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Locally: Former Spokane youth hockey player Ken Daneyko honored by New Jersey Devils

Nov. 8, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 8, 2022 at 9:20 p.m.

Former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko on the mic during a Devils NHL Draft party at the historic Stone Pony on Thursday, July 7, 2022 in Asbury Park, N.J.  (Tribune News Service)
Former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko on the mic during a Devils NHL Draft party at the historic Stone Pony on Thursday, July 7, 2022 in Asbury Park, N.J. (Tribune News Service)
From staff and news services

From staff and news services

Ken Daneyko, a rare bright spot in a dark, transitional phase in Spokane hockey in the early 1980s, was honored Oct. 30 by the New Jersey Devils for his four-decade association with the National Hockey League team.

Then a young Ukrainian-Canadian defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta, Daneyko was part of a failed junior hockey experiment in Spokane at the dawn of the decade. Still, he showed enough that Spokane writer Paul Delany, in his book “Saturday Nights were Special: A history of hockey in Spokane” in 2001, called him a “can’t-miss” prospect.

Daneyko played 88 games for the then-Spokane Flyers in the 1980-81 and 1981-82 Western Hockey League seasons before winding up with the Seattle Breakers in December of ’81 when the WHL suspended the Spokane franchise that was struggling on and off the ice.

Delany was right. He couldn’t miss.

The second of two first-round picks by the Devils in 1982 after the NHL team relocated from Colorado, Daneyko played his entire 20-year NHL career in New Jersey, retiring following the 2002-03 season with franchise records for most games played (1,283) and most penalty minutes (2,516). Since 2014, he has provided color commentary on Devils broadcasts.

“Mr. Devil,” as he’s called, was showered with surprises by the team, his family and fans.

“What an honor. I’m so humbled,” Daneyko said of what he called “a memorable afternoon. I was so surprised when I saw my son (Shane) singing the national anthem. That was so great.”

College sceneKahea Figueira, a sophomore at College of Idaho from Mt. Spokane, finished fourth in the 2022 Cascade Collegiate Conference Women’s Cross Country Championships Friday at Clover Sports Fields in Phoenix, Oregon, completing a sweep of the top four places for the Yotes as they breezed to the title.

In leading the finish by runners with area ties, Figueira timed 18 minutes, 59.2 seconds for 5K, helping seventh-ranked C of I earn the CCC’s automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships Nov. 18 in Tallahassee, Florida.

C of I had 17 points to 49 for 11th-ranked runner-up Southern Oregon and 83 for No. 15 Lewis-Clark State, which placed third.

Winston Telford, an Eastern Oregon sophomore from Davenport, Washington, was the top-finishing male runner from the area in 14th at 25:44.9 for 8K.

The Mountaineers (66 points) finished third behind men’s champion Southern Oregon (34) and runner-up College of Idaho (62).

The top 15 in each race earned All-CCC honors. Besides Figueira in the women’s race were two former Coeur d’Alene High School runners, Lauren Foster, a Southern Oregon sophomore in seventh (19:11.3), and Brooklyn Shell, an L-C State senior in 13th (19:37.0). Telford was the only area men’s runner to earn all-conference.

Other area runners in the top 30: Women: 23. Abigail Peightal, sr., Timberlake, L-C, 20:11.1; 25. Clara Stephens, fr., Lake City, L-C, 20.39.8; 27. Grace Tiegs, fr., Nezperce, L-C, 20:49.3. Men: 27. Connor Turpin, sr., Lewiston, L-C, 26:27.4; 28. Luka Brown, so., Mt. Spokane, C of I, 26:35; Kobe Wessels, fr., Lewiston, L-C, 26:41.7.

Annika Esvelt, a Seattle Pacific sophomore from West Valley, was the top-finishing runner with area ties in the Great Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Ash Creek Reserve in Monmouth, Oregon.

Esvelt placed 18th in the 6K women’s race, timing 22:14.50. Teammate Matise Mulch, a freshman from Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls, was 28th in 22:33. Top area runner in the 8K men’s race was Western Oregon sophomore Easton Pomrankey from Kettle Falls, 28th in 25:27.20.

The top 10 in each race were All-GNAC.

• Eastern Washington junior Maddie Morgan and Idaho freshman Kira Witte each collected three honors when the Big Sky Conference announced its 2022 individual award winners in women’s soccer.

Morgan shared co-offensive MVP and co-Golden Boot honors with Morgan Furmaniak of Weber State after they finished tied in votes from conference coaches and points. Morgan had four goals and two assists and Furmaniak had five goals, both scoring 10 points. Both were also named to the all-conference first team.

Witte was also first-team all-conference, goalkeeper of the year and newcomer of the year after she tied the Big Sky’s single-season shutout record with 11 clean sheets while logging 60 saves and an .833 save percentage. She is the first Vandal to win goalkeeper of the year since 2018 and the program’s first newcomer of the year since 2016.

EWU junior midfielder Madison Kem, who played 1,603 of the team’s 1,620 minutes, earned her fourth first-team all-conference honor and fifth postseason award. She was newcomer of the year in 2019.

Eagles senior defender Mya Elder-Hammond earned a second second-team award – she was second team in 2019 and honorable mention in 2021 – and sophomore Grace Terrill was honorable mention.

Idaho also placed sophomore defender Cassidy Elicker and grad student midfielder Savannah Foster on the first team, and junior defender Alyssa Peters and junior midfielders Margo Schoesler (Mead) and sophomore Jayd Sprague on the second. Sophomore defender Rebekah Reyes and junior forward Maddy Lasher (Lake City) received honorable mention.

• Gonzaga had two women and two men earn All-West Coast Conference honors in cross country for their performances in WCC championship meets Oct. 28.

Senior Kristen Garcia (sixth) and sophomore Rosina Machu (seventh) were on the women’s first team and sophomore Wil Smith (Lewis and Clark, third) was on the men’s first team and redshirt senior Yacine Guermali (15th) on the second.

• Washington State junior Neema Kimtai earned second-team All-Pac-12 in women’s cross country for her 10th-place finish in the conference championship meet Oct. 28.

• Gonzaga (9-3-5, 4-1-3 West Coast Conference) played to a scoreless draw at No. 23 Santa Clara (9-6-3, 6-0-2 WCC) on national television Nov. 2 as Santa Clara extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches. The Broncos outshot GU 24-7, with a 5-1 edge in shots on goal, and took 11 of the 12 corner kicks.

• Former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura, a sophomore at Arizona, was named to the Davey O’Brien QB Class of 2022, making him eligible to be voted one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

• North Idaho was picked to finish second in a close NWAC men’s basketball coaches’ preseason poll behind Yakima Valley, and the Cardinals women were selected for ninth. CC Spokane received votes in both polls.

Peninsula edged Lower Columbia and Lane in close voting in the women’s poll.

HockeyThe Spokane Chiefs will be the visiting team for the Seattle Thunderbirds’ second “Battle of the Sound” promotion Dec. 27 when their Western Hockey League game will be played in Climate Pledge Arena, home of the NHL Seattle Kraken.

Tickets go on sale to the public Wednesday with a presale opportunity available to season ticket holders of the Kraken, Thunderbirds and Chiefs prior to that date. The inaugural “Battle of the Sound” Feb. 26 between the Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips attracted more than 8,000 fans.

MiscellanyThad Hathaway, a Big Sky Conference track and field champion in the high jump at the University of Idaho before graduating in 1997, has been hired by the Vandals as associate athletic director for student-athlete support services, director of athletics Terry Gawlik announced.

Hathaway returns to Moscow after serving the last 19 years at Washington State University, where his most recent of three positions was senior associate director of athletics for academics and compliance. At Idaho, Hathaway will have oversight of all academic and student-athlete development programming.

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