Category Archives: WHL

Rockets Soar To Title: Former Raider MVP

PHOTO CREDIT (Marissa Baecker)

The Kelowna Rockets claimed the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Wednesday night to become the 49th WHL Champions after earning a 3-0 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Rockets defeated the WHL Eastern Conference Champion Wheat Kings in the 2015 WHL Championship Series, presented by Rogers, in four games.

The win marks the fourth time in franchise history that Kelowna has won the WHL Championship Series (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015). The Rockets will now represent the WHL at the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Quebec City, QC which begins next Friday. This will be the fifth appearance for Kelowna at the MasterCard Memorial Cup as the Club hosted and won the event in 2004.

Leon Draisaitl broke a scoreless tie early in the third period with a shorthanded marker before Rourke Chartier gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead just 19 seconds later on the same penalty kill. Nick Merkley rounded out the scoring for Kelowna while goaltender Jackson Whistle made 19 saves for his fourth shutout of the 2015 WHL Playoffs.

Raiders Retain Coaches

The Prince Albert Raiders are pleased to announce they have re-signed associate coach Dave Manson and assistant coach Kelly Guard.

Born and raised in Prince Albert, Manson returns for his 11th season as a coach with the Raiders. Manson began his coaching career with his former junior club in 2002 when he signed on as an assistant coach. Manson would spend seven seasons in the position before shifting over to the Prince Albert Minors of the Saskatchewan Major Midget League for two years. Manson rejoined the Raiders in 2011 and was promoted to associate coach prior to the 2012-13 campaign.

Part of Raiders folklore, Manson is one of the franchise’s most popular and recognizable alumni. From 1983-86, Manson played 218 games with Prince Albert, scoring 24 goals and 72 assists for 96 points, while racking up 666 penalty minutes. He also dressed in 38 post-season games in his WHL career and was part of the Raiders’ Memorial Cup win in 1985. Manson was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks, 11th overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He played his first year with the Blackhawks in 1986 and would go on to play 16 seasons in the NHL and 1103 games.

Guard, a Prince Albert native, is set to begin his fourth season with the Raiders. After wrapping up his professional career as a goaltender in Italy, Guard made the transition to the coaching ranks in 2012 when he joined the Raiders as the team’s goaltending coach. Last September, Prince Albert promoted Guard, naming him a full-time assistant coach.

Guard’s playing career saw him spend two seasons in the Western Hockey League where he was a Western Conference All-Star with the Kelowna Rockets from 2002-2004 under current Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. During his rookie season, he finished with a league-best 1.93 goals-against average and backstopped the Rockets to the WHL Championship. In 2014, Kelowna hosted and won the Memorial Cup, with Guard being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. After junior,

Blades – Raiders Make Front Office Trade

(Photo Courtesy Saskatoon Blades)

In a unique move off the ice, the Saskatoon Blades announced their Vice President of Business Operations, Mike Scissons, is heading north to sign on with the Prince Albert Raiders in the position of Business Manager.

“The Raiders approached us to request permission to talk to Mike. They had an unexpected vacancy and we thought, while we would miss Mike’s experience and creativity, we wouldn’t want to stand in the way of him advancing his career,” says Blades President Steve Hogle.

“While the two teams are rivals on the ice, we work closely together off the ice and the health of all WHL organizations is of paramount importance,” adds Blades Managing Partner Colin Priestner. “We will miss Mike’s talents but we know he’ll be a great asset to the Raiders.”

“It was an incredibly hard decision to make in leaving the Blades organization,” says Mike. “I have enjoyed every moment working for the Blades for the last twelve years under the direction of both the Brodsky and Priestner families. I wish the organization and the fans nothing but the best in the future. I look forward to joining the Raiders staff and helping them continue to build their business and enhance their already strong community partnerships.”

Blades Pick A Pair In First Round Of Draft

The first round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft has concluded from the Deerfoot Inn in Calgary this morning.

This year, players born in 2000 from eligible provinces and American states were able to be selected as WHL Clubs looked to add key pieces to their future.

After acquiring the Saskatoon Blades’ first round pick in a trade and subsequently winning the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft Lottery to retain the number one selection, the Spokane Chiefs chose defenceman Ty Smith from Lloydminster, AB first overall.

2015 WHL Bantam Draft Results – First Round

#1 – Spokane Chiefs (from Saskatoon)
Name: Ty Smith Position: Defence Hometown: Lloydminster, AB
Previous Team: Delta Academy Bantam Prep (CSSHL)
Stats: 16 GP – 9G – 19A – 28PTS – 14 PIMS

#2 – Lethbridge Hurricanes
Name: Calen Addison Position: Defence Hometown: Brandon, MB
Previous Team: Brandon Wheat Kings Bantam AAA
Stats: 31 GP – 45G – 31A – 76PTS – 46 PIMS

WHL Hands Out Hardware

(Photo Credit: WHL/Brad Watson)

The Western Hockey League held the annual WHL Awards today in Calgary, AB to honour the top performances from the 2014-15 WHL Regular Season.

WHL Player of the Year – Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland Winterhawks

A 1995-born forward from Herning, Denmark, Bjorkstrand enjoyed an explosive season for the Winterhawks to help the Club post a record of 43-23-2-4. This past year, it took Bjorkstrand 58 regular season games to amass 63 goals and 55 assists for 118 points to go along with a plus-60 rating.

Bjorkstrand’s 118 points ranked first in WHL regular season scoring while his 63 goals and plus-60 rating also led all players. Bjorkstrand led the League in shorthanded goals with eight while his 10 game-winning goals were tied for top spot. Bjorkstrand finished with 13 more goals than his nearest competitor, and is the third WHL player since the 2000-01 season to reach the 60-goal plateau. The 6’0, 168 lb forward set a franchise record with a 12-game goal streak from January 30th-March 6th. Bjorkstrand also recorded 36 multiple-point games and 16 multiple-goal games, including five hat tricks.

Drafted by Portland 26th overall in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, Bjorkstrand has played 193 career regular season games for the Winterhawks and has totaled 290 points (144g-156a) with a plus-142 rating. Bjorkstrand was selected in the third round, 89th overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2013 NHL Draft.

RUNNER UP: Tim McGauley – Brandon Wheat Kings
WHL Rookie of the Year – Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nolan Patrick – Brandon Wheat Kings

Patrick enjoyed a successful rookie season for the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2014-15. The 16-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba was seventh in team scoring and finished third among all WHL rookies in scoring with 56 points (30g-26a) in 55 games. Patrick’s 30 goals were first among WHL first-year players and were seven more than his nearest competitor. The Wheat Kings’ first round pick, fourth overall, in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Patrick proved to be valuable to the overall success of the Wheat Kings’ offence as he recorded multiple-point outings in 16 games this season. Patrick is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.

WHL Lightens Punishment On Winterhawks

Ron Robison, Commissioner of the Western Hockey League, announced today that the Portland Winterhawks’ first round selection in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft has been reinstated by the League. The selection was part of the sanctions imposed by the WHL in November of 2012 due to recruitment violations.

“It was important to the League that Portland demonstrate full compliance with WHL Regulations and, as a result of their compliance, the 2017 first round draft choice has been reinstated,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “I am not only satisfied the Winterhawks have been fully compliant but they are also committed to continue serving as good partners in the WHL.”

WHL Names Award Nominees: Former Blade Up For Player Of The Year

The Western Hockey League is pleased to announce that Tim McGauley (Brandon Wheat Kings) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (Portland Winterhawks) have been selected as the Eastern and Western Conference nominees, respectively, for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the 2014-15 WHL Player of the Year.

The finalists and eventual winner are determined through a voting process which includes general managers, coaches, and media representatives from each WHL Club. The winner will be crowned at the 2015 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary on Wednesday, May 6th.

A product of Wilcox, SK, McGauley enjoyed a career campaign for the Wheat Kings this year, helping Brandon to a 53-11-4-4 record and the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top regular season team. The 19-year-old scored 42 goals and 63 assists for 105 points along with a plus-43 rating while playing in all 72 games.

McGauley’s 105 points ranked third in WHL scoring while his 63 assists placed him fourth amongst all players. In addition, McGauley’s plus-43 rating led all Wheat Kings skaters this season while he also notched eight game-winning goals and three shorthanded goals. McGauley’s impressive season included a 24-game point streak in which he totalled 53 points (17g-36a) from January 16th-March 13th. McGauley also produced 34 multiple-point games and notched two overtime winners this year.

Selected by Brandon in the first round, 20th overall, of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, McGauley has played 225 career regular season games for the Wheat Kings and amassed 210 points (80g-130a) with a plus-27 rating. McGauley is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.

Habby Happy In Prince Albert

The Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League are pleased to announce that they have extended the contract of Head Coach Marc Habscheid for a four year term through the 2018-19 season. Habscheid became the Raiders 14th Head Coach November 1st, 2014 on a contract to complete the 2014-15 season.

“The Prince Albert Raider Hockey Club is pleased to have Marc signed with the organization long-term”, said General Manager Bruno Campese. “Marc connected very well with our players, fan base and corporate sponsors since joining us in November, and understands our community very well. We are happy with the long term of the deal as it establishes stability in our Head Coaching position through the next four seasons.”

“I very much enjoyed my first 5 months in Prince Albert”, said Habscheid. “The community and organization was very welcoming.  I am very pleased to continue that relationship over the next 4 years.”

WHL Round 2 Preview And Picks!

After correctly picking six of the eight first round WHL play-off match-ups. Here is a preview of round two complete with my prognostications.

Round 2 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs opens on Friday as eight WHL Clubs continue their quest to become the 49th WHL Champions and earn a spot at the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Quebec City, QC.

In the WHL’s Eastern Conference, the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy-winning Brandon Wheat Kings are in Round 2 after defeating the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings in five games. The Eastern Conference champions will now face the Regina Pats who are coming off a four-game sweep of the Swift Current Broncos

The Calgary Hitmen edged out the Kootenay ICE in a competitive seven-game series and now match-up with the Medicine Hat Tigers, who eliminated the Red Deer Rebels in five games.

In the WHL’s Western Conference, the Western Conference Champion Kelowna Rockets eliminated the Tri-City Americans in four straight games. The Rockets will now meet a familiar B.C. Division rival in the Victoria Royals, who handed the Prince George Cougars a series defeat in five games.

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds in six games to advance to Round 2. The Winterhawks now face an Everett Silvertips squad whose stingy defensive game saw them win the U.S. Division title and beat the Spokane Chiefs in a six-game Round 1 series.

All four Round 2 WHL Playoff series will be divisional contests.

2015 WHL Playoffs, Eastern Conference – Round 2


Blades Win But Lose Lottery

The WHL Bantam Draft Lottery was held today at the WHL Office in Calgary to determine the order of the first six selections in the first round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.

The WHL Bantam Draft Lottery involved the six non-playoff teams (Spokane (from Saskatoon), Lethbridge, Vancouver, Moose Jaw (from Kamloops), Prince Albert and Moose Jaw) from the 2014-15 season.  A team could only move up a maximum of two positions in the Bantam Draft.

The Lottery selection process was performed by Katelyn Dawson from KPMG. The 2015 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary, AB, on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

A Spokane Chiefs ball was drawn, meaning the order of the first round of the draft remains unchanged and the Chiefs will pick first overall. The Lethbridge Hurricanes will have the second selection, the Vancouver Giants will select third, the Moose Jaw Warriors have the fourth selection, the Prince Albert Raiders will select fifth, and the Moose Jaw Warriors will also have the sixth overall selection.

The order of the second round and all other rounds will be the inverse order of final 2014-15 WHL regular season standings.

Players eligible for the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft will be 2000-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Following is the order of selection for the 1st round of the WHL Bantam Draft:

#  CLUB                                   TRADED TO
1. Saskatoon Blades                 Spokane