Lambert leaves Chiefs for Music City. . . . WHL teams sign more prospects. . . . Growlers win ECHL in first season


MacBeth

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). This season, with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus), he had one goal and nine assists in 42 games.


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On May 21, the Spokane Chiefs signed head coach Dan Lambert to an extension, believed SpokaneChiefsto be two years in length.

On June 4, the Chiefs began their search for a new head coach.

Such are the vagaries of major junior hockey.

Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach for the past two seasons, has joined the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.

It turns out that the Predators came calling one day after the Chiefs and Lambert agreed on that extension.

“I was not looking,” Lambert told Dan Thompson for a story he wrote for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “This was not my intention at all.”

The Chiefs are one of three WHL teams without a head coach, joining the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Serge Lajoie, who departed after one season, while the Cougars need a head coach after firing Richard Matvichuk in February.

In Brandon, David Anning, the head coach of the Wheat Kings for three seasons, is without a contract after his expired on May 31. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach with Brandon.

In Spokane, it could be that assistant coach Scott Burt is atop the list of potential replacements. Burt has been on the Chiefs’ staff for six seasons now.

Lambert, 49, is a native of St. Boniface, Man. He played four seasons (1986-90) with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them to the 1989 Memorial Cup championship; he was named the tournament’s MVP. He went on to a pro career that ended after five seasons (2004-09) with the Hannover Scorpions of Germany’s DEL.

He got into coaching with the Kelowna Rockets, working as an assistant coach for five seasons (2009-14) and head coach for 2014-15. The Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2015 and reached the Memorial Cup final, where they lost to the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

He spent 2015-16 as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, the next season.

He signed with the Chiefs after being dismissed by the Sabres.

Spokane was 81-46-13 with Lambert as its head coach. This season, the Chiefs finished 40-21-7, then reached the Western Conference final, where they lost to the Vancouver Giants.

This season, the Chiefs had the WHL’s best power play in the regular season (29.1 per cent) and again in the playoffs (36.1). Yes, he is likely to be responsible for Nashville’s PP.

Thompson’s complete story is right here.


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The Red Deer Rebels have signed three of their picks from the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft Red Deer— D Hunter Mayo, D Jace Weir and F Carter Anderson. . . . Mayo, from Martensville, Sask., was selected in the second round. He had 15 goals and 27 assists in 28 games with a bantam AA team in Martensville this season. . . . Weir, from Coldstream, B.C., also was taken in the second round. This season, he had eight goals and 24 assists in 18 games with the North Zone bantams in Coldstream. . . . Anderson, from Thompson, Man., was a third-round pick. This season, with the bantam prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy, he had 17 goals and 11 assists in 29 games.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed G Reid Dyck to a WHL contract. From Winkler, Man., Dyck was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. He was the second goaltender taken in the draft. . . . This season, he was 3.44 and .912 in 23 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks.

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The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Jayden Wiens to a WHL contract. From Carrot River, Sask., he was an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 44 regular-season games. He added four goals and five assists in seven playoff games, then had six goals and two assists in seven Telus Cup games.


Serge Lajoie, who worked this season as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, has been added to the U of Alberta’s Sports Wall of Fame. . . . Lajoie won four national hockey titles with the Golden Bears — one as a player, two as an assistant coach and one as a head coach. He also was once named the U of A’s top male athlete and Canadian university’s male hockey player of the year. . . . Matt Gutach has more right here.


Bill Chow, the president of the SJHL, has had his contract extended through May 31, 2021. Chow has been running the SJHL for eight seasons since taking over on May 31, 2011. . . . The SJHL news release is right here.


Jake Grimes, who had been an associate coach with the OHL-champion Guelph Storm, is qmjhlthe new head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. . . . Grimes and George Burnett, the Storm’s general manager and head coach, had been together for 13 years in Belleville and Guelph. . . . Grimes, who is from Dartmouth, N.S., had been the Storm’s associate coach for two seasons. . . . The Screaming Eagles fired Marc-Andre Dumont, their GM and head coach, on April 16. . . . Last month, they named Jacques Carrier as general manager, hockey operations, and John Hanna as assistant GM, hockey operations.


The Newfoundland Growlers, in their first ECHL season, won the Kelly Cup on Tuesday night, beating the Toledo Walleye, 4-3, in St. John’s. . . . The Growlers won the best-of-seven final, 4-2. . . . Two ex-WHLers combined for the goal that gave the Growlers a 4-1 lead at 13:32 of the second period. F Giorgio Estephan scored the goal, with Hudson Elynuik getting the lone assist. Estephan, who won a WHL title last season with the Swift Current Broncos, finished with two goals and an assist, while Elynuik, who completed his junior eligibility with the Spokane Chiefs last season, had two assists. . . . Also in the Growlers’ lineup last night were F Matt Bradley, who finished his WHL career last season with the Regina Pats, and Latvian D Kristians Rubins, who spent the previous two seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The last ECHL team to win the championship in its first season of existence? The Greensboro Monarchs, in 1990.


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Raiders finished at Memorial Cup. . . . Chiefs, Lambert sign extension. . . . Ex-Breakers winger, Wilson dies at 57

MacBeth

D Kristian Khenkel (Lethbridge, 2013-14) has signed a two-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had four goals and 10 assists in 59 games.


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders were eliminated from the 2019 Memorial Cup on Tuesday night when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the OHL-champion Guelph Storm. 2019MC. . . The Raiders lost all three of their round-robin games while being outscored 15-6. . . . The Storm (2-1) is guaranteed at least a spot in the semifinal game. . . . The round-robin portion of the four-team event concludes tonight (Wednesday) with the host Mooseheads (2-0) meeting the QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1). The Huskies beat the Mooseheads, 4-2, in the QMJHL’s best-of-seven championship final. . . . Last night, the first period ended in a 2-2 draw, with Guelph scoring twice off the rush, and the Raiders getting two goals on redirections from in tight. . . . The Storm won it with a pair of second-period goals, from F Liam Hawel, at 1:21, on a PP, and F Nick Suzuki, at 5:02. . . . Suzuki, who also had an assist, put it away with another Suzuki goal at 6:42 of the third period. . . . The Storm got a goal and two assists from F Isaac Ratcliffe. . . . F Sean Montgomery, on a PP, and F Dante Hannoun had the Raiders’ goals. . . . The Raiders represented the WHL in the Memorial Cup for the second time in franchise history. In 1985, their third season in the WHL, they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com was in Halifax and his story is right here.

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JUST NOTES: The Raiders played 94 games this season — 68 in the regular season, 23 in the WHL playoffs and three in the Memorial Cup. It wasn’t until they got to the Memorial Cup that they lost three times in a row. . . .

WHL champions now have lost 13 straight Memorial Cup games. Prince Albert has joined the Swift Current Broncos (2018), Seattle Thunderbirds (2017) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2016) as WHL champs who have reached the Memorial Cup, only to go 0-3. The Kelowna Rockets lost the first game in that skid, falling 2-1 in OT to the Oshawa Generals in the final of the 2015 tournament. . . . What, if anything, is the reason for the recent struggles? If you have an opinion, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and I’ll have some thoughts at some point this week. . . .

According to the online scoresheet, the Storm won 41 of the game’s 59 faceoffs last night. . . .

The Mooseheads can move to Sunday’s final with a victory over the Huskies tonight. If the Huskies win, the three remaining teams will each be 2-1 and the playoff seedings would be decided via the tiebreaker formula.

Here is that formula, direct from the 2019 Memorial Cup Media Guide:

“In the event three teams should tie for first place at the conclusion of the single round-robin series of games, the game each team played against the fourth place team shall be removed from their records. The tiebreaking formula shall be as follows: Add each team’s goals for with their goals against which sum you divide into such team’s goals for. The team with the highest percentage gains the higher ranking in the standings and an automatic berth as home team in the Memorial Cup championship game. The remaining two teams shall play in the semifinal game. The home team in the semifinal game will be the team that won the round-robin game between the two teams. . . .

“In the event that after using the above mathematical exercise all three teams should still remain tied for first place, the game each team played against the fourth team shall be added to their records. The same formula (as above) will be applied to finalize the rankings of the three teams.

“In the event that two teams still remain tied, the round-robin game between the two teams will determine their order of position.”

Got that? If not, just let tonight’s game play itself out and all will be decided then.

BTW, that Media Guide is available as a PDF right here.

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F Noah Gregor was the best of the Prince Albert Raiders in their three-game Memorial Cup appearance. They scored six goals in their three losses, and he was in on the first PrinceAlbertfive, scoring two of them.

He also figured in each of Prince Albert’s last three goals in the Raiders’ seven-game WHL championship series victory over the Vancouver Giants.

Gregor, a 20-year-old from Beaumont, Alta., also was one of their top players through the regular season and playoffs, after having been acquired from the Victoria Royals on July 25 for what, according to the WHL website, was “cond. VictoriaRoyalscompensation.”

Taking Note was told on Tuesday that those considerations were three-fold:

1. An eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft in exchange for Gregor’s rights;

2. A 2019 third-round selection based on Gregor playing in a certain number of regular-season games, which he did; and,

3. A 2020 fourth-round selection based on Gregor playing a certain number of playoff games, which he did.

The third-round pick originated with the Prince George Cougars, and turned out to be 48th overall. The Royals used it to take F Tanner Scott, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He played this season with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 18 goals and 25 assists in 29 games.

Gregor, a fourth-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, had signed a pro deal prior to this season. At the time the Raiders acquired his rights, there was no guarantee that he would be back in the WHL; in fact, there was ample speculation that he would end up at least starting the season with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.

At the time of the deal, the Royals had already dealt D Jared Freadrich, 20, to the Portland Winterhawks, and Gregor was one of nine other 1998-born players on Victoria’s roster.

One of those players was F Dante Hannoun, who was moved to Prince Albert on Jan. 3, along with a pair of 2019 draft picks — in the fourth and eighth rounds. In exchange, the Royals got F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility this season; F Carson Miller, who turned 19 on Feb. 10; and a 2020 third-round selection.

That means the Royals hold Prince Albert’s third- and fourth-round selections in the 2020 bantam draft.

Gregor had 43 goals and 45 assists in 88 regular-season games, then added 13 goals and 11 assists in 24 playoff games.

Hannoun added 10 goals and 21 assists in 28 regular-season games with the Raiders. In the playoffs, he had 14 goals and 10 assists in 23 games, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 7 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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The Spokane Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have signed head coach Dan Lambert SpokaneChiefsto a contract extension. . . . The Chiefs’ news release didn’t provide the length of the extension. However, Karthik Venkataraman of KREM-TV in Spokane reported: “The Chiefs have not disclosed details of the extension. However, previous extensions have been two years with a club option for a third year.” . . . Lambert has completed two seasons as the Chiefs’ head coach, going 81-46-13 in the process. The Chiefs reached the Western Conference final this season, where they were beaten by the Vancouver Giants. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Lambert spent one season as head coach of the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. He also was an assistant coach with the Sabres for one season. . . . Prior to that, he spent five seasons (2009-14) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets, and one season as their head coach. . . . Lambert will be the head coach Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.


Mitch Wilson, who played two seasons (1980-82) with the WHL’s Seattle Breakers, died SeaBrealerson Saturday at his home in Brinnon, Wash. The native of Kelowna was 57. He had battled ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for a number of years. . . . “Thank you to everyone for your support through this difficult time,” his family posted on his Facebook page. “Mitch fought this battle the best he knew how and did so with courage.” . . . A rugged right winger, Wilson spent two seasons with the B.C. Junior Hockey League’s Kelowna Buckaroos before joining the Breakers. . . . In 1980-81, he had eight goals, 23 assists and 253 penalty minutes in 64 games. The next season, he finished with 18 goals, 17 assists and 436 penalty minutes in 60 games. . . .  He went on to a pro career that included 26 NHL games — nine with the New Jersey Devils and 17 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had two goals, three assists and 104 PMs in those 26 games.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer to a WHL contract. The Oil Kings selected him 18th overall in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Reimer, who will turn 15 on Oct. 9, is from Surrey, B.C., and played this season with the bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. He put up 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Braeden Lewis to a WHL contract. The Broncos selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 bantam draft. Lewis, from Virden, Man., turned 16 on Tuesday. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars, scoring 10 goals and adding 20 assists in 45 games.


Lee Stone is back with the junior B Campbell River Storm, as the Vancouver Island Hockey League team’s general manager and head coach. . . . Stone left the Storm earlier this season and joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. At the time, the Storm announced that it and Stone had “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . Cam Basarab, an assistant coach, took over as head coach, with assistant coach Bill Brett stepping in as GM. . . . In his time with the Storm, the club has totalled 254 victories, 71 losses,18 OTL and nine ties. According to the Storm, “His clubs have captured three league championships, a Cyclone Taylor Cup and a Keystone Cup.” . . . He also served as chairperson on Campbell River’s 2019 Cyclone Taylor Cup organizing committee. . . . The Storm also announced that Travis McMillan has signed on as assistant GM and associate coach. He had been the head coach of the Cochrane, Alta., Generals of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.


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Three WHL coaches get Hockey Canada posts. . . . Rockets sign d-man from U of Denver. . . . McEwen now Blues’ GM, too

MacBeth

D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). This season, he had three goals and 10 assists in 60 games.


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Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior Canadateam and its U-18 side. . . . Dale Hunter of the OHL’s London Knights has been named head coach of the national junior team. His assistants will be Mitch Love, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Andre Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . The 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . .

Dan Lambert, the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, will be head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Czech Republic and Slovakia in August. . . . Lambert’s assistants will be Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Mario Duhamel, who is an assistant coach with the 67’s.

Hockey Canada’s news release is right here.


Taras McEwen, the Winnipeg Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, now also is the general manager of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . According to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which purchased the Blues at about the same time it was moving the Ice to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., McEwen will continue in both roles. . . . As the Blues’ GM, McEwen takes over from Billy Keane, who has been the Blues’ head coach since 2016 and had been the GM since 2017. . . . The Blues haven’t yet announced if Keane will return as head coach. . . . McEwen, 28, is from Whitewood, Sask. He joined the Ice as the manager of scouting in 2016, and took over as manager of hockey operations a year later. His father, Brad, is a familiar face on the scouting circuit and presently is Hockey Canada’s head scout.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Sean Comrie, 19, who played this season for the U of KelownaRocketsDenver Pioneers. . . . Comrie, from Edmonton, was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He chose to go the NCAA route, and had one assist in 18 games with the Pioneers as a freshman this season. . . . On May 2, prior to the 2019 bantam draft, the Rockets acquired Comrie and the 10th-overall selection from Brandon for the fifth-overall selection. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 54 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Comrie is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are attempting to rebuild their roster in a hurry after not qualifying for the playoffs this season.


When last we left the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, an Ontario judge had unsealed documents that were connected to the team’s having committed recruiting violations. . . . Today comes word that city council in St. Catharines, Ont., the home of the IceDogs, has voted to change the name of a street — IceDogs Way — near the team’s home arena, the Meridian Centre. . . . According to Karena Walter of The St. Catharines Standard: “The move was in response to the 2017 decision by the Niagara IceDogs’ owners not to go forward with a $1 million donation for naming rights after problems hammering out a deal with the city.” . . . Walter’s story is right here.


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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.

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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

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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.