OHL season over before it begins . . . Tri-City has two more games postponed . . . Four! Blazers’ Levis burns Rockets

Unable to play even one game, the OHL cancelled its 2020-21 season on Tuesday morning.

According to the OHL, it actually had reached an agreement with the Ontario OHLgovernment on a return-to-play protocol early in April. But with COVID-19 numbers running wild in Ontario, the government implemented a stay-at-home order along with various other restrictions. So the OHL decided that its season just wasn’t going to happen in any way, shape or form.

“We owe it to our players and their families to be definitive,” David Branch, the OHL’s long-time commissioner, said. “We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19.”

Later, in a virtual session with media, Branch said: “Let me clearly state that if the opportunity had presented itself weeks or months ago, we would’ve taken it. I have no misgivings about how it was handled.”

A tip of the cap to Dale DeGray, the general manager of the Owen Sound Attack for addressing the elephant in the room.

“I think one thing the league looked at is the repercussions of someone being sick,” DeGray told Greg Cowan of the Owen Sound Sun Times. “Nobody knows what that’s going to be like in a year, two years, or five years from now. If we move the clock five years ahead maybe we can look back and say this was the best thing, but right now it does sting.”

Cowan’s complete story is right here.


The AHL’s Toronto Marlies continue to be on hold due to issues with COVID-19 protocol. On Tuesday, the AHL postponed the club’s games through April 28. The Marlies had three games scheduled for that time period.


Airbag


With the Tri-City Americans having had a player test positive last week, their Americansteam activities remain on hold. That’s why the WHL announced Tuesday that it has postponed two more of their games — Saturday against the host Everett Silvertips and Sunday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Americans now have had five games postponed. They have seven remaining on their schedule, starting with an April 28 game in Spokane.

Meanwhile, there were two WHL games played Tuesday night . . .

F Carson Denomie broke a 2-2 tie at 17:24 of the second period and the Regina PatsPats went on to a 4-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in the Regina hub. . . . The game’s first five goals all were scored in the second period. . . . F Caiden Daley (7) put the Blades out front just 38 seconds into the period. . . . Regina took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Carter Chorney (4), shorthanded, at 4:11, and D Layton Feist (4), at 8:30. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (7) got Saskatoon into a tie at 13:51. . . . Denomie’s 13th goal stood up as the winner. . . . F Kyle Walker (1) got the empty-netter. . . . The Pats (8-9-3) have won two in a row. . . . The Blades (14-3-3) had points in each of their previous seven games (5-0-2). . . . Regina D Ryker Evans ran his point streak to 10 games with two assists. He had two goals and 12 assists over that stretch. . . .

F Connor Levis scored four times, all via the PP, to lead the host Kamloops KamloopsBlazers to a 6-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The 20th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft, Levis was playing in his 10th WHL game. He went into the game with two goals and an assist in his first nine outings. . . . Kamloops (8-2-0) was 5-for-7 on the PP; Kelowna (3-2-0) was 0-for-5. . . . D Montana Onyebuchi (2) got Kamloops started at 1:45 of the first period. . . . The Blazers made it 4-0 before period’s end on two goals from Levis and a PP score by D Inaki Baragano (3). . . . F David Kope (2) got Kelowna’s first goal, at 3:42 of the second period. . . . Levis scored  again at 13:55 of the third period. . . . F Mark Liwiski (4) scored while shorthanded for the Rockets at 14:45, before Levis wrapped up the scoring at 15:42. . . . The Blazers are without two of their top scorers with F Logan Stankoven with Canada’s U18 team and F Orrin Centazzo shelved with an undisclosed injury.


Lose


Jared Dumba, a former WHLer, now is vice-president of VIGR Life Cannabis VLCInc., and Tuesday was a big day for him and his partners. As Gillian Francis of the Regina Leader-Post reported: “The company, which is the first micro-grower in Regina, will be introducing a line of buds and pre-rolls that will be available at local dispensaries starting (Tuesday).” . . . Dumba told Francis: “Our plan is to bring things that maybe the market hasn’t seen yet.” . . . Dumba, now 41, played 61 games for the Saskatoon Blades in 1996-97. He went on to play eight plus seasons in the now-defunct Central and International leagues. . . . That story is right here.


Alec Dillon is the new head coach of the U of Victoria Vikes men’s hockey team. Dillon, 24, takes over from Harry Schamhart, who has stepped aside after 16 seasons but remains on staff as the team’s acting general manager. . . . Dillon has been an assistant coach there for the past two seasons. . . . The Vikes won four B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League titles under Schamhart. . . . Dillon, a goaltender, played with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings in 2015-16. He also played two seasons with the Vikes. . . . A fifth-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2014 draft, Dillon battled hip issues during his playing career. He underwent surgery at one point and sat out the 2016-17 season.


The San Francisco Giants are going to be opening up vaccination-only sections at home games at Oracle Park on Friday. . . . Here’s Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Vaccination-only sections will not be the only option for those fully vaccinated, but they will be an option for additional seating because social distancing will not be required in those areas. Children 16 and under would need negative test results for the vaccine-only sections and those age 2 and under do not have any requirements. . . . The team will continue to require fans to be prepared to show proof of full vaccination or negative coronavirus test results received within 72 hours of the event, and fans must continue to wear face coverings and, in non-vaccinated areas, social distancing still must be observed.”


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Voices

Get your Last Man Back gear right here . . . Bedard continues red-hot start for Pats . . . Selkirk College drops hockey


We are nearing the third anniversary of the bus crash that involved the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. It occurred on April 6, 2018. Morgan Gobeil, who wore No. Humboldt24, was injured in the crash and spent almost a year in hospital. Morgan was, in fact, the last person from the crash to be released from hospital; he was the Last Man Back.

His brother, Ryan, was in the hospital with his brother one day when he found himself entranced by the heart monitor. So Ryan had Morgan’s heartbeat off the monitor tattooed onto one arm.

“I was watching the screen for, I don’t know how long it was,” Ryan told Global News. “I thought to myself, I never want this moment to end for me.

“I have this on me and it is something that I can see all the time. Whether we’re in the waiting room or going to catch some sleep, or eating or whatever. We can always see it. It’s always there.”

Ryan also has taken to marketing Last Man Back clothing, with all proceeds going to STARS air ambulance, the service that responded to the bus crash. The Last Man Back logo also incorporates No. 24.

If you’re interested, there’s more info in the tweet below . . .


Former WHL G James Priestner and his brother, Jared, are part of a Vancouver-based rock band — Rare Americans — these days. And they have had to ask for help from police after a thief or thieves stole some instruments and unreleased music . . . . CTV Vancouver reported: “The items were taken on Wednesday night, while James and his girlfriend were asleep in their home in Gastown. But it wasn’t until Friday, when the band got together in James’ basement studio, that they noticed several things were missing.” . . . The complete story is right here.



I don’t watch a lot of NCAA basketball, but I do see some of it during March Madness. One thing that crossed my mind while watching this weekend was that the men’s coaches sure seem to spend a lot of time whining about or at the officials. I kind of shrugged it off, until Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted this as part of a brief Monday comment on the Florida State-Michigan game: “I also liked the fact that both coaches avoid histrionics on every possession and they also accept some of the calls that go against their team without making it seem as if they are suffering more than Job.” . . . Glad to know it wasn’t just me.



G Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots on Monday night, helping the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . This was the 11th shutout of this WHL season, but the first in the Regina hub. . . . Maier has eight career shutouts, all of them with the Blades, who are off to a franchise-best 8-0-1 start. He is one shutout shy of the franchise record held by Andrey Makarov. . . . This season, Maier is 6-0-0, 2.00, .913. . . . The victory was the 85th of Maier’s career, tying him with Tim Cheveldae for the franchise’s regular-season record. . . . Saskatoon got two goals and an assist from F Colton Dach (6). . . . The Raiders slid to 3-4-2. . . . The Blades were 2-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Raiders lost F Logan Linklater to a butt-ending major and game misconduct for a play involving Colton Dach at 3:20 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon F Chase Wouters got the ol’ heave-ho for cross-checking for a hit on Raiders F Ozzy Wiesblatt at 11:50 of the third. . . . The Raiders continue to play without D Kaiden Guhle and G Max Paddock, so again had only one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — dressed. . . .

F Connor Bedard, the only player in WHL history to have been granted exceptional status to play at 15 years of age, had a goal and three assists as the Regina Pats dumped the Swift Current Broncos, 9-4. . . . Because of the pandemic, Bedard is hardly the only 15-year-old in the WHL, but he is at the head of the class with seven goals and 10 assists in nine games. . . . The Pats (3-4-2) got two goals and an assist from F Zack Smith, three assists from F Carter Chorney, and two more goals from F Carson Denomie (9). . . . D Mathew Ward had a goal, his first, and an assist for the Broncos (2-7-1). The 14th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft has a goal and 12 assists in his first 10 games. . . . F Owen Williams of the Broncos scored once in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . .

F Connor Bowie scored three times to spark the Prince George Cougars to a 5-3 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . This one was the Royals’ home-opener. . . . Bowie, who will turn 20 on April 10, went into this one with 17 goals in 137 regular-season games with the Cougars (1-1-0). That included three in 64 games as a freshman in 2018-19. . . . F Riley Heidt, the second overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his first goal in his second game. . . . Prince George F Ethan Browne (2) snapped a 3-3 tie at 6:55 of the second period and Bowie added insurance at 19:19. . . . The Royals (0-2-0) and Spokane Chiefs (0-4-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one victory.


Elliotte Friedman posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Monday, and the top of it is terrific. He wrote about Ryan Fanti and his parents. Who? Fanti is a goaltender with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. He spent six periods on the bench Saturday night watching his guys play the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a regional final game in Fargo, N.D. But when starter Zach Stejskal started cramping up early in the fourth OT, Fanti got the call. He finished with six saves and the Bulldogs won, 3-2. But it’s what happened right after the goal was scored that made an impression with Friedman and anyone else who saw it on TV. Fanti took time away from celebrating to console UND G Adam Scheel. . . . Friedman’s piece is right here.



The Montreal Canadiens were back on the practice ice on Monday, the first time they had skated since being shut down on March 22 because of COVID-19 protocol. F Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Joel Armia and newly acquired F Eric Staal remain. . . . General manager Marc Bergevin has said that one player had tested positive for a variant. That player wasn’t Armia or Kotkaniemi, but several players were identified as close contacts of the player so things were shut down. . . . The Canadiens, who haven’t played since March 20, are scheduled to return to game action tonight (Tuesday) against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


Volcano


Selkirk College, which has is main campus in Castlegar, B.C., has dropped its men’s hockey program “due to budgetary constraints.” The Saints had been members of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League since 2006. The Saints won four consecutive BCIHL championships (2013-16). . . . Selkirk College’s departure leaves the BCIHL with four teams — Simon Fraser U, Trinity Western U, the U of Victoria and Vancouver Island U. However, Trinity Western was to join Canada West for the 2020-21 season that ended up being scrubbed because of the pandemic. Presumably Trinity Western will make the move whenever the next season gets started.


The Vancouver Canadians announced Monday that they will at least open the 2021 baseball season by playing out of Hillsboro, Ore. They usually play out of Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, but that isn’t possible these days with the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel. The Canadians will share Ron Tonkin Field with the Hillsboro Hops. . . . Both the Canadians and Hops play in the High-A West; the Canadians are affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Hops with the Arizona Diamondbacks.


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Mitts

Thunderbirds drop two after racist incident . . . COVID-19 takes chunks out of Fighting Irish, two baseball leagues, NHL


Earlier this week, Geoff Baker, a reporter with the Seattle Times, was writing about Brendan Lee, a forward with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips who was born Everettin Seattle and is of Chinese heritage.

Baker wrote about how Lee was “jolted” by last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, something that brought stories of anti-Asian harassment to the forefront.

Baker wrote: “Lee said neither he nor his immediate family have felt targeted, though he’s aware of fears within the broader Asian community. He hopes there’s some role he can play, through hockey, in projecting a positive image of Asian Americans — within that diverse community and beyond.”

Lee told Baker: “It’s horrible what happened. And with the platform I have, I think I can be an influencer. Maybe have somebody look up to me that’s a kid, who can see an American Asian playing hockey — and that it’s a kid from Seattle.”

Let’s move ahead to Thursday now, when Baker was writing this:

“Two teenage forwards with the Seattle Thunderbirds major junior hockey Seattleteam have been released for the remainder of the season for a racial-taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and had a banana waved in front of him.

“The players, age 17 and 18, had been suspended the Thunderbirds’ first two Western Hockey League games last weekend after team officials investigated a complaint of racial harassment against a 17-year-old teammate.

“On Thursday the team informed the suspended players they were no longer on the team and would be flown back home to Canada shortly, and removed their names from the roster.”

Baker reported that the Thunderbirds have said neither player will be back next season, although the team will maintain their rights and could trade them.

“Both are awaiting further instructions on when they can return to Canada due to tightened border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote. “The 17-year-old is from Alberta, the 18-year-old from British Columbia.”

The victim texted Baker: “I am very disappointed with what happened, but I appreciate and respect the way my organization has handled this situation. That’s all I am going to say, and now I just want to focus on our season at hand.”

Baker’s wonderful story on Lee is right here.

Baker’s story involving the Thunderbirds is right here.


Oh boy, is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators going to be sorry about losing his cool in this age of social media, or what? This was Pierre Dorion after his club lost in OT to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night . . .


The Regina Pats broke a 1-1 tie with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub on Thursday. . . . F Carson WHL2Denomie, who went into this developmental season with 35 goals in 198 regular-season games, scored his seventh goal in as many games for the Pats (2-3-2). He also had an assist. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists, giving the 15-year-old 12 points as he has started his WHL career on a seven-game point streak. . . . F Cole Carrier also had a goal and an assist for Regina, with D Ryker Evans adding two assists. . . . The Raiders (2-3-2) are winless in four games (0-3-1) after opening this developmental season by earning five points in their first three games. . . . Regina lost its captain, F Logan Nijhoff, to a kneeing major at 5:24 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert was without its captain, D Kaiden Guhle, for a fifth straight game due to a hand injury. . . . The Raiders dressed only one goaltender, Carter Serhyenko, because Cam Paddock is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW that “we had a goalie from another team (WInnipeg Ice) in the stands, so if something (had) happened to Carter, he would have dressed. It’s part of the bubble. It’s the way it is.” . . .

In the night’s other game, F Ridly Greig’s first goal of the season, shorthanded at 4:11 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . F Connor Geekie gave the Ice a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Brandon scored three times — F Nate Danielson, F Rylen Roersma and F Jake Chiasson — in a span of 2:17 before the period ended. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Owen Pederson pulled the Ice (5-2-0) even, the latter scoring on a PP at 2:09 of the third. . . . Winnipeg had won five straight since opening with a 3-2 loss to Brandon on March 13. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-2-1) were without D Braden Schneider for a second straight game. He is listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be an injury to his right knee.


Scarecrow


It was a big day for COVID-19 on the sporting front Thursday. First, it took the Notre Dame Fighting Irish right out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey title. And then it took big chunks out of two summer baseball leagues that used to feature lots of U.S. college players. Oh, and it got into the coach staff of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season . . .

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The Fighting Irish were to have taken part in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey tournament in Albany, N.Y., this weekend. But they have had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . According to head coach Jeff Jackson, “With multiple positives and contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and others in the tournament we could not proceed.” . . . Notre Dame was to have played the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. That game has been declared no-contest and the Eagles moved directly into Sunday’s regional final against either St. Cloud State or Boston U. . . . Interestingly, Notre Dame was in the tournament as a late invitee after St. Lawrence U had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols. Notre Dame couldn’t be replaced because the NCAA had set a Monday night deadline for replacements to be made.

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The pandemic has forced quite a shuffling of the deck with the Western Canadian Baseball League. . . . The Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Okotoks Dawgs (two teams) and Sylvan Lake Gulls have said that they will play the 2021 season using only Canadian players. . . . According to the league, the Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss their options. . . . At the same time, “due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes,” five other teams — the Brooks Bombers, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers — have decided to sit out the 2021 season. . . . At the same time, Taylor Shire of Global Regina tweeted that the “Yorkton Carinals and Melville Millionaires have left the WCBL and, according to WCBL president Kevin Kvame they both ceased operations.” . . .

From a news release issued by the Red Sox:

“Player and staff testing protocols will need to be in place at an estimated cost of $40,000 per team, as well as quarantine costs amounting to $2,000 per player. Interprovincial travel continues to be restricted, and the US/Canada border remains closed at this time. The WCBL is exploring options for an ‘All Canadian League’ in Alberta, which would also be subject to quarantine, testing, and border restrictions, presenting a challenge for the league. The Saskatchewan franchises have made the decision to defer the resumption of operations until 2022.”

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Marker

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The West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, has revised its 2021 schedule in order to remove international travel from its regular season, but it is leaving open the possibility of a playoff format involving teams from both Canada and the U.S. . . . The WCL, which features 15 teams, didn’t play in 2020. . . . In Canada, the Kelowna Falcons have opted out of the 2021 season, leaving the Victoria HarbourCats to play against three first-year teams — the Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls. . . . American teams in the league are the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee Apple Sox and Yakima Valley Pippins.

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Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager, served as head coach on Thursday night as the team lost 4-0 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That’s nhl2because Don Granato, who was named interim head coach last week after Ralph Krueger was fired, and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were in self-isolation. . . . This is the second time this season that the Sabres’ coaching staff was impacted by the virus. Earlier, Krueger tested positive and missed some time. . . . The Sabres have six victories this season; they have been shut out seven times. . . .

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had assistants Jacques Martin and Greg Brown back behind the bench for last night’s 8-3 victory over the host Philadelphia Flyers. But head coach David Quinn has yet to be cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol, so former WHL player/coach Kris Knoblauch continues to work as head coach. Under normal conditions, Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. . . . Knoblauch will stay with the Rangers at least through Saturday’s game in Philly. . . .

Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expects his club to return to the ice next week. He said Thursday that one player had tested positive — forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi — and that it was a variant. . . . So far, the Canadiens have had four games postponed — three against the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Ottawa Senators. . . . If all goes well, the Canadiens will return to practice on Monday and play in Ottawa on Tuesday. . . . The NHL now has postponed 41 games because of COVID-19.


And how are things going out west? Hey, thanks for asking . . .

Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 800 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the highest number since the very height of the second wave, as the province’s trendline is going up VERY sharply now. . . . Active cases jump by almost 300, now the highest since January 8. . . . Five new deaths and hospitalizations up.

Oh, hey, things are going great in Alberta, too . . .

CBC News — Alberta reports 764 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. The province confirms 191 variants of concern cases. 294 people are in hospital, 55 in ICU. . . . Variant cases now make up more than 20 per cent of the total.

Party on, Garth!


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Spokane Chiefs have promoted Chris Baird to director of hockey operations. He had been assistant director of hockey operations since 2017. He first was hired by the Chiefs in 2006-07 as a part-time video co-ordinator. . . . The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have named Adam Manah as general manager — he will continue as head coach — and Jeff Woywitka as assistant GM. Manah has been with the Crusaders since 2015 when he was associate coach. He took over as assistant GM and head coach in 2016. Woywitka has been associate coach since 2016. The moves were necessitated by the firing of general manager Kyle Chase on March 19. Chase, who had been part of the organization since 2004, had been GM since 2016. Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News has more on Chase’s dismissal right here.


Anger

Pearson goes home to coach. . . . Scott sets Raiders’ shutout record. . . . Rebels win, may have lost key d-man . . . . Thunderbirds near playoff spot

ThisThat

F Shane Wright of the minor midget AAA Don Mills, Ont., Flyers has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada so will be eligible for the OHL’s 2019 draft, which Canadanormally is for players who have completed their 15-year-old seasons.

With exceptional status, Wright, who turned 15 on Jan. 5, also will be eligible to play full-time in the OHL in 2019-20.

Wright has 150 points, including 66 goals, in 72 games with Don Mills, which plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He also had six goals and six assists in six games with Ontario as it won silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

The OHL draft is scheduled for April 6. Wright is the fifth player in OHL history to have received exceptional status, after John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day.

Hockey Canada has yet to rule on the application by the family of F Matt Savoie, who has applied for exceptional status in order to have the option of playing in the WHL at 15.

Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is from St. Albert, Alta. He is eligible for the WHL’s bantam draft, which is for players who have completed their 14-year-old seasons, but will be limited to five games next season unless brought in under emergency conditions.

This season, Savoie has 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. He played for Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, putting up six goals and seven assists in 13 games.

Last season, Savoie was named the MVP in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League. This season, he was selected the midget league’s MVP.

The WHL’s 2019 bantam draft is set for May 2 in Red Deer.

The WHL will hold its draft lottery later this month, with the six non-playoff teams entered. We already know four of those teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Kootenay Ice, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars.

In the draft lottery, a team may only move up two positions.

At the moment, the Broncos have the WHL’s poorest record, followed by the Ice and the Pats. However, Prince George holds Swift Current’s first-round selection and the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

There is little doubt that Savoie, if he is granted exceptional status, will be the first pick in the bantam draft should he and his family decide they want to be part of whichever organization is making that selection.

Should Savoie be drafted and choose not to play in the WHL, he would have to return to midget next season. The granting of exceptional status applies only to major junior hockey and doesn’t allow a player to join a junior A team.

His brother, Carter, 17, plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2020-21 season.

The WHL has never had to deal with a player who has been given exceptional status. It has happened once in the QMJHL, with F Joe Veleno. In his fourth season in the QMJHL, he has 100 points, including 41 goals, in 55 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Veleno, now 19, has 262 points, including 173 assists, in 226 career regular-season QMJHL games. He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign with them.

If you are wondering what Wright had to go through, here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:

“Being granted ‘exceptional status’ isn’t easy. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, which is pretty early in the hockey season. On top of looking at a player’s on-ice skills, the governing bodies (in this case the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada) send out questionnaires to school teachers and coaches, while the player has to write an essay. The player also meets with a psychologist for a ‘life interview,’ to determine if the kid has the maturity to move away from home and compete against much older competition at age 15. OHF executive director Phil McKee said that both Wright and his family were ‘excellent to work with’ throughout the process.”

Kennedy’s entire piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ 25-game winning streak ended on Friday night as they were beat by the Voltigeurs at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville. . . . The Huskies fell behind 2-0 after two periods, and cut the deficit in half at 5:05 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Rouyn-Noranda tied the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


Ken Pearson is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Pearson, who is from Neepawa, replaces Dustin Howden, who left after five seasons with the Natives — two as assistant coach, two as head coach and one as GM/head coach. . . . Pearson, 45, is a veteran junior A coach, who spent seven seasons as the GM/head coach with the Winkler Flyers. He stepped aside as head coach prior to this season, but kept the GM’s title until he and the Flyers parted company last month. . . . Pearson began his coaching career with the Natives as an assistant coach for two seasons (1994-96). . . . This season, the Natives finished out of the playoffs, at 9-43-8, the poorest record in the 11-team league.


The Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings Athletic Club has named Fran Gow head coach of the midget AAA Ennis Kings. Now has extensive AJHL coaching experience, have worked more than 1,000 games, split among the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Grande Prairie Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder. He helped the Oil Barons to a national championship in 1999-2000. . . . Of late, Gow has been the AJHL’s vice-president of hockey operations and a coach mentor for Hockey Alberta.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott set a single-season shutout record as the Prince Albert Raiders skated to an 8-PrinceAlbert0 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert (52-9-4) has won two in a row. It will finish atop the WHL’s regular-season standings. . . . Swift Current (10-47-6) has lost 16 in a row (0-13-3). . . . Prince Albert, with Scott in goal, beat the visiting Broncos, 6-0, on Tuesday, and they’ll play again Sunday, this time in Swift Current. . . . The Raiders are off tonight, while the Broncos will meet the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders lead the season series, 6-0-1; the Broncos are 1-6-0. . . . Scott stopped 14 shots in posting his seventh shutout of the season, breaking the record that he was sharing with Luke Siemens (2012-13) and Rejean Beauchemin (2003-04). Scott, who has 10 career shutouts, also will set franchise single-season records for GAA and save percentage. He is 36-7-3, 1.86, .932. . . . D Brayden Pachal (15) got the Raiders started at 3:33 of the first period, and B Brett Leason, who had gone seven games without a goal, made it 2-0 with No. 34 at 4:59. . . . F Noah Gregor (39) and Leason (35) scored before the period ended for a 4-0 lead. . . . Before it was over, F Parker Kelly had scored twice, giving him 32, and F Cole Fonstad (29), who also had two assists, and F Spencer Moe (9) added one each. . . . The Raiders had a 48-14 edge in shots.


The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Regina Pats, MooseJawWarriors3-1. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has clinched third place in the East Division and will face the second-place Saskatoon Blades in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina (18-43-3) has lost five in a row. . . . The Warriors lead the season series with Regina, 6-1-0, with the final game in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . F Ty Kolle (14) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Justin Almeida (28) tied it, on a PP, at 9:08. . . . Moose Jaw took the lead at 9:51 when F Carson Denomie (6) scored. . . . F Brayden Tracey (33) got the empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . Regina G Max Paddock stopped 29 shots.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the visiting LethbridgeMedicine Hat Tigers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (37-18-10) has won five in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (32-26-6) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, two points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . With one game remaining, Lethbridge leads the season series, 6-1-2; the Tigers are 3-6-0. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (30) gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it at 10:39 when D Baxter Anderson (4) scored. . . . F Zachary Cox (11) put the home side ahead at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 18:22 as F Brett Kemp (28) scored on a PP. . . . Lethbridge F Taylor Ross (32) broke the tie, on a PP, at 2:06 of the third period. . . . F Dylan Cozens (33) made it 4-2 at 3:16, and F Nick Henry (27) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:17. . . . Henry’s goal was his 200th regular-season point. He’s got 76 goals and 124 assists in 191 games. This season, he has 90 points in 66 games. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer had his goal streak halted at 13 games. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, two more than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett.


The Red Deer Rebels overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, Red Deer5-3. . . . Red Deer (32-25-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card berths, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . Brandon (31-25-8) has lost two in a row. With the Tim Hortons Brier — the Canadian men’s curling championship —  being played in Westoba Place, the Wheat Kings are on a six-game trip through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. Through the first five games, Brandon is 1-3-1. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (20), at 3:48 of the first period; F Stelio Mattheos (42), at 1:36 of the second; and D Chad Nychuk (2), at 2:40. . . . F Brandon Hagel (39) started the Red Deer comeback at 9:03. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (18) got the Rebels to within a goal at 10:45 of the third period, and F Josh Tarzwell (9) tied it at 12:30. . . . Red Deer went out front when F Zak Smith (11) scored at 16:33. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (13) added insurance at 19:51. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev appeared to suffer a knee injury after colliding in open ice with McCartney in the third period. Alexeyev was placed on a stretcher before being taken off the ice. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in the next 48 hours, 72 hours. I don’t know any more than that right now,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored two goals and set a franchise record in leading the EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (38-18-8) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds one game in hand. . . . Calgary (36-23-6), which has clinched a playoff spot, had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is headed for a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . With two games left, Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Calgary is 1-4-1. They’ll finish the regular season with a home-and-home, playing March 16 in Edmonton and the next day in Calgary. . . . Edmonton went ahead 3-0 on goals from F Quinn Benjafield (14), at 9:19 of the first period; Fix-Wolansky, at 18:30; and F Vince Loschiavo, on a PP, at 4:07 of the second. . . . F Mark Kastelic (46) scored for Calgary, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Edmonton put it away with third-period goals from Fix Wolansky (35) and Loschiavo (33), the latter on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky set the franchise’s single-season assist record when he set up Loschiavo’s first goal. That was Fix-Wolansky’s 64th assist of the season, one more than D Dylan Wruck had in 2012-13. . . . Loschiavo also had an assist, to give him three points, while D Conner McDonald had three helpers. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 24 saves.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the visiting Kamloops1Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . Kamloops (24-32-7) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind Kelowna. Kamloops, which has five games left, also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (27-30-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Kamloops is 5-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 4-3-2. They’ll finish it tonight in Kelowna. . . . F Martin Lang (11) put the Blazers ahead at 16:13 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (34) got the Rockets even, on a PP, at 4:08 of the third period. . . . F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo both scored as Kamloops won the shootout, 2-0. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 26 shots for Kamloops, which had Rayce Ramsay, in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, backing up. Dylan Ferguson was injured in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants and is out day-to-day. . . . The Rockets got 32 saves from G Roman Basran. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who began serving a three-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct he incurred against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.


F Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists, all via the PP, as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks got past the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. . . . Portland (39-19-6) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince George (17-40-8) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . The Winterhawks are 3-0-0 in the season series that will be completed tonight in Prince George. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 on goals from D Cole Moberg (12), on a PP, at 13:55 of the first period, and F Matej Taman (9), at 2:29 of the second. . . . F Jake Gricius (25) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 16:38. . . . F Josh Paterson (23) tied the score at 2:36 of the third period, and Blichfeld (53) got the winner, at 14:51. . . . Blichfeld leads the WHL in goals and points (110). . . . Portland was 3-7 on the PP; Prince George was 1-5. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 40 shots for the Winterhawks. . . . D Ryan Miley, 18, made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks. From Brookings, S.D., he played this season with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . . F Cody Glass, F Seth  Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig were Portland’s scratches, all out with injuries.


F Noah Philp scored twice for Seattle as the Thunderbirds beat the Victoria Royals, 2-1, in SeattleKent, Wash. . . . Seattle (27-28-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Victoria (33-27-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Philp, who has 24 goals, got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:40 of the first period. . . . He made it 2-0 at 17:47 of the second. . . . F Igor Martynov (11) scored a PP goal for Victoria at 19:59 of the second. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 19 shots, 11 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Scott Walford, D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver, all veterans and all injured, were among Victoria’s scratches.


G Bailey Brkin turned aside 37 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Spokane (36-20-7) is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (45-15-4) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips with each team having four games remaining. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 3-2-0; Spokane was 2-2-1. . . . Spokane took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from D Filip Kral (8), at 7:56; F Jake McGrew, at 11:39; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (16), at 19:39. The latter two came via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (21) scored for Vancouver, on a PP, at 17:52 of the second period, only to have McGrew (27) get that one back at 18:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan has goals in six straight games. . . . Spokane was 2-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . Brkin is 24-11-3, 2.78, .914.


Goaltenders Dustin Wolf and Max Palaga shared the shutout as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett (46-14-4) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). It leads the Western Conference standings by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (34-26-4) is likely to finish in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Palaga started and stopped one shot in 4:47. Wolf came on to turn aside 25 shots in 55:13. . . . Sorry, but I don’t have any idea why Palaga left. Presumably there was an injury of some sort. . . . F Reece Vitelli (11) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the second period, with D Wyatt Wylie (11) making it 2-0 at 16:14. . . . F Connor Dewar (35) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third period. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots, setting a franchise record for most saves in one season in the process. In 59 appearances this season, Warm has stopped 1,860 shots. G Eric Comrie stopped 1,849 shots in 2013-14. . . . The Silvertips had F Martin Fasko-Rudas back in the lineup. He last played on Feb. 22.


Tweetoftheday

Wrapping up Deadline Day . . . Teams close with 11 deals involving 16 players . . . Raiders involved in three trades

tradewire

THE DEADLINE IS GONE

(WHL trade deadline: Thursday, 3 p.m. MT)

Thursday’s action:

No. of trades: 11.

Players: 16.

Bantam draft picks: 10.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 44.

Players: 77.

Bantam draft picks: 63.

Conditional draft picks: 15.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

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The Prince Albert Raiders did some last-minute shopping on Thursday as the WHL’s annual trade deadline passed us by.

The Raiders completed three deals, all before noon their time, after which management PrinceAlbertpresumable went snow golfing.

In all, the Raiders added three depth players — a goaltender, a defenceman and a forward.

The Raiders added G Boston Bilous, 17, from the Edmonton Oil Kings, giving up a conditional sixth-round selection in the 2022 WHL bantam draft.

Bilous, from Langley, B.C., was a fourth-round pick by the Oil Kings in the 2016 bantam draft. At the time, he had committed to the U of Denver Pioneers, but later changed his mind and signed with the Oil Kings.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder appeared in 10 games for Edmonton this season, going 3-4-1, 3.56, .859. Last season, he was 0-10-1, 4.72, .838.

Bilous has been hampered by injuries, missing two weeks in early November. He returned to play two games, but now hasn’t been in a game since Nov. 24.

Last season, he also missed couple of weeks in November, returned for three games and then was out until late February.

Bilous is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft and, in fact, is on NHL Central Scouting’s watch list where he is projected as a potential late-round selection.

After making the deal, the Raiders had three goaltenders on their roster — Bilous, starter Ian Scott and Donovan Buskey, who was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs on Aug. 31 for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

Later in the day, Prince Albert dropped Buskey from its roster. He is expected to join the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters.

Scott, 20, is 24-4-1, 1.73, .939. Buskey, who is to turn 19 on Jan. 29, had gotten into 11 games, going 9-1-0, 3.15, .870.

While the Raiders may be looking for some competition at the backup position, they also are looking to next season when Scott no longer will be part of their organization. It could be that a change in scenery will help Bilous kick the injury thing and get things back on track. After all, in his bantam draft season he was the CSSHL’s top goaltender while player at the Delta Hockey Academy.

Bilous’s departure leaves the Oil Kings with veterans Dylan Myskiw, 19, and Todd Scott, 18, as their goaltenders.

Earlier in the day, the Raiders acquired D Loeden Schaufler, 18, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

From De Winton, Alta., Schaufler was a third-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the 2015 bantam draft.

The Ice dealt him to Seattle on Oct. 9, along with a conditional ninth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, for F Eric Fawkes, 17, a Winnipegger who is with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers and has committed to RPI (Rensselaer Polytech Institute) for 2020-21.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Schaufler has eight assists in 57 regular-season games, 37 of them with the Ice, including 32 last season. This season, he had two assists in 20 games with Seattle.

Schaufler only recently returned to action after being injured on Dec. 8 when he was on the receiving end of a hit by F Sean Richards, then of the Everett Silvertips. Richard drew a boarding major and game misconduct on the play and subsequently was suspended for eight games. While serving that suspension, he found himself traded to Seattle in a deal that had F Zack Andrusiak go to Everett. Schaufler returned to the lineup on Jan. 4 against the Wheat Kings in Brandon.

Later in the day, the Raiders dropped D Lane Kirk, 18, from their roster. Kirk, from Swan River, Man., was a fifth-round pick by the Raiders in the 2015 bantam draft. However, he has been injured and has yet to play this season. He now is expected to join the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, who play out of Swan River.

The Raiders began the day by sending F Quinn Olson, 17, to the Calgary Hitmen for F Bryce Bader, 17. The teams also swapped conditional sixth-round bantam draft picks — the year wasn’t revealed — in the deal.

From Sherwood Park, Alta., Bader, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, has played 14 games with Calgarythe Hitmen over three seasons. This season, he has four goals in 10 games, with three of them coming over his past three games. Bader was injured in Calgary’s final exhibition game  and didn’t get back into game action until Nov. 9. He played the previous two seasons with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings, putting up 21 goals 23 assists in 58 games.

The Hitmen selected him in the second round of the 2016 bantam draft.

The Raiders selected Olson, who is from Calgary, in the sixth round of that same draft. The 5-foot-10, 155-pounder has committed to the U of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for 2020-21, and has played the past two seasons with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. This season, he has 17 goals and 25 assists in 35 games; last season, he put up 14 goals and 39 assists in 53 games.

The Raiders are back on home ice, where they have lost three of their last four games, against the Portland Winterhawks tonight.

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The Tri-City Americans acquired F Samuel Huo, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a conditional fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

A 6-foot-4, 185-pounder from Richmond, B.C., was added to Seattle’s protected list in 2017.

This season, Huo has three goals and six assists in 34 games. Last season, as a freshman, he had three goals and three assists in 67 games.

“Samuel is a young, experienced forward with good upside,” Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said in a news release. “After the departure of Isaac Johnson and recent injuries we felt it was necessary to add another forward to our roster.”

Tory told Taking Note on Wednesday night that Johnson, who had been a point-a-game player this season, has retired for personal reasons.

Huo is expected to be in the Americans’ lineup on Friday night when they visit the Everett Silvertips.

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The Saskatoon Blades acquired F Ryan Hughes, 19, from the Saskatoon Blades for F Josh SaskatoonPaterson, 19, and two bantam draft picks — a second-rounder in 2020 and a fourth-rounder in 2021. . . . The second-round pick originally belonged to the Swift Current Broncos. They sent it and a fifth-rounder in 2019 to the Blades for G Logan Flodell on Sept. 20, 2017.

The 5-foot-8, 155-pound Hughes, who is from Edmonton and was listed by Portland, has played 223 regular-season games with the Winterhawks, putting up 64 goals and 87 assists. This season, Hughes has 17 goals and 23 assists in 36 games.

The Blades selected the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Paterson, who also is from Edmonton, in the second round of the 2014 bantam draft. He has played 246 regular-season games with Saskatoon, totalling 74 goals and 64 assists. This season, Paterson, an alternate captain, has 14 goals and 18 assists in 41 games.

The Winterhawks and Blades are in second place in their respective divisions, Portland Portlandtrailing the Everett Silvertips by 11 points in the U.S. Division and Saskatoon 14 points in arrears of the Prince Albert Raiders in the East Division.

The Winterhawks obviously feel they need more size in order to get to Everett’s level, while Blades’ management is of the opinion that they must have more speed and offence in order to compete with Prince Albert.

Portland also is able to add a couple of bantam draft picks in this deal, one day after sending six selections to the Broncos for G Joel Hofer.

The Blades are to entertain the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night. On Saturday night, the Winterhawks, who play in Prince Albert on Friday, will visit Saskatoon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors have acquired F Carson Denomie, 18, from the Kamloops MooseJawWarriorsBlazers for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-0, 195-pound Denomie is from Regina. The Blazers selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 bantam draft.

This season, he has one goal and three assists in 36 games. Last season, he recorded six goals and 13 assists in 66 games.

In 2016-17, Denomie helped the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians to a league championship, putting up 16 goals and 30 assists in 44 regular-season games.

The trade was made while the Blazers were in Victoria, where they are to meet the Royals on Friday night after dropping a 5-3 decision on Wednesday.

Interestingly, the Warriors will be in Kamloops to meet the Blazers on Tuesday.

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Moose Jaw and Swift Current got together on a buzzer-beater, with the Warriors landing F Alec Zawatsky, 19, in exchange for F Tyler Smithies, 18, and two bantam draft picks — a fourth-rounder in 2020 and a fifth in 2021.

Zawatsky, from Yorkton, led the Broncos in goals (13) and points (26), in 39 games. Last season, he had three goals and five assists in 43 games with the Saskatoon Blades, under head coach Dean Brockman. After the Blades fired Brockman, he ended up joining the Broncos and he found a spot for Zawatsky on the roster.

Smithies, from Beaumont, Alta., has two goals and an assist in 19 games with the Warriors this season. Last season, he had a goal and four assists in 36 games.

The Warriors are at home to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night, while the Broncos will entertain the Thunderbirds on Saturday.

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The Kootenay Ice have acquired D Chase Hartje, 19, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a Kootenaynewthird-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. The pick originally belonged to the Red Deer Rebels.

Hartje, from Bemidji, Minn. has four goals and eight assists in 35 games with Brandon this season. Last season, he had 17 assists in 31 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, then added three goals and five assists in 27 games with the Wheat Kings.

This was the second deadline day in a row on which Hartje changed teams. A year ago, Moose Jaw dealt him to Brandon as part of the trade in which the Warriors landed D Kale Clague and the Wheat Kings got F Luka Burzan.

The Ice next plays Saturday when it visits the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

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The Vancouver Giants added D Nic Draffin, 17, from the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft.

Michael Dyck, the Giants’ first-year head coach, is most familiar with Draffin, having Vancouvercoached him bantam AAA and midget AAA in Lethbridge. While there, Draffin also was teammates with D Bowen Byram, who now stars for Vancouver.

This season, Draffin has one goal and four assists in 35 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs.

The Rebels selected Draffin in the third-round of the 2016 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Draffin, who is from Lethbridge, is expected to join the Giants in time for home games against the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday and Victoria Royals on Sunday.

After Alan Caldwell posted the above tweet, the Kelowna Rockets claimed D Matt Barberis, 20, on waivers from the Giants, then released F Lane Zablocki, 20, who has joined the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

Barberis, from Surrey, B.C., has played only nine games this season due to injury. This KelownaRocketswould have been his fourth full season with the Giants; in the previous three, he played 49, 48 and 56 games. In 168 regular-season games, he has 21 goals and 64 assists. The Giants selected him with the 20th overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Barberis joins D Dalton Gally and D Schael Higson as 20-year-olds on Kelowna’s roster.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ general manager, said in a news release that Barberis has medical clearance to play, but “he probably won’t play until next weekend.”

Zablocki had four goals and eight assists in 22 games with the Rockets, who acquired him from the Victoria Royals on Sept. 28, giving up a seventh-round bantam draft pick in 2019 and a fourth-rounder in 2021. He has 62 goals and 72 assists in 223 career regular-season WHL games.

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In a one-for-one exchange that was made right before the trading deadline, the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers sent F Josh Williams, 17, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Brett Kemp, 18.

Williams, who has been selected to play in the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer on Jan. 23, has nine goals and

Williams, from Langley, B.C., was selected by the Tigers with the fifth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has nine goals and 12 assists in 41 games this season, after putting up 11 goals and nine assists in 47 games last season. He had five goals and an EdmontonOilKingsassist in five games with Canada’s U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer and Edmonton in August.

Kemp, from Yorkton, Sask., was selected by the Everett Silvertips in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. The Oil Kings acquired Kemp and F Graham Millar, along with a 2018 first-round bantam draft pick from Everett on Jan. 4, 2017, for D Aaron Irving and a seventh-rounder in the 2017 draft.

The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Kemp has 43 goals and 46 assists in 146 regular-season games, all but 17 of them with Edmonton. This season, he has 22 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. He had been the Oil Kings’ second-leading point producer.

Kemp is expected to be in the Tigers’ lineup on Friday against the visiting Regina Pats, while Williams should be Edmonton’s lineup when it visits the Lethbridge Hurricanes. On Saturday, the Tigers are at home to the Oil Kings, meaning Kemp and Williams will be going up against their former teammates.

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The Everett Silvertips added size to their roster, and they hope they got some offence, Everetttoo, with the acquisition of F Robbie Holmes, 19, from the Regina Pats.

In exchange for the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Holmes, from Sherwood Park, Alta., the Pats get F Sloan Stanick, 15, who hasn’t signed a WHL contract, and two WHL bantam draft picks — a second-rounder in 2020 and a sixth in 2022.

An 11th-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, Holmes has 29 goals and 27 assists in 148 regular-season games with Regina. This season, he has nine goals and seven assists in 24 games.

Stanick, from Rapid City, Man., was selected by Everett in the seventh round of the 2018 bantam draft.

This season, he has 12 goals and 12 assists in 31 games with the Yellowhead Chiefs of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. Last season, with the bantam AAA Chiefs, he finished with 28 goals and 31 assists in 36 games.

Stanick’s twin brother, Slade, also plays for the midget AAA Chiefs. Slade is on Everett’s protected list.

The Silvertips are at home to the Tri-City Americans on Friday night.