2019’s best cities for hockey fans
It’s been a long season, a roller-coaster ride, for Tri-City Americans forward Sasha Mutala.
An only child, Mutala – while excelling for the Americans with 20 goals and 21 assists in the 2018-19 Western Hockey League campaign – played in the Tri-Cities while his parents were home in Vancouver, British Columbia, suffering from health problems.
The season is a long grind, but Mutala fought through the physical, mental and emotional problems that come with worrying about his parents to put together a strong hockey performance.
The Colorado Avalanche thought so too. They drafted Mutala in the fifth round (140th overall pick) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday in Vancouver.
Mutala, 18, spent the day at home with his parents instead of at the draft.
“Being drafted into the NHL has been a dream of mine since the first day,” said Mutala in an Americans press release afterward. “I can think back to 10 years ago when I would think about this moment. Now that it’s finally here, it has been absolutely amazing. Colorado is an amazing city and organization. I am very excited to be joining an organization with this much young talent.”
Neither center Krystof Hrabik nor defenseman Mitchell Brown – both Tri-City Americans who were ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau – were selected.
• The Western Hockey League had 28 players drafted over the seven rounds on Friday and Saturday. That was more than any other junior league or country.
The United States, with players from high schools and prep schools, was next with 26 players. The Ontario Hockey League had 25 players drafted, as did Sweden.
The United States Hockey League – a junior league in the Midwest – had 24 players selected.
Twenty-one players from Russia and 20 players from Finland were selected.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – which along with the WHL and OHL comprises the Canadian Hockey League – had 18 players drafted.
Walla Walla’s Ferenz signs pro hoops deal
Former Walla Walla High School basketball standout Mikayla Ferenz has signed her first women’s professional basketball contract.
Ferenz, who completed her collegiate career this spring at the University of Idaho, signed a deal with AB Contern of the Total League-Dames league in the European country of Luxembourg.
It’s the top women’s professional league in Luxembourg, and has 10 teams.
“I’m so excited,” said Ferenz in a phone interview. “They were the first team that contacted my agent, and I decided to go with them. I’ll join them in mid-August.”
Ferenz, who is used to playing twice a week, will play just once a week with AB Contern.
“I think I’ll have to keep myself in game shape with extra workouts,” she said. “Most of the girls I’ll play with are ones who also have school, jobs or families. It’s a mix on the roster.
The younger girls are starting out and trying to work their way up. Plus, we have some veterans who have played in Europe for years.”
Ferenz will be one of two international players on the squad.
The exciting thing to Ferenz is living in Europe.
Luxembourg is a small country surrounded by France, Belgium and Germany.
“It’s like a two-hour train ride into Paris,” Ferenz said.
Ferenz, the 2018-19 Big Sky Player of the Year, led Idaho to a regular-season conference title and two wins in the WNIT. In her senior season, she averaged 22 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, finishing her career with a Big Sky Conference record 2,466 points. That’s also an Idaho school record total.
Three Rivers soccer
It was a great run for the two Tri-City teams playing in the United States Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships in Boise, Idaho, this week.
Both the Three Rivers SC 15U boys and the Three Rivers Soccer RCL Black 13U boys teams advanced beyond pool play in a tournament that featured the best squads in the western U.S., hoping to advance to the national tournament in July in Kansas.
After going 3-0 in pool play, the 15s lost 3-2 to the Oceanside Breakers of Southern California. Three Rivers’ Orlando Erazo scored goals in the 4th and 16th minutes to give his team an early 2-0 lead.
But Oceanside came back in the second half to score three goals and eliminate the Tri-City team.
Besides Erazo, other members of the Three Rivers squad include Drew Axel, Saul Beltran, Eric Berg, Layton Brooks, Moises Cossio, Por Htoo, Michael Kot, Tanner Mullins, Jonas Olvera-Calderon, Grady O’Niel, Chase Potter, Hector Rodriguez, Braeden Staniszewski, Colin Upmeyer and Lucas Wakeley.
The team is coached by Jason Quintero.
• After going 2-0-1, the Three Rivers 13s opened post-pool play on Friday with a 5-0 victory over the Central Coast Condors of Southern California.
Christopher Aquino scored two goals in the win, while teammates Humberto Cervantes, Alfredo Jimenez and Ramiro Moreno each had a goal.
On Saturday morning, though, Three Rivers was eliminated after losing 3-2 in penalty kicks to Rebels SC of Southern California in the semifinals.
Aquino scored two second-half goals – in the 55th and 58th minutes – to erase a 2-0 deficit.
Other members of the Tri-Cities squad include Axel Arellano, Julio Andrade, Tyler Axel, Alan Carrazco, Jayson Castillo, Juan Chavez, Alexander Martinez, Bryan Martinez, Daniel Meza, Riley Snyder, Andrew Thoreson, and Mario Villasenor.
The team is coached by Humberto Chavez.
• The MacBeth Report states that former Tri-City American Brooks Macek has signed a one-year deal with Avtomobilist Yekaterinberg of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
Macek, who played for the Ams from 2008-13, spent last season with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. He scored 26 goals and had 34 assists for the Wolves this past season.
• Washington State University senior Robert Franks didn’t get selected in this week’s NBA draft. But he did sign a two-way deal with the Charlotte Hornets afterward. A two-way contract stipulates that the player will be paid a certain amount of money, depending on what league he plays in. If Franks were to make the Hornets roster, he would make a set amount of money. But if he were to be assigned to the Hornets’ G League, minor-league team, he would make less money.
• Walla Walla boys basketball senior-to-be Dylan Sullivan has already committed to playing college basketball for Concordia of Portland, beginning in 2020-21.
• Congrats to Richland’s Jason Aichele and former Sunnyside golfer Derek Berg, who both tied for 8th place at the Pacific Northwest PGA’s Oregon Open Invitational last weekend at Pronghorn Golf Club in Bend, Ore. They both finished third among professionals and earned checks of $3,475.
Aichele, who works at Meadow Springs Country Club, fired a final-round 70 to finish the three rounds at 219, or 3-over par. Berg, who represents the Pacific Northwest Golf Academy, had a 69 in his final round to also finish at 219.
• Kennewick’s Tatum York-Bement finished third in the girls 13-15 division earlier this month at the Pacific Northwest Junior PGA Championships at the Home Course in DuPont.
York-Bement fired rounds of 79 and 79 to finish 14 over par for the tournament.