Spokane Chiefs forward Jack Finley, the first selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2020 National Hockey League draft, has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Stanley Cup champions.
Tampa Bay, which did not have a first-round selection, announced Saturday it came to an agreement with the 6-foot-5, 205-pound center it picked in the second round, 57th overall. Finley is the 75th Chief drafted by an NHL team.
The 18-year-old will return to Spokane for the 2020-21 season if he does not make Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster.
The Kelowna, British Columbia, native had a breakout 2019-20 season with career highs in goals (19), assists (38) and points (57) with a plus-32 rating in 61 games, centering a line with WHL Player of the Year Adam Beckman.
Finley had 14 multipoint games, including a career-best four (1G-3A) in a 7-6 overtime win at Portland in early February. He finished the shortened season with points in 12 of the final 17 games (9G-12A).
In 131 career WHL games over three seasons, all with Spokane, he has 28 goals and 77 points, plus one goal and seven assists in 15 WHL playoff games.
Idaho senior Natalie Klinker was the Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after she averaged 11 points, 16 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and an assist in the Vandals’ opening weekend sweep of Sacramento State.
Klinker had a team-high 15 points on 67% shooting and 13 rebounds for a double-double on Dec. 4 The next day she had 19 rebounds, the most by a Vandal in Memorial Gym and tying for ninth most all time by a Vandal on her home court. Seventeen of her 32 rebounds were on the offensive end, helping UI score 48 second-chance points during the weekend.
• Six former Greater Spokane League standouts are among the 14 players named to Whitworth’s All-Decade Women’s Soccer Team for the period 2010-11 to 2019-20 when the Pirates finished among the top three teams in the Northwest Conference five times.
A second-place finish during the 2010-11 season was the highlight. The Pirates landed four players on the All-NWC first team, including goalie Callie Bergstrom (2008-11, Mt. Spokane), an honorable mention choice on the all-decade team.
Leading the forward selections is Tiara Pajimola (2012-15, Shadle Park), a four-time All-NWC honoree who was the Pirates’ leading scorer each of her four seasons. As a freshman, she finished fourth in the NWC with eight goals, and scored seven as a sophomore, ending her career with 24 goals and eight assists.
Other local all-decade picks include defenders Sydney Weiler (2017-18, University/Community Colleges of Spokane), a two-time All-NWC first-team pick who anchored a defense that posted eight shutouts as a junior and allowed just one goal as a senior, and Jami Hegg (2010-13, Mead), who played in every match her four seasons and earned All-NWC recognition three times.
The midfield includes Kathryn Bischoff (2014-17, Ferris), a two-time All-NWC first-team pick (2016, ’17) who started 39 of 40 matches and was a perfect 5 for 5 on penalty kicks, and Mackenzie Grow (2009-12, Lewis and Clark), who earned three All-NWC accolades, scored seven goals as a junior and senior, her three in 2017 all match-winners.
Others on the All-Decade team:
Goalkeeper: Andrea Stump (2012-15). Defense: Anisa Babar (2008-11), Hannah Langbehn (2013-16), Kelsey Griswold (2009-12, honorable mention). Midfield: Kelly Wucherer (2015-18). Midfield/forward: Sarah Berentson (2008-11). Forwards: Arielle Van Peursem (2015-18), Leah Corra (2014-17).
• At the Frontier Conference’s midyear virtual meetings, the Council of Presidents decided to continue the league’s no-spectator rule for the foreseeable future. In the original COVID Return to Play protocol, the conference had hoped to allow spectators beginning in January.
Three professionals with area ties have been singled out by a national organization that promotes player development as a Top 50 Golf Coach in the country.
Taylor Porter of Coeur d’Alene, an assistant pro at Avondale Golf Club in Hayden Lake; Tim Ressa, a Pullman native who is a PGA pro at Harbour Pointe Golf Club in Seattle; and Derek Siesser from Maple Valley, Washington, who heads up the Indian Canyon Golf Academy, have been honored by Operation 36, whose stated mission is to create one million new golfers over the next five years.
Porter, a standout at Coeur d’Alene High School and Community Colleges of Spokane, described his teaching style in the Operation 36 release as “always evolving and adapting to different styles of golfers, athletic abilities and learning behaviors.
“I believe that no two golf swings are the same and that they must be treated that way to get the most out of our students. When teaching, I always try and instill a positive mentality into my students because so much of this game is just being in the right mind frame.”
Ressa, who started playing golf with his dad and brothers in Pullman and completed a four-year career at Washington State University in 1999, has been a golf instructor for more than 15 years, kick-started by a six-year stint in Asia.
“I like to create a fun, comfortable environment,” the head of the Operation 36 Women’s Academy at the Mukilteo course said of his teaching style. “I treat everyone as an individual, and believe my responsibility is to teach them how to play the game along with all the other human skills that this game has to offer.”
Siesser, a Saint Martin’s University Hall of Fame golfer and a PGA professional since 2010, has accumulated a handful of honors for his teaching skills, the most recent Inland Empire PGA Teacher of the Year for 2020.
He was also named Best Instructor in the State for 2019/20 by Golf Digest magazine; was the Pacific Northwest PGA Player Development Award winner in 2019; the Inland Empire PGA Player Development Award winner in 2018; and the IEPGA Youth Development Award winner in 2017.
“I am a coach who is committed to bringing enjoyment and empowering all levels of golfers who desire to learn and improve,” he said in the Operation 36 release.
Echoing the program’s goal, he added, “I believe in quantifiable progress tracking to help students achieve goals, but also continue to keep golf fresh, fun and challenging.”
• In selecting its 2020 special award winners last month, the Inland Empire PGA named Mark Nelson of Hayden Lake Country Club its Professional of the Year and Mark Wilkins of Manito Golf & Country Club the Assistant Professional of the Year.
Other award winners: Colin McMahon, The Creek at Qualchan, Bill Strausbaugh Award; Austin Westphal, Avondale Golf Club, Player Development Award; Bo Baker, Qualchan, Youth Player Development Award; Bill Bomar, Prairie Falls Golf Club, Patriot Award; Trevor Fox, The Golf Club at Black Rock, Merchandiser of the Year-Private; Dan Porter, Avondale, Merchandiser of the Year-Public; and Nick McCaslin, Kalispel Golf & Country Club, Merchandiser of the Year-Resort.
• After the first round of the Outlaw Tour’s Longbow Classic last week in Mesa, Arizona, Derek Bayley of Rathdrum had his work cut out. The former Lakeland High School and Washington State standout found himself 10 shots back of the leader at 3-over-par 74.
But he got things going, putting together back-to-back sub-par rounds of 69 and 64, to finish at 6-under 207 for a share of seventh to earn $1,625.
The 64, in which his seven birdies matched his total from the first two rounds combined, tied for the low score of the final round.
Letters of intent
Gonzaga men’s cross country and track: Ansel Tucker, distances, Davis, California.
Alyssa Charlston, a sports reporter at KXLY/4 News the past 3½ years, has been hired by Gonzaga University as digital media and video coordinator, where she “will assist in telling the story of Gonzaga athletics and student-athletes both on and off the court.”
A native of Sammamish, Washington, Charlston worked in a similar role for both the University of Washington and University of Idaho athletic departments, where she was responsible for increasing digital content through player spotlights and interviews.
She is a 2014 graduate of Idaho with a degree in broadcast and digital media following a successful four-year basketball career. A forward, she was a three-time All-WAC performer, two on the first team, and a two-time Academic All-American. She led UI to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and finished her career with 1,587 points and 855 rebounds.
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