Friday, April 21, 2017

T-Birds, 'Canes win openers ... Estephan, Bear opening-night stars ... CTE found in ex-juniors

Scattershoot

The Kelowna Rockets opened the Western Conference final against the host Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., last night without D Cal Foote, who will be a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He was completing a three-game WHL suspension. . . . The Rockets also were missing D Braydyn Chizen, who is out with a leg injury suffered in the previous round against the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Minus those two veterans, the Rockets had two young defencemen in the lineup — Kaedan Korczak, who turned 16 on Jan. 29, and Konrad Belcourt, who will be 17 on May 4. . . . F Erik Gardiner, who also was injured against Portland, was back in Kelowna’s lineup.
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As expected, G Carl Stankowski, who turned 17 on March 9, made his ninth straight start for the Thunderbirds. He has played every one of Seattle’s playoff games with G Rylan Toth, 20, out with an undisclosed injury.
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Just a thought: If the Thunderbirds play in Kent, shouldn’t they be the Kent Thunderbirds? Or will the Thunderbirds move back to Seattle if/when the big city gets an NHL-type facility?
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Doug Weight, the head coach of the NHL’s New York Islanders, was in attendance at the game in Kent. The Islanders selected Seattle F Mathew Barzal in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft. Barzal started this season with the Islanders before eventually being returned to Seattle.
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In Regina, the Lethbridge Hurricanes had two of their five injured regulars back for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference against the host Pats. F Zak Zborosky and F Zane Franklin returned, but F Matt Alfaro, F Ryan Vandervlis and D Calen Addison remain out.
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The Pats were without D Dawson Davidson, who was acquired from the Kamloops Blazers in January. He was injured in Game 7 against the Swift Current Broncos. John Paddock, the team’s GM/head coach, has said Davidson will be out for a while. . . . Regina had F Adam Brooks, its captain, in the lineup and he played after missing the previous five games. He suffered a knee injury in Game 2 against the Broncos. He was in uniform for the last three games of that serious, but never got on the ice. Last night, Brooks took his first shift shortly after the Pats had taken an early 1-0 lead. Yes, the crowd roared when Brooks left the bench.
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Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press points out that “this is the kind of (NHL) playoffs where the winner of the office pool will be the guy who thought PK Subban still played for the Canadiens.” . . . Yeah, or the guy who tried to select Wayne Gretzky in the fourth round.
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F Brad Moran (Calgary, 1995-2000) announced his retirement through the website of the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). The team captain, he had 11 goals and 28 assists in 51 games this season. . . .
F Devin Setoguchi (Saskatoon, Prince George, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL). This season, he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and three assists in nine games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .
D Dominik Bittner (Everett, 2011-12) has signed a two-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, he had a goal and four assists in 36 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL). . . .
F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year extension with the Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 21 assists in 52 games.
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Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote a column this week that marked his 30th anniversary — or, rather, one of them — at his favourite newspaper. The reasons I mention this isn’t because I was the assistant sports editor there at the time, but because it is amazing to read this and realize just how many people worked in that sports department. Yes, those were the days, my friends. . . . Vanstone’s piece is right here.
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The finalists will be decided today at the IIHF’s U-17 World Championship in Poprad, Slovakia. It’s Finland against Russia in the first semifinal, with Team USA and Sweden meeting in the second game. . . . The winners will play in Sunday’s final in Poprad. . . . Meanwhile, in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, Latvia beat Belarus, 3-2, on Friday in Game 2 of the best-of-three relegation series. It’s tied 1-1 and will be decided on Sunday. D Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen had an assist for Belarus.
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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.
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Concussion Report

“A researcher at Boston University says she has diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in the brains of four former junior hockey players,” writes Rick Westhead, a senior reporter at TSN. “Neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee made the diagnoses over the past two years. Each of the four former junior players – none of whom advanced to the National Hockey League – committed suicide before the age of 30, she said. . . . Only one of the players has been identified. Drew Mulligan, who was 22 when he committed suicide, played for the Springfield, Mass., Pics of the Empire Junior Hockey League. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.
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Coaching

USA Hockey will go into the 2018 World Junior Championship with the same coaching staff that guided it to a gold medal earlier this year in Toronto and Montreal. . . . Bob Motzko, the head coach at St. Cloud State, is back for a second go-round as Team USA’s head coach. Also returning are assistant coaches Greg Brown (Boston College), Kris Mayotte (Providence), Steve Miller (Air Force) and Grant Potulny (Northern Michigan). . . . The 2018 tournament is to be held in Buffalo, Dec. 26, 2017, through Jan. 5, and will feature an outdoor game between Team Canada and the Americans on Dec. 29.
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The ECHL’s Rapid City Rush fired head coach Mark DeSantis on Friday. The announcement was made by general manager Joe Ferras, who had been the head coach before DeSantis was moved up from his post as an assistant. The Rush was 38-47-11 under DeSantis.
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FRIDAY’S GAMES (all times local):


At Kent, Wash., D Ethan Bear broke a 4-4 tie with a PP goal with 11.2 seconds left in the third period to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . They’ll play Game 2 of the
ETHAN BEAR
Western Conference final tonight in Kent. . . . Seattle was on only its second PP of the game — it finished 1-2 — when there was a face-off in Kelowna’s zone. The puck came to Bear and he hammered home a slap shot from the top of the left circle for his fourth goal of these playoffs. . . . Just 35 seconds earlier, Seattle G Carl Stankowski had stopped Kelowna D Devante Stephens on a shorthanded breakaway. . . . The Rockets, who were 3-6 on the PP, had tied the game 4-4 with a pair of third-period PP scores. . . . F Tomas Soustal (3) cut Kelowna to within a goal at 5:53 and F Calvin Thurkauf (6) tied it at 15:00. . . . Earlier, the Thunderbirds scored first for a ninth straight playoff game when F Ryan Gropp got his second goal at 10:00 of the first period. . . . The Rockets took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Kole Lind (4), on a PP, with 6.2 seconds left in the first period, and F Reid Gardiner, his WHL-leading 13th, at 1:09 of the second. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even when F Alexander True (5) scored with 2.6 left in the second. . . . Seattle then scored two goals three minutes apart to start the third period. . . . D Turner Ottenbreit (1) counted at 0:52 and F Sami Moilanen (3) added another goal at 3:52. . . . Moilanen added two assists to his goal, while Gropp had one. . . . The Rockets got two assists from Gardiner, with Thurkauf adding one. . . . Stankowski stopped 29 shots in running his record to 9-0. . . . Kelowna G Michael Herringer turned aside 20 shots. . . . The Thunderbirds had their big line — Mathew Barzal between Keegan Kolesar and Gropp — together to start a game for the first time in a while. . . . As a result of Gropp rejoining that line, F Donovan Neuls moved back to play on a line with True and Tyler Adams. . . . Announced attendance: 4,001.
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At Regina, F Giorgio Estephan scored twice, the second into an empty net, to help the Lethbridge
GIORGIO ESTEPHAN
Hurricanes to a 3-1 victory over the Pats. . . . They’ll play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final tonight in Regina. . . . Last night, F Austin Wagner’s 11th goal gave the Pats a 1-0 lead at 1:10 of the first period. . . . The Hurricanes, who have won four straight road games, tied it on Estephan’s first goal of the game, at 13:23 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes took their first lead at 1:59 of the third period when F Jordy Bellerive scored his fifth goal, on a PP. . . . The Pats thought they had tied it at 8:21 of the third when Wagner got the puck into the Lethbridge net. However, the goal was disallowed after a video review during which it was ascertained that the net was off its moorings before the puck entered the net. . . . Estephan iced it with his 10th goal, into an empty net, at 18:38. . . . D Igor Merezhko had two assists for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes got 36 saves from G Stuart Skinner, while Regina’s Tyler Brown stopped 22 shots. . . . Lethbridge was 1-3 on the PP; Regina was 0-2. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484. . . . Darren Steinke, the Travellin’ Blogger, was in attendance and posted his game piece right here.

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SATURDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m. (Seattle leads, 1-0)
Lethbridge at Regina, 7 p.m. (Lethbridge leads, 1-0)

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anholt responds to Paddock's chatter ... Playoffs resume Friday ... Ex-WHL coach honoured in OHL


Things are heating up as the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats prepare to open the Eastern Conference final in the Saskatchewan capital tonight (Friday). On Wednesday, John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, lit the fire when, in reference to Lethbridge captain Tyler Wong, he told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “He‘s a hard-working, inspirational guy who has skill. He’s physical. He jumps a couple feet in the air when he hits guys and doesn’t get called.” On Thursday, Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt tossed a couple of logs on the fire while chatting with Matt Battochio of Global News. “Love the man,” Anholt said of Paddock, “but he’s sly like a fox. “I think really, ultimately, the facts speak for themselves. (Dawson) Leedahl takes (Lane) Pederson out of the Swift Current series. . . . The Regina Pats take runs at top players, I think it’s pretty obvious. Facts speak for themselves.” Anholt went a step further, asking the Lethbridge fans to prepare a welcome for Paddock’s arrival in the Alberta city. “I hope our fans show their ire towards John Paddock when he comes back here for Games 3 and 4,” Anholt said. “It doesn’t make sense to me, but the facts speak for themselves. . . . I think our top players better be very wary and watch because their team has a history of taking runs at top players.”
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 Regina is expected to be without F Adam Brooks, F Jake Leschyshyn and D Dawson Davidson when the series opens. Brooks hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in Game 2 of the seven-game second-round series with the Swift Current Broncos. He dressed for the last three games and was on the bench, but never got on the ice. That scenario very well may continue in the conference final. Leschyshyn (knee) has been out since February and won’t play again this season. Without Brooks and Leschyshyn, the Pats are missing two of their top three centres. Davidson, meanwhile, suffered an undisclosed injury in the Game 7 victory over the visiting Broncos on Monday night. He isn’t likely to play in this series, so Jonathan Smart will move back to defence. Smart, who was acquired from the Kelowna Rockets during the season, is a defenceman by trade, but has been playing on a forward line. The Hurricanes scratched D Calen Addison, F Matt Alfaro, F Zak Zborosky, F Zane Franklin and F Ryan Vandervlis, all of them regular contributors, from Game 7 against the host Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday.
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 Things are a little quieter in Kent, Wash., where the Seattle Thunderbirds will play host to the Kelowna Rockets tonight in Game 1 of the Western Conference final. The Rockets will be without D Cal Foote, as he completes a three-game suspension left over from the second-round victory over the Portland Winterhawks. Foote was suspended after he elbowed Portland F Skyler McKenzie in the head during Game 3. McKenzie came out of that with a concussion and missed the last two games. Also, it’s not known if Kelowna D Braydyn Chizen is ready to return. He suffered a leg injury in Game 3 against Portland and sat out the last two games of that series. Seattle’s Rylan Toth, who led all WHL goaltenders with 36 victories in the regular season, has yet to dress for a playoff game. In Toth’s absence, G Carl Stankowski has backstopped the Thunderbirds to eight victories in as many games.
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 There won’t be a medal for Team Canada at the IIHF U-18 World Championship. Canada was beaten 7-3 by Sweden in a quarterfinal game on Thursday at Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia. . . . D Mark Rubinchik of the Saskatoon Blades and Team Russia advanced to a semifinal game with a 3-2 victory over Slovakia. Rubinchik didn’t record any points, leaving him with six in five games. . . . Russia and Finland will meet in one of Saturday’s semifinal games. . . . The other will feature Sweden and Team USA, which got past Switzerland, 4-2. . . . In the best-of-three relegation series, D Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen had a goal and an assist as Belarus beat Latvia, 2-0, in Game 1. 
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 Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald used to cover the Everett Silvertips for the newspaper. Now he is a sports columnist there. In both roles, he has seen a lot of Kevin Constantine, who was the team’s head coach for eight seasons — two four-year stints — before being told Tuesday that his contract won’t be renewed. . . . Patterson, using the word “shaft,” opined on the move and that piece is right here.
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 MORE ON THE MOVE: D Noah Juulsen of the Everett Silvertips has joined the St. John’s IceCaps, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. He was a first-round selection in the 2015 NHL draft. Juulsen signed a three-year entry-level contract with Montreal before the 2015-16 season. In this regular season, he had 12 goals and 22 assists in 49 games.
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 Ryan McGill, a former WHL player and coach, has been named the OHL’s coach of the year. McGill guided the Owen Sound Attack to a 49-15-4 record in what was its best season in franchise history. . . . The 49 victories and 102 points broke franchise records of 46 and 97 from 2010-11. . . . McGill is in his second season in Owen Sound. . . . From Sherwood Park, Alta., he played four seasons (1985-89) with the Lethbridge Broncos, Swift Current Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . He was on the Edmonton/Kootenay Ice’s coaching staff for seven seasons (1996-2002) and later returned for three more (2012-15). . . . The Attack opens the third round of playoffs tonight in Erie against the Otters. 
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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. If interested, you also are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.
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THURSDAY’S GAMES:

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

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m. (Game 1) Lethbridge at Regina, 7 p.m. (Game 1)
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hurricanes-Pats gets TV treatment ... Regina merch sales off the charts ... Home-ice advantage important?



Has Dart Guy become the new Marlboro Man? If so, you have to wonder how happy the NHL pooh-bahs are to have a guy with a dart stuck in the middle of his painted face as one of the icons for the first round of playoffs.
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 If you were wondering, Shaw TV and Access7 will show the WHL’s Eastern Conference final between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats. That series opens with games in Regina on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . This should be something of a grudge match, too, seeing as the Pats, a wild-card team a year ago, dumped the Central Division-champion Hurricanes in five games in a first-round series.
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 There should be some emotion in the Western Conference final, too, seeing as it’s the fourth time in five seasons that Kelowna and Seattle have clashed in the playoffs. A year ago, the Thunderbirds swept the Rockets in the conference final. . . . The most memorable series between these teams occurred in the first round in 2013 when Seattle won the first three games and Kelowna won the last four.
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 Rylan Toth of the Thunderbirds led all WHL goaltenders with 36 regular-season victories. However, he was injured late in the season and hasn’t even dressed for a game in these playoffs. In his absence, freshman Carl Stankowski has gone 8-0, 2.24, .913. . . . This being the playoffs, Toth’s mother, Marie, likely doesn’t even know if he’s healthy enough to play. But what does Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk do if Toth is ready?
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 I didn’t have a dog in the hunt, but it was good to see F Tyler Wong, the Hurricanes’ captain, emerge as Tuesday night’s hero with the Game 7 OT goal — shorthanded at that — against the host Medicine Hat Tigers. Wong is wrapping up his WHL career with his fifth season in Lethbridge and he’s stuck it out through thick and thin. You know that no one has enjoyed the past two seasons more than has Wong, who may be the most-loved player in franchise history.
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 Wong and Kelowna F Reid Gardiner are tied for the playoff scoring lead, each with 22 points. . . . So, yes, Regina will pay a little extra attention to Wong, and, yes, it already has started. Here’s John Paddock, Regina’s GM and head coach, in conversation with Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “(Wong is) a hard-working, inspirational guy who has skill. He’s physical. He jumps a couple feet in the air when he hits guys and doesn’t get called.” . . . Sheesh, John, don’t you realize that WHL officials, both on-ice and off, don’t read anything in the playoffs.
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 You may recall that it was almost two years ago — May 5, 2015 — when WHL commish Ron Robison was in Lethbridge, suggesting to the team’s board of directors that they should sell the franchise. You have to think the hockey fans of Lethbridge are rather pleased that it didn’t happen. ——
 What does it mean to a WHL team to be alive this deep into the playoffs? Well, Stacey Cattell, the Pats’ COO, told CBC News in Regina that “merchandise sales are . . . almost 50 per cent more than they were last (season) overall.” He also revealed that the Pats surpassed last season’s total merchandise sales by the fourth game of these playoffs.
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 If you haven’t yet seen Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees at the plate, well, you’re cheating yourself. The Yankees’ starting right fielder, he is 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, and he moves like a much smaller man. Last night, Judge, who bats right, hit a 448-foot home run that landed halfway up the left-field bleachers. At the age of 24, he has two of the three longest homers to have been hit at the ‘new’ Yankee Stadium — he hit a 457-footer last season and that’s No. 1. ——
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As the WHL takes a break, Hartley Miller, the sports director at 94.3 The Goat in Prince George, points out: Home teams went 22-22 in the first round; Home teams went 13-10 in the second round. He adds that when it came to Game 7s, home teams in Round 1 were 1-1 and they were 1-1 in Round 2. The numbers would indicate that home-ice advantage, which teams supposedly play so hard for over the 72-game regular season, is vastly over-rated. The third round — aka conference finals — is scheduled to open on Friday with the Kelowna Rockets meeting the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., and the Lethbridge Hurricanes visiting the Regina Pats. To this point, the Rockets have played in 11 playoff games; the Thunderbirds have been in the minimum eight, having swept the Tri-City Americans and Everett Silvertips. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, who scratched five regulars for Games 6 and 7 against the Medicine Hat Tigers, have played in 14 games; the Pats have been in 11.
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 The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Brendan Stafford, 17, to a WHL contract. From Edmonton, Stafford is a list player. He also is a cousin go F Drew Stafford of the NHL’s Boston Bruins. This season, Brendan had six goals and 18 assists in 60 games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. Last season, he had 17 goals and 21 assists in 52 games with the midget A team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn.
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 D Scott Allan, who played with three WHL teams, has decided to attend Concordia University of Edmonton and play hockey for the Thunder. Allan, who is from Thornton, Colo., played most of the last two seasons with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, helping them to a national championship a year ago. In the WHL, the 6-foot-7, 225-pounder had stints (2013-15) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Seattle Thunderbirds and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
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 The Battlefords North Stars will represent the SJHL at the Western Canada Cup in Penticton, April 29 through May 7. The North Stars beat the host Flin Flon Bombers 6-5 on Wednesday night to sweep the SJHL’s championship series and win the Canalta Cup. In fact, the North Stars went 12-0 as they ran roughshod through the playoffs. If you’re wondering, the last teams to run the SJHL playoff table were the dynastic Prince Albert Raiders, in 1976 and 1982. . . . The North Stars last were SJHL kings in 2000. . . . In the MJHL, the Portage Terriers won their third straight championship, beating the visiting OCN Blizzard, 1-0, last night behind 27 saves from G Kurtis Chapman. The Terriers, who have won seven titles in 10 seasons, won the series, and the Turnbull Cup, in six games. Portage lost the first two games of the final, then roared back with four victories. . . . In the BCHL, the host Penticton Vees erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Chilliwack Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. The Vees now lead the series, 3-1, with the first opportunity to wrap it up on Saturday in Chilliwack. . . . F Ryley Risling got the OT winner. . . . The Vees, of course, are in the Western Canada Cup as the host team, so the Chiefs will be the BCHL representative.
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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. If interested, you also are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

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

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

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m. (Game 1) Lethbridge at Regina, 7 p.m. (Game 1)
There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click HERE. . . and thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wong wins it for 'Canes ... Shorty in OT sends 'Canes to Regina ... Series opens Friday


The Eastern Conference final, featuring the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats, will open at the Brandt Centre in Regina with games on Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets for those games sold out in about 10 minutes on Tuesday. . . . All eyes are on Regina F Adam Brooks, the team captain, who hasn’t taken a shift since injuring a knee in Game 2 of the second-round series with the Swift Current Broncos that ended in Game 7 in Regina on Monday. . . . “I don't know for sure (if he could return)," John Paddock, the Pats’ GM and head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post on Tuesday. “I’d like to say that I’m hopeful at some time in the series, but that’s me talking. That’s not really (trainer) Greg (Mayer) or the doctors telling me that.” . . . Brooks was in uniform and on the Pats’ bench for the last three games of the series with the Broncos, but he never got on the ice. . . . A prolific scorer, he won the WHL scoring title last season and finished one point behind teammate Sam Steel this season.
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F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a one-year extension with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL). This season, he was pointless in 22 games with Spartak; and had seven goals and three assists in 17 games with Khimik Voskresensk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).
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On Tuesday, I mentioned ticket scalpers being in evidence prior to Game 7 between the Swift Current Broncos and the Pats in Regina on Monday night.

It wasn’t long before I heard from Dan Russell, the former host of the popular Vancouver radio show Sportstalk and a man with considerable experience doing WHL play-by-play.

He recalled two instances of seeing scalpers prior to WHL games.

The first was in 1984 at Queen’s Park Arena, the home of the New Westminster Bruins. They were playing the Portland Winterhawks and it was Game 9. Yes, Game 9.

“(They were doing a) rousing business outside,” Russell recalls, “and I remember hearing $75-$100 in those days.”

Russell added: “Portland won the series after trailing 4-3 through seven games. Lol. (Cliff) Ronning was huge (for the Bruins) in that series and scored what many of us felt was the tying goal in the third period (of Game 9), before there was any hint of video review.”

Russell also recalled seeing scalpers in 2005 when the Vancouver Giants were playing the Kelowna Rockets in Game 6 at the Pacific Coliseum.

“It was during the NHL lockout,” he recounted. “Fans were starving (for hockey). Shaw’s TV coverage and heavy Sportstalk radio coverage was the only hockey being talked about in a starved market and it led to crowds that just kept building during series. Game 6 was a sellout with confirmed scalpers doing strong business. The telecast was the most viewed TV show in the market on that night.”
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Finland beat Team Canada 6-3 to conclude round-robin play at the IIHF U-17 World Championship in Poprad, Slovakia, on Tuesday. Finland (4-0-0-0) finished atop Group A, with Canada (2-1-0-1) second. D Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors had one of Canada’s goals. G Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders gave up five goals on 27 shots before being lifted at 1:24 of the third period. . . . Team Canada will play Sweden (2-0-0-2), the third-place team from Group B, in a Thursday quarterfinal game in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia. . . . In another game, D Mark Rubinchik of the Saskatoon Blades had two goals, including the winner, and an assist as Russia got past Czech Republic, 5-4. Rubinchik had six points, including two goals, in four round-robin games. Russia will meet Sweden in a quarterfinal game on Thursday. . . . In the other quarterfinal games, it’ll be Finland against Czech Republic and Team USA vs. Switzerland.

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The Prince George Cougars have signed F Liam Ryan, who turned 17 on Jan. 2, to a WHL contract. From New Westminster, B.C., he was a seventh-round selection in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. This season, he had 15 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.

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The Vancouver Giants have signed G Jacob Wassermann, ??, to a WHL contrct. The 6-foot-5 native of Humboldt, Sask., was an eighth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. This season, he played for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, going 10-13-0, 3.23, .902 in 26 games. In five playoff games, he was 1.81, .947.

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  QMJHLThe QMJHL lost its defending champion on Tuesday night as the Chicoutimi Sagueneens bet the host Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, 4-3 in OT, in Game 7 of a second-round series. Chicoutimi, which trailed 3-1 with 10 minutes left in the third period, went into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed; the Huskies were No. 2. . . . The Sagueneens next will face the No. 1 Saint John SeaDogs. . . . The other semifinal will have the No. 4 Charlottetown Islanders up against the No. 5 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Armada beat the visiting Acadie-Bathurst Titan, 7-1, in Game 7 last night.

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  In the OHL, F Warren Foegele scored at 10:40 of OT to give the host Erie Otters a 5-4 victory over the London Knights in Game 7 of their second-round series. The Knights are the defending Memorial Cup champions. . . . The Otters will meet the Owen Sound Attack in the Western Conference final, one that will feature a pair of former WHL coaches. Kris Knoblauch runs the bench for the Otters; Ryan McGill does the same for the Attack. . . . In the Eastern Conference final, it’ll be the Peterborough Petes facing the Mississauga Steelheads. —— There will be a definite WHL flavour to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2017 inductions on Oct. 7 at Winnipeg’s Canad Inns Polo Park. Included in the Class of 2017 are Murray Bannerman (Winnipeg Clubs, Victoria Cougars, 1973-77), Jim Benzelock (Winnipeg Jets, 1967-68), Laurie Boschman (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79), Pat Falloon (Spokane Chiefs, 1988-91) and Lew Morrison (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-68), all of whom played in the WHL. Also being inducted will be Rob Martell, a former WHL linesman who went on to a career in the NHL. . . . For more on the complete Class of 2017, check this right here.

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AJHLThe Brooks Bandits won their second consecutive AJHL championship on Tuesday, beating the host Whitecourt Wolverines, 4-1, to sweep a best-of-seven final. . . . Brooks has won four championships in the past five seasons — 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017. . . . This time, Brooks went through the playoffs with only one loss, while outscoring its opposition, 75-16. . . . Brooks had finished the regular-season with the AJHL’s best record — 51-5-4. . . . The Bandits now move on to the Western Canada Cup in Penticton, B.C., April 29 through May 7. The five-team tournament will feature the host Penticton Vees, the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, the Bandits and the champions of the SJHL and MJHL. The top two teams in that tournament will advance to the RBC Cup. The Vees hold a 2-1 lead over Chilliwack, having posted a 5-2 home-ice victory before 3,009 fans last night. They’ll play Game 4 tonight in Penticton. . . . F Massimo Rizzo, taken 15th overall by the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s 2016 draft, opened the scoring for the Vees, on a PP, with his first BCHL goal. Rizzo has yet to sign with the Blazers or commit to the NCAA route.

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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. If interested, you also are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.
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TUESDAY’S GAME (all times local):



At Medicine Hat, F Tyler Wong scored his second goal of the game, at 3:02 of OT, to give the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 5-4 victory in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . . The Hurricanes are 5-0 in Game 7s in franchise history, with two of those on the road. They now will meet the Regina Pats in the Eastern Conference final. That series will open with games in Regina on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . With the Medicine Hat defenders backing up, Wong skated into the Tigers’ zone and beat G Michael Bullion with a 20-foot wrist shot. . . . Just moments earlier, Lethbridge G Stuart Skinner had made a huge save on Tigers F John Dahlstrom. . . . Wong’s goal sent the Hurricanes into the third round for the first time since 2008. . . . F Zach Fischer (7) had given the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 8:47 of the first period, only to have the Hurricanes score three times before the end of the period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (4) tied it just nine seconds later. . . . Wong gave the Hurricanes their first lead, at 16:22. . . . F Egor Babenko (7) extended that lead at 19:13, with Wong earning an assist. . . . Medicine Hat went back out front with three goals in the first half of the second period. . . . F Matt Bradley (4) got the Tigers to within a goal at 4:07. . . . F Mark Rassell, who finished with seven goals, then scored twice, at 5:14 and 9:26, to send the home team out front. . . . F Dylan Cozens, a 15-year-old AP, tied it for Lethbridge, with his second goal of the series, at 17:17 of the third period. . . . Cozens also had an assist on Bellerive’s goal. . . . Wong, the captain, won it with his 11th goal of these playoffs. It came 54 seconds after Lethbridge D Brennan Riddle had been sent off for high-sticking. . . . Bellerive added an assist to his goal. . . . Skinner finished with 36 saves, 11 more than Bullion. . . . The Tigers were 1-5 on the PP; the Hurricanes were 0-3. . . . Just like for Game 6, the Hurricanes scratched D Calen Addison, F Matt Alfaro, F Zak Zborosky, F Ryan Vandervlis and F Zane Franklin, all of them regulars. . . . Lethbridge added F Connor Lyons to the lineup, taking out F Jayden Davis. Both are APs. . . . “I am so proud of the team,” Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt told Taking Note, via text, shortly after game’s end. “(Head coach) Brent (Kisio) and the coaches did such an unreal job of keeping the guys focused. Never looked for excuses. Just played. Faced adversity and overcame it. So proud.” . . . The road team won five of the seven games in this series. The Hurricanes went into Medicine Hat and won Games 2, 5 and 7. . . . Announced attendance: 5,556.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

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

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

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m. (Game 1) Lethbridge at Regina, 7 p.m. (Game 1)

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Constantine's second run over in Everett . . . Silvertips won't renew head coach's contract

The Everett Silvertips will raise two banners into the rafters at XFINITY Arena when the 2017-18 regular-season opens.
However, Kevin Constantine, the head coach who was behind the bench as the team finished atop the Western Conference and U.S. Division, won’t be there.
Kevin Constantine no longer is the head coach
of the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

(Photo: Everett Silvertips)
The Silvertips announced Tuesday that they won’t be renewing his contract when it expires on May 31.
“They just told me they weren’t going to rehire me,” Constantine told Jesse Gelenyse of the Everett Herald. “There wasn’t any discussion of (why). It was just ‘You’re not being rehired.’ It was a very short conversation.”
The futures of assistant coaches Mitch Love and Brennan Sonne, and goaltending coach Shane Clifford, weren’t addressed yesterday. Their contracts also are up on May 31.
Garry Davidson, the Silvertips’ general manager, said in a news release that the organization now will focus on the May 4 WHL bantam draft, then will look at hiring a head coach.
The Silvertips are owned by The Monarch Corporation, a private investment company that is headquartered in Medicine Hat and is under the control of Bill Yuill, its chairman and CEO.
The Silvertips just completed their 14th season in the WHL. Constantine has been the head coach for eight of those (2003-07, 2013-17).
The Silvertips have never missed the WHL playoffs; they also have two 100-point regular seasons to their credit, both of them under Constantine.
This season, they finished 44-16-12, for 100 points. They took out the Victoria Royals in a six-game first-round series, then were swept by the Seattle Thunderbirds. A year ago, Seattle won a second-round series from Everett in five games. In the spring of 2014, Everett lost a first-round series to Seattle in five games.
Constantine’s Everett teams always have had strong defensive games — this season, the Silvertips allowed 169 goals, the best in the WHL by 29 goals. However, their offence — 229 goals — was 15th.
It is believed that Everett management would like to see its team play a more wide-open game in the hopes of improving attendance.
Davidson left the Portland Winterhawks — he was their director of player personnel — to take over as Everett’s general manager on Feb. 15, 2012. He hired Constantine in time for the 2013-14 season.
It is evident that there were philosophical differences between Constantine and Davidson.
“I think I said when I came here we were at the opposite end of the spectrum,” Davidson told Gelenyse, “so that hasn’t changed. I hoped we would grow more together (but) I don’t think we ever did very much.”
Despite finishing atop the Western Conference, the Silvertips experience the lowest regular-season average attendance (4,865) in their 14 seasons. They play out of the 8,149-seat XFINITY Arena.
Their average attendance peaked at 6,460 in 2006-07, but has been under 5,000 in three of the past four seasons.
In looking for a coach who likes an up-tempo game you wonder if the Silvertips might consider Kyle Gustafson, who has been on the coaching staff of the Portland Winterhawks for 12 seasons, 10 as an assistant coach and two as associate coach. He has spent the brunt of that time working alongside general manager/head coach Mike Johnston, who loves that kind of game.
Having worked with the Winterhawks and with being in the same division, Davidson will be quite familiar with Gustafson’s work.
As a WHL head coach, Constantine, a 58-year-old native of International Falls, Minn., has 326 regular-season victories, good for 21st spot on the all-time list.
Constantine also has bead-coaching experience in the NHL, with the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.
There now are two WHL teams without head coaches.
The Spokane Chiefs announced on March 30 that Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL history, was being relieved of his duties. Nachbaur had one year left on his contract.
Gelenyse’s complete story is right here.


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Monday, April 17, 2017

Steel sparks Pats past Broncos ... 'Canes, Tigers set for Game 7 ... Iverson off to AHL

Scattershoot

I can’t remember the last time ticket scalpers, of the Internet or street-corner variety, were interested in a WHL game but that was the case Monday in Regina prior to the Pats meeting the Swift Current Broncos in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference second-round series. When I asked columnist Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post when was the last time that had happened, he responded: “I can’t recall a precedent for that.”
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The Broncos went into Game 6 on Saturday night with a 3-2 series lead over the visiting Pats. The Broncos then went on to build up a 3-1 lead in Game 6. However, the Pats scored the last four goals in that one, for a 5-3 victory, then opened Game 7 in Regina on Monday by scoring the first four goals en route to a 5-1 victory.
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Regina hadn’t played host to a Game 7 in 45 years. In 1972, the Pats beat the visiting Flin Flon Bombers, 3-2, in Game 7 to win a first-round series, 3-2-2. That was an eight-point series — the first team to eight points won — and there wasn’t any OT. . . . According to Pats historian Kevin Shaw, this also was the first time in franchise history that the Pats had won a series after trailing 3-1. The Pats are the oldest junior franchise in existence.
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F Adam Brooks was on the Pats’ bench for a third straight game Monday, and for a third straight game he didn’t get on the ice. Brooks, who put up 250 points over the past two regular seasons, injured a knee in Game 2 of the second-round series. He is in his final junior season, and it had to provide motivation for his teammates to have him there. You know that teammates would look down the bench, see Brooks and think: “We don’t want his season to end like this.” . . . Now we will have to wait and see if he’ll be able to play in the Eastern Conference final.
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The Broncos may have bowed out in the second round but you can bet that the community-owned team’s board of directors will look at this as a successful season. They got six home playoff dates and that will make a huge difference to their bottom line, likely guaranteeing a profit for the 2016-17 season. That’s rather important for the team that plays in the 60-team CHL’s smallest market.
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The Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Tigers are in Medicine Hat for their own Game 7 tonight. The Hurricanes needed seven games to get past the Red Deer Rebels in the first round, while the Tigers were sweeping the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Hurricanes scratched five regulars — D Calen Addison, F Matt Alfaro, F Zane Franklin, F Ryan Vandervlis and F Zak Zborosky — from Game 6 so you’re free to wonder if/when fatigue sets in. . . . “There’s times that I expected them to look a little more tired than they have,” Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ GM and head coach, told Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News. “What (Tyler) Wong and (Giorgio) Estephan have done this series has been unbelievable, it’s been spectacular. They’ve played an absolute ton every night, almost like two lines. Now the challenge is can they keep it going? So far they’ve been very effective at doing that. We have to expect them to be able to do that again and match it.”
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While flipping channels last night, I happened to hear the first two rules of baseball, according to Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken (Hawk) Harrelson: “First rule. Not hitting, not pitching or anything. You got to catch the ball. Can’t give that other team 28, 29, 30 outs when you’re getting 27. The next rule in baseball is don’t mess with Joe West.”
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With the visiting Washington Capitals and Toronto headed to OT on Monday night, Bryce Thoma, an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades, picked Tyler Bozak to win it for the Maple Leafs. Bingo! Bozak’s goal gave Toronto a 4-3 victory. . . . That came one day after Thoma picked Ottawa D Dion Phaneuf to score in OT against the visiting Boston Bruins. Bingo!! Phaneuf won that one. . . . Thoma was last seen headed for a lottery kiosk.
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You are aware, of course, that the Toronto Maple Leafs have as many victories in these playoffs (2) as the Toronto Blue Jays have in the 2017 regular season.
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You are aware, too, that Canadian teams now are 8-7 in the NHL playoffs, which comes after starting 0-5. Canadian teams also are leading in four series. Sorry, NBC-TV. . . . OK. You may have seen that coming. But no way you saw Dart Man as a first-round star.
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F Axel Blomqvist (Lethbridge, Victoria, Moose Jaw, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with Osby (Sweden, Division 2). This season, he had two goals in six games with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL); went pointless in seven games with Södertälje (Sweden, Allsvenskan); and had a goal and two assists in seven games with Kristianstad (Sweden, Division 1).
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F Keegan Iverson of the Portland Winterhawks has joined the Ontario Reign, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Iverson, who played out his junior eligibility this season, had 70 points, including 26 goals, in 55 regular-season games with Portland. In five seasons with the Winterhawks, he had 80 goals and 110 assists in 293 games. He also may be the only player in WHL history to have played at least one playoff game in six consecutive seasons. . . . Iverson, from St. Louis Park, Minn., was selected by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft but never signed.
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Two days after being named to Team Canada’s roster, F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks scored twice and added an assist in a 7-3 victory over Switzerland at the IIHF U-17 World Championship in Poprad, Slovakia, on Monday. Glass and the Winterhawks were eliminated from the WHL playoffs on Friday in Kelowna; he was added to Team Canada’s roster on Saturday morning. . . . F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings also scored for Canada, giving him at least a goal in three straight games. F Tate Olson of the Tri-City Americans scored for Canada, too. . . . Finland (3-0-0-0) leads Group A with nine points. Canada (2-1-0-0) is second, with eight. Teams get three points for a regulation victory, two for an OT victory and one for an OT loss. . . . Canada meets Finland today as the round-robin portion of the tournament ends.
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It was like dominoes falling in the OHL on Monday. . . . The Sudbury Wolves announced that Barclay Branch had stepped down as general manager. Later in the day, he was named vice-president of hockey operations and general manager of the Flint Firebirds. . . . In Flint, Branch replaces George Burnett as GM. You may recall that the OHL sent Burnett into Flint a year ago to, according to an OHL news release, “re-establish the team both on and off the ice.” . . . Later on Monday, Burnett was named GM and head coach of the Guelph Storm and, to complete the circle, Rob Papineau now is the GM in Sudbury. . . . There’s more on these announcements at ontariohockeyleague.com.
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Reports late Monday night indicated that Grant Potulny, an assistant coach with the Minnesota Gophers, will be introduced today as the head coach of the Northern Michigan Wildcats. Potulny, 37, is from Grand Forks, N.D., and is a cousin to former Portland Winterhawks F Paul Gaustad. . . . Potulny played four seasons at Minnesota, then went on to a pro career that ended after the 2008-09 season. He has been on staff at Minnesota for eight seasons and also has twice been an assistant coach with USA Hockey’s national junior team. . . . At Northern Michigan, he will take over from Walt Kyle, whose contract wasn’t renewed after 15 seasons there.
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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.
If interested, you also are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.
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MONDAY’S GAME:


At Regina, the Swift Current Broncos didn’t have an answer for the Man of Steel as the Pats posted a 5-1 victory in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . . The Pats will open the Eastern Conference final at home on Friday night. The opponent will be the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the host Medicine Hat Tigers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Regina hasn’t been in the conference final since the spring of 1993. . . . Regina F Sam Steel, the WHL’s reigning scoring champ, went into last night with three goals and six assists in the first six games against the Broncos. He gave the Pats a 1-0 lead at 2:19 of the first period and made it 3-0 at 9:19 of the second period, with his seventh goal of these playoffs. Both of last night’s goals came on rebounds. . . . In between, F Filip Ahl added his second goal, at 4:57 of the first period, scoring on a breakaway after two Broncos defencemen collided at their blue line. . . . F Austin Wagner increased Regina’s lead to 4-0 at 15:36 of the second. . . . Trailing 4-0 and on the PP with six minutes left in the third period, the Broncos pulled G Jordan Papirny for an extra attacker and F Conner Chaulk (2) got them on the scoreboard at 14:33. . . . Shortly after, the Pats took another penalty and Papirny was back on the bench. This time, Wagner scored a shorthanded goal into the empty net. He’s got 10 goals now. . . . The Pats got three assists from D Connor Hobbs, with Ahl adding an assist to his goal. . . . The Broncos were without F Lane Pederson for a second straight game. . . . Swift Current was 1-6 on the PP; Regina was 0-5. . . . The Pats got 23 saves from G Tyler Brown, while Papirny blocked 38. . . . Papirny ended his career with a combined 159 regular-season (119) and playoff (40) victories. That is believed to be second in WHL history, behind Mac Carruth, who put up 166 (117 and 49) victories with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Papirny recorded 145 victories with the Brandon Wheat Kings, who dealt him to the Broncos in January. . . . G Tyson Sexsmith is believed to hold the WHL record for regular-season victories, having put up 120 with the Vancouver Giants. He also had 30 playoff victories. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484, the 20th sellout of this season in Regina.

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TUESDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m. (Series tied, 3-3)

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