Gryba hit grabs headlines

Stanley Cup hot stove league heating up after Eric Gryba hit on Lars Eller.

Didn’t know anything about Eric Gryba until he knocked Lars Eller into next month with a heavy hit the other night in Montreal.

Now, he’s he the first major story of the Stanley Cup playoffs, right behind Brandon Prust of the Canadiens, who called Ottawa coach Paul MacLean a “bug-eyed fat walrus” after MacLean suggested d-man Raphael Diaz was more responsible for the injury after giving Eller a pass in a vulnerable spot.

Gryba is the lowest paid Senator, pocketing $562,500 a season. He had three goals and 205 penalty minutes with the Green Bay (Junior A) Gamblers of the USHL and was then drafted in round three by the Senators in 2006.

The Sens won’t miss him much, but was his hit clean, borderline or dirty?

I checked the Ottawa Citizen website and 70 per cent of those voting said the hit was good. Another 14 per cent called it dirty and 16 per cent figured it was too close to call. There were 2,800 votes as of late Friday afternoon.

On the Montreal Gazette Facebook page, a couple of readers had interesting takes on the check.

Said Steve Pilon: “You can somewhat blame Gryba as he knew the split second before he made contact that Ellers wasn’t looking, which makes it a blind side hit, the kind of hit the NHL has acknowledged they want to try and remove from the game. Other than that, Someone should have a chat with Diaz for making the pass to begin with. Suicide passes are called that for a reason.”

Said Fred Smids: “Habs fans would be saying what the Senators fans are now saying…..Hockey hit. Change the rules after the debate, not during.”

On my own Facebook page, I found some worthy comments from a few smart hockey men I know and respect.

Said Nanaimo’s Lee Trim, a former Brandon Wheat Kings’ d-man: “I guess the NHL is making the statement they do not want body checking. Two-game suspension for a clean hard bodycheck. Wow can not believe.”

Said former Vernon Viper assistant coach and former German pro Aaron Nosky, now living in Calgary: “The fast, hard-hitting NHL? What a joke! Here is your pillow, make sure you don’t use the side with the zipper! Ridiculous….turning the best game ever into damn soccer. Suspend the sheet of ice, that’s what did the damage not the clean hit.”

Vernon boys go in WHL draft

Hard-shooting forward Jagger Williamson, who has moves like, well, Jagger, could one day strut his stuff for the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The T-Birds selected Williamson in the sixth round, 122nd overall, in Thursday’s Bantam Draft in Calgary. Williamson, 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, led the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Renegades with 25 goals and 44 points this season.

“He is a creative player that works hard and can score,” said Seattle GM Russ Farwell about Williamson.

The Prince Albert Raiders chose power forward Noah Turanski from the Pursuit of Excellence Bantam AAA program in Kelowna.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder product recorded four goals, 21 points and 88 penalty minutes.

“Turanski is a big defenceman who has a lot of raw untapped talent,” said Raiders’ Director of Player Personnel Dale Derkatch. “He will need some skill development, but he works and competes very hard and can become a good shutdown type defender in this league.”

Spraggs tops in Oklahoma

Vernon’s Riley Spraggs was Thursday named the University of Central Oklahoma Vista (university student newspaper) Male Freshman Athlete of the Year.

Spraggs, 21, pocketed 14 goals and 27 points in 31 games with the hockey Bronchos.

The Bronchos lost 5-0 to the Minot State University Beavers in the second round of the 2013 ACHA National Tournament. It is the second straight year for a second-round exit from nationals for the Bronchos (23-15).

Gran makes the grade

Viper prospect Alex Gran of the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets has been selected to the 2012-13 B.C. Major Midget Hockey League All-Star team.

Players were selected based on votes from league coaches, who were prohibited from voting for players on their own team.

Gran, who turns 18 in August, led the league in defencemen scoring with nine goals and 40 points. The 6-foot-160-pounder played two games for the Vipers last season. He just had shoulder surgery, but should be ready for camp in August.