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


MacBeth

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


EdChynowethCup

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

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

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

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

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

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

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


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Raiders stay perfect on home ice . . . Chiefs shoot way past Silvertips . . . Winterhawks get split in Victoria

Let’s begin our annual Christmas countdown with The Boss. It’s Bruce Springsteen with Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town . . . It’s right here.


MacBeth

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with MEC Halle (Germany, Oberliga) after his release by the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL) on Dec. 4. This season, he had one goal and one assist in 10 games with Tulsa. . . .

F Mike Aviani (Spokane, 2009-14) signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Herning Blue Fox (Denmark, Metal Ligaen) after requesting and receiving his release from Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). With Medveščak this season, he had four goals and seven assists in 23 games. . . . Medveščak Zagreb is in financial difficulty after losing its main sponsor. Marcel Rodman, assistant coach and VP of hockey operations, resigned on Dec. 5, then GM/head coach Aaron Fox and assistant coach Carter Beston-Will resigned on Dec. 10, and five players in addition to Aviani have obtained their releases from the club in the last two weeks.



COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Wednesday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 12.

Players: 33.

Bantam draft picks: 21.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(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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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Cole Fonstad scored on a quick shot from the left faceoff dot in OT to give the host PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Prince Albert (29-2-1) now is 15-0-0 at home. . . . Edmonton (16-12-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . F Noah Gregor scored twice to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead early in the second period. He’s got 16 goals. . . . The Oil Kings then got goals 50 seconds apart from F Carter Such (6) and F Jake Neighbours (7) to take a 3-2 lead in the period’s second half. . . . F Parker Kelly (14) pulled the Raiders into a tie at 11:18, only to have Edmonton take a 4-3 lead on a goal by F David Kope (5) at 15:34. . . . Prince Albert tied it when D Max Martin (5), who also had two assists, scored at 11:55 of the third period, then took the lead as F Carson Miller (9) scored at 12:28. . . . Edmonton F Vince Loschiavo (14) forced OT when he scored with 6.6 seconds left in the third. . . . Fonstad won it with his 11th goal at 3:00 of OT. . . . Prince Albert was 2-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 2-7. . . . Oil Kings F Trey Fix-Wolansky was held to one assist. He now shares the WHL scoring lead with Prince Albert F Brett Leason, each with 64 points. Season is in Victoria with Canada’s national junior team. . . . Gregor added an assist to his two goals, with Fonstad adding two assists to his singleton. . . . Edmonton got a goal and two assists from D Conner McDonald. He’s got seven goals. . . . The Raiders were without G Ian Scott and Leason, both of whom are with the Canadian junior team, and D Sergei Sapego and F Aliaksei Protas, who are with Belarus at the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) in Fussen, Germany. The Oil Kings also have two players on the Belarusian roster — F Vladimir Alistrov and F Andrei Pavlenko.


The Swift Current Broncos erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the visiting Regina Pats, 4-3. SCBroncos. . . Swift Current (6-23-2) had lost its previous two games. . . . Regina (8-23-1) has lost nine in a row (0-8-1). . . . The Pats had won the first three meetings with the Broncos. . . . F Scott Mahovlich (5) and F Brett Clayton (3) gave the Pats a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . F Andrew Fyten got the Broncos to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:46 of the second period. . . . The Pats went ahead 3-1 when F Riley Krane (5) scored at 8:39. . . . Fyten (8) made it 3-2 at 13:43. . . . In the third period, F Joona Kiviniemi (7) got the home side into a 3-3 tie, at 11:18, and F Tanner Nagel (5) won it at 16:44. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 36 shots for the Broncos. Hofer is 4-17-2, 4.03, .902. . . . The Pats had F Robbie Holmes back after he missed 17 games with an undisclosed injury. . . . F Sam McGinley, who joined the Pats Wednesday, picked up an assist in his WHL debut. He was a fifth-round pick by the Pats in the 2017 bantam draft.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s first five goals and went on to beat the Lethbridgevisiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1. . . . Lethbridge (16-9-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Kelowna (15-16-2) had points in each of its previous five (4-0-1). . . . F Zachary Cox (10) got the home side started at 2:16 of the first period, and F Jake Leschyshyn (20) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 14:05. . . . F Jake Elmer (16), in the second period, and F Jordy Bellerive (13) and F Taylor Ross (18) added third-period goals. . . . F Liam Kindree (7) scored, on a PP, for Kelowna at 13:39 of the third. . . . Kelowna was 1-7 on the PP, while Lethbridge was 0-3. . . . The Hurricanes won 43 of the game’s 67 faceoffs.


F Ryan Jevne scored twice for a third straight game to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a Tigers Logo Official4-2 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Tigers (16-14-3) have won three in a row. . . . The Blazers (12-14-3) have lost four straight (0-3-1), all on a Central Division trip. . . . Jevne opened the scoring at 5:38 of the first period. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (13) made it 2-0 at 12:21. . . . Jevne, who has 16 goals, scored shorthanded at 4:35 of the second period for a 3-0 lead. . . . The Blazers made it interesting late in the second as F Connor Zary (7) scored at 15;14, and F Brodi Stuart (9) made it 3-2 at 17:59. . . . The Tigers got insurance from D Daniel Baker (2) at 6:04 of the third. . . . G Mads Søgaard earned the victory with 36 saves. . . . Blazers F Jermaine Loewen served Game 2 of a three-game suspension. . . . Kamloops F Zane Franklin wasn’t suspended after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit from behind on Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev on Tuesday night. Alexeyev was taken to hospital but, according to Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com, X-rays and a CAT scan were negative. Alexeyev, who is to join the Russian national junior team on Saturday, is listed as day-to-day and may play against visiting Medicine Hat on Friday.


D Nolan Reid and F Jake McGrew scored in a shootout to give the host Spokane Chiefs a SpokaneChiefs4-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Spokane improved to 17-11-4. . . . Everett (25-7-2) now has points in 12 straight (10-0-2). . . . The Silvertips had won their previous nine games in regulation. . . . Everett was 3-4 on the PP; Spokane was 2-5. . . . F Connor Dewar (24) gave the Silvertips a 1-0 lead at 3:50 of the first period, and F Luc Smith (13) tied it, on a PP, at 19:50. . . . F Max Patterson (10) put Everett ahead at 5:23 of the second period. . . . Spokane went ahead 3-2 on second-period goals from F Luke Toporowski (9), on a PP, at 8:28 and F Adam Beckman (14) at 9:24. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (14) tied it 3-3 at 14:02. . . . The Chiefs got 43 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . F Akash Bains returned to Everett’s lineup after a three-game absence. . . . Everett F Sean Richards sat out the second of an eight-game suspension.


F Joachim Blichfeld scored twice and added two assists to lead the Portland Winterhawks Portlandto a 7-2 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Portland (19-11-2) has dropped a 7-4 decision in Victoria on Tuesday. . . . Victoria (14-13-1) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). . . . Last night, the Royals actually jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Ty Yoder, with his first WHL score, and D Scott Walford (3). . . . F Ryan Hughes got Portland started at 5:34 of the second period and F Seth Jarvis tied it at 6:37. . . . Hughes, who also had an assist, put Portland ahead with his 12th goal, on a PP, at 13:19, and Blichfeld made it 4-2, shorthanded, at 17:32. . . . The visitors iced it with third-period goals from F Jaydon Dureau (7), F Reece Newkirk (17) and Blichfeld (29), with the last two coming via the PP. . . . Portland was 3-4 on the PP. . . . Blichfeld now leads the WHL in goals (29), one more than F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders, who is in camp with Canada’s national junior team. . . . Blichfeld also has 61 points, just three off the league lead. . . . Newkirk added two assists to his goal, with F Jake Gricius picking up three assists. . . . F Tyson Kozak made his WHL debut with Portland, and he was on the No. 1 line, between Hughes and Blichfeld. A sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, the native of Souris, Man., has 14 goals and 23 assists in 20 games with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League. . . . Souris also is the hometown of Everett Silvertips GM Garry Davidson. . . . Just sayin’. . . . D Jake Kustra, who was acquired by the Royals from the Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday, has yet to play for Victoria.


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