Major news from WCHA schools brings back memories of CMJHL’s birth

There was major news in the world of NCAA Division 1 hockey on Friday when seven schools served notice that they are on the verge of taking their hockey programs out of WCHAthe 10-team WCHA and forming a new conference in time for the 2021-22 season.

Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan, all of which are located in Michigan, along with Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Minnesota State/Mankato want out, a move that would leave Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville as the only three schools left in the WCHA.

A statement released by the seven schools reads, in part:

“They are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the potential new league with a focus on improving regional alignment and the overall student-athlete experience while building natural rivalries within a more compact geographic footprint.”

The seven schools, it seems, are tired of travelling to Alabama and Alaska.

As uncomfortable as it sounds, the seven schools would continue play in the WCHA through two more seasons before leaving for a new league.

At the same time, the future of the hockey programs at both Alaska schools has been in question for a few years due to financial issues. Those schools took another hit on Friday when Mike Dunleavy, the governor of Alaska, vetoed $130 million in state support.

Why was this potential move revealed on Friday?

Dr. Morris Kurtz, a former athletic director at St. Cloud, Minn., State, the spokesperson for the seven schools, told Austin Monteith of the Grand Forks Herald that WCHA bylaws call for a 25-month advance warning in situations involving future withdrawal, and that process now has begun.

Monteith’s complete story is right here.

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All of this brought back memories of something I wrote a while back about the birth of what now is the Western Hockey League. Here it is, in its entirety. . . .

To find the beginning you have to return to June 21, 1966, and the opening day of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s annual general meeting.

Oh, there had been a lot of back-room chatter and negotiating prior to that, but it was on June 21 when the doors opened and the sun beat back the shadows.

It happened in Wasagaming, a resort community in Riding Mountain National Park, just north of Brandon.

Prior to then, Canadian teenagers who aspired to play junior hockey didn’t have a whole lot of options. What now is considered Junior A was the top rung.

But people like Winnipeg’s Ben Hatskin, ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter of Edmonton, Estevan’s Scotty Munro, Moose Jaw’s Brian Shaw and Regina’s Del Wilson had visions of a Prairie-wide league, centred in larger communities.

A few years later, some of those same men would dream of even bigger things as they became involved in the World Hockey Association and its attempts to sour the NHL’s world.

Most of them were larger-than-life characters who were years ahead of their time in terms of marketing. They were entrepreneurs and more. Dick Chubey of the Albertan, then a Calgary-based newspaper, wrote a piece for the league’s first Yearbook — for 1973-74 — in which he referred to them as “rogues” and “pirates.”

Ernie (Punch) McLean, who later would be the head coach of the New Westminster Bruins, says there wasn’t any doubt who were the leaders.

“Bill Hunter, Scotty Munro and Ben Hatskin . . .,” McLean, who in those days was with Munro in Estevan, said in a 1990 interview. “Scotty Munro would have the idea on hockey, Bill Hunter would sell it and Ben Hatskin would financially back it. Those were in the days when we had nothing else but Household Finance to get us started the next year.

“It was so much different back then. The guys were friends. We were partners.”

Four days prior to the start of the SJHL meeting, word leaked that a new junior league — the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League — was in the works. This league would include Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, along with Brandon, Estevan, Moose Jaw, Regina and Weyburn, the latter five having decided to leave the SJHL.

At the same time, there were issues with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and the National Hockey League.

“We were getting very disgusted with the CAHA,” McLean recalled. “We weren’t getting any help from them and they were taking a percentage off the gates in the playoffs. At that particular time, we weren’t getting what we felt was a fair deal from the National Hockey League.

“At that time, the CAHA was bringing in any team that they thought could come into the league. They would apply and we were supposed to look after them. Melville was in, Yorkton was coming in.

“So at Clear Lake . . . it was really funny. In those days, you had to pay your dues or you couldn’t vote, you never had a vote. As it happened, (SJHL president) Frank Boucher called the meeting to order. . . .”

When asked, Hunter and Munro said they didn’t have cheques. Boucher told both men, “You can’t vote.”

“It went around the table like that,” McLean said. “All of a sudden they said, ‘Well, I guess we have no meeting.’ And Frank says, ‘I guess we haven’t.’

“At that point, the guys got up from the table, walked across to another room in the hotel and formed a new league.”

It wasn’t quite that simple, but that, in effect, was the genesis of what now is the Western Hockey League, even if it meant places like Melville, Flin Flon and Swift Current were left scrambling.

“What the hell,” Brandon Wheat Kings coach Eddie Dorohoy said, “if Melville can’t afford the opera, they gotta go for the barn dance.”

The CMJHL finalized its lineup later that summer. Before then, Melville filed a lawsuit, asking for $250,000 in general damages and $8,800 in special damages. As well, Brandon pulled out, Saskatoon came in, Winnipeg left.

Interestingly, the Saskatoon Blades are the only franchise to have been there since Day 1. In 1966, the Blades were an affiliate of the Los Angeles Blades, a team in the professional WHL that had hoped to become an NHL expansion franchise. When that didn’t happen, Saskatoon slid into the CMJHL.

If you are looking for an ‘official’ date to mark the league’s birthday that would be July 15, 1966. That is when the teams met in Regina. Munro moved for the dissolution of the SJHL. The motion passed. A new league was formed, and it announced it would accept applications.

By now, Boucher had left the SJHL and was commissioner of the CMJHL. When the 1966-67 season began, it featured the Calgary Buffaloes, Edmonton Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Moose Jaw Canucks, Regina Pats, Saskatoon and the Weyburn Red Wings.

While all of this was going on, the CAHA was refusing to recognize the CMJHL, something that didn’t particularly disturb the newcomers.

“We had quite a league,” McLean said. “Of course, we were outlaws from the CAHA. We preferred to call it independent.”

After Edmonton finished atop the regular-season standings, Moose Jaw won the first playoff championship, the only such title in the city’s history. That playoff season included best-of-nine series without overtime. In one semifinal series, Moose Jaw took out Edmonton 3-2 with four ties.

Prior to 1967-68, the league changed its name to the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League. The Buffaloes became the Centennials, and the league, still unrecognized by the CAHA, welcomed Brandon, the Flin Flon Bombers, Swift Current Broncos and Winnipeg Jets.

The Bombers didn’t win the championship — Edmonton beat the Bombers, 4-0, with one tie, in the final — but the Flin Flon Flu was born.

“Paddy (Ginnell) went into Flin Flon and turned that franchise right around,” McLean said. “He made them a tough, aggressive hockey club. It was worth your life to go in there and play.”

How tough?

“We always played Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Flin Flon. Well, Saturday night, they beat the crap out of Swift Current, just pounded the hell out of them. So they called for a conference call,” McLean said of the Broncos, who were coached by Mike Shabaga.

“Mike said, ‘Things are so bad, I’ve got the Red Cross signs on the bus so we can get out of town.’

 “Anyway, Mike didn’t have enough players to play the game. So it was decided that so it would be fair to both sides, however many Mike could dress, that’s all Paddy could dress. Paddy moaned and groaned and the whole thing, and then Mike won the hockey game. Paddy came out of there, he was just livid.”

By the time the 1968-69 season arrived, the league — now calling itself the Western Canada Hockey League — was down to eight teams. Moose Jaw, Regina and Weyburn left because of concerns with the outlaw status. As well, the league split into divisions — East and West — for the first time.

Flin Flon, led by Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Chuck Arnason, won the decade’s last two championships, winning 89 of 120 regular-season games and twice beating Edmonton in the playoff final.


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Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


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F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


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F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

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The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

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The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

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The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

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The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

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The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

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The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


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It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


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Brewer says Cougars’ “uptick is coming.” . . . Raiders, Blades are up 3-0 and in control. . . . Chiefs take Winterhawks to the Woods’ shed


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ThisThat

If you are waiting for the Prince George Cougars to make a move, like out of town, forget about it.

Eric Brewer, a former NHL/WHL defenceman who is part of the organization’s PrinceGeorgeownership group of six, made a second apperance with Hartley Miller on the latter’s Cat Scan podcast, and made it quite clear that the Cougars aren’t going anywhere. He said he is in it for the long term and that means a long time.

“Long-term for me means a long way out,” Brewer said. “I don’t know how you would quantify a long term. There really has been no discussion to move the team that I’m aware of. We’re just trying to improve . . .

“We’re asking people to be patient because we feel the uptick is coming. . . . It’s coming but it does take time. Some people have stayed away a little bit . . . they want to see kind of where we’re going with it, and we understand. . . . Certainly winning a few games and a playoff run or two would help.”

Brewer added that the ownership group, which has owned the team for five years, really wants “this thing to be good and we want it to be a real positive experience for the families, for the fans, for the businesses, for the community overall. It’s a real big part of Prince George, It is the community’s team . . . we may own it, but we’re just kind of a vehicle for everyone to be a part of it.”

The Cougars missed the playoffs, and Brewer said it was “definitely a growing” season for the team. “But,” he added, “we are getting there . . . we are going up.”

Brewer also talked about the Cougars’ 17-game losing streak, the firing of head coach Richard Matvichuk, the Kootenay Ice moving to Winnipeg and a whole lot more. . . . It’s all right here.


The WHL hasn’t announced its exhibition schedule, but there will be two games, both featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince George Cougars, played in Dawson Creek, B.C. . . . Those games will be played at the Encana Events Centre on Sept. 12, 7 p.m., and Sept, 14, 1 p.m. . . . Proceeds from the games are ticketed for the Dawson Creek and District Hospital Foundation. . . . D Wyatt McLeod of the Oil Kings if from Dawson Creek, so this will be a homecoming of sorts for him.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Jacob Hoffrogge to a WHL contract. Hoffrogge, from Saskatoon, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Hoffrogge, who turned 16 on Feb. 18, had two goals and 14 assists in 39 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts this season.


F Tristyn DeRoose scored at 4:54 of OT to give the host Estevan Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Humboldt Broncos in Game 7 of an SJHL playoff series on Tuesday night. . . . The Bruins had taken a 2-0 first-period lead on goals 19 seconds apart by F Will Koop and F Eddie Gallagher. . . . The Broncos tied it on second-period goals by D Josh Patrician, at 1:26, and F Reagan Poncelet, at 1:57. . . . DeRoose, who turned 20 on Jan. 29, won it with his first goal of these playoffs. He has played in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors. In fact, he started this season with the Warriors. In 109 WHL games, he has five goals and eight assists. In the regular season with Estevan, the native of Ceylon, Sask., recorded seven goals and 18 assists in 25 games. . . . Estevan got 29 saves from G Grant Boldt, while G Rayce Ramsay stopped 38 shots for Humboldt. . . . The announced attendance was 2,662.


Topher Scott at thehockeythinktank.com has written a piece titled: The Cost of AAA Hockey. . . . My goodness, this is scarier than Stephen King at his best. Unless you’re a loans officer or the president of a bank, of course. . . . It’s all right here.


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NOTES: Going into Tuesday’s games, the first round of the playoffs had featured nine games in suspensions and $1,500 in fines. There don’t appear to have been any major incidents last night, although one hit in the Victoria Royals’ 3-2 victory over the host Kamloops Blazers may come in for a look. . . .

The Royals may ask for supplemental discipline after a second-period hit by F Brodi Stuart of Kamloops on D Matt Smith, who left the game and didn’t return. There wasn’t a penalty on the play, but Victoria head coach Dan Price obviously felt there was a high elbow involved. He could be seen signalling with an elbow at referee Sean Raphael, and also appeared to suggest to Raphael that the referee should “watch the replay.” . . . After the game, Price told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “I’m not going to comment on (the hit by Stuart). I appreciate you asking the question. I said what I had to say to the referee so I just want to make sure I leave that in the hands of the league. That’s above my pay grade. Our general manager will make that decision.” . . . As Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning, Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, was pondering his options. . . .

Only the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans weren’t in action last night. They will play Game 3 tonight in Kennewick, Wash., with the Silvertips leading, 2-0. . . . Only the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Calgary Hitmen won’t play tonight. They are scheduled to play Game 4 in Calgary on Thursday night. . . . Home teams were 2-5 last night and now are 14-9 in these playoffs. . . . 

Last night, F Cole Sillinger scored his first WHL goal for the Medicine Hat Tigers. It came in his third playoff game. His dad, Mike, totalled 20 goals in 23 playoff games with the Regina Pats back in the day. . . .

When F Jared Anderson-Dolan of the Spokane Chiefs was penalized for interference 24 seconds into the second period of their game in Portland last night, it was the first penalty called in more than four periods between these teams. There wasn’t even one penalty called in Game 2 or in the first period of Game 3.

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Max Gerlach snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Saskatoon Blades skated to a 3-Saskatoon2 victory over the host Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Blades hold a 3-0 lead in the series, with Game 4 in Moose Jaw tonight. . . .  F Kyle Crnkovic (1) gave Saskatoon the lead at 18:03 of the first period. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (1) tied it at 11:29 of the second. . . . F Kirby Dach (2) put Saskatoon back out front at 17:15. . . . Warriors F Carson Denomie (2) tied it at 6:27 of the third. . . . Gerlach won it with his fourth goal of the series, on a PP, at 15:39. . . . The Warriors took back-to-back delay-of-game penalties at 13:40 and 14:12 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon was 1-5 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-3. . . . G Nolan Maier earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Moose Jaw G Adam Evanoff made his second straight start and stopped 37 shots. . . . F Brayden Tracey returned to the Warriors’ lineup after missing his club’s previous four games.


F Noah Gregor scored twice to help the visiting Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-2 victory over PrinceAlbertthe Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is to be played tonight in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders haven’t won a playoff series since 2005 when they dumped the Saskatoon Blades (4-0) and Medicine Hat Tigers (4-2) before losing in seven games to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference final. Since then, the Raiders were ousted six times in the first round and had seven non-playoff seasons. . . . The Raiders, who held a 42-16 edge in shots, got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and were never headed. . . . Gregor (1) made it 1-0 at 1:09 of the first period, and F Dante Hannoun (2) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 13:22. . . . F Brandon Hagel (4) scored for Red Deer at 4:37 of the second period. . . . Gregor (2) restored the two-goal lead at 16:45 of the third period, only to have F Reese Johnson (1) get Red Deer to within one at 18:58. . . . Prince Albert F Parker Kelly (1) iced it with the empty-netter at 19:41. . . . All four of the Prince Albert goals were unassisted. . . . The Raiders got 14 saves from G Todd Scott. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders turned aside 38 shots. . . . The Raiders played without F Brett Leason, who served a one-game suspension for a hit from behind on Rebels F Cam Hausinger in Game 2. Hausinger wasn’t injured on the play. . . . The Rebels are without D Alex Alexeyev (knee), who won’t play in this series.


The Calgary Hitmen opened up a 3-0 lead midway through the game and went on to beat Calgarythe visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-3, behind two goals and an assist from F Carson Focht. . . . The Hurricanes lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 tonight in Calgary. . . . F Ryder Korczak (1) gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 3:24 of the first period, and Focht (1) made it 2-0 at 4:43. . . . F Josh Prokop (1) upped that to 3-0 at 9:01 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes got to within one on second-period goals from F Dylan Cozens (2), at 9:39, and F Zack Stringer (1), at 17:38. . . . Calgary went back up by a pair when Focht (2) scored, on a PP, at 6:13 of the third. . . . Cozens (3) got the Hurricanes back close at 11:27, before Calgary F Luke Coleman (1) got the empty-netter at 19:55. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 26 shots for Calgary, five fewer than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . F Mark Kastelic, Calgary’s captain and a 47-goal man in the regular season, was among the scratches. According to a tweet from Jeff Hollick (@JeffHollick), Kastelic “is out indefinitely with a concussion after a boarding incident and a punch to the head in Game 2.” . . . The Hurricanes were without F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard, both of whom served one-game suspensions that were handed down after they became involved in a brouhaha at the end of Game 2. . . . When this series returns to Lethbridge for Game 5 on Friday, they’ll be playing in Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns because the world men’s curling championship will be in the Enmax Centre. The Nicholas Sheran Arena has 968 seats and 200 standing room spots.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 32 shots to lead the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 5-0 victory Tigers Logo Officialover the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Tigers lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled to be played tonight in Medicine Hat. . . . F Cole Sillinger, 15, scored his first WHL goal to get the Tigers started. The 11th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft counted at 15:09 of the first period. . . . F James Hamblin (2) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 9:24 of the second period, with F Elijah Brown (3) adding to the lead at 12:53. . . . The Tigers wrapped it up with third-period goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (1) and F Hayden Ostir (2). . . . Medicine Hat was 0-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-2. . . . Edmonton F Vince Loschiavo wasn’t able to score on a third-period penalty shot. . . . Søgaard, the 6-foot-7 freshman from Aalborg, Denmark, is 2-1, 1.68, .959 in the three games of this series. He has stopped 118 of 123 shots. . . . Edmonton starter Dylan Myskiw surrendered four goals on 23 shots in 41:55. Todd Scott came on in relief and was beaten once on 11 shots in 18:05.


The Vancouver Giants erased a 3-2 deficit with three straight goals en route to a 6-4 Vancouvervictory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Giants lead the series, 2-1. . . . They are to meet again tonight in Kent for Game 4. . . . Seattle went ahead 1-0 at 4:06 of the first period when F Matthew Wedman (1) scored. . . . The Giants took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Tristen Nielsen (1), on a PP, at 19:27, and D Bowen Byram (2), at 3:21 of the second period. . . . Seattle went ahead 3-2 as F Payton Mount scored his first two goals, both on the PP, at 8:40 and 11:09 of the second period. The Giants took a pair of too-many-men minors 3:19 apart, and Seattle scored on both PP opportunities. . . . Mount had scored five goals in 57 regular-season games, with just one of those coming via the PP. . . . Vancouver tied it when F Jadon Joseph (3) struck, on a PP, at 18:48 of the second period, then took the lead when D Alex Kannok Leipert (1) scored 24 seconds into the third. . . . D Dallas Hines (1) made it 5-3 at 7:02. . . . Seattle got to within a goal as F Sean Richards (2) scored at 16:38, but Vancouver F Brayden Watts (1) got the empty-netter at 19:38. . . . Nielsen and Byram each had two assists for three-point outings. . . . G David Tendeck made his first start of the series for Vancouver, stopping 25 shots. Trent Miner had started the first two games. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 31 shots. . . . Vancouver was 2-3 on the PP; Seattle was 2-5. . . . The Thunderbirds were without D Jake Lee, who completed a two-game suspension for a hit on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif with six seconds remaining in Game 1. Sourdif hasn’t played since then, and isn’t expected to be in the lineup tonight.


F Riley Woods scored in OT to give the visiting Spokane Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the SpokaneChiefsPortland Winterhawks. . . . Spokane leads the series, 2-1. . . . They’ll do it again tonight in Game 4 in Portland. . . . The Winterhawks grabbed a 2-0 on first-period goals from F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (1), at 1:39, and F Joachim Blichfeld (2), at 6:57. . . . Spokane responded with three straight goals, from F Luke Toporowski (1), who had missed Game 2, at 16:37; F Luc Smith (2), on a PP, at 5:03 of the second period; and F Ethan McIndoe (2), at 5:42. . . . Portland then took a 4-3 lead as D Jared Freadrich (1) scored at 10:06 and Fromm-Delorme (2) got his second at 1:44 of the third. He had scored three times in 60 regular-season games. . . . Spokane F Jack Finley (1) tied it, 4-4, at 7:48. . . . Woods won it with his second goal of the series, at 9:35 of OT. . . . Spokane was 1-1 on the PP; Portland was 0-1. . . . The teams had played Game 2 without taking a minor penalty. There were two called in Game 3. . . . Spokane G Bailey Brkin stopped 28 shots, 10 fewer than Portland’s Joel Hofer. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without F Cody Glass (knee), while D John Ludvig completed a two-game suspension by sitting out this one.


The Victoria Royals scored the game’s last two goals, both of them in the third period, VictoriaRoyalsand beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Kamloops. . . . Victoria leads the series, 2-1. . . . Game 4 is to be played tonight in Kamloops. . . . F Carson Miller (3) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 17:36 of the first period. He has a goal in each game of this series. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen (2) tied it at 19:03. . . . After a scoreless second period, F Connor Zary (1) gave Kamloops a 2-1 lead, shorthanded, at 2:15 of the third. . . . Zary was playing his first game of the series after being out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Zary scored after stripping the puck from a Victoria defenceman behind the Royals’ net and coming out the backside to stuff it into the net. . . . At 4:48, Victoria F Brandon Cutler (1) scored a playgrounder at the other end to get his guys back into a tie. . . . The Royals won it at 8:08 when D Scott Walford, the best player in this game, and F Kody McDonald broke out 2-on-1. Walford slipped the puck to McDonald, who got G Dylan Ferguson to open up and then slid the disc through his legs for his third goal of the series. . . . The Blazers had one excellent change with time winding down but F Kyrell Sopotyk had his backhand attempt sail wide of the right post. . . . Victoria was 0-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-2. . . . G Griffen Outhouse was sharp in making 32 saves. He set a franchise record for career playoff victories (10), breaking the mark he had been sharing with Coleman Vollrath (2012-16). . . . Ferguson finished with 28 saves. . . . Victoria D Matt Smith, who had missed 10 games since last playing on Feb. 24, started the game but left in the second period after a hit from Kamloops F Brodi Stuart. . . . Victoria was without D Mitchell Prowse for a second straight game. . . . With Prowse out and Smith gone, the Royals sent with four defencemen for most of the game’s final 25 minutes. In the third period, they used two pairings — Walford with Jameson Murray, and Jake Austria with Ralph Jarratt. . . . Kustra was playing his first game after missing six in a row. . . . Kamloops F Kobe Mohr sat out as he completed a two-game suspension for slashing a linesman following a faceoff in Game 1. . . . The video below provides a look at Mohr’s transgression.


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Rockets add d-man from Tigers . . . Philp fills up in Kelowna . . . Glass, Blichfeld spark Winterhawks


MacBeth

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had four goals and 20 assists in 63 games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).


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The WHL’s 20-year-old deadline came and went on Wednesday and featured one trade.

The Medicine Hat Tigers got down to the maximum of three 20s by sending D Dalton Tigers Logo OfficialGally to the Kelowna Rockets for a 10th-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft.

Gally had been scratched from four straight games after D Dylan MacPherson and D Linus Nassen were returned by the NHL’s Florida Panthers. Both skaters had been in camp with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

F Ryan Jevne is the Tigers’ third 20-year-old player.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Gally, from Eagle River, Alaska, played 135 regular-season games with the Tigers, totalling three goals and 18 assists. This season, he was pointless in five games. Last season, he put up two goals and 10 assists in 72 games.

Gally was a sixth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2013 bantam draft.

The Tigers actually didn’t have to get down to three 20s on Wednesday; in fact, they had . MacPherson and Nassen returned on Oct. 2, and WHL teams are given 14 days in which to get down to the maximum in a situation where a player or players come back from a pro team.

With Gally in town, the Rockets will have four 20-year-olds on their roster, the others KelownaRocketsbeing F Ryan Bowen, D Braydyn Chizen and F Lane Zablocki.

Zablocki, who was acquired earlier from the Victoria Royals, has yet to play for the Rockets and is expected to be out at least another 10 days with an undisclosed injury.

The Rockets, who are off the to the poorest start in franchise history, are hoping Gally can bring some physical play to their game.

“We had an opportunity to add another defenceman and, with Zablocki out for at least 10 more days, it was an opportunity to get a player in here and have a look at him,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, said in a news release. “We currently have five right-handed defenceman and we needed to get a left-handed guy in here to help out with some of the young players that are playing on their off-side. That’s the main reason why we’ve looked at this.

“He’s going to come in and we’re going to give him a chance to show us what he can do. He is a big, heavy guy that isn’t afraid to get involved physically, which is something I think we need also.”

Meanwhile, the Swift Current Broncos and Tri-City Americans continue to carry four 20-year-olds, but injuries mean they don’t yet have to cut down to three.

Broncos D Artyom Minulin (shoulder) is injured and has yet to play this season. With him on the injury list, the Broncos don’t yet have to trim one 20-year-old. Minulin underwent off-season shoulder surgery and only recently rejoined the Broncos. However, he has yet to be cleared for a return to action.

The WHL’s reigning champions also are carrying F Andrew Fyten, F Tanner Nagel and D Matthew Stanley.

The Americans have F Parker AuCoin, D Anthony Bishop, F Brett Clayton and F Nolan Yaremko on their roster. However, Bishop is out with an undisclosed injury and may not return until December.


The Vancouver Giants may be without G Trent Miner for games this weekend.

Miner, the CHL’s reigning goaltender of the week, has returned to his family home in VancouverBrandon following the deaths of two grandfathers.

Last week, Miner, a freshman, made his first two appearances of the season, and went 2-0-0, 1.00, .964, with a shutout.

Miner was the 20th overall selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

With Miner gone, the Giants will look to veteran David Tendeck to carry the load. He is 4-1-0, 1.59, .940.

The Giants (6-1-0) are scheduled to play host to the Kamloops Blazers on Friday night, then head to Victoria for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the Royals (6-0-0).


It will be Bronco Strong night on Nov. 2 when the Swift Current Broncos play host to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

From a news release:

“The Humboldt and Swift Current Broncos share a name and, unfortunately, also share the heartache of tragic accidents in their respective histories. The 1986 Swift Current Broncos were involved in a bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, which claimed the lives of four young hockey players. Tragedy struck again on April 6, 2018 when the Humboldt Broncos’ bus collided with a semi-trailer. This time, 16 lives were lost and many others were left with life-altering injuries. The members of each of these teams will be invited to attend the Nov. 2 game, along with family members.

Both Broncos teams have partnered to create a sweater that will represent the communities of Swift Current and Humboldt. These sweaters will be worn by the Swift Current Broncos on Nov. 2 and will be auctioned off with 100 per cent of the revenue going toward STARS Air Ambulance. The Humboldt Broncos will wear the uniforms as a third sweater for the remainder of the season. A generous donation by Scotia Wealth Management will cover the cost of both sets of uniforms.

“The Bronco Strong jersey design will be released at a later date.”

The complete news release is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen are going to play three February home games in the 6,450-seat Stampede Corral, which cost $1.25 million to build and opened on Dec. 15, 1950.

Games against the Brandon Wheat Kings (Feb. 1), Regina Pats (Feb. 6) and Prince Albert Raiders (Feb. 8) will be played in the Corral, which happens to be the building in which the Pats won the 1974 Memorial Cup.

From a news release:

“As a tribute to the city’s hockey history, the Hitmen will dedicate each game to a former elite team that once called the Stampede Corral home by wearing commemorative jerseys of the Calgary Centennials, Calgary Wranglers and Calgary Cowboys.”

The complete news release is right here.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Tristyn DeRoose, who was released by the Moose Jaw Warriors, has joined the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. DeRoose, 19, is from Ceylon, Sask. He had five goals and eight assists in 108 regular-season WHL games, split between the Vancouver Giants and the Warriors. . . . DeRoose’s brother, Darcy, played 136 games with the Bruins over five seasons. Darcy also played 38 WHL games — three with the Warriors and 35 with the Everett Silvertips (2012-14).


F Ty Kolle scored twice to help the host Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-2 victory over the LethbridgeRegina Pats. . . . Kolle, who was acquired last week from the Portland Winterhawks, has two goals this season. . . . Lethbridge is 1-2-1 at home. . . . The Pats (1-6-0) are 0-4-0 on the road. . . . Regina was without F Sergei Alkhimov and and F Jake Leschyshyn, both of whom served one-game suspensions. . . . Regina also was without D Liam Schioler (leg) for a second game in a row. . . . The Pats did get back G Max Paddock after he sat out two games with an undisclosed injury.


F Noah Philip, who had never scored more than once in a WHL game, counted four times Seattleto lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 9-6 victory over the host Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Thunderbirds, who scored four PP goals in five opportunities, took control with five first-period goals, three of them from Philp, who got his first four goals of the season. His fourth goal came in the second period. . . . Philp went into Kelowna with 28 goals in 208 career regular-season games. . . . Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk had his five-game goal-scoring streak end, but he drew three assists, as did D Jake Lee. . . . Seattle got a goal and two assists from each of F Zack Andrusiak and F Andrej Kukuca. . . . F Leif Mattson scored two goals  and added two assists for Kelowna, with F Kyle Topping earning four assists. . . . The Rockets continued the poorest start in franchise history. They now are 1-8-0 and have lost four in a row.


F Cody Glass, who was named Portland’s captain earlier in the day, scored two goals and Portlandadded two assists to lead the Winterhawks to an 8-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, the WHL’s leading scorer, had five assists. He has 22 points in eight games. . . . Glass has 17 points in six games. . . . F Reece Newkirk, the third member of that line, helped out with a goal and two assists. . . . Portland scored four times on the PP. . . . The Winterhawks have won five in a row. . . . Edmonton is 0-3-1 on a road trip that stops in Everett and Kent, Wash., on Friday and Saturday nights.


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Nipawin reigns in SJHL . . . Morrison leads Hurricanes to Game 3 victory, sets franchise record in process

ThisThat

F Josh McDougall broke a 1-1 tie at 8:04 of the third period as the host Nipawin Hawks anavetcupbeat the Estevan Bruins, 2-1, in Game of the SJHL final for the Canalta Cup. . . . The Hawks last won the SJHL title in 1990. . . . D Carter Doerksen, the team captain, had given Nipawin a 1-0 lead with his first goal of these playoffs, at 14:47 of the first period. . . . F Jake Fletcher pulled Estevan even with his 11th goal, at 12:53 of the second period. . . . McDougall’s sixth goal, on a PP, stood up as the winner. . . . McDougall also had an assist on Doerksen’s goal. . . . Nipawin G Declan Hobbs stopped 26 shots, six fewer than Estevan’s Bo Didur. . . . The Hawks will meet the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons for the ANAVET Cup, with that best-of-seven series opening with games in Steinbach on Friday and Saturday nights.


In Lethbridge, F Brendan Morrison scored three times and added an assist to lead the Hurricanes to a 5-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s best-of-seven LethbridgeEastern Conference final. . . . The Broncos hold a 2-1 edge in the series, with Game 4 in Lethbridge tonight. . . . Morrison broke a 1-1 tie with a PP goal at 17:59 of the second period. . . . He upped the lead to 4-1 at 11:35 of the third period and completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 16:12. . . . F Dylan Cozens added two goals for Lethbridge. . . . Morrison leads all playoff scorers with 34 points, five more than F Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans. . . . With 15 goals, Morrison trails only Tri-City’s Morgan Geekie (16). Morrison’s 19 assists are second only to F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Broncos, who has 20. . . . With 15 goals, Morrison now holds the Hurricanes’ record for one playoff year. He broke the record (14) that had been held since 1990 by F Kelly Ens. . . . With 34 points, Morrison is three shy of the club record held by F Wes Walz, who put up 37 points in 1990. . . . At 7-0, Lethbridge is the only team still unbeaten on home ice. . . . The Broncos were without D Artyom Minulin, who left Game 1 with an undisclosed injury, and F Glenn Gawdin, who was injured in Game 2. . . . These teams will play Game 5 in Swift Current on Saturday night. . . . The Everett Silvertips hold a 2-1 edge over the Tri-City Americans in the Western Conference final. That series will continue in Kennewick, Wash., on Thursday night.


MacBeth

F John Lammers (Lethbridge, Everett, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). An alternate captain, he had 17 goals and 32 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Dominik Pacovský (Kootenay, 2008-10) signed a one-year contract extension with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 50 games. . . .

F C.J. Stretch (Kamloops, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 28 goals and 37 assists in 50 games. He led his team in goals and points. . . .

D Layne Viveiros (Portland, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had one goal and 10 assists in 51 games. He is a dual Austrian-Canadian citizen. . . .

F Thomas Raffl (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2005-06) signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). An alternate captain, he had 18 goals and 27 assists in 42 games. He was second on Red Bull in goals. . . .

F Dario Winkler (Brandon, Everett, 2015-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had two assists in 24 games. . . .

D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had five goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .

F Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with the  Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL), he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 52 games. He was an alternate captain. Bast has dual German-Canadian citizenship.

Royals “definitely in” on 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Bajkov fills hat as Everett wins Game 3 . . . Bo knows it’s Game 7 in SJHL

Scattershooting

If there was doubt in your mind about the Victoria Royals and the 2020 Memorial Cup, you can forget it. They’re in.

“We’re 100 per cent, definitely in,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general VictoriaRoyalsmanager, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist late last week.

The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets also are all-in on this one, with both having held news conferences to announce their intentions. The Royals haven’t gone that far yet, but they will.

“We have let the Western Hockey League know we are bidding,” Hope told Dheensaw, adding that there isn’t any rush to hold a news conference because the WHL’s deadline to file an expression of interest is June 1 and bids won’t be heard until Oct. 3.

“The deadline for the expression of interest is not until later in the summer,” Hope said. “We have been (working) quietly behind the scenes. There will be a time to be louder.”

Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.


In Kennewick, Wash., the Everett Silvertips broke open a 4-4 game with four third-period goals in the span of 4:50 and went on to an 8-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans before Everettan announced crowd of 3,268 in Game 3 of the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-1. . . . The visitors got three goals from F Patrick Bajkov, who snapped the 4-4 tie at 6:54 of the third period, then made it 6-4 at 9:21. . . . The Americans had tied the score 4-4 on third-period goals from F Isaac Johnson, at 0:47, and F Michael Rasmussen, at 1:45. . . . Tri-City scored its first two goals via the PP and now is 17-33 with the man advantage through 11 playoff games. . . . Things got a bit heated early in the third period with the head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Tri-City’s Mike Williamson — exchanging greetings at the benches. . . . The series won’t resume until Thursday because Kennewick’s Toyota Center is playing host to Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story Onstage on Wednesday night. . . .

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference final is set to continue tonight (Tuesday) in Lethbridge with the Swift Current Broncos holding a 2-0 edge over the Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos lost D Artyom Minulin and F Glenn Gawdin to injuries in the first two games. It’s playoffs, so their status for Game 3 isn’t known.


G Bo Didur stopped 36 shots on Sunday leading, leading the host Estevan Bruins to a 4-0 victory over the Nipawin Hawks in Game 6 of the SJHL’s championship final for the SJHLCanalta Cup. The best-of-seven series is 3-3 and will be decided Tuesday night in Nipawin. Game time is 7:30 p.m. . . . That, considering all that has transpired over the past two-plus weeks, is the only way this could end, isn’t it? . . . F Jake Fletcher, the Bruins’ captain, had a goal, his 10th of the playoffs, and two assists. Fletcher has 20 points, one behind playoff co-leaders Kaelan Holt of Estevan, who is the son of former Swift Current Broncos star Todd Holt, and Nipawin’s Brandan Arnold. Kaelan Holt had two assists on Sunday. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Estevan and did up this piece right here on Didur, who is into the final games of his junior hockey career. . . . The winner of Tuesday’s game will meet the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons for the ANAVET Cup and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup.


The other day, a woman changed her mind about singing the U.S. national anthem at a Reno Aces’ baseball game when she was told she couldn’t bring her gun along with her. As Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., noted: “Apparently they got her name off the wrong list of sopranos.”


The MJHL’s Dauphin Kings have signed Doug Hedley as their general manager and head coach. Hedley, a former Kings head coach, spent the past two seasons with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . Hedley has been behind the Kings’ bench for 358 games, going 217-116-17-8. According to a Kings’ news release, he is “second behind Marlin Murray (556) in all-time regular-season games coached and second in wins as a Kings coach.”. . . . With Dauphin, Hedley takes over from Mitch Giguere, an assistant coach who had been working as the interim GM/head coach after Marc Berry was fired on Nov. 19. . . . This season, the Kings finished 14-44-1-1, good for 10th in the 11-team league.



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The Metropolitan King County Council approved a ban on vaping and chewing tobacco in sports facilities — particularly the Mariners’ Safeco Field — effective May 19. In other words, Skoal’s out for the summer.”


MacBeth

F Tyler Spurgeon (Kelowna, 2001-06) has signed a one-year extension with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). The team captain, he had 18 goals and 31 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 22 assists in 51 games. He led his club in goals and points. . . .

F Justin Feser (Tri-City, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL), he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 44 games. . . .

F T.J. Mulock (Vancouver, Regina, Kamloops, 2002-03, 2005-06) has signed a one-year contract with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, with Cologne Haie (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and seven assists in 46 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.

Scattershooting: Kelowna favoured as 2020 MC host? . . . Broncos, Silvertips take early leads . . . Wild takes BCHL title to U.S.

Scattershooting

Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, announced Thursday that his organization, in conjunction with the city, Tourism Kelowna and KelownaRocketsProspera Place, officially is in the bidding to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets last played host to the four-team tournament in 2004, when they won it all. That season, the Rockets, under head coach Marc Habscheid, lost a seven-game Western Conference final to the Kevin Constantine-coached Everett Silvertips, who were in their first WHL season. The Silvertips then were swept from the championship final by the Medicine Hat Tigers.

What makes the Rockets’ decision to enter the 2020 fray so interesting is that it means officials from three of the five B.C. Division teams say they are preparing bids for the 2020 tournament.

Kamloops1The Kamloops Blazers announced on Nov. 9 that they will be in the chase, while the Victoria Royals also are expected to bid.

In November, I asked Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, if his organization is interested in playing host to the 2020 Memorial Cup and he gave me a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”

Around the same time, Hope told the Victoria Times Colonist that “we intend to bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup.”

Victoria and Vancouver will be the host cities for the 2019 World Junior Championship, VictoriaRoyalsand Hope sees a link between a successful WJC and the 2020 Memorial Cup. You can bet that ticket sales from the WJC will be a big part of Victoria’s bid presentation.

Any one of the other 19 WHL teams has until June 1 to make an expression of interest. Those who are still interested will make their bid presentations at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Following the presentations, the governors will vote and a host team/city will be revealed at the conclusion of the meeting.

At this early date, I would suggest that the Rockets are the favourites, for at least three reasons. Firstly, the 2004 tournament was a fabulous show and really raised the bar for future Memorial Cups. Second, the Rockets, with super scout Lorne Frey on staff, have a history of icing competitive teams. Third, Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, carries a lot of weight at the executive level.

The Royals could upset the applecart, though, because as nice as Kelowna is in May, who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks in Victoria at that time of year? They also have a recent history of being competitive, and Hope showed in January that he isn’t afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It didn’t work this time, with the injury bug perhaps playing a role, but he definitely showed a willingness to pull the trigger.

Kamloops is the underdog in this three-horse race, having missed the playoffs in two of the past four seasons, and having lost out in the first round in the other two. The Blazers are rebuilding, witness their January deal with Everett in which Kamloops dealt two veterans — F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala — for two roster players in F Orrin Centazzo and D Montana Onyebuchi, two 2002-born prospects and two 2019 bantam draft picks.

By Oct. 3, however, the 2018-19 season won’t be nearly far enough along to give the voting governors a handle on the bidding teams’ expected level of competitiveness for 2019-20. That means it will be up to each team to convince the governors with a thorough scouting report.

In the end, of course, it may come down to money, meaning the team that guarantees the largest profit — and we’re talking a few million Canadian dollars here — may win the bid.

That being the case, Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, could use some of his family money to guarantee the profit, a move that just might give Kamloops an edge.

The 2018 Memorial Cup is to be held in Regina, with the 2019 tournament in Halifax.


BTW, the Blazers revealed their 2018-19 season-ticket prices this week, with premium tickets going for $657, adult for $582, senior for $478, and youth/student for $403. The premium price is up $16 from last season, with the other three each having gone up by $15. . . . The WHL, of course, is reducing its regular-season schedule from 72 to 68 games, meaning that increase is for two fewer home games than in 2017-18.


The WHL has 22 teams. What might be the over-under for the number of teams to increase season-ticket prices?


The WHL’s conference finals began on Friday night, with the host Swift Current Broncos whlskating to a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and the Everett Silvertips getting past the visiting Tri-City Americans, also 3-2. . . . Game 2 in each series will be played in the same venue tonight. . . . When this season began, who had those four teams in the conference finals? . . . In Swift Current, G Stuart Skinner stopped 38 shots and F Aleksi Heponiemi broke a 2-2 tie at 11:11 of the third period. In 29 career playoff games, he has one goal and 27 assists. . . . Artyom Minulin didn’t finish the game for the Broncos, but head coach Manny Viveiros told Shawn Mullin, the team’s radio voice, that the third-year Russian defenceman has “a touch of the flu.” . . . In Everett, G Carter Hart stopped 24 shots and F Garrett Pilon scored twice for the Silvertips. . . . F Morgan Geekie had one of the Americans’ goals, meaning he has at least one goal in each of the club’s nine playoff games this season. Tri-City went into the game with an 8-0 record in these playoffs. . . . Everett now has won five straight games.


Please note that final is singular, so it is the Western Conference final and the other series is the Eastern Conference final. The next round will be the WHL final. OK?


The SJHL final continued Friday night, with the Nipawin Hawks beating the visiting Estevan Bruins, 3-1, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven final for the Canalta Cup. They’ll play Game 6 in Estevan on Sunday. . . . The Bruins got the game’s first goal, from F Michael McChesney at 2:24 of the first period, but weren’t able to get another one past G Declan Hobbs. D Josh McDougall pulled the Hawks even at 10:17, and F Chad McCartney got what proved to be the winner at 1:33 of the second period. D Gage Misskey also scored for Nipawin, at 19:55 of the second. . . .

In the MJHL, the Steinbach Pistons hold a 3-2 lead over the Virden Oil Capitals, who are scheduled to play host to Game 6 tonight. The Oil Capitals won the first two games in the series, only to have the Pistons roar back with three straight victories, including 4-0 in Virden on Monday and 7-1 in Steinbach on Thursday. . . . The MJHL and SJHL winners will meet for the ANAVET Cup, with a berth in the Royal Bank Cup on the line. That tournament opens in Chilliwack, B.C., on May 12. . . .

In the BCHL, the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild wrapped up its first championship on Thursday, beating the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, 3-0, to win the Fred Page Cup in front of 3,845 fans in the Toyota Town Center. The Wild is in its third season in the BCHL. Wenatchee is the first American team to win the BCHL title since the Bellingham Blazers in 1979. . . . The Wild next will face the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints, starting in Wenatchee with games on Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28. The winner of that series will advance to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack. . . . The Saints won the AJHL title on Friday, beating the host Okotoks Oilers, 3-2, to take the Inter Pipeline Cup final, 4-1.

If you’re wondering how Wenatchee and Spruce Grove will handle the travel, here’s an excerpt from an AJHL news release:

“If one team sweeps the first two games (in Wenatchee), the remainder of the series will be played in Spruce Grove. If the teams split the opening two games, Game 3 will be played in Wenatchee before the series switches to Spruce Grove for the remainder of the series.”


Assistant coach Ian Herbers’ three-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers is soon to Saskatoonexpire. He took a three-year sabbatical from the U of Alberta Golden Bears — he had been their head coach — to sign with the Oilers. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports right here that Herbers, should his deal with the Oilers not be renewed, could be headed back to the Golden Bears. . . . Matheson also reports that Serge Lajoie, who replaced Herbers at the U of A, “has interviewed for the vacant (head-coaching) job with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, which sounds like he’s being proactive (in case) Herbers moves back to the Bears.” . . . The Blades are looking for a head coach after firing Dean Brockman at the end of the regular season.


USA Hockey announced Friday that David Quinn will be head coach of its junior team that will play in the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . Quinn just completed his fourth season as the head coach of the Boston University Terriers. . . . Quinn’s assistant coaches with Team USA will be Mike Hastings of Minnesota State-Mankato, David Lassonde of Dartmouth and Steve Miller of Ohio State.


The Delta Hockey Academy has added a pair of former WHLers to its coaching staff. Milan Dragicevic takes over the Bantam Prep White team, while Rick Lanz will coach the U15 team. . . . Dragicevic played with the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City Americans, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90), and later spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Americans and two (2000-02) as the Vancouver Giants’ head coach. He also spent 12 seasons as the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . Lanz was on the Americans’ coaching staff for one season (1997-98).


If you’re young and thinking about a career as a play-by-play man, the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks may have a spot for you. They are looking for someone to handle play-by-play and to manage their social media accounts. . . . There’s more right here.


You see it before NHL games — a player seated on a bench cracks open a small packet, waves it under his nose and grimaces, and you know he’s ready. But what is that all about, and is it performance-enhancing? . . . The incomparable Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail checks it out in an entertaining read that is right here.