Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


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It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

——

The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

——

The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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Lajoie fine with Blazers’ coaching addition . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ victory . . . Alexeyev helps Rebels end skid

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F Justin Kelly (Spokane, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) has announced his retirement. This season, he had two goals and five assists in 12 games with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2), but he hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion suffered in a game that night against Kaufbeuren. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). In 57 games, he had 11 goals and 12 assists, and was second on the team in scoring. Slovan has four regular-season games left and cannot make the playoffs.


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When the Kamloops Blazers officially added Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff on Tuesday, it wasn’t seen in some corners of the team’s fandom as just another move. Kamloops1That’s because Sydor is one of the team’s five owners. . . . After the Blazers dropped the visiting Victoria Royals, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week spoke with Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie about job security and a whole lot more. . . .

“I’m not worried,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I don’t see Darryl Sydor as a threat. For me, I’ve always invested my full energy in whatever I’ve taken on. But I value family. I also value education. I’ve got an education degree, a master’s degree. I have good roots back in Edmonton.

“The reason I tell you that is that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to be here. If there is an ulterior motive, to have him in to oversee things, I don’t see it. If that’s the case, again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve put a lot of work in this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in these players.

“I could leave with my head up high.”

As for Sydor, who has spent eight years as an assistant coach in the professional ranks, he told Hastings that he’s not a threat.

“I’m here to give guidance and if there’s feedback that I can give on how he can become a better coach, that’s what I’m here for,” Sydor said.

Hastings’ complete story is right here.


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Ghostridershave signed general manager and head coach Jeff Wagner to a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Wagner is in his first season with Fernie. . . . The Ghostriders are 25-13, with three ties and four OTLs, and will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division, behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, who are 39-4 with one tie and one OTL. . . . Wagner, from Calgary, joined the Ghostriders after working as the assistant GM with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thundercats.


The Young Stars Classic, a September fixture in Penticton, B.C., since 2010, won’t be held in 2019. . . . The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks confirmed that on Thursday, one day after the Winnipeg Jets revealed that will take part in a prospects’ tournament in Belleville, Ont., in September. . . . The Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had teams of prospects play in Penticton prior to 2018. However the Flames and Oilers didn’t take part in 2018, choosing instead to play games in Red Deer. That left the Canucks and Jets to face each other twice, with the UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears also playing each other twice. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more right here.


In all my time writing sports, Kaye Kaminishi may be the most unforgettable character I have met. Now 97, the Kamloops resident played baseball in Vancouver for the legendary Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian team that shone in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, Kaminishi ended up in an internment camp near Lillooet, B.C., and never did return to Vancouver. He was there recently, though, filming a Heritage Minute that is soon to be seen on your TV set. . . . John Mackie of Postmedia has more on this remarkable man right here


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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three third-period goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the Warriors, 3-2, in Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (31-17-8) is atop the Central Division, three points clear of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (30-15-8) has lost two in a row. It appears headed for a third-place finish in the East Division. . . . The Warriors played 12 of their previous 13 games on the road. In those 13 games, they were 9-3-1. . . . The Oil Kings had been 0-7-4 in their previous 11 games with Moose Jaw, not having beaten the Warriors since Feb. 20, 2016. On that night, the Oil Kings won, 3-2, in Moose Jaw with F Dario Meyer getting the winner. . . . F Carson Denomie (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 12:55 of the second period. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-1 on third-period goals from Loschiavo, at 2:11, and F Andrew Fyten (14), at 10:54. . . . D Josh Brook (14) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 12:59. . . . Loschiavo snapped the tie with his 26th goal at 13:38. He has eight game-winners this season; only F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Tristin Langan of the Warriors have more, with nine. . . . Loschiavo would have had a hat trick had he scored on a second-period penalty shot, but he was unable to beat G Adam Evanoff. . . . Loschiavo played the first 215 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Kootenay Ice, then was dealt to Moose Jaw and played 40 games there. On May 3, Edmonton sent F Nick Bowman and a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Warriors for Loschiavo. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 31 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Warriors got 36 saves from Evanoff. . . . With G Dylan Myskiw (ill) sidelined, the Oil Kings had G Matthew Pesenti, 17, backing up Scott. Pesenti, who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was with Edmonton on an emergency basis, because his WHL rights belong to the Regina Pats. He has spent time with the Pats this season and got into two games last month. . . . The Oil Kings also scratched F Scott Atkinson and F Zach Russell, both of whom also were ill. . . . Edmonton D Jake Neighbours served the last game of a four-game suspension. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tate Popple in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 31.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 Red Deervictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . This game was to have been played on Wednesday night but was postponed 24 hours when poor driving conditions kept the Rebels from making it to Everett in time. . . . Red Deer (29-19-5) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (38-13-3) leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Robbie Holmes (10) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:40 of the second period. That was his first goal since being acquired by Everett from the Regina Pats at the Jan. 10 trade deadline. He had nine goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Pats. He’s got a goal and two assists in 12 games with Everett. . . . F Brandon Hagel (32) pulled Red Deer even at 11:26 of the third period. . . . D Jake Christiansen scored for Everett in the fourth round of the shootout, only to have F Jeff de Wit equalize. . . . Alexeyev then won it in the next round. . . . Each of the goaltenders — Red Deer’s Ethan Anders and Everett’s Dustin Wolf — stopped 37 shots through OT. . . . Red Deer was 0-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ head coach, now has 496 regular-season victories as he strives to become the ninth coach in WHL history to get to 500.


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Blazers add Sydor to coaching staff . . . Prince George city council wants Cougars to help with renos . . . Smith wins it in OT


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The Kamloops Blazers have added co-owner Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff for the remainder of this season.

Sydor, 46, has been named a full-time assistant coach, and will join head coach Serge Kamloops1Lajoie and assistant coach Dan Kordic, both of whom are in their first season as WHL coaches, on the staff.

Chris Murray, a former NHLer who also played for the Blazers, is a part-time assistant coach, while Dan De Palma handles the goaltenders.

With 16 games remaining in their regular season, the Blazers (20-27-5) are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds (21-26-6), who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind the Kelowna Rockets (23-26-5), but with two games in hand.

The Blazers, who have lost their past three games (0-2-1), next will play tonight when they are to entertain the Victoria Royals.

Sydor played four seasons (1988-92) with the Blazers, helping them to the 1992 Memorial Cup title. He then went on to a pro career that included 1,291 games in the NHL and Stanley Cup championships with the Dallas Stars (1999) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2004). He retired after the 2009-10 season.

Sydor has worked as an NHL assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. He left the Blues in May, having spent last season with them.

“It was just time to take a step back,” Sydor told CFJC-TV of Kamloops at the time. “I’ve been(coaching) for only eight years, but playing the game of hockey a lot longer. It’s time to give back to the family, give back to myself, and just take a step back.”

Sydor, his wife and four sons moved back to Kamloops, and he has been a regular at Blazers games, watching from the press box. He also has been on the ice with them at some practices.

Sydor has been one of the Blazers’ owners since before the 2007-08 season. He joins majority owner Tom Gaglardi, along with ex-players Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla and Mark Recchi.

The WHL now has two owners who also are working as full-time coaches. Brent Sutter owns the Red Deer Rebels, and also is the team’s general manager and head coach.


City council in Prince George has decided that it won’t foot the entire bill for new boards PrinceGeorgeand glass in the CN Centre, as requested by the WHL. The tab for new boards and glass will come to $578,000. . . . The WHL wants the renovations made in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Mark Nielsen of the Prince George Citizen reports right here that “council directed staff to negotiate a deal that would see the Prince George Cougars cover half the cost.” . . . Coun. Kyle Sampson said: “I think it’s a large amount of money for us to pay. It’s the user group (Cougars) that are going to require this, the other user groups in this facility don’t require this and it’s their league that has mandated this change so the request for us to pay 100 per cent seems to be a bit steep.” . . . Sampson’s motion to have staff negotiate with the Cougars passed unanimously.


The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner will have a WHL flavour with Ron BChallDelorme, Barret Jackman, Shane Heyer and Mark Holick among the inductees. . . . Delorme, a long-time scout with the Vancouver Canucks, played for the Swift Current/Lethbridge Broncos (1973-76). He will go into the hall as a builder. . . . Jackman played four seasons (1997-2001) with the Regina Pats, before going on to a lengthy NHL career. . . . Heyer came out of the WHL to work 386 regular-season NHL games as a referee and 1,630 as a linesman. He also worked the lines in six Stanley Cup finals. . . . Holick was the head coach of the Surrey Eagles, who won the 1998 Royal Bank Cup as national junior A champions. The Eagles will be inducted in the team category. Holick coached in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice and Prince George Cougars, and now is the head coach of the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . . Also going into the hall will be former Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and the late Karen Wallace, who will be inducted as a builder for her work with female hockey in B.C. and nationally. . . . The 2019 induction dinner is scheduled for July 19 in Penticton, which is where the Hall of Fame is located.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Tri-City Americans erased a 3-1 deficit with three second-period goals and beat the tri-citySeattle Thunderbirds, 4-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . Tri-City (29-20-3) is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also is fourth in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Seattle (21-27-6) holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Americans took a 1-0 lead when F Parker AuCoin (31) scored while shorthanded, at 3:34 of the first period. . . . F Andrei Kukuca (19) tied it, on a PP, at 19:35. . . . Seattle went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Michael Wedman (28), at 4:29, and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (8), at 5:39. . . . The Americans got to within a goal at 7:54 when F Krystof Hrabik (14) scored. . . . D Aaron Hyman, a former Thunderbirds player, tied it, on a PP, with his 10th goal, at 10:02. . . . F Sasha Mutala (13) snapped the tie at 11:42 and that goal stood up through a scoreless third period. . . . G Beck Warm earned the victory with 30 saves, two more than Seattle’s Roddy Ross. . . . Seattle was credited with winning 42 of the game’s 59 faceoffs. . . . D Mitchell Brown was back in Tri-City’s lineup after last playing on Jan. 25. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who drew a two-game suspension after being penalized for a one-man fight during a 7-4 loss to the visiting Victoria Royals on Saturday night. . . . The Thunderbirds remain without F Nolan Volcan and D Simon Kubicek.


D Ty Smith scored twice, including the winner in OT, as the host Spokane Chiefs got past SpokaneChiefsthe Red Deer Rebels, 4-3. . . . Spokane (30-17-6) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Red Deer (28-19-5) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. It also is fifth in the Central Division, one point behind the Calgary Hitmen and four behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Arshdeep Bains (6) gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead at 1:59 of the first period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (9), who also had two assists, tied it at 6:10. . . . Red Deer went back ahead as F Brandon Hagel (31) scored at 7:17 of the second period. . . . Smith tied it, on a PP, at 8:49, and F Adam Beckman (23) put the Chiefs out front at 18:42. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev’s 10th goal, at 2:06 of the third period, forced OT. . . . The Rebels were penalized for too many men at 19:48 of the third period, and Smith scored his sixth goal of the season, on the ensuing PP, at 0:30 of extra time. . . . G Bailey Brkin stopped 29 shots for the Chiefs, three more than the Rebels’ Ethan Anders.


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Hay “surprised” by Kamloops move . . . TWU goalie writing neat story . . . Sydor gets back into coaching game

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In case there is any lingering doubt, Don Hay has told veteran Portland sports journalist Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest that he got caught up in a changing of the guard in Kamloops.

Hay, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any WHL coach in history, Portlandjoined the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach on Monday, having spent the previous four seasons as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers.

“That’s our business. Things happen,” Hay told Jaynes of his ouster in Kamloops. “They wanted to make some changes, and that’s their right. It surprised me. You just have to make the best of it.”

Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced on May 10 that Hay had retired. A news release issued by the team read that “Hay has announced his retired from coaching the Blazers and will remain with the hockey club in an advisory role.”

At the same news conference, which Hay didn’t attend, Gaglardi revealed that general manager Stu MacGregor had been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, a team also owned by Gaglardi, and that the contracts of assistant coach Mike Needham and director of player personnel Matt Recchi wouldn’t be renewed.

Hay won three Memorial Cups with the Blazers — he as an assistant coach in 1992, and was the head coach in 1994 and 1995. He returned to the Blazers during the summer of 2014 after working for 10 seasons as the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. He helped them to the 2007 Memorial Cup championship.

As for landing in Portland, Hay told Jaynes that “it just came out of the blue.”

Hay said he was “contemplating retiring” when he got a phone call from Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach. “Mike and I go back a long ways. We’ve both gone different ways but we’ve always kept in touch.”

Hay added that he is looking forward to working with Johnston and the Winterhawks, who will be a younger team this season.

“I love learning and trying to get better and working with kids,” Hay said. “I think this is a great situation to go to. . . . Their organization has done a great job here over the years . . . one of the elite franchises of the Western Hockey League.”

That complete interview is right here.


Here’s a neat hockey story . . .

Silas Matthys is a 26-year-old goaltender from Wollerau, Switzerland, who, for the past four years has been one of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s best players while TWUattending Trinity Western U in Langley, B.C.

Matthys played for HC Sierre in the NL B, Switzerland’s second tier pro league, in 2012-13. Unfortunately, the team folded late in the summer of 2013, leaving Matthys without anywhere to play.

Classes at TWU were 10 days from starting. His father, Christian, a goalie coach, had worked with the Hockey Ministries International camps in Winnipeg. Christian got in touch with an HMI staff member, who steered him to Barret Kropf, who had taken over the Spartans and needed a goaltender.

Matthys “knew no English and was bad his first three starts,” Kropf told Taking Note. “Then got hot in the second half and never looked back.”

In five seasons, starting in 2013-14, Matthys went 4.05, .893; 2.50, .930; 2.58, .925; 2.08, .930; and 2.26, .923.

In 2013-14, he was named a playoff all-star and the BCIHL’s playoff MVP. The next season, he had the league’s best save percentage (.930), was named to the first all-star team, was honoured as top goaltender and the league’s MVP. In 2015-16, he had the BCIHL’s top save percentage (.925) and was a second-team all-star. In 2016-17, he was a second-team all-star and a playoff all-star.

Then came last season when the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder had the best save percentage (.923) for a third time, was a first-team all-star and a playoff all-star, and was named the BCIHL’s top goaltender. He also helped the Spartans to the league title by going 1.50, .949 in four playoff games.

“He graduated with honours, too,” Kropf said. “He’s an incredible leader.”

Earlier this summer, Matthys got his reward — a contract with Ambri-Piotta of NL A, Switzerland’s top pro league. With G Connor Hughes out with a knee injury, Matthys signed a deal that runs through mid-September.

Matthys then was loaned to the Ticino Rockets of the NL B to allow him to get some playing time.


Bernadine and Toby Boulet were in Humboldt on Thursday where they accepted the HumboldtBroncosAngel’s Legacy Humanitarian Award, from the Angel’s Legacy Project, “on behalf of their son, 21-year-old Logan, who was among the 16 people who died when the Humboldt Broncos team bus collided with a semi trailer on April 6,” writes Andrea Hill of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. . . . The proceedings included an amazing flyover by the Snowbirds. . . . By now, you’re aware that Logan Boulet is a Canadian hero. Right? . . . Hill’s story is right here.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


The Kamloops-based minor midget Thompson Blazers have added a pair of former WHL players as assistant coaches. Neil Pilon and Darryl Sydor will be thompsonblazershelping out Chris Murray, the head coach of the first-year team. . . . Pilon, 51, is from Ashcroft, B.C. He played four-plus seasons (1983-88) in the WHL — nine games with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers, 52 with the Kamloops Blazers, 131 with the Moose Jaw Warriors and 71 with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Sydor played four seasons (1988-92) with the Kamloops Blazers and now is a co-owner of the franchise. He went on to play 1,291 regular-season and 155 playoff games in the NHL, while playing on two Stanley Cup-winners. He also served as an NHL assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and was with the St. Louis Blues last season. . . . “It was just time to take a step back,” Sydor told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops earlier this month. “I’ve been (coaching) for only eight years, but playing the game of hockey a lot longer. It’s time to give back to the family, give back to myself, and just take a step back.”

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Love has arrived in Saskatoon . . . Blazers’ co-owner leaves Blues . . . Ex-Winter Hawks forward dies at 52 . . . Americans say they’re staying put

MacBeth

F Emil Oksanen (Regina, 2017-18) signed a two-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). This season, as a 19-year-old, he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 58 games with Regina. . . . Oksanen played 18 games as a 16-year-old with the Espoo Blues U20 (Finland, A-Junior Liiga) for SaiPa head coach Tero Lehterä. Oksanen’s older brother attends university in Lappeenranta. . . .

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 30 assists in 56 games. He led his team in assists and was fourth in the league. . . . Ross played three seasons with Innsbruck before moving to Zvolen. . . .

D Mario Grman (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2014-16) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). This season, with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and four assists in 44 games. . . .

D Daine Todd (Medicine Hat, 2003-08) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). This season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 40 games. . . .

F Dane Byers (Prince Albert, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). An alternate captain, the had 24 goals and 46 assists in 55 games.


Scattershooting

As expected, the Saskatoon Blades introduced Mitch Love as their new head on Wednesday afternoon. A rugged defenceman in his playing days, Love has spent the past seven seasons on the Everett Silvertips’ coaching staff. . . . Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ manager of communications, has more on Love right here.

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If you were wondering, Mitch Love, the Saskatoon Blades’ new head coach, signed a four-Saskatoonyear contract, with the club holding an option on a fifth season. . . . Ryan Keller, an assistant coach through two seasons, remains on staff, while the Blades are expected to add an assistant to replace Bryce Thoma, who was fired, along with head coach Dean Brockman, at season’s end. . . . Long-time assistant Jerome Engele also remains on the coaching staff. We can only hope he is gearing up for another season of those tweets in which he rates the post-game meals when on the road.


With Mitch Love off the market, you have to wonder when a WHL team will reach into the Portland Winterhawks’ front office and sign Kyle Gustafson as their head coach. He has been on the Portland coaching staff for 14 seasons now, the last three as associate coach. . . . You have to think the Kamloops Blazers could do a whole lot worse than to sign Matt Bardsley, Portland’s assistant general manager, as general manager and Gustafson as head coach.


The other day, all in good fun, I mused in this space that perhaps the Kamloops Blazers Kamloops1might want to bring back Bob Brown as general manager and Ken Hitchcock as head coach. . . . After all, Brown’s scouting contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers is soon to expire, while Hitchcock has moved into an advisory role with the Dallas Stars. . . . Well, it seems that a reader of this blog ran into Hitchcock on a golf course in Summerland, B.C., that afternoon. “I mentioned to him that I just read a rumour that he might return to Kamloops as coach,” the reader tells Taking Note in an email. “He laughed and said the only thing he would be returning for was to play golf at Rivershore . . . and he laughed some more.” . . . Great to hear that Hitch is in such good humour.


So . . . Kim Kardashian met with President Trump in the White House on Wednesday to discuss prison reform. OK, America, I can hardly wait to get out of bed today to find out how you top that one.


Darryl Sydor, who owns a chunk of the Kamloops Blazers, has left the St. Louis Blues after one season as an assistant coach, the NHL team announced on Wednesday. According to a news release, Sydor “has stepped down in order to spend more time with his family.” . . . Sydor, who retired as a player after the 2009-10 season, has been in the coaching game for the past eight seasons, five of them with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. . . . The Blues also announced that they have added Mike Van Ryn as an assistant coach. A former NHL defenceman, he spent this season as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes.


The Tri-City Americans issued a news release on Wednesday, stating that they “are tri-citycommitted to the future of hockey in the Tri-Cities, as we work to improve the facility and fan experience for the 2018-19 season.” . . . According to the Americans, the WHL, Toyota Center and the City of Kennewick “have devised a three-year plan to address the WHL’s concerns” with the state of the facility that has been the Americans’ home arena for 30 years. . . . The news release, which is right here, doesn’t include any details as to what improvements are in the works.


Ray Podloski, who played for the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, died on Monday, a few Portlanddays after suffering a heart attack. He was 52. . . . An Edmonton native, Podloski played three seasons (1983-86) with the Winter Hawks. . . . He spent 1982-83 with the AJHL’s Red Deer Rustlers, but got into two regular-season games with Portland. He also played in one game in the Memorial Cup, as the Winter Hawks won the championship. . . . H also played for Portland in the 1986 Memorial Cup, putting up two goals and five assists in four games. . . . After three seasons of pro hockey in North America, he went on to spend 15 seasons playing in Europe, retiring after the 2004-05 season. . . . Earlier, Podloski obtained his Austrian citizenship and played for that country in the 1999 IIHF World Championship. . . . He owned and operated Podloski Hockey Training in Edmonton where one of his clients was F Sam Steel, the captain of the WHL’s Regina Pats. Podloski also was the head coach with the St. Edmund Hockey Academy in Edmonton.


The Vegas Golden Knights are three victories away from winning the Stanley Cup in their first NHL season. However, assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon knows he can’t afford to think about that. Still, he knows how much his late brother, Brad, would be proud of him for the role he has played in the Golden Knight’s inaugural season. . . . Arash Markazi of ESPN has more on the McCrimmon brothers right here.


The Prince George Cougars are preparing for their 25th season in the northern B.C. city. PGCougars25Yes, it really has been 25 years since they made the move from Victoria. . . . With that in mind, they have unveiled their 25th anniversary logo. . . . According to a news release, the logo “features the Cougars’ logo over the number 25, with a banner across the front. The years 1994 and 2019 inside the banner reflect the years the organization has been operating in Prince George.” . . . You can bet the Cougars’ home schedule will be loaded with celebratory promotions.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have signed Jeff Schaeffer as assistant general manager and assistant coach. Schaeffer, who is from Weyburn, has spent the past four seasons scouting for the Red Wings. . . . The Red Wings also announced that assistant coach Brock Appleyard has left the team “to pursue other opportunities.”


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