WHL’s Dept. of Discipline busy place. . . . Raiders, Blades complete sweeps. . . . Things get nasty in Blazers’ victory


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Things heated up on the WHL playoff front on Wednesday as the Department of Discipline suspended two players under supplemental discipline.

When the Victoria Royals and host Kamloops Blazers met in Game 4 of their series last whlnight, each team was missing one player after a hit in Game 3. Victoria won the game, 3-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

F Brodi Stuart of the Blazers was suspended for one game after the Royals requested supplemental discipline for his unpenalized hit on D Matt Smith at 14:45 of the second period. Smith, who was back in the lineup after missing 10 games with an undisclosed injury, didn’t return and was scratched from Game 4.

At the time of the check, it was evident that the Royals felt the hit involved a high elbow. At the Victoria bench, head coach Dan Price could be seen indicating to referee Sean Raphael that an elbow was involved and that the referee should “watch the replay.”

The Blazers, of course, felt otherwise.

This was the second time this season that the Royals asked for supplemental discipline. In the first instance, the Blazers also were involved after D Jeff Faith hit Royals D Remy Aquilon during a game in Victoria on Jan. 9. The league reviewed it, found it to be a headshot, and suspended Faith for five games. Aquilon missed 11 games, not returning until Feb. 5.

F Kobe Mohr of the Blazers was suspended for two games after Game 1 of this series for slashing a linesman following a faceoff. Mohr was quoted as saying that the Royals had filed for supplemental discipline in that instance, too, but that turned out not to be true. The league handled that situation on its own.

Cam Hope, who is in his seventh season as the Royals’  general manager, told Taking Note on Wednesday afternoon that other than the two requests for supplemental this season, he “can’t even recall the last time we made a request. Maybe one other in the last five years?”

As Hope put it: “With big hitters like Tyler Stahl and Ryan Gagnon (in our lineup), most of my calls with the league have been from the other side.”

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Meanwhile, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline had to deal with another review after the Vancouver Giants requested supplemental discipline following an incident in Game 3 of their series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The Giants won that game, 6-4, in Kent, Wash., to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Seattle D Cade McNelly came out of it with a two-game suspension “under supplemental discipline and repeat offender,” according to the WHL.

Observers seemed to be at a loss for what McNelly might have done, although Steve Ewen of Postmedia indicated via Twitter that the Seattle player “did have some sort of exchange with (Vancouver defenceman) Bowen Byram from the penalty box.”

This is the fourth time this season that McNelly has been suspended.

McNelly was suspended for four games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct during a game against the Silvertips in Everett on Feb. 22. He also was hit with a three-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a game against the Winterhawks in Portland on Dec. 31. There also was a three-game suspension for a one-man fight in a game at Portland on Sept. 29.

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Following Wednesday night’s playoff games, the Department of Discipline will have a couple of situations to deal with before Friday evening.

The Seattle Thunderbirds likely will be subjected to more discipline before Friday’s Game 5 against the Vancouver Giants after F Sean Richards took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 4:16 of the first period for a hit on F Aidan Barfoot.

Seattle won Game 4, 4-3, in Kent, Wash., to tie the series, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday.

The Thunderbirds acquired Richards, 20, from the Everett Silvertips in January. He already has been suspended five times in his WHL career, including twice this season, each time for an infraction against Seattle. He got eight games for a boarding major and game misconduct on Dec. 8, and five games for a headshot major and game misconduct on Oct. 5.

Meanwhile, F Kody McDonald of the Victoria Royals almost certainly will be suspended after being hit with a match penalty for attempt to injure

McDonald had been given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor at 5:34 of the third period. As he skated to the penalty box, he was most unhappy and kept showing the officials that he was bleeding from the mouth area.

The Royals killed the penalty but, at 7:58, McDonald, while on the Victoria bench, swung his stick at the head of F Zane Franklin while the Kamloops player was on his bench. McDonald was given the match penalty, while Franklin was handed an unsportsmanlike minor.

The Blazers scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 situation and then added a PP goal to snap a 3-3 tie. They ended up with a 5-3 victory to tie the series, 2-2.

McDonald was last suspended during the 2017-18 season while with the Prince George Cougars. He got three games for being involved in a one-man fight in a game against host Vancouver. The Cougars later traded him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him in a deal with the Raiders on Jan. 3.


The Seattle Thunderbirds welcomed back D Jake Lee for Game 4 of their series with the Vancouver Giants last night. He served a two-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct with six seconds left Vancouver’s 7-1 victory in Game 1. That was for a hit on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif, who has yet to return to action.

Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck isn’t at all please with the two-game suspension or Lee’s return.

“I played with Brad Hornung. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it,” Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “It was the same type of play. The only thing that saved Justin Sourdif was the net. It’s a terrible play. He (Lee) is a young guy. But somebody has to teach him. All two games is … I don’t know.

“It’s one of the worst plays in hockey. It had nothing to do with making a play. It’s emotion. I understand that. But you have to learn.”

Dyck was a defenceman with the Regina Pats on March 1, 1987, when Hornung, a teammate, was hit from behind and left a quadriplegic.

Ewen’s complete story is right here.


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NOTES: There were seven games again last night, with only two scheduled for tonight. . . . The Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans, who played last night after sitting out Tuesday, will play Game 4 in Kennewick, Wash., tonight, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Hitmen will do the same in Calgary. . . . Everett leads its series, 2-1, while Lethbridge also is ahead, 2-1. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades both completed season sweeps last night. The Raiders ousted the Red Deer Rebels, while the Blades were taking care of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The second round will feature, yes, Saskatoon against Prince Albert. It will be the first time since 2011 that these teams have met in the playoffs. That spring, the Blades won a first-round series in six games. That was Saskatoon’s last series victory prior to ousting Moose Jaw last night. . . . The Raiders and Blades are expected to open in Prince Albert on April 5 and 6, then return to Saskatoon for games on April 9 and 10.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brett Leason returned from a one-game suspension to score twice and lead the Prince PrinceAlbertAlbert Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the host Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders won the series, 4-0, giving the organization its first series sweep and series victory since the spring of 2005. That year, the Raiders swept the Saskatoon Blades in a first-round series, then beat the Medicine Hat Tigers in six, before losing in seven to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference final. . . . The Rebels were swept for the first time since losing to the Blades in 2010. . . . Last night, F Jeff de Wit gave the Rebels their first lead of the series when he scored with 9.7 seconds in the first period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (3) tied it at 9:08 of the second period and Leason (1) gave his guys the lead 58 seconds into the third period. . . . Leason (2) added a PP goal at 11:27, and F Cole Fonstad (1), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter at 16:26. . . . F Brandon Hagel drew an assist on Red Deer’s goal, meaning he was in on six of the seven goals the Rebels scored in the four games. . . . Prince Albert was 1-2 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-3. . . . The Raiders got 21 saves from G Ian Scott. . . . G Ethan Anders topped 31 shots for Red Deer.


F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen scored at 4:36 of OT to give the Saskatoon Blades a 4-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Saskatoon won the series, 4-0. . . . This was the first time the Blazers have swept a series since the spring of 2010 when they took out the Red Deer Rebels. . . . F Max Gerlach (5) put the Blades on top at 7:37 of the first period. . . . The Warriors took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Luke Ormsby (1), at 18:03, and D Matthew Benson (1), at 2:06 of the second period. . . . F Tristen Robins (1) tied it at 9:40. . . . The Blades took a 3-2 lead when F Kirby Dach (3) scored, shorthanded, at 15:35 of the third period. . . . Moose Jaw forced OT when F Tristin Langan (1) scored, shorthanded, at 17:43. . . . Roykas Marthinsen won it with his first playoff goal. A freshman from Norway, he had 13 goals and 16 assists in 62 regular-season games. . . . Gerlach has goals in seven straight games. . . . Saskatoon was 0-6 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-3. . . . The Blades got 23 stops from G Nolan Maier, while Moose Jaw G Adam Evanoff blocked 44 shots. . . . F Yegor Buyalski was among the Warriors’ scratches. According to a tweet from Marc Smith (@MarcSmith18), Buyalski was out “after taking a high hit” in Game 3.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last five goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the host Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-1. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled to be played in Edmonton on Friday night. Game 6 is in Medicine on Sunday. . . . F Ryan Jevne (1) gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:34 of the first period. . . . Edmonton F Quinn Benjafield (2) tied it, on a PP, at 15:32, and F Andrew Fyten (1) put the visitors out front at 16:45. . . . Loschiavo (2) upped the lead to 3-1 at 17:28. . . . Loschiavo (3), who also had an assist, added his second goal at 7:31 of the third period, and D Matthew Robertson (1) closed it out at 11:19. . . . Edmonton was 2-5 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-5. . . . The Oil Kings held a 36-15 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the first period and 13-5 in the third. . . . Edmonton got 14 saves from G Todd Scott, while Medicine Hat’s Mads Søgaard turned aside 31 shots. . . . The Oil Kings had F Dylan Guenther, the first overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, make his playoff debut. He played eight games with them during the regular season, scoring three times and adding an assist. In 28 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, he had 32 goals and 26 assists.


F Parker AuCoin’s OT goal gave the Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the Everett tri-citySilvertips in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-1. They’ll play Game 4 tonight in Kennewick, with Game 5 in Everett on Saturday. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (3) gave Everett a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 17:35 of the first period. He has scored in each game of this series and in five straight overall. . . . D Samuel Stewart (1) got Tri-City even, on a PP, at 16:54 of the second period. . . . Everett went back out front at 19:51 as F Bryce Kindopp (1) scored, on a PP. . . . Tri-City F Nolan Yaremko (3) forced OT when he scored at 2:16 of the third period. . . . AuCoin’s first goal of the playoffs won it, on a PP, at 7:52 of extra time. . . . Tri-City was 2-3 on the PP; Everett was 2-5. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots for the Americans, 11 more than Everett’s Dustin Wolf. . . . The Silvertips had F Connor Dewar back in their lineup after he missed Game 2. . . . D Marc Lajoie made his debut with the Americans. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he was the 14th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. He also is the son of Kamloops Blazers head coach Serge Lajoie. This season, in 35 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, Marc had 11 goals and 24 assists.


The Seattle Thunderbirds, losing 3-0 early in the second period, scored four times and Seattlebeat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Friday night in Langley, B.C. They’ll be back in Kent for Game 6 on Saturday. . . . D Dylan Plouffe (3) got Vancouver into a 1-0 lead at 10:33 of the first period, and F Brayden Watts (2) made it 2-0 at 17:00. . . . The Giants took a 3-0 lead when F Davis Koch (1) scored at 2:19 of the second period. . . . Seattle F Keltie Jeri-Leon (1) started the comeback, on a PP, at 5:18 of the second period. . . . The Thunderbirds won it with third-period goals from F Noah Philp (1), at 7:11; F Andrej Kukuca (3), on a PP, at 11:13; and F Matthew Wedman (2), at 15:46. . . . Seattle was 2-4 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-2. . . . The Thunderbirds got 26 saves from G Roddy Ross. . . . Giants G David Tendeck stopped 30 shots. . . . Seattle F Sean Richards took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barefoot at 4:16 of the first period. . . . Seattle D Jake Lee returned after serving a two-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in Game 1. F Justin Sourdif, who absorbed that hit, has yet to return to action.


F Adam Beckman scored a PP goal in OT to give the Spokane Chiefs a 4-3 victory over the SpokaneChiefsWinterhawks in Portland. . . . The Chiefs hold a 3-1 lead in the series with Game 5 set for Saturday night in Spokane. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead when D Ty Smith (1) scored 31 seconds into the first period. . . . Portland came back with the next three goals — from D Brendan De Jong (1), at 9:51; F Josh Paterson (3), at 18:30; and Paterson (4), again, at 7:46 of the second period. . . . Spokane got third-period goals from F Luke Toporowski (2), at 3:25, and F Eli Zummack (1), at 19:00. . . . Beckman (3) won it at 4:39 of OT. . . . Spokane was 1-3 on the PP. The Winterhawks didn’t get even one PP opportunity. . . . G Bailey Brkin earned the victory with 35 saves, two more than Portland’s Joel Hofer. . . . Spokane, which had the No. 1 PP in the regular season, is 5-for-9 with the man advantage in this series. . . . No, F Cody Glass (knee) wasn’t in Portland’s lineup.


The Kamloops Blazers broke a 3-3 tie with three third-period goals to beat the visiting Kamloops1Victoria Royals, 6-3, in a game that was highly emotional with a whole lot of nastiness. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game Game 5 in Victoria on Saturday night. . . . They’ll return to Kamloops for Game 6 on Monday night. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (3) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead with a 45-footer at 6:52 of the first period. . . . Two goals from F Dino Kambeitz gave the Royals a 2-1 lead. The first one came shorthanded when two Blazers bumped a bit as they chased a soft dump-in and G Dylan Ferguson fell down as he left the crease to chase the puck. F Tarun Fizer got their first and slid the puck to Kambeitz for the two-foot tap-in at 10:37. . . . At 13:48, the Royals, on the PP, were able to take advantage of a poor Kamloops change to get another Kambeitz goal, his fourth of the series. . . . The Blazers tied it with 20.5 seconds left in the period, as F Connor Zary (2) scored off a rebound from a blocked shot on a 4-on-3 PP. . . . F Zane Franklin (1) gave the Blazers a 3-2 lead at 8:11 of the second period, only to have Victoria tie it on a bad-angle goal by F Igor Martynov (1) at 15:09. . . . The game turned early in the third period as Victoria F Kody McDonald was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct at 5:34. The Royals killed the penalty, only to have McDonald take a match penalty for attempt to injure at 7:58. Franklin was given an unsportsmanlike minor on the play. . . . At 8:19, with the teams playing 4-on-4, Zary gave the Blazers a 4-3 lead with his third goal in two games. . . . Kamloops D Luke Zazula (1), who also had two assists, added a PP goal at 10:52, and F Martin Lang (1) iced it, with another PP goal, at 15:11. . . . Kamloops was 3-6 on the PP; Victoria was 1-6. . . . The Blazers got 15 stops from G Dylan Ferguson, while G Griffen Outhouse blocked 41 shots for the Royals. . . . Kamloops held a 17-5 edge in shots in the first period and 20-2 in the third. . . . Blazers F Kobe Mohr returned after serving a two-game suspension.


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Chiefs, Carter agree to two more seasons; also promote Miles. . . . WHL suspends three players


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Scott Carter, who is in his third season as the Spokane Chiefs’ general manager, has signed a contract extension that will take him through the 2020-21 season.

(NOTE: Originally, the Chiefs said the extension would run through the 2021-22 season. One day later, they issued a correction, stating that it is a two-year extension.)

Carter took over from Tim Speltz on Sept. 8, 2016. Speltz, who had been the general manager for 26 years, left to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as their director of wester scouting and now is their head amateur scout.

Carter, who once owned a piece of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and did a stint as president and GM, had NHL scouting experience before joining the Chiefs. He also is a part-owner of Vaughn Custom Sports.

At the same time, the Chiefs announced that Mark Miles, who has been part of the organization since 1994, has been promoted to president. He had been vice-president of business operations and sales.

Bobby Brett had been the organization’s owner/president, so it would seem that he has turned over half of his title.


D Cade McNelly of the Seattle Thunderbirds has been suspended for four games after he whltook a headshot major and game misconduct in a game against the host Everett Silvertips on Friday. . . . McNelly was tossed at 7:18 of the second period of a game that Seattle would win, 3-2 in OT. . . . Everett F Martin Fasko-Rudas was injured on the play and didn’t play in Everett’s 6-3 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Saturday. . . . McNelly didn’t play on Saturday as Seattle lost, 4-3 in a shootout, to the visiting Portland Winterhawks. He also will miss three games this weekend — against the host Kamloops Blazers on Friday, in Everett on Saturday, and at home to the Tri-City Americans on Sunday. . . . This is McNelly’s third suspension of the season; when it’s over he will have sat out 10 games. He drew a three-game sentence for a cross-checking major in a Dec. 31 game at Portland, and also served three games after being involved in a one-man fight in a Sept. 29 game, also at Portland.

D Nick Cicek of the Winterhawks has drawn a one-game suspension for a hit on Seattle D Jake Lee on Saturday. . . . Cicek won’t play Friday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . .

F Parker Kelly of the Prince Albert Raiders will sit for three games after being suspended for a boarding major and game misconduct in a 7-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday. Kelly was penalized after hitting Brandon F Marcus Sekundiak at 15:48 of the third period. . . . Kelly will miss home games against the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, and also will sit out a game against the host Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday. . . . Kelly is a repeat offender, having served two one-game misconducts last season.


The Calgary Hitmen have added F Zack Funk to their roster, while returning G Brayden CalgaryPeters to the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Funk, 15, is from Vernon, B.C., and plays for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He has 33 goals and 21 assists in 36 games. The Hitmen selected Funk in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Peters, 16, was with the Hitmen while G Jack McNaughton was out with an undisclosed injury.


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Some info on Kootenay’s lease . . . Dach, Haden, Gerlach burn Wheat Kings . . . Americans bury ‘Hawks in third

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If you’re wondering what’s in the lease between the City of Cranbrook and the WHL’s Kootenay Ice involving Western Financial Place, here’s a taste . . .

Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman obtained a copy of the lease, which Kootenaynewruns through 2023, through an FOI request.

“The Kootenay Ice must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance,” Crawley writes. “For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.”

Crawley also writes:

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

On Monday, Crawley, who is listed on the Ice’s website as the team’s photographer, reported that “two groups have approached” the junior A BCHL “to look at getting a franchise in Cranbrook for the fall . . .”

That piece is right here.


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The 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship is scheduled to be held at the CN Centre PrinceGeorgein Prince George, from March 14-22. The facility is home to the Prince George Cougars, meaning that they will be on the road late in the 2019-20 regular season and perhaps into the first round of the playoffs, should they qualify. . . . This season, the WHL’s regular season concludes on March 17, with the playoffs to begin on March 22. . . .

The 2019 World Men’s event is to be held in Lethbridge’s ENMAX Centre, from March 30 through April 7, meaning the Hurricanes may be out of their facility for a playoff game or two. Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, already has stated that, if necessary, playoff games will be moved to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, which has about 1,000 seats and is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s teams. . . .

In Prince George, the junior A Spruce Kings, who skate in the B.C. Hockey League, play their home games in the 1,800-seat Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, a facility that might be considered as a Plan B for the Cougars, depending on how things turn out. . . .

Interestingly, Cougars general manager Mark Lamb was the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos in the spring of 2010 and again in 2016 when the World Women’s event was held in the Saskatchewan city.

In 2010, the Broncos played two first-round ‘home’ playoff games — Games 3 and 4 — in Regina’s Brandt Centre. They ended up being swept by the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Broncos didn’t make the playoffs in 2015-16, so their schedule wasn’t impacted.


The WHL has suspended D Montana Onyebuchi of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conner Bruggen-Cate of the Kelowna Rockets for two games each for their involvement in an whlincident during a Saturday night game.

Onyebuchi was suspended for being involved in what the WHL says was a “one-man fight” at 2:09 of the third period in a game won, 2-1 in OT, by the host Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate was suspended for what the WHL says were his “actions” that apparently precipitated Onyebuchi’s attempt to involve him in a fight.

At the time, Onyebuchi was given a fighting major and game misconduct, while Bruggen-Cate wasn’t penalized.

“There’s not really much to comment on,” Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “Happy that it was in the hands of the WHL office . . . the kind of research that they needed to do and came down with a ruling. We’re just happy that it was addressed.

“It was a situation where it really got to Montana. My approach was that we wanted to make sure that Montana was supported, wanted to make sure that he felt he was supported by his teammates, by the organization, by the league.

“That’s why it was important for the league to do the due diligence . . . for us to be there to support Montana regardless of what transpired.” 

Onyebuchi will sit out two home games — Friday night versus the Vancouver Giants and Saturday against the Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate also will miss two home games — tonight against the Spokane Chiefs and Friday against the Prince George Cougars — but will be eligible to play Saturday in Kamloops.


The Trinity Western U Spartans really, really want to be accepted into Canada West, the U Sports-governed conference that covers the four Western Canadian provinces.

“We treated it like an Olympic bid,” Spartans head coach Barret Kropf told Taking Note TWUin reference to the presentation that TWU made to Canada West in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday.

Kropf said that TWU had its president, vice-president, the Township of Langley’s general manager and a councillor, the athletic director, one of the players and himself all involved in the presentation.

“It went well,” said Kropf, whose club plays in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and plays out of the Langley Events Centre, the same facility that is home to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

TWU and the Edmonton-based Grant MacEwan Griffins, who are to make their presentation this morning, are both hoping to be admitted to Canada West for the 2020-21 season.

TWU and Grant MacEwan already are members of U Sports, but their hockey teams have continued to play in the BCIHL and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, respectively. They now are hoping to make a switch.

The difference between recruiting for a Canada West team as opposed to a BCIHL club would be “like night and day,” Kropf said, adding that he already is hearing from WHL players who have expressed interest in 2020-21.

This season, the Spartans’ roster includes the likes of F Jarrett Fontaine, F Spencer Gerth, D Travis Verveda, F Brayden Brown and F Brandon Potomak, all of whom have WHL experience.

Asked how close the Spartans are right now to being competitive with Canada West teams, Kropf replied: “I think we’re right there . . . we’re in the mix.”

Canada West is expected to vote on whether to add TWU and Grant MacEwan when it holds its annual general meeting in Whistler, B.C., from May 5-8. Interestingly, it is TWU’s turn to play host to the AGM.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Kirby Dach scored three times and the Saskatoon Blades counted the game’s last four Saskatoongoals as they beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-3. . . . Saskatoon (31-13-8) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). The Blades are second in the East Division, six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who now hold four games in hand. The teams are to meet tonight in Saskatoon. . . . Brandon (22-21-7) has lost two in a row and is six points away from a wild-card playoff berth. . . . With Brandon’s loss, the Eastern Conference-leading Prince Albert Raiders (43-7-2) became the first WHL team to clinch a playoff spot this season. . . . F Max Gerlach gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:19 of the first period as he hit the 30-goal mark for a fourth straight season. He has 130 goals in 262 regular-season games. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (32), who also had two assists, pulled Brandon even, on a PP, at 3:24 of the second period. . . . Dach shot the Blades in front, 3-1, with goals at 7:45 and 8:04. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it on second-period PP goals from F Luka Burzan (30), at 11:05, and F Cole Reinhardt (16), just 51 seconds later. . . . Saskatoon went ahead 4-3 as F Eric Florchuk scored at 15:22. . . . Dach completed his second career hat trick, both this season, on a PP, at 5:02 of the third period. . . . Gerlach, who also had an assist, added his 31st goal, at 13:27, and Florchuk got his 17th, on a PP, at 15:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-3 on the PP; Brandon was 3-6. . . . The Blades got four assists from F Gary Haden, who has 13 points, including nine goals, in a five-game point streak. . . . F Ryan Hughes added three assists for the Blades, with D Dawson Davidson picking up one to run his point streak to 10 games. He has 14 points, 13 of them assists, over that stretch. . . . Brandon D Braydyn Chizen sat this one out as he completed a four-game WHL suspension. . . . D Aiden De la Gorgendiere was among the Blades’ scratches after being injured on a hit by F Jake Neighbours of the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night. Neighbours drew a four-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct on the play.


G Max Paddock stopped 38 shots and two more in a shootout as the Regina Pats got past Patsthe Hurricanes, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Regina (14-35-3) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Lethbridge (27-15-9) had won its past two games. It is second in the Central Division, three points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Hurricanes held an 11-5 edge in shots in the third period, and it was 5-1 in OT. . . . F Blake Allan, who was acquired from the Kootenay Ice, scored his first goal in 14 games with the Pats to give them a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes tied it when F Taylor Ross (24) scored at 13:57. . . . Regina got shootout goals from F Ty Kolle and F Sergei Alkhimov, with F Jordy Bellerive scoring for the home team. . . . C Carl Tetachuk stopped 29 shots for Lethbridge. . . . This was the first time that F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry of the Hurricanes had faced their former team. They were acquired from the Pats on Nov. 29 in a deal that had Kolle and F Jadon Joseph, along with as many as seven bantam draft picks, go the other way. . . . Regina had F Cale Sanders, 16, make his WHL debut. From Claresholm, Alta., he has 16 goals and 17 assists in 28 games with the Edge School prep team in Calgary. . . . F Cole Dubinsky of the Pats sat out Game 2 of a four-game suspension.


G Trent Miner stopped 20 shots and picked up an assist to lead the Vancouver Giants to a Vancouver4-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (34-13-3) has won two in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals and now is five points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips. . . . Prince George (16-30-5) has lost 10 straight (0-8-2) and is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . The same teams meet again tonight in Prince George. . . . Miner, a freshman from Brandon, turned 18 on Tuesday. He now is 18-4-1, 1.85, .931. . . . Miner picked up an assist as F Davis Koch (21) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 16:14 of the first period. . . . F Owen Hardy (9) made it 2-0 at 5:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got to within a goal at 13:41 when F Josh Curtis (9) scored. . . . The Giants went ahead 4-1 on goals from F Justin Sourdif (14), at 14:38, and D Bowen Byram (20), at 15:14. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (19) got the Cougars’ second goal, on a PP, at 16:53 of the third period. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, on the bench in support of Taylor Gauthier, with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. Brennan, from Winnipeg, plays for the prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy. He was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Gauthier finished with 27 stops.


The Tri-City Americans struck for five third-period goals as they beat the visiting tri-cityPortland Winterhawks, 5-3. . . . Tri-City (27-19-3) has won two straight. It is comfortably in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, but also is fourth in the U.S. Division, just one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Portland (32-15-5) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Winterhawks grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Jaydon Dureau (11), at 6:42, and F Josh Paterson (19), at 11:19. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Americans opened the third with four straight goals — from F Parker AuCoin (27), at 0:37; F Samuel Huo (4), on a PP, at 8:06; F Nolan Yaremko (18), at 11:33; and F Connor Bouchard, on a PP, at 16:13. . . . D Jared Freadrich (9) kept Portland’s hopes alive at 17:12, but Bouchard iced it with his fourth goal, into an empty net, at 18:40. . . . Bouchard also had an assist, giving him his first three-point night in 109 career regular-season games, 49 of them this season. . . . Portland remains without F Cody Glass (knee), who is shown as day-to-day on the WHL’s weekly roster report.


G Roddy Ross turned aside 41 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-3 victory over Seattlethe host Victoria Royals. . . . Seattle (20-24-6) had lost its past two games. It is one point behind the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Victoria (25-21-3) had points in each of its previous four games (2-0-2). It is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Thunderbirds and Royals will meet again tonight in Victoria. . . . The Royals outshot the visitors 12-6, 14-7 and 18-8 by period, but couldn’t put enough pucks behind Ross to win. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matthew Wedman, at 16:36, and D Jake Lee (3), on a PP, at 18:35. . . . F Kaid Oliver (20) got the Royals to within a goal, on a PP, at 4:44 of the second period. . . . D Owen Williams (3) got that one back for Seattle at 10:43. . . . The Royals got back to within a goal at 9:39 of the third period as F Kody McDonald (11) scored. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly replied at 11:27 with his first WHL goal in 47 games, 32 of them this season. . . . Again, Victoria got to within a goal, this time when D Scott Walford (8) scored at 13:37. . . . Wedman iced it with his 25th goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:36. . . . G Brock Gould stopped 16 shots for the Royals. . . . D Jarret Tyszka and F Nolan Volcan were among Seattle’s scratches, while the Royals were without veteran D Ralph Jarratt, who is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. Jarratt has battled injuries all season and has played in only 25 games.


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Who’s favoured as 2020 Memorial Cup host? . . . Tigers add d-men . . . Giants get Ettinger from Wheat Kings


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The WHL’s board of governors will gather in Calgary on Wednesday and one of the things on the agenda will be to hear bids from three teams/cities wanting to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup.

The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes will make their presentations in that order.

Each team will be allotted 15 minutes — five to show a video and 10 for a presentation — after which governors will have 15 minutes to ask questions.

Some thoughts as Taking Note sees it . . .

KELOWNA — The Rockets last played host to the four-team tournament in 2004 and they KelownaRocketsput on a tremendous show, icing the cake by winning the whole thing. . . . Who wouldn’t want to spend 10 days in May in Kelowna? . . . Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. He is the most-powerful person in the WHL and don’t discount that as a factor. . . . Including standing room, Prospera Place, which opened in 1999, has room for 6,286 fans. . . . The Rockets are off to a slow start (1-4-0) but history shows that they are more likely to be a contender than a pretender come next season. . . . Odds: 1-1.

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LETHBRIDGE — Lethbridge has never been home to the Memorial Cup tournament. . . . LethbridgeThe Hurricanes, under general manager Peter Anholt and Terry Huisman, the general manager of business operations, have made a remarkable turnaround. After the 2014-15 season, the Hurricanes had missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and lost more than $1.25 million. Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell the franchise to private interests. Today, the Hurricanes have reached two straight Eastern Conference finals and shown more than $1 million in profits over those two seasons. . . . On the ice, the future looks bright, led by forwards Dylan Cozens and Logan Barlage, two of the WHL’s best young players. . . . The ENMAX Centre, which opened in 1974 but has undergone recent upgrades, has a capacity of 5,479. . . . Odds: 2-1.

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KAMLOOPS — The Blazers played host to the 1995 tournament, which they won, giving Kamloops1them three Memorial Cup titles in four years. The 2020 tournament will be the 25th anniversary of the third one. . . . Tom Gaglardi and Co. are into their 11th season as the franchise’s owners and have yet to show they can build a winner. That won’t help their cause with the BoG. Neither will the ham-handed fashion in which the retirement/dismissal of Don Hay was handled in May. . . . The Blazers’ new braintrust — headed up by GM Matt Bardsley and head coach Serge Lajoie — hasn’t had time to prove itself. . . . Kamloops, the Tournament Capital of Canada, has a wonderful history of playing host to events like the Brier, the Canada Games and the IIHF World Women’s Championship, something that should hold the bid in good stead. . . . The Sandman Centre had 5,464 seats before some were removed in order to put loge seating in the upper deck on one side. That new seating, in itself, will be an attraction. Unfortunately, the Sandman Centre doesn’t include an on-site restaurant like Prospera Place and the ENMAX Centre. . . . Odds: 5-1.

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THE INTANGIBLE — At the end of the day, money talks . . . and that could be the case MemCup2020again on Wednesday in Calgary. When the WHL’s board of governors votes on a host team/city for the 2020 Memorial Cup, it could easily decide to go with the bid that includes the highest guaranteed profit — teams all get a cut of the profit. If it comes to that, Kamloops may have an edge because the Gaglardi family has more chips than the Kelowna or Lethbridge owners. . . . Earlier this year, Canadian Business estimated the net worth of the Gaglardi family, through Northland Properties, at $3.92 billion, up 10.4 per cent from 2017. . . . Tom Gaglardi owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and is the majority owner of the Blazers. Might he be interested in attempting to buy the hosting rights for the 2020 Memorial Cup?


The Medicine Hat Tigers have added two 20-year-olds to their roster after learning Tigers Logo OfficialMonday that they will be getting back defencemen Dylan MacPherson and Linus Nassen. Both players had been in camp with the NHL’s Florida Panthers before being assigned to the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. . . . MacPherson, from Redcliff, Alta., has played two seasons with the Tigers, putting up four goals and 18 assists in 124 regular-season games. . . . Nassen, from Sweden, was a third-round pick by the Panthers in the NHL’s 2016 draft. Last season, his first in the WHL, had had one goal and 25 assists in 44 games. . . . With those two in town, the Tigers have four 20-year-olds on their roster, the other two being F Ryan Jevne and D Dalton Gally. . . . As an import, Nassen would be a two-spotter should the Tigers keep him. His arrival won’t affect the Tigers’ import situation as freshmen G Mads Sogaard is their only other European player.


The Vancouver Giants, having lost D Bailey Dhaliwal to a shoulder injury and D Matt VancouverBarberis and D Joel Sexsmith to undisclosed injuries, have acquired D Ty Ettinger from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Dhaliwal, 19, who has a history of shoulder problems, could be out for six weeks. . . . Ettinger, 18, is from Ardrossan, Alta. He was dropped from Brandon’s roster late last week. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, as a freshman, he had two goals and five assists in 45 games with Brandon. This season, he was pointless in one game. . . . As Ewen tweeted: “You’d think the Giants would have good intel on Ettinger, since scouting director Daryl Anning is the father of Wheat Kings head coach David Anning.” . . . Ettinger skated with the Giants on Monday afternoon and could make his debut with Vancouver on Wednesday against the Rockets in Kelowna.


With F Brad Goethals, 20, having left the Saskatoon Blades of his own accord, the club has room for a 20-year-old to join F Max Gerlach and D Dawson Davidson. . . . Goethals’ departure also leaves the Blades with 13 forwards, when they might prefer to carry 14. . . . Goethals was a prolific scorer during two seasons with the midget AAA Eastman Selects (129 points, including 73 goals, in 83 games), but wasn’t able to replicate that in the WHL. He had three goals and three assists in 23 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17, and followed that up with 15 goals and 17 assists in 69 games with the Blades last season. . . . This season, he had one goal in three games with Saskatoon.


Stan Butler wasn’t behind the bench when the North Bay Battalion dropped a 7-5 OHL ohldecision to the host Oshawa Generals on Sunday night. According to the North Bay Nugget, Butler, the Battalion’s director of hockey operations and head coach since 1998-99, said before the game that he plans to take time “to try to get some things sorted out.” Butler, 62, apparently met with Oshawa’s club doctor before deciding not to go behind the bench on Sunday. . . . Butler was behind the bench on Saturday night for a 6-1 loss to the Niagara IceDogs in St. Catharines. . . . In Butler’s absence, assistant coaches Scott Wray and Adam Dennis ran the bench. . . . Butler is the fourth-winningest head coaching OHL history, his 703 victories trailing Brian Kilrea (1,194), Bert Templeton (907) and Dale Hunter (728). . . . Butler spent one season (1996-97) in the WHL, as the head coach of the Prince George Cougars.



MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders have dropped F Nikita Krivokrasov, who will turn 18 on Dec. 23, from their roster. From Westminster, Colo., he is the son of former NHLer Sergei Krivokrasov. . . . Nikita was pointless in two games with the Raiders in 2016-17, and had three goals in 34 games last season. . . . He didn’t dress for any of the Raiders’ first five games the season.

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The Regina Pats are down to two goaltenders after dropping Matthew Pesenti, 17, from their roster. He is expected to return for a third season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Pats now are left with two 18-year-old goaltenders — returnee Max Paddock and Dean McNabb, who was acquired from the Victoria Royals on Sept. 24. . . . Paddock has started all four games as the Pats have started 0-4-0. McNabb has gotten into one game since joining Regina.

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A pair of WHLers drew three-game suspensions on Monday. . . . F Tristen Nielsen of the Calgary Hitmen was suspended after taking a boarding major and game misconduct during a game against the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Sunday. . . . F Cade McNelly was disciplined after becoming involved in what the WHL refers to as a “one-man fight” during a Saturday night game against the Winterhawks in Portland.

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Hey, Lane Lambert and Ross Mahoney . . . I can see you smiling all the way from Kamloops. Congratulations!

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The Calgary Flames revealed Monday that D Juusu Valimaki, 19, will open the NHL season on their roster. Valimaki, from Finland, will turn 20 on Oct. 6. The Flames selected him in the first round, 16th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Valimaki played the past three seasons with the Tri-City Americans. Last season, he had 14 goals and 31 assists in 43 games. In 159 career regular-season games, he recorded 40 goals and 98 assists. . . . The Flames also have F Dillon Dube, 20, on their roster. Dube, from Golden, B.C., was a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. He spent the past four seasons with the Kelowna Rockets, putting up 232 points, including 101 goals, in 203 regular-season games. Last season, he finished with 38 goals and 46 assists in 43 games. . . .

George Johnson of calgaryflames.com has more right here.


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If you are a WHL fan and are on Twitter, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). He regularly tweets interesting notes and stats involving WHL teams and players, such as this one from Sunday night:


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