WJC rosters include 14 WHLers . . . Tourney opens with four games . . . Finland-Sweden in Day 1 spotlight

Mowing
If you didn’t see this photo on Twitter earlier, it was taken on Christmas Day at about 2 p.m. Hey, I was born in Sherridon, Man., and raised in Lynn Lake, Man. — look them up on Google Maps — so I had never before seen grass this green on Dec. 25. LOL! . . . This is at the back of our home; there were nine deer on a field just west of the front yard. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get a really close look, so it may have been Rudolph and some friends.

MacBeth

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2014-16) has signed a two-way contract for the rest of this season with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) after clearing NHL unconditional waivers and having his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) terminated. He had two assists in 15 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).


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The 10-team World Junior Championship opens today in Vancouver and Victoria with two games in each venue.

In Vancouver, it’s Czech Republic versus Switzerland (1 p.m. PT) and Canada versus Denmark (5 p.m.)

In Victoria, it’s U.S.A. versus Slovakia (3:30 p.m.) and Finland versus Sweden (7:30 p.m.).

In other words, Day 1 should bring us three no-contests and one thriller. Don’t forget that 2019wjcas much as we look forward to this tournament, the early-going often is full of lop-sided games. What today’s schedule means is that you will be able to go out and soak up some of those Boxing Day sales before coming home to watch Finland and Sweden do battle.

BTW, make certain that you’re aware of the IIHF’s new late-hit rule because if you aren’t it’s going to make you crazy.

And note that you aren’t going to read a whole lot about the WJC on this site after this report. I’m not there, nor will I pay particular attention through the early part of the tournament. But there will be a whole lot of other places loaded with info from those who are taking in the games in person.

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The 10 teams taking part in the WJC filed their preliminary rosters on Tuesday.

Under IIHF regulations teams had to register at least 15 skaters and two goaltenders. If a team doesn’t file the maximum (20 skaters and three goaltenders), it is allowed to add players to its roster until two hours before games until reaching the maximum.

By my count, there are 14 WHL players on those rosters. Here’s a look:

Canada (6) — G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders; D Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs; F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Spokane; F Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks; F Brett Leason, Prince Albert. . . . Tim Hunter of Moose Jaw is Canada’s head coach; Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is one of the assistant coaches. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Czech Republic (3) — G Jiri Patera, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Filip Kral, Spokane; F Krystof Hrabik, Tri-City Americans. . . . The roster also includes former Brandon D Daniel Bukac, now of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and F Martin Kaut of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, whose CHL rights belong to Brandon. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Denmark (2) — G Mads Sogaard, Medicine Hat Tigers; F Phillip Schultz, Victoria Royals. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Finland (0) — The roster includes D Henri Jokiharju of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who played the previous two seasons with Portland; F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Finnish pro team Karpan Oulu, who spent the previous two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos; and F Sami Moilanen of Tappara Tampere, who played the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Kazakhstan (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Russia (1) — D Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Mark Rubinchik, who plays for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, was with the Saskatoon Blades for the previous two seasons. . . . Registered 11 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Slovakia (2) — F Andrej Kukuca, Seattle; F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants. . . . Registered 12 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Sweden (0) — Brandon holds the CHL rights to D Erik Brannstrom of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Switzerland (0) — F Justin Sigrist of the GCK Lions Zurich played with the Kamloops Blazers in 2017-18. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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USA (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Meanwhile, Mason Black, who is on Twitter at @NHL RankKing, went over the WJC rosters and has an easy-to-read NHL team-by-team list of prospects right here.

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If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.

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This piece is four years old, but if you’re a fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth your time. It’s from Rolling Stone and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what went into what has become a movie with an amazing following. . . . The story — it’s an oral history — is right here.


Here is one more great read for you. . . . It’s not that long ago when Austin Murphy was one of the best and most-prolific writers employed by Sports Illustrated. These days, as he writes, “I drive a van for Amazon.” . . . He has written a first-person piece on the adventure of a package deliverer and it’s awesome stuff. You’ll find it right here.


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Broncos sign director of scouting . . . Blades add pair of scouts . . . MJHL’s winningest coach steps aside


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F Brett Bulmer (Kelowna, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had 23 goals and 19 assists in 70 games with the Florida Everblades (ECHL).


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Chad Leslie, who had been scouting in Manitoba for the Saskatoon Blades, will be joining the Swift Current Broncos as their director of scouting. . . . A source familiar with the SCBroncossituation told Taking Note that the Broncos are expected to announce Leslie’s hiring as training camp opens. . . . Leslie, 40, spent three seasons with the Blades. Prior to that, he spent two seasons with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals, first as assistant GM/assistant coach, then as assistant GM/director of player personnel. He spent the previous three seasons (2009-12) with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, working as assistant coach, then head coach and finally as a scout. Of late, he also has been scouting for the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. . . . With the Broncos, he will be working with Dean Brockman, the team’s new general manager/head coach, and Gary Aubin, who has been hired as the director of player personnel.

Taking Note also has been told that Craig Anderson of Brandon has joined the Broncos’ scouting staff. Anderson also works as the assistant GM and head scout with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. He also has scouted with the Edmonton Oil Kings.


The Saskatoon Blades officially added Brian Leavold and Derek Serraglio to their Saskatoonscouting staff on Thursday. Both men will scout for the Blades in B.C. . . . Leavold, who is retired from the North Vancouver Fire Department, spent the better part of 20 years with the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Serraglio, who is from Coquitlam, B.C., works for BMO Private Banking. He has remained active in minor hockey since retiring as a player. He is preparing for his first season as a WHL scout. . . . At the same time, the Blades announced that Kerry Gladson, who lives in White Rock, B.C., has left the organization after four seasons as a scout.


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How were things in our neck of the woods on Thursday? . . . Well, the above photo shows that things were a little warm and a bit smoky. The thermometer on our deck only goes up to 50 C, but the needle was past that at 4:45 p.m. . . . This is the view looking east along the South Thompson River. There is a mountain — Mount Martin — somewhere through the smoke. . . . The smoke and smokin’ hot temperatures are supposed to move out after one more day. We hope!


The Prince George Cougars have signed Czech F Matej Toman, who was the fifth overall PrinceGeorgeselection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . Toman, 17, played last season in his hometown, for HC Ceske Budejovice. With the U-18 team, he had three goals and 12 assists in 11 regular-season games, and six goals and seven assists in seven playoff games. He also played 25 games with the U-20 team, recording eight goals and six assists. With the men’s team, he had two goals and an assist in 15 games. Toman is playing with the Czech team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer and Edmonton. . . . The Cougars’ second import player is F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who will return for a second WHL season. He is from Minsk, Belarus.


D Daniel Bukac, 19, has agreed to join the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs after spending the past two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Wheat Kings dropped the Czech native prior to the CHL’s 2018 import draft, and the IceDogs selected him in the second round. . . . The 6-foot-4 Bukac was selected by the Boston Bruins in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . In 111 regular-season games with Brandon, he had two goals and 23 assists.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


D John Miner played 217 regular-season games (1982-85 ) with the Regina Pats. An offensive defenceman, he could really shoot a puck and excelled on the power play. You might recall that Wayne Gretzky was part of a trade in which Miner ended up going from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. That was 30 years ago. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has more on Miner right here. . . . A tip of the fedora to Brad Hornung for the link.


Ken Pearson, the winningest regular-season coach in MJHL history, has stepped aside as Winklerhead coach of the Winkler Flyers, but he will stay on as general manager. Pearson has been the Flyers’ GM/head coach for the previous seven seasons. . . . Steve Mullin, an assistant coach with Pearson for six seasons, has taken over as head coach. . . . Mullin played two seasons (2000-02) with the Flyers, then spent four seasons at the U of Maine. In 2009-10, he was the head coach of the midget AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who won a Manitoba midget championship. . . . Pearson has coached in the MJHL for 16 seasons, going 519-295-62-14. Blake Spiller of the Portage Terriers is second on the victory list, with 487.


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