first ch-ch-ching of the season on Monday when the WHL fined the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers $500 apiece for the multi-fight situation (aka garage sale) they staged on Saturday night in The Hat. . . . 
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have returned F Connor Lyons, 17, to the midget AAA Hurricanes. Lyons, a list player, has signed a WHL contract. The son of former Hurricanes sniper Corey Lyons, Connor was pointless in three exhibition games and Friday’s regular-season opener. Last season, he had 23 points, seven of them goals, in 34 games with the midget AAA club. . . . The WHL Hurricanes are down to 25 players, including two goaltenders and eight defencemen. . . . 
The Tri-City Americans have signed D Tyler Jette, 18, to a WHL contract. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jette is from Farmington, Minn. Jette, who is expected to join the Americans today (Tuesday), is coming off three seasons with the Farmington High team of the USHSL. Last season, he had 22 points, including five goals, in 22 games. . . . Jette actually started last season with the USHL’s Bloomington Thunder. He was pointless in two games before returning to his high school team. . . . He was nominated for the 2015-16 Reed Larson Award as the top senior defenceman in Minnesota. Jette also was one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Hockey Award that goes to the state’s top high school player. . . . 
The OHL’s Erie Otters have released F Haydn Hopkins “in support of his pursuit to play out his 19-year-old season closer to home in Western Canada,” according a news release from the team. . . . Hopkins, from Victoria, was a 12th-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2012 bantam draft. He has three goals and seven assists in 53 regular-season WHL games, split among the Blades (4), Prince George Cougars (33) and Vancouver Giants (16). . . . Last season, he had a goal and three assists in 31 games with the Otters. He was pointless in the first two games of this season.
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No Games Scheduled.

TUESDAY GAME (all times local):

Prince George vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

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Mondays With Murray: He Could Have Had More Than Garden Of Roses

Linda Murray Hofmans presents Arnold
Palmer with the first Great Ones Award that was
designed by Paul Conrad (right).
In 2001, Arnold Palmer was the first honoree to be presented with one of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s ‘Great Ones Award.’ He also served as honorary golf chairman for the Jim Murray Memorial Golf Classic from 2001-08.
The 2001 JMMF tournament was scheduled for Oct. 15 at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake, Calif., less that five weeks after 9/11. It was a very difficult time in our country. We contemplated cancelling the tournament, but Arnold, always the American, agreed that we should not give in to terrorism. Stay the course, he said. He kept his promise. He flew to L.A. after the Transamerica Senior PGA Tour event at Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif., to attend the Murray Scholars reception at Shutters-on-the Beach in Santa Monica on Sunday evening. And then a magical day awaited all the next day at Lakeside Golf Club.
Palmer came to play. So did Joe Namath and Duke Snider. Former Los Angeles Laker greats Bill Sharman and James Worthy teed it up with the likes of Ann Meyers Drysdale, Chris McCarron, Robert Stack, Tom Poston, Ron Masak, Hal Linden, Jim Sikking and Jim Hampton of F-Troop days. Funnymen Jack Carter, Tom Dreesen, David Leisure and Super Dave Osborne kept Mac Davis and Kip Gilman laughing. Rick Dees, John Ireland and Jim Hill took to the airwaves with their kudos, while Jim Bacon took pen in hand and wrote a brilliant JMM Golf Classic homage in Beverly Hills 213 weekly publication. Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) from the Daily Planet was on-course paying tribute to the superman of the sports pages — Jim Murray.
Palmer was a huge hit, as you can imagine. For his many years of friendship, it was a pleasure beyond words to honor The King with our first Great Ones Award. His name was affixed to the bronze Jim Murray bust designed and created by political cartoonist and three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Conrad.
Our memory banks are filled with priceless treasures. "Arnold American,” as Jim Murray liked to call him, made us all feel good. As loving as a grandfather or a favorite uncle. A very special friend. A jewel of a man. Gone but never forgotten.
Jim Murray wrote many columns over the years about Arnold Palmer. How could he not?  On this day of mourning for the loss of The King, we share with you a 1989 column on Palmer, one that offers a near-perfect description of the golfer, the legend and the man.

He Could Have Had More Than Garden of Roses

    LA QUINTA — We always knew Arnold Palmer would be playing golf til they had to cut the shoes off him, or have an iron lung waiting for him at the 18th green. Even if there weren't a senior tour, Arnold would be on a golf course.
     Palmer and golf were synonymous. Arnold American, I used to call him. Arnold without a golf club in his hand was as out of place as John Wayne without a horse, Ruth without a bat, Carl Lewis on a bicycle. An offense against nature.
     He turned golf into a heavyweight fight. He didn't play a course, he slugged with it. Toe to toe. 
Sometimes, it was Dempsey-Firpo. The thing about Palmer was, he kept getting up. Other golfers had failures. Arnold had catastrophes.
    Anybody can hit a golf ball off a fairway. Arnold hit 'em off rocks in the Pacific Ocean, out of parking lots, over trees and through jungles. There was no such thing as an unplayable lie for Palmer.
     Watching him play golf was like watching Dempsey fight, Kelly dance or Mays go after a fly ball. It wasn't that he had a gorgeous swing — he slashed at the ball like a guy beating a carpet.
     But he was as strong as truck-stop coffee. He had forearms like a blacksmith's, wrists like wagon tongues. And he never saw the golf shot that could make him flinch. Arnold would try to par Rhode Island. No, birdie it.
     He went after a course like a caveman. He made a two or a 12. He hit the ball in places where he had to chase the seals to play it or lift tree limbs and beer cans off it.
     He was at his most dangerous from off the pace. You never wanted Palmer in your rearview mirror.
     He never lagged a putt in his life. He never laid up or used an iron off a par-5 tee. Palmer never tried to outsmart a course, he just charged it. He didn't want to win on points, he wanted the knockout. He wanted to hang it on his wall. He was like Dempsey with his man on the ropes, Tilden at match point. He was the greatest long putter I have ever seen. He treated 40-footers as though they were tap-ins.
     "When he got it within 20 feet, you felt like saying, 'That's good,’ " Dave Marr used to say.
     The truck drivers loved him. The public loved him. Other golfers had galleries. Arnie had an army. If he goes to Heaven, God better have a handicap. Or Arnold might not stay.
     He didn't make golf. Golf made him. But he lifted it out of the stockbroker-banker constituency and opened it to the public. He came along just as television did and it was a marriage made in golf heaven.  
     Hogan would have sold cars in any era. So would Snead. But Palmer brought in the people who sat in center-field bleachers at Ebbets Field or in the balcony at St. Nick's Arena. And they didn't come to see Good Housekeeping golf by some meticulous ex-Walker Cupper or Brigham Young graduate. They came to see Palmer with his shirt out, cigarette smoking, ball in the high rough and needing a three to tie for the lead.
     You wouldn't put his swing in copy books. It was a wild slash, the kind you see at midnight at the driving ranges, but it hit the ball long and straight. Arnold won the U.S. Open at Denver in 1960 by driving the par-four, 346-yard first hole. He won 60 PGA tournaments and two British Opens. A guy's a superstar today if he wins a dozen tour events.  
     The 40-foot putts don't go in anymore. Sometimes, the four-footers don't go, either. He has to hit a four-iron where once he hit a six. The holes get longer, the greens get smaller but the magic is, he's still Arnold American, Captain Golf. Maybe not the leader in the clubhouse anymore but the leader in the marketplace.
     Americans cling to their icons, probably because we have so few. We get our royalty from sound stages and playing fields.
     When they set up the Diners Club Matches down here at the PGA West Nicklaus Resort course this weekend, they chose 32 playing pros from the regular tour, 16 from the women's tour and 16 from the senior tour.
     But when they paired Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on a seniors team, they immediately relegated the rest of the cast to extras. The galleries, the autograph hounds, the guys with notebooks and microphones crowded around. It was a pairing made in golf heaven. It was 1960 again.
     Golf permits the preservation of legend this way. It was like seeing Ruth and Gehrig again, watching Dempsey and Gene Tunney climb into the ring, cheering the 1959 Bob Cousy-Bill Russell Celtics.
     When Arnold and Jack teed it up, they represented 130 tour victories between them, to say nothing of five British Opens and three U.S. Amateurs. They towered over their sport as few athletes have in history.
     Arnold Palmer didn't make golf, he just put it on Page 1. He made it as exciting as a Rocky movie. Arnold on the charge on a golf course was cut-to-the-chase stuff. The public adored him. It still does.
     Even though he has to say "what?" a lot. Even though the eyes need bifocals to read the greens and the hair is white and the old familiar slash looks like a window shade going up, Palmer is as charismatic as any American hero from Buffalo Bill to Sitting Bull. There might have been better players, but don't bet on it.
     Arnold is as famous for his megafailures as his 60 triumphs. Once, in a final round of a U.S. Open, he had a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play. To lose that takes concentration.
     The next day, no one wrote about the winner. "How I Lost the Open" was going to be the title of my essay. I thought it was terrible but it wasn't.  It was Palmer. Part of the mystique.
     He hit a ball in the water on No. 18 Friday, which seemed typical.  Arnold out on a rock again. But Nicklaus saved the par and, when the match went into overtime, the team of Nicklaus and Palmer won.
     The tournament organizers were overjoyed. Television promptly rescheduled the next day's competition to put the seniors' event on. The word spread. The galleries grew. We were all young again.
     When Nicklaus and Palmer won again Saturday, dismissing Chi Chi Rodriguez and Jim Dent, 4-and-3, the Diners Club four-ball had a chance to become a historic event, which is already a Palmer specialty. If he and Jack can eliminate Raymond Floyd and Dave Eichelberger today, there should be a plaque on the 18th green commemorating the event.
     Only three personalities rated the description The King in our generation. One was Gable, the actor.  Another was Elvis, the singer. And the other was Palmer, the golfer.
     Arnold in the water or in the trees is still a bigger story than anyone else on the green.
     Golf is lucky there was a Palmer, and Palmer concedes he was lucky there was golf.
     But in his new book, A Personal Journey, Arnold writes, "Some people think of me as just plain lucky and I can't argue with them. I would like to say, however, that a man might be walking around lucky and not know it unless he tries."  
     Palmer tried. He gave luck two shots a side. And still won four ways — the nine, the 18, the match and the life.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

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