WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


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Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


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The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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Halifax quiets Raiders in tourney opener. . . . P.A. off until Monday. . . . New coaches at St. George’s, AJHL


MacBeth

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) has signed a two-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). This season, with Kölner Haie Cologne (Germany, DEL), he had four goals and six assists in 48 games.


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The Halifax Mooseheads, the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament, opened 2019MCwith a 4-1 victory over the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night. . . . The Mooseheads got a goal and an assist from F Samuel Asselin, with linemate Maxim Trépanier drawing three assists. . . . The Mooseheads took a 2-0 first-period lead as Asselin scored once, at 10:49, and set up the other by F Xavier Parent, at 18:44. . . . The game’s first goal came as referee Mario Maillet inadvertently set a pick on Raiders D Zack Hayes, allowing F Raphael Lavoie a passing lane to get the puck to Asselin at the crease. . . . Asselin spent last season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, so was part of the team that won last season’s Memorial Cup in Regina. He had five goals in four games in that tournament. Traded to the Mooseheads, he led the QMJHL with 48 goals this season. . . . The Raiders were 0-3 on the PP in the first period. . . . F Noah Gregor got Prince Albert to within a goal, at 10:46 of the second period. . . . The Mooseheads got a PP goal from D Jake Ryczek, at 15:52, for a 3-1 lead, then iced it at 18:07 of the third period as F Antoine Morand got an empty-netter. . . . Halifax was 1-6 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-4. . . . G Alexis Gravel stopped 23 shots to record the victory over Ian Scott, who turned aside 33. . . . The Raiders were outshot, 37-24, including 15-4 in the third period. . . . Prince Albert expended a lot of energy and emotion in winning a seven-game series from the Vancouver Giants — the Raiders won Game 7, 3-2 in OT, on Monday night — and then travelled to Halifax on Wednesday. All of that combined with a three-hour time change may have taken a lot out of the Raiders’ legs. They now have a couple of days off and that surely can’t hurt. . . . The OHL-champion Guelph Storm are to meet the QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies tonight, with Halifax playing Guelph on Sunday. The Raiders are off until Monday when they are to face the Huskies.


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Jason Becker, a former WHL player and coach, is leaving the BCHL’s Penticton Vees to coach at St. George’s School in Vancouver. Becker, who had been an assistant coach with the Vees for three seasons, will be the head coach of the midget prep team at St. George’s. . . . Before joining the Vees, Becker had coached for two seasons at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and did a four-season stint as an assistant with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. As a defenceman, he played with the Saskatoon Blades, Red Deer Rebels, Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos (1990-95), then spent five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . The Vees immediately announced that former captain Patrick Sexton has been hired as the new assistant coach. Sexton played two seasons with the Vees before going on to the U of Wisconsin. He was the Vees’ captain when they won the BCHL’s 2014-15 championship. . . . Naeem Bardal will be Becker’s assistant coach at St. George’s. . . .

St. George’s also announced that Jamie Jackson, who had been an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, will be the head coach of the school’s Elite 15 team. Jackson also spent four seasons as head coach of the major midget Vancouver-North East Chiefs, and was the general manager and head coach of the junior B Port Moody Panthers (2011-14). . . . Mike Nardi will be Jackson’s assistant coach. . . .

Todd Harkins, a former GM of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, will be the head coach of the bantam prep team. Harkins is St. George’s head of hockey. His son, Nicklas, will be the assistant coach. . . .

Stan Sibert returns as the head coach of the bantam varsity team, with Cole Todd his assistant.


Dave Dupas is the new general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He has been an assistant coach in Fort McMurray for three seasons, after four-plus seasons as head coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Dupas had been named the interim GM/head coach a week earlier when the Oil Barons announced that Tom Keca wouldn’t be returning.


The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiak have signed Clayton Jardine as their new head coach. He replaces Boris Rybalka, who stays on as general manager and also will be associate coach. . . . Rybalka had been the head coach since 2001, and an assistant coach before that. . . . Jardine played with the Kodiaks and was the team captain when they won two AJHL titles. . . . This season, Jardine was the SJHL’s coach of the year with the Kindersley Klippers. He also was the GM. From Lacombe, Alta., Jardine was an assistant coach with New England College, an NCAA Division III school, for two seasons before joining the Klippers. . . . Jardine had resigned from the Klippers in April, and was replaced by Garry Childerhose, who had been an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Flin Flon Bombers.


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Giants, Raiders head back to P.A. . . . Game 6 scheduled for Sunday. . . . Guelph one win from title in OHL


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The Guelph Storm won its third straight game on Friday night, beating the host Ottawa ohl67’s, 4-3, to take a 3-2 lead in the OHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 6 in Guelph on Sunday. . . . Last night, the Storm got a goal and an assist from F Alexey Toropchenko, who has seven goals in his past four games. He has 13 goals in these playoffs. . . . F Tye Felhaber scored twice for Ottawa. He now leads the OHL playoffs, with 17 goals. . . . The 67’s opened the playoffs with 14 straight victories, but now have lost three in a row — for the first time this season — and are facing elimination on Sunday.



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The Prince George Cougars and Vista Radio have extended their broadcast agreement through the 2019-20 season. . . . The Cougars’ games, home and away, will again be heard on 94.3 The GOAT. . . . Fraser Rodgers will be back for his third season as the play-by-play voice. . . . Hartley Miller, The GOAT’s sports director, will be the analyst for a seventh straight season.


Sean Murray, a goaltending coach who has worked with the Portland Winterhawks, TrailVancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars, has signed on with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Murray, a coach for more than 20 years, spent five seasons (2006-11) with the Giants, and was part of their Memorial Cup title in 2007. . . . He also pent three-plus seasons with the Winterhawks and two working with the Cougars. . . . The Smoke Eaters also have hired Jeff Urekar, who had been the head coach of the major midget North East Chiefs, as assistant GM.


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced Friday that they have “parted ways” OilBaronswith Tom Keca, who had been their general manager and head coach through four seasons. . . . In a news release, David Fitzgerald, the organization’s president, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to agree on terms with Tom to extend his contract beyond this season. In light of this, we decided that it was best for the organization to move in a different direction next season.” . . . Before taking over as GM/head coach, Keca had been an assistant coach with the Oil Barons for four-plus seasons. He also spent five seasons (2000-05) on the staff as an assistant before taking over as head coach of the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Dave Dupas has stepped in as general manager and head coach “until further notice.” . . . Dupas has been an assistant coach with Fort McMurray for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings for four seasons. . . . This season, the Oil Barons went 32-19-9 to finish fourth in the Viterra AJHL North. They beat the Grande Prairie Storm, 3-1, in a best-of-five first-round series, then lost a best-of-seven affair to the Sherwood Park Crusaders, 4-2.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is headed back to the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. . . . The Vancouver Giants beat the Raiders, 4-3, on Friday night in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders now hold a 3-2 lead in the series. . . . The two teams will climb on to the same plane today and fly to Prince Albert where Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday. . . .

Prior to Game 5, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “The one thing I know for sure is that you don’t give games away. You have a chance like this, you play this like it’s Game 7. “You want to end it as quick as possible. (Friday) is our Game 7.” . . .

After Game 5, Habscheid told reporters: “If someone had told me at the start of the (season) that we’d have two games at home to try and win the league title, we’d take it.” . . .

This is the third straight WHL final to go six games. . . . Two seasons ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the host Regina Pats, 4-3 in OT, to win that series, 4-2. . . . Last season, it was the Swift Current Broncos winning Game 6, 3-0 over the visiting Everett Silvertips, to take that series, 4-2. . . .

On Friday, at 8:15 p.m. PT, with Game 5 between Vancouver and Prince Albert in the first intermission, Rogers Sportsnet had Plays of the Month on four channels, MLB’s Best on one channel and Highlights of the Night on another. Just sayin’ . . . No, Game 6 of the OHL’s championship final wasn’t on any of the channels earlier in the evening either.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants erased a 2-1 deficit with three-second period goals en route to a 4-Vancouver3 victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. . . . Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Monday. . . . Last night, the Giants got the game’s first goal, at 7:42 of the first period, when F Brayden Watts (7) deposited a rebound off a shot by F Tristen Nielsen into an empty side. . . . The team scoring first now is 5-0 in this series. . . . The Raiders tied it at 10:44 as F Aliaksei Protas (12) scored from the slot off a rebound from a shot by F Sean Montgomery. . . . The teams then combined for five goals in the second period. . . . The visitors took their only lead at 2:45, just nine seconds after killing off a penalty. F Dante Hannoun came free in front of the Giants’ net and beat G David Tendeck for his WHL-leading 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . Vancouver tied it 50 seconds later as D Bowen Byram (8) skated into the left side of the slot and beat G Ian Scott for his first goal of the series. . . . F Davis Koch (3) put the home boys back out front, putting home a rebound at 9:24. He had gone 12 games without a goal. . . . D Dylan Plouffe (6) upped Vancouver’s lead to 4-2 at 11:13 with a shot from the top of the left circle off a play by F Dawson Holt, who gained possession of the puck with some good work along the boards and then threw out a terrific pass. . . . The Raiders got back to within a goal at 15:54 as F Noah Gregor (11) got a backhand shot through Tendeck after the Giants failed to clear their zone. . . . F Jadon Joseph had two assists for Giants, while Byram added an assist to his goal, as did Watts. . . . The Raiders got two assists from F Brett Leason. . . . Leason and Byram remain tied for the playoff points lead, each with 25, two ahead of Hannoun. . . . Tendeck finished with 37 saves, including 16 in the third period as he helped keep the Raiders off the scoreboard. . . . Scott stopped 26 shots. . . . The Giants were 0-1 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-2. . . . The Raiders had D Max Martin back in the lineup after he missed Games 3 and 4. He was injured in the second period of Game 2 after crashing awkwardly into the end boards. With Martin back in, D Loeden Schaufler came out. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Fraser Lawrence, with Ron Dietterle and Brett Mackey working the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.


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Victoria bows out, three remain in running for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Signings, signings, everywhere a signing . . . Murray Westgate dies at 100

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And then there were three . . .

The Victoria Royals bowed out of the race for the 2020 Memorial Cup on Monday, leaving the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets still in the hunt.

Victoria, with Vancouver, will play host to the 2019 World Junior Championship. With the VictoriaRoyalshigh costs associated with attending events such as the Memorial Cup and the WJC, and considering that the Royals would be asking their ticket-buying public to support both events, you can bet that the organization and the bid committee grew wary of going to the well once too often.

“Everybody wants to be the very, very best. Not just win the bid but win the bid in a way that the Memorial Cup you put on is the best one that’s ever been put on,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, told Marlon Martens, the team’s radio voice. “I think we’re close. I think it’s possible we could win this bid for 2020. But the truth of it is there are a number of boxes that I think we will tick much, much better two or three years down the road.

“Everything from our club and the building of the club, although that’s a secondary issue for us. I think we’ll be competitive in 2020, but the venue . . . there’s some changes we want to make to the arena that would enhance it for the fans and for everybody and the community.

“We are just about to embark on a wonderful World Junior Championship and it’s a significant ask of our fans to buck up every year for season tickets — which they do and our base grows every year — and then go to that market and ask them to pay not an insignificant amount for World Juniors, which is a big tournament, and then ask them again the following season to buck up again for a big tournament like the Memorial Cup.

“Those things are all factors I think we could overcome, but when you combine them we have to think about the reality of the very best time to bid.”

Hope admitted that this decision has been a while coming.

“The bid committee has been working on this for a few months . . . assessing what our bid would look like for 2020 and whether or not we think it’s the right year to go,” Hope said. “The bid committee has decided they are going to focus on 2023.

“We agonized over it . . . spent a lot of time deciding whether or not it was the right thing . . . it’s clearly the right thing to do.”

Martens’ complete interview with Hope is right here.

The Rockets, of course, were the host team in 2004 and it was such a good show that it KelownaRocketswas the benchmark for Memorial Cup tournaments to that point. Obviously, the city and the organization know what it takes, and there isn’t any doubt but that they would put on a terrific show.

Kelowna’s bid committee is headed up by Tom Dyas, a former president of the city’s chamber of commerce. Paul Mitchell and Bill Winter, who headed up the bid committee prior to the 2004 event, also are heavily involved.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, has said that the team will foot the bill for the tournament, including about $100,000 to improve dressing rooms in Prospera Place.

“This is the Kelowna Rockets putting this on,” Hamilton said at a news conference in April. “We’ll get some support I’m sure from other areas, but the city is taking no risk at all except they’ll be very involved in helping to prepare the bid.”

The Blazers announced in November that they would be bidding for 2020, which will Kamloops1mark the 25th anniversary of their having won the 1995 tournament.

Norm Daley of Daley and Co., who has been involved in bid committees that have brought numerous events to Kamloops, including the 2016 IIHF World Women’s Championship, heads up the Blazers’ bid committee.

“One thing is, we’ve lost,” Daley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in April. “So we understand we didn’t get the 2013 women’s worlds (curling), we didn’t get the 2009 Olympic curling trials. So we’ve lost.

“So we understand where maybe there’s some shortcomings in what the bid process is when we did it those times . . . so we have that understanding of what it takes to win, so we actually have won a number of other ones . . . so that’s the big thing. We can take the information of what we maybe did wrong in those bids and use it for our advantage in this one.”

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes, with Bill Reddick of Mercer Wilde Group Charter LethbridgeAccountants chairing the bid committee, have received assurances from city council that it will kick in $750,000, along with $250,000 in in-kind services, should the bid be successful. The in-kind package would include such things as costs, including labour, involved with the use of the ENMAX Centre.

While Kelowna no doubt is alone as the favourite now that Victoria is out, you have to think that Lethbridge is at least a sentimental favourite, even with the tournament having been held in Red Deer in 2016. (Prior to that, it hadn’t been held in Alberta since 1974 when it was played in the Calgary Corral.) After all, it was slightly more than three years ago when the franchise was in dire financial straits. The team had missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and had lost well over $1 million in the process. On top of that, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell to private interests.

Since then, well, Peter Anholt has taken over as the general manager, things are looking up on the ice, where the Hurricanes have reached the Eastern Conference final each of the past two seasons. Anholt and the likes of Terry Huisman, the GM of business operations, have got things turned around to the point where the organization announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season.

The Blazers, Hurricanes and Rockets will present their bids to the WHL’s board of governors at a meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. It is expected that the host city will be named later that same day.


This is why you won’t find any scrimmage-related news on this site . . . I am retired and can’t afford to pay the fine.


F Kole Gable, who helped the Swift Current Broncos win a WHL title last season, will SCBroncosopen this season with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Gable, 20, is from Fort McMurray. . . . Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 68 regular-season games with the Broncos, then added one assist in 26 playoff games. . . . Gable was a ninth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2013 bantam draft. He played 61 games with the Oil Kings before being dealt to the Broncos during the 2016-17 season. . . . In 166 regular-season WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 21 assists. . . . The Broncos have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kaden Elder, F Andrew Fyten, Russian D Artyom Minulin, F Tanner Nagel and D Ryan Pouliot. Minulin, who is from Russia, would be a two-spotter should he return.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Craig Armstrong, a first-round selection, ninth PrinceGeorgeoverall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Airdrie, Alta., he led his hometown bantam AAA Xtreme in scoring in the regular season and playoffs. He put up 23 goals and 31 assists in 34 regular-season games, then added 14 goals and nine assists in 13 playoff games. He also had three goals and four assists in five games at the Western Canadian bantam AAA championship tournament.

Armstrong’s signing leaves two of the 22 first-round selections without WHL contracts. . . . F Trevor Wong, taken 18th overall by Kelowna, attended the Rockets’ camp but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . The Cougars took G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg with the second-last pick of the first round and have yet to sign him.

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The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed Sammy May, 15, to a WHL contract. May, from SaskatoonRichmond, B.C., was an 11th-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . “Despite his position in the draft, May quickly earned himself an offer on the final day of training camp,” the Blades said in a news release. . . . Last season, with a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . May is expected to get a taste of WHL action when the Blades open their exhibition season against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Thursday.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed G Mads Sogaard, who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, and F Tigers Logo OfficialCaleb Willms, a 16-year-old from Cochrane, Alta. . . . Sogaard, from Aalborg, Denmark, was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-7, 190-pounder played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, going 2.64, .909 in 22 appearances. . . . He is expected to push veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, for playing time. . . . Willms, a list player, spent last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR  Bisons, putting up three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca to a WHL contract. SeattleKukuca, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, scored 43 goals and added 27 assists in 44 games for Trencin’s team in Slovakia’s U-20 junior league last season. He added 18 goals and 10 assists in 18 playoff games. . . . The Thunderbirds have yet to sign their other 2018 import draft selection — Czech D Simon Kubicek, who is to turn 17 on Dec. 19 — but it is believed that he is getting his paperwork in order before joining them. He was pointless in four games with the Czech U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup earlier this month.


The Victoria Royals have signed F Trentyn Crane, 15, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. From Morden, Man., he had 46 goals and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who are based in Morden and play in a Winnipeg league.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed D Lucas Brenton, 15, and D Cole Jordan, who will MooseJawWarriorsturn 16 on Sept. 21, to WHL contracts. . . . From East St. Paul, Man., Brenton was a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Sharks, he had nine goals and 15 assists in 32 games. . . . Jordan, from Brandon, was added to the Warriors’ protected list in January. He had three goals and 15 assists in 46 games with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings last season.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Owen MacNeil, 15, to a WHL contract. He was selected in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 15 goals and 32 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Royals, and also had a goal and two assists in five games with the minor midget CRAA Blue.


The Tri-City Americans have signed three players — D Bryan McAndrews, 17, from tri-cityEdmonton; F Parker Bell, who will turn 15 on Sept. 26, from Campbell River, B.C.; and F Sequoia Swan, 16, from Winnipeg. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. McAndrews played last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s midget prep Red team, putting up five goals and six assists in 25 games. . . . Last season, Bell scored three goals and added seven assists in 20 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Swan, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, had eight goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy’s elite 15s last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


“With football already underway and hockey starting soon,” writes Jack Todd in the pages of the Montreal Gazette, “it’s a good time to talk about toxic parents on the sideline.” . . . This right here is a good piece, and there are a handful of rules, all of them worth following, at the end of it.


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