November 29, 2012 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Calgary, AB - The 2012-13 WHL regular season closes out November and opens December with 24 games on the schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
AROUND THE RINKS THIS WEEKEND...
Moustache season winds down as Movember wraps up this weekend. Once again, the Canadian Hockey League, its member Clubs and the MOfficials have made Movember a success, already having raised over $140,000 for male below-the-belt cancer. To follow the duster progress of WHL teams, players and the MOfficials and to donate, visit the CHL Movember Network page.
As December begins, so does Teddy Bear/Toque Toss season in the WHL. Several WHL Clubs will hold the hugely popular event this weekend, including the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Prince Albert Raiders and Red Deer Rebels.
In Everett, WA, the Silvertips kick off their 10th annual Christmas House Holiday Drive this Friday when the Vancouver Giants come to town. The "Tips will be collecting toys and monetary donations to support Christmas House in their efforts to help local children from low-income families enjoy the season.
In Medicine Hat, AB, in addition to their Teddy Bear Toss event, several Tigers' players will have their Heads Shaved, as promised, for the Club reaching their Movember fundraising goal.
In Prince George, B.C., the Cougars launch their annual Cougars Christmas Campaign this Friday when they host the Victoria Royals. With the goal of supporting several local organizations over the course of the campaign, the Cougars are encouraging donations of hats, scarves and mittens on Friday night's campaign launch.
In Regina, SK, the Pats are holding their Movember Wrap-Up Party on Saturday night when the Spokane Chiefs come to town. The Pats welcome special guests from the Regina Professional Fire Fighters Association who will "Pass the Helmet' around to raise funds.
In Vancouver, B.C., the Giants honor Vancouver Canucks great and former Medicine Hat Tigers star Trevor Linden in their Heroes of Hastings night on Saturday night.
2013 MASTERCARD MEMORIAL CUP TICKET PACKS ON SALE NOW...
Ticket packages for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup went on sale to the public Thursday morning and organizers are promising a full-on festival of hockey and entertainment.
"Hockey fans are hungry for their favourite game and anxious to see this championship," event co-chair Tim Gitzel said Wednesday during a media conference in Saskatoon. "Even with the tremendous support so far, there are still ticket packages available across the price spectrum.
HOME HARDWARE CHL/NHL TOP PROSPECTS COACHES AND CAPTAINS ANNOUNCED...
Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones will captain Team Orr at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects game in Halifax, NS, on January 16th.
Jones, the top-rated WHL skater in NHL Central Scouting's fall rankings, is considered a possible first-overall selection in the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft.
Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers will serve as an assistant captain for Team Orr.
SPORTSNET TO BROADCAST TWO WHL GAMES IN DECEMBER...
Sportsnet has announced its CHL hockey broadcast schedule for December, with two WHL contests on the schedule.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes will host the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday, December 12th, and the Red Deer Rebels welcome the Victoria Royals on Friday, December 14th. Both games will be on Sportsnet.
WHL PLAYERS LOOKING FORWARD TO WORLD U-17 HOCKEY CHALLENGE...
The rosters for Team West and Team Pacific have been announced and 32 current WHL players will be suiting up for the two clubs. Team West, made up of players from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, featured 14 WHL players while Team Pacific, comprised of players from Alberta and British Columbia, boasts 18 WHL players.
"It's an honor to be named to Team Pacific," said Calgary Hitmen 16-year-old Jake Virtanen, a product of Abbotsford, B.C., who was the first overall pick from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. "It'll be really exciting to go to Quebec and play against the Russians, Sweden and Finland, and the Americans, and it'll be a great test for us."
PORTLAND'S LEIPSIC, REBELS' BARTOSAK TAKE WEEKLY HONORS...
Brendan Leipsic of the Portland Winterhawks was named the Denny's WHL Player of the Week for the week ending November 25th.
The 18-year-old from Winnipeg, MB, notched three goals and nine points with a +5 rating over three games last week, leading the Hawks to a 3-0 record in that span. Leipsic is currently riding a 13-game point streak, and has recorded multiple points in every game in November.
Meanwhile, Red Deer Rebels' netminder Patrik Bartosak was named Vaugh CHL Goaltender of the Week.
Bartosak posted a 3-0 record with a shutout in three games last week, posting a 0.62 goals-against average and a stellar .980 save percentage in that time.
FRIDAY NIGHT WHL HOCKEY ON SHAW...
Mathew Dumba and the Red Deer Rebels host Curtis Valk and the Medicine Hat Tigers for a match-up between Central Division rivals on Friday night in Red Deer, AB.
Friday's match-up between the Rebels and Tigers can be seen live throughout western Canada on SHAW and SHAW Direct channel 299 (7:30pm MST).
The Rebels have been off since edging the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors 2-1 in a shootout last Saturday, stretching their winning streak to five games since Brent Sutter took over head coaching duties on an interim basis. The Rebels have given up just four goals over their last five games. Rebels' netminder Patrik Bartosak earned Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week honors for his strong performance last week.
The Tigers dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime in Edmonton last Saturday to extend their losing skid to seven games, and currently sit in fifth place in the Central Division. The Tigers have won just three times through their first 15 road games this season. Valk leads the Tigers in scoring with 37 points this season.
Friday's meeting marks the fourth encounter of the season between the Tigers and Rebels. The Tigers won the first meeting between the teams, but Red Deer won the last two, including a 4-0 shutout win over the Tigers on November 20th.
KEY WEEKEND MATCH-UPS...
Tri-City Americans @ Kamloops Blazers
Friday, Nov. 30
Colin Smith and the Kamloops Blazers take on Justin Feser and the Tri-City Americans for a match-up between Western Conference powers on Friday night.
The Blazers are coming off a 2-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Giants on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing skid, and currently sit in first place in the overall WHL standings. The Blazers are 11-2-1 on home ice this season. Smith leads the WHL with 33 assists and ranks second among all WHL players with 52 points.
The Americans dropped a 3-2 decision in Kelowna to the Rockets on Wednesday night for their second loss in a row, but remain in third place in the U.S. Division and fifth in the Western Conference. Both of the Ams' last two defeats have come on the road. Feser has picked up nine goals and 18 points over his last nine games.
It's the second meeting of the season between the Ams and Blazers. The Americans doubled up the visiting Blazers 4-2 in Kennewick on November 10th.
Victoria Royals @ Prince George Cougars
Friday, Nov. 30 & Saturday, Dec. 1
It feels a bit like a playoff series as Alex Forsberg and the Prince George Cougars host Brandon Magee and the Victoria Royals for the third and fourth meetings between the B.C. Division rivals inside the last week.
The Cougars have been idle since splitting a pair of games last weekend in Victoria, winning 5-4 last Friday before falling 3-2 on Saturday, and currently sit in fourth place in the B.C. Division. The Cougars are 5-6-1 on home ice this season.
The Royals are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday night after having split last weekend's two-game set versus the Cougars, and currently sit five points up on Prince George for third place in the division. The Royals have lost seven of their last eight road games.
Not only are there valuable divisional points on the line for the Cougars and Royals, but meeting four times inside a week should generate some intensity between the division rivals, making for an exciting weekend for fans.
WEEKEND SCHEDULE - Nov. 30 - Dec. 2
All times local
WATCH WHL HOCKEY LIVE ON WHL LIVE ON DEMAND
Friday, Nov. 30
Saskatoon @ Calgary; 7:00
Kootenay @ Edmonton; 7:00
Vancouver @ Everett; 7:35
Tri-City @ Kamloops; 7:00
Moose Jaw @ Kelowna; 7:05
Seattle @ Portland; 7:00
Regina @ Prince Albert; 7:00
Victoria @ Prince George; 7:00
Medicine Hat @ Red Deer; 7:30 **Live on SHAW**
Spokane @ Swift Current; 7:00
Saturday, Dec. 1
Portland @ Everett; 7:05
Moose Jaw @ Kamloops; 7:00
Lethbridge @ Medicine Hat; 7:30
Victoria @ Prince George; 7:00
Saskatoon @ Red Deer; 7:30
Spokane @ Regina; 7:00
Kelowna @ Seattle; 7:05
Brandon @ Swift Current; 7:00
Tri-City @ Vancouver; 7:00
Sunday, Dec. 2
Kootenay @ Calgary; 2:00
Lethbridge @ Edmonton; 4:00
Brandon @ Medicine Hat; 6:00
Prince Albert @ Regina; 6:00
Kamloops @ Seattle; 5:05