Blazers sign first of two early draft picks. . . . Giants, Pats make a deal. . . . Royals get Fahey from Ice


MacBeth

D Stefan Elliott (Saskatoon, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL), he had one goal and seven assists in 20 games. He also had one assist in three games with the Ottawa Senators (NHL), and six goals and 14 assists in 44 games with the Belleville Senators (AHL).


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The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Mats Lindgren, who was the seventh overall Kamloops1selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, to a WHL contract. . . . Lindgren, whose father, Mats, is a former NHLer, is from North Vancouver, B.C. Last season, he had four goals and 22 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at the Burnaby Winter Club. . . . Lindgren was the first of two first-round picks made by the Blazers in the 2019 bantam draft. With the 20th selection, they took F Connor Levis, who played for the bantam prep team at St. George’s School in Vancouver. . . . Lindgren and Levis, who are close friends, both had made verbal commitments to attend the U of Michigan and play for the Wolverines, starting with the 2022-23 season. . . .

The WHL’s teams now have signed 18 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft.

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WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


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The Vancouver Giants have traded F Dawson Holt, 20, to the Regina Pats for Russian F VancouverSergei Alkhimov, 17. . . . Vancouver also received a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2022 WHL bantam draft, with Regina getting a conditional seventh-rounder in the same draft. . . . Holt, from Saskatoon, was the eighth-overall selection in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . He had six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games with the Giants last season, then put up seven goals and nine assists in 22 playoff games. . . . In 200 career regular-season games with the Giants, he had 25 goals and 51 assists. . . . Alkhimov had 13 goals and 14 assists in 66 games with the Pats last season. He joins Slovakian F Milos Roman, 20, as imports on the Giants’ roster. Roman was a fourth-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract. However, because he is a 20-year-old Patsdrafted player, he is eligible to play professionally, which allows the Giants to use their first pick in Thursday’s CHL import draft. . . . Regina also will be using one selection as it looks for an import to join sophomore D Nikita Sedov, 18, who is from Russia, on its roster. . . .

Going by the last available rosters on the WHL website, the Giants now contains seven 20-year-olds — F Owen Hardy, F Jadon Joseph, F Brayden Watts, Roman, D Landon Fuller, D Dylan Plouffe and D Bailey Dhaliwal — and the Pats have three — Holt, F Austin Pratt and F Sebastian Streu. . . .

Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post explains right here why Regina general manager John Paddock made this trade, even though he was really reluctant to part with Alkhimov.


The Victoria Royals have acquired F River Fahey, 18, from the Winnipeg Ice for a VictoriaRoyalsconditional eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . Fahey is from Campbell River, B.C. . . . He was a fourth-round selection by the Red Deer Rebels in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . In 2017-18, Fahey had one goal and two assists in 26 games with the Rebels. Last season, he had one assist in 21 games with Red Deer, then added two goals and three assists in 24 games with the Ice.


JUST NOTES:

The Edmonton Oil Kings have released Belarusian F Andrei Pavlenko, 19, so will be looking for an import in Thursday’s draft. He had three goals and one assist in 20 games with the Oil Kings in 2017-18, then added nine goals and 17 assists in 58 games last season. . . . The lone import on Edmonton’s roster is Belarusian F Vladimir Alistrov, 18, who had 12 goals and 26 assists in 62 games last season. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have released Finnish D Joonas Sillanpaa, 18, after just one season. The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder had one goal and four assists in 61 regular-season games last season. . . . The Blazers are bringing back Czech F Martin Lang for a second season. Lang, who will turn 18 on Sept. 15, had 11 goals and 22 assists in 65 regular-season games last season. . . .

F Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which selected him 27th overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. He had 36 goals and 27 assists in 66 games last season while hampered by a wrist injury. In 168 regular-season games over three seasons, he has 68 goals and 70 assists. His brother, Cal, a defenceman who played with the Rockets, is in the Lightning’s organization after being drafted 14th overall in 2017. . . .

The WHL has said that it will release the complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule today. . . .

The midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos have added Tyson Dallman to their staff as an assistant coach. Dallman, from Prince Albert, played two seasons (2011-13) with the Tri-City Americans.


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Holt everything! Giants strike first. . . . Two late second-period goals key to Game 1 victory. . . . Might so many commits work against NCAA schools?

MacBeth

F Matt Fraser (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 18 goals and 16 assists in 52 games. The was second on the team in goals and third in points. . . .

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste bank Liga). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 52 games. . . .

D David Němeček (Saskatoon, 2013-14) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 46 games. . . .

D Lassi Thomson (Kelowna, 2018-19) has signed a two-year plus option contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Kelowna (WHL), he had 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. . . .

G Alexander Pechursky (Tri-City, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he was 13-16-2, 2.36, .917, with one assist, in 32 games.


Kamloops1

You could make an argument that the most surprising part of Thursday’s WHL bantam draft was the decision by the Kamloops Blazers to use both of their first-round selections on players who have made verbal commitments to the U of Michigan Wolverines.

Kamloops used the seventh-overall selection on D Mats Lindgren of the Burnaby Winter Club, then took F Connor Levis of St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick.

Both players have made verbal commitments to the Wolverines for the 2022-23 season.

So . . . you’re wondering why the Blazers, a team that had a mediocre season while in what was the WHL’s weakest division in 2018-19, would take two NCAA commits in the first round?

Well, Jess Myers of therinklive.com has written an excellent piece that details the changes to NCAA hockey and its recruiting process, all of which came into effect on May 1.

In that story, Myers writes:

“The new system may also reduce the high numbers of committed players that many colleges have now. The list of college commitments that is maintained by College Hockey, Inc., shows that in the Big Ten, Michigan has 37 players who have given verbal commitments to play for the Wolverines in the future, and presumably have been given a scholarship offer of some amount. The (Minnesota) Gophers and Wisconsin (Badgers) each has 31 commitments listed.”

I wasn’t able to find the list of 37 potential future Wolverines, but, then, I’m hardly a computer genius. I did find a list of 24 commits, but it doesn’t include any players committed for 2022-23. Another list, this one at collegehockeynews.com, shows Michigan with 33 commitments but it doesn’t include 2022-23, either.

However, I would suggest that somewhere there is a list that shows 37 commits for Michigan.

Still, the point is that Michigan and many other schools have a whole host of commits potentially on the way.

That being the case, it’s got to give Kamloops general manager Matt Bardsley a terrific starting point when he begins his serious recruiting pitch with Lindgren, Levis and their families.

Myers’ story is right here.


CORRECTION: D Sean Comrie, whose rights moved from the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday, just finished his first season with the U of Denver Pioneers. The Edmonton native had one assists in 18 games, after spending two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. Brandon selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft.

——

MORE DRAFT BLOODLINES: The Calgary Hitmen selected F Jadon Kwiatkowski of Sammamish, Wash., in the 11th round. A reader tells me that he is from Lake Stevens, Wash., and that he played for the U-14 Everett Jr. Silvertips. His father, Jason, played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, with the Prince Albert Raiders and Tacoma Rockets, while an uncle, Joel, split four WHL seasons (1994-98) between Tacoma, the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars. . . .

In the sixth round, the Hitmen selected D Matthew Sutter, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Spruce Grove PAC Saints. He isn’t related to the Sutters of Viking, Alta.

——

Here’s a look, in alphabetical order, at teams that had four or more players selected in the bantam draft:

Anchorage North Stars (4)

BWC H.A. Bntm Prep (8)

Calgary CBHA Bisons BAAA (6)

Colorado Thunderbirds 14U (6)

Dallas Stars Elite 14U (5)

Delta H.A. Bntm Prep Green (12)

Eastman Selects B1AAA (4)

Edge School Bntm Prep (11)

Fort Sask. Rangers BAAA (5)

Lloydminster Bobcats BAAA (4)

Martensville Marauders BAA (4)

North Zone Kings BAA (4)

Northern Alberta Xtreme Bntm Prep (6)

OHA Edmonton Bntm Prep (7)

Okanagan H.A. Bntm Prep (7)

Okotoks Oilers BAAA (4)

Red Deer Rebels BAAA (8)

Rink H.A. Nationals Bntm Prep (9)

Sherwood Park Flyers BAAA (4)

St. George’s School Bntm Prep (4)

Warman Wildcats BAA (4)

Yale H.A. Bntm Prep (11)


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Ryan Marushak is remaining with the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey DelisleChiefsLeague. The former general manager will be the team’s director of player personnel in what will be his eighth season with the organization. . . . Eric Ditto was named the team’s general manager and head coach on Thursday. . . . If you weren’t aware, Delisle was home to the late Max Bentley, an NHL star who had one of the great nicknames in sports history — the Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle.


Tyler Drader is the new head coach of the Calgary-based SAIT Trojans, who play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He spent the previous two seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs. . . . Drader takes over from Brent Devost, who resigned after one season with the Trojans. . . . There is a news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: First, please allow me to point out that this is the WHL final. It isn’t the WHL finals or the WHL Finals or the WHL FINALS. There is only one series, only one final, thus it is the WHL final. Thank you . . .

With that out of the way, the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup got started on Friday night in Prince Albert with the Vancouver Giants beating the Raiders, 5-4. They’ll play Game 2 in the Art Hauser Centre tonight, then head for Langley, B.C., and games on Tuesday, Wednesday and, if necessary, Friday in the Langley Events Centre. . . .

While there isn’t a player on either team who has played in a WHL final, there are coaches who have been there. . . . Jamie Heward, in his first season as the Giants’ associate coach, is in his second straight final. Last season, he helped guide the Swift Current Broncos to a championship. . . . Jeff Battah, an assistant coach with the Giants, was an assistant with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2008 when they got to the final under then-head coach Michael Dyck. Dyck, of course, now is the Giants’ head coach. . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt was an assistant under Marc Habscheid, now the head coach in Prince Albert, when the Kelowna Rockets won the 2003 title. Truitt was the head coach two seasons later when the Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out before Game 1 that Vancouver D Bowen Byram’s father, Shawn, played 116 games from 1986-88 with the Prince Albert Raiders, putting up 39 goals, 85 points and 300 PIMs. . . . Shawn began his WHL career by playing 62 games with the Regina Pats (1984-87). . . .

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants broke a 3-3 tie with two goals in the final minute of the second period and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders in Game 1 Vancouverof the WHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Vancouver D Dylan Plouffe (5) opened the scoring from the right faceoff dot at 4:20 of the first period, one-timing a pass from D Bowen Byram while enjoying a two-man PP advantage. . . . F Dawson Holt (6) upped the lead to 2-0 at 6:06 as he pounced on a rebound off the end boards and rifled it home just 10 seconds after Vancouver’s second PP expired. . . . The Raiders cut the deficit in half when F Brett Leason (6) scored on a PP at 3:20 of the second period, beating G David Tendeck through the legs. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (8), the Giants’ captain, restored the two-goal lead at 5:13 as his shot from the top of the circles got past G Ian Scott. . . . The Raiders quickly got that one back as F Noah Gregor (8) made it 3-2 at 6:17 as he split the defencemen at the top of the Giants’ zone, took a pass and scored from 12 feet out. . . . The home team pulled into a tie when F Dante Hannoun (10), a sniper who didn’t score in the six-game semifinal victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, found the range off a rebound at 16:45 of the second period. . . . Vancouver went back out front with 30.9 seconds left in the period as F Yannik Valenti (2) whipped home a one-timer from high in the slot on a PP. . . . Holt (7), who is from Saskatoon, made it 5-3 with his second goal of the game, this one from a bad angle, with 16.5 seconds left in the period. . . . D Jeremy Massella (1) pulled the Raiders back to within a goal at 2:50 of the third period when he drove to the net from the right side and stuffed the puck past Tendeck. . . . Holt had six goals in 53 regular-season games; he’s got seven in 16 playoff games. . . . F Owen Hardy, Dmytriw, who is from Craven, Sask., and Byram each had two assists for the Giants. Byram leads all playoff scorers with 20 points. . . . F Parker Kelly had two assists for the Raiders, with Hannoun adding one to his goal. . . . Vancouver was 2-4 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-3. . . . Tendeck finished with 25 stops, four more than Scott. . . . F Aidan Barfoot was among the Giants’ scratches. He hasn’t played since suffering a suspected concussion in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Brett Iverson, with Sean Dufour and Tarrington Wyonzek on the lines.

(NOTE: Scoring changes after the game gave Byram two more assists, while taking one away from Hardy. That left Byram with a WHL-leading 22 points.)

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a game story right here.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a gamer right here.


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Will McCrimmon stay, or will he go? . . . Another hall beckons Ridley. . . . Broncos explain broadcast plans

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It seems most likely that Bob Nicholson, the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO who is searching for a general manager, will chat with Kelly McCrimmon one of these days.

McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is in his third season as the Oilersassistant general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com: “The bottom line in job interviews has the prospective employer asking candidates — either directly or by nibbling around the edges — ‘Tell me why we should hire you?’ If I was in McCrimmon’s shoes and staring across the table at Nicholson, I’d be asking, ‘So, tell me why I should work for you?’ If it goes like that, and I suspect that it will, Nicholson had better have his fastball ready.” (Brownlee’s latest is right here.)

So, if this scenario plays out, will McCrimmon end up in Edmonton? Or will he move on to the expansion franchise in Seattle? Or will he stay put?

Time, of course, will tell, but history tells me that McCrimmon may just stay in Vegas and continue to work alongside general manager George McPhee.

Why do I lean that way?

Because McCrimmon, now 58, has a history of wanting to see things through. And after the way the Golden Knights’ season ended on Tuesday night, he may just want to stay there and play it out, something he has done a time or two.

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager and head coach, having taken over as the latter when Doug Sauter took ill during the 1989-90 season.

He later gave up — temporarily, as it turned out — coaching duties to focus on reshaping the organization’s way of doing business. Back then, the Wheat Kings often scrambled just to get into the playoffs, only to be bounced early. By 1992-93, McCrimmon, the GM, owned one-third of the franchise and the reshaping was in high gear. A team that had won only 11 games in 1991-92 put up 43 victories in 1993-94. That was the start of seven straight seasons with at least 39 victories and included three trips to the WHL final and one championship. McCrimmon had surrounded himself with good people and they had turned a once-faltering franchise into one of the best in all of the CHL.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The Wheat Kings, with McCrimmon now owner, GM and head coach, were coming off a season in which they went 53-11-8, only to lose out in the WHL final. Then, in May, the Toronto Maple Leafs came calling as they searched for an assistant GM.

By early June there were reports that the Leafs had made an offer to McCrimmon, who had become the Wheat Kings’ sole owner in 2000. As tempted as McCrimmon was to join the Leafs, he chose to stay in Brandon. Why? Because he had overseen the building of the Wheat Kings into a championship contender and he felt he owed it to the players he had drafted and recruited to see it through.

In 2015-16, the Wheat Kings were 48-18-6, and then went on a 16-5 run as they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the Golden Knights announced that they had hired McCrimmon as assistant GM. His fingerprints are all over the organization, including the hirings of Vaughn Karpan as director of player personnel, Bob Lowes as assistant director of player personnel and scouts like Kelly Kisio, Bruno Campese and Erin Ginnell.

You can bet that McCrimmon had a lot to do with the February acquisition and subsequent signing of forward Mark Stone, too. He had played four seasons in Brandon after being a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft.

For all of those reasons, then, McCrimmon just may choose to stay with the Golden Knights, who were in the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team just one year ago.

He has had a hand in all of it and just may want to be an active part of wherever it goes.

Or . . . maybe not!


The semifinals are set at the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is being played in CanadaOrnskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden. . . . Team Canada got past Latvia, 3-1, in Umea on Thursday, and now will travel to Ornskoldsvik to play the host Swedes on Saturday. . . . D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) gave Canada a 1-0 first-period lead, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) being credited with the 2-0 goal after a Latvian defender scored an own goal on an attempted clearance. . . . Krebs later added an empty-netter. . . . Schneider added an assist to his goal, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and F Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) each earning one assist. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) recorded the victory. . . . Sweden advanced with a 4-2 victory over Czech Republic. . . .

On the other side of the draw, Russia blanked Belarus, 6-0, and Team USA, behind three goals from F Jack Hughes and one from F Cole Caufield, dumped Finland, 6-0. Hughes now has eight goals and eight assists, while Caufield has scored 12 times. . . . Team USA and Russia will meet in a semifinal game on Saturday, also in Ornskoldsvik.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation round, Switzerland dumped Slovakia, 4-1.

The tournament is scheduled to end on Sunday.


Just call him Bob (Hall of Fame) Ridley. . . . Ridley, the only play-by-play voice the Medicine Hat Tigers have had, will be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Banff on June 6. The WAB made that announcement on Thursday. . . . Earlier, it was announced that Ridley will be going into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in Canmore on July 21. . . . He already is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. . . . Ridley has been with CHAT in Medicine Hat since 1968 and has been the voice of the Tigers since they entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season. . . . In all that time, he has missed only one game; legend has it that he was assigned to cover a women’s curling event in which the boss’s wife was playing. . . . Including regular-season and playoffs, he has called the play of 3,931 games involving the Tigers. . . . Ridley also drove the team’s bus until a couple of seasons ago. For some reason, he hasn’t yet been inducted into a bus drivers’ hall of fame. . . . There is more right here on the WAB honour, including ticket information.


If you have ever wanted to own a hockey team, well, this just might be your lucky day. . . . A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a regular reader for sending this along and, yes, it’s legit. . . . And, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. . . .

 

ForSale


Games involving the Tri-City Americans will be heard on NewsTalk 870 KFLD for two more seasons after the WHL team and Townsquare Media announced a new two-year deal on Thursday. . . . Tri-City’s home-and-away games have been on the station since the 2000-01 season. . . . Craig West, the American’s vice-president of sponsorship sales/broadcasting, is the team’s radio voice.


The Swift Current Broncos revealed earlier this month that they are abandoning the SCBroncostraditional role of having their games on conventional radio, and moving to a model that includes streaming broadcasts. . . . On Thursday, they issued a lengthy news release explaining their new approach. . . . When the news broke earlier in the month, someone familiar with the situation told Taking Note that a “major hang up is broadcast rights/revenue sharing.” In other words, the Broncos were wanting Golden West Radio, the rights holder, to cough up some money, something that apparently wasn’t going to happen. . . . The Broncos’ news release that was issued on Thursday includes this: “The previous model of broadcasting did not provide the Broncos organization with the positive economic impact that sports broadcast rights at our level is expected to provide. By managing our own broadcasting and establishing a business model that leverages our full-time employees’ skill sets and abilities, we will be able to generate a positive financial benefit that will contribute to the long-term financial strength of our organization.” . . . That pretty much explains it all. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have made some moves on the business side of their organization. Saskatoon. . . Colin Priestner, who just completed his third season as the team’s general manager, now is the president and GM. He will, according to a news release, “oversee all operations . . . in both the hockey and business departments.” . . . Steve Hogle, who had been the president, now is senior advisor. He remains as the Blades’ alternate governor. (Mike Priestner, the team’s owner, is the governor.) . . . Hogle, according to the news release, also “is taking on additional duties with the Blades’ parent company, Go Auto.” . . . Tyler Wawryk, the team’s communications manager for three seasons, has been promoted to director of business operations. . . . Cliff Mapes, who had been vice-president of business, no longer is with the Blades. . . . The complete news release is right here.


George Cochrane has been named the combines manager for the Okanagan Hockey Group, where he will work with Jason Wild, the manager of combines operations. . . . Cochrane had been the head coach of the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association from 2006-17. He left that position to join BC Hockey as manager of programs at their Okanagan Regional Centre. This season, he also was the general manager for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants get their first chance at advancing to the WHL championship final tonight when they entertain the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference final, after F Dawson Holt scored at 7:07 of OT to give them a 4-3 victory in Spokane on Wednesday night. . . . Holt has three goals and two assists in the four games with the Chiefs. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games after totalling six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Holt and this series right here. . . . The Giants haven’t been in the WHL final since the spring of 2007 when they lost a seven-game series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants were the host team for the Memorial Cup that year and went on to win it all. . . .

The Eastern Conference final also resumes tonight as the Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, after the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. These teams will return to Edmonton for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.


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Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


ThisThat

The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

——

WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


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Canada gets Belarus next at U-18s. . . . Neighbours big for Oil Kings in OT. . . . Third-period explosion lifts Giants


ThisThat

F Martin Lang, who just completed his first season with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, scored twice on Saturday to help the Czech Republic to an 8-2 victory over Switzerland at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . D Simon Kubicek (Seattle Thunderbirds) had one assist for the winners. . . . In the day’s only other game, Russia skated to a 5-1 victory over Latvia in Ornskoldsvik. . . . On Sunday, in Group A, Team Canada, which is 2-0, is scheduled to play Belarus (2-0), while Finland (0-2) goes against Czech Republic (1-1). In Group B, Team USA (2-0) meets Russia (2-0), and Slovakia (0-2) plays Sweden (1-1).


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s conference finals continued on Saturday night with the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants putting up victories. . . . The Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders are all even, 1-1, in the Eastern Conference final, with the Vancouver Giants holding a 2-0 lead over the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Conference final . . . Each series will pick up again on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Games 3 and 4, this time in Edmonton and Spokane. . . . The Oil Kings and Raiders will be back in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night. . . .

F Davis Koch of the Giants leads the playoff scoring race, with 15 points, one more than F Dante Hannoun of the Raiders and Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . . Hannoun leads in goals, with nine, and Koch is No. 1 in assists, with 13. . . . Among the goaltenders, Ian Scott of Prince Albert leads in GAA (1.79), with Edmonton’s Dylan Myskiw at 1.88. . . . Scott’s save percentage is tops, at .928, just ahead of Spokane’s Bailey Brkin (.926). . . . Scott has record nine victories, and Brkin has eight.

——

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Jake Neighbours scored in OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the EdmontonOilKingsRaiders in Prince Albert. . . . That evened the Eastern Conference final, 1-1, with Game 3 scheduled for Edmonton on Tuesday night. . . . Prince Albert had posted a 1-0 victory on Friday night. . . . The Raiders led 2-0 early in the first period on goals by F Noah Gregor (5), at 3:28, and F Justin Nachbaur (1), at 6:55. . . . Nachbaur was back in the lineup after serving a two-game WHL suspension. . . . Edmonton tied it on a pair of PP goals before the period ended. D Matthew Robertson (3) scored at 13:58, and F Andrew Fyten (4) tied it at 19:31. . . . F Aliaksei Protas (5) put the home side ahead again, at 2:47 of the third period. . . . The Oil Kings tied it when F Trey Fix-Wolansky (4) scored at 5:38. . . . Neighbours won it with his fourth goal of these playoffs, beating G Ian Scott with a wrist shot from the left-wing boards at 14:49 of the first extra period. . . . This was his second OT goal of the playoffs. On April 6, as the visiting Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen in Game 1 of a second-round series, he forced OT with a goal at 19:47 of the third period and then won it at 3:20 of extra time. . . . Neighbours, who turned 17 on March 29, is from Airdrie, Alta. He will be eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft. The fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, he had 11 goals and 13 assists in 47 regular-season games. He is having a terrific run in the playoffs, with 11 points in 12 games. . . . Neighbours and Robertson also had an assist each. . . . F Jakob Brook had two assists for the Raiders. . . . Edmonton was 2-4 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-1. . . . G Dylan Myskiw made 26 saves for the Oil Kings. He is 6-3, 1.88, .921 in the playoffs. . . . Scott finished with 30 saves.


The Vancouver Giants struck for four goals in a span of 3:21 in third period — three of Vancouverthem from the line of Jared Dmytriw, Owen Hardy and Dawson Holt — en route to a 4-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants, who have won eight straight games, lead the Western Conference final, 2-0, as the teams head to Spokane for games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . Vancouver had won, 4-1, on Friday night. . . . Last night, the Chiefs took a 2-0 lead on goals from D Noah King (1), with 19 seconds left in the first period, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (4), just 19 seconds into the second period. . . . Holt (4) got the Giants started at 5:15 of the third period, and Dmytriw (5) pulled Vancouver even at 7:11. . . . Dmytriw (6) scored again at 7:33 for a 3-2 lead, and F Yannik Valenti (1) made it 4-2, one-timing a pass from the left faceoff dot on a PP, at 8:36. . . . In light of Valenti’s goal, here’s a tweet from Steve Ewen of Postmedia after Game 1: “Interesting to see Yannik Valenti getting some PP1 duty, considering he’s played sparingly at times during the playoffs. He does have that big, righty shot you see teams like to set up in the left faceoff circle.” . . . D Dylan Plouffe recorded two assists for Vancouver, with Holt adding one to his goal. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-2. . . . Spokane’s PP is 0-4 in the two games; it went into the series with 12 goals in 25 attempts. . . . The Giants held a 24-20 edge in shots through two periods, then exploded in the third period when they outshot the visitors, 20-6. . . . G David Tendeck made his third straight start for the Giants and stopped 24 shots. . . . G Bailey Brkin came up with 40 saves for Spokane. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, 20, who left Friday’s opening game early in the first period with an apparent ankle injury.


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Warriors win battle of East titans . . . Rebels are in; Ice is out . . . Raiders’ run reaches nine

MacBeth

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-season contract with the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). This season, he played for the Berlin Blues (Germany, Regionalliga Ost). In eight games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with seven assists. The AIHL regular season starts on April 21. . . . Wudrick holds the single-season points record in AIHL with 91 and the single-season goal record (44) in 28 games. He set those in 2015 with the Newcastle North Stars. Wudrick played the last two AIHL seasons with CBR Brave Canberra.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Victoria Royals had their Organ Donor Awareness Night on Friday when they entertained the Prince George Cougars.

You can bet it was a special night for the Soy family.

Tyler, of course, is 20 and in his final season with the Royals. His mother, Sandy, had a VictoriaRoyalskidney transplant in November 2010 after suffering complete kidney failure due to complications from lupus in 2004. She spent six years doing peritoneal dialysis, hooking up to a machine called a cycler every night and using it to do a fluid exchange to get the toxins out of her body.

When you do PD, you get a truckload of supplies every four weeks, all of which must be stored in your home.

Five years ago, Sandy’s husband, Michael, told me: “We became used to the routine . . . Tyler had to grow up very fast . . . as he carried boxes, re-filled supplies and watched every night as his mom connected to a machine that kept her alive . . .“

In the end, Sandy received a kidney through what was then the Living Donor Paired Exchange registry — it now is the Kidney Paired Donation program. In that process, Michael donated a kidney to an anonymous recipient, with Sandy getting a kidney from an anonymous donor.

“It showed me how strong they are,” Tyler told me of his parents after a game in Kamloops in January 2013. “For my dad to give up one of his kidneys so my mom could get one is really special.”

You likely are aware that my wife, Dorothy, underwent a kidney transplant, too. That was on Sept. 23, 2013. It came through the Living Donor Exchange registry, too, after she had spent four years on peritoneal dialysis.

In the middle of all this, we reached out to Sandy and she was a big help as we travelled down a similar road to the one with which she was so familiar.

Her day was made that much more special when Tyler scored the tying goal at 17:03 of the third period before the Royals won the game in overtime.

You can see more right here.

I hope that stories like this will help you understand why the involvement of the WHL and its 17 Canadian teams — along with RE/MAX — in this Organ Donor Awareness promotion is so important to so many people.


Look, I love to read. I always seem to have four or five books on the go, and often think there aren’t enough hours in the day to allow me to read as much as I would like to do. Yes, the need for sleep often gets in the way, too. . . . I’m also a baseball fan, and happen to think that Ichiro Suzuki is one of the most-intriguing personalities to have appeared in MLB over the past few years. . . . On Saturday, thanks to Twitter, I came upon a simply brilliant essay on Ichiro, who “is haunted by the life he can’t escape.”  It was written by Wright Thompson and it’s right here. My, but this is so good!


Once you have read the piece on Ichiro, pour another cup of Sunday morning coffee and dig into this essay right here. Written by Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail, it is headlined ‘When NHL rinks outlast their usefulness’, and deals with the situations surrounding the NHL’s Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators and their home arenas.


Allistair Chapman, 25, is “a Calgary man accused of running a prolific multimillion-dollar, city-based international drug cartel — one investigators believe linked to both Mexican narcotics rings and a brazen 2017 double homicide,” reports Bryan Passifiume of Postmedia. . . . Chapman also is a former junior hockey player who was selected by the Swift Current Broncos in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft. He never played in the WHL, topping out with a couple of stints in the AJHL. . . . Passifiume’s complete story is right here.



IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

SATURDAY:

At Moose Jaw, F Branden Klatt scored twice to help the Warriors to a 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Moose Jaw (50-15-3) leads the overall standings by three points MooseJawWarriorsover the Broncos. . . . Swift Current (47-16-6) has lost two in a row and has three games remaining. . . . The Warriors went 4-2-2 in the season series; the Broncos were 4-4-0. . . . The Warriors have won 50 games for the first time in franchise history. The previous record of 45 victories was set in 2011-12, when they finished atop the East Division and then bowed out in the conference final. . . . Klatt, who is from Moose Jaw, went into the game with 11 goals in 179 regular-season WHL games. This season, he now has five goals and eight assists in 65 games. . . . Klatt opened the scoring at 5:00 of the first period and F Jayden Halbgewachs made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:20. He has a WHL-high 67 goals. . . . F Justin Almeida (41), who also had two assists, gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead at 7:36 of the second period. . . . F Kaden Elder (16) got Swift Current’s first goal at 2:02 of the third period. . . . Klatt got that one back at 11:03. . . . The Broncos’ second goal came from F Beck Malenstyn (16), on a PP, at 17:53. . . . F Tristin Langan had two assists for the Warriors. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi had two assists for the Broncos. . . . Swift Current was 1-5 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-8. . . . The Warriors got 21 saves from G Brody Willms. . . . G Stuart Skinner started for the Broncos and was beaten three times on 21 shots in 27:36. Joel Hofer finished up by stopping 17 of 18 shots in 31:00. . . . The Warriors took 57 of the game’s 107 penalty minutes. . . . Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen was tossed with a charging major and game misconduct at 4:59 of the third period. . . . The Broncos lost F Giorgio Estephan for a few shifts after he was struck in the ice by an errant puck in the first period. . . . Also in that first period, the Warriors lost D Brandon Schuldaus and D Dmitri Zaitsev to undisclosed injuries. . . . The Warriors were without F Brayden Burke for a third straight game. . . . Swift Current F Glenn Gawdin, the WHL’s leading scorer, is ill and missed his second game in as many nights, as did freshman D Jacson Alexander. . . . Gawdin has 124 points, two more than Halbgewachs and seven more than Heponiemi. Burke is fourth, with 113. . . . Announced attendance: 4,765.


At Prince Albert, D Brayden Pachal scored in OT to give the Raiders their ninth straight victory, this one 4-3 over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Prince Albert (32-25-11) holds down the PrinceAlbertEastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Saskatoon, which has four games remaining. . . . Calgary (21-36-11) is 1-0-1 in its past two games. It had won 5-4 in OT in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . The Hitmen took a 1-0 lead at 13:46 of the first period as F Mark Kastelic scored. . . . The Raiders tied it at 1:27 of the second period as F Jordy Stallard scored No. 43. . . . F Carson Focht (13) gave the Hitmen a 2-1 lead at 16:13. . . . The Raiders went out front 3-2 on third-period goals from D Vojtech Budik (14), on a PP, at 5:51, and F Cutis Miske (26), at 6:38. Miske also had two assists. . . . Kastelic forced OT with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Pachal won it at 4:09 of OT when he scored his seventh goal of the season. . . . Stallard also had two assists, as he finished the night with 201 regular-season points in 234 games. This season, he has 43 goals and 46 assists in 68 games. . . . The Hitmen got two assists from F Tristen Nielsen. . . . Each team was 1-3 on the PP. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 20 saves. . . . Calgary G Matthew Armitage was busier, with 40 saves. The Raiders held a 26-2 edge in shots in the third period. . . . Prince Albert’s franchise record for longest winning streak is 15 games, from 1985-86. . . . Announced attendance: 2,326.


At Saskatoon, the Brandon Wheat Kings clinched a playoff spot with a 4-2 victory over the Blades. . . . Brandon (37-26-5) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the East Division, BrandonWKregularthree points behind Regina. The Wheat Kings also hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . Brandon will play its first-round home games in Dauphin, Man., because the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair will be in Westoba Place at the same time. . . . Saskatoon (32-32-4) is seven points from a playoff spot with four games to play. . . . Brandon leads the season series, 5-2-0; the Blades are 2-5-0. . . . Last night, the Wheat Kings got the game’s first two goals, from F Stelio Mattheos (41), at 19:13 of the first period and F Linden McCorrister (18), at 9:38 of the second. . . . F Michael Farren (10) got the Blades to within a goal at 12:58. . . . Brandon F Luka Burzan (13) restored the two-goal lead at 15:27. . . . F Josh Paterson’s 31st goal, on a PP, left Saskatoon trailing by one at 6:47 of the third period. . . . F Cole Reinhardt (18) got the empty-netter for Brandon at 19:42. . . . McCorrister and Reinhardt each had an assist. . . . Saskatoon was 1-5 on the PP; Brandon was 0-4. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 29 shots for the Wheat Kings. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 12 shots for the Blades in his ninth straight start. . . . G Logan Thompson was among Brandon’s scratches. He left Friday’s 6-3 victory over visiting Swift Current after two periods because of an apparent leg injury. . . . The Wheat Kings had Ethan Kruger, 16, backing up Myskiw. He was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Kruger, from Sherwood Park, Alta., played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. . . . Announced attendance: 5,826.


At Lethbridge, the Regina Pats opened up a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Regina (38-25-6) has won five in a row. It is third in the East Division, ReginaPats100three points ahead of Brandon. . . . Lethbridge (32-30-6) has lost five straight. It is second in the Central Division, eight points behind Medicine Hat and five ahead of Red Deer. . . . F Koby Morrisseau (6) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the first period, with F Jesse Gabrielle (13) making it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:48. . . . F Nick Henry (13) scored at 1:20 of the second, and F Robbie Holmes (16) made it 4-0 at 9:55. . . . The Hurricanes got to within a goal as F Brad Morrison scored at 14:35 of the second; D Calen Addison (10) counted two minutes later; and Morrison added another, his 27th, at 17:18 of the third. . . . Regina F Sam Steel (31) iced it with an empty-netter at 19:04. . . . Gabrielle added two assists to his goal. . . . D Igor Merezhko had two assists for Lethbridge. . . . Regina was 1-2 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-2. . . . There weren’t any penalties issued after the first period. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 27 shots for Regina. . . . Lethbridge got 38 stops from G Reece Klassen. . . . Regina went 7-1-0 on an eight-game road trip. The Pats were away from home because the Tim Hortons Brier (the Canadian men’s curling championship) is being contested in the Brandt Centre. . . . Announced attendance: 4,234.


At Red Deer, F Brandon Hagel scored three times to lead the Rebels to a 5-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Red Deer (26-30-13) clinched a playoff spot in the Central Red DeerDivision, meaning the idle Kootenay Ice (25-38-5) was eliminated. . . . “You look back to Jan. 24, we were 12 points out of a playoff spot and to accomplish what we accomplished says a lot about the kids inside the room,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach, told Greg Meachem of redddeerrebels.com. “It was about just staying with it and believing as a group that we can have some success if we play the game the right way.” . . . Medicine Hat (35-26-8) continues to lead the Central Division, by eight points over Lethbridge. . . . The Rebels, with three games left, are five points behind the Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer went 3-2-1 in the season series; Medicine Hat was 3-3-0. . . . D Kristians Rubins (7) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:37 of the first period. . . . Hagel tied it at 6:05. . . . The Tigers went ahead 2-1 at 3:42 of the second period on F Bryan Lockner’s 13th goal. . . . The Rebels scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third period. . . . F Kristian Reichel tied the score at 2:39, and Hagel gave his guys the lead, on a PP, at 15:50. . . . Reichel, who has 32 goals, scored on another PP, at 19:08, and Hagel who has 17 goals, completed his hat trick into an empty net, at 19:21. . . . F Mason McCarty had two assists for the Rebels, with Hagel adding one for a four-point night. . . . Red Deer was 2-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-4. . . . G Ethan Anders earned the victory with 34 saves, seven more than Medicine Hat’s Michael Bullion. . . . D Joel Craven, who returned to Medicine Hat’s lineup on Friday after being out since Jan. 27, was scratched from this one. . . . During the game the Rebels revealed that “we raised $22,000 in support of @kidneycanada organizations through tonight’s jersey auction.” . . . Announced attendance: 6,100. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.


At Portland, G Patrick Dea stopped 38 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 6-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Tri-City (34-24-9) has won two straight. It is fourth in the U.S. TriCity30Division, six points behind Spokane. The Americans hold the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, three points ahead of Seattle with each team having five games remaining. . . . Portland (42-21-5) had points in each of its previous eight games (7-0-1). The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, six points behind Everett. . . . Portland went 7-3-0 in the season series; Tri-City was 3-6-1. . . . Tri-City got out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Michael Rasmussen, on a PP, at 15:00, and D Juuso Valimaki (13), at 18:26. . . . Portland F Alex Overheard (15) but into the lead 27 seconds into the second period, but the Americans got the next three goals. . . . F Isaac Johnson got his 17th at 7:39. . . . Rasmussen (27) got another PP goal at 1:40 of the third period, and former Winterhawks F Brett Clayton (4) scored at 4:55. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld (24) got Portland’s second goal at 10:27. . . . F Riley Sawchuk (13) scored Tri-City’s final goal at 17:17, into an empty net. . . . Tri-City got three assists from F Morgan Geekie and two each from F Sasha Mutala, for his first three-point game, and Valimaki. . . . Overhardt added an assist to his goal. . . . Tri-City was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 0-2. . . . Dea got off to a great start with 18 saves in the first period. . . . Portland starter Shane Farkas surrendered five goals on 23 shots in 44:55. Cole Kehler came on to stop all five shots he faced in 14:35. . . . Prior to the game, the Winterhawks the 1998 Memorial Cup-winning team, and inducted D Andrew Ference, F Marian Hossa, F Brenden Morrow and F Todd Robinson into their Hall of Fame. . . . Announced attendance: 8,463.


At Kelowna, G James Porter stopped 18 shots to help the Rockets to a 4-0 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Kelowna (40-22-7) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It leads the KelownaRocketsB.C. Division, by five points over Victoria. . . . Kamloops (29-35-5) has lost three in a row. It was eliminated from the playoff chase when it lost, 4-2, to the visiting Rockets on Friday. . . . The Rockets have won 40 games for a sixth straight season. . . . Kelowna went 8-0-0 in the season series; Kamloops was 0-7-1. . . . F Leif Mattson gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 13:28 of the first period. . . . D Gordie Ballhorn (5) upped that to 2-0 at 14:30. . . . Mattson’s 23rd goal, shorthanded, made it 3-0 at 9:46 of the third period, and F Dillon Dube (34) rounded out the scoring at 11:05. . . . Dube and Ballhorn also had an assist each. . . . Kelowna was 0-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-7. . . . Porter, a freshman from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, has three shutouts this season. . . . The Blazers got 27 saves from G Max Palaga. Kelowna F Liam Kindree wasn’t able to beat Palaga on a second-period penalty shot. . . . The Blazers scratched G Dylan Ferguson, who appeared to injury his right hip in a goal-mouth collision at 14:22 of the second period on Friday night. He stayed in and was able to finish the game, but there were times when he appeared to be favouring his right side. . . . Announced attendance: 5,607.


At Kent, Wash., F Bryce Kindopp scored twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (45-18-5) has won four in a row. It leads Everettthe Western Conference, by six points over Portland. . . . Seattle (32-26-10) had won its previous two games. It holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points behind Tri-City. . . . Everett went 6-2-2 in the season series; Seattle was 4-4-2. . . . Everett got first-period goals from F Matt Fonteyne (33), on a PP, at 3:41, and Kindopp, at 13:38, to go up 2-0. . . . F Nolan Volcan (31) scored for Seattle, on a PP, at 11:03 of the second period. . . . Kindopp (22) gave Everett a two-goal lead at 15:02 of the third period. . . . Seattle D Austin Strand (24) made it a one-goal game at 17:56. . . . F Donovan Neuls had two assists for Seattle. . . . Everett F Patrick Bajkov drew an assist on Fonteyne’s goal. Bajkov now has 93 points, tying him with F Zach Hamill (2006-07) and F Josh Winquist (2013-14) for the franchise’s single-season record. . . . Each team was 1-2 on the PP. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 33 shots for Everett. He is 28-4-4, 1.54, .950 this season. . . . Seattle G Liam Hughes turned aside 34 shots. . . . Everett D Ondrej Vala was given a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Seattle F Zack Andrusiak at 19:29 of the second period. Andrusiak returned to the game in the third period. . . . Announced attendance: 6,039.


At Spokane, F Dawson Holt scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Vancouver Giants a 6-5 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Vancouver (35-24-9) is third in the B.C. Division, Vancouverthree points behind Victoria. . . . Spokane (39-23-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 11:43 of the first period on a goal by F Jake McGrew (17). . . . Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot (5) tied it at 12:16. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (37) put the Chiefs back in front, on a PP, at 16:28. . . . The Giants tied it when F Tyler Benson scored at 12:27 of the second period. . . . But the Chiefs went back out front at 15:14 when F Hudson Elynuik scored No. 30. . . . F Riley Woods gave Spokane a two-goal lead, on a PP, at 4:58 of the third period. . . . Holt (12) pulled the Giants back to within a goal, at 4-3, on a PP, at 11:31, only to have Woods (24) restore the two-goal margin at 12:43. . . . The Giants then got two PP goals to force OT. F Tyler Popowich (8) scored at 14:26, and Benson (26) followed at 17:39. . . . Holt won it with a second-round goal in the shootout. . . . Vancouver was 3-5 on the PP; Spokane was 2-6. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 29 shots for the Giants. . . . The Chiefs got 24 stops from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Vancouver F Ty Ronning left the game with a clipping major and game misconduct for a hit on Spokane F Ethan McIndoe at 2:42 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs continue to play without injured F Zach Fischer. . . . The Giants scratched F Milos Roman, who had played Friday night in a 6-3 loss to the host Tri-City Americans for the first time since Jan. 9. He had been out with an ankle injury. . . . Announced attendance: 10,508.


SUNDAY (all times local):

Brandon at Moose Jaw, 4 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 2:05 p.m.

Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

Everett at Portland, 5 p.m.

Vancouver vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 5:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Three high-profile players kept off ice on eve of trade deadline . . . Giants keep winning on road . . . Ferguson carries Blazers to victory

A LITTLE OF THIS …

With the WHL’s trading deadline arriving this afternoon, a couple of veteran forwards and a high-profile defenceman were kept off the ice by their teams on Wednesday.

F Cam Hebig didn’t practise with the Blades in Saskatoon. GM Colin Priestner admitted whlthat four teams had inquired about Hebig and the Blades didn’t want to risk an injury in case something could be worked out. Hebig missed all of last season with an injury.

This season, Hebig, who is to turn 21 on Jan. 21, has 30 goals and 28 assists in 40 games. From Saskatoon, he has 193 points, 87 of them goals, in 238 career games, all with the Blades. They picked him in the third round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft.

If Hebig isn’t dealt, he is expected to play tonight against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.

Meanwhile, in Brandon, F Davis Koch didn’t play as the Edmonton Oil Kings met the Wheat Kings. Koch, 19, is from Surrey, B.C. This season, he has 18 goals and 21 assists in 40 games.

In 224 regular-season games, he has 59 goals and 99 assists. The Oil Kings selected him in the second round of the 2013 bantam draft.

In Prince George, D Dennis Cholowski, the team captain, didn’t play for the Cougars as they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Vancouver Giants. After the game, Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk admitted that Cholowski, 19, was scratched in order to keep him healthy just in case.

Cholowski, a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2016 NHL draft, has signed an NHL deal. In his first WHL season, he has 13 goals and 26 assists in 37 games.


The Calgary Hitmen claimed D Egor Zamula off waivers from the Regina Pats on Tuesday. Zamula, 17, is from Chelyabinsk, Russia. A freshman, he had seven assists in 38 games with the Pats, who had to drop an import player after acquiring D Libor Hajek from the Saskatoon Blades on Monday. . . . The Hitmen had an opening for an import after they sent F Andrei Grishakov to the Victoria Royals for a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft on Jan. 4. . . . Calgary’s other import is sophomore D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 18, who is from Belarus.


The Everett Silvertips have returned two players — D Dylan Anderson and F Gage Goncalves — to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . Anderson, 15, was pointless in one game with the Silvertips. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Goncalves, a list player, also was pointless in one game with Everett.


Scoreboard

TUESDAY:

At Brandon, F Brett Kemp scored in OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 3-2 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . Edmonton (11-24-6) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). It is 4-EdmontonOilKings3-3 in its last 10. . . . Brandon (27-12-2) had won its last two outings. The Wheat Kings are third in the overall standings, five points behind Swift Current. . . . F Ty Lewis (24) gave the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 16:03 of the first period. . . . D Jayden Platz (1) pulled the visitors even at 2:26 of the second period. . . . Brandon went back out front when F Baron Thompson (12) scored at 11:38 of the third period. . . . F Scott Atkinson (2) tied it for Edmonton at 14:53. . . . Kemp won it with his 10th goal at 2:06 of OT. . . . D Brayden Gorda had an assist and was plus-2 in his first game back with the Oil Kings. He returned to the Oil Kings last week after missing the first half of the season for personal reasons. . . . Brandon was 1-4 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine earned the victory with 34 saves, 12 more than Brandon’s Dylan Myskiw. . . . Brandon D Kale Clague has yet to return to the lineup after playing for Canada at the WJC. . . . Announced attendance: 3,225.


At Lethbridge, F Logan Barlage, acquired earlier in the day in the rather large trade, scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give the Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Red LethbridgeDeer Rebels. . . . The Hurricanes (18-19-3) had lost their previous two games. They moved into a second-place tie with Kootenay in the Central Division, eight points in arrears of Medicine Hat. . . . The Rebels (10-22-10) have lost nine in a row (0-4-5). . . . G Logan Flodell, who came over with Barlage in that swap with the Swift Current Broncos, got the victory with 29 saves through OT. He also stopped the last five Red Deer shooters in the shootout. . . . F Brad Morrison, acquired earlier from the Vancouver Giants, scored Lethbridge’s first two goals, both on the PP, at 6:26 and 17:53 of the first period. He’s got 13 goals. . . . In between, Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev (5) got his guys on the scoreboard. . . . F B Brendan Stafford (1) gave Lethbridge a 3-1 lead at 3:17 of the second period. . . . Red Deer took the lead on three second-period goals, two PP scores from Reese Johnson, who has 15 goals, at 7:16 and 8:52, and a goal from F Mason McCarty (20), at 10:19. . . . F Dylan Cozens (12) tied it again at 15:22. . . . The third period was scoreless. . . . Lethbridge got two assists from each of F Jordy Bellerive and F Taylor Ross, with Cozens adding one. . . . F Kristian Reichel and Alexeyev each had two assists for Red Deer, and McCarty had one. . . . Lethbridge was 2-2 on the PP; Red Deer was 2-4. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders allowed four goals on 27 shots through two periods. Riley Lamb came on for the third period and OT, stopping all 14 shots he faced. . . . Lethbridge acquired four players from Swift Current in the morning and all four played last night — Flodell, Barlage, D Matthew Stanley and F Owen Blocker. . . . F Jacob Boucher, a ninth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, made his WHL debut with the Hurricanes. He’s from St. Albert, Alta. . . . After the game, Lethbridge general manager Peter Anholt played host to a town hall as he explained to fans the deal he made with the Swift Current Broncos earlier in the day. . . . Announced attendance: 2,696.


At Kamloops, G Dylan Ferguson stopped 47 shots to lead the Blazers to a 2-1 victory over Kamloops1the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (18-20-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is six points behind Spokane, which holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Spokane (21-17-3) has lost two in a row. . . . The Blazers got first-period goals from F Quinn Benjafield (12), at 2:49, and F Luc Smith (9), at 19:09. . . . F Riley Woods (18) got the Chiefs to within a goal at 1:10 of the third period. . . . D Joe Gatenby had two assists for Kamloops. . . . F Orrin Centazzo, acquired Sunday from Everett, had an assist in his Kamloops debut. D Montana Onyebuchi, who also came over in that deal, sat out with the flu. . . . Kamloops was 0-3 on the PP; Spokane was 0-7. . . . G Donovan Buskey stopped 26 shots for the Chiefs. . . . Spokane F Kailer Yamamoto, who played for the U.S. at the WJC, sat out, and he won’t play tonight in Kelowna against the Rockets, either. . . . Announced attendance: 3,289.


At Prince George, the Vancouver Giants ran their road winning streak to seven games with a 5-1 victory over the Cougars. . . . Vancouver (24-14-5) is 6-0-1 in its past seven Vancouvergames. The victory lifted the Giants into a tie with Kelowna for the Western Conference lead. However, Kelowna has three games in hand. . . . Prince George (15-19-7) had points in each of its previous four games (2-0-2). . . . Vancouver took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Dawson Holt (7), at 7:27, F James Malm (16), at 9:00, and D Matt Barberis (4), on a PP, at 16:04. . . . The Cougars’ goal came from F Jared Bethune (14), at 16:17. . . . D Kaleb Bulych (1) added more insurance for the Giants at 2:21 of the second period and F Jared Dmytriw (12) finished the scoring at 12:04. . . . The third period was scoreless. . . . Malm and Holt added two assists each. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Prince George was 0-2. . . . G David Tendeck made 21 saves for the Giants. . . . Cougars starter Tavin Grant allowed five goals on 21 shots in 32:04. Taylor Gauthier finished up by stopping all 10 shots he faced in 27:56. . . . D Brennan Riddle made his Vancouver debut after being acquired Monday from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Cougars had recent acquisitions D Austin Crossley and F Ethan Browne in the lineup for the first time. . . . The same teams will meet in Prince George again tonight. . . . Announced attendance: 2,477.


At Kent, Wash., F Ryan Hughes scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Portland Winterhawks a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (24-13-3) has won Portlandtwo in a row and is back on top of the U.S. Division, one point ahead of Everett with two games in hand. . . . Seattle (20-14-6) has points in nine straight games (7-0-2) and holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. Seattle also is three points behind third-place Tri-City in the U.S. Division. . . . Portland had taken a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Skyler McKenzie (29), who was playing in his 250th game, at 1:31 and F Alex Overheard (9) at 19:58. . . . Seattle got second-period goals from F Sami Moilanen (17), at 0:57, and D Reece Harsch (9), on a PP, at 11:48. Hirsch left the game after two periods with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Thunderbirds were 1-5 on the PP; the Winterhawks weren’t given even one opportunity. . . . G Cole Kehler blocked 33 shots for Portland, seven more than Seattle’s Liam Hughes. . . . Seattle F Donovan Neuls, in his fourth full season there, had an assist to give him 42 points this season. He now has 29 assists, two more than he had last season, and 42 points, also a career high after he had 41 in 2016-17. . . . The Winterhawks are without three regulars who played in the WJC — F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.), D Henri Jokiharju (Finland) and F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark). Blichfeld was injured in a late tournament game and he hasn’t yet been checked out by Portland’s medical staff. . . . Announced attendance: 5,020.


WEDNESDAY (all times local):

Calgary at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Regina, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Vancouver at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Tri-City at Everett, 7:05 p.m.

Spokane at Kelowna 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY