Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

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Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

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The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

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Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Hurricanes bring back coaching staff . . . Wheat Kings sign import goalie . . . Porter moves to Oil Kings


MacBeth

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 40 games with Dinamo Riga and was pointless in three games with Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). He signed a tryout contract with Dinamo on July 3. . . . Dinamo has played six exhibition games so far and has four more scheduled before opening the regular season on Sept. 2. . . .

D Aaron Irving (Edmonton, Everett, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with Storhamar (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, he had 15 goals and 33 assists in 60 games with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), and was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . . He was named to the ECHL’s all-rookie team. . . .

F Todd Fiddler (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Spokane, Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with Boro/Vetlanda Landsbro (Sweden, Division 2). Last season, he had 14 goals and 13 assists in 17 games with the Stony Plain Eagles (Allen Cup West). . . .

F Jan Bittner (Red Deer, 2012-13) signed a one-year contract with Osby (Sweden, Division 3). Last season, with Morzine-Avoriaz (France, Division 3), he had 11 goals and 38 assists in 15 games. He was second on his team in assists, and third in the league. . . .

G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) was released by the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite) due to “an ongoing medical issue.” He had signed a one-year extension with Coventry in May. Last season, he was 3.12 and .900 in 56 games. Nastiuk was named Coventry’s Best Defensive Player, the Players’ Player of the Season, and the Coaches’ Player of the Season. . . .

D Paul Postma (Swift Current, Calgary, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one assist in 14 games with the Boston Bruins (NHL), and one goal and eight assists in 13 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL). . . .

F Lance Bouma (Vancouver, 2005-10) signed a one-year plus option contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, he had three goals and six assists in 53 games with the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), and seven goals and seven assists in 20 games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL). . . .

F Tyler Mosienko (Kelowna, 2000-05) signed a one-year contract with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). Last season, with Épinal (France, Ligue Magnus), he had four goals and 17 assists in 36 games. He was the team captain. . . . Épinal’s Ligue Magnus team was liquidated in bankruptcy proceedings in April and lost its place in Ligue Magnus. A new senior club was formed as part of the minor hockey association in Épinal and will play in Division 3 this season.


ThisThat

Dorothy and I are just back after spending a couple of days in Jasper . . . that would be in Alberta, not Alabama.

No, we weren’t able to get away from the smoke.

Robson
This was Tuesday afternoon . . . somewhere behind the smoke sits Mount Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies.

Still, the smoky conditions didn’t seem to keep anyone away because the highways, streets, sidewalks, shops and restaurants all were packed.

A few years ago, we would do a two-hour hike in an area called The Valley of the Five Lakes just south of Jasper. Back then, there might have been three or four vehicles in the parking lot. When we drove past on Wednesday, there had to have been 100 vehicles there. It’s safe to say that Jasper no longer is a hidden gem.

While watching people from around the globe walking the streets, and listening to the various languages being spoken, I found myself wondering how much money a lot of these tourists had spent on what may well have been their Rocky Mountain adventure of a lifetime.

Except that the mountains were awfully hard to see through the smoke.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed head coach Brent Kisio and assistant coach Jeff Hansen to contract extensions, the lengths of which haven’t been disclosed. . . . Kisio, 35, Lethbridgeis about to begin his fourth season as the club’s head coach. He will miss part of this season while working as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria. . . . Hansen, 36, is returning for a second season after working for four years as the video coach with Kisio’s former team, the Calgary Hitmen. He will be the video coach with Canada at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . The Hurricanes also announced that Josh McNiven will be back for a fourth season as an assistant coach, with Andrew Doty, the assistant to the general manager and video coach, returning for a fifth season. He worked with Team Canada as it won gold at the recently completed Hlinka Gretzky Cup event . . . . The Hurricanes also have hired Matt Anholt, 24, as skills and development coach. The son of Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt, Matt played four seasons with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. He was the team captain the past two seasons. . . .

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have added Garry Carson to their scouting staff. A veteran scout, he most recently worked with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He also is the director of scouting and player development for the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.



The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed Czech G Jiri Patera, who was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. Patera, 19, played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids BrandonWKregularRoughriders, going 3.24, .901 in 34 games. . . . He was a sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, is the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager. . . . The Wheat Kings finished last season with two goaltenders — Dylan Myskiw and Ethan Kruger — on their roster who are eligible to return. Myskiw, 19, is from Winnipeg, while Kruger, who turns 17 on Sept. 27, is from Sherwood Park. Myskiw was 11-5-2, 3.41, .887 in 22 appearances while backing up Logan Thompson, who played out his junior eligibility. Kruger played last season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to have been drafted by the Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon also holds the WHL rights to Swedish D Erik Brannstrom, who was taken by Vegas with the 15th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, and Czech F Martin Kaut, who was a first-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL’s 2018 draft. The Wheat Kings selected Brannstrom in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. He will turn 19 on Sept. 2 and is eligible to play with the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. . . . Brandon picked Kaut, who turns 19 on Oct. 2, in 2017. He played professionally at home last season, and is eligible to play this season in the AHL, where the Colorado Eagles are affiliated with the Avalanche.

The Wheat Kings have signed Roman (RJ) Kaszczij as their athletic therapist. He spent the past two seasons with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, who won the league title in 2017-18. . . . With the Wheat Kings, he takes over from Chris Trivieri, who spent two seasons with Brandon. . . .

The Wheat Kings also announced that they have signed a three-year deal with Q Country 91.5FM that will run through the 2020-21 season. Brandon Crowe will be back for a third season as the team’s play-by-play voice. . . . The Wheat Kings also revealedthat they have sold 2,036 season tickets. Last season, according to a news release, they sold “close to 2,600 season tickets.”


The Edmonton Oil Kings have hired Jamie Porter as their new director of scouting. EdmontonOilKingsPorter, who is from Edmonton, had been with the Swift Current Broncos for 14 seasons, most recently as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. Porter also worked for the Broncos as an area scout, the head scout and the director of scouting and player personnel. . . . He left the organization after Dean Brockman was named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . In Edmonton, Porter will be working with Kirt Hill, the Oil Kings’ first-year president of hockey operations and director of scouting.


If you’re a regular here, this is part of what you read on July 7:

“The buzz is that veteran scout Daryl Anning will be leaving the Broncos for the Vancouver Giants and what one source told me would be ‘an increased role.’ Anning is the father of David Anning, the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.”

On Tuesday, the Giants announced that they have hired Daryl Anning, who is from VancouverWinnipeg, as their scouting director. A retired police officer, Anning spent 20 seasons with the Swift Current Broncos before leaving, along with all of the other scouts, when the front office underwent a massive overhaul. As a travelling scout, you can bet Anning played a major role in the Bronco’s 2018 WHL championship.

The Giants also added Jason Smart of Kelowna, Dale Britton of Red Deer and John Verrall of Saskatoon to their scouting staff. . . . Smart is a former WHL player (Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1986-90). An RCMP officer, his son Jonathan is a defenceman with the Kootenay Ice. Jason also has scouted for the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Britton, who will work the Central Alberta region, spent the previous seven seasons scouting for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He also worked for the Prince Albert Raiders for four seasons. . . . Verrall will work as a player development analyst. He is a retired physician with, according to a news release, “experience in video analytics and scouting at multiple levels, including the NHL, AHL and CHL.” His son, Ben, plays at York University.


The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Jaeger White, 20, from Medicine Hat for what a Tigers’ news release says is a “conditional draft pick.” . . . White also has played for the KootenaynewLethbridge Hurricanes, Everett Silvertips and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Last season, the Medicine Hat native had 10 goals and 24 assists in 68 games with the Tigers. In 152 regular-season WHL games, he has 15 goals and 39 assists. . . . He was a fourth-round selection by the Hurricanes in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. . . . White is a stepson to Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach. . . .

The Ice now appears to have five 20-year-olds on its roster, including F Gunnar Wegleitner, who was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on July 20, White, G Matt Berlin, D Martin Bodak and D Dallas Hines. As an import, Bodak would be a two-spotter, but I’m not sure that he has committed to return to the Ice. . . .

Having dealt White, the Tigers are left with six 20s on their roster, although two of those players — F Mason Shaw and D David Quenneville — have signed pro contracts. The other four 20s on the Tigers’ roster are D Dalton Gally, F Ryan Jevne, D Dylan MacPherson and D Linus Nassen, who would be a two-spotter should he return.


The Everett Silvertips have added James Jensen to their staff as goaltending coach. . . . Jensen takes over from Shane Clifford, who now is the goaltending coach with the OHL’s EverettErie Otters. . . . In Everett, Jensen will work with head coach Dennis Williams, who is into his second season, and first-year assistants Harry Mahood and Louis Mass. . . . According to a Silvertips news release, Jensen has more than “20 years as a professional goaltending coach” and has worked in private training with goaltenders “currently playing at the NHL, minor professional, WHL and youth levels.” . . . Jensen is on staff at NET360, an annual goaltending camp in West Kelowna, B.C.

Meanwhile, the Silvertips have signed D Ty Gibson to a WHL contract. Gibson, from Victoria, was a third-round selection by Everett in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He is the first pick from that class to have signed with the Silvertips. . . . Last season, he stayed at home and played for the Pacific Coast Academy’s bantam prep team, putting up eight goals and 16 assists in 30 games. He also had one assist in four games with the Elite 15 team.


TJ Millar, who spent one season (2015-16) as the Tri-City Americans’ video coach, has joined the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs as an assistant coach. Millar, a 24-year-old from Calgary, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks, who won the league title last season. He has a Sports Management Degree from the Sports Institute of Finland.


The junior B Creston Valley ThunderCats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have added Carter Duffin as an assistant coach. . . . Duffin, from Red Deer, was an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for the past two seasons. He also coached minor hockey in Red Deer for six seasons. . . . Duffin fills the spot created when assistant coach Jeff Wagner left to take over as general manager and head coach of the KIJHL’s Fernie Ghostriders.


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