Winterhawks, Hurricanes make roster moves . . . OHL hands out 15-game suspension . . . Hitmen get OT victory on road

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My laptop is in the shop for a checkup, so I’m on a backup with a horrid keyboard. Apologies for a short report tonight, and note that I don’t plan on writing on Thursday . . . unless the computer doctor calls sometime during the day.


The Portland Winterhawks have released F Rylan Bettens, 18, who had been acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Sept. 27 for an undisclosed conditional selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. Bettens was pointless in four games with the Winterhawks. Over the previous two seasons, he totalled 11 goals and eight assists in 113 games with the Wheat Kings. . . . His departure leaves Portland with 13 forwards.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes’ experiment with an import goaltender didn’t last long. G Akira Schmid, 18, has been waived and is expected to join the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays. Schmid, from Switzerland, got into one game with the Hurricanes,7.43, .741. . . . He was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Having waived Schmid, the Hurricanes will go with sophomore Reece Klassen, 19, and freshman Carl Tetachuk, 17, as their two goaltenders. . . . The Hurricanes still have two imports in veteran D Igor Merezhko, who is from Ukraine, and freshman D Danila Palivka of Belarus.


The Tri-City Americans have signed D Ian Ferguson, 16, to a WHL contract. Ferguson was born in Chatham, Ont., but now lives in Missouri, Texas, and plays for the U-16 Dallas Stars. After eight games, he had one goal and one assist. Last season, he had three goals and nine assists in 36 games with the U-16 Stars.


The OHL has suspended F Cameron Hough of the Kingston Frontenacs for 15 games after he was involved in a hit that resulted in D Brendan Kischnick of the visiting Erie Otters ending up in hospital on Friday. . . . Hough was given a cross-checking major and game misconduct on the play in question. . . . If you haven’t seen it, there’s video right here.
The WHL, meanwhile, handed out three suspensions on Wednesday, each of them for infractions in Tuesday games. . . . D Matthew Stanley of the Swift Current Broncos got two games for being involved in a one-man fight during a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Broncos F Alec Zawatsky drew a one-game suspension after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct in the same game. He cross-checked Vancouver D Bowen Byram on the play in question. . . . D Dallas Hines of the Kootenay Ice was suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct during a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes in Lethbridge.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

G Bailey Brkin blocked 35 shots to help the visiting Spokane Chiefs to a 4-0 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . That was Brkin’s first shutout this season and the second of his career. . . . F Adam Beckman (6) had two goals for the Chiefs, who are 3-1-0 on their East Division trek. . . . The Chiefs next are scheduled to play Friday in Saskatoon. . . . The Chiefs (6-2-2) now lead the U.S. Division by one point over the Seattle Thunderbirds (6-1-1), who have played two fewer games. . . . The Pats slipped to 3-7-0.


F Josh Prokop scored twice, the second one in OT, and added an assist as the Calgary Hitmen got past the host Saskatoon Blades, 5-4. . . . Calgary(2-6-2) erased a 2-0 deficit with four straight goals only to have the Blades tie it in the second half of the third period on goals from F Josh Paterson (3), on a PP, and D Brandon Schuldaus (1), the latter scoring at 18:27. . . . Prokop, who has three goals in nine games since leaving the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, won it at 2:31 of extra time. . . . D Dawson Davidson had a goal and two assists for Saskatoon (7-3-1). He’s got four goals and 14 assists in 11 games. . . . Saskatoon F Brady Nicholas took a kneeing major and game misconduct at 13:37 of the first period for a hit on Calgary D Vladislav Yeryomenko, who missed a few shifts but returned to finish the game.


F Dante Hannoun had a goal and three assists to lead the host Victoria Royals to a 5-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Hannoun’s fifth goal of the season, at 19:24 of the first period, on a PP, gave the Royals (8-1-0) a 3-1 lead and proved to be the winner. . . . F Kaid Oliver added his sixth goal and two assists for the winners. . . . G Brock Gould stopped 10 shots in his first start for the Royals. . . . G Griffen Outhouse started, and finished, each of Victoria’s first eight games. . . . Gould, 17, is from Colorado Springs, Colo. He was an eighth-round pick by the Royals in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos (1-9-0) were outshot 35-12 just one night after being outshot 71-16 in a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.

A special Kidney Walk for Dorothy . . . A milestone for the Blades’ voice . . . Some tidbits from opening weekend

MacBeth

G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .

F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .

F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.


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I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.

Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!

Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .

Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.

Drinnanfamily
The Drinnan family, with the cake (donated by the North Shore Safeway) that celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dorothy’s kidney transplant.

We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.

Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.

DrinnanSilvius
Darlene and Alan Silvius joined us at the Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sunday. Darlene and Dorothy have a special relationship.

Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.

So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.

These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.

The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.

All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.

Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.

Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.


In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .

Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .


Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.

There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.

The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.

Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!


On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:

“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.


The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose BrandonWKregularJaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.


A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.



The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.


F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally Lethbridgefor a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.

He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.


The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San PortlandJose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .

WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .

D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.

Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.


The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers Kamloops1showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”


The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.


The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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Gregor’s rights now with Raiders . . . Royals get d-man from Oil Kings . . . Hurricanes sign two draft picks


MacBeth

F Waltteri Hopponen (Everett, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract with Peliitat Heinola (Finland, Mestis). Last season, he had five goals and 14 assists in 46 games with Espoo United (Finland, Mestis). Espoo United declared bankruptcy after last season and was dissolved. . . .

F Anthony Bardaro (Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) signed a two-year contract extension with Asiago (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, he had 31 goals and 25 assists in 39 games. He was the Alps HL’s most valuable player. He led the league in goals, and also led in playoff assists and points, putting up six goals and 17 assists in 14 games.


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Some reaction off my Twitter timeline from yesterday’s report here about the WHL working to restrict the trading of younger players . . .


The Prince Albert Raiders have acquired F Noah Gregor, who is to turn 20 on July 28, from the Victoria Royals.

PrinceAlbertAccording to a news release from the Raiders, “Terms of the trade were not disclosed.”

According to a news release from the Royals, they received “conditional compensation.”

Gregor was a fourth-round selection by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, so is eligible to start the season with their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracudas.

Chances are that Victoria received a bantam draft pick that is conditional on Gregor playing with Prince Albert, with the round changing depending on the number of games he plays. Or perhaps there is a big bag of cash  involved? Hey, just kidding.

The Royals selected Gregor in the third round of the 2013 WHL bantam draft. They dealt him to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Jan. 6, 2014, in exchange for D Travis Brown. The Warriors also got third-round selections in the 2014 and 2016 bantam drafts, and an undisclosed conditional pick, as well.

On Dec. 11, 2017, the Royals reacquired Gregor from Moose Jaw, getting him and a 2018 eighth-round bantam draft pick for F Ryan Peckford and a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.

Last season, he had 14 goals and 22 assists in 36 games with Moose Jaw, and 15 goals and 14 assists in 30 games with Victoria.

In 194 career regular-season games, Gregor has 86 goals and 119 assists.

The Raiders have three other 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kody McDonald, F Sean Montgomery and G Curtis Meger.

I think the Royals still have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Braydon Buziak, F Dante Hannoun, D Ralph Jarratt, G Griffen Outhouse and F Lane Zablocki.

Later in the day, the Royals announced that they have acquired D Brayden Gorda, 19, VictoriaRoyalsfrom the Edmonton Oil Kings for a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft.

Last season, Gorda had one goal and three assists in 30 games with Edmonton. In 151 regular-season WHL games, all with the Oil Kings, he had six goals and 26 assists.

Edmonton selected him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Gord was late reporting to the Oil Kings last season as he took time away from hockey to deal with the death of a close friend.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed the two players they selected in the CHL’s 2018 Lethbridgeimport draft — Swiss G Akira Schmid and D Danila Palivko of Belarus. . . . Schmid, 18, was a fifth-round pick by the New Jersey Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Last season, he put up a 2.60 GAA in 32 games with the U-20 Langnau club. Schmid will get a chance at being the Hurricanes’ starter in 2018-19 as they have to replace Logan Flodell, who played out his eligibility last season. . . . Palivko, who turns 17 on Nov. 30, played 40 games with Belarus’s U-17 team, putting up six goals and 20 assists. In 12 games with the U-18 team, he had six assists. The Hurricanes saw him at the Mac’s tournament in Calgary, where he had two assists in four games. . . . The Hurricanes finished last season with Russian F Egor Zudilov and D Igor Merezhko, who is from Ukraine, on their roster. The Hurricanes announced prior to the 2018 CHL import draft that Zudilov wouldn’t be back for a second season. Should Merezhko return, he would be a two-spotter as a 20-year-old import.


A third WHL player has had to bow out of Hockey Canada’s World Junior Showcase Canadabecause of an undisclosed injury. F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors has been replaced by F Serron Noel of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. . . . Noel was a second-round pick by the Florida Panthers in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Earlier, D Josh Brook of the Warriors and F Jordy Bellerive of the Lethbridge Hurricanes were scratched because of injuries. Brook apparently has a wrist injury, while Bellerive continues to recover from burns suffered in an accident involving a bonfire. . . . There now are eight WHLers on Canada’s roster — D Cale Addison of Lethbridge, D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs, D Jett Woo of Moose Jaw, F Jaret Anderson-Dolan of Spokane, F Connor Dewar of the Everett Silvertips, F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks, F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings and F Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Showcase opens Saturday in Kamloops and runs through Aug. 4. It features teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the U.S.


Mike Needham has returned to the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. Needham, who was fired by the Kamloops Blazers on May 10, has been named OHA’s skills and development co-ordinator. . . . Needham, 48, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Blazers. Prior to that, he was the head coach of OHA’s bantam prep team for three seasons.


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Cst. Curtis Warner, who works traffic with the Regina Police Service, is worth a follow on Twitter. Would love to see someone working traffic like this, and tweeting about it, in Kamloops.