The WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers have concluded their season, but they still have one more battle to engage in. And this one is with the City of Medicine Hat.
The Medicine Hat News reported Thursday that the Tigers have been served an eviction notice by the City of Medicine Hat as the team currently has no lease agreement to remain in the brand new Canalta Centre, the $74.9 million arena that opened in August. The Tigers reportedly played in the arena for the duration of the season under a temporary access agreement, which was renewed 11 times throughout the campaign, according to the Medicine Hat News.
“We are disappointed that a fair and reasonable permanent license agreement has not yet been completed for use of the Canalta Centre,” Medicine Hat mayor Ted Clugston told the News. “The Tigers are part of the history and the fabric of our community. We want to see them make the Canalta Centre their home for many years to come.” Read more
According to just about every single draft ranking available, London Knights winger Max Jones is set to become a first-round selection at the upcoming draft. He may have hurt his stock Wednesday, though, when he threw a blindside hit to the head of Owen Sound’s Justin Brack and was kicked out of an opening-round playoff contest.
Jones’ vicious hit came midway through the contest with the Knights and Attack tied at two. Jones had attempted to enter the Owen Sound zone one-on-one, but the puck was stick checked away and Jones continued on behind the Attack net as a shot was fired on goal by Knights winger J.J. Piccinich. The shot was blocked on its way in and ended up bouncing out into the feet of Brack.
As Brack looked down to locate the puck, Jones approached him from the right, maintained his speed from the drive around the Attack goal, lowered his body and drove up and into Brack: Read more
Everything is happening right now, as Bob Cole would say. You’ve got the Jimmy Vesey saga in Nashville, Zach Werenski signing with Columbus and Pittsburgh grabbing college free agent Ethan Prow out of St. Cloud State. Plus, the CHL playoffs are in full swing, with a couple upstarts threatening the top seeds. In the OHL for example, Sarnia is in trouble thanks to a surging Sault Ste. Marie squad, while Edmonton is giving powerhouse Brandon fits in the WHL. Oh, and the Frozen Four is set, with Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver all in the mix for April 7. Let’s keep the prospect party going:
The 2016 draft shapes up to be very unique, and not just because an American kid playing in Switzerland is poised to go first overall. Another intriguing wrinkle concerns Western Canada, where the WHL is going to take a backseat for once. The top two players from that region play Jr. A in the British Columbia League.
Center Tyson Jost and defenseman Dante Fabbro both play for the Penticton Vees, a real heavy outfit that has scorched the BCHL this season and put together some insane streaks. “It’s pretty special when you go 23 games without a loss,” Jost said. “It’s nice to experience all that winning, but you have to keep focused and keep getting better.”
Minor hockey is getting very complicated. At the top levels, the battle for talent is constant and the CHL’s feeder leagues don’t just involve local kids – you also have international flavor. For example, Russian-born player Nikita Korostelev, the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect who currently skates with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, was not considered an “import” by the league, because he played two years of minor hockey for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. This year, the same squad boasts several Russian-born players, including Kirill Nizhnikov, who is expected to go very high in the OHL draft.
And at the OHL Cup, the victorious York-Simcoe Express were backstopped by goalie Andrei Berezinskiy, himself Moscow-born.
Which brings us to Alexis Gravel, who competed at that same tournament with the Mississauga Senators. A 6-foot-2, 195-pound netminder with great athleticism and a dad who played pro, Gravel would be a dream for any OHL team – but they can’t have him.
CHL playoffs and the NCAA Frozen Four tournament kick off this week, so it’s a big time for prospect evaluation. But there is also a lot of change in the air, starting at the University of Wisconsin, where long-time coach Mike Eaves was given his walking papers after two straight disastrous seasons. Recruiting and retention was an issue, as the Badgers could have had Brock Boeser (VAN), Luke Opilka (STL) and Jack Dougherty (NSH) in their lineup this year, but lost all of them. It’s been a rough ride in Madison, but I’m sure Eaves will land on his feet. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh signed scorer Jake Guentzel once his season with Nebraska-Omaha was finished and there’s rampant speculation about another NCAA product’s future plans that I’ll mention below. Let’s take a spin around the world of prospects again:
It all came down to one game. And the Erie Otters took it.
The Otters defeated the London Knights 4-2 on Saturday in a winner-take-all contest to determine not only the OHL’s Midwest Division, but the league regular season crown as well.
Taylor Raddysh scored twice, while Vanya Lodnia and Nick Betz added singles. Betz closed out the scoring with an empty-netter. Captain Dylan Strome registered three assists. Max Jones and Aaron Berisha responded for the Knights.
Pierre-Luc Dubois is one of the top prospects available for the 2016 NHL draft, ranked ninth in the newest edition of THN Future Watch. He may not get any more chances to improve his stock though.
With the playoffs just days away, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles center was suspended indefinitely Saturday by the QMJHL for a hit from behind on Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Luke Green the previous night.