The time has come for Prince Albert‚Äôs Dawson MacAuley. The 18-year-old netminder has been trying for three years to make the Medicine Hat Tigers and just before the Western Hockey League season started last weekend he found out he was to be on the final roster. MacAuley didn‚Äôt disappoint as he made 23 saves in the Tigers‚Äô home opener to lead Medicine Hat to a 5-1 triumph over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. In fact, MacAuley had a shutout going until 1:23 left in the third period. ‚ÄúRight now, I am just trying to soak in everything that just happened there in the last couple of hours,‚ÄĚ said MacAuley to Darren Steinke from the Medicine Hat News moments after the win. MacAuley was a late cut from the Tigers at the last two training camps and was returned to the Prince Albert Mintos two years ago and spent last year with the Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
It is a year of milestones for a pair of WHL franchises. The Everett Silvertips are entering their 10th season while the Tri-Cities Americans have embarked on their 25th campaign‚Ä¶The Saskatoon Blades are the host team for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup and to commemorate the event a year-long documentary on the team is being filmed. ‚ÄúOn the Edge: Road to the Memorial Cup‚ÄĚ is a behind-the-scenes production by Downstream Productions in association with Fadoo Productions Inc. and will be shown on SportsNet in the spring.
Concussions remain a concern in the WHL and Kamloops beat writer Gregg Drinnan is keeping tabs on this epidemic. In the first 22 games of this season there were 13 checking-from-behind minor penalties and one major along with three minors and three majors for checks to the head. Nine players were waiting to hear their fate on their transgressions with Saskatoon‚Äôs Josh Nicholls receiving one game for his hit on Zach Hodder in the season opener at the Art Hauser Centre‚Ä¶ Prince Albert product Tyson Dallman of the Tri-Cities Americans is one of the players who is recovering from a concussion as the sophomore forward was injured in the pre-season.
Some familiar faces are behind the benches of WHL teams this year with Curtis Leschyshyn becoming a full-time assistant to Lorne Molleken in Saskatoon and Dave Lowry taking over the head coaching duties in Victoria. Leschyshyn is a former Blade and he spent 16 years in the NHL with Quebec, Carolina and Ottawa, among others while Lowry also played in the NHL for a number of teams, but most recently was an assistant coach to Brent Sutter with the Calgary Flames‚Ä¶Speaking of Sutter, he is back in Red Deer as the owner, president and general manager of the Rebels and has been busy working out deals to get his team more competitive‚Ä¶Still with famous names, Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald‚Äôs nephew Zane Jones is now a member of the Calgary Hitmen after being acquired in a deal with Victoria.
Swift Current Broncos have made Dianne Sletton the first assistant general manager and director of business operations in WHL history. Sletton inherits a team that had a positive season last year recording just over $4,000 in overall profit after the club lost nearly $200,000 the year before‚Ä¶Numerous overage players around the league are heading to pro tryout camps this week including Antoine Corbin from Prince Albert and Brendan Ranford from Kamloops. Both will be at the American Hockey League camp of the Hamilton Bulldogs‚Ä¶The WHL adopted a social media and networking policy in 2011 and during last year‚Äôs playoffs, the Silvertips were fined $500 for violating the policy.