Broncos win first WHL title since ’93 . . . Take out Silvertips in six games . . . Skinner ties shutout record; Gawdin is MVP

MacBeth

D Dan Gibb (Prince George, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the University of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and six assists in 19 gams. He was the team captain. . . .

F Alexander Chirva (Moose Jaw, Kootenay, 2013-15) signed a two-year contract extension with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, he had two assists in eight games. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). The team captain, he had seven goals and 21 assists in 38 games. . . .

F Chase Witala (Prince George, 2010-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Starbulls Rosenheim (Germany, Oberliga). He signed with Rosenheim on Jan. 22, and put up six goals and 11 assists in 12 games. . . . This season, prior to signing with Rosenheim, he had three goals and seven assists in 11 games with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL); was pointless in five games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL); and was pointless in two games with Zilina (Slovakia, Extraliga).


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos scored two first-period goals, the second one with 0.6 seconds remaining, en route to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips on Sunday night. SCBroncosThe Broncos won the best-of-seven WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2. . . . This was the third championship in Swift Current’s history. The Broncos won it all in 1989, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, beating the Blades in the final 29 years ago. In 1993, they won their second WHL title, but didn’t fare as well at the Memorial Cup in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This also was the first time since 1993 that a Saskatchewan-based team has won the WHL championship. . . . This was Everett’s second trip to the WHL final. It first got that far in 2004, which was its first season — yes, it’s first season — in the WHL. That time, it was swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (13) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:41 of the first period. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi, who drew the primary assist on Estephan’s goal, made it 2-0 with his fifth goal at 19:59. . . . F Beck Malenstyn added the empty-netter with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots as he recorded his sixth shutout of these playoffs and his second in the last three games of the final. He now shares the WHL record for shutouts in one playoff with Dustin Slade (Vancouver, 2006). . . . Everett got 22 stops from G Carter Hart. . . . Broncos F Glenn Gawdin, the team captain, was named the playoff MVP. He finished with 32 points, including 14 goals. . . . F Brad Morrison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes led all playoff scorers with 37 points. F Morgan Geekie of the Tri-City Americans was No. 1 in goals (17) and Heponiemi was tops in assists (25). . . . Swift Current was 1-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-2. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Reagan Vetter. . . . The attendance was 2,890.


Two of the men who coached in the WHL final may be on the move shortly.

There is speculation in NHL circles that the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks all have at least some interest in Manny Viveiros, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach. All three NHL teams are, or will be, looking to fill assistant coach vacancies.

Viveiros is the WHL’s reigning coach of the year. His situation is certain to be a big story during the Memorial Cup in Regina.

Meanwhile, sources indicate that Mitch Love, who has been on Everett’s coaching staff since 2011-12, has been interviewed by the Saskatoon Blades, who are looking to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired when their season ended.

The Blades also have shown interest in Serge Lajoie, who spent the past three seasons as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears. This season, Lajoie guided the Golden Bears to the Canadian university championship.

Lajoie is looking now because Ian Herbers has returned to the U of A after being dropped by the Oilers. Herbers had been on sabbatical while with the Oilers.

Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, was selected by the Tri-City Americans with the 14th overall selection of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The four teams are set for the 100th running of the Memorial Cup tournament that opens Friday in Regina. Interestingly, none of the four teams won its league’s regular-season title.

The Regina Pats, of course, are the host team. They finished seventh in the WHL’s overall standings. The Moose Jaw Warriors were first overall, then lost out to the Swift Current Broncos in the second round. The Broncos, who were second overall, six points behind the Warriors, won the WHL title at home on Sunday night.

In the OHL, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who were second overall, beat out the No. 1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, winning Game 6, 5-4, on Sunday. In the 68-game regular season, the Greyhounds finished 13 points ahead of the Bulldogs.

In the QMJHL, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the visiting Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada, 2-1, in Game 6 on Sunday night. In the regular season, the Armada finished first overall, with 107 points, 11 more than the second-place Titan.

——

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Hamilton vs. Regina, 8 p.m.

Game 2, Saturday – Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 2 p.m.

Game 3, Sunday – Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 5 p.m.

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Swift Current vs. Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Game 5, Tuesday, May 22 – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday, May 23 – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, May 24, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


The legendary Clare Drake, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, died on Sunday morning. He was 89. Drake was a long-time coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, and his coaching tree is as large as anyone who has ever been involved in hockey. . . . Jim Matheson, the hall-of-fame hockey writer, has more right here.


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Wings win in Hicketts’ debut . . . Two WHLers out of prospects’ game . . . Chiefs send goalie back to Bobcats

MacBeth

F Fredrik Pettersson (Calgary, 2005-07) has signed a three-year contract extension with the ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland, NL A). This season, he has 21 goals and 20 assists in 38 games. He leads the Lions in goals and points, and is second in the league in goals and seventh in points. He has been named to Sweden’s Olympic team. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started the season with Újpesti TE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games. He was released from a tryout contract on Sept. 28. . . .

F Chase Witala (Prince George, 2010-16) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Starbulls Rosenheim (Germany, Oberliga) after being released from a tryout contract by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was pointless in two games. . . . Witala started the season with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL), putting up three goals and seven assists in 11 games. He also was pointless in five games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL).

F Curtis Hamilton (Saskatoon, 2006-11) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga) after being released by mutual agreement on Monday by Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga). He was pointless in five games after signing with Tappara on Dec. 31. . . . Hamilton played 43 games with SaiPa last season before being assigned on loan to TPS Turku (Finland, Liiga) on Feb. 15. He had 14 goals and 13 assists in 43 games SaiPa, and one goal in two games with TPS.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

D Joe Hicketts became the first product of the WHL’s Victoria Royals to reach the NHL when he made his debut with the Detroit Red Wings as they beat the host New Jersey VictoriaRoyalsDevils, 3-0, on Monday night.

Paired with 6-foot-4 Jonathan Ericsson, the 5-foot-8 Hicketts took a regular shift and killed penalties — he played 23 shifts totalling 15 minutes 13 seconds. He had one hit, three blocks and two giveaways. He also was plus-1, just missing a second plus when he left the ice on a change. In fact, the replay from the camera behind the New Jersey net shows Hicketts still on the ice by the gate as his replacement heads into the Devils’ zone.

Hicketts was recalled by the Red Wings on Sunday after D Trevor Daley was injured on Saturday. 

Hicketts, 21, is from Kamloops. His parents, Lee-Gaye and Mike, were in New Jersey for last night’s game.

Hicketts played four seasons (2012-16) with the Royals, and represented Canada twice at the World Junior Championship. He signed with the Red Wings as a free agent and was in his second season with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

“He’s excelled at every level,” Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “His skill set doesn’t scream NHL in terms of skating, size, body, all that, but he’s proven people wrong his whole life. He was one of the best defensemen when he played for the Canadian world junior team, was out there in big moments. He was a big piece of the Calder Cup championship team last (season) in Grand Rapids.

“He brings stuff to the table that I think can help our team.”

The Red Wings are at home to the Philadelphia Flyers tonight and Daley isn’t expected to play, so Hicketts may get in another NHL game. The Red Wings then are at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday before the NHL goes into its all-star break.


Two WHL players have been taken off rosters for Thursday’s Top Prospects Game that is whlscheduled to be played in Guelph, Ont.

D Alex Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels has returned home to St. Petersburg, Russia, following the sudden death of his mother, Julia, on Monday morning.

D Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors also has been replaced. He didn’t play in Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. At the time, it was said that the Warriors wanted to get D Matthew Benson into the lineup so were giving Woo some rest. Now it seems that he is injured.

Matthew Gourlie, who follows the Warriors for DUBnetwork.ca, tweeted Monday afternoon that “Woo said he ‘didn’t feel good’ during warm-up” prior to Friday’s 5-3 victory over the Pats in Regina. According to Gourlie, Woo played a few shifts, “then sat the rest of the game and was scratched Sunday.”

D Xavier Bernard of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs and D Giovanni Vallati of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers were named as replacements.


The Spokane Chiefs have returned G Bailey Brkin, 18, to the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.

The Chiefs acquired Brkin’s rights from the Kootenay Ice earlier in the month and listed SpokaneChiefshim as an AP while he was with the Bobcats. The Chiefs added him to their roster when G Dawson Weatherill suffered an undisclosed injury that has kept him out six games.

In four starts with the Chiefs, Brkin went 3-1-0, 2.51, .921.

“The terms of our affiliated player loan agreement with Lloydminster dictated that Bailey would be returned as soon as Dawson was available to play,” Chiefs’ general manager Scott Carter said in a news release. “With Weatherill ready to return to the lineup this week, we had to return Brkin to his regular club.”

Weatherill is 12-9-3, 3.23, .888 this season. Donovan Buskey, the other goaltender on the roster, is 8-8-0, 3.65, .868.


A tweet from TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits) informs us of another set of WHL twins, although Connor and Curtis Honey didn’t play together.

From Edmonton, the twins now are 23.

Connor, a forward, played two plus seasons (2011-14) with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Curtis was a goaltender with the Brandon Wheat Kings at the same time.

“In their one game against each other,” TBird Tidbits notes, “Curtis won the battle, not allowing a goal by his brother.”

Earlier, with the help of readers, we had identified Bob and Ted McAneeley, Rich and Ron Sutter, Darren and Trevor Kruger, and Trevor and Troy Pohl as twins who were teammates in the WHL. Of course, the Kaphorn twins, Kaeden and Keenan, now are with the Kootenay Ice.

We also were informed via email of Chad and Cody Huseby, twin brothers who work as WHL linesman based in Red Deer.


Scoreboard

MONDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Lethbridge vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Brandon vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.


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