Buzzing The Net

  • Reid Duke is poised to have his name called at the 2014 draft. (Canadian Press)

    It goes without saying that Reid Duke’s season has entailed its share of obstacles on the last-place Lethbridge Hurricanes. It would have been easy for him to ask for a change of scenery just as several of his former teammates did, but the 18-year-old remained loyal to the organization that chose him with the fifth overall pick of the 2011 bantam draft.

    “I knew that I should stick it out with the team for a lot of reasons,” says Duke, who was ranked 65th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “I sat down with my parents and agent and we all agreed that I should stay with the Hurricanes. They drafted me and they needed players to stick by them during this tough time. It was just the right thing to do – it’s important to stand by your team.”

    Even though the 6-foot, 188-pound centre is only in his second season in the league, Duke took on a leadership role because of his team’s fragile situation.

    “I felt the team needed me to be a leader with guys asking for

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Reid Duke, Lethbridge Hurricanes
  • Quenneville was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer (Larry MacDougal, CP)No. 1 star: Peter Quenneville, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

    How often does a team ice the puck with a one-goal lead in the last two minutes of the game and end up losing. Well, it's probably more of an anomaly, but Quenneville (2G-1A, +1) and the Wheaties seized on just such an opening to beat the Regina Pats 4-3 in overtime to keep control of their playoff destiny.

    The Pats, who did clinch the Eastern Division with the regulation tie, twice had two-goal leads. Quenneville, back from missing 10 games due to injury, scored Brandon's first goal to keep the spread at 2-1 after 20. The Columbus Blue Jackets seventh-rounder earned an assist in the second period, but Regina seemed poised to escape without working overtime heading into the final two minutes. That was when the Pats committed that killer icing and Quenneville scored off a setup from Richard Nejezchleb (1G-1A, +1). Calgary Flames draft pick Eric Roy then snapped in the winner to get Brandon its 75th point, two ahead of Prince Albert and Red Deer (which has two games left to the other teams' one).

    Read More »from Peter Quenneville brings Brandon back from the brink: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Sara Whitehead (left) and Makinlee D'Auvernay are among the girls in Hanover, Ont., denied a chance to play for a hometown team (Hanover Minor Hockey Association supplied photo)The highers-up in female hockey can be just as out to lunch and disinterested in the needs of young players as ones overseeing male teams.

    Over 30 years, our society has gone from Justine Blainey winning a human rights case to integrate a boys hockey team ... to hockey parents being told by the Ontario Women's Hockey Association that their 10-year-old daughters cannot have a hometown team next season. I guess that's progress, of a very cynical, short-sighted and self-serving kind.

    Long story shorter, Hanover, Ont., a community of just fewer than 8,000 people in Central Ontario, set out this fall to ice two atom girls teams next season at what's commonly called the 'house league' level. As the town's minor hockey president, Steve Fitzsimmons, told BTN, the community had "22-25 girls ready to play" with a belief there were a few more "hiding in the weeds" who would be more receptive to taking up hockey if they had a team of their own. About five were already playing in Hanover on coed teams, but most would be first-timers or converts from ringette (the nearest ringette team being an 83-km drive away. Yet the OWHA, in its infinite wisdom, turned Hanover down.

    Bizarre.

    Read More »from Hanover, Ont., denied chance to start girls hockey; parents ponder human rights case
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Everyone loves draft rankings. (Hockey's Future)

    The Prince George Cougars' sale has almost closed, reports Gregg Drinnan. (Taking Note, The Pipeline Show)

    Victoria has control over who will it face in the first round, since potential opponent Everett is in town this weekend. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Speaking of Everett, how about Josh Winquist setting a team record for goals in a season? (The Pipeline Show)

    Long since eliminated, Saskatoon is out to play spoiler on the final weekend. Don't ask what spoiled the Blades. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Carter Hansen has been the ultimate utility player for Regina, which needs three points to clinch the No. 2 playoff seed. (Regina Leader-Post)

    OHL

    Gene Pereira has today's should-read; Nashville Predators' Rich Clune, who has learned manage his depression, says junior players absolutely need a mental health support system in the wake of Terry Trafford's death. "I hope everyone’s consciousness in junior hockey kind of evolves." Trafford will be laid to rest on Tuesday. (Barrie Examiner)

    Read More »from Rich Clune says juniors need mental health support; banner night for Battalion? The coast-to-coast
  • Nikolay Goldobin has 91 points for Sarnia (OHL Images)

    For auld lang syne, Nikolay Goldobin treated Sarnia Sting fans to a most adroit attack on net during the team's home finale.

    During the first period, the 18-year-old Russian had the puck on a string while potting a beauty goal against the Kitchener Rangers. Goldobin set up Kitchener Rangers defenceman Logan Schmidt beautifully, going outside-inside on the rookie, and then swooped across the goalmouth and put a backhand past goalie Jordan DeKort.

    Read More »from NHL draft prospect Nikolay Goldobin scores on dazzling dangle for Sarnia Sting (VIDEO)
  • Ming (centre) scored with 41 seconds left to force overtime for the 'Dogs (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Eric Ming, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

    A team of pups will surely get some run in the second season, thanks to their bearded overage bringing them back for a 5-4 shootout win over the Mississauga Steelheads. The final two playoff positions in the Eastern Conference were up for grabs Thursday as current Mississauga and former Mississauga began a home-and-home series in St. Catharines.

    The Steelheads, who came in mired in a five-game winless skid, got a natural hat trick from Sam Babintsev (3G, +1) to lead three-nil early in the third. Ming got Niagara off the deck with 11:54 left. Mississauga re-opened the three-goal margin, but 19-year-old IceDogs captain Luke Mercer and Ming scored nine seconds apart to shave the margin to 4-3 with 7:21 left. The IceDogs' taste for trout was hardly sated, as Ming buried the equalizer with 41 seconds left (his 32 goals this season are more than his total from his first three seasons). That led to Niagara winning the breakaway relay to move up to 54 points with two games ago, ahead of eighth-place Mississauga (52) and outside-looking-in Ottawa (51).

    Read More »from IceDogs’ Eric Ming last-minute saviour in big win: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Terry Trafford's teammates resume their season on Thursday (OHL Images)

    No one has all the answers about what happened to Terry Trafford. The death of the 20-year-old hockey player, though, surely means the Ontario Hockey League's approach to mental health failed, even if it's not completely broken.

    On Thursday afternoon, Trafford's autopsy report concuded that he had died from asphyxiation and it was determined to be self-inflicted.

    Whether Trafford had been medically diagnosed with depression or was taking medication to manage it is beside the point. Not all with depression and its related disorder, social phobia (commonly called social anxiety), handle it with meds, speaking from my experience. The depression aspect was raised by the Toronto native's girlfriend, Skye Cieszlak, and men tend to be more likely to confide their fears to their partner, mother or sister. Perhaps establishing, or denying, depression is paramount for the sport's gatekeepers while emotions are so raw and the grief-stricken are looking for someone to blame.

    The loss of a young life must not be in vain. If that's to be, the OHL will have to examine how its structure as a "results-driven business that just happens to employ minors" — to quote a blog post by Jamie McKinven, coach of the Junior A Kingston Voyageurs — factors for mental health.

    [Sunaya Sapurji: Terry Trafford’s former teammates
    remember a prankster and a teammate that always had their backs
    ]

    Each of the 20 OHL teams, as commissioner David Branch confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Thursday, is required to have a player liaison program. Each team designates a person not formally connected the club — examples can range from a pastor, to a police officer, to a social worker — whom a player can speak to with the expectation of confidentiality. The liaison, however, does not have to be trained in spotting signs of either depression or social phobia. One is often called the silent killer and the other is jointly called the invisible handicap, with good reason. The Guelph Storm is the only team that lists a sports psychologist, Dr. Neil Widmeyer, on its website.

    Therein lies the crack that a young life can fall through.

    Read More »from Terry Trafford’s tragic death must prompt OHL to evaluate mental health strategy
  • The Buzzing The Net CHL Chatravaganza is back on Thursday at 12 noon ET/1 p.m. AT/9 a.m. PT.

    Please join Cam Charron, Sunaya Sapurji, Mike Sanderson and a cast of many for the blogetariat's most wide-ranging approximately one-hour-long weekly discussion dedicated to all things junior hockey. There is ever so much to discuss as the regular season heads into its final five days.

    The Chatravaganza is BYOP — bring your own peanuts.

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    Read More »from Buzzing The Net CHL Chatravaganza, Thursday 12 noon ET/9 a.m. PT!
  • tylerbenson

    Tyler Benson will have to wait until next year to add a point in the Western Hockey League to his long list of hockey accolades. The Vancouver Giants’ first overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft suffered an MCL sprain while receiving a check in a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday. The injury will keep him out of the seventh-place club’s lineup for the remainder of the regular-season and playoffs.

    “It was disappointing when I found out I’d be done for the season,” says Benson, who didn’t register a point in the seven games he played for the Giants as an underage call-up. “I was excited to get the chance to play in the playoffs for the Giants. And I thought the last few games I was starting to get going and that I’d have some good games coming.”

    Benson’s injury won’t require surgery. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound winger just needs to go through a four-six week process of rehabbing it back to normal.

    “It will take about four to six weeks of rehab,” says Benson, who turns 16 on

    Read More »from Vancouver Giants top pick Tyler Benson to miss remainder of season due to injury
  • Trafford played four season with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit (OHL Images)Trafford played four season with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit (OHL Images)

    Friends, family and the hockey community are mourning the loss of Saginaw Spirit forward Terry Trafford after his body was discovered on Tuesday evening. The Ontario Hockey League team said it had been notified by the Michigan State Police that the body was that of the 20-year-old Toronto native.

    "Our deepest condolences are with Terry’s family and his friends both in Ontario and Michigan," said the team in release. "Terry played on our team and was a member of the Spirit family for the last four years and he will be missed."

    A cause of death has yet to be released by Michigan State Police, who are still investigating.

    OHL commissioner Dave Branch also released a statement in which he said counseling would be made available to all teams in the league. The OHL also postponed Saginaw's game against the Soo Greyhounds scheduled for Wednesday night.

    "We will work closely with the Saginaw Spirit to provide any support required to the players and staff during this very difficult time," said

    Read More »from Saginaw Spirit forward Terry Trafford found dead
  • Trafford was last seen leaving the Spirit's home rink on March 3 (OHL Images)

    As the search for missing Saginaw Spirit forward Terry Trafford continues, more details regarding his status with the OHL team are coming to light.

    On Monday, Trafford's girlfriend, Skye Cieszlak, told Yahoo Sports that the 20-year-old Toronto native had been sent home by the team for disciplinary reasons. On Tuesday, Saginaw Spirit president Craig Goslin confirmed that Trafford had indeed been sent home for a "rule violation."

    "He was sent home for a violation of rules," Craig Goslin said Tuesday, March 11.

    Goslin did not elaborate about the violation but said Trafford was not necessarily cut from the team for good after the rule violation.

    "That would have been up to Terry," Goslin said. "He'd have to change his behavior and make some adjustments.

    "He was on the roster." (Saginaw News)

    According to Cieszlak, Trafford was upset and told her that he believed his four-year junior career in Saginaw was over.

    “When I spoke to him he was completely devastated because he told me that the

    Read More »from Spirit confirm Trafford had been suspended for violating rules
  • Recent Blue Jackets signing Oliver Bjorkstrand leads Portland with 45 goals (CP)

    With a week to go, the Portland Winterhawks have gone to tyrannical lengths to show you how good they are.

    The 'Hawks, who have topped 100 points for the fourth season in a row, lead BTN's completely arbitrary mathematically-derived ranking after losing only once in the past two months. The conference rival in Kelowna and the OHL-leading Guelph Storm have given up just enough ground to make Portland a shoo-in.

    Five Quebec League teams cracked the Double-D this week, and one isn't even in the Telus West division.

    1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.584 RPI, +1.9 SRS, —) — With the No. 2 playoff seed locked in, the sidebar to the final week is whether Oliver Bjorkstrand will fulfill former Portland coach Travis Green's prediction of a 50-goal season for the dangerous Dane. To be fair, Green, now guiding the Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate in Utica, N.Y., gave Bjorkstrand two seasons to hit the big five-oh. Bjorkstrand will have to earn it, since Portland's last four games are against

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks top season’s next-to-last BTN Dynamic Dozen
  • Nikita Zadorov and London are 18-2-0-0 since Jan. 24 (OHL Images)

    Thinking about whether finishing fourth beats third is considered offensive to those hockey gods, yet the scenario is in play in at least one league.

    Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek's season-ending shoulder injury last week made him the fourth seasoned defenceman to disappear from the Windsor Spitfires' ranks since September; soon thereafter, a Saginaw Spirit loss clinched fifth in the OHL's Western Conference for the Spits. What seems more daunting, having Koekkoek-less Windsor in the 4 vs. 5 matchup or facing the Saginaw Spirit, with a wall named Jake Paterson in goal, in the 3 vs. 6 saw-off?

    Just saying, as Erie and London go into their final three games one point apart.

    Here is a survey of who is flowing and who is faltering entering the sprint to the finish line in all three leagues.

    OHL

    Hot: London Knights

    The Knights, whose 9-1-0-0 run gives them the best 'past 10' record in the league, are being hailed as the most offensively potent team Dale and Mark Hunter

    Read More »from London, Rimouski tear through final weeks: CHL Hot & Cold
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Tim Bozon is hanging in, that's all one can say. (Taking Note)

    Why isn't there an overage player of the year award? Medicine Hat's Curtis Valk would be a fine candidate for the Eastern Conference honour. (Medicine Hat News)

    How is the race for the Eastern Division title shaping up? (Regina Leader-Post, The Pipeline Show)

    Every Mitch Holmberg goal sparks a trip down memory lane; the overage is the Spokane Chiefs' first 60-goal scorer since Valeri Bure. Will the other Chiefs start calling him D.J., and will anyone under 25 get that reference? (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    Portland polished off Vancouver in a first-round playoff preview. (The Oregonian)

    Kelowna beat Tri-City by a touchdown on the weekend and, oh hey, they might meet in Round 1. (Kelowna Daily Courier)

    OHL

    So Toronto police are the ones looking for Saginaw Spirit centre Terry Trafford, even though there's no proof he has been in Canada during the past week. (Ann Arbor NewsCP24)

    For the third reason in a row, Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek has been shut down due to have shoulder surgery. (Windsor Star)

    Oh, great: a 47-year-old man is facing assault charges after two referees during a girls' hockey game in Barrie were accosted. (The Barrie Examiner)

    With Sam Bennett awaiting a league review of a double minor for high sticking, New Jersey Devils pick Ryan Kujawinski led Kingston to two home wins. (Kingston Whig-Standard, NHL.com)

    Read More »from Bennett in OHL bad books, Koekkoek’s season over: the coast-to-coast
  • Anaheim Ducks first-rounder Shea Theodore (The Canadian Press)No. 1 star: Shea Theodore, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

    Theodore (1G-1A, +1) helping Seattle shade Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout, snapping a three-game losing skid as it tries to hold on to home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The Anaheim Ducks first-round pick scarcely left the ice, as he scored his club-record 21st of the season and also assisted on an Alexander Delnov goal in the second as Seattle built a two-goal lead.

    The Giants scored two in the third to force overtime. In the shootout, the Giants were one save from winning when Theodore coolly beat goalie Payton Lee to extend the game. Seattle won two rounds later, as it stayed four points up on fifth-place Spokane with four games left. Theodore is also first in the defenceman scoring race with 74 points,

    No. 2 star: Brent Moran, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

    The IceDogs goalie stopped 46-of-48 shots to help Niagara upset the Barrie Colts 5-2 and rejoin the playoff pack, vaulting into seventh in the Eastern Conference. The 17-year-old from Orléans, Ont., made 16 saves in the first period to stake the IceDogs to an early lead; he gave a goal to Brendan Lemieux in the opening minute of the second, but remained steadfast while the Colts collapsed and allowed four goals in fewer than seven minutes.

    It was the fourth time this season that Moran has made at least 45 saves in a game. Niagara has won all four.

    Read More »from Ducks first-rounder Shea Theodore is Seattle’s saviour: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Trafford was last seen leaving the Spirit's home rink on March 3 (OHL Images)

    It's heart-in-mouth time throughout junior hockey circles, as Saginaw Spirit centre Terry Trafford's whereabouts are unknown.

    The 20-year-old Toronto native has not been seen for almost a week. According to a news release from the Spirit, he was last seen on Monday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m. The Saginaw News has since spoken with 21-year-old Skye Cieslak, who says she has dated Trafford since 2010.

    "The Saginaw Spirit Franchise and the entire Great Lakes Bay Region are very concerned," said the release, issued on Sunday.

    "We currently have no further comment until the professionals searching for him complete their work. The entire Spirit organization is very concerned for the young man and we hope and pray that he is safe and found soon."

    At least one other OHL team and one former Spirit teammate, Gregg Sutch, are urging people to phone the Saginaw, Mich., police if there is any information on what is happening with Trafford.

    Read More »from Saginaw Spirit’s Terry Trafford missing since March 3
  • Three points for Rimouski's Sylvestre give him 74 on the year. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Three points for Rimouski's Sylvestre give him 74 on the year. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)

    No. 1 star: Sébastien Sylvestre, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

    Sylvestre scored the game-tying and game-winning goals as Rimouski came back in roaring fashion to defeat the QMJHL-leading Baie-Comeau Drakkar 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.

    He scored to even the score at four with his 29th goal of the year at 18:50 of the third period, and then iced it with his 30th with one minute left in overtime. He added an assist in the first for a three-point night. The points give him 30 in 23 games since he was acquired in a mid-season trade with Chicoutimi.

    Rimouski built a 2-0 lead halfway through the game, but Baie-Comeau stormed back to four unanswered in the next fifteen minutes, leading the way for the Oceanic to be heroes. Tyler Boland scored a goal on the powerplay to get Rimouski within one with just under five to play.

    Peter Trainor scored the first two Rimouski goals and added two helpers in the win. Samuel Morin had the sole assist on the winner, as they improved to 43-15-3-4, just two

    Read More »from Sylvestre ties it and wins it for Rimouski over QMJHL-leading Baie-Comeau: Saturday’s 3 stars
  • Taran Kozun has been lights out in Seattle.

    When Seattle Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell made a minor deal with the Kamloops Blazers at the trade deadline to acquire Taran Kozun, he expected him to improve his team’s shaky goaltending situation. But little did he know that the 19-year-old would emerge into one of the hottest netminders in the Western Hockey League.

    Straight out of the gate, Kozun stood tall in a Seattle sweater by posting back-to-back shutouts in his first two games against the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans. It seemed the Nipawin, SK., native’s play would come back down to earth based on the .897 save percentage he posted throughout 29 contests in Kamloops. That, however, hasn’t been the case so far as Kozun has been consistently lights out by maintaining a 2.08 average and .936 save percentage throughout 20 games.

    "We expected him to come in and play well, but I don't think we were quite expecting back-to-back shutouts,” Farwell told Tim Pigulski of ESPN Seattle. "He plays well and gives

    Read More »from Seattle Thunderbirds goalie Taran Kozun emerges as a star since trade deadline move
  • Val-d'Or's Anthony Mantha, a Detroit first round pick, has two straight 50 goal seasons in the QMJHL. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Val-d'Or's Anthony Mantha, a Detroit first round pick, has two straight 50 goal seasons in the QMJHL. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)

    No. 1 star: Anthony Mantha, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

    Mantha put the Foreurs on his back and led them to a victory over division rival the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada with three goals in a 4-3 win.

    Mantha scored twice in the last two minutes of the first stanza for Val-d’Or to give them a 3-2 lead after one period, and then snapped a 3-3 tie in the third with the winning goal at 12:57.

    Three goals gives Mantha 56 on the season, a six-goal cushion over Anthony Duclair and Jean-François Plante.

    The win puts Val-d’Or just one point behind Blainville-Boisbriand, 87-to-86. Both teams have four games to play until the end of the season next Saturday.

    Randy Gazzola and captain Samuel Henley each had a pair of assists in the win, which improved the Foreurs to a 42-20-1-1 record. Antoine Bibeau earned the win in goal. They have won eight of their last ten games.

    The Armada got 30 saves out of netminder Etienne Marcoux and dropped to 39-16-4-5.

    No. 2 star: Charlie Graham, Belleville Bulls

    Read More »from Mantha’s hat trick leads Val-d’Or past Blainville-Boisbriand: Friday’s 3 stars
  • Tolchinsky was undrafted in 2013 but was quickly signed by Carolina (OHL Images)

    If you look up anhedonic — lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it — there's a picture of someone who didn't enjoy this Sergey Tolchinsky goal.

    On Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect who shines for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds showed some magic sleight of hand with a between-the-legs goal during a game against Sarnia. The 19-year-old Russian dervish had a clear breakaway to plan what move to try against Sting goalie Taylor Dupuis and did the ol' turn-sideways, put-stick-behind-leg and go-top-cheddar move to astonish the crowd at RBC Centre. It is like there was a need to do something special to celebrate the 'Hounds clinching the West Division title, since the club backed into it on Thursday when it was shut out by London while second-place Windsor also lost.

    Read More »from Carolina Hurricanes pick Sergey Tolchinsky scores sick between-the-legs goal (VIDEO)