Comings, goings and happenings . . . and now back to baseball and The Border

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been right here. I am taking some time away from writing, just taking a break. . . . I also have cracked open The Border, the third book in author Don Winslow’s terrific trilogy about, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border and a whole lot more. So I have been spending some time with Art Keller (hey, Google is your friend). . . . If you haven’t read the trilogy, start with The Dogs of War, then move on to The Cartel. After that you’ll be ready for The Border. . . . A warning though — this stuff is gritty. . . .

Some stuff has happened over the last few days, so what follows is a summary. No, I’m not back on a daily basis. Not yet. . . . You see, I’m only halfway through The Border. . . .


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he put up 42 goals and 43 assists in 61 games. He was tied for the league lead in goals and was second in points. . . .

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga), he had eight goals and 15 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Lukáš Králík (Victoria, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Nový Jičín (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 28 games with Draci Šumperk (Czech Republic, 2. Liga), he had seven goals and four assists. . . .

D Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had one assist in six games. He also had one goal and one assist in 26 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Glasgow press release states that Pufahl will enrol in the MBA program at Glasgow Caledonian University while playing for the Clan. . . .

F Wacey Rabbit (Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 70 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was tied for the lead in assists. . . .

F Michael Burns (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-12) has signed a try-out contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). He didn’t play last season. In summer 2018, with the Sydney Bears (Australia, AIHL), he had five goals and five assists in nine games. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cortina (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, in 45 games with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Austin Carroll (Victoria, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 45 games. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games; he was an alternate captain. . . . He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 26, and had five goals and four assists in 19 games. . . .

F Jim O’Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Belleville Senators (AHL), he had one goal and two assists in 11 games. . . .

F R.J. Reed (Vancouver, Prince Albert, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with Diez-Limburg (Germany, Regionalliga West). Last season, with the Nijmegen Devils (Netherlands, BeNeLiga), he had 33 goals and 17 assists in 19 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. He was third in the league in goals. . . .

D Brendan Mikkelson (Portland, Vancouver, 2003-07) has signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 47 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had six goals and eight assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers have signed Shaun Clouston as their head coach, replacing Serge Lajoie who was one-and-done. Clouston arrives in Kamloops after spending 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was dismissed as general manager and head coach on Kamloops1May 30 so that the Tigers could bring back Willie Desjardins to fill both roles. . . . The Blazers also named co-owner Darryl Sydor an associate coach. He was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Clouston for not ducking questions about what happened in Medicine Hat. The Tigers announced his departure in a three-paragraph news release in which the team said they and Clouston “have parted ways.” . . . Clouston told reporters in Kamloops on Wednesday that he was in shock — he likened it to a “punch in the stomach” — when the Tigers dumped him. . . .

The Blazers didn’t announce any terms of their contract with Clouston, but you have to think it is at least four years in length. After all, they originally offered Kyle Gustafson a four-year deal, only to have him choose to remain with the Portland Winterhawks as associate coach and assistant GM. The offer to Gustafson was made before Clouston’s time ran out in The Hat. . . .

What makes things interesting in Kamloops is Sydor’s presence as associate coach. He also is one of the team’s five co-owners and hasn’t hidden his desire to be a WHL head coach. Sydor has never been a head coach, but has ample experience as an NHL assistant coach, having worked with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. . . .

With the Blazers having hired Clouston, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs as the only WHL teams still searching for head coaches. . . . The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have a announced the hiring of Jim Playfair as an associate coach under head coach Dave Tippett. There continues to be speculation that Mark Lamb, presently the Cougars’ general manager, could be joining the Oilers as an assistant coach. He has a long history with Tippett.


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A couple of notes from Postmedia’s Jim Matheson:

“Connor McDavid’s junior coach Kris Knoblauch lost out for the Columbus farm team head job in Cleveland to Mike Eaves. . . . Hearing Los Angeles head coach Todd McLellan would have hired his other Oilers assistant Manny Viveiros, but there’s only room for two assistants for budgetary reasons. Viveiros is very much in running for an assistant’s job in Ottawa, though. No surprise Trent Yawney, who’ll look after L.A.’s defence, is joining McLellan again.”



I watched most of the Minnesota Twins’ 17-inning victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. One night later, Dick Bremer, the TV play-by-play voice of the Twins, passed along some interesting numbers. In a nine-inning game, he said, MLB teams will go through between six and 18 dozen baseballs. On Tuesday, in a game that included 487 pitches, they used up 27 dozen baseballs. . . . That’s a lot of souvenirs!


Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past nine seasons, will be the new play-by-play voice of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, according to Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner. . . . According to Davies, Mullin will replace Rob Snoek of Extra 90.5FM. Snoek told Davies that he won’t be back and that “it wasn’t my decision.” . . . Davies’ story is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 20, from the Victoria Royals Lethbridgefor a pair of unspecified conditional bantam draft picks, one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Jerome is from Lethbridge. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Lethbridge’s roster include D Koletrane Wilson, D Ty Prefontaine, F Scott Mahovlich and F Zach Cox. F Jake Leschyshyn, F Jordy Bellerive and F Nick Henry also are 1999-born players, but are likely to begin their pro careers in the fall. . . .

The Royals also lost D Jake Kustra, 20, on waivers to the Swift Current Broncos. Kustra played under Broncos head coach Dean Brockman when both were with the Saskatoon VictoriaRoyalsBlades. . . . With Kustra, the Broncos have three 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Ian Briscoe and F Ethan O’Rourke. . . .

Having trade away Jerome and placed Kustra on waivers, Victoria has six 20s on its roster — D Will Warm, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on June 13, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, who is from Victoria, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford and G Shane Farkas, an offseason acquisition from the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed F Mat Ward to a WHL contract. From Kamloops, he was the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have waived F Zach Russell, 20. He got into 36 games with them last season. Earlier, the Oil Kings had dealt D Will Warm, 20, to the Victoria Royals. . . . The Oil Kings are left with four 20s on their roster — F Riley Sawchuk, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on May 16, G Dylan Myskiw, D Conner McDonald and D Parker Gavlas. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but is likely to begin his pro career in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


Bart


An interesting note from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot: “Bob Molinaro in the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Forbes has put out another list of the highest-paid athletes. It’s the usual dull cluster of dollar signs and numbers, but with one amusing twist. Strictly by salary, Tom Brady ranks fifth on the list — among Boston athletes alone. The top paid Beantown jock is Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, followed by teammates Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Red Sox left-hander David Price slips into fourth place. Not taken into account is the cash value of six Super Bowl rings.”


The Kamloops Blazers are down to three 20-year-olds with F Travis Walton having cleared WHL waivers and signed with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Walton had nine goals and nine assists in 48 regular-season games over three seasons with the Blazers. . . . The 20s remaining on the Blazers’ roster are F Zane Franklin, F Kobe Mohr and D Jackson Caller. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers announced Thursday that they have signed Colin (Toledo) Robinson, their trainer, to a contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Robinson has been with the Blazers since then GM/head coach Dean Clark signed him in 2005. Robinson is prepping for his 25th WHL season, having also worked for the Swift Current Broncos and Vancouver Giants.


The Prince Albert Raiders named Curt Brownlee as their director of player personnel. He has been with the Raiders since 2011 when he signed on as a scout. He takes over from the late Ron Gunville, who died in December.


There is zero chance of the Tampa Bay Rays splitting their American League seasons between the Florida city and Montreal. None. Zilch. Nada. . . . This is simply a cheap way for the Rays to try and pressure their way to a new ballpark in Tampa.


If you’re wondering about the costs of operating a junior A hockey team, consider this from Michael Reeve of radio station Q101.1 from the AGM of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials:

“Beth Nadeau, the team’s treasurer, provided an update on last (season’s) financials. While the team’s expenses came in at approximately the same amount as last (season), this (season’s) revenue was down close to $23,000. All of that resulted in the team losing $95,644.68 last (season), up from a loss of $75,329.99 the season before.”

Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their AGM on Wednesday night and reported a deficit of $6,402.95. The Stampeders had a long playoff run or it would have been a lot worse. . . . For more, check out Benny Walchuk’s blog right here.


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Saturday night in the Dub . . . Evanoff sharp for Warriors . . . D-Jay spins hits for Royals . . . Wolf blanks Winterhawks


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period, and beat Saskatoonthe host Swift Current Broncos, 4-1. . . . Saskatoon (33-13-8) has points in nine straight (7-0-2). It leads the season series, 6-1-0. . . . The Blades are second in the East Division, six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Swift Current (10-38-4) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . While the Blades enjoyed Friday off, the Broncos played in Brandon and didn’t get home until 4 a.m. Because the Saturday game was part of a Hockey Day in Canada celebration in Swift Current, it started at 5 p.m. CT. . . . After a scoreless first period, F Gary Haden (26) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the second. . . . F Tyler Lees (2) tied it for the Broncos at 10:12. That was his first goal in nine games since the Broncos acquired him from the Victoria Royals with whom he had one goal in 27 games. . . . Saskatoon F Riley McKay broke the tie at 8:34 of the third period. He has nine goals in 54 games with the Blades, after totalling seven in 113 over two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Blades got insurance from F Max Gerlach (33), at 17:46, and F Cyle McNabb (6), into an empty net, at 19:41. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots for Saskatoon, 10 fewer than the Broncos’ Isaac Poulter. . . . Broncos D Matthew Stanley didn’t play after the first period, while Saskatoon F Kirby Dach, who will be a first-round selection in June’s NHL draft, left late in the second period after being struck by a puck in the throat area. A Blades official told Taking Note last night that Dach “will be fine” and that taking him out of the game was “precautionary.”


F Cole Fonstad broke a 5-5 tie at 13:32 of the third period as the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertbeat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in Lethbridge. . . . Prince Albert (45-7-2) has won four in a row. It leads the Eastern Conference by 18 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Lethbridge (27-16-10) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The victory provided Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid with the 500th regular-season victory of his WHL career. . . . For someone who played the game with offensive flair, it was only fitting that Habscheid’s milestone victory should come in a game with 11 goals. . . . F Jake Elmer (22) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 5:42 of the first period. . . . The Raiders responded with three straight goals, from F Eric Pearce (6), at 12:40; F Parker Kelly (25), on a PP, at 1:48 of the second period; and Fonstad, again, at 7:25. . . . Lethbridge roared back with three goals of its own, from D Ty Prefontaine (2), at 8:59; D Igor Merezhko (4), at 13:53; and F Jake Leschyshyn, at 16:24. . . . F Sean Montgomery (22) got the Raiders into a 4-4 tie at 18:50. . . . Leschyshyn broke the tie with his 31st goal, shorthanded, at 5:57 of the third period. . . . The Raiders tied it at 6:05 as F Ozzy Wiesblatt (22) scored, on a PP. . . . Fonstad won it with his 26th goal of the season. . . . One night earlier, Fonstad had two goals and three assists in an 8-2 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. He now has 60 points, including 26 goals, in 54 games. . . . F Nick Henry had three assists for Lethbridge. . . . With G Ian Scott given the night off, Boston Bilous started for the Raiders and made 29 stops, two fewer than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . The Raiders also had F Tyson Laventure in their lineup. Laventure, who turned 16 on Jan. 28, is from Lloydminster, Alta., and plays for the OHA Edmonton prep team. He played in three games with the Raiders right before the Christmas break. Laventure was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders completed a three-game suspension by missing this one.


G Adam Evanoff stopped 47 shots to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 2-1 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Rebels in Red Deer. . . . Moose Jaw (30-13-8) has won two straight. It is third in the East Division, six points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . Red Deer (28-19-4) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). It holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. Red Deer also is fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Warriors have been outshot 98-46 in their last two games, and have won both games. They beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3 in OT on Friday night, despite being outshot, 50-25. . . . F Brayden Tracey (24) got Moose Jaw’s first goal, at 13:03 of the second period. . . . F Tristin Langan (39) made it 2-0 at 16:44. . . . F Brett Davis (17) got Red Deer’s goal, but it didn’t come until 19:19 of the third period. . . . Red Deer was credited with winning 46 of the game’s 71 faceoffs. . . . Evanoff now is 15-8-3, 2.54, .919. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel broke the franchise’s career record for assists when he earned No. 162 on Davis’s goal. The previous record had been held by F Arron Asham (1994-98). . . . Warriors D Jett Woo missed this one as he completed a two-game suspension.


D Lassi Thomson scored twice and added an assist to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-1 KelownaRocketsvictory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Kelowna (23-26-5) has won two straight. It is third in the B.C. Division, six points behind the Victoria Royals and six ahead of Kamloops. . . . Kamloops (20-27-5) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kamloops is 4-2-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 3-3-1. . . . F Mark Liwiski gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 9:18 of the first period but he needed video review to do it. It looked like the puck went off his leg as he kicked at it, which is legal in the WHL if the player is outside the crease. The call on the ice was ‘no goal,’ but that was overturned on review, giving Liwiski his fifth goal in 10 games. . . . One night earlier, Liwiski’s appeared to make contact with Prince George G Taylor Gauthier’s head in the third period of a 3-3 game in Kelowna. Gauthier had to leave the game, with Tyler Brennan, 15, coming on to make his WHL debut. Shortly after, Liwiski broke a 3-3 tie, at 12:10, and that goal stood up as the winner. . . . Thomson made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second period, on a PP. . . . F Leif Mattson (19) upped it to 3-0, on another PP, at 9:38. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (20) got the Blazers’ goal, on a PP, with 0.9 showing on the clock. . . . Thomson put it away with an empty-netter at 19:58 of the third period. . . . An 18-year-old freshman from Finland, Thomson has 15 goals and 20 assists in 53 games. . . . Kelowna was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-4. . . . The Rockets got 25 saves from G Roman Basran, while G Dylan Ferguson turned aside 30 shots for the Blazers. . . . F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 draft, played in his seventh game of the season with Kamloops because F Ryley Appelt (finger) isn’t yet ready to return. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi sat out as he completed a two-game suspension.


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F Matthew Wedman scored at 3:18 of OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory Seattleover the Medicine Hat Tigers in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (21-26-6) had lost its previous two games. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Medicine Hat (30-18-5) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers, who opened a U.S. Division swing with a 1-0 victory over the Everett Silvertips on Friday, held a 3-1 lead in this one. . . . They got their first goal from F James Hamblin (30), on a PP, at 8:15 of the first period. . . . F Andrej Kukuca tied it at 11:58 of the second. . . . Medicine Hat went ahead 3-1 on goals from F Tyler Preziuso (19), at 18:18 of the second, and F Ryan Chyzowski (19), at 4:51 of the third. . . . Kukuca (18) pulled Seattle to within a goal at 10:18, and D Jake Lee (4) tied it at 13:15. . . . Wedman won it with his 27th goal of the season. . . . Kukuca also had two assists, meaning he was in on all four Seattle goals. . . . The 19-year-old Slovakian freshman has 43 points in 47 games. . . . F Ryan Jevne had three assists for the Tigers. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 27 shots for Seattle, with Medicine Hat getting 36 stops from Jordan Hollett. . . . Seattle was without D Simon Kubicek, who left in the first period of Friday’s game, and remains without F Nolan Volcan, the team captain.


F Jack Finley scored twice to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsKootenay Ice. . . . Spokane (29-17-6) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kootenay (11-34-8) has lost three in a row. . . . The Chiefs swept the season series, 5-0-0; Kootenay was 0-4-1. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (8) and Finley gave the Chiefs an early 2-0 lead, with goals at 3:08 and 5:47 of the first period. . . . D Martin Bodak got the Ice on the scoreboard at 7:03. . . . Spokane got the next two goals, from F Riley Woods (26), on a PP, at 9:04, and Finley (8), at 4:34 of the second period. . . . Bodak (8) scored again at 8:52. . . . D Bobby Russell (4) rounded out the scoring for the Chiefs, at 18:03. . . . Russell, who played last season with Kootenay, has scored three of his four goals against the Ice.


The Victoria Royals broke a 1-1 with five straight goals, four of them in the second VictoriaRoyalsperiod, en route to a 7-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Victoria (27-22-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets with two games in hand. . . . Tri-City (28-20-3) had won its previous three games. It is safely ensconced in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . F Igor Martynov (9) put the visitors out front at 3:21 of the first period. . . . F Connor Bouchard (5) tied it, on a PP at 9:23. . . . D Scott Walford (9) gave Victoria the lead back, at 11:41 of the first. . . . The Royals then took control on second period goals from F Phillip Schultz (12), at 5:06; F D-Jay Jerome, at 5:06 and again at 6:19; and F Kaid Oliver (23), at 17:06. The last two goals were via the PP. . . . Jerome now has 21 goals. Last season, he finished with one assist in 44 games — 31 with the Prince Albert Raiders and 13 with Victoria. This season, he has 37 points in 52 games. . . . In the third period, the Americans got goals from F Will Kushniryk (2), F Riley Sawchuk (6), while shorthanded, and F Samuel Huo (5). . . . F Kody McDonald (13) had Victoria’s other goal, on a PP. . . . Victoria was 3-6 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-2. . . . The Royals got three assists from D Jameson Murray, with Schultz adding two to his goal, and Jerome picking up one for a three-point night. . . . The Americans lost D Dom Schmiemann at 7:30 of the third period when he was given a major and game misconduct for becoming involved in a one-man fight. Chances are he will get a two-game suspension from the WHL.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 29 shots to record his sixth shutout of the season as the host EverettEverett Silvertips beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-0. . . . Everett (38-13-2) leads the U.S Division by seven points over Portland. . . . With the victory, Everett clinched a playoff spot for the 16th straight season, meaning it has been in the playoffs in every season that it has been in the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks (33-16-5) are seven points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett leads the season series, 6-3-0; Portland is 3-5-1. . . . After a scoreless first period, the Silvertips struck four times in the second, including twice on the PP and once while shorthanded. . . . D Jake Christensen got it started, on a PP, at 5:31. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (30) scored while shorthanded at 14:27, and F Max Patterson (13) made it 3-0 on a PP at 18:49. . . . Christensen scored Everett’s last two goals, at 19:26 of the second and 8:08 of the third, the latter coming via a PP. He’s got 12 goals. . . . Not only did Christensen score his first career hat trick, it was the first three-goal game by a defenceman in franchise history. . . . F Zack Andrusiak helped out with three assists. . . . Wolf now has 10 career shutouts. This season, he leads the WHL in victories (34), GAA (1.77), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (6). . . . Portland was shut out for the first time this season. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 48 shots for Portland, which remains without F Cody Glass (knee). . . . The Winterhawks lost D Brendan De Jong to an apparent left knee injury in the first period. He wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice following a hit into the end boards in Portland’s zone.

Scattershooting on a quiet New Year’s Eve . . . Tracey fills hat for Warriors . . . Americans get three SHG in victory

Scattershooting

It is because of items like this that I never miss reading Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) . . .

“The Chicago Bears are going to sell beer in cans not plastic cups. The reason is that beer cans are more environmentally friendly — they are recyclable — and plastic cups are now seen as spawn of the Devil. It was not all that long ago when all the momentum was to sell beer in plastic cups because when an angered and inebriated fan threw the beer container at an opposing player or official, the cup was a lot safer than a full can of liquid.

“According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Soldier Field peddles about 20,000 cases of beer a year at the Bears’ home games — including exhibition games — and whatever other ancillary events take place there.  That amounts to 480,000 cans of beer.

“That is a lot of ‘ammunition’ to put in the hands of potentially angry spectators — and that is almost a half-million plastic cups that need not be used.”

——

Take time on this first day of 2019 to visit The Sport Curmudgeon’s site and read his take on the bad ads of 2018. I guarantee that you will find yourself nodding your head in agreement. . . . It’s all right here and it’s good stuff!



Whenever I’m flipping channels and come across The Bourne Identity, well, there goes another couple of hours. Yes, I happen to own the first three Bourne movies. No, I don’t think I have ever put one of them in the DVD player.


A note from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, who happens to be correct with this one: “Free, unsolicited advice for the WHL: Stop scheduling games for Dec. 27, thereby allowing players to spend Boxing Day with their families instead of having to travel. Scheduling-wise, this should be a snap now that the regular season has been shortened from 72 to 68 games per team.”

My take: Players shouldn’t be coming back from the Christmas break to a schedule that calls for them to play four games in five nights. Maybe it’s time to cut the schedule to 60 games.



You likely heard by now that Jim Lites, the Dallas Stars’ CEO, unloaded a premeditated and obscenity-laced rant aimed at forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn the other day. The chances are good, I would suggest, that Lites was only the messenger for owner Tom Gaglardi. . . . You may remember a time a few years ago when Craig Bonner, then the general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, was the messenger — via a letter that bore his name — when Gaglardi tried to get a particular newspaper to dump the writer who was covering the Blazers. . . . Yes, this latest performance was deja vu all over again, except that the writer wasn’t being paid millions by Gaglardi.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle had this one among his new year’s resolutions: “To buy myself a pair of $300 sneakers. Because what if it is the shoes? It would be cool to dunk again.”

——

Ostler also had this one: “To invent a ballpark food. Perhaps something inspired by the turducken concept. Like, a churro inserted into a hot dog, inner-tube style, and the hot dog wrapped in a pizza. Churdogza. With a jalapeño hot-fudge ranch dip.”


Fishing


Meanwhile, columnist Dave Barry of the Miami Herald was wrapping up 2018 as only he is capable of doing. It’s all right here.


Are you old enough to remember when an NHL outdoor game was a big deal? Did you even realize that two teams — without going on the Internet, I couldn’t tell you which two — are playing somewhere outdoors today? . . . And now we hear that the NHL is expected to announce that Mosaic Stadium in Regina will be the site of a couple of games next season, one featuring the Winnipeg Jets against the Calgary Flames, with the Pats to play someone, likely the Moose Jaw Warriors, perhaps the day after the NHL game. . . . Sorry, but I just can’t get excited about this stuff. . . . Hey, wasn’t Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post writing about this a year or more ago?


Security


If ever there was a case for the WHL to get rid of the loser points, it is being made right whlnow in the Central Division. . . . Let’s check the standings. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings are 20-12-7, which means they have 20 victories and 19 losses. They also are in first place, two points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and three up on the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge is 19-10-7, meaning it has 19 victories and 17 losses. . . . Red Deer, meanwhile, is 21-12-2, so has 21 victories and 14 losses. . . . In other words, the team with the most victories and the fewest losses is in third place. . . . Of course, Red Deer holds a game in hand on Lethbridge and four on Edmonton. . . . Still, the loser point’s time is up. Please!



Happy New Year and thanks to all you for stopping off and hanging out in these parts in 2019. If you are so inclined, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and follow the instructions. Thank you, in advance.


MacBeth

F Miles Koules (Medicine Hat, Portland, 2012-15) has been released after an unsuccessful tryout with HIFK Helsinki (Finland, Liiga). He had two goals in 13 games. Earlier, he was pointless in two games with the Cleveland Monsters (AHL). . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has been released by the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). He had four goals and six assists in 14 games. . . . Earlier this season, he had one goal in four games with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga), and three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL).


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars, battered and bruised from a brutal schedule, have added D PrinceGeorgeCole Beamin, 17, to their roster. . . . In 28 games with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Saskatoon native has two goals and an assist. . . . Beamin was pointless in two games with the Cougars last season. He played two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts before joining the Hawks. . . . Beamin was a second-round selection by the Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Cougars, who are 1-7-0 on an 11-game road trip, will play the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday.


The Calgary Hitmen continue to play musical goaltenders as they fill the back up spot Calgarybehind Jack McNaughton, who is seeing the bulk of the action with Carl Stankowski on the shelf with an ankle injury. . . . On Sunday, the Hitmen had Brayden Peters of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes on the bench during a 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. With Peters returning to the Hurricanes, who are playing in the Mac’s tournament in Calgary, the Hitmen now have added Ethan Hein of the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires to their roster. Hein, 16, is from Saskatoon, and was a third-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . The Hitmen acquired him in a Nov. 25, 2017, deal in which seven players and two bantam draft picks changed hands. . . . Calgary is at home to the Victoria Royals this afternoon.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

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

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 15.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 24.

Conditional draft picks: 9.

(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.)


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).

——

MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brayden Tracey scored three times to lead the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 3-1 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Moose Jaw (20-8-6) has points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . Brandon (15-14-6) has lost four in a row. . . . The Warriors had beaten the Wheat Kings, 6-2, in Brandon on Sunday. . . . This was the fourth game in five nights for both clubs. Moose Jaw went 3-0-1; Brandon finished 0-4-0. . . . Last night, D Chase Hartje (3) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 10:31 of the first period. . . . Tracey, who has 14 goals, tied it at 11:54. . . . He gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead at 5:07 of the second, then added insurance, on a PP, at 5:45 of the third. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old from Calgary, was a first-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. He had two assists in five games with Moose Jaw last season. This season, he has 38 points in 34 games. . . . This was his first career hat trick and his second multi-goal game. . . . G Connor Ungar, 16, made his first WHL start for the Wheat Kings after coming on in relief and stopping nine of 10 shots in the third period of a 6-2 loss to the visiting Warriors on Sunday. Ungar finished this one with 24 saves. He plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. . . . Brandon F Linden McCorrister returned after a two-game absence, but D Schael Higson was scratched. That left Brandon with two 20-year-olds. . . . Brandon Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted before the game that he was told Higson’s absence was a “coach’s decision . . . he did not make the trip.” . . . F Stelio Mattheos, who leads Brandon in goals, assists and points, sat out the third of a three-game WHL-issued suspension.


The Victoria Royals coughed up a 3-1 lead and then needed OT to beat the Kootenay Ice, VictoriaRoyals4-3, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Victoria (18-14-1) is 2-1-0 on a six-game Central Division tour. . . . Kootenay (8-24-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . F Dino Kambeitz (6) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 8:46 of the first period. . . . F Davis Murray (6) tied it at 17:01. . . . Victoria F Dante Hannoun (18) put the Royals ahead at 4:15 of the second period and F Kaid Oliver (16) made it 3-1, on a PP, at 6:17. . . . Kootenay tied it on goals from F Brad Ginnell (9), at 15:28 of the second, and D Dallas Hines (4), at 3:37 of the third. . . . The Royals won it when D-Jay Jerome scored his 15th goal of the season, on a breakaway at 3:37 of OT. . . . The Ice opened the game with the first four shots on goal, but then surrendered 15 in a row. . . . Victoria finished with a 52-29 edge in shots, including 5-1 in OT, as they set a Royals franchise record for shots in one game. The previous record (50) was set on Jan. 14, 2012, in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. (The franchise record of 68 was set by the Chilliwack Bruins in a 4-3 loss to the Winterhawks in Portland. G Kurtis Mucha stopped 65 shots for Portland.) . . . G Jesse Makaj, who was named the Ice’s player of the month for December, finished with 48 saves, 22 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . Kootenay was credited with wining 49 of 80 faceoffs. . . . The Ice had both Ginnell and F Peyton Krebs in the lineup. Ginnell wasn’t suspended after taking a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jordy Bellerive doing an 8-4 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday. Bellerive wasn’t injured on the play; in fact, he picked up an assist on a goal just 45 seconds later. . . . Krebs left Saturday’s game late in the third period.


F Ryan Hughes had a goal and three assists to help the host Portland Winterhawks to a 6-Portland3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (21-11-5) has points in six straight (3-0-3). . . . Seattle (11-19-4) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . Seattle actually took a 3-1 lead into the second period on two goals by F Zack Andrusiak and one from F Tyler Carpendale (4). . . . Andrusiak, who has 27 goals, has 12 goals and two assists in six games against Portland this season. He has scored six times over the past two games. . . . Hughes, who had the third four-point game of his career, scored his 17th goal, on a PP, for Portland’s first tally. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL in goals (34) and points (72), pulled Portland even by scoring twice, at 0:39 and 5:59 of the second period, the second goal coming on a PP. . . . F Michal Kvasnica (5) snapped the tie at 8:56, and D Jared Freadrich (5) added insurance, on a PP, at 16:09. . . . F Seth Jarvis (8) got Portland’s final goal, at 8:03 of the third period. . . . Freadrich also had two assists, and Blichfeld added one. . . . Portland was 3-6 on the PP; Seattle was 1-7. . . . Seattle lost D Cade McNelly to a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Kvasnica at 13:28 of the second period. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman was given a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jake Gricius at 8:55 of the third period. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley and D John Ludvig, both of whom are serving suspensions, and D Brendan De Jong (concussion). . . . Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk was scratched. Quigley drew a TBD suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on Hamaliuk in Portland’s 8-6 victory over Seattle in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. . . . Seattle opens an East Division trip in Brandon on Saturday, while Portland begins its swing in Swift Current that same night. It remains to be seen who will be missing from both teams due to suspensions and injuries.


The Tri-City Americans scored three times while shorthanded en route to a 6-1 victory tri-cityover the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (19-13-2) had dropped a 2-1 decision in Spokane on Sunday night. . . . The Chiefs (20-13-4) are third in the U.S. Division, four points ahead of the Americans who hold three games in hand. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund got the Americans started with his first goal of the season — in his 22nd game — at 6:58 of the first period. . . . D Jarod Newell made it 2-0 with his first WHL goal — in his 21st game — just 44 seconds later. . . . F Kyle Olson (9) upped the lead to 3-0 at 17:45. . . . The Americans put it away with three shorthanded goals — F Parker AuCoin had two of them, with F Blake Stevenson (7) adding the other. . . . AuCoin now has 20 goals, one shy of his career high from 2016-17. . . . F Jake McGrew (13) scored for Spokane at 19:30 of the third period. . . . Olson had two assists and AuCoin one as both had three-point games. . . . G Arnold Campbell, who plays for the junior B Spokane Braves, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs by playing the third period. He stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 22 shots to record the victory. . . . D Nolan Reid of the Chiefs played in his 301st regular-season game. He got to No. 300 — 138 with the Chiefs after playing 162 with the Saskatoon Blades — on Sunday.


Tweetoftheday

Mattheos hat trick finishes Blades . . . Almeida, Langan too much for Pats . . . Fyten shines in his Edmonton debut


On the fourth day of our annual Christmas countdown, here are the Three Tenors, with Silent Night, and it’s all right here.


MacBeth

D Tomáš Kudělka (Lethbridge, 2005-07) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste bank Liga). He was released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga) on Friday for financial reasons. In 24 games, he had two goals and four assists. . . .

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) has been released by Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had four goals and four assists in 27 games.


ThisThat

Germany won the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) by going 4-1 (four regulation victories, one in OT) in the five-team tournament that was played on home-ice in Fussen. . . . By finishing first, Germany moves up to play with the big boys next season when the 2020 WJC is scheduled for the Czech Republic. . . . The German roster included F Yannik Valenti of the Vancouver Giants and F Sebastian Streu of the Regina Pats. Valenti had two goals and an assist in five game, while Streu had one assist. . . . Germany beat France, 6-1, in the final round on Saturday. . . . Belarus, which finished second at 3-2, dropped a 3-1 decision to Latvia on Saturday. The Belarusian roster included D Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen, F Vladimir Alistrov (Edmonton Oil Kings), F Igor Martynov (Victoria Royals), F Alexei Protas (Prince Albert Raiders), D Sergei Sapego (Prince Albert) and F Andrei Pavlenko (Edmonton).


The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Chase Lacombe, 16, to a WHL contract. Lacombe, from Moose Jaw, has three assists in 29 games with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . The Oil Kings dealt Lacombe to the Broncos on Aug. 21, along with F Matthew Culling, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a second-rounder in 2020 for D Jacson Alexander, D Chad Smithson and a sixth-round pick in 2020.


Scout Truman of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons has committed to the U of Massachussetts-Lowell and the River Hawks for 2021-21. Truman, 16, is from Lethbridge. He was a second-round selection by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . His brother Roc, 17, a forward who also plays for the Dragons, also has committed to the River Hawks for 2021-22.


With the WHL heading into the Christmas break after today games, don’t forget that there is a trade moratorium in place. It will be lifted on Dec. 27 at 12:01 a.m.

——

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

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

Saturday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 13.

Players: 29.

Bantam draft picks: 21.

Conditional draft picks: 5.

(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.)


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, and Merry Christmas.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings fired head coach Wes Rudy on Saturday. Rudy started with the Red Wings as their goaltending coach, then was promoted to assistant coach for 2015-16. He was in his third season as head coach, having replaced Bryce Thoma after the 2015-16 season. . . . The Red Wings reached the playoffs each of the previous two seasons. . . . This season, they were 10-19-3-0 going into last night’s game with the visiting Estevan Bruins. The Red Wings gave up six third-period goals and dropped an 8-2 decision to the Bruins. . . .  Assistant coach Kyle Haines, a former player in his first season on the coaching staff, was listed as Weyburn’s head coach on the online scoresheet.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Stelio Mattheos completed his hat trick in OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 6-BrandonWKregular5 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Brandon (15-10-6) had lost its previous three games. . . . Saskatoon (21-10-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The teams met Friday in Saskatoon, with the Blades prevailing, 3-2. . . . Last night, F Connor Gutenberg’s shorthanded goal, at 11:39 of the first period, gave the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead and was the Teddy Bear goal. . . . The Blades went ahead 2-1 on first-period goals from F Chase Wouters (5), at 15:04, and F Max Gerlach, at 19:09. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-2 lead as F Cole Reinhardt (5) scored 37 seconds into the second period and F Ben McCartney (8) counted, on a PP, at 3:43. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson (7) tied it at 11:34. . . . Brandon took a 5-3 lead before the period ended as Mattheos scored twice, at 12:15 and 16:32. . . . The Blades forced OT on third-period goals from Gerlach (19), at 10:05, and F Tristen Robins (6), at 11:30. Robins is a Brandon native. . . . Mattheos, who also had an assist, scored his 26th goal, at 2:25 of OT, to win the game and complete his third career hat trick. . . . F Luka Burzan drew four assists for Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings got 35 saves from G Ethan Kruger, 10 more than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . Saskatoon F Riley McKay was unsuccessful on a penalty shot at 1:07 of OT. . . . The Wheat Kings remain without five injured players — D Braden Schneider, D Jonny Lambos, D Vince Iorio, F Jonny Hooker and F Lynden McCallum. . . . F Nolan Ritchie, who played for the Wheat Kings on Friday, was returned to the midget AAA Wheat Kings after the game.


F Justin Almeida had two goals and four assists — his first career six-point game — to MooseJawWarriorshelp the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (17-8-5) had lost its previous two games. . . . The Pats slipped to 9-24-1. . . . On Friday night, the Pats beat the visiting Warriors, 2-1. . . . Last night, the Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Robbie Holmes scored 56 seconds into the game. . . . The Warriors tied it just 14 seconds later when F Tristin Langan scored the Teddy Bear goal, just like he did a year ago. . . . Almeida added a PP goal at 19:56. . . . F Austin Pratt (13) got Regina into a 2-2 tie, on a PP, at 11:41, only to have the Warriors grab a 4-2 lead on goals by D Dalton Hamaliuk (2), at 17:04 and Langan, at 18:57. . . . Holmes (6) scored Regina’s final goal, on a PP, getting the Pats to within 4-3 at 19:42. He also had an assist for a three-point game. . . . The Warriors put it away on goals from Almeida (8), on a PP, at 6:25 of the third period, and Langan (24), on another PP, at 14:59. . . . Moose Jaw was 3-7 on the PP; Regina was 2-6. . . . Almeida had six previous four-point games, but never more than that. He now has 42 points, including 34 assists, in 26 games. . . . Langan, who also had an assist, recorded his third career hat trick and fifth four-point outing while playing on his 20th birthday. . . . Langan has 54 points, including 30 assists, in 30 games. Last season, he finished with 42 points, 16 of them goals, in 70 games. . . . The Warriors were without F Luke Ormsby, who, according to the WHL website, was suspended for two games “for g.m. at Regina on Dec. 14.” Originally, the online scoresheet from Regina’s 2-1 victory on Friday showed Ormsby as having received a roughing minor and a game misconduct at 17:26 of the second period. But that was changed to a misconduct at some point after the game. Then, sometime Saturday evening, it was switched back to a game misconduct. No matter. Ormsby sat last night and will sit again on Dec. 27 when the Swift Current Broncos come to town. . . . The WHL doesn’t indicate what Ormsby did to warrant a suspension, but he apparently may or may not have spit his mouthguard at an opponent during an altercation.


The Prince Albert Raiders ran their home-ice record to 16-0-0 with a 7-5 victory over the PrinceAlbertSwift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders (31-2-1) have won three in a row, including a 6-4 triumph in Swift Current on Friday. . . . The Broncos (6-25-2) have lost two straight. . . . The Raiders, who had a 56-18 edge in shots, took a 1-0 lead 4:48 into the game when F Sean Montgomery scored the Teddy Bear goal. . . . F Dawson Springer, 16, made his WHL debut with the Broncos after signing a WHL contract on Thursday and scored his first goal at 13:46 of the first period to forge a 1-1 tie. . . . Springer was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in a Dec. 3 deal that had F Max Patterson go the other way. Springer leads the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with 21 goals in 27 games for the Prince Albert Mintos. . . . F Justin Nachbaur scored for the Raiders, on a PP, at 15:35. . . . The Broncos then scored three in a row to take a 4-2 lead. F Ethan O’Rourke (2) counted at 18:16, with F Joona Kiviniemi (9) scoring at 2:14 of the second and F Matthew Culling (4) finding net at 6:08. . . . The home side took control by scoring four times before the second period ended. Nachbaur (9) got his second at 8:22, before F Ozzy Wiesblatt (7), on a PP, tied it at 12:38. F Noah Gregor broke the tie with two goals, at 16:14 and 19:12. He’s got 19 goals. . . . F Alec Zawatsky (11) got the Broncos’ final goal on a PP, with F Parker Kelly (15) finishing the Raiders’ scoring. . . . The Broncos got 49 saves from G Joel Hofer. . . . G Brett Balas made his WHL debut for the Raiders, coming on in relief of starter Donovan Buskey, who gave up four goals on 10 shots in 26:08. Balas surrendered one goal on eight shots in 33:52. . . . Kivniemi, a Finnish freshman who will turn 17 on Monday, scored for a third straight game and also earned his first WHL assist. He has nine goals and one assist in 31 games. . . . The Broncos scratched veteran D Garrett Sambrook, who left Friday’s game in the second period after absorbing a high hit from Kelly.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period, to Lethbridgebeat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (17-9-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Kamloops (12-16-3) has lost six in a row going 0-5-1 on a Central Division trip that ended with this game. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (5) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:55 of the first period. . . . The Hurricanes grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from F Jake Leschyshyn (21), at 6:07, and F Jordy Bellerive (14), on a PP, at 9:12. . . . F Connor Zary (9) got Kamloops back into a tie on a PP, at 13:34. . . . The home side won it in the third period as F Dylan Cozens (17) scored at 4:44, F Taylor Ross (19) counted at 10:12, and F Nick Henry (16) got the empty-netter at 18:35. . . . Bellerive added two assists to his goal. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen was back in the lineup after serving a three-game suspension.


F Andrew Fyten, who was acquired in a Thursday trade, scored in OT to give the host EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton (17-12-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Calgary (15-14-4) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Oil Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to win this one. . . . F Kaden Elder (13) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 18:30 of the first period, with F Jake Kryski (17) making it 2-0, on a PP, at 2:19 of the second. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (15), at 13:19 of the seocnd, and F David Kope (6), at 11:32 of the third, got Edmonton into a tie. . . . Fyten, in his first game with his new club, won it 40 seconds into OT with his ninth goal of the season. . . . Fyten also drew an assist on Kope’s goal. . . . The Oil Kings held a 44-34 edge in shots, including 16-8 in the third period. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton stopped 41 shots, nine more than Edmonton’s Dylan Myskiw. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield were among the Oil Kings’ scratches. Both were injured in Wednesday’s 6-5 OT loss to the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . F Kobe Verbicky, 15, made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings. From Victoria, he was a second-round pick by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Verbicky plays for the North Island Silvertips of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.


F Leif Mattson scored twice, one of them of the bizarre variety, as the Kelowna Rockets KelownaRocketsskated to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Kelowna (16-17-2) had lost its previous two games. It went 2-2-0 on a four-game dip into the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (17-15-3) had won its previous four games. . . . Mattson was credited with the game’s first goal, an empty-netter, after G Jordan Hollett vacated the Medicine Hat net during a delayed penalty against the Rockets and an errant Tigers pass ended up in their vacated goal. . . . At 11:09 of the second period, Mattson scored a more conventional goal, on a PP, for a 2-0 lead. He’s got 16 goals. . . . F James Hamblin (17) had Medicine Hat’s goal at 14:08 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got 31 stops from G Roman Basran, including 12 in the second period and 10 in the third. . . . Among Kelowna’s scratches were D Lassi Thomson, who has joined the Finnish national junior team, and D Libor Zabransky, who is with the Czech Republic. . . . Hollett stopped 18 shots for the Tigers. . . . G Mads Søgaard of the Tigers was on the bench, but will be joining Denmark’s national junior team. Medicine Hat is bringing in Garin Bjorklund, a 16-year-old from the Calgary Buffaloes, to backup Hollett. . . . Bjorklund was a first-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


D Aaron Hyman scored in OT to give the Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the tri-cityPortland Winterhawks in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (16-12-2) has won two in a row. . . . Portland (19-11-3) has points in two straight (1-0-1). . . . They’ll play again today, this time in Portland. . . . Last night, the Winterhawks held a 2-0 lead with fewer than six minutes left in the third period. . . . Portland had gotten goals from F Joachim Blichfeld (30), shorthanded, at 18:27 of the second period, and F Michal Kvasnica (4), at 12:47 of the third. . . . F Nolan Yaremko got the Americans even with two goals, the first at 14:34 and the second, on a PP and with the extra attacker on the ice, with 9.6 seconds left in the period. . . . Hyman won it with his eighth goal at 3:26 of extra time. . . . Tri-City had an 18-9 edge in shots in the third period; Portland had a 4-1 edge in OT. . . . The Americans dressed 17 skaters — 10 forwards and seven defencemen. . . . F Booker Daniel, 17, made his WHL debut with the Americans. He plays for the major midget Cariboo Cougars, who play out of Prince George.


F D-Jay Jerome scored twice, including the Teddy Bear goal, as the host Victoria Royals VictoriaRoyalsdoubled up on the Vancouver Giants, 4-2. . . . Victoria (16-13-1) has won two straight. . . . Vancouver (21-8-2) has lost two in a row. . . . Jerome, who has 14 goals, got things started at 4:50 of the first period. . . . The Giants took a 2-1 lead before the period ended, with F Owen Hardy (7) scoring at 9:22 and F Tristen Nielsen (3) scoring, on a PP, at 17:29. . . . F Ty Yoder (2) got the Royals into a 2-2 tie at 15:20 of the second period. . . . Jerome’s second goal, at 8:46 of the third, snapped the tie, and F Dante Hannoun (13) got the empty-netter at 19:40. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse turned aside 25 shots in recording his 100th career regular-season victory. . . . F Milos Roman was among Vancouver’s scratches. He has left to join the Slovakian national junior team. . . . The Royals again scratched D Ralph Jarratt, who has played only 13 games this season, two of them since Nov. 2. . . . Vancouver leads the B.C. Divison by 10 points over Kelowna and 11 over Victoria. The Giants hold four games in hand on Kelowna; the Royals have one game in hand on Vancouver.


The host Everett Silvertips built a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-1 victory over the Seattle EverettThunderbirds. . . . Everett (27-7-2) has points in 14 straight games (12-0-2). . . . Seattle (11-16-3) has lost two in a row. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (9) started it for the Silvertips with the Teddy Bear goal at 7:57 of the first period. . . . Everett added four more goals before the second period ended. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (17), D Gianni Fairbrother (4) and F Riley Sutter scored before the first period ended. F Jackson Berezowski (6) made it 5-0 at 19:11 of the second. . . . F Jaxon Kaluski (2) got Seattle’s goal at 4:15 of the third. . . . Sutter ended the scoring with his 13th, at 12:48. . . . Everett outshot Seattle, 39-22. . . . The Silvertips lead the U.S. Division by 15 points over Portland; they lead the Western Conference by 12 points over Vancouver.


Tweetoftheday

Blichfeld leaves WJC game on stretcher . . . Organizers declare WJC a success . . . Royals add import from Hitmen, make deal with Raiders

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Portland Winterhawks boarded their bus Thursday afternoon and headed for Spokane where they will play the Chiefs tonight.

But you can bet the Winterhawks’ thoughts weren’t on the road in front of them. Rather, Portlandthey will have been wondering about the condition of F Joachim Blichfeld, a teammate who was stretchered off the ice midway through the second period of a relegation-round game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo earlier in the day.

Blichfeld hit his head on the boards after taking a high hit from behind from D Dmitri Deryabin of Belarus, who was assessed a match penalty on the play.

Blichfeld did flash a thumbs-up signal as he was carried from the ice surface. He was taken to hospital for further examination.

Blichfeld, 19, is from Frederikshavn, Denmark. He was selected by San Jose in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft and signed with the Sharks on on Dec. 28 while in Buffalo.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation series on Wednesday, Blichfeld had two goals and an assist as Denmark won the opener, 5-4.

On Thursday, Blichfeld had two primary assists as Denmark opened up a 2-0 lead. Belarus came back to tie it before Denmark won it, 3-2, in a shootout. The victory means Denmark stays in the top group for the 2019 WJC, with Belarus sliding back to Division 1A. (If you’re wondering, Kazakhstan won promotion to the big group, so will be in Victoria/Vancouver for the next tournament.)

This season with Portland, Blichfeld has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games. He missed a handful of games early in October with what is believed to have been a concussion.

This latest injury, then, depending on the diagnosis, might be his second brain injury of the season, meaning the Winterhawks will be extra careful with a player who is key part of their roster.


Officials from the IIHF and organizers of the 2018 World Junior Championship held a Buffalostate-of-the-event news conference in Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. Michael Traikos of the National Post was there and, as he wrote, “With noses growing, they called it a success.” . . . During the news conference, Traikos continued, “Organizers bragged that more than 200,000 tickets had been sold, ignoring that a quarter-final between the U.S. and Russia on Tuesday night had only 6,242 fans in a building that seats more than 19,000. They highlighted the record-setting crowd that braved the snow to watch an outdoor game that ‘was a little bit of magic,’  but then blamed the same weather for driving away fans at the other indoor games. . . . His complete column is right here.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News also was at the news conference, and his take is right here.

Interestingly, Campbell reported that Rene Fasel, the IIHF president, said that 50 per cent of the tickets already have been sold for the 2019 WJC that is to be held in Victoria and Vancouver.

That, Campbell wrote, “is quite a feat considering the 18-game pack (and one pre-tournament game) for Vancouver ranges in price from $650 ($34 per game) to $2,250 ($118 per game).”

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, told Vancouver sportscaster Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650 on Dec. 28 that tickets are “well over 60 per cent sold.”


The Portland Winterhawks lost F Lane Gilliss to an undisclosed injury on Sunday during a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. As a result, they have brought back F Jaydon Dureau from the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. He had been with the Winterhawks but was returned to the Pat Canadians following the Christmas break. The Pat Canadians won the Mac’s tournament in Calgary on Monday. Dureau had two goals and two assists in the championship game, a 4-0 victory over the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . . Dureau, 16, was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, he has 56 points, including 27 goals, in 26 games with the Pat Canadians. . . . Portland also returned D Nick Cicek to junior A, in his case to the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, but quickly brought him back when D Keoni Texeira went down with an undisclosed injury.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have brought in F Jake Neighbours for a look-see. From Airdrie, Alta., Neighbours was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings earlier this season. . . . In 23 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes, Neighbours has 17 goals and 25 assists. . . . If you’re interested in the return of D Brayden Gorda to the Oil Kings, there is more right here.


The Red Deer Rebels have dropped F Lukus MacKenzie, 18, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . MacKenzie had four assists in 17 games with the Rebels after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades, with whom he had four assists in 13 games. . . . From Calgary, MacKenzie was a third-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 138 games, he has eight goals and 28 assists.


WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 20

PLAYERS: 35

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 21

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 4


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals acquired F Andrei Grishakov, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Grishakov, from Chelyabinsk, Russia, has 22 goals and 39 assists in 107 VictoriaRoyalsgames with the Hitmen. This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has 11 goals and 15 assists in 37 games. . . . The Hitmen selected him in the CHL import draft after he put up 21 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with Traktor Chelyabinski’s U-17 team in 2015-16. He also played four games with the U-18 side that season, recording four goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Grishakov should be in Victoria’s lineup tonight (Friday) against the visiting Everett Silvertips. If he doesn’t play then, he will get another opportunity on Saturday when the Royals visit Kamloops. Yes, it’s a quick turn-around for Victoria.

WHY: The Royals have had room for an import since F Yan Khomenko returned to Russia and signed with Ak Bars Kazan, a KHL team. He is pointless in three games with Irbis Kazan, a junior team. . . . The Royals are hoping that putting Grishakov into their top six will ignite his offence. . . . Grishakov joins F Igor Martynov, who turns 19 on Jan. 19, as the Royals’ import players. Martynov is from Belarus and has been representing his country at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo. . . . The Hitmen, who aren’t likely to make the playoffs, have been in sell mode since Nov. 25 when they dealt top-flight forwards Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn to the Swift Current Broncos. Now it’s all about freeing up ice time for younger players.


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 18, from the Prince Albert Raiders for D Jeremy Masella, 18.

THE NUMBERS: From Lethbridge, Jerome has one assist in 31 games with the Raiders. PrinceAlbertHe split last season between the Red Deer Rebels and the Raiders, recording eight goals and eight assists in 55 games. . . . Masella had three goals and four assists in 35 games with the Royals. In 63 career games, all with Victoria, he has three goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Red Deer placed the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jerome on their protected list in 2016. The Rebels dealt him to Prince Albert on Dec. 28, 2016, along with a 2017 third-round bantam draft pick, for F Austin Glover. . . . The 6-foot-5, 214-pound Masella is from Phoenix. He had been on Victoria’s protected list since 2015. . . . This is the second deal between these teams this week. On Tuesday, the Royals dealt F Regan Nagy, 20, to the Raiders for the rights to F Hunter Strand, 15, sixth- and 10th-round picks in the 2018 bantam draft and a third-rounder in 2019. . . . Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, has made seven trades since Dec. 1.

WHY: For starters, both players get fresh starts and a chance to earn more ice time with new teams. . . . The Royals had been carrying eight defencemen so it seemed that someone would go before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. Victoria also adds another bigger forward as it continues to alter the size of its forward ranks. . . . The Raiders add size to their back end. Their roster shows nine defencemen, but Sergei Sapego is injured, Vojtech Budik is at the WJC in Buffalo, and Kaiden Guhle, the first overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, is only 15 so will have to go back to his club team at some point.


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Kootenay at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Tri-City at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Seattle at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Everett at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.