WHL this Week: Looking Ahead …

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whl

Cory Flett

Calgary, AB – The 2011-12 WHL regular season enters its third weekend of play in December and final weekend of play before the Christmas break with 19 games on the schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

AROUND THE RINKS THIS WEEKEND…

The WHL’s regular-season schedule continues its march through December, with several WHL Clubs hosting the ever-popular Teddy Bear and Toque Toss events to close out the final weekend of play before the holiday break.

Teams encourage their fans to come equipped with stuffed animals, toques and mittens which traditionally get tossed onto the ice when the home team scores their first goal. The Items are collected and donated to local causes.

The Calgary Hitmen set the bar high for this year’s Teddy Bear/Toque Toss events, collecting over 25,000 bears from their event on Sunday, December 4th.

Clubs holding Teddy Bear/Toque Toss events on the weekend include the Edmonton Oil Kings, Prince George Cougars, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Saskatoon Blades.

In Brandon, MB, the Wheat Kings are asking fans to come to Friday’s game versus the Kamloops Blazers Armed with Toys and Food for donation to the Westman and Area Christmas Dinner. Fans in attendance will also get a 2012 Wheat Kings calendar poster.

In Everett, WA, the Silvertips wrap up their Christmas House Holiday Drive at Friday night’s game versus the Spokane Chiefs. Fans can donate toys and make cash donations to benefit Christmas House, which helps provide low-income families in the Snohomish County community with toys, gifts and clothing during the holiday season.

In Saskatoon, SK, Saturday night is Girls Rock Night when the Blades host the Kelowna Rockets. The Blades will welcome special guest Hayley Wickenheiser who will deliver a presentation and talk prior to the game. Don’t forget it’s also Toque and Mitten Toss night at Credit Union Centre.

In Spokane, WA, Saturday night is Bingo Night when the Chiefs host the Portland Winterhawks.

SIX WHL PLAYERS NAMED TO CANADA’S NATIONAL JR. TEAM…

Calgary, AB – Six players from the Western Hockey League will suit up for Team Canada on the biggest stage at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament in Alberta over the Christmas holiday.

Forwards Brett Connolly, formerly of the Prince George Cougars, Mark Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Quinton Howden of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants will join defensemen Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips and Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings on the 22-man roster for Canada’s National Junior team.

Connolly and Howden are two of four veterans from last year’s team named to the 2012 squad while Stone, Gallagher, Murray and Pysyk will be suiting up for the World Junior team for the first time.

For more, click HERE

57 WHL PLAYERS GET INTERNATIONAL CALL…

Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League is proud to announce that 57 WHL players will suit up in international competition in December and January.

A total of 47 WHL players have already been named to national teams that will compete in Under-20 and Under-17 tournaments, while another nine players have been invited to the selection camps for their respective countries.

Six WHL players, including former Prince George Cougar Brett Connolly, will play for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship tournament, while another eight players have been named to their respective national Under-20 teams for the World Junior Championships in Alberta or the Division 1 Under-20 championship in Germany.

34 of the WHL’s top 16-year-old players will suit up for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario, with 22 players set to represent Team Pacific (Alberta and B.C.) and another 12 to represent Team West (Manitoba and Saskatchewan).

For more, click HERE

10 WHL PLAYERS TO PARTICIPATE IN PROSPECTS GAME…

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the three regional leagues, the Kelowna Rockets Hockey Club, and Home Hardware Stores Limited, today announced the 40 CHL players that will compete in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC, on February 1, 2012.

10 of the 40 players selected to participate are from the Western Hockey League, including top-rated defensemen Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips, Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks and Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

For more, click HERE

BMO CELEBRATES HOCKEY ACROSS THE CHL…

TORONTO – In celebration of BMO Financial Group’s new four-year partnership with the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) as the official bank of the CHL, BMO and the CHL today announced the beginning of a Canada-wide community celebration in the hometowns of 41 CHL teams.

Between December and February, 2012, BMO will offer an opportunity for fans in CHL cities to meet their favourite players and enter the BMO Ultimate Fan contest for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec. Each league in the CHL, namely the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, will have one BMO Ultimate Fan who will receive this grand prize.

“We are very excited to embark on this 41-city celebration within CHL hockey communities across Canada,” said Sandy Bourne, Vice-President, Sponsorships, BMO Financial Group. “These celebrations are an amazing opportunity for us to connect with CHL fans, and also give them a chance to attend the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup, one of the largest hockey events in the country.”

For more, click HERE

FRIDAY NIGHT WHL HOCKEY ON SHAW

Duncan Siemens and the Saskatoon Blades host Cody Beach and the Moose Jaw Warriors for a clash between East Division rivals on Friday night

Friday’s contest between the Warriors and Blades can be seen live throughout western Canada on SHAW and SHAW Direct channel 299 (7:00pm CT).

The Blades are coming off a 6-3 loss to the visiting Kamloops Blazers on Wednesday night for their sixth setback over their last eight games, and currently sit three points back of the Warriors for first place in the East Division. The Blades are 11-4-0 on home ice this season, but have dropped four of their last five home games.

The Warriors are coming off a 4-1 win over the visiting Kelowna Rockets last Saturday to improve to 6-2-1-1 over their last 10 outings, and currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, three points back of first-placed Edmonton. Beach leads the Warriors with 18 assists this season, and ranks third on the team with 25 points.

It’s the third meeting of the season between the Warriors and Blades. The teams split the first two meetings, with the home team winning on each occasion.

SHAW will broadcast 32 WHL games during the 2011-12 WHL regular season. For the entire WHL on SHAW broadcast schedule, click HERE

FRIDAY NIGHT CHL HOCKEY ON SPORTSNET

Cody Sylvester and the Calgary Hitmen take on Jordan Weal and the Regina Pats on Friday night at the Saddledome in Calgary, AB.

Friday’s contest marks the third WHL broadcast on Friday Night Hockey on Sportsnet. The contest can be seen live in HD on Sportsnet One and Pacific and joined in progress on Sportsnet West (7:00pm MT).

The Hitmen fell 6-5 in overtime in Lethbridge to the Hurricanes on Wednesday night, halting a modest two-game win streak, and currently sit tied with the Pats for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Calgary’s offense ranks fourth among all Eastern Conference teams. Sylvester boasts a team-leading 36 points this season.

The Pats are coming off Wednesday night’s 3-2 overtime setback to the visiting Kelowna Rockets for their third setback over their last five games. The Pats are tied with the Hitmen with 37 points, but have played one more game. Weal has 318 career points with the Pats, which is the most of any active player in the WHL.

It’s the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Pats and Hitmen. The Hitmen won two of three previous meetings versus the Pats, with both victories coming in Regina.

For the Friday Night Hockey on Sportsnet schedule, click HERE

KEY WEEKEND MATCH-UPS…

Kamloops Blazers @ Moose Jaw Warriors

Saturday, Dec. 17th

Dylan McIlrath and the Moose Jaw Warriors host Brendan Ranford and the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday for a match-up between division leaders.

The Warriors boast a 20-9-3-1 record and 44 points, putting them two points clear of the Brandon Wheat Kings for first place in the East Division. The Warriors own the Eastern Conference’s third-ranked team defense, having surrendered just 98 goals this season.

The Blazers currently hold a five-point lead over Vancouver for first place in the B.C. Division, thanks to a solid 23-9-1-0 record. The Blazers boast the WHL’s best winning percentage on the road at .719, on the back of an 11-4-1 road record.

Saturday’s meeting will be the lone encounter of the season between the Blazers and Warriors. The Warriors posted a 4-2 win over the Blazers in Kamloops on January 4th in last season’s only meeting between the teams.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE – Dec. 16 – Dec. 18

All times local

WATCH WHL HOCKEY LIVE ON WHL LIVE ON DEMAND

Friday, Dec. 16

Kamloops @ Brandon; 7:30

Regina @ Calgary; 7:00 **Live on Sportsnet**

Spokane @ Everett; 7:35

Swift Current @ Kootenay; 7:00

Victoria @ Lethbridge; 7:00

Kelowna @ Prince Albert; 7:00

Vancouver @ Prince George; 7:00

Moose Jaw @ Saskatoon; 7:05 **Live on SHAW**

Seattle @ Tri-City; 7:05

Saturday, Dec. 17

Calgary @ Edmonton; 7:00

Swift Current @ Lethbridge; 7:00

Victoria @ Medicine Hat; 7:30

Kamloops @ Moose Jaw; 7:00

Vancouver @ Prince George; 7:00

Regina @ Red Deer; 7:30

Kelowna @ Saskatoon; 7:05

Tri-City @ Seattle; 7:05

Portland @ Spokane; 7:05

Sunday, Dec. 18

Regina @ Edmonton; 2:00

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