Thomson won’t return to Rockets. . . . Wheat Kings fill out coaching staff. . . . Nyren’s story plays out in Kelowna courtroom


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D Daniel Bukač (Brandon, 2016-18) has signed a three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 54 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL), he had four goals and 11 assists. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal in four games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL), four goals and six assists in 14 games with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), and one goal and one assist in three games with Cracovia Kraków (Poland, PHL). . . .

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) has retired from playing to become an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Last season, with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had 17 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F John Persson (Red Deer, 2009-12) has signed a one-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, in 27 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL), he had nine goals and two assists.


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The Kelowna Rockets may have known before Tuesday, but that’s when their fans found KelownaRocketsout that Finnish D Lassi Thomson won’t be back for a second season. Instead, he will play with Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. . . . Thomson, who is to turn 19 on Sept. 24, has signed a contract (two years plus an option for a third) with Ilves. He is from Tampere, and has played for Ilves’ U-16, U-18 and U-20 sides. . . . The Ottawa Senators selected Thomson with the 19th-overall pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on July 15. . . . Last season, Thomson put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 regular-season games with the Rockets. He was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year and to the conference’s second all-star team. . . . Thomson is spending this week playing for a Finnish team in a U-20 tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Teams from Czech Republic and Switzerland also are taking part. . . .

The news, now that it’s official, leaves quite a hole on the Rockets’ backend. And don’t forget that the Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets have two solid defencemen in Kaedan Korczak, 18, who was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2019 draft, and Jake Lee, 18, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 2. Both are heading into their third WHL seasons. . . . Kelowna also added Sean Comrie, 19, in a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 2. Comrie played last season at the U of Denver, but had just one assist in 18 games. It’s fair to say, then, that he goes into the season as something of a WHL unknown. . . . The Rockets only have two 20-year-olds on their roster — F Leif Mattson and F Kyle Topping — so could add a veteran defenceman in the third slot. . . . Only one thing is for certain — the Rockets will be making more than a couple of roster moves before May gets here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings rounded out their coaching staff on Tuesday with the news BrandonWKregularthat Don MacGillivray and Tyler Plante will return and that Mark Derlago has been added as a second assistant. . . . MacGillivray is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach, as is Plante, the goaltending coach. . . . Derlago, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed on as the team’s second assistant coach having chosen to end his playing career. He played last season with Esbjerg Energy in Denmark, scoring 17 goals and adding 18 assists in 36 games. . . . Plante is the son of Cam Plante, who played four seasons (1980-84) with the Wheat Kings; Derlago’s uncle, Bill, spent three-plus seasons (1974-78) with Brandon and was one of the most-prolific scorers in WHL history. . . . The coaching staff is headed up by Dave Lowry, who was named head coach on July 18. . . . Darren Ritchie, the Wheat Kings’ general manager, also is preparing for his first season in a new role. He was named GM on July 12. A former Wheat Kings forward, he also worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons and was their director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . The Wheat Kings’ complete news release is right here.


Former WHL D Giffen Nyren was sentenced in Kelowna on Tuesday after pleading guilty to attempting to take an 18-month-old baby from its mother’s arms on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. If he follows the conditions set by Judge Catharine Heinrichs, he won’t have a criminal record. . . . Nyren also will pay $4,648 in restitution to the baby’s family to cover lost wages and some daycare costs. . . . He also will write a letter of apology to the family and take part in a restorative justice program. . . . According to Brie Welton of infotel.ca, “The court heard that Nyren’s toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis.” . . . Welton also reported: “By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he’d been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra. . . . Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player.” . . . Nyren, from Calgary, played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen (2006-10). He went on to have stints in the AHL, ECHL and USports, before playing a bit in Europe. Last season, he played seven games with a team in Amiens, France, then got into 14 regular-season and seven playoff games with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. . . . Welton’s complete story is right here.


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JUST NOTES:

Hockey Canada revealed on Tuesday that two WHLers won’t be participating in the U-20 Summer Showcase that is to run July 27 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Wash. . . . F Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders and D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs have been dropped from the roster. Hockey Canada didn’t provide any further information. . . . Both players still could end up playing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Trinic and Ostrava, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has added Jonny Webb as its goaltending coach and former NHLer Chris Mason as a goaltending consultant. . . . Webb worked for the past three seasons with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He also was with the ACAC’s SAIT Trojans last season. He is a goaltending coach with Top Prospects Goaltending in Calgary. . . . Mason played in the WHL with the Victoria/Prince George Cougars (1993-97). He retired after playing two seasons (2013-15) in Europe. . . .

Brandon Shaw has left the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to join the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as assistant coach and player development co-ordinator. Shaw spent the previous two seasons working alongside Joe Martin, then the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. Martin, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, left Merritt after the 2018-19 season and now is the Bulldogs’ GM and head coach. . . .

Steve Gainey is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He helped out as an assistant coach last season. . . . Gainey, 40, played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kamloops Blazers and was on their coaching staff for one season (2007-08). His pro career included 33 regular-season NHL games. . . . Gainey’s assistant coaches will be Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and Jassi Sangha, who was the head coach last season, with Pete Friedel as the team’s trainer. . . . The Storm recently underwent an ownership change.


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Lowry returns to WHL. . . . Broncos sign Finnish defender. . . . Tri-City adds ex-player to scouting staff


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F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2013-16) has been traded by Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) to Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) for the KHL rights to Mikko Rantanen. Last season, with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), Fazleyev had two assists in 15 games. In 16 games with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and five assists.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed Dave Lowry as their new head coach. He replaces BrandonWKregularDavid Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed after three seasons. . . . No terms of Lowry’s contract with the Wheat Kings were released. . . . Lowry, 54, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He wasn’t retained when Todd McLellan took over as the Kings’ head coach. . . . Before that, Lowry was the head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Royals for five seasons (2012-17), going 209-124-27. . . . After his playing career ended — he split 1,084 regular-season NHL games with five teams — he started his coaching career with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. He was an assistant coach for two seasons (2005-07), the associate coach for one and the head coach for one. He then worked for three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, before signing with Victoria. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed Finnish D Kasper Puutio, who was the first SCBroncosoverall selection in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. Puutio, 17, had a goal and three assists in 31 games with Kärpät’s U-20 team last season, and also had four goals and eight assists in 10 games with the U-18 side. He got into 13 games with Finland’s U-17 team, scoring once and adding eight assists, and had two assists in five games with the U-18 team. . . . He joins F Joona Kiviniemi, who also is from Finland, as the Broncos’ two import players. Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17, also played for Kärpät before joining the Broncos. Last season, as a freshman with Swift Current, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 62 games.


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JUST NOTES:

Mason Wilgosh is back with the Tri-City Americans, this time as a scout. The Winnipeg native will work as a regional scout in Manitoba. . . . Wilgosh, 28, played five seasons (2007-12) with the Americans, then went on to spend four seasons at the U of Prince Edward Island. . . . The Americans’ news release is right here. . . .

The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen have signed Jason Christie, their vice-president of hockey operations and head coach, to a multi-year contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Christie, 50, has been the team’s head coach since June 6, 2017. He has spent 16 seasons coaching in the ECHL and holds the league record for most regular-season victories (609). . . . From Gibbons, Alta., Christie played four seasons (1986-90) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Keycorp Sports and Entertainment, led by Victoria businessman Jim Hartshorne, has purchased majority ownership in the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Also in the ownership group are Ron Coutre of Victoria; Tim MacLean, Dennis See and Stefanie Weber of Port Alberni; and the Port Alberni Jr. Hockey Society. . . . David Michaud, the president of Keycorp Sports and Entertainment, now is the Bulldogs’ president. He will oversee the organization’s business and hockey operations. . . . A news release on the sale is right here. . . .

Brent Polischuk is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Saanich Braves, who play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. From a news release: “Brent has extensive experience in coaching, player development, player evaluation and scouting. As a certified High Performance 1 coach, Brent has coached at all levels of competitive hockey and served in many roles in the BC Hockey and Hockey Canada Program of Excellence. These include Team Pacific Director of Operations, Vancouver Island District Evaluator, BC Hockey coach mentor and coach evaluator and most recently worked as Team USA host in the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship.” . . . Polischuk replaces Sam Waterfield, who left after two seasons. He now is an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.


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NHL Central Scouting likes WHLers. . . . Former Pats sniper dead at 42. . . . BCHL coach of the year makes move


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F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had 15 goals and 25 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). This season, with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and two assists in seven gams. He missed most of the season after suffering a concussion. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) announced his retirement via his Twitter account. This season, with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite), he had 23 goals and 23 assists in 58 games. . . .

F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dresden (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 21 goals and 50 assists in 41 games. He led his team in assists and points. He was second in the league in assists and fourth in points.


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NHL Central Scouting issued its final rankings prior to the 2019 draft and three of the top whlfive-rated North American skaters are out of the WHL. . . . D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants moved from No. 4 in the midseason rankings to No. 2. F Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades is at No. 3, and F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is ranked fifth. . . . F Jack Hughes of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program U-18 team is the top-ranked North American skater. . . . Central Scouting has seven NTDP skaters rated as potential first-round picks. . . . F Kaapo Kakko of TPS in Finland is atop the list of international skaters. . . . All told there are 50 WHLers in the final rankings. . . . The draft is scheduled for Rogers Arena in Vancouver, June 21 and 22. . . . There is more on the rankings right here.


F Riley Sutter of the Everett Silvertips has joined the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of Everettthe NHL’s Washington Capitals. Sutter, who will turn 20 on Oct. 25, was a third-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . This season, Sutter had 14 goals and 27 assists in 38 games. He missed 37 consecutive games with an undisclosed injury, before returning for Game 3 of a second-round series against the Spokane Chiefs. The Chiefs won that series in five games. . . . In 204 career regular-season WHL games, Sutter had 137 points, including 60 goals. . . . Hershey is scheduled to open the AHL playoffs on Friday. . . . If you’re wondering, Riley is a member of the famed hockey family. His father, Ron, is one of the Sutter twins and played 19 seasons in the NHL.


Three skaters from the WHL are on the roster for the Czech team that will play in the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is to begin on Thursday. . . . F Martin Lang of the Kamloops Blazers, F Matej Toman of the Prince George Cougars and D Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds are on the final roster that was revealed on Monday. . . . The tournament is to run through April 28 in the Swedish cities of Ornskoldsvik and Umea. . . .

Team Canada won its second pre-tournament game on Monday, beating Russia, 5-4, in Umea. Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), who had three assists in a 6-5 OT victory over Belarus on Sunday, scored twice, one on a penalty shot. F Peyton Krebs (WInnipeg Ice) had two assists. G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 32 shots. . . . Team Canada is to open tournament play on Thursday against Finland.



Joe Martin, the BCHL’s coach of the year for this season, has left the Merritt Centennials AlberniValleyto sign on as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ general manager and head coach. Martin, 38, spent four seasons as the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. This season, the Centennials were 36-15-4-3 and finished second in the Interior Division. They lost a first-round series, 4-1, to the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Martin had been with Merritt since signing on as an assistant coach prior to the 2011-12 season. . . . In Alberta Valley, Martin replaces Matt Hughes, who, according to the Bulldogs, “resigned his position from the club by mutual agreement” late in March. . . . Taking Note actually was told by a reliable source on April 4 that “Joe Martin is going to Alberni Valley.” On Friday, that same source told Taking Note: “It’s happening. Joe Martin to Alberni Valley.” . . . That same day, when Bulldogs business manager David Michaud was asked about Martin, his response was: “Joe Martin is under contract with the Merritt Centennials. If you want to write gossip about a man who just gave birth to a newborn have at it. Get better sources or call me.” . . . If Martin was under contract to Merritt on Friday and my source was feeding me gossip, it would seem that the deal between him and the Bulldogs got done in a hurry.


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Doerksen talks scheduling and more . . . Pederson on his way back to Edmonton . . . Psst! Want to buy a piece of a hockey team?


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F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Aalborg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen) after obtaining his release from Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). With Znojmo, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games. . . .

F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a tryout contract with Tyringe (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, he had one goal and three assists with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), and two goals and one assist in 11 games with the University of Calgary (Canada West, USports). . . . Coulter had signed a contract with Vimmerby (Sweden, Division 1) on Nov. 3, but was released by mutual agreement on Sunday without playing in a game. . . .

F Zach Boychuk (Lethbridge, 2005-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Bern (Switzerland, NL A). Boychuk was released by mutual agreement by Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL) on Nov. 13 after recording two goals and two assists in 25 games. . . .

F Toni Rajala (Brandon, 2009-10) has signed three-year contract extension through April 2022 with Biel-Bienne (Switzerland, NL A). This season, he has nine goals and 10 assists in 20 games. He leads the team in points.


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If you’ve ever wondered how the WHL puts together its schedule, you should give a listen to Hartley’s Cat Scan that is right here. . . . This one is 38 minutes long and features Richard Doerksen, the league’s vice-president, hockey, in conversation with Hartley Miller, the analyst on home broadcasts of Prince George Cougars’ games. . . . There’s a lot more here than just talk about the schedule, too.


The Kootenay Ice has returned F Owen Pederson 16 to the OHA-Edmonton prep team after played two weekend games, scoring in both of them. . . . A fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, Pederson has two goals in eight games with the Ice this season. He has six goals and 14 assists in 12 games with his club team.


Hey, if you have ever wanted to own a piece of a hockey team this may be right up your alley. . . . The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs are looking for “ownership partners” to help “solidify the long-term success of the franchise in Port Alberni.” The team is owned and operated by the Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society. . . . There’s more on this right here.


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