Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


MacBeth

F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


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It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

——

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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We never will forget Dec. 30, 1986. . . Canucks’ head coach back in minors for a day . . . Americans lose star for up to two months

Scattershooting

Lost in the hoopla of the outdoor game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Thursday was this fact: Canada won’t be involved in a New Year’s Eve game for the first time in forever. There will be a lot of people in this country who won’t know what to do.


It has been 31 years since four players died when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus crashed just east of the Saskatchewan city. The tragedy’s anniversary was recognized numerous times by a whole lot of people on social media on Saturday. However, there wasn’t a peep on the WHL’s website.


Headline at SportsPickle.com: NFL clarifies catch rule: Players must hold on to ball, take it home and raise it as their own.


Allow me to remind you that the real World Junior Championship starts when the playoff round begins, which will be on Tuesday. That is when the fun — and the real excitement — gets rolling.


“No NHL games were scheduled on Boxing Day,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Tiger Williams, we hear, was inconsolable.”


There were 11 games in the WHL on Saturday night. Seven of them went to OT or a shootout, meaning seven teams picked up loser points. Good luck to teams trying to move over others and get into playoff positions.


After burglars stole a toilet from a home belonging to former NBAer Charlie Villanueva, RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com reported: “Police say no arrests have been made because there’s nothing to go on.”


The 41-game U.S. college bowl season kicked off on Dec. 14. As Janice Hough (aka The Left Coast Sports Babe) noted: “And if you can name at least half of them without Google, you just might need a life.”


Ever wonder why there are so many bowl games? Here’s blogger Chad Picasner: “Remember, it’s all about supporting colleges and the sport. Or as my Uncle Al used to say, ‘I’m taking Notre Dame and the points.’ ”


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

It was on Dec. 30, 1986 when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus, en route to a game in Regina, crashed and four players were killed.

The accident occurred just east of Swift Current and took the lives of Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff. A memorial now is in place near the site of the accident.

Dan Lambert, now the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, was a defenceman with the Broncos, although he wasn’t on the bus at the time. During his time on the Kelowna Rockets’ coaching staff, Lambert spoke with Regan Bartel about his memories of that time in his life.

That interview, from a few years ago, is right here.

Of course, a book about the Broncos, the accident and much that came afterwards was published in 2012. Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos is available at chapters.indigo.ca or through Amazon. There’s more on the book in the piece below from Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops.


Green
Travis Green, a former WHL player and coach, was behind the bench of a bantam AAA team from Orange County, Calif., on Friday morning. In his other life, he is the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: Kevin Gallant)

Observers who were at a bantam AAA game in the Pat Quinn Classic at the Burnaby Winter Club on Friday morning may have noticed a familiar face behind the bench of the team from Orange County, Calif.

Yes, that was Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, helping out behind the bench. His son, Blake, plays on the Orange County team.

Taking Note has been told that Green helped coach Orange County during the game against the No. 1-seeded California Golden Bears. In that game, the Golden Bears, who had won their first four games, held a 2-1 lead when Green called a timeout. From that point, Orange Country outscored its opposition 8-1 to pull off a 9-3 victory and eliminate the top seed.

On Saturday, Orange County dropped a 6-0 decision to the Langley Eagles in the game for the bronze medal.

Green wasn’t available for that one because his other job took precedence. That night, the Canucks dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.


The Tri-City Americans will be without F Michael Rasmussen for up to eight weeks with a TriCity30wrist injury that required surgery. Interestingly, the news wasn’t reported by anyone close to the Americans. Instead, it was reported by Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. . . . The Detroit Red Wings selected Rasmussen in the first round, ninth overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . “He could have waited till the end of the season, but he was tired of playing in pain,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told St. James. “We decided on surgery now because on the short end, he’ll be back some time in late Janurary; on the long end, sometime in February.” . . . Rasmussen, who has signed with the Red Wings, first injured the wrist late in the 2016-17 regular season. On March 2, with Rasmussen not having played since Feb. 1, the Americans revealed that he had a “fractured wrist” but that the injury wouldn’t “require surgery as the fracture is healing on its own.” . . . This season, the 6-foot-6 Rasmussen has 16 goals and 15 assists in 22 games.


In the OHL, the Soo Greyhounds ran their winning streak to 23 with a 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Guelph Storm last night. The Greyhounds had made it 22 in a row with a 6-5 victory over the visiting Flint Firebirds on Friday night. . . . The Kitchener Rangers hold the OHL record for longest winning streak (25 games), set from Jan. 11, 1984, through March 16, 1984. . . . The London Knights went 31 games without a loss in 2004-05 (29 victories, two ties), but the longest winning streak contained in that was 18 games.


While a lot of the hockey world was intent on what was going on at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Friday, a neat story was being written in Edmonton.

That’s where Jeff Glass, a 32-year-old goaltender, played the first NHL game of his career. He stopped 42 shots, including 18 in the first period, as his Chicago Blackhawks beat the Oilers, 4-3 in OT.

WHL fans will remember Glass from three terrific seasons (2002-05) with the Kootenay Ice. In those seasons, he was 2.45, .909; 2.35, .911; and 1.76, .932. Yes, he was terrific.

Tim Campbell of nhl.com has more on Glass and that first game right here.