WHL: Weekend games to proceed ‘at this time’ . . . Baseball’s WCL lands in Nanaimo for 2021

The WHL said Thursday afternoon that “at this time” weekend games scheduled for the Pacific Northwest will proceed.

As of early Thursday evening, 70 people in Washington state had been diagnosed with whlCOVID-19. That includes 11 people who have died. Fifty-one of those cases, and 10 of the deaths, have occurred in King County whose county seat is Seattle.

The Everett Silvertips are to play host to the Tri-City Americans tonight (Friday) and the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Silvertips are to visit the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash.

The Silvertips are second in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. The Thunderbirds, who are to visit the Kelowna Rockets tonight, are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.

On Thursday, Cassie Franklin, the mayor of Everett, took part in a news conference that also involved the Snohomish Health District. Among the recommendations announced was to avoid “non-essential gatherings/large groups of 50+ people and postponing/cancelling events if possible.”

Later, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted in a statement as saying the league, the Silvertips and Thunderbirds “are closely monitoring the public health developments” in the Pacific Northwest.”

He added that “at this time,” weekend games in Everett and Kent, Wash., the home of the Thunderbirds, will go ahead.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the immediate health risk to the United States public is low,” Robison said in the statement. “We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will adopt additional health and safety measures as recommended by local health authorities.”

The Seattle Times has a look right here at other sporting events scheduled for that area, including Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, who are planning to go ahead with a Saturday night home game.

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Meanwhile, officials in B.C. announced eight new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, all on the Lower Mainland, bringing the province’s total positives to 21. That includes four patients who have recovered.

The Vancouver Giants, who play out of the Langley Events Centre, are next scheduled to play at home on March 13 against Seattle. The Giants will visit the Thunderbirds on March 14, then play host to the Prince George Cougars on March 15.



ICYMI, baseball’s West Coast League will have a franchise in Nanaimo, B.C., beginning with the 2021 season. The team, which doesn’t yet have a name, will be the WCL’s 13th team and will be owned by the group that operates the Victoria HarbourCats. That group includes former Prince George Citizen sports editor Jim Swanson, who is the managing partner and will oversee operations with both franchises. . . . The wood-bat league features teams in B.C., Washington and Oregon. . . . There is a news release on Thursday’s announcement right here.



If the Brandon Wheat Kings finish third or fourth in the WHL’s East Division, they will get bumped from Westoba Place for the first round and will play their home games in Virden. . . . The Wheat Kings go into weekend play in second place in the East Division, five points ahead of the Winnipeg Ice and seven up on the Saskatoon Blades.


Scattershooting on a Monday night while awaiting the arrival of 2020 . . . Happy New Year!

Scattershooting

I can count on Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, to come through annually with a link to a column by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is the column in which Collier uses a whole bunch of words to examine the triteness of language in sports over the previous year. . . . Well, Jack came through on Monday with the link to Collier’s column in which he, for the 36th time, awards the Annual Trite Trophy. . . .

At one point, Collier writes:

“Pirates play-by-play guy Joe Block must have set the record for earliest use of If The Playoffs Started Today, coming as it did on May 21, when he said that if the playoffs started that day, the Pirates would have been in a wild-card game.

“May 21.

“On the day the playoffs actually started, the Pirates were in last place, 22 games out.”

This is fun stuff — after all, it’s not Collier’s first rodeo — and it’s all right here. Enjoy!


The Fiesta Bowl, in which the Clemson Tigers got past the Ohio State Buckeyes, 29-23, in Phoenix on Saturday night, was all that is great about U.S. college football. We can only hope that the Jan. 13 BCS final, with Clemson meeting LSU in a clash of the Tigers, is as entertaining.


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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with some observations from the 49ers’ 26-21 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday night:

“Russell Wilson’s greatest scramble this year came after Sunday’s game, as he tried to explain the Seahawks’ delay-of-game penalty. . . .

“While there has been no satisfactory explanation given for the Seahawks’ game-wrecking delay-of-game penalty, scientists have found that mental processes — specifically, quick thinking — may be impaired by overly-vigorous chewing of gum. . . .

“NFL referees and their supervisors have no earthly clue what PI is. Some of them believe it is a guy named Magnum.”


F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice cut into the middle of the ice in the offensive zone during the first period on Saturday night and F Marcus Sekundiak of the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings lowered the boom. Savoie, who will turn 16 on New Year’s Day, is listed at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds; Sekundiak, 19, is shown at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds. . . . Sekundiak wasn’t penalized for the hit, but Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote that “Sekundiak . . . was the target of payback afterwards, absorbing a number of punishing hits from Ice players.” . . . As expected, the usual sober reflection occurred on social media, with folks suggesting: (a) it was a clean hit; (b) it was a headshot; (c) the Ice should have responded by gooning Sekundiak; (d) Sekundiak should have stayed in close proximity to the unconscious Savoie; (e) there shouldn’t be a suspension; (f) a 25-game suspension would suffice . . . and on and on it goes.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the hit . . .

Sekundiak wasn’t suspended and played in Brandon’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Monday night. . . . Savoie, who I think it’s safe to assume is in concussion protocol, didn’t play in Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders on Monday night. BTW, the Ice moved atop the East Division with that victory.



With the year’s end upon us, there are more lists and awards out there than there are snowflakes in a blizzard. . . . Patti Dawn Swanson, aka the River City Renegade, has joined the club, but her list is different, a whole lot different, than the norm. Check right here to see who earns The Old Man Shouts and Waves His Fist At Clouds Cup, The Flip Flop And Don’t Tell A Lie Laurel, and The Tranna Maple Beliebers Bauble, among others. It’s all good fun, unless you’re a recipient.


“Antonio Brown is working out for the New Orleans Saints,” Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com, wrote last week. “Have to assume head coach Sean Payton is just (toying) with Roger Goodell.”

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One more from Hough: “Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who just returned from Mar-A-Lago, says despite being voted by NHL fans as an All-Star Game captain he’ll accept a one-game suspension and miss the game to ‘listen to his body.’ So did he miss the message from his body not to go party for a few days and eat junk food with Donald?”

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Hough, again: “Melting down over a movie cameo cut by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014? With all due respect I have blueberries in my fridge with thicker skins than Trump.”


Don’t be afraid to click on the link and check out the thread . . .


ICYMI, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired Brandon West, their general manager and head coach, on Friday night. . . . Simon Ferguson was named interim head coach. He was in his second season as head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets. . . . John Murphy and Rod Hume, the Warriors’ new owners, said in a news release: “This decision is about becoming a better hockey club now and in the future.  We are charting a new course and building a new culture.” . . . The Warriors were 7-23-7 and in last place in the seven-team Interior Division at the time of the move. . . . Former owner Kim Dobranski hired West on Jan. 28. Murphy and Hume purchased the franchise in October. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks dumped general manager and head coach Scott Atkinson on Monday. Former WHLer Tyler Shattock, who had been on staff as an assistant coach/assistant GM, has taken over as interim head coach. . . . Brooks Christensen, who had been the operations manager, now is the GM. . . . Atkinson had been with the Silverbacks since June 1, 2017. Salmon Arm was 1-8-1 in its 10 games prior to the axe falling. On the season, it is 21-15-2 and third in the Interior Division.


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JUST NOTES: Old friend Jay Varady, the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, will be the Pacific Division head coach at the AHL’s 2020 All-Star Classic in Ontario, Calif., Jan. 26 and 27. Varady, who coached in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, is in his second season with the Roadrunners. They had the AHL’s best record (23-6-0) through 29 games, with the coaches of division leaders after 29 games named to the Classic. . . . The festive season is almost over. How do I know this? Because the leftovers are almost gone and the fridge is looking terribly bare. . . . Have to wonder if F Kobe Mohr got a bigger suitcase for Christmas? He started the season with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, lost out in the 20-year-old game and went to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, made a stop with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, was dealt to the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, lost out, again, in the 20-year-old racket, and now is back with the Dragons. And the trade deadline isn’t even here yet. . . . Pitchers and catchers report in 42 days. . . . Happy New Year, and here’s to a healthy and safe 2020!


Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while wondering if I will get my shopping finished . . .

I am one of those people who quite enjoys Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Having said that, I don’t think it gets any better than this one. It’s Fairytale of New York, from The Pogues, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl.


I don’t know how many, if any, other businesses have done something like this, but check it out . . .


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If you have ever wondered why he’s called The Sports Curmudgeon, here’s something he wrote after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Redskins, 37-27, on Sunday:

“After the Skins lost to the Eagles, one of the post-game talking heads declared that the ‘fight’ and the ‘grit’ shown by the Skins — despite the season being a total loss — meant that this game was a ‘moral victory’ for the Skins.  I have heard about ‘moral victories’ many times in the past; but Sunday’s label made me wonder:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘moral defeat’?

If there is such a thing, are ‘moral defeats’ paired with ‘moral victories’? Or can ‘moral defeats’ exist on their own?

If they are paired entities, should the Eagles chalk up Sunday’s win as a ‘moral defeat’?”


“This is the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese calendar,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “though one could argue that Russian doping and the can-banging Astros make it seem like the Year of the Cheetah.”

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One more from Perry: “Prince Charles’ office released a statement saying 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth has no plans to step down at 95 ‘or any other age.’ In other words, she’s the Tom Brady of royals.”



I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a few Christmas movies on TV this year. . . . I checked out our PVR the other night. There were 41 items recorded. One Bob Dylan special. Two Hogan’s Heroes episodes. And more than 30 Christmas movies. . . . Christmas Vacation wasn’t among them. . . . Neither was Bad Santa.


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On Sunday night, F Gage Concalves of the Everett Silvertips won a game with a nifty move that resulted in a shootout goal against G Campbell Arnold of the Spokane Chiefs. Arnold later responded with a tweet for the ages . . .


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Request to the International Olympic Committee: Let Russia compete as an official country at next year’s Olympics. Russia has been banned from the Tokyo Games due to its state-sanctioned program of doping. But IOC, if you let Russia compete, maybe their government will be too busy rigging the Olympics to rig the U.S. presidential election. #Priorities.”



Condolences to the family and friends of Ron Areshenkoff, who died on Sunday. He was 62. A native of Grand Forks, B.C., he played two seasons (1975-77) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, totalling 76 goals and 77 assists in 131 games. He was a second-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 1977 draft, but never played for them. His NHL experience amounted to four games with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. . . . He had missed all of the 1978-79 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. . . . The New England Whalers had selected him with the 11th overall pick in the WHA’s 1977 draft. . . . Areshenkoff was a financial advisor in Estevan, Sask., where he was quite involved in the minor hockey scene.


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The price seems to be right in Victoria where there is, yes, hope for the Royals. Hey, I’m here all night and again later in the week. . . . The Victoria Royals, under president and general manager Cam Hope, have signed head coach Dan Price to a “multi-year” extension. No terms, including precise length, were announced. . . . Price is in his third season as the Royals’ head coach; they are 89-67-12 with him in charge. . . . He had spent one season as a Royals’ assistant coach, under then-head coach Dave Lowry, before moving up.

Meanwhile,  former WHLer Ryan Aasman is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm fired Matt Keillor, the head coach and associate GM, on Tuesday. . . . Aasman’s WHL career included stints with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Keillor had been head coach since being promoted during the 2016-17 season and had guided the Storm into the playoffs each of the past three seasons. This season, the Storm was 12-16-3 when Keillor was replaced by Aasman. He is in his first season with the Storm after coaching with bantam and midget teams in Lethbridge.


JUST NOTES: Is there a secret to keeping the top of the toothpaste tube neat and orderly as opposed to being a gooey mess? . . . The best part of watching the Detroit Red Wings playing the host Montreal Canadiens? The uniforms of two of the NHL’s Original Six. . . . Are you ready for the Arizona Coyotes as Stanley Cup contenders? . . . City council in Nanaimo is talking about a five-year financial plan. No, there isn’t any chatter about a new arena. . . . Hey, is John Shorthouse hockey’s best play-by-play voice? . . . As a fan of MLB, it’s great to have Joe Girardi back managing a team, and wouldn’t it be great to see his Philadelphia Phillies and his former club, the New York Yankees, in the World Series? It could happen. . . . Right now, the most-watchable player in the NHL is F Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. . . . With their home arena unavailable due to equipment issues, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing out of Cranbrook these days. On Tuesday night, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kimberley Dynamiters before an announced crowd of 1,350 at Western Financial Place, the former home of the WHL team that now is the Winnipeg Ice. Meanwhile, the Ice dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings in front of a crowd announced as 1,621. . . . ICYMI, next season Western Financial Place will be home to the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks.

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night as Cranbrook celebrates the birth of the Bucks . . .

Scattershooting

As of Saturday evening, Const. Mike Seel of the Regina Police Service Traffic Unit, who goes by the nickname Hawkeye, had written 1,097 cell-phone related tickets in 2019 and, he told me via Twitter, “over 1,500 total tickets for the year.” Think about those numbers for a moment. . . . What’s with the nickname? According to a story by Michaela Solomon of CTV News Regina, it was “given to him by the former face of RPS traffic, Const. Curtis Warnar, for his ability to catch drivers on their cell phones.” . . . Meanwhile, more than 2,000 speeding tickets were handed out to drivers in Regina school zones in the month of September, with the speed limit having been dropped from 40 km/h to 30. . . . “It is ridiculously high,” Sgt. Rob Collins of the RPS’s Traffic Safety Unit told Lynn Giesbrecht of the Regina Leader-Post. “In all reality, most of the tickets that I’ve seen issued would’ve been a ticket even if it was still 40, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” . . . It seems the drivers of Regina have a lot of work to do, too.


If you are a follower of the WHL, there was good news on Friday when Corey Graham revealed via Twitter that “I’m back calling Edmonton Oil Kings home games on TSN 1260.” . . . Graham, who continues his recovery from some major health issues, will handle home games, with Andrew Peard providing analysis. Peard will call the play of all road games. . . . Graham added that he is “really excited to get back in the booth!” . . . Corey, we’re all excited for you. Welcome back!


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“Jim (Mattress Mack) McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, placed a $3.5-million bet on the Astros to win the World Series,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “And, doubling down, he rolled out his latest mattress, the George Springer.”

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Perry, again: “Scientists at the National Defense Medical College in Japan say they’ve created artificial blood that works better than the real stuff. Didn’t pro rasslers already do that?”


Is the WHL thumbing its nose at Hockey Canada, while at the same time inviting 15-year-whlolds to come to its teams and play at least 30 games? . . . According to a story by Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press, the WHL has granted an exemption to the Winnipeg Ice so that F Matt Savoie, 15, can play 34 games this season. Ordinarily, 15-year-olds are allowed to play five games before their club team’s season ends, at which time they may join the WHL team on a full-time basis. . . . Prior to this season, Hockey Canada rejected the Savoie family’s application for exceptional status. . . . Savoie played his third WHL game of this season on Friday night; he wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday.



The Winnipeg Ice played two home games, its second and third of this season, last weekend. The announced attendances were 1,373 (7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings) and 1,327 (4-0 loss to the Vancouver Giants). . . . In its home-opener, the Ice announced 1,621 for a 4-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . If you were wondering, the Kootenay Ice announced crowds of 2,862, 2,375 and 2,287 for its first three home games last season. . . . You remember the Kootenay team, don’t you? It played out of Cranbrook.


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The brand new Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL have merchandise ready for fans at Western Financial Place.
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The Kootenay Ice sign on a wall at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook is gone, marking the end of an era.
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Hockey fans in Cranbrook gathered Tuesday morning to welcome the junior A Bucks to their Kootenay community. (Photos: Darren Cottingham/Taking Note)

Speaking of Cranbrook, a group headed by former WHL G Nathan Lieuwen announced Tuesday that it will bring the junior A BCHL to the city next season when the Bucks begin operation. . . . In reading the story by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, I was struck by this: “The city was left reeling after a messy break-up with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice last January. After 21 years in Cranbrook, new ownership relocated the team to Winnipeg and still (has) an outsanding lease agreement valid until 2023. (Mayor Lee) Pratt confirmed the city remains in negotiations with the Ice over the agreement.” . . . The WHL and the Ice announced on Jan. 29 that the franchise was relocating to Winnipeg. Of course, observers had realized long before then that the Ice owners were going through the motions and that they were done with Cranbrook. . . . Here we are, almost nine months later, and the lease still hasn’t been settled. You are free to wonder if anyone in the WHL is embarrassed by any of this.


Hey, Edmonton, that 100 km/h speed limit on Anthony Henday Drive . . . that’s not the speed limit; it’s a guideline. Right?


After driving more than 4,000 km through the Prairies and back, I can tell you that the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding contains far more election signage than any other one we passed through. . . . Yes, it’s all a blight on the scenery.


After the Chicago Cubs dumped manager Joe Maddon, Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot pointed out just what a horrid job Maddon had done: “In five seasons under Maddon, Chicago won 58 percent of its games, reached the playoffs four times and celebrated a long-awaited World Series victory. What a failure he was.”



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OH DEER! Bob Tory, the GM of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, posted the evidence on his Facebook site after hitting a couple of deer while on a scouting trip.

A note from Bob Tory, the general manager of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, to accompany a couple of photos that he put on his Facebook page: “That time of year. Two deer down. One car down.” . . . Thankfully, Tory wasn’t injured in the collision. Word is that Trader Bob, as he once was known, did put brothers John and Jim Deer on the trade wire, though. No word yet on whether he found any takers.


Saw this in a column by Steve Simmons of Postmedia: “If Guy Carbonneau is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame, why not Dale Hunter? And if you want to go back a few years, why not 86-year-old Claude Provost, who won more and scored more playing a defensive role with the great Montreal Canadiens teams back when the Canadiens were great.” . . . I was absolutely flabbergasted to realize that Provost isn’t an honoured member of the Hall. Seriously. Had there been a Frank J. Selke Trophy back in the day, Provost would have owned it.


Headline from @SportsPickle: Have to think we could be a game or two away from Odell Beckham demanding a trade to the Giants.


If you aren’t a fan of the analytics that are sweeping through the world of sports, you just might be a fan of Bill Belichick. Asked the other day how much of a role analytics play in his game-planning, the New England Patriots head coach replied: “Less than zero.”


Thomson won’t return to Rockets. . . . Wheat Kings fill out coaching staff. . . . Nyren’s story plays out in Kelowna courtroom


MacBeth

D Daniel Bukač (Brandon, 2016-18) has signed a three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 54 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL), he had four goals and 11 assists. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal in four games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL), four goals and six assists in 14 games with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), and one goal and one assist in three games with Cracovia Kraków (Poland, PHL). . . .

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) has retired from playing to become an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Last season, with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had 17 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F John Persson (Red Deer, 2009-12) has signed a one-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, in 27 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL), he had nine goals and two assists.


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The Kelowna Rockets may have known before Tuesday, but that’s when their fans found KelownaRocketsout that Finnish D Lassi Thomson won’t be back for a second season. Instead, he will play with Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. . . . Thomson, who is to turn 19 on Sept. 24, has signed a contract (two years plus an option for a third) with Ilves. He is from Tampere, and has played for Ilves’ U-16, U-18 and U-20 sides. . . . The Ottawa Senators selected Thomson with the 19th-overall pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on July 15. . . . Last season, Thomson put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 regular-season games with the Rockets. He was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year and to the conference’s second all-star team. . . . Thomson is spending this week playing for a Finnish team in a U-20 tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Teams from Czech Republic and Switzerland also are taking part. . . .

The news, now that it’s official, leaves quite a hole on the Rockets’ backend. And don’t forget that the Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets have two solid defencemen in Kaedan Korczak, 18, who was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2019 draft, and Jake Lee, 18, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 2. Both are heading into their third WHL seasons. . . . Kelowna also added Sean Comrie, 19, in a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 2. Comrie played last season at the U of Denver, but had just one assist in 18 games. It’s fair to say, then, that he goes into the season as something of a WHL unknown. . . . The Rockets only have two 20-year-olds on their roster — F Leif Mattson and F Kyle Topping — so could add a veteran defenceman in the third slot. . . . Only one thing is for certain — the Rockets will be making more than a couple of roster moves before May gets here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings rounded out their coaching staff on Tuesday with the news BrandonWKregularthat Don MacGillivray and Tyler Plante will return and that Mark Derlago has been added as a second assistant. . . . MacGillivray is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach, as is Plante, the goaltending coach. . . . Derlago, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed on as the team’s second assistant coach having chosen to end his playing career. He played last season with Esbjerg Energy in Denmark, scoring 17 goals and adding 18 assists in 36 games. . . . Plante is the son of Cam Plante, who played four seasons (1980-84) with the Wheat Kings; Derlago’s uncle, Bill, spent three-plus seasons (1974-78) with Brandon and was one of the most-prolific scorers in WHL history. . . . The coaching staff is headed up by Dave Lowry, who was named head coach on July 18. . . . Darren Ritchie, the Wheat Kings’ general manager, also is preparing for his first season in a new role. He was named GM on July 12. A former Wheat Kings forward, he also worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons and was their director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . The Wheat Kings’ complete news release is right here.


Former WHL D Giffen Nyren was sentenced in Kelowna on Tuesday after pleading guilty to attempting to take an 18-month-old baby from its mother’s arms on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. If he follows the conditions set by Judge Catharine Heinrichs, he won’t have a criminal record. . . . Nyren also will pay $4,648 in restitution to the baby’s family to cover lost wages and some daycare costs. . . . He also will write a letter of apology to the family and take part in a restorative justice program. . . . According to Brie Welton of infotel.ca, “The court heard that Nyren’s toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis.” . . . Welton also reported: “By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he’d been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra. . . . Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player.” . . . Nyren, from Calgary, played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen (2006-10). He went on to have stints in the AHL, ECHL and USports, before playing a bit in Europe. Last season, he played seven games with a team in Amiens, France, then got into 14 regular-season and seven playoff games with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. . . . Welton’s complete story is right here.


Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause.


JUST NOTES:

Hockey Canada revealed on Tuesday that two WHLers won’t be participating in the U-20 Summer Showcase that is to run July 27 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Wash. . . . F Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders and D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs have been dropped from the roster. Hockey Canada didn’t provide any further information. . . . Both players still could end up playing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Trinic and Ostrava, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has added Jonny Webb as its goaltending coach and former NHLer Chris Mason as a goaltending consultant. . . . Webb worked for the past three seasons with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He also was with the ACAC’s SAIT Trojans last season. He is a goaltending coach with Top Prospects Goaltending in Calgary. . . . Mason played in the WHL with the Victoria/Prince George Cougars (1993-97). He retired after playing two seasons (2013-15) in Europe. . . .

Brandon Shaw has left the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to join the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as assistant coach and player development co-ordinator. Shaw spent the previous two seasons working alongside Joe Martin, then the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. Martin, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, left Merritt after the 2018-19 season and now is the Bulldogs’ GM and head coach. . . .

Steve Gainey is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He helped out as an assistant coach last season. . . . Gainey, 40, played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kamloops Blazers and was on their coaching staff for one season (2007-08). His pro career included 33 regular-season NHL games. . . . Gainey’s assistant coaches will be Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and Jassi Sangha, who was the head coach last season, with Pete Friedel as the team’s trainer. . . . The Storm recently underwent an ownership change.


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Lowry returns to WHL. . . . Broncos sign Finnish defender. . . . Tri-City adds ex-player to scouting staff


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F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2013-16) has been traded by Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) to Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) for the KHL rights to Mikko Rantanen. Last season, with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), Fazleyev had two assists in 15 games. In 16 games with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and five assists.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed Dave Lowry as their new head coach. He replaces BrandonWKregularDavid Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed after three seasons. . . . No terms of Lowry’s contract with the Wheat Kings were released. . . . Lowry, 54, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He wasn’t retained when Todd McLellan took over as the Kings’ head coach. . . . Before that, Lowry was the head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Royals for five seasons (2012-17), going 209-124-27. . . . After his playing career ended — he split 1,084 regular-season NHL games with five teams — he started his coaching career with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. He was an assistant coach for two seasons (2005-07), the associate coach for one and the head coach for one. He then worked for three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, before signing with Victoria. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed Finnish D Kasper Puutio, who was the first SCBroncosoverall selection in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. Puutio, 17, had a goal and three assists in 31 games with Kärpät’s U-20 team last season, and also had four goals and eight assists in 10 games with the U-18 side. He got into 13 games with Finland’s U-17 team, scoring once and adding eight assists, and had two assists in five games with the U-18 team. . . . He joins F Joona Kiviniemi, who also is from Finland, as the Broncos’ two import players. Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17, also played for Kärpät before joining the Broncos. Last season, as a freshman with Swift Current, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 62 games.


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JUST NOTES:

Mason Wilgosh is back with the Tri-City Americans, this time as a scout. The Winnipeg native will work as a regional scout in Manitoba. . . . Wilgosh, 28, played five seasons (2007-12) with the Americans, then went on to spend four seasons at the U of Prince Edward Island. . . . The Americans’ news release is right here. . . .

The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen have signed Jason Christie, their vice-president of hockey operations and head coach, to a multi-year contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Christie, 50, has been the team’s head coach since June 6, 2017. He has spent 16 seasons coaching in the ECHL and holds the league record for most regular-season victories (609). . . . From Gibbons, Alta., Christie played four seasons (1986-90) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Keycorp Sports and Entertainment, led by Victoria businessman Jim Hartshorne, has purchased majority ownership in the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Also in the ownership group are Ron Coutre of Victoria; Tim MacLean, Dennis See and Stefanie Weber of Port Alberni; and the Port Alberni Jr. Hockey Society. . . . David Michaud, the president of Keycorp Sports and Entertainment, now is the Bulldogs’ president. He will oversee the organization’s business and hockey operations. . . . A news release on the sale is right here. . . .

Brent Polischuk is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Saanich Braves, who play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. From a news release: “Brent has extensive experience in coaching, player development, player evaluation and scouting. As a certified High Performance 1 coach, Brent has coached at all levels of competitive hockey and served in many roles in the BC Hockey and Hockey Canada Program of Excellence. These include Team Pacific Director of Operations, Vancouver Island District Evaluator, BC Hockey coach mentor and coach evaluator and most recently worked as Team USA host in the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship.” . . . Polischuk replaces Sam Waterfield, who left after two seasons. He now is an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.


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Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


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F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


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Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


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The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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