Three more organ donation games on tap . . . Ungar, Peters have nights to remember . . . Byram lifts Giants past Blazers . . . Rybinski wins it for Thunderbirds

 

MacBeth

D Dustin Friesen (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). He has five assists in 43 games. The team captain, this is his fifth season with Ingolstadt.

F David Stieler (Swift Current, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Augsburg (Germany, DEL). Stieler, who holds dual German-Czech citizenship, had five goals and 16 assists in 42 games.

F Chad Bassen (Regina, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2000-04) has  signed a one-year contract extension with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). He has six goals and 14 assists in 41 games. Bassen holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. This is his 15th season in the DEL.

F Peter Mueller (Everett, 2005-07) has signed a three-year contract extension with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has 21 goals and 20 assists in 38 games. He leads his team in goals, and is second in points. He is fourth in the league’s scoring race, and is tied for the league lead in goals.


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There are three more WHL games in support of organ donation scheduled for this weekend — in Kamloops and Moose Jaw on Friday, and in Prince Albert on Saturday.

The actual promotion carries this title — RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. Each of the WHL’s 17 Canadian teams plays host to one of these games. The home team wears Don Cherry-inspired uniforms with the sweaters available via silent auction.

Most importantly, this is a fund-raiser for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

If you happen to be at the game in Kamloops on Friday night, look for the gang from the Kamloops chapter of the B.C. and Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Stop by and say hello!

Here are the remaining special nights:

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

Sat., Feb. 2 – Prince Albert Raiders

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

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings

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

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars

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


The WHL issued a pair of TBD suspensions on Wednesday, one to D Braydyn Chizen of whlthe Brandon Wheat Kings and the other to F Cole Dubinsky of the Regina Pats.

Chizen was given a headshot major and a game misconduct during Brandon’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Tuesday night.

Chizen wasn’t in Brandon’s lineup last night as they beat the Rebels, 4-0, in Red Deer.

Also on Tuesday, Dubinsky was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on Calgary F Hunter Campbell during the Pats’ 5-2 loss to the Hitmen.

The Pats next are scheduled to play on Friday when they entertain the Saskatoon Blades.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F James Malm scored two goals and added an assist to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 6-2 Calgaryvictory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Calgary (25-19-4) has won four in a row. The Hitmen are fourth in the Central Division, four points out of third. They also hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Swift Current (10-35-3) holds the 22-team league’s poorest record, five points behind the Kootenay Ice (10-32-8). The Broncos hold two games in hand. . . . The Hitmen had an 18-7 edge in first-period shots as they skated to a 4-1 lead. . . . F Cael Zimmerman gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 3:29. . . . The Broncos tied it at 11:22 on a goal from F Ethan O’Rourke (9), who now is on a five-game goal-scoring streak. . . . The Hitmen went up 4-1 on goals from D Layne Toder (2), at 13:38; Malm, at 13:56; and F Luke Coleman (15), on a PP, at 19:25. . . . F Ian Briscoe (2) got the Broncos to within two at 17:39 of the second period. . . . The Hitmen put it away in the third as Malm scored his 20th goal, at 5:18, and former Broncos F Kaden Elder got his 19th, on a PP, at 10:11. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton was on the bench for this one after he had started the club’s previous 23 games. He watched as Brayden Peters made his first WHL appearance a winning one with 30 saves. . . . That included stopping Briscoe on a second-period penalty shot. . . . From Taber, Alta., Peters, 16, was a fifth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Peters plays for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Hitmen are missing G Carl Stankowski (ankle).


G Connor Ungar stopped 34 shots to earn his first WHL victory and record his first BrandonWKregularshutout as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Rebels, 4-0, in Red Deer. . . . Brandon (21-19-7) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is five points out of a playoff spot. . . . Red Deer (28-16-3) is second in the Central Division, three points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Ungar was making his second WHL start for the Wheat Kings. He is on their roster because starter Jiri Patera is out with a leg injury. . . . Ungar, who turned 17 on Jan. 12, was with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers before joining the Wheat Kings. . . . Ungar’s night included 20 saves in the third period with friends and family members in the audience. . . . Brandon F Ty Thorpe got the scoring started at 11:06 of the first period. Thorpe, who is from Brandon, scored his first WHL goal in his 37th game. . . . D Braden Schneider (7) made it 2-0 at 10:35 of the second period. . . . The Wheat Kings put it away with two late third-period goals, from F Luka Burzan (28), on a PP, at 17:00, and F Caiden Daley (3), a shorthanded empty-netter, at 19:38. . . . The Rebels remain without D Alex Alexeyev.


D Bowen Byram scored 33 seconds into OT to give the Vancouver Giants a 3-2 victory Vancouverover the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (32-12-3) has points in 10 straight (9-0-1). It leads the B.C. Division by 17 points over the Victoria Royals. The Giants also are five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who lead the Western Conference. Vancouver has two games in hand. . . . Kamloops (19-25-4) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, three points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Giants are 4-0-0 in the season series; Kamloops is 0-2-2. . . . This was Game 47 for the Giants but it was their first trip to Kamloops. These teams will play four more times, with three of them in Kamloops, before season’s end. . . . Last night’s game was scoreless going to the third period. . . . Vancouver grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals from F Lukas Svejkovsky (5), on a PP, at 1:59, and F Davis Koch (20), at 8:32. . . . Koch was playing in his 300th regular-season game — 75 with Vancouver after 225 with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has 228 points, including 83 goals. . . . F Zane Franklin (24) got the Blazers to within a goal, at 13:37, and F Orrin Centazzo (12) tied it, on a PP, at 15:00. . . . In the OT, Byram shook off Kamloops F Connor Zary and was able to get the puck past G Dylan Ferguson and an inch or two over the goal line for his 19th goal of the season and his second OT score. Ten of Byram’s goals came in the month of January. . . . In a chippy game with some dislike in it, Vancouver was 1-5 on the PP and Kamloops was 1-4. . . .    The Giants got 29 stops from G Trent Miner, while Ferguson finished with 18 saves. . . . Kamloops lost D Jeff Faith to a kneeing major and a game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen at 1:52 of the first period. Faith served a five-game suspension earlier this month for an infraction against the host Victoria Royals on Jan. 9. . . . The Blazers had D Luke Zazula back after a seven-game absence, but D Quinn Schmiemann remains out. . . . F Logan Stankoven, who is burning up the B.C. Major Midget League with the Thompson Blazers, played in his third game with Kamloops. He was the fifth-overall selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. No, he doesn’t look out of place at this level.


F Henry Rybinski scored in OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 3-2 victory over the SeattleRockets in Kelowna. . . . Seattle (19-22-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (20-24-5) has points in two straight (1-0-1). The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Victoria Royals, who hold three games in hand, and three points ahead of Kamloops. . . . F Mark Liwiski (5) put Kelowna out front at 8:03 of the first period, with Seattle F Matthew Wedman (22) tying it at 19:06. . . . The Rockets went back in front at 15:02 of the second period when F Kyle Crosbie (6) scored while shorthanded. . . . The Thunderbirds tied it at 19:15 on D Tyrel Bauer’s second goal of the season at 19:15. . . . Bauer, a 16-year-old freshman from Cochrane, Alta., went 43 games without a goal and now has scored in two straight outings. . . . Rybinski won it at 2:38 of OT with his second goal of the season. He had a goal and four assists in 14 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers when he asked for a trade. Since arriving in Seattle, he has a goal and 12 assists in 12 games. . . . With F Liam Kindree and F Ted Brennan injured, F Trevor Wong, 15, was in Kelowna’s lineup. Wong, from Vancouver, was the 18th-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He plays for the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, and got into one game with the Rockets earlier in the season. . . . Kelowna G Roman Basran stopped 35 shots, nine more than Seattle’s Roddy Ross.


F Riley Woods scored once and added four assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a 7-2 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Spokane (25-17-5) had lost its previous five games (0-4-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, two points ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (30-14-5) had won its past three games. It is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Spokane and Portland each have won twice in the season series. . . . Woods, who enjoyed his first career five-point game, gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead with his 25th goal at 5:03 of the first period. . . . F Josh Paterson (18) pulled Portland even at 17:50. . . . The Chiefs blew it open with the game’s next six goals. . . . F Luc Smith scored twice, giving him 22 goals, with singles coming from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (5), F Jake McGrew (20), F Ethan McIndoe (10) and F Jack Finley (6). . . . F Lane Gilliss (11) scored Portland’s other goal. . . . Anderson-Dolan also had two assists, while Smith had one. . . . The Chiefs, who held a 47-21 edge in shots, were 3-7 on the PP; the Winterhawks were 0-3. . . . The Winterhawks had D John Ludvig back in their lineup after a three-game absence, but they are without F Cody Glass, who suffered a knee injury on Saturday and now has missed two games. He travelled with the team to Spokane, but won’t play for a while.


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Ice situation should be addressed today; news conference scheduled for Cranbrook . . . Brandon adds goalie, forward


MacBeth

F Dominic Zwerger (Spokane, Everett, 2013-17) signed a contract extension with Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland, NL A) through the 2021-22 season. The contract extension has an NHL exit clause after the 2020-21 season. This season, an alternate captain, he has 16 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.


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Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, and the owners of the Kootenay Ice are to address the media in Cranbrook this morning at 10:30.

The news conference, which will include Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, is to be held at the team’s office in Western Financial Place.

At the same time, the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice’s owners “have Kootenaynewscheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce they are moving their franchise to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season . . .”

The Free Press didn’t indicate a time or a site for that news conference, but Tuesday is expected to be the coldest day of this winter in Winnipeg, with a high of -29 C.

The news conferences are being held on Day 41 of the Kootenay Kountdown — it has been 41 days since Robison appeared with Dean Millard on Edmonton radio station TSN 1260 and said there would be an announcement regarding the Ice “very soon.”

The Ice, at 10-32-8, has the WHL’s second-poorest record and won’t be in the playoffs for a second straight season under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, who purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season. This will be the fifth straight season out of the playoffs for the Ice.

Last season, the Ice finished 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points.

The Ice began life in 1996 as the Edmonton Ice, but left the Alberta capital for Cranbrook after two seasons. In its 21 seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice won three WHL championships (2011, 2002, 2000) and one Memorial Cup, that in 2002.

The Ice will be first franchise to have won a Memorial Cup to relocate since the QMJHL’s Granby Predateurs. They won the 1996 Memorial Cup and moved to Sydney, N.S., in 1997 where they now are the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The last WHL relocation occurred following the 2010-11 season when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria where they now operate as the Royals.

This season, the Ice has the lowest announced average attendance in the 22-team WHL, at 2,218. The Ice has nine home games remaining, starting Friday against the Swift Current Broncos, the only team in the WHL with a poorer record.

Last season, the average for 36 home games was 2,442, up from 1,754 in 2016-17, the final season under the ownership of the Chynoweth family.

The Ice has been playing in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, which opened in 2001. In its first two seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice played in that city’s Memorial Arena.

In its first season in the new arena, the Ice’s announced average attendance was 3,635, which remains the single-season high.

That was one of seven seasons in which that figure was north of 3,000, somewhere it hasn’t been since 2008-09 (3,071).

The relocated Ice is expected to spend a couple of seasons playing in the 1,400-seat Wayne Fleming Arena at the U of Manitoba while it waits for its permanent home to be built. It is expected that some work will be done to freshen up that facility and that some seats will be added.

If you click right here and scroll down to the last two photos, you will see a couple of pictures from the interior of the Wayne Fleming Arena as it now stands.

The expected relocation announcement comes just days before WHL governors and general managers travel to Las Vegas, as they do every year on Super Bowl weekend, for meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s too bad that they couldn’t have moved those meetings to Cranbrook this time . . . you know, just to thank the businesses and fans of the area for 21 seasons of support.


With G Jiri Patera (leg) on the shelf, the Brandon Wheat Kings have added G Connor BrandonWKregularUngar, who turned 17 on Jan. 12, to their roster. He had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . Ungar will back up freshman Ethan Kruger, who is 5-6-2, 3.45, .893. . . . Ungar, who began the season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, made two earlier appearances with the Wheat Kings, going 0-1-0, 3.09, .892 in 78 minutes. . . . The Wheat Kings open a four-game trip into the Central Division tonight in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. . . .

The Wheat Kings also have added F Jake Chiasson, 15, to their roster. He has been playing at the Yale Hockey Academy in his hometown of Abbotsford, B.C. Chiasson was the 15th overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, with Yale’s prep team, he has 22 goals and 36 assists in 29 games.


The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack fired head coach Todd Gill on Monday. Dale DeGray, the Attack’s general manager, announced that assistant coach Alan Letang has taken over as interim head coach, with Jordan Hill now the lone assistant coach. . . . The Attack was 61-42-12 under Gill, who was in his second season as head coach. . . . This season, the Attack is 23-20-4, and in fifth place in the 10-team Western Conference.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired head coach Geoff Grimwood on Monday and WestKelownanamed Brandon West as their general manager and head coach. . . . You may recall that this is the second time this season that Warriors owner Kim Dobranski has fired Grimwood. . . . Grimwood was named interim head coach iafter Rylan Ferster, the veteran GM and head coach, suddenly resigned on Aug. 21. . . . Three weeks later, Dobranski fired Grimwood, but reinstated him after the players rebelled, leaving the ice during one practice and going for a hike, rather than practise, the next day. . . . Grimwood had been hired on July 3 as associate coach and assistant GM. . . . West, who is from Kelowna, is a veteran BCHL coach. He was in his third season as head coach of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks when he was fired on Nov. 9, 2016. He spent last season as the head coach of the Surrey Eagles, but that ended in August through one of those mutual parting of the ways. This season, he had been with the Penticton Vees, as an assistant coach, since Oct. 15. . . . The Warriors are 25-21-1 and in fourth place in the Interior Division. They have clinched a playoff spot.


The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have fired assistant coach Gavin Brandl and replaced him with Devin Windle, a former general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Windle was in his third season as the Millionaires’ GM and head coach when he was fired on Nov. 29. He spent two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant coach in Nipawin, working with Doug Johnson, the Hawks’ general manager and head coach. . . . Brandl was in his first season with Nipawin.


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Silence not golden in Cranbrook . . . Royals get d-man from Blades . . . Farewell to a great Canadian

MacBeth

D Logan Pyett (Regina, 2003-08) signed a contract for the rest of this season with KooKoo Kouvola (Finland, Liiga). This season, he had one assist in 10 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL). He was released by Hershey on Friday.


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The silence emanating from Cranbrook, B.C., the home, at least for now, of the Kootenay Ice has gone beyond deafening to embarrassing for the WHL.

If it wasn’t already, Gregory Strong, a writer with The Canadian Press, turned this into a Kootenaynewnational story on Monday by filing a story that was written after speaking with Vancouver-based Tom Mayenknecht, who is described as “a marketing communications executive and sport business commentator,” and Richard Powers, a sports marketing specialist who is an associate professor at the U of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

The story deals with whether a relocated WHL franchise would be able to make a go of it in the Manitoba capital, which also is home to NHL and AHL franchises.

Powers offers the opinion that “I just don’t see how it can be financially viable,” while Mayenknecht seems to think that hard work and a sound marking strategy just might make it work.

“They’ll have to be very aggressive with their pricing in terms of really making it a family entertainment opportunity and price it a heck of a lot lower than the Jets and even the Moose,” Mayenknecht told Strong.

When Strong approached the WHL for comment, he got the same spiel that the league first issued in October, one that includes this sentence: “The WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

Strong also pointed out that “a message left with team president and general manager Matt Cockell wasn’t immediately returned.”

Strong’s complete story is right here.

In Cranbrook, meanwhile, the folks would like someone to say something . . . anything.


The Victoria Royals have acquired D Jake Kustra, 19, and a seventh-round selection in the VictoriaRoyalsWHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-rounder in 2019.

The seventh-round pick is being returned to its original owner. The Blades had acquired it from the Royals in exchange for F Tyler Lees, 18, on July 19.

Kustra, 19, has been on the shelf since Oct. 14 and has played in only 10 games this season. But he apparently is close to a return, which would have left the Blades with nine healthy defencemen.

This season, the native of Yorkton, Sask., has one assist in 10 games. In 169 career regular-season games, all with the Blades, he has six goals and 25 assists. He was a second-round pick by Saskatoon in the 2014 bantam draft.

Kustra now becomes one of eight defencemen on Victoria’s roster.

The Royals are at home to the Portland Winterhawks tonight and Wednesday. . . . The Blades are to entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight.

——

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired G Eric Ward, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Ward is 5-4-3, 3.42, .907 with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians this season. . . . Ward, who wasn’t selected in the bantam draft, is from Edmonton and will remain with the Canadians.

——

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

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

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 2.

Players: 2.

Bantam draft picks: 3.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 12.

Players: 33.

Bantam draft picks: 21.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


The Brandon Wheat Kings have added G Connor Ungar, 16, to their roster with starter Jiri Patera in the selection camp of the Czech Republic’s national junior team. . . . Ungar, from Calgary, plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team (2.24, .916). . . . With Patera away, freshman Ethan Kruger, 17, will take over the Wheat Kings’ starter’s role. In six appearances this season, he is 3-1-2, 2.95, .910.


As you no doubt are aware, F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders had his season-opening point streak snapped at 30 games in a 1-0 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Sunday.

In the tweet above, you will find a list of CHL point streaks, starting with the 1997-98 season.

The top three point streaks in WHL history are right here . . .

56 — Jeff Nelson, Prince Albert, Oct. 24, 1990 through March 6, 1991 (108 points).

47 — Jock Callander, Regina Pats, Oct. 30, 1981 through Feb. 23, 1982 (141 points).

     — Wally Schreiber, Regina Pats, Oct. 20, 1981 through Feb. 23, 1982 (99 points).

45 — Jim Benning, Portland Winter Hawks, Dec. 4, 1980 through March 25, 1981 (95 points).

The longest current streak in the WHL is a 16-gamer by F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks. However, he is going to have to wait before attempting to extend it as he is in camp with Canada’s national junior team in Victoria.


It used to be that the champion of junior hockey in Western Canada was presented with the Abbott Cup following the conclusion of a best-of-seven series. Over time, however, we found ourselves with junior A and major junior leagues; the Abbott Cup, which was named in honour of war hero Lyman (Hick) Abbott, was relegated to the junior A ranks and soon went to the winner of a single game. (Every year, around Nov. 11, I post a feature-length story here that details the heroics of Hick Abbott and how a Regina-born gentleman Lyman Potts came to be named after him.)

One day, during my 12-year stint as the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post, I received a letter from Potts, who was concerned that the Abbott Cup wasn’t being treated with the respect its namesake warranted, and suggested that he would like to see the trophy retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Thus began a campaign that could involve Potts, former Leader-Post sports editor Tom (Scotty) Melville and me. . . . It didn’t happen overnight but, in time, the Abbott Cup was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame and, later on, Abbott would be inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.

As I would come to find out, Potts was a giant himself; in fact, as The Globe and Mail pointed out on Monday, he “was a founding father of Canada’s music industry.” He was, for example, the push behind Gordon Lightfoot’s first recording session. Potts also was a giant of the Canadian radio industry.

My friend Lyman Potts died on Sunday. He was 102.

If you would like to know more about this great Canadian, Fred Langan has the story right here.


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.


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