Myth of junior hockey and national champions . . . Rizzo commits to UND . . . Hitmen sign two picks

It is time for hockey fans and the media alike to come to the realization, if they haven’t already, that events like the Memorial Cup and Royal Bank Cup don’t decide national championships.

They are entertainment vehicles and social gatherings and nothing more, and should be enjoyed as such.

They also are showcases for the players who are fortunate enough to get to participate in MemCupRegthe tournaments. Fans also are guaranteed to see some of the best teams in major junior and junior A hockey, so the games mostly are competitive and, as such, entertaining.

But so long as the formats include host teams and round-robin play, these events don’t culminate with the crowning of national champions.

The 2018 Memorial Cup, the 100th anniversary of the trophy, was played in Regina over the past few days. It concluded Sunday with the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the host Pats, 3-0.

To reach the final, the Pats, who had lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs, eliminated two league champions — the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pats didn’t have it on Sunday and were beaten by a superior team in the Titan.

After losing to the Pats in the final game of the round-robin and falling to 0-3, the Broncos talked of injuries and fatigue, their 26-game run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup apparently having taking a toll.

But are the Pats the better team because they won one particular game in a round-robin tournament?

Regina and Swift Current met six times in the regular season — the Broncos were 5-0-1, the Pats were 1-4-1. The Broncos wound up at 48-17-7, while the Pats finished 40-25-7.

In the playoffs, the Broncos took out the Pats in a first-round series that went seven games.

In 14 meetings between the teams this season, then, the Broncos were 9-4-1.

But on one night in May, the Pats won, 6-5. Does that mean Regina was the better team? No. It means that on any given day . . .

Meanwhile, in the world of junior A hockey, the host Chilliwack Chiefs won the Royal Bank Cup, which is a five-team tournament. Does that mean the Chiefs won the national championship and are junior A’s best team?

Consider that they finished the BCHL’s regular season at 26-26-3, with three ties. That left them fourth in the Mainland Division, 16 points out of first place. They then lost a seven-game first-round series to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Meanwhile, the Wenatchee Wild was 37-16-4, with one tie, and third in the Interior Division, seven points out of first place. The Wild then went 16-4 to win the BCHL playoff championship. Wenatchee followed that with a five game Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints.

At the RBC, Wenatchee won its four round-robin games, two in OT, including a 2-1 victory over Chilliwack. The Chiefs won three times, once in OT, and had the one OT loss.

During the round-robin, the Wild beat the Wellington Dukes, 7-1. But in a semifinal game, the Dukes posted a 2-1 victory, despite having been outshot 51-14.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Ottawa Jr. Senators, 3-2, in the other semifinal, then doubled the Dukes, 4-2, in the final.

Does all of this mean that Chilliwack is a better team than Wenatchee. No. It means that during one week in May things went the Chiefs’ way, just like things didn’t go Swift Current’s way the following week.

So, as long as there are host teams and round-robin formats, let’s stop concerning ourselves with national championships and just enjoy the proceedings.

OK?


The Memorial Cup final was nearing the end of the second period on Sunday when I heard from a long-time reader of this blog.

The message: “If I hear Mastercard one more time I’m gonna lose my (crap).”

If you are a regular visitor here, you will be well aware that this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

There are some things in life that should never have price tags placed on them, and the Memorial Cup is one of them.

Would the NHL sell naming rights to the Stanley Cup to, say, Visa? The Visa Stanley Cup?

How about the NBA? Would it turn its major trophy into the American Express Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy?

The winner of the NFL’s Super Bowl is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The team that wins MLB’s World Series gets the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Win the WHL title and you get the Ed Chynoweth Cup, not the Nike Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The Memorial Cup has been in competition since 1919, and if you understand its origin I think you will agree that naming rights to it never should have been on the table.

Here’s William J. Walshe, writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 6, 1939:

“The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict . . .”

Peter Robinson has more on the origin of the Memorial Cup right here.

Robinson writes, in part: “As the generation that it was originally meant to honour has passed on with the last surviving First World War veteran John Babcock’s death in 2010, the trophy now serves as a commemoration for all the country’s war dead and others that served.”


The 2018 Memorial Cup, held at the Brandt Centre in Regina:

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday, May 20 – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst 3, Regina 0 (6,484)


MacBeth

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B), he had 25 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


SThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

Please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


F Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them. On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the U of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month.

“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”

According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.

Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Sean Tschigerl and D Tyson Galloway to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Tschigerl, from Whitecourt, Alta., was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He had 70 points, including 31 goals, in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. He had three goals and 11 assists in 29 games. Galloway was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.


Clayton Jardine, 27, is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He takes over from Geoff Grimwood, who left the club earlier this month. . . . Jardine, a native of Lacombe, Alta., was an assistant coach under Grimwood in 2015-16. Jardine spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at New England College, an NCAA Division III school. . . . The Klippers also announced that Larry Wintoneak will be returning as an assistant coach. Wintoneak has been with the Klippers for four seasons in what is his second go-round in Kindersley.

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Dewar goal gives Silvertips win in Game 1 . . . Wild goes home with Doyle Cup . . . Pistons push Hawks to the brink . . . Lots of coaching news

MacBeth

D Kirill Vorobyov (Portland, 2012-13) was traded by Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL) to CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) for cash compensation. This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk, he had four assists in 43 games while averaging 17:10 TOI per game. . . .

F Linden Vey (Medicine Hat, 2006-11) signed a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). This season, in 50 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), he had 17 goals and 35 assists while averaging 21:52 TOI. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in the points race. . . . Vey finished the season with the ZSC Zurich Lions (Switzerland, NL A), recording two goals and four assists in 10 games. . . .

D Dmitri Sinitsyn (Regina, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had signed with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL) for this season but missed the entire season due to injury. In 2016-17, he had nine assists in 42 games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, KHL), and one assist in nine games with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). . . .

F Lukáš Vantuch (Calgary, Lethbridge, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in 29 games with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He also had a goal and two assists in three games on loan to Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), and one goal and one assists in five games on loan to Piráti Chomutov. . . .

D Micki DuPont (Kamloops, 1996-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL). He had seven goals and 16 assists in 52 games. . . .

D/F Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had one goal and seven assists in 30 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL).


ThisThat

The Everett Silvertips drew first blood in the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for Everettthe Ed Chynoweth Cup, beating the host Swift Current Broncos, 2-1, on Friday night. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar (10) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:49 of the third period. . . . F Patrick Bajkov (14) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 14:43 of the first period. . . . The Broncos tied it at 11:26 of the second period on a goal by F Aleksi Heponiemi (4). . . . F Garrett Pilon had two assists for the winners, who got 34 saves from G Carter Hart. . . . G Stuart Skinner blocked 23 shots for Swift Current. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Steve Papp. . . . The Broncos took three of the game’s five minors. . . . Everett was 1-2 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-1. . . . Announced attendance: 2,890. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Swift Current tonight (Saturday). . . . Everett now is 8-0 on the road in these playoffs.


The BCHL-champion Wenatchee Wild scored the game’s last five goals en route to a 7-2 Wenatcheevictory over the host Spruce Grove Saints, the AJHL champions, on Friday night. . . . The Wild won the best-of-seven Doyle Cup series, 4-1, and now advance to the Royal Bank Cup that opens in Chilliwack on May 12. . . . F Logan Ganie’s second goal of the game, at 1:00 of the second period, pulled the Saints into a 2-2 tie. . . . Wild F August Von Ungern broke the tie at 1:57 and the Wild never looked back. . . . Wenatchee will be the second U.S.-based team to play in the Royal Bank Cup; the Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League got there in 2013.


In Nipawin, Sask., the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons scored twice in the third period Steinbachand took a 2-1 victory over the SJHL-champion Hawks on Friday night. . . . The Pistons hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series for the ANAVET Cup and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup. . . . The teams now head back to Steinbach for Game 6 on Monday and, if needed, Game 7 on Tuesday. . . . Last night, F Brandan Arnold gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 17:05 of the first period. That was his sixth goal — and 11th point — of the series. . . . The Pistons pulled even on F Drew Worrad’s goal at 3:58 of the third period. . . . F Jack Johnson broke the tie at 12:22 with his first goal of the series. . . . Steinbach G Matthew Thiessen stopped 24 shots, while Nipawin’s Declan Hobbs turned aside 34.


TheCoachingGame

The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs are to be the host team for the Royal Bank Cup tournament that runs from May 12 through May 20 at Prospera Centre. On Thursday, the Chiefs fired general manager/head coach Jason Tatarnic, replacing him with Brian Maloney, who had been the associate GM and associate head coach. . . . Tatarnic was in his fourth season with the Chiefs. This season, they finished 26-26-3-3, good for fourth place in the five-team Mainland Division. They went on to lose a first-round series to the division-winning Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . The change was announced with a three-sentence paragraph that was posted on the Chiefs’ website. The announcement didn’t mention Tatarnic. It ended with this: “President Glen Ringdal said the decision to elevate Maloney was made by Chiefs’ ownership (Thursday).” . . . The Chiefs are owned by Moray Keith, Jim Bond and Heinz Hasselmann, all successful Lower Mainland-based businessmen.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at the Tatarnic firing and a few other strange moves that have occurred of late in the world of junior hockey and the impact they could have.


Brad Berry, the head coach of the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, has signed a five-year deal that funs through 2022-23. Berry just completed his third season as the UND head coach and had one year left on his original four-year contract. . . . Major junior coaches will be interested in learning that the new contract gives Berry a base salary of US$400,000 per year. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Rob Wilson is the new head coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. He spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Nuremberg Ice Tigers of Germany’s DEL. . . . Wilson played part of one season (1988-89) with the Petes before going on to a pro career that included stops in North America and Europe. . . . Wilson replaces Andrew Verner, who had been the interim head coach since Jody Hull was fired in January.


Eric Veilleux is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, who will be the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament. Veilleux, 46, has been an assistant coach with the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, for the past two seasons. He has previous QMJHL head-coaching experience with the Shawinigan Cataractes, helping them win the 2012 Memorial Cup as the host team. He also spent two seasons as head coach of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. . . . In Halifax, Veilleux replaces Jim Midgley, who was fired on April 25 after one season as head coach. The Mooseheads went 43-18-6-1 and finished fourth overall under Midgley, then lost a second-round playoff series to the ninth-place Charlottetown Islanders. He had been an assistant coach for five seasons with the Mooseheads.


Casey O’Brien has signed on as the head coach of the Melville Prairie Fire, a team in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League. O’Brien was fired this season as the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


Kelly Guard, a former WHL goaltender, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as an assistant coach. Guard, 34, had been working as the Prince Albert Raiders’ goaltender coach. . . . Guard played two seasons (2002-04) with the Kelowna Rockets, helping them win the 2004 Memorial Cup.


The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have fired general manager and head coach Bill Rotheisler, who had one year left on his contract. . . . He just completed his second season with the Rebels. . . . “I don’t know what happened, to be honest with you,” Rotheisler told John Boivin of the Castlegar News. “I’m still waiting for my official papers that would explain the reason. I would love to provide you with an answer.” . . . Mike Johnstone, the team president, told Boivin that the board of directors “decided to go in a different direction.” . . . The Rebels finished this season in second place in their division, winning 30 of 47 games. They got past the defending-champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the first round of the playoffs, then lost a five-game series to the Nelson Leafs. . . . Boivin’s story is right here.