|Tom Gazzola passes the puck in last year's tournament. Photo provided.|
Oilers TV Reporter and Host Tom Gazzola and edmontonoilers.com Head Writer Chris Wescott are among a handful of local media personalities participating in the third annual Dirty Birds Charity Hockey Tournament this weekend.
The tournament is a two-day event, including a silent auction this Friday. The tournament takes place on Saturday, helping raise awareness and funds for the Neurosurgery Kids Fund at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. In its first two years, the event raised over $200,000.
Both Gazzola and Wescott participated last year. This will be Gazzola’s third tournament. A member of the Oilers coaching staff, Video Coordinator Myles Fee, will also be playing in his first tournament.
In 2013, the goal was to raise $15,000. The tournament ended up raising $68,000, which was matched by CN Miracle for a total of around $140,000. Last year, the tournament raised $100,212, on its own, without being matched.
“The Dirty Bird Hockey Tournament means so much to my family and every family impacted by paediatric neurosurgery at the Stollery,” said Melissa Da Silva of the Neurosurgery Kids Fund. “This tournament is a true testament to how generous and compassionate people can be. A group of people who came together to create something extraordinary to help our children and families. We give our deepest heartfelt gratitude to everyone who organizes, donates and participates. The smiles at camp this year will be because of you!
|Chris Wescott skates to the bench in last year's tournament. Photo provided.
This event began when a local men’s hockey team decided to play for more than just fun, choosing to support a great cause.
“This tournament is more than hockey. It's about the friendship the Dirtybirds have created with the kids and families of the Neurosurgery Kids Fund,” said Chris Branco, captain of the Dirty Birds and one of the founding members of the event. Branco, and his wife Julie, created the charity tournament.
“Where this tournament is today is truly amazing. Never once did I think that in two years, over $200,000 would be donated,” Branco said. “The support from the community, family, friends and of course my wife Julie, who has put in countless hours, is what makes this a successful event.”
In addition to the Oilers staffers participating, Dustin Nielson (TSN 1260), Ryan Jespersen (630 CHED) and Min Dhariwal (CBC) will suit up for the cause.
Friday night’s silent auction will take place at Average Joes Sports Bar in Sherwood Park (390 Baseline Road), at 7 p.m. Auction items include a Wayne Gretzky stick, a Jordan Eberle stick and jersey, a Taylor Hall jersey and a Connor McDavid Erie Otters and World Junior Championship jersey, all signed.
Tickets are $20 at the door.
The tournament will take place on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. at Argyl Arena (9933 63 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton).
This year, prior to the auction or tournament, over $67,000 has been raised.
Edmonton Oilers 2015 Rookie Camp will once again include a trip to Penticton, B.C. for the annual Young Stars Classic, hosted by the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks announced today the details and schedule for the 2015 event, which will run September 11-14 at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. The Oilers Rookies will play three games against fellow rookie squads from the Canucks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.
While the Oilers Rookie Camp schedule and roster are still to be determined, players typically congregate in Edmonton two days prior for medicals and fitness testing before flying to Penticton for the Young Stars Classic. The Oilers Rookies posted a 2-1 record at last year’s Young Stars Classic, with first-round draft picks Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse in the lineup.
All 2015 Young Stars Classic games will be streamed live on edmontonoilers.com.
Young Stars Classic
Penticton, B.C – September 11-14, 2015
|Game 1||Calgary vs. Winnipeg||Sept. 11||5:00pm|
|Game 2||Vancouver vs. Edmonton||Sept. 11||8:30pm|
|Game 3||Calgary vs. Edmonton||Sept. 12||8:30pm|
|Game 4||Vancouver vs. Winnipeg||Sept. 13||3:00pm|
|Game 5||Edmonton vs. Winnipeg||Sept. 14||12:30pm|
|Game 6||Vancouver vs. Calgary||Sept. 14||4:30pm|
*Game dates, times and opponents subject to change
**All times converted to Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
CLICK HERE to view full release.
For information and details on VIP packages and other ticket options, visit canucks.com/youngstars and SOEC.ca. Tickets are available online at www.valleyfirsttix.com, by phone at 1-877-763-2849, in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC or Wine Country Visitor Centre.
UTICA, N.Y. — The Oklahoma City Barons fell 1-0 to the Utica Comets Wednesday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in the seventh and final game of the Western Conference Semifinals series, ending Oklahoma City’s 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs run.
The game’s lone goal was scored in the third period, when Alexandre Grenier pushed the rebound of a Travis Ehrhardt shot past Barons goaltender Richard Bachman at 7:11 of the frame.
Bachman finished the game with 39 saves, while Utica goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped all 35 shots he faced. Bachman finishes the postseason in a tie with Providence’s Malcom Subban for the highest save percentage of the playoffs at .953. Subban played in two games before Providence was eliminated.
Despite holding the second-highest power play percentage in this year’s playoffs, Oklahoma City was held scoreless on three power play chances.
With the win, Utica moves on to the Western Conference Finals round, where they will face the Grand Rapids Griffins in a best-of-seven series for the opportunity to represent the Western Conference in the Calder Cup Finals.
Oklahoma City’s playoff run ended with a 6-4 record after a three-game sweep of San Antonio in the quarterfinal round and a 3-4 record against Utica in the semis.
There is no doubt that Todd McLellan brings experience and name recognition to the Oilers organization. The long-time coach has worked his way up through the hockey ranks, with stops in the SJHL, WHL, IHL and AHL on his way to the NHL as an assistant and head coach.
His winning record (311-163-66) as the bench boss in San Jose the past seven seasons is also a plus. But Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke more specifically about McLellan, following the hiring announcement. McLellan becomes the 14th coach in Oilers franchise history.
“Todd brings with him a wealth of experience, a level of energy and intellect I haven’t seen in a long time,” Chiarelli said. “He’s been a coach for a number of years, most recently a couple of days ago where he won the gold medal with Team Canada over in Prague. I had a chance to meet with him over there and talk at length on a number of different levels. I’m very impressed with him, meeting him face to face. I had been very impressed with his teams over the years in the NHL with Detroit and with San Jose.”
When Chiarelli came to Edmonton, he spoke about wanting the Oilers to play harder. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting bigger or more physical, and Chiarelli feels McLellan gets that.
“We talked a couple of weeks ago at my press conference about different ways of playing hard, rather than switching out a whole team’s roster. Both those teams in Detroit and San Jose, you look at them and how they play, the personnel, and they know how to play hard. Todd is one of the main reasons for that, instilling a level of confidence, energy and discipline into these players,” said Chiarelli.
Chiarelli says McLellan was the top target for the Oilers.
“His level of energy and his level of thinking really impressed me,” said Chiarelli. “If you look at him behind the bench, he’s active. I think he’s a terrific bench manager. A lot of reasons. My time in Boston, we didn’t play the Sharks a lot, but whenever we played them they were hard games, they were games where adjustments would be made all the time. They were heavy on the puck and he really looked like he enjoyed coaching. A number of those reasons helped me make my decision in choosing Todd.”
The Oilers have had five head coaches since the start of the 2009-10 season. Stability is something the Edmonton organization would like to have with Todd McLellan, who was announced as the 14th head coach in franchise history on Tuesday.
McLellan most recently coached seven seasons in San Jose, posting a record of 311-163-66 in 540 games. Six of those seven seasons, McLellan and the Sharks made the playoffs. His record indicates that he could be a more long-term fixture for the Oilers.
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli talked about stability at that position and all that goes into developing a long-term relationship.
“By no means, is there a perfect amount of time for a coach. I think from a consistent messaging viewpoint, that’s important,” said Chiarelli. “In delivering your message and from a coaching perspective, he’s the main messenger and I think to have it over time, with more or less the same group, you’ll see it reaps tremendous rewards. Having said all that, there’s a lot of stuff in between. Not just having a stable coach for a certain number of years. You have to work well together, you have to have a plan and it has to be laid out and executed. Todd’s one of the top coaches in the league and we’re fortunate to have him here.”
Prior to San Jose, McLellan coached the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL, the IHL’s Cleveland Lumberjacks and the Houston Aeros in the AHL. He was also an assistant in Detroit for three seasons.
“Todd brings with him a wealth of experience, a level of energy and intellect I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Chiarelli.
The search was a relatively short timeline from start to finish. The Oilers season ended on April 11, and on the 20th Todd McLellan and the San Jose Sharks mutually parted ways after seven seasons. Now, one month later, McLellan has found his new home in Edmonton.
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli didn’t waste any time in meeting with McLellan following the season. Chiarelli knew the free agent coach would be sought after for multiple vacancies around the league. So Chiarelli, trying to get a head start on the competition, got on a plane and travelled to the Czech Republic to meet with McLellan, who was coaching Team Canada at the IIHF Men’s Hockey World Championship.
“It happened fairly quickly, as far as trying to set something up,” said Chiarelli. “We wanted to get ahead of it with Todd. I went over to Prague and we spent three or four hours on a number of different things. I had a fairly exhaustive checklist to go through with him and he had a lot of questions for me. We felt it was a better time in the tournament, earlier on. The competition, the pace, the daily schedule grind wasn’t quite up to speed yet. It was a good time to do it. I knew there would be a lot of teams that would want to talk to Todd so I wanted to be kind of first in to let him digest it and get to know me and what we’re about here and what we’re trying to do here. Timing and opportunity was good and the fact that he had the time was good too. He’s the guy we wanted and wanted to get on to in a hurry.”
The 2015 Worlds ended on Sunday, with McLellan and Canada taking home gold and finishing 10-0 in the tournament. Barely off the plane from Prague, McLellan was announced as the 14th coach in Oilers franchise history, concluding the short hiring process.
Todd McLellan was asked what his plans were as he takes the reigns as the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s going to go up. That’s what the plan is,” said McLellan. “It’s to take it up. It’s to take the organization and begin to climb the mountain. We have to chart our path to begin with. We have to determine what we want to be and how we want to look. We have to find the players within the organization right now — not going outside but in the organization — and put them in the right spots. With all of that, there’s pain. There’s nights we’re not going to be pleased. But there’s four teams that are playing right now that just experienced it, too. They have painful nights. They just have fewer of them. And that’s what we’re trying to do. Take those painful nights and diminish them throughout the years to the point where we can be at the top of the mountain.”
McLellan has high hopes for the franchise, but did want to temper expectations for next season.
“To come in and say hey we’re winning a Stanley Cup next year, that’s not the case. There’s some auxiliary pieces — and what I mean by auxiliary is not on the ice surface — that have been added. Bob’s obviously been named to oversee everything, Peter, myself. It’s been an exciting time for all of us.”
He was quick to point out that he knows that he will ultimately be judged on whether or not the organization can get on the winning track.
“The product on the ice — the wins and losses — still drive the organization. That’s how it is in any team. And we have to make sure that that product and those players are driving it upwards.
“There will be hills and valleys but over time it has to keep going upwards.”
Todd McLellan was asked about his playoff record with the Sharks, but McLellan was quick to point out that the Oilers were looking to get better in many aspects, not just postseason.
“We’re not going to talk about playoffs here. We’re going to talk about foundation. We’re going to talk about creating an identity and building towards it. The playoff part of it exists after you accomplish those regular season things and we’ve got work to do there first of all,” McLellan began.
He added that he felt that the Sharks got a bad rap when people referred to their playoff failures, noting that often the team that eliminated them went on to win the championship.
“As far as San Jose goes, we had a lot of successes in the playoffs in my opinion. We ended up losing to some very good teams. Chicago, Los Angeles, teams that went on to win the Stanley Cup. And sometimes you get beat by a better team. It’s as simple as that.
“Maybe you’re not at the top of your game. Maybe you’re short in some areas. Whether it’s skill, strength, toughness. It’s what the playoffs are about. You play, you find out what went right, what went wrong as an organization. Then you evaluate it and try to go out and fix it the next year.
“We were close. We had really good teams. They still have a tremendous team there. They’ve got some tremendous athletes in that locker room. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with. But it was just time for the players and the coach to refresh, I guess is the best word.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that there will be a press conference later today (2:00 PM).
You can watch the press conference LIVE on the Oilers Mobile App and also right here at edmontonoilers.com.
View the live feed directly in YouTube (with live chat).
UTICA, N.Y. — Behind a 33-save performance by goalie Richard Bachman, the Oklahoma City Barons defeated the Utica Comets 2-1 Monday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium to force a seventh game in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal round. Game seven is Wednesday at Utica.
Despite the Comets outshooting the Barons 34-21 for the game, and 25-8 in the final two periods, Bachman didn’t allow a goal until 14:13 of the final frame. Near the end of the second period, Utica managed to put a puck into the OKC net, but the goal was waved off due to interference.
Oklahoma City took an early 1-0 lead, when Brad Hunt picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and maneuvered around several Utica defenders before shoveling a backhand shot that trickled past Comets goalie Jacob Markstrom. The goal at 5:23 of the first period was Hunt’s third of the postseason.
After more than two periods worth of scoreless play, the Barons increased their lead to 2-0 at 8:26 of the third period. Following a Brad Hunt dump of the puck into the Utica zone, a carom off the end boards brought the puck back to a streaking Hamilton, who wristed a shot past Markstrom from the left-wing side. The goal was Hamilton’s team-high fifth postseason goal.
Utica cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 2-1 with 5:47 to play in regulation, when a save by Bachman on a shot by Alex Friesen was rebounded by Sven Baertschi, who flipped the puck past the Barons net minder as he dived to cover the vacated side of the net.
Despite a flurry of shots in the final moments of play, key blocks by Barons defenseman Dillon Simpson and center Connor Jones helped preserve Oklahoma City’s one-goal lead.
Game Six marked the eighth time in franchise history the Barons faced elimination in the Calder Cup Playoffs, with all eight occurring on the road. After Monday’s win, Oklahoma City is now 4-4 all-time in elimination games.
Oklahoma City has played one Game Seven in franchise playoff history, a 5-4 loss at Grand Rapids in the 2013 Western Conference Finals. Current Barons C.J. Stretch, Brandon Davidson and Martin Marincin took part in the game, with Davidson recording an assist.
Wednesday’s winner-take-all seventh game of the series is a 6 p.m. CDT start at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.