Growing up in North Delta, B.C., Ryan McCracken earliest sports memory is the Vancouver Canucks’ 1994 playoff run, one that saw the team eliminated in Game 7 by the New York Rangers. Baptized in hockey heartbreak, a sportswriter was born.
After spending a year in Encinitas, Calif., McCracken moved to Ontario to attend high school in Oakville, post-secondary at Brock University in St. Catharines, where he obtained an honours degree in English Language and Literature, and a post-graduate program in new media journalism at Kitchener’s Conestoga College.
After completing his post-graduate program at Conestoga, McCracken was hired by the St. Paul Journal in St. Paul, Alta., where he spent two years and earned multiple accolades for his local coverage.
Now McCracken has moved into a solely sports position and is living the dream as WHL correspondent for HockeyNow and Medicine Hat Tigers’ beat reporter for the Medicine Hat News. He can be found at arenas, fields and gymnasiums across southeastern Alberta.
GET READY for a sophomore surge. The Western Hockey League’s hottest second-year players are set to take the season by storm after leading Canada to a gold medal in a perfect run at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last month. Here’s a breakdown of what a few of those rising stars have to offer their respective teams as they enter their NHL draft year:
Ty Smith has been drawing the eyes of scouts for years. The 18-year-old Spokane Chiefs defenceman worked his way onto the hockey radar as a bantam in Lloydminster before playing a year with Delta Prep Academy and going first overall in the 2015 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
They may not be the hosts, but the Swift Current Broncos have been plotting their path to the Memorial Cup for months. The Broncos kicked off the season on a frenetic pace led by their staggeringly effective top line of Glenn Gawdin, Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi.
The long wait is finally over for the Regina Pats. The Pats fell one goal shy of forcing overtime in Game 7 of their opening round Western Hockey League playoff series against the eventual champion Swift Current Broncos.
Logan Barlage is making the most of his minutes. The 17-year-old Lethbridge Hurricanes centre has been thriving since getting shipped away from the Swift Current Broncos at the trade deadline and now has the chance to snuff out his former squad in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final.
Mason Shaw learned at an early age that hard work pays off, and that lesson has led him to a chance at returning to the ice this year.
It’s been a year to remember in the Western Hockey League. Over the past six weeks, three players and two coaches have etched their names into franchise and league history books with unbeatable contributions either on the ice, between the pipes or behind the bench.
It’s been a long time coming for Ty Ronning. The overage right winger has spent his entire Western Hockey League career with the Vancouver Giants, but it’s been four long years since he’s had a taste of the postseason.
The Swiss needed a vote of confidence heading into Tuesday’s IIHF World Junior Championship quarterfinal against Team Canada, but they got the opposite from their head coach.
Team USA managed to hit repeat on Canada on Friday at the IIHF World Junior Championship, and they did it in storybook fashion.
It didn’t take long for controversy to find its way onto the ice in Buffalo. Out to avenge their silver medal performance from last year’s IIHF World Junior Championship, Team Canada kicked off their quest for gold with an opening marker that in no way should have stood.
Team Canada will be out for vengeance on Boxing Day. With seven players returning to the IIHF World Junior Championship from last year’s silver medal winning Canadian squad, the young men in red and white boast one of the strongest team’s in recent memory — and it starts from the goaltender out.
The Kootenay Ice have seen more changes to their roster than any other team in the Western Hockey League through the first quarter of the season, but one constant continues to be rookie standout Peyton Krebs.
Hockey is in a state of constant evolution. From technological advancements to the shifting focus onto specific areas of the game, players, coaches and trainers alike have been finding new ways to adapt to the ever-changing environment, both on and off the ic
Hockey is home to a wide range of statistics. Some can be the driving force behind a player’s rise to the professional ranks, while others are just for the sake of enjoyment. Regina Pats forward Matt Bradley has been the owner of both to start the Western Hockey League season.
The Everett Silvertips have been thrown into the fires of adversity to start the 2017-18 Western Hockey League season. A gruelling travel schedule and star goaltender Carter Hart on the sidelines due to illness, the Tips have had their work cut out for them, but overage forward Matt Fonteyne says every challenge presents an opportunity.
Josh Williams was four years old when he parked himself in front of the television and witnessed the sport of hockey for the first time. Little did he know, it was the start of something life-changing.
Going overlooked at the NHL entry draft can come as devastating news, but Max Gerlach didn’t let it knock him off stride. The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers winger did not hear his name called at the draft for a second straight year, but he went on to spend his off-season like a top prospect all the same.
The next wave of talent is ready to make its mark in the Western Hockey League. With the 2016-17 season just around the corner, dozens of 16-year-old players are poised to crack their respective rosters and start creating household names for themselves across the league.
This year may not present the most star-studded NHL draft class in recent memory, but with a legitimate argument to be made between the top two prospects for the first time in years, it’s sure to provide some added excitement when the New Jersey Devils take the podium in Chicago on June 23.
Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier are soaking up the spotlight heading into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, but with so much talent between the pipes up for grabs, this could end up being remembered as the year of the goaltender.
The Seattle Thunderbirds are up against the brink for the first time in more than a year. The Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires truly had their way with the WHL champions Sunday at the WFCU Centre, sending the Thunderbirds to the bottom of the standings while placing themselves firmly on top.
Carl Stankowski continues to be the story for the Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds left the WFCU Centre with a 4-2 loss to the OHL champion Erie Otters in the first all-American Memorial Cup matchup since 2007, but Stankowski was the reason Seattle stayed in the conversation until the final buzzer.
The Seattle Thunderbirds defied all odds in the Western Hockey League playoffs. From missing out on a divisional banner to the Everett Silvertips, to losing starting goaltender Rylan Toth due to injury and being an overwhelming underdog against the CHL’s top-ranked Regina Pats — the T-Birds have heard it all before, but none of that stopped them from avenging last season’s heartbreaking loss in the final and punching their ticket to the Memorial Cup.
The Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy brought meaning to its moniker on Thursday at Calgary’s Deerfoot Inn. The Kelowna-based bantam AAA program sent six players to six different Western Hockey League teams in the opening round of the 2017, with five hearing their name called in the Top 10.
When Medicine Hat Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston selected John Dahlstrom at 76th overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft over the summer, he expected the big Swedish forward to play a key role in the team’s future.
There’s no question about it, the WHL’s regular season belonged to the Regina Pats, but standout defenceman Connor Hobbs knows as well as anyone that it only gets harder from here.
The Western Hockey League’s home stretch is upon us, and the bubble is getting smaller by the day. The Prince Albert Raiders are the latest to have their hopes of a postseason dashed in Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
When Loch Morrison was shipped from his hometown Prince Albert Raiders to the Victoria Raiders at the WHL trade deadline, he knew it meant one thing for sure — a lot of ferries.
It’s hard to believe that less than one year ago, the Medicine Hat Tigers were struggling to stay afloat — especially when you consider this year’s squad, with 15 of the same players, has already clinched.
The WHL reached its halfway point with four clear-cut division leaders, but after a wild start to 2017, only the Regina Pats still hold claim to a comfortable lead on their division.
It’s been a whirlwind week for Kootenay Ice captain Cale Fleury. The Carlyle, Sask. product got the chance of a lifetime when he earned a late addition to Team Cherry’s roster at the CHL Top Prospects Game, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.
The Regina Pats are the real deal, and they’re out to prove it. The powerhouse Pats earned the Canadian Hockey League’s No. 1 ranking in early November and have only given it up for one week in the 10 since.
It’s the time of the year when strong teams get even stronger, and 2017 was no exception. The Western Hockey League’s four juggernauts all made moves leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline, but the Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars managed to stand out above the rest with some blockbuster deals.
A well used timeout can pay off in dividends, and I’m sure Team Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon in Toronto.
Carter Hart is about to become a household name from the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic. After starting his season with at the top of the league for save percentage, goals against average and shutouts, the 18-year-old Everett Silvertips goaltender is primed and ready to backstop Team Canada’s bounce-back effort at the World Junior Championship this holiday season, and Tips head coach Kevin Constantine says it’s likely to bring an even stronger game out of the CHL’s reigning goaltender of the year.
1) JUNIOR B UPDATE: KIJHL’s Castlegar Rebels announce new coach and GM; Sharp calling the shots for HJHL’s Three Hills Thrashers
2) On Top of the World: CSSHL Keeps Gaining Traction in Canada’s Hockey Landscape
3) Around the WHL: Eleven WHL players help Canada win Hlinka Gretzky gold; Tigers deal White to ICE
4) Meet Matthew Savoie, the NAX Forward Taking the CSSHL by Storm
5) Meet The Winners Of The 2018 HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player Of The Year Award Powered By Hockeyshot