Monday, September 1, 2014

Some signings and the advanced stats debate . . .

D Shawn Belle (Regina, Tri-City, 2000-07) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, KHL) by mutual agreement. Last season, with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL), he had three goals and three assists in 39 games. . . .
F Jonathan Parker (Seattle, Prince Albert, 2008-11) has been released by Malmö (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after unsuccessful tryout. Last season, with the Rochester Americans (AHL), he had one assist in 11 games. He also had 24 points, including 11 goals, with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), and six points, two of them goals, in seven games with the Ontario Reign (ECHL).

The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Jack Flaman and F Evan Weinger. . . . Flaman, 17, is a list player from Vibank, Sask., who played last season for the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. He had 33 points, including 16 goals, in 43 games. . . . Weinger, 17, was a 13th-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. A native of Los Angeles, he played last season for the L.A. Jr. Kings of the Tier 1 Elite League, putting up 26 points, 12 of the goals, in 35 games.
The Prince George Cougars have signed D Kobe Eagletail, a Calgaryian who will turn 17 on Sept. 10. . . . Eagletail had 15 points, four of them goals, with the Banff Bears of the Heritage Junior Hockey League last season, after playing in the Calgary Bisons minor hockey organization. . . . At the time of his signing, he was one of 13 defencemen on the Cougars’ roster.
In the hockey world, there are times when the scrap between the mainstream media and the advanced stats folks has been a truly uncivil war. When and how did it start? When and how will it end? Matt Larkin of The Hockey News takes an interesting look at it all right here.
If you are new to the world of hockey analytics, aka advanced stats, there is a great primer right here, where all the terminology is explained.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

WHL taking stand on players who leave? . . . Giants lose sophomore to injury

Reid Duke is back. Macoy Erkamps isn’t.
Neither are Carson Bolduc, Landon Cross, Reid Gow, Geordie Maguire, Jeremy McIntosh, Landon Peel, Aspen Sterzer, Cole Wedman or Brett Zarowny.
The afore-mentioned 11 players didn’t report to their WHL teams for the beginning of training camps.
Erkamps has asked the Lethbridge Hurricanes to trade him. Cross and Peel have told the Kootenay Ice that they want to play their 20-year-old seasons in the MJHL. Bolduc, 18, has left the Kamloops Blazers and joined his hometown’s BCHL team, the Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Others have chosen to get started on life after the WHL, mostly by becoming fulltime university students.
Duke, an 18-year-old forward, was the fifth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. He didn’t report for the start of Lethbridge’s training camp, but rejoined his teammates on Friday, general manager Brad Robson saying that an “agreement” had been reached between the team, Duke, his family and his agent.
Only those involved know what is in that “agreement,” or whether it’s verbal or in writing, or anything else about it.
While the 19-year-old Erkamps sits and waits, you wonder if Robson, who had a number of players ask out last season, didn’t draw a line in the sand with Duke and decide that the next trade would be made on his terms.
Meanwhile, in Cranbrook, Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Ice, is trying to cope with the loss of two 20-year-old defencemen, only one of whom likely would have made the roster, what with teams being allowed to keep three 20s.
(The Ice has 20-year-old forwards Levi Cable and Austin Vetterl in camp, and may get G Mackenzie Skapski, 20, back from the NHL’s New York Rangers.)
Chynoweth actually found out in June that Cross, a Brandon native who had brain injury issues after being acquired from Kamloops early last season, wasn’t coming back. Cross wants to complete his junior eligibility with the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons.
Losing Peel, who is from Virden, Man., was a bigger shock because no one in the Ice office saw it coming. He wants to play for the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, the host team for the 2015 RBC Cup tournament.
The WHL isn’t happy with players who walk away before their eligibility is up.
“I think (the WHL is) concerned about players not fulfilling their contracts,” Chynoweth told Jeff Hollick, the radio voice of the Ice who blogs at Between The Lines. “When they signed their contracts, they’re for five years, usually from 16 to 20 and includes their 20-year-old season. . . . We’ve got to stick together as the Western Hockey League and the 22 teams because if players just want to walk whenever they can, it doesn’t bode well for our future.”
For now, Cross and Peel are on the Ice’s suspended list “for not reporting to camp and (not) fulfilling their 20-year-old year of their WHL Standard Contract,” Chynoweth said. “How long the suspensions last, I don't know. But I know the WHL is working with Hockey Manitoba and the Manitoba junior league.”
And then there’s Sterzer, who stunned general manager/head coach Brent Sutter and the Rebels with his decision not to report. Instead, Sterzer will attend the U of Calgary and play for the Dinos. The Rebels had acquired him from Kamloops last season for F Matt Bellerive and a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.
With Sterzer, however, there are extenuating circumstances. Almost eight years ago, Sterzer, his mother, a brother and a sister were involved in an auto accident. Sterzer’s mother, Franci, was left a quadriplegic. (Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week detailed it all in this 2012 story.)
Sterzer also spent much of 2012-13 dealing with a brain injury and other health-related issues. The result was that he played in only 31 games and missed all of the Blazers’ 15-game playoff run to the Western Conference final.
Last week, Sterzer explained his decision to attend school in an email to the Red Deer Advocate:
“First of all, I would like to say that I really appreciate that I was able to come to Red Deer and finish off my WHL career under coach Sutter.I feel that I learned a lot from him and only wish that I could have had more time to play for him.
“The simple truth is that before I signed my contract to play in the WHL I had several scholarship offers to the NCAA that my parents really wanted me to pursue. I, however, really wanted to play in the WHL, so my parents agreed to support me in playing in the Western League with one condition, which was that I had until I was 19 to catch the eye of a pro club, or I would have to go school.
“In all honesty, there would be nothing more that I would have liked to do than to have had a really successful 20-year-old year as a Rebel, hopefully contributing to an already talented team to perhaps make a cup run. However, I felt that I just could not lobby my family to help support me beyond my agreement with them.
“Personally, I have always loved the game. It is a long grind but aside from the sheer thrill of playing, if things go right, you can hopefully make a living doing what you love at the next level. For me, I am hopefully going on to the next step that may help me fulfill my dreams and obligations at the same time.
“That said, I am looking forward to playing this year at the University of Calgary for the Dinos. I am excited to join a group of excellent seasoned hockey players, coach (Mark) Howell and the staff while being able to pursue my education at the same time. I still hope to catch the eye of a team that post-university might want my skills and services, but for now I am just focusing on how I can add to the Dinos to do my part and to contribute as best I can.
“I have been blessed to have made many good friends in the WHL and hope that each of them will have a great year! As well, I hope the best for the Red Deer Rebels, my former teammates, the staff, the fans, and coach Sutter.”
Aspen Sterzer

All of which didn’t necessarily impress Sutter.
“To play at this level takes a major commitment and he’s not a committed player,” he told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate. “There’s a lot of commitment required to play in the WHL, both on and off the ice, with games, practices, video sessions and all of the travel involved.
“It’s disappointing because we gave up assets to acquire him. He’s quitting on us and it’s a knock to his teammates. It’s tough, but that’s his decision, his choice . . . to play CIS hockey.”
Meachem’s story is right here.

Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports that Vancouver Giants sophomore F Ty Ronning has a suspected broken collarbone and “is expected to miss at least six weeks of action.” . . . Ronning, the 15th overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft, was injured on a check by Kamloops D Brady Gaudet in the opening minute of a 5-4 shootout loss to the host Blazers on Friday night. . . . Vancouver head coach Troy Ward said the injury “is going to take a while to heal.” . . . Ronning had 20 points, nine of them goals, in 56 games as a freshman last season. . . . Ewen’s report is right here. . . . A tip of the hat to Ewen, too, as he was inducted into the Vancouver Canadians' Hall of Fame on Saturday. When he isn't covering hockey, Ewen is writing baseball for The Province.
WHL team logoThe Red Deer Rebels appear prepared to head into the season with Rylan Toth, an 18-year-old from Saskatoon, and Taz Burman, a 17-year-old Vancouverite, as their two goaltenders. . . . Burman played in 17 games last season with the Rebels, going 2-6-0/3.85/.884, while Toth has yet to play in a regular-season game. . . . The Rebels are looking to replace Patrik Bartosak, a Czech who played in 145 games over the previous three seasons, including 65 last season and 55 in 2012-13. Bartosak has played out his junior eligibility. He was a fifth-round selection by Los Angeles in the 2013 NHL draft. He has signed a three-year contract with the Kings.
---The Prince George Cougars have signed F Colby McAuley, a list player from Sherwood Park, Alta. McAuley, 18, made his debut with the Cougars on the weekend at a tournament in St. Albert, Alta. In fact, shortly after the Cougars announced his signing, he scored twice as the Cougars dropped a 6-5 OT decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Last season, McAuley had 13 goals and 16 assists in 64 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. . . . At one time, McAuley was on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ protected list. They dropped him and he was added by the Cougars. . . . McAuley is one of 18 forwards remaining on the Cougars’ roster.
Steve Coury, the head football coach at Lake Oswego, Ore., High, has suspended 10 players, nine of them starters, for the season’s first three games. . . . Why? . . . Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune reports that he disciplined “a group that broke the team's code of conduct by smoking marijuana during a preseason senior retreat at Welches.” . . . Eggers also reported that Coury “had suspended only three players in his 23 years at Lake Oswego.” . . . Interestingly, Coury told Eggers that six of the team’s eight coaches favoured kicking the players off the team. However, Coury said that he is a “second-chance guy” so chose the suspensions instead. . . . The players, all of them seniors, also were suspended for the first three days of school and must do community service on seven Sundays. . . . Yes, Coury did the right thing. . . . Makes you wonder how other coaches in this age group would react in the same situation.

In St. Albert, Alta., on Sunday night, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored a 3-2 OT victory over the Saskatoon Blades. F Tyler Robertson got the winner at 2:25 of extra time. . . . Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, later tweeted that the dry scrape too 11 minutes 21 seconds. . . . Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show was in attendance and tweeted: “The verdict is in on the dry scrape before OT idea (that the WHL) is considering; awful. Need 2 zambonis in every rink or else it's a huge delay.” . . . F Keegan Iverson of the Portland Winterhawks and F Blair Oneschuk of the Spokane Chiefs are the first WHL players to draw suspensions this season. Iverson got two games for a checking to the head major against Spokane in Everett on Friday, while Oneschuk got a game for a checking-from-behind major in the same game.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Analytics creeping into WHL . . . Cougars hire assistant coach

While a lot of hockey people are jumping on the analytics bandwagon these days, the Saskatoon Blades appear to have gotten something of a head start.
The Blades went through an ownership change a year ago, one that had Edmonton-based Mike Priestner and his son, Colin, purchase the franchise from Jack Brodsky and family members.
Almost immediately, Colin Priestner, who is the franchise’s managing partner, brought in Bruce Peter, who volunteered to provide the Blades with something more than the usual in the way of numbers.
“I believe we were the only team in the league using one last season,” Priestner told Taking Note via email. “I hear a few others are now, too.”
Peter, a long-time Blades fan from Outlook, Sask., is back with the Blades and, according to Priestner, will have an even bigger role this season.
“I found it to be an excellent resource last season,” Priestner explained, “and this season we hope to have regular meetings with Bruce and his new apprentice -- a grad student in economics wants to help him -- and our hockey ops to review trends and outliers.”
Just what do the Blades get from Peter?
“His work is awesome and the amount of data he provides us is amazing,” Priestner said. “He does every home game for us.
“He uses his own sheets to track stats. We get everything from everyone's head-to-head faceoff wins to Corsi to Fenwick to offensive-zone entries, defensive-zone entries and scoring chances and drawn penalties.”
To have even one team doing this is a huge step forward for the WHL. After all, this is a league that, as Cam Charron, then of Yahoo! Sports Canada, wrote a year ago, “is a league that publishes very little information via its box scores.” Charron, as of earlier in August, now works for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s team’s three-man analytics department.
To give you some idea of the kind of information Priestner is looking for and what he and Peter are up against, here’s more from Charron a year ago:
“Analytics are tricky in the WHL. The NHL in 2007 began publishing play-by-play sheets that didn't just record when shots, hits and giveaways occurred, but also which players were on the ice for each event. That sort of information has been transformed into several different categories, the chief of which is the Corsi number, a plus-minus number that factors in every shot attempt for and against when a player was on the ice.
“Since Corsi is a team statistic, work has been done to attempt to separate a player's individual contribution to his team's Corsi number. Because of the number of games in the WHL and the limited availability of information, coming up with a Corsi number and putting it in the appropriate context is impossible.”
A lot of Peter’s analysis features zone entries and exits, and, as Charron pointed out, that is something that can be done “by a single person sitting high up in the arena,” or by someone watching video with a remote control in hand.
It should be pointed out that the Kelowna Rockets also are beginning to delve into the area of analytics. Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier has a story on that right here.
One interesting thing about all of this is that there have long been conversations about the validity of various statistics that are kept by the home team-provided stats crews in WHL arenas. In Kelowna and Vancouver, for example, the shots on goal are often questioned by visiting teams. In Kamloops, then-head coach Guy Charron of the Blazers once had a loud one-sided conversation on that very subject with his own statistical crew.
Last week, one WHL insider told Taking Note that there is a “big question mark at our level regarding the accuracy of information. Without that, you don’t have good data.”

The WHL is using the exhibition season to experiment with a dry scrape of the entire ice surface between the third period and overtime of those games requiring extra time.
It seems that this has been met with mixed reaction. For one thing, the break during a game in Moose Jaw last week was 12 minutes in duration. The ensuing OT period lasted 34 seconds.
As one individual with knowledge of the ice-making and -maintaining process told me Saturday: “Why an entire dry scrape? Forget the scrape and flood then.”
Prior to now, teams went straight from the third period to OT with just a brief intermission. Then, if a game needed a shootout, a dry scrape that took in the middle of the ice was done. This can be done in three or four minutes. That time now has been at least doubled. So why not do a complete flood?
“The timing of a two-Zamboni flood without on-ice promotions to avoid should be 10 minutes tops -- five minutes for the flood and five minutes drying time,” this person stated. “I guess you could shave the dry time to to 2.5 minutes, depending on conditions.”
He also pointed out that “shaving that layer also could lead to ice issues down the road depending on teams’ flood schedules.”
Interestingly, a game in Everett between the Seattle Thunderbirds and Victoria Royals went to OT on Saturday night. Andy Eide, who covers the Thunderbirds for ESPN 710, tweeted that he asked Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk “how he enjoyed the pre-OT ice scrape?”
Konowalchuk’s response: “No comment.”
I don't know how long the dry scrape took, but Seattle won the game, 5-4, on an Ethan Bear goal at 2:20 of OT.
Roman Vopat, who was a guest coach in camp with the Prince George Cougars, has been added to the team’s coaching staff on a full-time basis. Vopat (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 1994-96) was a seventh-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the 1994 NHL draft and went on to a 16-year pro career. . . . The 38-year-old native of Litvinov, Czech Republic, has coaching experience with the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Cougars, he will work alongside head coach Mark Holick and assistant coach Mike Hengen. . . . “Roman and I go way back to our playing days, and he also played with my brother Brett for many years,” Todd Harkins, the Cougars’ general manager, said in a news release. “He was a great teammate, cared about everyone in the room and played the game with passion.” . . . Harkins added: “Roman joined us at training camp as a guest coach and impressed all of us with his excitement and professionalism, and his past experience will be beneficial to all of our players who have a dream to play in the NHL. He’s well connected with teams and scouts in Europe, and that will serve us well down the road with the CHL import draft.”
Carl Cirullo, a familiar face in Spokane hockey circles, has died. He was 87 when he lost his fight with lung cancer on Thursday. . . . Chris Derrick of the Spokane Spokesman-Review has more right here.
Sorry, Las Vegas. Oh, and you, too, Seattle. But you just don’t have enough NHL fans to make a franchise viable. Cities like Kingston, Halifax and Sudbury might be able to support a team, though. At least, that’s the way Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight has it figured in a piece that is right here.
If you’re a regular here, you will know that organ donation is kind of near and dear to me, especially when it involves a kidney. Gregg Doyel, a national columnist for, has the story right here of a college basketball coach who now has three kidneys inside his body. . . . If you read anything today, make it this one.

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In case you missed it, and you may have, John Daly -- yes, that John Daly -- has recorded a country tune that is getting some radio time. It’s called Hit It Hard, and part of it goes like this: “No laying up, no holding back, ain’t afraid of nothing, it’s a natural fact.” . . . Here’s Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal with some advice for Daly, the crooner: “Stay away from golf references. Your real life is more of a country song than anything you’ve done on the course.” . . . Going into the weekend, NFL players, through fines and suspensions, had forfeited US$14,063,619 this year. Last season’s total, for the ENTIRE season, was $10,619,855. Do you think whatever message the NFL is trying to deliver isn’t getting through? . . .

It was nice to arrive back in B.C. after a few days in Alberta and be greeted by headlines pertaining to another ICBC rate increase. Nothing like someone taking more money out of your pocket to make you feel at home in B.C. . . . “I am still smiling about B.C. Lions president Dennis Skulsky having to cough up more than 30,000 tickets after his guaranteed win against the Riders failed miserably,” writes Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express. “Maybe now he will keep his mug away from TV cameras during games.” . . . Hutch shouldn’t hold his breath, should he? . . .

“Suzuki, which stopped selling cars in the U.S., has recalled 19,000 sedans due to a risk of spider webs affecting fuel lines,” claims contributor TC Chong. “As there aren’t any dealers, owners are given a toll-free line to get further instructions from company spokesman Peter Parker.” . . . Having made two return trips over the Coquihalla Highway and a trek on the Yellowhead to Jasper and back in recent weeks, I feel quite safe in saying that B.C. is the first jurisdiction in North America, and maybe all of the world, to have done away with speed limits. Oh, there are posted speed limits on our highways, but it’s quite apparent that the limit really is whatever you want it to be. . . .

“Notre Dame supposedly has sidelined four football players because of academic fraud,” reports Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. “My question: Is there a bigger oxymoron in college football than “academic fraud”? Don’t kid yourself, all of the big-time programs — by hiding their dozens of scholastically challenged players in gut courses and pointless majors — are academic frauds down to their very core.” . . . If you aren’t aware, there now are five TSN channels available to some of us, meaning, as Vancouver comic Torben Rolfsen puts it, “Ice fishing inches ever closer to a profession.” . . .

The way Mark Waller, the NFL’s chief marketing officer, has it figured, elementary-school students would do better at math if teachers worked fantasy football into the curriculum. “Well,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “that’s one way to truly prepare students for the real-life workforce.” . . . In B.C., elementary-school students ask: “What is a curriculum?” . . . “Apple apparently will unveil iPhones with bigger screens in September,” reports Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “So at least when people look at their screens while walking and driving they won’t have to squint as much.” . . . When outfielder Scott Van Slyke of the Los Angeles Dodgers sprained an ankle this week in Arizona, he said it was because “they’ve got bad grass here.” . . . “Dude!” remarked Hough. “You want good grass, sign with the Colorado Rockies.” . . .

You thought Sportsnet’s NHL package was going to be full of new faces and different voices, didn’t you? Well, they sure fooled you, didn’t they? It’s going to be the same old all over again, with the likes of P.J. Stock and Glenn Healy and all of that gang. . . . If you hadn’t already guessed, the Sportsnet NHL telecast theme song will be Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here. . . . “The Dolphins continue to talk to Dan Marino about a front-office position that would be more than a figurehead role but have little real authority,” reports Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. “Suggested title: Senior Vice President of Good Old Days.” . . .

There are those who would have you believe that the NHL is about to expand into Las Vegas and Seattle. Get back to me when the Las Vegas franchise has an owner and a venue in which to play. Seattle, meanwhile, has a potential ownership group but nowhere to play. If you are a regular viewer of NHL games, you might also wonder from where the players would come to stock two expansion teams. Think about what two more teams would do to the quality of play and try not to cringe. . . . Dick Bavetta, a long-time NBA referee, has retired at the age of 74. “Bavetta has seen it all in 39 years,” writes Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald. “Well, except for traveling.” . . .

“(The Oakland) Athletics traded (Yoenis) Cespedes and rented (Jon) Lester for post-season,” tweets Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register. “Now they might not make post-season. What's the title of THAT movie?” . . . In Green Bay this NFL season, you will be able to visit a concession stand and spend $12 on something called ‘Bratchos.’ That would be pieces of brat, cheese and fried chips. Heath Barbato, the executive chef at Lambeau Field, told “It’s basically Wisconsin in a bucket.” . . . “Caroline Wozniacki lost a point at the U.S. Open when her pony tail got caught in her racquet,” reports RJ Currie of “She won the match but may have suffered a tress fracture.”

(Gregg Drinnan is a former sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post and the late Kamloops Daily News. He is at and Keeping Score appears here on weekends, except when it doesn’t.)

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Warriors do right thing . . . Hay returns with victory

The Moose Jaw Warriors have made a substantial donation to Journey To Hope, in memory of Ethan Williams, a 16-year-old prospect who committed suicide on July 29 in Winnipeg.
The Warriors donated the proceeds ($2,000) from their intrasquad game, as well as the gate from their Tuesday night exhibition game against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.
Journey To Hope is a Moose Jaw-based organization that provides support to those who have been impacted by suicide.
"Journey to Hope is all about suicide awareness and prevention,” Della Ferguson of Journey To Hope told Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. “We do the fundraising, but the next step is where the work begins really. It's about doing awareness work in schools and we've done awareness work with seniors. We've done training for councilors and school workers in all forms of suicide awareness and prevention in our community."
A fifth-round selection in the 2012 bantam draft, Williams was to have attended the Warriors’ training camp. It would have been his third preseason camp.
Considering what happened to Williams, Warriors general manager Alan Millar told Gourlie that the Warriors now are working in the area of mental health awareness.
"With what happened to Ethan, we did have some discussions with some of the young guys who are in our organization who knew him well," said Millar. "We've had some discussion with Sask. Mental Health and some other people. We feel that some type of orientation seminar looking at the big picture would be beneficial. It's something we've talked about for awhile."
Gourlie’s story is right here.
An email with a link to a video arrived in my Inbox.
Here’s the intro:
" ‘Be a man’ is something we've all heard at one time or another, even a few of the women reading this right now. Being a ‘man’ in that sense means something completely different to me (and maybe you, too) than what that phrase implies.
“I can't even begin to describe the toll that the concept of masculinity has taken on my life. And it's felt everywhere. It's time we make changes, starting from within ourselves.”
The video, from, is right here. Take three minutes and give it a watch.

 F Lukáš Vantuch (Calgary, Lethbridge, 2005-07) has been released from a tryout by Dusseldorf (Germany, DEL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had a goal and four assists in 31 games. On loan to Sparta Prague (same), he had one assist in five games and he was pointless in two games with Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). . . .
F Zach Hamill (Everett, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract with HPK Hämeenlinna (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had three goals and six assists in 21 games with the Utica Comets (AHL) 21 GP, 3+6. He also played 13 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), scoring once and adding two assists.

If you haven’t seen them yet, Alan Caldwell, over at Small Thoughts At Large, has created WHL team depth charts that feature only signed players. As usual, he has done a terrific job of providing even more roster-based information for WHL fans. . . . Check it out by clicking on the link over there on the right.
Head coach Don Hay was back behind the Kamloops Blazers’ bench on Friday night for the first time since the final game of the 1995 Memorial Cup tournament. The Blazers won the Memorial Cup, and last night they beat Hay’s former team, the Vancouver Giants, 5-4 in a shootout. . . . The Blazers erased a 4-2 deficit midway through the third period in winning their exhibition debut. Hay spent the previous 10 seasons as the Giants’ head coach. . . . Veteran F Cole Ully led Kamloops with a goal and two assists.
The Kamloops Blazers have signed G Connor Ingram, 17, who was placed on the club’s protected list in September after last year’s training camp. From Imperial, Sask., Ingram played for the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, who won the national title. During the regular season, he was 16-4-3/1.98/.928. . . . He was in goal for the final game of the national tournament, stopping 60 shots as the Mintos won in triple OT. . . . Ingram was credited with the victory as the Blazers beat the visiting Vancouver Giants 5-4 in a shootout last night. He stopped eight of 10 shots through OT and added two more shootout saves. . . . Ingram is one of three goaltenders left in camp with the Blazers, along with veteran Bolton Pouliot, 20, and Cole Kehler, who turns 17 on Dec. 17. Kehler got into 11 games with the Blazers last season, but spent most of his winter at OHA in Penticton, B.C.
Rory Boylen of The Hockey News has an interesting piece right here about some kids in Montreal who were playing street hockey until a neighbour called the cops. Presumably, the neighbour would rather the kids were keying cars and smashing windows.
---Here’s an interesting note from Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald involving Tuesday’s rookie game between the host Warriors and the Swift Current Broncos, which went into OT:
“After regulation time, the Zamboni came out and did a dry scrape of the ice. It's basically the same thing they would do before a shootout, except they do the entire ice surface. After that full scrape, the ice wouldn't be touched before a potential shootout. The NHL will adopt the change this upcoming season. The WHL is doing it as a trial during the pre-season. Tuesday's experiment was not positive. It took nearly 12 minutes to do the dry scrape — two-thirds of a normal intermission — and they played 34 seconds of overtime. It would be one thing in an NHL rink where they have two Zambonis and could do the dry scrape in little more than five minutes, but the dry scrape Tuesday took entirely too long.”
Gourlie is right. Twelve minutes of intermission leading into OT is far too long, especially with the beer concessions closed.
F Reid Duke reported to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday and is expected to play in an exhibition game today against the Pats in Regina. Duke, the fifth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft, didn’t report to training camp. . . . It isn’t known why the Calgary native didn’t report for the start of his third WHL season; it also isn’t known if he asked to be traded. . . . General manager Brad Robson is quoted in a news release as saying: “The hockey club, Reid Duke, his family and agent came to an agreement beneficial to both sides.”.
The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed three players -- F Kobe Mohr, 15; D Brayden Gorda, 15; and F Tyson Gruninger, 16. . . . Mohr was the 20th overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. From Lloydminster, Alta., he had 63 points, including 29 goals, in 26 games with the bantam AAA Lloydminster Heat last season. . . . Gorda, from Edmonton, was a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He had 26 points, including six goals, in 33 games with the bantam AAA Edmonton Maple Leaf Athletic Club. . . . Gruninger, from Drayton Valley, Alta., put up 54 points, 30 of them goals, in 37 games with a minor midget team in Leduc, Alta., last season. He was placed on the Oil Kings’ protected list in March.

F Ty Lewis, 16, had his training camp with the Brandon Wheat Kings come to an end Thursday night when he broke a bone in his left forearm. Lewis, who is from Brandon, was a third-round pick by the Wheat Kings in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . The Saskatoon Blades have lost F Ty Mappin to a brain injury. Mappin, who was hurt Sunday, may return to the ice on Tuesday. . . .
D Joshua Smith, who turns 20 on Oct. 2, is in camp with the Portland Winterhawks after playing 93 games with the Prince George Cougars over four seasons. Smith, from Lacombe, scored one goal in that time. So guess who scored Portland’s first preseason goal? You got it. Smith opened the scoring on Friday and the Winterhawks went on to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs at a preseason tournament in Everett. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Portland’s roster are F Adam de Champlain, F Trace Elson, D Josh Hanson and F Trent Lofthouse . . .
Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald notes that “Twitter reports suggest D Tristen Pfeifer, F Nik Malenica and F Gunnar Wegleitner have signed with the Silvertips.” All three are undrafted list players. Pfeifer, 18, is from Phoenix where he played last season for the U-18 Junior Coyotes. Malenica, who turns 17 on Oct. 11, is from Nanaimo and played the last two seasons for the major midget North Island Silvertips. Wegleitner, a 16-year-old from Vancouver, played for the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians. . . . F Carson Bolduc, 18, who chose not to report to the Kamloops Blazers and was said to be evaluating his future, is in camp with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Bolduc is from Salmon Arm. . . . 
F David Robinson (Chilliwack, 2007-10) will attend UBC and play for the Thunderbirds after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Also checking in with the Thunderbirds will be F Adam Rossignol (Kootenay, Swift Current, Regina, Portland, 2010-14). . . . Adam McKinnon is the Victoria Royals new manager of communications and hockey operations co-ordinator. He replaces Corey St. Laurent, who is leaving to join Hockey Canada. McKinnon spent two seasons in media and community relations with the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings and also helped set up the Royals’ communication department before returning to Camosun College.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

We're back and we're catching up . . .

Allow me to do some catching up after spending a few days in the Rocky Mountains, where the Internet connection was so slow that it gave me dial-up nightmares . . .

F Kris Hogg (Kamloops, Lethbridge, 2002-07) signed a one-year contract with the Tilburg Trappers (Netherlands, Eredivisie). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 12 goals and 10 assists in 55 games. . . .
F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) has been assigned to Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) by Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one assist in 49 games with Sibir. Karamnov is in the last year of a two-year contract with Sibir.

Mark Lamb and the Swift Current Broncos have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension. Lamb was entering the last year of a three-year deal. . . . According to a news release, “That year has been expunged in favour of this new contract.” That means he is signed through 2016-17. . . . Lamb spent seven seasons as an NHL assistant coach, one with the Edmonton Oilers and six with the Dallas Stars, before signing with the Broncos. He has been the GM/head coach since the summer of 2009. . . . The Broncos are 164-165-31 in five seasons under Lamb, including 38-25-9 last season when they finished fifth in the 12-team Eastern Conference. They have make the playoffs in three of his five seasons, but haven’t been able to get out of the first round. Last spring, they lost in six games to the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Lamb, one of the WHL’s straightest shooters, has brought stability to the Broncos organization. This season, led by a strong defence, they should be one of the conference’s top four teams.
The Kootenay Ice was short two veteran defencemen when training camp began earlier this week in Cranbrook. Landon Cross and Landon Peel, a pair of 20-year-olds, didn’t show up on Monday. . . . Cross, who was acquired from the Kamloops Blazers last season, had concussion issues. From Brandon, he has decided he would rather finish his junior career in the MJHL and hopes to play for the Steinbach Pistons. . . . “As a parent, not as a general manager, I was concerned about him and what he was going through,” Jeff Chynoweth, the Ice’s president and general manager, told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Cross informed Chynoweth of his decision on June 9. . . . Peel, from Virden, Man., had been expected in camp. “He told me at the end of (last season) he was definitely coming back and wanted to compete for one of the 20-year-old spots,” Chynoweth said. “He caught us a little bit off-guard.” . . . Peel wants to play for the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, who will host the RBC Cup tournament next spring. . . . For now, Cross and Peel are on the Ice’s suspended list. . . . Rocca’s story is right here. . . . The defections leave the Ice with two 20-year-olds on its roster -- F Levi Cable and F Austin Vetterl.
Rudy Poeschek (Kamloops, 1983-87) is “facing assault and driving charges after an alleged incident in Kamloops” on July 5. Tim Petruk of Kamloops This Week has more right here.
---The Victoria Royals have promoted Jeff Harris and Grant Armstrong to assistant GM positions. . . . Harris, formerly the director of hockey operations and communications, now is AGM, hockey operations and communications. He spent four seasons with the now-defunct Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL, as AGM and director of media and community relations, before joining the Royals for their first season in Victoria. . . . Armstrong, the Royals’ director of player personnel for two seasons, now is AGM, player personnel. Armstrong joined the Royals in 2012 after working for four seasons as the Portland Winterhawks’ head scout.
The Victoria Royals have signed D Scott Walford, the 18th overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. He will play this season at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C. Walford, from Coquitlam, B.C., played with the OHA bantam prep team last season, putting up 48 points, including 12 goals, in 56 games. . . . The Royals also signed 1997-born G Evan Smith, who is from Parker, Colo. Smith played last season with the Pikes Peak Miners U18 team in the North American Prospects Hockey League. The 6-foot-5 Smith went 1.95/.921 in 13 appearances. The Royals had placed him on their protected list in July 2012. . . . The Royals also signed F Ryan Peckford, a second-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. From Stony Plain, Alta., Peckford played last season for the Parkland Athletic Club Saints of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. He had 60 points, 28 of them goals, in 33 games. . . . D Brayden Pachal, a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, also signed with the Royals. From Estevan, Sask., he had 27 points, including 14 goals, in 31 games with the bantam AA Estevan Bruins last season. . . . Victoria also signed Slovakian F Kristian Ferletak, its first-round selection in the CHL‘s 2014 import draft. From Trstena, he played last season with the Slovakian U-18 team, putting up 32 points, including nine goals, in 44 games. At the IIHF World U-18 championship, he had two goals and an assist in five games.
The Kamloops Blazers have signed F Jesse Zaharichuk, 17, to a WHL contract. From Sherwood Park, Alta., the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Zaharichuk was placed on the Blazers’ protected list in September 2012. Last season, with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, he had 14 points, four of them goals, in 48 games. He added nine points, five of them goals, in 15 playoff games. . . . He likely will see some playing time tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants or Saturday against the Rockets in Kelowna.
The Everett Silvertips have signed D Jantzen Leslie, the 15th overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. Last season, he captained the bantam AAA Lloydminster Heat, which won the provincial championship. He had 40 points, 15 of the goals, in 30 regular-season games. In 12 playoff games, he added two goals and 10 assists. . . . The Silvertips also have signed F Bryce Kindopp, a teammate of Leslie’s who was a third-round pick by Everett.
WHLThe Swift Current Broncos signed five players -- F Tyler Adams, 17; D Jaydan Gordon; D Matthew Parsons, 16; F Owen Seidel, 16; and D Colby Sissons, 16. . . . Adams, from Regina, had 50 points, 13 of them goals, in 58 games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians last season. . . . The 1997-born Gordon, from Cochrane, Alta., had 35 points, including 31 assists, in 36 games with the midget AA Bow Valley Timberwolves last season. He is the younger brother of Broncos F Coda Gordon. . . . Parsons, from Middle Lake, Sask., was a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He had a goal and 11 assists in 54 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos last season. . . . Seidel, from Richmond, B.C., was a seventh-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He had 36 points, 10 of them goals, in 40 games with the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians last season. . . . Sissons, from Edmonton, had 31 points, including nine goals, in 37 games with the minor midget AAA Edmonton-South Side Athletic Club Bulldogs last season.
The Prince Albert Raiders have signed three players -- F Parker Kelly, F Sean Montgomery and D Curtis Roach. . . . Kelly, from Camrose, Alta., was a seventh-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. Last season, he had 58 points, including 35 goals, in 31 games with the Camrose Red Wings of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. . . . Montgomery, from Calgary, was taken in the sixth round of the 2013 bantam draft. He had 37 points, 19 of them goals, in 35 games with the Calgary Royals of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. . . . Roach,
from Saskatoon, will turn 17 on Oct. 22. He was invited to the Raiders’ camp and ended up with a spot on their protected list. He had 28 points, including 26 assists, in 44 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts last season. . . . The Raiders also have signed F Simon Stransky, a 2014 CHL import draft selection from Czech Republic. He is the younger brother of former Saskatoon Blades F Matej Stransky, who is under contract to the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Simon will turn 17 on Dec. 21.
The Tri-City Americans have signed three players from the 2013 bantam draft -- D Mark Drohan, a third-round pick; F Jordan Roy, who was a fifth-round selection; and G Nicholas Sanders, who was taken in the sixth round. . . . Drohan, from Calgary, had 17 points, six of them goals, with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes last season. . . . From Kimberley, B.C., Roy will turn 16 on Sept. 9. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder had six points, two of them goals, in 26 games with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes last season. . . . Sanders, from Calgary, was 3.65/.890 in 39 games with the minor midget Calgary Rangers last season.
The Regina Pats have signed four players -- D James Hilsendager, D Ryan Krushen, D Brady Pouteau and F Kyle Westeringh. . . . Hilsendager, from Lloydminster, Alta., was a ninth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder played last season for the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Midget Hockey League, putting up 14 points, three of them goals, in 33 games. . . . Krushen, a list player from Sherwood Park, Alta., had 16 points, four of them goals, in 37 games with the Sherwood Park Squires of the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League last season. . . . The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Pouteau, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, is from Oak Bluff, Man. He played last season with the Pembina Valley Hawks of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League, earning 14 points, including four goals, in 40 games. . . . Westeringh, an 18-year-old list player from Rosedale, B.C., had 19 points, including 10 goals, in 55 games with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs last season.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed five players -- F Wyatt Bear, D Reece Harsch, F Nick Holowko, F Luke Osterman and F Mackenzie Wight. . . . Bear, from Hodgson, Man., was a fifth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He had 51 points, 18 of them goals, in 33 games with the bantam Interlake Lightning last season. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was an eight-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He had 14 points, two of them goals, for a bantam team in Grande Prairie last season. . . . Holowko, from Burnaby, B.C., was added to Seattle’s list after its 2012 camp. He had two goals and nine assists in 33 games with the junior B Delta, B.C., Ice Hawks last season. . . . Osterman, from Stillwater, Minn., was an eighth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. He had 13 points, six of them goals, with a team from Omaha, Neb., that played in the NAPH16 League last season. . . . Seattle has seven of its 10 selections from the 2012 draft under contract. . . . Wight, from Burnaby, B.C., was a seventh-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He played for the bantam A1-T1 team at Burnaby Winter Club last season.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Cody Glass, a Winnipegger who was the 19th overall selection in the 2014 bantam draft. He had 77 points, 31 of them goals, in 32 games with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks. He added 17 points in 11 playoff games.

The Lethbrige Hurricanes have signed D Connor Rokosh and F Ryan Vandervlis, both of whom are on the club’s preseason roster. . . . The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Rokosh was a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. From Edmonton, he played last season for the minor midget Edmonton South Side Athletic Club Bulldogs, putting up 16 points in 36 games. . . . The 1998-born Vandervlis, from Red Deer, has been on the Hurricanes’ protected list since October. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder captained the minor midget Red Deer Chiefs last season, earning 26 points, including 14 goals, in 37 games.

According to the Twitter account of G Tavin Grant, he has signed with the Prince George Cougars. Grant, 16, is from Burnaby. He played last season with the major midget Northwest Vancouver Giants. . . . F Sam Steel, the second overall pick in the 2013 bantam draft, had two goals and two assists Thursday as the Regina Pats opened their exhibition tournament with a 9-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Pats, who had an older roster, held a 65-27 edge in shots on goal. The tournament is being played in the 1,000-seat Co-operators Centre. . . . It seems the WHL has ordered its referees to give a misconduct to any player who doesn’t have his mouth guard fully in his mouth. . . . D Michael Mylchreest, a 19-year-old from Gilroy, Calif., is in camp with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder played two seasons (2011-13) with the Prince George Cougars. Last season, he played for the NAHL's Springfield Jr. Blues, putting up 12 points in 56 games. . . .
The Vancouver Giants have signed F Gage Ramsay, who turns 16 on Oct. 15. A 5-foot-8, 160-pounder from Saskatoon, he was a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . According to a Twitter report, the Giants also have signed D Brennan Menell, 17, from Woodbury, Minn. He had 27 points, including 10 goals, in 25 games with the U16 Chicago Young Americans last season. . . . A note from Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix: “Brandon Kegler and Nathan Alalouf, two goaltenders who spent time as the Blades’ backup last season, are on the ice with the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans, respectively, at training camp. Both were removed from Saskatoon’s protected list in the off-season.” . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors signed D Colin Paradis, a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He broke his collarbone last season, thus was limited to 30 games with the minor midget Sherwood Park, Alta., Squires. . . . F Aspen Sterzer, 20, who didn’t show up for the Red Deer Rebels’ training camp, has chosen to attend the U of Calgary and play for the Dinos.

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