Lawsuit info for players on WHL site. . . . Oil Kings get forward from Americans. . . . Raiders set to open Memorial Cup tonight


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D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser University (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists in 24 games. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenceman, and was a first team all-star. . . .

D Shaun Heshka (Everett, 2003-06) had his contract option year exercised by Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Mikhail Fisenko (Vancouver, Calgary, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and four assists in 53 games. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-season contract with the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). This season, with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games, and six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . .

F Troy Bourke (Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he had one goal and five assists. In 30 games with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), he had 11 goals and 34 assists. He led Orlando in assists and was second in points. . . .


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The WHL’s website has a new section. If you visit the website and click on the tab titled whlTHE WHL, you will note that the top item is WHL Class Action Lawsuit.

Included therein is a Notice of Certification and an Opt-Out Form.

Of course, this all has to do with the class-action lawsuit that has been filed against the CHL, including the WHL, as the notice on the website reads, “alleging that the class members are employees of their clubs and/or of the WHL and CHL, and are therefore entitled to employment benefits including minimum wage and overtime pay.”

The information on the website is aimed at players who were or are with teams located in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan during time periods that are specified in the posted information.

The notice reads: “If you fall within one or more of these definitions, you will be included in the class action unless you choose to opt out of the class action by following the steps listed below.”

Players have until July 14 to make a decision.

In other words, if you are or were a WHL player, you need to visit the WHL website and take a look right here.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired F Riley Sawchuk, 20, from the Tri-City Americans EdmontonOilKingsfor a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Sawchuk, who is from Prince Albert, had 20 goals and 33 assists in 67 games. In 195 regular-season games, all with the Americans, he had 37 goals and 47 assists. . . . The Americans selected Sawchuk in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Sawchuk’s departure leaves the Americans with five 1999-born players on their roster — F Krystof Hrabik, who is from Czech Republic, F Kyle Olson, D Riley Bruce, D Dom Schmiemann, and G Beck Warm. . . . The Oil Kings may lose their top three scorers from this season — F Quinn Benjafield and F Vince Loschiavo have completed their junior eligibility, while F Trey Fix-Wolansky, 20, has signed with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Sawchuk joins F Zach Russell, D Will Warm, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw as potential 20-year-olds on Edmonton’s roster.


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The Memorial Cup opens in Halifax today (Friday) with the WHL-champion Prince Albert PrinceAlbertRaiders meeting the host Mooseheads. . . . The Raiders will be trying to snap a 10-game losing streak by WHL champions that goes back to 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets beat the host Quebec Remparts, 9-3, in the semifinal on May 29. The Oshawa Generals beat the Rockets, 2-1 in OT, in the final two days later to start the WHL’s lengthy skid. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings went 0-3 in 2016, followed by the Seattle Thunderbirds (0-3, 2017) and Swift Current Broncos (0-3, 2018). . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt is behind the bench for a sixth time at the Memorial Cup. He was there with the 1997 Lethbridge Hurricanes, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Kelowna Rockets, and the 2016 Red Deer Rebels. He was the head coach of the 2005 Rockets; in the other instances, he was an assistant coach. . . . There is speculation that the Kamloops Blazers, looking for a coach to replace Serge Lajoie, want to chat with Truitt once the tournament is over. . . .
If you haven’t seen this piece right here by Jason Gregor, do yourself a favour and give it a read. He was in the stands for Game 7 on Monday in Prince Albert. A radio guy in Edmonton, Jason doesn’t often get to be a fan. But he was on this night because he had a nephew in the game. Oh, and Noah Gregor scored twice and set up the OT winner.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Niall Crocker, who was a first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Crocker, from Delta., B.C., will turn 15 on July 31. He had 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team.


The Everett Silvertips have signed G Keegan Karki, 19, who is a native of Sartell, Minn. According to eliteprospects.com, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Karki played only five games this season — three with the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays and two with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. . . . Karki had committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks more than three years ago, but later was decommitted. He also had a stint with the U.S. National Development Team Program.


Gary Samis, who had been the corporate sales manager with the Prince George Cougars, has died. Samis was 67 when he died in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. . . . Hartley Miller has more right here.


Curtis Brolund has been named the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba AAA U-18 Hockey League. The league previously was known as the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Brolund, who played two seasons with the team, has been an assistant coach with the Wheat Kings for eight seasons. . . . Brolund takes over from Ken Schneider, who stepped in on an interim basis after head coach Chris Johnston was fired early in January.


Dennis Kubat is the new head coach of the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Kubat was an assistant coach with the Trojans this season. . . . Kubat, 31, is from Outlook, Sask. . . . The Trojans also have named Cole Simpson as general manager. Simpson, 33, is from Tisdale. A defenceman in his playing days, he played four seasons (2004-07) in the WHL, splitting time with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Trojans chose not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, who had been their GM and head coach, after their season ended.


The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has hired Aaron Keller has its technical director and coach co-ordinator. . . . According to a news release, Keller’s “focus will be the development of KMHA’s players through the development of its coaches.” . . . Keller played in the KMHA before spending four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers and helping them win two Memorial Cup titles. He later spent 17 seasons playing professionally in Japan. Since returning from Japan, he has helped the Blazers’ coaching staff. . . . As well, the KMHA has added Lucas Gore as its goaltending coach. Gore, from Kamloops, played three seasons (2008-11) with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins.


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

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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.

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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.