Broncos sign assistant coaches . . . Warriors have imports in fold . . . Hitmen add ex-talking head to front office

MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) requested and was granted his release for personal reasons by the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He had signed a one-year contract in June. . . . Kovář, on the Hawks’ website: “I was really looking forward to playing for the Hawks next season and moving to the Altrincham area to continue my work as (a) personal trainer. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, I will now be staying in Kazakhstan for the foreseeable future.” . . . Kovář played for Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya Liga) last season, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games. He had played the previous four seasons in England.


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos have announced the hiring of two assistant coaches — SCBroncosBrandin Cote and Scott Dutertre. . . . Cote, who is from Swift Current, was the associate coach at Red Deer College last season. Prior to that, he spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders and two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs. He played five seasons (1997-2002) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Dutertre, from Dinsmore, Sask., has been an assistant coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies, both men’s and women’s teams, for four seasons. He also is the national skating and skills coach for Ice Hockey Australia. . . . Cote and Dutertre fill the voids created by the departures of Ryan Smith, who now is with the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Jamie Heward, who has joined the Vancouver Giants.


Bil La Forge, who is into his first year as the general manager of the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, has more than a bit of hockey in his background. And, yes, he paid his dues before signing on as the Thunderbirds’ GM. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more right here in a good read on La Forge and the road he travelled to get to where he is today.



The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed their two selections from the 2018 CHL import MooseJawWarriorsdraft — Daniil Stepanov and Yegor Buyalsky, both 17-year-old forwards from Belarus. . . . Stepanov had three goals and 17 assists in 31 games with the U-18 Team Belarus. . . . Buyalsky had 19 goals and 29 assists in 49 games with the U-17 Team Belarus. He played at the 2018 Mac’s tournament in Calgary, putting up five goals and an assist in six games. . . . Both players already are in Moose Jaw as they prepare for the opening of training camp on Aug. 22. . . . The Warriors finished last season with two import defenceman — Oleg Sosunov and Dmitri Zaitsev. Neither is expected back as a 20-year-old. Sosunov will play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization; Zaitsev signed with Melallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.


Rob Kerr has been named assistant general manager, business operations by the Calgary Hitmen. He takes over from Melissa Blades, who now is manager, business operations with lacrosse’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . Both organizations are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which also owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Kerr spent the past 15 years at Sportsnet and for 12 of those was an on-air host at Calgary radio station Sportsnet 960—The Fan.


Alex Dixon is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager, replacing Trevor Heinzerling, who left to sign on the assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Dixon spent last season as the equipment manager with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. . . . Prior to that, he was with the USA National Team Development Program for two seasons and, before that, spent two seasons with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.


Todd Harkins has joined the West Van Hockey Academy as the director of program development and head coach of the bantam varsity side. Harkins spent the previous six seasons with the Prince George Cougars, the last four as general manager. Prior to that, he was the hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club for 12 years. . . . At the same time, the West Van academy revealed that Yashar Farmanara is leaving “operational and ownership rules” in order to pursue “interests outside of hockey.” A co-founder of the academy, he coached the Elite 15 team for the past two seasons. . . . Farmanara split five WHL seasons (2003-08) among the Seattle Thunderbirds, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers.


We in the Kamloops area have been well aware of F Jermaine Loewen of the Blazers and his startlingly good story for a few years now. But now that he has been selected by the Dallas Stars in the NHL draft, more people are being introduced to Loewen, a 20-year-old power forward with the perpetual smile. Jeff Miller of nhl.com has a piece on Loewen right here.


Mitch Topinka has signed on as an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Last season, he was on staff with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Doug Hedley, who was the general manager and head coach with the Blizzard last season, now fills both those roles with the Kings. . . . Topinka, who is from Whitewood, Sask., also scouted for the Blizzard while coaching a junior B team in Regina. . . . According to a Kings’ news release, Topinka was a stick boy with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks when Hedley was coaching there “in the early 2000s.”


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have added Jered Neufeld as an assistant coach. He spent the past two seasons as coach/assistant general manager with the Esterhazy Flyers of the Triangle Hockey League. . . . Neufeld also spent time on the coaching staff of the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s Red Deer Vipers. . . . Neufeld now is the general manager of Legacy Ford Fernie.


Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Scattershooting: Blades’ voice has idea to honour Tyler Bieber . . . Guy Charron? Call him commissioner . . . Virden up 2-0 in MJHL final

Scattershooting

Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, caught a ride with Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele on Thursday morning and the two headed for Humboldt.

They went to the Elgar Petersen Arena for the funeral of Broncos’ radio voice Tyler Bieber, who was killed in Friday’s bus crash.

While in the seats, just prior to the service starting, Lazaruk had an idea.

“One other thing I feel as I sit and look at Tyler Bieber’s spot in the 107.5 Bolt FM broadcast booth,” he tweeted, “. . . I want to honour Tyler’s memory by calling Humboldt Broncos game on Bolt-FM. For free! No talent fee! No gas money! No meal money! I don’t care where the game is.

“There are 58 regular-season games in 2018-19 and I hope 57 other broadcasters step up and do the same in Tyler’s memory.”

If there is a way to make this work, you can bet on it happening.

Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Peter Loubardias, Phil Andrews, Kelly Moore, Shawn Mullin, Ryan Switzer, James Gallo, Troy Gillard, Dave Randorf, John Fraser, Ben Holden, Joey Kenward, Tim Edmonds, Jason Gregor, Lee Jones, Tony Brar, Rob Mahon, Nick Gismondi, Brendan Parker, Peter Mills, Pete Krupsky and Cameron Birnie were among those to respond in a resoundingly positive fashion.


Tyler Bieber was a huge fan of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Upon hearing that, Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, called Bieber’s family — he ended up leaving a voicemail expressing condolences, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan — and also made sure that flowers were sent.



Bob Wilkie was a defenceman with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos. He survived the Broncos’ bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, and went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup with SCBroncosthem.

Wilkie later co-authored a book about the Broncos and that accident — Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.

On Sunday, he was in Saskatoon and Humboldt as he, Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Darren Kruger worked to spread hope among those impacted by the Humboldt bus crash.

This week, Wilkie dug up a souvenir of that 1989 Memorial Cup championship.



Elsewhere . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed three members of their organization to contract extensions, the lengths of which weren’t released. Assistant coach Scott Burt, equipment manager Tim Lindblade and Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, all have new deals. . . . Burt is preparing for his sixth season with the Chiefs. . . . Lindblade joined the Chiefs for the 2013-14 season. . . . Baird just completed his first season as equipment manager after 10 seasons as the Chiefs’ video co-ordinator.


Jeff Wagner is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had been assistant GM/associate coach with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats. . . . Wagner replaces Craig Mohr, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Ghostriders were first-round playoff casualties. This was his fourth season as the club’s GM/head coach.


Guy Charron, a former NHLer who did a couple of turns as the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is the new commissioner of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League. . . . You can bet that Charron will be a busy man because, as Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes, “The league has never been short on fiery personalities and hot-button issues — and this year is no different.” . . . Hastings has more right here.


JUST NOTES: If you’re following the WHL playoffs, you will be aware that the Tri-City Americans completed a four-game sweep of the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. The Americans play in the U.S. Division and were a wild-card entry into the playoffs. They have swept the B.C. Division’s top two teams — the Kelowna Rockets, who finished atop the division, and the Royals, who were second. Does this mean the Americans get to hoist a B.C. Division championship pennant prior to next season? . . . In the MJHL, Rylee Zimmer had a goal and two assists to help the host Virden Oil Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons. Zimmer tied the game at 14:07 of the third period and drew an assist on Landyn Cochrane’s winner at 15:48. . . . Virden won the opener, 2-1, in Steinbach on April 6. Game 2 had been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed out of respect for the Humboldt Broncos. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Steinbach. . . . The winner of the MJHL championship will meet the SJHL champ, either the Estevan Bruins or Nipawin Hawks, in the ANAVET Cup series. The SJHL final opens Saturday in Nipawin. . . .


A really interesting hockey book was published a year ago, but somehow I missed it. That book is Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. I came upon it last month, and simply devoured it. Written by Greg Oliver, it details all that went on as Canadian hockey moved into the national team era and beyond. When I was growing up in northern Manitoba, among my hockey heroes were the likes of Roger Bourbonnais, Terry O’Malley, Barry MacKenzie, Fran Huck, Seth Martin, Ken Broderick, Jean Cusson et al. These were the Canadian players who would venture to Europe and get in the face of the great Soviet machine. The stories of all that went into getting the national program off the ground — no, Clarence Campbell’s NHL didn’t like it at all — all are right here. Great stuff!

Hat tricks for Steel, Bellows as Pats, ‘Hawks win . . . Silvertips sweep the weekend . . . Hitmen bury Rebels in third

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

F Koby Morrisseau left the Regina Pats in January following the sudden death of his father, Paul, on Jan. 12. Morrisseau missed 14 games before returning to the Pats and now is regaining his form. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post spoke with Morrisseau and teammates, and has written a compelling story on how they all are helping a friend deal with all that goes with such a tragedy. . . . That story is right here.


Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute barrier in running the mile, died on Saturday at the age of 88. While in London covering the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, columnist Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle tried to duplicate that feat. The results were, umm, predictable, but, as usual with Ostler, it all made for a delicious read that is right here. . . .

If you would like to know more about Sir Roger, pick up a copy of The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Written by Jason Beck, curator and facility director at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, this is one of the best books I have read in recent years.


TheCoachingGame

The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have told Craig Mohr, their general manager and head coach, that they “have decided to proceed in a different direction with the team.” . . . This season, the Ghostriders finished 15-28-1-3 (that’s wins, losses, ties and overtime losses), leaving them fourth in the five-team Eddie Mountain Division. . . . Fernie lost a first-round series to the Kimberley Dynamiters, 4-1. . . . Mohr was the Ghostriders’ GM and head coach through four seasons.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Langley, B.C., D Kevin Davis scored twice to help the Everett Silvertips to a 6-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Everett (44-18-5) has won three in a row. It leads the EverettWestern Conference, by eight points over Portland. . . . Everett won the season series with Vancouver, 5-1-0. . . . Vancouver (33-23-9) is third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria. . . . Both teams were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours. The Silvertips went 3-0-0; the Giants were 1-2-0. . . . On Sunday, F Jared Dmytriw (15) gave the Giants at 1-0 lead at 13:35 of the first period. . . . The visitors scored the last six goals. . . . F Connor Dewar (36) tied it at 18:14. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (20) gave Everett the lead at 8:43 of the second period. . . . Davis added insurance at 12:25, and F Garrett Pilon (32) upped the lead to 4-1 when he scored on a penalty shot at 15:36. . . . Davis, who has 10 goals, got his second score, on a PP, at 19:59. . . . F Riley Sutter (25) scored Everett’s last goal, on a PP, at 7:35 of the third period. . . . Dewar and Pilon each added an assist. . . . Everett was 2-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-3. . . . The Silvertips got 28 saves and an assist from G Dustin Wolf. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 31 shots for the Giants. . . . Prior to the game, the Giants recognized bus driver Derek Holloway, who made his 600th road game last month; broadcaster Bill Wilms, who is on track to work his 2,000th Giants game on March 14 in Kamloops; and Terry Bonner, the franchise’s scouting director, who has been with the team since Day 1. . . . Announced attendance: 3,537.


At Calgary, the Hitmen exploded for six third-period goals en route to a 6-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Calgary (20-35-10) had lost its previous five games (0-2-3). . . . Red CalgaryDeer (24-30-13) has lost two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, seven points ahead of Kootenay. . . . Red Deer went 1-2-0) in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Hitmen did the same and went 1-0-2. . . . F Brandon Hagel (13) gave Red Deer a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:41 of the first period. . . . Red Deer went up 2-0 at 11:02 of the second period when F Reese Johnson got No. 22. . . . F Riley Stotts (16) started Calgary’s comeback, on a PP, at 5:41 of the third period. . . . F Mark Kastelic  (17) tied the score at 6:28. . . . D Dakota Krebs (4) gave the Hitmen the lead at 11:42, and F Jakob Stukel provided a two-goal lead at 13:29. . . . Stukel, who also had two assists, added his 34th goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:32, and F Zach Huber (2) wrapped up the scoring at 19:46. . . . F Conner Chaulk had three assists for Calgary. . . . D Dawson Barteaux had two assists for Red Deer. . . . Red Deer was 1-3 on the PP; Calgary was 1-5. . . . G Matthew Armitage earned the victory with 30 saves. . . . G Ethan Anders stopped 34 shots for Red Deer. . . . Six goals-against in one period? “It’s like we were kicked right in the teeth,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. That piece is right here. . . . Announced attendance: 8,465.

——

At Cranbrook, B.C., the Medicine Hat Tigers opened up a 3-1 lead with three second-period goals and went on to beat the Kootenay Ice, 4-3. . . . Medicine Hat (34-24-8) has Tigers Logo Officialpoints in seven straight (6-0-1). It leads the Central Division by six points over Lethbridge. The Hurricanes have two games in hand. . . . Kootenay (25-38-4) has lost eight in a row (0-7-1). The Ice is fourth in the Central Division, seven points from a playoff spot with five games to play. . . . F Colton Kroeker (14) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 12:54 of the second period. . . . The Tigers took control on goals from F Elijah Brown (7), on a PP, at 14:29; F Ryan Chyzowski (19), at 15:21; and F Josh Williams (9), on a PP, at 19:20. . . . F Bobby Russell (1) got the Ice to within a goal at 16:12 of the third period, but F James Hamblin (20) got that one back, shorthanded, at 17:54. . . . D Jonathan Smart (6) pulled Ice to within one at 18:21. . . . F Hayden Ostir had two assists for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat was 2-5 on the PP; Kootenay was 0-6. . . . The Tigers got a 38-save performance from G Michael Bullion. . . . G Duncan McGovern stopped 24 shots for the Ice. . . . Announced attendance: 2,771.


At Edmonton, F Sam Steel, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., scored three times to lead the Regina Pats to a 7-4 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . Regina (35-25-6) has won two in a ReginaPats100row. It is third in the East Division, three points ahead of Brandon. . . . Edmonton slipped to 19-38-8. . . . The Pats took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals from F Nick Henry (12), on a PP, at 11:15; F Jake Leschyshyn, on another PP, at 12:31; and Steel, shorthanded, at 19:48. . . . F Tomas Soustal (19) got Edmonton on the scoreboard, while shorthanded, at 2:24 ofd the second period. . . . Regina responded with three quick goals, with Steel scoring, on a PP, at 3:14; Leschyshyn (18) getting his second at 4:36; and D Cale Fleury (12) scoring on yet another PP at 8:51. . . . Steel (28) completed the hat trick with a third-period PP goal. . . . Edmonton got third-period goals from F Trey Fix-Wolansky (29), F Kobe Mohr (10) and D Matthew Robertson (5). . . . Regina got three assists from each of F Emil Oksanen and F Cam Hebig, two from F Matt Bradley, and one each from Fleury and Steel. . . . Hebig has had back-to-back three-assist outings. . . . Fix-Wolansky and Mohr had one each for Edmonton. . . . Regina was 5-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-4. . . . Regina G Ryan Kubic left after one period with an undisclosed injury. He stopped all seven shots he faced. Max Paddock finished up by stopping 17 of 21 shots over two periods. . . . The Oil Kings got 36 saves from G Josh Dechaine. . . . The Pats are 4-1-0 as they play eight straight road games because the Canadian men’s curling championship is being decided in their home arena. . . . Announced attendance: 8,297.


At Kent, Wash., F Kieffer Bellows struck for three goals to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 7-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (40-20-5) has points in six Portlandstraight (5-0-1). . . . Seattle (30-25-10) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). . . . Portland went 1-1-1 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours, while Seattle also went 1-1-1. On Friday, the Thunderbirds beat host Portland 5-4 in a shootout. . . . According to TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits), this was the first time since St. Patrick’s Day 1996 that the Winterhawks had visited the Thunderbirds on a Sunday. In 1996, Portland skated to a 5-0 victory at Key Arena. . . . The Winterhawks scored three goals in game’s first 11 minutes. . . . Bellows started it at 1:03, with F Jake Gricius (13) making it 2-0 at 5:25, and F Cody Glass, who also had three assists, upping it to 3-0 at 10:29. . . . F Mike MacLean (2) scored Seattle’s first goal, at 15:42. . . . Bellows, who has 38 goals, completed his first WHL hat trick with goals at 2:10 and 5:08 of the second period. The first one came via the PP. . . . F Nolan Volcan cut Seattle’s deficit to three goals, on a PP, at 8:06. . . . Volcan’s 29th goal, at 10:12 of third period made it a two-goal game, and F Zack Andrusiak’s 30th score cut the deficit to one at 16:41. . . . Portland got an empty-netter from F Ryan Hughes (16), at 19:13, and its final goal from D Brendan De Jong (4) at 19:41. . . . Portland got three assists from D Henri Jokiharju, who has 65 points, including 57 assists, in 56 games. He has eight assists in his past three games. . . . D Austin Strand drew three assists for Seattle. . . . Each team was 1-3 on the PP. . . . G Shane Farkas earned his eighth straight victory with 32 saves, one more than Seattle’s Dorrin Luding. . . . Mike Johnston worked his 500th regular-season game behind the Winterhawks’ bench. He is 311-160-29. . . . Announced attendance: 4,066.


MONDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Lethbridge at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Regina at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Spokane at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.