Red Deer captain gets NHL deal. . . . Focht scores hat trick for third time in five games. . . . Byram goal sets franchise record for Giants


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The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies beat the host Shawinigan Cataractes 8-3 on Wednesday night, running their winning streak to 25 games. That ties the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


F Reese Johnson, the captain of the Red Deer Rebels, has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . This season, the 20-year-old Saskatoon native has 22 goals and 23 assists in 62 games. He has single-season career highs in assists and points. . . . In 182 career regular-season games, he has 50 goals and 42 assists. . . . Johnson wasn’t selected in either the WHL bantam draft or the NHL draft.


The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives are in need of a general manager and head coach following the decision by Dustin Howden not to ask for a new contract. . . . Howden, 33, is from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He told Chris Jaster of the Brandon Sun: “I just feel it’s time for someone else to take the program to the next step.” . . . Howden has been with the Natives since 2014-15 when he was an assistant coach. He took over as head coach prior to 2016-17, and added the GM’s duties in time for this season. . . . This season, the Natives finished 9-43-8, which left them last in the 11-team league.



WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Jake Elmer ran his goal-scoring streak to 13 games as he helped the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Lethbridge (36-18-10) has won four in a row, and now has clinched a playoff spot. It also has moved into a tie with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds a game in hand. . . . Brandon (30-25-8) is 1-2-1 on a six-game trek through the Central Division. The Wheat Kings are tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Elmer opened the scoring at 5:36 of the second period, while shorthanded. He’s got 37 goals this season, and leads the WHL with six shorthanded snipes. . . . The longest goal-scoring streak in WHL history occurred from Nov. 6 through Dec. 15, 1984, as F Cliff Ronning of the New Westminster Bruins struck 27 times over 18 games. . . . The Hurricanes’ record (16 games) belongs to F Jason Ruff (Jan. 16 through Feb. 27, 1991). Ruff had 20 goals over that stretch. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn, who has 37 goals, gave his guys a 3-0 lead when he scored at 7:35 and 19:44, the latter on a PP. . . . F Zack Stringer’s first WHL goal, at 10:16 of the third period, made it 4-0. Stringer’s first goal came in his fourth game. He also had an assist, and now has three points. A 15-year-old from Lethbridge, Stringer, the eighth-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft, had 14 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the midget AAA Hurricanes this season. . . . F Luka Burzan (38) scored Brandon’s goal, at 11:09 of the third period. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 27 shots to earn the victory. . . . F Scott Mahovlich was back in Lethbridge’s lineup after having left the club on Feb. 13 to deal with a “family emergency.” He missed 10 games.


The Calgary Hitmen struck for four goals in the first period — three of them by F Carson CalgaryFocht — and then needed OT to beat the host Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-5. . . . Calgary (36-22-6) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, four points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Three of Calgary’s last four games are against the Oil Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (32-25-6) holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Calgary won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . Focht gave his guys a 2-0 lead with goals at 2:52, on the PP, and 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (23) got the Tigers on the scoreboard at 11:44. . . . F James Malm, on a PP, increased Calgary’s lead to 3-1 at 15:46 and Focht completed his third career hat trick — all three in the past five games — at 19:59. He’s got 26 goals, 10 of them in those past five games. . . . The Tigers followed with the next four goals to take a 5-4 lead. . . . F Ryan Jevne, who last played on Feb. 16, scored at 1:37 of the second period, and FCorson Hopwo made it 4-3 at 10:01. . . . The Tigers pulled even on D Trevor Longo’s fifth goal, at 7:58 of the third period, and went ahead at 11:07 when Jevne got his 28th goal, on a PP. . . . Malm forced OT with his 33rd goal at 16:18. . . . Calgary won it at 3:41 of OT when D Vladislav Yeryomenko notched his sixth goal of the season. . . . The Hitmen were 3-4 on the PP; the Tigers were 1-4. . . . Focht also had an assist for the fourth four-point game of his career. . . . Malm added an assist to his two goals. . . . Jevne added an assist to his two goals, while Longo had two helpers. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 37 shots for the Hitmen. . . . The Tigers also had F Brett Kemp back in their lineup. He had been out since Feb. 22.


G Trent Miner stopped 16 shots and D Bowen Byram set a single-season franchise record Vancouveras the Vancouver Giants dumped the Blazers, 5-0, in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (45-14-4) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is tied with the Everett Silvertips atop the Western Conference, each with five games remaining. . . . Kamloops (23-32-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). With six games to play, it is fourth in the B.C. Division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Kamloops and Kelowna will go home-and-home on Friday and Saturday. . . . The Blazers also are seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . This was the third game in a row between these teams — the Giants won all three, one of them in OT. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 8-0-0; Kamloops was 0-5-3. . . . Miner posted his third shutout of the season. He is 23-4-2, 1.94, .926. . . . F Jadon Joseph scored twice for the Giants, opening the scoring 34 seconds into the second period and closing it with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 16:47 of the third. . . . In between, the Giants got goals from F Davis Koch (27), F Justin Sourdif (20) and Byram. . . . Byram’s goal was his 25th of the season and set a single-season franchise record for goals by a defenceman. The previous record was set by Kevin Connauton in 2009-10. . . . F Milos Roman had three assists. The Giants are about to lose Roman for a handful of games. Like Kootenay Ice D Martin Bodak, he will be returning to his native Slovakia to write a mandatory exam. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson left at 1:37 of the second period. He was slow getting up after some goal-mouth action at 1:20, and actually needed to lean on  his stick in order to get to his feet. Seventeen seconds later, he left the game, unable to put any weight on one leg. . . . Ferguson stopped 10 of 11 shots in 21:37. Dylan Garand came on in relief and turned aside 17 of 21. . . . The Giants enjoyed a 32-16 edge in shots, including 14-2 in the second period when they began to take control. . . .  Vancouver was 3-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-5. . . . Vancouver had F Krz Plummer in their lineup. Plummer, who turns 17 on Feb. 13, was a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. This was his fifth WHL game, four of them this season.


The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Victoria Royals, 6-tri-city3, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (34-25-4) had lost five in a row (0-4-1). The Americans, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, have clinched a playoff spot. . . . Victoria (33-26-4) had points in each of its past four games (3-0-1). It is headed to a second-place finish in the B.C. Division. . . . F Phillip Schultz (19) put Victoria ahead 55 seconds into the game. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (5) tied it at 4:12. . . . Victoria went ahead again just 27 seconds later as F Carson Miller (14) scored. . . . The Americans tied it at 17:10 when D Dom Schmiemann (3) scored. . . . F Riley Sawchuk, who finished with two goals and an assist, put the Americans out front at 4:00 of the second period. . . . Victoria pulled even at 16:51 on F D-Jay Jerome’s 22nd goal. . . . Tri-City F Sasha Mutala (19) broke the tie at 18:08, and Sawchuk added insurance with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 13:54 of the third period. . . . Tri-City D Mitchell Brown (4) added the empty-netter at 18:58. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 20 shots for Tri-City, six fewer than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Ralph Jarratt, D Scott Walford and F Kody McDonald were among Victoria’s scratches.


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Giants schedule announcement . . . Broncos add Aubin to front office . . . Van Horlick to coach junior B team


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G Mackenzie Skapski (Kootenay, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), he was 12-14-2-1, 3.03, .906, with two shutouts, in 33 games.


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The Vancouver Giants are expected to make an announcement via radio station SN 650 Vancouverthis morning (Thursday) at 8 o’clock.

It could be that the Giants will announce the signing of Jamie Heward as an assistant coach. Taking Note was told earlier in the week that he had signed with the Giants, taking the place of Dean Chynoweth on the coaching staff.

Chynoweth spent one season as the Giants’ associate coach. On Wednesday, the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes announced that they had signed Chynoweth as an assistant coach.

Heward, 47, is from Regina. He spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development with the Broncos.

A defenceman in his playing days, he skated with the Regina Pats for four seasons (1987-91). Michael Dyck, preparing for his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was a teammate of Heward’s for two of those seasons (1987-89).


The Swift Current Broncos have signed Gary Aubin as their director of player personnel. SCBroncosAubin spent the previous 11 seasons scouting northern Alberta for the Spokane Chiefs. From St. Alberta, Alta., Aubin also spent 11 seasons scouting for the Kamloops Blazers, and for 14 years was a chief instructor for the Canadian Trinity Hockey School. . . . Aubin will replace Jamie Porter with the Broncos. Porter had been with the Broncos since 2003, and had been the director of player personnel since 2006. He announced that he was leaving as Dean Brockman was named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . Since that announcement, the Broncos’ entire scouting staff is believed to have resigned, as did associate coach Ryan Smith, who has joined the Medicine Hat Tigers as an assistant coach. The Broncos, however, have yet to acknowledge any departures on their website.


John Gruden has left the Hamilton Bulldogs — he was the head coach of the reigning HamiltonOHL champions — to sign on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders. Gruden spent two seasons as the Bulldogs’ head coach. . . . His departure means that each of the four teams that competed in the 2018 Memorial Cup will have a new head coach when the new season arrives. . . . The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who won the tournament, had to replace Mario Pouliot after he left to take over as general manager and head coach of the Rouyn-Norana Huskies. The Titan has since signed Bryan Lizotte to a three-year deal as head coach. . . . In Regina, the host Pats promoted Dave Struch from assistant coach to head coach. He takes over from John Paddock, who remains as general manager. . . . In Swift Current, the WHL-champion Broncos lost head coach Manny Viveiros to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers when he joined them as an assistant coach. The Broncos later named Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach. . . .

The same thing happened after the 2017 Memorial Cup when the Windsor Spitfires, the host team, had to replace Rocky Thompson, while the Erie Otters lost Kris Knoblauch, the Saint John Sea Dogs had to replace Danny Flynn, and Steve Konowalchuk left the Seattle Thunderbirds.


John Van Horlick is the new head coach of the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He takes over from Bryan Perrier. According to the team, it and Perrier “parted ways two weeks ago.” . . . Van Horlick, 69, is a former head coach (1987-88) of the WHL’s New Westminster Bruins. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Vernon Morning Star has more right here.


Dustin Howden, the head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives, now is the general manager, as well. Howden, from Deloraine, Man., has been the head coach through two seasons. . . . He takes over from Myles Cathcart as the team’s general manager. Cathcart, who had been with the Natives in one role or another for 25 years, resigned last month.