Heponiemi leads Broncos to sweep . . . Swift Current takes 50/50, too . . . Johnston gets 300th victory . . . Dewar sparks Silvertips


MacBeth

D Stefan Ulmer (Spokane, 2007-10) has been assigned on loan by Lugano (Switzerland, NL A) to Ticino (Switzerland, NL B). The length of the loan wasn’t announced. He had three assists in 13 games with Lugano this season.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Chris Dilks (@Chris Dilks), who closely follows U.S. college hockey, tweeted Saturday afternoon that “on the NTDP line chart . . . Erik Middendorf is no longer showing a commitment to Denver.” . . . Middendorf, a 17-year-old forward, is from Scottsdale, Ariz. The Moose Jaw Warriors selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Middendorf, who is in the U.S. National Team Development Program, committed to the U of Denver on Sept. 20, 2016. . . . He is a nephew to former NHL F Max Middendorf.


The Los Angeles Ramblers played in the Western International Hockey League in 1946-47, flying to road games in Trail, Nelson, Kimberley and Spokane. Greg Nesteroff has more on the Ramblers right here, and if you care at all about hockey history you don’t want to miss this story.


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Regina, F Aleksi Heponiemi had a goal and two assists to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 4-1 victory over the Pats. . . . Swift Current (35-12-4) had won two in a row. It SCBroncosis second in the overall standings, seven points behind Moose Jaw. The Broncos are 4-0-0 in the season series with the Pats, including a 3-1 victory on home ice on Saturday afternoon. . . . Regina (25-22-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . The Broncos scored the game’s first three goals. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (5) and F Matteo Gennaro (31), who were acquired in a pre-Christmas deal with Calgary, got the first two. Malenstyn scored at 18:45 of the first period. Gennaro counted at 9:00 of the second. . . . Heponiemi (24) added a PP goal at 5:31 of the third. . . . D Cale Fleury (9) got Regina’s goal at 16:02 of the third. . . . Broncos F Glenn Gawdin (40) closed out the scoring, on a PP, at 16:02. . . . Gennaro also had an assist. . . . Heponiemi now has 93 points, three shy of F Brayden Burke of Moose Jaw, who leads the scoring derby. . . . Swift Current was 2-4 on the PP; Regina was 0-3. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 41 shots for Swift Current, while G Ryan Kubic turned aside 31 at the other end. . . . Swift Current scratched F Kaden Elder, F Kole Gable and D Sahvan Khaira. . . . To complete Swift Current’s grand weekend, Jamie LeBlanc’s wife won the 50/50 draw. He is the Broncos’ athletic trainer. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.


At Red Deer, F Jordy Bellerive tied the game in the third period and won it in OT as the LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes beat the Rebels, 2-1. . . . Lethbridge (23-21-6) had lost its previous four games (0-2-2). The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat and three in front of Kootenay. . . . Red Deer (12-25-12) had won its previous two games. . . . F Reese Johnson (17) put the home side ahead 1-0, while shorthanded, at 10:16 of the second period. . . . Bellerive tied it at 9:42 of the third period and won it with his 33rd goal of the season at 2:57 of OT. . . . Each team was 0-5 on the PP. . . . G Logan Flodell earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders stopped 42 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 4,382.


At Everett, F Connor Dewar scored the game’s last two goals as the Silvertips beat the Spokane Chiefs, 6-5, in overtime. . . . Everett (32-16-3) has points in 10 straight games (9-0-Everett1). The Silvertips lead the Western Conference by one point over Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, having split with Seattle, winning 3-1 at home and losing 3-2 in a shootout on the road. . . . Spokane (26-19-5) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It is tied with Tri-City for the Western Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . The Chiefs scored two goals early in the third period — F Kailer Yamamoto (9), on a PP, at 2:16, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (27), at 4:38 — to take a 5-3 lead. . . . Everett got to within a goal when D Wyatte Wylie (5) scored at 5:08. . . . Dewar tied it at 19:36, then won it with his 27th goal at 1:10 of OT. Wylie had the primary assist on the winner for a three-point evening. . . . Dewar enjoyed a five-goal weekend. . . . F Jake McGrew had given Spokane a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:15 of the first period. . . . F Matt Fonteyne (30) pulled Everett event at 15:07. . . . F Luke Toporowski (4) put the Chiefs back out front at 17:22. . . . F Spencer Gerth scored for Everett at 2:52 of the second period, but Anderson-Dolan put the Chiefs back out front at 5:58. . . . Wylie, on a PP, tied it at 10:30. . . . The Silvertips got two assists from F Patrick Bajkov, who now has 262 career points, tying F Zach Hamill (2003-08) for the franchise record. . . . F Garrett Pilon also had two assists for Everett, with Dewar adding one. . . . Yamamoto also had three assists, with Ty Smith getting two, and Anderson-Dolan one. . . . Spokane was 2-3 on the PP; Everett was 1-3. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 37 shots for the Silvertips. . . . The Chiefs got 42 saves from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Announced attendance: 4,187.


At Portland, Mike Johnston got his 300th regular-season coaching victory as the Winterhawks beat the Kamloops Blazers, 4-2. . . . Johnston is the 23rd coach in WHL Portlandhistory to get 300 victories. . . . Portland (29-17-4) had lost two games — 5-2 and 3-1 — in Kamloops earlier in the weekend. It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind Everett. . . . Kamloops (23-24-3) had won its previous five games. It is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . The teams played in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday nights. They left for Portland immediately after Saturday’s game. . . . Last night, the Winterhawks had a 3-0 lead early in the third period on goals from D Henri Jokiharju (8), on a PP, at 4:46 of the second; F Jake Gricius (12), on a PP, at 14:32; and D Keoni Texeira (7), at 3:28 of the third. . . . Portland lost F Joachim Blichfeld to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 4:12 of the third period. That was for a hit on Kamloops D Nolan Kneen, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . The Blazers scored twice on the ensuing power play, with F Luc Smith (15) and F Quinn Benjafield (18) getting the goals. . . . Portland iced it when F Mason Mannek (8) got the empty-netter at 19:43. . . . Blichfeld, Gricius, Texeira and Jokiharju each added an assist. . . . Kamloops was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 2-4. . . . G Cole Kehler earned the victory with 33 saves, five more than Max Palaga of the Blazers. . . . Portland again was without F Kieffer Bellows and F Cody Glass. . . . D Matthew Quigley of the Winterhawks completed a two-game suspension from a Friday night hit on F/D Tylor Ludwar of the Blazers. Ludwar was injured on the play and now has missed two games. . . . Announced attendance: 7,818.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Riley Sawchuk scored twice to help the Tri-City Americans to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Tri-City (25-16-7) has points in five straight TriCity30games (3-0-2). The Americans and Spokane are tied for fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Seattle. . . . Seattle (26-18-6) was playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours, having split a home-and-home series with Everett. The Thunderbirds are third in the U.S. Division, four points behind Portland. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead on F Matthew Wedman’s 11th goal at 3:43 of the second period. . . . The Americans scored three times in the third period. . . . Sawchuk tied the score at 7:16, and F Morgan Geekie (17) gave the home side the lead, on a PP, at 12:50. . . . Sawchuk (8) added an empty-netter at 18:51. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (23) got Seattle to within a goal at 19:32. . . . Tri-City was 1-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-4. . . . G Patrick Tea stopped 29 shots for the Americans. . . . G Dorrin Luding turned aside 32 at the other end. . . . Announced attendance: 2,848.


At Victoria, the Royals erased a 1-0 deficit with four goals en route to a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Victoria (30-17-4) has won three in a row, including a 4-1 victory VictoriaRoyalsover Calgary on Saturday night. . . . Calgary (15-28-6) is 0-2-0 on a seven-game road trip. . . . F Luke Coleman (11) scored while shorthanded to give the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 3:38 of the first period. . . . Victoria F Noah Gregor (17) tied it at 16:57, then drew the primary assist one minute later as D Kade Jensen (3) broke the tie. . . . F Lane Zablocki (12) made it 3-1 at 2:30 of the second period with his first goal since being acquired from Lethbridge. . . . The Royals went ahead 4-1 at 6:14 when F Tyler Soy (23) scored on a PP. . . . Calgary got to within two goals, at 10:46, when F Tristen Nielsen (9) scored. . . . The Royals put it away with the next three goals — from F Braydon Buziak (4), F Andrei Grishakov (16) and F Dante Hannoun (21). . . . F Jakob Stukel (23) had Calgary’s third goal. . . . Soy, Hannoun and Zablocki had an assist each for the winners. . . . Coleman also had an assist for Calgary. . . . Victoria was 2-8 on the PP; Calgary was 0-3. . . . Victoria G Dean McNabb stopped 28 shots. . . . Calgary starter Nick Schneider stopped 15 of 19 shots in 26:14. Matthew Armitage finished up with 18 saves on 21 shots in 33:45. . . . Announced attendance: 5,785.


MONDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Red Deer at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

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Hay takes over as No. 1 as Blazers win . . . He’s tops in playoff wins, too . . . He’s third all-time in CHL

Hay743-1
Don Hay of the Kamloops Blazers acknowledges the crowd on Saturday after becoming the WHL’s winningest regular-season head coach. (Photo: Allen Dougas/Kamloops This week)

Don Hay moved to the top of the WHL’s regular-season coaching ladder on Saturday as his Kamloops Blazers beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-2.

Hay now has 743 regular-season coaching victories, split between the Blazers (275), Vancouver Giants (401) and Tri-City Americans (67).

He had tied Ken Hodge’s record on Friday when the Blazers beat the Winterhawks, 5-2.

Hodge was the head coach of the original Edmonton Oil Kings for three seasons (1973-

Hay743-2
Colin Robinson, the Kamloops Blazers’ athletic therapist, congratulates head coach Don Hay with a bear hug, while assistant coaches Mike Needham (left) and Chris Murray await their turns. (Photo: Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)

76). The franchise relocated to Portland after that season, and Hodge was the coach there for 17 seasons. He retired from coaching after the 1992-93 season.

A native of Kamloops, Hay, who will turn 64 on Feb. 13, is in his second go-round with the Blazers. The first time, he was the head coach for three seasons (1992-95). He later coached the Americans for two seasons (1998-2000) and the Giants for 10 (2004-14).

He is in his fourth season in this stint with the Blazers.

Hay already was No. 1 in WHL playoff victories as a head coach, with 108, seven more than Hodge and 21 more than Kelly McCrimmon, who won that many postseason games with the Brandon Wheat Kings. McCrimmon now is an assistant general manager with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Put it altogether and Hay has 851 WHL coaching victories.

He also has been part of four Memorial Cup champions, three of them with the Blazers. He was an assistant coach when the Blazers won the 1992 title, and was the head coach for championships in 1994 and 1995. He was the Giants’ head coach when they won in 2006.

With the Blazers having swept the doubleheader from the Winterhawks in Kamloops, it left Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, stalled at 299 regular-season victories. He gets his next chance to become the 23rd coach in WHL history with 300 victories when the Winterhawks play host to the Blazers later today.

Meanwhile, Hay is third in Canadian Hockey League regular-season coaching history with his 743 victories. The leader is Brian Kilrea, who won 1,193 games with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Second on the list is Bert Templeton, who put up 907 victories with six different OHL franchises. Kilrea and Templeton are retired.


Here’s a look at the 22 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories:

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 743

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 558

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

10. Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

11. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456

12. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 453

      Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

14. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 444

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

19. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 346

20. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


Here are the OHL’s top five winningest regular-season head coaches:

1,193 — Brian Kilrea (Ottawa)

907 — Bert Templeton (Hamilton, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, North Bay, Barrie, Sudbury)

687 — Dale Hunter (London)

672 — Stan Butler (Oshawa, Brampton, North Bay)

637 — George Burnett (Niagara Falls, Guelph, Oshawa, Belleville, Hamilton)

Hunter, Butler and Burnett are still active. Their totals are through Saturday’s games. . . . Butler also spent one season (1996-97) with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, winning 28 games.


Here are the QMJHL’s top five winningest regular-season head coaches:

589 — Richard Martel (Chicoutimi, St-Hyacinthe, Val-d’Or, Baie-Comeau)

569 — Guy Chouinard (Longueuil, Victoriaville, Verdun, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Laval, Quebec, PEI)

541 — Real Paiement (Granby, Chicoutimi, Moncton, Acadie-Bathurst, St. John’s)

500 — Mario Durocher (Sherbrooke, Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Lewiston, Acadie-Bathurst, Cape Breton, Val-d’Or)

467 — Benoit Groulx (Hull, Gatineau)

Yanick Jean, now with the Victoriaville Tigers, is No. 1 among active coaches, with 402.

Saturday in the WHL: Record for Hay . . . Two goals for Rasmussen in return . . . Four points for Budik . . . Ice sweeps Wheat Kings

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Scoreboard

SATURDAY:

At Prince Albert, D Vojtech Budik had a goal and three assists to lead the Raiders to a 9-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Prince Albert (20-20-9) has points in five straight PrinceAlbert(4-0-1). The Raiders are four points behind Saskatoon, which holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Edmonton (13-29-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . F Cole Fonstad gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:25 of the first period. . . . F Parker Kelly (21) made it 2-0 at 10:12. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky got Edmonton on the scoreboard 28 seconds into the second period. . . . Fonstad (15) got that one back at 4:38 and Budik (8) made it 4-1, on a PP, at 9:23. . . . Fix-Wolansky (20) cut into the deficit at 19:07. . . . The Raiders put it away with five third-period goals, two of them from F Kody McDonald, who has 25 goals, and one each from F Justin Nachbaur (5), D Zack Hayes (2) and F Nikita Krivokrasov (1). . . . The Raiders got two assists from each of D Brayden Pachal and D Max Martin, with Hayes, Fonstad and Nachbaur getting one each. . . . F Tomas Soustal had two assists for Edmonton. . . . Prince Albert was 2-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-2. . . . G Ian Scott recorded the victory with 18 saves. . . . Edmonton starter Todd Scott allowed six goals on 25 shots in 44:00. Josh Dechaine finished up with six saves on nine shots in 16:00. . . . Raiders F Regan Nagy (knee) took the pregame warmup but didn’t play in this one. . . . Announced attendance: 1,865.


At Swift Current, F Glenn Gawdin scored twice to lead the Broncos to a 3-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Swift Current (34-12-4) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). The SCBroncosBroncos lead the season series, 3-0-0. . . . Swift Current is second in the overall standings, nine points behind Moose Jaw. . . . Regina (25-21-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). The Pats are fourth in the East Division, six points behind Brandon. . . . The Pats held a 16-11 edge in first-period shots, but mustered only seven shots through the final 40 minutes. . . . D Libor Hajek (10) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the first period. . . . Gawdin tied it at 8:48 of the second period, then gave his guys a 2-1 lead with his 39th goal, on a PP, at 11:38 of the third. . . . D Artyom Minulin (10), who also had an assist, got the empty-netter, at 19:28. . . . Regina was 1-4 on the PP; Swift Current was 1-5. . . . The Broncos got 22 stops from G Stuart Skinner, while Regina’s Ryan Kubic turned aside 42. . . . While F Jake Leschyshyn and F Emil Oksanen returned to Regina’s lineup, the Broncos were without D Sahvan Khaira and F Kole Gable. . . . These teams will play in Regina this afternoon. . . . Announced attendance: 2,879.


At Saskatoon, F Josh Paterson scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give the Blades a 4-3 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Saskatoon (25-23-3) has won two in a row Saskatoonand now is two points behind Regina, which holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Prince George (18-24-8) is 0-1-1 on its East Division swing and now is 11 points out of the playoffs. . . . Paterson had given the Blades a 1-0 lead with his 25th goal at 11:39 of the first period. . . . The Cougars took a 2-1 lead on goals from D Joel Lakusta (6), at 18:18 of the second period, and F Ilijah Colina (5), at 0:53 of the third. . . . Saskatoon F Braylon Shmyr (26) got the Blades even, on a PP, at 6:50. That was his 100th career goal in his 279th game. He has 70 goals in 151 games with the Blades, who acquired him from Brandon. . . . D Ryan Schoettler (4) gave the visitors a 3-2 lead at 14:05. . . . The Blades thought they had tied it, 3-3, with 56 seconds left in the third period when F Caleb Fantillo tipped a point shot from D Evan Fiala. But it was ruled that the puck was contacted by a high stick. . . . F Max Gerlach (24) tied it for real just 16 seconds later. . . . F Chase Wouters had two assists for the winners, with Shmyr adding one. . . . The Blades were 2-4 on the PP; the Cougars were 1-4. . . . G Tyler Brown stopped 35 shots through OT for Saskatoon. At the other end, Isaiah DiLaura blocked 36 shots. . . . The Blades had Fiala back after he served a one-game WHL suspension. D Dawson Davidson also returned after missing one game due to illness. . . . Announced attendance: 3,817.


At Red Deer, F Kristian Reichel’s OT goal gave the Rebels a 3-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Red Deer (12-25-11) has won two in a row. It had lost its previous eight OT Red Deergames. . . . Kelowna (31-14-4) has points in four straight (3-0-1). This was the third straight game in which it went to OT. It went 2-0-1. . . . The Rockets lead the Western Conference by one point over Everett. . . . F Leif Mattson (17) put the Rockets out front at 14:41 of the second period. . . . Red Deer took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Mason McCarty (25), at 17:33, and F Josh Tarzwell (5), shorthanded, at 1:25 of the third period. . . . The Rockets forced OT when F Kole Lind (26) struck at 19:27. . . . Reichel (17) won it at 2:46 of extra time. . . . Red Deer was 0-2 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-4. . . . The Rebels got a big game from G Ethan Anders, who stopped 41 shots. . . . G Cole Tisdale stopped 19 shots for the Rockets as the 15-year-old made his third WHL start. . . . Kelowna had F Dillon Dube back after a two-game absence. He picked up one assist. . . . Announced attendance: 4,644.


At Cranbrook, B.C., F Peyton Krebs scored twice to spark the Kootenay Ice to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Kootenay (23-23-3) has won three in a row, including Kootenaynewa 6-2 victory over Brandon on Friday night. It is third in the Central Division, one point behind Lethbridge. . . . Brandon (28-17-5) has lost eight straight (0-5-3). The Wheat Kings were 0-5-2 on a seven-game road trip that ended with this one. They are third in the East Division, 11 points behind Swift Current. . . . Krebs gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 19:29 of the first period. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (15) made it 2-0 at 12:46 of the second. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (33) cut into the lead at 12:56. . . . Krebs, who has 13 goals, made it 3-1 at 18:18. . . . The Wheat Kings got back to within a goal on F Luka Burzan’s eighth score, shorthanded, at 5:47 of the third period. . . . Burzan also had an assist. . . . Brandon was 0-1 on the PP; Kootenay was 0-2. . . . G Matt Berlin stopped 19 shots for Kootenay, while Brandon’s Logan Thompson turned aside 32. . . . Before the game, the Ice announced that it had returned D Nolan Orzeck to the midget AAA Calgary Northstars. Orzeck, 16, got into two games this time, after making his WHL debut in October. . . . Announced attendance: 3,474. That’s the largest announced crowd of the season. The announced attendance for their home-opener was 3,392.


At Medicine Hat, the Tigers scored twice on a five-minute PP in the second period en route to a 5-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Medicine Hat (26-19-6) has points Tigers Logo Officialin three in a row (2-0-1). It leads the Central Division by eight points over Lethbridge. . . . Moose Jaw (39-8-3) had won its previous four games. It leads the overall standings by nine points over Swift Current. . . . F Brayden Burke (24) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 18:41 of the first period. . . . The Tigers tied it when F Ryan Chyzowski (16) scored at 3:55 of the second period. . . . F Tanner Jeannot (33) put the Warriors out front just 34 seconds later. . . . At 12:11, Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen was given a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Tigers D Joel Craven, who had to be helped off the ice. . . . The Tigers scored twice on the ensuing PP, with D David Quenneville counting at 13:07, and F James Hamblin (15) making it 3-2 at 16:25. . . . The Tigers went up 4-2 at 1:57 of the third period as F Mark Rassell (42) scored. . . . F Ryan Peckford (18) got the visitors back to within a goal at 12:11. . . . Quenneville, who has 21 goals, iced it with the empty-netter at 19:58. . . . The Tigers got three assists from F Ryan Jevne, with Hamblin, Rassell, Chyzowski and Quenneville adding one each. . . . D Kale Clague drew two assists for the Warriors, with Jeannot adding one. . . . The Tigers were 2-7 on the PP; the Warriors were 0-0 as the Tigers weren’t assessed even one penalty. . . . G Jordan Hollett stopped 33 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Warriors got 19 stops from G Adam Evanoff. . . . The Tigers scratched F Tyler Preziuso, who left Friday’s 4-3 OT loss to visiting Kelowna after being struck on the head by a puck. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo remains out of the lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 3,268.


At Kamloops, Don Hay became the winningest head coach in WHL history as his Blazers erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . . Hay now has Kamloops1743 regular-season victories, one more than Ken Hodge, who retired as Portland’s head coach after 1992-93. . . . Kamloops (23-23-3) has won five in a row. It remains six points away from a playoff spot. . . . Portland (28-17-4) has lost two straight. It dropped a 5-2 decision in Kamloops on Friday. The Winterhawks are third in the U.S. Division, five points behind Everett. . . . The teams headed for Portland immediately after this one. They’ve got a date there today at 5 p.m. . . . The Winterhawks got first-period goals from F Skyler McKenzie (37), shorthanded, at 4:29, and F Jake Gricius (11), at 12:06. . . . The Blazers tied it in the second period as F Connor Zary (6), at 5:37, and F Luc Smith (13), at 11:31, found the range. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (17) broke the 2-2 tie 43 seconds into the third period. . . . F Luc Smith (14) got the empty-netter at 18:56. . . . D Nolan Kneen had two assists for the Blazers. . . . Kamloops was 0-2 on the PP; Portland was 0-4. . . . G Dylan Ferguson earned the victory with 32 saves. . . . G Shane Farkas stopped 32 shots for Portland. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley, who drew a two-game suspension for an elbow to the head that took out Kamloops F/D Tylor Ludwar on Friday. Quigley wasn’t penalized on the play, but was suspended after the Blazers filed for supplementary discipline. . . . These teams will play again today in Portland, so Quigley will sit out that one, too. . . . It’s safe to assume that Ludwar is in the concussion protocol and won’t play today, either. . . . The Winterhawks again were without F Cody Glass and F Kieffer Bellows, both out with undisclosed injuries. No word on whether either one might return today. . . . Announced attendance: 3,651.


At Kent, Wash., D Austin Strand scored the only goal of a three-round shootout to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 3-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Seattle (26-17-6) had Seattledropped a 3-1 decision in Everett on Friday. It is third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland. . . . The Silvertips (31-16-3) have points in nine straight (8-0-1). They are second in the Western Conference, one point behind Kelowna. . . . Everett took a 1-0 lead when F Connor Dewar scored at 3:44 of the first period. . . . F Blake Bargar (10) tied it at 7:34 of the second period. . . . Dewar, who has 25 goals, put the visitors back out front at 7:41 of the third period. . . . F Matthew Wedman (10) scored on a PP at 10:25 as Seattle pulled even again. . . . Strand was the first shooter of the third round. . . . F Garrett Pilon had two assists for Everett. . . . Seattle was 1-3 on the PP; Everett was 0-2. . . . G Liam Hughes earned the victory with 34 saves through OT. . . . G Carter Hart turned aside 29 shots for Everett. . . . Seattle was in a shootout for the third straight home game and it won all of them. . . . F Sami Moilanen was among Seattle’s scraches after leaving Friday’s game with an undisclosed injury. . . . F Payton Mount, who turned 16 on Jan. 19, made his debut with the Thunderbirds. From Victoria, he was a first-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. He plays at the Delta Hockey Academy. . . . Announced attendance: 5,476.


At Kennewick, Wash., D Dylan Coghlan’s second goal of the game, in OT, gave the Tri-City Americans a 5-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Tri-City (24-16-7) has points in four TriCity30straight (2-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind Spokane. . . . Spokane (26-19-4) has points in five straight (5-0-1). . . . The Americans overcame a 4-1 deficit by scoring the game’s last four goals. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (25), at 5:37 of the first period, and F Ethan McIndoe (15), at 1:15 of the second, gave the Chiefs a 2-0 lead. . . . Coghlan halved the deficit on a PP, at 2:43. . . . The Chiefs then got two quick goals to go up 4-1. D Ty Smith (7) scored at 3:46 and F Zach Fischer (22) counted at 4:39. . . . F Michael Rasmussen started the comeback at 10:26, and F Riley Sawchuk (6) cut the deficit to a goal at 14:11. . . . Rasmussen (18) tied it at 19:00 of the third. Coghlan then won it with his 15th goal at 1:14 of extra time. . . . The tying goal originally was credited to Coghlan, which would have meant the winner gave him a hat trick. But the Americans said after the game that the goal will be credited to Rasmussen. . . . F Jordan Topping drew three assists for the Americans, while Rasmussen, in his first game since Dec. 16, added one, as did F Isaac Johnson. . . . Rasmussen had wrist surgery before Christmas. . . . The Chiefs got two assists from D Filip Kral, with Anderson-Dolan getting one. . . . Tri-City was 1-1 on the PP; Spokane was 0-2. . . . G Patrick Tea recorded the victory with 33 saves, seven more than Spokane’s Dawson Weatherill. . . . Tri-City remains without D Juuso Valimaki, D Roman Kalinichenko and F Kyle Olson. . . . Announced attendance: 5,022.


At Victoria, F Tanner Kaspick and F Matthew Phillips each scored twice as the Royals beat the Calgary Hitmen, 4-1. . . . Victoria (29-17-4) has won two in a row. It is second in VictoriaRoyalsthe B.C. Division, four points behind Kelowna. . . . Calgary (15-27-6) will play in Victoria again today in Game 2 of a seven-game road trip. . . . The Royals got out to a 3-0 lead on a goal from Phillips at 1:01 of the first period and two from Kaspick, at 12:03 of the first and at 3:22 of the second, the latter on a PP. . . . F Luke Coleman (10) scored Calgary’s goal, on a PP, at 12:57. . . . Phillips got his 35th goal, on a PP, at 14:52. . . . F Tyler Soy had three assists for Victoria. . . . Kaspick has six goals and two assists in seven games since Victoria acquired him from Brandon at the trade deadline. Four of those six goals have been game-winners. . . . Victoria was 2-3 on the PP; Calgary was 1-9. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse stopped 21 of 22 shots in 58:59. Dean McNabb finished up with two saves in 1:01. . . . Calgary got 18 saves from G Nick Schneider. . . . F Jakob Stukel, with a team-high 22 goals, was among Calgary’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 5,638.


SUNDAY (all times local):

Swift Current at Regina, 4 p.m.

Lethbridge at Red Deer, 5 p.m.

Spokane at Everett, 4:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Portland, 5 p.m.

Seattle vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 5:05 p.m.

Calgary at Victoria, 5:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Hay reminisces after tying WHL record . . . Shares career mark with Hodge . . . Standard of 742 could fall tonight

Hay1
Kamloops head coach Don Hay (third from left) accepts congratulations from forward Carson Denomie at the bench as trainer Colin Robinson (left) and assistant coaches Dan DePalma, Aaron Keller and Mike Needham wait to greet him.

Down below, the arena had emptied as the mostly satisified fans headed out into the Kamloops night.

The cleaning staff was sweeping and picking up bottles, getting ready for another day and another game.

In the press box, Don Hay pulled up a chair, the radio interview finished and most of his responsibilities done for the night. He undid his tie, took a deep breath and offered up a satisfied smile.

Hay’s Kamloops Blazers had just beaten the Portland Winterhawks, 5-2, for what was the 742nd regular-season coaching victory of his WHL career.

Hay2

That tied Hay with Ken Hodge as the winningest regular-season coaches in WHL history. Hodge had held the record since retiring as a coach after the 1992-93 season. Hodge spent the first three seasons (1973-76) of his WHL coaching career with the original Edmonton Oil Kings, and the remainder with the Winterhawks, the franchise having moved to the Oregon city after the 1975-76 season.

Hay will have an opportunity to break the record tonight as the Blazers and Winterhawks complete a doubleheader in Kamloops. They will play again Sunday, too, this time in Portland.

Hay, who will be 63 next month, and Hodge, 71, are hockey lifers.

Hodge’s playing career was cut short by an eye injury while with the Moose Jaw Canucks of what was then the Western Canada Hockey League, and he turned to coaching. He may have been the youngest head coach in junior hockey history when, at 21, he took over the QMJHL’s Sorel Eperviers in 1968.

As a result, Hay and Hodge were never opponents as players, but they certainly were as coaches.

Their paths did come within a couple of seasons of crossing at one point. Hodge was the head coach of the International league’s Flint Generals for four seasons (1969-73). Hay played one season with the Generals, 1975-76, by which time Hodge was with the Oil Kings.

On Friday, when Hay looked back, the first memory came from Oct. 9, 1992 . . .

Hay, then 38, had gotten his first victory on opening night, Sept. 26, 1992, when the Blazers beat the host Tacoma Rockets, 7-6 in overtime. “Yeah,” Hay says, “we were losing after two periods and Hnat Domenichelli got a hat trick in the third.”

The Blazers went on to lose 7-3 to the Chiefs in Spokane on Oct. 2, then dropped a 4-3 OT decision in Portland the next night.

But it’s that Oct. 9 game that sticks in Hay’s memory.

It was his first home game as the Blazers’ head coach. A Kamloops native, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the team, before taking a leave of absence from the city’s fire department and signing on as head coach.

This game also was the first in the history of what was then Riverside Coliseum and now is the Sandman Centre.

“The building was full and we raised a banner,” Hay says.

The Blazers had won the WHL championship and the Memorial Cup in 1991-92.

“After the game, I’m in my office, my assistants don’t come in,” Hay continues. “We lost about 8-2. We got taught a lesson by Mr. Hodge.”

Aaron Keller and Chris Murray, both of them now on Hay’s coaching staff, were in the Kamloops lineup that night.

“I asked Aaron, ‘Do you remember that game?’ ” Hay says. “He told me, ‘Oh yeah, we lost 8-2.’ ”

Hay chuckles again. He loves the stories and the memories.

“I can remember sitting in that room going, ‘Did I make the right decision leaving the fire hall? Maybe I should go back to the fire hall.’

“(General manager) Bob Brown came in and he was really good. He said, ‘You’re the guy to coach us. We have a lot of faith and belief in you.’ ”

Hay spent two more seasons as the Blazers’ head coach, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1994 and ’95, before giving the pro game a try.

He later spent two seasons (1998-2000) as head coach of the Tri-City Americans before trying the pro game again.

He returned to the WHL in 2004 and spent 10 seasons with the Vancouver Giants, before coming back to his hometown over the summer of 2014.

By the time Hay returned to the WHL, Hodge had retired from coaching. He spent the next 15 seasons as the general manager, and was an owner for part of that time.

“I didn’t coach a lot of games against him, but when I was an assistant those seven years we had a lot of playoff series with him,” Hay says. “I really respect the job he did . . . it’s a pretty special record to tie.

“And it was nice to do it at home.”

Hay also tied the record with a good friend working the other bench.

Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, and Hay have been friends since they were together on the coaching staff with Team Canada as it won the 1995 World Junior Championship in Red Deer.

“He was a big help on that coaching staff,” Hay says, “and we’ve been friends ever since.”

They are close enough that they try to to spend at least one day each summer playing golf, having lunch “and talking hockey,” Hay says. They also connect at various coaches’ conferences.

When was the last time they spoke?

Hay chuckles and says: “I talked to him (Friday) morning . . . we’ll probably talk (this) morning.”

Later today, their teams will meet as Hay gets his first shot at becoming the winningest regular-season coach in WHL history.

At the same time, Johnston, who turns 61 next month, will be trying to become the 23rd head coach in WHL history with 300 victories.

No matter the outcome, the friendship will endure. Johnston, like Hay, is a hockey lifer.

Hay ties WHL career coaching record . . . Americans’ Rasmussen set to return . . . Silvertips run win streak to eight

MacBeth

D Jakub Čutta (Swift Current, 1998-2001) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Litvínov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Čutta last played in 2015-16 with Västerås (Sweden, Allsvenskan), when he had three assists in 31 games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after his release by mutual agreement by Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). He had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games. Slovan has two regular-season games left, but can’t make the playoffs.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Tri-City Americans may have F Michael Rasmussen in their lineup tonight (Saturday) when they meet the visiting Spokane Chiefs.

Rasmussen, who had wrist surgery before Christmas, last played on Dec. 16. The 6-foot-6, TriCity30220-pound Rasmussen has 31 points, including 16 goals, in 22 games. He was a first-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Rasmussen took part in full practices this week for the first time since having surgery.

“It’s been a good week,” head coach Mike Williamson told Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald. “He has worked hard to put himself in a position to get back. We are pretty sure he will play this weekend. . . . We are pretty sure he is ready to go. We will make that final determination (Saturday).”

The Americans are scheduled to entertain the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday.

Tri-City remains without D Juuso Valimaki, but he may return to the club next week.

Fowler’s complete story is right here.


The biggest smile in all of the west likely belongs to Bruce Vance these days. He’s one of the good guys and spent a lot of time working in WHL circles. These days, you can bet that his focus is on the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.

That’s because his daughter, Jessica, leads Canada West with six shutouts and a .921 save percentage.

Oh, did we mention that she spent two seasons at the U of Manitoba but couldn’t get into the Bisons’ lineup, other than one game that cost her a season of eligibility.

Then she transferred to Saskatchewan and had to sit out a season.

Claire Hanna of Global News in Saskatoon has more right here.


If you like what you get here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.

Enjoy!


Another day, another set of twins is brought to our attention.

This time it’s Brett and Garrett Festerling, now 31 and playing in Europe.

whlBrett, a defenceman, spent five seasons (2002-07) in the WHL, with the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants. He now plays for the Nürnberg Ice Tigers of Germany’s DEL.

Garrett, a forward, was in the WHL for four seasons (2003-07), with the Portland Winterhawks and Regina Pats. These days, he also is in the DEL, with Adler Mannheim.

——

Twins who played together . . .

Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)

Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)

Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)

Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)

Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)

Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)

Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)

——

Twins who played but not together . . .

Brett and Garrett Festerling, Tri-City/Vancouver, Portland/Regina (2002-07)

Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)

Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)

Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)

Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)

——

Officials who are twins and work together . . .

Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)


THE COACHING GAME . . .

Since being fired as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, Mike Vandekamp is hanging out at the rink and helping the minor hockey association.

“I want to continue to volunteer my time with that, mostly coach mentorship stuff,” Vandekamp, a former WHL coach, told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin. “That’s something that keeps a guy a little bit involved and down at the rink.”

Wes Mussio, the Clippers’ new owner, fired Vandekamp on Dec. 21, a move the coach said he never saw coming. Mussio announced the move via a late-night post on Twitter, citing irreconcilable differences.

“I don’t think there was ever a specific incident that led to this, or specific animosity or any disrespect shown,” Vandekamp said. “We were operating the hockey team the way we’ve always operated the hockey team.”

Under Vandekamp and assistant Dustin Donaghy, a former WHL player, the Clippers were 18-13-3-2 and second in the Island Division. Under Darren Naylor, the Clippers are 4-7-0-0 and have slipped to third, five points behind the Powell River Kings and Victoria Grizzlies.

Sakaki’s complete story is right here.


Scoreboard

FRIDAY:

At Prince Albert, F Kody McDonald had a goal and two assists against his old club as the Raiders beat the Prince George Cougars, 6-2. . . . Prince Albert (19-20-9) has points in four PrinceAlbertstraight (3-0-1) and remains four points behind Saskatoon in the chase for a wild-card spot. . . . Prince George (18-24-7) is 10 points out of a playoff spot. This was the start of a six-game East Division trek for Prince George. . . . McDonald opened the scoring with his 23rd goal, while shorthanded, at 3:51 of the first period. . . . F Josh Maser tied it with No. 22 at 9:48. . . . F Jordy Stallard (32) put the Raiders back out front at 9:48. . . . F Liam Ryan (2) got the visitors even again at 6:03 of the second period. . . . The Raiders scored the game’s last four goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (20) snapped the tie at 16:20. . . . F Curtis Miske (16) upped the lead to 4-2 at 1:21 of the third period. . . . F Cole Fonstad (13), just back from the Top Prospects game, scored at 8:36 and F Sean Montgomery (11) added a PP goal at 10:20. . . . Stallard, Montgomery and Parker each added an assist for the Raiders. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Cougars were 0-5. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Prince George got 29 stops from G Tavin Grant. . . . F Brogan O’Brien, who last played on Dec. 10, was back in the Cougars’ lineup. . . . The Raiders were without F Regan Nagy, whose right knee injury apparently isn’t as bad as it looked when it happened. “I think we dodged a bullet there,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “He was X-Rayed, MRI’d, and they all came back clear. It seemed there was a lot of trauma in that area, but he seems to have dodged a bullet and he’s pretty much day-to-day. As soon as he can play, he can play.” . . . Announced attendance: 1,896.


At Saskatoon, G Nolan Maier stopped 20 shots to lead the Blades to a 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Saskatoon (24-23-3) had lost its previous two games. It holds Saskatoondown the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points behind Regina. . . . Edmonton (13-28-7) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Maier, who turned 17 on Jan. 10, has two shutouts this season. He is 16-9-1, 3.18, .904. . . . F Josh Paterson (24) scored the game’s first goal, at 3:05 of the first period. . . . F Max Gerlach (23) scored a PP goal at 6:07, and D Jackson Caller (3) made it 3-0 at 9:20. . . . The Blades got a second-period goal from F Michael Farren (4), on a PP, at 17:03, and one in the third from F Braylon Shmyr (25), at 12:39. . . . Saskatoon got two assists from F Kirby Dach, with Gerlach and Paterson each adding one. . . . Saskatoon was 2-11 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-3. . . . Edmonton took 17 of the game’s 25 minor penalties. . . . G Josh Dechaine started for the Oil Kings and was beaten three times on eight shots in 10:13. Todd Scott finished up by stopping 17 of 19 shots in 49:47. . . . The Blades had F Caleb Fantillo back in their lineup. He hadn’t played since Nov. 29. . . . D Dawson Davidson (ill) was among Saskatoon’s scratches, ending his chance of playing 73 games this season. The Blades acquired him from Regina earlier this month. . . . Announced attendance: 3,309.


At Lethbridge, F Brayden Burke scored in OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Moose Jaw (39-7-3) has won four straight and leads the MooseJawWarriorsoverall standings by 11 points over Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (22-21-6) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Warriors took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Tristin Langan (13), at 11:35, and F Justin Almeida (29), on a PP, at 13:24. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon (5) got the home boys to within a goal at 19:45. . . . F Jadon Joseph (6) forced OT with a goal at 19:34 of the third period. . . . Burke, who was acquired from the Hurricanes last season, won it with his 23rd goal of the season at 2:38 of extra time. He leads the WHL scoring race with 95 points, three more than teammate Jayden Halbgewachs. . . . D Kale Clague drew three assists for Moose Jaw, with Burke and Almeida getting one apiece. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-1. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . G Logan Flodell stopped 30 shots for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes are without F Taylor Ross and F Dylan Cozens, while D Jett Woo remains out of Moose Jaw’s lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 4,158.


At Medicine Hat, D Cal Foote’s OT goal gave the Kelowna Rockets a 4-3 victory over the Tigers. . . . Kelowna (31-14-3) has won three straight and leads the Western Conference by KelownaRocketsone point over Everett. . . . Medicine Hat (25-19-6) went to OT for the fifth time seven games. It leads the Central Division by six points over Lethbridge. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s last three goals, Foote winning it with his 10th goal on a breakaway at 3:01 of extra time. . . . F Mark Rassell gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with goals at 0:42 and 5:43 of the first period. He has 41 goals, the third player this season to surpass 40. . . . F Leif Mattson (16) got Kelowna on the scoreboard at 19:45. . . . F Jaeger White (8) restored Medicine Hat’s two-goal lead at 17:39 of the second period. . . . F Kole Lind (25) got the visitors to within a goal at 5:20 of the third period, and F Conner Bruggen-Cate (14) tied it at 8:14. . . . D Gordie Ballhorn had two assists for Kelowna. . . . The Rockets were 1-2 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-1. . . . G Brodan Salmond stopped 29 shots for Kelowna, four fewer than Medicine Hat’s Michael Bullion. . . . F Dillon Dube was among Kelowna’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,041.


At Cranbrook, B.C., F Alec Baer and D Martin Bodak each scored twice to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 6-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings Kings. . . . Kootenay (22-23-3) Kootenaynewhas won two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, three points behind Lethbridge. . . . Brandon (28-16-5) has lost seven straight (0-4-3). It remains third in the East Division, six points ahead of Regina. . . . The same two teams will play in Cranbrook again tonight. . . . Last night, the Ice led 5-0 at 10:53 of the second period. . . . Bodak, who has five goals, got it started at 10:14 of the first period. Baer, on a PP, made it 2-0 at 13:00. . . . F Peyton Krebs (11) upped it to 3-0 at 1:22 of the second period. . . . F Sebastian Streu (7) made it 4-0, on a PP, at 4:28 and Baer’s 20th made it 5-0, on another PP, at 10:53. . . . Bodak added a third-period goal. . . . F Luka Burzan (7) and F Evan Weinger (23) scored for Brandon. . . . The Ice got three assists from F Brett Davis and two from F Colton Kroeker, with Baer adding one. . . . Kootenay was 3-3 on the PP; Brandon was 1-5. . . . G Matt Berlin stopped 21 shots for the home side. . . . Brandon’s Dylan Myskiw turned aside 27 shots. . . . The Wheat Kings will wrap up a seven-game road trip tonight. . . . Announced attendance: 2,230.


At Kamloops, head coach Don Hay tied the WHL’s career record for regular-season victories with No. 742 as the Blazers skated to a 5-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Hay Kamloops1now shares the record with long-time Edmonton/Portland coach Ken Hodge. Hay’s first opportunity to break the record comes tonight in a rematch with Portland. . . . Kamloops (22-23-3) has won four in a row but is still six points away from a playoff spot. . . . . Portland (28-16-4) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, four points behind Everett. . . . F Connor Zary (5) gave the home team a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:17 of the first period. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie (36) tied it, on a PP, at 9:18. . . . The Blazers went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Justin Sigrist (2), at 10:44, and F Jermaine Loewen, at 12:24. . . . Sigrist hadn’t scored opening night when he notched the Blazers’ first goal of the season in a 6-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . F Jake Gricius (10) added a Portland goal, on a PP, at 4:12 of the third period. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (16) provided some insurance at 14:20, and Loewen (23) got the empty-netter, at 18:23. . . . Portland was 2-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-2. . . . Blazers G Dylan Ferguson was the game’s first star, with 30 saves. . . . Portland G Cole Kehler, 20, stopped 20 shots. The Winterhawks acquired him from Kamloops on July 21, 2016, for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . It was a homecoming for F Ty Kolle and D John Ludvig of the Winterhawks. Both played their first WHL games in their hometown. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without top forwards Cody Glass and Kieffer Bellows, who have combined for 47 goals. . . . With the injuries, the Winterhawks have added F Seth Jarvis, a first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, to their roster. Jarvis, who turns 16 on Feb. 1, plays at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. . . . Kamloops F/D Tylor Ludwar didn’t return after his head and the right elbow of Portland D Matthew Quigley came into contact at 18:11 of the second period. It would be safe to assume that Ludwar is in concussion protocol. . . . Announced attendance: 3,721.


At Langley, B.C., F Tanner Kaspick’s second goal of the game, in OT, gave the Victoria Royals a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Victoria (28-17-4) is second in the B.C. VictoriaRoyalsDivision, five points behind Kelowna. . . . The Giants (25-16-8) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). They are third in the B.C. Division, two points behind Victoria. . . . F Dawson Holt (8) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 2:54 of the first period. . . . Victoria tied it on F Andrei Grishakov’s 15th goal, at 7:34. . . . F Tyler Benson put the Giants back out front at 9:22. . . . The Royals took a 3-2 lead on second-period PP goals from Kaspick, at 7:25, and F Matthew Phillips (33), at 10:28. . . . Benson’s 19th goal at 19:06 of the third period forced OT. . . . Kaspick won it with his 16th goal at 2:28 of extra time. . . . Phillips added an assist to his goal for the Royals, while Holt did the same with the Giants. . . . Victoria was 2-5 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-4. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 22 shots for the winners. . . . The Giants got 28 stops from G David Tendeck. . . . Announced attendance: 3,357.


At Everett, F Matt Fonteyne broke a 1-1 tie 34 seconds into the second period and the Silvertips went on to a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (31-16-2) has Everettwon eight in a row and leads the U.S. Division by four points over Portland. . . . Seattle (25-17-6) had a five-game winning streak end. It is third in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of Spokane. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (14) put the home team out front at 9:25 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it at 11:50 on a PP goal from D Austin Strand (16). He has 11 PP goals this season. . . . Fonteyne put the home side ahead 2-1 with his 29th goal, on a PP. . . . F Connor Dewar added insurance at 9:40 of the third period. . . . Fonteyne also had an assist. . . . Seattle was 1-4 on the PP; Everett was 1-5. . . . G Carter Hart earned the victory with 20 saves, 10 more than Seattle’s Liam Hughes, who had missed the previous five games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Hart now is 18-3-1, 1.33, .958. . . . Seattle lost F Sami Moilanen in the second period with an undisclosed injury. . . . Everett F Sean Richards sat this one out as he began serving a two-game suspension. . . . He also will miss tonight’s rematch in Kent, Wash. . . . Announced attendance: 8,164.


SATURDAY (all times local):

Edmonton at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Regina at Swift Current, 2:30 p.m.

Prince George at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Kelowna at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Calgary at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Mohr back from facial injury . . . Young Stars tourney is on . . . Adding two more sets of twins

MacBeth

D Richie Regehr (Kelowna, Portland, 1998-2004) has been released by mutual agreement by Klagenfurt (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). According to the club, Regehr suffered a “serious upper body injury” at the end of September and had a setback when he returned to practice. He had one goal and one assist in six games. . . .

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-05) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after his release by mutual agreement by Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 24 games. . . .

D Alex Roach (Calgary, 2010-14) has been assigned on loan by Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL) to Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2) for the duration of the DEL Olympics break. He had three assists in 25 games. . . . The DEL breaks after games on Feb 2 until Feb 28. The DEL2 doesn’t have a break.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On Dec. 3, with Edmonton playing against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, Oil Kings F Kobe Mohr was struck by a puck just below his left eye.

The 18-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., now has three plates in his face. As he told EdmontonOilKingsDerek Van Diest of Postmedia, he ended up with a broken orbital bone, broken tear duct and broken nose.

“Right away, I soaked the ice up pretty good in blood and I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe and I knew my nose was broken for sure and something was wrong with my eye because I couldn’t see,” Mohr told Van Diest. “But I wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong. The first thing was just the pain. I was squirming out there, I couldn’t really control it and the trainer came out and got me off the ice as fast as I could and got me stitched up and took me straight to the hospital, so it was a pretty quick process, which was pretty good.”

He was back in the lineup on Jan. 9, meaning he missed only 13 games.

Van Diest’s story, complete with a post-injury selfie, is right here.


On Thursday, Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) tweeted a list of the top 10 WHL teams in terms of regular-season victories from September 2003 through last night. I have added to his list by including WHL championships won during that time in parentheses:

  1. Kelowna 639 (3)
  2. Medicine Hat 623 (2)
  3. Calgary 602 (1)
  4. Tri-City 575 (0)
  5. Brandon 573 (1)
  6. Spokane 548 (1)
  7. Portland 547 (1)
  8. Everett 543 (0)
  9. Kootenay 533 (1)
  10. Vancouver 529 (1)

NOTE: Edmonton (2) and Seattle (1) aren’t in the top 10 in victories in that time period, but have won championships.


It seems that there will be Young Stars tournament in Penticton this year, but if you read between the lines it sounds like there may be changes in store.

Trevor Linden, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, has told Kristi Patton of the Penticton Western News that his team is committed to playing in the preseason rookie tournament this year.

“While the format and number of participating teams may change,” Linden said, “we’ve confirmed our continued participation this year. We’ll have more details to share in the near future.”

Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton’s mayor and the event’s chairman, told Patton: “Right now, I’m confident there will be an event this fall. Whatthe shape, size or scope of teams is, I can’t confirm or deny yet.”

In recent years, the Canucks team has faced teams from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The tournament is held in the first half of September, although this year’s dates have yet to be announced.


Attention WHL franchise owners . . .

Darren Rovell, a senior writer with ESPN, filed a piece Thursday explaining what happened when the the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons cut concession prices.

“Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group . . . told ESPN that although food and beverage prices were 50 percent lower in its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium than the prices in the Georgia Dome the previous year, fans spent 16 percent more,” Rovell writes.

Rovell’s story is right here.


If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that organ donation is a big deal in our home.

On Thursday, I stumbled on a truly interesting story involving a 60-year-old single father of five who was in dire need of a kidney. So on a trip to Disney World, he wore a special t-shirt.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His story is right here.


If you like what you get here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.

Enjoy!


We are adding two more sets of twins to our WHL Twins Wall of Fame, both brought to our attention via readers of this blog.

We start today with Brent and Kyle Howarth, forwards from St. Andrews, Man. Brent whlplayed three seasons (2003-06) with the Kelowna Rockets, while Kyle was with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Spokane Chiefs and Prince Albert Raiders. Now 31, they did play together with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers in 2002-03 and 2006-07. In fact, they helped the Keith Cassidy-coached Steelers win the 2006-07 MJHL title. Kyle put up 141 points, including 103 assists, in 58 games, while Brent had 131 points, 49 of them goals, in 59 games.

We also have been reminded about Taylor and Travis Sanheim, the pride of Elkhorn, Man., which is also the hometown of Sheldon Kennedy. Taylor and Travis, now 21, played together with the Calgary Hitmen.

Taylor, a forward, played two-plus seasons (2014-17) with the Hitmen; Travis was there for three seasons (2013-16).

Now 21, Taylor is playing senior hockey in Saskatchewan, while Travis is in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

——

Twins who played together . . .

Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)

Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)

Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)

Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)

Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)

Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)

Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)

——

Twins who played but not together . . .

Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)

Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)

Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)

Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)

——

Officials who are twins and work together . . .

Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Prince George at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Hay closing in on top spot in WHL record book . . . One victory from Hodge’s long-standing mark . . . Standard may fall this weekend

Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, goes into this weekend with 741 regular-season WHL coaching victories. That is one off the record of 742 that has been held by Ken Hodge since 1993.

Hodge was a long-time head coach with the Portland Winterhawks, who will play in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday nights. The teams then will head for Portland and a Sunday date.

At the same time, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, is in search of his 300th regular-season victory, all of the with Portland. He will become the 23rd coach in WHL history with at least 300 victories.

On top of that, the Winterhawks will be playing their 3,000th regular-season WHL game on Friday night.

Before the 2015-16 WHL season began, Hay and I sat down for coffee and a chat. What follows is the I wrote for The Coaches Site.


It was late on the afternoon of May 21, 1995.

There was pandemonium in Riverside Coliseum, the home arena of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, who had just beaten the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, to win their third Memorial Cup championship in four years.

Don Hay, the Kamloops native who was the Blazers’ head coach, stood in their dressing room and watched the celebration carrying on around him.

More than 20 years later, he recalls: “I was in the dressing room going, ‘What am I going

DonHay
Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, has held a lot of media scrums during his lengthy coaching career. (Photo: Gregg Drinnan)

to do now? What am I going to do now? Am I going to quit the Blazers?’ ”

Hay had been on the Blazers’ coaching staff for 10 years at that point, the last three as head coach. Earlier, when he was an assistant coach, he also was a Kamloops firefighter.

“Coaching was different then,” he says. “Believe it or not, there’s more security now than there was then, and I had a good job (with the fire department).”

History shows that Hay didn’t get out of the coaching game, and he never returned to the firehall. He moved on to the NHL, came back to the WHL, and then returned to the NHL before once again coming back to the WHL.

He’s back in Kamloops now, as the Blazers’ head coach, and he is really comfortable being back home.

In a lengthy conversation with the 2015-16 WHL season on the horizon, Hay touches on a lot of things and tells some stories.

—————

Tom Renney had been the head coach when the Blazers began that Memorial Cup run by winning the 1992 championship in Seattle. After that victory, Renney signed a two-year contract with the Blazers. However, he wasn’t in Kamloops long enough to get it started.

During the summer, Dave King left Hockey Canada, where he had been head coach of the national men’s team. Hockey Canada asked Renney if he wanted that job.

“That was always Tom’s dream job, to coach the national team,” Hay says. “He grew up in Nelson watching the (Trail) Smokies and teams like that, and his dad was into that. So he left in the middle of July.”

That’s when Blazers general manager Bob Brown asked Hay, a seven-year assistant coach, if he wanted to succeed Renney.

Interestingly, Hay actually had taken a bit of a step back from the Blazers. His children were old enough that they were getting actively involved in sports and he was able to spend more time with them. And, of course, there was the job with the Kamloops Fire Department.

“I had to take a two-year leave of absence from the firehall,” Hay recalls. “I wasn’t going to go anywhere else to coach. I wasn’t going to leave the security of the firehall. I actually took a paycut to come and coach the Blazers.”

Hay signed a two-year contract as the Blazers’ head coach. That contract was up after the Blazers won the 1994 Memorial Cup in Laval, Que.

“That was the end of my two years,” Hay says. “We had just won the Memorial Cup and I had to make a decision whether I’m going to go back to the firehall.”

Except that the Blazers were to be the host team for the 1995 Memorial Cup tournament.

“So,” Hay says, “they said, ‘Take another year but this is your last year.’ ”

—————

After the Blazers won the 1992 Memorial Cup, they went young with, Hay says, “I think five 16-year-olds.” He also pointed to a “key trade” that Brown made in acquiring goaltender Steve Passmore from the Victoria Cougars “to stabilize our group.”

Passmore returned as a 20-year-old for 1993-94.

“The team to beat that season was Portland,” Hay says. “They had (Adam) Deadmarsh and (Jason) Wiemer and (Scott) Langkow in goal. They had a good team. Langkow got hurt during the season so we had jumped them in the standings.”

Kamloops and Portland met up in the West Division final, with the Blazers, who had finished seven points ahead of the Winterhawks, holding home-ice advantage.

“Game 1 and 2, we won,” Hay remembers. “Game 3 and 4, they won. Game 5, back here, Kamloops1we won that to go up 3-2. Down in Portland for Game 6, Jarome Iginla, who was 16, got the first goal and then Scott Ferguson scored late in the game and we ended up winning the series. It was something that wasn’t expected.”

The Blazers then took out the Saskatoon Blades in a seven-game championship final.

“We went to Laval and it was like, ‘Boy, it all came together.’ So we unexpectedly won in ’94.”

The following season, as Hay puts it, “We had a really strong team. I think we went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country.”

In the end, they came up against the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL final. With the Blazers the host team for the Memorial Cup, both teams knew they would be advancing. Still, as the series progressed, Hay found himself having to make a key decision.

With the series using a 2-3-2 format, the Wheat Kings won the opener in Kamloops.

“The second game,” Hay explains, “we were down and we make the decision to pull the goalie, Roddie Branch, and we put in Randy Petruk.”

Petruk, a 16-year-old from Cranbrook, had gotten into 27 games as a freshman, going 16-3-4. Still, he was 16 years of age. Branch was 20.

“Petruk won eight straight games after that,” Hay says. “We were down 2-0 going to Brandon. We won all three games in Brandon and came back here to win Game 6 in our building. He won those four games and then he won four games at the Memorial Cup as a 16-year-old.”

That was the last time Hay turned to a 16-year-old goaltender. Still, he says that experience is why he didn’t have any problem turning to 17-year-old Tyson Sexsmith in 2006-07 when he needed a goaltender with the Vancouver Giants the host team for the 2007 Memorial Cup. Hay went to Sexsmith early on, and the kid got into 51 regular-season games and 22 more in the playoffs.

The Giants lost to Willie Desjardins and the Medicine Hat Tigers in seven games in the WHL final that year — “That playoff against Medicine Hat was as good as any playoff I’ve been in,” Hay says — but later beat the Tigers 2-1 in the Memorial Cup final in Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.

The Giants had won the 2006 WHL title under Hay, but lost a semifinal game at the Memorial Cup in Moncton.

—————

When Hay ended a three-season professional playing career, he returned to Kamloops and was prepared to work as a firefighter and coach minor hockey.

He also was in on the ground floor with the Kamloops Cowboys, a short-lived senior team that played in a league with the likes of the Quesnel Kangaroos, who featured the legendary Gassoff boys, Prince George Mohawks and North Delta Hurricanes.

Hay’s coaching career began innocuously enough when the Cowboys’ coach skipped a practice.

“One day our coach got mad at our group and didn’t show up,” Hay recalls. “We’re sitting in the dressing room, going, ‘Who wants to run practice?’

“I said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try,’ and I became kind of the player-coach.”

As he got involved in coaching minor hockey, he worked hard to get his coaching levels. As he says, “They wouldn’t give me a head-coaching job because I didn’t have my levels.”

He got the levels and was quite content coaching minor hockey. Then came the phone call that would change everything. It was the summer of 1985 and Ken Hitchcock was preparing for his second season as the Blazers’ head coach.

“I didn’t know him at all,” Hay says. “He said, ‘Come on down for a coffee. I want to meet you.’ I went down there and by the time I left he offered me a part-time assistant-coaching job.”

Hay’s head was spinning as he went home. He was 31 years of age and knew he wanted to give it a shot.

He remembers going home and saying to his wife, Vicki: “Just let me try this for a year. I can work it around my shifts.”

It was a part-time gig and he wouldn’t be making road trips. At least that was the plan at the start.

“But the more you got into it,” Hay says, “the more you were there all the time. I said, ‘Just let me try it for a year’ and it’s been ever since.”

Of course, if Hay thought he was a coach then, he admits that he quickly underwent an attitude adjustment.

“I remember my first practice with Hitch,” Hay says. “I thought being an ex-pro player, I knew everything. I found out I didn’t know anything.

“He was a student of the game. He had gone to watch the Oilers practice with Glen Sather. He had spent time with Clare Drake in Edmonton. Hitch used to watch Sather with Gretzky, Kurri, Coffey . . .”

Hay spent five years working with Hitchcock, and they made two trips to the Memorial Cup — 1986 in Portland and 1990 in Hamilton.

“That 1990 team . . . it was a good team,” he says. “Lennie Barrie. Dave Chyzowski. We got Clayton Young in a trade from Victoria. He got 100 points. He was our fourth-line centre. We had an awesome team. We had some great teams here.”

It was Hitchcock who pushed Hay towards Hockey Canada. It was Hitchcock who prodded Hay until he got involved in the U-17 program that was in its infancy. Hay was one of the coaches when some B.C. teams gathered at Memorial Arena in Kamloops.

“That was the first year of the program,” Hay says. “Bob Nicholson was the head of B.C. amateur hockey. I can remember we were representing Okanagan and we were playing a Lower Mainland team. The first period was all penalties.

“Bob was there and he said, ‘If you guys can’t get this thing straightened out we might not have this program.’

“It was a startup program; they wanted to identify the best players. It obviously ended up fine and things moved on.”

—————

A lot of ice has been made since Hay got into the coaching game. When he first started coaching, who would have seen cell phones and social media on the horizon?

“The players have changed. The coaches have changed,” Hay says. “At one time you had one coach. Now you have an assistant coach . . . some people have two assistant coaches. We have a couple of part-time guys. . . .  The players have so many resources now . . . video, YouTube.

“At one time we had nothing. Then we had VHS for a long time. My first year in Vancouver we had a computer and I was a little leery about how this thing all worked.”

Hay pauses, and then he chuckles.

“In 1990, Len Barrie had the first cell phone. He was in the back of the bus with this great big cell phone like this,” Hay says, and he holds his hands about a foot apart.”

Yes, even the t-shirts have changed.

“In ’94 in Laval, we had Stanfield underwear that we would write things on with a Sharpie,” Hay says. “Now you get a new t-shirt with something written on it.”

The way Hay sees it, everything has changed.

“The kids have really changed,” he says, but he adds that a lot of that is because “technology has changed. . . . Society has changed.”

He thinks back 15 or 20 years and remembers when coaches and players read The Hockey News on the bus “to find out what was going on” in the NHL and the three major junior leagues.

Hay was the head coach of the Canadian team that played in the 1995 World Junior Championship in Red Deer. He remembers attending a summer session in Red Deer . . .

“The Quebec guys sat over there. The Ontario guys sat over there. The Western Hockey League guys sat over there. Nobody knew each other,” he says. “The only guy they knew was Brett Lindros because he was such a recognizable guy. People didn’t know who Bryan McCabe was. Nobody knew what was happening.”

These days, thanks at least in part to social media, everyone knows everyone and many players are in regular contact with each other.

This, of course, has led to rules regarding the use of phones and social media.

“We have no phones at meals,” Hay says. “When you come in the dressing room, you put your phone away.”

When the Blazers travel to Vancouver, for example, the players have to turn off their phones once they reach Chilliwack.

“You have to explain why you’re doing it,” Hay says. “You’re doing it so they can focus and concentrate.”

A chuckle follows.

“I remember one time when we were playing in Swift Current and staying in Medicine Hat,” he says. “We got back and I was upset after we lost.”

Hay ordered his player to go “straight to your rooms.”

Except that Darcy Tucker chimed in with: “I have to phone my mom and dad.”

So, as Hay recalls, “They all lined up at the pay phone.”

Another pause. Another chuckle. He has asked players what they would rather give up — a hot shower or the cell phone.

“They would all rather shower in cold water than give up their cell phones,” he says with a laugh.

Hay also points out that dealing with cell phones and social media is “part of the discussion” at all levels of hockey, including the World Junior Championship. “How are we going to handle cell phones and computers and things like that? You want the focus to be on the task at hand, but the phone has become such a big part of their lives.”

Helping players learn to deal with social media, as Hay points out, is part of a coach’s responsibility. The WHL has rules regarding the use of social media because, as Hay says, “We don’t want the players embarrassing themselves.”

He adds: “They’re young people. They have to learn the right decision-making. I always tell the players ‘my job is to not only teach you hockey skills, but to teach you life skills.’

“The biggest life skill is making good decisions.”

—————

If Hay has learned one thing in his coaching career, it is that the only constant in hockey is change. That is something that he doesn’t see changing, either.

“The kids are more educated; they’re more aware,” he says. “They’re well coached. They’re probably not as coachable . . . not open to change at times. That’s probably the biggest thing.

“As coaches, we have to change with the times and the players. The players have got to change and adapt, also. Sometimes there’s stubbornness to change on both sides.”

However, as he is quick to point out, it is “the coachable guys who have a chance to become players.”

He quickly names four former WHLers who went on to play in the NHL and in a couple of sentences he explains how they got there. “Chris Murray, Darcy Tucker, Milan Lucic, Brendan Gallagher . . . those guys would come to the rink every day wanting to get better,” Hay says. “They wanted to know, ‘What can you teach me today?’ If they got corrected, they would try to do it (better) and please you. That’s what coachability is all about. They had to work to get where they wanted to get to.”

Of course, nothing is like it used to be. Hockey didn’t use to be all about systems. Oh, sure, coaches worked on defensive zone coverages and such, but . . .

“It wasn’t like it is now; no doubt about it,” Hay says. “Games were like 8-6 and 9-7. There were systems, but not as detailed as they are today and not as structured as they are today. That’s probably the biggest change I’ve seen in my time.”

When Hay left for the first time after the 1994-95 season, he left behind a WHL that, as he puts it, “was still a pretty explosive league with lots of goals.” It’s not like that now and one of the main reasons, he suggests, is that the “coaches are more educated now.”

Hockey coaches, as a rule, love to share. They spend their summers attending coaching clinics, either as presenters or participants. Hay is no exception.

“I learned from Hitch to give back,” Hay says. “Give back to the community that helps you. Every summer I try to either present at a coaches clinic or go to a coaches clinic. It’s important to continue to learn. You pick up one or two things that you think can help you have success and I think that’s important.”

As for the future of the game, he sees hockey “going to more of a development model.” It starts with the increase in the number of coaches being hired in the pro game.

“You look at the (Chicago) Blackhawks and their farm team,” he says. “They had a head coach, an assistant coach . . . they had special assignment coaches. They had a faceoff guy, a goalie guy, a defence guy, a forward guy, a penalty-killer guy. They’re trying to teach their players as much as they can because of the salary cap . . . they have to replace these guys with younger guys.”

The people who run junior teams are paying attention, too. In the case of the Blazers, Hay says they spent the first two days of their training camp on skill development. They brought in Dallas Stars goaltending coach Jeff Reese.

“We also did defencemen development. We did forward development,” Hay says. The focus on skill development has meant one other thing, too.

“You want to get to your group as quick as possible so you can start working with them and start developing them,” he says.

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Hay returned to Kamloops as the Blazers’ head coach over the summer of 2014. He had spent the previous 10 years as the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. Ron Toigo, the Giants’ majority owner, let Hay out of the final year of a contract in order to allow him to return to his hometown.

“I had 10 really good years in Vancouver,” Hay says. “The opportunity came probably at the right time for everybody. I didn’t think the opportunity would come, to be able to come back. Things just didn’t match up along the way. When I was looking for a job, the Blazers had a quality coach. When they needed a coach, I had a job.”

Hay seems completely at peace with where he is at this stage of his life. He is 61 now, and he’s back home and surrounded by family.

“It feels different,” he says of being back in Kamloops. “It feels good but it feels different.”

These days, with Hay into his second season in his second stay with his hometown Blazers, he seems really comfortable with his lot in life.

While son Darrell continues to play professionally — he is a defenceman with the Sheffield Steelers of Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League — Hay is in close proximity to his and Vicki’s twin daughters. Angela, who is married to former WHL goaltender Thomas Vicars, lives in Salmon Arm, while Ashly, who was married in July, lives in Kamloops.

“This is home. I was born and raised here. I came back every summer. It’s not like I left Kamloops and never came back. I have always felt that Kamloops is home. I enjoyed my time in Vancouver and the people I met there and the people I worked with there. I just didn’t think the opportunity would ever present itself.”