Friday, 30 March 2012

Northwest High School Hockey League Finals Going to the Wire

The Ile-a-la-Crosse Huskies had a shot at the NWHHL Championship last night, but a dominant performance from Canoe Lake star Colton Iron pushed the series to a third and deciding game.

Iron scored four times in the first period en route to a seven goal performance and a 9-5 win for Canoe Lake.  Trevor Favel responded with a pair of goals for Ile-a-la-Crosse.

In the assist category, Tyrone Durocher had three helpers in the winning effort while Bo Desjarlais had a couple of assists for the losing side.

Canoe Lake hosts Ile-a-la-Crosse in the deciding third game of the series Monday night as the Eagles look to repeat and the Huskies try for the upset.


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Western Canada Cup

The Western Canadian Championships has a real name and logo.

Courtesy CJHL Communications:

The Canadian Junior Hockey League and Nanaimo Clippers held a media conference Thursday in Nanaimo - the host community of the 2013 Western Canada Cup - to introduce the community, media and fans to the newly formed event and a chance to welcome the executives from the four western leagues to the host city. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

SJHL Says No to Cold Lake Expansion

In what may have been a situation of 'only a matter of time', the SJHL has released a statement ending any speculation on the league's possible expansion to the community of Cold Lake, Alberta.

From the SJHL Website:

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League says it's content with the current twelve team set up and will not be moving into Alberta in the near future.
News reports, in recent days, have come out of Cold Lake concerning a possible expansion into that community.  SJHL President Bill Chow acknowledges a group has, indeed, shown interest in the league.  “We have decided not to prolong the process or a decision about a franchise in Cold Lake.” 
The Alberta Junior Hockey League, which runs pretty much a mirror league to the SJHL, currently has a franchise 51-kilometres outside of Cold Lake (Bonnyville) and the two leagues have an extremely good working partnership.  “It would be difficult to grant a franchise to the group with the existing Bonnyville franchise so close,” says Chow.
Chow says there are other logistics involved of having a team in Alberta playing in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and there is considerable required involvement of numerous levels of hockey to establish a new franchise based out of the boundaries of Saskatchewan. 
Chow also says he's grateful of the Cold Lake group showing interest in the SJHL as a viable means of entertainment for the community; however expansion outside of Saskatchewan isn't on the horizon.
Unfortunately for Cold Lake, this means the odds of Junior-A hockey coming to the city in the near future are slim.  The AJHL seems to be shying away from bringing another team into the Bonnyville/Lloydminster area and there were just too many issues for the Cold Lake franchise to overcome to join the SJHL.
With the AJHL's vehement rejection of an SJHL franchise in Cold Lake, it was likely just not something the SJ was willing to go to battle for.  As the release states, the league is pretty content with the twelve team league.  That's not to say expansion somewhere in Saskatchewan isn't a possibility, but it doesn't look to be on the table for the next couple of seasons.

Do you think the SJHL should consider expansion within Saskatchewan?  Where should the league look at bringing a franchise?  Let me know in the comments section.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Northwest High School Hockey League Finals

The Northwest High School Hockey League Finals picture solidified last night when Canoe Lake completed an 18-11 two game total point series win over La Loche.

Because of a delay with the semi-final, the Championship Series gets rolling right away with Canoe Lake hosting game one tonight (Tuesday.)

Canoe Lake was the top team from the regular season, going 10-2-0 through the campaign.  Ile-a-la-Crosse was the third overall team by virtue of Patuanak owning a goal differential.  It didn't really matter as the Huskies rolled by the Timberwolves in the other semi-final.

Ile-a-la-Crosse is led into the series by Ryan Desjarlais who notched 20 goals and 12 assists in ten games during the regular season and had seven points in the 12-2 beating the Huskies laid on Patuanak in the lone game of the semi-final.

The Eagles head into the finals featuring the league's leading scorer in Colton Iron.  The forward, who was recently listed by La Ronge in the SJHL, had 80 points in 12 games including 62 goals.  In the playoffs, Iron has 13 points in two games.

Northwest High School Hockey League Finals Schedule:

Game 1: Tuesday, March 27th @ Canoe Lake, 6 p.m.

Game 2: Thursday, March 29th @ Buffalo Narrows, 6 p.m.(Ile-a-la-Crosse Home Team)

Game 3: Monday, April 2nd @ Canoe Lake, 6 p.m. (if necessary)
In the SJHL, it's a game seven tonight between Weyburn and Melville.  Should be a great game as the first six contests were pretty entertaining.

Who will go on to the Canalta Cup Finals and attempt to knock off the Humboldt Broncos?  We'll find out tonight.


Check out the new NWHHL website:

Monday, 26 March 2012

AJHL Against Cold Lake's SJHL Bid

The Alberta Junior Hockey League is making its stance clear on the issue of Cold Lake joining the SJHL.  First reported by Robb Hunter, the voice of the Bonnyville Pontiacs,  the AJHL isn't comfortable with efforts to bring a Junior-A hockey team to Cold Lake to play in the SJHL.  While the Alberta league has zero issue with the SJHL expanding within its own borders, the AJHL is concerned with the proximity of Cold Lake to franchises in Bonnyville and Lloydminster and what that means for marketing dollars and the local talent pool.

The SJHL features a few sets of teams in pretty close proximity.  Think Weyburn/Estevan, Nipawin/Humboldt/Melfort and of course, Melville/Yorkton.  All of these teams make it work, at least from the outside looking in. "I think it would be a different scenario if the AJHL, within the confines of the boundaries of the Alberta borders, were to say 'let's go ahead and do that' and go into Cold Lake," AJHL President Craig T. Cripps said over the phone this morning, "but when you have another province's league coming in I think that certainly warrants discussion not only with the AJHL, but perhaps with Hockey Alberta."  Cripps was very candid in his discussion of the situation regarding the SJHL's possible expansion.  He explained the AJHL's own Board of Governors would, more than likely not vote to place a team into the area "out of respect" for the Pontiacs and the Bobcats.

That's tough news for the people behind the push to bring Junior-A hockey to Cold Lake.  As mentioned in the first story on possible expansion, there's a beautiful rink entering the final stages of construction in the city and there's every intention that it will house an AJHL or SJHL franchise some day.  However, as ownership group leader Derek Prue mentioned last week, the AJHL isn't very interested in expanding from 16 teams.  "The AJHL Board of Governors has decided that expansion isn't on the table at this time," Cripps commented, "Certainly we have communities that would like to have a franchise in the AJHL, but we have to look at the depth of our product.  We have to look at the number of individuals that are playing the game at this level and we don't want to dilute our talent pool to the effect where we just don't feel we have a very competitive Junior-A league in Alberta."

With expansion seemingly out of the question (Cripps did mention the Board can always re-evaluate), relocation would have to be the next option.  The St. Albert Steel situation comes to mind, though Cripps couldn't offer any updates.  The AJHL Board of Governors has a conference call scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the St. Albert.  Though relocation certainly isn't the potential ownership group's first choice, I have a feeling they would take that route if it's the only option.  The problem with relocation is this... if there are other communities (ie: Whitecourt) in the running to move a franchise (ie: St. Albert) those options would likely be more attractive to the league to avoid the cluster of teams in the North-East.  The thing Cold Lake certainly has going for it is the new facility, but is that enough to counteract the theory that there isn't enough money to go around?

With the AJHL route seemingly not an option, the theoretical Cold Lake franchise is left exploring options in the SJHL.  With the AJHL in opposition to that avenue, the options become severely limited.  Though the AJHL doesn't have final say in the matter (as far as I know), the league's voice is certainly an important one when it comes to the various approvals the Cold Lake franchise would need.  Alberta Minor Hockey will likely take the AJHL's recommendations into serious consideration along with the CJHL.

It will certainly be interesting to see where the issue progresses with Alberta Minor Hockey as the progression firmly rests with that legislative group for the time being.

You can listen to my full interview with AJHL President Craig T. Cripps on the Audio on Demand page.


Friday, 23 March 2012

Playoff Updates


The Maidstone Jets captured the 2012 North Saskatchewan River Hockey League Championship the other night in Meadow Lake.

The Jets won 4-2 in Game 5 with the Meadow Lake Stampeders en route to raising the trophy.  The Stamps had a great season despite falling short in the Finals.  Meadow Lake finished first in the NSRHL during the regular season.

Jets forwards Rory Gregoire, Brett Harrison and Jason Roberts tied for the scoring lead in the playoffs with 23 points each.

Photo: NSRHL Website
Northwest High School Hockey League

One half of the final series is set with Ile-a-la-Crosse moving past Patuanak.  After one game of the two game total point series, the Huskies led the Timberwolves 12-2.  With a combination of difficulties in setting up the second leg and the lopsided score, the decision was made that Patuanak would concede.

Ile-a-la-Crosse awaits the winner of the Canoe Lake/La Loche series.  Canoe Lake holds an 8-5 lead heading into the second leg.  The contest was slated for Thursday night, but was moved to Monday which will push back the final series that was scheduled to begin that night.

Saskatchewan Midget AAA
The Saskatoon Contacts have a chance tonight to avenge last year's loss to the Prince Albert Mintos in the Midget AAA Finals.  The Contacts hold a 2-1 series lead coming into tonight's contest in Saskatoon.  The home team has yet to win in this series.

Interesting to note the Mintos were in a similar situation last round against the Notre Dame Argos, but turned it around on the road and eventually winning the series on home ice.

Mintos forward Brett Njaa leads all playoff scorers with sixteen points in nine games played.  Mack Shields has been great in the Contact goal, running a 1.74 GAA and 0.937 Sv% in twelve games.

If you're in Saskatoon looking for something to do tonight, the Contacts and Mintos drop the puck at 8:00 at the Schroh Arena.
Elsewhere in Saskatchewan the SJHL Conference Finals continue this evening with Humboldt going for the series win again against Battlefords.  In the Sherwood Conference, Melville and Weyburn clash to see who will have the first chance to eliminate the other with the series square at two games a piece.

It's everything WHL fans in Southern Saskatchewan could have hoped for.  The second place Moose Jaw Warriors face off with the seventh place Regina Pats as the rivalry continues.  Meanwhile, Saskatoon is in Medicine Hat tonight to start out the post-season.

Playoffs truly are the most wonderful time of the year!


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Junior-A Supplement Pilot Project Coming to a Close

When the Junior-A Supplement was announced before the 2010-11 season, it was met with a certain... "resistance" from fans, coaches and players.  While fans weren't happy with the rules limiting the number of fights a player could participate in before being suspended and other rule adjustments, it could have been more severe.

The Supplement was part of an experiment where five Junior-A leagues (SJHL, AJHL, BCHL, MJHL and the Maritime Junior Hockey League) to investigate the effectiveness of limiting fights in the fashion that the Supplement entailed versus the 'vanilla version' of Rule 6.7.  That's the rule limiting players to one fight per game.  When they drop the mitts, players are assessed a game misconduct.  First period?  Gone.  Second Period? Gone.  Third period, yeah, you've got it now... Gone.  In the Supplement Leagues, a player needs to fight a second time before getting the boot.  This isn't anything unfamiliar.  The SJHL featured the one-fight rule close to ten years ago (so I'm told), before going to a two-fight system.  The difference when the SJHL had the one-and-done rule is there was no real accumulation.  Players could fight pretty much as often as they wanted.

The two year pilot project of the Junior-A Supplement is in its final stages with reports and data being handed over to Hockey Canada in the next few weeks.  From there, Hockey Canada will use this research to decide how everything will shake down.  At least in theory.  From recent comments, it seems as though Hockey Canada already knows what's going to happen.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ownership Group Starting Process to Bring SJHL to Cold Lake

The SJHL may be adding a new member in the next couple of years.

According to Robb Hunter, the play-by-play voice of the Bonnyville Pontiacs, a group from Cold Lake, Alberta is interested in bringing a team into the SJHL.  Instead of relaying everything he has reported in the last 24 hours on the subject, here are the tweets that brought the subject public.  You may want to start at the bottom.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ice Wolves Award Winners

The Ice Wolves held their 14th Annual Awards Banquet this weekend.  I'm sure if I had been around this team for the last 14 years I'd be saying, "Man, fifteen years coming up.  Where did the time go?", but I wasn't, so I'll leave that to someone else.  As expected, my MC'ing was much less deadly without the fireworks show.  If you're reading this and thinking, "there wasn't a fireworks show last year."  You're clearly just blocking it out.

It was a great night, highlighted by the players' address given by Captains Aaron Enns and Matt Weisensel.  They were heartfelt and grateful, not to mention, hilarious when both delivered their speeches off of cellphones and problems arose.  Including Skyler Hladun calling Weisensel while he was in the middle of his talk.  It was a pleasure to work with both Weisensel and Enns this season, and really, all of the players.

Bob Beatty took the time to put an emphasis on community support for the team.  While he pointed out he was preaching to the converted, he implored people to spread the word about the Ice Wolves around town.  Attendance wasn't exactly impressive in the playoffs this season, making it clear that support needs to be there all the time, not just when the team is winning Championships.  Beatty said the focus in the dressing room this post season was becoming a difference maker, and he applied it to the community as well.  Beatty also made sure to mention the great billets in town as the players highlighted their impact in exit interviews.

Team President Terry Helary found himself reiterating the previous talks to some degree as he thanked everyone around the organization.  Helary spoke about the team's scouting staff as well as the board and volunteers who make it all happen.  He also invited everyone to come out to the AGM which will likely take place in May.

Beardy's/Duck Lake Bid Reaches Hockeyville Top Five

The Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation/Duck Lake bid to be named 2012 Kraft Hockeyville is on to the final stage of the competition.

The Beardy's bid reached the Top Five becoming the first entry from a First Nations community to enter into the last round of the Kraft contest.  Organizers hope that fact will turn into some extra votes garnering support from the Aboriginal community.  "We need as many First Nations and Aboriginal people across the province and across the country to vote for us," said spokesperson Kevin Seesequasis, "this is a once in a lifetime thing and it won't be available to us again for a long, long time."

Community support for the bid has been tremendous.  This weekend, there was a festival put on around the announcement of the Top Five communities that included a road hockey tournament and concert/talent show.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gold Medalist Adam Kreek Visits La Ronge

La Ronge hosts Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Kreek today.  He's in town to speak at one of the local high schools and at a public event this afternoon.

Kreek won Gold in rowing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has 27 international medals to his name through a 13 year career.  Now he uses his experiences to help as a motivational speaker.

The Public Event starts at 11:30 with a free lunch and Kreek's talk starting at noon, going till around one.

"The main point and the main method that I'm bringing is the power of generosity," Kreek said in a phone interview, "One of the secrets to success is figuring how you can give in your unique way, because we're all unique and have unique skills and talents.  Obviously my background is sports as a sportsman, but there are many different ways to give."

Kreek's Medal
On the note of generosity, donations to the Food Bank and Scattered Sites are appreciated.

Kreek has his Gold Medal with him and there will be an opportunity for attendees to get up close with one of the top prizes in sports.

Coming up in December, Kreek will be rowing across the Atlantic to raise funds for 'Right to Play'.  After today's talk, I'll have a chat with him about that undertaking and some of the other projects he has on the go.


Adam Kreek During his Presentation
Kreek's talk was informal and really casual in a way that let the audience connect.  Part of this was due to the relatively small event, but a lot of it is Kreek's easy manner and willingness to interact with his audience.

It was an interesting and entertaining presentation to take in.  Kreek headed to the high school after the public event, I'm sure the students enjoyed the chat.

Here's one of the interactive activities from the afternoon:

That's La Ronge Mayor Thomas Sierzycki at the head of the "boat".

The big challenge for Kreek is the upcoming row across the Atlantic.  It's kind of tough to imagine four people on their own in an oversized row boat on the second largest ocean on the Planet.  Kreek and his team will do a trial run coming up this summer when they travel around Vancouver Island.

We'll have to check back in with Adam before the big event.

You can listen to my interview with Adam here.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Northwest High School Hockey League Playoffs Set

It's playoff time in the Northwest High School Hockey league.  The regular season wrapped up in exciting fashion with three teams in the hunt for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs in the last two games of the season.  Coming out of the trifecta of La Loche, Buffalo Narrows and Turnor Lake were the La Loche Lakers who grabbed a win over Dillon in the final game of the regular season to grab the spot.

The Lakers' prize is a date with very tough first ranked Canoe Lake.  The two versus three matchup goes between the Ile-a-la-Crosse Huskies and Patuanak Timberwolves.

The Semi-Finals take the form of a two-game combined score set.

The first pair of games goes tomorrow night with La Loche hosting Canoe Lake while Patuanak welcomes

The second leg game between Patuanak and Ile-a-la-Crosse goes next Tuesday in Buffalo Narrows (weather permitting) while the La Loche/Canoe Lake game has yet to be scheduled.

I'll give an update when the dates/locations are set in stone.


This Day in History: March 14th

I'm not usually one for "This Day in History" posts, in fact, this is my first.  However, sometimes there's something cool that comes up and is worth mention.

Eighty-Nine years ago today (March 14th, 1923), Pete Parker of CKCK in Regina broadcasted the first complete game play-by-play of a professional hockey contest.  The Western Canada Hockey League game (at that time a pro-league) featured Regina and Edmonton, with Edmonton taking a 1-0 victory.

Photo Source:

It was a big 30 days or so for hockey broadcasting as the very first play-by-play hit the airwaves for the third period of a game between Midland and North Toronto at the Gardens on February 8th.  Bridging the gap between the first call and the first complete professional game was the first complete amateur game airing from Winnipeg between the Winnipeg Falcons and the Port Arthur Bearcats.

Good ole' Reginald "Reg" Fessenden hit the air December 24th, 1906 with his first radio broadcast out into the Atlantic.  That means it took 17 years for folks to realize the best use for radio and we've been rolling with it ever since.

Speaking of which, it was great to listen to Game 7 of the Hawks and North Stars game last night.  Sounded like a heck of a contest/series and the crowd was deafening.  I may have to get in a road trip down to catch a game in the Conference Finals.

It should be a great weekend of hockey coming up and if you can't make it to the rink, you can definitely listen in.  All thanks in part to Spiderman.


Thanks to Dale Roth for passing along the info, and the internet for the rest.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Blog Change Over

Hi Folks,

With the Ice Wolves' season wrapped up, I took the time today to migrate my blog to a new hosting service, Blogger.

The main site will remain right where it is at  The only things that really change are the location of the blog and the main site navigation bar on the top of the screen won't appear on the blog.  You can still link right back to the main site from that link right under the main header.

There are a couple of reasons I made the change.

1. Ease of use - While I like Weebly's web-site editing tools and the many features it gives, there were some annoying glitches and it really didn't play nice with some of my mobile tech.  The Blogger site (in theory) will work much better for me despite giving up a couple of features.

2. Web Integration - Blogger is one of the ridiculous numbers of Google applications out there.  Coming over to Blogger just lets me bring another service into sync along with Youtube, Google+ and Twitter(though not a Google App).

3. Comments - I like how the comments section works with this new service.  There shouldn't really be any spam, and it provides an 'Anonymous' option for those of you who are shy.  Same rules still apply, though.

There are some other reasons, but I won't really get into them now.  When you're reading the blog, you shouldn't really notice anything too different, the layout is largely the same and it will be the same, great (at least I like to think so) content you're used to.

You can read anything that was posted on the blog from December 2010-March 12th 2012 by clicking here:

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think of the change over!


Ice Wolves Year End Banquet

As promised, here are the particulars for the Ice Wolves Wrap Up Banquet coming Friday night.

Friday March 16, 2012 (Happy Hour starts at 6pm, Supper at 7pm)

La Ronge Motor Inn and Suites

$30/ticket (only 150 tickets will be sold - Get yours early)

Tickets Available at:  
The Wolves Office, Penny's Hair Design and The Northerner.

If you are interested in volunteering that night, please contact the Ice Wolves Office at 425-4141.
I'll be the MC of the night's proceedings, which if you ask me, should make it a little easier to get tickets.  Last year's attempt at a fireworks extravaganza just didn't go over well at all, though I think I have the whole "fire hazard" thing straightened out.

Should be a fun night.  Last year's jersey auction was unbelievable.  I think Adam Bartko's jersey pulled in around five or six thousand dollars for the Ice Wolves.  We'll see who this big buy is this year.

See you at the banquet!


SJHL Will Crown New Champion

The Ice Wolves impressive run of two SJHL Championships came to a jarring halt Wednesday night when the Humboldt Broncos completed the sweep of La Ronge in a 6-2 victory.  The game was closer than the score indicated, but the Ice Wolves didn't seem to have enough energy in their game to make a play for avoiding the loss on home ice.  A lot of the Wolves hopes were resting on Tuesday night, and after that loss, a feeling of inevitability seemed to settle around the team.  Not the mindset you want coming into an elimination game.

Despite coming out flat in the first the Wolves were held in it by Alex Rajotte who made sixteen saves in the opening frame.  However, early in the second period, La Ronge got down by two and would be fighting to come back from that all night.  The Wolves seemed to get a spark after pulling within one for the second time on the night late in the middle period, but couldn't even it up before the third and the Broncos quickly put any hope of a comeback out of reach and cruised to the victory and advance to the Bauer Conference Final.