Blake Wheeler, the captain of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, tweeted in the direction of Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, on Sunday, saying it’s “time for universal mask mandate. Why not? Let’s take care of each other.” . . . Of course, the mouth-breathers were out in full force, one of them referring to Wheeler as a “moron.” . . . Wheeler responded: “I live here all the time my friend. Not left or right, not liberal or conservative. I do care about people, especially here in Winnipeg. I may be a moron, but I’m still going to wear a mask to make sure I keep people like you safe.” . . . Suddenly, I now am a big Blake Wheeler fan. . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more on the Wheeler story right here.
Connor McClennon (Kootenay/Winnipeg, 2017-2020) and Ridly Greig (Brandon, 2017-2020) released by Karlskrona (Sweden, HockeyEttan Södra) because the club could not get the players' releases from their respective WHL teams.
In the early days of September much was made of an announcement by Karlskrona KH, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra, that it had signed a pair of WHL players to one-year contracts. Erik Belin, Karlskrona’s general manager, said the signings of F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings was “the coolest news” that his team “has ever launched!” . . . Well, it turns out that neither Brandon nor Winnipeg was eager to issue releases to the players, something that was needed in order for them to play games with Karlskrona. Were the players just to practise with Karlskrona, releases wouldn’t have been needed.
Alexandre Pratt of lapresse.ca reports that the 12-team QMJHL has asked the National Assembly of Quebec for about $20 million in subsidies to help it through the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible, turned around and asked the QMJHL to work harder to get rid of fighting. According to Pratt, there now is one fight every four games in the QMJHL; Charest is of the opinion that is one too many. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s long-time commissioner, suggested to owners that they give a fighter major and misconduct penalties, meaning he would sit out 15 minutes rather than five, and that a player be suspended after five fights, rather than 10 as it now is. That didn’t get enough votes to pass so nothing changed, except that Pratt reports that Charest and Courteau both are unhappy. . . . Pratt’s complete column is right here.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
NFL fined three head coaches – – Denver’s Vic Fangio, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and SF’s Kyle Shanahan – $100,000 each for not wearing masks Sunday, and each of their teams another $250,000, sources told ESPN.
So that’s $1.05 million dollars in fines for not wearing masks.
Now it’s $100,000 fines for Sean Payton and Jon Gruden for not wearing masks last night, and $250,000 fines for their teams. In all, five HCs and teams fined over $1.7 million dollars for not wearing masks in Week 2. pic.twitter.com/Fuk98rQO4W
The NHL now is through eight weeks of its Phase 4 Return to Play and hasn’t had even one positive test. In the most recent week (Sept. 13-19), 1,127 tests were performed without any positives. . . . The NFL announced that it administered 36,664 tests to 7,845 players and team personnel last week — 14,074 to 2,438 players and 22,590 to 5,407 personnel. There weren’t any positives for players, but there were five for other personnel. . . .
The football game between the host Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that was to have been played on Saturday has been postponed. The reason? The Fighting Irish had seven of 94 tests conducted Monday come back positive. The school has paused all football-related activities as it awaits more testing. . . . According to Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports, the NCAA now has had 16 games postponed by COVID-19 concerns. . . .
Andrelton Simmons, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting shortstop, has opted out of the remainder of the MLB season. Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times reported that Simmons opted out “because of COVID-19 concerns, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.” . . . Simmons, 31, was hitting .297 in 30 games. He missed 22 games with an ankle injury. . . .
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said on Tuesday that he expects the next season to begin at some point in January. Silver told Bob Costas in an interview aired on CNN: “I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season . . . 82-game season and playoffs. The goal would be to play games in home arenas, in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.” . . .
The 2021 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks Arena, May 1-9. . . .
The 2020-21 Mac’s Tournament, one of Canada’s top minor hockey tournaments, has been cancelled. The tournament, for midget-aged players, is held in Calgary on an annual basis, running from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. . . .
Meanwhile, in the KHL, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl forfeited its Tuesday game when it failed to show up for a road game against Kunlun Red Star in Mytishchi. The game already had been moved from Monday to Tuesday so that, according to a KHL release, the clubs had “time to resolve their organizational duties.” The release also stated that “there are discrepancies between the COVID-19 test results carried out independently by Lokomotiv and carried out in the KHL’s laboratories.” . . . RIA Novosti reported that “about 30 hockey players” from Lokomotiv had tested positive. A source told RIA Novosti that “the number of positive results based on the results of testing conducted by the league is significantly less.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Bill Rotheisler has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He is hardly a stranger to the KIJHL, having stints as GM and head coach the Castlegar Rebels and Princeton Posse on his resume. . . . Rotheisler, a cancer survivor, takes over from Nick Redding, who is from Spokane and had to step down because of the U.S.-Canadian border being closed to non-essential travel. . . . In early December 2019, Rotheisler was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in his esophagus. At the time, he was an associate coach with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.
The NAHL’s Jamestown Rebels won’t operate in 2020-21. The team has said that it will return for the 2021-22 season. . . . From an NAHL news release: “Currently, the State of New York does not allow for scrimmages or games to played in the sport of ice hockey, which has been placed in the ‘high risk’ category by the Governor.” . . . The NAHL now has had four teams opt out of a 2020-21 season, the others being the Springfield Jr. Blues, Kansas City Scouts and Corpus Christi IceRays. . . . Meanwhile, the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs have announced that they will play the first two months of the 2020-21 season out of Marshall, Minn.
JUST NOTES: Former WHL D Micki DuPont is the new head coach of the U15 team at the Edge School for Athletes in Calgary. DuPont, 40, is from Calgary. He played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Kamloops Blazers and was the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to a lengthy pro career, most of it in Europe, and retired after 2018-19. . . . The junior B Saanich franchise that plays in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that its new nickname is Predators. The team had announced in July that it no longer would be going by Braves.
The smoke started with a query on Wednesday night. . . . An insider with one WHL team wanted to know if I had heard “any rumblings out of Brandon . . . that the team is on the verge of being sold.” . . . I hadn’t. But it seems that there might be something happening, especially if the WHL’s board of governors has been alerted. . . . Kelly McCrimmon purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings from Bob Cornell in 1992 and became the sole owner in 2001. McCrimmon took a step back from the Wheat Kings when he joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, then an expansion team, as assistant general manager on Aug. 2, 2016. He moved up to general manager on May 2, 2019. . . . If a sale occurs, speculation has Jared Jacobson as being involved. His family is the Jacobson in the Jacobson & Greiner Group of Companies — he is the president and CEO — that has been a part of Brandon for more than 60 years. . . .
Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any news on the sale of the Portland Winterhawks, despite Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having said in June that he hoped to have the situation resolved within weeks.
Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison said: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”
Bill Gallacher, who had owned the Winterhawks, had used the franchise as part of the collateral for a $20-million loan. When he forfeited on that, the Winterhawks ended up in receivership.
The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hopes to open its 2020-21 season on Nov. 13, a move from its original projection of Oct. 2. It also has lost three teams, with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves all opting to sit out the season for pandemic-related reasons. . . . That leaves the league with 17 teams, each of whom will play 30 games in the regular season that is to begin without fans in the buildings. A schedule is to be released on Sept. 25. . . . The league’s news release is right here.
Interestingly, each of the three teams that opted out did so for a different reason.
Spokane isn’t able to participate because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel and that situation isn’t likely to change for a while now.
The Wranglers opted out because, as Greg Aiken, the organization’s president, told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.” . . . Aiken also said that not having fans at games was a difference-maker, too. “We can’t survive on these few fans,” he said. “We rely on 500 fans coming per game.” . . . Aiken’s story is right here.
In Beaver Valley, the Nitehawks’ decision was made by 16 players who decided they weren’t going to play. . . . As Jamie Cominotto, the general manager, explained to Jim Bailey of the Trail Times: “Our players decided they were not going to play, and we don’t have time to replace 16 players.” Cominotto said he had a Zoom meeting with the players, “and we explained the league plan for play, as well as the costs for them to play. The team fees went up a little bit, and obviously we were unable to help with the billeting financially, because we just don’t have the money.” . . . Cominotto also told Bailey that “we don’t have the billet homes that we usually have.” That would seem to be a problem in more than one jurisdiction, at least judging by the number of teams on social media who are looking for billet homes. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.
The crazy thing is more people in America will now wear a mask because The Rock told them to wear one but refused to wear one when Dr. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, told them to. We have hit Idiocracy, everybody. pic.twitter.com/SIOF1MuTIK
Hockey Canada has cancelled three 2020 events — the National Women’s U-18 Championship that was to have been decided in Dawson Creek, B.C., Nov. 2-8; the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 6-12; and the World Junior A Challenge, in Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 13-20. . . . Hockey Canada is hoping to be able to place those events in those same communities in 2021. . . .
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NCAA will furlough about 60 staff members from its office in Indianapolis. They’ll be gone for between three and eight weeks starting later this month and running through January. . . . Senior management people have taken a 20 per cent cut in pay. . . .
The South African Ice Hockey Federation has pulled its U-20 men’s hockey team from the Division III championship that is scheduled to be played in Mexico City, Jan. 10-17. The tournament now will featured the host team and clubs from Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Israel and Turkey. . . .
Brandon’s three high school football teams won’t be playing this season, not even if the Winnipeg high school league is able to get off the ground. “We aren’t playing, plain and simple,” Neelin High head coach Rob Cullen told Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun. “We have already made our voice known that we will play in the spring as long as everything tapers down. I’m not going to put my athletes, my athletes’ families or anybody else at risk to play the sport of football at this time.”
Jokerit, the Helsinki-based team that plays in the KHL, was to have opened the regular season against host Dinamo Minsk on Thursday. Minsk is in Belarus, the site of a great deal of political unrest of late. . . . Jokerit didn’t show up for its flight to Minsk, and the KHL later announced that the game had been forfeited to Dinamo Minsk. . . . According to newsnowfinland.fi, “Jokerit have faced growing pressure this week over their decision to travel to Belarus, amid an ongoing brutal crackdown against democracy protesters by regime forces. The club’s official supporters association Eteläpääty Rysays they’re very happy with the decision to cancel Thursday night’s game, after calling for a boycott of home matches if the fixture went ahead as planned.” . . . That story is right here. . . .
There are all kinds of political angles to this story. For starters, Jokerit has Russian owners with ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. . . . The hosting duties for the 2021 IIHF World championship are scheduled to be shared between Belarus and Latvia. However, Latvia has said it won’t take part if Belarus is involved. . . . In other words, this story is far from over.
Two WHL players — F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings — have signed one-year contracts with Karlskrona HK, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra. . . . Erik Belin, Karlskrona HK’s general manager, said in a news release that the club “gets this opportunity as we live in a troubled time and players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever launched! These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft.” . . . Greig had 26 goals and 34 assists in 56 games with Brandon last season. . . . McClennon put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 42 games with the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a shoulder injury. . . . Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft and are expected to be selected somewhere in the first two rounds. . . . The HockeyEttan Södra season opens on Oct. 3, with Karlskrona scheduled to play its first game on Oct. 4. . . . Both players are believed to have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to return to the WHL, which hopes to open its regular season on Dec. 4.
JUST NOTES: Tali Campbell has left the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after one season as their general manager. He had been with the Clippers since Nov. 28, 2018 when he signed on as director of business operations. He took over as GM on Dec. 18, 2019. . . . The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League now is aiming to open its regular season on Sept. 21 or Sept. 28. This comes after it earlier had said it have four potential openings dates — Sept. 7 for a 48-game season, Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40) or Dec. 14 (32).
F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .
F Chase Clayton (Calgary, Saskatoon, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Blue Devils Weiden (Germany, Oberliga Süd). Last season, in 27 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West), he had eight goals and four assists.
Guy Flaming, the host of The Pipeline Show, chatted with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, on July 4. Part of that conversation — a partial transcript of which is right here — included this:
Flaming: One of the questions that came in from a listener was about the updated roster pages on the WHL website. It’s something I’ve mentioned over the last couple of years as well. Right now, if I go to the QMJHL website, I can pull up a roster for a respective team, Halifax, whatever, and see every player that that team holds the rights to. If I go to the WHL website and I look at the Calgary Hitmen, Jett Woo isn’t even listed on their roster and, in fact, the roster page is blank for the 2019 pre-season. Why is that and how can we fix that moving forward because, I think you’d agree, that it would be advantageous for the fans at least to generate interest by seeing all the players that a team holds the rights to?
Robison: Well, I think that that is a very good question and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ll certainly look into that. I think it’s important that we keep current rosters. Not quite sure why that would be the case but I will certainly look into it and would suggest to you that as long as there’s the ability to do that, that we would certainly have that information posted.
Well . . . July is about to end, meaning it has been almost four weeks since Flaming and Robison had that conversation.
I checked for pre-season rosters on the WHL website on Monday evening and here is what I found — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats and Victoria Royals have rosters available.
As for the other 18 teams . . . crickets!
So the next time you hear the commissioner of all things WHL talking about how important fans are, well . . .
I mean, sheesh, we’re talking about pre-season rosters here. Not the contract terms of all 22 head coaches, or how much players are being paid, or how much the WHL is paying in legal fees these days.
BTW, Robison’s response to Flaming’s first question — he asked for two or three highlights from the past 12 months — had me spitting out my coffee. I’m thinking the good folks of Prince Albert would have done the same. . . . One of Robison’s highlights was the Raiders having won the 2018-19 WHL championship:
“What a good news story that is,” Robison said, “and it really helped solidify that franchise moving forward, because as you’re well aware, in the smaller markets, there’s challenges and certainly in Prince Albert we need a new facility and the timing couldn’t have been better for their run in the WHL playoffs and winning the championship.”
Hey, Prince Albert, you have been forewarned. Time to start saving your pennies for a new arena.
Quit snickering, Swift Current, because you’ll be up next.
There are nine WHLers on the 22-man roster for the Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The roster was revealed Tuesday after a five-day selection camp in Calgary. . . . Here are the WHL players named to the team: F Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders; F Justin Sourdif, Vancouver Giants; F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings; F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg Ice; F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings; F Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert; and G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers. . . . WHLers who were in camp but weren’t selected: F Jakob Brook, Prince Albert; F Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon Blades; F Jack Finley, Spokane Chiefs; F Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw; D Tyrel Bauer, Seattle Thunderbirds; D Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen; and D Ronan Seeley, Everett Silvertips. . . . Canada will open against Finland on Monday in Breclav. . . . Michael Dyck, Vancouver’s head coach, is the head coach of Canada’s team, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, one of the assistant coaches.
The Calgary Hitmen have signed Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, 17, both of whom were picked in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Peterek had two goals and seven assists in nine games with HC Ocelari Trinec’s U-19 team last season, then added two goals and nine assists in 41 games on loan to HC Frydek-Mistek (Czech2). He also had five goals and eight assists in 29 games with his country’s U-18 side. . . . Krajc had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-18 team, and also had 11 goals and eight assists in 27 games with the U-20 side. In seven games with Slovakia’s U-18 team, he had two goals and an assist.
Leland Mack has joined the Prince George Cougars has their head scout in the Pacific Region. He is the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. Mack had been scouting for the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars also have added Tim Mills, David Reekie, Rob Rogers and Trevor Sprague to their scouting staff. . . . Mills moves over from the Swift Current Broncos and will be the Cougars’ Okanagan scout. . . . Reekie, a goaltender in his playing days who suited up with the Regina Pats and Everett Silvertips (2004-07), will work Regina and southern Saskatchewan for the Cougars. . . . Rogers, who had been working with the Spokane Chiefs, will focus on B.C. . . . Sprague, the general manager of the major midget Cariboo Cougars, will keep an eye on the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and northern B.C.
Taking Note has been told that F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, won’t be playing in 2019-20 because of concussion issues. A Winnipegger, he has played four seasons in the ECHL, with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators, Indy Fuel and Norfolk Admirals. Last season, he had seven goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . In 2017-18, he had 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk.
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has taken an in-depth look at the NHL and its fighting numbers. . . . “In 1,271 regular-season games in 2018-19,” he writes, “there were 224 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. That’s down from 280 fights in 2017-18.” . . . Also: ”The rate for 2018-19 was 0.18 fights per game, which marks the first time that the average fights per game has dropped below 0.20.” . . . And: “In 2018-19, 15.3% of regular-season games had a fight. In 2008-09, that number was 41.4%.” . . . Let’s compare a couple of those numbers to the WHL’s 2018-19 season, using numbers available at hockeyfights.com. In 748 regular-season WHL games, there were 272 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. (That number was 345 in 2017-18, when each team played 72 games; last season, each team played 68 games.) The rate for 2018-19 was 0.36 fights per game, down from 0.44 in 2017-18. . . . Yes, there are more fights in the WHL than in the NHL these days. . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.
Dan MacKenzie has signed on as the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate. . . . MacKenzie, who spent the past eight years as the managing director of NBA Canada, will report to the CHL executive council which comprises the three commissioners of the aforementioned leagues — David Branch (OHL), Gilles Courteau (QMJHL) and Ron Robison (WHL). As well as being the OHL commissioner, Branch had been the CHL president since 1996. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . .
F Sebastian Streu, who will turn 20 on Nov. 22, has signed a tryout agreement with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), meaning that he won’t be returning to the Regina Pats. Streu, who has German/Canadian citizenship, had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games with Regina last season. . . . Streu’s father, Craig, is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Eisbären Berlin. . . . The Pats are left with three 20s on their roster — F Robbie Holmes, F Dawson Holt and F Austin Pratt.
One added note to this about CHL fighting: There's a kid in the WHL right now who fought 56 times before his 20th birthday. In today's game. The WHL's leaders and owners are beyond irresponsible in their disregard for player well-being. https://t.co/Hw7y4a4zj2
F Jesse Gabrielle’s season might be over, sidelined by what he says is his third concussion of the season.
Gabrielle suffered the first concussion this season while with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He began the regular season with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators, but was injured after playing 25 games. He came back with the Wichita Thunder, but suffered a third concussion in January.
Gabrielle, 21, finished last season with the WHL’s Regina Pats. He also played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Prince George Cougars.
In conversation with Hartley Miller for his Cat Scan podcast, Gabrielle said that he has been advised to shut it down for this season.
“Head injuries nowadays are a big deal and they need to be taken serious care of. I’ve had three concussions this season. It’s something that definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. You have to make sure you rest and don’t come back before it’s properly healed.”
As for brain injuries in the WHL, Gabrielle, a native of Moosomin, Sask., offered: “I had one diagnosed but I know that . . . I probably had three guaranteed in the WHL. But I didn’t really say anything.”
He remembers having one in his draft season, 2014-15, and not saying anything.
“It’s my draft year and I tried skating through it, I guess . . . I didn’t really want anyone to know that I had a concussion at the time.”
He remembers being hit by D Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“Provorov lined me up,” Gabrielle said. “I don’t think it was a dirty hit; it just really jarred me. I didn’t want to say anything. You don’t want to be out a week or two with a concussion in your draft year. It’s something that players probably hide more than they should. I’m fresh out of the league but I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing now. Guys weren’t saying anything when I was in the league, that’s for sure.”
Asked what he’s dealing with now as he tries to recover from this third concussion, Gabrielle replied: “It’s annoying . . . it’s really tough. Some days are worse than others. For me, it’s a lot of pain behind the eyes . . . a lot of pressure behind the eyes. . . . sensitivity to light. Screens, TV,even a sunny day. It’s tough to go outside sometimes.
“You’re alone a lot of the time. Our team is on the road and I stayed back just because I don’t really want to be doing too much activity.”
Gabrielle pointed out that a brain injury isn’t like a lot of other hockey injuries.
“It’s not like a shoulder where you can tape it up and go play,” he said. “You don’t really know how it’s healing up. You’re just going day by day. It’s kind of a frustrating experience . . . because one day you can be feeling really good. You try biking and you want to poke your eyes out because the pressure behind your eyes is so intense.”
He also mentioned having migraines and having to go into a dark room to deal with those.
In dealing with this latest brain injury, he also noticed something else one day.
“It happened three times in a day . . . one of the scarier days since got my third concussion,” he said. “I was in mid-conversation with someone and I would just forget what I was saying.
“It’s not something to be taken lightly. If you’re a player with a history of concussions or think you might have one, be safe about it. Don’t risk your brain. You only have one.”
The Prince Albert Raiders inducted Donn Clark, a former player, general manager and head coach, into their Wall of Honour on Friday night prior to a game against the Red Deer Rebels.
Unfortunately, Clark wasn’t able to attend.
“He’s at the final stages of battling cancer, and he’s done it proudly,” Kerry Clark, one of the three brothers to have played in the WHL, told Trevor Redden of panow.com. “He’s held his head high and he’s never complained. Every battle, he’s hit it head first all the time and that’s just the way he is.” . . . Redden’s story is right here.
With Donn unable to attend, Wendel, the third of the brothers, represented him in Prince Albert.
The NHL’s Colorado Avalanche has signed F Nick Henry of the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a three-year entry-level contract. . . . Henry, from Portage la Prairie, Man., was selected by Colorado in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Henry, 19, has 24 goals and 59 assists in 62 games this season. He played the first 25 games with the Regina Pats, before being dealt to the Hurricanes. In Lethbridge, he has nine goals and 34 assists in 37 games. . . . The Everett Silvertips selected him in the third round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, but later dealt him to Regina.
Yikes. The Manitoba Junior Hockey League just dropped the hammer on Boissevain's Brayden Billaney, who plays for the Portage Terriers. The repeat offender gets an 18-game suspension for a hit on Feb. 24 against Winkler. The video is from the online broadcast. #MJHLpic.twitter.com/yY25SBPIxQ
The Spokane Chiefs have signed D Hendrik De Klerk, 16, to a WHL contract. He was a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . From Swift Current, De Klerk had six goals and 31 assists in 44 games as a freshman with the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires.
F Kaden Bohlsen of the USHL’s Fargo Force has made a commitment to attend the U of Nebraska-Omaha and play for the Mavericks starting in 2020-21. Bohlsen, from Willmar, Minn., turned 18 on Jan. 10. He started this season with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, putting up six goals and seven assists in 25 games. With the Force, he has three goals and an assist in 17 games. . . . He was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.
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G Carl Tetachuk stopped 35 shots to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 5-0 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Lethbridge (34-18-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Moose Jaw (34-18-8) has lost two straight and is destined to finish third in the East Division. . . . Tetachuk’s second career shutout came six days after the first one. . . . The Hurricanes opened a 1-0 lead at 6:59 of the first period as F Jake Elmer ran his goal-scoring streak to 11 games with a shorthanded marker. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (35) made it 2-0 just 43 seconds into the third period, and F Jackson Shepard (4) upped it to 3-0 at 15:53. . . . F Nick Henry, who signed a three-year contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day, had a goal, his 25th, and an assist. . . . F Dylan Cozens (31) also scored. . . . Elmer and Leschyshyn each had two assists. . . . The Warriors had F Kaeden Taphorn back in the lineup after a 10-game absence.
The Prince Albert Raiders closed to within one point of clinching the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy with a 2-1 shootout victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . With one more point, Prince Albert (50-8-4) will wrap up first place overall. The Raiders last won 50 games in 1991-92 when they finished 50-20 with two ties. The franchise record for victories in a season is 58, set in 1984-85. . . . The Raiders have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . Red Deer (31-24-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Calgary Hitmen. Red Deer also holds the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Noah Gregor (38) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:29 of the third period. . . . Red Deer tied it at 14:21 as F Brandon Hagel (38) scored the 100th regular-season goal of his career. . . . In the shootout, the Raiders got goals from Gregor, F Dante Hannoun and F Brett Leason, with F Cam Hausinger scoring for the Rebels. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 23 saves. . . . Red Deer got 39 saves from G Ethan Anders. . . . The Raiders were without D Max Martin for a fifth straight game. . . . Prince Albert F Parker Kelly sat out the second game of a three-game suspension.
G Nolan Maier turned aside 19 shots to help the host Saskatoon Blades to a 4-0 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (40-14-8) has won three in a row. The Blades have won 40 games for the first time since they finished 2012-13 at 44-22-6. That also is the last time they qualified for the playoffs prior to this season. . . . The Blades are going to finish second in the East Division and meet the third-place Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round. . . . Regina (18-41-3) has lost three straight. . . . Saskatoon is 5-1-0 in the season series; Regina is 1-4-1. . . . Maier has three shutouts this season and five in his career. . . . Saskatoon got first-period goals from F Eric Florchuk (21), shorthanded at 2:10, and F Max Gerlach (38), at 19:46. . . . F Ryan Hughes (27) and F Kyle Crnkovic (11) added second-period scores. . . . G Dean McNabb stopped 31 shots for Regina.
F Riley Stotts scored in OT to give the Calgary Hitmen a 3-2 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Calgary (33-22-6) has points in four straight (3-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, six points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and four ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Brandon (29-23-8) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers, who are in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card berth. . . . The Hitmen got the game’s first goal, from F James Malm (28), at 3:48 of the second period. . . . Brandon went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Connor Gutenberg (14), at 8:03, and F Caiden Daley (7), at 14:23. . . . Calgary forced OT on F Mark Kastelic’s 44th goal, on a PP, at 7:59 of the third period. . . . Stotts won it with his 19th goal, at 2:09 of extra time. . . . G Jack McNaughton recorded the victory with 19 saves, 20 fewer than Brandon’s Jiri Patera.
F Connor McClennon scored twice as the Kootenay Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-3, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (12-39-10) had lost its previous nine games (0-7-2). . . . The Broncos now have lost 13 straight (0-11-2). . . . These two teams have combined for 13 regulation-time victories in 120 regular-season games — nine by the Ice and four by the Broncos. . . . F Brandon Machado (4) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 2:44 of the first period. . . . The Broncos tied it at 2:49 of the second period on F Matthew Culling’s 10th goal. . . . The Ice responded with the next three goals — from F Jaeger White (26), at 4:44 of the second period, F Brad Ginnell (15), at 16:31, and McClennon, at 1:49 of the third. . . . Swift Current got to within a goal as F Carter Chorney (14) scored at 7:41 and F Eric Houk (3) counted at 10:43. . . . McClennon iced it with an empty-netter at 18:08. He’s got 11 goals. . . . The Ice got 24 saves from G Jesse Makaj. . . . G Isaac Poulter stopped 43 shots for the Broncos. . . . The Ice has four home games left in Cranbrook before it relocates to Winnipeg.
F Trey Fix-Wolansky, who was playing in his 200th regular-season game, scored twice to help the host Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Edmonton (36-18-8) has won five in a row. It is atop the Central Division, two points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Medicine Hat (31-25-5) has lost seven in a row. It is in the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind the Red Deer Rebels and one ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Medicine Hat is 1-3-2. . . . D Matthew Robertson (7) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 8:08 of the first period. . . . The Tigers tied it at 9:38 of the second as F Ryan Chyzowski (21) scored on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky snapped the tie at 12:05 and F Vince Loschiavo (30) made it 3-1 at 13:22. . . . F Hayden Ostir (10) pulled Medicine Hat to within a goal at 7:27 of the third period. . . . Fix-Wolansky iced it with his 33rd goal, an empty-netter, at 19:51. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 31 saves, 10 fewer than the Tigers’ Mads Søgaard. . . . With F Ryan Jevne, F Brett Kemp and F Elijah Brown all out, the Tigers had F Caleb Willms, 17, and F Noah Danielson, 16,in their lineup. Willms, from the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons, played one game with the Tigers earlier in the season. Danielson, a fourth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, made his WHL debut. He plays for the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs.
G Roddy Ross stopped 42 shots and F Noah Philp had a goal and two assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 6-4 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Seattle (25-28-7) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Kamloops (23-30-6) now is five points from a playoff spot. . . . This game was one of those four-pointers. Had Kamloops won, the Blazers would have been one point behind Seattle, which holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, with a game in hand. Instead, the Blazers fell five points off the pace. . . . Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers do have two games in hand. . . . Over the next eight days, the Blazers will play three times against the Vancouver Giants and twice against the Rockets. . . . Seattle scurried home after last night’s game because it has to face the host Everett Silvertips tonight. Everett was at home to the Tri-City Americans on Friday. . . . Seattle jumped out front 2-0 on first-period goals from F Matthew Wedman, at 8:02, and Philp (22), at 10:30. . . . F Kobe Mohr (7) got Kamloops’ first goal at 13:18. . . . Wedman upped Seattle’s lead to 3-1 withhis 35th goal, at 3:25 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it on goals from F Josh Pillar (6), on a PP, at 11:41, and F Orrin Centazzo (16), at 12:19. . . . Seattle went back in front at 14:04, on a PP, as F Andrej Kukuca (24) scored. . . . F Connor Zary (19) brought Kamloops even again at 18:25. . . . F Henri Rypinski (6) broke the tie for Seattle, on a PP, at 6:46, and F Nolan Volcan (21) added insurance at 10:03. . . . Wedman now is riding an 11-game point streak, while Philp is on a 10-game tear. . . . Kamloops had a season-high 46 shots on goal, while surrendering 31. . . . D Simon Kubicek returned to Seattle’s lineup after not having played since Feb. 8. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly served the second game of a four-game suspension. . . . The Blazers had F Ryley Appelt back for the first time since Jan. 27.
G Bailey Brkin turned aside 50 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Spokane (34-19-7) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is third in the West Division, six points ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (37-18-6) is second, five points up on the Chiefs, who have a game in hand. . . . Spokane went 3-2-1 in the season series; the Winterhawks were 3-3-0. . . . The Chiefs took control with the game’s first four goals. . . . F Jake McGrew (25) got it started, on a PP, at 6:04 of the first period. . . . F Luke Toporowski (19) scored at 10:02 of the second and F Riley Woods, who also had two assists, scored his 29th at 17:00. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (13) made it 4-0 at 1:24 of the third period. . . . D John Ludvig (5) scored for Portland at 2:25, but F Eli Zummack (15) got that one back for Spokane, on a PP, at 10:50. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld (52) got Portland’s last goal, on a PP, at 18:48. . . . The Winterhawks had an 18-9 edge in shots in the first period, and it was 21-7 in the third. The Chiefs had the edge, 19-13, in the second. . . . Spokane D Filip Kral had three assists. . . . The Winterhawks had D Brendan De Jong back after he missed six games, but they scratched F Cody Glass.
F Milos Roman scored once and added three assists as his Vancouver Giants dumped the Kelowna Rockets, 7-4, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (42-14-4) has points in four straight (3-0-1). The Giants will finish atop the B.C. Division, and they are two points behind the Everett Silvertips, who lead the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (26-30-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have two games in hand. . . . Vancouver leads the season series, 6-0-1; Kelowna is 1-6-0. . . . Roman enjoyed the second four-point game of his career. . . . The Rockets actually held a 4-3 lead early in the second period before surrendering the game’s last four goals. . . . F Nolan Foote gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 1:44 of the first period. . . . D Nicholas Draffin tied it with his first WHL goal at 2:54. . . . Kelowna went back out front at 3:12 as F Mark Liwiski (10) scored. . . . Vancouver D Dallas Hines (8) tied it at 11:16. . . . Foote (33) gave Kelowna a 3-2 lead at 16:45. . . . The Giants pulled even, again, at 1:15 of the second period as D Alex Kannok Leipert (3) scored. . . . The Rockets took their fourth lead of the game at 4:47 as F Alex Swetlikoff (4) scored. . . . It was all Giants after that. . . . F Jadon Joseph (18) tied it at 12:24, and Roman’s 24th goal, on a PP, gave Vancouver a 5-4 lead at 14:33. . . . D Davis Koch (25), who also had two assists, and F Tristen Nielsen (11) added insurance before the third period ended. . . . Joseph also added two assists to his goal. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck stopped 35 shots. . . . F Dawson Holt returned to Vancouver’s lineup after missing 14 games.
F Kody McDonald scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Victoria Royals to a 4-3 victory over his first WHL team, the Prince George Cougars. . . . Victoria (32-25-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is headed for a second-place finish in the B.C. Division. . . . Prince George (17-38-8) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Victoria went 7-1-0 in the season series; Prince George was 1-5-2. . . . McDonald got the scoring started at 3:47 of the first period, and F Phillip Schultz (16) made it 2-0 at 6:16. . . . F Josh Maser (27) got the Cougars to within a goal, on a PP, at 11:20. . . . Victoria F Tarun Fizer, celebrating his 18th birthday, made it 3-1, on a PP, at 16:03. . . . McDonald got the lead to 4-1 with his 20th goal at 4:26 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got close on third-period goals from Matej Taman (8), at 2:05, and F Reid Perepeluk (2), at 19:26. . . . McDonald played 232 regular-season games over parts of five seasons (2013-18) with the Cougars. . . . The Royals got 32 saves from G Griffen Outshouse. . . . The Cougars have added F Liam Ryan, who turned 19 on Jan. 2, to their roster after his BCHL team, the Surrey Eagles, had its season end. Ryan, from New Westminster, B.C., had five goals and four assists in 22 games with the Eagles. The Cougars selected him in the seventh round of the 2015 bantam draft. Ryan didn’t play in this one. . . . The Royals are without F Kaid Oliver, who is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. He leads them in goals (27) and points (49).
G Bryce Kindopp scored with 48.6 seconds left in the third period as the Everett Silvertips overcame a career-high 60-save effort by G Beck Warm in beating the visiting Tri-City Americans, 2-1. . . . Everett (43-14-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by 10 points over the Portland Winterhawks. Everett also leads the Western Conference, by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (33-24-3) has lost three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Spokane Chiefs. The Americans do hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . The Silvertips lead the season series, 4-3-0. . . . Everett unleashed a season-high 62 shots, which is the most shots the Americans have allowed in a game this season. . . . The Americans took a 1-0 lead when F Nolan Yaremko (24) scored at 7:25 of the first period. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (38) got Everett into a tie when he scored at 9:40 of the third period, on the team’s 57th shot. . . . Kindopp, who drew an assist on Andrusiak’s goal, won it with his 37th goal of the season. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 21 shots in winning his 38th game of the season, a franchise record. The previous record of 37 was set by Leland Irving in 2005-06. . . . This season, Wolf is 38-13-3, 1.75, .934. . . . The Silvertips had F Connor Dewar and F Dawson Butt back in the lineup.
D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has been released by Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had four goals and three assists in 27 games.
The Brandon Wheat Kings have dropped D Schael Higson, 20, from their roster and are hoping to trade him before the Jan. 10 deadline. . . . Higson, from Grande Prairie, Alta., has three goals and 14 assists in 20 games this season. . . .
The first indication that something was happening with Higson came on Monday prior to Brandon’s 3-1 loss to the Warriors in Moose Jaw. Higson was scratched and, prior to the game, Brandon Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted that he had been told Higson’s absence was a “coach’s decision . . . he did not make the trip.” . . .
In his fifth WHL season, Highson has played 90 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades and 192 with the Wheat Kings. In those 282 games, he has 18 goals and 61 assists. . . . Higson’s departure leaves Brandon with one 20-year-old on its roster — F Linden McCorrister.
The Wheat Kings, who have lost four in a row and seven of 10, are at home to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. The skid has knocked the Wheat Kings out of a playoff spot; they had held the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but now trail the Calgary Hitmen by two points. Brandon has two games in hand. . . . The Wheat Kings are fourth in the East Division, 10 points behind the third-place Moose Jaw Warriors.
D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks has been suspended for four games after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. Quigley hit F Dillon Hamaliuk on the play. Hamaliuk was injured and isn’t expected to play again this season. . . . Quigley sat out Sunday’s rematch in Portland, and will miss road games Friday (Swift Current), Saturday (Moose Jaw) and Tuesday (Brandon) before being eligible to return on Jan. 9 in Regina. . . .
Meanwhile, Seattle D Cade McNelly drew a three-game suspension after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Michal Kvasnica in Portland on Monday. . . .
As well, Seattle F Matthew Wedman has a TBD suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jake Gricius in that Monday game. Gricius left the game and didn’t return. However, he is with the Winterhawks on their Central Division and is expected to play Friday in Swift Current.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have added F Mike Horon to their roster. Horon, 17, was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday. From Lethbridge, he was playing for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes and was leading the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring, with 50 points, including 25 goals, in 21 games. . . . Seattle got Horon, F Keltie Jeri-Leon, 18, and a 2019 fourth-round bantam draft pick from Lethbridge for G Liam Hughes, 19, and an eighth-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . . The Thunderbirds are to open an East Division swing in Brandon on Friday night.
The Spokane Chiefs have added D Graham Sward, 15, to their roster. He was Spokane’s first-round selection, 17th overall, in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Sward, from Abbotsford, B.C., has five goals and 12 assists in 19 games with the major midget Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. . . . He will be available to play with the Chiefs on Friday against the visiting Kamloops Blazers and on Saturday in Cranbrook, B.C., against the Kootenay Ice.
F Connor McClennon, who was the second overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, appears to be close to returning to the Kootenay Ice’s lineup. . . . McClennon, 16, hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on Nov. 24 in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . McClennon, who has four goals and eight assists in 19 games, was a full participant in the Ice’s practice on Wednesday. . . . Kootenay will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend. It is to meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday, then return to Cranbrook, B.C., to face the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday and the Vancouver Giants on Sunday. . . . The Ice (8-24-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1) and is 1-6-3 in its last 10 outings. Kootenay is 15 points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
The Everett Silvertips have added F Justyn Gurney to their roster. Gurney, 18, has been playing with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder has six goals and seven assists in 23 games. . . . He has previous WHL experience, having totalled three goals and five assists in 86 games. . . . He played 85 games over two seasons (2016-18) with the Calgary Hitmen, who selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Earlier this season, he got into one game with the Regina Pats. . . . The Silvertips placed him on their protected list on Dec. 13. . . . The Silvertips are to visit the Tri-City Americans on Friday night.
F Jared Legien’s latest WHL stint has come to an end. Legien, 20, left the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers last week to join the Vancouver Giants. He played three games with the Giants, putting up a goal and two assists. . . . All three points came in his first game with Vancouver, a 6-0 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday. . . . On Wednedsay, the Terriers tweeted that “Legien is returning to the orange and black” and is expected to be in Yorkton’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Flin Flon Bombers. . . . Before joining the Giants, Legien had 28 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with the Terriers. . . . Legien, who was selected by the Kootenay Ice with the ninth pick of the 2013 bantam draft, has 28 goals and 34 assists in 148 regular-season WHL games split among the Ice, Victoria Royals, Regina Pats and the Vancouver.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Dawson Pasternak, 15, a Winnipegger who is playing in the Sioux Falls, S.D., Power program with the U-16 team. . . . Pasternak leads the Power in goals (13) and points (37) in 32 games. . . . Pasternak was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Prior to this season, Pasternak was a defenceman with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks.
The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Cole Nagy, 17, to a WHL contract. Nagy, who is from Saskatoon, is in his second season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 37 games. . . . This season, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Nagy is leading the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring, with 49 points, including 21 goals, in 32 games. . . . Nagy was a sixth-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2016 bantam draft.
The Prince George Cougars have added F Craig Armstrong, 15, to their roster. From Airdrie, Alta., he was the Cougars’ first selection, ninth overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Armstrong is playing for the Edge School Mountaineers’ midget prep team, and has 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 games. . . . Armstrong will help fill a spot on the roster that was created when F Ilijah Colina suffered an undisclosed injury during a 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Sunday. He is out week-to-week. . . . The Cougars are to meet the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday night, before completing an 11-game road trip against the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday and the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday.
The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have removed the ‘interim’ from head coach Kyle Haines’ title. . . . Haines moved up from assistant coach following the firing of Wes Rudy on Dec. 15. . . . The Red Wings now have decided that Haines, 31, who played three seasons (2005-08) there, will be the head coach, at least through the end of this season. . . . This is Haines’ first season as a coach. Last season, he played for the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers.
WHL players at the World Junior Championship:
Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).
Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).
Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).
Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).
Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).
Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).
Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).
Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).
Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).
Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).
Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).
I have been told tonight’s game vs the Giants will be my 3900 Tigers broadcast. I thank the Tigers and Chat radio for this awesome opportunity back in 1970.
F James Hamblin scored twice and added an assist to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Tigers (21-15-3) have won four in a row. They are fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Giants (23-11-2) have lost three straight. They are 1-3-0 on a six-game Central Division trip. Vancouver leads the B.C. Division by 11 points over the Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. . . . Hamblin gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 15:13 of the first period. . . . The Giants took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Davis Koch (11), at 1:07, and F Justin Sourdif (8), just 22 seconds later. . . . Hamblin tied it with his 23rd goal of the season, at 14:45. . . . F Elijah Brown (6) put Medicine Hat in front 3-2 at 15:18, and D Hayden Ostir (8) upped the lead to 4-2, on a PP, at 8:48 of the third. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (3) got the Giants to within a goal at 11:39. . . . The Tigers won 41 of the game’s 60 faceoffs. . . . G Jordan Hollett, who was playing in his 100th WHL game, stopped 29 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Tigers were without F Bryan Lockner, who, according to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, “hit his head on the ice in a fight Sunday.” After the game, McCracken confirmed that Lockner is in concussion protocol.
F Cam Hausinger’s shootout goal gave the Red Deer Rebels a 5-4 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer (22-12-2) is tied with Lethbridge (19-10-8) for second in the Central Division, three points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (21-12-7). . . . Lethbridge has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . The Rebels forced OT with two goals in the last two minutes of the third period. . . . F Reese Johnson (17) was credited with the first of those goals after Lethbridge D Ty Prefontaine inadvertently scored an own-goal at 18:05. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel (23) tied it, on a PP, with 6.6 seconds left in the period. . . . Both goals came with G Ethan Anderson the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Hurricanes led 2-0 in the first period on goals from F Jake Leschyshyn (25), at 3:48, and D Calen Addison (7), at 10:12. . . . F Jeff de Wit (21) cut the Rebels deficit to one at 10:58. . . . F Dylan Cozens (22) restored the two-goal lead 51 seconds into the second period. . . . Hagel got his guys back to within a goal at 17:08. . . . F Taylor Ross (21) gave the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead at 5:59 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead in the shootout, but the Rebels won it on goals from Hagel, who also had an assist, and Hausinger. . . . Leschyshyn’s goal, the 70th of his career, left him with 150 points in 226 games. . . . F Nick Henry had three assists for Lethbridge, with the first one being the 100th of his career. He has 169 points, 102 of them assists, in 163 games. . . . Anders finished with 28 saves. . . . G Liam Hughes, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday, stopped 26 shots in his Lethbridge debut.
While the WHL’s trading deadline doesn’t arrive until Jan. 10, the 22 general managers know that it really is closer than that because of the Christmas moratorium that runs from Dec. 15 through Dec. 26.
At the same time, the 2018-19 regular-season is about one-third completed, and that’s enough for each general manager to have a pretty good idea how things are shaping up — with his team and how it stacks up against the competition.
For some of them then, there isn’t any sense waiting until January. That’s why general manager Matt Bardsley of the Kamloops Blazers made two deals on Monday.
This season’s arm’s race isn’t expected to be anything close to what went on a year ago. Back then, you may recall, things started to heat up on Nov. 13 when the Regina Pats acquired D Cale Fleury from the Kootenay Ice for D Jonathan Smart, F Cole Muir and two 2018 bantam draft picks — a second and a sixth.
Twelve days later, the Calgary Hitmen shipped F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a 2018 fifth-rounder to the Swift Current Broncos for five players — F Conner Chaulk, G Ethan Hein, F Josh Prokop, D Dom Schmiemann and F Riley Stotts — and a 2018 second-rounder.
From that point on, the WHL experienced its silliest silly season yet. In fact, before this season arrived, the WHL rewrote the regulations that govern trades. Now there are restrictions on the trading of 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds players.
Because of the new rules, it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires between now and Jan. 10.
On Monday, Bardsley traded away two players — a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old — and got back two players, one 20 and the other 19, and four bantam draft picks.
“You’re not allowed to trade a signed 15- or 16-year-old and the 17-year-olds have to agree to a trade,” Bardsley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “So you have a pretty small group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds that you’re allowed to trade.
“Last (season), with all those major trades, a lot of them included signed 15- and 16-year-olds. (Now) teams are going to have to make up it with the draft picks . . . so whether we use those to select a player or use those drafts to acquire a player — it gives some options of what you can do to improve your team.”
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ‘em, 11 — draft picks.
F Cam Hausinger and F Connor McClennon, both of whom were injured on Saturday night in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, didn’t practice with the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday, indicating they won’t play tonight against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . However, F Peyton Krebs, who has missed four games, and D Valtteri Kakkonen, a Finnish freshman who has sat out five games, were on the ice Tuesday. . . . On the WHL’s weekly roster report, McClennon is listed as being out four-to-six weeks, with Hausinger out week-to-week. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Ice brought in F Skyler Bruce and F James Form. If both players make their WHL debuts tonight that will give the Ice 12 available forwards. . . . Bruce, 15, has 16 goals and 18 assists in 19 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Form, 16, is from Saskatoon where he plays for the midget AAA Blazers. He has seven goals and four assists in seven games. The Ice selected him in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . If Bruce and Form play tonight, they will become the 34th and 35th players to have suited up for the Ice this season. The Ice (7-16-4) is seven points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
The Calgary Hitmen are listing G Carl Stankowski as being out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. . . . As you no doubt are aware, Stankowski, then 16, came off the bench to backstop the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL title in the spring of 2017. He didn’t play at all last season due to injuries, including hip-related woes, and illness, then was acquired by the Hitmen during the off-season. . . . Stankowski went the distance in Calgary’s second-last game, stopping 24 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Friday night. . . . This season, Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879. . . . With Stankowski out, freshman Jack McNaughton will take over the starter’s role. In 12 appearances, he is 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . G Matt Armitage, who was with the Hitmen earlier in the season and has been playing with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, will join Calgary for three weekend games. . . . The Hitmen, who just came off a U.S. Division trip on which they went 3-1-1, are next scheduled to play on Friday when they visit the Red Deer Rebels.
Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post filed a piece on Tuesday that began like this:
“At an altitude of 38,000 feet, Brad Watson expressed his appreciation for a late, great friend who was always so down-to-earth.
“While flying from Denver to Detroit, Watson wrote a tribute to a fellow Regina-born NHL referee — Mick McGeough — and, upon landing, kindly shares the heartfelt sentiments with us.”
It’s all right here, and it’s the best tribute to McGeough that I’ve read since his death, at 62, last week.
If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.
Simon Black, an assistant professor of labour studies at Brock U in St. Catharines, Ont., writes in the Toronto Star:
“Major junior hockey is big business. Everyone from coaches to Zamboni drivers to concession stand workers gets paid and protected under labour laws. Everyone, that is, but the players.”
Some of what he writes involves the CHL claim that major junior players are amateur student athletes.
However, as Black points out, “There’s also legal precedent dispelling the amateur myth. Hearing a case about whether the Brandon Wheat Kings should pay employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan assessments, the Tax Court of Canada ruled in 2000 that the relationship between club and players is indeed one of employer-employee.”
F Nick Bowman, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the month, has joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. Bowman, 18, is from Sherwood Park. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He had 13 goals and 13 assists in 117 games with the Oil Kings when they dealt him to the Moose Jaw Warriors prior to this season. . . . After recording one assist in 10 games with Moose Jaw, he was traded to the Ice on Oct. 22, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, for F Kaeden Taphorn and his twin brother, Keenan, also a forward. . . . After scoring twice in 10 games with the Ice, Bowman chose to leave the club.
Brad Moran, who won a WHL scoring title while with the Calgary Hitmen, has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He takes over form Darryl Olsen, who was fired on Nov. 22. . . . Moran, 39, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He spent five seasons with the Hitmen. He totalled 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games. Moran won the WHL’s 1999-2000 scoring title, with 120 points. . . . The Canucks are 4-22-1, 20 points out of fifth-place in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division.
#WHL PA/RD: @PARaidersHockey Sergei Sapego turns in another 3 assist game, 2nd in ten days. 3 of 4 multipoint games have come on the road. One of 7 defencemen to be a point-per-game or better as has recorded a point in all but 6 games this season.
The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to 17 with a 4-3 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders (24-1-0) are 2-1-0 against the Rebels, having lost 4-3 in Red Deer on Oct. 6 and won 2-1 at home on Oct. 13. . . . Prince Albert set a franchise record with its seventh straight road victory. It had shared the record with the 1985-86 team. . . . The Rebels (16-7-1) have lost two in a row. . . . The visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from F Spencer Moe (4), at 2:59 of the first period, and F Parker Kelly (11), at 4:11. . . . D Ethan Sakowich (1) scored for Red Deer at 5:27, but F Cole Fonstad (7) got that one back for the Raiders at 9:07. . . . F Zak Smith (4) pulled the Rebels to with a goal at 9:43 of the second period. . . . F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 26th goal, on a PP, at 14:27, to restore Prince Albert’s two-goal lead. . . . F Jeff de Wit (16) counted on a PP, with G Byron Fancy on the bench for the extra attacker, at 19:01 of the third period for Red Deer’s third goal. . . . D Sergei Sapego had three assists for the winners. . . . Leason ran his point streak to 25 games — yes, every game this season — with an assist on Kelly’s goal. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals and points (56). . . . Leason went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Rebels were 1-7. . . . Sakowich’s goal was his fourth in 161 career regular-season games. He didn’t score in 72 games last season; in fact, his last goal came in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on March 11, 2017. . . . The Rebels were without their best defenceman, Russian Alex Alexeyev, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Raiders are back at it tonight when they meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. This will be the first meeting of the season between these teams.
The Tri-City Americans erased a 2-1 deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George Cougars, 5-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (14-9-0) has won two in a row. . . . Prince George (10-12-3) has lost two straight. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (6) scored his second goal of the game, on a PP, at 4:09 of the second period to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. . . . F Isaac Johnson (9) tied the score, on a PP, at 9:51, and F Krystof Hrabik (7) snapped the tie at 18:42. . . . Tri-City put it away with third-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (6), at 6:00, and D Mitchell Brown (3), into an empty net, at 18:02. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots for the Americans. . . . D Aaron Hyman, who was acquired Monday from the Regina Pats, was in Tri-City’s starting lineup. He had one assist and it came on a PP. . . . The Americans lost F Kyle Olson to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 19:19 of the first period.
Post game meal: roast beef, potatoes, veggies, salad, pasta.
F Davis Koch figured in three of the game’s last four goals to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants (17-6-2) have won three straight. . . . The Blades are 1-1-0 on a B.C. Division tour that continues tonight in Victoria. . . . Saskatoon scored all three of its goals in the game’s first 10 minutes, F Max Gerlach (16) giving it a 3-1 lead at 9:56. . . . Koch scored, on a PP, at 1:49 of the second period to get the Giants to within a goal. . . . F Aidan Barfoot (1), playing in his third game of the season and first since Sept. 22, tied it at 3:51. . . . F Milos Roman (13) gave Vancouver a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 3:21 of the third period. . . . Koch scored his eighth goal into an empty net at 19:46. . . . Koch has 13 points, including five goals, in a six-game point streak. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who was acquired Monday from the Kamloops Blazers, made his Saskatoon debut.
Just spoke to Sobey's/Safeway Score to Win contest Christopher Haley on #JetsTV Live pregame show. He was at a church function during the #NHLJets game in St. Louis and found out he had a chance at the 1 million dollar prize because friends were texting and phoning him.
G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .
F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .
F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.
I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.
Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!
Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .
Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.
We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.
Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.
Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.
So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.
These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.
The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.
All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.
Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.
Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.
In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .
Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .
Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.
There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.
The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.
Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!
On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:
“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.
The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose Jaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.
A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.
.@ShoWareCenter Zamboni Driver and Ice Guru Dennis Stewart is working his last T-Birds game tonight. He's off on a new challenge. We wish you the best Dennis and thanks for being awesome. We'll miss you! pic.twitter.com/klgB9710TT
The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.
Good news in regard to Hurricanes forward Owen Blocker, who fell into the boards in the first period and was taken off on a stretcher and taken to hospital. The results were negative and he's back at the arena in Medicine Hat. #yql
F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.
According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally for a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.
He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.
The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .
WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .
D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.
Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.
The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”
The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.
The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
D Martin Gernát (Edmonton, 2011-13) had his loan assignment by Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga) to Lausanne (Switzerland, NL A) extended until the end of the season. He has two goals and an assist in eight games with Lausanne. . . . The initial loan assignment was until Dec. 17 and was subsequently extended until Feb. 5. Gernát started this season with Prešov (Slovakia, 1. Liga), recording two assists in three games. He signed with Košice on Nov. 21. He was pointless in two games when he was loaned to Lausanne on Dec. 7.
DAN’S DIARY . . .
Dan Courneyea, who heads up the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice crew of officials is at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang where he’ll be working the hockey competitions.
On Tuesday, with the men’s hockey less than 24 hours from starting, he reported:
“The overall atmosphere here in South Korea has been amazing. There have been many locals volunteer for the Games, even if they don’t fully understand the sport. I think it’s that they just want to be involved.
“It’s still windy but the cold temps have dropped a bit.
“The locals say this is their winter season (Feb-Oct) but there is no snow in the lower elevations (kind of reminds us of Vancouver), yet the hills are battling cold and extremely windy conditions.
“Overall, the Games are good, the events are selling out and the people are very, very friendly.”
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
Tomorrow night in Portland our driver Derek Holloway will work his 600th road game with the Giants. He’s been our driver since Day 1 and continues to keep us safe, and laughing.
With the Vancouver Giants’ defensive corps suddenly riddled by injury, D Joel Sexsmith, 15, is expected to make his WHL debut tonight (Wednesday) against the host Portland Winterhawks. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted updates on the Giants’ situation on Tuesday morning. . . . The Giants will be without D Darian Skeoch, D Dylan Plouffe, D Matt Barberis and perhaps D Alex Kannok Leipert. . . . The Swift Current Broncos selected Sexsmith in the first round of the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. The Broncos weren’t able to sign him and dealt him to the Giants on Jan. 7, getting back a first-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . . From Edmonton, he has two goals and 12 assists in 13 games with the Edge School Elite 15s. He also had a goal and three assists with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. . . . D Parker Hendren, another AP, likely will get into his eighth game. Hendren, 16, has been playing with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. He was a seventh-round pick by the Giants in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Meanwhile, Vancouver F Milos Roman (ankle) is scheduled to skate on Friday for the first time since he last played on Jan. 9. In a perfect scenario, he then would be about two weeks from playing again.
The Las Vegas Thunder, which included former WHL executive and coach Bob Strumm, is to be inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for May 11 at the Orleans Arena. . . . The Thunder, owned by the father-and-son duo of Hank and Ken Stickney, was an International Hockey League franchise that played out of the Thomas & Mack Center for six seasons (1993-99). The franchise folded on April 18, 1999. . . . “I just want to firstly thank the directors and the committee for recognizing our efforts and the fact that we may have paved the way a little bit for professional hockey, what’s happening here today, which is pretty special for us and pretty special for that other pro team that’s going pretty good right now,” Strumm said during a Tuesday news conference. “We hope that we kicked the can down the road a little bit for those guys.” . . . Strumm worked in the WHL office, and also with the Billings Bighorns, Regina Pats and Spokane Chiefs, filling roles from owner to GM to head coach.
F Mitchell Callahan of the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors has been suspended for 20 games. According to a news release from the AHL, Callahan was suspended for “violating the terms of the AHL/PHPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.” . . . Callahan will be eligible to return on April 11. . . . Callahan signed a two-year deal with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers on July 1. He had been in the Detroit Red Wings’ organization for six seasons. . . . The 26-year-old Callahan is from Whittier, Calif. He played three seasons (2008-11) with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.
CLARIFICATION: In this space on Saturday, I wrote that Ken McIntyre, a former WHL player, had died on Feb. 7 after being “found unresponsive in a vehicle at an intersection in Minot, N.D.” . . . I have been informed that this isn’t accurate. He wasn’t in a vehicle when he was found unresponsive at a city intersection, apparently having collapsed just as he was about to walk across the street. A passer-by spotted him, initiated CPR and called 9-1-1. However, McIntyre, 48, was pronounced dead at hospital.
The Kootenay Ice has added F Connor McClennon, 15, to its roster. McClennon, from Wainwright, Alta., was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . He has 26 goals and 41 assists in 31 games with the CSSHL’s Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. . . . The Ice is scheduled to entertain the Saskatoon Blades tonight (Wednesday).
The Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets have been fined $500 apiece after two players became involved in a fight just 10 seconds into Monday’s Family Day game in the Little Apple. F Braydon Buziak of the Royals and F Kyle Pow of the Rockets drew one-game suspensions for the scrap. . . . The Rockets won the game, 5-4, but lost F Kole Lind after he took a hard hit from Victoria D Ralph Jarratt while cutting across the slot in the Royals’ zone. Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ general manager, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia on Monday evening that Lind will be “out for a week likely.” . . . The Rockets also lost G James Porter Jr., when he left the game after being involved in a goal-mouth collision. . . . Lind and Porter both are listed as day-to-day with undisclosed injuries. . . . “Can you imagine if the Rockets and Royals met in a playoff series?” Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets, wrote on this blog. “It would be a blood bath. These two organizations detest one another.”
THE ROSTER REPORT: The Brandon Wheat Kings are listing F Stelio Mattheos as being out “TBD” with an upper-body injury. . . . The Regina Pats show G Ryan Kubic (UB) as being out indefinitely, meaning they will continue to go with Max Paddock as their starter. G Jacob Wasserman, who was added to the roster from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, remains with the Pats. . . . G Carl Stankowski, who has yet to play for Seattle this season, remains out week-to-week. It’s looking more and more as though he won’t appear in a game this season. . . . The Victoria Royals list F Jeff de Wit and F D-Jay Jerome (both UB) as week-to-week, while D Chaz Reddekopp (UB) will be out another three weeks.
The Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have yet to seen a penny from Mike Gould, who pledged $7.5 million to the junior B team earlier this season. . . . However, Gould has pleaded guilty to fraud charges after he allegedly paid a tab of almost $8,000 at a Cranbrook restaurant with two cheques that were in another person’s name. . . . Gould is to be sentenced in February. CBC News reports that Gould also faces a second charge of using a forged document. . . . The CBC report is right here.
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One of the more humbling experiences I’ve had and an amazing way to close the book on my playing career. A massive thank you to everyone @BraeheadClan and the supporters for treating us so well this weekend and for the 3 years before. Was a night I will never forget #purplearmypic.twitter.com/VkHsrDuStR
At Lethbridge, D Juuso Valimaki scored a goal and drew two assists to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 6-3 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge (26-24-6) is second in the Central Division, five points behind Medicine Hat. . . . Tri-City (28-19-8) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of Seattle. Tri-City is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane. . . . The teams alternated goals until the Americans took control with the last three scores. . . . F Riley Sawchuk gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 13:54 of the first period, only to have Lethbridge F Brad Morrison (21) tied it, on a PP, at 16:17. . . . The Americans went back out front at 3:41 of the second period when F Parker AuCoin struck, on a PP. . . . F Taylor Ross (15) got the Hurricanes even at 6:13. . . . Valimaki (7) gave Tri-City a 3-2 lead, on another PP, at 15:23. . . . F Logan Barlage (5) got the home boys back on even ground at 1:18 of the third period. . . . AuCoin (14) snapped the tie just 21 seconds later. . . . F Michael Rasmussen (21), who also had an assist, added insurance at 3:43 and Sawchuk (12) got the empty-netter at 19:10. . . . The Hurricanes got two assists from F Dylan Cozens. . . . Tri-City was 2-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-2. . . . G Patrick Dea earned the victory with 27 saves. . . . The Hurricanes got 29 saves from G Reece Klassen. . . . The Americans are on a quick three-game trip into the Central Division. They will play the Calgary Hitmen tonight and the Kootenay Ice on Friday. . . . Prior to the game, the WHL presented Bob Bartlett, the Hurricanes’ director of player development, with a Distinguished Service Award. Bartlett has been around the WHL for more than 40 years, and has worked with the Lethbridge Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors, as well as the Hurricanes. He is a member of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Hockey Hall of Game and the Lethbridge Broncos/Hurricanes Hall of Fame. . . . Announced attendance: 3,603.
Well, this hasn't happened to @BladesHockey in quite a while! Forced to spend the night in Pincher Creek, Alberta. Horribly gusty west winds causing blowing snow and icy road conditions. Highway 3 closed at Pincher Creek. Hopefully make it to Cranbrook, BC tomorrow for the game.