WHL This Week: Lookig Ahead…

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Cory Flett

February 22, 2013, Calgary, AB (ISN) – The 2012-13 WHL regular season enters its final weekend of play in February with 23 games on the schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

AROUND THE RINKS THIS WEEKEND…

In Medicine Hat, AB, the Tigers will be supporting Lids For Kids on Saturday night when the Swift Current Broncos come to town. The Tigers will be selling a limited number of special hats, each one autographed by a Tigers player, with proceeds going to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Medicine Hat.

In Prince George, B.C., the Cougars are inviting all local minor hockey teams out to Friday’s game versus Portland for their Minor Hockey Night. A few lucky youngsters will win the chance to join the Cougars and their strength & conditioning coach, while one lucky team will win the chance to have the Cougars attend their team practice.

In Red Deer, AB, Saturday night is Red Deer Rustlers Heritage Night when the Rebels host the Prince Albert Raiders. The Rebels will be sporting replica jerseys of the 1979-80 edition of the Rustlers who won the Centennial Cup, which will be auctioned off to support the Central Alberta chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society.

In Kent, WA, it’s 2013 Hockey Challenge weekend. The Seattle Thunderbirds host the Everett Silvertips on Saturday as corporate teams battle each other in tournament action to help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska. The weekend will also feature a celebrity all-star game following Saturday’s T-Birds contest.

In Spokane, WA, the Chiefs have a big weekend planned with their Jersey Off The Back night on Friday and their Breast Cancer Awareness night on Saturday. At Friday’s game versus the Edmonton Oil Kings, fans can bid on game-worn jerseys with proceeds going to the Chiefs’ Education Fund. On Saturday, the Chiefs will sport special jerseys which fans can bid on to help support Susan G. Komen for the Cure Eastern Washington Affiliate.

In Kennewick, WA, the Tri-City Americans will be skating on Pink Ice on Friday night when they host the Everett Silvertips as part of their Breast Cancer Awareness night. The Ams will also wear special jerseys to be auctioned off in support of the worthy cause.

In Vancouver, B.C., the Giants will debut their Gordie Howe Tribute Jerseys on Friday night when the Kamloops Blazers are in town as they kick off Gordie Howe Week celebrations. The Giants will be wearing the special jerseys at their home games through next Friday as they celebrate Mr. Hockey’s 85th birthday.

In Victoria, B.C., the Royals host their Canadian Forces Appreciation Night on Saturday. The Royals will be wearing military-themed jerseys that will be auctioned off to support the Military Family Resource Centre and other local causes.

WHL HONORS LANZ BROTHERS WITH DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD…

The WHL announced on Thursday that longtime Medicine Hat Tigers’ off-ice officials Balzer, Frank, John and Tony Lanz are recipients of the 2012-13 WHL Distinguished Service Award. The four Lanz brothers join Red Deer Rebels’ billet coordinator Judy Seher as recipients of the award for the 2012-13 season.

The four Lanz brothers began their minor official duties with the Tigers during the Club’s inaugural season in 1970-71 and have been serving as part of the off-ice officials crew for 43 years. John and Frank can still be seen working Tigers games while Balzer and Tony have retired from their game-day duties but remain loyal season ticket holders. All four Lanz brothers, whether it be working or watching games, are tremendous fans of the Tigers and the Western Hockey League.

156 WHL ALUMNI HAVE SUITED UP IN THE NHL THIS SEASON…

The Western Hockey League is proud to announce that 20% of all players who have played in the National Hockey League through the first month of the 2012-13 season are graduates of the WHL.

Of the 778 players who had played at least one game in the NHL as of February 19, 2013, 156 are graduates of the WHL.

In addition to the 156 players, there are 36 WHL graduates currently on the coaching staff of NHL clubs, and another 29 WHL graduates who currently occupy key management positions with NHL clubs.

BMO CHL TEAM CHALLENGE UNDERWAY…

The Western Hockey League and BMO are calling all WHL fans to help support their favorite WHL team with the 2013 BMO CHL Team Challenge.

WHL fans can help their favorite Club win up to $10,000 towards their Scholarship Fund by signing up for BMO Affinity team-branded MasterCard.

Sign up for your team-branded BMO Affinity MasterCard by visiting www.bmo.com. The CHL team with the most fans who sign up for the card will receive $10,000 towards their Scholarship Program.

FRIDAY NIGHT WHL HOCKEY ON SHAW…

Morgan Rielly and the Moose Jaw Warriors take on Morgan Klimchuk and the Regina Pats for a match-up between East Division archrivals on Friday night.

Friday’s match-up between the Pats and Warriors can be seen live throughout western Canada on SHAW and SHAW Direct channel 299 (7:00pm CST).

The Warriors are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday night for their fifth setback over their last seven games, and currently share 10th place in the Eastern Conference with the Pats. The Warriors are 10-11-2-4 on home ice this season. Rielly is the reigning Denny’s WHL Player of the Week after picking up four goals and five points in three games last week.

The Pats stunned the Eastern Conference-leading Oil Kings with a 3-2 win in Edmonton on Wednesday night, backed by a 53-save performance from netminder Matt Hewitt. Wednesday’s win snapped a four-game losing skid. Klimchuk got the winner on Wednesday in Edmonton, giving him 30 goals this season.

Friday’s meeting marks the fifth of eight encounters this season between the teams. The teams split the first four meetings, with the road team prevailing in three of those four clashes.

FRIDAY NIGHT CHL HOCKEY ON SPORTSNET…

Jackson Houck and the Vancouver Giants take on Colin Smith and the Kamloops Blazers for a B.C. Division battle on Friday night, live on SPORTSNET (7:30pm PST)

The Giants suffered a 5-4 defeat to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick on Tuesday night for their third loss in a row, and currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference. Nine of the Giants’ 15 wins this season have come on home ice. Houck leads the Giants in scoring with 53 points this season, including 20 goals.

The Blazers are coming off Wednesday’s 3-0 shutout loss to the visiting Portland Winterhawks, snapping a seven-game winning streak, and remain in third place in the Western Conference standings. The Blazers are 4-6-1-1 over their last 12 road games. Smith ranks third in WHL scoring with 93 points this season.

It’s the sixth meeting of the season between the Blazers and Giants. Kamloops is 5-0 versus Vancouver this season, outscoring the Giants 23-10 in the process.

KEY WEEKEND MATCH-UPS…

Medicine Hat Tigers vs. Swift Current Broncos

Friday, Feb. 22 @ Swift Current; Saturday, Feb. 23 @ Medicine Hat

Adam Lowry and the Swift Current Broncos take on Hunter Shinkaruk and the Medicine Hat Tigers for a weekend home-and-home series between two teams battling for Eastern Conference playoff spots.

The Broncos currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, just three points ahead of ninth-placed Lethbridge and just one point back of sixth-placed Medicine Hat. The Broncos hold a game in hand on the Tigers. Swift Current has lost three of its last four games.

The Tigers suffered a 5-2 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday for their second straight setback, and currently sit seven points behind fifth-placed Red Deer. Medicine Hat is aiming to make the WHL playoffs for an 11th consecutive year. Shinkaruk has 32 goals and 71 points this season.

This weekend’s meetings mark the third and fourth meetings of the season between the Tigers and Broncos. The teams split a home-and-home series at the end of December, with the home team winning on each occasion.

Lethbridge Hurricanes vs. Kootenay Ice

Sunday, Feb. 24

Jaimen Yakubowski and the Lethbridge Hurricanes host Sam Reinhart and the Kootenay Ice for a key Eastern Conference battle on Sunday.

The Hurricanes have been idle since dropping a 5-4 decision to the visiting Prince George Cougars last Saturday for their fourth straight loss, and have dropped to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The ‘Canes are 16-11-1-3 at home this season. Yakubowski got all four of the ‘Canes’ goals versus the Cougars last Saturday.

The Ice pushed past Lethbridge into eighth place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with their 5-2 win in Swift Current on Wednesday, and currently own a one-point edged over the Hurricanes. The Ice were 14 games under .500 and in 21st place in the WHL standings at the midway point of the 2012-13 season, but have fired off a 18-5-1-1 record since to pull back into the playoff picture.

Sunday’s meeting is the fourth of the season between the Central Division rivals. Lethbridge won the first two meetings in September and early December, but the Ice won the most recent encounter on February 2.

Lethbridge hosts Red Deer on Friday night while Kootenay hosts Calgary on Saturday prior to Sunday’s head-to-head match-up.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE – Feb. 22 – Feb. 24

All times local

WATCH WHL HOCKEY LIVE ON WHL LIVE ON DEMAND

Friday, Feb. 22

Prince Albert @ Calgary; 7:00

Red Deer @ Lethbridge; 7:00

Regina @ Moose Jaw; 7:00 **Live on SHAW**

Portland @ Prince George; 7:00

Brandon @ Saskatoon; 7:05

Edmonton @ Spokane; 7:05

Medicine Hat @ Swift Current; 7:00

Everett @ Tri-City; 7:05

Kamloops @ Vancouver; 7:30 **Live on SPORTSNET**

Kelowna @ Victoria; 7:05

Saturday, Feb. 23

Calgary @ Kootenay; 7:00

Swift Current @ Medicine Hat; 7:30

Saskatoon @ Moose Jaw; 7:00

Portland @ Prince George; 7:00

Prince Albert @ Red Deer; 7:30

Everett @ Seattle; 6:05

Kamloops @ Spokane; 7:05

Edmonton @ Tri-City; 7:05

Kelowna @ Victoria; 7:05

Sunday, Feb. 24

Kootenay @ Lethbridge; 6:00

Red Deer @ Medicine Hat; 6:00

Brandon @ Swift Current; 7:00

Seattle @ Vancouver; 2:00

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