F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has been released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team’s captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games.
Eight days after announcing that the franchise will be leaving Cranbrook, B.C., for Winnipeg once this season is over, the Kootenay Ice has announced the formation of a Hall of Fame.
No, it’s not April 1. No, this isn’t a script for Saturday Night Live. This isn’t MAD Magazine.
You can’t make this stuff up. Seriously. You just can’t.
The Ice made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday, adding that former captain Jarret Stoll, 36, who played four seasons (1998-2002) in Cranbrook, will be the first inductee. Stoll captained the Ice in its Memorial Cup-winning season (2001-02).
According to a news release, selection to the Hall of Fame “is not a number retirement; however, all inductees will be honoured with a special ceremony and banner-raising to commemorate their achievements.”
The news release doesn’t indicate where Kootenay-area fans will have to go in future seasons to view the Hall of Fame, whether it will be located in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, the Ice’s home for the next two seasons, or later in its yet-to-be built home in an area in the southwestern corner of Winnipeg.
Stoll, in his second season as a development coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, is to be honoured prior to a game with the visiting Calgary Hitmen on March 2 after which Cranbrook’s time in the WHL will be down to three home games.
“The ceremony,” reads the news release that is right here, “will include a banner raising.”
What that means is that Western Financial Place, the home of the Ice, which already has a Wall of Fame, won’t have a WHL team after March 16, but there will be one Hall of Fame banner fluttering in the rafters.
The news release also states: “All banners hanging in the rafters at Western Financial Place, including the future Ice Hall of Fame banner, will remain in Cranbrook.”
Hey, good for Stoll, who will be on hand for the evening, along with his wife, Erin, who you may know as Erin Andrews of ESPN. There isn’t any doubt that he should be the first but it’s all about the timing.
In future seasons, fans and sponsors who supported the Kootenay Ice will be able to find solace by wandering into the arena, grabbing a seat, sipping on their coffee, and looking up into the rafters. They won’t have a WHL team, but, hey, those banners. . . .
One Ice fan told Taking Note: “It is a rare occasion that I am lost for words.”
Another long-time observer of the Cranbrook hockey scene offered: “I don’t understand this for a second. . . . It is insulting and ridiculous.”
Neil Godbout is the editor-in-chief of the Prince George Citizen. He has written a column headlined ‘Are we the next Cranbrook?’ It points out that with support for the Cougars seeming to be fading, “The Cougars are Prince George’s team. Whether they stay that way is up to Prince George.”. . . . The announced attendance on Tuesday was 2,030 when the Cougars dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Giants. On Wednesday, the number was 2,083 as the Cougars fell 4-3 in OT to the Giants. . . . Godbout’s piece is right here.
D Liam Schioler of the Regina Pats will attend Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont., next season and play for the Gaels. The 6-foot-3 Schioler, 20, is from Winnipeg. An alternate captain, he is in his fourth season with the Pats. He played in his 223rd regular-season game on Wednesday night as Regina dropped a 4-3 decision to the host Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary Hitmen) in the Corral.
The Everett Silvertips could run into something of a scheduling conflict in Angel of the Winds Arena should they advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs. . . . The first round should begin on March 22 and conclude on or about March 31. . . . That would mean the second round should start about April 2 or 3. . . . The Silvertips, who lead the Western Conference, are certain to be playing in the first round, likely against the conference’s second wild-card seed. Assuming the Silvertips advance to the second round, they are likely to run head-on into the Cirque de Soleil CRYSTAL, which is to hold a total of eight performances in Angel of the Winds Arena from April 10 through April 14. . . . It could be that the Silvertips and a second-round opponent will have to do some creative scheduling.
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The Saskatoon Blades unleashed a 48-shot attack in skating to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Saskatoon (32-13-8) has points in eight straight (6-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of Moose Jaw, although the Warriors do hold four games in hand. . . . Moose Jaw (28-13-8) has lost two in a row. . . . The Warriors had a 21-5 edge in first-period shots and emerged with a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kyle Crnkovic (6), at 9:46, and F Chase Wouters (10), on a PP, at 19:48. . . . F Ryan Hughes (20) made it 3-0 just 54 seconds into the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida (21) got Moose Jaw’s goal, on a PP, at 12:53 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson (10) got that one back, on a PP, at 18:11. . . . F Max Gerlach (32), on another PP, and D Brandon Schuldaus (5) — yes, on another PP — scored for Saskatoon in the third period. . . . Saskatoon was 4-6 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-5. . . . The Blades ended up outshooting the Warriors, 48-20. . . . Davidson also had two assists, as did Crnkovic. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo left at 3:20 of the third period with a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Blades F Kirby Dach. . . . The Warriors were without F Tristin Langan, as he served a one-game suspension.
F Riley Stotts broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period as the Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary Hitmen) beat the Regina Pats, 4-3, in the second game of what they are calling the Corral Series. . . . Calgary (27-19-5) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. Red Deer and Calgary hold down the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, eight points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Regina (14-36-3) is 28 points out of a playoff spot with 15 games remaining. . . . The Hitmen are playing three games in the Corral and honouring three teams — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers — who played in the building. . . . F Kaden Elder put Calgary out front 54 seconds into the second period. . . . Regina took the lead on a pair of goals from F Ty Kolle, at 10:50 and 14:08. . . . F Mark Kastelic tied it with his 37th goal, at 15:23, and Elder’s 22nd goal, 35 seconds into the third period, provided Calgary with a 3-2 lead. . . . Kolle, who hadn’t scored in 27 games, completed his first WHL hat trick at 5:09. It came in his 122nd career game, his 28th with Regina. He now has 11 goals this season. He also had a shootout goal in the Pats’ 2-1 victory in Lethbridge on Tuesday night. . . . Stotts won this one with his 15th goal at 16:41. . . . Calgary got 33 stops from G Jack McNaughton, one fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . G Carl Stankowski, who last played on Nov. 23, was on Calgary’s bench in a backup role.
The two Ryans — Chyzowski and Jevne — each scored twice to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Medicine Hat (29-18-4) has won two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Kootenay (11-33-8) has seven home games remaining before it leaves Cranbrook for Winnipeg. . . . The Tigers had a 21-3 edge in first-period shots and came out with a 2-1 lead. . . . F Brad Ginnell (12) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:24. . . . The Tigers took the lead as Chyzowski scored, on a PP, at 15:26, and D Cole Clayton (4) counted at 19:12. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (18) upped the Tigers’ lead to 3-1, on a PP, at 1:52. . . . The Ice came back to tie it on goals from F Peyton Krebs (17), on a PP, at 15:53, and F Jakin Smallwood (9) at 5:39 of the third period. . . . Jevne snapped the tie at 6:03. . . . Chyzowski added insurance with his 18th goal, on another PP, at 16:09, and Jevne put it away with his 24th goal, an empty-netter, at 19:32. . . . Jevne added two assists to his goal, with Preziuso getting two helpers and Chyzowski one. . . . Ice F River Fahey didn’t return after a first-period fight with Tigers F Trevor Longo . . . . The Tigers ended up with a 51-26 shot advantage. . . . Medicine Hat got 23 saves from G Mads Søgaard, with the Ice’s Jesse Makaj blocking 45 shots. . . . The Tigers were 3-4 on the PP; the Ice was 2-4. . . . This was the Ice’s second home game since the team’s owners announced that they will be moving the franchise to Winnipeg at season’s end. The announced attendance was 1,902, the smallest crowd of the season.
F Luke Toporowski scored twice and added an assist as the Spokane Chiefs skated to a 5-4 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Spokane (27-17-6) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks and three ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (21-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, eight points behind the Victoria Royals and two ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . D Lassi Thomson (13) got Kelowna started at 3:38 of the first period. . . . Toporowski, who has 15 goals, tied it at 5:02 and gave his guys the lead at 15:08, on a PP. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff’s first WHL goal, on a PP, got Kelowna into a 2-2 tie at 2:37 of the second period. . . . The Chiefs went ahead 4-2 on goals from F Connor Gabruch, his first, at 4:15, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (6), at 12:55. That was Anderson-Dolan’s 99th career regular-season goal. . . . Swetlikoff scored another PP goal, this one 23 seconds into the third period, but F Jake McGrew (22) restored Spokane’s two-goal lead at 2:08. . . . F Nolan Foote (26) got a shorthanded goal at 7:14 to pull the Rockets to within a goal. . . . F Leif Mattson had four assists for the Rockets, with Swetlikoff adding one to his pair of goals. . . . Spokane D Ty Smith was back in the lineup and had two assists, after leaving early during a 6-5 shootout loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Smith left after absorbing a hit from Portland F Joachim Blichfeld, who was given an interference major and game misconduct, but hasn’t been suspended. . . . The Rockets were without F Conner Bruggen-Cate, who served the first of a two-game suspension. . . . The Rockets had F Steel Quiring make his WHL debut while D Jackson DeSouza played his second game. Quiring, who turned 16 on Jan. 15, was a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, with DeSouza a fourth-round pick in that same draft. Quiring, from Vernon, B.C., plays for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. DeSouza, 15, is from Erie, Colo. DeSouza, who also plays for the Okanagan Rockets, made his WHL debut on Dec. 15 in a 2-1 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers.
D Bowen Byram scored his third OT goal of the season to give the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (35-13-3) had won three straight, including a 4-2 victory in Prince George on Tuesday night. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Prince George (16-30-6) has lost 11 in a row (0-8-3). It is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . Last night, the Giants took a 3-0 lead on second-period goals from F Jared Dmytriw (11), at 7:11; F Brayden Watts (12), at 8:34; and D Aidan Barfoot (3), at 12:55. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (20) started the Cougars’ comeback, on a PP, at 16:00 of the second period. . . . F Josh Maser (20) cut the deficit to one, on another PP, at 19:50. . . . F Reid Perepeluk tied the game with his first goal of the season, at 11:05 of the third period. . . . Perepeluk’s first goal came in his 39th game. Last season, he scored twice in 10 games. . . . Byram won it with his 21st goal of the season, 57 seconds into OT. . . . In 17 games since Jan. 1, Byram has 12 goals and 11 assists. . . . On Jan. 26, Byram scored at 2:39 of OT to give the Giants a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. On Jan. 30, he scored 33 seconds into OT to provide Vancouver with a 3-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots for the Cougars.
F Phillip Schultz scored three times to help the Victoria Royals to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Victoria (26-21-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Seattle (20-25-6) had beaten the host Royals, 5-2, on Tuesday night. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Henri Rybinski (3) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game. . . . The Royals responded with the next three goals — from Schultz, on a PP, at 17:09; F Kaid Oliver (21), on a PP, at 3:52 of the second period; and Schultz, at 6:27. . . . F Andrej Kukuca got Seattle to within a goal at 4:44 of the third period, but F Dino Kambeitz (8) got it back for the Royals just 10 seconds later. . . . Kukuca (16) added a PP goal at 16:07. . . . Schultz completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:55. Schultz, an 18-year-old freshman from Denmark, has 11 goals and eight assists in 42 games. . . . D Scott Walford had three assists for the Royals, the fourth time in his career that he has had at least three helpers in one game. . . . Despite not appearing on the WHL’s weekly roster report that was issued on Tuesday, Seattle D Jarret Tyszka missed his second game in as many nights.