December 13, 2012 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Calgary, AB - The 2012-13 WHL regular season enters its second weekend of play in December and final weekend of action before the Christmas break with 24 games on the schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
AROUND THE RINKS THIS WEEKEND...
As December rolls along, so does Teddy Bear/Toque Toss season in the Western Hockey League. Seven more WHL Clubs will be hosting the popular event this weekend, including the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Portland Winterhawks, the Prince George Cougars, the Saskatoon Blades, the Spokane Chiefs, the Swift Current Broncos and the Vancouver Giants.
In Brandon, MB, the Wheat Kings will pay tribute to Another Notable Manitoba Sports Team at Friday's contest versus the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. A tribute will be paid to the Neelan Spartans, who took the Provincial 4A High School Girl's Volleball Championship.
In Calgary, AB, the Hitmen are inviting fans to Lace Up The Skates and skate with the team following Sunday's game versus the Kelowna Rockets.
In Everett, WA, the Silvertips wrap up their Christmas House Holiday Drive at Sunday's game versus the Portland Winterhawks.
In Lethbridge, AB, the Hurricanes are hosting an Open House on Saturday. Fans can take a tour of the Hurricanes' locker room and meet players. The "Canes are also asking for non-perishable food donations to help "Fill a Truck...and Fill the Food Bank.
14 WHL PLAYERS INVITED TO HOME HARDWARE CHL/NHL TOP PROSPECTS GAME...
14 WHL players are among the 40 players from the Canadian Hockey League selected to participate in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 16th.
Among the WHL's invitees are defencemen Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks, who is the top-ranked WHL skater in NHL Central Scouting's fall rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft, and forward Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who is currently vying for a spot on Canada's national junior team.
SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES' BORTIS NAMED HUSKY WHL GRADUATE OF THE MONTH...
Kyle Bortis of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies has been named the Husky-WHL Grad of the Month for the month of November. The 24-year-old from Saskatoon, SK, tallied six goals and 12 points in eight games during November to lead the Huskies to a 6-2 record in that span.
Bortis played four seasons in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen, closing out his WHL career with 24 goals and 84 points in his final WHL season with the Hitmen in 2008-09.
YAKUBOWSKI EARNS WEEKLY WHL AND CHL HONORS...
For the second straight week, Jaimen Yakubowski of the Lethbridge Hurricanes was named the Denny's WHL Player of the Week. The 18-year-old from Dalmeny, SK, scored six goals and three assists for nine points to go with a +5 rating in three games to help the "Canes to a 2-0-1 record in that span. Yakubowski got five of his goals in one game versus the Medicine Hat Tigers last weekend.
Yakubowski's efforts also earned him the CHL Player of the Week award as well.
FRIDAY NIGHT WHL HOCKEY ON SHAW...
Josh Nicholls and the Saskatoon Blades welcome Graham Black and the Swift Current Broncos for a match-up between Saskatchewan rivals on Friday night.
Friday's match-up between the Broncos and Blades can be seen live throughout western Canada on SHAW and SHAW Direct channel 299 (7:00pm CT).
The Blades rolled to a 5-2 win in Moose Jaw over the Warriors on Wednesday night for their fourth consecutive victory, and have climbed to sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Blades' offense is heating up, having put up 28 goals over their last four games. Nicholls, the Blades' leading goal scorer, is eight games shy of 300 for his WHL career.
The Broncos closed out a B.C. Division tour with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Prince George Cougars on Tuesday night, and currently trail the Blades by two points in the East Division standings. The Broncos are 7-9-1-1 on the road this season. Black ranks second on the Broncos in scoring with 29 points this season.
It's the fourth meeting of the season between the Blades and Broncos. The Broncos took two of the first three meetings, including a 10-1 thrashing of the Blades in their lone visit to Saskatoon on October 19th.
FRIDAY NIGHT CHL HOCKEY ON SPORTSNET...
Turner Elson and the Red Deer Rebels take on Steven Hodges and the Victoria Royals on Friday night in Red Deer, AB, live on Sportsnet (7:30pm MST).
The Rebels dropped a 2-1 decision to the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday night for their first regulation setback in 11 games, but remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Rebels own the WHL's third-ranked penalty killing unit, currently operating at an 86.7% efficiency rate. The Rebels have surrendered one or fewer goals in eight of their last 11 games.
The Royals skated to a 6-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, WA, on Tuesday night for their second win in a row and fourth victory in five games, and currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference. The Royals have won their last four road games. Hodges has seven goals and 14 points in 19 games this season.
It's the first of two meetings this season between the Royals and Rebels. The teams split two meetings last season, with both games being played in Victoria.
KEY WEEKEND MATCH-UPS...
Prince George Cougars vs. Vancouver Giants
Friday, Dec. 14 @ Vancouver; Saturday, Dec. 15 & Sunday, Dec. 16 @ Prince George
Trevor Cheek and the Vancouver Giants take on Troy Bourke and the Prince George Cougars three times in three nights this weekend.
The Giants dropped three games in three nights last weekend, falling 3-1 to Swift Current on Friday, dropping a 4-1 decision in Everett on Saturday, then losing 4-1 to Kamloops on Sunday, and remain in fifth place in the B.C. Division. Cheek leads the Giants with 10 goals this season.
The Cougars were blanked 2-0 by the visiting Broncos on Tuesday night for their third straight loss and seventh shutout loss of the season, and remain in fourth place in the B.C. Division. Bourke has two assists in four games since returning to the Cougars' lineup after missing nearly a month due to injury.
The Cougars and Giants met one previous time this season, with the Giants posting a 4-3 shootout victory in Vancouver on Remembrance Day.
Kelowna Rockets @ Calgary Hitmen
Sunday, December 16
Brooks Macek and the Calgary Hitmen host Myles Bell and the Kelowna Rockets for a match-up between two of the WHL's top clubs on Sunday.
The Hitmen posted a 2-1 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Wednesday night for their 12th road victory of the season, and currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. Calgary is 9-0-1-3 in games decided by one goal this season.
The Rockets claimed a 3-1 win in Lethbridge over the Hurricanes on Wednesday for their second straight victory to kick off their Central Division road trip, and currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. The Rockets have outscored their opponents 130-78 this season.
It's the second meeting of the season between the Hitmen and Rockets. Kelowna posted a 4-1 win in Calgary on October 28th in the first encounter.
WEEKEND SCHEDULE -Dec. 14 - Dec. 16
All times local
WATCH WHL HOCKEY LIVE ON WHL LIVE ON DEMAND
Friday, Dec. 14
Moose Jaw @ Brandon; 7:30
Kamloops @ Lethbridge; 7:00
Kelowna @ Medicine Hat; 7:30
Everett @ Portland; 7:00
Kootenay @ Prince Albert; 7:00
Victoria @ Red Deer; 7:30 **Live on Sportsnet**
Swift Current @ Saskatoon; 7:05 **Live on SHAW**
Seattle @ Spokane; 7:05
Prince George @ Vancouver; 7:30
Saturday, Dec. 15
Regina @ Calgary; 7:00
Victoria @ Edmonton; 7:00
Kamloops @ Medicine Hat; 7:30
Brandon @ Moose Jaw; 7:00
Seattle @ Portland; 7:00
Vancouver @ Prince George; 7:00
Kelowna @ Red Deer; 7:30
Kootenay @ Saskatoon; 7:05
Tri-City @ Spokane; 7:05
Sunday, Dec. 16
Kelowna @ Calgary; 4:00
Regina @ Edmonton; 4:00
Portland @ Everett; 5:05
Brandon @ Prince Albert; 7:00
Vancouver @ Prince George; 4:00
Kootenay @ Swift Current; 7:00