Pats, Chiefs sign import skaters . . . Moose Jaw d-man has KHL tryout . . . Americans add former Calgary forward


MacBeth

D Dmitri Zaitsev (Moose Jaw, 2016-18) signed a tryout contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had six goals and 22 assists in 62 games with Moose Jaw. . . . Zaitsev’s contract lasts through the end of the exhibition season, after which the two sides will decide on extending the contract. Metallurg plays its first exhibition game on Aug. 4 and its last on Aug. 26. The KHL regular season begins on Sept. 1. . . .

D Andrej Meszároš (Vancouver, 2004-05) signed a one-year contract extension with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). The team captain, he had six goals and 11 assists in 51 games last season. . . .

D David Turoň (Portland, 2002-03) signed a one-year extension with Polonia Bytom (Poland, PHL). Last season, he had eight goals and 15 assists in 38 games.


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The Regina Pats have signed both of their selections from the CHL’s 2018 import draft — PatsRussian F Sergei Alkhimov and Russian D Nikita Sedov, both of whom played last season with the Colorado Evolution, a U-16 midget team that plays out of the Evolution Elite Hockey Academy in Denver. . . . Alkhimov, 17, recorded eight goals and 15 assists in 13 games, while Sedov, also 17, had three goals and eight assists in 11 games. . . . According to the Pats, both players are “in training camp with Team Russia, competing for spots at the 2018 Gretzky Hlinka Cup.” . . . Sergei Bautin, a Russian defenceman who played with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (1992-94), is the head coach of the Evolution Elite midget team. John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager, was the Jets’ head coach when Bautin played in Winnipeg.


D Dmitri Zaitsev, 20, who played the past two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, has MooseJawWarriorssigned a tryout deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, a Russian team in the KHL. The MacBeth Report spells out the details of the agreement above. . . . Zaitsev is from Togliatti, Russia, and played for Metallurg’s youth teams, before coming over to the NAHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights for the 2015-16 season. . . . He had two goals and 18 assists in 70 games with Moose Jaw in 2016-17, then had six goals and 22 assists in 61 games last season. . . . The Warriors also had Russian D Oleg Sosunov on their roster last season. Sosunov, 20, is expected to play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization in 2018-19. . . . The Warriors made two selections in the CHL’s 2018 import draft, taking F Daniil Stepanov, 17, from Belarus, and F Yegor Buyalsky, 17, who also is from Belarus.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed Russian D Yegor Arbuzov, 17, after selecting him in the SpokaneChiefsCHL’s 2018 import draft. He played last season for CSKA Moskva’s U-17 club, scoring eight goals and adding five assists in 22 games. . . . Arbuzov owns sophomore D Filip Kral as the Chiefs’ two import players. Kral, from Czech Republic, was the club’s rookie of the year last season, after putting up nine goals and 26 assists in 54 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft.


The Portland Winterhawks have added assistant general manager to Kyle Gustafson’s portfolio. Gustafson, who is preparing for his 15th season with the organization, also is Portlandthe associate head coach. . . . According to the Winterhawks, Gustafson “will take on an increased role in player recruitment and scouting. Travis Green, now the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, was the last person to hold the combined position with the Winterhawks.”

As well, Matt Coflin, Portland’s head scout in B.C. since 2012, now is the assistant to the general manager, director of scouting and player development. He will “oversee the Winterhawks’ scouting department, as well as the development of Portland’s list players.” Coflin has been with the Winterhawks for six seasons.

Lisa Hollenbeck, who had been director of hockey administration, now is senior director, hockey operations. She has been with Portland since 2011. According to the news release, “She will handle all hockey operations’ communications, fillings, reporting with WHL, while maintaining a working understanding of rules and regulations, and organizing training camp.”

Again, from the news release: “These moves come in response to former assistant general manager Matt Bardsley accepting the position of general manager with the Kamloops Blazers in May.”


The Tri-City Americans have signed F Matt Dorsey, 19, after he played last season with tri-citythe BCHL-champion Wenatchee Wild. Dorsey is from Wenatchee. . . . He had four goals and seven assists in 18 games with the Wild, then added two goals and an assist in 14 BCHL playoff games. . . . The Calgary Hitmen selected Dorsey in the third round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft after he had 32 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the U-14 Arizona Bobcats. . . . The Americans selected him in the 11th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . In 2016-17, he had three goals and three assists in 34 games with the Hitmen. . . . He missed most of two seasons (2014-16) with knee problems.

The Americans also have signed F Tyson Greenway, who was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Greenway had 21 goals and 26 assists in 34 games with the bantam AAA St. Albert Sabres last season. This season, he is expected to play with the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders.



The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Colum McGauley, 18, from the Kelowna SCBroncosRockets for an eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . McGauley had two goals in 47 games as a freshman with the Rockets last season. . . . From Nelson, B.C., he was a fourth-round pick by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Kelowna acquired him from Spokane for F Tanner Wishnowski on Oct. 17, 2016.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have added Nathan MacDonald to their front office as director of business operations. With his Chartered Accountant designation since 2011, he has been working with Crowe MacKay LLP in his hometown of Calgary for seven years. He takes over from Dianne Sletten, who left the organization on May 25. She had been with the Broncos through six seasons.


The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs have “released” Larry Draper, their assistant general manager and associate coach, “due to budget constraints and position reformation,” according to a post on the team’s website. . . . Draper had been with the Pontiacs for five seasons. . . . Rick Swan has been the Pontiacs’ GM and head coach since 2013.


Brian Lizotte has signed a three-year deal as head coach of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the defending Memorial Cup champions. . . . Lizotte takes over from Mario Pouliot, who left to join the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies as general manager and head coach. . . . Lizotte worked the past two seasons as associate coach alongside Pouliot.


Johnathan Aitken, a former NHL first-round draft pick off the roster of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is the first general manager and head coach of the Cold Lake, Alta., Wings, a franchise in the Western Provinces Hockey Association, which is part of the Western States Hockey League, a pay-to-play circuit that has branded itself as junior A. . . . Aitken, from Edmonton, has been coaching minor hockey in Edmonton. . . . Aitken, 40, played four seasons (1994-98) in the WHL, the first two with Medicine Hat and the last two with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Boston Bruins selected him eighth overall in the NHL’s 1996 draft. He went on to play 44 NHL games — three with the Bruins and 41 with the Chicago Blackhawks.


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Myth of junior hockey and national champions . . . Rizzo commits to UND . . . Hitmen sign two picks

It is time for hockey fans and the media alike to come to the realization, if they haven’t already, that events like the Memorial Cup and Royal Bank Cup don’t decide national championships.

They are entertainment vehicles and social gatherings and nothing more, and should be enjoyed as such.

They also are showcases for the players who are fortunate enough to get to participate in MemCupRegthe tournaments. Fans also are guaranteed to see some of the best teams in major junior and junior A hockey, so the games mostly are competitive and, as such, entertaining.

But so long as the formats include host teams and round-robin play, these events don’t culminate with the crowning of national champions.

The 2018 Memorial Cup, the 100th anniversary of the trophy, was played in Regina over the past few days. It concluded Sunday with the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the host Pats, 3-0.

To reach the final, the Pats, who had lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs, eliminated two league champions — the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pats didn’t have it on Sunday and were beaten by a superior team in the Titan.

After losing to the Pats in the final game of the round-robin and falling to 0-3, the Broncos talked of injuries and fatigue, their 26-game run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup apparently having taking a toll.

But are the Pats the better team because they won one particular game in a round-robin tournament?

Regina and Swift Current met six times in the regular season — the Broncos were 5-0-1, the Pats were 1-4-1. The Broncos wound up at 48-17-7, while the Pats finished 40-25-7.

In the playoffs, the Broncos took out the Pats in a first-round series that went seven games.

In 14 meetings between the teams this season, then, the Broncos were 9-4-1.

But on one night in May, the Pats won, 6-5. Does that mean Regina was the better team? No. It means that on any given day . . .

Meanwhile, in the world of junior A hockey, the host Chilliwack Chiefs won the Royal Bank Cup, which is a five-team tournament. Does that mean the Chiefs won the national championship and are junior A’s best team?

Consider that they finished the BCHL’s regular season at 26-26-3, with three ties. That left them fourth in the Mainland Division, 16 points out of first place. They then lost a seven-game first-round series to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Meanwhile, the Wenatchee Wild was 37-16-4, with one tie, and third in the Interior Division, seven points out of first place. The Wild then went 16-4 to win the BCHL playoff championship. Wenatchee followed that with a five game Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints.

At the RBC, Wenatchee won its four round-robin games, two in OT, including a 2-1 victory over Chilliwack. The Chiefs won three times, once in OT, and had the one OT loss.

During the round-robin, the Wild beat the Wellington Dukes, 7-1. But in a semifinal game, the Dukes posted a 2-1 victory, despite having been outshot 51-14.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Ottawa Jr. Senators, 3-2, in the other semifinal, then doubled the Dukes, 4-2, in the final.

Does all of this mean that Chilliwack is a better team than Wenatchee. No. It means that during one week in May things went the Chiefs’ way, just like things didn’t go Swift Current’s way the following week.

So, as long as there are host teams and round-robin formats, let’s stop concerning ourselves with national championships and just enjoy the proceedings.

OK?


The Memorial Cup final was nearing the end of the second period on Sunday when I heard from a long-time reader of this blog.

The message: “If I hear Mastercard one more time I’m gonna lose my (crap).”

If you are a regular visitor here, you will be well aware that this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

There are some things in life that should never have price tags placed on them, and the Memorial Cup is one of them.

Would the NHL sell naming rights to the Stanley Cup to, say, Visa? The Visa Stanley Cup?

How about the NBA? Would it turn its major trophy into the American Express Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy?

The winner of the NFL’s Super Bowl is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The team that wins MLB’s World Series gets the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Win the WHL title and you get the Ed Chynoweth Cup, not the Nike Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The Memorial Cup has been in competition since 1919, and if you understand its origin I think you will agree that naming rights to it never should have been on the table.

Here’s William J. Walshe, writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 6, 1939:

“The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict . . .”

Peter Robinson has more on the origin of the Memorial Cup right here.

Robinson writes, in part: “As the generation that it was originally meant to honour has passed on with the last surviving First World War veteran John Babcock’s death in 2010, the trophy now serves as a commemoration for all the country’s war dead and others that served.”


The 2018 Memorial Cup, held at the Brandt Centre in Regina:

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday, May 20 – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst 3, Regina 0 (6,484)


MacBeth

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B), he had 25 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


SThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

Please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


F Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them. On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the U of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month.

“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”

According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.

Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Sean Tschigerl and D Tyson Galloway to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Tschigerl, from Whitecourt, Alta., was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He had 70 points, including 31 goals, in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. He had three goals and 11 assists in 29 games. Galloway was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.


Clayton Jardine, 27, is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He takes over from Geoff Grimwood, who left the club earlier this month. . . . Jardine, a native of Lacombe, Alta., was an assistant coach under Grimwood in 2015-16. Jardine spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at New England College, an NCAA Division III school. . . . The Klippers also announced that Larry Wintoneak will be returning as an assistant coach. Wintoneak has been with the Klippers for four seasons in what is his second go-round in Kindersley.

Broncos win first WHL title since ’93 . . . Take out Silvertips in six games . . . Skinner ties shutout record; Gawdin is MVP

MacBeth

D Dan Gibb (Prince George, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the University of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and six assists in 19 gams. He was the team captain. . . .

F Alexander Chirva (Moose Jaw, Kootenay, 2013-15) signed a two-year contract extension with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, he had two assists in eight games. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). The team captain, he had seven goals and 21 assists in 38 games. . . .

F Chase Witala (Prince George, 2010-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Starbulls Rosenheim (Germany, Oberliga). He signed with Rosenheim on Jan. 22, and put up six goals and 11 assists in 12 games. . . . This season, prior to signing with Rosenheim, he had three goals and seven assists in 11 games with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL); was pointless in five games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL); and was pointless in two games with Zilina (Slovakia, Extraliga).


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The Swift Current Broncos scored two first-period goals, the second one with 0.6 seconds remaining, en route to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips on Sunday night. SCBroncosThe Broncos won the best-of-seven WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2. . . . This was the third championship in Swift Current’s history. The Broncos won it all in 1989, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, beating the Blades in the final 29 years ago. In 1993, they won their second WHL title, but didn’t fare as well at the Memorial Cup in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This also was the first time since 1993 that a Saskatchewan-based team has won the WHL championship. . . . This was Everett’s second trip to the WHL final. It first got that far in 2004, which was its first season — yes, it’s first season — in the WHL. That time, it was swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (13) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:41 of the first period. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi, who drew the primary assist on Estephan’s goal, made it 2-0 with his fifth goal at 19:59. . . . F Beck Malenstyn added the empty-netter with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots as he recorded his sixth shutout of these playoffs and his second in the last three games of the final. He now shares the WHL record for shutouts in one playoff with Dustin Slade (Vancouver, 2006). . . . Everett got 22 stops from G Carter Hart. . . . Broncos F Glenn Gawdin, the team captain, was named the playoff MVP. He finished with 32 points, including 14 goals. . . . F Brad Morrison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes led all playoff scorers with 37 points. F Morgan Geekie of the Tri-City Americans was No. 1 in goals (17) and Heponiemi was tops in assists (25). . . . Swift Current was 1-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-2. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Reagan Vetter. . . . The attendance was 2,890.


Two of the men who coached in the WHL final may be on the move shortly.

There is speculation in NHL circles that the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks all have at least some interest in Manny Viveiros, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach. All three NHL teams are, or will be, looking to fill assistant coach vacancies.

Viveiros is the WHL’s reigning coach of the year. His situation is certain to be a big story during the Memorial Cup in Regina.

Meanwhile, sources indicate that Mitch Love, who has been on Everett’s coaching staff since 2011-12, has been interviewed by the Saskatoon Blades, who are looking to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired when their season ended.

The Blades also have shown interest in Serge Lajoie, who spent the past three seasons as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears. This season, Lajoie guided the Golden Bears to the Canadian university championship.

Lajoie is looking now because Ian Herbers has returned to the U of A after being dropped by the Oilers. Herbers had been on sabbatical while with the Oilers.

Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, was selected by the Tri-City Americans with the 14th overall selection of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The four teams are set for the 100th running of the Memorial Cup tournament that opens Friday in Regina. Interestingly, none of the four teams won its league’s regular-season title.

The Regina Pats, of course, are the host team. They finished seventh in the WHL’s overall standings. The Moose Jaw Warriors were first overall, then lost out to the Swift Current Broncos in the second round. The Broncos, who were second overall, six points behind the Warriors, won the WHL title at home on Sunday night.

In the OHL, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who were second overall, beat out the No. 1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, winning Game 6, 5-4, on Sunday. In the 68-game regular season, the Greyhounds finished 13 points ahead of the Bulldogs.

In the QMJHL, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the visiting Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada, 2-1, in Game 6 on Sunday night. In the regular season, the Armada finished first overall, with 107 points, 11 more than the second-place Titan.

——

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Hamilton vs. Regina, 8 p.m.

Game 2, Saturday – Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 2 p.m.

Game 3, Sunday – Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 5 p.m.

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Swift Current vs. Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Game 5, Tuesday, May 22 – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday, May 23 – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, May 24, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


The legendary Clare Drake, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, died on Sunday morning. He was 89. Drake was a long-time coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, and his coaching tree is as large as anyone who has ever been involved in hockey. . . . Jim Matheson, the hall-of-fame hockey writer, has more right here.


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