WHL INSIDER: Time is right for the two-ref system

The arguments in favour of employing a two-referee system for every WHL game were further fortified during Tuesday’s contest at the Centrium.

The arguments in favour of employing a two-referee system for every WHL game were further fortified during Tuesday’s contest at the Centrium.

Referee Pat Smith was the centre of controversy — and a big-time target of the Centrium boobirds — after failing to penalize Calgary Hitmen forward Tyler Fiddler for a hit on Josh Cowen, who fell heavily head-first into the boards.

While reviewing the incident via video on the Rebels website, it appears that the hit is not intentional and therefore not worthy of a major penalty. But with Fiddler’s stick between Cowen’s legs as the two are headed for the boards, the Calgary forward has to be assessed a minor, at the very least, and perhaps a double minor.

Instead, Jordie Deagle tosses Fiddler to the ice and throws a punch or two, and draws a double minor and misconduct for roughing. Then, just to show that he’s clearly the man in charge, Smith nails Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for slamming the players bench door after discussing the incident with the official.

If Fiddler had been assessed four minutes in penalties for the dangerous hit, the entire incident would have been a wash, assuming Deagle had still carried through with his act of revenge and Wallin wasn’t penalized.

Instead, the Hitmen scored twice during the six-minute man advantage and took control of what was otherwise an evenly-played game.

The whole point of this brief ramble is to suggest that a second referee would possibly have seen the incident differently than Smith and the entire episode would have been avoided.

It’s a common occurrence that a striped official situated, say, 50 feet or more from the incident in question, sees the illegality in an incident that somehow avoids a referee standing 12 feet away.

On the move: The Prince Albert Raiders have added former Red Deer Rebels prospect Garrett Taylor to their roster. Taylor, from San Diego, Calif., was cut by the Rebels in the fall of 2008 and then appeared in 45 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, scoring four goals and collecting 10 points. He most recently played with the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL . . . The Regina Pats convinced defenceman Cody Carlson to join their ranks this week after acquiring his services from the Medicine Hat Tigers. Carlson, the Tigers’ first-round pick in the 2006 bantam draft, at first rejected the deal because he wanted to play closer to his hometown of Victoria, B.C., but relented after talking to his agent and the Pats coaches. A new opportunity would be good for me, so I made the decision to come,” Carlson told the Regina Leader-Post. Carlson had anticipated being a go-to guy on the Tigers blueline this season, but the return of 20-year-olds Mark Isherwood and Tomas Kundratek changed those plans. “When they came back, it kind of bumped me down two spots so I wasn’t really going to get the opportunity there,” he said. “It feels good to be wanted (by Regina), to be a power-play guy. I didn’t have that back in Medicine Hat. Everything is great here so far. They’re all good guys, the coaching is great. Like everyone else, I’ll go out there and work hard and good things will happen for me.” To get Carlson, the Pats send blue-line prospect Mason Logan, 15, to the Tigers, who on Thursday dealt 19-year-old forward Josh Koper to the Edmonton Oil Kings in return for 17-year-old rearguard Austin Bourhis, who’s currently playing with the Yorkton Terriers of the SJHl. The Tigers will leave Bourhis with the junior A Terriers for now.

Just notes: Swift Current Broncos forward Cody Eakin signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals this week. “It’s a dream. I still feel pretty young, so it kind of feels a bit surreal right now,” Eakin told the Swift Current Prairie Post. Eakin was a third-round pick of the Capitals in June’s NHL entry draft. “The biggest asset that Cody brings is his tenacity and his work ethic. To be a third-round pick only a few months ago in June and to have a contract presented already I really think speaks volumes for the start that he’s had this season,” said Broncos assistant coach Tim Kehler. Eakin currently leads the Broncos in scoring with nine goals and 12 points . . . James Wright, who accumulated a relatively modest 21 goals and 47 points with the Vancouver Giants last season, is still with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a 19-year-old centre. And it’s not like he’s well down the Lightning chart; he was skating on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis this week. “It’s something I never expected, especially if you tried to tell it to me two months ago,” Wright, who has been skating on Tampa Bay’s third line with Jeff Halpern and Drew Miller, told the Vancouver Province. “It’s weird and it’s exciting all at the same time.” . . . A WHL oddity: Despite being a constant force in the Western Conference and capturing the league title year, the Kelowna Rockets haven’t won a single game in their last seven trips to the Tri-City Americans’ home facility, the Toyota Center. Kelowna hasn’t posted a victory at Tri-City since Feb. 25, 2006 . . . The Kelowna Rockets are becoming known as a major junior factory for NHL defencemen, as noted by Warren Henderson of the Kelowna Capital News. Shea Weber (Nashville), Josh Gorges (Montreal), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Scott Hannan (Colorado), and Sheldon Souray (Edmonton) are established NHL blueliners, while Luke Schenn (Toronto), Tyler Myers (Buffalo), Alex Edler (Vancouver) and Kyle Cumiskey (Colorado) are all well on the way to doing the same. “We’re starting to get some recognition from that, all the guys we’re sending to the NHL,” said Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton. “It’s pretty neat when you watch Hockey Night in Canada and hear Don Cherry mention the Kelowna Rockets. You know you must be doing something right. The nice thing is, we’re not producing just mediocre guys, these are potentially all high-end NHL defencemen. Historically we’ve worked on building teams from the back-end out and now we’re seeing the results of that.” . . . Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman Mark Isherwood is the WHL player of the week after scoring four goals and adding two assists in three Medicine Hat victories . . . The Moose Jaw Warriors, it appears, are for real after posting a 19-50-1-2 mark last season. “I think our success stems from a willingness to right a wrong from last year,’’ Warriors head coach Dave Hunchak told the Regina Leader-Post. “We feel we’re a better team than our record indicated. We feel like we’ve got something to prove.’’ . . . Hampus Gustafsson was one excited player when he made his Regina Pats debut last weekend. The 18-year-old had barely arrived in Regina after being picked up by the Pats as a free agent, just weeks after being released by the Saskatoon Blades. “I said to my agent right away when I came home that if another (WHL) team is interested I’m saying ‘yes,’ it doesn’t matter what team it is,” Gustafsson told the Regina Leader-Post after a 4-1 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. “Regina is a good team for me. I think it fits me well here. The guys in Saskatoon are good guys but I think for me playing in Regina it can be better.”

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