Stephenson taking Stanley Cup to Humboldt to help town heal

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Chandler Stephenson was mid-celebration on the ice after winning the Stanley Cup when someone yelled his name.

Stephenson looked up into the stands and saw Brayden Camrud, a friend from back home who played for the Humboldt Broncos junior team. Camrud and Kaleb Dahlgren, another friend of Stephenson’s, survived the April bus crash on the prairie of Saskatchewan that killed 16 people, including 11 of their teammates.

Stephenson knew at the beginning of the playoffs he wanted to take the Cup to Humboldt if he and the Washington Capitals won it. When the Capitals led the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in the final, the 24-year-old said it was his intent to share his day with the Cup with the people of Humboldt. He is from nearby Saskatoon.

He will make good on that commitment Friday, hoping his small gesture will help somehow.

“The community deserves to have a good day,” Stephenson said. “We’re not trying to be saviors by any means because nothing can replace a life. We’re just trying to make it as positive a day as we can and hopefully put some smiles and some laughs on some people’s faces.”

Stephenson will be joined by more than a dozen current and former players for Humboldt Hockey Day, organized by the NHL and NHLPA to celebrate the strength and resilience of the town of 6,000. Broncos spokeswoman Tammy Robert called it a baby step in a complicated healing process for victims, their loved ones and everyone affected.

“This day is designed to bring some of the joy back to the game of hockey for the community of Humboldt,” Robert said. “It’s about clearing the way for the new 2018-19 season for the Humboldt Broncos team and just giving them the opportunity to have fun.”

Those opportunities have been in short supply since the April 6 crash, when the team bus on its way to a playoff game was hit by a truck. The hockey world that so often functions like a small town grieved together as NHL teams paid tribute with stickers and moments of silence and an online fundraising effort raised more than $15 million for the victims.

In an attempt to figure out what might best help those in Humboldt, former NHL defenseman Andrew Ference reached out to Colorado Avalanche general manager and Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic, who survived the 1986 Swift Current Broncos crash that killed four people.

“His big message was that you can only do so much, first of all, but also that every person is going to arrive at their grief, or they’re going to deal with it, in different ways and it’s going to be at different times,” said Ference, who is now the NHL’s director of social impact, growth and fan development. “There’s not one blanket kind of reaction to a whole group.”

Stephenson knows that. He was thrilled to see Camrud in Las Vegas when the Capitals won the Cup and is glad to be skating with Dahlgren again this summer. He understands many others weren’t so lucky, which is why he thought of Humboldt before planning any other activity he’d do in his short period with the Cup.

“Your time with the Cup isn’t exactly forever, so I think it’s just really special that he’s willing to do that,” said Humboldt Broncos alum and retired defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who won it with Chicago in 2013. “I think the Cup being there is going to just bring a little bit of joy back to the community. There’s something about that Stanley Cup, every time you see it or are in the same room as it, it just brings that certain awe factor.”

Members of the Broncos organization will be around Stephenson and the Cup for a private function before he takes the famous trophy to a public event in the afternoon that will feature street hockey with the likes of Ference, Adam Graves, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic and St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn. Ference said players who have never won the Cup often steer clear of someone’s day with it, but this is an exception.

“When this opportunity presented itself to do something around Chandler’s day and to go in and be with the community and do something fun like street hockey and just hanging out around the local rink, guys stepped up and they wanted to be a part of it,” Ference said. “There definitely wasn’t any arm-twisting involved.”

Robert said the NHL and NHLPA have been “a rock behind the scenes” for the Broncos, calling this event an extension of that support. Brookbank, who spent time this summer visiting injured players at Saskatoon City Hospital, understands the role hockey plays in the community. He figures the Cup being there will make a difference.

“It’s small-town Saskatchewan,” Brookbank said. “It’s a really special thing, and the Stanley Cup doesn’t get out there that often. For Chandler to do that, I just think that’s amazing on him.”

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MORE: Humboldt Broncos reunite to honor late head coach

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.