Tracey nets two more for Canada. . . . Scott, Wiesblatt help Raiders to victory. . . . Hardy sparks Giants; Chiefs lose Smith

MacBeth

F Roman Horák (Chilliwack, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Växjö (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 50 games.


ThisThat

F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice and added an assist on Friday Canadato help Canada to a 7-4 victory over Switzerland at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . The tournament, which runs through April 28, also is being played in Ornskoldsvik. . . . Tracey had scored twice on Thursday as Canada skated to a 5-3 victory over Finland as the tournament began. . . . On Friday, Canada got a goal and an assist from each of F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) and F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers). F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) also scored for Canada. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 17 shots in his second straight start. . . . Canada led 3-0 and 4-3 by period. . . . Canada will next play on Sunday when it is to meet Belarus.

In other Friday games, Team USA dumped Slovakia, 12-5, behind four goals from each of F Cole Caufield, who has seven in two games, and F Jack Hughes; Sweden beat Latvia, 5-2; and Belarus surprised Finland, 4-3, despite being outshot 29-3 in the third period. F Yegor Buyalski of the Warriors had a goal and an assist for Belarus.


The NCAA has announced a series of rule changes regarding the does and don’ts of recruiting that will impact Division I men’s hockey. . . . Here’s Mike G. Morale of nhl.com: “The new legislation, which will go into effect May 1, calls for no recruiting conversations until Jan. 1 of a player’s sophomore (grade 10) school year, as well as no verbal offers (commitments) made to a player until Aug. 1 before the player’s junior (grade 11) school year. Under the old guidelines, players could initiate communication at any time, and verbal offers could be made anytime.” . . . Morreale’s story is right here.

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With the rule changes not kicking in until May 1, there may well be a few young players making verbal commitments between now and then. . . . On Friday, F Tanner Ludtke, a 14-year-old from Elko, Minn., announced via Twitter that he has committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha and will join the Mavericks for the 2023-24 season. . . . This season, he had 30 goals and 33 assists in 46 games with the Lakeville South bantam AA club. . . .

Meanwhile, F Brett Moravec, 16, has committed to the U of Wisconsin Badgers. Moravec, from Airdrie, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 13 goals and 23 assists in 32 games with the prep team at the Edge School in Calgary.


The Battlefords North Stars wrapped up the SJHL championship on Friday night, beating the visiting Melfort Mustangs, 7-2. . . . The North Stars won the series and the Canalta Cup, 4-1, and now will meet the MJHL-champion, either the Portage Terriers or the Swan Valley Stampeders, for the ANAVET Cup. The MJHL champion will be decided on Monday when the teams meet in Game 7 in Portage la Prairie. . . . Last night, Battlefords got two goals from each of F Macgregor Sinclair, Quintin Loon-Stewardson and F Braydon Buziak. . . . They also got 32 saves from G Joel Grzybowski.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL playoffs resumed on Friday night as each of the conference finals got started. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders opened the Eastern Conference final at home with a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who hadn’t played since eliminating the Calgary Hitmen on April 10. The Raiders won their series with the Saskatoon Blades on April 14. . . .

In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants got started with a 4-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Langley. . . . The Giants had been idle since finishing off the Victoria Royals on April 11. The Chiefs eliminated the Everett Silvertips on April 13.

——

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott recorded the shutout and F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored the game’s only goal as the PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders opened the Eastern Conference final with a 1-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Wiesblatt (4) scored at 1:48 of the second period, his backhand shot bouncing past G Dylan Myskiw after hitting the stick belonging to Edmonton D Wyatt McLeod. . . . Wiesblatt had scored three goals in the Raiders’ first four games of these playoffs; this goal ended a six-game drought. . . . Scott blocked 26 shots, and was superb in a third period in which his guys were outshot 11-3. . . . In these playoffs, Scott is 9-2, 1.64, .934 with two shutouts. . . . Myskiw finished with 23 saves. . . . Edmonton was 0-2 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-4. . . . The Raiders are 6-0 at home in the playoffs. . . . The Oil Kings went into the game having won their previous four road games. . . . F Cole Fonstad was back in the Raiders’ lineup after missing the last two games of their six-game series victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders sat out as he completed a two-game suspension.


F Owen Hardy scored once and added two assists to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 4-1 Vancouvervictory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . It was Game 1 of the Western Conference final. Game 2 will be played tonight in Langley. . . . The Giants took control with two goals 2:12 apart early in the first period. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (4) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 6:25, and F Dawson Holt (3) made it 2-0 at 8:37. . . . Hardy (4) upped the lead to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . The Chiefs got their goal at 5:30 as F Adam Beckman (6) scored. . . . D Bowen Byram (5) put it away for the Giants with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the third period. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-2. . . . G David Tendeck earned the victory with 30 saves, four more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . The Giants continued to play without F Aidan Barfoot, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane F Luc Smith left the game early in the first period after falling into the boards. He didn’t return. If he has to miss any time it will be a big loss for the Chiefs. At 6-foot-4, he’s a big body and as a 20-year-old he brings a lot of experience to their lineup. After being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers this season, he had 20 goals and 14 assists in 42 games. He went into this series with four goals and an assist in 10 games.


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Matt Savoie headed to Crusaders? . . . Tracey, Gauthier lead Canada past Finland. . . . WHL playoffs set to resume


MacBeth

F Chris Langkow (Spokane, Saskatoon, Everett, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had 17 goals and 22 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Brayden Low (Portland, Everett, 2010-15) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with the Reading Royals (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Jordan Draper (Red Deer, 2007-08) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games. . . .

F Jaedon Descheneau (Kootenay, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). This season, with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL), he had 19 goals and 32 assists in 52 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points.


ThisThat

It appears that the Savoie brothers, Carter and Matt, don’t have any plans of playing in the WHL. . . . Carter, 17, just finished his first season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park SherwoodParkCrusaders and plans on returning for 2019-20. He has committed to attending the U of Denver and playing for the Pioneers in 2020-21.

On Thursday, Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) tweeted: “Despite having his rights traded to Winnipeg, Carter Savoie WILL NOT be going to the WHL. He will stay with the Crusaders next season.” . . . A ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, his major junior were traded to the Winnipeg Ice on April 3 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and two conditional selections. . . . At this point, the Ice holds the first and ninth picks in the 2019 draft.

Yaremchuk posted that tweet after having Kyle Chase, the Crusaders’ president of hockey operations and general manager, on his podcast — Inside The Cru.

Matt Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is ranked by most, if not all, observers as the No. 1 prospect among players eligible for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled for Red Deer on May 2. . . . He has committed to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . He played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, and is expected to return there for 2019-20.

Savoie attended the Crusaders’ recent spring camp, which prompted Yaremchuk to ask Chase: “Is he that good?”

Chase’s response: “Yeah. Yeah, he is.”

Chase’s son, Greg, who played in the WHL and has played professionally for the past four seasons, watched Savoie for a bit before saying: “He’ll be in the NHL in four years.”

According to Kyle Chase, his son then asked “what a lot of us ask: How did he get that good so fast?”

Chase went on to describe Savoie: “He shoots bullets. He’s physical. He’s an elite skater. He’s tenacious. He’s on the puck. When you talk about those elite players . . . those guys are high-end and high-octane and high-energy. Matt’s got a little bit of Wendel Clark in him; when you take the puck from him he’s going to blow you up and take it back. He’s not just interested in lifting your stick. . . . He’s got a ton of courage and he’s got a ton of skill. . . . He’s head’s up . . . he’s unselfish.”

As for Sherwood Park’s plans, Chase said that “our intention is to affiliate him. We spoke to the family and to Matt. We want him affiliated . . . and play a minimum of 10 games as an affiliate with us next (season). The family has been very receptive . . . and Matt’s on board. We’re excited to have him around the organization.”

The complete podcast, which runs about 20 minutes, is right here.


F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice as Team Canada erased a 3-0 Canadasecond-period deficit and went on a 5-3 victory over Finland in its opening game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . Tracey tied the score at 3:57 of the third period, on a PP, as he finished off a 2-on-1 with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice). . . . Tracey scored what stood as the winner at 14:31, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) getting the lone assist. . . . Krebs iced it with an empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 39 shots. He was terrific in the first period in holding the Finns to two goals on 20 shots. . . . Canada is scheduled to play Switzerland today. . . . The tournament runs through April 28. . . . Team Canada added G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) to its roster earlier in the week. However, F Kirby Dach of the Blades had to turn down an invitation due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 5 of a second-round series with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . In other opening-day games, Russia beat Slovakia, 6-3; Team USA dropped Sweden, 6-1; and Belarus beat Czech Republic, 4-3.


The WHL’s two games in the 2019 CIBC Canada-Russia Series will be played in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. . . . The six-game series that also features two games against the OHL and QMJHL, is to be played Nov. 4-14. . . . For the first time since 2013, the series will begin in the QMJHL (Saint John, Nov. 4; Moncton, Nov. 5), then move to the OHL (Kitchener, Nov. 7; London, Nov. 11). . . . The series-ending games will be played in Saskatoon on Nov. 13 and Prince Albert on Nov. 14. . . . There is a news release on the series right here.


The Prince George Spruce Kings won the franchise’s first BCHL championship — the Fred SpruceKingsPage Cup — on Wednesday night, beating the Vipers 3-1 in Vernon to sweep the championship series in four games. . . . That ended a remarkable playoff run for the Spruce Kings, who went 16-1, the best post-season record in BCHL history. . . . F Ben Poisson, the Spruce Kings’ captain, gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:14 of the second period. That goal, his 13th of the playoffs, stood up as his second game-winner in as many nights. Poisson had scored the OT winner in a 4-3 victory in Vernon on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Spruce Kings, who entered the BCHL for the 1996-97 season, also clinched a berth in the National Junior A Championship, which is to be played in Brooks, Alta. Before that, the Spruce Kings will meet the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits for the Doyle Cup. . . . That series is to open in Brooks on April 26.

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In the MJHL, the Portage Terriers beat the host Swan Valley Stampeders, 5-2, on Thursday night, tying the championship final, 3-3. . . . They’ll play Game 7 in Portage la Prairie on Monday. . . . Last night, the Terriers held a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . F Jay Buchholz, an 18-year-old from Fargo, N.D., had two goals for the winners, who trailed 2-1 with fewer than eight minutes to play in the third period. . . .

In the SJHL, the championship final between the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs is to resume tonight. The North Stars, with a 3-1 lead, will play host to Game 5. . . . A sixth game, if needed would be played Sunday in Melfort.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL playoffs resume tonight as the conference finals get rolling with games in Prince Albert and Langley, B.C. . . . Each of the four teams still alive is 8-2 in these playoffs. . . . WHL fans have to be thinking it would be nice to see a couple of long series. The first round, with a maximum of 56 games, played out in 43, with three of the eight series going six games and one going the distance. . . . The second round, however, was finished in 19 games as the winners went 16-3. . . . F Dante Hannoun of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants lead the scoring race, each with 14 points, one more than Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . . Hannoun is tops in goals (9) and Koch leads in assists (12). . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders and G Bailey Brkin of the Spokane Chiefs each has eight victories. Scott has the best GAA, at 1.81, while Brkin is tops in save percentage (.931). . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings (54-10-4), will entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton topped the Central Division (42-18-8). . . . In the regular season, the Raiders won the season series, 3-1-0; the Oil Kings were 1-2-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Oil Kings winning, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Feb. 1, and the Raiders winning, 5-1, in Edmonton three days later. . . . In the four games, Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky had five goals and two assists, while D Conner McDonald had three goals and three assists. . . . G Todd Scott of Edmonton went the distance in three of the games, going 1-1-1, 4.62, .883. G Dylan Myskiw, who has had the hot hand in the playoffs, was 0-1-0, 5.04, .853. . . . F Noah Gregor led the Raiders, with two goals and six assists in the four games. F Cole Fonstad, who missed the last two games of the Raiders’ second-round series, had four goals and three assists, while F Brett Leason had a goal and six assists in three games. . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders was 2-1-0, 3.27, .897. . . . The Raiders will be without F Justin Nachbaur tonight as he completes a two-game suspension.

——

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants will be trying to prove that they are the WHL’s “top team” as they play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Giants finished atop the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. . . . The Chiefs were second in the U.S. Division, at 40-21-7. . . . According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, the Giants have seized on a couple of quotes from a Kevin Dudley story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review and are using them as a rallying point. . . . After the Chiefs had eliminated the Everett Silvertips, who had finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, head coach Dan Lambert made reference to having ousted “the top team in the league.” . . . At the same time, Spokane G Bailey Brkin told Dudley: “We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7.” . . . Yes, the Giants took note. “It bothers you to a certain extent,” D Dylan Plouffe told Ewen. “We’re just going to use it for motivation. That’s really all.” . . .

The Giants went 3-1-0 in the season series; the Chiefs were 1-2-1. . . . They have played each other three times since the trade deadline. The Giants won 6-4 in Spokane on Jan. 18 and 5-4 at home on Feb. 15. The Chiefs won 4-1 in Spokane on March 8. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods had a goal and five assists in six games, while F Luc Smith, in three games, had four goals. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw led his side with three goals and two assists in four games. F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had a goal and three assists. D Bowen Byram had a goal and two assists in the four games. . . . Brkin, who might be the playoff MVP to this point, was 1-1-0, 3.03, .915 against the Giants. . . . The Giants used both goaltenders — David Tendeck was 2-0-0, 3.88, .843; Trent Miner was 1-1-0, 4.13, .833.


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Blazers, Hurricanes swap forwards . . . Ice, The Drive cut radio deal . . . Ex-WHLers sign on as coaches


MacBeth

D Colton Jobke (Kelowna, Regina, 2009-13) signed a tryout contract with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). The contract runs through the end of November. Last season, he had one goal and seven assists in 47 games with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). Jobke has dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

D Shaone Morrisonn (Kamloops, 1999-02) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 29 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). . . .

D Cody Corbett (Edmonton, 2011-14) signed a one-year contract with Pusteral/Val Pusteria Brunico (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, he had three goals and 18 assists in 35 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), and two goals and two assists in 12 games with Orly Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga).


ThisThat

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F Jackson Shepard, 18, from the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for F Zane Franklin, 19, and a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s Lethbridge2020 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Shepard, who is from West Vancouver, had nine goals and 13 assists in 72 games. In 115 career games, all with Kamloops, he has 12 goals and 22 assists. The Blazers selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . .

Franklin, from Marwayne, Alta., had 14 goals and 24 assists in 67 games with Lethbridge last season. In 137 regular-season games, he has 20 goals and 34 assists. Lethbridge sKamloops1elected him in the second round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . .

This is an interesting deal if only because both teams are putting together bids on the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament. That would be Shepard’s 19-year-old season, while Franklin would be 20. . . .

The Hurricanes feel they have acquired a top-nine forward who will provide them with a lot of energy and some offence. . . . The Blazers are thrilled with the fact that Franklin also has 30 games of playoff experience. On the subject of that experience, Kamloops general manager Matt Bardsley told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “That’s real valuable to a team. We don’t just want to make the playoffs. We want to be in the playoffs and make a bit of a run.” . . . The Blazers have missed the playoffs three of the past five seasons, including last season. . . . Hastings’ story is right here.


The Kootenay Ice announced Tuesday that it and The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group has Kootenaynewagreed to a three-year contract extension involving play-by-play rights. . . . According to a news release, all games, “including select pre-season, all regular-season and playoff games will continue to be heard exclusively on 102.9 FM The Drive and through their website www.thedrivefm.ca.” . . . The Drive has carried Ice games since the franchise arrived in Cranbrook for the 1998-99 season. . . . Brant Hilton will be back as the radio voice of the Ice.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2018. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


TheCoachingGame

Brett Parker, a former WHL player, has signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . Parker, who is from Melville, Sask., joins head coach Brayden Klimosko in Battlefords. . . . Parker, 33, played thee seasons (2002-05) with the Prince George Cougars, then played five games with the Vancouver Giants in 2005-06. He also played four seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies.


The MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues have added Josh Green to their staff as an assistant coach. . . . Green, 40, played five seasons (1993-98) in the WHL, and had stints with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winter Hawks. In 282 regular-season games, he put up 142 goals and 136 assists. He went on to a pro career that included 341 NHL games. He has retired as a player after spending the past four seasons in Finland.


Sometimes the life of a hockey coach goes like this . . . Mark Dennehy had been the head coach at Merrimack College for 13 seasons when he was fired in March, following the 2017-18 season. . . . He wasn’t out of work too long, though, as he signed on May 30 as the head coach of the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, who are hooked up with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . However, he won’t coach even one game with the Nailers because he now is the head coach the Binghamton Devils, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. They received permission from the Penguins to speak with Dennehy and ended up hiring him. . . . Rick Kowalsky had been the head coach of New Jersey’s AHL affiliate for eight seasons before moving up to the parent club as an assistant coach.


Misko Antisin has joined the Wichita Falls Force as its director of player personnel and head coach. The Force is one of the franchises in the USA-Central Hockey League, which bills itself as a junior A circuit. . . . Antisin, 54, worked with league president Troy Mick with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the now-defunct Steamboat Wranglers in Colorado. . . . Antisin played two seasons (1983-85) with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars before going on to a lengthy pro career in Europe.


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Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

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WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

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The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


Tweetoftheday

Hurricanes power to Game 4 win . . . Wheat Kings mourn loss of long-time volunteer . . . Coaching news from here and there

ThisThat


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored four times on the PP en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday night. The WHL’s best-of-seven Eastern LethbridgeConference final is 2-2 and on its way back to Swift Current for Game 5 on Saturday night. They’ll return to Lethbridge for Game 6 on Monday. . . . Last night, the Hurricanes took a 3-1 lead into the second period and went from there. They got two goals from D Calen Addison and two assists from each of F Brad Morrison and F Jordy Bellerive. . . . Morrison leads all playoff skaters with 21 assists and 36 points. . . . Lethbridge got 25 stops from G Logan Flodell, while Stuart Skinner made 23 saves for the Broncos. . . . The Hurricanes were 4-10 on the PP; the Broncos were 0-7. . . . The Broncos played a second straight game without D Artyom Minulin and F Glenn Gawdin, their captain. Minulin left in Game 1 with an undisclosed injury; Gawdin was hurt in Game 2. . . . “We’ve got to remember how we looked tonight,” Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros told Shawn Mullin, their radio voice. “As a team I thought we embarrassed ourselves tonight. That’s not who we are. . . . It’s still 2-2. But tonight I’m not happy with how we presented ourselves.”


The WHL’s Western Conference final is scheduled to resume tonight (Thursday) in Kennewick, Wash., with the Everett Silvertips holding a 2-1 edge over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett scored the game’s last four goals on Monday to post an 8-4 victory. The teams then had two days off because the Toyota Center in Kennewick was playing host to Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story Onstage. . . . The teams will be back in Everett for Game 5 on Saturday.


Preben (Ben) Laursen, a long-time volunteer with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on Wednesday at the age of 78. He had been involved with the Wheat Kings since 1965, which is two years before the franchise went into what now is the WHL. . . . Laursen worked in various roles with the Wheat Kings, from handling the public-address work to looking after statistics. He also served as the director of off-ice officials for a few seasons. . . . There’s more on the Wheat Kings’ website right here.


TheCoachingGame

The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup, have fired head coach Jim Midgley after just one season behind the bench. . . . This season, the Mooseheads went 43-18-6-1, leaving them fourth overall in the QMJHL. They were swept from a second-round playoff series by the Charottetown Islanders. . . . Before taking over as head coach in June, Midgley spent six seasons with the Mooseheads as an assistant coach. . . . According to a news release, the Mooseheads will retain assistant coaches Sylvain Favreau and Jon Greenwood, and goaltending coach Eric Raymond.


Chris Murray, a former NHL and WHL player, is the first head coach of the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers, a minor midget team. . . . Murray, a Kamloops firefighter, has been an assistant coach with the WHL’s Blazers for four seasons, and also has coached minor hockey and at the Valleyview Hockey Academy. . . . Murray, 43, played three seasons (1991-94) with the WHL’s Blazers before going on to a pro career that included 242 NHL games. . . . The minor midget Blazers will be part of the B.C. Minor Midget Hockey League that is to begin play in the fall.


The QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts are expected to announce today (Thursday) that they have signed Patrick Roy as their new general manager and head coach. Roy, 52, would replace Philippe Boucher, who resigned as general manager and head coach earlier this month. . . . Roy is a former part-owner, GM and head coach of the Remparts, but has been out of the coaching game since leaving the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche in August 2016. . . . The Remparts have been owned by Quebecor Sports and Entertainment Group since 2015.


Ken Law is the new head coach and assistant GM of the junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Law spent the previous eight seasons as the GM/head coach of the KIJHL’s Osoyoos Coyotes. His contract wasn’t renewed at season’s end despite the fact the Coyotes finished atop the Okanagan Division for four straight seasons. Law takes over as head coach from Jason Tansem, who remains with the Chiefs as the director of hockey operations and also will help out as an assistant coach. . . . Grant Sheridan remains the Chiefs’ general manager.


The Ottawa-based Carleton U Ravens announced earlier this month that former WHLer Shaun Van Allen will be their head coach in 2018-19. He spent this season as the interim head coach, taking over when Marty Johnston joined the AHL’s Manitoba Moose prior to it getting started. . . . Under Van Allen, the Ravens went 17-7-4 and finished fourth in the OUA East, before losing a first-round series to the U of Ottawa. . . . Van Allen, 50, is from Calgary. He played two seasons (1985-87) with the Saskatoon Blades. His pro career included 794 regular-season NHL games. . . . Tip of the cap to Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) for this one.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars and Brandon Heck, their general manager and head coach, have, according to a team-issued news release, “mutually agreed to part ways immediately.” . . . According to the release, Heck “felt that he would like to pursue coaching opportunities closer to home and his family.” . . . Heck, 33, is from Forestburg, Alta. He spent one season with the North Stars, after coaching the bantam AAA Camrose Red Wings for two seasons. . . . This season, the North Stars finished atop the Global Ag Risks Solutions Divisions, at 42-14-2-0, which was the second-best record in the SJHL. They lost a third-round playoff series to the Estevan Bruins in five games.


MacBeth

F Ben Maxwell (Kootenay, 2003-08) signed a one-year extension with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL). He had 12 goals and 16 assists in 39 games.