D Vladimír Mihálik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four goals and nine assists in 47 games.
The 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be played in the home arena of a WHL team, and organizations had until May 31 to express official interest in bidding to be the host club.
In the end, four teams filed letters of intent — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals.
The WHL has yet to make this official. In fact, a WHL spokesperson told Taking Note on Monday that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”
Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of interest.
The Blazers and Rockets had held news conferences to announce their intentions. Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, had been adamant for months now that his organization would be preparing a bid.
The wild-card is the Hurricanes, who play in the 4,093-seat ENMAX Centre, which has room for 800 standees. (All capacity figures from the WHL’s 2017-18 Guide.)
Prior to the filing deadline, there was nary a hint that the Hurricanes might be interested in getting involved in the bidding.
The Memorial Cup has never been played in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1997 when they dropped a 5-1 decision to the host Hull Olympiques in the championship game.
The Lethbridge Broncos played in the 1983 tournament in Portland, but didn’t reach the title game.
The Hurricanes are community-owned; the other three franchises are privately owned.
Of course, it was only three years ago that the Lethbridge franchise was in such dire straits that Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell it to private interests.
In the end, that didn’t happen. Instead, general manager Peter Anholt took control and the rest, as they say, is history.
After six straight seasons out of the playoffs, the Hurricanes have been there each of the past three springs. They followed up a first-round elimination in 2016 by making two straight trips to the Eastern Conference final. One of the results of that is that the franchise has turned the corner and now is a money-maker.
The future is bright on the ice, too, as Lethbridge has some solid young talent, including forwards Dylan Cozens and Logan Barlage, who are coming off terrific 16-year-old seasons.
Hamilton told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel, who is the play-by-play voice of the Rockets, that Lethbridge “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”
At the same time Hamilton is hoping the fact that the tournament hasn’t been in B.C. since 2007 will mean something to the governors.
“The event has been in Regina, Brandon, Saskatoon and Red Deer since it was last in British Columbia,” Hamilton said. “I am hoping regionally it works and one of us in British Columbia gets it.”
Meanwhile, Kamloops last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1995 when it won the championship on home ice, capping a run of three titles in four seasons. The Blazers play out of the Sandman Centre, which has a capacity of 5,464.
The 2004 Memorial Cup was played in Kelowna, with the Rockets winning it as the host team. Since then, the Rockets, who play out of 6,007-seat Prospera Place, which has standing room for 500, have appeared in the 2005, 2009 and 2015 Memorial Cup tournaments, but without winning.
A Victoria team hasn’t reached the Memorial Cup final since 1981, when the Cougars went 1-3 during a three-team tournament in Windsor.
The Royals’ home arena, the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, has a capacity of 7,006.
The host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be announced following a WHL board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Teams will make their presentations during the meeting, after which the governors will vote and a host team will be revealed.
The 2019 Memorial Cup will be decided in Halifax, the home of the QMJHL’s Mooseheads.
The Kamloops Blazers have signed F Logan Stankoven, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stankoven, from Kamloops, was take with the fifth-overall pick. . . . This season, Stankoven had 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team that plays out of Abbotsford, B.C. . . . In 2018-19, Stankoven will play for the major midget Thompson Blazers, who are based in Kamloops.
WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.
2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.
3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.
4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.
5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.
6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.
8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.
11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.
12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.
14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.
15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.
17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.
20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.
The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.
9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.
10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.
13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.
16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.
18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.
19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.
21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.
22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.
The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Charlie Wright, who was selected in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was the Blades’ third pick in the draft. . . . Wright, who will turn 15 on Oct. 22, is from Olds, Alta. This season, he had two goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels.
Dave Manson has left the Prince Albert Raiders’ coaching staff to join the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Manson had been on the Raiders’ coaching staff for 14 of the last 16 seasons, the past six as associate coach. . . . Manson, 51, is a native of Prince Albert. A rugged defenceman, he played three seasons (1983-86) with the Raiders and was part of their 1985 Memorial Cup-winning team. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 1,103 regular-season NHL games, split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . The Raiders have retired two numbers in their history — Manson’s No. 4 and F Mike Modano’s No. 9.
The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have a vacancy after Shae Naka, their assistant general manager/associate coach, left to join the staff at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna. Naka had been with the Warriors for six seasons.