Sunday, 13 January 2019

Rebels confirm they’re for real, down powerhouse Stars 3-2

Larissa Bohlken assisted on the Rebels winning goal on Sunday.
    The Regina Rebels achieved the win they were desperately seeking.
    On Sunday at the Co-operators Centre in Regina, the Rebels downed the defending Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League champion Saskatoon Stars 3-2. The setback was the first regular season loss of the 2018-19 campaign for the Stars, who have been a powerhouse squad for the past five seasons.
    The Stars still lead the SFMAAAHL standings with a 20-1 record, while the Rebels sit second with a 13-4-2 mark.
    Saskatoon took a 1-0 lead on a first period goal from standout forward Kaitlin Jockims. The Stars held their slim 1-0 edge heading into the third period.
    In the third, the Rebels exploded for three straight goal to take a 3-1 advantage. Gwyneth Pritchard tied things up at 1-1 scoring 68 seconds into the frame. Just less than a minute later, sophomore 15-year-old defender Sydney Pedersen scored to put the Rebels up 2-1.
    At the 6:53 mark of the third, 15-year-old rookie forward Neena Brick scored what would be the winning goal for the Rebels giving them a 3-1 advantage. Larissa Bohlken, who is a sophomore 15-year-old defender, and Lauren Focht, who is a 16-year-old veteran forward, picked up assists on Brick’s winner.
    The Stars cut the gap to 3-2 at the 9:11 mark of the third, when standout sophomore forward Makena Kushniruk netted her 14th goal of the season.
    Saskatoon was unable to net the equalizer from that point.
    Chantel Weller, who is from Saskatoon, turned away 20 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Rebels. Kaitlyn Cadrain stopped 22 shots to take the setback in goal for the Stars.
    Stars star centre Joelle Fiala picked up a milestone in the loss. She assisted on Kushniruk’s goal, and with that helper, Fiala became just the fourth player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to record 80 career regular season assists.
Joelle Fiala picked up her 80th career assist on Sunday.
    In 105 career regular season games, Fiala has 45 goals and 80 assists to sit as the ninth all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL with 125 points. She needs to pick up two more assists to equal Lauren Zary for the Stars team career regular season record.
    Zary, who is a former Stars captain, appeared in 103 career regular season games over four seasons with the Stars from 2008 to 2012 collecting 44 goals and 82 assists for 126 points. She moved on to play for the Brown University Bears women’s hockey team of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team of the U Sports ranks.
    When the Stars and Rebels met on Saturday at the Co-operators Centre, Saskatoon pulled out a 3-0 victory in that regular season encounter.
    Kushniruk, Kaylee Baum and Fiala all netted singles for the Stars.
    Arden Kliewer stopped 18 shots to earn her fifth shutout of the season playing goal for the Stars.
    Weller turned away 13 shots to take the setback in goal for the Rebels.
    Back on Dec. 8, 2018, the Stars and Rebels met in a semifinal contest at the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament, and the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to pull out a 3-2 victory after a tiebreaking shootout.
    The Rebels return to action on Wednesday, when they host the Melville Prairie Fire at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre.
    The Stars are off until Jan. 26, when they host the Rebels at 2:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.

Lind hits even higher gear for Wildcats

Taylor Lind leads the SFMAAAHL in scoring.
    Star captain Taylor Lind is finding a way to take her game to an even higher level for the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats.
    Lind, who recently turned 17-years-old, was in on all of the Wildcats goals this weekend as Swift Current swept the Prairie Fire in Melville in a weekend SFMAAAHL regular season series at the Horizon Credit Union Centre.
    On Saturday, Lind had a pair of goals including the winner and an assist as the Wildcats downed the Prairie Fire 3-2. Linemate Carissa Hogan had a goal and an assist to help power the Swift Current victory.
    Hogan set up Lind for the winning tally at the 8:56 mark of the third period to break a 2-2 tie.
Megan Hayhurst and Allison Hayhurst replied with singles for the Prairie Fire.
    Amaya Giraudier turned away 29 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats. Cheyenne Jamieson stopped 37 shots to take the setback in goal for the Prairie Fire.
    On Sunday, Lind had a goal and two assists to push the Wildcats to another 3-2 victory over the Prairie Fire. She set up the Wildcats first goal of the contest scored by Sara Kendall and the winning tally at the 9:46 mark of the third scored by Hogan. Swift Current held a 3-1 advantage after Hogan’s goal.
    Halle Bowles and Jordyn Bear replied with singles for the Prairie Fire.
    Giraudier stopped 21 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats. Jamieson turned away 33 shots to take the setback in goal for the Prairie Fire.
    The Wildcats have won four straight to improve to 10-9-1. The Prairie Fire fell to 8-10-1.
    With her effort this weekend, Lind became just the fourth player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to score 150 or more points in her career in regular season play. In 75 career regular season games, Lind has piled up 79 goals and 71 assists for 150 points.
    She also became one of eight players to record 70 or more career assists in regular season play in the history of the SFMAAAHL.
    Lind leads the SFMAAAHL scoring race this season with 15 goals and 25 assists. She won the SFMAAAHL scoring title in her rookie season in 2016-17.
    The Prairie Fire return to action on Wednesday, when they travel to Regina to face the Rebels at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre.
    The Wildcats host the Battlefords Sharks this coming Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Gull Lake Arena.

Bears, Hounds split weekend series in P.A.

Miranda Heidt scored the OT winner for the Bears on Sunday.
    The visiting Notre Dame Hounds and the host Prince Albert Northern Bears split their two head-to-head SFMAAAHL regular season games this past weekend at the Kinsmen Arena in Prince Albert.
    In Saturday’s encounter, the Bears took a 2-1 lead early in the second period only to see the Hounds rally for a 3-2 victory.
    Kailey Ledoux had a goal and an assist for the Bears, while Miranda Heidt netted a single.
    Lyndsey Janes picked up an assist on the Hounds first goal by Kaitlyn Gilroy. Janes proceeded to score the equalizer in the second period and the winning goal at the 4:02 mark of the third to push the Hounds to victory.
    Scout Anderson stopped 22 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bears. Kaitlyn Ross turned away 27 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Hounds.
    On Sunday, the Bears rallied from a 3-2 deficit after two periods to pull out a 4-3 victory in overtime.
    Brooklyn Anderson scored the equalizer for the Bears on the power play 23 seconds into the third period to force a 3-3 tie. Heidt scored the winner at the 1:37 mark of overtime.
    Kate Ball and Tori MacDonald netted singles for the Bears.
    Raea Gilroy, Ally Kosteniuk and Kaitlyn Gilroy replied with singles for the Hounds.
    Lexi Beuker turned away 32 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Bears. Rayanne Mckenzie turned away 18 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hounds.
    The Bears record moved to 12-8-2. The Hounds record sits at 6-9-3.
    The Hounds return to action on Wednesday, when they host the Weyburn Gold Wings at 8 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox.
    The Bears host the Melville Prairie Fire this coming Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Shellbrook Skating Rink.

Shirley becomes golden girl with Canada

Grace Shirley won a gold medal with Canada.
    Grace Shirley had a Sunday fun day she will always remember.
    The 17-year-old captain of the defending SFMAAAHL champion Saskatoon Stars had an assist to help Canada down the United States 3-2 in overtime in the gold medal final of the world under-18 women’s hockey championship tournament in Obihiro, Japan.
    Canada trailed 2-1 at one point in the third period before rallying for the overtime victory.
    Shirley, who assisted on Danielle Serdachny’s first period goal, was on the ice when linemate Maddi Wheeler scored the winner on the power play at the 1:34 mark of the extra session.
    Anne Cherkowski scored the equalizer for Canada to force a 2-2 at the 11:11 mark of the third.
Canada scored all of its goals on the power play. Canada was 3-for-8 on the power play.
    Makenna Webster and Abbey Murphy replied with singles for the United States. The United States went 1-for-9 on the power play.
    Raygan Kirk turned away 25 shots to pick up the win in goal for Canada. Skyler Vetter turned away 24 shots to take the setback in net for the United States.
    Shirley had a goal and an assist playing in Canada’s five games at the tournament. This marked the second straight year she played for Canada at the under-18 women’s worlds.
    Canada has won five golds at the under-18 women’s worlds. Sunday’s victory marked the first time Canada had won the tournament since 2014.
    Over the past four years, this was Canada’s biggest win in women’s hockey at an international tournament, and the United States has claimed victory at most top level tournaments during that span of time.
    During the 2018-19 SFMAAAHL campaign, Shirley leads the Stars in scoring with 19 goals and 15 assists for 34 points in 18 regular season games.
    She has committed to joining the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team for the start of the 2019-20 campaign in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks. Her older sister, Sophie, currently plays for the Badgers.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 12 January 2019

Paterson gets one last hurrah from Saskatoon

Former Blades centre scores twice in Winterhawks win

Josh Paterson celebrates his first goal with the Winterhawks.
    Josh Paterson received his final salute from Saskatoon.
    The former Saskatoon Blades centre turned out to be the man of the moment on Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre. Suiting up for the visiting Portland Winterhawks, Paterson received a rousing ovation after a short video tribute played on the scoreboard big screen from the 3,872 spectators in attendance.
    The 19-year-old Edmonton, Alta., product scored two power-play goals in the second period to help power the Winterhawks to a 5-4 victory over the Blades in a highly entertaining WHL regular season game.
    At game’s end, Paterson was named the first star of the contest, and he received another round of applause from the spectators in attendance.
Josh Paterson scored twice for Portland.
    In the Winterhawks dressing room, he was presented military helmet given to the club’s hardest working player.
    Paterson was playing in just his second game with the Winterhawks having been dealt to Portland before the WHL’s trade deadline on Thursday.
    “It was a special night,” said Paterson, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds. “It was a quick turnaround, and they’ve been a great team to me.
    “They’ve welcomed me in like family. I’m just really excited to see where the rest of the season takes me.”
    As Paterson was interviewed, a couple of Blades office staffers walked past and gave him a pat on the back. While he was focused on helping the Winterhawks win a game that was a battle of two of the WHLs top teams, he was touched by the video tribute that played at the 4:15 mark of the first period.
    “It was nice to get recognized,” said Paterson, who played 246 regular season games with the Blades over three and a half seasons collecting 74 goals and 64 assists. “I’ve been here for a long time and had a lot of memories here.
    “It was nice to see that on the jumbotron.”
    Paterson was sent to the Winterhawks along with a second round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft to the Blades in exchange for another Edmonton, Alta., product in 19-year-old left-winger Ryan Hughes.
Josh Paterson scores his first goal with the Winterhawks.
    Hughes was held off the scoresheet on Saturday night playing on a line with Blades 17-year-old star centre Kirby Dach.
    Paterson started the contest centring a forword line for Portland that had speedy 18-year-old Mason Mannek at right wing and Highland Village, Texas, product Cross Hanas, who turned 17-years-old earlier this month, at left wing.
    As the night moved on, Paterson was moved to left wing on Portland’s top line playing with star captain Cody Glass at centre and overage star Joachim Blichfeld at right wing.
Blades G Nolan Maier stops Winterhawks C Josh Paterson.
    With the Blades holding a 3-1 lead, Paterson potted his first power-play goal at the 5:13 mark holding his ground in front of the Blades net to cut the host side’s lead to 3-2. The tally was Paterson’s first goal with the Winterhawks.
    Glass and Blichfeld picked up helpers on that tally.
    “It was a nice relief,” said Paterson. “It was always great to score against the old team, and it was even special that it was that quick of a turnaround.”
    Paterson’s second power-play goal was a near copy of his first one, and it tied the contest up at 3-3 at the 8:52 mark of the second. Centre Jake Gricius and Glass picked up assists on that marker.
Mason Mannek had the winning goal on Saturday for the Winterhawks.
    Overall, Saturday’s contest was a high-paced back-and-forth affair. The Blades took a 2-0 lead and held a 2-1 edge heading into the first intermission.
    In the second period, Saskatoon went up 3-1 early in the frame only to see the Winterhawks roar back with three straight goals to take a 4-3 advantage.
    The Blades were able to tie things up at 4-4 heading into the second intermission.
    With 2:30 remaining in the third period, the Winterhawks scored the winning tally. A bad angled shot from defenceman Matthew Quigley hit the toe of Blades star netminder Nolan Maier and sat loose in the crease of the Saskatoon net.
    Mannek was positioned in front of the Saskatoon goal and he knocked the puck into the net to ultimately give the Winterhawks the win. The Herriman, Utah, product had a pair of goals and an assist in Portland’s victory.
Max Gerlach scored twice for the Blades.
    With just over a minute to play, the Blades had a golden chance to tie things up, when left-winger Gary Haden stole the puck from a Winterhawks defenceman in front of the Portland net and quickly fired a shot on goal.
    The glove hand of Winterhawks netminder Shane Farkas robbed Haden from recording a potential equalizer.
    Max Gerlach scored twice for the Blades, while Kyle Crnkovic and Dach had singles.
    Seth Jarvis tallied for Portland with 41.8 seconds remaining in the first period.
    Maier made 34 stops in goal for the Blades. Farkas turned away 35 shots in goal for the Winterhawks.
    “It was a great game,” said Paterson. “There were two of the top teams in the league, and it was great to see that battle.
    “It was very entertaining for the fans.”
Gary Haden had a chance to tie things late for the Blades.
    Saskatoon fell to 26-13-6 with the setback but remains one point ahead of Portland for third overall in the WHL. The Blades were playing their 10th game in 17 days since returning from their WHL Christmas break.
    They return to action this coming Friday, when they host the Regina Pats at 7 p.m. local time at the SaskTel Centre.
    Portland improved to 26-12-3-2 and won five of six outings on a road trip playing all six WHL East Division teams. That road jaunt concluded with Saturday’s win over the Blades.
    The Winterhawks now enjoy six days off. They return to action next Saturday when they host the Everett Silvertips at 5 p.m. local time at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
    Having spent the last two nights staying with the Winterhawks in a hotel, Paterson will spent Saturday night staying with his Blades billet family. On Sunday, he will load up his car and head out to Portland.
The Winterhawks celebrate their victory over the Blades on Saturday.
    “It will be weird waking up and not seeing the same guys in the room every day,” said Paterson. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter here, and it will be a great opportunity for me moving forward.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Friday, 11 January 2019

Huskies romp over Cougars

The Huskies celebrate a goal from Abby Shirley, second from left.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s Hockey team landed the knockout blows early in this one.
    Playing before 563 spectators at Merlis Belsher Place on Friday, the Huskies stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period over their provincial rivals the University of Regina Cougars. The hosts expanded their lead to 4-0 in the second and cruised to a 4-1 victory in the U Sports regular season encounter.
    A total of 11 players recorded at least one point for the Huskies in the dominant performance. The Huskies have faced their challenges when it comes to scoring goals this season, so Friday’s outburst was a welcome one.
Abby Shirley had a goal and an assist for the Huskies on Friday.
    “It felt really good to come out like that strong, and have a good start to it and then continue it all throughout the game,” said Huskies winger Abby Shirley, who had a goal and an assist in the win. “These are some huge games playing against Regina, obviously, and tensions are pretty high every time we meet.
    “It felt really good to come out on top.”
    The Huskies jumped in front 1-0 at the 6:56 mark of the opening frame, when captain Brooklyn Haubrich knocked home a rebound in front of the Cougars net. The tally was Haubrich’s first goal of the season, and it was a welcome development for the feisty forward.
    “That was a sigh of relief,” said Haubrich. “That was a long time coming for me.
Brooklyn Haubrich scored her first goal of the season on Friday.
    “It felt good just to get the monkey off my back.”
    Just 44 seconds later, Shirley collected the puck at the point and hit winger Bailee Bourassa with a long backdoor pass alone at the left side of the Cougars goal, and Bourassa tucked in her fifth goal of the season to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
    While those goals sent the Cougars reeling, the visitors were knocked down to the mat with 66 seconds remaining in the first.
    At that point in the contest, fourth-year Huskies standout defender Leah Bohlken sprung energetic rookie forward Kennedy Brown in on a breakaway, and Brown slipped home a backhander to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage.
    “We haven’t had a game like this all season,” said Haubrich. “I would say it was fun to just get ahead and get some good feeling.
    “A lot of good things were happening on the ice. It was fun to put together a full 60 on our part.”
The Cougars and Huskies engaged in a handful of scrums.
    The Cougars pulled starting goaltender Jane Kish after the first period. She turned away 11-of-14 shots sent her way to take the setback in goal. Morgan Baker stopped 21-of-22 shots playing the final two periods in relief.
    The Huskies lead grew to 4-0 at the 16:22 mark of the second, when Shirley potted her fifth goal of the season in close on the Cougars net.
    As the Huskies took command of the game, Haubrich believed her side played with fairly even emotions, which helped lead to the final outcome.
    “I think the reason we were successful tonight is we didn’t get too high on the score,” said Haubrich. “We just said it was a 0-0 period, and we wanted to win the period.
Jessica Vance makes one of her 26 stops in goal for the Huskies.
    “I think we were able to keep our intensity just by not getting too ahead of ourselves.”
    With 66 seconds remaining in the second period, Cougars star forward Jaycee Magwood roofed a shot to the top corner of the Huskies goal to cut the U of S lead to 4-1. Magwood’s goal wasn’t enough to provide a spark to trigger a comeback.
    Huskies star netminder Jessica Vance made 26 saves to pick up the win in goal. She turned away Magwood on an early second period breakaway, when the Cougars were trying to find any type of momentum at that point in the game.
The Huskies celebrate their win over the Cougars on Friday.
    The Huskies improved to 12-6-1 with their third straight win.
    The Cougars fell to 8-8-3 with the setback.
    The two sides will go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
Shirley said her team is expecting the Cougars to make a big push back in Saturday’s encounter.
    “The coaches were just saying in the room we can’t get too excited now,” said Shirley. “The job isn’t done.
    “Tomorrow, we really have to play like we did today and not let them get in our heads. Just coming out strong like we did today I think is a really huge key thing for tomorrow.”

Back in the Express with Lieffers

Cianna Lieffers has developed into an elite level referee.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a cover story on elite hockey referee Cianna Lieffers.
    The 24-year-old worked the 4 Nations Cup women’s hockey tournament last November in Saskatoon. That event featured the senior national teams from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden.
    Lieffers, who graduated with two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, resides in Saskatoon, and she took up officiating at age 11 in her hometown of Cudworth.
    She is a regular on the U Sports women’s hockey and Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League circuits.
    My story on Lieffers can be found by clicking here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Thursday, 10 January 2019

Blades get Hughes, give up Paterson to Winterhawks

The Blades traded Josh Paterson to the Winterhawks on Thursday.
    The Saskatoon Blades added a dynamic and skilled forward on WHL trade deadline day, but it came with a bit of a cost.
    Before Thursday’s 4 p.m. Saskatchewan time league trade deadline, the Blades acquired 19-year-old left-winger Ryan Hughes from the Portland Winterhawks. To get Hughes, the Blades sent veteran 19-year-old centre Josh Paterson, a second round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft to Portland.
    The players involved in the deal are both Edmonton, Alta., products.
    Hughes, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 153 pounds, made the Winterhawks as a list player in his 16-year-old season. In 223 career regular season games in Portland, Hughes piled up 64 goals and 87 assists.
    In helping the Winterhawks build the WHL’s fourth best record so far this season at 25-11-3-2, Hughes, who was an assistant captain in Portland, has appeared in 36 games collecting 17 goals, 23 assists and a plus-five rating in the plus-minus department.
    Paterson was selected by the Blades in the second round and 25th overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Since making Saskatoon’s roster as a 16-year-old rookie, Paterson, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds, became a reliable two-way centre.
    In 246 career regular season games with the Blades, Paterson has 74 goals and 64 assists. In helping the Blade build the WHL’s third best record to date at 26-12-5 in the 2018-19 campaign, Paterson, who was a Blades assistant captain, appeared in 41 contests collecting 14 goals, 18 assists and a plus-eight rating.
    “First and foremost, we want to thank Josh (Paterson) for everything he has done for us and his parents, Sheryl and Brad,” said Blades general manager Colin Priestner in a release. “They’re at a lot of games and have become a big part of the Blades family over the past four years.
    “Josh was the first player I ever drafted and him signing with us when we were an unproven young team was a big deal for us, and I’ll always be grateful to Josh for that.”
    Priestner was pleased the Blades could pick up Hughes.
    “To get a first line, dynamic left-winger in Ryan, there’s always a price to pay,” said Priestner in the release. “To acquire a player with the speed and skill that Ryan possesses, along with 27 games of playoff experience, was big for us and for our coaching staff.
    “It’s difficult to find players who can produce like he can, and at the speed he can, and he’s coming from a great program that he’s spent the past four years in. These deals are never easy to make, but we’re very excited to add Ryan to our group and we’re looking forward to seeing him on the ice this weekend.”
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they host the Calgary Hitmen (20-16-3-1) at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. The Blades and Winterhawks will go at it on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.

Raiders add trio before deadline

Boston Bilous in action for the Oil Kings last season.
    The Prince Albert Raiders tweaked with their roster adding a trio of players before Thursday’s WHL trade deadline.
    The Raiders acquired 17-year-old goaltender Boston Bilous from the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for a conditional sixth round selection in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft. Bilous, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 173 pounds, is in his second full WHL season.
    With the Oil Kings, he has appeared in 10 games this season posting a 3-4-1 record, a 3.56 goals against average, a .859 save percentage and one shutout.
    The Raiders also picked up 18-year-old defenceman Loeden Schaufler from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for an eighth round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. Schaufler, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 184 pounds, has appeared in 21 regular season games this season split between the Kootenay Ice and Thunderbirds posting two assists and a minus-eight rating.
    The Raiders added 17-year-old forward Bryce Bader and a conditional sixth around WHL Bantam Draft selection from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for WHL rights to 17-year-old forward Quinn Olson and a conditional sixth round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.
    Bader, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 205 pounds, has appeared in 10 regular season games in the current campaign with the Hitmen posting four goals and a plus-two rating.
    All three players still possess the potential to make a great impact in the league in the future. At the moment, they add extra depth to the Prince Albert roster.
    The Raiders, who sit first overall in the WHL at 35-5-0-1 and are rated first in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings, return to action on Friday, when they host the Portland Winterhawks at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

Hofer heads to Portland

Joel Hofer is now a member of the Winterhawks.
    The Portland Winterhawks might have made the most significant trade one day before Thursday’s WHL trade deadline that will likely give them a bigger chance to go on a long playoff run.
    On Wednesday in a blockbuster move, the Winterhawks acquired 18-year-old goaltender Joel Hofer from the Swift Current Broncos in exchange six WHL Bantam Draft selections. Portland gave up its first round selections in 2019 and 2021, a second round pick in 2020, a third round pick in 2019, a fourth round pick in 2020 and a fifth round pick in 2020.
    Hofer has appeared in 49 regular season games over two campaigns for the Broncos posting a 14-24-5 record, a 3.55 goals against average, a .907 save percentage and two shutouts.
    He was the Broncos backup goalie last season when they won the WHL title and appeared in the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina. Last June, Hofer was selected in the fourth round and 107th overall in the NHL Entry Draft held in Dallas, Texas.
    With the Broncos going under a massive rebuild, Hofer has done his best to hold the Swift Current side in games as the starter this season. In 30 regular season games with the Broncos in the current campaign, Hofer has posted a 6-21-3 record, a 4.02 goals against average, a .904 save percentage and one shutout.
    The Broncos sit last in the 22-team WHL with an 8-29-2-1 record.
    The Winterhawks sit fourth overall in the WHL at 25-11-3-2.
    The Broncos return to action on Saturday, when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds (13-21-4) at 7 p.m. at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex.
    The Winterhawks resume play on Friday, when they travel to Prince Albert to take on the Raiders at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Rookie Crnkovic pushes Blades past Thunderbirds

Kyle Crnkovic had a big night for the Blades.
    It appears 16-year-old rookie left-winger Kyle Crnkovic is going to have an extended stay with the Saskatoon Blades top six forward unit.
    If the young Chestermere, Alta., product is dropped off the team’s top two lines, the Blades coaches will likely have a lot of doubts regarding if they are doing the right thing.
    Playing on a line with 17-year-old Tristen Robins at centre and 18-year-old Eric Florchuk at right wing, Crnkovic had a goal and two assists to push the Blades past the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-3 in a WHL regular season contest on Tuesday night before 3,037 spectators at the SaskTel Centre.
    The outburst was Crnkovic’s first multiple point night of his WHL career, and he now has three goals and six assists in his last nine games.
    “It felt really good,” said Crnkovic, who has four goals and nine assists in 27 games this season. 
    “Obviously, it is awesome to get the two points, and to contribute, it feels awesome.”
Kyle Crnkovic has three goals and six assists in his last nine games.
    Over the last stretch of games for the Blades, Crnkovic, who stands just under 5-foot-7 and weighs 153 pounds, has been very noticeable with the energy he brings on every shift. While he may be the smallest player on the ice in most of Saskatoon’s games, he doesn’t shy away from battles or going into the corners or in front of the net.
    During his last nine games with the Saskatoon squad, Crnkovic’s offensive talents are showing through, which saw the Blades select him in the first round and 10th overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. He has seen extra playing time during the Blades last four games due to the fact star 17-year-old centre Kirby Dach has been out with a lower body injury.
The Blades celebrate a power-play goal from Josh Paterson (#61).
    Blades head coach Mitch Love has enjoyed seeing Crnkovic take off.
    “You could see the confidence growing,” said Love. “I think obviously that comes with added ice time.
    “As a hockey coach, you want to find that trust in those young kids. He is doing a good job away from the puck, which is earning him more ice time. Nobody has ever questioned his offensive capabilities here and his skill set, and I think that was very evident tonight.”
    So far this season, Crnkovic believes he has given a solid effort every night, but he has received some breaks offensively as of late.
    “I think I have been playing the same way,” said Crnkovic. “I think just some luck is coming my way.
    “I am just trying to keep playing hard the second half.”
Blades G Dorrin Luding (#31) stops Seattle LW Andrej Kukuca.
    After the Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead early in the first, Crnkovic went to work. At the 15:24 mark of the opening frame, he slipped a backhand shot past Thunderbirds netminder Cole Schwebius on a breakaway to tie things up at 1-1.
    Just 2:06 after that tally with the Blades working on the power play, Crnkovic had the puck at the left side boards in the Seattle zone. He centred a smart pass to centre Josh Paterson, who knocked home his 14th goal of the season to give the Blades a 2-1 lead.
    Crnkovic was pleased he could make both plays
    “They were both good,” said Crnkovic. “They were both good to get.
    “It feels good to contribute and help the team win.”
Aiden De La Gorgendiere looks to make a pass for the Blades.
    The Thunderbirds scored late in the first and early in the second to go ahead 3-2.
    At the 13:49 mark of the second, the Blades tied things up at 3-3, when captain Chase Wouters tipped home a shot from linemate Max Gerlach.
    Before the second frame expired, Blades 16-year-old rookie defenceman Aidan De La Gorgendiere broke into the Seattle zone on a rush and slipped a pass to right-winger Eric Florchuk to spring him in alone on the Thunderbirds goal.
    Florchuk slipped a shot between the legs of Thunderbirds netminder Cole Schwebius to give the Blades a 4-3 lead with 2:40 remaining in the frame. Crnkovic picked up his second assist of the game on Florchuk’s tally.
    The rookie winger said he has enjoyed playing on a line with Florchuk and Robins and has enjoyed the fact he is starting to contribute offensively.
A young fan cheers on Blades LW Riley McKay.
    “At the start it was tough just getting used to the league,” said Crnkovic. “I think as it has gone on and getting comfortable with the players around me, it is getting a lot better.”
    Zach Ashton, captain Nolan Volcan and Matthew Wedman replied with singles for the Thunderbirds. Wedman had an assist and won a third period fight against Wouters to record the Gordie Howe hat trick for Seattle.
    Ashton’s tally was the first of his WHL career. The 17-year-old defenceman was acquire in a trade with the Blades last Wednesday, which saw veteran defenceman Reece Harsch, who is in his 19-year-old season, land in Saskatoon.
Eric Florchuk (#17) fires a shot on goal for the Blades.
    Harsch, who was playing his fourth game with the Blades, was happy to get the win against his former team.
    “It felt pretty good,” said Harsch. “I had a lot of memories with those guys and that team and that organization, so it definitely felt good to get the win tonight.”
    Dorrin Luding turned away 33 shots in goal for the Blades, who improved to 26-12-5 to sit third overall in the WHL. Schwebius stopped 28 shots in goal for the Thunderbirds, who fell to 12-21-4.
    Love was pleased his side controlled a scoreless third period, where the Blades held a 14-9 edge in shots on goal. 
Matthew Wedman had a Gordie Howe hat trick for the Thunderbirds.
    The Saskatoon bench boss thought his team spent too much time in its own zone in the second frame.
    “For our guys to regroup and outshoot them in the third period I thought we really did a good job of limiting their offensive opportunities,” said Love, whose club was playing their eighth game in 13 days. “There were a lot of shots from the outside.
    “I am real proud of the guys’ effort, especially in this stretch of hockey. This has been a grind for our guys. It was very noticeable tonight against a very heavy and competitive team in the Thunderbirds.
    “We stuck with it and found a way to win a hockey game.”
    The Thunderbirds return to action on Wednesday, when they travel to Prince Albert to take on the Raiders (7 p.m., Art Hauser Centre).
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they host the Calgary Hitmen (7 p.m., SaskTel Centre).
Going forward into the rest of the season, Crnkovic said wants to keep playing as well as possible.
The Blades celebrate their victory over the Thunderbirds on Tuesday.
    “I am just going to try and play my game and work hard every day in practice and I think just try and contribute to the team any way I can,” he said.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Sunday, 6 January 2019

Harsch fitting in with Blades, nets goal in 5-2 win

Reece Harsch was recently acquired by the Blades via a trade with Seattle.
    Saskatoon Blades newcomer Reece Harsch showed how important it was to play to the whistle.
    On Sunday before 3,627 spectators at the SaskTel Centre, Harsch was skating in just his third game with the Blades as they took on the Brandon Wheat Kings. Harsch, who is a 19-year-old defenceman, was acquired in a trade last Wednesday with the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for 17-year-old defenceman Zach Ashton and a fifth round selection in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft.
    With the Blades locked in a 1-1 tie in the first period with the Wheat Kings, Harsch found an opportune time to score his first goal with his new club.
    Left-winger Riley McKay, who is the Blades agitator, took a cross check behind the Wheat Kings goal from Brandon defenceman Vinny Iorio, and the officials were set to blow the whistle on a delayed penalty call as soon as a Brandon player touched the puck.
Reece Harsch scored his first goal with the Blades on Sunday.
    The Wheat Kings players on the ice seemingly stopped, when Iorio’s cross check occurred. Blades centre Josh Paterson had the puck at the left side of the Brandon goal, and he slipped a pass across the front of the net to Harsch, who pinched down from the point.
    Harsch skated to the Brandon net untouched and slipped a shot past Wheat Kings netminder Jiri Patera to give the Blades a 2-1 lead. Saskatoon ultimately skated to a 5-2 victory in the WHL regular season clash.
    “It was pretty special,” said Harsch, who has three goals and eight assists in 31 games played between the Thunderbirds and Blades this season. “It was a nice pass by Patty (Josh Paterson).
    “It was great vision by him. I was just able to slip it through the arms of him (Patera). What do you know, it went in.”
    Following his goal, Harsch realized something else must have happened on the play. Since McKay wasn’t hurt, Harsch’s goal was celebrated and the focus returned to the game.
The Blades celebrate Reece Harsch’s first period goal.
    “I didn’t really notice it until after I was just looking at the net to see if the puck actually went in,” said Harsch, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 198 pounds. “Then, I looked up and I just saw McKay laying on the ground.
    “I’m not really too sure what happened actually.”
    Harsch played three-and-a-half seasons with the Thunderbirds before arriving in Saskatoon. During his time in Seattle, he helped the Thunderbirds win a WHL title in the 2016-17 campaign and qualify for the Memorial Cup tournament, which was held that season in Windsor, Ont.
Goalie Jiri Patera (#33) makes one of his 32 saves on Sunday.
    With Saskatoon having finished a stretch of playing three games in three days on Sunday, Blades head coach Mitch Love said Harsch brought everything that was expected from a veteran presence. Saskatoon lost 19-year-old defenceman Nolan Kneen to a lower body injury in Friday’s 2-1 overtime win over the Regina Pats, which added extra significance to Harsch’s arrival.
    “He (Harsch) is a very calming influence back there,” said Love. “He doesn’t seem to be rattled by too much.
    “He is an experience guy who has been to a Memorial Cup and won a league championship here. I am sure there is not a lot that gets to him. That is the way he plays the game.
Nolan Maier makes one of his 27 saves in goal for the Blades.
    “He has definitely helped our back end, especially this weekend.”
    Harsch’s play has also impressed Blades captain Chase Wouters.
    “I thought he (Harsch) has played really well,” said Wouters. “He is a really good addition to the back end.
    “He is a right-handed shot that like to get pucks up early, and he is a big body out there. He helps us a lot.”
    “He won the championship there (in Seattle). He adds a piece to our group that we don’t have.”
    Harsch said he has been accepted really quickly into the group the Blades have.
    “It is awesome,” Harsch. “It is a little different coming to a (new) team. I only knew a couple of guys.
Max Gerlach scored the Blades first goal on Sunday.
    “Guys were so nice. They’ve been really helpful for me.”
    In Sunday’s contest, the Wheat Kings got a quick jump on the host side with left-winger Ben McCartney scoring 53 seconds into the contest to take a 1-0 lead.
    The Brandon lead didn’t last. Just under three minutes later, Blades overage right-winger Max Gerlach potted his 24th goal of the season to tie things up at 1-1.
    Harsch then potted his tally to give the Blades a 2-1 edge. With 43.3 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Wheat Kings star right-winger Luka Burzan scored on a two-man advantage to even things up at 2-2.
    From there, the Blades slowly took control of the game.
    At the 3:27 mark of the second period, the Blades jumped ahead 3-2, when Paterson slid home a goal underneath Patera.
Luka Burzan had the Wheat Kings second goal on Sunday.
    Saskatoon extended its advantage to 4-2 at the 7:45 mark of the third period, when right-winger Zach Huber knocked home a loose puck in the crease of the Brandon goal.
    Blades star netminder Nolan Maier made a sensational kick save on a breakaway by McCartney. Saskatoon import defenceman Emil Malysjev rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 33.8 seconds remaining in the third.
    After going ahead in the second period, Blades 17-year-old rookie defenceman Majid Kaddoura left the game for a short time, when he was hit by Wheat Kings right-winger Baron Thompson. Thompson received a major penalty for checking to the head and a game misconduct, and that play will be automatically be reviewed by the WHL office for a possible suspension.
    Kaddoura actually got cut on the play by his own stick. He finished the game after getting stitched up.
Zach Huber (#19) scores to put the Blades up 4-2 in the third period.
    Maier made 27 stops in goal for the Blades, who sit third overall in the WHL at 25-12-5. Patera turned away 32-of-36 shots to take the setback in goal for the Wheat Kings (16-15-3-3).
    “I really liked how our guys battled tonight,” said Love, whose team has played seven games in 11 days since returning from the WHL Christmas break. “I think it was evident.
    “We had a few guys leave the hockey game in stretches just because they put themselves in the battle. That was the big message going into today’s hockey game of just playing the game the right way the way we want to play with structure and what not.
    “At the same time, we just needed to be more competitive and have a little bit more fight, especially against a team that was sitting here waiting for us. I was very proud of our guys and our effort, and we are going to try and build off of that.”
The Blades celebrate their 5-2 win on Sunday.
    The Wheat Kings return home to host the Portland Winterhawks at 7 p.m. local time at Westoba Place.
    The Blades return to action on Tuesday when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds at 7 p.m. local time at the SaskTel Centre.
    Harsch said he has lots of good memories from his time in Seattle, and it will be strange for himself to face the Thunderbirds so soon after being traded to Saskatoon.
    “It is going to be different,” said Harsch. “I’ve been wearing that jersey for three-and-a-half years.
    “Now coming in and seeing all these familiar faces, it is going to be different, but it is going to be pretty special.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bohlken delivers in clutch for Huskies in 3-2 win over Dinos

Leah Bohlken scored the winning goal for the Huskies on Saturday.
    Leah Bohlken has developed a habit of being in the right place at the right time for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s Hockey team.
    On Saturday night at Merlis Belsher Place, the Huskies found themselves in a 2-2 tie in the third period with the visiting University of Calgary Dinos in a U Sports regular season contest. While working on the power play, Bohlken, who is a fourth-year defender, swooped down from the point to collect a loose puck in front of the Dinos net.
    The loose puck was the result of a rebound from a shot taken by Huskies third-year forward Emily Upgang.
    Bohlken got to the puck and fired it into an empty cage with 5:53 to play in the third period. 
The Huskies celebrate Leah Bohlken’s winning goal.
    Her goal stood up as the winner to allow the Huskies to skate away with a 3-2 victory before 504 spectators.
    “That was nice to put that one in,” said Bohlken, who leads the Huskies with three game-winning goals this season. “Upper (Upgang) came up to me after, and she was like, “Finally, I assisted one of yours,” so I thought that was pretty funny.
    “She is always down in front of the net working hard. Our coaches have been telling us to get into those gritty spots. It is not going to be nice to be there, but get there.
    “I just kind of crashed the net. I was in the right place at the right time, so it was good.”
    Saturday’s win allowed the Huskies to sweep their weekend series with the Dinos. U of S claimed Friday’s encounter at Merlis Belsher Place by a 3-0 final.
Diane Hitchings celebrates giving the Dinos an early 1-0 lead.
    The two contests were the first games for both sides since returning from their respective Christmas breaks.
    Besides sweeping the weekend series, the Huskies won all four of their regular season encounters with the Dinos in the 2018-19 campaign.
    With Saturday’s win, the Huskies improved to 11-6-1 to remain fourth in the Canada West Conference. The Dinos fell to 2-14-2 to remain last in Canada West.
    “Whenever you can get a sweep over another team, that is huge, especially in our league with it being as close as it is,” said Bohlken, who has team high seven goals to go along with four assists appearing in all of the Huskie 18 regular season games. “Especially coming back after Christmas, you want to start your second half out well.
Shyan Elias had a pair of assists for the Huskies.
    “I think that we did that.”
    The Dinos, who upset the Canada West leading 15-3 University of Alberta Pandas last Nov. 23 in Calgary, proved to be pesky against the Huskies on Saturday.
    U of C jumped ahead 1-0 on a goal by fourth-year forward Diane Hitchings, who potted the rebound of a shot taken by linemate Taylor Beck.
    Before the first period ended, the Huskies evened things up on the power play at 1-1, when sophomore forward Abby Shirley fired home the rebound of a shot taken by linemate Shyan Elias.
    The Huskies finished the night going 2-for-7 on the power play. They were 2-for-5 on the power play in Friday’s win.
    “To put some in off the power play, that is huge,” said Bohlken. “The second night is always tough, because they have a chance to look at your power play and see what you do and see where you put the puck.
The Huskies mark Abby Shirley’s second period equalizer.
    “It is hard to adjust that. Maybe the first couple of power plays we were kind of getting used to like how they were playing us differently and taking away seams. We realized that we need to just calm down a little bit and find different seams.”
    The Dinos retook the lead at the 6:02 mark of the second, when a turnaround shot by U of C forward Sage Desjardins fooled Huskies rookie netminder Camryn Drever to give the visitors a 2-1 edge.
    Just when it appeared the Dinos were going take a one-goal advantage into the third period, Shirley tied things up at 2-2 with her second of the night coming with 48.5 seconds remaining in the second period. Again, she fired home the rebound of a shot taken by Elias.
Emily Upgang tried to score the winning goal on this chance.
    That set the stage for Bohlken to net the winner in the third period.
    Drever stopped 15 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies. Kira Wasylak turned away 28 shots to take the setback in goal for the Dinos.
    With the sweep of the Dinos complete, the Huskies turn their attention to their next two games against their provincial rivals the University of Regina Cougars (8-7-3).
    The two teams meet this coming Friday at 7 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place and this coming Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
    “Coming off two wins is great,” said Bohlken. “Regina being our provincial rival, it is going to be a tough game. It always is.
The Huskies celebrate their 3-2 victory on Saturday.
    “One home game and one away game, which is a nice change up from playing either two at home or two away. I think we just have to start focusing for it. We kind of have momentum now.
    “We know what we are doing is good, and it is working. We just need to go and refine what we have been doing, make those like little passes and make a few tweaks and get ready for Regina.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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