F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) has signed a one-year extension with Kloten (Switzerland, NL A). He has five goals and five assists in 41 games.
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
With the start of the WHL’s playoffs staring at us from the horizon, it might be time to start paying close attention to injuries.
These days, the WHL injury list is littered with the names of prominent players, players who will be major contributors in the playoffs if healthy.
But will they be healthy? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, here’s a look at a few players who were among the missing on Friday night . . .
F Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes — The team says he is out week-to-week. He last played on Jan. 19. He was playing on a productive line, alongside Taylor Ross and Logan Barlage when he went down.
F Aleksi Heponiemi, Swift Current Broncos — When he was scratched from a Jan. 30 game against visiting Prince George, Shawn Mullin, the Broncos’ radio voice, tweeted that it was an “apparently minor” injury. . . . Heponiemi didn’t play Friday night, and isn’t expected to play tonight in Cranbrook against Kootenay. . . . He’s got 93 points in 39 games. . . . Is it time for Broncos’ supporters to start sweating?
D Roman Kalinichenko, Tri-City Americans — He last played on Jan. 10, but I think he originally was injured two games before that, on Jan. 6 in Prince George. The teams says he will be out another three weeks. A freshman from Moscow, he’s a key part of their back end.
F Tanner Kaspick, Victoria Royals — He scored six goals — four of them game-winners — in his first eight games after being acquired from Brandon. He wasn’t listed on Tuesday’s WHL roster report, but didn’t play Wednesday against host Tri-City and was scratched again last night.
F Kyle Olson, Tri-City Americans — He had 57 points, including 20 goals, last season. This season, he hasn’t played since Jan. 3.
G James Porter, Kelowna Rockets — He last played on Jan. 13 and was listed on Tuesday as being out day-to-day. When he went out, he was 18-7-2, 3.34, .897. If he isn’t available, the Rockets are left with 15-year-old Cole Tisdale to back up Brodan Salmond.
D David Quenneville, Medicine Hat Tigers — He played in a 3-1 loss in Kamloops on Wednesday. He apparently suffered a shoulder injury, so was scratched Friday in Kelowna. Quenneville leads all WHL defencemen in goals (21) and points (59).
D Chaz Reddekopp, Victoria Royals — The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder last played on Jan. 13, and will be out at least four more weeks. The Royals need a healthy Reddekopp back there if they are to play deep into the spring.
F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants — The Slovakian freshman has 29 points in 34 games, but hasn’t played since Jan. 9. When he went out It was thought he wouldn’t be gone long, but then he surfaced wearing a walking boot on one foot.
F Mason Shaw, Medicine Hat Tigers — He hasn’t played all season thanks to a knee injury suffered with the Minnesota Wild’s rookie team. He put up 94 points last season, so is an impact player and would be a huge addition to the lineup should he return in time for the first round. . . . Counting Quenneville and Shaw, the Tigers have six regulars out with injuries, five of them listed as being out at least two weeks.
G Carl Stankowski, Seattle Thunderbirds — After going 16-2-2, 2.50, .911 in 20 playoff games last season as the Thunderbirds won the Ed Chynoweth Cup, Stankowski hasn’t played a game this season. Obviously, the Thunderbirds aren’t counting on him to return, but what a story it would be.
D Jett Woo, Moose Jaw Warriors — When he missed his first game, on Jan. 21 in Saskatoon, it was said that he was being rested. He now has missed five games, so this obviously is a serious injury. Now he’s listed as week-to-week.
Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include the number of frontline players who have recently returned from injuries, like F Michael Rasmussen and D Juuso Valimaki of Tri-City, F Jake Leschyshyn of Regina, F Kieffer Bellows and F Cody Glass of Portland, F Regan Nagy of Prince Albert, G Liam Hughes of Seattle, F Noah Gregor of Victoria and on and on.
The way this season has gone, when the playoffs start, health, or lack of same, is going to be a major story.
IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY . . .
Saskatoon 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
The home arena of the Brandon Wheat Kings will be renamed Westoba Place, effective Feb. 19. Westoba Credit Union Ltd. has signed on as the title sponsor. . . . The arena had been known as Westman Communications Group Place but the Westman Communications Group chose not to renew its 10-year agreement with the Keystone Centre.
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At Moose Jaw, F Brandon Hagel broke a 1-1 tie at 9:46 of the third period as the Red Deer Rebels beat the Warriors, 3-1. . . . Red Deer (15-25-12) has points in six straight (5-0-1). The Rebels are fourth in the Central Division, seven points behind Kootenay. The teams will meet three more times this season. . . . Moose Jaw (39-9-3) has lost two in a row. It leads the overall standings by five points over Swift Current. The Warriors hold two games in hand. . . . F Chris Douglas (4) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 14:46 of the first period. . . . D Josh Brook (2) pulled the Warriors even at 13:19 of the second period. . . . Hagel snapped the tie with his eighth goal of the season. . . . F Kristian Reichel (20) iced it with the empty-netter at 18:24 of the third period. . . . Each team was 0-2 on the PP. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 32 shots for the winners. . . . Moose Jaw got 25 saves from Brody Willms. . . . The Warriors were without F Barrett Sheen, who served Game 1 of a five-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 3,619.
At Prince Albert, F Parker Kelly scored two first-period goals to get the Raiders started to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Prince Albert (21-20-10) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). It is one point behind Saskatoon, which holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Saskatoon (25-25-3) has lost two in a row. . . . Kelly, who has 23 goals, scored at 1:32 and again at 13:14. . . . F Logan Christensen (1) got the Blades on the scoreboard at 17:52. . . . The Raiders went ahead 3-1 on F Brett Leason’s eighth goal, at 8:52 of the second period, then made it 4-1 when F Curtis Miske (18) scored at 10:24. . . . Saskatoon F Eric Florchuk (11) got the Blades to within two at 14:06, but F Cole Fonstad (16) restored the home team’s three-goal edge at 16:43, on a PP. . . . Leason wasn’t able to score on a second-period penalty shot. . . . The Raiders got two assists from F Jordy Stallard, with Fonstad getting one. . . . Prince Albert was 1-7 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots to earn the victory over Nolan Maier, who made 34 saves. . . . Maier went into the game with a 3-0-0 record against Prince Albert. . . . Saskatoon had F Kirby Dash back in the lineup after a one-game absence. . . . Announced attendance: 2,357.
At Brandon, the Prince George Cougars scored two third-period goals to beat the Wheat Kings, 3-2. . . . Prince George (19-26-8) is 1-3-1 on its East Division swing. . . . Brandon (28-18-5) has lost nine in a row (0-6-3). It is third in the East Division, 15 points behind Swift Current and four ahead of Regina. Brandon has two games in hand on Regina. . . . F Evan Weinger (24) gave the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:52 of the first period. . . . F Ilijah Colina tied it at 4:35 of the second period. . . . Brandon went back out front when F Linden McCorrister (15) scored at 10:33. . . . F Jared Bethune (18) tied it for the Cougars, while shorthanded, at 7:54 of the third period. . . . Colina won it with his seventh goal, at 17:37. . . . Bethune and F Ethan Browne each had two assists for the winners. . . . Brandon was 1-3 on the PP; Prince George was 0-2. . . . G Isaiah DiLaura stopped 28 shots for the Cougars. . . . Brandon got 29 saves from G Logan Thompson. . . . The Cougars were without F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who was hit with a TBD suspension after taking a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-1 loss in Regina on Wednesday. . . . Announced attendance: 4,085.
At Lethbridge, the Hurricanes scored three PP goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Lethbridge (24-21-6) has points in four straight (2-0-2). It is second in the Central Division, five points behind Medicine Hat. . . . Swift Current (36-13-4) had won its previous three games. It is second in the overall standings, five points behind Moose Jaw. . . . This was the first meeting between these teams since Jan. 9 when they competed a deal in which six players changed uniforms, F Giorgio Estephan and G Stuart Skinner going to the Broncos, with F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, G Logan Flodell and D Matthew Stanley moving to Lethbridge. . . . Last night, the Hurricanes got out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to three PP goals. . . . D Igor Merezhko (5) got it started at 5:40 of the first period. Then came the three PP goals, from F Jordy Bellerive (34), at 17:55; D Tate Olson (2), at 3:27 of the second period; and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (6), at 16:02. . . . The Broncos got third-period goals from Estephan (24), at 1:21, and F Glenn Gawdin (41), at 16:25, before Lethbridge D Ty Prefontaine (4) got the empty-netter at 18:00. . . . F Brad Morrison and F Zane Franklin each had two assists for Lethbridge, with Merezhko and Olson adding one apiece. . . . Estephan also had an assist. . . . Lethbridge was 3-5 on the PP; Swift Current was 1-3. . . . Flodell earned the victory with 40 saves, nine more than Skinner. . . . Announced attendance: 4,893.
At Cranbrook, B.C., F Kailer Yamamoto and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan totalled nine points to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Spokane (27-19-5) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Seattle. The Chiefs also are fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind Tri-City. . . . Kootenay (23-25-3) had lost two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, five points behind Lethbridge. . . . The Chiefs scored the only goals of the third period, Anderson-Dolan (28) breaking a 3-3 tie, on a PP, at 3:55, and F Luke Toporowski (6) getting an empty-netter at 18:52. . . . F Peyton Krebs (14) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 1:41 of the first period, only to have D Ty Smith (8) pull Spokane even at 3:14. . . . Kootenay went back out front as D Martin Bodak (6) scored, on a PP, at 10:24. . . . F Jake McGrew (13) tied it at 14:30. . . . The Chiefs took their first lead on Yamamoto’s 10th goal, on a PP, at 11:55 of the second period. . . . The Ice pulled into a tie on F Colton Veloso’s 17th goal, at 16:11. . . . Yamamoto finished with a goal and four assists for his first career five-point game; Anderson-Dolan had a goal and three helpers, the fourth time in his career that he has had four points in a game. . . . Smith added two assists to his goal. . . . The Ice got two assists from F Colton Croeker and one from Bodak. . . . Spokane was 2-5 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-3. . . . G Dawson Weatherill stopped 14 shots for Spokane, 15 fewer than Kootenay’s Matt Berlin. . . . Yamamoto has points in 11 straight games. Over that stretch, he has nine goals and 18 assists. For the season, he has 36 points, including 26 assists, in 22 games. . . . Anderson-Dolan has 28 goals and 35 assists in 49 games. . . . Announced attendance: 2,290.
At Kelowna, the Everett Silvertips opened up a 3-0 lead with three PP goals and went on to a 3-2 victory over the Rockets. . . . Everett (33-17-3) moved into first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Kelowna (32-15-4), which had points in each of its previous five games (4-0-1). Kelowna leads the B.C. Division by two points over Victoria; the Rockets hold two games in hand. . . . F Patrick Bajkov (24) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 19:49 of the first period. Bajkov’s goal gave him 263 career points and the franchise record, one more than F Zach Hamill. . . . F Connor Dewar (28) made it 2-0 at 10:08 of the second period, and F Bryce Kindopp (15) upped it to 3-0 at 8:32. . . . F Kyle Topping (18), at 9:00 of the third period, and F Carsen Twarynski (33), at 18:34, scored for the Rockets. . . . Everett got two assists from D Kevin Davis, with Bajkov adding one. . . . F Kole Lind set up both Kelowna goals. . . . Everett was 3-5 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-3. . . . The Silvertips got 29 saves from G Carter Hart, while Brodan Salmon stopped 24 shots at the other end. . . . Hart now is 20-4-2, 1.55, .952. . . . Announced attendance: 5,230.
At Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans scored three times in the last five minutes of the third period and beat the Portland Winterhawks, 6-3. . . . Tri-City (27-16-7) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). It is third in the U.S. Division, three points behind Portland. . . . Portland (30-18-4) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind Everett. . . . This game featured seven first-round NHL draft picks — F Kieffer Bellows, D Dennis Cholowski, F Cody Glass and D Henri Jokiharju of Portland, and D Jake Bean, F Michael Rasmussen and D Juuso Valimaki of Tri-City. They combined for five points. . . . F Jordan Topping’s 30th goal gave the Americans a 1-0 lead at 5:19 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Reece Newkirk, at 16:06, and F Skyler McKenzie (39), on a PP, at 8:42 of the second period. . . . Goals from F Sasha Mutual (8), at 13:14, and F Isaac Johnson 915), at 18:48, gave the home team a 3-2 lead. . . . Newkirk, who has four goals, got his second of the game at 9:17 of the third period for a 3-3 tie. . . . Tri-City F Morgan Geekie (19) broke the tie at 15;36, and F Riley Sawchuk iced it with goals at 16:54 and 19:18, the last into an empty net. He’s got 10 goals. . . . Geekie and Johnson each had an assist. . . . Portland was 1-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-6. . . . The Americans got a big game from G Patrick Dea, who stopped 29 shots, 19 of them in the first period. . . . Portland G Cole Kehler made 23 stops. . . . Portland F Joachim Blichfeld missed this one as he completed a two-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 3,687.
At Victoria, F Noah Gregor scored in OT to give the Royals a 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Victoria (31-18-4) is second in the B.C. Division, two points behind Kelowna. . . . Medicine Hat (26-21-7) is 0-2-1 in three games in the B.C. Division. It leads the Central Division by five points over Lethbridge. . . . The Royals grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Matthew Phillips (36), at 6:28, and D Kade Jensen (4), at 7:37. . . . The Tigers tied it on two goals from F James Hamblin, who has 18 goals. He scored on a PP at 11:14 of the first period and at 6:28 of the second. . . . Medicine Hat took a 3-2 lead when D Kristians Rubins scored at 12:36. . . . The Royals tied it at 18:41 of the third period on F Tyler Soy’s 24th goal. . . . Gregor won it 51 seconds into OT with his 18th goal. . . . Soy also had two assists, with Jensen and Phillips adding one each. . . . D Dylan MacPherson had two assists for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-3 on the PP; Victoria was 0-2. . . . G Dean McNabb stopped 27 shots to record the victory. . . . The Tigers got 25 saves from Jordan Hollett. . . . Announced attendance: 6,055.
At Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the Calgary Hitmen, 4-2. . . . Vancouver (27-16-8) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, four points behind Victoria. . . . Calgary (15-30-6) is 0-4-0 on a BC. Division tour that continues tonight in Kamloops. . . . D Bowen Byram gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 6:43 of the first period, only to have Calgary take a 2-1 lead on goals from F Luke Coleman (12), at 7:19, and F Tristen Nielsen (10), at 8:03. . . . Vancouver F Ty Ronning scored the next two goals, at 5:35 and 10:10 of the second period, to give his guys a 3-2 lead. . . . Ronning has 46 goals this season; the franchise record (48) was set by F Evander Kane in 2008-09. . . . Byram (5) added a PP goal at 12:18. . . . F Brayden Watts had three assists for the Giants, with D Matt Barberis adding two, and Byram getting one. . . . Vancouver was 3-5 on the PP; Calgary was 0-8. . . . G Trent Miner, in his first WHL start, stopped 31 shots for the Giants. . . . Calgary got 36 stops from G Nick Schneider. . . . Announced attendance: 3,246.
SATURDAY (all times local):
Prince George at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Swift Current vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Portland, 6 p.m.
Calgary at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.