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On Paper, Americans Looking Better

The Tri-City Americans took on a coveted defenseman and some renewed respect this week after a flurry of player movement in the Western Hockey League.

Tri-City general manager Dennis Beyak brought in five players from the Prince George Cougars - left winger Rob Butz, center Dorian Anneck, defensemen Alexandre Boikov and Ryan Brown and goalie David Trofimenkoff.

Four days later Beyak got the player he really wanted, Bryon Briske, a 19-year-old defenseman, from the Red Deer Rebels.

Tri-City sent promising 17-year-old forward B.J. Young to Red Deer for Briske.

The Americans also peddled left wingers Geoff Lynch and Ronald Petrovicky, defenseman Sheldon Souray, goaltender Mike Walker and a 17-year-old defenseman from the B.C. Junior League, Kevin Bertam, to Prince George.

One WHL front office type called it a steal for the Americans.

Tri-City’s Beyak didn’t go that far, warning that Young could come back to haunt him in years to come, but said Briske “is a player we’ve been after for a while.

“I think he’s going to be a scorer in this league, the Tri-City GM said. “but right now, Byron Briske is better for our hockey club than B.J. Young.”

The goal in Kennewick was to gear up for the first round of the West Divison playoffs, a new round-robin format that will determine the West division semifinalists.

“We haven’t looked beyond that,” Beyak said. “We’re not saying we can now take a run at Kamloops or Tacoma. We just want to make sure we’re better than the teams around us.”

Prominent among those are the Chiefs, who have what Beyak called “the hot commodity” in defenseman Bryan McCabe.

The trade deadline is Thursday morning.

A deal for McCabe would have to involve a player of equal value in return, Spokane GM Tim Speltz said, “a marquee-type player.”

Meanwhile, back east …

The Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades also upgraded through trades.

The Kings acquired scoring pop in right winger Alexandre Vasilevskii and left winger Mike Leclerc from Prince George, in exchange for center Chris Low, defenseman Ian Walterson and 15-year-old defenseman Jeff Church.

Prince George also received future considerations. The object of a trade is to get better or younger. The Cougars, last in the West, opted for the younger route.

Saskatoon added a goal-scorer - exChief Mark Szoke - and a veteran defenseman in a deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Saskatoon sent six players to Lethbridge - right wingers Kirby Law and Steve Roberts, defenseman Mike O’Grady, left winger Doyle McMorris and two players to be named later. In return the Blades picked up Szoke, defenseman Lee Sorochan and right winger Dmitiri Markovsky.

Szoke gives Saskatoon a sniper to go with a cadre of tough blue-liners, enough to put a hot finish on a so-so winter.

Three dot stuff …

Defenseman Hugh Hamilton is the Chiefs top-rated draft-eligible player according to the National Hockey League Central Scouting Bureau. Hamilton is listed as a high third-round pick. No. 1 in the rankings is Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Wade Redden. Spokane forwards Joe Cardarelli and John Cirjak are projected as high sixth-round selections in the mid-season report… .

Around the league …

Tacoma owner Bruce Hamilton, who played for the 1980 Spokane Chiefs when the club was affiliated with senioramateur hockey, confirmed that under terms of his lease with the Tacoma Dome the Rockets will remain where they are through next season. But Hamilton makes no guarantees beyond that. The Rockets are not happy with attendance and sharing the dome with the Seattle Sonics, however temporary the arrangement, is unsatisfactory.


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