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Monday, April 30, 2012

Pats Draft Preview with GM Chad Lang


The Regina Pats brass are working hard preparing for Thursdays WHL Bantam Draft in Calgary. The Pats hold the 11th overall pick.

Following is the order of selection for the 1st round of the WHL Bantam Draft:

1). Seattle Thunderbirds
2). Prince Albert Raiders
3). Prince George Cougars
4). Lethbridge Hurricanes
5). Swift Current Broncos
6). Red Deer Rebels
7). Everett Silvertips
8). Victoria Royals
9). Kelowna Rockets
10). Kootenay Ice

11). Regina Pats
12). Brandon Wheat Kings
13). Saskatoon Blades
14). Spokane Chiefs
15). Vancouver Giants
16). Medicine Hat Tigers
17). Calgary Hitmen
18). Moose Jaw Warriors
19). Kamloops Blazers
20). Portland Winterhawks
21). Tri-City Americans
22). Edmonton Oil Kings


I had a chance to catch up with General Manager Chad Lang this afternoon and he said he and head scout Dale McMullin have been hard at work. "We just finished and finalized the last provincial tournament here this last weekend in Lethbridge and now made the journey to Calgary in preparation of the draft. It will give myself and Dale a couple days to reflect not only on the year but the last 4 provincial cups and start to put the kids in the positions we feel they will be selected come Thursday at the draft."

Lang on the importance of the draft.

"The Bantam draft is the life blood of any organization. You do your due diligence to make sure you are selecting not only talented players but also quality kids. I think our organization has done a very good job in the last couple of years with the plan of building around a specific couple age groups. We've stuck to that plan and this draft is a big draft for us in order to stay on track. We've said from day one that the 94, 95 and 96 group is a group we want to build and yet the 97's are the next wave of players coming up. Our scouting staff has done a real good job on the course of the year under Dales guidance in identifying players. Were in a situation where we will sit down as a group and discuss them and more so try to project where they will be in 2 or 3 years."

On the talent pool...

"I think drafts vary year to year and i think the biggest variation is where the kids are in their development....At the end of the day there is going to be 200 plus kids drafted, we feel that theres probably after 10-12 players in the first round and then theres probably not a lot of separation through the later round of the first, second and maybe even into the early third there are still a number of quality players with very similar skill sets and yet its about where they will be at. We think there is a good crop of kids and that were in the position where we are confident we will get good players to add to our 50 man roster."

Here is the top 10 thanks to Yahoo.ca WHL blogger Kelly Friesen has put together rankings for this week's draft:


You can read Kelly's entire article here:
http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/jrhockey-buzzing-the-net/whl-bantam-draft-broken-down-scouts-180737287.html

On top of the draft the WHL awards will also be taking place this week Wednesday. Pat Conacher is the Eastern Conference nominee for coach of the year.

Monday Musings


Round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs started over the weekend. The Phoenix Coyotes went to overtime, surprise surprise. 6 of their 7 games in the playoffs to that point had gone to OT. Ray Whitney got the winner, good to see him producing. And the in game 2 last night the Yotes scored 5 times on Pekka Rinne to win 5-3. The Detroit Red Wings are at home scratching their heads because they did everything but score on the Predators. I'm hoping Phoenix goes all the way.

The Caps and Rangers got underway on Saturday and New York won 3-1. Caps goaltender Braiden Holtby let in a couple in the third that I thought he should have had but that's not my problem with that game.

My problem with it came in the second period when the two teams were tied at 0's and Marcus Johansson broke in and was tripped up but got a shot away. Lundqvist made the save but the rebound dropped in front of his pads. The fallen Johansson slid into the goalie and the puck ended up in the net. The referee wave it off immediately. In my opinion there was an initial penalty for tripping and as a result of that the puck ended up in the back of the net. The rules allow that goal except that the Ref blew the whistle or "intended to blow it" negating everything. In my mind when the review happens Toronto should be able to make the decision to disregard the whistle when the video shows that it should have been a good goal. In a day and age when the league wants everything to be called correctly why not let the video replay override the miscall by a referee on the ice? It only makes sense. There is no honor in standing behind the refs call when every replay shows he made a mistake. If anything the ref should be happy to be overruled because then he isn't responsible for the result in a game. I'm not saying the Capitals would have won but it certainly changed the complexion at that point and the Rangers took the lead shortly after. Game 2 goes tonight in New York.

NBA playoffs also kicked off this weekend. I only caught parts of the Miami Heat, New York Knicks game. Lebron James was on fire. With Chicago's Derrick Rose out for the remainder of the playoffs you have to think the Heat are runaway favorites to come out of the East.

The Blue Jays bounced back from the Baltimore series with a couple wins over the Mariners. Though they did blow the first game they got some good play in the second and third game to win the series. All I can say is hello Edwin Encarnacion. He's looking good.

The Regina Thunder spring training camp gets underway on Friday at Mosaic. I will have all the coverage over the weekend, much more to come on that.

Heading to Calgary for the WHL Bantam draft tomorrow, the draft takes place Thursday. The awards luncheon takes place Wednesday as well where Pat Conacher is up for coach of the year. He wins it in my opinion. I will have all the details from Calgary in the coming days.

Until then Cheers.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Riders extend Durant and Best

Saskatchewan Roughrider General Manager Brendan Taman announced today the team has agreed to terms with quarterback Darian Durant and offensive lineman Chris Best to contract extensions. The contracts will keep Durant and Best with the club through the 2014 season. Financial details were not released.

Durant (5'11 – 214) is entering his seventh season with the Green & White after joining the team in 2006. The 29-year-old South Carolina native earned the Riders starting quarterback job in the 2009 season and currently sits third on the club's All-Time record list in passing attempts (1,824), completions (1,107) and passing yards (14,679). The University of North Carolina graduate also sits fourth on the All-Time record list with 74 career touchdown passes.  

"We're extremely happy to have come to an agreement on terms with Darian," stated G.M Brendan Taman. "The CFL is a quarterback driven league, and Darian has proven he can lead this team. This extension allows us to move forward with Darian as our starting quarterback and achieve the ultimate goal of bringing another Grey Cup back to Saskatchewan."

Best (6'4 – 315) originally joined the Riders after being selected by the club in the first round (4th overall) of the 2005 CFL Draft and is entering his sixth season with the Roughriders. The 29-year-old Calgary native has been the Riders starting right guard since the 2009 season, and was the Rider's nominee for Most Outstanding offensive lineman during the 2011 season.

"Chris is one of the best up and coming offensive lineman in the league," said Taman. "He had a great season last year and keeping him under contract for the future was big priority for us."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 WHL BANTAM DRAFT ON THURSDAY


The Western Hockey League will conduct its annual Bantam Draft on Thursday, May 3rd, at the Deerfoot Inn in Calgary, AB.

The WHL Bantam Draft is the first opportunity for WHL Clubs to replenish their systems with graduating Bantam-aged players. The order of selection for the first round of the draft is determined through a weighted lottery consisting of the six non-playoff teams. The draft order is based on the inverse overall standings from the regular season.

The 2012 WHL Bantam Draft will see the Seattle Thunderbirds select first overall. It marks the first time in franchise history that the Thunderbirds will have the first overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.

WHL fans can watch the first round of the 2011-12 WHL Bantam Draft live online via Webcast. The Draft begins at 8:30AM MST.

Players eligible for the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft will be 1997-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

1st ROUND ORDER OF SELECTION
Following is the order of selection for the 1st round of the WHL Bantam Draft:

1). Seattle Thunderbirds
2). Prince Albert Raiders
3). Prince George Cougars
4). Lethbridge Hurricanes
5). Swift Current Broncos
6). Red Deer Rebels
7). Everett Silvertips
8). Victoria Royals
9). Kelowna Rockets
10). Kootenay Ice

11). Regina Pats
12). Brandon Wheat Kings
13). Saskatoon Blades
14). Spokane Chiefs
15). Vancouver Giants
16). Medicine Hat Tigers
17). Calgary Hitmen
18). Moose Jaw Warriors
19). Kamloops Blazers
20). Portland Winterhawks
21). Tri-City Americans
22). Edmonton Oil Kings

2nd ROUND AND ALL SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS
ORDER OF SELECTION

Following is the order of selection for the 2nd and all subsequent rounds of the WHL Bantam Draft:

1)  Prince Albert Raiders
2)  Prince George Cougars
3)  Seattle Thunderbirds
4)  Everett Silvertips
5)  Victoria Royals
6)  Lethbridge Hurricanes
7)  Swift Current Broncos
8)  Red Deer Rebels
9). Kelowna Rockets
10). Kootenay Ice

11). Regina Pats
12). Brandon Wheat Kings
13). Saskatoon Blades
14). Spokane Chiefs
15). Vancouver Giants
16). Medicine Hat Tigers
17). Calgary Hitmen
18). Moose Jaw Warriors
19). Kamloops Blazers
20). Portland Winterhawks
21). Tri-City Americans
22). Edmonton Oil Kings

2011-12 WHL AWARDS LUNCHEON NOMINEES





2012 WHL AWARDS NOMINEES

The Western Hockey League will hand out the hardware to honor the 2011-12 season’s most outstanding performances at the annual WHL Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, May 2nd, in Calgary, AB.

Conference finalists were announced for the following 2011-12 WHL awards: Rookie of the Year, Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Scholastic Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

Here's a look at the Eastern and Western Conference finalists for the 2012 WHL awards:

WHL Player of the Year – Four Broncos Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference: Emerson Etem – Medicine Hat Tigers

Etem enjoyed an outstanding season for the Tigers, scoring 61 goals and 46 assists for 107 points to go with a +29 rating in 64 games to lead the Tigers in scoring and help the team reach the WHL playoffs for a 10th straight season. A product of Long Beach, CA, Etem led all WHL players in goals while becoming the first player in the WHL to hit the 60-goal mark since the 2000-01 campaign. The 19-year-old also became the first WHL player to scored 50 goals in 50 or fewer games since the ’00-01 season, getting his 50th and 51st goals in his 50th game of the season. In addition, Etem finished sixth among WHL players with 17 power play goals and led all WHL players with 10 shorthanded markers. His 11 game-winning goals tied him for the WHL lead. The Husky WHL Player of the Month for September/October, Etem was twice named the WHL Player of the Week over the course of the season. Having shown great consistency this season, Etem recorded at least one point in 55 of the 64 games he played, and wasn’t held off the score sheet in back-to-back games throughout the campaign

Western Conference: Brendan Shinnimin – Tri-City Americans

Shinnimin, a Winnipeg, MB, native, enjoyed an excellent season for the Americans, recording 58 goals and 76 assists for 134 points along with a +45 rating in 69 games and capturing the Bob Clarke trophy as the WHL’s top regular-season scorer as the Ams won the U.S. Division and Western Conference regular-season titles. Shinnimin’s 134 points marks the highest point total for a WHL player since the 1998-99 season. The 5’10”, 175-lb pivot finished second among all WHL players with 58 goals and third among WHL players with 76 assists. Additionally, Shinnimin finished second in the WHL with 21 power play markers and second with seven shorthanded tallies. His nine game-winning goals tied him for third among all WHL players, while his +45 rating tied him for the WHL lead in that category. Shinnimin maintained consistent production throughout the season, recording at least one point in 60 of 69 games he played, and enjoyed point streaks of at least 13 games on two different occasions, including ending the regular season on a 23-game point streak. Shinnimin was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for February after piling up an astounding 23 goals and 43 points in just 14 games.


WHL Rookie of the Year - Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Sam Reinhart – Kootenay Ice

The youngest of the three Reinhart boys, Sam enjoyed a terrific first season in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice. Playing alongside his oldest brother, Max, the Vancouver, B.C., product scored 28 goals and 34 assists for 62 points in 67 games for the Ice this season, putting him behind only his brother in team scoring. His 28 goals tied for the Ice lead, and were the most by any 16-year-old rookie in the WHL, while his 62 points put him fourth among all WHL rookies in that category. In addition, Reinhart scored five game-winning goals and enjoyed 15 multiple-point outings during the season. Kootenay’s first-round pick, 15th overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Sam played four regular-season games for the Ice last season and got into seven post-season games as the Ice captured the 2011 WHL Championship. Reinhart is eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Western Conference: Tim Bozon – Kamloops Blazers

Bozon enjoyed an outstanding season with the Blazers in his first WHL campaign, helping the team to the B.C. Division title for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The 18-year-old from Lugano, SUI, led all WHL rookies with 36 goals and finished second with 71 points in 71 games for the Blazers this season. Bozon’s 36 goals led the Blazers while his 71 points put him third on the team in scoring. His nine power play goals tied him for third among all WHL rookies, and he also picked up four game-winning markers this season. In addition, Bozon’s +27 rating was the highest among all rookie forwards in the WHL this season. The Blazers’ first-round pick, 27th overall, in the 2011 CHL Import Draft, Bozon participated in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game. Bozon is a top prospect for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.


WHL Goaltender of the Year - Del Wilson Trophy


Eastern Conference: Tyler Bunz – Medicine Hat Tigers

Bunz enjoyed his best season in the WHL over his four-year career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, helping the team make the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. The 20-year-old from St. Albert, AB, appeared in a career-high 61 games for the Tigers, posting a 39-17-5 record with three shutouts to go with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage as the Tigers finished in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Bunz finished third among all WHL goaltenders in wins, second in save percentage, fifth in GAA, and tied for sixth in shutouts. He was also selected among the 3 Stars in a game 27 times, including 10 1st Star selections. His best month came in February when he posted a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.86 GAA and a .941 save percentage and was named the Vaughn WHL Goaltender of the Month. Bunz was the Tigers’ first-round pick, 21st overall, in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, and is an Edmonton Oilers prospect.

Western Conference: Ty Rimmer – Tri-City Americans

Rimmer put forth his best season to date in the WHL in his first campaign as a member of the Tri-City Americans. The 21-year-old from Edmonton, AB, appeared in 46 games for the Americans, posting a 31-12-2 record with five shutouts along with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in that span as the Ams won the U.S. Division and Western Conference titles. Acquired by the Ams from Prince George last summer, Rimmer led all WHL goaltenders in GAA, save percentage and shutouts, and was a key reason the Ams allowed the fewest goals of any WHL team. Rimmer was selected among the 3 Stars on 20 different occasions, and on 10 occasions was named the game’s 1st Star. Rimmer’s best stretch came in December 2011 when he posted a perfect 6-0 record with a 1.50 GAA and a .945 save percentage to earn Vaughn WHL Goaltender of the Month honors. A 14th-round pick of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, Rimmer is currently a free agent.


WHL Defenseman of the Year - Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Alex Petrovic – Red Deer Rebels

Petrovic turned in an outstanding season on the blue line for the Red Deer Rebels, despite the Rebels not making the WHL playoffs. The 21-year-old from Edmonton, AB, finished third on the team and 15th among all WHL defensemen in scoring with 48 points, including a career-high 12 goals, in 68 games this season, and helped hold together a Rebels’ blue line that was decimated by injuries over the course of the season. Named to the WHL Eastern Conference First All-Star team, Petrovic ate up a large amount of minutes for the Rebels, playing in all situations, and often matched up against the opposition’s best line. Petrovic was the Rebels’ second-round pick, 33rd overall, in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, and has played 270 regular-season games over five seasons for the team. He is a Florida Panthers prospect.

Western Conference: Brenden Kichton – Spokane Chiefs

Brenden Kichton enjoyed another strong campaign heading up the Spokane Chiefs’ defense corps as the team made the post-season for a sixth consecutive year. The 19-year-old from Spruce Grove, AB, led all WHL defensemen and led the Chiefs in scoring with 74 points, including 17 goals, in 71 games this season. It’s the second straight year Kichton has led the WHL in scoring by a defenseman after tying 2011 WHL defenseman of the Year Stefan Elliott for the WHL lead last year. Additionally, Kichton was the only defenseman to lead his team in scoring this season. His 17 goals were tied for the fifth-most among WHL rearguards while his 57 assists led all WHL defensemen. He also enjoyed 22 multiple-point games. A third-round pick of the Chiefs in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, Kichton was named to the WHL Western Conference First All-Star team. He is a New York Islanders prospect.


WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year - Brad Hornung Trophy


Eastern Conference: Mark Stone – Brandon Wheat Kings

The WHL’s second-leading scorer this season, Mark Stone is also the WHL Eastern Conference nominee for the Most Sportsmanlike Player award. The 19-year-old from Winnipeg, MB, netted a career-high 41 goals and 82 assists for 123 points this season while drawing just 22 minutes in penalties in 66 games. Stone, a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All-Star, drew minor penalties in just 10 of the 66 games he played and picked up more than one minor infraction in a single game just once all season, despite playing heavy minutes for the Wheat Kings. A gifted and competitive offensive player, Stone is respected for his scoring abilities as well as his on-ice demeanor. A fifth-round pick of the Wheat Kings in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, Stone is a prospect of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

Western Conference: Ryan Murray – Everett Silvertips

A WHL Western Conference Second Team All Star, Ryan Murray is also the Western Conference nominee for the Brad Hornung trophy for the WHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year. A key force on the Silvertips’ blue line, Murray eats up a large amount of ice time and plays in all situations for the Silvertips, and contributes offensively. In 46 games this season, Murray tallied nine goals and 31 points with an even +/- rating, and drew just 31 minutes in penalties on 13 minor infractions and one major infraction. Considered one of the top defensemen in the WHL, Murray garners respect not only for the impact he makes on the ice, but for how he carries himself on the ice as well. Chosen ninth overall by the Silvertips in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Murray is the WHL’s top-rated prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft.


WHL Scholastic Player of the Year – Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Jimmy Bubnick – Calgary Hitmen

As a 20-year-old with the Calgary Hitmen, Jimmy Bubnick made a commitment to focus on academics as well as hockey this season. The Saskatoon, SK, product enrolled in courses at St. Mary’s University College and through Athabasca University, finishing with Honors standing in two Math courses and with cumulative average of 90%. Bubnick is currently taking two more courses, Geology and History. In addition to his dedication to balancing school and hockey, Bubnick has been a positive influence on his Hitmen teammates, encouraging several to also enroll in courses at St. Mary’s University College. On the Ice, Bubnick enjoyed a resurgence and was the Hitmen’s scoring leader, netting 36 goals and 77 points in 71 games to help the team to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Conference: Reid Gow – Spokane Chiefs

Reid Gow made an impact on the ice for the Spokane Chiefs, and was a star in the classroom during the 2011-12 school year. The 17-year-old from Killarney, MB, completed the first semester of his Grade 12 year with a 95.3% cumulative average at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, WA, including finishing with a perfect 100% in Sports Marketing. Singled out as a top student under any circumstances by his instructors, Gow’s scholastic achievements have been considered extraordinary considering the time constraints he faces as a WHL player. Gow is also currently enrolled in an online course through Athabasca University, and is also still enrolled at Ferris High School. On the Ice, Gow put up two goals and 20 points in 54 games on the blue line for the Chiefs, helping them make the playoffs for as sixth straight year.


WHL Humanitarian of the Year – Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Taylor Vause – Swift Current Broncos

The captain of the Swift Current Broncos, Taylor Vause was a star on the ice for the Broncos, and devoted countless hours to the town of Swift Current and surrounding communities. The Calgary, AB, product has involved himself in several charity initiatives, spent plenty of time visiting schools, reading to students and promoting the importance of education, and has been recognized as a Youth Leader in the community by the Swift Current and region Drug Task Force. As a young man living with Type 1 diabetes, Taylor has been a vocal spokesperson to help create awareness and raise funds for a cure for the disease. He is a prime example of someone who never let an obstacle get in the way of chasing his dream. Taylor even took the time to design special jerseys to commemorate the Four Broncos, which were worn by the team and auctioned off with proceeds going to the Broncos Education Fund.

Western Conference: Brendan Gallagher – Vancouver Giants
Forward Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants plays a big game on the ice and plays a big role in the community as well. The captain of the Giants, Brendan’s positive and uplifting personality has helped him connect with children in the community, and helped establish him as a great role model. Whether it’s visiting all corners of Lower Mainland with the Giants’ Read to Succeed program, spending time playing ‘Rock Band’ with kids at the B.C. Children’s Hospital, or his tireless efforts to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research, Brendan remains deeply involved in meeting and helping people in the community. In memory of his grandfather, who passed away from prostate cancer, Brendan initiated a fund-raising effort to combat the disease by making personal donations for every Giants’ win and encouraging donations for every goal he scored during the season. His efforts helped raise nearly $12,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of B.C.


WHL Coach of the Year - Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Pat Conacher – Regina Pats

In his first season at the helm of the Regina Pats, Pat Conacher guided the team to a 37-27-6-2 record for a seventh-place finish in the WHL Eastern Conference as the Pats made the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign. Under Conacher’s leadership, the Pats earned 14 more wins than they did in 2010-11, and improved their point total from 56 last year to 82 this season. In addition, Conacher’s Pats dramatically improves their team defense, allowing 98 fewer goals this season than they did the previous campaign while improving their penalty killing unit ranking from 22nd last year to 12th during the 2011-12 season. A former WHL player and former assistant coach with the Victoria Royals’ franchise, Conacher is in his first season as a head coach in the Western Hockey League.

Western Conference: Jim Hiller – Tri-City Americans

In his third season as head coach of the Tri-City Americans, Jim Hiller guided the Ams to yet another outstanding regular-season campaign. Under Hiller, the Ams posted a 50-18-2-2 record for 104 points to capture their fourth U.S. Division title in five seasons and finish with the best record in the WHL Western Conference. Hiller’s Americans boasted the WHL’s fourth-ranked offense and the top-ranked defense, and scored 91 more goals than they allowed this season. In addition, Hiller’s Americans owned the WHL’s seventh-ranked power play and the top-ranked penalty killing unit. In three seasons as head coach of the Americans, Hiller has piled up a coaching record of 147-64-5-6 for a .678 winning percentage in that time.


WHL Executive of the Year - Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy


Eastern Conference: Bob Green – Edmonton Oil Kings

Bob Green has been the architect of the Edmonton Oil Kings since they joined the WHL for the 2007-08 WHL season. During the 2011-12 season, Green’s fifth campaign as general manager, the Oil Kings skated to the best record in the WHL with a 50-15-3-4 mark for 107 points, capturing the Scotty Munro Memorial trophy. The Oil Kings’ roster features 16 players who were selected by Green and his staff through the WHL Bantam Draft and another two who were chosen through the CHL Import draft. Eight of the team’s top 10 scorers were drafted by Green. In addition, Green bolstered his roster with key acquisitions such as Tyler Maxwell and Jordan Peddle. Having put together a talented and exciting team, the Oil Kings saw a 24.6% increase in their attendance during the regular season.

Western Conference: Craig Bonner – Kamloops Blazers

Under the management of general manager Craig Bonner, the Kamloops Blazers enjoyed their finest regular-season performance in over a decade. The Blazers skated to a 47-20-2-3 record for 99 points and finished in first place in the B.C. Division for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Having been at the helm of the Blazers since the 2008-09 campaign, Bonner has put together a roster that features five players he selected through the WHL Bantam Draft and an impact player, Tim Bozon, who he chose through the CHL Import Draft. In addition, Bonner made key trades to acquire impact players such as Brandon Herrod, Jordan DePape, Chase Schaber, Austin Madaisky, and Bronson Maschmeyer. With Bonner having put together a strong product on the ice, the Blazers saw a small increase in their attendance this season.


WHL Regular Season Champion - Scotty Munro Trophy


WINNER: Edmonton Oil Kings

The Edmonton Oil Kings finished with the WHL’s best regular-season record, posting a 50-15-3-4 mark through 72 games for a WHL-best 107 points, capturing their first Scotty Munro Memorial trophy. One of just two teams to hit the 50-win plateau this season, the Oil Kings finished three points ahead of the Tri-City Americans for first place in the overall standings, finished nine points ahead of Moose Jaw for top spot it the Eastern Conference, and finished 16 points clear of Calgary for the Central Division title. During the season, the Oil Kings enjoyed two 11-game winning streaks, and suffered back-to-back defeats just three times. Only once did they lose three straight games, and they did not lose back-to-back games after November 12th. The Oil Kings’ outstanding season also saw them finish second among all teams with 310 goals scored and second among all clubs with just 193 goals allowed.


WHL Top Scorer - Bob Clarke Trophy


WINNER: Brendan Shinnimin – Tri-City Americans

Shinnimin finished the 2011-12 WHL regular season with a League-leading 134 points on 58 goals and 76 assists. The 21-year-old from Winnipeg, MB, accumulated the most points in a regular season since the 1998-99 campaign, finished 11 points ahead of his nearest competition in the scoring race, and was one of three Americans’ players to top the 100-point plateau. Shinnimin recorded points in 60 of the 69 games he played this season, and finished the season on a 23-game point streak. He was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for February after piling up a whopping 23 goals and 43 points in just 14 games. Now in his final season in the WHL, Shinnimin finishes his regular-season career with 131 goals and 337 points in 267 career regular-season contests. He recently signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

RIDERS ADD THREE IMPORTS



The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they have agreed to terms with import receiver Sinorice Moss, import offensive lineman Johan Asiata and import linebacker Daniel Sheffield.

Moss (5’8 – 185) was a second round pick (44th overall) of the New York Giants in the 2006 NFL Draft. The 27-year-old Miami native played five seasons for the Giants and finished his career in New York with 39 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns. He also tallied 495 combined return yards during his tenure in New York. The speedy receiver was also a part of the 2007 Superbowl champion Giants team. While playing for the University of Miami, Moss finished his four-year career with the Hurricanes totaling 68 receptions for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns.

Asiata (6’4 – 300) has spent time each of the past three seasons on the Chicago Bears practice squad following an outstanding career at UNLV. The 26-year-old New Zealand native transferred to the Running Rebels in 2006 after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Yuba Junior College in California. In 2008 Asiata earned honourable mention All-Mountain West Conference after starting all 12 games for the second consecutive season.

Sheffield (6’4 – 210) played three seasons at Troy University. The 24-year-old played safety and linebacker during his time with the Trojans and finished his career with 147 defensive tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 quarterback sacks and one interception. Prior to transferring to Troy, the Georgia native played one season at Garden City Community College in Kansas where he tallied 79 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble.

·         The Saskatchewan Roughriders also announced they have released import receiver Ernie Wheelwright from the roster.

OIL KINGS' BROSSOIT NAMED VAUGHN CHL GOALIE OF THE WEEK



Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that for the second straight week Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the playoff week ending April 22 after posting a 2-0-0-0 record with a goals-against-average of 1.00 and save percentage of .975.

Brossoit made 77 saves in the opening two games of the WHL’s Eastern Conference Finals helping the Oil Kings take an early 2-0 series lead against the Moose Jaw Warriors.  In Game 1 of the series on Friday he made 29 saves as part of the 6-1 victory, then stopped a season-high and playoff career-high 48 shots on Sunday as first star of the 6-1 victory over the Warriors in Game 2 of the series.

Brossoit, a 19-year-old from Surrey, BC, is playing in his second full WHL season with the Oil Kings.  A sixth round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Brossoit has now won 19 straight games including 10 straight playoff victories.  He finished the regular season with a 42-13-2-3 record including three shutouts with a 2.47 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage and currently has a 1.40 goals-against-average and .950 save percentage in 10 playoff games.

Also considered for the award this week was Petr Mrazek of the Ottawa 67’s who made 121 saves in three games winning two of his decisions with a goals-against-average of 2.88 and save percentage of .931.  In the QMJHL, Mathieu Corbeil of the Saint John Sea Dogs won both of his starts against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens posting a goals-against-average of 1.50 and save percentage of .952.

2011-12 Vaughn CHL Playoff Goaltenders of the Week:
Apr. 16 – Apr. 22 : Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oil Kings
Apr. 9 – Apr. 15 : Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oil Kings
Apr. 2 – Apr. 8 : John Gibson, Kitchener Rangers
Mar. 26 – Apr. 1: Tyler Bunz, Medicine Hat Tigers
Mar. 19 – Mar. 25: Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens

2011-12 Vaughn CHL Regular Season Goaltenders of the Week:
Mar. 12 – Mar. 18: Garret Sparks, Guelph Storm
Mar. 5 – Mar. 11: Brandon Maxwell, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Feb. 27 – Mar. 4: Jon Groenheyde, Swift Current Broncos
Feb. 20 – Feb. 26: Brandon Maxwell, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Feb. 13 – Feb. 19: Mark Visentin, Niagara IceDogs
Feb. 6 – Feb. 12: Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack
Jan. 30 – Feb. 5: Mathias Niederberger, Barrie Colts
Jan. 23 – Jan. 29: Mark Visentin, Niagara IceDogs
Jan. 16 – Jan. 22: Philippe Cadorette, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Jan. 9 – Jan. 15: Mac Carruth, Portland Winterhawks
Jan. 2 – Jan. 8: Ty Rimmer, Tri-City Americans
Dec. 26 – Jan. 1: Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, Rimouski Oceanic
Dec. 12 – Dec. 18: Christopher Festarini, Niagara IceDogs
Dec. 5 – Dec. 11: Étienne Marcoux, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Nov. 28 – Dec. 4: Joel Vienneau, Sudbury Wolves
Nov. 21 – Nov. 27: Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls
Nov. 14 – Nov. 20: Calvin Pickard, Seattle Thunderbirds
Nov. 7 – Nov. 13: Roman Will, Moncton Wildcats
Oct. 31 – Nov. 6: Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls
Oct. 24 – Oct. 30: Tyler Bunz, Medicine Hat Tigers
Oct. 17 – Oct. 23: Eric Comrie, Tri-City Americans
Oct. 10 – Oct. 16: Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels
Oct. 3 – Oct. 9: François Tremblay, Val d’Or Foreurs
Sept. 26 – Oct. 2: Jimmy Appleby, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Sept. 21 – Sept. 25: Michael Houser, London Knights

Monday, April 23, 2012

RIDERS ACQUIRE XAVIER FULTON FROM ESKIMOS



Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman announced today the team has acquired import offensive lineman Xavier Fulton from Edmonton in exchange for a conditional sixth round draft pick in the 2013 CFL Canadian Draft.

Fulton (6’4 – 300) was originally selected in the fifth round (155th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2009 NFL Draft.  The 25-year-old Chicago native has also spent time in the NFL on the Colts, 49ers and Redskins practice rosters. He spent the 2011 season with the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL.

As one of the top defensive line recruits in the country, Fulton spent his first two seasons at Illinois as a defensive end before switching to offensive tackle. Fulton was a two-time All-Big Ten performer on offense as a junior and senior. Immediately following his senior year, he was invited to the 2009 Under Amour Senior Bowl and played for the North team. In February of 2012 Fulton signed up for the Golden Gloves in Chicago and became a Golden Gloves Champion on April 13, 2012. In Fulton's boxing career he has stayed undefeated at 3-0.

OIL KINGS' WILSON NAMED WHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK




CALGARY, AB. - The Western Hockey League announced today that Edmonton Oil Kings forward Klarc Wilson is the WHL Player of the Week.

Wilson picked up five points, scoring one goal and four assists to go with a +4 rating in two games over the past week, helping the Oil Kings to a 2-0 series lead over the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship Series.
On Friday, April 20th, the Oil Kings hosted the Moose Jaw Warriors for the Eastern Conference Championship series opener at Rexall Place.  Wilson scored one goal, added two assists and was named the games 2nd Star in the Oil Kings 6-1 win over the Warriors.  Game two of the series went on Saturday, April 22nd; Wilson collected a pair of assists as the Oil Kings downed the Warriors by the same score of 6-1.
The Edmonton Oil Kings have a 2-0 series lead over the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship with the series shifting to Moose Jaw for games three and four, scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th and Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00pm MT at Mosaic Place.
Wilson, a 19 year old (born 1993) from Edmonton, AB, is playing his third full season in the WHL.  Originally a 10th overall WHL Draft pick in 2008 by the Brandon Wheat Kings, Wilson was acquired by the Oil Kings in December 2009.  He has appeared in 185 WHL regular season games collecting 62 points and 277 PIM’s.
The WHL has also nominated Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings for the CHL Goaltender of the Week Award.  Brossoit posted a 2-0-0-0 record this past week, stopping 77 of 79 shots faced for a 1.00 goals-against average and 0.975 save percentage.  Brossoit, a native of Surrey, BC, helped the Oil Kings jump out to a 2-0 series lead in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship Series over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
WHL Player of the Week - 2012 WHL Playoffs
Apr. 16 – Apr. 22: Klarc Wilson, Edmonton Oil Kings
Apr. 9 – Apr. 15: Brendan Ranford, Kamloops Blazers
Apr. 2 – Apr. 8: Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks
Mar. 26 – Apr. 1: Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks
Mar. 19 – Mar. 25: Jordan Martinook, Vancouver Giants

WHL Player of the Week
Mar. 12 – Mar. 18: Matej Stransky, Saskatoon Blades
Mar. 5 – Mar. 11: Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers

Feb. 27 – Mar. 4: Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks
Feb. 20 – Feb. 26: Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City Americans

Feb. 13 – Feb. 19: Michael Ferland, Brandon Wheat Kings
Feb. 6 – Feb. 12: Brendan Ranford, Kamloops Blazers
Jan. 30 – Feb. 5: Dominik Uher, Spokane Chiefs
Jan. 23 – Jan. 29: Mark McNeill, Prince Albert Raiders
Jan. 16 – Jan. 22: Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings
Jan. 9 – Jan. 15: Colin Smith, Kamloops Blazers
Jan. 2 – Jan. 8: Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver Giants
Dec. 27 – Jan. 1: Dalton Thrower, Saskatoon Blades
Dec. 2 – Dec. 18: Patrick Holland, Tri-City Americans
Dec. 5 – Dec. 11: Mike Winther, Prince Albert Raiders
Nov. 28 – Dec. 4: Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings
Nov. 21 – Nov. 27: Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks
Nov. 14 – Nov. 20: Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings
Nov. 7 – Nov. 13: Alex Petrovic, Red Deer Rebels

Oct. 31 – Nov. 6: Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers
Oct. 24 – Oct. 30: Cody Beach, Moose Jaw Warriors
Oct. 17 – Oct. 23: Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver Giants
Oct. 10 – Oct. 16: Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks
Oct. 3 – Oct. 9: Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers
Sept. 26 – Oct. 2: Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings
Sept. 22 – Sept. 25: Adam Hughesman, Tri-City Americans

Monday Musings


A picture from the Regina Red Sox Dinner with Rod Pedersen, Warren Woods and Lee Jones doing a Q and A with Blue Jay Great Jesse Barfield.

Well what a weekend in sports. And by sports I mean the NHL playoffs. I spent at least 9 hours a day watching some outstanding games.

My favorite series have been the Pens and Flyers, Washington and Boston and in the West Phoenix vs. Chicago.

The Pens and Flyers certainly lived up to the hype aside from a rather anticlimactic game 6 where the pens were eliminated yesterday. Claude Giroux absolutely dominated that game from the first 5 seconds until the end. Peter Laviolette may be right about him being the best player in the world (He looked better than Crosby that's for sure). Bryzgalov finally had a solid game for the Flyers which is key for them moving forward. They won't score that much every series and they will need some saves. On the other side the Penguins did well to fight for a game 6 but you can't lose two at home to start a series and expect to win. Anyone else think that Evgeni Malkin played pretty selfish in game 6? In my mind he was trying to be the hero all day, stealing pucks from his own players and making stupid passes. He is probably the MVP this year but I was unimpressed with him yesterday even though he did score the penguins only goal. Are the Flyers Stanley Cup favorites now?

The Boston Washington series has been so fun to watch. I am a Leaf fan forever but a bit of a closet Caps fan. Basically I like Ovechkin and I am a big fan of Brooks Liach ever since I had a chance to meet him at Sticks on Rose last year. I wanted that series to be done yesterday pretty badly. One of our engineers Ian Ratcliff is probably still hurting from that OT loss. Niklas Backstrom tried a hero pass through the middle which was picked off and Tyler Seguin out waited Brayden Hotlby for the winner. Game 7 on Wednesday.
In the west my favorite by far has been Chicago Phoenix. Talk about drama, all 5 games have gone to overtime so far and the Coyotes have won 3 of those. The Blackhawks never go away though and have battles hard in this one. Marian Hossa is out though which is a huge loss after taking that hit from Raffi Torres. In my mind if that's Shane Doan making that hit its a 5 game suspension but because its Torres he's got 25. And to think when I watched live I thought the hit was clean, man was I wrong. I've got the Coyotes to close It out on the road and take on Nashville in round 2. St Louis will play LA in the other West Semi Final.

Well our Harvard work playoff draft has ended for me already. I went with all Penguins and Canucks. I think I'm in third place right now and will end up way further down. This year I decided to pick with my head and not with who I want to cheer for. Pretty stupid looking back. Not to mention I picked for Rod Pedersen and went Detroit and Boston. I guess the Bruins are still alive but not a good draft year. Won't stop me from watching though that's for sure.

I had the privilege of attending the Regina Red Sox Dinner on Saturday where former Blue Jay Jesse Barfield was the special guest. What a great evening. Jesse was great on stage with Rod, Lee Jones and Warren Woods. I got a chance to talk with Jesse a bit before hand, what a class act. Speaking of the Jays they have won three straight against the Royals.
Rider mini camp this week in Regina and Moose Jaw on Wednesday Thursday.

The Warriors are down 2-0 to the Oil Kings. Edmonton will visit Mosaic Place Tuesday and Wednesday. In the West the Portland Winterhawks lead the Tri City Americans 2-0 as well.

Next week is the Bantam Draft and WHL Awards in Calgary. I will be there and have all the updates on the Pats.

The Regina Thunder Spring Camp gets under way next week as well in the Queen City. Looking forward to some football.

I think that's it. Have a good week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Americans' Brendan Shinnimin named WHL Western Conference Player of the Year‏



Calgary, AB - The Western Hockey League today announced the WHL Western Conference finalist for the 2011-12 WHL Player of the Year. 

The two finalists for WHL Player of the Year are determined through voting by General Managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL Member Clubs.

In the WHL's Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is forward Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans.

Shinnimin, a Winnipeg, MB, native, enjoyed an excellent season for the Americans, leading them to their fourth U.S. Division title over the last five seasons and first place in the WHL Western Conference.  In his 20-year-old campaign, Shinnimin recorded 58 goals and 76 assists for 134 points along with a +45 rating in 69 games for the Americans, capturing the Bob Clarke trophy as the WHL’s top regular-season scorer.
Shinnimin’s 134 points marks the highest point total for a WHL player since the 1998-99 season, when Calgary’s Pavel Brendl also had 134 points.  The 5’10”, 175-lb pivot finished second among all WHL players with 58 goals and third among WHL players with 76 assists.  Additionally, Shinnimin finished second in the WHL with 21 power play markers and second with seven shorthanded tallies.  His nine game-winning goals tied him for third among all WHL players, while his +45 rating tied him for the WHL lead in that category.  Shinnimin maintained consistent production throughout the season, recording at least one point in 60 of 69 games he played, and enjoyed point streaks of at least 13 games on two different occasions, including ending the regular season on a 23-game point streak. 


Shinnimin was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for February after piling up an astounding 23 goals and 43 points in just 14 games.

Shinnimin has played four seasons in the WHL, all with the Americans, recording 131 goals and 206 assists for 337 points in 267 regular-season games.  He is just the second member of the Americans to win the WHL scoring title.  Passed over in the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft, Shinnimin was listed by the Americans and made the team as a 17-year-old in 2008-09.  Shinnimin signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Phoenix Coyotes in early March.

The recipients of all WHL individual awards will be announced at the 2012 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary, Alberta, on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. 

WHL Player of the Year, Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Emerson Etem (Long Beach, CA), Medicine Hat Tigers
Western Conference – Brendan Shinnimin (Winnipeg, MB), Tri-City Americans
WHL Rookie of the Year, Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Sam Reinhart (Vancouver, BC
), Kootenay Ice
Western Conference – Tim Bozon (Cureglia, SUI), Kamloops Blazers


WHL Goaltender of the Year, Del Wilson Trophy
Eastern Conference – Tyler Bunz (St. Albert, AB), Medicine Hat Tigers
Western Conference – Ty Rimmer (Edmonton, AB), Tri-City Americans


WHL Defenceman of the Year, Bill Hunter Memorial TrophyEastern Conference – Alex Petrovic (Edmonton, AB), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Brenden Kichton (Spruce Grove, AB), Spokane Chiefs


WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Brad Hornung Trophy  
Eastern Conference – Mark Stone (Winnipeg, MB), Brandon Wheat Kings
Western Conference – Ryan Murray (White City, SK), Everett Silvertips

WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Jimmy Bubnick (Saskatoon, SK), Calgary Hitmen
Western Conference – Reid Gow (Killarney, MB), Spokane Chiefs


WHL Coach of the Year, Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference –  Pat Conacher, Regina Pats
Western Conference – Jim Hiller, Tri-City Americans


WHL Executive of the Year, Lloyd Saunders Memorial TrophyEastern Conference – Bob Green, Edmonton Oil Kings
Western Conference – Craig Bonner, Kamloops Blazers

WHL Humanitarian of the Year, Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Taylor Vause (Calgary, AB), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference – Brendan Gallagher (Delta, BC), Vancouver Giants

WHL Marketing / Business Award
Eastern Conference – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference – Spokane Chiefs


WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Edmonton Oil Kings:   GP – 72          W – 50        L – 15      OTL – 3      SL – 4          Pts – 107

WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke TrophyBrendan Shinnimin – (Winnipeg, MB) Tri-City Americans
GP – 69                 G – 58                   A – 76                    Pts – 134                              PIM - 82

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tigers' Emerson Etem named WHL Eastern Conference Player of the Year‏



Calgary, AB - The Western Hockey League today announced the WHL Eastern Conference finalist for the 2011-12 WHL Player of the Year.  The two finalists for WHL Player of the Year are determined through voting by General Managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL Member Clubs.
In the WHL's Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is forward Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers



WHL Rookie of the Year, Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Sam Reinhart (Vancouver, BC
), Kootenay Ice
Western Conference – Tim Bozon (Cureglia, SUI), Kamloops Blazers


WHL Goaltender of the Year, Del Wilson Trophy

Eastern Conference – Tyler Bunz (St. Albert, AB), Medicine Hat Tigers
Western Conference – Ty Rimmer (Edmonton, AB), Tri-City Americans


WHL Defenceman of the Year, Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Alex Petrovic (Edmonton, AB), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Brenden Kichton (Spruce Grove, AB), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Brad Hornung Trophy  
Eastern Conference – Mark Stone (Winnipeg, MB), Brandon Wheat Kings
Western Conference – Ryan Murray (White City, SK), Everett Silvertips

WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Jimmy Bubnick (Saskatoon, SK), Calgary Hitmen
Western Conference – Reid Gow (Killarney, MB), Spokane Chiefs


WHL Coach of the Year, Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference –  Pat Conacher, Regina Pats
Western Conference – Jim Hiller, Tri-City Americans

WHL Executive of the Year, Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Bob Green, Edmonton Oil Kings
Western Conference – Craig Bonner, Kamloops Blazers

WHL Humanitarian of the Year, Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Taylor Vause (Calgary, AB), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference – Brendan Gallagher (Delta, BC), Vancouver Giants

WHL Marketing / Business Award
Eastern Conference – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference – Spokane Chiefs

WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Edmonton Oil Kings:   GP – 72          W – 50        L – 15      OTL – 3      SL – 4          Pts – 107

WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke Trophy
Brendan Shinnimin – (Winnipeg, MB) Tri-City Americans

GP – 69                 G – 58                   A – 76                    Pts – 134                              PIM - 82
Chosen by the Tigers in the 6th round, 115th overall, of the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, Etem has played three seasons for the Tigers, scoring 143 goals and 252 points in 202 regular-season games.  Etem was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, his hometown team, in the 1st round, 29th overall, in the 2010 NHL Draft. 
The WHL Western Conference finalist for the 2011-12 WHL Player of the Year will be announced tomorrow, Friday, April 20.  The recipients of all WHL individual awards will be announced at the 2012 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary, Alberta, on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. 
Etem, a product of Long Beach, CA, led all WHL players in goals while becoming the first player in the WHL to hit the 60-goal mark since the 2000-01 campaign.  The 19-year-old also became the first WHL player to scored 50 goals in 50 or fewer games since the ’00-01 season, getting his 50th and 51st goals in his 50th game of the season.  In addition, Etem finished sixth among WHL players with 17 power play goals and led all WHL players with 10 shorthanded markers.  His 11 game-winning goals tied him for the WHL lead.  The Husky WHL Player of the Month for September/October, Etem was twice named the WHL Player of the Week over the course of the season.  Having shown great consistency this season, Etem recorded at least one point in 55 of the 64 games he played, and wasn’t held off the score sheet in back-to-back games throughout the campaign.
Etem enjoyed an outstanding season for the Tigers, scoring 61 goals and 46 assists for 107 points to go with a +29 rating in 64 games to lead the Tigers in scoring and help the team reach the WHL playoffs for a 10th straight season.

APRIL MINI-CAMP SET FOR REGINA & MOOSE JAW



The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced that they will be holding a two-day mini-camp which will be held at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, as well as the Fieldhouse facility in Moose Jaw.

Approximately 50 Roughriders will be taking part in the practice sessions, focusing on preparing for rookie camp as well as training camp which will begin May 30th at the University of Regina.

The first two on-field practices will be held at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Wednesday, April 25th. Players will take to the field at 11:00 am until 12:30 pm, and following a short break, return to the turf at 1:00 pm with the day wrapping up at 2:30 pm.

The mini-camp continues with a Thursday morning session, hosted at the Fieldhouse facilities in Moose Jaw. Players will hit the turf at the indoor facility beginning at 9:30 am and wrap up at 11:30 am.

For fans looking to catch an early glimpse at this year’s Roughriders, all on-field sessions will be open to the public.

Please note, due to ongoing construction, fans attending the April 25th workouts at Mosaic Stadium will be asked to enter the facility through the East Side Grandstands.

RIDERS ANNOUNCE ROSTER MOVES



The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have signed import defensive backs Macho Harris, Talmadge Jackson and T.J. Rushing. The Roughriders also announced they have signed import quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan to a contract. Financial details were not released.

Harris (6’0 – 200) was a fifth round pick (157th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft. The 26-year-old Virginia native opened the 2009 regular season as the Eagles starting free safety appearing in 15 regular season games with one playoff appearance. The former Virginia Tech Hokie finished his rookie season with 43 combined tackles and two passes defended. A standout corner during his four years at Virginia Tech, Harris was twice named First-Team All-ACC (2007 & 2008) and finished his career with 128 combined tackles and 15 interceptions, four which he returned for touchdowns. Harris joins former collegiate teammates Justin Harper and Chris Ellis as new members of the Green & White heading into the 2012 season.

Jackson (5’10 – 188) played four years at Oregon. In his senior season Jackson tallied 70 tackles, six knockdowns, two interceptions and one forced fumble on his way to appearing in the Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State. The 23-year-old San Diego native finished his career at Oregon with an impressive 159 tackles, 15 pass knockdowns and 8 interceptions, one which he returned for a touchdown. Jackson spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and most recently on the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

Rushing (5’9 – 186) was a seventh round pick (238th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 NFL Draft. The 28-year-old return specialist made his NFL debut for the Colts in week 1 of the 2006 season and would wind up totaling 1,300 combined return yards during his career, including a 90 yard punt return for a touchdown vs. Oakland in 2007. The Oklahoma native was part of the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts as they claimed victory over the Chicago Bears in Superbowl 41. The former Stanford Cardinal finished his career as one of the top three return men in school history, totaling 1,409 yards.

O’Sullivan (6’2 – 232) was a sixth round pick (186th overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 2002 NFL Draft. The 32-year-old NFL veteran saw his most game action in 2008 when he was named the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers heading into the regular season. The California native finished the 2008 season with nine game appearances, including eight starts on his way to tallying 128 completions on 220 attempts to go along with eight touchdowns. During his nine year NFL career, O’Sullivan has thrown for 1,866 yards and 13 touchdowns to go along with 39 rushing attempts for 145 yards.

The former University of California-Davis quarterback was twice named a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy (awarded to the top player in Division 2) and finished his collegiate career with 10,745 yards passing and 94 touchdowns.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders also announced they have released the following import players from their roster. QB Matt Johnson, OL Clint Oldenburg, LB Alvin Bowen, DB Jamaal Fudge, DB Justin Wilson and DL Dario Romero.

2012 KAL TIRE WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE



Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League has announced the dates for the third-round, Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship Series between the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans.

Note - Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship logos attached.

canwhlwest2012.jpg

KAL TIRE WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

SERIES N

Tri-City Americans vs Portland Winterhawks

#1 - Portland @ Tri-City; Friday, April 20 (7:05pm)

#2 - Portland @ Tri-City; Saturday, April 21 (7:05pm)
#3 - Tri-City @ Portland; Wednesday, April 25 (7:00pm) RG
#4 - Tri-City @ Portland; Thursday, April 26 (7:00pm) RG
#5 - Portland @ Tri-City; Saturday, April 28 (7:05pm)**       
#6 - Tri-City @ Portland; Monday, April 30 (7:00pm) RG **       
#7 - Portland @ Tri-City; Tuesday, May 1 (7:05pm)**
** - if necessary RG - Rose Garden     

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WHL Husky Eastern Conference Championship Series Preview‏



CALGARY, AB -- The quest for Western Hockey League glory and an opportunity to compete in the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, QC, continues as the 2012 WHL Conference Championship series’ begin on Friday, April 20th.    

The Edmonton Oil Kings swept their way through the first two rounds of the 2012 WHL playoffs, knocking off the defending champion Kootenay Ice in the opening round before derailing the Brandon Wheat Kings in the second round.  Now, they carry their 19-game winning streak into their first appearance in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship series. 

The Moose Jaw Warriors toppled East Division archrival the Regina Pats in five games in the first round, then made short work of the Medicine Hat Tigers in a second-round sweep to advance to their first appearance in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship series since 2006.  Now, they take an eight-game winning streak of their own into the Conference final.

Can Edmonton’s offensive depth and defensive acumen carry them through to an Eastern Conference championship title?  Or, will Moose Jaw’s towering defense and relentless pressure and physical play help them knock off the Eastern Conference’s top regular-season club?

Here's a look at the 2012 Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship series match-up (also attached along with event logo):

canwhleast12.jpg
HUSKY WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) EDMONTON OIL KINGS vs (2) MOOSE JAW WARRIORS

2011-12 regular-season record: (W-L-OTL-SOL, PTS)
Edmonton:            50-15-3-4, 107 pts
Moose Jaw:          45-19-6-2, 98 pts

2011-12 head-to-head record:
Edmonton:            3-0-0-1, 7pts
Moose Jaw:          1-2-1-0, 3pts

2011-12 head-to-head top scorers:
Edmonton:           
Griffin Reinhart                    3gp-2g-2a-4pts
Michael St. Croix                 4gp-1g-3a-4pts

Moose Jaw:       
Cam Braes                           6gp-4g-1a-5pts
Cody Beach                         3gp-0g-3a-3pts
  
Edmonton and Moose Jaw meet up in the WHL playoffs for the first time since the 1966-67 season.  Garth Rizzuto and the Moose Jaw Canucks defeated Garnet ‘Ace’ Bailey and the original incarnation of the Edmonton Oil Kings in a best-of-nine second-round series in the 1967 WHL playoffs en route to the WHL championship.

The Oil Kings are making their first appearance in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship series after completing successive sweeps of the Kootenay Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings in the first and second rounds, respectively, and carry a 19-game winning streak into the third round.  The Oil Kings haven’t lost since dropping a 6-4 decision to the visiting Kelowna Rockets on February 22nd.  The second-highest scoring team in the WHL during the regular season, the Oil Kings have spread their offense around in the post-season, with 16 different players finding the back of the net and 13 players posting at least four points through the first two rounds.  Rookie Curtis Lazar and Latvian sophomore Kristians Pelss share the team lead with four goals apiece.  Scoring depth will be key versus a Warriors team that boasts a tough defense.  The Oil Kings have allowed just 12 goals through eight post-season contests, and just two goals on 24 opposition power plays.  Mark Pysyk and the Oil Kings’ defense corps have also contributed seven goals.  They will need to step up their game to slow down a Warriors’ attack that is also averaging better than four goals per game in the playoffs.  Goaltender Laurent Brossoit has stopped 191 of the 203 shots he’s faced for the stingiest numbers of any WHL goaltender in the post-season.  He will face a tougher test versus a Warriors offense that averaged more than 45 shots per game in four games versus Medicine Hat in the second round.

The Warriors made it to their first Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship series since 2006, when they advanced all the way to the WHL final, losing to Vancouver.  After a strong regular season, the Warriors have found a new level of play in the post-season, and have become more and more a dominant force with each game they’ve played.  Having lost their first game to Regina in the opening round, the Warriors have rattled off eight straight wins and outscored their opponents 39-17 in the process.  Offensively, veterans Quinton Howden, James Henry and Cam Braes have led the way, combining for 10 goals and 40 points in nine games.  Rookie Brayden Point, who just turned 16 a month ago, has been a key performer, netting five goals, including two overtime game-winners, while Eric Arnold, Cody Beach, Kenton Miller and Sam Fioretti have all helped provide secondary offense.  The Warriors only scored seven times in four meetings with the Oil Kings in the regular season – something they will need to improve upon if they are to win the series.  Defensively, Dylan McIlrath and Co. have been able to shut down two of the WHL’s top offensive players in Regina’s Jordan Weal and Medicine Hat’s Emerson Etem.  How they deal with the offensive depth of the Oil Kings will go a long way in determining the outcome of the series.  The return of speedy, puck-moving rearguard Morgan Rielly further strengthens the Warriors back end.  Goaltender Luke Siemens has held the fort for the Warriors, but has faced a rather light workload over the first two rounds.  He will certainly see more action versus the Oil Kings.

Series Schedule (All Start Times Local)

#1 – Moose Jaw @ Edmonton; Friday, April 20 (7:00pm)
#2 – Moose Jaw @ Edmonton; Sunday, April 22 (5:00pm)
#3 – Edmonton @ Moose Jaw; Tuesday, April 24 (7:00pm)
#4 – Edmonton @ Moose Jaw; Wednesday, April 25 (7:00pm)
#5 – Moose Jaw @ Edmonton; Friday, April 27 (7:00pm)**
#6 – Edmonton @ Moose Jaw; Sunday, April 29 (6:00pm**
#7 – Moose Jaw @ Edmonton; Tuesday, May 1 (7:00pm)**
**If Necessary