Clouston in Blazers’ coaching hunt. . . . Mikhalchuk signs with KHL team. . . . Czech U-20 team into summer camp

MacBeth

F Tanner Eberle (Moose Jaw, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite). This season, in 57 games, he had nine goals and 17 assists. . . .

D Mitch Versteeg (Lethbridge, 2006-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two goals and eight assists in 36 games. . . .

F Reid Petryk (Medicine Hat, Everett, Edmonton, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Frisk Asker (Norway, GET-Ligaen). This season, with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), he had 19 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. On loan to the Chicago Wolves (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

D Aaron Irving (Edmonton, Everett, 2012-17) has signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, in 47 games with Storhamar Hamar (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 12 goals and 26 assists. He led the league in goals by a defenceman. . . .

D Ben Betker (Portland, Everett, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had one goal and four assists in 15 games, and he had three goals and four assists in 22 games with Detva (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . Zvolen’s head coach is Andrej Podkonický (Portland, 1996-98). . . .

F Cody Fowlie (Everett, Kelowna, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). This season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 20 goals and 22 assists in 71 games. . . .

F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Prince George, 2017-19) has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, with the Prince George Cougars (WHL), he had 25 goals and 25 assists in 68 games. He led the team in points.


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If you are a follower of the Kamloops Blazers and you are wondering who will be their next head coach . . . well . . . you can move Shaun Clouston up near the top of the list, Kamloops1maybe even into the top slot.

Clouston, 51, was dumped by the Medicine Hat Tigers on May 30 after spending 16 years in the organization, the last seven as general manager and head coach. He was the head coach for two seasons before that, and also worked as associate coach and assistant coach.

One day after Clouston was moved out, the Tigers announced the hiring of Willie Desjardins as GM/head coach. Clouston actually worked under Desjardins before succeeding him as the Tigers’ head coach.

Taking Note has been told that Clouston, who is from Viking, Alta., will be in Kamloops to meet with Blazers general manager Matt Bardsley at some point over the next day or two.

The Blazers have been without a head coach since parting company with Serge Lajoie on April 16 after just one season. He now is the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.

Clouston is the winningest head coach in Medicine Hat history, with 375 regular-season victories. He broke Desjardins’ record (323) on Dec. 30, 2017. Clouston also spent time as the head coach of the Tri-City Americans and finished this season with a total of 391 regular-season victories, leaving him 18th on the WHL’s all-time list.

With Clouston as the head coach, the Tigers made the playoffs in eight of nine seasons. They twice reached the Eastern Conference final (2011 and 2014). The only time Clouston missed the playoffs with the Tigers was in 2016 when they lost a tiebreaker game to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

When Clouston left the Tigers, he is believed to have had some time left on his contract — perhaps as much as two seasons.


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F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who led the Prince George Cougars in points this season, won’t PrinceGeorgebe returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. As you will have seen in The MacBeth Report, Mikhalchuk, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 16, has signed with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). . . . From Minsk, Belarus, Mikhalchuk played two seasons with the Cougars. He had 14 goals and 19 assists as a freshman, then added 25 of each this season. . . . Last season, the Cougars also had Czech F Matéj Toman on their roster. Toman, 18, had nine goals and 11 assists in his freshman season.


Dusty Imoo, a former WHL goaltender, is leaving the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings to work for Kunlun Red Star Beijing (KHL). Imoo worked in goaltending development with the Kings for four seasons. . . . Imoo had replaced Kim Dillabaugh, when he left the Kings to join the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2015-16 season. Dillabough had worked with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets before going to the NHL. . . . Former NHLer Curt Fraser, who is a family friend of Imoo’s, is Kunlun’s head coach. . . . Imoo played for the WHL’s New Westminster Bruins, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats (1987-91). He went on to play nine seasons with the Seibu Bears Tokyo and four wit the Oji Eagles. Imoo played for Japan in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, and also played for Japan in three world championships.


Václav Varaďa is back for a second season as head coach of the Czech Republic’s U-20 team. Varada is a former WHL and NHL player. He skated with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets for two seasons (1994-96), before going on to a pro career that included 493 NHL games. He has been coaching in Czech Republic since 2013-14. . . . Former NHLer Patrik Eliáš is back as an assistant coach, also for a second season. He played 1,240 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils. . . . The Czech U-20 team gathered in Jihlava on Monday to begin a summer training camp. Included on the camp roster are D Libor Zabransky, who began this season with the Kelowna Rockets and finished with the USHL’s Fargo Force, D Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, F Martin Lang of the Kamloops Blazers and F Matéj Toman of the Prince George Cougars. . . . All told, four goaltenders, 16 defencemen and 24 forwards are on the camp roster. . . . It doesn’t include F Michal Kvasnica, 19. He played with the Portland Winterhawks in 2018-19, but spent this weekend in a camp being held by the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.


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Robison: Ice announcement ‘very soon’ . . . Blades sign L.A. prospect . . . Ex-WHLer draws more jail time


MacBeth

D Ben Betker (Portland, Everett, 2011-15) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Detva (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had one goal and four assists in 15 games with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL). . . .

F Jonas Johansson (Kamloops, 2002-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with HA74 Sävsjö (Sweden, Division 2). He didn’t play last season. In 2016-17, he had eight goals and 21 assists in 33 games with Gherdëina Selva Val Gardena (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

F Konstantin Pushkaryov (Calgary, 2004-05) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kurbads Riga (Latvia, Optibet Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and nine assists in 47 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), and seven goals and two assists in 12 games with Nomad Astana (Kazakhstan, Championship).


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On the ninth day of our annual Christmas countdown, I’ve got a pair of tunes for you (because I didn’t post on the eighth day). Both of these feature Michael Bublé, who brings a WHL flavour because he owns a piece of the Vancouver Giants.

If you click right here you’ll find him and Blake Shelton, with the Christmas version of Home.

And if you click right here, you’ll find him with Bing Crosby performing White Christmas.


According to Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner, there will be an announcement “very soon” pertaining to the future of the Kootenay Ice, a franchise that plays out of Cranbrook, B.C.

The Ice is in its 21st season in Cranbrook. This is the franchise’s second season under the Kootenaynewownership of Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased it from the Chynoweth family. Fettes and Cockell are Winnipeggers and there has been speculation most of this season that they will relocate the franchise to the Manitoba capital once this season is done.

To date, there has been little in the way of comment from the WHL office or from the Ice owners.

Robison made an appearance with Dean Millard on Edmonton’s TSN radio outlet (1260) on Wednesday and talked about various things related to the WHL.

Here is Robison’s response to a question about the Ice situation:

We’re going through a process and I think that we’ve been very patient first of all with the Kootenay market . . . previously with the Chynoweth ownership which had some difficulty . . . it’s been well-publicized over the years and I think the new ownership has come in and done exactly what we wanted them to do and that was commit to that market and to make every effort to get things turned around.

“But we’ll be going through an exercise here as we’ve indicated and we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is. But we gotta be very conscious that there’s been some great support in Kootenay over the years and the ownership have done what they can do to try and get things turned around.”

Robison didn’t sound at all comfortable in talking about the Ice and there weren’t any follow-up questions.

The complete interview is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Spencer Shugrue, 15, to a WHL contract. Shugrue Saskatoonwas a ninth-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. . . . He has dual American-Canadian citizenship and presently lives with his family in Los Angeles, where he plays for the U-16 Jr. Kings of the T1EHL. In 17 games, he has three assists. . . . Last season, he was at the Delta Hockey Academy, where he had one goal and 11 assists in 28 games with a bantam prep team.


Barkley Swenson, a former WHL player, has been sentenced in Prince Albert Provincial Court to four months in jail on charges of possession of stolen property and breach of court conditions. According to Charlene Tebbutt of panow.com, “Swenson is to serve the four-month term on top of a 15-month sentence that he received in November in Melfort on charges of assault and uttering threats.” . . . Swenson, now 44, played 150 games in the WHL — 80 with the Prince Albert Raiders and 70 with the Tacoma Rockets — over four seasons (1990-94). . . . Tebbutt’s story is right here.


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