Burzan, Langan fill hats in wins . . . Cutler has Royal birthday . . . Ams eke out victory over ‘Tips


MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Tours (France, Division 1). This season, with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had four goals and three assists in games. He was released by mutual agreement by Odense on Dec. 17. . . .

F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) announced his retirement, effective immediately. This season, he had three goals and nine assists in 12 games with Zell am See (Austria, Alps HL). He also is a coach of the Zell am See U12 team and will continue in that role.


ThisThat

KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

For the bulk of this season, there has been speculation that the Kootenay Ice will leave Cranbrook, B.C., after this season and set up shop in Winnipeg.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was on TSN Radio (1260) in Edmonton on Dec. 19.

Asked by host Dean Millard about the situation involving the Ice, Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

I don’t pretend to know the definition of “very soon,” but we are into our 17th day since Robison made that statement, and there has yet to be an announcement of any kind.


The WHL’s Canadian teams are preparing to take part in the second season of RE/MAX whlPresents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . The 17 teams first got involved in his promotion last season and it was a resounding success. . . . It is used to promote organ donation and to generate support for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Last season, it raised more than $265,500, which, according to a news release, represents “the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

This time around, teams again will be wearing specially-designed Don Cherry-themed sweaters, only they will sport nicknames on the backs rather than surnames. Yes, sweaters will be available via auction after each game.

Here are the dates of these special nights:

Sat., Jan. 19 – Edmonton Oil Kings

Fri., Jan. 25 – Red Deer Rebels

Fri. Feb. 1 – Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors

Sat., Feb. 2 – Prince Albert Raiders

Fri., Feb. 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings

Fri., Feb. 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars

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


G Kyle Dumba has been picked up by the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Dumba, 20, will fill the spot created when the Seattle Thunderbirds signed G Roddy Ross on Tuesday. . . . Seattle immediately added Ross to its roster, replacing G Liam Hughes, who was traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Dumba, 20, had been with the Victoria Grizzlies, who got future considerations from Camrose. . . . Dumba has spent time with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Regina Pats in the WHL, along with the junior A Okotoks Oilers, Calgary Mustangs, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Surrey Eagles and the Grizzlies.


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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan scored three times and added two assists to lead the host Brandon Wheat BrandonWKregularKings to a 7-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Brandon (16-14-6) had lost its previous four games. The Wheat Kings are two points shy of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Seattle (11-20-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1) and is five points out of a playoff spot. . . . F Cole Reinhardt gave the home guys a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:40 of the first period, and Burzan upped it to 2-0 at 9:21. . . . F Noah Philp halved the deficit, on a PP, at 11:07. . . . Brandon took control with four second-period goals, two of them from Burzan and another from Reinhardt (9), who also had an assist. . . . Philp later added his 13th goal for Seattle. . . . Brandon got a goal, his fourth, and two assists from D Chase Hartje. . . . Burzan has two career hat tricks — he had a five-goal game on Sept. 29 in an 8-4 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Stelio Mattheos was back in Brandon’s lineup — he had two assists — after completing a three-game suspension. His line, with Reinhardt and Burzan, combined for 10 points. . . . The Thunderbirds opened a six-game East Division trip with this game. . . . G Jiri Patera, who played with Czech Republic at the WJC, started for the Wheat Kings and stopped 37 shots. . . . Seattle starter Cole Schwebius was beaten four times on 13 shots in 24:32. Roddy Ross, who joined the Thunderbirds from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks this week, came on in relief. He stopped 19 of 22 shots in 35:28. . . . Seattle was without D Cade McNelly, who is serving a three-game suspension, and F Matthew Wedman, who sat out a one-game suspension. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and D Zach Ashton, who came over from the Saskatoon Blades, both were in Seattle’s lineup. . . . Seattle also had F Conner Roulette, 15, make his WHL debut. From Winnipeg, he was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2018 bantam draft. Roulette has 22 goals and 34 assists in 29 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. . . . The Wheat Kings and Thunderbirds met in the 2015-16 WHL final, with Brandon winning in five games. Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun pointed out in pre-game coverage that there are three Wheat Kings left who played in that series — Mattheos, F Connor Gutenberg and F Linden McCorrister. Seattle also has three players left on its roster — Wedman, F Nolan Volcan and D Jarrett Tyszka.


F Tristin Langan scored three times to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-2 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Moose Jaw (21-8-6) has points in six straight (5-0-1). The Warriors are third in the East Division, five points behind the Saskatoon Blades. However, Moose Jaw has five games in hand. . . . Prince Albert (34-4-1) now has lost two in a row at home where it is 17-2-0. It leads the East Division by 16 points over Saskatoon. . . . Langan gave Moose Jaw a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:58 of the first period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (8) tied it, on a PP, at 19:35. . . . Langan put the Warriors ahead again, at 12:05 of the second period. . . . D Brayden Pachal (10) got the home team back into a tie at 19:43. . . . Warriors F Brayden Tracey (15) snapped the tie, on a PP, at 7:31 of the third period, and Langan completed the hat trick into an empty net at 19:50. . . . Langan now has 66 points, including 30 goals, in 35 games. He went into this season with 71 points, including 25 goals, in 174 games. . . . Langan has four career hat tricks, three of them this season, two in his last six games. . . . The Warriors got three assists from D Josh Brook, their captain, in his first game back after playing for Canada at the WJC. . . . The Raiders were  credited with winning 46 of 65 faceoffs. . . . G Brodan Salmon stopped 38 shots for Moose Jaw, including 14 in the third period. . . . F Dante Hannoun was in the Raiders’ lineup one day after being acquired from the Victoria Royals. The Raiders also had G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason back from their stint with Canada’s national junior team. . . . Scott made 27 saves.


F Kyle Crnkovic scored on a PP in OT to give the host Saskatoon Blades a 2-1 victory over Saskatoonthe Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (24-11-5) has won three in a row. . . . Regina (12-25-2) has lost two straight (0-1-1). . . . F Max Gerlach (23) gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 13:16 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it at 4:38 of the third when F Austin Pratt (15) scored, on a PP. . . . Crnkovic won it with his third goal of the season at 1:19 of OT. . . . F Gary Haden had the primary assist on both Saskatoon goals. . . . Saskatoon got 32 saves from G Nolan Maier, while Regina’s Max Paddock was outstanding in blocking 36 shots. . . . D Reece Harsch, acquired this week from the Seattle Thunderbirds, made his Saskatoon debut. . . . F Kirby Dach (undisclosed injury) was among Saskatoon’s scratches. . . . D Tyson Feist, who was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs, was in Regina’s lineup, as was F Blake Allan, who came over from the Kootenay Ice.


F Jaydon Dureau broke a 3-3 tie in the third period and the Portland Winterhawks went Portlandon to a 5-3 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Portland (22-11-5) has points in seven straight (4-0-3). The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, 11 points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Swift Current (7-27-3) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . This was the start of Portland’s six-game East Division trip. . . . F Lane Gilliss (8) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead at 2:13 of the first period. . . . Broncos F Ethan O’Rourke (3) tied it at 10:11. . . . Portland took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Joachim Blichfeld (35), at 14:41, and F Michal Kvasnica (6), at 16:54. . . . F Matthew Culling pulled the home side to within a goal at 17:36. . . . Culling now has eight goals, seven of them in his past nine games. . . . F Ethan Regnier (7) got the Broncos into a 3-3 tie at 2:46 of the second period. . . . Dureau snapped the tie at 7:28 of the third period, and F Jake Gricius (16) got the empty-netter at 19:10. . . . F Cody Glass, who played for Canada at the WJC, wasn’t in Portland’s lineup. . . . Portland held a 48-23 edge in shots — 16-8, 16-9 and 16-6, by period. . . . Yes, Broncos G Josh Hofer stood tall, again. . . . G Shane Farkas started for Portland, with Dante Giannuzzi backing him up. G Evan Fradette, 17, who was added to Portland’s roster from the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders on Thursday, wasn’t dressed. . . . Portland got back D John Ludvig, who was out with a two-game suspension. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley, who served the second of a four-game suspension, and D Brendan De Jong, who is in concussion protocol.


F Brandon Cutler celebrated his 19th birthday with a goal and two assists to spark the VictoriaRoyalsVictoria Royals to a 3-2 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . Victoria (19-15-1) is 3-2-0 on its six-game Central Division swing. It is second in the B.C. Division, one point ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Edmonton (21-13-7) had points in each of its previous seven games (5-0-2). The Oil Kings lead the Central Division, by one point over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have three games in hand. . . . Cutler (9) opened the scoring at 1:03 of the first period, and F Logan Doust (2) made it 2-0 at 15:04. . . . Edmonton got to within a goal at 18:01 when F Vince Loschiavo (18) scored. . . . F D-Jay Jerome’s 16th goal gave Victoria a 3-1 lead at 3:32 of the second period. . . . F Andrew Fyten (11) got the Oil Kings back to within a goal at 16:11. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse blocked 35 shots, 15 of them in the second period. . . . The Oil Kings had D Will Warm back for the first time since Sept. 29 — he missed 35 games with an undisclosed injury — and F Brett Kemp returned after a two-game absence. . . . F Kody McDonald and F Carson Miller, who came over in a deal with the Prince Albert Raiders, made their Victoria debuts. Also in the Royals lineup for the first time was D Jake Kustra, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Dec. 10. He last played on Oct. 14. . . . D Noah Lamb, who is from Edmonton, also made his debut with the Royals. Lamb, who turned 17 on Tuesday, was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. He plays for the midget AAA Knights of Columbus Pats in Edmonton.


F Jake Elmer scored twice and added an assist, and G Liam Hughes posted his first Lethbridgevictory with Lethbridge as the Hurricanes edged the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Lethbridge (20-10-8) has points in four straight (2-0-2). The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, one point behind Edmonton and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Vancouver (23-12-2) has lost four straight; it is 1-4-0 on its six-game Central Division trip. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 11 points over Victoria. . . . The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from Elmer, at 1:01, and F Jordy Bellerive (19), at 4:18. . . . The Giants tied it on goals from F Owen Hardy (8), on a PP, at 14:24, and F Justin Sourdif (9), just 33 seconds later. . . . F Taylor Ross (22) gave Lethbridge the lead at 3:31 of the third period, with Elmer (18) making it 4-2 at 7:53. . . . D Bowen Byram (10), on a PP, got Vancouver to within a goal at 16:14. . . . Ross added two assists to his goal. . . . Hughes stopped 33 shots in his second consecutive start since Lethbridge acquired him from the Seattle Thunderbirds earlier in the week. . . . Vancouver had three newcomers in its lineup — D Dallas Hines, who was acquired earlier in the day from the Kootenay Ice; F Jadon Joseph, who came over from the Regina Pats earlier in the day; and D Seth Bafaro, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday. . . . The Giants also had F Milos Roman back from his stint with Slovakia at the WJC. . . . F Scott Mahovlich was in Lethbridge’s lineup after being acquired from the Regina Pas on Thursday. . . . Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, has a long history in Lethbridge, having coached the Hurricanes and, most recently, the bantam AAA Golden Hawks, and minor midget and midget AAA Hurricanes.


The Calgary Hitmen snapped a 2-2 tie with two goals early in the third period en route to Calgarya 5-3 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Calgary (18-16-4) has won three straight. Calgary holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Red Deer (22-13-2) now is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind Medicine Hat. The Rebels are in possession of the conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . F Cael Zimmerman gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 3:41 of the second period, only to have Red Deer F Brett Davis (11) tie it at 5:59. . . . Calgary went back out front at 15:50 on a goal by F Bryce Bader (3). . . . D Dawson Barteaux tied it for Red Deer, on a PP, at 1:08. . . . The Hitmen broke the tie on goals from F Luke Coleman (10), at 2:00, and F Kaden Elder (16), at 4:19. . . . F Reese Johnson (18) scored for Red Deer at 16:16. . . . Zimmerman (4) iced it at 18:24. . . . Zimmerman also had an assist, for a three-point outing.


G Garin Bjorklund won his second straight start as the Medicine Hat Tigers dumped the Tigers Logo Officialvisiting Kootenay Ice, 5-3. . . . Medicine Hat (22-15-3) has won five in a row and moved into third spot in the Central Division. . . . Kootenay (8-25-7) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . Bjorklund, 16, is from Calgary where he plays for the midget AAA Buffaloes. The Tigers, with G Mads Sogaard with Denmark at the WJC, brought in Bjorklund to partner with Jordan Hollett. . . . Last night, Bjorklund stopped 29 shots. . . . The Tigers took a 1-0 lead when D Hayden Ostir (9) scored at 11:17 of the first period. He left the game with an apparent leg injury late in the second period, and didn’t return, following a collision with Ice D Martin Bodak. . . . F Josh Williams made it 2-0 at 1:43 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it on second-period goals from F Austin Schellenberg (2), on a PP at 8:30, and F Jaeger White, at 10:49. . . . Medicine Hat went ahead 4-2 before the period ended, on goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (14), at 11:46, and F Tyler Preziuso, at 12:45. . . . White’s 16th goal of the season, at 17:53 of the third period, pulled the Ice to within a goal, but Preziuso (15) put it away at 18:20. . . . White’s stepfather, Shaun Clouston, is the Tigers’ general manager and head coach. . . . Tigers F James Hamblin had one assist in running his point streak to 10 games. He has 10 goals and five assists one that stretch. . . . The Ice had F Connor McClennon in the lineup for the first time since he suffered an undisclosed injury on Nov. 24. McClennon, 16, was the second-overall pick in the 2017  bantam draft. . . . The Ice also had D Marco Creta and F Cyle McNabb make their Kootenay debuts. Creta was acquired from the Regina Pats and McNabb from the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Tigers are without F Bryan Lockner (concussion).


F Tyson Upper’s shootout goal gave the Prince George Cougars a 2-1 victory over the PrinceGeorgeRockets in Kelowna. . . . Prince George (13-21-3) had lost its previous two games. It is two points shy of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Cougars are 2-7-0 on an 11-game road trip that continues on Tuesday against the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (17-17-4) has points in four straight (2-0-2). The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, one point behind Victoria, which holds three games in hand. . . . The Cougars are 4-1-1 against Kelowna, which is 2-2-2 against Prince George. . . . F Conner Bruggen-Cate (4) scored, on a PP, for Kelowna at 14:28 of the second period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (8) got the Cougars’ goal, on a PP, at 10:47 of the third. . . . F Nolan Foote, leading off the second round of the shootout, scored for Kelowna. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Upper followed with goals for Prince George. . . . The Cougars got 26 saves from G Taylor Gauthier, who was forced from Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops by dehydration after two periods. . . . Prince George had a 9-1 edge in third-period shots; Kelowna led 5-1 in OT. . . . G James Porter stopped 27 shots for the Rockets. . . . D Tyson Phare, who last played on Nov. 18, returned to Prince George’s lineup. . . . Cougars D Cole Moberg (leg) sat out after being injured a week ago in Everett, and F Ilijah Colina left the game in Kamloops on Sunday with an undisclosed injury. D Cam MacPhee (undisclosed injury), F Reid Perepeluk (ill) and D Tyson Phare, who last played on Nov. 18, also were scratched. . . . F Craig Armstrong, 15, made his debut with the Cougars in this one. He was the ninth overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. The Cougars also had D Cole Beamin, 17, in the lineup after adding him from the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. He was a second-round pick in the 2016 draft.


The Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last three goals and beat the visiting Kamloops SpokaneChiefsBlazers, 4-1. . . . Spokane (21-13-4) is third in the U.S. Division, three points behind Portland. . . . Kamloops (14-18-3) is fourth in the B.C. Division seven points behind Kelowna. The Rockets are in Kamloops tonight. . . . F Riley Woods (24) gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 12:43 of the first period. . . . F Kobe Mohr (4) scored, on a PP, for Kamloops at 18:52. . . . Spokane broke the tie on a goal by F Jake McGrew (14), on another PP, at 1:28 of the second period. . . . D Filip Kral (4), who had played for Czech Republic at the WJC, added insurance at 7:02. . . . F Luke Toporowski (12) added an empty-netter. . . . The Chiefs were 2-6 on the PP; the Blazers were 1-3. . . . The Chiefs had three players back in their lineup who had been at the WJC — F Jared Anderson-Dolan and D Ty Smith (Canada), and D Kral. . . . This was the first game between the teams since the Nov. 26 deal in which the Chiefs acquired F Luc Smith from the Blazers for F Jeff Faith and two 2020 bantam draft picks — a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder.


The Tri-City Americans erased an early 2-0 deficit and beat the Everett Silvertips, 3-2, in tri-cityKennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (20-13-2) has won two in a row. The Americans are fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind Spokane and in control of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (29-8-2) had been 14-0-2 in its previous 16 games. This was its first regulation-time loss since it was beaten 5-2 by the host Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 16. Everett leads the U.S. Division by 11 points over Portland. . . . F Zack Andrusiak, in his first game with Everett since being acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds, scored the game’s first goal. His 28th goal of the season and seventh in seven periods came at 3:51 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (9) made it 2-0 at 7:12. . . . F Krystof Hrabik, in his first game since playing for Czech Republic at the WJC, got Tri-City started with his ninth goal, on a PP, at 18:57. . . . D Aaron Hyman (9) got the Americans even at 3;23 of the second period, and F Blake Stevenson (8) broke the tie at 15:31. . . . The Silvertips had a 39-18 edge in shots, including 17-4 in the third period. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm blocked 37 shots. . . . Everett was 0-5 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-1.


Tweetoftheday

Cranbrook group working to keep Ice . . . One more father-son head-coaching combo . . . Blades, Tigers swap veteran forwards


MacBeth

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) a signed contract for the rest of this season with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 45 games with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga).


ThisThat

The Green Bay Committee, a group in Cranbrook that is working in support of the Kootenay Ice, held something of a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

With the WHL franchise surrounded by speculation that it will be moved to Winnipeg Kootenaynewbefore another season gets here, the committee would like to sell at least 500 season tickets over the next two weeks through what it calls Reach Out, hoping that will help convince owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell to keep the team in Cranbrook.

All in attendance at the meeting received information packages and order sheets for season-ticket packages. There will be another meeting on Nov. 1.

The Ice, which plays in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, apparently has sold about 1,700 season tickets, down a couple of hundred from last season. Attendance at the home-opener, on Sept. 22, was 2,862. Since then, the announced attendances have been 2,375, 2,287, 2,133, 2,334, 2,117 and 2,042. That latter figure was from Wednesday night when the Ice scored a 4-3 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Lee Pratt, Cranbrook’s mayor, told Bradley Jones of Summit 107:

“The attendance is down and they need more people in the stands. It’s as simple as that, it’s a business. Most businesses operate, they have to get a return on their investment, and obviously with the fan support they’re getting right now, it’s not a viable operation. So they’ve got to look for some long-term sustainability and that’s what they’re doing.”

(Jones’s complete story is right here.)

Pratt also was adamant that the City of Cranbrook is committed to keeping the WHL franchise right where it is.

“We made that commitment a number of years ago and we’re standing by that commitment,” Pratt said. “We’re working with them on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do with them what we can to ensure that they are here.”

Jones also reported that the Ice has a lease that runs to 2023.

“Pratt said the City offered to become a partner and re-negotiate parts of the lease once the Ice was purchased by the new ownership group . . . in 2017,” Jones reported, “but that the re-negotiations never happened.”

According to Jones, Pratt told the meeting that he believes the lease is one of the best in the CHL.

Interestingly, Jones also reported that “the Ice (wasn’t) in attendance . . . and had no official representation at the meeting.” Nor has the Ice had anything to say on the relocation speculation, telling Summit 107 that “no comment will be given.”

Meanwhile, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Summit 107 in a statement: ”The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments. The discussions (that) take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

Late last week, Robison told the Winnipeg Free Press that “the WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

That comment came as the Free Press reported that its sources have indicated the WHL’s “long-rumoured return to Winnipeg could be only months away from coming to fruition.”

According to that report, the Ice is likely to play out of a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus as it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat facility.

On Thursday, Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press reported that Gene Muller, the U of Manitoba’s director of athletics and recreation, “was asked what his school’s attitude would be if the Ice (was) to take up residence at the aging 1,400-seat campus arena. Muller politely declined comment.”

I don’t know about you, but this all is starting to have a familiar ring to it, or do you no longer remember the Chilliwack Bruins?


Elliotte Friedman’s always-readable 31 Thoughts was posted on Thursday. He was in Winnipeg this week for Wednesday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets, and this is his 30th thought for this week:

“It is not NHL-related, but after being in Winnipeg for a couple of days, it is clear the future of WHL Kootenay and how it relates to Manitoba is a storyline that’s not going away anytime soon.”

Friedman’s complete 31 Thoughts is right here.


Yes, I knew it would happen; in fact, I hoped it would happen.

On the subject of fathers and sons who have coached in the WHL . . .

The inbox on Thursday had another reminder, this one about Mike and Hardy Sauter.

Mike, who is now 70, was the head coach of the Lethbridge Broncos in 1976-77 and then again for the front part of the 1979-80 season.

Hardy, now 47, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1989-92). He spent one season (2007-08) as an assistant coach with the Chiefs, then was the head coach for two seasons (2008-10).

So . . . the Sauters join Kelly and Brent Kisio, along with Danny and Brad Flynn, as father-son combinations who have been WHL head coaches, even if only for one game.


Medicine Hat and Saskatoon have swapped 19-year-old forwards, with Gary Haden Saskatoonmoving to the Blades and Logan Christensen heading to the Tigers. . . . Haden had been at home in Airdrie, Alta., awaiting a trade after asking for a move about two weeks ago. . . . Last season, Haden had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games. This season, he had one goal and two assists in nine games before heading home. . . . In 115 career regular-season games, Haden has 25 goals and 28 assists. . . . Haden was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Christensen, from Morden, Man., was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. In 197 career games, he has 21 goals and 37 assists. This season, he put up a goal and two assists in 13 games. . . . The Tigers visit the Regina Pats tonight, while the Blades meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are expected to have Cole Sillinger, 15, in their lineup tonight Tigers Logo Officialagainst the Pats in Regina. . . . Sillinger is from Regina; his father, Mike, was a star with the Pats before going onto a lengthy NHL career. . . . This season, Cole has five goals and 13 assists in eight games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . The Tigers selected him with the 11th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship MooseJawWarriors— will be played in Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Place, Feb. 14-23. . . . That means the Warriors will have to vacate their home arena for between two and three weeks, including setup and teardown time for the curling gang. . . . The Scotties last was held in Moose Jaw in 2015. That season, the Warriors played at home on Feb. 6 — they lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs — and then were away for three weeks, not playing at home again until Feb. 27. In the interim, they played seven road games, five of them in the B.C. Division. The Warriors went 3-3-1 in those seven games.


F Blake Stevenson of the Tri-City Americans has been suspended for three games after he took a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Wednesday night. That was for a hit on Cougars F Jackson Leppard. . . . Stevenson will miss games in Spokane, Everett and Regina, and will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 when the Americans meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . .

Kevin Acheson, who is in his first season as the WHL’s disciplinarian, now has issued 23 suspensions totalling 54 games since the regular season opened.

Last season, Richard Doerksen handed out 11 suspensions worth 30 games between the start of the season and Oct. 24. In 2016-17, in the same time period, Doerksen had issued nine suspensions for 15 games.

One would hope that WHL players soon will start getting Acheson’s message — if you’re going to do the crime, you’re going to get more time than in recent seasons.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have named Jared Crooks as their skill development and video coach. Crooks, who played five seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, had been an Alberta-based scout for the Thunderbirds.


G Matthew Armitage, who spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen, has been acquired by the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Armitage, a 19-year-old from Creston, B.C., was 3.55, .890 in 19 games with the Hitmen last season. Salmon Arm acquired his rights from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


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Vipers’ owner dies at 68 … WHL hits two GMs with fines … Raiders guarantee win over Broncos

MacBeth

F Brady Ramsay (Lethbridge, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). He started the season with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), scoring one goal and adding four assists in 13 games. He was released by the Steelers on Dec. 5.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The hockey community is in mourning today following the death of Duncan Wray, the longtime owner of the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Wray, who had owned the franchise since 1992, died suddenly Thursday morning, which happened to be his 68th birthday. . . . Besides owning the Vipers, Wray also was the chairman of the BCHL’s board of governors. . . . It was just on Saturday when the Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings played the final game in the history of Vernon’s Civic Arena. Prior to the game, Wray had, according to Roger Knox of the Vernon Morning Star, “received a loud ovation” when he was introduced to the crowd. . . . Former Vipers head coach Troy Mick too Knox: “This is the saddest day of my life. Part of my heart feels ripped out. I haven’t stopped crying since this morning.” . . . Knox’s story is right here.


The WHL’s disciplinary office added to its coffers on Thursday, having fined a couple of its general managers.

Peter Anholt of the Lethbridge Hurricanes got touched for $750 “for actions following” a whlJan. 5 game against the visiting Vancouver Giants, who won that contest, 5-2.

Stu MacGregor of the Kamloops Blazers will be $500 lighter after being fined “for actions following” a game against the visiting the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday night. The Blazers won that game, 2-1.

Meanwhile, two players have drawn three-game suspensions.

D Matthew Benson of the Moose Jaw Warriors will sit out after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in a game against the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday.

F Max James of the Tri-City Americans got hit with three games after he took a charging major and game misconduct for a hit during a game against the host Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night.


The Swift Current Broncos, having gone all-in at the WHL trade deadline, are hoping their fans will follow suit at the box office. The team announced Thursday that it is selling SCBroncospro-rated season tickets — prices are based on the number of regular-season home games remaining — through Jan. 31.

Season-ticket holders, of course, also have the first option on their seats for the 2018 playoffs. As well, should the Broncos have 2,100 season tickets sold by Jan. 31 — they went over 2,000 on Thursday — they will be giving away one free 2017-18 season ticket during each of the last 10 home regular-season games.

According to Dianne Sletten, the team’s director of business operations, “We’ve sold (more than) 250 season tickets this week and are thrilled to see an electric atmosphere as we push forward.”

The Broncos are at home Saturday when they entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. Three of the Broncos — D Tyler Steenbergen, Canada’s golden boy, D Artyom Minulin (Russia) and F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) — will be saluted for having played in the WJC in Buffalo.


The Swift Current Broncos are scheduled to play their first game since the trade deadline tonight against the host Prince Albert Raiders.

What makes this game noteworthy is that the Raiders, who are 19th in the 22-team PrinceAlbertWHL’s overall standings, have guaranteed a victory over the No. 2 Broncos.

Yes, they have!

“Here’s how it works,” reads a Raiders’ news release. “After we beat Swift Current, we’ll all be happy. To be honest, we don’t think we’re going to lose.

“In the small chance that the Broncos pull off a miracle, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll hand out ticket vouchers to all fans in attendance on the way out. Each fan can bring that voucher, as well as the used game ticket from Friday night, to the Raiders box office on Saturday, Jan. 13, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and redeem it for a free ticket to Saturday night’s game against the Moose Jaw Warriors.”

After the Raiders post the victory, they will trail the Broncos by 21 points.


On the subject of players having returned from the WJC, the Kelowna Rockets honoured D Cal Foote and F Dillon Dube prior to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday night. Both played for Canada in Buffalo, with Dube serving as team captain. . . . Unfortunately, Dube wasn’t in attendance on Wednesday, as a flu bug kept him out of action.

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks welcomed back F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and D Henri Jokiharju (Finland) on Thursday. Both players are expected to play tonight (Friday) in Kennewick, Wash., against the Tri-City Americans. The Americans should have D Jake Bean, who also played for Canada, in their lineup tonight, too. Bean was acquired by the Americans from the Calgary Hitmen earlier in the week. He arrived in Kennewick on Thursday.


The Tri-City Americans have signed F Blake Stevenson, 16, to a WHL contract. Stevenson has five goals and three assists in 27 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks and will remain there for the remainder of this season. Last season, he had 23 goals and 32 assists for the minor midget AAA CNHA Canucks. . . . The Americans selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


The Saskatoon Blades have released F Dryden Michaud, 19, and he has joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. From Maple Ridge, B.C., Michaud had two goals and two assists in 29 games this season. Last season, he had one goal in 29 games with the Blades.


The Saskatoon Blades have added F Tristen Robins and F Kyle Crnkovic to their roster for a three-game road trip that features stops in Red Deer on Saturday, Cranbrook, B.C., on SaskatoonSunday, and Calgary on Tuesday. . . . Robins, who turned 16 on Nov. 15, is from Brandon and plays at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. He is the son of former Blades G Trevor Robins. Tristen was acquired from the Regina Pats earlier in the week. They had selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Crnkovic, the Blades’ first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, played two WHL games earlier this season. He is playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team in the CSSHL. . . . The Blades won’t have F Kirby Dach on this trip. Dach, who is to turn 17 on Jan. 21, has four goals and 19 assists in 23 games. However, he hasn’t played since Dec. 27 and is sidelined on a weekly basis with an undisclosed injury.


F Ian Briscoe, 18, who was released by the Seattle Thunderbirds, has signed with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Briscoe, from Winnipeg, had three assists in 24 games this season. Last season, he had two goals in 20 games. He also played 22 games with Dauphin last season, recording six goals and 10 assists. . . . Seattle selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 bantam draft.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have dropped D Brenden Kwiatkowski, 17, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. Kwiatkowski, who is from Grande Prairie, had one assist in 22 games with the Warriors.


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Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Regina, 7 p.m.

Calgary at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Lethbridge at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.


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