F Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s New York Islanders. They selected him with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2015 draft. . . . Last season, in 44 games, he had 57 points, including 12 goals, with the Thunderbirds. His season was shortened by a mid-season knee injury. . . . In 2013-14, as a 16-year-old freshman, Barzal had 54 points, 14 of them goals, in 59 games with Seattle.
The Vancouver Giants are scheduled to go home-and-home with the Victoria Royals this weekend. With three veteran forwards on the shelf with injuries, Vancouver head coach Lorne Molleken is expected to take a look at a defenceman or two in the forward ranks. F Tyler Benson will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on Wednesday to repair an undisclosed problem. F Thomas Foster is out with a shoulder injury. F Taylor Crunk has been out with an undisclosed injury, although he was back skating yesterday. . . . The Giants and Royals are scheduled to play in Ladner, B.C., Saturday, 4 p.m., and in Victoria on Sunday, 2 p.m. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more on the Giants’ situation right here.
The Brandon Wheat Kings and Smitty’s Restaurants of Brandon have renewed their Lucky 7 promotion for a 15th season. Whenever the Wheat Kings score seven or more goals in a home game — something that happened 10 times last season — a ticket stub is worth a 2+2+2 breakfast. That promotion provided some of my favourite numbers from the 2014-15 WHL season. . . . The Lucky 7 Breakfast Special features two eggs any style, two strips of bacon or two sausage links, and two buttermilk pancakes or two slices of toast. The promotion is good for seven days after a seven-goal game. . . . Through that promotion, Smitty’s served 11,715 fans, who scarfed down 1,952 dozen eggs, 732 pounds of bacon, 901 pounds of sausage, 11,715 pancakes, 1,065 loaves of bread and 73 gallons of maple syrup. . . . BTW, if you’re wondering what the single-season record is, it’s 11 from 2009-10. . . . As of Thursday morning, the Wheat Kings had sold 2,292 season-ticket packages as they close in on their goal of 2,500. They are 150 ahead of last season’s pace.
The UBC Thunderbirds announced their 2015-16 recruiting class and it includes eight players out of the WHL — F Joel Hamilton (Red Deer, Vancouver, Kamloops); F Austin Vetterl (Kootenay, Vancouver); F Chase Clayton (Saskatoon); D Kyle Becker (Medicine Hat); D Devan Fafard (Red Deer, Lethbridge); Josh Connolly (Kamloops, Prince George); D Raymond Grewal (Prince George, Prince Albert); and D Riley Guenther (Tri-City, Prince Albert) . . . The Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears will play exhibition games in Kamloops on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
There was a near disaster in Wilmington, Mass., on Thursday when the Boston Bruins’ three 2015 first-round draft picks — including F Jake DeBrusk of the Swift Current Broncos — failed a conditioning test. . . . Yikes! The sky is falling!!! . . . The test comprises six 300-metre sprints with a three-minute break between each one. To earn a pass, each one must be completed in under one minute. . . . “The conditioning test was the second time all the B’s prospects were put through this particular run after going through the same testing at July’s development camp,” writes Joe Haggerty of csnne.com, “and none of three first-round picks were able to pass the test on either occasion.” . . . Sounds like the Bruins’ track team has some work to do. . . . Haggerty’s complete story is right here.
That news out of the Bruins’ camp reminds me of a story from the late-1970s when Brandon Wheat Kings star Bill Derlago was in camp with the Vancouver Canucks. . . . Jake Milford, then the Canucks’ general manager, was concerned about Derlago’s performance in some of the off-ice drills. He called Wheat Kings head coach Dunc McCallum to express his concerns, only to have McCallum ask: “Are you building a hockey team or a track team?”
Former WHL and NHL star Theo Fleury is holding a CD release party at Symons Valley Ranch Farmers’ Market in Calgary on Sept. 25. The release precedes a cross-country promotional tour for his debut album -- I Am Who I Am. . . . The CD is to be out Oct. 23, with the lead single My Life Is A Country Song. . . . Fleury’s life and career have been well-documented by now and most hockey fans are familiar with him. The album, he says, reflects all of that and more. “The album is definitely dark,” he says in a news release. “The songs are all about my life, my experience, my struggle. But they’re also about coming through that struggle. At the end of every song, there’s hope. That’s what the lyrics and music reflect: Hope and healing. If people listen to this and there’s a line or a word or a phrase that helps them get out of the situation they’re in or how they’re feeling, that’s really why we’re doing this. The message is that no matter how far we may fall, we can make it back.”
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Swift Current and Vancouver cut a deal on Thursday afternoons, with the Broncos acquiring F Brendan Holterhus, 18, and the Giants getting D Matthew Parsons, 17. . . . The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Holtenhus, a list player from Edmonton, adds some size to the Broncos’ forward ranks. He is pointless in 18 games with the Giants, 16 of them last season. In 23 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints last season, he had six goals and six assists. . . . Parsons, a 6-foot-1, 160-pounder from Middle Lake, Sask., was a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He has played two seasons with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos. Last season, he had a goal and 13 assists.
D Noah Juulsen of the Everett Silvertips won’t take part in the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie camp because of a concussion he incurred during last month’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. Juulsen was selected by Montreal in the first round of the NHL’s 2015 draft. He has signed a three-year deal with the Habs. . . . German F Markus Eisenschmid, 20, of the Medicine Hat Tigers also will sit out Montreal’s camp, thanks to an undisclosed injury. He was a free-agent invitee. . . . The Canadiens are to open main camp on Sept. 17. It’s not known yet if Juulsen or Eisenschmid will be in attendance. . . .
The Portland Winterhawks have agreed to terms with News Talk 860 KPAM on a multi-year broadcast deal covering regular-season and playoff games. Todd Vrooman returns as the play-by-play voice with Andy Kemper alongside for home games and select road games. . . . The Winterhawks have been on KPAM since 2012. . . . The deal also includes Hawkey Talk, the one-hour Monday evening show played host to by Ron Callan. . . .
Campbell Elynuik, 22, has been added to the Regina Pats’ scouting staff. Elynuik, who is from Calgary, was a seventh-round pick by the Everett Silvertips in the 2007 bantam draft. He went on to play with Everett, Regina and Prince George (2008-12). According to Phil Andrews, the radio voice of the Pats, they now have four scouts in Alberta. . . .
D Bobby Zinkan, who was a fourth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2010 bantam draft, has been named captain of the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. Zinkan, 20, is from Edmonton. He had four points in 102 regular-season WHL games with the Broncos. . . . Last season, he was pointless in four games with the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, along with 20 points, including four goals, in 45 games with the Capitals. . . .
In Kennewick, Wash., the Prince George Cougars won their first exhibition game in four starts on Thursday, beating the Everett Silvertips, 4-2. Everett lost for the first time in four starts. F Kody McDonald had a goal and an assist for the Cougars, who got two assists from D Luka Zorko. The Cougars scored the game’s first two goals and never trailed. In fact, Everett head coach Kevin Constantine hooked starting G Carter Hart after the Cougars’ third goal at 16:20 of the first period. Hart gave up three goals on nine shots. Mario Petit came on in relief to turn aside 15 of 16 shots. At the other end, starter Mack Shields was beaten once on 22 shots, and Tavin Grant gave up one goal on 16 shots. . . . In the day’s second game, the Spokane Chiefs outshot Portland 51-28, en route to a 7-2 victory over the Winterhawks. Spokane counted five times in the third period. F Dominic Zwerger led the Chiefs with two goals and an assist, and F Keanu Yamamoto had three assists. F Alex Overhardt drew two assists for Portland. Spokane G Garret Hughson turned aside 26 shots, while Portland’s Ethan Middendorf stopped 44. . . . In the day’s last game, the Kootenay Ice scored two shootout goals to beat the Tri-City Americans, 2-1. F Tyler Sandhu scored for the Americans at 19:21 of the first period; F Zak Zborosky of the Ice tied it at 4:25 of the third. F Connor Barley and F Jared Legien scored the only goals of the shootout. Ice G Wyatt Hoflin stopped 37 shots; he was 22-for-22 in the third period and OT. Attendance was announced at 2,289.
The CHL released its preseason edition of its rankings, which are selected by a panel of anonymous NHL scouts. (If you are wondering why the rankings were released Thursday, it’s because the CHL regular season opens tonight as the puck drops for real in the QMJHL.)
The next rankings won’t appear until Sept. 30; in the meantime, here’s a look at the one’s released yesterday:
1. Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL); 2. Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL); 3. Niagara IceDogs (OHL); 4. Kelowna Rockets (WHL); 5. London Knights (OHL); 6. Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL); 7. Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL); 8. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL); 9. Erie Otters (OHL); 10. Red Deer Rebels (WHL).
Honourable mention: Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL); Ottawa 67’s (OHL); Portland Winterhawks (WHL).