Jesse Wallin put his stamp of approval this week on what had become fairly obvious — he won’t be taking another position with the Red Deer Rebels.
Upon relieving Wallin of his duties as head coach of the Rebels in November, owner/president/GM and now head coach Brent Sutter suggested that he would be offered another position with the club if he so wished. The plan called for Wallin to approach Sutter after Christmas if he was interested.
Wallin never got back to Sutter and confirmed Thursday that he’s on the verge of accepting a job that he would not identify as either hockey or non-hockey related. The bottom line, once and for all — he won’t be back with the Rebels in any capacity.
“Ultimately, Brent and I never really discussed it,” said Wallin. “It’s not something he pushed on his side and not something that I was really excited about. It was time to move on. I’d been in the organization for awhile and coming from a GM position and a head coach position, I can’t imagine what would have been there that would have interested me, that would have made me want to stick around.
“It was time to move on and there is lots of opportunity out there. This is a great place to be as far as that’s concerned. It’s time to move forward and on to bigger and better things.”
l The Saskatoon Blades tied a franchise record Wednesday, downing the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors 5-1 for their 13th consecutive win.
In the process, Blades GM/coach Lorne Molleken didn’t endear himself to Warriors bench boss Mike Stothers, who was enraged when Molleken sent out his top power-play late in the game with his club up 4-1.
The Warriors were penalized when defenceman Kendall McFaull picked up an extra roughing infraction for decking Josh Nicholls with a right hand during a tussle. The dust-up came just after Blades captain Brenden Walker had scored an empty-net goal at 18:06.
Walker tallied again just over a minute later— again into an empty net — and Stothers was ejected after yelling at Molleken.
“I have all kind of respect for Mike Stothers,” Molleken told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “He’s a good coach and his teams play hard. I don’t believe when you’re up like that to put your No. 1 power-play unit out like that. But it was simply because of McFaull going after Nicholls.”
The Blades will establish a franchise mark for consecutive wins if they defeat the visiting Wheat Kings tonight.
l Red Deer product Matt Fraser was recalled by the Dallas Stars this week but wasn’t in the lineup Thursday versus the Vancouver Canucks.
Fraser, who made his NHL debut and played one game with Dallas last winter, is in his second season with the Texas Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL Stars. He is tied for third in the AHL in goals, with 24, and leads the league with 13 power-play tallies.
Earlier this season, the former Kootenay Ice forward was selected to represent the Western Conference in the AHL all-star game. He left Texas as the club’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 35 points in 51 games.
l Red Deer native and Tri-City Americans captain Justin Feser was named best overage player in this year’s Best of the West survey conducted by the Tri-City Herald. The veteran forward is sixth in league scoring with 83 points (35g,48a) and leads all overage players in offensive production.
The survey, with input from Western Conference players, management and broadcasters, also annointed Feser as the player most valuable to his team and most under-rated player.
The Portland Winterhawks were front and centre in the survey, with Ty Rattie (most accurate shot), Taylor Peters (top faceoff man and defensive forward), Tyler Wotherspoon (best stay-at-home defenceman), Seth Jones (top rookie and top pro prospect) and Brendan Liepsic (most irritating player) topping various categories.
The other winners included Tyler Sandhu of Everett (best 16-year-old), Eric Comrie of the Americans (best goaltender), Myles Bell of Kelowna (hardest short), Colin Smith of Kamloops (best skater), Tyrell Goulburne of Kelowna (toughest player) and JC Lipon of Kamloops (most improved player).
Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton was named top executive and Rockets bench boss Ryan Huska was selected as the top coach. Pat Smith was voted top referee and Everett supporters were selected as the best fans.
l This, courtesy of Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald:
Mitch Topping has been a champion of causes during his time with the Tri-City Americans. Topping and Americans team captain Justin Feser are involved with the local MDA chapter. He makes appearances at local school, hospitals and helped build a Habitat for Humanity house.
“I don’t go to school, so I want to put my interests where they can help,” said Topping, a native of Red Deer. “The community appreciates what we do and I get a kick out of it.”
Wednesday, Topping and the rest of the Americans leadership group toured the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in advance of tonight’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game against the Everett Silvertips.
“It’s an amazing facility,” Topping said. “I didn’t realize how much they depend on donations and our game. They thanked us upward of 10 times while we were there. The city embraces that facility and it’s amazing what they have done for people. This game means a little more to us now. (Today) will be a great experience.”
The annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game has raised $114,075 in seven years, including more than $20,000 in each of the last three years.