The Western Hockey League Eastern Conference quarter-final between the Prince Albert Raiders and Edmonton Oil Kings will feature a quartet of first-team all-stars after Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey from Prince Albert and Tristan Jarry and Curtis Lazar from Edmonton received the nod on Thursday. Ryan Pulock from Brandon joins Morrissey on the blueline and Sam Reinhart from Kootenay is the other forward to round out the Eastern Conference’s first all-star team. Goaltender Patrik Bartosak from Red Deer, Griffin Reinhart from Edmonton and Julius Honka from Swift Current at defence, Curtis Valk from Medicine Hat, Jaedon Descheneau from Kootenay and Chandler Stephenson from Regina comprise the second all-star squad out of the east. In the West Division, the first team looks like this: Jordon Cooke (goalie) – Kelowna; defence: Derrick Pouliot – Portland; Shea Theodore – Seattle; forwards: Nicolas Petan – Portland; Mitch Holmberg – Spokane; Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland. The west’s second team consists of: goalie: Eric Comrie – Tri-City; defence: Damon Severson and Madison Bowey – Kelowna; forwards: Joshua Winquist – Everett; Todd Fiddler – Prince George; Mike Aviani – Spokane.
In addition to releasing the all-star teams the league also announced the finalists for several awards with Morrissey going up against Pouliot for the top defenceman honour. The rookie of the year will feature Nikita Scherbak from Saskatoon and Nick Merkley from Kelowna; the top goaltender has Tristan Jarry from Edmonton and Jordon Cooke from Kelowna; the most sportsmanlike player has Sam Reinhart from Kootenay and Mitch Holmberg from Spokane; scholastic player of the year will be decided between Nelson Nogier from Saskatoon and Dominic Turgeon from Portland; coach of the year has Shawn Clouston from Medicine Hat and Dave Lowry from Victoria; executive of the year is between Mike Moore of Calgary and Cam Hope of Victoria; humanitarian of the year has Sam Fioretti of Moose Jaw and Mitch Topping of Tri-City; marketing is Regina in the east and Seattle in the west.
Medicine Hat’s Curtis Valk has also been named the Ryobi Hardest Working Player and receives a $2,000 scholarship plus a set of tools…Dr. Mary Smith of the Spokane Chiefs has been named the recipient of the WHL’s Distinguished Service Award after being with the club since 1985…Mitch Holmberg wins the Bob Clarke Trophy as scoring leader and the Kelowna Rockets collect the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions. The Rockets established franchise records with 57 wins and 118 points…Anyone wanting to donate to the Tim Bozun Trust Fund can do so by going to any Bank of Montreal in the four western provinces. Bozun is recovering from meningitis in a Saskatoon hospital and the funds will be used to help with rehabilitation costs.
The playoffs have just nicely gotten underway, but already the Brandon Wheat Kings can boast one victory. When the Saskatoon Blades were awarded the first overall pick in the upcoming bantam draft at the draft lottery this week that selection was immediately transferred to Brandon to complete a trade two years ago for forward Brendan Walker. The Wheat Kings, already armed with the No. 4 and No. 6 picks from last year, will now add to their stable of prospects in May…Tri-City goaltender Eric Comrie was pulled over by the police recently and when it was discovered that his plates had expired he continued on his way to an optional practice by hitching a ride. He was given just a warning for the failure to renew the plates…Former NHL and Medicine Hat goaltender Kelly Hrudey was back in his old stomping grounds this week speaking to students at two schools in Medicine Hat. Hrudey, who is an uncle to Tigers’ captain Curtis Valk, declined the offer to put the pads back on to face his nephew in a mock shootout.
A number of milestones were achieved in the final week of the regular season including Brandon head coach Kelly McCrimmon surpassing Bob Lowes as the all-time Wheat King leader in wins with 364 and Patrik Bartosak bettered Mike Whitney for career saves with Red Deer. Bartosak, who finished his junior career with 4,546 saves, set the mark in two-plus seasons while Whitney was with the Rebels from 1994-98…Medicine Hat’s Dylan Bredo finished his junior career with the third-longest ironman streak after the fifth-year defenceman played in 290 straight games. Justin Feser set the mark last year with Tri-City at 321 consecutive games…Portland’s 338 goals were the most scored by one team in the WHL since 1997-98 when the Winterhawks scored 342 that year…There were no 50-goal scorers in the league a year ago, but this season had three: Mitch Holmberg (62), Oliver Bjorkstrand (50) and Todd Fiddler (50).
The Regina Pats were fined this week for having closed practises to the media and public in their lead-up to the opening of their playoff round with Brandon. WHL commissioner Ron Robison told the Pats it is a direct violation of league rules to have closed practises…Moose Jaw Warriors have given head coach Mike Stothers and general manager Alan Millar a vote of confidence despite missing the playoffs for a second straight year. The Warriors, however, will be without assistant coach Mike Vandenberghe as he has left the team to tend to business interests…The Saskatoon Blades will make a decision on head coach David Struch’s future when the rookie bench boss meets with the new team management this week. Struch, who inherited a club that was cut to the core after the Memorial Cup failure a year ago, was not allowed to attend exit meetings with players earlier in the week.
The Calgary Hitmen has brought in eight young prospects to watch the team in the playoffs including Prince Albert Minto defenceman Loch Morrison. The future stars of the team are being given a chance to experience WHL playoff action and to get acquainted with their possible new surroundings. Morrison played in six games for the Hitmen this year collecting one assist…Should the Brandon-Regina series require a sixth game it will be played in Dauphin as the Wheat Kings’ regular home is once again booked for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair while their second choice, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, is also unavailable due to the Juno Awards…The most interesting first-round series has to be the Everett-Seattle match-up as the two Washington State rivals have never met in the post-season. Separated by just 45 miles on Interstate 5, the two clubs finished tied with 88 points in the regular season and split the 10-game season series with five wins each.
Information for the WHL Notebook is gathered from submissions by the WHL Writer’s Group.