Oil Kings add big defenceman in deal; send four assets to Hitmen . . . Bankier leads Blazers to sweep . . . QMJHL to retire No. 4

If there was any doubt about whether the Edmonton Oil Kings are serious about Edmontonthe title chase this season, it ended on Wednesday afternoon when they cut a deal with the Calgary Hitmen. Yes, the Oil Kings, the CHL’s top-ranked team, are all-in. . . . The Oil Kings (3-1-1) acquired D Luke Prokop, the first player in junior hockey history to come out as gay, from the Hitmen (1-2-0) in exchange for D Blake Heward, D Keagan Slaney, a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024. . . .

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prokop, 19, is from Edmonton. The Hitmen selected him with the seventh-overall pick of the WHL’s 2017 draft. He has one goal and one assist in three games this season. In 153 career games, he put up eight goals and 35 assists. . . . He came out on July 19. He signed an entry-level deal with the Nashville Predators, who had selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2020 draft, and is the only openly gay player signed to an NHL contract. . . . “He has had a significant impact on our team, our city and the entire hockey community with his courage and determination,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said of Prokop in a statement. “The trade provides Luke the opportunity to finish his WHL career in his hometown. We wish him the very best.” . . .

Slaney, 18, had two goals and nine assists in 78 games with Edmonton. From CalgaryAirdrie, Alta., he was the 20th overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Heward, from Regina, is the son of former WHL/NHL D Jamie Heward, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Henderson, Nev., Silver Knights. Blake, a seventh-round pick by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s 2018 draft, has three assists in 23 games with the Oil Kings. . . .

The Oil Kings and Hitmen are scheduled to meet for the first time this season on Nov. 5 and 6 when they go home-and-home, opening in Calgary and finishing the Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Edmonton. . . . Prokop should make his Edmonton debut on Friday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . On Friday, the Hitmen are at home to the Red Deer Rebels.


There were three WHL games on Wednesday night . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Prince Albert Raiders built a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Warriors. . . . F Sloan Stanick, acquired this week by the Raiders (1-4-0) from the Regina Pats, took a major for goaltender interference at 15:50 of the third period. The Warriors (2-2-0) scored twice on the PP but weren’t able to equalize. . . . D Kaiden Guhle had two assists in his first game back with the Raiders after being with the Montreal Canadiens. . . .

D Chad Nychuk scored twice, including the winner at 2:22 of OT, as the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-4. . . . The Blades (2-1-1) had a 35-24 edge in shots, but were outshot 4-0 in OT. . . . Nychuk has four goals for Brandon (3-3-0). . . . The Blades got two goals and an assist from F Brandon Lisowsky and a goal and two helpers from F Tristen Robins, who has two goals and six assists in three games. . . . Saskatoon was without F Jayden Wiens, who served the first of a two-game suspension after running into Brandon G Ethan Kruger in Saskatoon’s 6-2 victory in Brandon on Oct. 9. Kruger left that game with an apparent left leg injury, Kruger was scratched for a second straight game last night and, according to the online scoresheet, the Wheat Kings didn’t dress a backup goaltender for a second straight game. . . .

F Caedan Bankier scored three goals and set up two others to lead the Kamloops Blazers to an 8-3 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Bankier, who scored twice on the PP, has five goals with the Blazers at 4-0-0. They had beaten the host Royals, 3-2, on Tuesday. . . . F Brayden Schuurman scored his sixth goal for the Royals (1-4-0). . . . Bankier had three goals, including the OT winner, in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on May 1 during the 2021 development season. The 18-year-old from Surrey, B.C., was a third-round pick by the Minnesota Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blazers will complete a stretch of four road games in five nights by playing the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday and the Giants in Langley, B.C., on Saturday.

Jamie Kompon, now an associate coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, spent two seasons (2014-16) as the Portland Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach. He is in his sixth season on the Jets’ staff.


I hope you took time away from watching the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs play one of a gazillion hockey games that will be on TV this season to watch at least some of Canada’s men’s soccer team beating Jamaica, 4-1, in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night. . . . And if you did I hope you got to see Alphonso Davies’s goal because it was one for the ages. Yes, it should be the GOAL OF THE YEAR on every year-end highlight show two months down the road.

The QMJHL will retire No. 4 across the league in honour of the great Guy qmjhlnewLafleur. The ceremony will take place on Oct. 28 in Quebec City as the Remparts play host to the Shawinigan Cataractes. . . . From a QMJHL news release: “Lafleur was elected the league’s all-time greatest player as determined by a panel of experts during the 50th anniversary season celebrations, just ahead of the great Mario Lemieux. The Outaouais native played two seasons with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971, collecting 233 goals and 146 assists in 118 games. On Feb. 5, 1971, he became the only QMJHL player to score five goals in a single period. He finished that game with 11 points. The “Démon Blond” also led the 1971 Remparts to a Memorial Cup championship, the first of 13 national championships for the QMJHL.” . . . The Guy Lafleur Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the QMJHL playoffs. . . . Lafleur was among the first players inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame in 1997. . . . If you’re wondering, the QMJHL has had this on its agenda for a while now, but the pandemic kept getting in the way.


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I want Edmonton Rough Riders . . . Good news from NBA bubble . . . But not from the KHL

Town council in Bonnyville, Alta., has upped its sponsorship of the AJHL Pontiacs from $5,000 to $15,000, a move that will allow the team to drop some ticket prices. . . . The AJHL is hoping to open its season on Sept. 18. . . . Chris Lapointe of lakelandconnect.net has more right here.


Just wondering . . . who’s next?


The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school football in Texas, has delayed football season for its schools with the largest enrolments. Instead of starting to practice on Aug. 3, they will begin on Sept. 7, with games to start on Sept. 24. This also means they’ll be playing high school football in Texas into January. . . . The smaller schools will be able to start on time. . . .

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has moved its athletic season, including football, from the fall. The CIF oversees all high school sports in California. There are more than 800,000 high school athletes in the state. . . . CIF now hopes to start its athletic season in December or January. . . . Georgia, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia have delayed fall high school sports; New Mexico, Virginia and the District of Columbia won’t play football in the fall. . . . And then there’s Florida . . .

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has voted to begin the football and girls’ volleyball seasons on time. In doing this, the FHSAA is ignoring the recommendation of its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee: “It is our stance that return to competition for the high-risk sports of football and volleyball is not medically safe.” . . . All of this left Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondering right here: “Why does the FHSAA bother to have a Sports Medicine Advisory Council?” . . .

There was good news out of the NBA bubble in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, when the league reported that it had tested 346 players in the previous week and didn’t get even one positive. . . . Before teams arrived in Orlando, 25 of 351 players and 10 of 884 staff members had tested positive. . . .

But then there is Avangard Omsk. The KHL team has withdrawn from an exhibition tournament in Sochi, Aug. 4-9, after having 20 people in its organization test positive. There isn’t a player/staff breakdown available, but all were tested during training camp. . . . As well, CSKA Moscow has had seven players test positive. . . .

Former MLBer Jeff Francoeur, now an analyst on the Atlanta Braves’ broadcast crew, has tested positive. He is asymptomatic and in self-quarantine. . . . Todd Kalas, the play-by-play voice on the Houston Astros’ TV team, also tested positive. He, too, is asymptomatic and in self-quarantine. . . .

The Toronto Wolfpack informed the Super League Europe and the Rugby Football League that it won’t be restarting it season so won’t participate if things resume on Aug. 2. . . .

Because of the disruption to the soccer season across the world, the Ballon d’Or, which goes to the world’s best player, won’t be awarded this year. It was first handed out in 1956. . . .

The men’s pro tennis season had hoped to get started with the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 13. That won’t happen, though, as the tournament has been cancelled. . . . The women’s tour is hoping to open in Palermo, Italy, on Aug. 3.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has cancelled all fall sports for 2020. Yes, that includes football. . . . For now, the conference is hoping football teams will be able to open eight-week training camps in January, leading to some kind of a spring season. . . . The conference features Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Grambling State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M, Southern and Texas Southern.

Briar McNaney is the new head coach of the junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He takes over from Wade Dubielewicz, who now is the club’s general manager. . . . Dubielewicz spent eight seasons as the head coach, the last three with McNaney as his full-time assistant.

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