As the regular season approaches the holiday break, here is the latest from around the circuit:
Teddy Bear Toss
The latest round of Teddy Bear Toss games decorated the schedule with a bevy of Canadian Hockey League clubs hosting their annual event, including the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Brandon Wheat Kings, Everett Silvertips, Guelph Storm, Halifax Mooseheads, Hamilton Bulldogs, Kitchener Rangers, Moncton Wildcats, Prince Albert Raiders, Portland Winterhawks, Red Deer Rebels, Saginaw Spirit, Saskatoon Blades, Shawinigan Cataractes, Sudbury Wolves, Tri-City Americans, and Windsor Spitfires.
Elsewhere, the Prince George Cougars and Sarnia Sting did their best to look the part with special holiday sweaters.
The event, which sees fans toss stuffed animals on to the ice surface after the home team scores its first goal of the game, collects thousands of plush toys that are then donated to families and children in need over the holiday season. Clubs including the Regina Pats and Sarnia Sting are recent examples of clubs out in the community donating the furry friends to local areas in need.
Wawanesa Toy Drive
There has been no shortage of generosity across the Canadian Hockey League family this holiday season as the Wawanesa Toy Drive wrapped up the final portion of its 36-stop event that allows fans to donate new and unwrapped toys be gifted to children in need.
Participating this week included the Cape Breton Eagles, Charlottetown Islanders, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Gatineau Olympiques, Medicine Hat Tigers, Mississauga Steelheads, Niagara IceDogs, North Bay Battalion, Oshawa Generals, Ottawa 67’s, Owen Sound Attack, Prince Albert Raiders, Sherbrooke Phoenix, and Victoriaville Tigres.
Fans who donate will also be entered into a grand prize draw for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia in Kelowna, B.C., held May 22-31.
Thoughts for Tucker Tynan
A scary moment occurred Thursday night in Niagara when a collision involving IceDogs goaltender Tucker Tynan that resulted in serious injury. Tucker’s condition has been stabilized and he is on the road to recovery with help from the many medical professionals who worked quickly to help save his life.
It was an extra special weekend for the WHL’s Korczak family and the OHL’s Giroux family who enjoyed a two-for-one game with both brothers head-to-head in action.
Out west, it was older brother Kaedan of the Kelowna Rockets who scored the OT winner to get the best of his younger brother Ryder who plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
As for the Giroux’s, it was also older brother Damien who emerged victorious for the Saginaw Spirit with a pair of victories against younger brother Zacharie and the Flint Firebirds.
Many types of Milestones
From players, to officials, to support staff, several special milestones were made.
In Charlottetown, Islanders goaltender Matthew Welsh became just the 14th goaltender in QMJHL history to play 200 games.
Saginaw Spirit veteran forward Cole Coskey became the franchise’s all-time games played leader.
WHL linesman Sean Dufour was recognized for more than 400 games of service, while referee Adam Byblow has now worked more than 650 career games.
In Oshawa, legendary equipment manager Bryan Boyes was recognized for working game number 2,500 with the Generals.
Owen Sound honours Scott Walker
The Owen Sound Attack honoured former defenceman Scott Walker with a special jersey retirement ceremony prior to a weeknight game against the Guelph Storm. The Cambridge native and Storm part owner played 110 games for the Owen Sound Platers from 1991-93 accumulating 129 points after being overlooked in his OHL draft year.
U.S Challenge Cup Introduced
The WHL in partnership with NHL Seattle and Visit Kent announced the inaugural WHL U.S. Challenge Cup – a premier tournament for Bantam AAA hockey teams in the Western United States will be held in Kent, Washington February 20-23, 2020.
Winners get their rings
A pair of champions from the 2018-19 campaign were presented with their commemorative rings this week, including Guelph Storm graduate MacKenzie Entwistle as well as Kamloops Blazers defenceman Max Martin who last spring helped the Prince Albert Raiders hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in 34 years.
After beginning 2019-20 with the Raiders, Martin was moved to Kamloops in early October where he has made an immediate impact in producing above a point-per-game pace as he has registered five goals and 23 assists through 27 appearances. As for Entwistle, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect has stepped into the pro ranks this season in suiting up with the Rockford IceHogs, the club’s top minor-league affiliate, in which he has collected 11 points counting five goals and six assists in 20 outings.
Winterhawk officially becomes a Shark
Former Portland Winterhawk Joachim Blichfeld made his NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks just months after leading the WHL in scoring and earning Player of the Year honours with 114 points in 68 games.
Bahl a Devil
In a blockbuster NHL trade on Monday, Ottawa 67’s defenceman Kevin Bahl’s rights were traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Taylor Hall. Former OHL champion Nate Schnarr of the Guelph Storm and WHL champion Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets were also part of the deal to the Devils.
CHL Grad in need
Steve Ludzik racked up 358 points over three OHL seasons from 1978-81, collecting 233 assists in the process. Now the former Chicago Blackhawks forward requires a life-saving assist from someone else.
Ludzik, 58, played nine NHL seasons between Chicago and Buffalo from 1981-90 and served as head coach of the Mississauga IceDogs during the 2002-03 season. He has suffered from primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) for the past 30 years and has now reached stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver, requiring him to seek out a life-saving liver transplant.
A man who has spent years helping people with Parkinson’s disease through the Steve Ludzik Rehabilitation Centre, Ludzik is now in need of assistance himself. He needs the gift of life from someone willing to undergo surgery to donate a portion of their liver for him to stay alive.
Steve has recently been listed on the donor list and is seeking someone in good health with an ‘O’ blood type willing to provide this life-saving donation.
Those interested in more information can contact Heather Lannon at 416-340-4800 ext. 7715 or visit uhntransplant.ca to learn more about becoming a donor.