Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sad News

Terry Trafford (1994-2014)
This has not been a happy week for the sport of hockey and sadly the news got worse on Tuesday when the word came out that a body believed to be that of missing Saginaw Spirit player Terry Trafford had been found in Michigan. Trafford who had last been seen on Monday March 3rd had been sent home by the Spirit for breaking team rules and was supposed to have returned home to Toronto but never showed up.

There are plenty of stories out there regarding Trafford and there will time later on to debate who did what or whether this was handled correctly. The bottom line is a young man is dead, his parents, family, girlfriend and teammates on the Spirit are hurting right now. They need our compassion and our prayers not any sort of moral judgement. There will be plenty of time for that down the road.

The OHL has announced that Wednesday's game between the Saginaw Spirit and the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds has been postponed.

Game Action

Ryan Graves (NYR 2013 4th) was scoreless with a +1 on 1 shot and 1 hit as his Val-d'Or Foreurs won their 3rd straight game 5-3 over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The win combined with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada losing in overtime jumps the Foreurs into first place of the QMJHL's Telus West Division with just 2 games remaining for both teams.

The teams are tied with 90 points but the Foreurs have the first tiebreaker which is number of wins.

There were 3 very solid games in the WHL on Tuesday night and each was worth watching in their own right.

First off the game of the night was the battle between Mackenzie Skapski's (NYR 2013 6th) Kootenay Ice and Griffin Reinhart's (NYI 2012 1st) Edmonton Oil Kings. This one was a dandy with both teams needing wins to improve their playoff positions. Reinhart was scoreless but his Oil Kings were able to edge out the Ice 1-0 for the win.

Skapski who was the game's 3rd star played his heart out on Edmonton's ice stopping 29 out of 30 shots but he was 1 goal short. What an effort by the Ice against one of the best teams in the WHL as the Ice played knowing that teammate Tim Bozon remains in a Saskatoon hospital in critical condition. Bozon is one of Kootenay's leading scorers and they missed him against the Oil Kings.

This was a defensive battle from the start as the 2 teams held each other to just 13 combined shots in the 1st period, 14 in the second which is where Edmonton would score the only goal of the game. In the 3rd it would be Skapski trying to keep his Ice in the game stopping all 15 shots that the Oil Kings would fire at him but the Ice could never get the tying goal.

Reinhart who was scoreless was doing his part for Edmonton leading their defense and holding Kootenay to just 20 shots and not giving them anything on 3 power play attempts. The win keeps Edmonton in front of the Calgary Hitmen in the race for 1st place in the WHL's Eastern Conference as the 2 teams are tied in points but Edmonton holds a game in hand and more wins.

Kootenay gets knocked out of any chance to catch 4th place Medicine Hat and with 3 games left still have to hold off Swift Current for 5th place who they lead by 3 points. Skapski in the loss is now 28-18-2-1 with a 2.61 goals against and a save percentage of 0.919.

While Kootenay and Edmonton were fighting it out, Adam Tambellini (NYR 2013 3rd) and his Calgary Hitmen were having a much tougher time with the last place Lethbridge Hurricanes than expected. Tambellini earned the game's first star with a 1-1-2 effort as his Hitmen earned a 5-3 win over the Hurricanes.

After a first period that ended up tied at 2-2, Tambellini would earn his 1st point of the night with a secondary assist on Calgary's 3rd goal which put the Hitmen up for good 3-2 at 7:56 of the 2nd period. Calgary and Lethbridge would trade goals to close out the 2nd period up 4-3.

In the 3rd period Adam Tambellini's 17th goal of the season at 8:08 put Calgary up 5-3. It was a power play goal and Tambellini's 11th power play goal since joining Calgary. Tambellini having 11 power play goals in just 29 games is even more impressive when you consider that Anthony Duclair has 15 in 59 games. Tambellini is 17-19-38 in 29 games for Calgary who remain 3rd in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

Ryan Pulock (NYI 2013 1st) and his Brandon Wheat Kings are locked in a 3-way battle for the final two playoff spots in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The Wheat Kings lose out on the first tiebreaker which is wins so it is "points or go home" for them. Pulock did exactly what you expect your team captain and star player to do in a "must win" game and that was play big.

Pulock had a 1-2-3 game as his Brandon Wheat Kings defeated the Saskatoon Blades 8-5 and jumped up to 7th place in the WHL's Eastern Conference standings. Pulock got his night going really fast as he set up Jesse Gabrielle for a goal just 3:48 into the first period. Less than 2 minutes after Saskatoon had tied the game up at 1-1, Pulock put the Wheat Kings ahead for good with a power play goal at the 11 minute mark.

It was Pulock's 22nd goal of the season and it started a run of 4 unanswered goals for the Wheat Kings. In the 2nd period with Brandon already up 3-1, Pulock set up Richard Nejezchleb for a goal just 16 seconds into the 2nd period to make it a 4-1 Brandon lead. It was point number 3 and the 6th time this season the Pulock recorded a 3 or more point game.

The Wheat Kings hold a 2 point lead over both Red Deer and Prince Albert but both teams hold a game in hand over the Wheat Kings. For Pulock, his 3 point effort improves him to 22-36-58 which is tops among all Islander prospects.

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