Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Edmontonian a Hobey Baker Finalist

Former Fort Saskatchewan Trader Matt Frattin has officially bounced back from some tough times. Today Frattin, a North Dakota Fighting Sioux forward was named one of the 3 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, given out to the NCAA's most outstanding player.

Oilers Sign Olivier Roy [Updated]

News earlier today from the Oilers (via Oklahoma City) that Acadie-Bathurst netminder Olivier Roy has signed a 3-year entry level contract with Edmonton. The news hit Twitter earlier in the day when Barons beat writer Ryan Aber first reported it.

Player Profile: Curtis Lazar

The Pipeline Show is excited to be able to bring you some bonus content from our new friends at PuckLife. From time to time, we'll be posting player profiles written by some of PuckLife's scribes but that still fit the format of what we do here at Coming Down the Pipe and on the air with TPS.

If you enjoy what you read here by PuckLife, we'd recommend that you give them a closer look by going here. You'll also see a banner for the publication down the right hand side of our page.

Today's player profile is on a familiar name for fans of the Edmonton Oil Kings and anyone who paid attention during the 2011 Canada Games in Halifax. It's Curtis Lazar, Edmonton's first selection (2nd overall) in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. This profile is written by Jonathan Szekeres...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Night On TPS

Tuesday night we welcomed the top rated goalie (by NHL central scouting) for the NHL draft, a GM fresh off firing his head coach, a Commissioner turned head coach and our CHL insider with news of the Chilliwack Bruins potential sale and relocation.

Coaching Changes, top ranked goalie, and CHL playoffs tonight on TPS

Tonight we'll find out from Seattle G.M. Russ Farwell why he made his coaching change today, and what the TBirds need to do in order to get back into the WHL post season.

We'll also speak with new Michigan State University head coach Tom Anastos about leaving his post as Commish of the CCHA to become a head coach, and what the new Big Ten Hockey Conference will do for College hockey.

The top ranked goaltender according to NHL Central Scouting is John Gibson of the U.S. National Development team. He'll try and lead the States to another gold medal at the U18 World Championship next month.

Guy and I will debate on who the best player in the WHL is right now...Ryan Johanssen of Portland or Brayden Schenn of Saskatoon, as well as what we think is the best story line in the WHL post season right now.

And our CHL insider Sam Cosentino will fill us in on what the big stories are in the OHL and QMJHL.

7-9 pm mst on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton or online here.

Seattle Makes Coaching Change, Update on relocating teams

As TPS eluded to last night, the Seattle Thunderbirds have made a move behind the bench, electing to not renew Head Coach Rob Sumner. Here's is the full release with quotes from TBird GM Russ Farwell.

We also wrote about WHL teams relocating/being sold last night. One of the scenarios that was passed onto us was Chilliwack being sold and moving to Victoria and Prince George heading to Chilliwack. According to Cougars G.M. Dallas Thompson, the team has 8 more years left on it's deal in PG, and another source told us that while there is an out clause, it's ridiculously hard for the team to use it.

WHL Notes:Chilliwack to Victoria, Some Nervous Coaches & Jaden Schwartz rumours

At Rexall Place tonight for game 3 between Red Deer and Edmonton there were more then 23 NHL scouts/G.M's representing 12 different NHL teams as well as various scouting agency's and WHL personell. Needless to say it was a good place to pick up some information, and here are some things that were passed our way tonight.

Is the WHL moving back to the Island?

Jim Mullin reported recently that the Chilliwack Bruins were fielding offers from a group in Victoria, and could be on the move. TPS received an email tonight stating that a deal was done. We reached out to different people in the league to try and find out more, and received several 'no comments' but noone flat out said it wasn't happening. Another source passed on that if Chilliwack does move to the Island, then Prince George might have an interest in shuffling off to Chilliwack. A well placed source told us the league very much wants to have two more clubs in the Western Conference to make it an even dozen just like the east. Nanaimo has also been long rumoured as a possible destination.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WHL Playoff Notes:Rebels grab 2-0 lead

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wasn't the main story on Saturday night, but he did get the party started for fans at the Enmax Centrium. RNH and Andrej Kudrna picked up Saturday where Friday ended with Nugent-Hopkins 3rd straight goal going back to game 1. After that the Oil Kings did a pretty good job of shutting down and targeting physically the budding star for most of the night. It was Brett Ferguson and Adam Kabeitz who did the damage instead. Both had 3 points as the Rebels grabbed a 2-0 lead in the series. The shots were even at 28, but that was about it, as Edmonton's power play is sputtering. It's 0-9 in the two games and only has clicked once all season vs. Red Deer. The Series shifts to Edmonton for game 3 Monday night (TEAM 1260, SHAW TV)

Holy Suspensions Batman

The QMJHL was busy handing out suspensions late Friday/early Saturday as an unlucky 7 were sat for Saturday games and beyond.

The official release is here.

I haven't seen any video of the hits, punches or slew foots so I can't say whether or not their deserving suspensions or an over reaction. If the hits are as dangerous as the ones we are seeing in the NHL lately then good on the league for reacting quickly and somewhat severely. Sitting a guy in the playoffs has an almost 3-1 ratio to regular season games in some hockey peoples eyes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Game Day Edition: It's Playoff Time

This morning Guy and I recapped every CHL and NCAA playoff game, went in depth with 3 different CHL series and a bracket of the NCAA tournament and discussed concussions and why one NHL rookie has the most impressive stats in the Calder trophy race. Click here to go inside the world of prospects hockey.

Rimouski takes shot at Montreal trap style in very funny way: Video

Montreal and Rimouski met near the end of the QMJHL season and fed up with the way the Juniors play the trap, Rimouski made 16 passes in their own end before firing it down the ice. It's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oil Kings-Rebels: Let the Rivalry Begin

Game one between Edmonton and Red Deer started off where the last two games left off. Just seconds in It was captain on captain when Red Deer's Colin Archer tried to cream Oil King blueliner Mark Pysyk. The Buffalo Sabre draft pick just got out of the way and avoided most of the hit. Things continued at the other end when Darcy Kuemper gave TJ Foster a face full of leather, drawing a scrum and giving Edmonton their first power play.

SJHL Looking For New Leader

Laury Ryan stepped down as SJHL president today, but according to some it was only a matter of time. Word is Ryan didn't receive a vote of confidence in each of the past 2 seasons and there was a movement afoot to replace him. 'They're 4th among the 4 western league's' one source told TPS referring to where the SJHL ranks among junior A loops from Manitoba to BC.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dowling Signs With Calgary [Confirmed]

TPS has learned that Swift Current Broncos forward Justin Dowling is in the sights of the Calgary Flames and in fact, may have already signed a contract with the NHL club. I have not yet been able to confirm that a deal is done but it sounds to be close at the very least. It is possible that this will not be the standard 3-year entry level deal but instead a minor league agreement for a year or two. [It has now been confirmed that Dowling has signed an ATO and will head to AHL Abbotsford].

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Player Profile: Matt Needham

The Pipeline Show is excited to be able to bring you some bonus content from our new friends at PuckLife. From time to time, we'll be posting player profiles written by some of PuckLife's scribes but that still fit the format of what we do here at Coming Down the Pipe and on the air with TPS.

If you enjoy what you read here by PuckLife, we'd recommend that you give them a closer look by going here. You'll also see a banner for the publication down the right hand side of our page.

Here is the first such profile, a feature on Matt Needham of the Kamloops Blazers written by Jonathan Szekeres...

Rebels After 2013 Memorial Cup

The Red Deer Rebels announced today they will make a bid for the 2013 Mastercard Memorial Cup.

As a guy who covered the Rebels from 2000-2002 I can say the Enmax Centrium would be a great place to host the event, and Red Deer hockey fans will be all over it.

Here's some of the news release put out by the team.
If five or more cities bid for the 2013 Mastercard Memorial Cup, then the WHL will review preliminary bid information and shortlist the bids to a maximum of four by June 15, 2011.

The presentations to the WHL Board of Governors will be made October 15, 2011. The final decision will also be made that day.

More details about the Red Deer bid, and its committee, will be released at a later date.

Brent Sutter, President/Owner of The Red Deer Rebels Hockey Club – “We’re in a position now with our hockey club that we believe that we can compete at this level. We also know our community can support an event of this magnitude. The Mastercard Memorial Cup is one of biggest hockey events in our country, and we think Central Alberta would be the perfect place to host such a prestigious event.”

Blazers Win Lottery; Hitmen Pick 1st

THe WHL Bantam Draft lottery was held this morning and was won by the Kamloops Blazers who move up a couple of spots and will now select 4th. It didn't change the results at the top though as the 1st overall selection will still be made by Brad Whelen and the Calgary Hitmen.

Complete order for the non-playoff teams: Calgary, Swift Current, Regina (pick held by 'Canes), Kamloops, Lethbridge and Seattle.

CCHA Commish Bolting for Big 10 Coaching Job [UPDATE - Confirmed]

I received a text today that suggests something pretty surprising. It said that Tom Anastos, Commissioner of the CCHA Conference, is leaving that post to become the new head coach at Michigan State. The Spartans position is currently vacant after the (forced?) retirement of Rick Comley.

Tuesday Recap: CHL & NCAA Prediction Show

Tuesday night was Prediction Night on The Pipeline Show as we went through all three CHL leagues as well as the NCAA National Tournament bracket with our no holds barred predictions. Joining us for each segment was another TPS regular who closely follows the league in question and not surprisingly, each of them contributed tidbits that we'd overlooked.

How'd we do? More importantly, do you agree with us? Click, find out and then let us know.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pickin' Brains: Top WHL D-Man for 2011

Part one of this series came out last week with an in-depth report of how the scouting community views Oil Kings forward Dylan Wruck. Continuing the "Pickin' Brains" series, this week I'm revealing the results of the informal poll of scouts when asked to name the top WHL blueliner available in the Class of 2011.

It was a fairly simple question but I was very surprised by the results of the straw poll. My expectations were that one player would be the clear favourite but that another would get a vote or two. What actually came my way had me shaking my head.

Question #2: Of the WHL defencemen eligible for the 2011 NHL Draft, who is at the top of your own personal list?

The results after the click...

Puempel On Road to Recovery

The Pipeline Show received an update on the status of key 2011 eligible prospect Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes. The forward has been sidelined since February 21st but still finished the season as the club's top scorer with 69 points. The 6', 190 lb left winger is Peterbough's nominee for the Red Tilson Trophy which goes to the OHL's most outstanding player.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Holland Commits To MSU: Big Ten Here We Go-updated WHL reaction.

Okotoks Oilers blueliner Rhett Holland is heading to Michigan State University for next season. Holland is a 6.01, 212 pound defenceman from Calgary, who's team is in the AJHL South Division final right now with the RBC host Camrose Kodiaks. However Holland isn't playing as he's been out since mid January with an upper body injury.

Williamson-Lamb-Hawerchuk to Lead Canada's U18 team

TPS has learned that Calgary Hitmen bench boss Mike Williamson will be named Canada's Head Coach for the upcoming Under 18 World Championship. Joining him will be a former Oiler and Winnipeg Jet in current Swift Current and Barrie Colt Head Coaches Mark Lamb and Dale Hawerchuk. An announcement will be made on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NCAA Tournament Bracket is Set

After the Conference playoffs, some number crunching and calculator button mashing, the NCAA National Tournament bracket has been officially announced. As usual, there are going to be some fantastic match ups in the four Regionals and the potential for a very compelling Frozen Four still exists, although not the four teams I was hoping for.

After the click, some thoughts on the brackets and the match ups.

Rebels/Oil Kings: Building A Rivalry

Can you manufacture a rivalry? We’ll find out next Friday. The media in both Edmonton and Red Deer are hoping that facing each other in the post season creates a provincial grudge between the two clubs. It won’t hurt that the two clubs faced each other twice to close out the season and the 2 tilts featured 4 scraps (3 in the first period of Friday night) and both games were essentially one goal games. (RD scored an ENG Saturday night)

Saturday Morning Special - March 19

Saturday on The Pipeline Show Dean and I spoke with an assortment of guests that cover a wide spectrum of the hockey world. We talked Major Junior, NCAA, AHL, NHL, the NHL Draft and more. In other words, more of what you've come to expect when you tune in to The Pipeline Show.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MJHL Mele:Coaches Caught On Tape

Remember the final scene in Youngblood where Racki and Dean Youngblood square off and start the fight by jabbing at one another with their sticks? Of course you do, it's the greatest hockey movie ever made.

What happened in the MJHL on March 12th isn't really as bad as the ending to Youngblood (really? Youngblood is allowed to hit Racki in the head with his stick while everyone including Hanna the ref stands around watching and cheering?) but it's still hard to believe and bad news for the MJHL.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oilers recall 3

It's not yet confirmed by the Oilers or the Barons but TPS has learned that the Edmonton Oilers have recalled Ryan O'Marra, Chris VandeVelde and Alex Giroux and that all three will be in the line up on Thursday night. The trio arrived in Edmonton just after midnight after playing in Grand Rapids on Wednesday evening.

O'Marra collected 3 points in 9 games with the Oilers earlier this year, Giroux's recent stint in the NHL saw him pick up 2 points in 5 games.

This will be the NHL debut for VandeVelde (above). The former member North Dakota Fighting Sioux center has 12 goals and 16 points with Oklahoma City this year.

(Photo: Steve Christy / OKC Barons)

3 Year Extension for Don Lucia

There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Minnesota Golden Gopher Head Coach Don Lucia. The Gophers will be spectators at the National Championship for a 3rd straight year and after getting swept by Alaska-Anchorage, they will also miss the WCHA Final Five for a second straight season.

So what's next for Lucia?

Is Brian Maxwell Coming Back To the WHL?

The man who guided the Spokane Chiefs to the 1991 Memorial Cup could be returning to the WHL. Sources have told TPS that Bryan Maxwell has met with the Vancouver Giants about a "hockey job" meaning he could be returning to a bench soon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is 6 Enough?

The WHL finally decided on the appropriate length of suspension for Kamloops forward Brendan Ranford after his game misconduct back on March 11th. The Blazers will be without their leading scorer for the rest of the regular season and the start of the playoffs as he's been handed a 6-game suspension for abuse of an official.

The official release from the WHL is not available yet but it has been confirmed by the league via Twitter. Our thoughts come after the jump...

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness For RNH

Red Deer Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is bringing it right now. The WHL POW has March Madness with 15 points in 6 games this month. He's racked up 2 hat tricks, a 5 and 4 point game, and he reached the century mark over the weekend. The highest ranked WHL player for the NHL draft has 102 points and sits tied for 3rd in league scoring. RNH has more assists (74) this year than he had points (65) last season.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

WHL Western Conference Playoffs - Who Wants In?

There are 4 teams still looking to clinch a spot in the WHL's Western Conference; Prince George is in 7th with 66 points followed immediately by Everett with 66. Currently on the outside looking in are the Kamloops Blazers with 63 points and Seattle with 61.

The T-Birds have the biggest hill to climb as they'll need to run the table and hope the clubs ahead of them all fail to pick up points. That won't happen though because, although PG and Kamloops each only have two games left, they are against each other so points are guaranteed.

It's become a bit of a snail race though as the four teams have combined to win just 15 of their last 40 games, Seattle has 6 of those victories.

Crazy playoff thoughts follow...

Pickin' Brains: Dylan Wruck

Over the last month or so I've been contacting a number of scouts in order to get a strong gauge on how they feel about a few different players and groups of players in the Class of 2011. "Pickin' Brains" I call it.

I believe that TSN analyst Bob McKenzie's rankings are based on the opinions of 10 scouts that he speaks with (correct me if I'm wrong on that, Bob). That seems like a reasonable line in the sand so to following his example, I have done the same thing.

10 scouts, coming from all 6 divisions and both conferences but no NHL team represented more than once.

Question #1: Is Edmonton Oil Kings leading scorer Dylan Wruck someone that you would push for in your team meetings as a player to draft?

For the results...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - March 12

This was another one of those shows that kind of came together late in the week as a player we had lined up had to cancel yesterday and a couple other guests were tough to track down and get confirmations from. In the end, we did what we always do; we talked CHL with one of the best play-by-play guys in the game, looked more at the 2011 NHL Draft, checked in on the NCAA playoffs, talked Calder Trophy and also updated listeners on the CIS playoffs.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blazers Ranford Cross Checks Official Vs. Rockets

We are getting reports that Kamloops forward Brendan Ranford was kicked out of the Blazers game tonight with Kelowna for Cross checking a linesman. Midway through the 2nd period, Ranford, a Flyers 2010 draft pick was given a 2 minute slashing penalty and a game misconduct.

College Coaching Moves

Last weekend Michigan State Head Coach Rick Comley coached his last game for the Spartans as Comley is leaving (or was asked to step down depending on who you talk to) after this season. Tonight word coming down that Tim Army is giving up his bench boss duties with the Providence Friars. The official release can be found here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2011 Draft Blog: Dylan Willick Pt.5

Continuing with Chapter 5 of his guest blogging series with us is Dylan Willick, forward of the Kamloops Blazers. The native of Prince George, B.C. submitted his first entry to the blog back on November 1st with Part 2 arriving at the end of November. Part 3 came early in 2011. On February we were treated to the 4th installment.

Since then, Willick's career year has seen him continue to produce points and further cement his reputation as a character/ leader for the Blazers. With the 2011 NHL Draft now just 3 months away, I know that teams are taking note of what the previously un-ranked (by NHL Central Scouting) forward has to offer.

Here now is Part 5 in Dylan Willick's guest blogger series...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oil Kings Clinch, Lose Massive Supporter, and relive the past.

One of the biggest supporters of junior hockey in Edmonton passed away last Friday. Vic Mah was 91. (above, middle)

I didn't know Vic Mah very well but from what I've read and from what others have told me, he was a major part of the hockey scene in Edmonton.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Night Recap

Tonight on TPS we doubled dipped our 2011 draft segment, went across the CHL and tried to get to the bottom of the Rick Comley fan incident that took place in Alaska over the weekend.

Oilers Sign Princeton Tigers Captain

One thing is for certain; the IQ of the Oilers organization just skyrocketed. Edmonton announced earlier today that they have signed Princeton Tigers captain Taylor Fedun to a 2-year entry level contract. The local product just finished his 4-year tour of duty in the NCAA and is en route to Oklahoma City where he will join the AHL's Barons for the rest of the season and playoffs.

Here is the official release from the Oilers and from Princeton.

Top 5 Tuesdays: Western Canadians for U18s

The 2011 World U18 will be held in Dresden Germany beginning on April 9th. As always, that start time means Canada will be severely shorthanded as most of their best players will still be playing in the CHL playoffs. That will also affect some European teams as they may have two or three players overseas in the same situation.

Team USA, however, is hardly affected at all since the vast majority of the team that will head to Germany next month will consist of the U18/U17 program out of Ann Arbor. There may be a player added from outside that mix, perhaps two like last year when Austin Watson (Peterborough, OHL) and Connor Brickley (Des Moines, USHL) were added. It's not a coincidence that USA has had their way at the event over the last several years because of this.

Canada will enter a team made up of players who failed to reach the post season in the CHL or were eliminated quickly in the first round. They will be able to draw from some of Jr.A teams and NCAA clubs too. With the Frozen Four ending ending on April 9th, that may be cutting it too close for the two teams in the Finals but, for the purpose of today's list, let's assume it's not.

We'll also go by the WHL standings as of today - things may change but the team outside of the playoffs and therefore available for Hockey Canada are: Calgary, Regina, Swift Current, Lethbridge, Kamloops and Seattle. Also keeping in mind that players must be born in 1993 or more recently.

Here now are the top 5 players available to Hockey Canada that meet all the above terms and conditions...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rich Preston: "Loses His Temper"

Last night's game between Lethbridge and Kelowna was highlighted by a 3rd period incident centering around 'Canes head coach Rich Preston. The play-by-play voices from both teams have done a great job of painting the picture on their blogs so instead of me recapping the scene, here is the Lethbridge and Kelowna perspectives.

The video of the incident has now made its way to YouTube. That and my thoughts after the jump...

MSU Eliminated, Comley Story Continues

Last night the Michigan State Spartans played their final game of the year as they were bounced from the CCHA conference playoffs by the Alaska Nanooks. The game went to overtime for the second consecutive night and ended the same way it did Friday, with a goal from sophomore Nik Yaremchuk.

Yesterday Dean broke the story about Spartans head coach Rick Comley getting into a postgame altercation on Friday night. Local Fairbanks media has since picked up the story.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

MSU - Alaska Post Game Incident

Halfway through our 'Game Day' edition of The Pipeline Show this morning we received word that there allegedly was a post game incident involving Michigan State Head Coach Rick Comley and some Alaska fans last night.

The Nanooks beat the Spartans in overtime to kick off the CCHA playoffs. Michigan had a goal disallowed which led to Alaska scoring the game winner. Here is the story as we have been told:

Saturday Morning Special - March 5

Saturday's guest list was a bit of a moving target as one intended participant had to drop out and another forgot he was getting on a plane before his segment. But being the professionals we are, we improvised and pulled out another solid show. We covered the CHL and NCAA action from Friday night, talked about the Taylor Hall fight/injury and how that might impact the Calder Trophy race, went East to look closer at the Quebec Remparts, covered some NCAA stuff and looked ahead to the World U18s for Canada.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Acolatse Signed by Sharks

The Pipeline Show has learned that Prince George Cougars defenceman Sena Acolatse has been signed by the San Jose Sharks. The 20-year-old is in his final season in the WHL and has earned the 3-year entry level contract with his performance for the Cougars.

2011 Draft Blog: Travis Ewanyk Pt.3

Continuing his guest blogging series with us today is Travis Ewanyk, forward of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The product of St.Albert, AB wrote the first entry to the blog back in October and followed that up with Part 2 in December. Since then the Oil Kings have improved their team play and climbed the standings to 6th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

In his own words, here's Travis Ewanyk's account of the last several weeks...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blades battle back for win, Oilers prospect breaks ankle

Wednesday night at Rexall Place the Edmonton Oil Kings jumped out to a 4-2 lead over the top team in the WHL after 20 minutes of play. I'm sure Saskatoon head coach Loren Molleken peeled some paint in the first intermission and it worked. The Blades outscored Edmonton 6-1 in the final 40 minutes to pick up their 49th win of the season.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Night On TPS

Tuesday night we were joined by the most talked about prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline, a Michigan Wolverine/"love expert"/Ottawa Senator, a Top (Sea) Dog for the NHL draft and our CHL insider from Rogers Sportsnet.

Louie The Love Expert?

Tonight on TPS we'll be joined by Michigan Wolverine Louie Caporusso, an Ottawa Senators draft pick, and a guy who was front and centre on Valentines day. Louie is set to join us at 7:45 pm mst.

Check out the video below... it's well worth your 56 seconds.