Giants, Raiders head back to P.A. . . . Game 6 scheduled for Sunday. . . . Guelph one win from title in OHL


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The Guelph Storm won its third straight game on Friday night, beating the host Ottawa ohl67’s, 4-3, to take a 3-2 lead in the OHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 6 in Guelph on Sunday. . . . Last night, the Storm got a goal and an assist from F Alexey Toropchenko, who has seven goals in his past four games. He has 13 goals in these playoffs. . . . F Tye Felhaber scored twice for Ottawa. He now leads the OHL playoffs, with 17 goals. . . . The 67’s opened the playoffs with 14 straight victories, but now have lost three in a row — for the first time this season — and are facing elimination on Sunday.



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The Prince George Cougars and Vista Radio have extended their broadcast agreement through the 2019-20 season. . . . The Cougars’ games, home and away, will again be heard on 94.3 The GOAT. . . . Fraser Rodgers will be back for his third season as the play-by-play voice. . . . Hartley Miller, The GOAT’s sports director, will be the analyst for a seventh straight season.


Sean Murray, a goaltending coach who has worked with the Portland Winterhawks, TrailVancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars, has signed on with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Murray, a coach for more than 20 years, spent five seasons (2006-11) with the Giants, and was part of their Memorial Cup title in 2007. . . . He also pent three-plus seasons with the Winterhawks and two working with the Cougars. . . . The Smoke Eaters also have hired Jeff Urekar, who had been the head coach of the major midget North East Chiefs, as assistant GM.


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced Friday that they have “parted ways” OilBaronswith Tom Keca, who had been their general manager and head coach through four seasons. . . . In a news release, David Fitzgerald, the organization’s president, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to agree on terms with Tom to extend his contract beyond this season. In light of this, we decided that it was best for the organization to move in a different direction next season.” . . . Before taking over as GM/head coach, Keca had been an assistant coach with the Oil Barons for four-plus seasons. He also spent five seasons (2000-05) on the staff as an assistant before taking over as head coach of the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Dave Dupas has stepped in as general manager and head coach “until further notice.” . . . Dupas has been an assistant coach with Fort McMurray for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings for four seasons. . . . This season, the Oil Barons went 32-19-9 to finish fourth in the Viterra AJHL North. They beat the Grande Prairie Storm, 3-1, in a best-of-five first-round series, then lost a best-of-seven affair to the Sherwood Park Crusaders, 4-2.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is headed back to the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. . . . The Vancouver Giants beat the Raiders, 4-3, on Friday night in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders now hold a 3-2 lead in the series. . . . The two teams will climb on to the same plane today and fly to Prince Albert where Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday. . . .

Prior to Game 5, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “The one thing I know for sure is that you don’t give games away. You have a chance like this, you play this like it’s Game 7. “You want to end it as quick as possible. (Friday) is our Game 7.” . . .

After Game 5, Habscheid told reporters: “If someone had told me at the start of the (season) that we’d have two games at home to try and win the league title, we’d take it.” . . .

This is the third straight WHL final to go six games. . . . Two seasons ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the host Regina Pats, 4-3 in OT, to win that series, 4-2. . . . Last season, it was the Swift Current Broncos winning Game 6, 3-0 over the visiting Everett Silvertips, to take that series, 4-2. . . .

On Friday, at 8:15 p.m. PT, with Game 5 between Vancouver and Prince Albert in the first intermission, Rogers Sportsnet had Plays of the Month on four channels, MLB’s Best on one channel and Highlights of the Night on another. Just sayin’ . . . No, Game 6 of the OHL’s championship final wasn’t on any of the channels earlier in the evening either.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants erased a 2-1 deficit with three-second period goals en route to a 4-Vancouver3 victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. . . . Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Monday. . . . Last night, the Giants got the game’s first goal, at 7:42 of the first period, when F Brayden Watts (7) deposited a rebound off a shot by F Tristen Nielsen into an empty side. . . . The team scoring first now is 5-0 in this series. . . . The Raiders tied it at 10:44 as F Aliaksei Protas (12) scored from the slot off a rebound from a shot by F Sean Montgomery. . . . The teams then combined for five goals in the second period. . . . The visitors took their only lead at 2:45, just nine seconds after killing off a penalty. F Dante Hannoun came free in front of the Giants’ net and beat G David Tendeck for his WHL-leading 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . Vancouver tied it 50 seconds later as D Bowen Byram (8) skated into the left side of the slot and beat G Ian Scott for his first goal of the series. . . . F Davis Koch (3) put the home boys back out front, putting home a rebound at 9:24. He had gone 12 games without a goal. . . . D Dylan Plouffe (6) upped Vancouver’s lead to 4-2 at 11:13 with a shot from the top of the left circle off a play by F Dawson Holt, who gained possession of the puck with some good work along the boards and then threw out a terrific pass. . . . The Raiders got back to within a goal at 15:54 as F Noah Gregor (11) got a backhand shot through Tendeck after the Giants failed to clear their zone. . . . F Jadon Joseph had two assists for Giants, while Byram added an assist to his goal, as did Watts. . . . The Raiders got two assists from F Brett Leason. . . . Leason and Byram remain tied for the playoff points lead, each with 25, two ahead of Hannoun. . . . Tendeck finished with 37 saves, including 16 in the third period as he helped keep the Raiders off the scoreboard. . . . Scott stopped 26 shots. . . . The Giants were 0-1 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-2. . . . The Raiders had D Max Martin back in the lineup after he missed Games 3 and 4. He was injured in the second period of Game 2 after crashing awkwardly into the end boards. With Martin back in, D Loeden Schaufler came out. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Fraser Lawrence, with Ron Dietterle and Brett Mackey working the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.


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Scott, Leason lead Raiders to win. . . . P.A. can wrap up WHL title Friday. . . . All quiet on the Cranbrook front


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D Taylor Aronson (Portland, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and 14 assists in 43 games. . . .

F Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Brody Sutter (Saskatoon, Lethbridge, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). This season, with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga), he had nine goals and 12 assists in 45 games. . . .

F Semyon Krasheninnikov (Tri-City, 2014-15) has signed a one-year contract with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Zvezda Moscow (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he was pointless in one game, and had eight assists in 30 games with Tambov (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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With their WHL franchise having packed up and moved to Winnipeg, hockey fans in Cranbrook, B.C., are wondering: What’s next? Well, as Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman points out, we’re already into May and there isn’t another team in town, so it is likely too late for the 2019-20 season. In this piece right here, Crawley also wonders what’s happening on negotiations between the WHL franchise’s owners and the City of Cranbrook on a lease that is to run through 2022-23.


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In the OHL, F Alexey Toropchenko scored two goals for a third straight game in leading the host Guelph Storm to a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa 67’s on Wednesday night. The best-of-seven championship final is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Ottawa on Friday night. Game 6 is to be played in Guelph on Sunday afternoon. . . . Ottawa won the first two games of the final, at which point the 67’s were 14-0 in these playoffs. . . .

In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies also are tied, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda tonight, with Game 6 in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. The four-team tournament is to run from May 17-26.


The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has signed head coach Matt Keillor to a two-year extension that will run through the 2020-21 season. Keillor has been with the Storm since the middle of the 2015-16 season. He had been coaching the midget AAA Storm when the AJHL club chose to fire head coach Kevin Higo in December. . . . This season, the Storm finished 30-26-4 before losing a best-of-five first-round playoff series, 3-1, to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.


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NOTES: It is often dangerous to take the WHL’s online summaries as gospel immediately after games end, even once the word FINAL appears at the top. Such was the case on Tuesday following the Prince Albert Raiders’ 8-2 victory over the host Vancouver Giants in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . At some point following the game, F Brett Leason of the Raiders was credited with another assist, leaving him with two goals and two assists. . . . Raiders F Parker Kelly had an assist taken away, so he finished with two goals. . . . Raiders forwards Dante Hannoun and Noah Gregor each lost an assist, so wound up with a goal and an assist apiece. . . . When the changes were applied, Vancouver D Bowen Byram was left alone atop the scoring race, with 23 points, one ahead of Hannoun and Leason. . . .

That brings us to Game 4, which was played last night in Langley, B.C. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders, who scored seven goals in the first period of Game 3 one night earlier, didn’t score until the third period of Game 4, but that was enough for a 1-0 victory over the Giants. . . . They’ll play Game 5 in Langley on Friday, with the Raiders having their first crack at winning their first championship since 1985. . . .

When was the last 1-0 game in a WHL final? Last spring, G Stuart Skinner and the Swift Current Broncos beat the host Everett Silvertips, 1-0, on May 9. Skinner stopped 32 shots and D Colby Sissons scored the game’s only goal, on a PP, at 14:35 of the second period as the Broncos took a 3-1 lead in the series. . . . Everett came back to win Game 5, 6-3, on home ice two nights later, but Skinner put up another shutout, his sixth of those playoffs, as the Broncos won, 3-0, on May 13 to take the series, 4-2. . . .

Last night, Leason scored the game’s only goal, so he now has 23 points, tying him with Byram for the playoff scoring lead. Hannoun remains one point back, while two other Prince Albert forwards — Aliaksei Protas and Noah Gregor — are three back.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott stopped 36 shots to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 1-0 victory over the PrinceAlbertVancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders now lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-1, and get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley. . . . This was Scott’s fifth shutout of these playoffs, one shy of the WHL’s single-season record that is shared by Dustin Slade (Vancouver, 2006, 18 games) and Stuart Skinner, who did it in 26 games with the Swift Current Broncos a year ago. . . . Scott blanked the Giants, 4-0, in Game 2 on Saturday in Prince Albert. . . . The Raiders have outscored the Giants, 13-2, over the past three games. . . . F Brett Leason scored the game’s lone goal, going in alone to beat Vancouver G David Tendeck at 4:21 of the third period. . . . Just moments earlier, the Giants had hit a post behind Scott. . . . Vancouver had two earlier breakaways — F Davis Koch late in the first period and F Milos Roman early in the second period — but couldn’t solve Scott. . . . D Sergei Sapego had a breakaway for the Raiders late in the second period but wasn’t able to score. . . . Tendeck finished with 25 saves. . . . Prince Albert was 0-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-1. . . . The Giants held a 15-9 edge in first-period shots and 11-5 in the third. . . . The Raiders scratched D Max Martin for a second straight game. Unlike Tuesday night, Martin didn’t take the pregame warmup before being scratch from Game 4. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Mark Pearce. Nick Bilko and Brett Mackey worked the lines.


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Raiders put Giants behind 8-ball. . . . P.A. scores seven in first period. . . . Winds of change blowing in Brandon

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F Yegor Babenko (Lethbridge, 2015-17) has been traded by Severstal Cherepovets to Traktor Chelyabinsk (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. This season, with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games. He also was pointless in three games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), and had two goals three assists in 15 games with Severstal Cherepovets. . . .

F Liam Stewart (Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-season contract with the Southern Stampede Queenstown (New Zealand, NZIHL). Last season,  with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 35 games. He didn’t play this season after suffering a concussion. . . . Stewart holds dual UK/New Zealand citizenship and is considered a local player in New Zealand. However, in the UK, he is considered an import because he played his minor hockey in the U.S.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings revealed on Tuesday that they won’t be renewing the contract BrandonWKregularof Grant Armstrong, who had been their general manager through three seasons. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, said in a news release that Armstrong “was responsible for many of the moves that will serve us well in the future. At the same time, I also felt a change was necessary as we look to return to a higher level as an organization.” . . . McCrimmon is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He will be taking over as the Golden Knights’ GM on Sept 1. . . . Armstrong signed as Brandon’s general manager to take over from McCrimmon when he signed with Vegas. . . . The Wheat Kings were 102-87-23 with Armstrong as the general manager. This season, they finished 31-29-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. . . . Before joining Brandon, Armstrong was with the Victoria Royals for four seasons as director of player personnel and assistant GM. Prior to that, he worked with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons, the last four as head scout. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here. . . .

With a new general manager to be hired at some point, you are free to wonder about the future of head coach David Anning and assistant coach Don MacGillivray. After three seasons, their contracts are up, too. . . . The news release on Armstrong’s departure doesn’t mention the coaching staff.


The Tri-City Americans announced Tuesday that they have renewed the contracts of goaltending coaches Eli Wilson and Liam McOnie “through the 2021 season.” . . . Wilson and McOnie have worked with the Americans since the 2017-18 season. They also run goaltending camps through Eli Wilson Goaltending.


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The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers have hired Jason McKee as general manager and head coach, Vernonreplacing Mark Ferner, who got the team into the BCHL final this season, his fifth season in his second stint with the organization. . . . Ferner, 53, was the Vipers’ head coach for four seasons (2007-11), getting them into three national finals and winning two of them, before spending time on the coaching staffs of the Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers. This time, he had been the Vipers’ director of hockey operations and head coach since early in the 2014-15 season. . . . This season, the Vipers went 26-21-11 to finish fourth in the seven-team Interior Division. They reach the championship final where they were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . McKee, 40, was the head coach of the Vancouver Giants for two seasons (2016-18). Prior to that, he was with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for 10 seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . . Brothers John and Tom Glen purchased the Vipers in September from Libby Wray, whose husband, Dr. Duncan Wray, had owned the franchise from 1992 through his death on Jan. 11, 2018. . . . John Glen was quite involved with the Saints, although not at the ownership level. He also is a former scout with the Giants.


If you’re a junior hockey fan you should be following Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) on Twitter. He always has up-to-date information on players moving from the WHL to the Canadian university scene, including F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility with the Victoria Royals this season and will be playing for the Carleton Ravens of Ottawa next season. Findlay also reports that Josh Curtis, who was a 20-year-old with the Prince George Cougars, will be joining the Queen’s U Gaels, who play out of Kingston, Ont. Findlay also has F Ryan Jevne (Medicine Hat Tigers) going to the U of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, F Nolan Yaremko (Tri-City Americans) off to the Calgary-based Mount Royal Cougars, and F Ryan Vandervlis (Lethbridge Hurricanes), F Mike MacLean (Prince George) and F Jeff de Wit (Red Deer Rebels) all joining the Montreal-based Concordia Stingers.


The Halifax Mooseheads broke a 1-1 tie with two second-period goals and then added two more in the third, en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL’s championship final on Tuesday night. . . . The series now is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday night, and Game 6 back in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. A seventh game would be played in Rouyn-Noranda on Monday. . . . Both teams already know they will play in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. . . .

In the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s will meet the Storm in Guelph in Game 4 tonight (Wednesday). The 67’s hold a 2-1 lead after dropping a 7-2 decision to the host Storm on Monday night. That was the first loss of these playoffs for the 67’s, who now are 14-1.


Rich Pilon, who was named the head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings on April 29, now is the team’s general manager, as well. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon will add the GM’s duties, taking over from Tanner McCall, who had been the GM and head scout. . . . McCall, who also scouts for the Moose Jaw Warriors, had been with the Red Wings for five seasons, the last three as general manager and head scout.


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NOTES: Well, who saw that one coming? The Prince Albert Raiders went into Langley, B.C., and humbled the Vancouver Giants, handing them an 8-2 loss in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. Game 5 is set for Friday night in Langley. . . . Last night’s decision means that if the Giants are to win the series, they will have to do it in Prince Albert. Games 6 and 7, if one or both are needed, would be played there on Sunday and Monday. . . .

In Game 3, the Raiders took control with seven goals in the first period. . . . The WHL record for most goals in one period of a playoff game is nine and belongs to the Saskatoon Blades (March 30, 1986, second period of a 12-5 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors). . . .

Oh the games people play now/Every night and every day now. . . . According to the lineup sheet circulated prior to the game, Raiders D Max Martin would play, with D Loeden Schaufler and F Jakob Brook listed with question marks beside their names. That would seem to have indicated that one of those two would play and the other would sit. . . . Martin didn’t finish Game 2 after suffering an apparent shoulder injury when he went awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Last night, he took the pregame warmup and then was scratched. Schaufler and Brook both were dressed and on the Prince Albert bench. . . .

F Dante Hannoun of the Raiders had a goal and two assists in Game 3. He leads the WHL playoffs with 12 goals. His 23 points have him tied with Vancouver D Bowen Byram for the scoring lead. Byram had one assist in Game 3. . . .

According to tweets from Steve Ewen, there were a number of NHL luminaries in the crowd, among them Scotty Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), and Rob Blake and Todd McLellan (Los Angeles Kings).

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored 41 seconds into the first period and made it 2-0 at 2:27 PrinceAlbertas they went on to an 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. . . . Prince Albert had won Game 2, 4-0, so has outscored Vancouver, 12-2, over the last two games. . . . The visitors led 4-0 at 6:33 of the first period, 6-0 at 16:30 and 7-0 going into the second period. . . . The Giants took the game’s first four minor penalties, all of them in the opening 6:33. The Raiders responded with three PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (5,6) and F Brett Leason (8,9) each scored twice and added an assist for the victors, with F Dante Hannoun (12) scoring once and adding two assists. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (5), F Cole Fonstad (2) and F Noah Gregor (10) added a goal each. . . . D Sergei Sapego, F Aliaksei Protas and F Sean Montgomery added two assists each for the Raiders. . . . F Brayden Watts (6) and F Yannik Valenti (3) scored PP goals for the Giants after they had fallen behind 8-0. . . . Prince Albert was 4-8 on the PP; Vancouver was 2-8. . . . G Ian Scott blocked 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . Vancouver starter David Tendeck gave up three goals on 13 shots. He allowed two goals on four shots in 2:27, then was relieved by Trent Miner for the remainder of the first period. Miner allowed five goals on 14 shots. Tendeck returned for the final two periods and stopped eight of nine shots. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Chris Crich, with Ron Dietterle and Michael Roberts the linesmen.


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Byram chasing WHL history. . . . Scott is in select company, too. . . . Final series to resume Tuesday in Langley

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D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants is attempting to skate where no other player has gone since the WHL started play in the autumn of 1966.

Byram leads all playoff scorers with 22 points, two more than F Dante Hannoun of the VancouverPrince Albert Raiders.

The Giants and Raiders are tied, 1-1, in the WHL’s best-of-seven final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with Game 3 set for Tuesday night in Langley, B.C.

The record for most points by a defenceman in one playoff season is 34 and belongs to John Miner, a hard-shooter who put up nine goals and 25 assists in 23 games with the Regina Pats in 1984.

Second on that list is Keith Brown of the Portland Winterhawks, who had 33 points, 30 of them assists, in 25 games in 1979.

Derrick Pouliot of Portland is third, having recorded 32 points, including 27 assists, in 21 games in 2014.

Tied for fourth, each with 31 points, are Darren Veitch of the 1980 Pats and Greg Hawgood of the 1986 Kamloops Blazers. Veitch did it in 18 games; Hawgood managed to do it in 16 outings.

But none of those five led the playoffs in scoring.

Byram, who had 71 points in 67 regular-season games, has played in 17 playoff games, with at least three more to come.

Will he be able to hold off Hannoun? Might Raiders forwards Noah Gregor and/or Brett Leason, who are four points back, make a late run? Or what of Giants F Davis Koch, who also has 18 points?

Stay tuned.


Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders stopped 15 shots in earning the shutout Saturday in PrinceAlberta 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 2 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . Scott now is one of 13 goaltenders to have put up at least four shutouts in one playoff season. The record of six is shared by Dustin Slade of Vancouver, who did it in only 18 games in 2006, and Stuart Skinner, who managed to do that in 26 games with the Swift Current Broncos last season.


Judging by the WHL website, it would seem that the official name of the Ed Chynoweth Cup final series is the 2019 Rogers #WHLChampionship Series. Even though there hasn’t been a WHL game on Rogers since the first three games of the second-round series between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. . . . As Game 1 of the WHL final began in Prince Albert on Friday evening, Sportsnet had the same NHL game on five of the six channels, with the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers on the other. . . . If you are a WHL fan, feel free to slam palm of hand on forehead.


If you don’t like the WHL’s present playoff format, Ray Marcham, who has a blog he calls The Outlet, will take you back, back, back . . . to the days when round-robins were a part of our spring. . . . If you’re a long-time fan and lived through a few of those series, reading his piece, which is right here, just may give you nightmares.

If you’re wondering why the WHL went away from any kind of round-robin format, you may get a bit of a hint from this story right here.


JUST NOTES: How important is the first goal of a game to the Raiders. They are 11-0 when scoring first in these playoffs. Combine the regular season and playoffs, and they are 55-0. . . . Marc Habscheid of the Raiders now has 71 playoff victories as a WHL head coach. He is seventh on the WHL’s all-time list, behind Don Hay (108), Ken Hodge (101), Ernie McLean (87), Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80, and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, went into this spring with 18 playoff victories, all with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He now is up to 31. . . .

Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for Postmedia, reports right here that in Vancouver’s camp it’s all about the forecheck.

Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has a piece right here on Vancouver D Bowen Byram and his tie to Prince Albert and the Raiders.


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The junior B Summerland, B.C., Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has had to make a coaching change after John DePourcq chose to step aside after seven seasons. According to a news release from the Steam, DePourcq cited “increasing work and family obligations” as the reasons for his decison. . . . Ken Karpuk is the Steam’s new head coach. Karpuk, 57, is from Penticton. . . . The Steam made the playoffs in each of DePourcq’s seven seasons and advanced past the first round on five occasions. . . . As well, Steve Hogg has been named full-time general manager after working in an interim capacity since April 28 when the club announced that, by mutual agreement, Mike Rigby’s contract wouldn’t be renewed. . . . . DePourcq will remain with the organization in an advisory capacity.


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If you haven’t seen this already, take time to check out the thread . . .

Rockets looking for trade partner. . . . Raiders one win from WHL final. . . . Giants into championship series


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F Dan DaSilva (Portland, 2002-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He led his club in scoring this season, putting up 47 points, 22 of them goals, in 52 games. . . .

D Drydn Dow (Tri-City, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite) and will receive a scholarship from the University of Dundee. In 58 games, he had nine goals and 29 assists. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Reid Gardiner (Prince Albert, Kelowna, 2012-17) has signed a one-year contract with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Utica Comets (AHL), he had two goals and one assist in 21 games, and 26 goals and 27 assists in 36 games with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL). He led Kalamazoo in plus/minus at +26. . . .

F Garry Nunn (Vancouver, Edmonton, 2007-10) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Olten (Switzerland, Swiss League). This season, with AIK Stockholm (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he had 15 goals and 15 assists in 37 games.


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With the WHL’s bantam draft scheduled for Thursday in Red Deer, the Kelowna Rockets KelownaRocketsare open for business. . . . The Rockets didn’t qualify for the playoffs this season. They are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. If you’re a hockey fan, you know that’s not a good combination. . . . Therefore, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, knows he has some work to do to put together a roster that will be capable of competing for a championship. . . . With that in mind, he has said he is more than willing to trade away the fifth-overall selection in the bantam draft. . . . “I want at least one high-end guy for that pick,” Hamilton told Wayne Moore of castanet.net earlier this week, “and probably more than one.” . . . The WHL features 22 teams. The Rockets were 19th in goals for this season and 18th in goals against. So there is ample room for improvement. . . . Hamilton also served up something of a warning to the WHL’s other 21 teams, telling Moore that “if someone wants to deal with us, they’re going to have to start dealing with us this weekend. Once we hit (Thursday) morning, we won’t be making the trade if it hasn’t happened by then. Strategically, teams would love to catch us on the morning of the draft and get us to make a decision that’s in haste.” That, Hamilton said, isn’t going to happen. . . . Moore’s story is right here.


Dan Kordic’s stint as an assistant coach with the Kamloops Blazers is over after one Kamloops1season. The team issued a two-sentence news release on Friday morning stating that Kordic “has decided not to return to the hockey club for the 2019-20 season.” . . . Kordic, 48, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (1987-91) with the Medicine Hat Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 197 regular-season NHL games, all with the Philadelphia Flyers. . . . He spent two seasons on the coaching staff of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, working with head coach Serge Lajoie. . . . When Lajoie signed on as the Blazers’ head coach last summer, Kordic accompanied him. . . . The Blazers and Lajoie went their separate ways on April 11, so one supposes that it’s no surprise that Kordic also has moved on. . . . Earlier this week, Lajoie was named the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed F Jaxon Dube, who was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., he turned 16 on April 24. . . . This season, he had five goals and seven assists in 30 games with the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders.


I should have known better than to trust the number on the news release that announced Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, was to be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. . . . That news release claimed that Ridley had called 3,931 games in which the Tigers have played. . . . It turns out that number is 3,935. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, has been chronicling Ridley’s broadcasting feats for a number of years now, going back to his days in the sports department at the Medicine Hat News. Steinke says the number is 3,935, and that’s more than good enough for me. . . . By the way, kudos to Steinke for continuing to follow the WHL playoffs on his own hook. He lives in Saskatoon but that hasn’t stopped him from being a regular visitor to other cities for playoff action. He was in Prince Albert last night, so now has been there in person for all five games in the WHL’s Eastern Conference final. . . . You are able to check out his stuff at his blog, Stanks’ Sermon, that is right here.


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NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders are one victory away from advancing to the WHL final for the first time since the spring of 1985 when they went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . The Raiders, playing at home on Friday night, dumped the Edmonton Oil Kings, 4-0, to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final. . . . They’ll play Game 6 in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon. . . . How big is this in Prince Albert? The Raiders last appeared in the conference final in 2005. In the 13 seasons between then and now, they lost six times in the first round and missed the playoffs in the other seven seasons. . . . Since the turn of the century, the Raiders, prior to this season, had missed the playoffs 10 times, were ousted in the first round on eight occasions and lost in the conference final once. . . .

Meanwhile, in Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-2, to win the Western Conference final, 4-1. . . . That moves the Giants into the WHL final. The Giants last appeared in the championship series in 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Memorial Cup was played in Vancouver that year and the Giants won it as the host team, beating the Tigers, 3-1, in the final.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Aliaksei Protas scored three goals and set up another to lead the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertto a 4-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Raiders hold a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final. They’ll play Game 6 in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon. . . . Game 7, if needed, would be played in Prince Albert on Tuesday. . . . Protas, a freshman from Vitebsk, Belarus, who turned 18 on Jan. 6, had 11 goals and 29 assists in 61 regular-season games. He now has eight goals and four assists in 15 playoff outings. . . . Protas never once scored two or more goals in a game during the regular season; he has done it twice in the playoffs. . . . Protas scored his first goal, on a PP, at 11:31, then made it 2-0 at 17:03. . . . F Brett Leason (5) gave his guys a 3-0 lead at 5:22 of the third period. . . . Portas completed his hat trick at 19:35, one second after the expiration of an Edmonton minor penaltys. . . . D Sergei Sapego and D Kaiden Guhle each had two assists, while Leason added one to his goal. . . . The Raiders were 1-3 on the PP; the Oil Kings didn’t have even one opportunity. . . . G Ian Scott earned the shutout, his third of these playoffs, with 24 saves. . . . In these playoffs, Scott now is 11-4, 1.83, .929. He finished the regular season at 38-8-3, 1.83, .932. . . . The Oil Kings got 26 stops from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . The Oil Kings inserted F Carter Souch into the lineup and took out F Zach Russell. . . . Edmonton has lost back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 4 and 6 when they lost at home to the Victoria Royals (3-2) and Lethbridge Hurricanes (5-2).


The Vancouver Giants advanced to the WHL final with a 3-2 victory over the Spokane VancouverChiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants won the series, 4-1, and will meet either the Edmonton Oil Kings or Prince Albert Raiders in the series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. The Raiders lead that series, 3-2. . . . The Giants were shorthanded when D Bowen Byram (7) gave them a 1-0 lead at 16:42 of the first period. . . . F Justin Sourdif (2) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 19:22. . . . The Chiefs halved the deficit at 4:22 of the third period when F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (5) scored, on a PP. . . . But the Giants got that one back just 21 seconds later on a goal from F Brayden Watts (5). . . . F Ethan McIndoe (6) pulled the Chiefs to within one at 18:13 with G Bailey Brkin on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Sourdif and Byram added an assist apiece, while F Eli Zummack had two helpers for Spokane. . . . Each team was 1-4 on the PP. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 27 shots for the Giants. In the playoffs, he is 7-2, 2.04, .925. He went the distance in all five games with Spokane. . . . The Chiefs got 27 saves from Brkin. . . . The Chiefs again scratched two veterans — F Luc Smith, who didn’t play after being injured a couple of minutes into Game 1, and D Filip Kral, who has missed two straight games. . . . The key to Vancouver’s series victory may have come in its holding Anderson-Dolan to two goals and an assist, and D Ty Smith to one assist in the five games.


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Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


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NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


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Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


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F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


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It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


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NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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