Hurricanes suspend Bowen … Semchuk leaves Giants … Silvertips set franchise record … Wednesday’s WHL roundup

MacBeth

D Jiří Smejkal (Moose Jaw, Kamloops, 2014-16) has been assigned on loan by Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga) for the rest of this season. He had four goals and two assists in 26 games. . . .

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) has been released by Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL) for financial reasons. An alternate captain, he had one goal and 18 assists in 43 games. Later Wednesday, Blum signed with Sochi (Russia, KHL) for the remainder of this season.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

D Kale Clague wasn’t in Team Canada’s lineup on Wednesday night as it ran its World BuffaloJunior Championship record to 2-0 with a 6-0 victory over Slovakia in Buffalo. Clague, who is having a monster season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, blocked a shot with his right foot in Canada’s 4-2 victory over Finland on Tuesday. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, “X-rays were negative, reportedly no fracture.” . . . After beating Slovakia, Canadian head coach Dominique Ducharme said that he expects Clague to play Friday against the U.S., in the outdoor game.


Tim Wharnsby of CBC is in Buffalo for the WJC. He reports that Friday’s outdoor game may be in jeopardy because of a weather forecast that calls for “a frigid temperature of -8 C with a wind-chill making it feel more like -13 C.” . . . He also notes that the attendance woes continue to be a major story. . . . His piece is right here.


A note from Buffalo: If you would like to skate at New Era Field before Canada and the U.S. meet up in a WJC outdoor game on Friday, all you need is US$100. Fans were allowed on the ice Wednesday evening and there will be another 90-minute session today. Maki Becker of the Buffalo News adds: “Skaters must bring their own skates, and helmets are required for anyone under 12. Anyone coming into the stadium must have a ticket, even if they’re not skating.” . . . That $100 also gets you a ticket in the 300 level — the upper deck — to Friday’s game. . . . Sheesh, maybe I’m crazy, but that’s a lot of dough for a short skate.


Remember the Punch-Up in Piestany? Alan Maki of The Globe and Mail revisits the infamous 1987 WJC game between Canada and Russia and it’s all right here.


F Ryan Bowen has been suspended by the Lethbridge Hurricanes after refusing to report after being traded to an unidentified team. According to a news release from the LethbridgeHurricanes, Bowen “was notified of a trade to another team, but has been suspended after informing the Hurricanes and the acquiring team that he would not report.”

Bowen, 19, has 30 points, including seven goals, in 53 games over two seasons with Lethbridge. This season, he had a goal and five assists in 13 games. He didn’t play his first game until Nov. 21, thanks to a shoulder injury.

In 143 career games, split between Lethbridge and the Moose Jaw Warriors, he has 21 goals and 36 assists.

Moose Jaw selected Bowen, who is from Chilliwack, B.C., in the fifth round of the 2013 bantam draft. The Warriors dealt him to the Hurricanes on Nov. 8, 2016, along with a 2017 second-round bantam draft pick and an undisclosed conditional pick in the 2019 draft for F Brayden Burke.


Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Wednesday that “various WHL sources are saying that VancouverRW Brendan Semchuk has left the Vancouver Giants and is requesting a trade.”

Ewen tweeted the news prior to a game between the host Giants and the Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night.

Semchuk, 18, is from Kamloops. He didn’t play last night, a healthy scratch for a third straight game.

According to Ewen, “The Giants are declining comment.”

The Giants selected Semchuk in the first round, 10th overall, of the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he has eight goals and 11 assists in 33 games. In 127 regular-season games, all with the Giants, he has 17 goals and 24 assists.


Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has posted his final 31 Thoughts of 2017. He leads with memories of the late Johnny Bower, who died this week. The Prince Albert native was maybe the most beloved Toronto Maple Leafs player of them all. . . . Friedman’s piece is right here.


Scoreboard

WEDNESDAY:

At Brandon, the Wheat Kings scored three times in the third period as they beat the Regina Pats, 5-3. . . . The Wheat Kings (25-8-1) have won 16 of their last 18 games. They BrandonWKregularare third in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Swift Current. . . . Regina (16-18-3) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). They are tied with Saskatoon for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff berths. . . . The Pats and Wheat Kings will play again tonight, this time in Regina. . . . Last night, the teams were 2-2 after two periods. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (26) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead, while shorthanded, at 13:37 of the first period. . . . The visitors took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Robbie Holmes, at 19:33 of the first, and F Logan Nijhoff (1), at 4:05 of the second. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-2 lead on goals from F Cole Reinhardt (11), at 14:36 of the second, and F Ty Lewis (18), at 3:38 of the third. . . . Holmes (9) pulled the Pats to within a goal at 7:25 of the third, but F Evan Weinger (15) got that one back for Brandon just 30 seconds later. . . . F Linden McCorrister (10) added insurance at 18:28. . . . Mattheos, Lewis and Weinger added an assist each for Brandon. . . . D Cale Fleury had two helpers for Regina. . . . The Pats were 0-3 on the PP; the Wheat Kings were 0-6. . . . Brandon got 27 saves from G Logan Thompson, while Regina’s Max Paddock, playing in his hometown, turned aside 30 shots. . . . The Pats have F Sam Steel (Canada) at the WJC, while Brandon D Kale Clague also is with Team Canada. . . . Regina was without D Josh Mahura, who was released by Team Canada on Tuesday and has gone home to Edmonton for a couple of days. . . . The Pats brought in D Kjell Kjemhus, 16, from PoE and had him in the lineup. He was a fourth-round pick by the Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 3,919.


At Saskatoon, F Cam Hebig scored twice to lead the Blades to a 4-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Blades (16-17-3) have won two in a row. They moved out of a tie Saskatoonwith the Raiders and into a tie with Regina for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff berths. . . . The Raiders (13-15-7) have lost two in a row. . . . Saskatoon took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Josh Paterson (13), at 4:08, and Hebig, on a PP, at 9:56. . . . The Raiders tied it before the period ended, though, thanks to scores by F Brett Season (5), on a PP, at 12:44, and F Devon Skoleski (8), at 13:22. . . . Hebig, who has 28 goals, broke the tie at 12:16 of the second period and D Jackson Caller (2) added insurance at 13:18. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Braylon Shmyr and one from Paterson. . . . D Max Martin drew two assists for the Raiders. . . . Saskatoon was 1-3 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-5. . . . G Nolan Maier earned the victory with 20 saves, 18 fewer than the Raiders’ Ian Scott. . . . F Kirby Dach of the Blades didn’t return after the first period. . . . Each team has a defenceman playing with the Czech Republic at the WJC in Buffalo — Vojtech Budik of the Raiders and Libor Hajek of the Blades. . . . F Gage Ramsay returned to Saskatoon’s lineup after missing eight games with an undisclosed injury, while F Michael Farren was back after a two-game absence. However, F Caleb Fantillo won’t play for at least three weeks. . . . With Hajek gone, the Blades have added Majid Kaddoura, 16, to their roster, although he didn’t play last night. A list player from Chestermere, Alta., Kaddoura plays at the Edge School in Calgary. . . . The Raiders and Blades will play again tonight, this time in Prince Albert. . . . Announced attendance: 3,395.


At Swift Current, F Glenn Gawdin and F Matteo Gennaro had shootout goals as the Broncos got past the Moose Jaw Warriors, 5-4. . . . The Broncos (26-7-2) erased a 3-0 deficit SCBroncosin the third period as they ran their victory streak to six. . . . The Warriors slipped to 27-6-3 and now lead the overall standings by three points over the Broncos. . . . Moose Jaw scored twice before the game was two minutes old — F Brayden Burke (17) counting at 1:14 and F Tanner Jeannot (26) following at 1:33 — and made it 3-0 when F Justin Almeida scored, on a PP, at 5:56 of the second period. . . . The Broncos got to within a goal on third-period scores from F Max Patterson (3), on a PP, at 4:56, and F Kaden Elder (7), at 6:29. . . . Almeida (21), on a PP, restored Moose Jaw’s two-goal lead at 7:52. . . . The Broncos forced OT when Gawdin (32) scored at 16:08 and Gennaro (21) tied it at 16:36. . . . Gennaro added two assists and Gawdin one. . . . Burke, F Tristin Langan and F Jayden Halbgewachs each had two assists for Moose Jaw. . . . The teams will play tonight in Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors were 2-5 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-3. . . . The Broncos got 34 saves from G Logan Flodell. At the other end, Brody Willms turned aside 23 shots. . . . D Jacson Alexander, who left the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies to sign with the Broncos last week, didn’t make his WHL debut. That may happen sometime on the weekend. . . . F Beck Malenstyn, who was acquired by Swift Current from the Calgary Hitmen, in a rather large trade earlier in the month, made his Broncos debut after being out for all but the season’s first four games with a wrist injury. He was in the starting lineup, alongside Gennaro, who also came over in the deal with Calgary, and Elder. Malenstyn drew the primary assist on Gennaro’s tying goal. . . . D Carter Spenst, who plays with the Northern Alberta X-Treme of the CSSHL, made his WHL debut with the Broncos. . . . The Warriors are missing head coach Tim Hunter and F Brett Howden, both of whom are with Canada at the WJC. . . . The Broncos have three players in Buffalo — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), F Tyler Steenbergen (Canada) and F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland). . . . Announced attendance: 2,644.


At Red Deer, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last three goals, with D Conner McDonald in on each of them, and beat the Rebels, 3-1. . . . The Oil Kings (8-22-4) had lost EdmontonOilKingstheir previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Rebels (10-19-6) had points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . D Alex Alexeyev (4) gave Red Deer a 1-0 lead at 1:25 of the first period. . . . Edmonton tied it when F Davis Koch (15) scored, on a PP, at 12:19, then took the lead at 15:16 as F Trey Fix-Wolansky (13) scored. . . . F David Kope (3) added insurance at 2:00 of the second period. . . . McDonald drew three assists, while Koch and Fix-Wolansky each had one. . . . Each team was 1-4 on the PP. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 27 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Rebels got 30 saves from G Ethan Anders. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel missed his seventh straight game. . . . The Rebels also are missing F Kristian Reichel, who is in Buffalo with the Czech Republic. . . . They’ll play again tonight, this time in Edmonton. . . . Announced attendance: 4,826.


At Cranbrook, B.C., F Peyton Krebs scored at 1:30 of OT to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Ice (16-17-2) has points in four straight games (3-Kootenaynew0-1) and has moved into second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Hitmen (10-18-6) have lost three in a row (0-1-2). . . . This was the third straight game these teams have played — the Ice won the previous two, 2-0 and 5-1. The teams will make it four in a row tonight in Calgary. . . . F Jakob Stukel put the visitors ahead 1-0 at 7:37 of the first period. . . . The Ice took a 2-1 lead on two goals from F Colton Veloso, who has 10. He scored on a PP at 9:12 of the first period and while shorthanded at 8:35 of the second. . . . Calgary F Jake Kryski (9) tied it 11:54. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (10) put the Ice back in front at 14:33. . . . F Orca Wiesblatt (4) got Calgary back into a tie at 17:54 of the third period. . . . Krebs, who has nine goals, won it with a PP goal. . . . F Brett Davis drew three assists for Kootenay, with Krebs adding one. . . . The Ice was 2-6 on the PP; Calgary was 0-2. . . . Kootenay got 20 saves from G Duncan McGovern. . . . G Nick Schneider stopped 24 shots for the Hitmen. . . . The Hitmen are without D Jake Bean (Canada) and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus), who are in Buffalo. . . . Kootenay D Martin Bodak is with Slovakia. . . . With G Bailey Brkin (ill) sidelined, the Ice had G Gage Alexander, 15, on the bench in support of McGovern. Alexander, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, signed a WHL contract last week. From Okotoks, Alta., he is playing with the minor midget AAA Rockyview Raiders (8-1-1, 1.60, .942). . . . Announced attendance: 2,625.


At Medicine Hat, head coach Shaun Clouston tied the franchise record for regular-season coaching victories as the Tigers beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-2. . . . The Tigers (19-Tigers Logo Official14-2) have won two straight and lead the Central Division by six points over Kootenay. . . . The Hurricanes (15-17-2) had won their previous game. They are third in the Central Division, two points behind Kootenay. . . . The teams will meet again Friday in Lethbridge. . . . Clouston now has 323 victories with the Tigers, equalling the record held by Willie Desjardins. . . . The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on a PP goal from F Jordy Bellerive (18) at 5:28 of the second period. . . . The teams combined for five goals in the third period. . . . Medicine Hat took the lead on goals from D David Quenneville, on a PP, at 4:53, and F Max Gerlach (13), at 10:14. . . . F Lane Zablocki pulled Lethbridge into a tie with his 10th goal at 10:36. . . . Tigers F James Hamblin (11) snapped the tie, on a PP, at 17:24. . . . Quenneville (14), who also had an assist, got the empty-netter, at 19:21. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski had two assists for Medicine Hat. . . . F Taylor Ross had two assists for the visitors. . . . The Tigers were 2-4 on the PP; the Hurricanes were 1-1. . . . Tigers G Jordan Hollett made 27 saves, while Lethbridge’s Reece Klassen turned aside 36. . . . Lethbridge G Stuart Skinner (ill) was scratched. . . . Announced attendance: 3,688.


At Portland, the Tri-City Americans broke a 3-3 tie with three third-period goals and beat the Winterhawks, 6-3. . . . The Americans (19-10-3) have won four in a row. They have TriCity30moved into fifth in the Western Conference, two points behind Victoria and Portland. . . . The Winterhawks (21-12-1) have lost three straight. They trail U.S. Division-leading Everett by three points. . . . The Americans and Winterhawks will meet Friday in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Americans skated to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Isaac Johnson, at 8:00, and F Kyle Olson (4), on a PP, at 12:06. . . . The Winterhawks scored the game’s next three goals. . . . F Cody Glass started it at 14:43 of the first period, with F Jake Gricius (6) twins it at 15:11. . . . Glass (22), on a PP, gave Portland a 3-2 lead at 6:15 of the second period. . . . Johnson (8) tied it at 14:29. . . . The Americans took over in the third period, getting goals from F Morgan Geekie (15), at 6:29; D Dylan Coghlan (11), at 7:17; and F Nolan Yaremko (10), at 9:30. . . . Geekie and Yaremko each had three assists, with D Mitchell Brown adding two and Coghlan one. . . . Tri-City was 1-2 on the PP; Portland was 1-3. . . . G Beck Warm earned the victory with 30 saves, 11 more than Portland’s Cole Kehler. . . . F Michael Rasmussen was among Tri-City’s scratches. . . . Tri-City D Juuso Valimaki is in Buffalo with Finland. . . . The Winterhawks have three players at the WJC — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark), F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and D Henri Jokiharju (Finland). . . . Announced attendance: 5,719.


At Langley, B.C., the Everett Silvertips set a franchise record for goals in one game as they whipped the Vancouver Giants, 11-0. . . . The Silvertips (22-13-2) have won three in a row Everettand lead the U.S. Division. . . . The Giants (18-14-4) had won their previous six games. They are third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria. . . . The Silvertips had scored 10 goals once before — in a 10-4 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 11, 2009. . . . The Giants and Silvertips will meet again Friday in Everett. . . . The Silvertips got four goals and an assist from F Riley Sutter and 24 saves from G Dustin Wolf, who has two shutouts and three assists in his eight appearances in his freshman season. He is 6-2-0, 1.75, .947. . . . The visitors scored four goals in the first period and five in the second. . . . Sutter now has 17 goals this season. He scored the game’s first two goals, at 2:28 and 12:43 of the opening period. . . . F Connor Dewar, who has 14 goals, made it 4-0 with goals at 16:00 and 19:05. He also had three assists. . . .F Orrin Centazzo (5) added two goals, with singles from F Matt Fonteyne (17), F Sean Richards (15) and D Jake Christiansen (3). . . . F Patrick Bajkov had three assists, with F Bryce Kindopp getting two and Richards one. . . . Everett was 2-6 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-2. . . . G David Tendeck played the first and third periods, allowing six goals on 19 shots. Todd Scott was beaten five times on 10 shots in the second period. . . . Vancouver F Milos Roman is at the WJC with Slovakia, while Everett G Carter Hart is with Canada. . . . Announced attendance: 4,046.


At Victoria, the Prince George Cougars erased a 3-1 first-period deficit to beat the Royals, 5-3. . . . The Cougars (13-17-5) had lost their previous three games. They are fifth in the PrinceGeorgeB.C. Division, three points behind Kamloops. . . . The Royals (20-14-3) have lost four in a row and are second in the B.C. Division, two points behind Kelowna. . . . They will complete the doubleheader tonight in Victoria. . . . D Joel Lakusta gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 3:58 of the first period. . . . F Noah Gregor (16) tied it, on a PP, at 6:31. . . . F Nic Holowko (4) put Prince George back in front just 12 seconds later. . . . F Tyler Soy (14) tied it again, at 10:28, and F Matthew Phillips (25) gave the home side the lead, on a PP, at 12:03. . . . The Cougars tied it when F Jackson Leppard (8) scored, on a PP, at 14:48. . . . F Josh Maser’s 14th goal, on a PP, broke the tie at 2:54 of the second period. . . . Lakusta, who has four goals, put it away with an empty-netter, at 19:56 of the third period. . . . Prince George got three assists from F Kody McDonald, while Maser and Leppard each had one. . . . F Dante Hannoun had two assists for the Royals, with Phillips and Soy adding one each. . . . Soy has 147 career assists, which equals the Royals franchise record that he now shares with Jack Walker. The Victoria/Chilliwack franchise record (151) belongs to F Brandon Magee. . . . The Cougars were 2-8 on the PP; the Royals were 2-7. . . . G Tavin Grant stopped 36 shots for the Cougars, 14 more than Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk of the Cougars is in Buffalo with Belarus. . . . The Royals are missing F Ivan Martynov, who also is with Belarus. . . . Soy, who left Victoria’s last game before the Christmas break with an apparent injury, and Hannoun, who had been ill, both were in the Royals’ lineup. . . . Victoria F Regan Nagy (finger) remains sidelined. . . . This is the sixth straight season in which these teams have returned from Christmas to play twice in Victoria. The Royals are 8-2-1 in the previous 11 meetings. . . . Announced attendance: 5,637.


At Kelowna, F Liam Kindree scored the lone goal of a four-round shootout to give the Rockets a 2-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Kelowna (21-11-3) has won three in a KelownaRocketsrow and is alone atop the B.C. Division. It is second in the Western Conference, one point behind Everett. . . . Kamloops (16-17-2) has lost two straight (0-1-1) and is one point out of a wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna and Kamloops have met in the first game after the Christmas break for six straight years. The Rockets are 6-0-0; the Blazers are 0-5-1. . . . They will play the rematch in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Last night, F Kole Lind (17) gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 1:14 of the second period. . . . Kamloops D Joe Gatenby, who was acquired prior to last season from the Rockets, forced OT with his eighth goal of the season. He scored at 18:42 of the third period on the Blazers’ 43rd shot of the game. . . . Kamloops was 0-3 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-4. . . . The Rockets got 46 saves through OT — and four in the shootout — from G James Porter Jr. . . . G Dylan Ferguson blocked 21 shots, including a first-period penalty-shot attempt by Lind. . . . Kelowna remains without F Erik Gardiner (concussion). Gardiner, 18, last played on Oct. 28. . . . Each team was missing two players who are in Buffalo at the WJC. Kamloops D Ondrej Vala is with Czech Republic, while F Justin Sigrist is with Switzerland. Kelowna F Dillon Dube is captaining Team Canada, while D Cal Foote also is with Canada. . . . Announced attendance: 6,238.


At Spokane, F Zach Fischer’s goal at 3:46 of OT gave the Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Chiefs (19-13-3) had lost their previous game, 10-3 to the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Thunderbirds. Spokane is tied with Tri-City for third in the U.S. Division. . . . Seattle (15-14-5) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is fifth in the U.S. Division, six points behind Spokane, and holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The rematch — and the third straight game between these teams — is set for Friday in Kent, Wash. . . . F Nolan Volcan (14) put Seattle out front 1-0, on a PP, at 17:54 of the first period. . . . Fischer tied it at 6:16 of the second period. . . . Seattle took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Matthew Wedman (5) at 14:14, and D Reece Hirsch (7), on a PP, at 17:20. . . . The Chiefs tied it on third-period goals from F Hudson Elynuik, on a PP, at 6:28, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (17), at 11:02. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (6) put Seattle ahead, again, at 14:18, only to have F Riley Woods (14) force OT by tying it at 16:12. . . . Fischer, who also had an assist, won it with his 16th goal. . . . Anderson-Dolan and Elynuik added an assist each for Spokane. . . . D Turner Ottenbreit had two helpers for Seattle. . . . The Thunderbirds were 2-3 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-6. . . . G Donovan Buskey stopped 25 shots for Spokane, while Seattle got 37 saves from Matt Berlin. . . . F Sami Moilanen didn’t play for Seattle after suffering an undisclosed injury while in the selection camp of the Finnish national junior team. . . . The Chiefs have two players at the WJC — F Kailer Yamamoto (U.S.) and D Filip Kral (Czech Republic). . . . Announced attendance: 5,082.


THURSDAY (all times local):

Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY:

Empty seats in Buffalo. What the heck happened? . . . WHL returns to action tonight with 11 games. A preview

Well, the 2018 World Junior Championship is through one day. Day 1 in Buffalo featured two routs, a pair of close games and a whole lot of empty seats.

Yes, it would appear that attendance — or lack of same — is going to be a big story at the BuffaloWJC for a second straight year . . . or have you forgotten what happened in Toronto and Montreal a year ago?

“There might have been 2,000 folks in the KeyBank Center stands to see the Czech Republic’s upset of Russia in the opener,” writes Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. “Canada got better as its 4-2 victory over Finland went along in a game played in front of maybe 8,000 fans. Team USA battered Denmark in front of a pathetic house of maybe 5,000 — and officials closed the 300 level and offered fans comp seats down below. Which had to make folks who paid for that level super-duper happy about the extra money they shelled out.

“Organizers have to be choking on their hot chocolate after the intimate gatherings that entered the building. The Canada-Russia game played here on Dec. 26, 2010 drew a sellout crowd of 18,690. The US-Finland game that day drew 14,093.  So what the heck happened Tuesday?”

In his column, that is right here, Harrington goes on to detail what he thinks happened, and it doesn’t portend well for the rest of the tournament.

Following the 2017 WJC, Harrington wrote a column that warned of what might happen if . . .

After Team USA won the gold medal, Harrington wrote: “But the bigger story should serve as a cautionary tale for the Sabres, USA Hockey and the International Ice Hockey Federation, which seems bent on squeezing every dollar out of this tournament it can. The Saskatoons, Halifaxes and Grand Forkses of the world need no longer apply because the IIHF clearly want big cities, big dollars.

“That led to embarrassing scenes of empty seats all over the Air Canada Centre in Toronto during the opening rounds and in the Bell Centre in Montreal up through the semifinals. The problem here is simple: Price point, price point, price point.

“And packages, packages, packages.”

That column from almost a year ago is right here.


The WHL swings back into action tonight (Wednesday) after a Christmas break that began following games of Dec. 17.

Of course, that also means that the annual trade moratorium has been lifted, and you whlcan expect the dealing to resume anytime and to run through Jan. 10, when the trade deadline arrives.

Since Nov. 13, the WHL’s 22 teams have combined to make 13 trades involving 25 players, 14 bantam draft picks and three conditional bantam picks.

Tonight, there are 11 games on the schedule; yes, all 22 teams are to play. It’s worth noting that 26 of the WHL’s best players won’t be playing, at least not in the WHL; that’s because they are with various teams at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

Here’s a brief look at tonight’s schedule (all times local):

REGINA (16-17-3) at BRANDON (24-8-1), 7 p.m. — The Pats are without F Sam Steel, while the Wheat Kings won’t have D Kale Clague. Both are with Team Canada in Buffalo. . . . Brandon has won nine of its past 10 games and is third in the East Division, 14 points ahead of Regina, which is to be the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup but hasn’t yet played much like a contender. The Pats, who hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and are 3-6-1 in their past 10. . . . Regina isn’t expected to have D Josh Mahura in the lineup after he was cut by Team Canada for a second time on Tuesday. Mahura had been dropped after Canada’s selection camp, but then was brought back as insurance in case D Dante Fabbro couldn’t answer the bell. Fabbro was pronounced OK to play on Tuesday, so Mahura was released. Again. He has flown home to Edmonton and the Pats have given him some family time. Whether he returns for the rematch with Brandon in Regina on Thursday remains to be seen.


PRINCE ALBERT (13-14-7) at SASKATOON (15-17-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Raiders and Blades are tied for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, each with 33 points. . . . The Raiders are 3-4-3 in their past 10 outings; the Blades are 5-5-0. . . . Saskatoon is 1-0-1 in the season series; Prince Albert is 1-1-0. . . . Prince Albert is missing D Voytech Budik (Czech Republic), while the Blades are without D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic). Interestingly, the two formed one defensive pair as the Czech got past Russia, 5-4, in Buffalo yesterday. . . . These teams will play again Thursday, this time in Prince Albert.


MOOSE JAW (27-6-2) at SWIFT CURRENT (25-7-2), 7 p.m. — The Warriors have the WHL’s best record, with the Broncos second, just four points in arrears. . . . Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw’s head coach, is with Team Canada in Buffalo as an assistant coach, meaning that assistant coach Mark O’Leary is in charge. . . . Warriors F Brett Howden (Canada) also is in Buffalo.while the Broncos have three players there — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), F Tyler Steenbergen (Canada), F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland). . . . The Warriors are 2-1-1 in the season series; the Broncos are 2-2-0. . . . They’ll continue the series on Thursday in Moose Jaw.


EDMONTON (7-22-4) at RED DEER (10-18-6), p.m. — The Oil Kings have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and are 2-6-2 in their past 10 outings. They own the WHL’s poorest record and are 15 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Rebels have points in three straight (1-0-2) and in six of 10 (1-4-5). However, they are seven points away from a playoff spot. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel, 19, has 23 points, including 16 assists, in 27 games but has sat out the past six games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Red Deer F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is in Buffalo, but D Alex Alexeyev, 18, should be back after he was released Tuesday by the Russian junior team. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who turns 17 on Jan. 9, remains with the Rebels after playing two games with them prior to the break. When he joined the Rebels, he was leading the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in scoring, with 57 points, 41 of them assists, in 22 games with the Valley West Hawks. . . . These teams haven’t met since the Rebels opened the regular-season with a doubleheader sweep (7-3, 5-3). . . . They’ll play again Thursday, this time in Edmonton.


CALGARY (10-18-5) vs. KOOTENAY (15-17-2), at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m. — The Ice is tied with Lethbridge for second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat. Kootenay has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is 5-4-1 in its past 10 games. . . . The Hitmen are 11th in the 12-team Eastern Conference. They have lost two in a row (0-1-1) and are 4-5-1 in their past 10. . . . This will the third straight game in which these teams have played each other. They close out the pre-Christmas schedule with a home-and-home series, Kootenay winning them both — 5-1 at home on Dec. 16 and 4-3 in OT on Dec. 17. . . . And guess what? Yes, they’ll make it four in a row on Thursday in Calgary. . . . The Hitmen are without their best player in D Jake Bean, who is with Canada in Buffalo, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus). . . . Kootenay D Martin Bodak is with Slovakia.


LETHBRIDGE (15-16-2) at MEDICINE HAT (18-14-2), 7 p.m. — Each of these teams won its last game before the break. . . . Lethbridge is 5-4-1 in its past 10 and has closed to within six points of the Central Division-leading Tigers, who are 3-5-2 over their past 10. . . . The Hurricanes lead the season series 2-1-0, but the teams haven’t met since Oct. 22. . . . Medicine Hat F Mark Russell has three goals and three assists in the three games against Lethbridge. . . . Tigers F Mason Shaw, who put up 27 goals and 67 assists in 71 games last season, has yet to play this season after suffering a knee injury while with the Minnesota Wild’s entry at an NHL rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich. . . . The Tigers also are waiting for freshman F Josh Williams to recover from a collarbone injury suffered during a practice at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge almost two months ago. . . . The Hurricanes have lost F Ryan Vandervlis, 19, for the rest of the season with shoulder woes. He had 19 points, 11 of them goals, in 19 games. Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt acquired F Lane Zablocki, 19, from Red Deer in the hopes that he can fill the void created by Vandervlis’s absence. Zablocki, who had 19 points in 31 games with Red Deer this season, has one assist in two games with Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes and Tigers will resume hostilities on Thursday in Lethbridge.


TRI-CITY (18-10-3) vs. PORTLAND (21-11-1), 7 p.m. — The Americans have won three in a row and are 5-4-1 over their past 10 games. . . . The Winterhawks (21-11-1) have lost two in a row and have stumbled of late — they are 2-7-1 in their past 10. . . . It all leaves Portland second in the U.S. Division, one point behind Everett and four ahead of the Americans. . . . Tri-City is without D Juuso Valimaki (Finland), while Portland is missing F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark), F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and D Henri Jokiharju (Finland). . . . The host Winterhawks beat the Americans 5-2 on Nov. 11 in the only previous meeting between these teams this season. . . . They’ll meet again Friday in Kennewick, Wash.


EVERETT (21-13-2) vs. VANCOUVER (18-13-4), at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m. — The Silvertips won their last two pre-Christmas games and nine of their past 10. That streak has lifted them to the top of the Western Conference, one point ahead of Portland, Kelowna and Victoria. . . . The Giants are the WHL’s hottest team, having won six in a row and eight of 10. They are third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Kelowna and Victoria. . . . Vancouver will be missing F Milos Roman (Slovakia), who leads all WHL freshmen with 29 points. . . . Everett is without Carter Hart, the WHL’s top goaltender, who started for Canada in its 4-2 victory over Finland in Buffalo on Tuesday. In his absence, freshman Dustin Wolf, a 16-year-old from Tustin, Calif., will get the bulk of the work. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he is 5-2-0, 2.00, .942 this season. . . . The Giants return from the break to play Everett twice (they’ll meet again Friday, this time in Everett), and then return to Langley for a doubleheader with Prince George. Vancouver then will journey into Alberta for three games in four nights (Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat), before travelling to Prince George for games on Jan. 9 and 10. . . . Yes, that stretch of nine games in 15 days may end up defining the Giants’ season.


PRINCE GEORGE (12-17-5) at VICTORIA (20-13-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Cougars have lost three in a row and are 3-6-1 in their past 10, as they have slid into the Western Conference cellar, four points behind Kamloops. . . . Victoria also has lost its last three, and is 3-5-2 in its past 10. But it is tied for first with Kelowna in the B.C. Division, and is only one point out of the Western Conference lead. . . . The Cougars will stay in Victoria for a game on Thursday night, then travel to Langley, B.C., for games with Vancouver on Saturday and Monday, before heading home for a weekend doubleheader against Tri-City and a Jan. 9-10 double-dip with visiting Vancouver. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk of the Cougars is in Buffalo with Belarus. . . . The Royals are missing F Ivan Martynov, who also is with Belarus. . . . F Tyler Soy, who is six assists away from owning the Victoria/Chilliwack franchise record for career assists, left the last game before Christmas with an apparent shoulder injury. There has been no word on his status since then. . . . Victoria has been playing without F Regan Nagy (finger) and F Dante Hannoun (ill). Both are key offensive performers. . . . This is the sixth straight season in which these teams have returned from Christmas to play twice in Victoria. The Royals are 8-1-1 in the previous 10 meetings.


KAMLOOPS (16-17-1) at KELOWNA (20-11-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Blazers last their last game before the break and are 5-4-1 in their past 10 games. More importantly, they are 16-8-1 since opening the season with a nine-game losing skid. They are fourth in the B.C. Division, seven points behind Vancouver, and are just one point shy of the Western Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. . . . The Rockets have won two in a row and seven of 10. Kelowna is one point out of the Western Conference lead and tied with Victoria atop the B.C. Division. . . . The Blazers lost two players to the WJC — D Ondrej Vala is with Czech Republic and freshman F Justin Sigrist is with Switzerland. . . . With Vala gone, the Blazers have added D Quinn Schmiemann from the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Rockets are without D Cal Foote and F Dillon Dube, both of whom are with Canada. . . . Kelowna is 2-0-0 in the season series, but the teams haven’t met since opening weekend when the Rockets posted 8-2 and 5-1 victories. . . . The Rockets will play in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Kamloops head coach Don Hay needs six regular-season victories to equal the WHL career record of 742, held by the retired Ken Hodge.


SEATTLE (15-14-4) at SPOKANE (18-13-3), 7:05 p.m. — The defending-champion Thunderbirds surged a bit going into Christmas as they won their last two games to finish a 10-game stretch at 4-4-2. They hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Chiefs lost their last game prior to the break — 10-3 to the visiting Thunderbirds — but have won six of 10. . . . These teams will meet again on Friday, this time in Kent, Wash., meaning they will have played each other in three straight games. . . . They are 1-1-0 in the season series, the Chiefs having posted a 9-2 home-ice victory on Dec. 9. . . . Spokane has two players at the WJC — F Kailer Yamamoto (U.S.) and D Filip Kral (Czech Republic). . . . Seattle F Sami Moilanen was among the last players released by Finland.


Tweet of the day


Scoreboard

TUESDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


WEDNESDAY (all times local):

Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

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

Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Tri-City at Portland, 7 p.m.

Everett vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Kelowna 7:05 p.m.

Seattle at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.


THURSDAY (all times local):

Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

WHL’s Eastern Conference: Who’s buying, selling, standing pat?

The run to the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline began for real on Nov. 13.

That was the day on which the Regina Pats dealt D Jonathan Smart, F Cole Muir, whlsecond- and sixth-round selections in the 2018 bantam draft, and a conditional pick in 2019 or 2020 to the Kootenay Ice for D Cale Fleury. Yes, Regina gave up a possible five assets for one player, albeit a good one.

Since then, and including that deal, the WHL’s 22 teams have combined to move 25 players, 14 bantam draft selections and three conditional bantam draft picks.

It’s fair to say that the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats, the latter the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, are all-in this season. They definitely are buyers.

But . . . who is selling? And are there other buyers out there?

It’s interesting, too, that the East Division, at least at the top, is so much stronger than the Central Division, whose six teams have combined to lose 53 games more than they have won.

With the WHL now on its Christmas break and with the schedule pretty much at the halfway mark, let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference, with teams ranked in order of points:

1. MOOSE JAW (27-6-2): The Warriors lead the overall standings, meaning they also are atop the Eastern Conference and the East Division. General manager Alan Millar will buy if there is something out there that grabs his eye, but he’s already done some shopping by getting F Vince Loschiavo, 19, from the Kootenay Ice and D Ryan Peckford, 18, from the Victoria Royals, although he gave up a pretty good player in F Noah Gregor in the latter swap. . . . Don’t discount the value of veteran F Barrett Sheen, a gritty guy, who came over from Kootenay on Nov. 13. . . . Now it’s a matter of Moose Jaw getting everyone healthy and keeping them that way.


2. SWIFT CURRENT (25-7-2): The Broncos are four points behind the Warriors and hold one game in hand. Manny Viveiros, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach, ventured into the Pacific Northwest on a November scouting junket. He returned home and immediately shoved all of his chips into the centre of the table, sending five players and a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Calgary Hitmen for F Matteo Gennaro, 20, F Beck Malenstyn, 19, and a fifth-round pick in 2018. Only time will tell if Viveiros gave up too much — F Conner Chaulk, 20, F Riley Stotts, 17, D Dom Schmiemann, 18, D Josh Prokop, 15, and G Ethan Hein, 15, are the players who went to Calgary. . . . Prior to the deal, the Broncos were very much a one-line team and Viveiros knew that as the season wore on opposing teams would be harder on F Glenn Gawdin, F Aleksi Heponiemi and F Tyler Steenbergen. . . . The deal with Calgary will take some heat off those three. Keep in mind that Malenstyn (wrist), a 32-goal man last season, has played only four games this season. . . . The Broncos went into the break on a five-game winning streak. . . . They’ll get Heponiemi (Finland) and Steenbergen (Canada) some rest after the World Junior Championship, then add Malenstyn to the lineup and see if they can make some noise.


3. BRANDON (24-8-1): The Wheat Kings went 9-1-0 in their past 10 games and now are seven points behind Moose Jaw and three behind Swift Current. Of course, the Warriors are 8-1-1 and the Broncos 8-2-0 in their past 10. . . . But who saw the Wheat Kings making this kind of noise this season? They won the WHL championship in 2015-16, then got swept by Medicine Hat in the first round last spring. . . . A terrific combination of maturing younger players and solid veterans has the Wheat Kings in the hunt. . . . They appear to have a good thing going, so it’s doubtful that GM Grant Armstrong would do anything major that might disrupt it. . . . But, hey, never say never.


4. MEDICINE HAT (18-14-2): The Tigers lead the Central Division, but have stumbled of late, going 3-5-2, and watched their lead over Lethbridge and Kootenay get sliced to six points. Still, if they playoffs were to start today, Medicine Hat would have a first-round bye. . . . The Tigers also have yet to play even one game with F Mason Shaw, 19, a 94-point man last season, in their lineup. He suffered a knee injury while playing with the Minnesota Wild rookie team at a September tournament in Traverse City, Mich. He is expected to return at some point in the season’s second half, so the Tigers have that to look forward to without even making a deal. . . . Even without Shaw, the Tigers can score. But are they able to defend well enough to contend, or are Shaun Clouston, the GM and head coach, and Carter Sears, the director of player personnel, looking for an experienced defenceman?


5. REGINA (16-17-3): Ahh, yes, the Pats. The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup was in last spring’s championship final, but has scuffled to this point of this season and finds itself fourth in its division, 14 points behind third-place Brandon. Yes, 14 points! . . . While Regina does hold down the conference’s first wild-card spot, it is just two points ahead of Prince Albert and Saskatoon. . . . Yes, things are messy in Regina. In fact, columnist Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post this week called the Pats an “embarrassment” in a column that is right here. . . . You know that the Pats will be buyers between now and Jan. 10, but considering their record and recent performances, one wonders if there is a big enough shopping cart available to fix whatever it is that ails them. . . . GM/head coach John Paddock acquired D Cale Fleury from Kootenay on Nov. 13, but Regina is only 5-9-1 since then, so it would seem that more is needed. . . . Paddock no doubt will be first in line for the Boxing Day sales.


6-7. PRINCE ALBERT (13-14-7) and SASKATOON (15-17-3): These two teams are tied for the conference’s second wild-card spot. The Raiders hold a game in hand, but the Blades have two more victories. They return from the Christmas break to meet in Saskatoon on Dec. 27 and in Prince Albert on Dec. 28. . . . Neither team is on the same level as the conference’s top three, but it’s important that both show improvement over last season when neither made the playoffs. . . . I wouldn’t expect either team to sell, sell, sell, but you can bet that both will be prepared to move older assets for younger players.


8. LETHBRIDGE (15-16-2): Have the Hurricanes underperformed? Or was last season (44-21-7 and a run to the conference final) an aberration? . . . Despite the inconsistent play, the Hurricanes are within reach of first place in the Central Division, and you know that GM Peter Anholt will be working the phone lines. At the same time, though, he has to be wondering if his roster, as it stands today, isn’t good enough to chase down Medicine Hat. . . . Earlier this month, Anholt added veteran F Lane Zablocki, who turns 19 on Dec. 27. He had 28 goals last season, splitting time between Regina and Red Deer, but was spinning his wheels with the Rebels this season. Anholt is hoping that Zablocki will fill the void created when F Ryan Vandervlis, a point-a-game guy, was lost for the season with shoulder woes. . . . The bottom line, however, is that the Hurricanes need to be better defensively, and that includes the goaltending department. Stuart Skinner is a better goaltender than this season’s numbers. Perhaps Anholt will be able to bring in a stay-at-home defender.


8. (tie) KOOTENAY (15-17-2): The Ice won 12 games two seasons ago and 14 last season. So by those standards, this season, the franchise’s first under the ownership of Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, is a success. Of course, a playoff spot would be even nicer, but Fettes and Cockell, and head coach James Patrick, can’t allow the short-term view to circumvent their long-term plan. . . . Cockell already has traded away three veterans — D Cale Fleury, F Vince Loschiavo and F Barrett Sheen — and you can bet he will move even more experience if he thinks a deal or deals will improve the future outlook.


10. RED DEER (10-18-6): What happened to the Rebels? A season that began with promise has imploded and they find themselves seven points out of the conference’s second wild-card spot. They went into the Christmas break having gone 1-4-5 in their past 10 games. In the Central Division, they are one point ahead of fifth-place Calgary. . . . Red Deer’s biggest problem is that it can’t score. Only Edmonton (88) has fewer goals than Red Deer (96). . . . Brent Sutter, the owner, GM and head coach, may have signalled his intentions on Dec. 8 when he dealt veteran F Lane Zablocki, who turns 19 next week, to Lethbridge, getting back sophomore F Josh Tarzwell, 17, a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a conditional third-rounder in 2020. At that point, the Rebels had lost 10 in a row and 16 of their previous 17 games. . . . Yes, Sutter, as much as he won’t like it, will be selling. . . . Interestingly, Red Deer is carrying two 20-year-olds, one under the maximum allowable. While Sutter isn’t going to want to bring in someone to take playing time away from a younger player in this situation, that vacant spot may prove useful come the deadline.


11. CALGARY (10-18-5): The Hitmen have lost 13 more games than they have won, and find themselves eight points out of the playoffs. In order to get there, they will have to pass four teams, which is unlikely, even with 39 games left on their schedule. . . . Former Kootenay president/GM Jeff Chynoweth, in his first season as Calgary’s GM, signalled his intentions on Nov. 25 when he dealt veteran forwards Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn to Swift Current for a goody bag that included five players. At the time, Chynoweth said: “We’re not giving our players away, and we’re not throwing in the towel for the season. We expect to make the playoffs.” Of course, what was he expected to say? . . . He’ll be selling more if the price is right.


12. EDMONTON (7-22-4): The Oil Kings spent three seasons (2011-14) in the penthouse, winning at least 50 games each time and appearing in three straight championship finals, winning two of them. That was then; this is now. . . . The fall began in earnest last season (23-43-6) and it has continued, with the Oil Kings sporting the WHL’s poorest record. . . . They’ll be sellers, just don’t expect GM Randy Hansch to give away any of the franchise’s promising youngsters.

TOMORROW: The Western Conference.

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