Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

MacBeth

F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


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The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

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The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


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Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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Habscheid, Sutter moving on up . . . Rybinski takes Express to BCHL . . . McGeough and family needing help


MacBeth

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) has been released by the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He had one goal and one assist in 16 games.


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With the Prince Albert Raiders gotten off to such a terrific start, head coach Marc Habscheid has moved from 13th to ninth on the list of the WHL’s winningest regular-season coaches.

When this season began, Habscheid had 456 victories as a WHL head coach. With the whlRaiders at 21-1-0, Habscheid has vaulted into ninth place, passing Peter Anholt, Jack Shupe, Kelly McCrimmon and Dean Clark, none of whom is still coaching. Anholt, however, will have the opportunity to improve on his 466 victories when he goes behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ bench when head coach Brent Kisio joins Canada’s national junior team in December. Kisio will be an assistant coach under head coach Tim Hunter of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Meanwhile, Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, has closed to within 18 victories of 500. The Rebels are 15-5-1, but Sutter wasn’t with them for one of those victories; instead, he was on a father-son trip with his son, Brandon, and the Vancouver Canucks.

Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (includes games of Nov. 21):

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 482

9. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 477

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

       Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 366

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Mike Johnston (Portland) 328

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326



With the WHL schedule having taken Thursday off, perhaps to celebrate American Thanksgiving, here’s a look at what the first-round playoff matchups would be had the regular-season ended yesterday . . . Yes, it doesn’t mean much because teams haven’t played an equal number of games, but, hey, it’s food for thought. . . .

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert (21-1-0) vs. Medicine Hat (10-11-3)

Red Deer (15-5-1) vs. Moose Jaw (10-5-4)

Edmonton (14-8-3) vs. Lethbridge (10-8-4)

Saskatoon (14-8-2) vs. Brandon (10-6-6)

Out: Calgary (9-13-2), Kootenay (7-14-4), Regina (8-16-0), Swift Current (3-18-2). . . . Calgary is three points out of a playoff spot, while Kootenay is five back, Regina seven and Swift Current 15.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

Everett (17-7-1) vs. Kelowna (10-13-1)

Vancouver (15-6-2) vs. Tri-City (12-8-0)

Portland (13-8-2) vs. Spokane (12-8-3)

Victoria (12-6-0) vs. Prince George (9-10-3)

Out: Seattle (8-10-3), Kamloops (8-10-2). . . . Seattle is two points out of a wild-card playoff spot, while Kamloops is three points back.


Ask any long-time observer about the best referees in the history of the WHL and Mick McGeough will be in the conversation. McGeough, from Regina, went on to show his outsized personality during a lengthy career in the NHL, too. . . . McGeough has run into some health difficulties this week, and he and his family need help from the hockey world and beyond. . . . There is a GoFundMe page right here.


F Henry Rybinski, who has asked the Medicine Hat Tigers to trade him, has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. Rybinski, 17, is from Vancouver. Last season, he had three goals and nine assists in 63 games with the Tigers, who picked him in the second round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. This season, he had one goal and four assists in five games. . . . . . . The Tigers revealed on Nov. 1 that Rybinski had asked to be traded and no longer was with the team. Rybinski was wanting more playing time, something the Tigers said they weren’t able to provide because he was behind veteran centres James Hamblin and Ryan Chyzowski on their roster.


The Kootenay Ice has brought back D Anson McMaster, 16, for another look. McMaster, from Siksika, Alta., was a second-round pick by the Ice in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . He is pointless in three games with the Ice this season. . . . In 12 games with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers, he has two goals and seven assists.


The Vancouver Giants have dropped F Hunor Torzsok from their roster. He is expected to end up with a junior A team. Torzsok, 18, had one assist in eight games. Last season, he had one goal and one assist in 25 games with Vancouver. He also played 10 games with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers last season, scoring three goals.


TheCoachingGame

The SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs have signed general manager and head coach Trevor Blevins to an extension that runs through the 2021-22 season. He took over as the Mustangs’ head coach during the 2013-14 season. They won the SJHL title in 2015 and 2016. . . . This season, the Mustangs have the league’s second-best record, at 17-6-1.


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have fired Darryl Olsen, who had been their general manager and head coach. He had been with the Canucks since August 2017, and had been head coach since November 2017. He was named GM and head coach on April 5. . . . According to a text from Gino De Paoli (@GDP_PXP), it “looks like assistants Brad Moran and Tyson Avery will take over for the time being.” . . . The Canucks are 2-22-1, and in last played in the eight-team Viterra South Division.


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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Royals and Rebels make deal . . . Broncos now have brother act . . . Turbulent times for BCHL’s Warriors


MacBeth

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was an alternate captain. . . .

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and eight assists in 30 games.


ThisThat

The Victoria Royals have acquired F Brandon Cutler, 18, and a second-round selection in VictoriaRoyalsthe WHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Red Deer Rebels for F Dallon Melin, 16, and a fifth-rounder in 2019. . . . Cutler, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a ninth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 68 games with the Rebels. As a freshman, in 2016-17, he had a goal and two assists in 38 games. . . . Melin, from Camrose, Alta., has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . He had six goals and 14 assists in 27 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings last season. He also had one assists in three games with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Victoria selected Melin in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Sam Pouliot, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels SCBroncosfor a conditional 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Pouliot had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels last season. He also got into 16 games with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, drawing three assists. In 2016-17, he had a goal and 12 assists in 36 games with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . Pouliot joins his brother, Ryan, 20, on the Broncos’ roster. Ryan, a 20-year-old defenceman, played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice. The Broncos claimed him on waivers during the summer.



Steve Konowalchuk, who coached the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2017 championship, has joined the NHL’s New York Rangers as an amateur scout. . . . Konowalchuk 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons. After winning the 2017 Ed Chynoweth Cup, he left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks where he spent last season as an assistant coach. . . . With the Rangers, according to a news release, Konowalchuk “will be primarily responsible for scouting amateur players in the Western Hockey League.” . . . That news release is right here.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have undergone another coaching change, with Jason Beckett coming on board as the team’s third head coach since Aug. 21. . . . Rylan WestKelownaFerster, who had been the general manager and head coach for seven seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had helped the Warriors win a national championship in 2016. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, was named the interim head coach on Aug. 21. However, Grimwood was dismissed on Monday night. . . . Assistant coach Matt Miller also is gone, having left on Monday, while athletic therapist Mike Bois, who had been there through four seasons, chose leave, as well. . . . Asked if he was surprised at being fired, Grimwood told Wayne Moore of castanet.net: “No, because I know the situation right now seems unstable. But I was surprised in the sense that I didn’t think they would pull the rug out on you going into the first week of the season. I thought I would have a chance to get out of the gate and see how we did. I respect that’s the owner’s choice and he has to make decisions he thinks are right. I happen to disagree with that because I think the players needed stability, and right now, it’s just not being provided.” . . . As for the players, Taking Note received an anonymous text early Tuesday afternoon, stating that they left the ice during practice and didn’t return. That later was confirmed by Moore. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night. Trail is scheduled to visit West Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . The Warriors are owned by KD Sports Ltd., which purchased the franchise in August. Kim Dobranski is the majority owner and president.

If you check out the above tweet from Bois, the Warriors’ ex-athletic therapist, you will see that a number of West Kelowna players have retweeted it and/or liked it. . . . Hmmm!


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express have acquired the junior A playing rights to F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, who is on the roster of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos at the moment. . . . The Broncos acquired O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips for D Sahvan Khaira, 20, on July 30. . . . Last season, O’Rourke had five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Prince George Cougars, then recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with Everett. . . . The Express got O’Rourke and future considerations from the Prince George Spruce Kings for F Sam Kozlowski, 20. Kozlowski had eight goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Express last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


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