Pearson goes home to coach. . . . Scott sets Raiders’ shutout record. . . . Rebels win, may have lost key d-man . . . . Thunderbirds near playoff spot

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F Shane Wright of the minor midget AAA Don Mills, Ont., Flyers has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada so will be eligible for the OHL’s 2019 draft, which Canadanormally is for players who have completed their 15-year-old seasons.

With exceptional status, Wright, who turned 15 on Jan. 5, also will be eligible to play full-time in the OHL in 2019-20.

Wright has 150 points, including 66 goals, in 72 games with Don Mills, which plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He also had six goals and six assists in six games with Ontario as it won silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

The OHL draft is scheduled for April 6. Wright is the fifth player in OHL history to have received exceptional status, after John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day.

Hockey Canada has yet to rule on the application by the family of F Matt Savoie, who has applied for exceptional status in order to have the option of playing in the WHL at 15.

Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is from St. Albert, Alta. He is eligible for the WHL’s bantam draft, which is for players who have completed their 14-year-old seasons, but will be limited to five games next season unless brought in under emergency conditions.

This season, Savoie has 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. He played for Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, putting up six goals and seven assists in 13 games.

Last season, Savoie was named the MVP in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League. This season, he was selected the midget league’s MVP.

The WHL’s 2019 bantam draft is set for May 2 in Red Deer.

The WHL will hold its draft lottery later this month, with the six non-playoff teams entered. We already know four of those teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Kootenay Ice, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars.

In the draft lottery, a team may only move up two positions.

At the moment, the Broncos have the WHL’s poorest record, followed by the Ice and the Pats. However, Prince George holds Swift Current’s first-round selection and the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

There is little doubt that Savoie, if he is granted exceptional status, will be the first pick in the bantam draft should he and his family decide they want to be part of whichever organization is making that selection.

Should Savoie be drafted and choose not to play in the WHL, he would have to return to midget next season. The granting of exceptional status applies only to major junior hockey and doesn’t allow a player to join a junior A team.

His brother, Carter, 17, plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2020-21 season.

The WHL has never had to deal with a player who has been given exceptional status. It has happened once in the QMJHL, with F Joe Veleno. In his fourth season in the QMJHL, he has 100 points, including 41 goals, in 55 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Veleno, now 19, has 262 points, including 173 assists, in 226 career regular-season QMJHL games. He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign with them.

If you are wondering what Wright had to go through, here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:

“Being granted ‘exceptional status’ isn’t easy. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, which is pretty early in the hockey season. On top of looking at a player’s on-ice skills, the governing bodies (in this case the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada) send out questionnaires to school teachers and coaches, while the player has to write an essay. The player also meets with a psychologist for a ‘life interview,’ to determine if the kid has the maturity to move away from home and compete against much older competition at age 15. OHF executive director Phil McKee said that both Wright and his family were ‘excellent to work with’ throughout the process.”

Kennedy’s entire piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ 25-game winning streak ended on Friday night as they were beat by the Voltigeurs at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville. . . . The Huskies fell behind 2-0 after two periods, and cut the deficit in half at 5:05 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Rouyn-Noranda tied the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


Ken Pearson is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Pearson, who is from Neepawa, replaces Dustin Howden, who left after five seasons with the Natives — two as assistant coach, two as head coach and one as GM/head coach. . . . Pearson, 45, is a veteran junior A coach, who spent seven seasons as the GM/head coach with the Winkler Flyers. He stepped aside as head coach prior to this season, but kept the GM’s title until he and the Flyers parted company last month. . . . Pearson began his coaching career with the Natives as an assistant coach for two seasons (1994-96). . . . This season, the Natives finished out of the playoffs, at 9-43-8, the poorest record in the 11-team league.


The Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings Athletic Club has named Fran Gow head coach of the midget AAA Ennis Kings. Now has extensive AJHL coaching experience, have worked more than 1,000 games, split among the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Grande Prairie Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder. He helped the Oil Barons to a national championship in 1999-2000. . . . Of late, Gow has been the AJHL’s vice-president of hockey operations and a coach mentor for Hockey Alberta.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott set a single-season shutout record as the Prince Albert Raiders skated to an 8-PrinceAlbert0 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert (52-9-4) has won two in a row. It will finish atop the WHL’s regular-season standings. . . . Swift Current (10-47-6) has lost 16 in a row (0-13-3). . . . Prince Albert, with Scott in goal, beat the visiting Broncos, 6-0, on Tuesday, and they’ll play again Sunday, this time in Swift Current. . . . The Raiders are off tonight, while the Broncos will meet the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders lead the season series, 6-0-1; the Broncos are 1-6-0. . . . Scott stopped 14 shots in posting his seventh shutout of the season, breaking the record that he was sharing with Luke Siemens (2012-13) and Rejean Beauchemin (2003-04). Scott, who has 10 career shutouts, also will set franchise single-season records for GAA and save percentage. He is 36-7-3, 1.86, .932. . . . D Brayden Pachal (15) got the Raiders started at 3:33 of the first period, and B Brett Leason, who had gone seven games without a goal, made it 2-0 with No. 34 at 4:59. . . . F Noah Gregor (39) and Leason (35) scored before the period ended for a 4-0 lead. . . . Before it was over, F Parker Kelly had scored twice, giving him 32, and F Cole Fonstad (29), who also had two assists, and F Spencer Moe (9) added one each. . . . The Raiders had a 48-14 edge in shots.


The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Regina Pats, MooseJawWarriors3-1. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has clinched third place in the East Division and will face the second-place Saskatoon Blades in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina (18-43-3) has lost five in a row. . . . The Warriors lead the season series with Regina, 6-1-0, with the final game in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . F Ty Kolle (14) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Justin Almeida (28) tied it, on a PP, at 9:08. . . . Moose Jaw took the lead at 9:51 when F Carson Denomie (6) scored. . . . F Brayden Tracey (33) got the empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . Regina G Max Paddock stopped 29 shots.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the visiting LethbridgeMedicine Hat Tigers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (37-18-10) has won five in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (32-26-6) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, two points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . With one game remaining, Lethbridge leads the season series, 6-1-2; the Tigers are 3-6-0. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (30) gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it at 10:39 when D Baxter Anderson (4) scored. . . . F Zachary Cox (11) put the home side ahead at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 18:22 as F Brett Kemp (28) scored on a PP. . . . Lethbridge F Taylor Ross (32) broke the tie, on a PP, at 2:06 of the third period. . . . F Dylan Cozens (33) made it 4-2 at 3:16, and F Nick Henry (27) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:17. . . . Henry’s goal was his 200th regular-season point. He’s got 76 goals and 124 assists in 191 games. This season, he has 90 points in 66 games. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer had his goal streak halted at 13 games. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, two more than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett.


The Red Deer Rebels overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, Red Deer5-3. . . . Red Deer (32-25-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card berths, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . Brandon (31-25-8) has lost two in a row. With the Tim Hortons Brier — the Canadian men’s curling championship —  being played in Westoba Place, the Wheat Kings are on a six-game trip through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. Through the first five games, Brandon is 1-3-1. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (20), at 3:48 of the first period; F Stelio Mattheos (42), at 1:36 of the second; and D Chad Nychuk (2), at 2:40. . . . F Brandon Hagel (39) started the Red Deer comeback at 9:03. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (18) got the Rebels to within a goal at 10:45 of the third period, and F Josh Tarzwell (9) tied it at 12:30. . . . Red Deer went out front when F Zak Smith (11) scored at 16:33. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (13) added insurance at 19:51. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev appeared to suffer a knee injury after colliding in open ice with McCartney in the third period. Alexeyev was placed on a stretcher before being taken off the ice. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in the next 48 hours, 72 hours. I don’t know any more than that right now,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored two goals and set a franchise record in leading the EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (38-18-8) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds one game in hand. . . . Calgary (36-23-6), which has clinched a playoff spot, had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is headed for a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . With two games left, Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Calgary is 1-4-1. They’ll finish the regular season with a home-and-home, playing March 16 in Edmonton and the next day in Calgary. . . . Edmonton went ahead 3-0 on goals from F Quinn Benjafield (14), at 9:19 of the first period; Fix-Wolansky, at 18:30; and F Vince Loschiavo, on a PP, at 4:07 of the second. . . . F Mark Kastelic (46) scored for Calgary, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Edmonton put it away with third-period goals from Fix Wolansky (35) and Loschiavo (33), the latter on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky set the franchise’s single-season assist record when he set up Loschiavo’s first goal. That was Fix-Wolansky’s 64th assist of the season, one more than D Dylan Wruck had in 2012-13. . . . Loschiavo also had an assist, to give him three points, while D Conner McDonald had three helpers. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 24 saves.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the visiting Kamloops1Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . Kamloops (24-32-7) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind Kelowna. Kamloops, which has five games left, also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (27-30-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Kamloops is 5-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 4-3-2. They’ll finish it tonight in Kelowna. . . . F Martin Lang (11) put the Blazers ahead at 16:13 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (34) got the Rockets even, on a PP, at 4:08 of the third period. . . . F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo both scored as Kamloops won the shootout, 2-0. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 26 shots for Kamloops, which had Rayce Ramsay, in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, backing up. Dylan Ferguson was injured in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants and is out day-to-day. . . . The Rockets got 32 saves from G Roman Basran. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who began serving a three-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct he incurred against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.


F Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists, all via the PP, as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks got past the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. . . . Portland (39-19-6) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince George (17-40-8) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . The Winterhawks are 3-0-0 in the season series that will be completed tonight in Prince George. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 on goals from D Cole Moberg (12), on a PP, at 13:55 of the first period, and F Matej Taman (9), at 2:29 of the second. . . . F Jake Gricius (25) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 16:38. . . . F Josh Paterson (23) tied the score at 2:36 of the third period, and Blichfeld (53) got the winner, at 14:51. . . . Blichfeld leads the WHL in goals and points (110). . . . Portland was 3-7 on the PP; Prince George was 1-5. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 40 shots for the Winterhawks. . . . D Ryan Miley, 18, made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks. From Brookings, S.D., he played this season with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . . F Cody Glass, F Seth  Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig were Portland’s scratches, all out with injuries.


F Noah Philp scored twice for Seattle as the Thunderbirds beat the Victoria Royals, 2-1, in SeattleKent, Wash. . . . Seattle (27-28-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Victoria (33-27-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Philp, who has 24 goals, got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:40 of the first period. . . . He made it 2-0 at 17:47 of the second. . . . F Igor Martynov (11) scored a PP goal for Victoria at 19:59 of the second. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 19 shots, 11 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Scott Walford, D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver, all veterans and all injured, were among Victoria’s scratches.


G Bailey Brkin turned aside 37 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Spokane (36-20-7) is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (45-15-4) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips with each team having four games remaining. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 3-2-0; Spokane was 2-2-1. . . . Spokane took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from D Filip Kral (8), at 7:56; F Jake McGrew, at 11:39; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (16), at 19:39. The latter two came via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (21) scored for Vancouver, on a PP, at 17:52 of the second period, only to have McGrew (27) get that one back at 18:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan has goals in six straight games. . . . Spokane was 2-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . Brkin is 24-11-3, 2.78, .914.


Goaltenders Dustin Wolf and Max Palaga shared the shutout as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett (46-14-4) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). It leads the Western Conference standings by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (34-26-4) is likely to finish in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Palaga started and stopped one shot in 4:47. Wolf came on to turn aside 25 shots in 55:13. . . . Sorry, but I don’t have any idea why Palaga left. Presumably there was an injury of some sort. . . . F Reece Vitelli (11) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the second period, with D Wyatt Wylie (11) making it 2-0 at 16:14. . . . F Connor Dewar (35) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third period. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots, setting a franchise record for most saves in one season in the process. In 59 appearances this season, Warm has stopped 1,860 shots. G Eric Comrie stopped 1,849 shots in 2013-14. . . . The Silvertips had F Martin Fasko-Rudas back in the lineup. He last played on Feb. 22.


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Lajoie fine with Blazers’ coaching addition . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ victory . . . Alexeyev helps Rebels end skid

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F Justin Kelly (Spokane, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) has announced his retirement. This season, he had two goals and five assists in 12 games with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2), but he hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion suffered in a game that night against Kaufbeuren. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). In 57 games, he had 11 goals and 12 assists, and was second on the team in scoring. Slovan has four regular-season games left and cannot make the playoffs.


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When the Kamloops Blazers officially added Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff on Tuesday, it wasn’t seen in some corners of the team’s fandom as just another move. Kamloops1That’s because Sydor is one of the team’s five owners. . . . After the Blazers dropped the visiting Victoria Royals, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week spoke with Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie about job security and a whole lot more. . . .

“I’m not worried,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I don’t see Darryl Sydor as a threat. For me, I’ve always invested my full energy in whatever I’ve taken on. But I value family. I also value education. I’ve got an education degree, a master’s degree. I have good roots back in Edmonton.

“The reason I tell you that is that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to be here. If there is an ulterior motive, to have him in to oversee things, I don’t see it. If that’s the case, again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve put a lot of work in this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in these players.

“I could leave with my head up high.”

As for Sydor, who has spent eight years as an assistant coach in the professional ranks, he told Hastings that he’s not a threat.

“I’m here to give guidance and if there’s feedback that I can give on how he can become a better coach, that’s what I’m here for,” Sydor said.

Hastings’ complete story is right here.


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Ghostridershave signed general manager and head coach Jeff Wagner to a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Wagner is in his first season with Fernie. . . . The Ghostriders are 25-13, with three ties and four OTLs, and will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division, behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, who are 39-4 with one tie and one OTL. . . . Wagner, from Calgary, joined the Ghostriders after working as the assistant GM with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thundercats.


The Young Stars Classic, a September fixture in Penticton, B.C., since 2010, won’t be held in 2019. . . . The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks confirmed that on Thursday, one day after the Winnipeg Jets revealed that will take part in a prospects’ tournament in Belleville, Ont., in September. . . . The Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had teams of prospects play in Penticton prior to 2018. However the Flames and Oilers didn’t take part in 2018, choosing instead to play games in Red Deer. That left the Canucks and Jets to face each other twice, with the UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears also playing each other twice. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more right here.


In all my time writing sports, Kaye Kaminishi may be the most unforgettable character I have met. Now 97, the Kamloops resident played baseball in Vancouver for the legendary Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian team that shone in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, Kaminishi ended up in an internment camp near Lillooet, B.C., and never did return to Vancouver. He was there recently, though, filming a Heritage Minute that is soon to be seen on your TV set. . . . John Mackie of Postmedia has more on this remarkable man right here


If you like what you read here, and even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three third-period goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the Warriors, 3-2, in Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (31-17-8) is atop the Central Division, three points clear of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (30-15-8) has lost two in a row. It appears headed for a third-place finish in the East Division. . . . The Warriors played 12 of their previous 13 games on the road. In those 13 games, they were 9-3-1. . . . The Oil Kings had been 0-7-4 in their previous 11 games with Moose Jaw, not having beaten the Warriors since Feb. 20, 2016. On that night, the Oil Kings won, 3-2, in Moose Jaw with F Dario Meyer getting the winner. . . . F Carson Denomie (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 12:55 of the second period. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-1 on third-period goals from Loschiavo, at 2:11, and F Andrew Fyten (14), at 10:54. . . . D Josh Brook (14) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 12:59. . . . Loschiavo snapped the tie with his 26th goal at 13:38. He has eight game-winners this season; only F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Tristin Langan of the Warriors have more, with nine. . . . Loschiavo would have had a hat trick had he scored on a second-period penalty shot, but he was unable to beat G Adam Evanoff. . . . Loschiavo played the first 215 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Kootenay Ice, then was dealt to Moose Jaw and played 40 games there. On May 3, Edmonton sent F Nick Bowman and a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Warriors for Loschiavo. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 31 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Warriors got 36 saves from Evanoff. . . . With G Dylan Myskiw (ill) sidelined, the Oil Kings had G Matthew Pesenti, 17, backing up Scott. Pesenti, who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was with Edmonton on an emergency basis, because his WHL rights belong to the Regina Pats. He has spent time with the Pats this season and got into two games last month. . . . The Oil Kings also scratched F Scott Atkinson and F Zach Russell, both of whom also were ill. . . . Edmonton D Jake Neighbours served the last game of a four-game suspension. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tate Popple in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 31.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 Red Deervictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . This game was to have been played on Wednesday night but was postponed 24 hours when poor driving conditions kept the Rebels from making it to Everett in time. . . . Red Deer (29-19-5) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (38-13-3) leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Robbie Holmes (10) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:40 of the second period. That was his first goal since being acquired by Everett from the Regina Pats at the Jan. 10 trade deadline. He had nine goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Pats. He’s got a goal and two assists in 12 games with Everett. . . . F Brandon Hagel (32) pulled Red Deer even at 11:26 of the third period. . . . D Jake Christiansen scored for Everett in the fourth round of the shootout, only to have F Jeff de Wit equalize. . . . Alexeyev then won it in the next round. . . . Each of the goaltenders — Red Deer’s Ethan Anders and Everett’s Dustin Wolf — stopped 37 shots through OT. . . . Red Deer was 0-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ head coach, now has 496 regular-season victories as he strives to become the ninth coach in WHL history to get to 500.


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WJC rosters include 14 WHLers . . . Tourney opens with four games . . . Finland-Sweden in Day 1 spotlight

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If you didn’t see this photo on Twitter earlier, it was taken on Christmas Day at about 2 p.m. Hey, I was born in Sherridon, Man., and raised in Lynn Lake, Man. — look them up on Google Maps — so I had never before seen grass this green on Dec. 25. LOL! . . . This is at the back of our home; there were nine deer on a field just west of the front yard. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get a really close look, so it may have been Rudolph and some friends.

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F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2014-16) has signed a two-way contract for the rest of this season with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) after clearing NHL unconditional waivers and having his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) terminated. He had two assists in 15 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).


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The 10-team World Junior Championship opens today in Vancouver and Victoria with two games in each venue.

In Vancouver, it’s Czech Republic versus Switzerland (1 p.m. PT) and Canada versus Denmark (5 p.m.)

In Victoria, it’s U.S.A. versus Slovakia (3:30 p.m.) and Finland versus Sweden (7:30 p.m.).

In other words, Day 1 should bring us three no-contests and one thriller. Don’t forget that 2019wjcas much as we look forward to this tournament, the early-going often is full of lop-sided games. What today’s schedule means is that you will be able to go out and soak up some of those Boxing Day sales before coming home to watch Finland and Sweden do battle.

BTW, make certain that you’re aware of the IIHF’s new late-hit rule because if you aren’t it’s going to make you crazy.

And note that you aren’t going to read a whole lot about the WJC on this site after this report. I’m not there, nor will I pay particular attention through the early part of the tournament. But there will be a whole lot of other places loaded with info from those who are taking in the games in person.

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The 10 teams taking part in the WJC filed their preliminary rosters on Tuesday.

Under IIHF regulations teams had to register at least 15 skaters and two goaltenders. If a team doesn’t file the maximum (20 skaters and three goaltenders), it is allowed to add players to its roster until two hours before games until reaching the maximum.

By my count, there are 14 WHL players on those rosters. Here’s a look:

Canada (6) — G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders; D Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs; F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Spokane; F Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks; F Brett Leason, Prince Albert. . . . Tim Hunter of Moose Jaw is Canada’s head coach; Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is one of the assistant coaches. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Czech Republic (3) — G Jiri Patera, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Filip Kral, Spokane; F Krystof Hrabik, Tri-City Americans. . . . The roster also includes former Brandon D Daniel Bukac, now of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and F Martin Kaut of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, whose CHL rights belong to Brandon. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Denmark (2) — G Mads Sogaard, Medicine Hat Tigers; F Phillip Schultz, Victoria Royals. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Finland (0) — The roster includes D Henri Jokiharju of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who played the previous two seasons with Portland; F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Finnish pro team Karpan Oulu, who spent the previous two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos; and F Sami Moilanen of Tappara Tampere, who played the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders.

——

Kazakhstan (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

——

Russia (1) — D Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Mark Rubinchik, who plays for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, was with the Saskatoon Blades for the previous two seasons. . . . Registered 11 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

——

Slovakia (2) — F Andrej Kukuca, Seattle; F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants. . . . Registered 12 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

——

Sweden (0) — Brandon holds the CHL rights to D Erik Brannstrom of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

——

Switzerland (0) — F Justin Sigrist of the GCK Lions Zurich played with the Kamloops Blazers in 2017-18. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

——

USA (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

——

Meanwhile, Mason Black, who is on Twitter at @NHL RankKing, went over the WJC rosters and has an easy-to-read NHL team-by-team list of prospects right here.

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If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.

——

This piece is four years old, but if you’re a fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth your time. It’s from Rolling Stone and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what went into what has become a movie with an amazing following. . . . The story — it’s an oral history — is right here.


Here is one more great read for you. . . . It’s not that long ago when Austin Murphy was one of the best and most-prolific writers employed by Sports Illustrated. These days, as he writes, “I drive a van for Amazon.” . . . He has written a first-person piece on the adventure of a package deliverer and it’s awesome stuff. You’ll find it right here.


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Report: Ice announcement coming Monday . . . Rockets, Hurricanes make deal . . . Søgaard, Alexeyev get WJC opportunities


ThisThat

The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the worst fears of Kootenay-based WHL fans will be made official on Monday.

In a story carrying the bylines of Jeff Hamilton and Mike Sawatzky, the newspaper is Kootenaynewreporting that “the owners of the Kootenay Ice are preparing to announce Monday they are moving their Western Hockey League franchise to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season, league sources have told the Free Press.”

The WHL franchise will play out of the Wayne Fleming Arena on the U of Manitoba campus for likely two seasons while a new arena is being built in the Manitoba capital’s southwest corner.

The Free Press also reports that Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who is the president and general manager, “have not commented publicly on news reports and WHL commissioner Rob Robison has not made himself available for an interview on the subject.”

The Free Press story is right here.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Thursday’s action:

No. of trades: 1.

Players: 1.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 10.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 18.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

——

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired the WHL rights to F Alex Swetlikoff from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a fourth-round selection in the 2022 bantam draft.

Swetlikoff, a 17-year-old from Kelowna, has committed to the U of Denver for the 2020-21 KelownaRocketsseason. He was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2016 bantam draft. Seattle traded his rights to Lethbridge on May 3, getting back D Kirby Proctor, who is from Okotoks, Alta. He is with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, and has committed to attend the U of Nebraska-Omaha for 2020-21.

This season, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Swetlikoff is playing with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, with whom he has eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games. He will play for Canada West at the World Junior Challenge that opens this weekend in Bonnyville, Alta.

The Rockets will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, so you can bet that will be a major selling point as the organization works to recruit Swetlikoff.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Dawson Heathcote from their roster. He is expected to join the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Heathcote, 18, is from Nanaimo. . . . Last season, as a freshman with the Tigers, he had six goals and three assists in 47 games. This season, he had two assists in 27 games. . . . Heathcote was a seventh-round pick by the Tigers in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.


Two more WHLers are on national junior team selection-camp rosters. . . . G Mads Søgaard of the Medicine Hat Tigers will attend Denmark’s selection camp, while D Alex Alexeyev will be in camp with the Russian national junior team. . . . Søgaard is to join the Danish team after the Tigers game against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 15. Should he make the Danish team, he could miss as many as six of the Tigers’ games after the Christmas break. . . . The 2019 World Junior Championship is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


F Spencer Gerth of the Trinity Western Spartans is on the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s Young Stars’ roster that will play against Kazakhstan’s national junior team on Dec. 17. . . . Gerth, 20, played the previous three seasons in the WHL, with the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals. . . . This season, he has two goals and five assists in 11 games. . . .  The Young Stars will be part of a College Hockey Showcase that also is to include U of Victoria, with the three games at the Langley Events Centre. . . . Kazakhstan is scheduled to meet the Victoria on Dec. 11 and Trinity Western on Dec. 13, then will play the Young Stars on Dec. 17. All three games are to start at 7 p.m., and will be streamed at hockeytv.com. . . . Kazakhstan opens the 2019 World Junior Championship against Finland in Victoria on Dec. 27.

As part of the Kazakhstan visit, organizers are holding Hockey Day in Langley on Dec. 10. From a news release: “The Kazakhstan . . . team will be partnering with BC Hockey to host a Hockey Day in Langley event that will allow local minor hockey teams and academies an opportunity to meet the Kazakhstan team and take part in a skills competition. Coaches will also have a chance to meet and learn from some international-level coaches.” . . . For more info, email Barret Kropf at barret.kropf@twu.ca.



If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


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They’ll talk Ice in Cranbrook . . . Foote’s in the door in Kelowna . . . Raiders just keep on winning


MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) has been recalled by ZSC Zurich (Switzerland, NL A) from GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B). This is Sigrist’s second call up by ZSC this season. He was called up on Sept. 21 for three games, in which he went pointless. This season, he has two goals and two assists with GC Küsnacht Lions, and three goals and one assist in one game with GCK Lions U20 (Switzerland, Junior Elite A).


ThisThat

They’ll be holding one of those ‘town hall’ meetings in Cranbrook on Thursday evening and the only topic on the agenda is the future of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.

There has been ample speculation over the past couple of years that the Ice, who are Kootenaynewowned by Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, both of Winnipeg, will be relocating to the Manitoba capital at some point in time. Things heated up again last week with a story in the Winnipeg Free Press on that topic.

According to a story on the Summit 107FM website, the meeting also will “launch a new season-ticket campaign.”

A Cranbrook group known as the Green Bay Committee will play host to the meeting. It said in a news release that it “will be discussing the Winnipeg article, including how it affects our campaign and how our community leaders should respond to it. . . .

“We all understand the economic, social and entertainment value that the Ice brings to Cranbrook and the Kootenays. Like the Ice, we are concerned that the current season-ticket total is about 1,700, which is about 200 less than last (season).”

Another Summit 107 story, this one by Bradley Jones, indicates that the radio station “reached out to the WHL” and the Ice in an attempt to get reaction to the relocation speculation.

“The WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a statement given to Summit 107. Robison apparently chose not to address the future beyond the end of this season.

As for the Ice, Jones reported that Summit 107 was told “no comment will be given.”

If you are in the Cranbrook area, the meeting is scheduled for the Heritage Inn at 6 p.m.


After firing head coach Jason Smith on Monday, Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told a media scrum that there were “a couple KelownaRocketsof guys that I’ve zeroed in on and I’ll probably have a good idea by (Tuesday). I’m dealing with a couple people and hopefully by (Tuesday) we’ll have somebody in place. Whether they’ll be here or not by then, time will tell.”

Late Monday night, Sportsnet’s John Shannon, one of Hamilton’s good friends, tweeted that former NHL D Adam Foote would be introduced as the Rockets’ head coach on Tuesday morning.

And, lo and behold, Foote was on the ice with the Rockets for a Tuesday morning practice. He made his game debut later Tuesday against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.

According to Alistair Waters of the Kelowna Capital News, Hamilton said Tuesday that Foote “was his only call when he went looking for a new head coach.”

Foote, 47, becomes the Rockets’ fifth head coach over the past six years.

He was a rugged defenceman in an NHL career that included three teams, and 1,154 regular-season and 170 playoff games.

“Our hope is that Adam can come in and take over a team that is in transition,” Hamilton said in a news release. “Because we host the 2020 Memorial Cup, we know a number of personnel moves will have to be made. We are confident Adam will be able to help us move forward, not just this year but next season also.”

On July 7, 2016, Hamilton had introduced Smith as the Rockets’ head coach, replacing Brad Ralph, who was one-and-done despite getting the team into the Western Conference final in the spring of 2016.

“I’m really excited that we have found a new head coach and I think that he will fit in really well with the team we have and the existing coaching staff,” Hamilton said at the time. “I  think our players will be really excited to have a coach of this calibre, with this kind of experience as a player and as a coach.”

Smith also had been a rugged NHL defenceman in a career that encompassed five teams, and 1,008 regular-season and 68 playoff games.

After retiring, Smith spent four seasons with the Ottawa Senators, the last team for which he had played, two as a scouting and development consultant and two (2014-16) as an assistant coach.

Those two seasons accounted for Smith’s only coaching experience. But that’s two more seasons than Foote, who hadn’t coached at all before Tuesday morning.

The Rockets, who were 4-10-0 when Smith was fired, will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. Smith was in the final year of a three-year contract and Hamilton’s decision made it clear that he wasn’t comfortable having Smith take the team into next season and, ultimately, the Memorial Cup.

Foote, who has a deal covering the remainder of this season and next season, will handle that, barring the unexpected.

Before Hamilton brought in Ralph as head coach, the Rockets had become known for having success by promoting from within. Foote is the third straight head-coaching hire from outside the organization.

Foote’s hiring also delivers a message to assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Travis Mallette, both of whom are in their fifth seasons with the Rockets and are signed only through this season.

Both were passed over when Hamilton hired Smith before the 2016-17 season, and now it has happened again, and they know that, all things being equal, the head-coaching post is filled until at least May of 2020.

Hamilton said on Monday that the future of the assistant coaches will be left up to the new head coach.


D Tylor Ludwar, who was released by the Kamloops Blazers on Oct. 12, has been traded by the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers to the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. Ludwar, 19, is from Regina. The Vipers got F Ben Sanderson and future considerations in the deal. . . . Ludwar was pointless in two games with the Vipers, after getting into only one game with the Blazers. . . . Sanderson, 18, is the son of former WHL/NHL F Geoff Sanderson. Ben has committed to Colorado College for 2019-20.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are likely to have D Damon Agyeman, 16, in their lineup tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. With D Joel Craven and D Trevor Longo sideline by injuries, the Tigers have brought Agyeman, a list player, in from the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons. Agyeman, from Cochrane, Alta., has one assist in eight games with the Bisons.


TUESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Brett Leason scored twice and G Ian Scott record the shutout as the host Prince Albert Raiders blanked the Everett Silvertips, 3-0. . . . Leason scored the game’s first two goals, at PrinceAlbert13:17 of the second period and 17:20 of the third. He leads the WHL in goals (13), assists (17) and points (30), and has at least one point in each of the team’s 14 games this season. . . .  Scott stopped 24 shots in earning his second shutout of the season and the fifth of his career. This season, he’s 11-1-0, 1.50, .947. . . . The Raiders now are 13-1-0 and have won six in a row. They are 7-0-0 at home. . . . Everett (7-5-0) is 1-2-0 on its East Division tour. . . . The Silvertips were without F Connor Dewar, their captain, as he served the second of a four-game suspension. . . . With D Sergei Sapego (ill) out and D Max Martin suspended, the Raiders had D Nolan Allan, the third-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, make his WHL debut. . . . Everett F Alex Moar played his third game of the season; he spent the previous two seasons with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos.


G Carl Tetachuk stopped 34 shots to earn his first WHL victory in his first start as the LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 2-1. . . . Tetachuk, who is from Lethbridge, is a list player who spent last season with the midget AAA Hurricanes. He was especially sharp in the third period as his guys were outshot, 16-3. . . . Lethbridge (6-4-3) has points in five straight (3-0-2). . . . The Wheat Kings (6-2-3) are 1-1-1 in their past three. This was Game 1 of a seven-game swing that will take them through the B.C. Division. They next will play at home on Nov. 9. . . . All the goals were scored via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (5) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 17:19 of the first period. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (12) tied it at 19:00. . . . F Taylor Ross (9) of the Hurricanes broke the tie at 18:05 of the second period.


D Alex Alexeyev scored the game’s first two goals and the Red Deer Rebels went on to a 3-Red Deer1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels (8-3-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Hitmen (4-7-2) had won their previous three games. . . . Alexeyev, who has six goals, scored at 2:14 and 14:14 of the first period. . . . The Rebels got 30 saves from G Ethan Anders. . . . G Carl Stankowski stopped 27 shots for Calgary. His night’s work included stopping Red Deer F Josh Tarzwell on a penalty shot at 19:14 of the third period with the Rebels leading 3-1.


The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s last four goals to beat the Cougars, 5-1, in Prince George. . . . The Americans (7-4-0) have won three in a row. They are 2-0-0 on an 11-game road trip. . . . The Cougars (5-6-1) had won their previous three games. . . . There’ll be a rematch tonight. . . . The Americans got the game’s first goal from F Wil Kushniryk (1), who was acquired Monday from the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Tri-City F Brett Clayton (1) broke a 1-1 tie at 3:52 of the second period. . . . The Americans got 35 stops from G Beck Warm. . . . As for the above tweet, Americans F Nolan Yaremko had two assists and was named the game’s second star.


F Jack Cowell got the game-winner as the host Kelowna Rockets got past the Swift Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . Kelowna won in Adam Foote’s first game as head coach. He replaced Jason Smith, who was fired on Monday with the Rockets at 10-4. . . . Kelowna had lost six in a row at home. . . . The Broncos (1-12-0) have lost five in a row. They went 0-5 on their B.C. Division trip. . . . Cowell broke a 2-2 tie with his second goal of the season at 10:12 of the second period. . . . Kelowna got the game’s first goal from F Lane Zablocki, 20, who played his first game with the Rockets on Friday, then was scratched from the next two because of an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rockets had a 33-25 edge in shots, but it was 21-5 in the first period. . . . G James Porter stopped 23 shots for Kelowna in his first start since Oct. 5. . . . With his father making his head-coaching debut, Kelowna F Nolan Foote was scratched with an undisclosed injury.


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More on the Ice and Winnipeg . . . Raiders continue to roll, win 12th game . . . Rockets complete sweep of Royals

ThisThat

The Kootenay Ice announced on March 28, 2017, that the Chynoweth family had “entered into an agreement to sell the WHL team to Winnipeg entrepreneur Greg Fettes and hockey executive Matt Cockell.”

On April 27, the WHL announced that its board of governors had “voted unanimously” to Kootenaynewapprove the transfer of ownership.

At the time, the new owners stated the franchise would be staying in Cranbrook, B.C., its home since the Chynoweths relocated the Edmonton Ice in time for the 1998-99 season.

Interestingly, it seems that Fettes, on April 20, 2017, registered the domain name ‘winnipegice.com‘ at godaddy.com. The registration is to expire on April 20, 2019.

The registration was made, according to a search, by Greg Fettes, with the address given as Second Floor, 240 Kennedy Street, Winnipeg. That is the business address for 24-7 Intouch, the business of which Fettes is founder and CEO. According to its website, 24-7 “has been providing contact center and BPO solutions for over 18 years, and is consistently recognized as an award-winning global outsourcer.”

We may never find out whether registering winnipegice.com was part of a long-range plan to move the franchise or simply an insurance policy in case things didn’t work out in Cranbrook.

On Friday night, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that, according to its sources, the Ice will move to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 WHL season, and will play out of a 1,400-seat arena at the U of Manitoba while awaiting the completion of a 5,000-seat arena that would be built in conjunction with the Rink Hockey Academy.

ICYMI, the Free Press story, written by Mike Sawatzky, is right here.

With Cockell entrenched in the Cranbrook community as president and general manager, the Ice has worked hard to connect with the area’s hockey fans while waiting for the team to become competitive on the ice. The Ice has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and is 3-4-3 early in this season.

Last season, according to figures compiled by the WHL, the Ice’s announced average attendance for 36 regular-season home games was 2,442, up from 1,754 in 2016-17.

The Ice ran a Drive for 25 campaign during the off-season, hoping to sell 2,500 season tickets. On Aug. 20, the team revealed that it had sold 1,598, a decrease of 319 from the previous season.

This season, after six home games, the announced average attendance is 2,351. Four of the six crowds have been smaller than that. On Oct. 14, the most-recent home game, the announced attendance was 2,117 as the Ice dropped a 2-1 OT decision to the Prince George Cougars.

The Ice also has closed off three sections in one end of 4,264-seat Western Financial Place in an attempt to make things a bit cozier.


F Connor Dewar of the Everett Silvertips drew a ‘TBD’ suspension on Saturday after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct during a 5-2 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday night. . . . Dewar, who has eight goals and seven assists in 10 games, scored Everett’s second goal in that game. . . . He won’t play today when the Silvertips play Game 2 of their East Division swing in Regina against the Pats.


F Eric Fawkes of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers has committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), starting with the 2020-21 season. . . . Fawkes had one goal and three assists in his first 11 games with Winkler this season. Last season, he finished with 37 goals and 37 assists in 47 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild. . . . From Winnipeg, Fawkes, 17, was a second-round selection by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He was dealt to the Kootenay Ice on Oct. 8. Kootenay dealt D Loeden Schaufler, 18, a ninth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and future considerations.


The BCIHL’s Trinity Western Spartans went 1-1-0 in a pair of exhibition games in TWUMinnesota on the weekend. . . . The Spartans lost 7-1 to the Minnesota Gophers, the sixth-ranked team in the NCAA Div. 1, on Saturday night. That came one night after they beat Hamline U, a Div. III team, 2-1 in OT in St. Paul. . . . Last night, the Spartans and Gophers played through a scoreless first period. The hosts took a 3-0 lead into the third. . . . D Travis Verveda, who played in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers, scored a second-period PP goal for the Spartans. . . . TWU G Jacob Mills blocked 43 shots. The three Minnesota goaltenders combined for 20 saves. . . . On Friday night, F Brandon Potomak, who played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, scored at 2:38 of OT to give the Spartans the victory. . . . F Spencer Gerth, who played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals, had TWU’s other goal. Verveda drew two assists. . . . Mills made 26 saves.


SATURDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Mark Kastelic scored a PP goal just 45 seconds into OT to give the visiting Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Hitmen (4-6-2), who have won three straight, were 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . Brandon now is 6-2-2. . . . The Wheat Kings overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period goals from F Baron Thompson (1), at 8:31, and F Chad Nychuk (1), at 12:03. . . . Kastelic won it with his second goal of the game, his 10th of the season.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last six goals, all of them in the third period, and beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 8-3. . . . The Tigers had opened the weekend set at home on Friday with a 4-3 victory in OT. . . . Lethbridge (5-4-3) has points in four straight (2-0-2). . . . The Tigers (6-6-1) had won their previous three games. . . . F Ty Kolle, recently acquired from the Portland Winterhawks, had a goal, his third, and two assists for Lethbridge. . . . The winners were 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . G Reece Klassen stopped 39 shots to earn the victory.


The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first five goals en route to an 8-2 victory PrinceAlbertover the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince Albert (12-1-0) has won five in a row and is atop the overall standings. . . . According to Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com, the Raiders, who have been in the WHL since 1982-83, have never won 12 of their first 13 games. . . . The Raiders also have scored eight goals in two straight games. . . .  Spokane (6-3-3) had points in its previous three games (2-0-1). It went 3-2-1 on its East Division trip. . . . The Raiders got a goal, his fifth, and two assists from F Sean Montgomery, who has goals in four straight games. . . . Prince Albert F Brett Leason ran his point streak to 13 games with an assist. . . . D Konrad Belcourt, playing in his first game since being brought back from the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, scored the Raiders’ second goal. He was pointless in three earlier games with the Raiders. Belcourt was brought back to help out with D Max Martin having started a three-game suspension last night. . . . Spokane F Bobby Russell took a headshot major and game misconduct as the game ended.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in OT to give the host Red Deer Rebels a 4-3 victory over the Red DeerKootenay Ice. . . . The Rebels (7-3-1) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice (3-4-3) has lost five straight (0-2-3). . . . The Rebels scored the game’s first two goals, only to have the Ice tie it early in the second period with two PP goals. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (5) put the Rebels out front at 17:39 of the third period, but F Jaeger White (6) pulled Kootenay even at 18:15 with his second goal of the game. . . . Alexeyev’s fourth goal won it at 1:15 of extra time. . . . Zaytsev, a freshman from Moscow, had an interesting night, with a goal and two assists. He drew an assist on F Brandon Hagel’s shorthanded goal, scored an even-strength goal and had the lone assist on Alexeyev’s winner. . . . Zaytsev has five goals and six assists in 11 games.


F Tristin Langan broke a 2-2 tie at 12:39 of the third period as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Pats, 3-2, in Regina. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (5) gave the Pats a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 17:43 of the second period. . . . F Ryan Peckford (2) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 4:05 of the third. . . . Langan won it with his eighth goal of the season. . . . According to the online scoresheet, the Pats won 45 of the game’s 63 faceoffs. . . . The Warriors (5-3-2) got 31 stops from G Adam Evanoff. . . . The Pats fell to 3-8-0.


F Sasha Mutala’s goal at 1:46 of OT gave the Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Americans improved to 6-4-0, with the Thunderbirds now 6-2-2. . . . On Friday, the Americans beat the Thunderbirds, 4-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds erased a 2-0 deficit on goals from F Andrej Kukuca (4) and F Matthew Wedman (3), the latter at 16:06 of the third period. . . . Mutala, who also had an assist, won it with his second goal of the season. . . . This was Game 1 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans.


D Brendan De Jong lifted his own rebound into the net to give the Portland Winterhawks Portlanda 2-1 OT victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Winterhawks began the weekend doubleheader with a 5-3 victory over the Giants in Portland on Friday. . . . Last night, the Winterhawks (7-3-1) had a 33-19 edge in shots. . . . The Giants slipped to 9-3-1. . . . F Reece Newkirk (8) gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 13:08 of the first period. . . . Vancouver F Yannik Valenti (1), a German freshman, tied it at 7:11 of the second period. . . . De Jong won it with his third goal of the season, at 1:16 of OT. . . . Newkirk drew the only assist on the winner. . . . Shane Farkas, the only goaltender the Winterhawks have used this season, is 7-3-1, 2.72, .899. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw (ill) sat this one out. . . . The Giants lost F James Malm to an undisclosed injury in the second period. He leads the with nine goals, but likely won’t play against the visiting Kelowna Rockets today. It will be Vancouver’s third game in fewer than 48 hours.


The Kelowna Rockets broke a 1-1 tie with four unanswered goals as they beat the Royals, KelownaRockets5-1, in Victoria. . . . The Rockets (4-9-0) have won two in a row. They beat the host Royals, 8-2, on Friday night. . . . With the victory, Kelowna moved out of the Western Conference basement and now is one point ahead of the idle Kamloops Blazers (3-6-1), who have played three fewer games. . . . Victoria (8-3-0) now is 6-3-0 at home. . . . F Conner Bruggen-Cate (3) gave the Rockets a 2-1 lead at 15:57 of the first period, just 53 seconds after F Kaid Oliver had scored for Victoria. . . . The Royals scratched G Griffen Outhouse, their 20-year-old workhorse, from a second straight game. . . . The Rockets scratched F Lane Zablocki one night after he made his Kelowna debut by playing in his first game this season. . . . The Rockets will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., this afternoon.


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WHL and Cherry promoting organ donation again . . . Blades, Giants add defencemen . . . Minulin soon to rejoin Broncos


ThisThat

WHLKidney

The WHL revealed on Sept. 20 that it will partner with RE/MAX of Western Canada again this season for the second annual WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. On Tuesday, the WHL released the full details of the promotion.

Last season, it raised $265,500 that, according to a WHL news release, represents “the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

According to the news release: “From January through March 2019, all 17 WHL clubs in Canadian markets will play host to their very own themed games, complete with a variety of special promotions for fans in attendance. A total of 1,000 limited second edition Don Cherry bobbleheads will be distributed to fans in attendance. . . .

“During the 2018-19 regular season, WHL teams will sport their own unique and specially designed Don Cherry-themed uniforms on a designated game night. This season, players will sport uniforms emblazoned with fun nicknames as opposed to traditional surnames across their shoulders. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on the limited-edition jerseys, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to local chapters of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In addition to game-worn uniforms, fans will have the chance to bid on one Don Cherry-autographed jersey in each participating WHL market.”

Why is Don Cherry involved? Because his son, Tim, and daughter, Cindy, are well aware of kidney disease and the impact it can have on a family. Tim, then 13, received a kidney from Cindy in 1978.

Here are the dates for the WHL games:

Saturday, January 19 – Edmonton Oil Kings.

Friday, January 25 – Red Deer Rebels.

Friday, February 1 – Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors.

Saturday, February 2 – Prince Albert Raiders.

Friday, February 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants.

Saturday, February 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings.

Friday, February 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos.

Friday, March 1 – Kootenay Ice.

Saturday, March 2 – Victoria Royals.

Sunday, March 3 – Calgary Hitmen.

Friday, March 8 – Prince George Cougars.

Saturday, March 9 – Kelowna Rockets, Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades.

For more info or to sign up to be an organ donor, please visit CanadaDonates.ca.

The complete WHL news release is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades, with two defencemen down and an opening for a 20-year-old, have acquired veteran D Brandon Schuldhaus from the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Blades gave up a fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft and a second-round pick in 2020. Both picks originated with the Blades; they have two other second-rounders in 2020, from the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Schuldhaus is joining his fourth WHL team, having also played for Moose Jaw, the Red Deer Rebels and Seattle Thunderbirds. He was a fifth-round pick by Seattle in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . In 189 regular-season games, he has 12 goals and 35 assists.

The Warriors acquired Schuldhaus and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft from Red Deer on Jan. 5, sending second-round selections in the 2019 and 2020 drafts to Red Deer.

This season, he was pointless in one game with Moose Jaw after missing the first three games of the regular season as he served a suspension left over from last season’s playoffs.

Born in Houston, Texas, Schuldhaus is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. . . . His grandfather, George Kirkwood, is from Edmonton and played for the Oil Kings (1955-57) when they were a junior A team.

The Blades opened an Alberta road swing with a 5-4 loss in Red Deer on Tuesday night. Saskatoon was without D Seth Bafaro and D Jackson Caller, both out with undisclosed injuries.

Schuldhaus is expected to make his Blades’ debut in Edmonton against the Oil Kings on Wednesday.

Saskatoon had room for a 20-year-old after F Brad Goethals left the team. Schuldhaus joins F Max Gerlach and D Dawson Davidson as Saskatoon’s 20s.

Meanwhile, the trading of Schuldhaus allowed the Warriors to get down to three 20s — D Dalton Hamaliuk, F Tristin Lang and G Brodan Salmond.



The Prince Albert Raiders received an upgrade to their offence on Tuesday when the NHL’s San Jose Sharks sent F Noah Gregor, 20, back to the WHL. . . . The Sharks selected PrinceAlberthim in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2016 NHL draft and have signed him to a three-year entry-level deal. . . . Gregor, from Beaumont, Alta., had been in camp with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda. . . . The Raiders acquired Gregor from the Victoria Royals on July 25 for a conditional third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2021. The conditions are triggered by point totals and games played. The Royals could end up with none, one or both picks depending on how Gregor does this season. . . . The Royals selected him in the third round of the 2013 bantam draft, later dealt him to the Warriors, then re-acquired him. . . . He split last season between Victoria and the Moose Jaw Warriors, totalling 29 goals and 36 assists in 60 games. In 194 career regular-season games, he has 205 points, including 86 goals. . . . Gregor also has played in 28 playoff games, recording 11 goals and 12 assists. . . . The Raiders open a Central Division swing tonight (Wednesday) in Medicine Hat and should have Gregor in their lineup against the Tigers.


Feel free to scoot on over to my Twitter timeline (@gdrinnan) and vote on a 2020 Memorial Cup-related poll that I posted on Tuesday night.


D Artyom Minulin, a 20-year-old Russian, is on his way back to the Swift Current Broncos after having had off-season shoulder surgery.

Minulin flew into Edmonton on Tuesday. He will travel to Calgary to do the necessary SCBroncosimmigration-related stuff, then rejoin the Broncos so that their medical team can check him over and determine how close he is to returning to action.

He has played three seasons with the Broncos, putting up 26 goals and 100 assists in 206 games. Last season, he had 13 goals and 30 assists in 64 regular-season games, then added a goal and seven assists in 20 playoff games.

When Minulin is added to the active roster, the Broncos will be carrying four 20-year-olds — the others are F Andrew Fyten, F Tanner Nagel and D Matthew Stanley — and three imports, the other two being freshman Finnish forwards Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen.

When Minulin does return, the Broncos will have 10 days to make a decision on their 20s. They also would have to get down to two imports by moving Minulin or releasing one of the other two. The window to trade first-year imports doesn’t open until Dec. 15.

The Broncos moved out a 20-year-old on Tuesday when the Vancouver Giants, who Vancouveracquired D Ty Ettinger, 18, from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Monday, added D Ryan Pouliot, 20, off waivers.

The Giants have three defencemen sidelined with injuries — Matt Barberis (undisclosed, indefinite), Baily Dhaliwal (shoulder, four weeks) and Joel Sexsmith (undisclosed, day-to-day).

Pouliot was born in Ottawa, but played some minor hockey in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, with the North Shore and Burnaby winter clubs. . . . The Broncos had claimed him on waivers from the Kootenay Ice during the off-season. . . . In 172 regular-season games — 14 with the Red Deer Rebels, 155 with Kootenay and three with the Broncos — he has three goals and 27 assists. . . . The Saskatoon Blades selected him in the 11th round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft.

Pouliot is expected to be in the Giants’ lineup tonight (Wednesday) when they meet the Rockets in Kelowna.

The Giants now have four 20-year-olds on their roster — Pouliot, Barberis, F Jared Dmytriw and F Davis Koch. Once Barberis returns, they will have 10 days to get down to three.


Stan Butler, the director of hockey operations and head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion, has taken a medical leave while he deals with an undisclosed health issue. . . . Butler wasn’t behind the team’s bench on Sunday when they dropped a 6-1 decision to the Generals in Oshawa. . . . Adam Dennis, the assistant general manager and assistant coach, will handle the director of hockey operations’ duties, while Scott Wray, an assistant coach, will look after the coaching side of things. . . . Butler, the fourth-winningest head coach in OHL history, is into his 21st season with the Battalion. He spent one season (1996-97) as head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.


TUESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Red Deer Rebels (4-2-0) ran their winning streak to four games by erasing a 2-0 first-Red Deerperiod deficits en route to a 5-4 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Blades have lost two in a row after opening the season with three straight victories. . . . The game featured two PP goals by each team. . . . F Jeff de Wit scored twice for Red Deer. He’s got five goals in six games; he finished last season with 11 goals in 43 games split among the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria Royals. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev had two assists to run his point streak to six games.


The WHL’s weekly roster report is right here.


F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who spent the past three seasons with the Spokane Chiefs, remains on the roster of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings as they prepare to open the regular season on Friday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . Anderson-Dolan, 19, was a second-round pick by the Kings in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 91 points, including 40 goals, with the Chiefs last season. In 212 regular-season games, he has 193 points, including 100 assists. . . . He has signed with the Kings, so is able to play nine games before the first year of his contract kicks in. . . . The Kings will be without F Dustin Brown (broken finger, four-to-six weeks), which may have opened the door for Anderson-Dolan to claim a roster spot. . . . The last two spots on the Kings’ 22-man roster went to Anderson-Dolan and F Austin Wagner, 21, a speedster who played four seasons (2013-17) with the Regina Pats.


The Regina Pats have signed D Jake Johnson, 15, who was a 10th-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. From Scottsdale, Ariz., he played the past two seasons with the bantam Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. This season, he is expected to play with the Jr. Coyotes U15 in the T1EHL.


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