The Western Hockey League doesn’t allow trades at Christmastime, but forgive Corbin Boes if he woke up on Jan. 10 feeling like he must have been an extra good boy in the past year.
That was the day the former Brandon Wheat King goalie was shipped from the WHL’s last-place team to the defending league champion Portland Winterhawks. Boes didn’t leave the Lethbridge Hurricanes without regrets; he said it was difficult to say goodbye to his new team and billet family after joining the club during the off-season. Still, he knows he’s been giftwrapped one last shot at the WHL title with a team that has every intention, and perhaps the means as well, of becoming repeat winners of the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
"It’s all I could ask for, really," the 20-year-old Saskatonian said Tuesday from Portland, where he was still getting his bearings after joining the Winterhawks on a three-game road trip on the weekend. "The farthest I’ve ever been in the playoffs was the second round with Brandon a few years ago. That was a fun ride, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the future that lies ahead here in Portland."
Interestingly, the trade brings Boes’ WHL career full circle. He was chosen by Portland in the 10th round of the 2008 bantam draft, but was released by the club without playing a game, and eventually found a home with the Wheat Kings, breaking into the league in the 2010-11 season in an all-rookie tandem with Liam Liston. He outlasted Liston in Brandon, becoming the team’s No.1 goalie, but was moved during this year’s bantam draft as the Wheat Kings swapped first-round picks with the Hurricanes, moving up to take blue-chip defenceman Kale Clague with the sixth pick.
Boes dutifully endured the first half of the season with the rebuilding Hurricanes, facing an average of more than 40 shots in the game, before the Winterhawks came calling, looking for a complement to 18-year-old veteran Brendan Burke.
It didn’t take long for Boes to see the difference of playing behind one of the league’s top offences. He started in Victoria against the Royals the day after the trade, stopping 31 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss, but earned his first win as a Winterhawk on Sunday against the Vancouver Giants, making 24 saves in a 5-4 shootout victory.
"I let in a couple bad goals, I thought, and with the offence here, they were able to come back and it was nice to see," he said. "It’s nice not to have all the pressure in the world on you to have to steal a game to win, but at the same time I know I’ve still got to come in and do the job I need to do and make the saves I’m supposed to and make the timely ones so I can help the team out here."
It was a trial-by-fire for Boes with his new team, but now that it’s out of the way he can move on with other concerns — like how he’s going to get the rest of his belongings to Portland.
"It was kind of a hectic Thursday morning, just kind of packing all my stuff and packing the stuff I need for a weekend road trip," he said. "I’m kinda living off a week’s worth of clothes here until we figure out what happens with my car back in Lethbridge. But rushing to Victoria and playing the next night was kinda cool."
AROUND THE WHL: C Shane McColgan, who was traded to Lethbridge by Portland along with LW Steven Alldridge and a second-round pick in this year’s bantam draft for Boes, has decided not to join the Hurricanes. McColgan, who had left the Winterhawks earlier in the month, has joined Penticton of the BCHL … The Winterhawks have signed D Blake Heinrich, a fifth-round NHL draft pick of the Washington Capitals who gave up a commitment to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The 18-year-old won’t join the WHL club until after his season with Sioux City of the USHL ends … Spokane D Reid Gow of Killarney played his 200th career WHL game on Tuesday. The Chiefs’ captain earned his first goal of the season on Friday after starting the campaign with 39 assists in his first 33 games … Kamloops announced on Saturday that head coach Dave Hunchak had taken a leave of absence and was replaced by Guy Charron, who coached the team from 2009-13… Prince George LW Tyler Fiddler is the WHL player of the week after posting five goals and four assists in four games.