Habscheid: It was open season on our goaltender. . . . Lauer: We need to do more of that. . . . Cozens helps Canada stay unbeaten


MacBeth

F Todd Fiddler (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Spokane, Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Neuilly-sur-Marne (France, Division 1). This season, with the Rosetown Red Wings (Allan Cup Hockey West), he had three goals and six assists in 10 games.


ThisThat

OK. The WHL’s Eastern Conference final officially became a series after Game 2. The Edmonton Oil Kings tied the series, 1-1, with a 4-3 OT victory over the Raiders in Prince EdChynowethCupAlbert on Saturday night.

When the game was over, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ veteran head coach, pointed out what he felt were some deficiencies in the work of referees Mike Langin and Steve Papp when it came to protecting his goaltender, Ian Scott, from on-rushing Oil Kings.

Brad Lauer, the Oil Kings’ first-year head coach, said his guys need to get to the Prince Albert crease even more than they did in Game 2.

“One thing that concerned me a little bit was it was open season on our goaltender,” Habscheid told reporters. “We depend on the officials to defend our goaltender, because we have no recourse anymore these days. He was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect them to take care of that and they didn’t. That was real disappointing.”

As for Lauer, he said:

“Their (defencemen) do a really good job getting into (you). They box you out early and they tie you up. We found it really tough in Game 1 to get in front of the net. . . . We had to find ways to get to him and make things difficult for him. We did it a couple times. Did we do it enough? I don’t think so. We need to do more of that and create that second or third opportunity. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”

Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com has a story right here.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has a game story right here.

The series resumes with Games 3 and 4 in Edmonton on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.




The Western Conference final also will continue with games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights as the Vancouver Giants take a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs into Spokane. . . . The Chiefs have lost two games in a row for the first time since mid-February when they lost three in a row — 5-4 to the Giants in Langley, B.C., 7-5 to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., and 4-3 in OT to the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . After those losses, Spokane closed out the regular season on a 10-2-0 run, then opened the playoffs by going 8-2 before losing twice to the Giants. . . .

A key in this series may well be the status of Spokane F Luc Smith, who left Game 1 early in the first period with an apparent ankle injury. Here’s Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review after Game 2: “The Chiefs were without forward Luc Smith, who was hurt early in Game 1. (Spokane head coach Dan) Lambert said there is no update and they are waiting for Smith to see the team doctors. Smith was walking with a visible limp outside the Spokane dressing room.”


Team Canada ran its record to 3-0 at the IIHF U-18 World Championship by whipping CanadaBelarus, 11-1, on Sunday in Umea, Sweden. . . . F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) led Canada with two goals and three assists, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) adding a goal and an assist. F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) each scored once. F Daemon Hunt and F Brayden Tracey, both of the Moose Jaw Warriors, each had an assist. . . . G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) stopped 41 shots in his first start of the tournament. . . . Belarus now is 2-1. . . . Canada is next scheduled to play on Tuesday against Czech Republic. . . .

In Sunday’s other Group A game, Czech Republic improved to 2-1 with a 4-2 victory over Finland (0-3). . . . In Group B, Team USA went to 3-0 with a 6-3 victory over Russia (2-1), and Sweden went to 2-1 with a 5-1 victory over Slovakia (0-3). . . .

On Monday, Switzerland (0-2) is to meet Belarus in a Group A game, while, in Group B, Latvia (0-2) will meet Slovakia (0-3).

The tournament, in Umea and Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, runs through April 28.


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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.


ThisThat

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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Scattershooting on Sunday . . . Petes trade one player, get nine draft picks . . . Goaltenders in WHL news . . . Schlenker’s movin’ on up

Scattershooting

“San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt named his newborn son August,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “in honor of his college coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido. Just be thankful the Longhorns hired Garrido instead of Oil Can Boyd.”



Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, had this analysis of a recent trade between the Green Bay Packer and Seattle Seahawks: “The Packers sent backup QB, Brent Hundley to the Seahawks where he will carry a clipboard for Russell Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers. Hundley showed last season that he might someday become a journeyman QB who will not throw up on his shoes.”



College football players are being ejected when ruled to have targeted another player’s head for a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the WHL, meanwhile, teenagers are allowed to punch each other in the face and get only major penalties.



Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, writing about the mess at Ohio State: “Read the public documents Ohio State collected in its investigation of Urban Meyer and you will never again be able to view him as anything but boneless.”

The complete column is right here. After reading it you will never look at a plucked chicken the same way again.


Surely it is only a coincidence that Chris Jones, the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator, and his Saskatchewan Roughriders are 3-0 since ridding themselves of Duron (The Distraction) Carter. Right?


Here’s Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Bottled water has an expiration date?! So what happens when it expires?”



With Air Canada and WestJet having increased the fees to check bags, perhaps it’s time people flew in the baggage compartment and the bags were strapped into the seats.


MacBeth

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) signed a one-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had three goals and five assists in 24 games with the Calgary Flames (NHL). . . .

F Ryan Hollweg (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) has been released by Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga) by mutual agreement due to “long-term health problems.” Hollweg signed a one-year extension with Plzeň in April. Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 41 games.


ThisThat

When the OHL held what it calls its priority selection — most of us call it a draft — the Peterborough Petes selected F Will Cuylle in the first round.

Cuylle, who played last season with the minor midget AAA Toronto Marlboros, and his ohlfamily had told the Petes that he wouldn’t report if they selected him. The Petes rolled the dice and took him anyway, then tried to convince him to report.

When that failed, they traded him to the Windsor Spitfires on Friday in a deal that resulted in the Petes acquiring nine draft picks. Yes, NINE!

Here are the particulars from a Petes news release:

In the deal, Peterborough acquires one first-round pick, four second-round picks, three third-round picks, and one fifth-round pick, as follows:

  • Kingston’s 2nd round pick in 2019
  • Kingston’s 3rd round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 5th round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 3rd round pick in 2021
  • Barrie’s 2nd round pick in 2022
  • Windsor’s 3rd round in 2023
  • Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024* (conditional)
  • 1st round pick (5th overall) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)
  • 2nd round pick (end of round) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)

* Should Windsor acquire a 2nd round pick in 2020 or 2021, Peterborough will receive that pick and return Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024.

The Petes also will receive the 5th overall pick and the last pick in the 2nd round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection as compensation from the Ontario Hockey League.

——

In the OHL, if a team’s first-round selection doesn’t report to training camp he is considered to be a “defected” player and the team will get a compensatory pick if it trades the player prior to Sept. 15. The drafting team also gets a second-round pick if the player in question was a top five pick.

——

With the restrictions that the WHL apparently has placed on the trading of young players, we are left to wonder if we will start to see these kinds of deals happen in the WHL.

(ICYMI, I wrote about those restrictions right here.)

When a team is loading up because it is to play host to a Memorial Cup, will it be prepared to trade away six or seven bantam draft picks in order to land a star player who just might put that team over the top?


Chris Schlenker, a former WHL player and on-ice official, has been promoted by the NHL and will be a full-time referee this season.

Schlenker, 34, worked in the AHL and NHL last season.

From Medicine Hat, he played four seasons (2001-05) in the WHL, playing two-plus seasons with the Regina Pats and one-plus with the Prince Albert Raiders.

He also spent 10 years as a member of the Medicine Hat Police Service.

There is more on Schlenker right here, from scoutingtherefs.com.


The Prince Albert Raiders have added G Donovan Buskey, 18, from the Spokane Chiefs in PrinceAlbertexchange for a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Buskey, from Vancouver, was a third-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he was 10-10-0, 3.56, .871, with one shutout, in 22 appearances with the Spokane.

Adding Buskey adds to the Raiders’ goaltending depth and could figure in the 20-year-old decision-making process as the start of the regular season grows near.

Ian Scott, 19, who will go to camp with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, is No. 1 on the depth chart. Curtis Meger, 20, and Brett Balas, 17, also are on the Raiders’ roster.

The other 20-year-olds on the roster are F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery. They also hold the WHL rights to F Noah Gregor, 20, who could end up with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. The Raiders acquired Gregor’s rights from the Victoria Royals earlier in the summer.



The Prince George Cougars will open the regular season with Isaiah DiLaura, 18, and Taylor Gauthier, 17, as their goaltenders.

Gauthier is atop the depth chart. Last season, he was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885. This summer, he PrinceGeorgeplayed with the Canadian U-18 team that won the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In fact, Gauthier, from Calgary, was the winning goaltender in the final, coming on with his side down 2-0 and stopping 16 shots as Canada beat Sweden, 6-2.

The 10th overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, Gauthier was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885 last season.

DiLaura, from Elko New Market, Minn., was 3-3-2, 3.94, .888, in 14 appearances.

The third goaltender on their roster at the moment is Tyler Brennan, a first-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft who won’t turn 15 until Sept. 27. From Winnipeg, he will return to the Rink Hockey Academy and play for the midget prep team.

Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has more right here.


Because of injuries, the Edmonton Oil Kings used five goaltenders last season as they went 22-42-8 and missed the playoffs.

This season, with exhibition games just having started, they already are down to three EdmontonOilKingsand one of those, Sebastian Cossa, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 21.

Chances are that the Oil Kings, under first-year head coach Brad Lauer, will open the regular season with Todd Scott, 18, who was acquired last season from the Vancouver Giants, and Boston Bilous, 17, a fourth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft, as their goaltenders.

Scott, from Albertville, Minn., was 4-5-0, 3.89, .883 after joining the Oil Kings last season. He had been 8-7-4, 4.11, .869 with the Giants when they sent him east.

Bilous, from Langley, B.C., got into 16 games and went 0-10-1, 4.72, .838.

Cossa, from Fort McMurray, Alta., was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, going 3.37, .915 in 19 games. In seven playoff games, he was 2.28, .943.

With the three young goaltenders, Lauer told Derek Van Diest of Postmedia that age won’t have much to do with which two make the roster.

“They’re all young, so I don’t think the age part of it comes into play,” Later said. “It’s going to be how you’re playing that comes into play. I know we’ll be good defensively and responsible so, for me, goaltending is going to be how the exhibition seasons goes and how they develop through that.”

Van Diest’s complete story is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades are down to three goaltenders after releasing Cameron Beson, 16, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta. He has been in two Blades’ training camps now, and Saskatoonhas been placed on their protected list.

Sophomore Nolan Maier, a 17-year-old from Yorkton, is the Blades’ starter after going 23-17-2, 3.31, .895 in 43 appearances last season. He spent part of his summer winning gold with Canada’s U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, going 3.12, .872 in four games.

The other two goaltenders on the roster are Dorrin Luding, 19, of Prince George, and Koen MacInnes, a 16-year-old from Burnaby, B.C.

The Blades re-acquired Luding on June 21, getting him from the Seattle Thunderbirds on June 21 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Saskatoon had selected him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Last season, Luding got into 11 games with the Everett Silvertips (3-6-0, 3.64, .891) and 17 with Seattle (6-9-1, 3.81, .881). In 30 career games, he is 9-15-1, 3.75, .886.

Saskatoon picked MacInnes in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Burnaby Winter Club’s Elite 15s, going 2.36, .926 in 17 regular-season games.

The Blades have opened the exhibition season by going 3-0-0.


The Brandon Wheat Kings, who wrapped up training camp with their intrasquad game BrandonWKregularon Sunday, also are down to three goaltenders after releasing Connor Ungar, 16.

That leaves the Wheat Kings with Ethan Kruger, Dylan Myskiw and Jiri Patera as the remaining goaltenders.

Myskiw, 19, got into 22 games with Brandon last season, going 11-5-2, 3.41, .887. He spent the season backing up Logan Thompson, who was playing out his eligibility.

Patera, 19, is from Praha, Czech Republic. He played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, after the Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract, and will leave later this week to attend the Golden Knights’ camp.

Kruger, who turns 17 on Sept. 27, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who was badly burned during an incident involving a firepit on June 15, is back home after being released from a Calgary hospital on Friday.

Vandervlis, 20, suffered burns to as much as 60 per cent of his body and spent four weeks in a medically induced coma. For the last part of his hospital stay, he was in the burn unit at Foothills Hospital.

Two other hockey players — Jordy Bellerive and Matt Alfaro — were injured in the incident that took place at the home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong near Calgary. Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, is in camp with his club. Alfaro will be going into his second season with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive scored twice, including the OT winner, as Lethbridge opened its exhibition season with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night.



The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats found themselves without a general manager and head coach earlier this week when Brad Tobin left to join the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. . . . Tobin, 29, worked as an assistant with the Eagles for six seasons (2010-16) before leaving to join the Thunder Cats. . . . In Surrey, Tobin will work alongside Peter Schaefer, who took over as head coach on Aug. 28 following the departure of Brandon West. . . . One week before Tobin handed in his resignation, the Thunder Cats lost assistant coach Carter Duffin, who left to join the KIJHL’s Castlegar Rebels. . . . Earlier, Jeff Wagner, another Creston assistant coach, joined the Fernie Ghostriders as GM and head coach. After he left, Tobin hired Duffin, who had been with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, as an assistant coach.


G Kyle Dumba, 20, had his junior A rights swapped this week when the Nanaimo Clippers acquired them from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who got back D Sam MacBean, 20. . . . Dumba, who has split 41 career regular-season WHL games between the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, is in camp with the Regina Pats. He finished last season on the Pats’ roster, but didn’t get into any regular-season games. Last season, he also got into 30 regular-season and three playoff games with Salmon Arm.


Karablog
Kara is answering the phone and taking pledges as her grandma, Dorothy Drinnan, prepares for her fifth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. (Todd Drinnan photo)

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 — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


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Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office

MacBeth

Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.


Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.


After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


Importdraft

The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.


Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.


The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.


G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


Tweetoftheday

Kisio has lighter wallet, victory . . . Oil Kings shock Blazers . . . Rebels continue to put heat on Ice

Dan
Dan Courneyea of Kamloops is ready to work some games in the Gangneung Hockey Centre in PyeongChang.

DAN’S DIARY . . .

Dan Courneyea, who heads up the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice crew of officials is at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang where he’ll be working the hockey competitions.

On Monday, he reported:

“The Games have started off well. Fans are showing up to events. When Korea is involved events are sold out — it’s great to see the support). Still cold, sun is out.

“The wind has been playing havoc on some events up in the mountains. Women’s hockey, no surprises. Men’s actually starts on the 14th.”


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On the road again . . . the Edmonton Oil Kings are on the road, again. . . .

When the Oil Kings played in Kamloops on Monday afternoon, it was their 12th road EdmontonOilKingsgame in their last 15 assignments. Since Jan. 9, they have made stops in Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Cranbrook, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Cranbrook (again), Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Kamloops.

The Oil Kings’ present trip also will include stops in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna, which will make it 15 of 18 on the road, and all of that since Jan. 9.

All of the travel means two things to a WHL team — a lack of sleep and a dire shortage of true practice time.

Here’s Edmonton head coach Steve Hamilton, talking with Derek Van Diest of Postmedia:

“You give up sleep and that’s the biggest thing when you’re managing yourself on the road. Every bus trip, you give up sleep, and then you start operating from a deficit and it’s hard to make that up, because we haven’t had a set amount of time to recoup that. We’ve played every second day, every third day, we travel in between and practice has been virtually nil.”

Here’s  hoping that the WHL will put a whole lot of thought into its 2018-19 schedule. With the decision already made to trim each team’s schedule from 72 to 68 games, there really is a need for the WHL pooh-bahs, who love to talk about being a developmental league, to find more time for its players to rest and to practice.

Van Diest’s story is right here.


DEPARTMENT OF DISCIPLINE: Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been $750 after he was tossed from a 4-2 loss in Regina on Saturday. Kisio got the ol’ heave-ho at 15:01 of the third period. According to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, Kisio offered up a “lengthy tirade” and “gave referees Steve Papp and Mike Langin an earful before he finally left the bench, receiving a loud ovation from the locals.” . . . The WHL office also set F Parker Kelly’s suspension at one game. Kelly, a forward with the Prince Albert Raiders, took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a hit on Saskatoon F Kirby Dach in a 6-3 loss to the host Blades on Saturday. Kelly served the suspension when he sat out Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Each didn’t play in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Regina.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Nick Perna, a 16-year-old who is from Dallas, Texas. He was added to the Winterhawks’ protected list in March. The 6-foot-2 Perna had a goal and eight assists in 30 games with the Dallas Stars elite U16 AAA team. . . . Perna attended the Winterhawks’ training camp prior to the start of this season.


If you like what you see here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Saskatoon at Moose Jaw

Regina at Medicine Hat

Brandon at Swift Current

Kootenay at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

MONDAY:

At Cranbrook, the Lethbridge Hurricanes scored four third-period goals as they beat the Kootenay Ice, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (26-23-6) had lost its previous two games. It is second in Lethbridgethe Central Division, five points behind Medicine Hat. The Hurricanes hold three games in hand. . . . Kootenay (24-30-3) has lost two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, seven points behind Lethbridge. . . .  D Koletrane Wilson (3) gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead at 16:19 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it at 17:54 when F Alec Baer (24) scored, on a PP, then took a 2-1 lead at 1:27 of the third period as F Colton Veloso (19) scored, also on the PP. . . . The visitors took a 3-2 lead on two goals from F Brad Morrison, at 15:22 and 15:41. He’s got 20 goals. . . . F Jake Elmer (15) added insurance, at 15:41, and F Jordy Bellerive (38) got the empty-netter, at 17:17. . . . The Hurricanes got two assists from each of D Calen Addison, Bellerive and F Jadon Joseph, with Morrison adding one to his pair of goals. . . . Kootenay was 2-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-5. . . . G Logan Flodell earned the victory with 26 saves, eight fewer than the Ice’s Duncan McGovern. . . . F Dylan Cozens was back in Lethbridge’s lineup after not having played since Jan. 19. He missed nine games with an undisclosed injury. When he went down, Cozens, 17, had 16 goals and 23 assists in 40 games. . . . Announced attendance: 2,969.


At Kamloops, the Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 1-0 deficit with two goals 22 seconds apart early in the second period and went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers. . . . Edmonton EdmontonOilKings(16-32-7) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (26-26-4) had won its previous two games. It remains six points away from a Western Conference wild-card spot. . . . F Jackson Shepard (7) was credited with the Blazers’ first goal, when a point shot by D Sean Strange went off his skate and trickled over the goal line. . . . Edmonton tied the score at 1:20 of the second period when F Colton Kehler re-directed a point shot by D Conner McDonald. . . . Shortly after that, the Blazers broke out 2-on-1, only to have the horn sound to kill play. An apparent save by Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson went to video review and Edmonton F Brendan Semchuk, who is from Kamloops, was awarded his 12th goal of the season. . . . Kehler (26) gave the visitors a 3-1 lead, on a PP, at 12:05 of the second period. . . . D Ethan Cap iced it with an empty-netter, at 19:29 of the third period. . . . D Conner McDonald, who began his career with Kamloops, had two assists for Edmonton. . . . Edmonton was 1-1 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 29 shots for Edmonton, 10 more than Dylan Ferguson of the Blazers. . . . This season, Kamloops is 1-6-2 when playing in front of more than 4,000 fans at home. . . . This game, on Faith and Family Day, drew the largest crowd this season. . . . Announced attendance: 5,578.


At Prince George, F Brandon Hagel earned four assists and G Riley Lamb posted the shutout as the Red Deer Rebels blanked the Cougars, 4-0. . . . Red Deer (18-26-13) has PrinceGeorgeclosed to within two points of third-place Kootenay in the Central Division. . . . Prince George (19-30-8) has lost four in a row. . . . D Dawson Barteaux (3) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:05 of the first period. . . . D Alex Alexeyev (7) upped that to 2-0 at 19:01 of the second period. . . . Alexeyev was playing his first game since Jan. 20. He had left the team and returned to Russia following the unexpected death of his mother. . . . F Mason McCarty (29), on a PP, and F Kristian Reichel (24) added third-period goals. . . . Barteaux and Alexeyev added an assist each, as did Lamb. . . . Lamb finished with 25 saves as he put up his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. . . . The Cougars got 27 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Announced attendance: 3,071.


At Kelowna, the Rockets opened up a 5-2 second-period lead and hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna (34-17-5) had lost its previous two games (0-KelownaRockets1-1). It leads the B.C. Division by one point over Victoria. The Rockets have two games in hand. . . . Victoria (34-20-4) had won two in a row. . . . The teams played a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Victoria, with the Royals winning 6-1 and 4-3 in OT. . . . F Matthew Phillips (42) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead when he scored on a penalty shot at 5:02 of the first period. . . . Kelowna F Kole Lind tied it at 5:31. . . . The Royals went back out front at 8:29 when F Noah Gregor (21) scored. . . . Lind (31) tied it, on a PP, at 19:07. . . . The Rockets took control with three second-period goals. . . . F Dillon Dube (25) made it 3-2 at 4:03; F Carsen Twarynski (35) scored at 8:09; and D Gordie Ballhorn (4) upper it to 5-2, on a PP, at 13:52. . . . F Tyler Soy (29) got Victoria to within two at 16:04. . . . The Royals cut the deficit to one on a goal by F Andrei Grishakov (18), on a PP, at 11:01 of the third period. . . . Dube added two assists to his goal, with F Kyle Topping and D Cal Foote also getting two assists each for the Rockets. Lind added one to his pair of goals. . . . The Royals got two assists from F Igor Martynov and one from Phillips. . . . Phillips now has 93 points, which is a Victoria franchise record. He had shared the record with F Alex Forsberg (2015-16). F Mark Santorelli holds the Chilliwack/Victoria record (101, 2007-08). . . . Phillips also is riding a franchise record 18-game point streak. He has 34 points, including 14 goals, in that time. . . . Kelowna was 2-5 on the PP; Victoria was 1-3. . . . Kelowna G James Porter Jr. allowed four goals on 25 shots in 51:20, before leaving with an injury. Brodan Salmond came on to finish up. He stopped the only shot he fced in 8:40. . . . The Royals got 30 stops from G Griffen Outhouse. . . . Each team was 4-3-1 in the season series. . . . Wayne Moore of castanet.net reports that “Lind may have suffered a concussion after he was hit by by Ralph Jarratt while cutting through the slot. Lind lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice.” Jarratt wasn’t penalized on the play; Lind didn’t return. . . . “I don’t really have any comment on the hit,” Kelowna head coach Jason Smith told Moore, “because the league will look at that, and there may be some decisions on what they thought, whether it was a clean hit or not a clean hit.” . . . Announced attendance: 5,625.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Tri-City at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Mohr back from facial injury . . . Young Stars tourney is on . . . Adding two more sets of twins

MacBeth

D Richie Regehr (Kelowna, Portland, 1998-2004) has been released by mutual agreement by Klagenfurt (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). According to the club, Regehr suffered a “serious upper body injury” at the end of September and had a setback when he returned to practice. He had one goal and one assist in six games. . . .

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-05) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after his release by mutual agreement by Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 24 games. . . .

D Alex Roach (Calgary, 2010-14) has been assigned on loan by Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL) to Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2) for the duration of the DEL Olympics break. He had three assists in 25 games. . . . The DEL breaks after games on Feb 2 until Feb 28. The DEL2 doesn’t have a break.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On Dec. 3, with Edmonton playing against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, Oil Kings F Kobe Mohr was struck by a puck just below his left eye.

The 18-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., now has three plates in his face. As he told EdmontonOilKingsDerek Van Diest of Postmedia, he ended up with a broken orbital bone, broken tear duct and broken nose.

“Right away, I soaked the ice up pretty good in blood and I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe and I knew my nose was broken for sure and something was wrong with my eye because I couldn’t see,” Mohr told Van Diest. “But I wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong. The first thing was just the pain. I was squirming out there, I couldn’t really control it and the trainer came out and got me off the ice as fast as I could and got me stitched up and took me straight to the hospital, so it was a pretty quick process, which was pretty good.”

He was back in the lineup on Jan. 9, meaning he missed only 13 games.

Van Diest’s story, complete with a post-injury selfie, is right here.


On Thursday, Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) tweeted a list of the top 10 WHL teams in terms of regular-season victories from September 2003 through last night. I have added to his list by including WHL championships won during that time in parentheses:

  1. Kelowna 639 (3)
  2. Medicine Hat 623 (2)
  3. Calgary 602 (1)
  4. Tri-City 575 (0)
  5. Brandon 573 (1)
  6. Spokane 548 (1)
  7. Portland 547 (1)
  8. Everett 543 (0)
  9. Kootenay 533 (1)
  10. Vancouver 529 (1)

NOTE: Edmonton (2) and Seattle (1) aren’t in the top 10 in victories in that time period, but have won championships.


It seems that there will be Young Stars tournament in Penticton this year, but if you read between the lines it sounds like there may be changes in store.

Trevor Linden, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, has told Kristi Patton of the Penticton Western News that his team is committed to playing in the preseason rookie tournament this year.

“While the format and number of participating teams may change,” Linden said, “we’ve confirmed our continued participation this year. We’ll have more details to share in the near future.”

Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton’s mayor and the event’s chairman, told Patton: “Right now, I’m confident there will be an event this fall. Whatthe shape, size or scope of teams is, I can’t confirm or deny yet.”

In recent years, the Canucks team has faced teams from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The tournament is held in the first half of September, although this year’s dates have yet to be announced.


Attention WHL franchise owners . . .

Darren Rovell, a senior writer with ESPN, filed a piece Thursday explaining what happened when the the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons cut concession prices.

“Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group . . . told ESPN that although food and beverage prices were 50 percent lower in its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium than the prices in the Georgia Dome the previous year, fans spent 16 percent more,” Rovell writes.

Rovell’s story is right here.


If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that organ donation is a big deal in our home.

On Thursday, I stumbled on a truly interesting story involving a 60-year-old single father of five who was in dire need of a kidney. So on a trip to Disney World, he wore a special t-shirt.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His story is right here.


If you like what you get here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.

Enjoy!


We are adding two more sets of twins to our WHL Twins Wall of Fame, both brought to our attention via readers of this blog.

We start today with Brent and Kyle Howarth, forwards from St. Andrews, Man. Brent whlplayed three seasons (2003-06) with the Kelowna Rockets, while Kyle was with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Spokane Chiefs and Prince Albert Raiders. Now 31, they did play together with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers in 2002-03 and 2006-07. In fact, they helped the Keith Cassidy-coached Steelers win the 2006-07 MJHL title. Kyle put up 141 points, including 103 assists, in 58 games, while Brent had 131 points, 49 of them goals, in 59 games.

We also have been reminded about Taylor and Travis Sanheim, the pride of Elkhorn, Man., which is also the hometown of Sheldon Kennedy. Taylor and Travis, now 21, played together with the Calgary Hitmen.

Taylor, a forward, played two-plus seasons (2014-17) with the Hitmen; Travis was there for three seasons (2013-16).

Now 21, Taylor is playing senior hockey in Saskatchewan, while Travis is in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

——

Twins who played together . . .

Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)

Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)

Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)

Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)

Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)

Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)

Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)

——

Twins who played but not together . . .

Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)

Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)

Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)

Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)

——

Officials who are twins and work together . . .

Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Prince George at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY