Portland booster club heading east in — yes! — January . . . New junior league coming to U.S. west . . . Debut to remember for Cowan

Some members of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club flew to Prince George Portlandto take in a Feb. 25-26 doubleheader between their favourite team and the Cougars.

They had such a grand time and so enjoyed the north’s fresh air that they have decided to make a 10-night East Division swing next season in January. IN JANUARY!

Stuart Kemp, the booster club’s long-time president, assures me that he has warned folks that “it’s going to be cold. I told them prepare for minus-30!”

I only hope that he also told them about the wind!

The booster club has made road trips in the past — yes, I can remember seeing members having a grand time at games in Kamloops — but, as Kemp said, an eastern swing “has never been done in its current configuration and never as one group traveling together.”

He continued: “The group will fly into Regina and use the same bus company as the Pats to tour Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It appears the dates will run from Thursday, Jan. 6 — when we fly in — with the first game on the 7th, to Sunday, Jan. 15, when the group flies out.”

There is room for 50 fans and, as of now, 23 have signed up — that means they have handed in their $800 deposits — and that includes Ardyce Moore, who will be 96 when the plane leaves Portland, and Neree Lowenstein, who will be 95. Yes, they both made the trip to Prince George.

Kemp says that if/when they reach the maximum of 50, well, they will find room for more. Of course, they will.


My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.

It would appear that the WHL is soon to have more competition for players who are from the western part of the U.S. . . . West Coast Hockey Sports and Entertainment has announced that it is putting together a junior league with as many as 12 franchises to be included. If all goes according to plan, at least six teams will begin play in the fall of 2023. . . . The proposed league already has the support of four NHL teams — the Anaheim Ducks, Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News actually had the story on Monday and his piece is right here.


I loved this Twitter post from the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday because it shows Abbott starting at right wing for the Regina Capitals in an Allan Cup challenge game against the Winnipeg Victorias. . . . That would be Lyman (Hick) Abbott, who was one of Western Canada’s best all-around athletes before he was killed in action in the First World War. The Abbott Cup, which once was presented to the junior hockey champion of Western Canada, was named after him. . . . If you are interested in reading more about Abbott, you are able to do so right here.

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Justin Lies of the Vancouver Giants has been hit with a five-game suspension for something he did at the end of a Saturday game in Portland. . . . F Matthew Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds drew a three-game suspension for the boarding major and game misconduct he was hit with on Saturday night in Everett. He has been suspended four times for eight games this season. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted Tuesday that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, said that F Luke Toporowski “is out week-to-week, lower-body injury, and expected back before the end of the regular season.” Toporowski suffered an apparent left leg injury during the Blazers’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night.



G Dawson Cowan stopped 23 shots as the Winnipeg Ice dumped the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 4-0. . . . Cowan is an undrafted 16-year-old from Warren, Man., who was making his first WHL appearance. He was 6-5-0, 3.40, .890 in 14 games with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues this season. . . . F Matthew Savoie scored his 27th goal. He’s got 74 points in 53 games. . . . F Mike Milne got No. 29. He has 62 points in 54 games after coming into this season with 52 points, including 22 goals, in 107 games. . . .

The WHL’s top two scorers combined for seven points as the host Red Deer Rebels dropped the Saskatoon Blades, 5-2. . . . F Ashdeep Bains, who leads the WHL with 91 points, had a goal and two assists, with linemate Ben King, who is second with 90, adding a goal and three helpers. . . . King leads the WHL in goals (46) and Bains leads in assists (58). . . .

In Brandon, the Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last six goals and beat the Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . F Ryder Korczak scored his 20th goal and added three assists for the Warriors, who got two goals from each of F Brayden Yager and Eric Alerie (18). . . . Yager’s first goal, his 30th, set a franchise record for single-season goals by player in his 16-year-old season. Yager, who turned 17 on Jan. 3, had shared the record with Theo Fleury (1984-85). . . . Fleury tweeted: “Way to go man. Records are made to be broken. Congrats!!!!” . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Reid Schaefer scored twice and added an assist as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-1. . . . Schaefer went into this season with three assists in 25 games. This season, he has 29 goals and 19 assists in 54 games. . . . Longtime broadcaster Craig West called the play of a WHL game for the 2,500th time in this one. Now working with the Americans, he also has called WHL games for the Spokane Chiefs. . . .

In Spokane, G Braden Holt blocked 20 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Holt has four shutouts this season and five in his career. . . . F Austin Roest scored his 11th goal and added an assist, with F Hunter Campbella nd D Aidan Sutter each getting two assists. . . . Everett is 10-0-0 in games with Spokane this season. And they will meet three more times before the regular season ends. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers erased a 4-2 third-period deficit and went on to beat the visiting Regina Pats, 5-4, in a shootout. . . . F Brendan Lee’s second goal of the game — he’s got 10 — pulled the Tigers into a 4-4 tie at 19:56 of the third period. . . . F Andrew Basha and F Logan Barlage scored in the shootout for the home side. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists to run his point streak to 18 games. He’s got 18 goals and 20 assists through those 18 games. Bedard has 76 points, including 38 goals, in 48 games this season.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182



Or, for more information, visit right here.



Will McCrimmon stay, or will he go? . . . Another hall beckons Ridley. . . . Broncos explain broadcast plans


It seems most likely that Bob Nicholson, the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO who is searching for a general manager, will chat with Kelly McCrimmon one of these days.

McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is in his third season as the Oilersassistant general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com: “The bottom line in job interviews has the prospective employer asking candidates — either directly or by nibbling around the edges — ‘Tell me why we should hire you?’ If I was in McCrimmon’s shoes and staring across the table at Nicholson, I’d be asking, ‘So, tell me why I should work for you?’ If it goes like that, and I suspect that it will, Nicholson had better have his fastball ready.” (Brownlee’s latest is right here.)

So, if this scenario plays out, will McCrimmon end up in Edmonton? Or will he move on to the expansion franchise in Seattle? Or will he stay put?

Time, of course, will tell, but history tells me that McCrimmon may just stay in Vegas and continue to work alongside general manager George McPhee.

Why do I lean that way?

Because McCrimmon, now 58, has a history of wanting to see things through. And after the way the Golden Knights’ season ended on Tuesday night, he may just want to stay there and play it out, something he has done a time or two.

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager and head coach, having taken over as the latter when Doug Sauter took ill during the 1989-90 season.

He later gave up — temporarily, as it turned out — coaching duties to focus on reshaping the organization’s way of doing business. Back then, the Wheat Kings often scrambled just to get into the playoffs, only to be bounced early. By 1992-93, McCrimmon, the GM, owned one-third of the franchise and the reshaping was in high gear. A team that had won only 11 games in 1991-92 put up 43 victories in 1993-94. That was the start of seven straight seasons with at least 39 victories and included three trips to the WHL final and one championship. McCrimmon had surrounded himself with good people and they had turned a once-faltering franchise into one of the best in all of the CHL.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The Wheat Kings, with McCrimmon now owner, GM and head coach, were coming off a season in which they went 53-11-8, only to lose out in the WHL final. Then, in May, the Toronto Maple Leafs came calling as they searched for an assistant GM.

By early June there were reports that the Leafs had made an offer to McCrimmon, who had become the Wheat Kings’ sole owner in 2000. As tempted as McCrimmon was to join the Leafs, he chose to stay in Brandon. Why? Because he had overseen the building of the Wheat Kings into a championship contender and he felt he owed it to the players he had drafted and recruited to see it through.

In 2015-16, the Wheat Kings were 48-18-6, and then went on a 16-5 run as they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the Golden Knights announced that they had hired McCrimmon as assistant GM. His fingerprints are all over the organization, including the hirings of Vaughn Karpan as director of player personnel, Bob Lowes as assistant director of player personnel and scouts like Kelly Kisio, Bruno Campese and Erin Ginnell.

You can bet that McCrimmon had a lot to do with the February acquisition and subsequent signing of forward Mark Stone, too. He had played four seasons in Brandon after being a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft.

For all of those reasons, then, McCrimmon just may choose to stay with the Golden Knights, who were in the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team just one year ago.

He has had a hand in all of it and just may want to be an active part of wherever it goes.

Or . . . maybe not!

The semifinals are set at the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is being played in CanadaOrnskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden. . . . Team Canada got past Latvia, 3-1, in Umea on Thursday, and now will travel to Ornskoldsvik to play the host Swedes on Saturday. . . . D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) gave Canada a 1-0 first-period lead, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) being credited with the 2-0 goal after a Latvian defender scored an own goal on an attempted clearance. . . . Krebs later added an empty-netter. . . . Schneider added an assist to his goal, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and F Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) each earning one assist. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) recorded the victory. . . . Sweden advanced with a 4-2 victory over Czech Republic. . . .

On the other side of the draw, Russia blanked Belarus, 6-0, and Team USA, behind three goals from F Jack Hughes and one from F Cole Caufield, dumped Finland, 6-0. Hughes now has eight goals and eight assists, while Caufield has scored 12 times. . . . Team USA and Russia will meet in a semifinal game on Saturday, also in Ornskoldsvik.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation round, Switzerland dumped Slovakia, 4-1.

The tournament is scheduled to end on Sunday.

Just call him Bob (Hall of Fame) Ridley. . . . Ridley, the only play-by-play voice the Medicine Hat Tigers have had, will be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Banff on June 6. The WAB made that announcement on Thursday. . . . Earlier, it was announced that Ridley will be going into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in Canmore on July 21. . . . He already is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. . . . Ridley has been with CHAT in Medicine Hat since 1968 and has been the voice of the Tigers since they entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season. . . . In all that time, he has missed only one game; legend has it that he was assigned to cover a women’s curling event in which the boss’s wife was playing. . . . Including regular-season and playoffs, he has called the play of 3,931 games involving the Tigers. . . . Ridley also drove the team’s bus until a couple of seasons ago. For some reason, he hasn’t yet been inducted into a bus drivers’ hall of fame. . . . There is more right here on the WAB honour, including ticket information.

If you have ever wanted to own a hockey team, well, this just might be your lucky day. . . . A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a regular reader for sending this along and, yes, it’s legit. . . . And, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. . . .



Games involving the Tri-City Americans will be heard on NewsTalk 870 KFLD for two more seasons after the WHL team and Townsquare Media announced a new two-year deal on Thursday. . . . Tri-City’s home-and-away games have been on the station since the 2000-01 season. . . . Craig West, the American’s vice-president of sponsorship sales/broadcasting, is the team’s radio voice.

The Swift Current Broncos revealed earlier this month that they are abandoning the SCBroncostraditional role of having their games on conventional radio, and moving to a model that includes streaming broadcasts. . . . On Thursday, they issued a lengthy news release explaining their new approach. . . . When the news broke earlier in the month, someone familiar with the situation told Taking Note that a “major hang up is broadcast rights/revenue sharing.” In other words, the Broncos were wanting Golden West Radio, the rights holder, to cough up some money, something that apparently wasn’t going to happen. . . . The Broncos’ news release that was issued on Thursday includes this: “The previous model of broadcasting did not provide the Broncos organization with the positive economic impact that sports broadcast rights at our level is expected to provide. By managing our own broadcasting and establishing a business model that leverages our full-time employees’ skill sets and abilities, we will be able to generate a positive financial benefit that will contribute to the long-term financial strength of our organization.” . . . That pretty much explains it all. . . . The complete news release is right here.

The Saskatoon Blades have made some moves on the business side of their organization. Saskatoon. . . Colin Priestner, who just completed his third season as the team’s general manager, now is the president and GM. He will, according to a news release, “oversee all operations . . . in both the hockey and business departments.” . . . Steve Hogle, who had been the president, now is senior advisor. He remains as the Blades’ alternate governor. (Mike Priestner, the team’s owner, is the governor.) . . . Hogle, according to the news release, also “is taking on additional duties with the Blades’ parent company, Go Auto.” . . . Tyler Wawryk, the team’s communications manager for three seasons, has been promoted to director of business operations. . . . Cliff Mapes, who had been vice-president of business, no longer is with the Blades. . . . The complete news release is right here.

George Cochrane has been named the combines manager for the Okanagan Hockey Group, where he will work with Jason Wild, the manager of combines operations. . . . Cochrane had been the head coach of the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association from 2006-17. He left that position to join BC Hockey as manager of programs at their Okanagan Regional Centre. This season, he also was the general manager for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


NOTES: The Vancouver Giants get their first chance at advancing to the WHL championship final tonight when they entertain the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference final, after F Dawson Holt scored at 7:07 of OT to give them a 4-3 victory in Spokane on Wednesday night. . . . Holt has three goals and two assists in the four games with the Chiefs. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games after totalling six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Holt and this series right here. . . . The Giants haven’t been in the WHL final since the spring of 2007 when they lost a seven-game series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants were the host team for the Memorial Cup that year and went on to win it all. . . .

The Eastern Conference final also resumes tonight as the Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, after the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. These teams will return to Edmonton for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.


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