WHL This Week: January 23rd, 2014

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by Jeff Hubert

January 23, 2014, Calgary, AB (ISN) – The 2013-14 WHL regular season enters its fourth weekend of play in January with 22 games on the schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

AROUND THE RINKS…

In Brandon, MB, the Wheat Kings will honor one of their most popular players in recent history with Matt Calvert Bobblehead Night on Saturday when the Prince George Cougars come to town. 

In Edmonton, AB, fans attending Saturday night’s meeting versus the Calgary Hitmen could get their hands on an Oil Kings’ Backpack.

In Everett, WA, the Silvertips will celebrate one of their own in Bobblehead form on Sunday when the Portland Winterhawks are in town.  Goaltender Austin Lotz will be immortalized in the casting of the popular collectible.

In Cranbrook, B.C., Saturday night is Jersey Off the Back Night when the Moose Jaw Warriors roll through town.  Fans can bid on game-worn jerseys from the contest, with proceeds from the auction going to benefit the Kootenay Ice Education Fund.

In Portland, OR, the search is on for the Hockey Family of the Year and the Winterhawks kick off the quest with Hockey Family Day on Saturday. 

In Regina, SK, fans can get their hands on a bobblehead fashioned in the likeness of Pats’ Great Ed Staniowski at Friday’s meeting with the Prince George Cougars.  The bobbleheads are available with a donation to Soldier On, an organization that helps retired and serving members of the Canadian Forces.

In Saskatoon, SK, the Blades will host their first ever Skills Competition on Sunday afternoon.  Fans can watch their favorite Blades players compete in a variety of skill testing events.

In Kent, WA, the Seattle Thunderbirds will be celebrating the ShoWare Center’s Five-Year Anniversary on Sunday when the Kelowna Rockets come to town. 

In Spokane, WA, members of the Chiefs will be Signing Autographs following their game versus the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night.

In Kennewick, WA, the Tri-City Americans celebrate their fifth annual Nuclear Night on Friday when the Seattle Thunderbirds pay a visit to Toyota Center.  Among other activities planned, the Ams will be sporting special nuclear-themed jerseys which will be auctioned off to support the Ams’ Continuing Education Fund.

In Vancouver, B.C., the Giants host their popular Celebrity Dash-For-Cash event on Friday night when the Lethbridge Hurricanes drop in.  A few lucky fans will join a selection of local media personalities in a 60-second race to pick up $15,000 worth of Loonies scattered at center ice.  The selected fans will keep what they pick up, while the celebrities will donate theirs to a charity of their choice.

WHL GRAD HILL JOINS LEAGUE OFFICE…

Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League announced today that former WHL and CIS player Kirt Hill has been appointed to the position of WHL Manager of Player Development at Recruitment at the WHL Office in Calgary.

As WHL Manager of Player Development and Recruitment, Hill will be responsible to manage new player development initiatives and implement the WHL league-wide player recruitment programs. Hill’s responsibilities will also include coordinating the WHL involvement in a series of player prospects camps held each year in Western Canada and the U.S while continuing to enhance working relationships with hockey organizations at the local and regional levels. Hill’s duties will also include administering the WHL Alumni Association.

For more, CLICK HERE

WHL ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT ON RYAN MURRAY…

It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Murray was a fresh-faced 16-year-old making his Western Hockey League debut with the Everett Silvertips.  Four years later, the White City, SK, product is taking in the rookie experience all over again, only this time he’s getting his feet wet as a first-year player in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For more, CLICK HERE

ROCKETS REMAIN ATOP BMO CHL RANKING…

The Kelowna Rockets are the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League for a fourth straight week in the BMO CHL Top 10 Rankings.  The Calgary Hitmen and Portland Winterhawkjs are also among the Top 10, while the Edmonton Oil Kings earn honorable mention.

For more, CLICK HERE

T-BIRDS’ KOZUN TAKES VAUGHN CHL GOALIE OF THE WEEK HONORS…

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Taran Kozun of the Seattle Thunderbirds is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending January 19 after posting a 3-0-0-0 record with two shutout victories along with a goals-against-average of 0.65 and save percentage of .977.

For more, CLICK HERE

KEY WEEKEND MATCH-UPS…
Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Calgary Hitmen
Saturday, Jan. 25th @ Edmonton; Sunday, Jan. 26th @ Calgary     

Curtis Lazar and the Edmonton Oil Kings take on Jake Virtanen and the Calgary Hitmen for key a home-and-home series between the Central Division contenders this weekend.

The Oil Kings carry a four-game winning streak into the weekend, most recently having defeated the visiting Regina Pats 5-2 on Wednesday night, and currently sit two points back of Calgary for first place in the Central Division and Eastern Conference.  The Oil Kings hold a game in hand on the Hitmen.  Lazar scored three times in Wednesday’s win over Regina, giving him 26 markers on the season.

The Hitmen toppled the visiting Pats 5-1 in Calgary on Tuesday night for their second win over their last three games, and currently share second place in the overall WHL standings with the Portland Winterhawks.  The Hitmen have won a League-best 21 home games this season.  Virtanen has piled up 11 goals and 17 points in 10 games through January.

This weekend’s meetings mark the fourth and fifth of the season between the division rivals.  The Oil Kings took the first two meetings while the Hitmen won the most recent clash.

Everett Silvertips vs. Portland Winterhawks
Friday, Jan. 24 @ Portland; Sunday, Jan. 26 @ Everett

Josh Winquist and the Everett Silvertips take on Brendan Leipsic and the Portland Winterhawks for a pair of meetings this weekend between the U.S. Division foes.

The Silvertips dropped a 6-3 decision in Kelowna on Wednesday for their third loss in four outings, and currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference.  The ‘Tips sit 10 points back of the U.S. Division-leading Hawks, meaning a pair of wins over their division rival this weekend would go a long way to closing the gap.  Winquist leads the ‘Tips with 65 points, which is 30 more points than the next closest ‘Tips’ scorer.

The Winterhawks have won five straight games, including a 5-2 win over Vancouver on Monday, and currently occupy second place in the Western Conference.  The Winterhawks have outscored their opposition 25-9 over their last five games.  Leipsic has seven goals and 15 points over his last seven outings.

This weekend’s double-header marks the fifth and sixth meetings of the season between the Hawks and Silvertips.  The teams split the first four meetings, with three of those four meetings contested in Everett.

FRIDAY NIGHT WHL HOCKEY ON SHAW…

Damon Severson and the Kelowna Rockets welcome Curtis Valk and the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night, live on SHAW (7:00pm PST).

The Rockets doubled up the visiting Everett Silvertips 6-3 on Wednesday night for their second win in a row, and currently sit 11 points clear for first place in the overall WHL standings.  The Rockets boast a 16-2-0-2 record at home this season, and have won their last seven home games.  Severson is one of three Rockets’ defencemen with 10 or more goals.

The Tigers are coming off a 6-1 win in Vancouver over the Giants on Wednesday after having lost 2-1 in Victoria a night earlier, and currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.  The Tigers are 9-11-1-0 on the road this season.  Valk netted a goal and three assists in two previous meetings versus the Rockets this season.

It’s the third and final clash between the Tigers and Rockets.  Kelowna won both previous encounters, with each game being decided by one goal.

SHAW will broadcast 32 WHL games during the 2013-14 WHL regular season.  For the entire WHL on SHAW broadcast schedule, click HERE

WEEKEND SCHEDULE – Jan. 24 – Jan. 26
All times local
WATCH WHL HOCKEY LIVE ON
WHL LIVE ON DEMAND

Friday, Jan. 24
Victoria @ Kamloops; 7:00
Medicine Hat @ Kelowna; 7:05 **Live on SHAW**
Everett @ Portland; 7:00
Prince George @ Regina; 7:00
Red Deer @ Saskatoon; 7:05
Moose Jaw @ Spokane; 7:05
Prince Albert @ Swift Current; 7:00
Seattle @ Tri-City; 7:05
Lethbridge @ Vancouver; 7:30

Saturday, Jan. 25
Prince Albert @ Brandon; 7:30
Calgary @ Edmonton; 7:00
Medicine Hat @ Kamloops; 7:00
Lethbridge @ Kelowna; 7:05
Moose Jaw @ Kootenay; 7:00
Red Deer @ Regina; 7:00
Swift Current @ Saskatoon; 7:05
Everett @ Seattle; 7:05
Tri-City @ Spokane; 7:05
Victoria @ Vancouver; 7:00

Sunday, Jan. 26
Edmonton @ Calgary; 4:00
Portland @ Everett; 4:05
Kelowna @ Seattle; 5:05

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