A busy week generated plenty of headlines across the Canadian Hockey League.
Here is the latest from around the circuit:
Santa Claus Parades
‘Tis the holiday season and CHL clubs were out in the community this weekend taking part in their local Santa Claus Parades, with fans, players, and team mascots getting in on the fun.
Sportsnet season begins
Following the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, Sportsnet has launched its broadcast schedule for the 2019-20 campaign counting 19 regular-season contests in addition to playoff games and key events like the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and the 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia.
The new schedule launched Sunday as Saskatchewan rivals in the Moose Jaw Warriors and hosting Saskatoon Blades faced off in what ultimately ended in a 4-0 final that saw Blades rookie netminder Koen MacInnes turn aside 20 shots for his first career shutout while right-wing Zach Huber led the way offensively with a two-goal effort.
The CHL on Sportsnet schedule continues Saturday with OHL action as the Mississauga Steelheads head to Ottawa to take on the 67’s and then again on Sunday with a showdown between the Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals.
Wawanesa Toy Drive
In partnership with Wawanesa Insurance, the CHL will host 36 local toy drives this holiday season where fans are encouraged to donate new and unwrapped toys at any Wawanesa Toy Drive game held from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15. All donors will also be entered into a grand prize draw of a trip for two to the 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia in Kelowna, B.C.
Three CHL teams held their toy drive this weekend, including the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kelowna Rockets, and Swift Current Broncos.
Dress for the occasion
On the ice, the fun continued with several teams unveiling their annual theme night jerseys, including the Prince Albert Raiders, who sported an ugly Christmas sweater style jersey.
Elsewhere, other unique designs included the Sudbury Wolves hosting their fifth annual superhero game, the Saskatoon Blades debuting a Pacman-inspired jersey, the Barrie Colts’ 25th anniversary designs, and the Regina Pats sporting an ‘Experience Regina’ look that included Canadian sports broadcasters Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole on hand for the unveiling.
A host of cancer awareness initiatives are underway across the CHL, including the continuation of Pink in the Rink where clubs wear pink-themed jerseys and fans in attendance are encouraged to dress for the occasion. Pink in the Rink will continue in the coming week with the Steelheads hosting theirs Nov. 21 and the Guelph Storm on Nov. 22.
Meanwhile, clubs and players continue their participating in ‘Movember’, a movement that sees participants raise funds and grow a mustache for the month of November in an effort to raise awareness for men’s health concerns including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.
This month will also see the coaching staff of the Drummondville Voltigeurs sport bow ties in recognition of prostate cancer.
Winners gets rings
Joining Team WHL at the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, Everett Silvertips left-wing and Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Fonstad returned to his former home last week for Game 6, marking his first game back in Prince Albert since a mid-October move made him a member of the Silvertips.
The return provided Fonstad a chance to reconnect with familiar faces and allowed for the team to present him with his championship ring after helping guide the squad to its first Ed Chynoweth Cup title in 35 years last spring. Across 219 career contests with the Raiders, Fonstad recorded 63 goals and 119 assists for 182 points.
The Guelph Storm recently had a ring presentation of their own to former forward Liam Hawel when making a trip to Kitchener to take on the rival Rangers. The Robertson Cup champion is playing his overage season for the blueshirts and has 17 points through 14 games after suiting up in crimson for three seasons.
Honouring a great
Another integral member of the Storm’s championship season was honoured on Saturday. Long time trainer Russ ‘Rusty’ Hammond was recognized for his 25-year tenure with the club that included over 2,000 games behind the bench and four OHL championships.
Hammond retired after the club’s 2018-19 championship season.
Growing the game
The Peterborough Petes took an extra special step in their community outreach programming by welcoming 60 new Canadians to try hockey.
The club worked with local used equipment stores and various donors to help outfit the first time players, and had the help of a peewee girls team for the on ice session. In partnership with Peterborough’s New Canadians Centre, the team also offered free tickets for Thursday night’s game.
Signed and sealed
Two more CHL talents have signed entry-level contracts with their respective NHL clubs.
In Chicago, the Blackhawks inked a three-year agreement with London Knights defenceman and co-captain Alec Regula. Originally chosen in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Regula’s rights were moved to the Blackhawks earlier this season in a deal that made Niagara IceDogs graduate Brendan Perlini a member of the Red Wings. Through 16 appearances with the Knights this season, Regula is scoring at above a point-per-game pace in collecting eight goals and nine assists.
Elsewhere, the Vegas Golden Knights reached a three-year pact with Winnipeg ICE centre Peyton Krebs, the 17th overall selection from the 2019 NHL Draft.
Following a long recovery period from offseason Achilles surgery, Krebs made his season debut against the Portland Winterhawks on Sunday, picking up one assist in the 4-1 final. The Okotoks, Alta., native returns to the ice after leading the ICE in scoring last season with 68 points counting 19 goals and 49 assists across 64 appearances. In all, Krebs becomes the 23rd CHL player selected in the 2019 NHL Draft to have since signed an entry-level contract.
NHL rookie race
Saskatoon Blades alumnus Kirby Dach continues to shine with the Blackhawks as the first-year forward has now recorded nine points counting five goals and four assists across 14 appearances, including his current four-game point streak that saw him light the lamp twice in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Told earlier this season that he would remain with the Blackhawks for the foreseeable future, Dach has continued to impress as he sits tied for fifth in team scoring and the same spot among freshmen across the NHL. The Blackhawks originally chose Dach with the third-overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.