Friday, December 19, 2014

Glass on waivers, or not? . . . Merry Christmas for Lernout, Ully . . . and for Broncos' radio voice








There were conflicting reports Friday as to whether G Jeff Glass (Kootenay, 2002-05) was placed on waivers by Lada Togliatti (Russia, KHL) after his interview on the status of the KHL was published in The Hockey News. This season, in 10 games, Glass is 1-6-0, 3.66, .880. . . . Later Friday it became evident there were conflicting reports as to whether Glass was on waivers. It wasn’t on Friday’s waiver wire per the KHL’s Russian-language website. Still, some reports had him on waivers. There also were harsh comments by former KHL president Medvedev so the KHL powers weren’t happy with that interview. Per @SlavaMalamud, Medevdev said: "Let Glass run off and play in a water-mill league somewhere." . . .
F Marcel Hossa (Portland, 1998-2001) was one of four players assigned by Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) to Liepāja (Latvia, Virslīga) after clearing waivers. This season, Hossa, the team captain, had seven goals and nine assists in 38 games with Dinamo Riga. . . . Per the KHL website, the contract between Hossa and Dinamo Riga was terminated by mutual agreement. . . . Dinamo Riga is having financial issues, so the move was possibly related to that. Dinamo waived three others players along with Hossa. . . .
F Alex Gogolyov (Calgary, Victoria, 2011-13) has been released by Lada Togliatti and has signed to two-way contract with Dynamo Moscow (both Russia, KHL). This season, with Lada's farm club Ariada Volzhsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had four goals and five assists in 21 games. . . .
G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) was placed on waivers by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In 20 games, he was 2-13-4, 3.52, .897. . . . Kolppanen, Dan Sexton and Tim Stapleton refused to practice or play over non-payment of salary. . . . On Friday, Stapleton was traded to Metallurg Magnitogorsk for Yevgeni Grigorenko. . . .
D Tomas Slovak (Kelowna, 2001-03) was released by Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga) at his request. He had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .
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In yesterday’s piece on the WHL playoffs, I erred by using the word ‘re-seed’ in referring to the second round.
Instead, the WHL is using hard brackets, meaning first-round winners within each bracket play each other in the second round with home-ice advantage going to the team with the most regular-season points.
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Merry Christmas to D Brett Lernout of the Swift Current Broncos and F Cole Ully of the Kamloops Blazers, both of whom have signed three-year NHL deals. . . . Lernout, 19, signed with the Montreal Canadiens, who selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . Lernout has 18 points, including eight goals, in 34 games this season. From Winnipeg, he had 22 points, eight of them goals, in 72 games last season. . . . Ully, 19, signed with the Dallas Stars, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL draft. He is from Calgary. This season, he has 48 points, including 16 goals, in 35 games. He missed three games with an illness. Last season, he finished with 72 points, 30 of them goals, in 69 games.
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Belarus has won the IIHF U20 World championship Division I Group A title in Asiago, Italy. That means Belarus will advance to play with the big boys next season. There is more on the Asiago tournament right here.
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If you haven’t seen it yet, the Pittsburgh Penguins have done up a terrific Christmas (Vacation) video. It’s right here.
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Vin Scully -- yes, that Vin Scully -- had a bit of a scare the other day during a shopping trip to his favourite Costco. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times has that story right here.
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Danny Watkins of West Kelowna, B.C., really hadn’t played a lot of football when the Philadelphia Eagles made him a first-round selection in the NFL’s 2011 draft. Really, though, all he wanted to be was a firefighter. . . . Emily Kaplan of the Monday Morning Quarterback website has his story right here, and it’s a great read.
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If you are into Christmas music, as I am, you will love this piece right here from Deadspin. The gang over there has ranked the top Christmas songs. Hint: Silent Night is No. 1. . . . Note that they didn’t include any Christmas tunes from after 1960, and that means that Fairytale of New York isn’t included. It’s by The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl, and if you haven’t heard/seen it, check it out right here. It’s top five material, for sure.
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THE BLOG:

On Friday, someone dubbed it The Technology Fund. Whatever it is, it’s special. As of late Friday, the blog master’s computer fund was at $1,280. . . . If you would like to help, click on the donate button, and thank you in advance. . . . Yes, we are almost there!
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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.
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

If WHL playoffs started today . . . Ch-ch-ching! . . . Rids can't believe it!








D Colton Jobke (Kelowna, Regina, 2009-13) has reassigned by the Minnesota Wild (NHL) from the Alaska Aces (ECHL) to the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). This season, with Alaska, he had four assists in 20 games. . . .
F Tyler Spurgeon (Kelowna, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B). This season, with the Ontario Reign (ECHL), he had two goals and eight assists in 12 games. He was pointless in one game with the Adirondack Flames (AHL). . . .
G Alexander Pechursky (Tri-City, 2009-11) has been traded by Metallurg Magnitogorsk to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for G Alexei Murygin. This season, in nine games with Magnitogorsk, Pechursky was 2-6-0, 2.40, .910.
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THE PLAYOFF PICTURE:

In case you have forgotten, the WHL has redone its playoff format.
This season, it is using a formula that involves conference standings, division standings and wild cards.
Yes, it’s wild.
With the league on its Christmas break -- the next games are scheduled for Dec. 27 -- let’s take a look at what would happen were the playoffs to start today.
Under the new format, eight teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs. It all starts with the top three teams from each division advancing. After that, the remaining two spots on each side go to wild-card entries -- the two teams in each conference with the most points.
As of this moment, here are the qualifiers, with their point totals:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
East Division

Brandon         52
Regina         42
Swift Current     38
Central Division
Medicine Hat    50
Calgary        41
Red Deer        40
Wild cards
Edmonton        37
Kootenay        36
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
B.C. Division

Kelowna        59
Victoria        37
Prince George    34
U.S. Division
Everett        44
Portland        41
Spokane        39
Wild cards
Tri-City        35
Vancouver        32
(Note: Vancouver and Seattle are tied, with 32 points, for what right now is the Western Conference’s last playoff spot. Were this the end of the regular season, they would meet in a play-in game in Vancouver. For the sake of this exercise, I have given the spot to Vancouver on the basis of more victories -- 16-14.)
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In the first round of the playoffs, the division winners go up against the wild-card entries, with the team with the most points meeting the team with the fewest points. All playoff series are best-of-seven affairs.
In the Eastern Conference, that would be:
Brandon vs. Kootenay
Medicine Hat vs. Edmonton
In the Western Conference, that would be:
Kelowna vs. Vancouver
Everett vs. Tri-City
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Meanwhile, the second- and third-place teams in each division would meet:
Regina vs. Swift Current
Calgary vs. Red Deer
Victoria vs. Prince George
Portland vs. Spokane
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For the second round, the teams stay within their brackets with the winners meeting. Home-ice advantage in each series goes to the team with the most regular-season points. . . . And on it goes.
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The Medicine Hat Tigers have done their bit for Christmas. Give it a look right here.
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There were issues with a gate early in a Wednesday night game between the Kamloops Blazers and the host Medicine Hat Tigers. Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News covered that story like a blanket and it’s all right here. Yes, it’s worth reading. (Kamloops head coach Don Hay suggested that the game, which was delayed almost an hour, should have been forfeited to the Blazers. Whoa! He was joking.)
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If you are interested in the KHL and the latest developments, make sure you are following Slava Malamud on Twitter. You are able to do that right here. . . . On Thursday, he live-tweeted the KHL owners’ meeting. ---
Neil Doef, a promising young hockey player with the Smiths Falls, Ont., Bears, suffered a serious injury during a Junior A Challenge game in Kindersley, Sask., on Sunday. . . . Don Butler of the Ottawa Citizen has more right here, including various avenues open should you wish to make a donation in support of Doef and his family.
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Peter Anholt says his Lethbridge Hurricanes aren’t quite the 1977 Montreal Canadiens. Yes, the Hurricanes’ new general manager and head coach brought his sense of humour to Lethbridge with him. Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.
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Sy Berger, who was the father of the modern baseball card, died Sunday at the age of 91. If you are of a certain age, you will remember when Topps was the only name in the area of collectible baseball cards. Tyler Kepner of The New York Times remembers right here.
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And now for something completely different. . . . If you’ve been wondering what’s going on with Sony, North Korea, hackers, the movie The Interview . . . well, Mike Fleming Jr. of deadline.com has spoken with George Clooney. That story is right here and it’s a good read.
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Department of Discipline

The WHL has suspended two players for a game each and fined two teams a total of $2,000 following a line brawl on Wednesday night. The Moose Jaw Warriors and host Prince Albert went at it in the final minute of the Raiders’ 5-1 victory. . . . Moose Jaw F Jaimen Yakubowski and Prince Albert D Mackenze Stewart won’t play on Dec. 27 as each sits out a one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a game. The Warriors are at home to the Brandon Wheat Kings, while the Raiders are scheduled to entertain the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Meanwhile, the Warriors and Raiders each was fined $500 for having a player instigate a fight in the last five minutes and another $500 for being involved in their first multi-fight situation of the season. . . . Ch-ch-ching! The cheques should arrived in the WHL office just in time for some last-minute Christmas shopping.
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THE BLOG FUND:

The way things are going, the shopping trip for a new computer will happen before too long. If you are a regular in these parts and feel like chipping in, don’t be bashful. Just click on the donate button and away you go. . . . As of late Thursday, the blog master’s computer fund was at $1,015, thanks to the generosity of 19 readers just like you.
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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.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Big night for Rick the Welder . . . Hurricanes stun Pats . . . Silvertips, Royals in shootout








F Warren Peters (Saskatoon, 1997-2003) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with SønderjyskE Vojens (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Iowa Wild (AHL), Peters had eight goals and 12 assists in 69 games. He is scheduled to arrive in Vojens on Jan. 5. . . .
F Riley Armstrong (Kootenay, Everett, 2002-04) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Vita Hästen Norrkoping (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he had six goals and seven assists in 25 gmes. He was released by Vita Hästen on Dec. 8.
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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have released Russian F Nikita Milekhin, 17, who was the third overall selection in the CHL’s 2014 import draft. He had a goal and three assists in 16 games with the Hurricanes. He is expected to return to his home in Krasnogorsk, Russia. . . . The Hurricanes are carrying 24 players, including eight defencemen and 14 forwards.
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The Medicine Hat Tigers are the top-ranked WHL team in the Buzzing The Net Dynamic Dozen, Neate Sager’s CHL rankings at Yahoo! Sports Canada. Check them out right here.
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In an attempt to win back fans, the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s have reduced the price of some tickets and parking. They also are changing up the concession menu. Gord Holder of the Ottawa Citizen has more right here.
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Darren Steinke, who used to cover the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Medicine Hat News, is in Saskatoon these days. And he has his own blog. In his latest entry right here, he takes a look at the Saskatoon Blades and the situation in which they find themselves. (He also gives a pretty good plug to a certain blog!)
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How serious is the situation in which the Kontinental Hockey League finds itself these days, thanks to the falling ruble? Mark MacKinnon and James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail take a look right here.
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THE BLOG FUND:

The drive to a new computer for the blog master continues. One will be purchased in the immediate future. Yes, the Christmas sales are being closely watched. If you enjoy this blog and would like to help, just click on the donate button, and thanks a bunch. . . . BTW, the computer fund has received 10 donations and is at $545.
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THE CHRISTMAS BREAK:

The WHL's Christmas break is upon us. The league now is closed through Dec. 26. Teams will reconvene for practices on Boxing Day, with a full slate of 11 games on the schedule for Dec. 27.
Kelowna F Nick Merkley goes into the break leading the WHL in assists (45) and points (55). Medicine Hat F Trevor Cox, with 10 points over his last two games, has 54 points, including 42 assists. Tigers F Cole Sanford has 43 points. Sanford's 26 goals trail only the 32 of Kelowna F Rourke Chartier.
Joe Hicketts of Victoria leads all defencemen in assists (30) and points (38). Brandon freshman Ivan Provorov has 27 assists and 37 points.
Why do they play the game? To win the game, of course. Kelowna's Jackson Whistle leads all goaltenders with 22 victories, one more than Brandon's Jordan Papirny.
Taran Kozun of Seattle has the top GAA (2.24), with Medicine Hat's Marek Langhamer at 2.31 and Whistle at 2.33. Aden Hill of Portland has the top save percentage, at .926, with Tri-City's Eric Comrie and Whistle at .921.
Swift Current's Landon Bow leads in shutouts, with 5, one more than Whistle. No other goaltender has more than two.
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WEDNESDAY’S GAMES:



In Medicine Hat, the game's first star wore a mask but didn't make a save as the Tigers played host to the Kamloops Blazers. Rick Dumont, a welder from X-Calibre Industries, came to the rescue early in the first period as he repaired a gate that was twice broken and allowed the game to proceed, albeit after a 58-minute delay. . . . Rick should be a cinch as the WHL's nominee as the CHL's welder of the week. . . . The gate broke at 2:02 of the first period when Kamloops D Ryan Rehill checked Tigers F Trevor Cox. Eventually, it was repaired, but when the referees had Rehill test it, it broke again. . . . Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News reports that Matt Csada, the owner of X-Calibre Industries, was called. He got in touch with Dumont, one of his welders, and he fixed things up in short order. . . . On the ice, F Cole Sanford scored three times and added an assist as the Tigers won, 7-3. . . . Kamloops led 3-2 when Tigers F Steve Owre tied it on the PP at 17:23 of the second. He's got 12 goals. . . . Sanford broke the tie at 4:54 of the third, on another PP, and F Trevor Cox added to the lead with his 12th at 8:31. . . . Sanford completed the hat trick at 11:14. He's got 26 goals. . . . Cox finished with a goal and four assists, giving him 10 points over his last two games. . . . He may provide Rick with some competition as the WHL's player of the week. . . . Tigers D Tommy Vannelli had a goal, his 11th, and two assists. . . . F Matt Needham scored twice for Kamloops, giving him 12, while F Cole Ully had two assists. . . . The Blazers went 1-5-0 on a Central Division swing on which they played six games in eight nights. . . . The Tigers (24-8-2) lead the Central Division by nine points; they are two points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Blazers (13-20-5) are last in the Western Conference, one point behind the Vancouver Giants, who hold four games in hand. . . . When the schedule resumes, Kamloops will play its first five games against Kelowna (3) and Vancouver (2). . . .

In Regina, D Nick Walters scored at 1:46 of OT as the Lethbridge Hurricanes got past the Pats, 5-4. . . . Walters has two goals this season. . . . Regina F Carter Hansen gave his guys a 4-3 lead with his first goal of the season at 17:32 of the third period. . . . Lethbridge F Jaeger White tied it with his second goal of the season at 18:30. . . . The Pats led this one 2-0 before the first period was 6:30 old as F Sam Steel got his 10th goal on the PP and F Austin Wagner added his eighth, a shorthanded effort. . . . F Jamal Watson, who left in the third period with an apparent leg injury, got his 13th goal for Lethbridge, while F Tyler Wong notched his 12th. . . . Regina F Braden Christoffer ran his goal streak to five games with his 13th. . . . F Zane Jones and D Andrew Nielsen each had two assists for Lethbridge, which got 22 saves from G Stuart Skinner. . . . The Hurricanes (8-20-5) have won two straight, both on the road, where they are 5-11-1. They are 2-1-0 under GM/head coach Peter Anholt. . . . The Pats (20-11-2) had won their previous two games. . . .

WHL team logoIn Swift Current, F Glenn Gawdin, who wasn't named to the Top Prospects Game earlier in the day, drew three assists to spark the Broncos to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Broncos scored the game's first four goals, two of them via the PP. . . . F Colby Cave scored twice for Swift Current, giving him 15, and added an assist, and F Coda Gordon added his 17th. . . . Gawdin drew assists on both of Cave's goals, both of which came on the PP. . . . The Broncos were 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . The Broncos scratched play-by-play voice Shawn Mullin, who spent the evening awaiting the birth of a child. His partner went into labour earlier in the day. . . . Marc Smith, a reporter from Moose Jaw, replaced Mullin on the broadcast. . . . The Broncos (17-14-4) are four points behind second-place Regina in the East Division. . . . The Blades (7-25-3) have lost 11 in a row (0-9-2). . . .

In Prince Albert, F Reid Gardiner had a goal and two assists to help the Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Raiders scored two goals in the game's first minute as F Simon Stransky got his seventh of the season at 0:46 and Gardiner got his 17th just 10 seconds later. . . . Stransky has goals in three straight games. . . . F Jayden Hart gave the home side a 3-0 lead with his 17th goal just 32 seconds into the second period. . . . Ch-ch-ching! There was a line brawl with 33.3 seconds remaining in the third period. Just in time for the WHL's late Christmas shopping rush, too. . . . At game's end, the Warriors had five players left on their bench; the Raiders had six. . . . The Warriors to 80 of the game's 158 penalty minutes. . . . Raiders G Rylan Parenteau stopped 25 shots. . . . Moose Jaw dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . The Raiders (16-18-1) ended a five-game losing skid (0-4-1). . . . The Warriors (15-17-3) have lost three in a row. . . .

In Calgary, G Patrick Dea stopped 31 shots as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 3-1. . . . The Oil Kings scored the game's last three goals after Calgary F Layne Bensmiller scored his second goal at 18:57 of the first period. . . . Edmonton D Dysin Mayo tied it at 5:48 of the second and F Lane Bauer gave the Oil Kings the lead with his ninth goal at 12:11. Both goals came on the PP. . . . Edmonton F Brandon Baddock got his ninth into an empty net at 19:28 of the third. . . . D Ben Carroll had two assists for Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings were 2-for-5 on the PP; the Hitmen were 0-for-6. . . . The Oil Kings (15-15-5) closed to within three points of third-place Red Deer in the Central Division. . . . The Hitmen (19-12-3) had a five-game winning streak end. They are one point ahead of Red Deer. . . .

In Red Deer, F Justin Kirkland scored two goals and added an assist to help the Kelowna Rockets to a 6-3 victory over the Rebels. . . . Kelowna led 3-0 in the second period, only to have the Rebels roar back and tie it on F Conner Bleakley's second goal of the game, and 14th of the season, at 2:26 of the third period, via the PP. . . . Kelowna F Dillon Dube broke the tie, with his sixth goal, at 3:58. . . . Kirkland added insurance at 5:06 and F Tyson Baillie got an empty-netter, his 23rd, at 18:49. . . . D Brett Cote had two assists for the Rebels. . . . F Nick Merkley had two assists for the Rockets and leads the WHL in assists (45) and points (55) going into the break. . . . The Rockets went 4-1-0 on a swing into Alberta. . . . D Nelson Nogier and F Austin Adamson, acquired earlier in the week from Saskatoon, were in Red Deer's lineup. "I loved them both. . . . Those two kids are gonna fit in really nice for us," Red Deer owner, general manager and head coach Brent Sutter told reporters. . . . The Rockets (28-5-3) have 17 road victories and lead the Western Conference by 15 points. . . . The Rebels (18-13-4) have lost their last two. . . .

In Prince George, G Tyson Verhelst stopped 41 shots as the Spokane Chiefs beat the Cougars, 5-0. . . . That's Verhelst's first WHL shutout. . . . The Chiefs, who beat the Cougars 5-4 on Tuesday night, took control with three first-period goals. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto had a goal, his ninth, and two assists for the Chiefs, who got two assists from D Tyson Helgesen. . . . F Calder Brooks scored No. 13 for Spokane. . . . F Markson Bechtold scored Spokane's first shorthanded goal of the season. He's got three goals. . . . The Chiefs (18-12-3) have won four in a row. . . . The Cougars (17-18-0) have lost three straight. . . .

In Everett, F Kohl Bauml scored three times in regulation and then added the winner in the shootout as the Silvertips got past the Victoria Royals, 7-6. . . . Victoria opened the third period with three goals in 3:42 as it erased a 4-3 deficit. . . . Royals F Tyler Soy tied it with his second goal of the game and 10th of the season at 3:11. D Chaz Redekopp, who had three assists, scored his second goal of the season at 5:19 and F Brandon Fushimi got his seventh at 6:53. Fushimi also had two assists, while Soy had one and finished plus-4. . . . Bauml then took things into his own hands, scoring at 7:55 and 15:54 to force OT. He's got 15 goals. . . . Victoria F Austin Carroll got his 22nd goal. . . . Everett D Cole MacDonald had two goals, giving him nine, and an assist. . . . Everett F Nikita Scherbak had three assists. . . . F Greg Chase was among Victoria’s scratches. He drew a one-game suspension for a spearing major and game misconduct he incurred on Tuesday night. . . . The Silvertips (20-9-4) lead the U.S. Division by three points over Portland. . . . The Royals (17-18-2) have lost four straight.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's happening in KHL? . . . Robison on Hurricanes . . . Joyeux Noel in Vancouver








As James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail tweeted early Tuesday, the KHL is under financial strain. With the price of oil dropping, the ongoing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, and the subsequent drop in the Russian economy and value of the ruble, the economics of the league have changed.
Mirtle reported that three KHL teams haven’t paid their players this season and may fold, and that a number of coaches haven’t been paid. He guesses the three teams are Atlant Mytishchi, Slovan Bratislava, and Dinamo Riga, and KHLwrites that “roughly one-third of the KHL has serious problems.” That would be eight of the 24 teams.
He goes on to state that “a lot of teams are having payroll issues with players, too.”
Based on reports by Finnish broadcaster YLE, other clubs in financial difficulties include Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, Barys Astana and Sochi.
YLE in October conducted a survey of Finnish players and coaches playing in the KHL this season. From the survey results, YLE concluded that up to eight teams have had difficulties paying salaries on time. According to YLE, Barys Astana was at least one month behind in salary payments, Sochi was having difficulties paying players, and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod was "several months" late with player payments.
One Finnish player with Torpedo said, "I can't deny that I've wondered if I'll ever get all the money I'm due from the club."
Another player said, "At many clubs, money isn't paid on time. Players are badly informed about when salaries are paid. Sometimes, they're paid with the proceeds from three or four home games in a row."
YLE also reported that the Russian state energy corporation Gazprom, a key sponsor for many clubs and the league itself, has missed some scheduled sponsorship payments. This has left a total deficit league-wide running into the tens of millions of euros.
Other Russian media sources report that Atlant may begin selling players in January if finances don’t improve. This is the second season of financial woes for Atlant. In March, five players were declared free agents by the KHL for non-payment of wages.
Finnish media reports indicate that Petri Matikainen, head coach of Slovan Bratislava, has not been paid at all this season.
On Monday, Slovan Bratislava played Jokerit in Helsinki. Helsinki newspaper Iltalehti reported that Matikainen hasn’t received any pay this season and neither have any Slovan players. Matikainen refused to comment on the salary situation but said, "We have had economic problems."
Three players for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk have refused to practise or play games because they haven’t been paid. The three -- goaltender Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) and forwards Dan Sexton and Tim Stapleton -- have refused to practice and didn’t play in games Friday or Sunday. The club announced that they didn’t play due to injury.
Dinamo Riga applied for but was refused funding from the Latvian government last summer, despite a plea from Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak. The Latvian Ministry of Education and Science said that the Law on Sport doesn’t allow distribution of funds from the state budget to professional sports clubs. The club decided to continue in the KHL this season anyway.
Salavat Yuleav Ufa in late October wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking for his help in saving the charity organization Ural, the club’s main sponsor. The charity has had its bank accounts frozen as a result of a government investigation. It is unclear from the article whether the focus of the investigation is the bank holding the funds or the charity itself.
A Salavat Yulaev player confirmed at the end of October that they have been paid.
Moscow Regional Sports Minister Roman Teryushkov told the radio station Sport FM that he hopes Vityaz Podolsk will be able the finish this season and that a decision on its future will be made after the season is completed. He ruled out a merger of Vityaz and Atlant.
KHL Chairman of the Board Gennadi Timchenko noted in October that the league is helping Vityaz, Atlant and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
Vityaz president Mikael Golovkov called Tuesday for a reduction of the KHL salary cap for next season from 1.1 billion rubles to 800 million rubles with no exceptions, as part of a move to eventually reduce the cap to 500-600 million rubles. Currently, the 1.1 billion rubble cap is a soft cap with a 20 per cent luxury tax for exceeding it, and four players are exempt from the cap: Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Kostitsyn and Alexander Burmistov. In June, when the KHL set its salary cap, 1.1 billion rubles was US$32 million. Today? $15.9 million.
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THE HURRICANES REPORT:

Pat Siedlecki, the former radio voice of the Lethbridge Hurricanes who is the corporate news director at Clear Sky Radio, interviewed WHL commissioner Ron Robison on Tuesday morning.
Siedlecki then tweeted some highlights . . .
“(Robison) says he had a very candid chat with the Board last week about the state of Lethbridge Hurricanes.”
“Robison says both the Board and the league share the same frustration the Hurricanes aren't seeing the results they would like to see.”
Robison also tells me the WHL has been monitoring the Canes situation closely, especially the financial side of things.
Ron Robison says “there's new private ownership in Regina & PG and that type of model would work well in Lethbridge in our view."
Robison says he would like to see discussion with Canes shareholders on a possible sale of the team to take place "sooner than later."
Robison says the WHL's position is that having shareholders vote on this issue at the next AGM in September doesn't serve much purpose.
Robison says he would hope to see this meeting with shareholders "moved up to sometime early in the new year."
Robison says Board has a chance to assess what they discussed, put some thoughts together and meet with shareholders as soon as possible.
(The complete interview is available on Siedlecki’s blog and is right here. There are some comments posted on Siedlecki’s blog, right after the Robison interview. The third comment is especially astute.)
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Dylan Purcell of the Lethbridge Herald has his take on the Hurricanes right here, and it’s pretty much spot on. Give it a look.
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D Michael Fora and D Patrik Maier of the Kamloops Blazers will be playing in the 2015 World Junior Championship. Both are in their first WHL season. Fora will play for his native Switzerland, while Maier will be with Slovakia. . . . Fora, who has gotten markedly better as this season has moved along, has 20 points, four of them goals, in 35 games with the Blazers, while Maier has six points, including three goals, in 33 games. . . . Fora didn’t play last night in Cranbrook and will miss tonight’s game in Medicine Hat, as well as four games after Christmas. . . . Maier will miss the first four post-Christmas games.
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In an interesting Tuesday transaction, the Calgary Hitmen acquired the WHL rights to G Thatcher Demko from the Spokane Chiefs for conditional draft picks. . . . Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) tweeted that the conditional picks are a second-rounder in 2015 and a second- or third-rounder in 2016. . . . Demko, a 19-year-old from San Diego, is playing at Boston College and is likely to be the U.S. national junior team’s starting goaltender. He was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft. . . . This appears to be a simple roll of the dice by Calgary GM Mike Moore as there doesn’t seem to be any indication at this point that Demko is about to leave BC. . . . Moore told Calgary radio station The Fan 960 that “we don’t have any indication he’s coming to play for us. . . . This is still a longshot. we’re taking a flyer here, no doubt.” . . . The Hitmen have two goaltenders on their roster. Mack Shields is 15-8-1/2.74/.899 in 27 games; Evan Johnson is 4-3-2/2.79/.899 in 11 appearances.
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The Portland Winterhawks are going to take a look at F Cody Glass after the Christmas break. Glass, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was the 19th overall selection in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He is playing with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. Glass has 22 points, including six goals, in 21 games.
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THE BLOG:

As mentioned here the other day, the blog master is in need of a new computer. If you are a regular in these parts and enjoy this blog, you may want to consider making a donation in order to help make this happen. If you would like to help, just click on the donate button at the upper right. . . . Thank you, in advance. . . . BTW, the computer fund has received four donations and is at $135.
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TUESDAY’S GAMES:

In Brandon, the Regina Pats overcame four two-goal deficits and beat the Wheat Kings 6-5 in OT. . . . F Connor Gay won it at 3:24 of extra time with his 15th goal of the season. . . . Brandon F Nolan Patrick gave his side a 5-3 lead with his 14th goal, on the PP, at 3:58 of the third. . . . Regina F Austin Wagner got that one back with his seventh goal, shorthanded, at 8:28. . . . Pats F Patrick D’Amico scored his 12th at 16:55, on the PP, to force OT. . . . Regina F Morgan Klimchuk, cut earlier in the week by Canada’s national junior team, scored his 10th goal and added two assists. . . . Pats F Braden Christoffer got No. 12 and also had two assists. . . . Brandon F Tim McGauley scored twice, giving him 22, as he ran his point streak to 12 games. . . . He’s got 14 goals and nine assists in that stretch. . . . Brandon was 3-for-5 on the PP; Regina was 2-for-5. . . . The Wheat Kings again were without F Jayce Hawryluk and F Jesse Gabrielle, both out with undisclosed injuries. . . . Prior to the game, the Pats recalled G Tyler Fuhr from the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins and he was on the bench in support of starter Daniel Wapple. . . . The Pats (20-11-1), who are at home to Lethbridge tonight, have won 15 of their last 18 games, including three in a row over Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings (24-7-4), who lead the East Division by 11 points over Regina, are 3-0-2 in their last five. . . . Regina does hold three games in hand. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Tyler Wong and D Kord Pankewicz each had three points as the Lethbridge Hurricanes ended a six-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over the Warriors. . . . Wong scored twice, giving him 11 goals, while Pankewicz got his third. . . . Wong’s goals came at 14:23 and 16:35 of the first period, giving Lethbridge a 2-0 lead. The Warriors were never able to catch up. . . . F Tanner Eberle scored his 19th goal for the Warriors. . . . The Hurricanes were 2-for-9 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-3. . . . Lethbridge (7-20-5) went into the game having won once in 16 games. The Hurricanes are in Regina tonight. . . . The Warriors (15-16-3), who play in Prince Albert tonight, have lost two in a row. The Raiders are fifth in the East Division, two points behind the Warriors. . . . This was the second meeting of the season between the White brothers, F Torrin of the Warriors and F Jaeger of the Hurricanes. The season series is 1-1 so no one has bragging rights at the Christmas dinner table. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has a game story right here. . . .

In Edmonton, D Cole Martin had three assists to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-1 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s first two goals and the last two, while going 2-for-4 on the PP. . . . Kelowna F Tyson Baillie scored his 22nd goal on a third-period PP. . . . F Justin Kirkland had two assists for Kelowna. . . . Rockets F Gage Quinney got his eighth goal; it was his second in three games since coming over from the Prince Albert Raiders in a deal last week. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle stopped 31 shots, six more than Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry. . . . The Rockets, who travel to Red Deer tonight, improved to 27-5-3. . . . The Oil Kings, who play in Calgary tonight, are 15-14-5. They have slipped to fifth in the Central Division, a point behind the Kootenay Ice. . . .

In Cranbrook, the Kootenay Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . F Collin Shirley scored twice, giving him 13, in the second period as the visitors took a 2-1 lead. . . . Ice F Jaedon Descheneau tied it with his 18th goal at 15:05 of the second. . . . Ice D Tyler King gave the Ice its first lead, with his fourth, at 8:02 and F Tim Bozon stretched it with his 13th goal at 8:55. . . . Shirley and Bozon switched teams in a trade early last season. . . . Descheneau hit the cross-bar on a first-period penalty shot. . . . Kootenay dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . Ice G Wyatt Hoflin, who made his 23rd straight start, stopped 30 shots. . . . The Ice (18-17-0) has won three in a row. It also has won 15 of 19. . . . The Blazers slipped to 13-19-5 and fell back into the B.C. Division cellar, a point behind the Vancouver Giants, who hold three games in hand. . . . It’ll be four after tonight as the Blazers are in Medicine Hat, while the Giants are done until after Christmas. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has a game story right here. . . .

In Vancouver, the Giants scored two first-period goals and held on for a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Vancouver got goals from F Tyler Benson, his seventh, at 8:12, and F Carter Popoff, his 15th, at 19:08. Popoff also had an assist. . . . F Nikita Scherbak got his 15th for Everett at 12:49 of the third. . . . Vancouver G Cody Porter stopped 24 shots. . . . The Giants (16-18-0) have won seven in a row. They are 6-0-0 under head coach Claude Noel. . . . Everett is 19-9-4. . . . The Silvertips, who lead the U.S. Division by one point over the idle Portland Winterhawks, return home to face Victoria tonight. . . .

In Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs took a 5-3 with three second-period goals and went on to beat the Cougars, 5-4. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto’s eighth goal, at 13:56 of the second period on a PP, stood up as the winner. . . . Prince George F Jansen Harkins had erased a 2-1 Spokane lead with two goals 24 seconds apart late in the first period. He’s got 11 goals. . . . Harkins also had two assists, while Brad Morrison scored twice, giving him 12, and added an assist. . . . Cougars F Aaron Macklin had two assists. . . . Spokane G Garret Hughson made 38 stops. . . . D Josh Anderson was among the Cougars’ scratches. He suffered a broken wrist on Friday in a game against the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Chiefs (17-12-3) have won three in a row. . . . The Cougars slipped to 17-17-0. . . . The teams meet again tonight in Prince George. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Ryan Gropp broke a 4-4 tie at 17:27 of the third period to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Thunderbirds led this one 3-0 six minutes into the second period, only to have Victoria score the game’s next four goals. . . . Royals F Tyler Soy tied it at 3 with his eighth goal at 11:49 of the third and F Logan Fisher gave his guys the lead just eight seconds later with his fourth goal. . . . Soy and Fisher set a franchise record for fastest two goals. . . . Seattle F Donovan Neuls tied it at 16:15, setting the stage for Gropp to score his eighth goal of the season. . . . F Justin Hickman had a goal, his eighth, and two assists for Seattle. . . . Victoria got three assists from F Greg Chase, but he also took a spearing major and game misconduct at 19:42 of the third period. . . . Royals D Travis Brown had a goal, his 13th, and two assists. . . . Seattle was 2-for-5 on the PP; Victoria was 0-for-3. . . . Seattle (14-15-4) had lost its previous two games. . . . Victoria (17-17-2) has lost three in a row as it goes into Everett tonight.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Hick Abbott's medals in HHOF . . . Hurricanes release veteran . . . Warriors add coach

Walter Gretzky (left), Dave Thomson, Scott Veber and Mark Abbott at the
Hockey Hall of Fame display that honours veterans of the First World War.

Mark Abbott (left), a representative of the Abbott family, presents Scott
Veber of the Hockey Hall of Fame with Lyman (Hick) Abbott's First World
War medals.

(Photos: Hockey Hall of Fame)
Last week was important for those of us who have worked to honour the memory of Lyman (Hick) Abbott.
Abbott, who was from Regina, was one of Western Canada’s best young athletes when he lost his life in the First World War.
Out of the Great War, he was awarded the Military Cross and Bar, along with the British War Medal. He is believed to be Regina’s highest-decorated veteran of that conflict.
Over time, those medals came to be in the possession of someone outside of the Abbott family. The good news is that recently, after a 2-1/2-year quest, those medals were secured by the Abbott family.
Last week, Mark Abbott, a representative of the family, presented the medals on loan to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. (Hick Abbott was a cousin of Mark Abbott’s grandfather, George Ira Abbott.)
The medals now are part of a display in the HHOF that honours First World War veterans.
Part of that display is the Abbott Memorial Cup, which is named in honour of Hick Abbott. Originally awarded to Western Canada’s top junior team, it was withdrawn from competition a few years ago.
Also included in the display is Abbott’s homemade identification bracelet that he was wearing when he was felled by a sniper on Aug. 14, 1918.
Mark Abbott presented the medals to Scott Veber, the HHOF’s creative director and curatorial associate, who organized the First World War display. Also on hand were Dave Thomson, who aided in the securing of the medals, and Walter Gretzky.
While the Abbott family worked to secure the medals, Hick Abbott was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in Regina last summer.
It is believed that, once the HHOF exhibit closes, the Abbott family would like those medals to go on display at the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.
(If you aren’t aware of Hick Abbott’s story, click right here.)
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F Mário Bližňák (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in 28 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). . . .
F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has been traded by Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) to Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga) for Sergei Shestakov. This season, with Tyumen, Knackstedt had two goals and three assists in 15 games.
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The mumps continues its run through NHL dressing rooms. The latest player to be diagnosed is F Beau Bennett of the Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Jeff Z. Klein of The New York Times takes a look at the situation right here.
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The WHL’s Christmas trade moratorium is in effect through Dec. 26.
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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have released D Griffin Foulk, 19. Foulk was an eighth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2010 bantam draft. He never played for Edmonton, but was with the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds. Lethbridge acquired him from Seattle for D Adam Henry in October 2013. . . . Foulk, from Bloomfield, Colo., has 23 points, including six goals, in 153 career regular-season games. . . . The Hurricanes are carrying 25 players, including 15 forwards and eight defencemen.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Brennen Wray to their coaching staff as an assistant under head coach Tim Hunter and alongside Mark O’Leary and goaltender coach Jamie Hodson. . . . Wray, 26, played two-plus seasons with the Warriors (2004-07), putting up 50 points, including 17 goals, in 171 games. . . . A Moose Jaw native, he also played two-plus seasons with the Red Deer Rebels. In 346 regular-season WHL games, he had 122 points, 33 of them goals. . . . He is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier U, where he played for five seasons (2009-14) and earned a chemistry degree.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors have added F Ryan Bowen to their roster for their final two games before the Christmas break. Bowen, 16, is from Chilliwack, B.C., where he plays for the BCHL’s Chiefs. He has 15 points, including six goals, in 31 games. . . . Bowen was a fifth-round pick by the Warriors in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . The Warriors are at home to Lethbridge tonight and in Prince Albert on Wednesday.
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The Kelowna Rockets have added D Braydyn Chizen, 16, to their roster for their last two games before the Christmas break. Chizen, from St. Albert, Alta., was a ninth-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. The Rockets are in Edmonton tonight and in Red Deer on Wednesday.
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