The 2023 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft was held Thursday. Defenseman Carson Carels of Cypress River was selected in the first round (15th overall) by the Prince George Cougars. Defenseman Jack Swaenpoel of Souris went to the Brandon Wheat Kings in round seven. The Wheat Kings selected forward Jaxon Jacobson of Brandon fifth overall in round one. The Prince Albert Raiders took defenseman Daxon Rudolph of Lacombe, Alberta with the first overall pick.
The Steinbach Pistons lost their Centennial Cup round robin opener Thursday night at Stride Place in Portage. Robert Strachan scored on the power play 4:04 into overtime to lift the Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Collingwood Blues past Steinbach 2-1. Ian Amsbaugh had the lone goal for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champions. Steinbach's Dominik Wasik made 28 saves. The Pistons next game is tonight at against the host Portage Terriers.
The Winnipeg Ice face the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight (7 p.m.) at Canada Life Centre in game one of the Western Hockey League's best-of-seven championship series. The two teams met once during the regular season schedule. The Thunderbirds beat the Ice 4-3 in overtime on January 11th at Wayne Fleming Arena.
Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position. Hellebuyck, the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner, finished top-five among NHL goaltenders in wins (T-3rd: 37), save percentage (T-4th: .920) and shutouts (T-5th: 4). The Commerce, Michigan native backstopped the Jets to a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs, leading the league in percentage of his teams’ wins (80.4%), games started (64) and he was tied for the most games played (64). Hellebuyck also ranked second overall in minutes played (3,778), shots against (1,964) and saves (1,807). Hellebuyck, Winnipeg’s fifth round pick (130th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, is a Vezina Trophy finalist for the third time in six seasons (winner in 2019-20 and runner-up in 2017-18) and is seeking to become the second goalie in the past decade to win the trophy multiple times (Sergei Bobrovsky in 2013 and 2017). The other two finalists are Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders and Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins.
Hidekel Gonzalez homered and Dayson Croes had two hits and drove in two runs as the Winnipeg Goldeyes won their 2023 American Association season opener 6-1 over the Gary SouthShore RailCats in Indiana. Goldeyes starter Luis Ramirez went six innings allowing just two hits and struck out three.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie camp ends today at IG Field. The practice session begins at 10:15 a.m. Main camp starts Sunday. The Blue Bombers first pre-season game is Saturday, May 27th against the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium.