A WHL season without the dulcet tones of Regan Bartel on the airwaves?
But the Kelowna Rockets, the team whose play-by-play Bartel has handled for 22 seasons, announced Wednesday that they are changing radio stations, moving from Bell Media’s AM 1150 to Pattison Media’s 104.7 The Lizard.
That’s right! A team that has the Ogopogo lake monster on its primary logo now will have its games heard on a radio station that calls itself The Lizard.
And, at least for now, it appears that Bartel won’t be making the move with the Rockets.
“We especially want to recognize Regan Bartel,” Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a statement. “Regan has an incredible voice and his dedication to our fans to produce a first-class broadcast for all Rockets games will always be appreciated.”
The Rockets, who have been in Kelowna for 27 seasons, were on AM 1150 for 23 years, with Bartel, who also works in the AM 1150 newsroom, calling the play for 22 of those seasons. Prior to that, he was the voice of the Swift Current Broncos for five seasons.
The Rockets and AM 1150 signed what turned out to be their final contract, a three-year deal, in March 2019.
“The decision to move was one that required much deliberation and thoughtful consideration,” the Rockets said in a statement.
Ken Kilcullen, Bell Media’s general manager for stations in B.C.’s Interior, said in a statement: “The Kelowna Rockets have elected to end our long-time association, having not renewed a play-by-play agreement with Bell Media. I believe we at Bell Media made a very competitive offer in return for a new three-year agreement, but in the end, Rockets’ management is moving in a different direction.”
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Gracyn Sawchyn, who was the first overall selection in the inaugural two-round draft of U.S. players that was held in 2020. Sawchyn, who had never made a commitment but was believed to be NCAA-bound, actually was selected by the Red Deer Rebels. They dealt his rights to Seattle for a conditional second-round bantam draft selection on May 14, 2021. It’s likely safe to assume that the pick was conditional on Seattle signing Sawchyn. . . . Thom Beuning, the long-time radio voice of the Thunderbirds, explained the trade on Twitter on Wednesday: “The 2nd Red Deer gets could be Van’s (acquired last summer by Seattle). Seattle already owes a 2023 2nd to Med Hat from the (Lukas) Svejkovsky deal. Of course, the deal really ends up being Seattle trading Kai Uchacz for Sawchyn, as a 2nd round pick went both ways in those separate deals.” . . . Sawchyn, 17, is from Edmonton but spent the past five years in Minnesota. In 2021-22, he had 10 goals and 23 assists with the U.S. national U-17 team, and had eight goals and 14 assists in 35 games with a U.S. National Team Development Program team in the USHL. . . . The Thunderbirds selected Lukas Sawchyn, Gracyn’s younger brother, with the sixth-overall pick in the 2022 U.S. draft in May. Lukas put up 35 goals and 50 assists in 52 games with a 14U AAA team at Shattuck St. Mary’s in 2021-22.
From Shanifa Nasser of CBC News: Ontario has officially entered its seventh wave of COVID-19, driven this time by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, the province’s top doctor confirms. “Sadly yes, we’re in another wave,” Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer, told CBC News Wednesday after Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table pointed to exponential growth in most public health units.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Kamloops Blazers will make a tour of the Central Division in February with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship — in their home arena. The curling is scheduled to run from Feb. 17 through Feb. 26. The Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup (May 26-June 4), are to play at home on Feb. 11 and then not again until March 3. . . .
On Tuesday night, I wrote in this space that Norm Daley was introduced as the Blazers’ president and alternate governor at a Tuesday news conference. It actually was held on Monday morning. Hey, don’t laugh. When you’re retired and every weekend is a long one, there will be times when you won’t know what day it is either. . . .
We now know why the Winnipeg Ice is to open the 2022-23 season on a 13-game road trip. Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted on Wednesday that “Wayne Fleming Arena is getting a new ice plant and ventilation system to replace the 40-year-old infrastructure. Installation was delayed by Ice playoff run.” He added that the U of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team won’t play there until Nov. 4; the men’s team is out until Nov. 11. . . . All three of those teams are to hold their training camps at the RINK Training Centre in Oak Bluff, Man. The Ice also will play two exhibition games there. . . . As for that new arena that Ice ownership said would be built after the franchise was moved out of Cranbrook after the 2019-20 season, well, Sawatzky tweeted: “No news to report on arena.”
THE COACHING GAME: Chadd Cassidy has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. “It was my every intention that my family would be moving with me to Cape Breton when I took the job,” Cassidy, 48, said in a statement, “but my family situation has changed and we are unable to relocate to Cape Breton. After getting back home with my family it became more and more clear to me that I can’t be without them.” . . . Cassidy, whose home is in Lake Placid, N.Y., joined the Eagles in January, replacing Jake Grimes who resigned on Nov. 30 citing “personal/family reasons.” . . .
Grady Nursey, who spent the past four seasons playing for the junior B Westshore Wolves, is staying with the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team as an assistant coach. He was the team captain for the past two seasons. . . . With the Wolves, he will work alongside general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter.
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