Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while watching Shohei Ohtani weave his magic . . .

scattershooting

A lot of junior hockey teams have signed assistant coaches during my 50-plus years around the game. But I can’t recall an announcement like the one the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades made on Monday.

The Blades welcomed back Wacey Rabbit, this time as an assistant coach, but they also brought his wife, Ashley Callingbull, into their organization as an ambassador.

From a Blades’ news release: “Ashley is a Cree First Nations woman from the Enoch Cree Nation on Treaty Six territory in Alberta. Ashley has many passions that include dance, and she is professionally trained in jazz, ballet, pointe and tap. She also has developed a career in acting, starring in many commercials and television shows.”

These days, she also can be found in Edmonton where she is the in-game host at Commonwealth Stadium for games involving the CFL’s Elks.

But she is making her biggest mark working with First Nations people and in these days of reconciliation the Sask Entertainment Group, which owns the Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, has done well be bringing her aboard.

“I work with a lot of women and children around the communities and within Saskatoon so I am here quite often and now it will be easier for me to be more accessible to these communities,” she said in that news release.

Her position with the Blades and Rush will allow her a large platform to continue her work in the Saskatoon area and in Saskatchewan.

“I’m hoping to create more programs for not only the youth but indigenous peoples,” she said. “I can’t wait so I will be at every game.”

Sorry, Wacey, but I think your wife’s inclusion in this deal has overshadowed your return.

——

With the Blades, Wacey Rabbit, 35, fills the vacancy created when associate Saskatooncoach Ryan Marsh left after four seasons to join the DEL’s Schwenninger Wild Wings in Germany as an assistant coach. . . . Rabbit, who is from the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, played four seasons (2002-06) with the Blades and 30 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. He ended his pro career by playing three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen, while also playing in Czechi and Romania. . . . In 2021-22, he was an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . From a Blades’ news release: Rabbit “will join head coach Brennan Sonne, assistant coach Dan DaSilva, goaltending coach Jeff Harvey, video coach Karter Parisloff and assistant Jerome Engele on the staff.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Has the reputation of one organization taken a beating in recent days and weeks as much as Hockey Canada’s has? (It) should never get another cent of government money, which won’t begin to undo anything close to all that’s gone wrong here.”

He’s not wrong.


The good folks of Imperial, Sask., got it right. Well done, folks!


Giraffe


THINKING OUT LOUD: I learned a few days ago that Johnny Rivers isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. . . . It’s also wrong, wrong, wrong that Leo Cahill isn’t in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. . . . And while we’re on the subject, it’s embarrassing that Paul Henderson isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. . . . Is there a better race track in B.C. than the highway between Vernon and Kelowna? If you haven’t been on it, it’s one of those tracks where the speed limit seems to be whatever you want it to be. . . . Look, 3-on-3 overtime is fine for a hockey league’s regular-season games. But in the Memorial Cup? How embarrassing to see the CHL decide meaningful games in this fashion. . . . There was news the other day of thieves breaking into the Atlanta home of former NBA star Vince Carter and making off with about $100,000 in cash. So I asked my wife: “How much cash do we have in our home?” We stopped counting at $70. . . . Hope you feel at home here despite the absence of gambling ads.


Have to wonder if any junior hockey teams might try this in an attempt to attract fans and keep them coming back?



With all that is going on in our world these days, you may have missed this story, from The Associated Press:

“ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Happy the elephant may be intelligent and deserving of compassion, but she cannot be considered a person being illegally confined to the Bronx Zoo, New York’s top court ruled Tuesday.

“The 5-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals comes in a closely watched case that tested the boundaries of applying human rights to animals.”

The complete story is right here.

As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, put it: “I guess I should be happy in these days of hyper-political correctness that the NY State Court of Appeals ruled that an elephant is not a person and that an elephant in the Bronx Zoo cannot be released under habeus corpus. . . . However, before I get too carried away in my euphoria, let me point out that the vote of the judges was only 5-2.  Two judges wanted the elephant released via habeus corpus.” 


Stupid


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual general meeting recently, the details of which are included in the link in the above tweet. I’m disappointed that the news release didn’t include anything about the part of the gathering in which the commissioner was kind enough to give me some free publicity. . . . BTW, the Canadian government has extended pandemic-related border restrictions at least through Sept. 19. I’m told, Mr. Commissioner, that this means the Spokane Braves will be sitting out another KIJHL season. They last played in 2019-20.



THE COACHING GAME:

I’ve been coasting for the last couple of weeks, recharging the batteries, making certain that the mask supply is up to date, and watching to see if the quicksand completely envelops Hockey Canada before the Hlinka Gretzky Cup opens in Red Deer on July 31. So a lot of what follows is a bit dated . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have removed the ‘interim’ from Ryan Smith’s title and Spokanesigned him to “a multi-year contract” as head coach. The precise length of the deal wasn’t revealed. . . . Smith was in his second season as the WHL team’s associate coach when head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith was named interim head coach and guided the Chiefs into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Smith spent two seasons on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ coaching staff and was with the Swift Current Broncos for three seasons. . . . The Chiefs also signed Dustin Donaghy as an assistant coach for 2022-23. A part-time assistant when last season began, he assumed a full-time role when Maglio was fired. As a player, Donaghy, now 33, helped the Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup title. . . . Of course, the Chiefs’ decision to stay with Smith throws a wet blanket on the speculation that the job would be going to Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 years with the Portland Winterhawks but now is a free agent after being released by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have signed Blake Spiller, their general manager and head coach, to another contract. The Terriers, who do things right, revealed that it is a three-year deal. . . . Spiller has been with the Terriers since 2001 and has been head coach since 2006. . . . The Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. . . . From a news release: “Spiller won the CJHL coach-of-the-year award in 2015, 2016 and 2019. He holds the MJHL record for league championships (8) and ANAVET Cups (2). He also won the RBC Cup in 2015. Spiller holds all Terriers coaching records, and has 604 career wins. He is 67 regular-season victories away from breaking Doug Stokes’ all-time MJHL record.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and coach, now is the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. He signed on as the Rush’s head coach and director of hockey operations in July 2021, then got the club into the second round of the playoffs. Burt was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs for six seasons (2013-19). As a player, he split four seasons (1994-98) between the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The BCHL has announced the sale of the Nanaimo Clippers to Northern Lights bchlHockey Canada, “an investment group headed by Brad Kwong, a Western Canadian-born investment professional with a long history in the sport of hockey as a player, executive and team owner,” according to a news release. . . . That news release is right here. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention from whom Kwong and Co. purchased the franchise. . . .

Darren Naylor is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . You may recall that Naylor, then the general manager and head coach of the Nanaimo Clippers, was placed on administrative leave by the BCHL in February due to what the league said was “allegations of code of conduct breaches.” At the time, the BCHL said that Naylor would remain on administrative leave until at least May 31. At the time, Naylor was under contract to the Clippers through the 2022-23 season. . . . The BCHL said at the time that it had appointed an independent investigator to look into the allegations, but it has never updated Naylor’s status. . . . Colin Birkas, the Clippers’ associate coach at the time, also was placed on administrative leave when Naylor was, but shortly after was reinstated. On May 24, Birkas was named the Clippers’ general manager and head coach. . . . With the Blizzard, Naylor replaces Billy Keane, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the 2021-22 season. . . .

Barret Kropf has chosen to leave the Trinity Western Spartans of the BCIHL. He had been the head coach since 2013, but is moving on to the Moose Jaw-based Prairie Hockey Academy as general manager and U15 prep head coach. Kropf is from Estevan. A three-time coach of the year, he led the Spartans to BCIHL titles in 2018 and 2019, then led them into Canada West in 2020. . . .

Eric Thurston has signed on as head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. He spent the past four seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. There had been speculation a few weeks ago that Bill Peters, a former NHL, KHL and WHL coach, was going to sign with the Storm.


Wifi


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Petr Moravec, 19, has left the Tri-City Americans to sign a junior contract with his hometown team, Hradec Králove of the Czechia, Extraliga, as reported by the MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport). Moravec put up 16 goals and 19 assists 68 games in 2021-22, his only WHL season. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told me that he wasn’t surprised that Moravec wouldn’t be back. “He’s a good kid,” Tory said. “This is a good opportunity for him.” Tory was pleased to have a decision before the CHL’s 2022 import draft that is scheduled for Friday. . . . The Americans expect to make one pick, what with Czech G Tomas Suchanek, 19, back for a second season. As a freshman, he was 12-24-4, 3.87, .901 in 42 games for a non-playoff team. . . . Don’t forget that the CHL won’t permit the selection of Russian or Belarusian players in this year’s import draft. . . .

The Everett Silvertips have promoted Mike Fraser to assistant general manager — he had been director of player personnel — and signed him to a multi-year contract extension. The exact length of the extension wasn’t revealed. Fraser has been with Everett through four seasons — three as head scout and one as director of player personnel. He is a veteran WHL scout, having also worked with the Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Silvertips also have added veteran scout Brian Leavold to their staff as a senior scout. He has worked for the Broncos (1999-2018) and Saskatoon Blades (2018-22). . . .

Dan O’Connor announced via Twitter recently that he is moving on from the Vancouver Giants. O’Connor will be joining the U of British Columbia as a sports information co-ordinator. O’Connor spent the past 11 seasons doing WHL play-by-play — six with the Prince George Cougars and five with the Giants.


Elevator


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


KidDraw

With pandemic ongoing, the WHL’s attendance not pretty picture . . . Oil Kings win 12th straight game . . . BCHL reinstates one Nanaimo coach


Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.

Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”

After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the WHLfriend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”

That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.

No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”

The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.

You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)

Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.

Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.

Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.

This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.

With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.


Plastic


WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .

F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .

In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.



The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associate  general Nanaimomanager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.


Today is World Kidney Day. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is preparing to take 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.


Bedtime


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Driving

Clippers go along with BCHL and put coaches on leave pending investigation; two assistants run bench in win; interim staff to be installed


Most times the action in a junior hockey league is on the ice with one team playing another. But these days in the BCHL it’s league versus team in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Or is it?

Let’s recap . . .

The BCHL informed players on the Nanaimo Clippers via email on Tuesday that Darren Naylor, the vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, had been placed on administrative leave while a league-appointed independent investigator reviewed “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . .

With the Clippers next scheduled to play last night (Friday) against the host NanaimoPowell River Kings, the league told the players that it would put another coach in place in order to keep their season going. . . .

On Thursday, the Clippers, Naylor and Birkas received a temporary injunction from a BC Supreme Court justice after filing a lawsuit that also asked for damages from the BCHL. . . . However, Naylor and Birkas weren’t on the Clippers’ bench for a 6-4 victory over the Kings last night. Instead, assistants Ken McPhalen and Bob Foglietta did the coaching. . . . The teams are to play again tonight in Powell River. . . .

On Friday night, the BCHL issued a statement via email, saying that the Clippers “without notice to the BCHL” had “made an ex parte injunction application and obtained a court order restraining the BCHL from placing the coaches on leave. The BCHL will be applying to have the order set aside.” . . .

The Clippers are owned by Wes Mussio, whose bio on the team website says he is a personal injury/estate litigation lawyer and the managing partner and founder of Mussio Goodman Law. . . .

Victoria-based CHEK News reported Friday that “a notice of civil claim was filed . . . by Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas, arguing that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . .

According to CHEK News, “The lawsuit indicates that the Nanaimo Clippers organization conducted its own internal investigation into the allegations after being alerted to the BCHL investigation at the start of the season in October 2021 and found no wrongdoing.” . . . The Clippers, including the two coaches, “argued that the complainants who first brought forward the allegations were mostly disgruntled former employees and former billet parents ‘who have significant motivation to lie, exaggerate and attack without evidence in support as they had a falling out with the coaches before leaving the Clippers organizations.’ ”

The CHEK News story is right here.

But, wait, there’s more . . .

Shortly after Friday’s game ended, the Clippers issued a statement that was signed by Mussio.

According to the statement, the Clippers have decided to “place their coaching staff on temporary leave to allow the BCHL to complete their internal investigation process. . . .

“We stand with our players and will allow them to continue the push for the conference title without any further distractions. An interim coaching staff will be implemented forthwith while the BCHL also has a chance to investigate the allegations to their satisfaction.”

So . . . it would seem that takes the whole mess out of the courts and back into the BCHL’s boardroom.

Stay tuned. . . .


Change


G Kelton Pyne benefited from F Connor Bedard’s five-point night as the host ReginaRegina Pats beat the Calgary Hitmen, 5-0, on Friday night. Pyne, 16, was making his second appearance with the Pats, whose two regular goaltenders are sidelined with concussions. He stopped 24 shots in posting his first victory. . . . Bedard scored three times, giving him 28 on the season. He has 52 points in 35 games, including 28 in his last 11 outings. . . . Don’t be sleeping on Regina F Tanner Howe, either. Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, had two assists. He’s got 38 points, including 22 assists, in 37 games. . . . If you track such things, Regina assistant coach Brad Herauf earned his first WHL head-coaching victory as he filled in for an ailing John Paddock. . . .

G Taylor Gauthier of the Portland Winterhawks had his shutout streak halted at Portland251:11 in an 8 -1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. While Gauthier set a franchise record for longest shutout streak, he fell short of the record (265:13) set by Chris Worthy of the Flin Flon Bombers in 1967-68. . . . F Cross Hanas scored three times for Portland, once on a penalty shot. He has six goals and 11 assists over his past six games. . . . According to the Winterhawks, Mike Johnston made his 700th regular-season appearance behind their bench. The WHL record (1,411) is held by Ken Hodge, who coached the original Edmonton Oil Kings and the Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs and Winterhawks are in a stretch of five straight games against each other; Portland has won the first three — 7-3, 9-0 and 8-1. . . . The game was Ryan Smith’s first as Spokane’s head coach after he took over from Adam Maglio on Thursday. . . .

G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades stopped 29 shots in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. That was the 112th regular-season victory of his career, eight shy of the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . .

G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 21 shots as the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 4-0. The Rebels could have closed to within four points of the Central Division-leading Oil Kings, but instead fell eight points off the pace. . . . Cossa leads the WHL with five shutouts this season. He has 13 in 84 career appearances. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, beaten 4-3 by visiting Tri-City on Wednesday, scored Kamloopsfour times in the first period en route to a 6-1 victory over the Americans. F Luke Toporowski scored twice and added two assists, while linemate Logan Stankoven ran his point streak to 15 games with two goals and a helper. . . . Toporowski has 13 goals and seven assists in 11 games since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Stankoven, who has 63 points in 36 games, has 34 points in that 15-game tear. . . . BTW, a Kamloopsian contacted me with a friendly reminder for the four Tri-City players who were in a downtown Tim Hortons sans face masks on Friday morning: There is mask mandate in B.C. that takes in all public indoor settings. Hey, guys, not a good look to be wearing team colours and not abiding by provincial mandates. . . .

In other games . . . D Max Wanner (4), F Jagger Firkus (27) and D Daemon Hunt (13) each had a goal and assist to lead the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 3-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Connor Hvidston’s sixth goal, at 2:36 of OT, gave the Swift Current Broncos a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . F Pavel Novak scored the only goal of the shootout as the host Kelowna Rockets beat Everett, 4-3, snapping the Silvertips’ eight-game winning streak in the process. Czech freshman Gabriel Szturc scored his eight goal for the Rockets, this one was special because his parents were in the stands. . . . F Ty Thorpe scored twice to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. The Giants had had their previous two games postponed due to some positive tests within the organization. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last six goals — two each from F Lukas Svejkovsky and Reid Schaefer — as they beat the Royals 6-1 in Victoria.


Scrabble


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dinos

Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


MacBeth

F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


ThisThat

Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


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The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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Broncos sign 2016 first-rounder … Honour for Ice’s new logo … Ex-WHL coach out in Nanaimo shakeup

MacBeth

F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year extension with the Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). In 32 games, he has 16 goals and 13 assists, and he leads the team in goals and points. He is tied for third in the league in goals. . . .

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has been released by Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL) by mutual agreement due to a shoulder injury suffered on Dec. 16. He had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games. He is expected to return to Prague for treatment. . . .

F Peter Quenneville (Brandon, 2013-15) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He played for Aalborg last season, putting up 30 goals and 19 assists in 45 games. He led the league in goals and was fourth in the points race. . . . This season, with Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and an assist in 12 games, and he had three goals and an assist in nine games with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract with SaiPa on Dec. 12.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . . SOME OF THAT . . .

The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Jacson Alexander, 16, who was one of their two first-round selections in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Alexander, from Victoria, was taken with the 16th overall pick.

Alexander, who will turn 17 on Feb. 1, was in his first season with the BCHL’s Victoria SCBroncosGrizzlies — he put up three goals and seven assists in 29 games — but will join the Broncos after Christmas.

He committed to the U of Denver on Dec. 7, 2016, for the 2019-20 season, while playing for the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School prep team in the CSSHL.

This season, the 5-foot-10 Alexander also played for Hockey Canada’s Team Black at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge last month in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. He had one assist in five games.

Alexander could make his WHL debut on Dec. 27 when the Broncos return to play against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.

Alexander’s arrival will give the Broncos seven defencemen and may take some of the pressure off Manny Viveiros, the director of player personnel and head coach, with the trade deadline approaching on Jan. 10. Observers were watching closely to see if Viveiros would go to the marketplace to land a seventh defenceman, something that may not be necessary now.

BTW, in that 2016 bantam draft, the Broncos used the fourth overall selection to take F Logan Barlage, who was playing for the bantam AA Humboldt, Sask., Broncos. This season, the 6-foot-4 Barlage, a freshman, has a goal and six assists in 30 games with the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have the WHL rights to the only unsigned first-round selection from the 2017 bantam draft. They took D Joel Sexsmith of Edmonton with the ninth overall pick. He now is playing at the Edge School in Calgary.

Meanwhile, F Massimo Rizzo now is the lone first-round selection from the 2016 bantam draft not to have committed to the WHL.

The Kamloops Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall pick, but he chose to sign with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.

From Burnaby, B.C., Rizzo has six goals and 11 assists in 28 games with the Vees this season. He had a goal and three assists in five games as a teammate of Alexander’s on Team Black at the U-17 WHC.

Rizzo has yet to make an NCAA commitment, nor has he told the Blazers that he definitely won’t sign with them at some point.


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When it comes to sports logos, Chris Creamer is the man. You are able to find him at sportslogos.net, or on Twitter at @sportslogosnet.

On Friday, he announced the 2017 Creamer Award winners for best new sports logos.

KootenaynewThe 14-person judging panel considered logos that “made their in-game debut in 2017.”

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice placed third in the Primary Logo of the Year Award, behind baseball’s Memphis Redbirds and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

Of the Ice’s new logo, which is pictured on the left, Creamer wrote: “Love the hidden ICE in this logo, designed by Bill Frederick’s team at Fanbrandz, who gave this junior hockey team the identity update it so desperately needed. Well done!”

The top 50 in that category and whole lot more, including a mention of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 50th anniversary logo, can be found right here.


Less than a week after staging a father/son trip with his BCHL team, Mike Vandekamp is out of work.

Wes Mussio, a Vancouver-based lawyer who is the majority owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, revealed on Thursday, at 11:43 p.m., via Twitter that he had fired Vandekamp, the team’s general manager and head coach, “due to irreconcilable differences with the management team.”

Vandekamp’s contract would have expired at season’s end.

Late Friday night, the Clippers’ website continued to list Dustin Donaghy as the team’s

Clippers
On Nov. 10, Penny and Wes Mussio (second and third from left) were introduced as the new majority owners of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Darren Naylor (left) was named director of hockey operations, while team president David LeNeveu (fourth from left) retained five per cent. Mike Vandekamp (far right), then the general manager and head coach, was fired Thursday night and replaced by Naylor. (Photo: Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

head coach. However, a BCHL insider told Taking Note that Donaghy had been “fired by the Clippers.” Donaghy, from Cranbrook, played three seasons in the WHL (Spokane, Lethbridge, 2007-10).

Darren Naylor, who was part of that management team as the director of hockey operations, is the new GM and head coach.

Mussio and his wife, Penny, purchased 95 per cent of the Clippers last month and installed Naylor as director of hockey ops. Naylor also has been working as GM/head coach of the junior B Delta Ice Hawks, who are 26-2-1 in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Mussio had been the majority owner of the Ice Hawks but is believed to have sold his shares when he purchased the Clippers.

On Friday, Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin that he and Naylor were tired of butting heads with Vandekamp. (Sakaki’s complete story is right here.)

“The previous owner gave Mike a carte-blanche ability to do anything he wants and I wanted some input and I wanted Darren Naylor to have some input and sadly that didn’t seem like something Mr. Vandekamp was prepared to accept,” Mussio told Sakaki.

Mussio added: “We brought in a few key players and they were hit with resistance and we also tried to bring on some (affiliate players) and that was hit with resistance. So in order to move forward to the next (season), we need to have a look at players and recruit. Without any support from the coach, it’s pretty hard to do.”

Mussio also told Sakaki that Vandekamp had been given until Dec. 22 to commit to the new situation.

“He didn’t think it was in his personality . . . to do so, so that the end of it,” Mussio said.

Vandekamp, who has yet to comment, is a veteran junior coach who was in his seventh season with the Clippers. This season, the Clippers are 18-13-3-2 (that’s two ties), leaving them one point behind the Powell River Kings (18-10-3-3), who lead the BCHL’s Island Division.

The Clippers’ next game is Dec. 29 when they are scheduled to visit Powell River.

Vandekamp’s resume includes a season and a half as head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. In the BCHL, he also has worked with the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers. He joined the Clippers after four seasons with the AJHL’s Grand Prairie Storm.

As for the father/son trip . . . the Clippers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters, 7-2, on Friday, then got past the Penticton Vees, 4-2, on Saturday. Nanaimo ended the trip by dropping a 4-2 decision to the Merritt Centennials on Sunday afternoon.

Dominic Abassi is the news director for Island Radio and @NanaimoNewsNOW.


It was rather interesting on Friday when F Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has missed his NHL team’s past six games, discussed with reporters why he has been out of the lineup.

Matthews practised for the first time in almost two weeks and later talked about having symptoms of a concussion after colliding with Toronto D Morgan Reilly during a game against the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 9.

While Matthews didn’t go into great detail on the symptoms, he did say that he “went MapleLeafsthrough all that return to play, and all the protocols and everything and obviously, you know, they take it pretty seriously and they deemed me out so I went through all that stuff and I feel great now.”

Toronto next is scheduled to play today (Saturday) in New York against the Rangers, but it’s not yet known if Matthews will play.

Matthews’ conversation with reporters on Friday just may be another sign that NHL teams are loosening up when it comes to detailing injuries.

A couple of weeks ago, head coach Ken Hitchcock of the Dallas Stars explained why he no longer plays the “upper-body or lower-body” game.

“I think we collectively hate playing that game,” said Hitchcock, who posted his 800th victory as an NHL head coach on Thursday. “What I mean by that is we say upper-body, then you go on the phone, and then you look up things or you go to the doctors, find out what part of the upper body . . . We try to make your work easier, quite frankly, and so we just don’t like going through the dance.

“It’s easy to tell you what it is and let’s move forward. It’s just the whole game. It’s an injury and within two hours after we tell you it’s upper-body you know exactly what it is, so why not just tell you? And the players don’t go out and say: ‘He has a broken left pinkie and we’re going to go after that pinkie.’ Nobody thinks like that.

“Our feeling is just tell them what the injury is and move it forward and let’s stop the dance.”

But, then again, it could be that the Toronto braintrust wasn’t at all pleased with the way Matthews handled things on Friday. David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail takes a look at the situation right here.


Scoreboard

Dec. 18-Dec. 26:

No Games Scheduled.


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