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Sunday, April 20, 2014



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Lazar key as Oil Kings go up 2-0



With apologies to Elliotte Friedman, here are 10 thoughts . . .
1. If he doesn’t already, G Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens is going to own that city before these playoffs are over.
2. If you are following the series between the Canadiens and Tampa Bay, you’ll be aware that Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is in the process of striking up a two-way love affair with the media. (If there were any doubts as to whether the Forums ghosts made the trek to the Bell Centre in Montreal, they may have been allayed on Sunday.)
3. The series between Boston and Detroit turned when Bruins F David Krejci drilled Red Wings D Brendan Smith on Sunday afternoon and there wasn’t a boarding penalty called. If the Winged Wheelers are to be competitive in that series, they need those calls to be made and to score on the ensuing power plays. . . . At least, Boston F Brad Marchand hasn’t speed-bagged one of the Wings yet.
4. The NHL must be into the playoffs because the on-ice officials are getting it from all directions. How were the voices of the fans heard before the arrival of social media?
5. Will anyone test the Edmonton Oil Kings before they reach the WHL’s championship final? They’re up 2-0 on the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Eastern Conference final, meaning they are 10-1 in these playoffs.
6. The San Jose Sharks are whuppin’ the Los Angeles Kings 6-2 late in the third period and have Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau out there on the power play. Now it’s a 5-on-3 and the Sharks have their big guns out there -- Thornton, Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture. . . . And now it‘s 7-2. . . . Do you think maybe these teams don’t like each other?
7. Is the MLB season already over for fans of the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners?
8. I am hearing that a news conference could be held at the CN Centre in Prince George on May 12 to make official the sale of the Cougars.
9. F Vincent Lecavalier, who turns 34 years of age today (Monday), is on the Philadelphia Flyers’ fourth line? Who saw that coming?
10. Does Portland Winterhawks GM/head coach Mike Johnston start Brendan Burke or Corbin Boes in goal on Tuesday night in Game 3 against the visiting Kelowna Rockets? The Western Conference championship is 1-1. . . . Burke has started five games against Kelowna this season and he has been hooked from three of those, including Saturday’s 5-4 victory in Kelowna. . . . The betting here is that Burke starts on Tuesday, if only because Johnston is more comfortable with Boes coming off the bench if needed.
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The Portland Winterhawks blew a 3-0 lead and lost 5-4 to the host Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of the WHL’s Western Conference final on Friday night.
One night later, the Winterhawks erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and beat the Rockets, 5-3.
What was the difference?
At least part of it, according to Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnstone, may have had something to do with Game 1 being televised nationally in Canada by Sportsnet.
Your average WHL game has one timeout per period. Having Sportsnet in the house meant there were three of those.
“That was tough for us because we like to play with speed,” Johnston told Portland freelance journalist Scott Sepich. “I don’t really like it, I like to play the games the way it was tonight.”
Portland F Nic Petan, who had a goal and two assists in Game 2, added: “We’re not on TV much so we’re not used to (the timeouts).”
In Game 2, Petan said, “We were able to keep our momentum when we had it.”
None of the remaining games in this series are scheduled to be televised. Shaw-TV is showing all games in the Eastern Conference final between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers.
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Does this stuff really happen in today’s world? . . . Some parents in the Ottawa area created an online forum that they used to bully kids, according to the newspaper Metro.
Trevor Greenway writes: “Metro came across several threads on Network54.com written by Ottawa hockey parents that were criticizing kids behind their backs, insulting their skills, attitude and the way parents ‘pumped her head up so much that she can barely get a helmet on.’ ”
Greenway’s story is right here.
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F Ryan Bowen, a fifth-round selection by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2013 bantam draft, has committed to playing for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs in 2014-15. Bowen, who is from Chilliwack, has signed with the Warriors. . . . He played this season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 midget prep team, putting up 32 points, 12 of them goals, in 41 games.
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The Anaheim Ducks have signed D Kenton Helgesen, who turned 20 on March 19, to a three-year, entry-level NHL contract. Helgesen has played three seasons with the Calgary Hitmen. From Fairview, Alta., he had 51 points, including 10 goals, in 71 games this season. . . . The Ducks selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2012 draft.
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Outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals didn’t run out a ground ball on Saturday and ended up on the bench. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post has a terrific column right here, dealing with Harper and how manager Matt Williams is handling him.
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
(Edmonton leads, 2-0)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 8 (7,694)
Sunday: Medicine Hat 1 at Edmonton 3 (5,763)
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
(Series tied, 1-1)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland 4 at Kelowna 5 (6,218)
Saturday: Portland 5 at Kelowna 3 (6,341)
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday: Kelowna at Portland, 2 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
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SUNDAY’S GAME:
In Edmonton, F Curtis Lazar broke a scoreless tie with two second-period goals and the Oil Kings went on to a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Oil Kings lead the Western Conference final 2-0 as the teams head to Medicine Hat for games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . Lazar, who has six goals in these playoffs, struck on the PP just 34 seconds into the second and then added a shorthanded tally at 10:47. . . . F Chad Butcher got the Tigers to within one on a PP at 12:14 of the second. . . . Edmonton F Edgars Kulda scored an empty-netter at 19:21 of the third period. . . . Butcher and Kulda each has five goals. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry turned aside 32 shots, 11 fewer than Medicine Hat’s Marek Langhamer. . . . The Oil Kings were 1-for-6 on the PP; the Tigers were 1-for-5. . . . Lazar now has 46 career playoff points, and shares the Oil Kings’ franchise record with F Michael St. Croix, who now is with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. . . . Medicine Hat D Tyler Lewington said his guys aren’t done. "It is definitely going to be a challenge coming back,” he told Darren Steinke of the Medicine Hat News, “but I think that we got a little momentum with this game. We played a good team game. I think we did a lot of good things that we feel help us coming into Tuesday night."
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From the Edmonton Oil Kings (@EdmOilKings): “Tonight's 50/50 Jackpot of $7,337 went unclaimed. Ticket #: 124331C has 2 business days to claim.”


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Saturday, April 19, 2014


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Winterhawks back on even ground; meet the bus driving radio man



With apologies to Elliotte Friedman, here are 10 thoughts . . .
1. Via Twitter, Friedman, of Hockey Night in Canada, explained the Quenneville-Lucic discipline discrepancy, of US$25,000 vs. $5,000: “Comparing Quenneville's fine to Lucic: players have a CBA, coaches don't. That's the difference. Drives coaches crazy.”
2. How many fighting majors have been handed out through four days of Stanley Cup play? Two? Four? Six? Eight?
3. There have been two fighting majors through 13 games, going into Sunday’s play. . . . Obviously, this is more proof that fisticuffs aren’t needed if hockey is to be entertaining.
4. You watch Boston Bruins F Milan Lucic spear D Danny DeKeyser of the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook drill F David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, and you wonder where the respect factor has gone? Shouldn’t the game be about taking the puck from an opponent, rather than putting an opponent out of the game?
5. If you’re a sporting fan, you have to admit that it’s neat to see some basketball fever in Toronto. And it is going to be interesting to see how much NBA commissioner Adam Silver lightens the wallet of Raptors GM Masai Ujiri for his “(Bleep) Brooklyn” comment on Saturday. . . . I’m thinking the fine will be closer to Quenneville country than to Lucic country.
6. If you weren’t aware, Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who didn’t get off the bench on Saturay in Toronto, is preparing to open the first Hooters restaurant in Russia. The grand opening is scheduled for Moscow on April 28. As Sam Laird of mashable.com wrote, the restaurant “will include 40 flat-screen TVs for sports-watching, as well as a gift shop featuring the Hooters merchandise Russians don't yet know they need.” (BTW, AK-47’s wife turned to Instagram to question why Nets head coach Jason Kidd kept her husband on the bench. Ahh, you just gotta love social media.)
7. If you were wondering, the two fighting majors went to F Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens and D Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They scrapped at 2:56 of the second period in Game 2 on Friday night.
8. By the time the Portland Winterhawks and Kelowna Rockets get through with each other, you wonder how much the survivor will have left. After two games, this is shaping up as one of those epic series that people will talk about for a long time. (If you’ve Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston, who is your starting goaltender for Game 3?)
9. If the Saskatoon Blades haven’t handed a blank cheque to Mike Williamson, who was deposed as head coach of the Calgary Hitmen a couple of days ago, you have to assume it’s only because it’s a long weekend in Canada and their banker was at the lake getting his cabin ready for summer, which may only be two months away.
10. You realize, of course, that five OT goals have been scored in these Stanley Cup playoffs and that three have come from WHL grads. D Barret Jackman (Regina Pats, 1997-2001) and F Matt Calvert (Brandon Wheat Kings (2007-10) scored in extra time for the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. On Wednesday, F Dale Weise (Swift Current Broncos, 2005-08) scored an OT goal for the Montreal Canadiens.
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If you read one thing today, make it this column by Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun. It’s all about the legendary Bob Ridley, the bus driving radio man who is the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers. This is good stuff.
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Joel Quenneville, the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, was fined US$25,000 for grabbing his man region as he expressed his disgust with the officiating in Game 1 of a playoff series against the St. Louis Blues the other night.
F Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins will be fined, perhaps $5,000, for a spear to the groin of Detroit Red Wings D Danny DeKeyser in Game 1 of their series on Friday evening.
Of course, the NHL is a bit confused.
Chris Peters of cbssports.com has more right here.
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D Jaynen Rissling, who played out his eligibility with the Calgary Hitmen this season, had his NHL rights dealt by the Washington Capitals to the Nashville Predators on Saturday for a seventh-round pick in the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . Rissling, who played five seasons with the Hitmen, had 37 points, including eight goals, in 54 games this season. He was Calgary’s captain. . . . He was a seventh-round selection by Washington in the 2012 NHL draft.
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
(Edmonton leads, 1-0)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 8 (7,694)
Sunday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
(Series tied, 1-1)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland 4 at Kelowna 5 (6,218)
Saturday: Portland 5 at Kelowna 3 (6,341)
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 2 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
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SATURDAY’S GAME:
In Kelowna, the Portland Winterhawks erased a 3-1 deficit with three quick second-period goals and went on to beat the Rockets, 5-3. . . . The Western Conference final is tied 1-1 with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . Kelowna took a 2-0 lead into the second period, thanks to first-period PP goals from F Nick Merkley, at 12:05, and D Ryley Stadel, at 12:37. . . . Portland F Dominic Turgeon got his first playoff goal 24 seconds into the second period, but Kelowna D Madison Bowey got that one back, with his fifth, just 1:09 later. . . . The Winterhawks then struck three times in 2:10, with F Nic Petan getting it started on a PP at 9:54. F Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it with his 12th goal at 11:51, and F Brendan Leipsic gave his guys the lead, with his ninth goal, at 12:04. . . . F Alex Schoenborn provided Portland with some insurance at 8:45 of the third. . . . Petan also had two assists, while Portland D Derrick Pouliot had three assists. . . . Bjorkstrand and Medicine Hat F Curtis Valk lead the WHL, each with 12 goals. . . . With 8:54 left in the second period and Kelowna leading 3-2, Portland freelancer tweeted that the Winterhawks already had 26 shots “which are as many as it had in the entire game (Friday) night.” . . . Portland outshot its hosts 24-14 in the second period and had a 4-1 edge in goals. . . . Of course, Portland took a 4-3 lead into the third period on Friday, too, and ended up losing, 5-4. . . . Portland opened with Brendan Burke in goal. But he left at 1:33 of the second period, after giving up three goals on nine shots. Corbin Boes, a January acquisition from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, came on to stop all 15 shots he faced. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke stopped 48 shots. . . . The Rockets were outshot 17-4 in the third period. . . . The Rockets were 2-for-3 on the PP; the Winterhawks were 1-for-7, with three of those coming in the game’s last seven minutes. . . . Which goaltender does Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston start in Game 3. Here’s a post-game tweet from Sepich (@SSepich): “Mike Johnston noncommittal about Burke or Boes right now, though he thought Burke was out of position on 2 goals and a change was needed.” . . . Johnston also told Sepich: “"We played our game tonight. When we're on, our puck movement is really crisp, really sharp. We were snapping it around good.” . . . Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska told Sepich: “They were the better hockey club tonight. They were skating, when you stand around against them they'll do that to you.”
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From Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) of the Calgary Sun: “Hate when coaches say, ‘I didn't see it.’ Makes them just as culpable. Show some leadership and admit your player has to stop that crap.”
That was after Boston head coach Claude Julien said he hadn’t seen video of Bruins F Milan Lucic spearing Detroit Red Wings D Danny DeKeyser in the groin.
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From Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) of the Vancouver Sun: “That cute Because it's the Cup #nhl marketing phrase takes on new meaning with Lucic incident.”
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From Kevin Paul DuPont (@GlobeKPD) of the Boston Globe: “Lucic $5k fine for DeKeyser spear. Coach Q weeps.”
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From Makenna (@Mak_Alberts24): “My sister got out of a speeding ticket by telling the officer we were on the way to the @pdxwinterhawks viewing party!”
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From Dan Russell (@DanRussellST): “Never's worked for me!”

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Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I love watching the Masters every year, and always think that the last day of the Masters is the Super Sunday of golf. But it really is fun every year listening to the golfers and the announcers talk about a golf course like it’s church, isn’t it? And not just any church. Like the Vatican, that kind of church.” . . . Former Kamloops Blazers goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders last summer, will attend Saint Mary’s U in Halifax and play for the Huskies next season. . . .

Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald, writing about an event of last week: “On Friday, the Syracuse Chiefs, a AAA baseball team, are hosting ‘Deport Justin Bieber Night.’ It’s just nice to see one minor league team stop with the dumb promotions and delve into important social commentary.” . . . The New York Yankees turned a triple play against the host Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. It was the third triple killing by the Yankees’ defence since 2010, each one coming with CC Sabathia on the mound. . . .

So if you aren't cheering for the Montreal Canadiens, the lone Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs, does that mean you are a Canadien but not a Canadian? . . . The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders gave quarterback Darian Durant a contract extension this week. “The deal is said to involve multiple years and all the water he can walk on,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. . . . The water will disappear after Durant throws his first interception. . . . Here’s Currie again: “A pair of Wall Street financiers bought Milwaukee’s last-place NBA team for $550 million. There’s a shrewd investment: over half a billion dollars to get a few lousy Bucks.” . . .

“Chad Johnson signs with Montreal Alouettes,” tweeted Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register, “(and) changes name to Chad Quatre-vingt-cinq.” . . . The afore-mentioned Currie is disappointed that the Als no longer play in Olympic Stadium. As he put it: “The Big O-chocinco has a ring to it.” . . . According to Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., wasn’t too disappointed when he missed the cut at the Masters. Why not? As Chong explained: “He already owns quite a few green jackets, even though they all say John Deere on the front.” . . .

“I kind of like Brian Burke’s hedgehog look,” notes Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express. . . . Is that what that look is called? . . . . If you’ve been watching, you will know that Major League Baseball’s new system of reviewing plays has a few bugs in it. As Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe tweeted: “MLB replay system. More bugs than a $19-a-nite hotel room.” . . . “Well,” notes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe, “Boston manager John Farrell has become the answer to a future trivia question – the first MLB ejection that resulted from arguing about a replay ruling. Are we shocked that it was about a call that went in favour of the Yankees?” . . .

Kelly Olynyk, the pride of Kamloops, has finished up a pretty good first season with the NBA’s Boston Celtics. The 7-footer definitely showed improvement as the season went on. On April 12, he put in what was then a career-high 25 points and added eight rebounds, seven on the defensive boards, as the Celtics beat the Cavaliers 111-99 in Cleveland. More impressively, he started and played 38:52. . . . On Monday, he started again, playing 35:17, and scoring 28 points and adding nine boards, in a 113-108 loss to the Sixers in Philadelphia. . . . The Celtics wrapped up their season at home on Wednesday, losing 118-102 to the Washington Wizards. Olynyk started and had a team-high 24 points and seven rebounds. . . . For the season, he averaged 20.0 minutes, 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists over 70 games. The Celtics, in rebuilding mode, finished 25-57 and well out of the playoffs. . . . Olynyk is expected to spend some time with Canada’s men’s team this summer, but he also will be back in Kamloops. His annual Olynyk Klynyk is scheduled for Aug. 16-20. . . .

“We keep hearing about players with ‘flu-like symptoms,’ ” notes Phil Mushnick of the New York Post. “How are they treated, with cure-like remedies?” . . . You may have been watching last week when starter Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees had something that sure looked like pinetar on one hand. That got Mushnick to recalling an anecdote involving writer Phil Pepe, who covered the Yankees. As Mushnick wrote: “Pepe recalled when Jim Kaat was accused of applying a ‘foreign substance’ to the ball. ‘It’s not a foreign substance,’ said Kaat. ‘It comes from North Carolina.’ ”

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

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Friday, April 18, 2014


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Oil Kings, Rockets draw first blood







D Michal Plutnar (Tri-City, 2011-14) has signed three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had 12 points, three of them goals, in 51 games with the Americans.
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If the WHL’s Western Conference final between the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks needs a Game 6, it will be played in the Rose City on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m. Originally, the game had been scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. . . . The time change should make things easier on fans as an NBA playoff game between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers is to start at 6:30 p.m., at the Moda Center. . . . The hockey game would be played at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
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The finalists for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL's player of the year are F Mitch Holmberg of the Spokane Chiefs and F Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice, as voted on by, according to the WHL, “general managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL member clubs.”
Reinhart, 18, who represents the Eastern Conference, had 105 points, including 36 goals.
Holmberg, 20, represents the Western Conference. He won the WHL scoring title with 118 points, including a WHL-leading 62 goals.
The WHL’s awards luncheon is scheduled for April 30 in Calgary.
The WHL, for whatever reason, chose to release this news on Good Friday, the same day that both of its conference finals began.
Everyone knows that governments release bad news on Friday afternoons. The WHL chooses to release good news on the afternoon of a holiday Friday. Why not hold on to the release until Monday and do it when both of its conference finals are enjoying a day of rest?
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
(Edmonton leads, 1-0)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat 3 at Edmonton 8 (7,694)
Sunday: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 26: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
(Kelowna leads, 1-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland 4 at Kelowna 5 (6,218)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 2 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
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FRIDAY’S GAMES:

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored twice in the game’s first 66 seconds and went on to an 8-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final is scheduled for Sunday in Edmonton. . . . Oil Kings F Curtis Lazar scored his fourth goal of these playoffs just 32 seconds into the game and D Cody Corbett, with his fifth, made it 2-0 at 1:06. . . . The first two goals came with the teams playing 4-on-4. . . . Edmonton built a 7-0 lead before the game was half over. . . . Corbett scored twice, while teammates F Henrik Samuelsson, F Reid Petryk, F Mads Eller and F Edgars Kulda each had two assists. . . . According to a tweet by Edmonton radio voice Corey Graham, Lazar has 22 career playoff goals, the “most in modern Oil Kings history.” . . . Medicine Hat F Curtis Valk scored twice, giving him a playoff-leading 12 goals. . . . Edmonton G Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots. . . . The Tigers started Marek Langhamer, switched to Nick Schneider and later brought Langhamer back. Langhamer gave up five goals on 22 shots; Schneider was beaten three times on eight shots. . . . The Tigers were 1-for-4 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-for-2. . . .


In Kelowna, the Rockets erased a 3-0 first-period deficit and went on to beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-4. . . . Game 2 in the Western Conference final is to be played tonight in Kelowna. . . . After the Rockets cut the deficit to 3-2, the Winterhawks were a split second away from a 4-2 lead as F Oliver Bjorkstrand was that close to his third goal as the first period ended. Replay showed that time expired with the front edge of the puck just starting to cross the top of the goal line. . . . Portland D Keoni Texeira gave his side a 4-2 lead at 15:43 of the second period. . . . Kelowna F Rourke Chartier, perhaps the best forward on the ice, cut that to 4-3 at 16:26 of the second period. . . . Kelowna F Justin Kirkland tied it at 4:17 of the third, via the PP, and D Jesse Lees gave the home side its first lead with his first goal at 5:59. . . . The Rockets outshot the visitors 14-4 and outscored them 2-0 in the third. . . . Bjorkstrand scored 33 seconds into the game and added his 11th of the playoffs, on the PP, at 5:49. . . . Portland F Chase De Leo made it 3-0 on another PP, at 12:19. . . . The Rockets got on the board when F Tyson Baillie scored at 13:08 of the first. . . . Kelowna D Madison Bowey may have scored his side’s biggest goal when he got a shorthanded tally off a 2-on-1 break at 19:33. . . . Kelowna G Jordon Cooke stopped 22 shots, nine fewer than Brendan Burke of Portland. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-for-5 on the PP; the Rockets were 1-for-4. . . . Portland F Brendan Leipsic and D Derrick Pouliot each had an assist as they ran point streaks to 10 games. They now share the franchise record for longest playoff point streak. . . . Pouliot’s assist was his 46th career playoff helper, breaking the franchise record that he had shared with F Ty Rattie, who is finishing up his freshman season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves . . . . The Rockets continue to be without F Myles Bell (leg), a 42-goal man in the regular season.
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From Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks): “As we count down to Game 1, consider that Hawks and Rockets are two of just 18 teams to win 54 or more games in a season in WHL history.”


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let the Abbotsford rumours begin . . .

Dan Kinvig of the Abbotsford News reports that “the commissioner of the Western Hockey League says the major junior circuit has interest in Abbotsford as a potential market.” . . . In a story that is right here, Kinvig reports that commissioner Ron Robison said the WHL is not going to expand and “does not have any pending applications for relocation from existing franchises.” . . . All of which would seem to cut down on the odds of Abbotsford getting a WHL franchise in the near future.
Earlier this week, the city of Abbotsford and its AHL franchise, the Heat, announced that the Heat would be leaving after this season, with the city having paid $5.5 million to terminate its agreement with the team. That deal, under which the city underwrote losses suffered by the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, had five years left on it.
Robison told Kinvig:
"We are familiar with the building – it's an outstanding facility, and it's a market we have interest in. At this particular stage, we do not have any future plans for expansion, so the only way we would consider Abbotsford would be through the relocation of one of our existing teams.
"But having said that, we always continue to look to explore other options in the event we do have a request for relocation. Certainly, we'll put Abbotsford on our list and do some further due diligence as to its potential for a WHL franchise."
With the commissioner having opened this can of worms, let’s cut to the chase, shall we.
Which WHL franchise/franchises do you think is/are ripe for relocation?
OK, let’s take the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos out of the conversation. Those franchises are community-owned and aren’t going anywhere.
The Prince George Cougars are in the process of being sold and they are staying put.
In the East Division, the Saskatoon Blades changed hands during this season and aren’t relocating. Neither are the Brandon Wheat Kings nor Regina Pats, although there again are strong rumours that the Pats will be sold before another season arrives, perhaps to Calgary oil interests.
None of the other B.C. Division teams -- the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals -- would seem a likely candidate for a move.
The Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans, all of whom reside in the U.S. Division, are five of the league’s strongest franchises.
The Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings, both owned by NHL teams, finished atop the Central Division and aren’t moving anywhere. The same holds true for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels.
Yes, that leaves the Kootenay Ice.
Jeff Chynoweth, the Ice’s majority owner, president, governor and general manager, has issued repeated denials whenever he has been asked if he is working to sell the franchise or to relocate it.
It wasn’t that long ago when a rumour had Chynoweth relocating the Ice to Lethbridge with the Hurricanes moving to Winnipeg. Yes, there were more denials.
Robison’s comments to Kinvig almost certainly will result in more smoke but no flames, and there will be still more denials from Chynoweth.
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If you are thinking about attending the fourth annual Hockey Coaches Conference, powered by Hockey Now, you should know that the deadline for the early bird special arrives on Sunday.
The conference is scheduled for July 18 and 19 at the Doug Mitchell Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia.
The early bird cost is $250 plus GST; the regular price is $349.99 plus GST.
Aaron Wilbur of the HCC assures me that the names of presenters will begin being released next week. In the past, though, the likes of Ray Ferraro, Ken Hitchcock and Mike Keenan have been involved.
For more info, visit the website right here, or click on the ad at the top of this page.
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G Cole Cheveldave, who played out his eligibility with the Prince Albert Raiders this season, has decided he will attend St. Mary’s U in Halifax and play for the Huskies. . . . Cheveldave, who will turn 21 on June 8, is from Calgary. He played two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, who dealt him to the Raiders before this season began. With the Raiders, he was 23-24-3, 3.57, .892. . . . Last season, he helped get the Blazers to the Western Conference final. He was 36-16-2, 2.38, .908 in the regular season and 9-6, 2.80, .901 in the playoffs.
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D Dennis Cholowski, a 16-year-old from Langley, B.C., has committed to the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for next season. He played this season at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., and did get into one game with the Chiefs. . . . Cholowski suffered a broken arm and hand, which limited him to 12 games, during which he scored 16 points. . . . Cholowski was selected in by the Prince George Cougars in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft.
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Rick Williams was a defenceman who played with the Saskatoon Blades and Victoria Cougars (1971-74). “Last year,” writes Heather Yourex of Global Calgary, “at the age of 59, Rick was forced to move into long term care.” . . . In recent years, Williams, who suffered a number of concussions during his hockey career, showed all the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). . . . Friends are holding a fundraiser on May 3, hoping to provide some financial help for Williams’ care costs and for CTE research. . . . Yourex’s report is right here.
There is more information right here on the fundraiser.
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THE COACHING GAME:
The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired general manager and head coach Gord Thibodeau on Thursday. He had been with the Oil Barons for 12 seasons, winning the AJHL title eight years ago. . . . This season, the Oil Barons compiled the AJHL’s second-best regular-season record, their 45-11-4 better only by the Spruce Grove Saints (47-10-3). The Oil Barons’ season ended earlier this month when they lost Game 7 of the North Division final to Spruce Grove. . . . The Oil Barons are the host team for the 2015 Crescent Point Western Canada Cup.
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THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
---
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 26: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Anthony Ast, day-to-day; F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
---







From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts), with the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues into OT: “136:56 - In case you forgot ... Back in 2003, @WHLKootenayICE alum Adam Cracknell (@ACracknell79) played in the WHL's longest game in history.”
Cracknell now is with the Blues.
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From Adam Cracknell (@ACracknell79), in response to WHL Facts: “Did you also know. I did not also play ONE shift. So I had the best seat for the longest game also. #truestory”




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Wednesday, April 16, 2014



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Tigers into conference final; Williamson dumped by Hitmen







F Tim Traber (Chilliwack/Victoria, Vancouver, 2009-14) has signed a one-year-plus-option contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). This season, with Vancouver, Traber had 23 points, including 12 goals, in 64 games. According to a Genève-Servette news release, Traber has dual Canadian-Swiss citizenship. . . .
D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia, Erste Bank Liga), Ross had 28 points, including eight goals, in 39 games. On Feb. 17, he moved to Asiago (Italy, Serie A), where he had seven points, two of them goals, in six games. . . .
F Tyson Mulock (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, Regina, 1999-2003) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 33 points, 16 of them goals, in 48 games. . . .
D Patrick Baum (Swift Current, 1997-98) has signed a one-year contract with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2). This season, Baum played with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2), getting 13 points, including three goals, in 47 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .
F Sean O'Connor (Moose Jaw, 1999-2002) signed a one-year extension with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). He started this season with Red Bull Munich (Germany, DEL), getting six points, five of them goals, in 13 games. He signed with Schwenningen in December, and put up 13 points, including eight goals, in 24 games. . . .
F Daniel Boháč (Spokane, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract with Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Boháč began the season with Slovan Ustecti Lvi (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), putting up 23 points, including 12 goals, in 35 games. He was loaned to Ceske Budejovice in December, where he had seven points, three of them goals, in 16 games. . . .
F Brad Moran (Calgary, 1995-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Linz (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 50 games, he had 51 points, including 16 goals. . . .
F Matt Pettinger (Calgary, 1999-2000) signed a one-year extension with the Hamburg Freezers (Germany, DEL). This season, in 47 games, he had 28 points, 12 of them goals.
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There now are three WHL teams looking for head coaches, with the Calgary Hitmen having started searching on Wednesday.
The Hitmen went 48-17-7 and finished tied atop the Eastern Conference with the Edmonton Oil Kings (50-19-3), who held the tiebreaker with more victories. However, the Hitmen weren't able to get out of the first round of the playoffs, losing in six games to the Kootenay Ice.
Calgary head coach Mike Williamson paid the price on Wednesday when the Hitmen announced they won't exercise the option on his contract for 2014-15.
Mike Moore, the team's general manager and vice-president of business operations, made the announcement.
“Under Mike’s leadership, the Calgary Hitmen were a team that challenged for the top position in our conference,” Moore said in a news release. “It was a difficult decision for us today, but we believe that a change is necessary in order for our team to reach the next level of success."
Williamson just completed his fifth season as head coach of the Hitmen. In his first season, 2009-10, they won the WHL championship and reached the Memorial Cup semifinal in Brandon.
Williamson put up a 210-129-13 reglar-season record with the Hitmen, who made the playoffs in four of his five seasons. They twice lost out in the first round and once were beaten in the Eastern Conference final.
According to the news release, "Associate coach Brent Kisio, assistant coach Joel Otto and goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk will remain with the team."
The Hitmen, who are owned by the NHL's Calgary Flames, are preparing for their 20th anniversary season.
George Johnson of the Calgary Herald has more on Williamson's departure right here.
The Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades also are looking for head coaches, and you have to think someone from both organizations will be contacting Williamson, if they haven’t already. His 429 head-coaching victories have him in 11th spot on the all-time list.
The Blazers have yet to clarify the status of Dave Hunchak, who didn't complete his first season as head coach. He left the team on Jan. 10 and the Blazers announced Jan. 12 that he was on a leave of absence. General manager Craig Bonner has since admitted that he is looking for a head coach, but nothing more has been said on Hunchak's situation. Hunchak’s contract with the Blazers runs through the 2014-15 season.
The Blades underwent an ownership change during the season and will need a new coaching staff, with head coach Dave Struch, assistant coach Curtis Leschyshyn and goaltending coach Tim Cheveldae all gone.
Colin Priestner, the Blades’ governor and managing partner, has told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he doesn’t expect to hire a general manager or a head coach before the bantam draft that is scheduled for May 1.
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The NHL now is facing three concussion-related lawsuits. A third one, featuring retired players Bill Bennett, Dave Christian and Reed Larson, was filed this week in federal court in Minneapolis. There is more right here.
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D Keegan Kanzig of the Victoria Royals will finish his season with the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Kanzig was a third-round pick by the Flames in the 2013 NHL draft. . . . Kanzig had eight points, three of them goals, in 63 games with the Royals this season.
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The Heat also has added D Eric Roy of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the rest of this season. . . . Roy had 44 points, 11 of them goals, in 66 games with Brandon this season. He was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Flames in the NHL’s 2013 draft.
---


THE SECOND ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
EASTERN CONFERENCE
EDMONTON (1) vs. BRANDON (7)
(Edmonton wins, 4-1)
Season series: Edmonton, 3-1-0; Brandon, 1-2-1.
Thursday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 5 (5,899)
Saturday: Brandon 0 at Edmonton 3 (7,115)
Tuesday: Edmonton 5 at Brandon 2 (3,522)
Wednesday: Edmonton 2 at Brandon 5 (3,246)
Friday: Brandon 1 at Edmonton 5 (6,356)
---
MEDICINE HAT (4) vs. KOOTENAY (6)
(Medicine Hat wins, 4-3)
Season series: Medicine Hat, 3-3-0; Kootenay, 3-3-0.
Saturday: Kootenay 4 at Medicine Hat 2 (3,750)
Sunday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 5 (3,755)
Wednesday: Medicine Hat 1 at Kootenay 3 (2,461)
Thursday: Medicine Hat 4 at Kootenay 7 (2,578)
Saturday: Kootenay 2 at Medicine Hat 9 (3,624)
Monday: Medicine Hat 2 at Kootenay 1 (2,732)
Wednesday: Kootenay 1 at Medicine Hat 4 (4,006)
(NOTE: Kootenay plays home games in Cranbrook, B.C.)
INJURIES
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
Kootenay: F Tim Bozon, indefinite; F Ryan Chynoweth, indefinite; D Landon Cross, day-to-day; D Tanner Faith, 3-5 months.
---
WESTERN CONFERENCE
KELOWNA (1) vs. SEATTLE (4)
(Kelowna wins, 4-0)
Season series: Kelowna, 2-1-1; Seattle, 2-1-1.
Thursday: Seattle 2 at Kelowna 6 (4,581)
Saturday: Seattle 3 at Kelowna 6 (5,675)
Tuesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 4 (5,029)
Wednesday: Kelowna 5 at Seattle 2 (2,219)
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PORTLAND (2) vs. VICTORIA (3)
(Portland wins, 4-1)
Season series: Portland, 1-1-2; Victoria, 3-1-0.
Friday: Victoria 2 at Portland 8 (6,152)
Saturday: Victoria 3 at Portland 6 (10,947)
Monday: Portland 1 at Victoria 2 (6,505)
Tuesday: Portland 4 at Victoria 3 (6,745)
Thursday: Victoria 1 at Portland 5 (8,083)
---
THE THIRD ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
(x - if necessary)
WESTERN CONFERENCE

KELOWNA (1) vs. PORTLAND (2)
Season series: Kelowna, 4-0-0; Portland, 0-4-0.
Friday: Portland at Kelowna, 7:30 p.m. (Sportsnet)
Saturday: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Kelowna at Portland (Moda Center), 7 p.m.
x-Friday, April 25: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, April 27: Kelowna at Portland, 5 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Portland at Kelowna, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Kelowna: F Myles Bell, week-to-week.
Portland: None.
---
EASTERN CONFERENCE

EDMONTON (1) vs. MEDICINE HAT (4)
Season series: Edmonton, 5-0-1; Medicine Hat, 1-5-0.
(All games on Shaw TV)
Friday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Medicine Hat/Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tuesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 26: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Monday, April 28: Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
x-Tuesday, April 29: Medicine Hat at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
INJURIES
Edmonton: D Blake Orban, day-to-day.
Medicine Hat: F Gavin Broadhead, day-to-day; F Hunter Shinkaruk, indefinite.
---
WHL Playoffs
WEDNESDAY’S GAME:
In Medicine Hat, F Trevor Cox scored twice to break a 1-1 tie and the Tigers went on to beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-1, in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . . The No. 4-seeded Tigers move into the Eastern Conference final that will open in Edmonton against the No. 1 Oil Kings on Friday night. Shaw-TV will televise all games in that series. . . . The Ice held a 3-1 lead in this series but wasn't able to get that fourth victory. . . . Cox, an 18-year-old from Surrey, B.C., scored his seventh goal of these playoffs 11 seconds into the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. He added a second goal at 11:19. . . . F Cole Sanford, who assisted on both of Cox's goals, iced it with an empty-netter at 17:49. . . . The Tigers' line of Sanford, Cox and Curtis Valk combined for 37 points, including 17 goals, in the seven games. . . . Ice D Landon Peel scored the game's first goal, just 41 seconds into the first period. . . . Medicine Hat F Steve Owre tied it at 6:44. . . . Cox has 21 points in 13 playoff games. He is one point off the playoff scoring lead held by F Sam Reinhart of the Ice. . . . Medicine Hat G Marek Langhamer stopped 43 shots and was the first star in the building. . . . Ice G Mackenzie Skapski turned aside 24 shots. . . . The Tigers had the only two PP opportunities of a scoreless first period, but the Ice ended up with a 16-8 edge in shots. . . . The Tigers were 0-for-2 on the PP; the Ice was 0-for-1. . . . The Ice was 1-for-22 on the PP in the seven games. . . . The Tigers are 5-1 in Game 7s over the past 12 playoff years. . . . In franchise history, the Ice is 1-4 in Games 7s.
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From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “0 - This was the first time since 2000 that we went an entire round without having a single overtime game (excluding the WHL final).”
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From Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) of Yahoo! Sports: “Death. Taxes. Inconsistent OHL justice. Questionable Q reffing. WHL brawls. #CircleOfLife”


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