Edmonton police: Incident non-criminal in nature . . . WHL not commenting . . . Another Blazers skater gets NHL deal

Four players with the Moose Jaw Warriors remained suspended by the WHL on Thursday despite the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) indicating that its WarriorsNewinvestigation led it to determine that whatever happened involving the four didn’t involve criminality.

CTV News reported that EPS media relations advisor Scott Pattison, in an email, said: “Police have looked into the matter and believe the incident to be non-criminal in nature. As such, we have no further comment.”

The WHL announced on Feb. 11 that the four players in question — G Connor Ungar, 21, D Max Wanner, 19, F Marek Howell, 16, and F Lynden Lakovic, 16 — WHLhad been suspended. According to the one-paragraph news release issued by the WHL, the four were “suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into possible violations of team rules and the WHL Standard of Conduct policies.”

The four players appear on the WHL’s discipline page as having been suspended with the lengths of those suspensions “tbd for standard of conduct violation.”

Ungar, from Calgary, was having a terrific season at the time of the suspensions. He was the WHL’s goaltender of the month for January; he remains third in victories (26) and second in save percentage (.925).

Wanner, from Estevan, Sask., has signed with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2021 draft. He had 30 points, including eight goals, in 44 games.

Howell, a freshman from Calgary, had a goal and three assists in 44 games, while Lakovic, from West Kelowna, had two goals and five assists in 37 games in his first season.

The four played in a 4-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Feb. 3 and in a 2-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary on Feb. 5. They haven’t played since, though, meaning they now have missed 10 games.

The Warriors are 4-6-0 without them and, with seven games remaining in their regular season, are fourth in the Eastern Conference, 16 points behind the Saskatoon Blades and five ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com pointed out Thursday that suspensions of at least 10 WHL games have only been handed out “twice in the last decade.”

“Everett’s Dawson Butt received a 10-game suspension on Jan. 12, 2020 for actions in the final minute against Regina that led to serious facial injuries for a player,” Palmer wrote, “while Victoria’s Brandon Magee was handed a 12-game suspension on April 11, 2014 after receiving a match penalty against Portland for cross-checking multiple players in the head.”

The WHL, meanwhile, has yet to remove itself from its cone of silence.

From CBC News: “A spokesperson for the WHL did not respond to requests for updates about the players’ statuses, including the result of the investigation and whether they remain on suspension.”

From Moose Jaw radio station CHAB, which carries play-by-play of Warriors games: “A spokesperson for the WHL has not responded to several requests for updates on the status of the players and the league’s investigation.”

Thus, we can only assume that the suspensions remain in place and that whatever investigation the WHL is carrying out remains a work in progress. In fact, no details of the investigation, including who is conducting it or anything else about what is involved, have been released.

The Warriors are scheduled to visit the Swift Current Broncos tonight with a rematch in Moose Jaw on Saturday.

D Kyle Masters of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level Kamloopscontract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Masters, 19, was a fourth-round selection by the Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blazers acquired Masters from the Red Deer Rebels prior to this season. He has 11 goals and 48 assists in 58 games. . . . From Edmonton, he has 86 points, including 16 goals, in 164 career regular-season games with Red Deer and Kamloops. . . . The contract calls for an NHL salary of US$775,000 each season with $80,000 in the minors. There also is an annual $90,000 signing bonus. . . . Masters is the third Kamloops skater to sign an NHL contract in the past few days. F Caedan Bankier signed with the Wild, while F Ryan Hofer signed with the Washington Capitals. . . .

You can only imagine the chatter on the Blazers’ bus and in the dressing room these days. . . . “Oh, yeah,” Bankier told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “They’re all over us, me and Ryan, about buying them some dinner. We’ll have to think about that. Maybe we’ll get them a couple of Big Macs or something. Not too much.” . . . A laughing Hofer told Hastings: ““I might go to Tim Hortons, maybe get them some Timbits. I don’t know. We’ll see, but if we keep it going, they might get a good dinner.”

The Blazers, 3-2 shootout winners in Seattle on Tuesday and 7-1 winners in Everett on Wednesday, are at home to Everett tonight. The Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, have won 15 of 16 games since Feb. 1, clinching the B.C. Division title in the process.

Terry Bartman, a longtime scout with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, died on Monday in Medicine Hat. He was 65. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.


If the WHL playoffs started today:


Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)

Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)

Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)

Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)



Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)

Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)

Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)

Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)



No Games Scheduled.

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.



Blazers to bid on 2023 Memorial Cup; Gaglardi says process has changed . . . Bedard streak at 19 games . . . Blades halt Oil Kings’ 14-game tear

It used to be that WHL teams bidding to play host to a Memorial Cup tournament would make presentations before the board of governors in Kamloops1Calgary, a vote would be held and a winner would be declared.

But it seems that process has gone the way of the dodo bird.

The Kamloops Blazers plan on bidding on the 2023 tournament and Tom Gaglardi, the team’s majority owner, says things have been redone and a host team/city now will be decided in secrecy and that it won’t involve the WHL board holding a vote. Instead, Gaglardi told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, that he believes a decision will be made at the CHL level.

“It’s better,” Gaglardi said. “It should be decided by people who are, you know . . . I just think it takes biases out and the real reasons a winning team should host have got a better chance of prevailing. I’m hopeful this is a good system and a better system, but that remains to be seen.”

The WHL was to have played host to the 2020 tournament and the Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes all wanted to be the host team. Presentations were made in October 2018 and . . . the Rockets won. Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, is chairman of the WHL’s board of governors.

Of course, COVID-19 had other plans and the tournament was scrubbed, as was the 2021 event. This year’s tournament is scheduled for Saint John, N.B.

When Hastings called Hamilton to ask if the Rockets would bid on 2023, the response was: “Thanks for the interest. The CHL is who releases that info now.”

Hastings’ story is right here.


I got quite a chuckle out of two tweets from The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman on Tuesday night. He covers the Edmonton Oilers, and they had just Edmontondumped the visiting Detroit Red Wings, 7-5. . . .

Part 1: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft had lunch (Tuesday) with WHL Oil Kings bench boss Brad Lauer and his staff. Lauer said this: “The wins are pieces of art, but you don’t always hang every picture in the living room. Sometimes you hang them in the basement.”

Part 2: “I thought it was a really smart way of putting it,” Woodcroft said of Lauer’s analogy. “Brad’s a really funny guy. I’m going to steal that one. I think it adequately describes tonight’s game.”

I always enjoyed chatting with Lauer when he played for the Regina Pats and I was with the Regina Leader-Post. Later, after I had moved to Kamloops and he was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (remember them?) for five seasons, we often told talked before and after games.

The WHL hasn’t made a Media Guide and Record Book available since before the 2019-20 season, so the numbers that follow are unofficial.

Including Wednesday’s games, Lauer and Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, are neck-and-neck as to who has the highest percentage of games won among those who have coached at least four seasons.

Williams, who is in his fifth season in Everett, has won 189 of 272 games, which works out to .695.

Lauer is into his fourth season as Edmonton’s head coach. He has been the head coach for 214 games and the Oil Kings have won 149 of those. That is a winning percentage of .692.

Lauer’s Oil Kings dropped a 5-3 decision to the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday. He went into the game trailing Williams by .00001 — .69485-.69484.

I know. I know. You’re asking: What about Ken Hitchcock, who had such a great run with the Kamloops Blazers. In six seasons, he won 291 of 431 games (.675).



F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 19 games as the Regina Pats took down the Hurricanes, 6-4, in Lethbridge. . . . Regina won on the strength of three third-period goals after F Justin Hall, who has 33, struck at 7:23 and 7:50 to give Lethbridge a 4-3 lead. . . . Bedard finished with two goals and an assist, giving him 79 points, including 40 goals, in 49 games. . . . His 19-game point streak ties him with F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers, who had a 19-gamer end on Feb. 19. Bedard has 41 points, 20 of them goals, on his streak; Stankoven finished with 17 goals and 22 assists. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored three times to lead the visiting Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. The loss snapped Edmonton’s 14-game winning streak. . . . Robins, who broke a 1-1 tie with three straight goals, has 30 this season. He scored at 4:22 and 15:18 of the second period and 4:55 of the third. . . . The Blades got 43 saves from G Nolan Maier, who posted his 118th career victory, just two shy of the WHL record. Maier stopped F Dylan Guenther on a penalty shot at 3:14 of the third period with the Blades leading 3-1. Robins scored his third goal just 1:41 later. . . .

In Langley, B.C., Czech F Petr Moravec scored at 1:37 of OT to give the Tri-City Americans a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Moravec, who turned 19 on Feb. 24, has 14 goals. . . . G Tomas Suchanek, an 18-year-old Czech, stopped 35 shots to earn the victory. . . . F Samuel Huo (26) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead with his second shorthanded goal in as many games at 7:27 of the first period. . . . D Alex Cotton (14) pulled the Giants even on the PP at 9:26 of the first. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Swift Current Broncos erased a 2-1 first-period deficit with the next five goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Raiders. . . . F Karson King scored his fifth and sixth goals 11 seconds apart early in the second period to break a 2-2 tie. The Broncos also got a big game from G Isaac Poulter, who stopped 39 shots. . . .

F Blake Stevenson scored twice, giving him 22, to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-2 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Calgary had lost seven in a row. . . . F Zac Funk added his 18th goal and two assists for Calgary, which broke a 1-1 tie with three straight goals, one late in the second period and two in the third. . . . The Wheat Kings were without top-end forwards Nate Danielson, Ridly Greig and Marcus Kallionkieli, all injured, for a third straight game. . . .

G Daniel Hauser blocked 24 shots to help the Winnipeg Ice to a 4-0 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . One night earlier, G Dawson Cowan, in his first WHL appearance, stopped 23 shots as the host Ice blanked the Calgary Hitmen, 4-0. . . . Hauser has a WHL-leading six shutouts in 27 appearances this season. He now is 22-2-1, 2.12, .913 this season. . . . The Ice got goals from F Connor McClennon (38), F Matthew Savoie (28), F Mike Milne (30) and F Conor Geekie (18).

Thanks a bunch to those of you who have clicked on the link and given generously. Much appreciated. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs and general manager/head coach Joe Martin have agreed on a five-year contract extension that will take him through the 2026-27 season. . . . Martin is completing his third season with the Bulldogs after spending eight seasons with the Merritt Centennials, the last four as GM/head coach. . . . This season, the Bulldogs, with two games remaining, are 34-14-4 and leading the nine-team Coastal Division by seven points over the Langley Rivermen.

The NAHL announced Wednesday that the Minnesota Magicians, who played out of Richfield, have been sold and are on the move to Eagle River, Wis. The Magicians had been in Richfield for nine seasons. . . . Wisconsin is home to two other NAHL franchises — the Chippewa Steel in Chippewa Falls and the Janesville Jets in Janesville.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Partnership between WHL, Kidney Foundation pays off . . . Pats’ owners expect $2-million loss on Memorial Cup . . . Former NHL ref remembers Flin Flon


D Connor Cox (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Everett, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the U of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he had one goal and eight assists in 20 games. . . .

F Mário Bližňák (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and two assists in 24 games. On loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic,1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and one assist in 19 games. On loan to Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and four assists in 18 games. . . .

F Pavel Padakin (Calgary, Regina, 2012-15) has been traded by Sochi (Russia, KHL) to Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) for Dmitri Arkhipov and monetary compensation. With Sochi this season, Padakin had nine goals and a team-high 22 assists in 53 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract extension with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). in 49 games, he had 12 goals and 34 assists. An alternate captain, he led his team in assists in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in scoring. . . .

G Ty Rimmer (Brandon, Prince George, Tri-City, Lethbridge, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Kitzbühel (Austria, Alps HL). This season, in 42 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL), he was 14-23-1-1, 3.91,.898. . . .

F Brett Ferguson (Red Deer, 2008-11) signed a two-year contract extension with Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). In 48 games, he had 18 goals and 38 assists.


The WHL announced Monday at the Memorial Cup in Regina that $265,500 was raised through the RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation campaign. . . . The WHL’s 17 Canadian teams each played host to an event during the regular season. . . . The money was raised through various initiatives, including the auctioning of sweaters that resembled Cherry’s suit jackets. . . . From the WHL news release: “The $265,500 raised is the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s largest public awareness and fundraising campaign for organ donation.” . . . The Cherry family has been a huge supporter of the Kidney Foundation for years. Tim, Cherry’s son, received a kidney from his sister, Cindy, in 1979. . . . If you are interested in signing up as an organ donor, please visit CanadaDonates.ca. . . . There wasn’t any mention in the news release about whether the WHL will be involved in the campaign again next season, but here’s hoping.

Who was the scheduling wizard who scheduled Game 5 of the Stanley Cup series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets for Sunday afternoon on the first long weekend of summer? No, I didn’t watch. I was driving, so caught the game on XM.

Early on Sunday, there were social media notices that plenty of seats were available for that day’s Memorial Cup game in Regina, between the Pats and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, starting at $75 plus fees. For junior hockey?

The Kelowna Rockets have signed F Ethan Ernst, a native of Weyburn, Sask., who turned 16 on Jan. 26. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 41 games with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds.

Hockey fans may not be aware that retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser first made his mark in the WHL, and it all started with a game in Flin Flon. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post spoke with Fraser about that and other WHL stories. It’s all right here.

Rick Wilson, a former WHL coach, has decided to retire, ending a coaching career that began with two seasons (1978-79) at his alma mater, the U of North Dakota. He then spent eight seasons with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders, six as an assistant coach and the last two as head coach. . . . Wilson, 67, worked as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. But most of his career was spent with the Dallas Stars, which is where he finished up this season.

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Kadyn Chabot, 16, to a WHL contract. Chabot, from Lethbridge, had 13 goals and 22 assists in 32 games with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes this season. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Tigers in the 2017 bantam draft.

So here’s the deal. . . . The owners of the Regina Pats paid $3.65 million to the CHL for the right to play host to the 2018 Memorial Cup and celebrate the event’s 100th anniversary. . . . Shaun Semple, who is part of the ownership group and chairman of the tournament’s organizing committee, says they expect to lose about $2 million. . . . Alex Soloducha of CBC News has more right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at the Memorial Cup on Monday as the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs got past the WHL-champion Swift Current Broncos, 2-1. Steinke has a game story and some info on Bob Ridley, the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, right here.

The 1980 Memorial Cup, which started in Brandon and finished in Regina, was the messiest in the event’s history. You may recall that it featured questions about whether one team threw a game that eliminated the WHL-champion Pats; it also featured at least one chicken-throwing incident. . . . I know that I never will forget the sight of a reporter with a Regina radio station sporting a Pats cap and asking Mike Keenan, the head coach of the Peterborough Petes, questions about what had happened. Daniel Nugent-Bowman has produced an oral history of that tournament and it’s all right here.


%d bloggers like this: