Thursday, February 23, 2017

AHS connects Tigers to mumps cases . . . Aces falling from ECHL deck . . . Another lengthy OHL suspension


Tommi Virkkunen (Kamloops, Victoria, 1989-90) has been named the new CEO of Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga), effective May 1. Virkkunen has been chairman of Kärpät's board the past seven years and an executive VP for Finnish company Ahlsell Oy for 10 years.
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Alberta Health Services (AHS) has said that the nine confirmed cases of mumps in the province’s South Zone all are connected to the Medicine Hat Tigers. This is the first such outbreak in the province in 10 years.
AHS believes the Tigers came in contact with the viral infection during a game against the visiting
Brandon Wheat Kings on Jan. 28, as they were starting to fight the illness.
Dr. Vivien Suttorp, the South Zone Medical Officer of Health, told Matt Nemeth of CHAT News Today in Medicine Hat that people who have come in contact with mumps may be symptom-free for as long as 25 days before feeling ill.
Dr. Suttorp told Nemeth: “Before developing symptoms of swollen glands, headaches, feeling unwell, individuals may have already shared the wealth of this virus with others.”
As Nemeth noted, the Tigers have played 10 other teams since they met the Wheat Kings.
In fact, chances are that all of the WHL’s 22 teams have come in contact with one of the teams involved in one way or another, with the Everett Silvertips having completed a recent six-game swing through the East Division.
Meanwhile, it seems the Swift Current Broncos also had to deal with mumps, meaning it has been in at least three WHL dressing rooms.
“They had a situation occur in Swift Current (recently) and it happened in Brandon,” Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, told rdnewsNOW on Thursday. “Then Medicine Hat happened to go and play Brandon and now they’re dealing with it to some degree.”
Dr. Digby Horne, the AHS Central Zone’s Medical Officer of Health, told rdnewsNOW that there aren’t any cases in that zone.
The Rebels, like other teams, are taking precautions in the hopes of avoiding an outbreak.
“Just manage and control (things),” Sutter said, “make sure we’re dealing with it the right way. Everybody is informed, from the medical side of it, on what we have to do as far as the (WHL) teams. Hopefully, Medicine Hat will get through this and it won’t carry on to another team.”
The Tigers could get some relief tonight (Friday) as they play the host Calgary Hitmen tonight.
Besides having to sit players and one coach because of mumps, they also have been without two top defencemen as David Quenneville and Ty Schultz have been recovering from broken legs suffered while blocking shots. Quenneville, who has missed 21 games, has received medical clearance to return and could be in the lineup against the Hitmen. Schultz, however, still is listed as week-to-week on the WHL roster report.
F Ryan Chyzowski is feeling better and could play in Calgary, while assistant coach Joe Frazer also has returned to the team. D Kristians Rubins and D Jordan Henderson are day-to-day, while F James Hamblin isn’t likely to play.
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ECHLThe ECHL’s Alaska Aces, who play out of Anchorage, will suspend operations after this season. 
According to Terry Parks, the ownership group’s managing partner, the franchise has lost more money in 2016-17 than in the previous two seasons combined. He said attendance is down 1,500 per game from two seasons ago. . . . From an Aces news release: “Parks says as a result of the economic downturn, sponsorships are down $600,000, season-ticket sales are down $262,000 and attendance is down about 1,500 spectators per game from just a couple seasons ago.” . . . Also from the news release: “With thousands of job losses in Alaska and more likely to come, Parks says, the team expects this downward trend to continue.” . . . The Aces are completing their 15th season in Anchorage.
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The Regina Pats beat the host Saskatoon Blades, 4-1, on Wednesday night, with F Adam Brooks scoring once and being credited with an assist. Brooks won the WHL scoring title last season, with 120 points. That assist gave Brooks 100 points, at least for the moment. . . . However, a post-game scoring change took the assist away from Brooks, leaving him at 99 points. He gets another opportunity to get to 100 tonight (Friday) against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.
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Mike Fraser scouts for the Brandon Wheat Kings and also writes a weekly column for the Brandon-based Westman Journal. This week, he writes about how “listening to a fan or parent yell and mock a 14-year-old kid is hard to digest and let go.” . . . That piece is right here.
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OHLMike Kelly, the general manager of the Guelph Storm, will leave the OHL team when his contract expires at the end of this season. . . . “Mike has informed us that he and his wife, Denise, will be relocating to the Niagara region to be closer to their children and grandchildren,” Storm president Rick Hoyle said in a news release. “We respect Mike’s decision to prioritize his family.” . . . Kelly joined the Storm for the 1991-92 season and was the GM for six seasons, before signing on as the amateur scouting co-ordinator with the NHL’s Calgary Flames in 1997. He returned to the Storm in November 2010 for a second go-round as GM. . . . From the Storm’s news release: “During his 13 seasons with the club, he led the Storm to three division titles, three OHL regular-season titles, three appearances in the OHL championship series and the franchise’s last OHL championship in 2013-14.” He was the OHL’s executive of the year for 1994-95.
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The OHL has suspended F Max Jones of the London Knights for 10 games after he took a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack on Feb. 17. Jones will be eligible to return on March 14. . . . Jones was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. He has 32 points, including 14 goals, in 29 games this season, one that has been interrupted twice by injuries. . . . Jones is a repeat offender, having been hit with a 12-game suspension for a blindside during a first-round playoff game last season. . . . The latest suspension comes a day after the OHL hit F Christiano DiGiacinto of the Windsor Spitfires with a 10-game suspension after he incurred a headshot major and game misconduct. 
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THURSDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
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FRIDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Medicine Hat at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Portland at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Regina, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Seattle vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

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Wheat Kings move playoff games to Dauphin . . . Is it time pollsters noticed Warriors?

Dauphin's Credit Union Place
(Photo: tourismdauphin.ca)

The Brandon Wheat Kings are relocating to Dauphin, Man., for a few playoff games.
The Wheat Kings haven’t yet qualified for the playoffs, but they hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot and appear headed to a first-round clash with the Medicine Hat Tigers, who are closing in on the Central Division title.
With the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair taking over the Keystone Centre from March 27 through April 1, the Wheat Kings announced Thursday that they will play at least two first-round home playoff games at Dauphin’s Credit Union Place, which contains 1,763 seats and has room for 752 standees. The facility, which is home to the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings, opened in April 2006.
Dauphin is located 165 km north of Brandon.
The dates have yet to be confirmed but that likely will involve Games 3 and 4 on March 28 and 29. Game 6, if necessary, would be played in Dauphin on April 2.
“Other potential options,” writes Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, “included the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the Portage Credit Union Centre in Portage la Prairie and Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden.
“Winnipeg used to be the go-to Plan B, but the MTS Centre has two (Winnipeg) Jets games, two (Manitoba) Moose games and a concert by the Lumineers that week, and the Portage Terriers and Virden Oil Capitals could still be active in the MJHL playoffs.”
In Dauphin, the Kings have four games left in their regular season and remain five points out of a playoff spot.
According to Bergson, “WHL officials did a walk-through in Credit Union Place in the past to clear it. The biggest hurdle is that Brandon has to remove its expensive video replay system from Westman Place and set it up in the Dauphin arena.”
From a Wheat Kings news release: “The announcement was made . . . as  the Wheat Kings rolled out plans for both the playoffs and their 2017-18 season-ticket prices. In addition to holding the line on season-ticket prices next (season), fans who purchase their 2017 playoff packages as well as renew their season tickets by the Monday, March 20 deadline will receive a $5 discount off regular playoff box-office admission prices for all games played in Brandon.”
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The Moose Jaw Warriors have been doing a terrific job of flying under the radar this season.
They are ensconced quite comfortably in second place in the East Division and appear headed to a first-round playoff meeting with the Swift Current Broncos.
The Warriors have won their past four games, including a 4-0 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Saturday night. The Pats (43-9-7) have the WHL’s best record; the Warriors (36-17-8) trail them by 13 points. The Warriors, however, have proven they can play with Regina.
The Warriors are 6-3-1 in their past 10 outings, and they’ve been without top-end forwards Brayden Burke and Noah Gregor.
But, gee, it’s about that lack of respect.
It was on Nov. 1 when John Paddock, Regina’s GM and head coach, said of the Warriors: 
“I think they’re able to play off the fact that (we’re) all anybody talks about within an hour radius (of Regina). They don’t talk about Moose Jaw. Whoever does the dumb CHL poll has never hardly had them in the top 10.”
That was the case again this week, as Regina fell from first to second, behind the OHL’s Erie Otters, and there was no sign of the Warriors, not even as an honourable mention.
Last week, before losing to the Warriors, Paddock told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
“They’ve got a really good goalie (Zach Sawchenko). It was sort of shocking that he wasn’t drafted last year.
“With the deals that (GM Al Millar) has made, they’ve got a deep group of forwards. There’s nobody leading the league in scoring, but they have Brett Howden and Brayden Burke, and Jayden Halbgewachs is having a big-time season. They’ve been missing forwards (due to injury), but they’ve probably got the deepest set of forwards in the Eastern Conference.”
It’s hard to argue with that, although, yes, Regina’s group of forwards is pretty good, too.
Here’s hoping that fans get treated to a Regina-Moose Jaw playoff series at some point.
With two games left in the season series, the Warriors hold a 3-2-1 edge, while the Pats are 3-3-0. They will finish the series by going home-and-home on March 10 and 11, starting in Regina and finishing in Moose Jaw.
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Here’s a note from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
“Pats head coach/GM John Paddock is a total pro. Too many hockey coaches — not to mention football coaches — are paranoiacs. Paddock, by contrast, gets it. He doesn’t play any games or robotically dispense eye-glazing cliches. Instead, he tells it like it is and treats the media (a conduit to the fans) with respect.”

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Nanaimo has memorandum of understanding with WHL . . . 'Tips forward needs surgery . . . Engele, Lauer hall of famers


G Tomáš Vošvrda (Medicine Hat, 2007-08) has signed a two-year extension with Bayreuth (Germany, DEL2). In 36 games, he is 2.65 and .929. . . . 
F Colton Yellow Horn (Lethbridge, Tri-City, 2003-08) has signed a one-year extension with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he has 19 goals and 23 assists in 38 games with Znojmo. He started the season with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga), scoring four goals in 11 games.
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Tracy Samra, the chief administrative officer for the City of Nanaimo, told city council on Monday that “we have a memorandum of understanding with the WHL.”
That would indicate that all is in readiness for a franchise to begin play in the Vancouver Island city next season, depending on the outcome of a March 11 referendum.
“That memorandum sets forward condition precedents that have to happen for the WHL to award a
franchise to play in the City of Nanaimo,” Samra told council.
She went on to say that “there are a number of conditions in that memorandum of understanding. They relate to key decisions that council will have to make if there is a yes vote.”
Taxpayers of Nanaimo will vote in a referendum on March 11 as the city asks for the OK to borrow $80 million in order to build an events centre.
In addressing council, Samra added:
“There is a negotiation that has to take place between the city and the new owners of a franchise for the WHL. One of the things that the city has made very clear in its discussions with the WHL is that we are looking for a 20-year long-term commitment of a WHL franchise to this community. That will be part of the negotiations with a facility lease and license agreement.”
Samra seemed to indicate that there is a WHL franchise out there that has new owners with whom Nanaimo will be negotiating. Or perhaps this is simply an indication that the City of Nanaimo has been told by the WHL that there will be new owners for a franchise and those owners will be involved in negotiations.
Of course, if the March 11 vote is “YES” and no one steps forward in an attempt to purchase the Kootenay Ice, the WHL could always buy the franchise and operate it until new owners are found.
There is precedent within the WHL for that kind of move. In 1995, the WHL bought the Regina Pats from a local group who had planned to sell it to the Ochapowace First Nation for $1.7 million. The WHL later sold the franchise to Diane and Russ Parker of Calgary in time for the 1995-96 season.
The Ice has been for sale since 2012 and is believed to be the only franchise that is on the market at this point in time.
Jeff Chynoweth, the governor, president and general manager of the Ice, couldn’t be reached for comment last night.
Samra also made it clear that the construction of an events centre is based on having a WHL team as the main tenant.
“(A) feasibility and business case study for the events centre is premised on having an anchor tenant,” she said. “The anchor tenant would be the WHL. If there is no WHL team there is no anchor and the business case for the events centre is not made.”
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Kevin Constantine, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, revealed on Wednesday that F Orrin Centazzo won’t play again this season. Jesse Geleynse of the Everett Herald reported that Centazzo has a broken collarbone and will be undergoing surgery.
Centazzo was injured on Friday when he absorbed an open-ice hit from Prince Albert F Kolby Johnson during a 3-1 victory over the host Raiders. Johnson was suspended for three games.
There was some controversy involved, as Johnson originally was given a minor penalty that minutes later was changed to a major, something that didn’t sit well with the Raiders. They later were fined $500 for not providing adequate security at the officials’ exit.
“I think the refs, when they initially made the call, saw our player get up and come off the ice and assumed there was no injury and made a two-minute call,” Constantine told Geleynse. “I can’t tell you why. I saw there was two minutes up there, we had a discussion with the refs and I think they talked it over further and realized that the player had been injured on the play, which I don’t think they had factored into their decision at the time of the call.”
Centazzo, from Marwayne, Alta., was a fifth-round selection by Everett in the 2015 bantam draft. A freshman with the Silvertips, he had four goals and five assists in 41 games.
With Centazzo out, the Silvertips have added F Keith Anderson, 19, to their roster. Anderson has played 39 WHL games, 33 of those last season, all with the Victoria Royals. He had a goal and five assists in those games.
Anderson, from Hermiston, Ore., has been with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs, putting up four goals and four assists in 29 games.
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Jerome Engele and Brad Lauer, two men with ties to the WHL, will be among the inductees into the Humboldt and District Sports Hall of Fame on June 24. . . . Engele is from Carmel, a small town just west of Humboldt. He began his hockey career in Humboldt. Engele was a hard-nosed defenceman for five seasons with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career. He later joined the Saskatoon Police Service, retiring as an Inspector in 2015 after 35 years. Through a lot of that time, he served as an assistant coach with the Blades, something he continues to do. . . . Lauer, who was born and raised in Humboldt, played three seasons with the Regina Pats before moving to the pro ranks. He now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . The 2007-08 Humboldt Broncos, who won a national junior A championship, also will be inducted. Their head coach was Dean Brockman, who now is the Blades’ head coach.
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F Crisitiano DeGiacinto, 20, of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires has been suspended for 10 games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct on Sunday. DeGiacinto hit Nic Sicoly of the Guelph Storm, who was bleeding after the hit but returned to the game.
Ted Baker, the OHL vice-president who deals in discipline, admitted that DeGiacinto didn’t “intentionally target the head.” Not only that, Baker said, “he didn’t leave his feet or put his elbow up, but there is contact to the head.”
As Baker reasoned: “Although it was an attempt at a legal body check, there is no tolerance for checking to the head and he is a repeat offender.” Baker said when you factor in all of that, the result is a 10-game suspension.
DiGiacinto drew an eight-game suspension for a headshot major in January 2016. He also was suspended for five games during the 2013-14 playoffs for what was termed bullying after he chased down an opponent and instigated a fight.
In the WHL this season, the longest suspension involving a checking-to-the-head penalty has been five games. That went to F Carter Folk, then of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, from an incident during an exhibition game.
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ECHLDrake Berehowsky, the head coach of the Orlando Solar Bears, suffered a medical emergency on Tuesday night and has had to take a leave of absence from the ECHL club.
“Drake was taken to Florida Hospital where he is receiving medical treatment,” Joe Haleski, the franchise’s chairman and CEO, said in a news release. “I have spoken with Drake and he is in good spirits and eager to get back behind the bench as soon as he receives medical clearance to do so.”
Berehowsky, 45, was the Solar Bears’ head coach in 2012-13. He left to take over as head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, where he spent two seasons. He signed on as an associate coach with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves last season. He started this season there, but left to take over as Orlando’s head coach on Nov. 14.
While Berehowsky is away, assistant coach John Snowden will run the team. Snowden was in charge last night as the Solar Bears beat the visiting Atlanta Gladiators, 4-0.
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Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet filed his weekly 30 Thoughts on Wednesday. He speculates on Sidney Crosby’s legacy and touches on a whole lot more. It’s all right here.
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If you enjoy stopping off here and would care to make a donation to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you have some information you would like to share or just a general comment, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES:

At Calgary, the Hitmen watched a 3-0 lead disappear before they were able to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3 in a shootout. . . . The Hitmen have appeared in a franchise-record 21 OT games this season.
BRADY REAGAN
Calgary and Brandon (18) are 1-2 in OT appearances this season. . . . The Regina Pats led the WHL last season by going to OT 20 times. . . . The single-season record for most OT games (23) is shared by the Moose Jaw Warriors (2007-08) and Swift Current Broncos (2005-06) . . . F Beck Malenstyn (11) gave Calgary a 1-0 led at 4:46 of the first period and F Andrei Grishakov upped it to 2-0 at 11:31 with his seventh goal. . . . F Matteo Gennaro’s 35th score left the Hitmen with a 3-0 lead at 1:02 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Patrick got Brandon started with No. 15, at 5:53, and D Kale Clague’s fifth goal, on PP, at 9:08, got the visitors to within a goal. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it when F Reid Duke scored his 34th at 6:41 of the third period. . . . Calgary’s first two shootout shooters — F Jakob Stukel and F Jake Kryski — both scored, while Duke and Patrick were blanked. . . . Calgary got two assists from D Brady Reagan and one each from Stukel and Kryski. . . . Duke and Patrick had an assist each. . . . Calgary G Trevor Martin stopped 29 shots through OT, while Brandon G Travis Child turned aside 21. . . . The Wheat Kings were 1-4 on the PP; the Hitmen were 0-2. . . . The Hitmen (23-26-10) have points in five straight (4-0-1). They have moved past Saskatoon and now are in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Wheat Kings (28-23-9) have lost two in a row (0-1-1). They hold down the conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . It was the annual BE BRAVE anti-bullying game and began at 11 a.m. . . . Announced attendance: 10,896.
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At Kelowna, the Rockets unleashed a 53-shot attack as they beat the Edmonton Oil Kings, 10-1. . . . One night earlier, the Oil Kings were beaten, 7-0, by the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . The Rockets held a 37-10
ROD SOUTHAM
edge in shots after two periods. . . . Kelowna took a 4-0 lead into the third period where it struck for six goals. . . . F Rod Southam, the Rockets’ captain, scored three times, giving him 13 goals this season. He made it 4-0 at 3:39 of the second period, then completed his first WHL hat trick by scoring at 17:19 and 17:56, the latter on a PP, of the third period. . . . Kelowna’s other goals came from F Nick Merkley (20), F Carsen Twarynski (12), F Tomas Soustal (17), F Dillon Dube (9), D Lucas Johansen (5), F Kyle Topping (11) and F Kole Lind (27). . . . The Rockets got four assists from D James Hilsendager and two from each of Dillon, D Devante Stephens and F Nolan Foote. Johansen, Soustal, Lind, Southam and Twarynski added one each. . . . F Davis Koch (19) scored for Edmonton at 9:34 of the third period. . . . G Brodan Salmond blocked 14 shots for the Rockets. . . . Edmonton starter Patrick Dea gave up eight goals on 48 shots in 53:27. Josh Dechaine finished up, stopping three of five shots in 6:32. . . . Kelowna was 3-4 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-3. . . . The Rockets (35-20-5) have points in six straight (5-0-1). They are third in the B.C. Division five points behind Kamloops with two games in hand. . . . The Oil Kings (20-36-5) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Edmonton has been outscored 24-5 in its past three games. Next up is a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Announced attendance: 5,155.



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At Lethbridge, the Moose Jaw Warriors opened up a 3-0 lead en route to a 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Warriors clinched a playoff spot with the victory. . . . Despite the loss, the Hurricanes also clinched a playoff spot. They actually had the spot
BRANDEN KLATT
wrapped up before their game ended because the Saskatoon Blades lost their game. . . . F Tanner Jeannot’s 15th goal got the Warriors on the scoreboard at 9:54 of the first period. . . . F Spencer Bast’s ninth goal made it 2-0 just 55 seconds later. . . . F Thomas Foster added more insurance with his 17th goal 20 seconds into the second period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive scored for Lethbridge, getting No. 24 at 12:52 of the third period. . . . F Branden Klatt has two assists for the Warriors, with Bast and Foster adding one each. . . . Klatt has two goals and four assists over his past four games. That gives him 12 points, including 10 assists, in 20 games since coming over from the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Warriors got 32 saves from G Zach Sawchenko. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 18 shots at the other end. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-6 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-3. . . . Moose Jaw (36-17-8) has won four in a row. They are headed to a second-place finish in the East Division as they are 13 points behind Regina and 10 in front of Swift Current. . . . The Hurricanes (36-17-7) had won their previous three games. They are second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat and 21 ahead of Red Deer. . . . Announced attendance: 4,521.
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At Saskatoon, the Regina Pats scored the game’s first four goals and went on to post a 4-1 victory over the Blades. . . . F Nick Henry got Regina started with the 29th goal of his freshman season at 9:32 of the
NICK HENRY
first period, on a PP. . . . F Adam Brooks made it 2-0, on another PP, at 5:39 of the second, with F Dawson Leedahl getting his 30th goal, on yet another PP, at 10:55. Leedahl is the Pats’ third 30-goal man this season. . . . F Braydon Buziak’s eighth goal, at 8:45 of the third period, gave Regina a 4-0 lead. . . . F Michael Farren (5) scored for the Blades, on a PP, at 13:26 of the third period. . . . Brooks, who won the WHL scoring title with 120 points last season, also had an assist as he became the second player this season to get to 100 points. Teammate Sam Steel had one assist, running his WHL-leading points total to 106. . . . Henry also added an assist to his goal. He has 67 points in 59 games. . . . Regina G Tyler Brown stopped 15 shots in his 40th start this season. He is 26-6-6. . . . The Blades got 43 saves from G Brock Hamm. . . . The visitors held a 35-9 edge in shots after two periods. . . . Regina was 3-7 on the PP; Saskatoon was 1-4. . . . The Blades had F Braylon Shmyr back in the lineup. He had been out since Feb. 4. F Caleb Fantillo, who suffered an injury in practice last week, also returned. . . .  Regina had F Cole Muir make his WHL debut. Muir, who turned 16 on Feb. 14, is from Vista, Man., and has been playing for the midget AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. He was a second-round pick by the Pats in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. . . . Regina (43-9-7) has won two in a row and leads the overall standings by eight points over Medicine Hat. . . . The Blades (23-29-8) have lost five straight (0-3-2) and now are two points out of a playoff spot. . . . Announced attendance: 3,782.

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At Kennewick, Wash., F Jordan Topping scored three times and added an assist to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 6-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Americans took a 3-0 lead into the
JORDAN TOPPING
second period and never trailed although the Winterhawks twice whittled the deficit to one. . . . Topping, who has 21 goals, provided a 2-0 lead with PP goals at 5:38 and 9:20 of the first period. . . . D Parker Wotherspoon made it 3-0 with No 10 at 13:37. . . . Portland got to within a goal on second-period goals from F Keegan Iverson (18), on a PP at 3:45, and F Evan Weinger, at 5:03. . . . Topping completed his hat trick at 17:59, for a 4-2 lead. . . . F Kyle Olson (15) put the Americans up by three goals at 18:53. . . . Weinger added his 20th goal, at 19:55, and F Ryan Hughes’ 25th goal, at 3:08 of the third period, pulled the visitors to within a goal, at 5-4. . . . F Austyn Playfair’s first goal of the season provided the Americans with some insurance at 13:16. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Juuso Valimaki and one from Olson. . . . D Caleb Jones drew two helpers for Portland. . . . Tri-City G Evan Sarthou stopped 41 shots. . . . Portland started Cole Kehler in goal, but he left after allowing three goals on 11 shots in 13:37. Shane Farkas finished up, stopping 15 of 18 shots in 44:37. . . . Tri-City was 2-4 on the PP; Portland was 1-3. . . . Tri-City F Michael Rasmussen sat out his eighth straight game. The Americans lost the first three without him, but now have won five in a row. . . . Tri-City (36-23-3) has won five straight games. It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind Seattle and seven ahead of Portland. . . . Portland (32-25-4) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind Victoria. . . . Announced attendance: 2,604.
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THURSDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.
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FRIDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Medicine Hat at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Portland at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Regina, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Seattle vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bestwick: WHL team guaranteed if vote is YES ... Red-hot Ingram blanks Oil Kings ... Rebels end drought


F J.T. Barnett (Vancouver, Kamloops, Everett, Kelowna, 2008-13) has been released by mutual agreement by Timrå (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He was pointless in two games there. Earlier this season, he was pointless in one game with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), had seven goals and three assists in 24 games with CSKA farm team Zvezda Chekhov (Russia, Vysshaya Liga); and was pointless in three games with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). . . .
G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has been released by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In 30 games, he was 2.18 and .917 SP. Kolppanen had one year left on his contract with Nizhnekamsk and was one of 10 Nizhnekamsk players released Tuesday. . . . The KHL regular season ended Sunday and Nizhnekamsk finished out of the playoffs.
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Bill Bestwick, a Nanaimo city councillor, has told a local newspaper that the Vancouver Island city will have a WHL franchise if taxpayers vote YES for a new arena in a March 11 referendum.
According to Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin, Bestwick told the newspaper that the arrival of a WHL franchise is a “100 per cent” certainty if the vote is yes.
Here is the question that is being asked via the referendum:
“Are you in favour of the City of Nanaimo Council adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw 2017 No. 7237 which will authorize Council to borrow a sum not exceeding $80,000,000, repayable over a period of no more than 20 years, for the development and construction of an event centre that will include an ice arena and other related entertainment, cultural and recreation facilities?”
Sakaki writes:
“Coun. Bill Bestwick told the News Bulletin last week that it’s a ‘100 per cent’ certainty that the WHL will be coming to town if the referendum passes. Hockey hasn’t been a major talking point, however, because the municipality can’t reveal details of the league’s dealings with a privately owned club, reportedly the Cranbrook-based Kootenay Ice. Kim Fowler, Nanaimo’s chief sustainability officer, said that the WHL was leading those negotiations and that the city was working on a memorandum of understanding with the league.”
Bestwick is a longtime former BCHL coach who spent 12 seasons (1999-2012) as GM/head coach of the Nanaimo Clippers. These days, he is a part-time amateur scout for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.
When Sakaki asked for a response from the WHL, he got a prepared statement from commissioner Ron Robison, stating that “should the City of Nanaimo approve the construction of a new facility which meets WHL standards, the WHL will seek the necessary approvals to deliver a WHL team either through relocation of an existing franchise or expansion.”
It has been common knowledge for a while now that the Ice will end up playing out of the Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo next season should the referendum pass. A WHL team likely would spend three seasons in the 3,000-seat facility, with a new building expected to be ready for 2019-20.
Taking Note was told last month that the WHL is preparing two schedules for 2016-17 — one of those features 22 teams, including Nanaimo; the other features the same 22 cities that are in the league today.
The arrival of a WHL franchise would result in the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers relocating. The Clippers play out of the Frank Crane Arena.
Sakaki’s complete story is right here.
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The Kamloops Blazers had all of their coaches on hand Tuesday night as they skated to a 7-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings.
By the start of the third period, only goaltending coach Dan De Palma wasn’t behind the Kamloops
bench.
The Blazers start home games with head coach Don Hay and lead assistant Mike Needham at the bench. Terry Bangen, a veteran coach, joins them to start the second period.
Chris Murray, who played with the Blazers before going on to skate in the NHL, is a local firefighter who also is on the Kamloops coaching staff. When he isn’t at work, he joins the others behind the bench for the third period.
When Murray isn’t available, De Palma frequently spends the third period at the bench.
Which leads us to this question: Is there another team in junior hockey that sometimes has four coaches at the bench?
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D Luke Gallagher has been added to the Spokane Chiefs’ roster for the remainder of this season. Gallagher, 16, is from Mead, Wash., and had been playing for the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had 37 points, including 13 goals, in 45 games with the Braves. . . Prior to that, he spent two seasons at the EDGE school in Calgary. . . . He was selected by the Chiefs in the eighth round of the 2015 WHL bantam draft. . . . The Chiefs now are carrying three 2000-born defencemen, with Gallagher joining Ty Smith, a first-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft, and Matt Leduc, who was selected in the second round.
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The WHL has suspended F Kolby Johnson of the Prince Albert Raiders for three games after he took a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on F Orrin Centazzo of the visiting Everett Silvertips on Friday night. Everett won the game, 3-1. . . . Centazzo didn’t play in a 3-2 OT victory over the Broncos in Swift Current on Saturday. He is listed as having an upper-body injury and being out month-to-month on the WHL roster report that was released Tuesday. . . . Johnson has served two games of that suspension and will miss Friday’s game against the host Saskatoon Blades. He will be eligible to return for the rematch on Saturday in Prince Albert. . . . The Raiders also were fined $500 “for inadequate security at officials’ exit” during that game against Everett. You are left to speculate which member, or members, of the Raiders organization stopped to say “Howdy” to the officials after the game.
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The Saskatoon Blades have returned F Tyler Lees to the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. Lees, 16, has one goal in seven games with the Blades this season. He played four games with the Blades last week, scoring his first WHL goal on Saturday in a 6-2 loss to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Lees was a fifth-round selection by the Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . The Blades also have brought in Payton McIsaac, 16, to serve as their seventh defenceman for now. He had been playing for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, whose season has ended. From Fort Saskatchewan, he was a second-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft.
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If you have some information you would like to share or just a general comment, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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TUESDAY’S GAMES:


At Kamloops, the Blazers scored three first-period goals in a span of 3:07 en route to a 7-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . G Connor Ingram was rarely tested in a 23-save shutout. He has posted
LANE BAUER
back-to-back shutouts — he has been beaten once in his last three starts — and now has five blank jobs this season. The franchise single-season record is seven (Dustin Butler, 2006-07). . . . Ingram has 12 career shutouts, three off Devan Dubnyk’s franchise record. . . . Ingram’s GAA this season now is at 2.10. The franchise record (2.31) was set by Kenric Exner, who made 51 appearances in 1998-99. . . . With the Kelowna Rockets in Kamloops on Friday, Ingram is riding a shutout streak of 178:07. . . . F Lane Bauer, who was acquired from the Oil Kings, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, for D Conner McDonald, burned his former team for two goals. . . . Bauer opened the scoring at 4:46, with F Deven Sideroff counting at 5:27 and F Collin Shirley getting No. 25 at 7:53. . . . The Blazers added three more goals in the second period, as D Ondrej Vala got his 10th, F Rudolfs Balcers scoed his 35th and Bauer got No. 35. . . . Sideroff, playing in his 200th game with Kamloops, got his second of the game, and 33rd of the season, at 6:39 of the third. . . . Shirley, Balcers and Sideroff had an assist apiece. . . . Edmonton started G Patrick Dea, who surrendered six goals on 26 shots over two periods. Josh Dechaine came on for the third period and stopped six of seven shots. . . . Ingram also picked up his second career assist. He got the first one on Feb. 8 in a 6-0 victory over the visiting Rockets. That was his 146th regular-season game; last night was No. 151. . . . Each team was 0-4 on the PP. . . . The Blazers (37-19-6) have won three in a row. They are second in the B.C. Division, one point behind Prince George. . . . The Oil Kings (20-35-5) have lost three straight (0-2-1). They are nine points out of a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. . . . Announced attendance: 3,474.
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At Medicine Hat, F Brett Howden scored three times and added an assist to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Tigers. . . . The game was tied eight minutes into the second period when the
BRETT HOWDEN
Warriors erupted for three straight goals. . . . F John Dahlstrom (24) have the hosts a 1-0 lead at 9:08 of the first period, only to have F Thomas Foster (16) tied it, on a PP, at 11:26. . . . Howden put the visitors out front at 3:10 of the second period, with F Mason Shaw (23) getting the Tigers into a tie, on a PP, at 7:19. . . . The Warriors went out front when F Branden Klatt scored his sixth goal, at 9:17, and took a 4-2 lead on F Justin Almeida’s eighth goal, at 13:59. . . . Howden scored 12 seconds into the third period, stretching the lead to 5-2. . . . F Josh Williams scored his first WHL goal at 3:28 to get the Tigers to within two. . . . Williams, who turns 16 on March 8, was playing his fourth game. From Langley, B.C., he was the fifth overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Howden completed his second career hat trick with his 33rd goal of the season at 15:22. . . . Moose Jaw got two assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot, F Jayden Halbgewachs and F Yan Khomenko, with Klatt adding one to his goal. . . . F Matt Bradley had two assists for the Tigers. . . . G Zach Sawchenko stopped 19 shots for Moose Jaw, while G Michael Bullion blocked 31 at the other end. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-1 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-3. . . . Medicine Hat dressed only 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . The Tigers, who have been fighting an outbreak of mumps, got back Dahlstrom and F Zach Fischer, but had to scratch F James Hamblin. Still out are D Kristians Rubins, D Jordan Henderson and F Ryan Chyzowski. As well, D David Quenneville and D Ty Schultz continue to rehab broken legs. Quenneville, who has been practising, may return when the Tigers meet the host Calgary Hitmen on Friday. . . . The Warriors continue to play without F Noah Gregor and F Brayden Burke. . . . The Warriors (35-17-8) have won three in a row. They are second in the East Division, eight points ahead of Swift Current. The Broncos hold two games in hand. . . . The Tigers (42-18-1) lead the Central Division by six points over Lethbridge, with the Hurricanes having two games in hand. . . . Announced attendance: 3,354.
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At Prince George, F Brandon Hagel scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 3-2 victory over the Cougars. . . . Hagel was the first skater to shoot and his goal stood up as the winner. . . .
BRANDON HAGEL
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead when F Radovan Bondra scored his 28th goal, at 7:56 of the first period. . . . Red Deer tied it on D Jared Freadrich’s sixth goal, on a PP, at 7:04 of the second period. . . . The Cougars went back out front on F Kody McDonald’s 13th goal, at 17:16. . . . Red Deer forced OT when F Lane Zablocki (21) scored at 3:26 of the third period. . . . Freadrich and Hagel added an assist each. . . . G Lasse Petersen stopped 36 shots through OT and was perfect in the shootout. . . . The Cougars got 22 saves from Ty Edmonds. . . . Red Deer was 1-6 on the PP; Prince George was 0-4. . . . D Cole Moberg, 16, played his fourth game of the season with the Cougars. He plays for the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . F Michael Spacek (ill) was among Red Deer’s scratches. . . . The Rebels went 1-3-1 on a five-game swing that involved three stops in the U.S. Division, along with games in Langley, B.C., and Prince George. . . . Red Deer (24-27-10) had lost its previous eight games (0-6-2). It is third in the Central Division, four points up on Calgary. The Hitmen have three games in hand. . . . The Rebels and Hitmen will play Saturday in Red Deer and Sunday in Calgary. . . . Prince George has lost three in a row (0-2-1). The loser point from this one kept it atop the B.C. Division, by a single point over Kamloops. Each has played 62 games. . . . Announced attendance: 2,580.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Brandon at Calgary, 11 a.m. (BE BRAVE anti-bullying game)
Edmonton at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Moose Jaw at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Regina at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Mondays with Murray: Wonderful Willie

Spring training has begun.
This is the time of year when baseball fans climb out of hibernation and flock to Florida and Arizona to check out the prospects for the upcoming MLB season.
It is also the 70th anniversary of the Cactus League in Arizona. Currently, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers call Arizona their spring training home.
This month, the Cactus League honoured four pioneering players — Willie Mays, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Ernie Banks — in the movement to integrate baseball into their Hall of Fame.
There is more information on the Cactus League Hall of Fame induction and exhibit right here.


In honour of his induction into the Cactus League Hall of Fame, we bring you Jim Murray's 1962 column on Willie Mays headlined Wonderful Willie.

ENJOY! 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 1962, SPORTS
Copyright 1962/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Wonderful Willie

   The first thing to establish about Willie Mays is that there really is one.
   He's 5-foot-10, weighs 183, has five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, two eyes, all his teeth and a nice smile. He's quite mortal. He makes $90,000 a year but gets to keep only enough to pay off the alimony and the rent on time and is made up like the rest of us of about 87 cents worth of iron, calcium, antimony and whatever baser metal a human being is composed of. Only in his case, it's put together a little better than in the rest of us.
   All this is important to know in talking to baseball people because when you mention Willie Mays, several things happen: A film comes over their eyes, their cheeks flush and flecks of foam appear at the corners of their mouths. Listening to them, you half expect to see the angel Gabriel running around with No. 24 on his back. At the very least, you think they are describing one of their own hallucinations — a combination of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Elmer the Great, a comic strip character 28 feet tall pasted together out of old clippings of The Sporting News or conjured out of a pot of reheated Welsh rarebit.
   Willie Mays is so good the other players don't even resent him. They have had his name in standing type in Cooperstown's Hall of Fame ever since he was a rookie. Leo Durocher started to drool the first time he saw Willie Mays, and he hasn't stopped since. "If he could cook, I'd marry him," Leo once announced.
   The only thing he can't do on a baseball field is fix the plumbing. As a batter, Bill Rigney once said, his only weakness was a wild pitch. But he hit one of those in spring practice for a clean single from a semi-prone position. As long as gravity is working they boo him in San Francisco. This makes strong men cover their ears because around the rest of the league they figure anyone who would boo Willie Mays would kick in a stained-glass window.
   Part of the trouble is when the Giants transferred to San Francisco, the press there and in New York gave the impression that Willie Mays and the Seven Dwarfs were coming to the Coast with Horace Stoneham and two lame-armed pitchers. They didn't expect Willie Mays to land there; they expected the waters of the Golden Gate to part and let him walk ashore. Or, if he flew, they didn't think he would need an airplane. The first time he struck out, there was a gasp as if someone had just let the air out of the town.
   It was said his life used to be 95 percent baseball and five percent cowboy movies. Then he got married, and the ratio went down. His life became only 93 percent baseball.
   He can do one more thing than any other great slugger in the history of the game — steal bases. He is the only man in history to hit more than 30 home runs and steal more than 30 bases a season — and he does it habitually.
   He has been shy most of his life. He needs constant reassurance. The product of a broken home in Alabama, raised by an aunt, he never takes anything for granted. He doesn't drink or smoke and scandal has never touched his life.
   Off field, he is a pleasant, rather lonely young man. He had his 31st birthday dinner alone in a St. Louis hotel room with a newspaperman, Harry Jupiter of the San Francisco Examiner. In spring training, Mays was a frequent dinner guest of a busboy on the base. So far as is known he has never done an unkind thing in his career — except hit four home runs in one day off Milwaukee pitchers. That's as many as anyone ever hit in one nine-inning stretch.
   He is modest. When he was with Minneapolis in 1951 and a Giant official got on the phone to send for him after the Giants had just lost 11 games in a row, Willie demurred. "I'm not ready yet. I'm not coming," he protested. There was a thud on the other end of the line as the man fainted.
   The Giants won the pennant that year, but Willie went hitless his first 22 times at bat. Manager Leo Durocher came upon him in the clubhouse. Tears were streaming down Willie's cheeks. "I can't help it. I can't hit them cats, Mistah Leo," he sobbed. Leo put his arm around him. "I brought you up here to play center field. You are the greatest center fielder I have ever seen, probably that the game has ever seen. Get out there and play it!"
   Willie Mays did. The first pitch the next day — off Warren Spahn — he put over the roof. He's been doing it ever since. "I think I'll steal less from now on," he told me Tuesday night, "because I hope I can play for 10 years more.” I got news for him: Baseball hopes so, too.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116
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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 
  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit our newly refreshed JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.  

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