D Stefan Warg (Seattle, Prince Albert, 2008-10) has signed a two-year contract extension with Malmö (Sweden, SHL). This season, he has two goals and 10 assists in 44 games, while averaging 16:39 ice time per game.
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
The situation staring the Regina Pats squarely in the face is the elephant in the WHL’s room at the moment.
The Pats, as you are aware, will be the host team for the Memorial Cup when it opens in May.
You also will be aware that they got off to a horrendous start this season, and have known for some time that they won’t finish first or second in the East Division, the Moose Jaw Warriors (40-9-3) and Swift Current Broncos (37-13-4) simply being too far ahead. The Pats (28-22-5) trail the Warriors by 22 points and the Broncos by 17.
For a while, the third-place Brandon Wheat Kings (29-19-5) had a healthy lead, too, but that was before they turned into sellers at the trade deadline. Since then, they have gone 2-7-3 and now resemble a middle-of-the-pack squad rather than one that was running third in the overall standings.
Going into weekend games, then, the Pats are two points behind the Wheat Kings.
And there’s the rub. . . .
The third-place finisher in the East Division will play No. 2 in the opening round of the playoffs, which is likely to be Swift Current.
Finish fourth and chances are you will be the first wild-card team, meaning a first-round date with the first-place team in the Central Division, either the Medicine Hat Tigers or Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The injury-riddled Tigers have a five-point edge on the hard-charging Hurricanes.
You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know which is the easiest route.
Just don’t suggest to John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, that maybe, well, just maybe . . . you know . . .
“There’s a lot of hypotheticals,” he told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post.“One, be careful what you might wish for. Two, you can’t step on the ice as a player and you can’t go behind the bench as a coach without trying to win the game. It’s really just a joke (to suggest otherwise). You can’t go out and not play your best. . . .
“We’re not going to catch those top two teams. I’ve known that since October. But we’re going to have to play one or both at some point (in the playoffs). You want to play good and we also know we’re going to play in May and nobody else does. It’s very important to be playing better and better as the season goes on.”
Harder’s complete story is right here.
Chico Dhanjal worked his 700th WHL game with the Prince George Cougars on Jan. 31 while the team was on its East Division swing. A native of Saskatoon, the Cougars’ equipment manager celebrated 700 games during a game against the Pats in Regina.
Dhanjal, who seems to wear a perpetual smile, started with the Cougars in 2008-09, after working with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He has degrees in kinesiology and psychology from the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
The Cougars signed him to a three-year extension on Nov. 24, 2016.
The access ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash., home of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, lost US$361,861 in 2017, up from a loss of $155,268 the previous year. But, as Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes, city officials are “confident that the numbers show better days are ahead” for the facility. . . . Hunter’s story is right here.
F Mason Shaw, who has yet to play for the Medicine Hat Tigers this season, skated on Thursday for the first time at home since he suffered a knee injury in early September.
Shaw suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Minnesota Wild’s rookie team at an NHL preseason tournament in Traverse City, Mich. He subsequently underwent surgery and only recently was cleared to resume skating.
CHAT News reported yesterday that Mason was wearing a non-contact jersey as he “skated several laps . . . by himself. It’s the first time he’s been on skates at his home rink, and the first time he was in full equipment since September.”
Shaw, 19, isn’t likely to play in the regular season, but hopes to be cleared for game action in time for the start of the playoffs.
It would be huge for the Tigers to get him back for playoff action. Last season, he finished with 27 goals and 67 assists in 71 games, then added 12 assists in 11 playoff games.
The Tigers (27-22-7) go into the weekend atop the Central Division, five points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes (25-21-6), who hold four games in hand.
Medicine Hat is really banged up, and is 3-4-3 in its last 10 games, while Lethbridge is 5-2-3.
The Tigers will play home-and-home with the Calgary Hitmen (16-30-7) this weekend, opening tonight (Friday) in Medicine Hat and finishing Sunday afternoon in Calgary.
The Hurricanes are in Moose Jaw tonight and Regina on Saturday.
There is an interesting hockey story unfolding in Quesnel, B.C., where a group has been trying to land a junior B franchise, preferably in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The West Fraser Centre will be home to a pair of games tonight (Kamloops Storm vs. 100 Mile House Wranglers) and Saturday (Kamloops Storm vs. Myles Mattila and his Kelowna Chiefs in a game that also will promote mental health awareness).
Matt Kolle, the Storm’s assistant GM, is part of Parallel Sports Group, which has been working to bring junior B hockey to Quesnel. The KIJHL has twice rejected Quesnel-based expansion applications.
Kolle has told Melanie Law of the Quesnel Observer that the group now is looking at the possible relocation of an existing franchise. In that vein, Kolle told Law that the Storm’s management team has spent the past while reviewing its financial picture.
“In the next few weeks,” Kolle said, “we’ll know where Kamloops’ team stands. And (Parallel Sports Group) has also been having conversations with other (KIJHL) teams in financial strain that might be better off in Quesnel.
“It has always been something we would consider, but we wanted to see how the expansion bid would play out first.”
The Storm, owned by Barry Dewar, has played in Kamloops since relocating from Osoyoos, B.C., prior to the 2006-07 season.
Law’s complete story is right here.
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IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …
Prince Albert at Moose Jaw
Regina at Medicine Hat
Brandon at Swift Current
Kootenay at Lethbridge
Seattle at Everett
Spokane at Kelowna
Tri-City at Portland
Vancouver at Victoria
No Games Scheduled.
FRIDAY (all times local):
Lethbridge at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Regina, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Calgary at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Kamloops at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Portland, 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Seattle vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Spokane at Everett, 7:35 p.m.