Hunter takes over Team Canada . . . Ex-Hitmen coach lands in Denver . . . Everett adds Backus, Fraser to front office


MacBeth

F Kaspars Saulietis (Kelowna, Regina, 2006-08) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 25 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 40 games with Dinamo Riga, and was pointless in three games while on loan to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in one game with the Florida Panthers (NHL), and had 20 goals and 42 assists in 73 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL). He led the Thunderbirds in assists and points.


ThisThat

Tim Hunter, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has taken over as head coach of Canada’s national junior team. Hunter, 57, was an assistant with Canada each of the past Canadatwo seasons. . . . Hunter, who is preparing for his fifth season in Moose Jaw, replaces Dominique Ducharme, Canada’s head coach for each of the last two seasons. Ducharme has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . With Hunter moving up from assistant coach, Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been added to Canada’s staff. The other assistant coaches are Marc-Andre Dumont of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Jim Hulton of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . .

Mike Burnstein of the Vancouver Giants and Khore Elliott of the Victoria Royals have been named Team Canada’s athletic therapists. . . . Canada won the gold medal at the 2018 tournament in Buffalo, and will attempt to defend the title at the 2019 tournament that is scheduled to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26. . . . While Canada will play its round-robin games in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, it will hold its selection camp in Victoria. . . .

Group A comprises Canada, Czech Repulic, Denmark, Russia and
Switzerland, with Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Sweden and Team USA in Group B, which will play out of Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.


Dallas Ferguson, who left the Calgary Hitmen last month, is joining the U of Denver Pioneers as an assistant coach. He will work under first-year head coach Matt Carle, 28. . . . Carle has taken over from Jim Montgomery, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Ferguson, 45, left the U of Alaska-Fairbanks to join the Hitmen as head coach prior to last season. He had been on the Nanook’ coaching staff for 13 seasons, the last nine as head coach. . . . In announcing Ferguson’s resignation on June 26, Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth explained in a news release: ““Dallas approached me last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this year.”


The Everett Silvertips firmed up the top end of their scouting department on Tuesday as Everettthey named Alvin Backus their director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as their head scout. . . . Backus spent the past seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. His contract with Montreal expired on Saturday and wasn’t renewed. . . . Backus lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. Garry Davidson, who is heading into his seventh season as the Silvertips’ general manager, was the owner, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for seven seasons (2001-08). . . . Fraser, a WHL scout since 2005, lives in Edmonton. . . . He started scouting with the Swift Current Broncos in 2005 and spent seven seasons with them. Fraser has been working with the Brandon Wheat Kings since 2012-13. . . . The Silvertips lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel for four seasons, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who named him general manager on June 6.


Bob Jones has signed on as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Jones had been the head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals for three seasons, although he missed the 2017-18 season due to a serious health problem. Jones, 48, and the Generals then went their separate ways in April. . . . Derek Laxdal, a former head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, is the head coach with Texas.


Nathan Oystrick, a native of Regina, has been named the general manager and head HumboldtBroncoscoach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Oystick, 35, replaces Darcy Haugan, who was killed in the April 6 bus crash that also claimed 15 other lives. . . . Oystrick spent last season coaching a high school team in Colorado. In 2016-17, he was an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. . . . A defenceman, he played two seasons (2000-02) with the BCHL’s South Surrey Eagles before going on to four seasons at Northern Michigan U. His pro career included stints with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


Brayden Pettinger was a 20-year-old defenceman with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers when he suffered a devastating back injury during a game against the host Winnipeg Blues on Nov. 12, 2015. Pettinger, who is from Elgin, Man., now is in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. . . . These days, he and his father, Rick, are in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is undergoing a medical procedure. Brayden’s uncle, Larry, updated things with steinbachonline.com, and that piece is right here.


Geoff Grimwood has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors as assistant general manager and associate coach. Grimwood, 37, spent the past three seasons as the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. . . . In the past, he has worked with the WHL’s Victoria Royals and the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . With the Warriors, he’ll work alongside GM/head coach Rylan Ferster.


Jesse Dorrans is back as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces Bill Rotheisler, who was dismissed after two seasons on the job. . . . Rotheisler was hired prior to the 2016-17 season, taking over from Dorrans, who left to become GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He resigned after one season due to what the team said ws “personal reasons.”


F Skyler McKenzie of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year entry-level deal Portlandwith the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was a seventh-round selection by the Jets in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, McKenzie, 20, had 47 goals and 40 assists in 72 games. In 282 regular-season games with Portland, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native has 101 goals and 111 assist. He was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the WHL for one more season, but likely will start the season with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL affiliate.


Two WHLers have been selected to the roster of USA Hockey’s representative for the U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. It will feature teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . F Luke Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips were named to the roster. Toporowski is from Bettendorf, Iowa, while Wolf is from Tustin, Calif. . . . The complete Team USA roster is right here.


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Kisio has lighter wallet, victory . . . Oil Kings shock Blazers . . . Rebels continue to put heat on Ice

Dan
Dan Courneyea of Kamloops is ready to work some games in the Gangneung Hockey Centre in PyeongChang.

DAN’S DIARY . . .

Dan Courneyea, who heads up the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice crew of officials is at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang where he’ll be working the hockey competitions.

On Monday, he reported:

“The Games have started off well. Fans are showing up to events. When Korea is involved events are sold out — it’s great to see the support). Still cold, sun is out.

“The wind has been playing havoc on some events up in the mountains. Women’s hockey, no surprises. Men’s actually starts on the 14th.”


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On the road again . . . the Edmonton Oil Kings are on the road, again. . . .

When the Oil Kings played in Kamloops on Monday afternoon, it was their 12th road EdmontonOilKingsgame in their last 15 assignments. Since Jan. 9, they have made stops in Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Cranbrook, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Cranbrook (again), Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Kamloops.

The Oil Kings’ present trip also will include stops in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna, which will make it 15 of 18 on the road, and all of that since Jan. 9.

All of the travel means two things to a WHL team — a lack of sleep and a dire shortage of true practice time.

Here’s Edmonton head coach Steve Hamilton, talking with Derek Van Diest of Postmedia:

“You give up sleep and that’s the biggest thing when you’re managing yourself on the road. Every bus trip, you give up sleep, and then you start operating from a deficit and it’s hard to make that up, because we haven’t had a set amount of time to recoup that. We’ve played every second day, every third day, we travel in between and practice has been virtually nil.”

Here’s  hoping that the WHL will put a whole lot of thought into its 2018-19 schedule. With the decision already made to trim each team’s schedule from 72 to 68 games, there really is a need for the WHL pooh-bahs, who love to talk about being a developmental league, to find more time for its players to rest and to practice.

Van Diest’s story is right here.


DEPARTMENT OF DISCIPLINE: Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been $750 after he was tossed from a 4-2 loss in Regina on Saturday. Kisio got the ol’ heave-ho at 15:01 of the third period. According to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, Kisio offered up a “lengthy tirade” and “gave referees Steve Papp and Mike Langin an earful before he finally left the bench, receiving a loud ovation from the locals.” . . . The WHL office also set F Parker Kelly’s suspension at one game. Kelly, a forward with the Prince Albert Raiders, took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a hit on Saskatoon F Kirby Dach in a 6-3 loss to the host Blades on Saturday. Kelly served the suspension when he sat out Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Each didn’t play in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Regina.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Nick Perna, a 16-year-old who is from Dallas, Texas. He was added to the Winterhawks’ protected list in March. The 6-foot-2 Perna had a goal and eight assists in 30 games with the Dallas Stars elite U16 AAA team. . . . Perna attended the Winterhawks’ training camp prior to the start of this season.


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If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Saskatoon at Moose Jaw

Regina at Medicine Hat

Brandon at Swift Current

Kootenay at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

MONDAY:

At Cranbrook, the Lethbridge Hurricanes scored four third-period goals as they beat the Kootenay Ice, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (26-23-6) had lost its previous two games. It is second in Lethbridgethe Central Division, five points behind Medicine Hat. The Hurricanes hold three games in hand. . . . Kootenay (24-30-3) has lost two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, seven points behind Lethbridge. . . .  D Koletrane Wilson (3) gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead at 16:19 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it at 17:54 when F Alec Baer (24) scored, on a PP, then took a 2-1 lead at 1:27 of the third period as F Colton Veloso (19) scored, also on the PP. . . . The visitors took a 3-2 lead on two goals from F Brad Morrison, at 15:22 and 15:41. He’s got 20 goals. . . . F Jake Elmer (15) added insurance, at 15:41, and F Jordy Bellerive (38) got the empty-netter, at 17:17. . . . The Hurricanes got two assists from each of D Calen Addison, Bellerive and F Jadon Joseph, with Morrison adding one to his pair of goals. . . . Kootenay was 2-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-5. . . . G Logan Flodell earned the victory with 26 saves, eight fewer than the Ice’s Duncan McGovern. . . . F Dylan Cozens was back in Lethbridge’s lineup after not having played since Jan. 19. He missed nine games with an undisclosed injury. When he went down, Cozens, 17, had 16 goals and 23 assists in 40 games. . . . Announced attendance: 2,969.


At Kamloops, the Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 1-0 deficit with two goals 22 seconds apart early in the second period and went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers. . . . Edmonton EdmontonOilKings(16-32-7) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (26-26-4) had won its previous two games. It remains six points away from a Western Conference wild-card spot. . . . F Jackson Shepard (7) was credited with the Blazers’ first goal, when a point shot by D Sean Strange went off his skate and trickled over the goal line. . . . Edmonton tied the score at 1:20 of the second period when F Colton Kehler re-directed a point shot by D Conner McDonald. . . . Shortly after that, the Blazers broke out 2-on-1, only to have the horn sound to kill play. An apparent save by Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson went to video review and Edmonton F Brendan Semchuk, who is from Kamloops, was awarded his 12th goal of the season. . . . Kehler (26) gave the visitors a 3-1 lead, on a PP, at 12:05 of the second period. . . . D Ethan Cap iced it with an empty-netter, at 19:29 of the third period. . . . D Conner McDonald, who began his career with Kamloops, had two assists for Edmonton. . . . Edmonton was 1-1 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 29 shots for Edmonton, 10 more than Dylan Ferguson of the Blazers. . . . This season, Kamloops is 1-6-2 when playing in front of more than 4,000 fans at home. . . . This game, on Faith and Family Day, drew the largest crowd this season. . . . Announced attendance: 5,578.


At Prince George, F Brandon Hagel earned four assists and G Riley Lamb posted the shutout as the Red Deer Rebels blanked the Cougars, 4-0. . . . Red Deer (18-26-13) has PrinceGeorgeclosed to within two points of third-place Kootenay in the Central Division. . . . Prince George (19-30-8) has lost four in a row. . . . D Dawson Barteaux (3) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:05 of the first period. . . . D Alex Alexeyev (7) upped that to 2-0 at 19:01 of the second period. . . . Alexeyev was playing his first game since Jan. 20. He had left the team and returned to Russia following the unexpected death of his mother. . . . F Mason McCarty (29), on a PP, and F Kristian Reichel (24) added third-period goals. . . . Barteaux and Alexeyev added an assist each, as did Lamb. . . . Lamb finished with 25 saves as he put up his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. . . . The Cougars got 27 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Announced attendance: 3,071.


At Kelowna, the Rockets opened up a 5-2 second-period lead and hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna (34-17-5) had lost its previous two games (0-KelownaRockets1-1). It leads the B.C. Division by one point over Victoria. The Rockets have two games in hand. . . . Victoria (34-20-4) had won two in a row. . . . The teams played a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Victoria, with the Royals winning 6-1 and 4-3 in OT. . . . F Matthew Phillips (42) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead when he scored on a penalty shot at 5:02 of the first period. . . . Kelowna F Kole Lind tied it at 5:31. . . . The Royals went back out front at 8:29 when F Noah Gregor (21) scored. . . . Lind (31) tied it, on a PP, at 19:07. . . . The Rockets took control with three second-period goals. . . . F Dillon Dube (25) made it 3-2 at 4:03; F Carsen Twarynski (35) scored at 8:09; and D Gordie Ballhorn (4) upper it to 5-2, on a PP, at 13:52. . . . F Tyler Soy (29) got Victoria to within two at 16:04. . . . The Royals cut the deficit to one on a goal by F Andrei Grishakov (18), on a PP, at 11:01 of the third period. . . . Dube added two assists to his goal, with F Kyle Topping and D Cal Foote also getting two assists each for the Rockets. Lind added one to his pair of goals. . . . The Royals got two assists from F Igor Martynov and one from Phillips. . . . Phillips now has 93 points, which is a Victoria franchise record. He had shared the record with F Alex Forsberg (2015-16). F Mark Santorelli holds the Chilliwack/Victoria record (101, 2007-08). . . . Phillips also is riding a franchise record 18-game point streak. He has 34 points, including 14 goals, in that time. . . . Kelowna was 2-5 on the PP; Victoria was 1-3. . . . Kelowna G James Porter Jr. allowed four goals on 25 shots in 51:20, before leaving with an injury. Brodan Salmond came on to finish up. He stopped the only shot he fced in 8:40. . . . The Royals got 30 stops from G Griffen Outhouse. . . . Each team was 4-3-1 in the season series. . . . Wayne Moore of castanet.net reports that “Lind may have suffered a concussion after he was hit by by Ralph Jarratt while cutting through the slot. Lind lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice.” Jarratt wasn’t penalized on the play; Lind didn’t return. . . . “I don’t really have any comment on the hit,” Kelowna head coach Jason Smith told Moore, “because the league will look at that, and there may be some decisions on what they thought, whether it was a clean hit or not a clean hit.” . . . Announced attendance: 5,625.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Tri-City at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.