Friday reading: Tigers in AHL, ECHL playoffs; Johnson, Kilpatrick win Norway title; Bidwill injury; Canzanello in German playoffs; NCHC postseason venue; Hakstol deal; Bjugstad ponders future

Houston defenseman Kris Fredheim defends a San Antonio player earlier this season.

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt scored the opening goal for Chicago and Mark Cullen assisted the next San Antonio goal in the Rampage’s 5-4 OT win in game 1 of their AHL Western Conference playoff series.

Bridgeport’s Trevor Frischmon, Rochester’s Colin Stuart and Houston’s Kris Fredheim and Chad Rau all lost their openers on Thursday night. Nate Prosser (unknown reason) did not play for Houston, which could really use his help on defense.

Click this link for a full list of former Tigers in the AHL playoffs and the Calder Cup postseason schedule.

Alaska, which has Tim Hall and Brian Swanson on its roster, travels to Stockton, which includes former CC captain Ryan Lowery, travels to California for two games Friday and Saturday.

No. 5 East seed Florida could eliminate No. 1 Elmira, which includes former CC captain Nick Dineen, tonight.

The Stavanger Oilers won the top Norwegian league championship on April 13, beating Lorenskog on the road 2-1 to win the final series, 4-3. Jimmy Kilpatrick and Tyler Johnson both played for the Oilers.

Kilpatrick, pictured at left, recorded 42 points (16g,26a) in 33 regular season games and 17 points (5g,12a) in 12 playoff games, including a goal and assist in the finals.

Johnson recorded 10 points (8g,2a) in eight regular season games, and added nine points (4g,5a) in 14 playoff games including two assists in the finals. Johnson joined the Oilers after being traded from the now-defunct Chicago Express of the ECHL.

Arthur Bidwill suffered an undisclosed injury during the CHL playoffs. It was suffered in Game 5 last week and he did not return for Game 6 when the Allen Americans were eliminated by their crosstown rivals, the Texas Brahmas. He had been playing in the No. 2 defenseman pairing.

Andy Canzanello takes a shot for the Straubing Tigers. Canzanello, who lives in Vail during the summer, has spent five years playing for a professional hockey league in Germany. This year, the Tigers have enjoyed their most successful season in recent years and made the league playoff semifinals

Andy Canzanello, shown in green to the left, is in the middle of the top German league playoffs. This feature from the Vail newspaper talks about life in Germany for the former Tiger.

The Big Ten announced its plans for its postseason tournaments and the long-rumored plan to have the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference alternate with them has been contradicted by another report from the “new” WCHA sources, according to Puckato, the Mankato beat writers’ blog:

“Last month, it was reported that the Big Ten was working with the WCHA to have the latter’s tournament in those buildings in opposite years (2014, ’16 at the Joe; ’15, ’17 at the X), and that the NCHC was in negotiations with the Target Center in Minneapolis for its championship weekend.

“According to Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman, the “new” WCHA is still looking into its championship, but he didn’t expect anything to be decided until a June meeting. Buisman said representatives of the future league will not have much time together at next week’s coaches convention in Florida despite regular conference calls.”

Ultimately, it may not matter a ton, although the Target Center is considered by many to be a second-tier hockey venue, because wherever North Dakota goes, a large fan contingent will follow in force.

Here is CBS analyst Dave Starman‘s reaction to North Dakota coach Dave Hasktol’s new six-year contract deal announced on Thursday. There is a new college prospects blog that looks pretty solid so far.

Minnesota’s leading scorer Nick Bjugstad (25 goals) will wait until semester’s end before deciding on returning or heading to the pros.

In the pros: Johnson, Kilpatrick excelling in Norway

Tyler Johnson

Former Tiger Tyler Johnson started off his European playing career with a bang, recording a natural hat trick over a seven-minute span during the third period of the Stavanger Oilers’ 6-0 win over the Storhamar Dragons on Jan. 29. It was his debut for GET-Ligaen, Norway’s top pro hockey league, which was delayed while his work visa was cleared, Johnson said via a Facebook message.

He earlier assisted former Tiger Jimmy Kilpatrick on a shorthanded score in the first period. Johnson now has eight points (seven goals) in six games and is plus-5. Kilpatrick is fifth in scoring for the Oilers, a team founded in 2001, with 39 points (23 assists) and a plus-28 rating. The Oilers are dominating their league with a 21-point lead over the second-place team. The regular season ends March 1.

In the pros: Johnson joins Kilpatrick in Norway

Thanks to a tip from a reader (Thank you) a Norwegian blog confirmed that former Tiger Tyler Johnson has signed with the Stavanger Oilers, joining former Tiger Jimmy Kilpatrick.

Here’s the Norwegian reporter’s original article. Basically it says the team has had good luck signing former American college players, Johnson had a good senior year,  and the reporter had not had a chance to talk with Kilpatrick about Johnson.


Winkler optimistic about national team chances

Colorado College junior Scott Winkler may not have liked the game results for Norway but the Dallas Stars draft pick knows it was a valuable experience for him and enhanced his future with the national men’s team.

Norway went winless in the Dec. 12-18 Slovenian tournament, losing 4-1 to Russia’s B team and host Slovenia and 3-1 to France.

Adjusting to Norway’s defensive style was a big adjustment for Winkler, who recorded a holding penalty and had no points in three games.

“That was the most difficult, but for Norway to be successful, it has to play a defensive style,” Winkler said before Tuesday evening’s practice. It was his first with the Tigers since before the Minnesota State-Mankato series.

Winkler said Norway hosts another Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament in February but he does not have to compete in that one according to coaches.

He is confident he will be named to the Norwegian men’s national team for the world championships in May in Finland and Sweden.