Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday's News and Notes: Bittner and Turgeon Compete at USA WJEC

USA Wins in OT Over Finland 5-4:
-Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Zach Werenski scored the over-time winner for the United States as they completed a comeback from a 4-2 deficit in Lake Placid during World Juniors Evaluation Camp. Jack Roslovic, Erik Foley, Matthew Tkachuk and Sonny Milano were the other goal scorers for the U.S.

This was the first game for the U.S. as a combined squad after the roster was cut down from 39 to 32 players yesterday.

As Portland Winterhawks Defenseman Jack Dougherty was cut from the team yesterday and Caleb Jones was a healthy scratch, the only Hawks to suit up in this one were Paul Bittner and Dominic Turgeon. Bittner was given an excellent chance to prove himself as he was placed on the de facto top line for the U.S. with Auston Matthews and Jeremy Bracco. While they did not score, they were the team's most consistent line and created multiple scoring chances. Bittner seems like a natural fit to play with Matthews as the possible #1 overall 2016 NHL draft pick, is amazing at finding a way to get the puck towards the net and Bittner's large frame is perfect for creating enough space to receive a pass or find a rebound. Unfortunately for Bittner, he could not have ingratiated himself much with USA Head Coach Ron Wilson after committing three minor penalties. In one series he committed a slashing infraction and then when he was getting out of the box, he played the puck while his feet were still inside. He was immediately whistled for an "illegal substitution penalty" and went right back to the sin bin. Hopefully, Team USA will look at his overall play more than that particular series.

Dominic Turgeon centered the second line between Sonny Milano and Nick Scmaltz and continued to play the solid 2 way game that Hawk's fans are used to seeing. Turgeon was paired with Milano as Team USA's top penalty killing forwards and did a pretty effective job. It's obvious that he's suited to this role and it's likely his best chance at making the team as a 3rd line Center. He was part of an offensive play that led to Milano's 3rd period game tying goal.

Jones should see the ice tomorrow for Team USA's 1pm PST game against Team Sweden.

Glass Wraps Up Play at U-17s:
-Hawk's 16 year old Forward Cody Glass played his last game for "Team Red", at the U-17 Program of Excellence in Calgary and his team beat Team Gold 4-3 finishing the tourney 1-2 overall. In the 6 team tourney, Canada Red finished tied for 4th overall with Canada Black and Glass had 1 assist in the 3 games. He is vying to make one of Canada's three rosters for the U-17 World Challenge.

Ralph Named Kelowna's New Head Coach:
-Former Idaho Steelheads Coach: Brad Ralph was named the successor to Dan Lambert and will take over the reigning WHL champion Kelowna Rockets. Ralph was considered by many to be an off the radar decision by Bruce Hamilton but did coach the Steelheads to three straight 39 win or more seasons in his only three seasons with the club. Ralph is from Richmond, Ontario and played for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL from 1997-2000 before having a "cup of coffee" with the Phoenix Coyotes. The strangest thing about the Ralph hiring though was the fact that prior to being announced as the Head Coach yesterday, he'd never even been to Kelowna.

Seattle Trades Lane Pederson to Red Deer:
-The Seattle Thunderbirds traded 18 year old Center Lane Pederson and a conditional 5th round 2017 pick to Red Deer in exchange for 18 year old Goalie Taz Burman. Pederson was buried on the depth chart last season for Seattle and should get a chance to play a little more for Red Deer. Of note is the fact that his birthday was actually yesterday. So for his birthday he gets a guarantee to play in the Memorial Cup for the host Rebels. Burman went 9-5 for Red Deer last year and had a 3.08 GAA and 0.89 Save %.  He will be joining 18 year old Logan Flodell as Seattle's Goalies this season. Bringing in a  Goalie of the same age is an interesting decision by Seattle G.M. Russ Farwell but giving up on the talented Pederson may end up being a worse decision (Lonny Bohonos anyone...?).

Tri City Trades Rights to Brandon Hickey:
-The Tri City Americans traded away the rights to Boston University Defenseman Brandon Hickey to Red Deer for a 2016 5th round pick and 2 conditional Bantam Draft picks. Hickey was a Calgary Flames 3rd round draft pick in 2014. The most likely route to Red Deer for Brandon is if Calgary signs him to a pro deal, which would make his ineligible to continue to play in college. This is a win-win trade for both teams as Red Deer, as Memorial Cup hosts would be a far more likely location for Calgary to send him then Tri City and the Americans get a draft pick out of having his rights.

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