Brandon hopes to deal veteran d-man . . . McClennon nearly ready to return . . . Rebels pull victory out of the fire


MacBeth

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.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings have dropped D Schael Higson, 20, from their roster and are BrandonWKregularhoping 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 whlafter 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, Kootenaynewappears 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 PrinceGeorgeAirdrie, 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).


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F James Hamblin scored twice and added an assist to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-Tigers Logo Official3 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 Red DeerLethbridge 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.


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Victoria bows out, three remain in running for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Signings, signings, everywhere a signing . . . Murray Westgate dies at 100

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And then there were three . . .

The Victoria Royals bowed out of the race for the 2020 Memorial Cup on Monday, leaving the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets still in the hunt.

Victoria, with Vancouver, will play host to the 2019 World Junior Championship. With the VictoriaRoyalshigh costs associated with attending events such as the Memorial Cup and the WJC, and considering that the Royals would be asking their ticket-buying public to support both events, you can bet that the organization and the bid committee grew wary of going to the well once too often.

“Everybody wants to be the very, very best. Not just win the bid but win the bid in a way that the Memorial Cup you put on is the best one that’s ever been put on,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, told Marlon Martens, the team’s radio voice. “I think we’re close. I think it’s possible we could win this bid for 2020. But the truth of it is there are a number of boxes that I think we will tick much, much better two or three years down the road.

“Everything from our club and the building of the club, although that’s a secondary issue for us. I think we’ll be competitive in 2020, but the venue . . . there’s some changes we want to make to the arena that would enhance it for the fans and for everybody and the community.

“We are just about to embark on a wonderful World Junior Championship and it’s a significant ask of our fans to buck up every year for season tickets — which they do and our base grows every year — and then go to that market and ask them to pay not an insignificant amount for World Juniors, which is a big tournament, and then ask them again the following season to buck up again for a big tournament like the Memorial Cup.

“Those things are all factors I think we could overcome, but when you combine them we have to think about the reality of the very best time to bid.”

Hope admitted that this decision has been a while coming.

“The bid committee has been working on this for a few months . . . assessing what our bid would look like for 2020 and whether or not we think it’s the right year to go,” Hope said. “The bid committee has decided they are going to focus on 2023.

“We agonized over it . . . spent a lot of time deciding whether or not it was the right thing . . . it’s clearly the right thing to do.”

Martens’ complete interview with Hope is right here.

The Rockets, of course, were the host team in 2004 and it was such a good show that it KelownaRocketswas the benchmark for Memorial Cup tournaments to that point. Obviously, the city and the organization know what it takes, and there isn’t any doubt but that they would put on a terrific show.

Kelowna’s bid committee is headed up by Tom Dyas, a former president of the city’s chamber of commerce. Paul Mitchell and Bill Winter, who headed up the bid committee prior to the 2004 event, also are heavily involved.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, has said that the team will foot the bill for the tournament, including about $100,000 to improve dressing rooms in Prospera Place.

“This is the Kelowna Rockets putting this on,” Hamilton said at a news conference in April. “We’ll get some support I’m sure from other areas, but the city is taking no risk at all except they’ll be very involved in helping to prepare the bid.”

The Blazers announced in November that they would be bidding for 2020, which will Kamloops1mark the 25th anniversary of their having won the 1995 tournament.

Norm Daley of Daley and Co., who has been involved in bid committees that have brought numerous events to Kamloops, including the 2016 IIHF World Women’s Championship, heads up the Blazers’ bid committee.

“One thing is, we’ve lost,” Daley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in April. “So we understand we didn’t get the 2013 women’s worlds (curling), we didn’t get the 2009 Olympic curling trials. So we’ve lost.

“So we understand where maybe there’s some shortcomings in what the bid process is when we did it those times . . . so we have that understanding of what it takes to win, so we actually have won a number of other ones . . . so that’s the big thing. We can take the information of what we maybe did wrong in those bids and use it for our advantage in this one.”

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes, with Bill Reddick of Mercer Wilde Group Charter LethbridgeAccountants chairing the bid committee, have received assurances from city council that it will kick in $750,000, along with $250,000 in in-kind services, should the bid be successful. The in-kind package would include such things as costs, including labour, involved with the use of the ENMAX Centre.

While Kelowna no doubt is alone as the favourite now that Victoria is out, you have to think that Lethbridge is at least a sentimental favourite, even with the tournament having been held in Red Deer in 2016. (Prior to that, it hadn’t been held in Alberta since 1974 when it was played in the Calgary Corral.) After all, it was slightly more than three years ago when the franchise was in dire financial straits. The team had missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and had lost well over $1 million in the process. On top of that, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell to private interests.

Since then, well, Peter Anholt has taken over as the general manager, things are looking up on the ice, where the Hurricanes have reached the Eastern Conference final each of the past two seasons. Anholt and the likes of Terry Huisman, the GM of business operations, have got things turned around to the point where the organization announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season.

The Blazers, Hurricanes and Rockets will present their bids to the WHL’s board of governors at a meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. It is expected that the host city will be named later that same day.


This is why you won’t find any scrimmage-related news on this site . . . I am retired and can’t afford to pay the fine.


F Kole Gable, who helped the Swift Current Broncos win a WHL title last season, will SCBroncosopen this season with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Gable, 20, is from Fort McMurray. . . . Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 68 regular-season games with the Broncos, then added one assist in 26 playoff games. . . . Gable was a ninth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2013 bantam draft. He played 61 games with the Oil Kings before being dealt to the Broncos during the 2016-17 season. . . . In 166 regular-season WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 21 assists. . . . The Broncos have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kaden Elder, F Andrew Fyten, Russian D Artyom Minulin, F Tanner Nagel and D Ryan Pouliot. Minulin, who is from Russia, would be a two-spotter should he return.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Craig Armstrong, a first-round selection, ninth PrinceGeorgeoverall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Airdrie, Alta., he led his hometown bantam AAA Xtreme in scoring in the regular season and playoffs. He put up 23 goals and 31 assists in 34 regular-season games, then added 14 goals and nine assists in 13 playoff games. He also had three goals and four assists in five games at the Western Canadian bantam AAA championship tournament.

Armstrong’s signing leaves two of the 22 first-round selections without WHL contracts. . . . F Trevor Wong, taken 18th overall by Kelowna, attended the Rockets’ camp but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . The Cougars took G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg with the second-last pick of the first round and have yet to sign him.

——

The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed Sammy May, 15, to a WHL contract. May, from SaskatoonRichmond, B.C., was an 11th-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . “Despite his position in the draft, May quickly earned himself an offer on the final day of training camp,” the Blades said in a news release. . . . Last season, with a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . May is expected to get a taste of WHL action when the Blades open their exhibition season against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Thursday.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed G Mads Sogaard, who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, and F Tigers Logo OfficialCaleb Willms, a 16-year-old from Cochrane, Alta. . . . Sogaard, from Aalborg, Denmark, was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-7, 190-pounder played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, going 2.64, .909 in 22 appearances. . . . He is expected to push veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, for playing time. . . . Willms, a list player, spent last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR  Bisons, putting up three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca to a WHL contract. SeattleKukuca, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, scored 43 goals and added 27 assists in 44 games for Trencin’s team in Slovakia’s U-20 junior league last season. He added 18 goals and 10 assists in 18 playoff games. . . . The Thunderbirds have yet to sign their other 2018 import draft selection — Czech D Simon Kubicek, who is to turn 17 on Dec. 19 — but it is believed that he is getting his paperwork in order before joining them. He was pointless in four games with the Czech U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup earlier this month.


The Victoria Royals have signed F Trentyn Crane, 15, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. From Morden, Man., he had 46 goals and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who are based in Morden and play in a Winnipeg league.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed D Lucas Brenton, 15, and D Cole Jordan, who will MooseJawWarriorsturn 16 on Sept. 21, to WHL contracts. . . . From East St. Paul, Man., Brenton was a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Sharks, he had nine goals and 15 assists in 32 games. . . . Jordan, from Brandon, was added to the Warriors’ protected list in January. He had three goals and 15 assists in 46 games with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings last season.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Owen MacNeil, 15, to a WHL contract. He was selected in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 15 goals and 32 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Royals, and also had a goal and two assists in five games with the minor midget CRAA Blue.


The Tri-City Americans have signed three players — D Bryan McAndrews, 17, from tri-cityEdmonton; F Parker Bell, who will turn 15 on Sept. 26, from Campbell River, B.C.; and F Sequoia Swan, 16, from Winnipeg. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. McAndrews played last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s midget prep Red team, putting up five goals and six assists in 25 games. . . . Last season, Bell scored three goals and added seven assists in 20 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Swan, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, had eight goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy’s elite 15s 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, you are able to do so right here.


“With football already underway and hockey starting soon,” writes Jack Todd in the pages of the Montreal Gazette, “it’s a good time to talk about toxic parents on the sideline.” . . . This right here is a good piece, and there are a handful of rules, all of them worth following, at the end of it.


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