Thursday in WHL: Two indefinite suspensions, two $1,000 fines, two playoff games. . . . Will Glass return tonight?


MacBeth

D Michal Plutnar (Tri-City, 2011-14) signed a one-year contract with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had been assigned on loan by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Karlovy Vary for this season. In 45 games, he had four goals and 10 assists.


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The WHL’s Department of Discipline came down on two players, a head coach and a general manager on Thursday, less than 24 hours after what was a wild Wednesday on the ice.

Before he was done, Kevin Acheson, a former referee who handles discipline for the DisciplineWHL, had handed out two indefinite suspensions and $2,000 in fines.

For starters, F Kody McDonald of the Victoria Royals has been suspended indefinitely after being hit with a match penalty for intent to injure during a 6-3 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops.

F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds also has been suspended indefinitely after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct during a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kent, Wash.

Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, was fined $1,000 “for public comments” that he made to Steve Ewen of Postmedia for a story that he wrote on Wednesday.

Finally, Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, was fined $1,000 “for actions following” a 3-2 loss to the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday.

The WHL went so far as to issue news releases related to the suspensions of McDonald and Richards, although each one was only four paragraphs in length and contained minimal information.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted in the McDonald news release: “The WHL takes incidents of this nature very seriously. Actions of this kind are unacceptable to the WHL. The WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of the incident at this time.”

And here is Robison in the Richards news release: “Player safety is the first priority for the WHL at all times. The WHL will continue to take a strong position in dealing with checking-from-behind penalties and players classified as repeat offenders. As Sean Richards has been suspended previously, the WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of this latest incident at this time.”

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If you missed it, McDonald was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 5:34 of the third period of Wednesday’s game with the teams tied, 3-3. As he skated to the penalty box, he kept trying to show the officials that he was bleeding from the mouth area.

After the Royals killed the penalty, McDonald returned to the players’ bench. He was standing at one end when, apparently riled by chatter of some kind coming from Kamloops F Zane Franklin, McDonald swung his stick a couple of times at the Blazers bench. He appeared to connect once with Franklin’s helmet, and also struck Kamloops trainer Colin (Toledo) Robinson, whose glasses were damaged.

McDonald was quickly escorted from the ice surface. Franklin was given an unsportsmanlike minor. The Blazers scored on the 4-on-4 and again on the PP, jumping out front 5-3. They would win the game, 6-3, and the series now is tied, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Victoria on Saturday, then return to Kamloops for Game 6 on Monday.

There may be more to the McDonald story, too.

Blazers broadcaster Jon Keen tweeted Thursday morning that McDonald was “involved in incident with vendor staff under the stands while coming off the ice. I couple of high school students taking the garbage out from concessions. Security intervening. Report filed.”

Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week reported: “Kamloops brass is looking into an alleged fracas that took place while the Victoria forward was making his way to the dressing room, with security guards allegedly involved. Security would have to report the incident to the WHL to spark a league investigation, according to a Blazers’ source.”

McDonald, 20, won’t play again in the series with the Blazers, and that will be a tough blow for the Royals, who will miss his scoring — he put up three goals in the four games — and his experience.

This is the second time this season that the Blazers have been involved in a situation that seemed to involve taunting. On Feb. 2, in a game in Kelowna, Rockets F Conner Bruggen-Cate appeared to say something that set off Blazers D Montana Onyebuchi. No one from either of the teams or the league has stated publicly what happened, but each of the players was given a two-game suspension.

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As for Richards, he was penalized at 4:16 of the first period for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot, who left the game and didn’t return.

Barfoot isn’t likely to play tonight when the teams play Game 5 in Langley, B.C. The series is tied 2-2 after Seattle overcame a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Richards, 20, is a repeat offender, having been suspended twice earlier in the season, once for eight games and the other time for five, while with the Everett Silvertips.

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Dyck’s comments came in a story written by Ewen about the return of Seattle D Jake Lee Vancouverto the Thunderbirds’ lineup after he had served a two-game suspension. He was suspended after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Justin Sourdif with six seconds left in the Giants’ 7-1 victory in Game 1.

Sourdif, an offensive threat, hasn’t played since and isn’t expected to be in the lineup tonight for Game 5.

Dyck, who felt Lee should have received more than two games, was a defenceman with the Regina Pats in 1986-87 when F Brad Hornung was left a quadriplegic after being hit from behind.

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

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

You should know that Dyck is absolutely correct. I covered the game in which Hornung was injured and later wrote extensively about the aftermath. With some of the hits in danger areas that I witness, and the way in which those who manage the game at this level have allowed cross-checking to creep back into the game, I fear that what Dyck calls “one of the worst plays in hockey” is going to bring with it devastating consequences one of these games.

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As for Millar’s fine, perhaps he had something to say about the officiating, or to the officials, after the Warriors’ 3-2 series-ending loss. The Blades won that game when F Max Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie at 15:39 of the third period.

That goal came on a 5-on-3 PP after the Warriors were hit with two delay-of-game minors in 32 seconds.

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The Portland Winterhawks will be facing elimination when they meet the Chiefs in PortlandSpokane on Saturday night. After splitting the first two games in Spokane, the teams played Tuesday and Wednesday in Portland with the Chiefs winning twice in OT — 5-4 and 4-3. . . . Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune that “we played really well” in Game 4. . . . Johnston added: “All we have to do is play the same the next game. We’re going to be fine in the series. We win in Spokane, then we come back here (for Game 6) on Monday. (The Chiefs) don’t want to come back here. As the series has gone along, our team has gotten better every game.” . . . Johnston also told Eggers that “we expect Cody (Glass) to be able to play on Saturday.” . . . Glass, who will turn 20 on Monday, was limited to 38 games this season, thanks to knee woes and a stint with Canada’s national junior team. But he did big damage in those games, putting up 15 goals and 54 assists. . . . The Vegas Golden Knights selected him sixth overall in the NHL’s 2017 draft. Eggers reports the Golden Knights’ medical staff has cleared Glass to play, as have Portland’s medical people. . . . As Johnston said, “He’s the best player in the league. It’s huge to have him back. If we get that game and get momentum back on our side, that’s all we need.” . . . Of course, this being the WHL playoffs you have to remember that you can’t believe 90 per cent of what you hear or read about injuries, and you have to take the other 10 per cent with a huge grain of salt.

Eggers’ complete story is right here.

And if you haven’t read his new book, you should. It is titled Jail Blazers: How the Portland Trail Blazers Became the Bad Boys of Basketball.


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NOTES: There were two games on Thursday night. . . . The Calgary Hitmen beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2, to even that series, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Lethbridge’s Nicholas Sheran Arena on Saturday because the world men’s curling championship is in the Enmax Centre. The Hurricanes’ temporary home has 968 seats and room for 200 standees. . . . Game 6 will be played in Calgary on Sunday. . . .

Also last night, the Everett Silvertips beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash., to take a 3-1 lead. They will play Game 5 in Everett on Saturday. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades, who have advanced to the second round, will open their series with games in Prince Albert on April 5 and 7. . . .

The Vancouver Giants and Seattle Thunderbirds are 2-2 as they go into Game 5 tonight in Langley, B.C. . . . Neither F Aidan Barfoot nor F Justin Sourdif practised with the Giants on Thursday. Sourdif hasn’t played since being cross-checked by Seattle D Jake Lee in Game 1. Barfoot left Game 4 following a hit by Seattle F Sean Richards. Lee has returned from a two-game suspension; Richards has been suspended indefinitely. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly will complete a two-game suspension by sitting again tonight. It seems that while in the penalty box during Game 3, he made a throat-slash gesture in the direction of Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . .

The only other game tonight will have the Medicine Hat Tigers in Edmonton to face the Oil Kings. That series is tied, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Medicine Hat on Sunday.

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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Calgary Hitmen broke a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory Calgaryover the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 set for Lethbridge on Saturday. . . . The Hitmen took a 1-0 lead at 3:28 of the first period on a goal by F Riley Stotts (1). . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer (1) tied it at 1:36 of the second period. . . . Calgary took a 2-1 lead when F James Malm (1) scored at 8:53, only to have F Logan Barlage (1) tie it, on a PP, at 12:42. . . . Calgary F Josh Prokop (2) broke the tie at 1:44 of the third period, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (1) added insurance, on a PP, at 5:04. . . . F Luke Coleman (2) added an empty-netter at 17:45. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Ryder Korczak, with Stotts adding two to his goal. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-5. . . . G Jack McNaughton earned the victory with 37 saves, seven more than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . Calgary was without F Mark Kastelic, its captain, for a second straight game. He is in concussion protocol. . . . Calgary also is without F Jake Kryski, 20, who last played on Jan. 11.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 24 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Tri-EverettCity Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Silvertips lead the series, 3-1, and get their first opportunity to wrap it up at home on Saturday. . . . Last night, the Silvertips scored once in each period. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 12:34 of the first period. . . . F Max Patterson (2) made it 2-0 at 7:56 of the second. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (2) got the empty-netter at 19:19 of the third. . . . Everett was 1-5 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-2. . . . Wolf posted his first playoff shutout. He has 11 career regular-season shutouts, seven of them this season. . . . The Americans got 35 stops from G Beck Warm.


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Having been born and raised in northern Manitoba, this tugs at the feelies . . .

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Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw. Ohh, the memories. . . . Blazers adding goaltender. . . . Ridley talks way into AHHOF

If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look. Yes, we used to have some fun on the WHL beat and, no, there won’t ever be another Crushed Can. . . .


MacBeth

D Dominik Bittner (Everett, 2011-12) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and 14 assists in 46 games.


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The Kamloops Blazers, their playoff hopes flickering like a fading light bulb, have lost G Dylan Ferguson to injury, so are expected to add G Rayce Ramsay to their roster.

Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Kamloops1From Saskatoon, Ramsay was 16-7-1, 2.73, .923 in his first season with Humboldt. . . . Ramsay got into 27 games with the Broncos, as he split time with Dane Dow, who made 34 appearances and was 19-12-2, 3.06, .906. . . . The Broncos aren’t scheduled to play again until March 15 when they open a best-of-seven first-round series with the Estevan Bruins. . . . Ramsay has made two appearances with the Blazers this season, going 1.99, .931 in 60 minutes of action.

Ferguson, who has played in 49 games (17-24-5, 3.01, .908), went down in the second period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. He needed to lean on his stick in order to get back on his feet, and tried to stay in the game. But he left at the next whistle, and needed help leaving as he was unable to put any weight on one leg.

G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, is the Blazers’ other goaltender. A third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he is 6-7-2, 3.40, .891.

The Blazers (23-32-7) have lost their past four games (0-3-1), three of them to the B.C. Division-champion Vancouver Giants. With six games left, Kamloops is fourth in the division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets are to meet tonight in Kamloops and Saturday night in Kelowna.

Kamloops also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Kelowna Rockets will be without F Mark Liwiski for their next three games, KelownaRocketsincluding this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Liwiski drew a three-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Portland F Seth Jarvis during a 4-3 victory over the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday. . . . The Rockets are to play in Kamloops tonight, with the Blazers in Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . Liwiski, who has 10 goals and six assists in 58 games, also will miss Kelowna’s game on Wednesday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, seven points ahead of the Blazers.


Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reports that three Winterhawks skaters — F Cody PortlandGlass, F Seth Jarvis and D Matt Quigley — were listed as “week-to-week” by GM/head coach Mike Johnston going into this week. . . . Danzer writes that Glass “has experienced some nagging discomfort in the knee he injured in late January.” Glass has missed Portland’s past three games. . . . Quigley has missed eight games with an undisclosed injury. . . Jarvis was injured during a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Sunday. Kelowna F Mark Liwiski received a boarding major and game misconduct on the play, and since has been suspended for three games by the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks have added D Ryan Miley to their roster since his team, the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, had its season come to an end. Miley, 18, is from Brooking, S.D. He had one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Eagles. He was pointless in one game with Portland last season.


The Victoria Royals have added a pair of defencemen — Kaden Reinders and D Noah VictoriaRoyalsLamb — to their roster. . . . They both played in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Reinders had been with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is pointless in nine WHL games, six of them this season. . . . Lamb played for the midget AAA Edmonton Knights of Columbus Pats. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft, and has played two WHL games, both this season. . . .


The Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner is going to have a definite Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat flavour. . . . The Class of 2019, as revealed on Thursday, includes Bob Ridley, the only play-by-play voice in the Tigers’ history, along with the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Tigers, the only team from Alberta to have won back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. . . . Ridley celebrated 50 years with CHAT in Medicine Hat last year. He has done more than 3,900 Tigers games and until recently doubled as the team’s bus driver. . . . Also to be inducted are Theo Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames, an Olympic gold medal and also played four seasons (1984-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors; Shirley Cameron, a player, coach and builder of women’s hockey in Alberta; Kevin Lowe, who won six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and two Olympic gold medals; and Duncan MacDougall, who is being recognized for “four decades of involvement at the grassroots level of the officiating program in Edmonton.” . . . The AHHF Awards Gala is scheduled for July 21 at the Coast Hotel in Canmore.

The 1986-87 Medicine Hat Tigers: Ron Bonora, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Rocky Dundas, Mark Fitzpatrick, Kelly Hitchins, Jamie Huscroft, Wayne Hynes, Kevin Knopp, Mark Kuntz, Dale Kushner, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Mike MacWilliam, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Mark Pederson, Guy Phillips, Jeff Wenaas, Keith Van Rooyen, Rod Williams, Russ Farwell (general manager), Bryan Maxwell (coach).

The 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers: Mike Barlage, Vince Boe, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Mark Fitzpatrick, Clayton Gainer, Murray Garbutt, Wayne Hynes, Dan Kordic, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Ryan McGill, Jason Miller, Mark Pederson, Jason Prosofsky, Darren Taylor, Neil Wilkinson, Mark Woolf, Cal Zankowski, Russ Farwell (general manager), Barry Melrose (coach).

(Rosters from chlmemorialcup.ca/history-rosters/)



Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is back with Hockey CanadaCanada as part of its Program of Excellence management group. . . . Millar will, according to a news release, “advise and support the Canadian contingents at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2020 IIHF U18 World Championship.” . . . This will be Millar’s second consecutive season with the program. . . . At the same time, Hockey Canada announced that Martin Mondou, the GM of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, will “guide and support three teams at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.” . . . Mark Hunter, the general manager of the OHL’s London Knights, will take over the U-20 program and Canada’s national junior team. Hunter spent four seasons with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as director of player personnel (2014-16) and assistant GM (2016-18) before returning toe London. He is likely to get at least some consideration as the next GM of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. As well, the expansion Seattle franchise likely will have him on its list of possible general managers. . . . Hockey Canada’s complete news release is right here.


JUST NOTES: The 2020 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is to be played in Charlottetown and Summerside, both of which are on Prince Edward Island, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. Games will be played in in Charlottetown’s 3,717-seat Eastlink Centre, as well as Summerside’s 3,728-seat Credit Union Place. . . . The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs will play host to the next Top Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 16, 2020. The 25th annual game will feature NHL draft-eligible players from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and has been playing with the OHA Edmonton prep team. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, he is pointless in six games with the Hitmen this season. . . . The Tri-City Americans have added F Sequoia Swan, 17, to their roster. He had been playing with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, whose season has ended. He was a sixth-round pick by the Americans in the 2017 bantam draft.


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Trials and tribulations of WHL scout . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark Portland win . . . Some Saturday highlights, too


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With four weeks left in the WHL’s regular season, four teams have clinched playoff spots — the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Vancouver Giants and Portland whlWinterhawks.

However, not one of the eight first-round playoff matchups has been set in stone.

The Raiders, for example, will finish atop the Eastern Conference, so will draw the second wild-card team. That slot will go to any one of seven teams.

The winner of the Central Division will get the first wild-card team, which obviously has yet to be decided. As for the division pennant winner, well, all five teams remain in the chase.

Although it’s not official, at least not mathematically, the Saskatoon Blades will have home-ice advantage in a first-round series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades are headed for a second-place finish in the East Division, with the Warriors in third.

In the Western Conference, only one team is assured of where it will finish — when it’s over, the Giants will be atop the B.C. Division.

Vancouver also is tied with Everett atop the conference standings, and the Giants hold a game in hand.

The Victoria Royals almost certainly will finish second in the B.C. Division — they are 20 points behind Vancouver and 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets — but other than that it’s a roll of the dice.

Portland is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Silvertips and 10 ahead of the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna, and the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet know in which spots they will wind up.

The Prince George Cougars aren’t officially out of it, but they are 12 points from a playoff spot, riding a 15-game losing skid (0-11-4) and have only 12 games remaining.


So . . . you think you’d like to scout for a WHL team, do you?

Here’s an early Sunday evening posting on Facebook from Mike Fraser, the Everett EverettSilvertips’ head scout . . .

“The 10 things I’ve learned in my 12 hours (so far) at Saskatoon airport:

“1. Travelling in winter isn’t always made easier by flying instead of driving.

“2. When you are accommodating and agree to a 6:15 pm flight to help appease people going to Puerto Vallarta, the Flying Gods don’t necessarily have to make your 6:15 flight on time either (I’m now delayed two more hours).

“3. If your flight starts getting delayed in 5- or 10-minute increments starting 3-or-so hours before departure time, that’s a bad sign and start looking at other options.

“4. Trying to cancel a hotel room in Red Deer because you’re stuck in Saskatoon doesn’t mean the hotel in Red Deer won’t charge you.

“5. Guys need to stop texting while standing at a urinal….that’s just weird, and gross.

“6. I’ve now had 12 of my last 13 trips delayed, a dynasty not even Tom Brady can touch.

“7. Starbucks closes very early at Saskatoon airport.

“8. No matter how many times I see the Jets highlights from last night, they still lost.

“9. I’ve learned that one woman likes to tell her boyfriend when they can sleep together based on her “cycles.” No I didn’t ask, she told an entire section of us while on a very loud and apparently open phone call.

“10. I still refuse to drink Pilsner.

“Cheers my friends, here’s to hoping I get home tonight.”

Later Sunday, Fraser posted: “And we’re now cancelled . . . let’s try again tomorrow?”

To be continued . . .


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Behind three goals and an assist from F Joachim Blichfeld, the Portland Winterhawks Portlandclinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (35-16-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who have a game in hand. . . . The Winterhawks, who will be in the playoffs for a 10th straight season, have 11 games remaining, but only three of them are at home. . . . Seattle (23-28-6) had won its previous two games. It is in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . The Thunderbirds went 2-1-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . With three games remaining, Portland leads the season series (6-2-0); Seattle is (2-5-1). . . . F Josh Paterson (21) broke a 1-1 tie at 16:26 of the first period, and Blichfeld took it from there, scoring Portland’s last three goals. . . . Blichfeld, who recorded his fourth career hat trick, leads the WHL in goals (48) and points (98), in 57 games. His third goal of the game was the 100th regular-season goal. . . . F Cody Glass, playing his second game in two nights after missing eight games with a knee injury, had the primary assist on each of Blichfeld’s goals. Glass has 68 points, including 54 assists, in 36 games. . . . Blichfeld scored once on the PP, once while shorthanded and once at even strength. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 1-2. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman scored his 32nd goal, on a PP, to run his goal-scoring streak to six games. . . . The Winterhawks had a 52-36 edge in shots. . . . G Josh Hofer stopped 34 shots to earn the victory. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius turned aside 47 shots. . . . Portland head coach Mike Johnston posted his 350th regular-season coaching victory. He is 19th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Winterhawks will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan had a goal and four assists, and F Stelio Mattheos had three goals and an assist, as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 6-3. . . . Brandon (26-22-7) has won three in a row and now is four points from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot that is held by the Red Deer Rebels. . . . That second spot will mean a first-round clash with Prince Albert (46-8-3), which had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders have lost two in a row for the first time this season. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings went into Prince Albert and won, 5-4 in OT. . . . G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason remain out of the Raiders’ lineup. . . . Brandon was 3-9 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-4. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Cole Reinhardt, while F Justin Nachbaur scored twice for the Raiders.


F Tate Popple scored twice, and F Brayden Tracey had a goal and two assists, helping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (31-15-8) had lost its previous two games. The Warriors are second in the East Division and headed for a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Regina (16-38-3) hasn’t lost 40 games in regulation-time since 2004-05 when it finished 12-50-10. . . . Regina F Austin Pratt was credited with his 22nd goal when the Warriors scored an own goal with a delayed penalty about to be called on the Pats. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He has 62 points, including 25 goals, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors were credited with a 47-19 edge in faceoffs. . . . It was Hall of Fame weekend in Moose Jaw as F Shawn Limpright and F Brian Sutherby, both of whom played four seasons (1998-2002) there, were inducted into the Warriors’ shrine.


The Saskatoon Blades solidified their hold on second place in the East Division with a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Saskatoon (37-13-8) has points in 13 straight games (11-0-2). It is second in the division, 13 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders and 12 up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold four games in hand. . . . Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are headed for a first-round playoff meeting. They will meet twice more this regular season — on March 5 in Moose Jaw and March 10 in Saskatoon. The Blades lead the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Four of Lethbridge’s last four games will be against Medicine Hat, starting with a home-and-home on Friday (Lethbridge) and Saturday (Medicine Hat).


F Mark Kastelic scored three goals to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (30-21-5) has won two in a row. . . . The Hitmen beat the visiting Tigers, 3-1, on Friday night. . . . Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Medicine Hat and three behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen continued to hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (31-21-5) has lost three straight. . . . On Saturday, the Hitmen erased a 3-2 third-period deficit with the game’s last three goals. Kastelic had opened the game’s scoring with his 40th goal of the season in the first period. He added a pair of third-period PP goals, equalizing at 9:06 and adding insurance at 16:18. . . . In between, D Vladilsav Yeryomenko’s third goal, at 12:02, turned into the winner.


G David Tendeck stopped 22 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (39-13-3) has won seven in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals, who have 13 games remaining. . . . The Giants haven’t enjoyed a 40-victory regular season since 2011-12 when they finished 40-26-6. . . . Vancouver also is tied with the Everett Silvertips (39-14-3) for top spot in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (23-28-5) has lost two in a row. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, 10 points behind Victoria and four ahead of the Kelowna Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . The Rockets left Sunday on their final multi-game road trip of the season; they’ll play a doubleheader in Victoria this afternoon and Tuesday night, then meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday night. . . . The Rockets have three games left with Vancouver, two of them in Langley, B.C., and two with the Portland Winterhawks, both in Kelowna. . . . Tendeck has three shutouts this season, matching his total from last season.


G Joel Hofer turned aside 25 shots as his Portland Winterhawks blanked the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 2-0. . . . Portland (34-16-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). After beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2, on Sunday, the Winterhawks, who are second in the U.S. Division, are five points behind the Everett Silvertips. Portland and Everett only have one game remaining with each other. . . . Red Deer (29-21-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels are 1-2-1 on a U.S. Division swing that ends Tuesday night with a visit to the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (10) scored the game’s first goal, just 41 seconds into the third period. . . . Portland’s second goal was an empty-netter off the stick of F Cody Glass (14). Glass was playing in his first game after suffering a knee injury on Jan. 26. He missed eight games. . . . Hofer has four career shutouts, two with the Swift Current Broncos and two since his trade to Portland.


F Kody McDonald scored two goals in regulation time and one in a shootout as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. . . . One night earlier, the Royals won, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . Victoria (29-23-3) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, 20 points behind the Vancouver Giants and 10 in front of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-7) has lost 15 in a row (0-11-4). The Cougars are 12 points from a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. They are fifth in the B.C. Division, 12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George also is 13 points from a wild-cardspot. . . . McDonald, 20, played the first 232 games of his WHL career with the Cougars, who dealt him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him from the Raiders earlier this season. . . . McDonald, who has 15 goals, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 0:51 of the third period, then forced OT with a goal at 17:03. . . . He won the game when he closed out the third round of the shootout with a goal. . . . F Carson Miller, who was part of the Prince Albert-Victoria deal that included McDonald, also had two goals for the Royals, with F Josh Maser scoring twice for the Cougars. Those were Miller’s first goals with Victoria since the trade.


G Roddy Ross stopped 46 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . If you’re new here, Seattle plays its home games in Kent. . . . Seattle (23-27-6) is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . Everett (39-14-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett also is tied with the Vancouver Giants for top spot in the Western Conference. The Giants (39-13-3) have a game in hand. . . . Everett and Seattle combined for 110 penalty minutes, 96 of them in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . You’re right. These teams don’t like each other, and they still have to play each other three more times. . . . This also could be a first-round playoff matchup. Everett leads the season series, 6-1-0; Seattle is 1-5-1. . . . F Matthew Wedman had a goal and two assists for the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He’s got 62 points, 31 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . This was Everett’s third game in fewer than 48 hours. They dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Thursday night, in a game that was rescheduled from Wednesday, then beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Silvertips will make it five games in six days by playing a doubleheader in Prince George on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night.


F Kyle Olson scored three times and added an assist to help the Tri-City Americans to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (31-20-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane and with a game in hand. . . . Spokane (30-19-6) has lost two straight. It is third in the U.S. Division, eight points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each had a goal and two assists for Tri-City. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and and assist from freshman F Adam Beckman. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, Beckman has 48 points, 25 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm may have been five times, but he still came up with 45 saves.


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Did anything go wrong in Prince George? . . . Sask. Hockey Hall gets new name . . . Arena now bears Kennedy’s name


MacBeth

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He was released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga) on Tuesday. The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . . Freiburg now has five imports on its roster but is allowed to dress only four per game. The four other imports are d-men Radek Havel and Antti Kauppila, and forwards Brad McGowan, and Josef Mikyska. . . .

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Växjö (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). In 11 games, he had three goals and five assists. He left Avangard in late October and returned to Canada. . . .

F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). He has three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


ThisThat

Richard Matvichuk, in the final season of a three-year contract and with a new general manager looking over his shoulder, was going to have to win the WHL championship PrinceGeorgethis season in order to earn a new contract as the head coach of the Prince George Cougars.

Of course, that was never going to happen, what with the Cougars in a rebuilding mode.

So . . . with the team eight points from a playoff spot and only 16 games left to play, general manager Mark Lamb fired Matvichuk following a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.

The Giants, at 35-13-3, are atop the B.C. Division, 35 points ahead of the Cougars (16-30-6), who have lost 11 straight games (0-8-3).

Lamb, who spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, has taken over as head coach and will be in that role tonight when the Cougars meet the Rockets in Kelowna.

He will be joined behind the bench by associate coach Steve O’Rourke and Nick Drazenovic, who has been moved up from director of player development to assistant coach, at least for the rest of this season.

If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.

Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, will find another coaching job. After all, he was the ECHL’s reigning coach of the year when he left the Missouri Mavericks to sign with the Cougars on June 2, 2016. The Mavericks had finished with the ECHL’s best regular-season record (52-15-5) in 2015-16.

In Matvichuk’s first season in Prince George, the Cougars went 45-21-6 to finish atop the B.C. Division, a first for the franchise since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season.

You may recall that the Cougars went all-in that season. On Nov. 18, 2016, they acquired D Brendan Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for two players, as well as first- and third-round bantam draft picks. Then, on Jan. 5, 2017, the Cougars got Russian F Nikita Popugaev from the Moose Jaw Warriors for two players, including F Justin Almeida, and a couple of bantam draft picks. Popugaev gave the Cougars 25 points, nine of them goals, in 44 games over two seasons before going home 13 games into last season. Almeida has produced 184 points, 71 of them goals, in 150 games with the Warriors.

It turned out for naught as the Cougars lost a first-round playoff series, 4-2, to the Portland Winterhawks.

Last season, the Cougars were sellers — they unloaded the likes of F Kody McDonald, D Josh Anderson and D Dennis Cholowski — as they wound up 24-38-10, leaving them fifth in the B.C. Division and 20 points from a playoff spot.

Somewhere in all of this, the Cougars’ ownership group decided to make a u-turn in regard to its philosophy. Henceforth, the goal won’t be to aim for a single-season splash, to get caught up in what some people still see as the cyclical nature of major junior hockey. Rather, the owners decided that the Cougars are going to build through the draft with the goal of having a team that makes the playoffs on an annual basis. Make the playoffs, the thinking now is, and let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately, none of that does Matvichuk any good because he’s gone.

Remember, too, that hockey teams go through coaches these days the way   a Dairy Queen outlet goes through ice cream.

The Cougars are the second of the WHL’s 22 teams to make a coaching change this season. Kelowna was 4-10-0 when Jason Smith was fired and replaced by Adam Foote. The Rockets are 17-16-5 under Foote.

After last season, eight WHL teams changed head coaches. Seven teams, including the Cougars, also brought in new general managers.

The Cougars decided not to renew Todd Harkins’ contract after last season. He had been in the organization for four seasons, the first one as head scout and director of player personnel, the last one as general manager.

It was Harkins who hired Matvichuk.

With Lamb coming in and Matvichuk into the last year of his contract, many observers thought they could see the writing on the wall. Late on Wednesday night, their eyesight was proven to be 20/20.

Lamb signed a four-year contract with the Cougars, and now he gets to hire his own head coach. Or maybe he puts himself into the position on a permanent basis. His last stint as a head coach, with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, didn’t end the way he would have liked when he was dismissed after one season (2016-17).

Unless Lamb, 54, is one of those rare people who is able to shake free from the coaching bug, he may have a desire to give it another go with the hope that at some point he will be able to walk away on his terms.


F Ilijah Colina left the Prince George Cougars last week.

At the time, the Cougars said that Colina, a 19-year-old from North Delta, B.C., who was in his third WHL season, had gone home for “personal reasons.”

In a tweet (above) that was posted on Thursday evening, Colina’s mother, Carrie, has shed some light on her son’s departure.

The next time you attend a junior hockey game, take a minute to think about the stress the players face, almost all of them living away from home as they chase a dream, with some of them starting to realize that that’s all it is — a dream.

In 151 regular-season games, 68 with the Cougars and 83 with the Portland Winterhawks, Colina has 18 goals and 37 assists.


An update on F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks, who has been rehabbing a knee injury, from Vince Sapienza, a sports reporter with FOX 5 in Las Vegas:


The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame has undergone a name change after receiving a $500,000 donation from the family of the late Ted Knight, a former co-owner of the saskhallRegina Pats.

It has been renamed the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.

From a news release:

“Ted Knight’s children — Tracey, Kevin and Kyle — wanted to honour their father’s name and his love for the game of hockey. Through this title sponsorship of the Hall, the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will remain a hub for hockey in the province and honour those individuals who have made a lasting impression on Saskatchewan hockey.”

Knight, who was born in Selkirk, Man., in 1939, played for the Winnipeg Braves when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

In 1986, Knight, Bill Hicke, Morley Gusway, Jack Nichol and Huddy Bell bought the Regina Pats. Knight was part of that ownership group for 10 years.

Knight, along with sons Kevin and Kyle, owned the Knight Automotive Group. It started with Crestview Chrysler Dodge in Regina and now has 15 dealerships in the three Prairie provinces.

Knight died on Oct. 13, 2017, at the age of 78.

The Hall of Fame is located in the Credit Union I-Plex, the home arena of the Swift Current Broncos.


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Morrisseau’s season ends early . . . Warriors complete near-perfect trip . . . Volcan, Glass unable to finish as Portland beats Seattle


MacBeth

F Ivan Roháč (Kamloops, 2006-08) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Sande (Germany, Regionalliga). Roháč last played with Humenné (Slovakia, 1. Liga) in 2015-16 when he had one assist in one game. In 2014-2015 with Liptovský Mikuláš (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 16 assists in 35 games. . . .

F Ondřej Najman (Spokane, 2016-17) a signed one-year contract extension with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga). In 31 games, he has one goal and three assists in 31 games. In eight games while on loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had three goals and one assist. . . .

F Pavel Kousal (Spokane, 2016-17) signed a one-year contract extension with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has four assists in 28 games. On loan to Slovan Ústí nad Labem (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had four goals in eight games. . . .

F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) has been traded by Košice to Banská Bystrica (both Slovakia, Extraliga) for Ján Sýkora. With Košice, Šoltés had seven goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

D Stefan Warg (Seattle, Prince Albert, 2008-10) has been traded by Malmö to Örebro (both Sweden, SHL) for Marcus Björk. After the trade, Warg signed a contract extension through the 2021-22 season wth Örebro. With Malmö, he had six assists in 33 games. . . .
D Tomáš Slovák (Kelowna, 2001-03) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga) after requesting and receiving his release from Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). He had one goal and three assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

F Koby Morrisseau of the Regina Pats has had a second season end because of Patsconcussion-related issues. Morrisseau last played on Oct. 28 when he was injured in a game against the Swift Current Broncos. . . . John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “He’s symptom-free but there have just been too many times. He needs to take a break. He needs to take the risk out of the equation.” . . . In 2016-17, his freshman season in the WHL, Morrisseau, then with the Spokane Chiefs, twice was diagnosed with two concussions and didn’t play after Dec. 13. . . . Spokane had selected him with the ninth-overall pick of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Harder’s story is right here.


Nakehko Lamothe, a player with the MacEwan U Griffins, died in Calgary following a Friday night game against the SAIT Trojans. Lamothe wasn’t feeling well after the game and was taken to Foothills Hospital where he died. He was 23. . . . A cause of death hasn’t been released. . . . Lamothe, from the Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, was a fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2010 bantam draft. However, he never played with the Chiefs. . . . He was in his third season with the Griffins. . . . There is more on this story right here.


A former Dauphin Kings defenceman comes home . . .


Jamie Corbett is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Corbett, from Headingley, Man., replaces Matt Summers. According to a news release from the team, “There were multiple reasons Summers couldn’t continue, among them the inability to legally work in Canada and failure to acquire basic certifications . . .” Corbett is a former assistant coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, who most recently was coaching the midget AAA Interlake Lightning. . . . Summers, 32, is from Savage, Minn. He was in his first season with the Blizzard. He also played for the Blizzard (2003-06).


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Brandon Wheat Kings scored twice in a shootout to beat the Regina Pats, 3-2. . . . BrandonWKregularBrandon (20-19-6) is two points behind the Calgary Hitmen, who hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Regina (13-33-3) had beaten the visiting Wheat Kings, 4-0, on Friday night. . . . D Kyle Walker gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Connor Gutenberg (11) tied it, on a PP, at 6:02. . . . F Cole Reinhardt (15) put Brandon ahead at 4:11 of the second period. . . . Walker tied it with his second goal of the game, at 16:35 of the third period. Walker’s first two goals of the season came in his 46th game of the season — 32 with Regina after 14 with the Everett Silvertips. Last season, he had one goal in 50 games with the Silvertips. . . . Brandon won it when its first two shooters — F Ben McCartney and F Stelio Mattheos — both scored. . . . G Dean McNabb stopped 26 shots for the Pats, five fewer than Brandon’s Ethan Kruger. . . . The Wheat Kings scratched G Jiri Patera, who left Friday’s game with an apparent leg injury. They didn’t list a backup goaltender.


The Swift Current Broncos erased a 4-2 third-period deficit and beat the host Saskatoon SCBroncosBlades, 5-4 in OT. . . . Swift Current (10-34-3) had lost its previous four games. . . . Saskatoon (29-13-7) had won three in a row. It is second in the East Division, three points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold three games in hand. . . . One night earlier, the Blades posted a 5-2 victory in Swift Current. . . . The Blades are 5-0-1 in the season series. . . . F Gary Haden, who scored four times on Friday, opened the scoring for Saskatoon with his 21st of the season at 0:38 of the first period. . . . F Tanner Nagel tied it at 3:27. . . . D Dawson Davidson (9), on a PP, gave the home side the lead at 19:01. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (8) ran his goal streak to four games with the Broncos’ first shorthanded goal of the season, at 6:04 of the second period. . . . The Blades went ahead 4-2 on second-period goals from F Eric Florchuk (15), on a PP, at 9:44, and F Cyle McNabb (5), at 17:12. McNabb has four goals in six games with the Blades since being acquired from the Kootenay Ice. . . . Nagel (10) got the Broncos to within a goal, on a PP, at 15:21 of the third. . . . F Owen Blocker tied it with his third goal of the season, at 18:25. . . . The Broncos won it when F Joona Kiviniemi (12) scored with 3.4 seconds left in OT. . . . Swift Current got 48 saves out of G Riley Lamb, including 16 in the third period five in OT. . . . McNabb had one goal and two assists in 34 games with Vancouver, when the Giants dealt  him to Kootenay. He had one assists in three games with the Ice when he was moved to Saskatoon. . . . The Broncos scratched D Matthew Stanley and F Carter Chorney, both of whom were ill.


F Justin Almeida scored twice and added an assist to lead the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 3-MooseJawWarriors1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Moose Jaw (27-11-8) has points in seven straight games, as it completed its road trip at 6-0-1. It is third in the East Divison, three points behind the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Medicine Hat had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). It now is tied for the second in the Central Division, along with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Almeida gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 7:46 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey (19) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:45 of the second. . . . The Tigers got to within a goal at 7:35 of the third period as F Baxter Anderson (3) scored. . . . Almeida, who has 18 goals, iced it with an empty-netter at 19:06. . . . The Warriors got 26 saves from G Brodan Salmond, while Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett stopped 25 shots.


The host Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George Red DeerCougars, 5-1. . . . Red Deer (28-15-3) now is atop the Central Division by one point. . . . Prince George (16-26-2) has lost six in a row (0-4-2) and is four points out of a playoff spot. . . . F Arshdeep Bains (5) put Red Deer ahead at 4:23 of the first period, only to have Prince George’s Josh Curtis (8) tie it at 11:14. . . . F Brandon Hagel broke the tie at 13:12 of the second period, and F Cam Hausinger (16), who also had two assists,  made it 3-1 at 18:35. . . . The Rebels put it away with third-period goals from Hagel (30) and F Brett Davis (15). . . . Hagel  has 74 points in 45 games. He is one shy of his career high in goals from 2016-17 when he scored 31 times in 65 games. . . . Hagel also had a penalty shot in the second period but was unsuccessful. . . . F Josh Maser of the Cougars sat out the second of a three-game suspension.


F Noah Gregor scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 7-3 victory over PrinceAlbertthe Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Prince Albert (41-6-2) went 4-1-1 on a road swing into B.C. It leads the overall standings by 12 points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Kootenay (10-31-8) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Gregor, 20, has 30 goals for the first time in his WHL career. . . . This season, Gregor has 30 goals and 33 assists in 44 games. In 238 career regular-season games, he has 268 points, including 116 goals. . . . The Raiders took a quick 2-0 lead on goals from F Dante Hannoun, at 0:58, and F Parker Kelly (23), shorthanded, at 4:02. . . . F Brad Ginnell (11) pulled the Ice to within a goal at 9:32. . . . Gregor got that one back 12 seconds into the second period. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (8) scored, shorthanded, for the ice at 7:30, but the Raiders blew it open with the next four goals — with Gregor getting two, one of them shorthanded. The others came from F Spencer Moe (7), who also had two assists, and Hannoun (24), who had one assist. . . . F Connor McClennon (6) had the Ice’s last goal. . . . Kelly added three assists for his second career four-point game. . . . Interestingly, Kootenay was 0-3 on the PP and Prince Albert was 0-2, but the Raiders scored twice while shorthanded and the Ice did it once. . . . Ice F Jaeger White, 20, played in his 200th regular-season game — 68 with Lethbridge, 13 with Brandon, three with Everett, 68 with Medicine Hat and 48 with Kootenay.


The Kamloops Blazers scored two shootout goals to beat the visiting Victoria Royals, 3-2. . Kamloops1. . Kamloops (19-24-3) has won four in a row. It now is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, but also is just one point behind the third-place Kelowna Rockets in the B.C. Division. . . . Victoria (24-20-2) is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of Kelowna. . . . Should Kamloops finish third in the division, it likely would set up a first-round series with Victoria, which leads the season series, 5-1-1. . . . F Jermaine Loewen gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the first period. . . . The Royals took a 2-1 lead on goals from D Scott Walford (7), on a PP at 17:40 of the second period, and D Ralph Jarratt (4), at 0:32 of the third. . . . Loewen tied it with 45.3 seconds left in the third period, tapping in a loose puck that was in the crease after a shot by F Zane Franklin. . . . The Blazers got shootout goals from F Connor Zary and Franklin to win it. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson, who was terrific in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Friday, was sharp again, this time with 33 saves. . . . BTW, Friday’s shutout was the first on home ice in Ferguson’s career. . . . Victoria G Brock Gould stopped 30 shots. . . . The Blazers remain without D Luke Zazula (shutout) and D Quinn Schmiemann (concussion).


D Bowen Byram broke a 1-1 tie at 14:00 of the third period as the Vancouver Giants beat Vancouverthe Rockets, 2-1, in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (31-12-2) has won eight in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 14 points over Victoria. . . . Kelowna (19-24-4) has lost two straight. It is third in the B.C. Division, now just one point ahead of Kamloops, which has a game in hand. . . . The Giants are 4-0-0 against the Rockets this season, including 3-0-0 in Kelowna. . . . D Dallas Hines (6) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 3:14 of the first period. . . . F Nolan Foote (25) got Kelowna into a tie 15 seconds into the second period. . . . Byram’s 17th goal, on a PP, stood up as the winner. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner stopped 18 shots and earned the secondary assist on the winning goal. . . . Kelowna got 37 stops from G Roman Basran. . . . F Brayden Watts (ill) was among Vancouver’s scratches. . . . The two teams will play again today in Langley, B.C.


F Seth Jarvis scored on a penalty shot in OT to give the Portland Winterhawks a 3-2 Portlandvictory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (29-13-5) has won two in a row. It leads the season series, 5-2-0; Seattle is 2-4-1. . . . Portland is a comfortable second in the U.S. Division, nine points behind Everett and 10 in front of Tri-City and Spokane. . . . Seattle (17-22-6) has lost two straight (0-1-1) and now is one point out of a wild-card spot. . . . Both teams lost key forwards to injury. Seattle F Nolan Volcan left in the second period with an apparent arm or wrist injury, while Portland F Cody Glass was helped off the ice in the third period, unable to put any weight on his left leg. . . . The Winterhawks had taken a 2-0 lead on goals from F Lane Gilliss (10), at 16:48 of the first period, and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3), at 16:41 of the second. . . . Seattle tied it with two goals in the last 20 seconds of the third period, D Simon Kubicek (8) scoring at 19:40 and F Matthew Wedman (19) at 19:58. . . . Jarvis won it with his 13th goal, on a penalty shot, at 2:19 of OT. . . . According to Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, the last Portland player to win an OT game on a penalty shot was D Caleb Jones on Dec. 27, 2015 against the Tri-City Americans. The host Winterhawks won that one, 5-4, when Jones scored at 2:19 of OT. Yes, Jarvis also scored at 2:19. . . . Portland had a 41-23 edge in shots. It was 35-11 after two periods. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius finished with 38 saves, 17 more than Portland’s Joel Hofer.


G Beck Warm stopped 47 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-1 victory over the tri-citySpokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (25-18-3) had lost two in a row. It moved into a tie for third with Spokane in the U.S. Division. . . . Spokane (24-17-5) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). It had been beaten 3-0 by the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . The Chiefs got the game’s first goal, from F Adam Beckman (19), at 15:59 of the first period. . . . F Sasha Mutala (12) tied it at 6:45 of the second period, and F Riley Sawchuk (15) broke the tie at 17:09. . . . Tri-City F Kyle Olson (15) added insurance at 16:03 of the third. . . . Spokane had a 48-31 edge in shots, including 19-8 in the first period and 17-6 in the third.


The Everett Silvertips set a franchise record with six second-period goals en route to a 9-Everett1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Everett (35-12-2) has won two straight and now leads the U.S. Division by 11 points over Portland. . . . Lethbridge (25-14-8) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are tied for second in the Central Division, with Medicine and Edmonton, one point behind Red Deer. . . . Lethbridge completes its three-game U.S. tour with a game today in Portland, its third game in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Silvertips jumped into a 5-0 lead before the second period was half over, as they got two goals from F Zack Andrusiak and singles from D Artyom Minulin (1), F Connor Dewar (31) and F Reece Vitelli (6). . . . F Justin Hall (3) scored for Lethbridge at 9:38 of the second. . . . Andrusiak, who has 34 goals, completed his sixth career hat trick — his fourth this season — at 12:47. It was his first three-goal game with Everett, which acquired him from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 1. . . . F Bryce Kindopp and D Gianni Fairbrother (7) also scored before the period ended, giving the Silvertips a franchise record for the most goals in one period. The Silvertips had scored five goals in a period on four occasions, most recently on Dec. 27, 2017, in an 11-0 victory over the Giants in Victoria. . . . Kindopp completed the scoring with his 25th goal at 0:14 of the third period. . . . Everett was 5-9 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-3. . . . Everett tied the franchise record for most PP goals in one game. . . . Andrusiak also had an assist, for a four-point night, while Kindopp added an assist to his two goals, Dewar also had two assists as well as the goal, and D Jake Christiansen had three assists. . . . G Bryan Thomson got the start for Lethbridge, his first since being added to the roster after Liam Hughes left the Hurricanes earlier in the week. Thomson, a 16-year-old from Moose Jaw, had been playing for the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Thomson finished with 28 saves on 32 shots, with Carl Tetachuk playing most of the second period and stopping 14 of 19. . . . Everett got 25 saves from G Dustin Wolf.


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Chiefs’ Larson stable after leaving on stretcher . . . New arena in Pats’ future? . . . Baron rules in Brandon

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F Cordel Larson, a freshman with the Spokane Chiefs, left Saturday night’s game against SpokaneChiefsthe visiting Tri-City Americans on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital.

Shortly after the game, the Chiefs issued a statement saying that Larson “is in stable condition and has full use of all extremities. His overall injury status remains to be determined.”

Larson, a 17-year-old from Weyburn, Sask., was hurt at 8:10 of the second period, after being checked by Tri-City D Aaron Hyman, who was hit with a boarding major and game misconduct.

Larson was on the ice for a bit while being tended to, then was removed on a stretcher.

The Chiefs tweeted at the time that Larson “is awake and moving.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Taking Note that “it sounds like he will be OK . . . (it was) very scary.”

“He has feelings in all extremities and (we’re) just waiting on imaging,” Lambert added.

Larson was a ninth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. He played two seasons with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., before joining the Chiefs this season. He has six goals and an assist in 38 games.

The Chiefs next are scheduled to play on Tuesday when they visit the Seattle Thunderbirds.


If you happened to watch all — or any — of the WHL game between the Calgary Hitmen and host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sportsnet on Saturday afternoon, you saw the first RE/MAX WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation game of the season.

From a news release:

“This year, players will sport uniforms emblazoned with fun nicknames as opposed to traditional surnames across their shoulders. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on the limited-edition jerseys, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to local chapters of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In addition to game-worn uniforms, fans will have the chance to bid on one Don Cherry-autographed jersey in each participating WHL market.

During the 2017-18 WHL regular season, participating WHL clubs came together with RE/MAX to raise more than $265,500, representing the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the special games, which include the WHL’s 17 Canadian teams:

Fri., Jan. 25 – Red Deer Rebels

Fri. Feb. 1 – Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors

Sat., Feb. 2 – Prince Albert Raiders

Fri., Feb. 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings

Fri., Feb. 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars

Sat., March 9 – Kelowna Rockets, Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades.

——

The Brandt Centre, the home of the Regina Pats, is 41 years of age, and there are Patsdiscussions ongoing about its future.

The Pats and Regina Exhibition Association Limited signed a five-year lease last week.

“I’m glad there’s a lease in place; that’s an important foundation for securing a relationship,” Regina Mayor Michael Fougere told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “It is important to have a discussion about the future of the Brandt Centre. Do we refurbish? Do we work on a new facility in another location or on that location?

“There needs to be some collaboration and discussion by all parties. For the moment we do have the comfort of having a lease in place for a few years so we can have those discussions in a very productive way.”

It could be that when all is said and done Regina will be home to a new arena with more than 10,000 seats.

Harder has all the details right here.


If you haven’t heard, the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs and Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars, teams from the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, are playing an outdoors game today . . . in Fort St. James, B.C.

Organizers and team officials have constructed an outdoor rink at Ernie Sam Memorial Arena that is a bit smaller than regulation — it is 31 feet shorter and 12 feet narrower.

“It’ll be a lot more physical, one-on-one battles, moving the puck quicker, but it’s the same for both teams,” Trevor Sprague, the Cougars’ general manager, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen.

Clarke’s story is right here and it’s an interesting look at what all went into the production of what is a great Canadian hockey story.


Darren Rumble, who did a stint as an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds, has ohlsigned on as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. . . . When this season began, Rumble was in his sixth season as the head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. However, he was fired on Jan. 7. . . . Rumble spent two seasons (2011-13) on the Thunderbirds’ coaching staff. . . . As a player, he spent three seasons (1986-89) in the OHL, with the Kitchener Rangers. But he hadn’t coached in the OHL until signing with Saginaw. . . . Chris Lazary is the head coach in Saginaw, having moved up from associate coach to replace the fired Troy Smith on Nov. 18. . . . Smith has since joined the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos as an assistant coach.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Edmonton Oil Kings built up a 2-0 lead thanks to their PP and then went on to EdmontonOilKingsscore a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton (25-14-8) has points in five straight (4-0-1) and leads the Central Division by two points over Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (21-18-4) has lost two in a row. It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . The Oil Kings lead the season series 4-0-1. . . . D Matthew Robertson (6) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period, and F Carter Souch (8) made it 20 just 42 seconds into the second. . . . F Luke Coleman (13) got Calgary to within a goal at 6:51. . . . Edmonton F Vladimir Alistrov (6) stretched the lead to 3-1 at 3:51 of the third period. . . . Calgary F Carson Focht (12) rounded out the scoring, on a PP, at 7:23. . . . D Conner McDonald had two assists for Edmonton and now has 100 career regular-season points in 235 games. This season, he has nine goals and 18 assists in 47 games. . . . G Jack McNaughton made his 18th straight start for Calgary, stopping 24 shots. . . . Edmonton got 25 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . Calgary won 37 of the 57 faceoffs. . . . The Hitmen were without F Jake Kryski and F James Malm, while Edmonton F Quinn Benjafield remains on the shelf.


F Baron Thompson, who went into the game with two goals, scored three times to lead BrandonWKregularthe host Brandon Wheat Kings to a 7-5 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Brandon (19-18-6) has won two in a row to get within two points of a playoff spot. . . . Kootenay (10-30-8) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It went 2-3-1 on a six-game road trip. . . . The Wheat Kings had beaten the visiting Ice, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (30) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 14:13 of the first period. . . . F Jaeger White tied it at 15:35. . . . Brandon went ahead 2-1 at 16:26 as F Luka Burzan (27) counted on another PP. . . . The Ice went ahead 3-2 on goals from D Carson Lambos (1), on a PP, at 18:47, and White (20), at 1:10 of the second period. . . . Lambos, from Winnipeg, was playing in his fifth WHL game. He was the second overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Thompson, who had two goals in his previous 41 games this season, then scored twice, at 13:01 and 16:49 as Brandon went ahead 4-3. . . . F Cole Reinhardt upped that to 5-3 at 18:27. . . . Kootenay came back in the third period and tied on goals from F Jakin Smallwood (7), at 1:04, and F Austin Schellenberg (4), at 1:21. . . . However, Thompson completed his hat trick at 6:27, and Reinhardt (13), who also had an assist, added insurance at 19:04. . . . The Ice got three assists from D Chase Hartje, who was acquired from Brandon at the trade deadline. . . . The Ice’s scratches included F Connor McClennon, who missed a second straight game, D Martin Bodak, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, and D Valtteri Kakkonen (ill).

——

The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 4-2 victory Saskatoonover the Pats in Regina. . . . Saskatoon (28-13-6) has won two in a row. It is second in the East Division, six points ahead of Moose Jaw, although the Warriors hold four games in hand. . . . Regina (12-33-2) has lost 10 straight (0-9-1). . . . The Blades beat the visiting Pats, 6-2, on Friday night and lead the season series 3-1-0; the Pats are 1-2-1. The home team had won each of the first three games. . . . The Blades won this one behind two goals from each of F Eric Florchuk and F Cyle McNabb. . . . Florchuk made it 1-0, on a PP, at 10:44 of the first period, with McNabb upping it to 2-0 at 3:38 of the second. . . . Florchuk got it to 3-0 with his 13th goal, at 18:50 . . . F Duncan Pierce (8) got Regina’s first goal, on a penalty shot while the Pats were shorthanded, at 2:30 of the third period. . . . McNabb restored the three-goal lead with his fourth goal of the season, at 6:01. . . . F Riley Krane (10) got Regina’s second goal, another shorthanded effort, at 11:27. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots for the Blades.


F Jackson Shepard broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the visiting Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes a 2-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge (24-13-8) had lost its previous two games. Lethbridge and Medicine Hat are tied for second in the Central Division, two points behind Edmonton. . . . Red Deer (26-14-3) had points in each of its past five games (4-0-1). It now is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . On Friday night, the Rebels won 3-1 in Lethbridge. . . . Last night, the Hurricanes won despite being credited with winning only 18 of 58 faceoffs. . . . F Jeff de Wit (24) put the Rebels in front, on a PP, at 12:27 of the first period. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (26) tied it at 12:23. . . . Shepard, who hadn’t scored in 15 games, won it with his third goal of the season at 9:52. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 35 shots to earn the victory over Ethan Anders, who made 29 saves. . . . De Wit left in the second period after crashing into the Lethbridge net. He didn’t return.


D Trevor Longo broke a 3-3 tie with 52.6 seconds left in the third period as the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 5-3. . . . Medicine Hat (26-16-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is tied with Lethbridge for second in the Central Division, two points behind Edmonton. . . . Swift Current (9-33-3) has lost three in a row. . . . The Tigers beat the Broncos, 3-1, on Friday night in Swift Current. . . . Last night, the home side took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Nick McCarry (1), at 2:37; D Dylan MacPherson (2), at 6:30; and F Brett Kemp (25), at 16:39. . . . The Broncos got started at 15:39 of the second period on a goal from F Owen Blocker (2). . . . The visitors made it a one-goal game when F Ethan O’Rourke (6) scored at 8:17 of the third period, and they tied it on a goal by D Connor Horning (4), on a PP, at 10:22. . . . Longo broke the tie with his fourth goal of the season, and F James Hamblin (26) got the empty-netter at 19:41. . . .  The Tigers had a 44-26 edge in shots, including 16-5 in the second period. . . . McCarry’s first WHL goal came in his fourth game this season. A 17-year-old from Calgary, he was pointless in two games last season.
This season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 30 games with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons before being added to the Tigers’ roster.


F Nolan Foote scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Kelowna Rockets a 4-3 victory KelownaRocketsover the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Kelowna (19-22-4) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria, which holds three games in hand. . . . Prince Albert (39-5-2) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is 2-0-1 on its B.C. Division trip and leads the Eastern Conference and the East Division by 18 points over Saskatoon. . . . The Rockets went into the weekend having lost six in a row. They beat the host Everett Silvertips, 2-0, on Friday night, meaning they scored victories over the two conference leaders on back-to-back nights. . . . Last night, the Raiders went ahead 1-0 on a goal by F Aliaksei Protas (9), at 4:51 of the first period. . . . Kelowna took a 2-1 lead before the period ended, on goals from F Kyle Topping (17), at 12:36, and Foote (22), at 16:03. . . . F Dante Hannoun (22) scored for the Raiders at 1:42 of the second period, and F Parker Kelly (22) gave them a 3-2 lead at 7:52 of the third. . . . The home team forced OT when D Lassi Thomson (10) scored, on a PP, at 14:51. . . . Foote, who also had two assists, was the first shooter of the second round and his goal stood up as the winner. . . . The Rockets got 30 saves from G Roman Basran, with Ian Scott stopping 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . The Rockets honoured former D Josh Gorges prior to the game. He announced his retirement as a player earlier in the week. Gorges, who is from Kelowna, captained the 2003-04 Rockets, who won the Memorial Cup on home ice. Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, was the head coach of that Kelowna team. Jeff Truitt, the Raiders’ associate coach, was on Habscheid’s staff in Kelowna.


The Portland Winterhawks broke open a scoreless game with five third-period goals and Portlandwent on to beat the visiting Everett Silvertips, 5-1. . . . Portland (27-12-5) has won two in a row to close to within nine points of Everett, which leads the Western Conference and the U.S. Division. . . . Everett (33-11-2) has lost two straight. . . . Everett still leads the season series, 5-3-0, although Portland is 3-4-1. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL in goals and points, figured in Portland’s first three goals. . . . He opened the scoring with his 39th goal, at 3:56, then drew an assist on D Jared Freadrich’s seventh goal, at 5:05, and F Cody Glass’s 13th, at 15:19. . . . Blichfeld is the first CHLer to 80 points this season, as he now has 82, in 44 games. . . . F Jake Gricius (20) and D Brendan De Jong (6) added empty-netters for Portland. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (10) scored for Everett at 19:45. . . . Glass also had two assists. He has 61 points, including 48 assists, in 31 games. . . . Portland won 40 of the 66 faceoffs. . . . G Josh Hofer, who was acquired by Portland from Swift Current for six draft picks, made his first start in Portland a strong one with 31 saves. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf turned aside 27 shots. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (ill) missed a second straight game, while F Riley Sutter sat out an eighth game with an undisclosed injury. . . . De Jong was back after an eight-game concussion-related absence, and this was his 300th regular-season game, all with Portland.


The Kamloops Blazers won for the first time in 14 road games as they bet the Prince Kamloops1George Cougars, 3-1. . . . Kamloops (16-24-3) had lost its previous six games. In terms of road games, the Blazers went 0-12-1 after beating the host Tri-City Americans, 4-1, on Nov. 23. . . . Prince George (16-24-3) has lost two in a row. . . . Kamloops and Prince George are tied for ninth in the Western Conference, two points from a playoff spot. . . . The Blazers are 4-0-0 against the Cougars this season, and have won nine straight in Prince George. . . . They’ll play again this afternoon at the CN Centre as the Blazers skate for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Last night, Kamloops grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kyrell Sopotyk (7), at 8:21 of the first period, and F Connor Zary (10), at 10:04 of the second. . . . F Josh Maser (17) cut the Cougars on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 15:16. . . . F Martin Lang (9) gave the Blazers some insurance at 8:54 of the third. . . . G Dylan Ferguson, who pulled himself after allowing three goals in the first period of a 5-2 loss to visiting Moose Jaw on Tuesday, stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . G Taylor Gauthier, making his eighth straight start, blocked 29 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Blazers scratched F/D Jeff Faith, who completed a five-game WHL suspension, and D Luke Zazula, who left Friday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders early in the second period. As a result, the Blazers were able to dress only 17 skaters, one under the maximum.


F Nolan Volcan broke a 4-4 tie with a shorthanded goal in the third period and the SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds went on to a 6-4 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (16-21-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Kamloops and Prince George. . . . Victoria has dropped four in a row. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 15:07 of the first period, and it was a Teddy Bear goal. The Thunderbirds were the last of the WHL’s 22 teams to have a Teddy Bear game, or a toque throw, etc. . . . The teams went to their dressing rooms while the ice was cleared. . . . When they returned, F Sean Richards (14) upped the lead to 2-0. . . . Victoria cut into the deficit at 18:48 of the second period on a goal from F D-Jay Jerome (17). . . . The teams then combined for seven third-period goals. . . . F Kaid Oliver (19) got Victoria into a tie at 0:47, and F Igor Martynov (5) gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 2:29. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman tied it at 3:12, only to have Victoria reclaim the lead on a goal by D Mitchell Prowse (2), at 7:25. . . . The Thunderbirds closed it out with three straight goals, from Wedman, at 10:52; Volcan (17), at 12:02; and Wedman (17), shorthanded, at 18:29. . . . Wedman’s second goal originally was credited to D Simon Kubicek, but was later changed. That gave Wedman his first career WHL hat trick. . . . D Jake Kustra and F Carson Miller, two players acquired via trade, were among Victoria’s scratches. . . . The Royals and Kamloops Blazers led the WHL by each playing in four Teddy Bear games.


F Sasha Mutala scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Tri-City Americans a 2-tri-city1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. . . . Tri-City (23-16-3) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Chiefs. . . . Spokane (24-14-5) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . The Chiefs lost despite leading 40-33 in shots and 42-23 in the faceoff circles. . . . Both ‘real’ goals came in the third period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (4) got Spokane’s goal at 5:04. . . . F Parker AuCoin (25) replied for Tri-City, on a PP, at 8:06. . . . F Kyle Olson gave Tri-City a 1-0 lead in the second round of the shootout, with Anderson-Dolan tying it in the third round. That left it for Mutala to win it. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots, six more than Tri-City’s Reece Klassen. . . . Warm has been in six shootouts this season and he has won them all, stopping 17 of 20 shots in the process. . . . The Americans have been to OT on 14 occasions this season. They have posted six shootout victories and five in OT, losing twice in OT and once in a shootout. . . . Tri-City lost D Aaron Hyman to a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:10 of the second period after a hit on freshman F Cordel Larson.


F Davis Koch scored in OT to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the Moose Jaw VancouverWarriors in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (29-12-2) has won six straight. It leads the B.C. Division by 15 points over Victoria. . . . Moose Jaw (24-11-8) has points in four straight (3-0-1), all on a trip into the B.C. Division. It is third in the East Division, six points behind Saskatoon with four games in hand. . . . D Jett Woo, whose NHL rights belong to the Vancouver Canucks, gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 7:08 of the first period. He’s got 38 points, including nine goals, nine, in 39 games. Last season, he finished with 25 points, including nine goals, nine, in 44 games. . . . D Bowen Byram (16) got Vancouver into a 1-1 tie at 9:36. He’s got 43 points in 43 games. . . . Koch won it with his 16th goal at 2:58 of OT. He has a goal in five straight games. In his past six games, he has put up five goals and nine assists. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 26 shots for Vancouver, one more than Moose Jaw’s Brodan Salmond.


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WJC rosters include 14 WHLers . . . Tourney opens with four games . . . Finland-Sweden in Day 1 spotlight

Mowing
If you didn’t see this photo on Twitter earlier, it was taken on Christmas Day at about 2 p.m. Hey, I was born in Sherridon, Man., and raised in Lynn Lake, Man. — look them up on Google Maps — so I had never before seen grass this green on Dec. 25. LOL! . . . This is at the back of our home; there were nine deer on a field just west of the front yard. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get a really close look, so it may have been Rudolph and some friends.

MacBeth

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2014-16) has signed a two-way contract for the rest of this season with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) after clearing NHL unconditional waivers and having his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) terminated. He had two assists in 15 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).


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The 10-team World Junior Championship opens today in Vancouver and Victoria with two games in each venue.

In Vancouver, it’s Czech Republic versus Switzerland (1 p.m. PT) and Canada versus Denmark (5 p.m.)

In Victoria, it’s U.S.A. versus Slovakia (3:30 p.m.) and Finland versus Sweden (7:30 p.m.).

In other words, Day 1 should bring us three no-contests and one thriller. Don’t forget that 2019wjcas much as we look forward to this tournament, the early-going often is full of lop-sided games. What today’s schedule means is that you will be able to go out and soak up some of those Boxing Day sales before coming home to watch Finland and Sweden do battle.

BTW, make certain that you’re aware of the IIHF’s new late-hit rule because if you aren’t it’s going to make you crazy.

And note that you aren’t going to read a whole lot about the WJC on this site after this report. I’m not there, nor will I pay particular attention through the early part of the tournament. But there will be a whole lot of other places loaded with info from those who are taking in the games in person.

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The 10 teams taking part in the WJC filed their preliminary rosters on Tuesday.

Under IIHF regulations teams had to register at least 15 skaters and two goaltenders. If a team doesn’t file the maximum (20 skaters and three goaltenders), it is allowed to add players to its roster until two hours before games until reaching the maximum.

By my count, there are 14 WHL players on those rosters. Here’s a look:

Canada (6) — G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders; D Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs; F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Spokane; F Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks; F Brett Leason, Prince Albert. . . . Tim Hunter of Moose Jaw is Canada’s head coach; Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is one of the assistant coaches. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Czech Republic (3) — G Jiri Patera, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Filip Kral, Spokane; F Krystof Hrabik, Tri-City Americans. . . . The roster also includes former Brandon D Daniel Bukac, now of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and F Martin Kaut of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, whose CHL rights belong to Brandon. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Denmark (2) — G Mads Sogaard, Medicine Hat Tigers; F Phillip Schultz, Victoria Royals. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Finland (0) — The roster includes D Henri Jokiharju of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who played the previous two seasons with Portland; F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Finnish pro team Karpan Oulu, who spent the previous two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos; and F Sami Moilanen of Tappara Tampere, who played the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Kazakhstan (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Russia (1) — D Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Mark Rubinchik, who plays for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, was with the Saskatoon Blades for the previous two seasons. . . . Registered 11 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Slovakia (2) — F Andrej Kukuca, Seattle; F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants. . . . Registered 12 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Sweden (0) — Brandon holds the CHL rights to D Erik Brannstrom of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Switzerland (0) — F Justin Sigrist of the GCK Lions Zurich played with the Kamloops Blazers in 2017-18. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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USA (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Meanwhile, Mason Black, who is on Twitter at @NHL RankKing, went over the WJC rosters and has an easy-to-read NHL team-by-team list of prospects right here.

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If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.

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This piece is four years old, but if you’re a fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth your time. It’s from Rolling Stone and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what went into what has become a movie with an amazing following. . . . The story — it’s an oral history — is right here.


Here is one more great read for you. . . . It’s not that long ago when Austin Murphy was one of the best and most-prolific writers employed by Sports Illustrated. These days, as he writes, “I drive a van for Amazon.” . . . He has written a first-person piece on the adventure of a package deliverer and it’s awesome stuff. You’ll find it right here.


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