WHL notes: Victoria cools down Kelowna’s drive
The Western Hockey League record for most wins in a season has stood for 33 years.
The Victoria Cougars set the mark of 60 in 1980-81 with a team that featured Grant Fuhr and Barry Pederson. Fuhr, a member of the National Hockey League Hall of Fame, is best known for his 10 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers that produced four Stanley Cups in a span of five seasons. Pederson played in the NHL for 12 seasons and holds the Boston Bruins’ record for goals by a rookie.
Victoria, now the home of the Royals, found itself in position to try to help maintain that record last week with back-to-back home games against the Kelowna Rockets.
Kelowna entered the weekend with a record of 36-5-0-2 and a winning percentage of .860 that was on pace to at least tie the record.
In Friday’s game, Victoria won 3-1 as Patrik Polivka made 34 saves and Steven Hodges had two goals and one assist. “I was probably a bit lucky, but you need that, too, as a goalie,” Polivka told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “It was almost like a playoff game.”
On Saturday, Polivka allowed four goals on the first 12 shots and was pulled early as Kelowna bounced back for a 5-3 win. Myles Bell scored twice in 3 minutes for the Rockets, whose winning percentage stands at .844.
The 60-win season is also a record for the entire Canadian Hockey League.
Altered fortunes: Corbin Boes went from playing goalie for the Eastern Conference’s last-place team, Lethbridge, to joining defending league-champion Portland after a Jan. 10 trade.
“It’s all I could ask for, really,” the 20-year-old told James Shewaga of the Brandon Sun. “The farthest I’ve ever been in the playoffs was the second round with Brandon a few years ago. That was a fun ride, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the future that lies ahead here in Portland.”
Portland selected Boes in the 10th round of the 2008 bantam draft, but he never played for the Winterhawks until now. Boes made 24 saves in a 5-4 shootout win over Vancouver on Jan. 12 and stopped 36 Vancouver shots on Monday during a 5-2 win.
Hay reaps reward: Vancouver’s Don Hay became the third coach in WHL history to record 600 career wins when the Giants defeated the Kamloops Blazers 6-2 last Friday.
Ken Hodge (742 wins) and Lorne Molleken (616) are the others in the club.
“I love what I do,” Hay told Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald. “I enjoy going to work every day.
“I love the aspect of working with young men and teaching them not only hockey skills, but life skills.”
Around the league: Medicine Hat captain Curtis Valk scored twice last Saturday, giving him 100 career WHL goals, as the host Tigers beat Eastern Conference- leading Calgary 6-2. … Aspen Sterzer, traded to Red Deer from Kamloops on Jan. 9, had two goals and two assists in his first two games with the Rebels. … Former Spokane Chief Collin Valcourt received a pleasant surprise after being traded from Saskatoon to Prince Albert on Dec. 28. Valcourt was put on the first line with Leon Draisaitl, the team’s leading scorer and a projected top pick in the next NHL draft. “He’s a great player with a ton of skill and I think that we can do a lot for each other in the second half,” Valcourt told Perry Bergson of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Saskatoon has lost 20 of its last 22 games and is 18 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.