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.


ThisThat

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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Branch prepping to lobby Ontario gov’t . . . Reid, Brkin spark Chiefs . . . Franklin, Zary lead Blazers’ comeback


MacBeth

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one assist in six games with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia, KHL) 6 GP, 0+1, and 17 goals and 19 assists in 47 games with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). He led Kunlun Red Star in goals and points. . . .

F/D Curt Gogol (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Chilliwack, 2007-11) has been released by mutual agreement by Manglerud (Norway, GET-Ligaen). He had one goal in six games. Earlier this season, he had one assist in four games with Kalmar (Sweden, Division 1).


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Rick Westhead of TSN reported Friday that David Branch, the OHL commissioner, “has registered as a provincial government lobbyist, a move signalling the league is renewing ohlefforts to argue its players should not be paid at least minimum wage.” . . . Branch doubles as the president of the CHL, the umbrella under which the OHL, WHL and QMJHL operate. . . . Westhead also reported that, according to Ontario’s lobbyist registry, Branch and Toronto-based lawyer Robert Bayne, who also registered as a lobbyist, “plan to meet with Ministry of Labour officials and other members of Queen’s Park to discuss the player wage issue.” . . . To date, seven provinces — B.C., Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan — have passed legislation that exempts major junior hockey teams from minimum wage legislation. Michigan and Washington State also have done so. . . . All of this is ongoing while a class-action lawsuit continues, asking that OHL and WHL players be paid a minimum wage. . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.

The move by Branch to register as a lobbyist recalls a story written two years ago by Ian Mulgrew of the Vancouver Sun. It carried this headline: WHL being back-checked for whlpossibly violating lobby law. . . . Mulgrew wrote: “The Western Hockey League did not register as a lobbyist before leaning on B.C.’s cabinet to exempt major junior players form the minimum wage, the provincial watchdog says.” . . . Records showed that Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, began working the back-channels of the then-Liberal government in March 2015. “The direct lobbying effort worked — cabinet quietly passed an order-in-council on Feb. 15, 2016 granting the league the exemption,” Mulgrew wrote. . . . Erin Beatty, the communications director for the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, told Mulgrew at the time that the regulator now is “acting on the potential incident of non-compliance in this case.” . . . Robison told Mulgrew that the WHL didn’t spent a whole lot of time lobbying “and it was certainly not 100 hours. We were not required to register as a lobbyist.” . . . It’s not known what the outcome of the regulator’s investigation was, and it very well may have quietly disappeared when B.C. elected an NDP government. . . . Mulgrew’s piece from two years ago is right here.


The Prince Albert Raiders have returned D Nolan Allan, 15, to the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. From Davidson, Sask., he was the third-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was pointless in two games with the Raiders.


FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES:

D Wyatt Wylie scord 21 seconds into OT to give the Everett Silvertips a 2-1 victory over Everettthe Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Everett (9-5-0) is 3-2-0 on its East Division trek. . . . The Warriors (5-3-3) have lost two in a row. . . . F Tristin Langan (10) gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at 15:33 of the first period. . . . D Sahvan Khaira (3) pulled Everett even at 16:47 of the second period. . . . Wylie won it with his third goal of the season. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 21 shots for the winners. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar sat out as he completed a four-game suspension. He’s eligible to return tonight as the Silvertips wrap up their eastern swing in Swift Current.


The Medicine Hat Tigers scored four times in the span of 5:59 of the second period en Tigers Logo Officialroute to a 8-5 victory over the host Regina Pats. . . . The Tigers (8-6-1) have won two in a row. . . . The Pats (3-10-0) have lost four straight. They now are 0-8-0 on home ice. . . . The Tigers got two goals and an assist from each of F James Hamblin, who has nine goals, and F Ryan Chyzowski, who has five. . . . F Duncan Pierce (3) gave Regina a 3-2 lead at 8:56 of the second period. . . . The Tigers scored the game’s next five goals, including one from F Logan Christensen (2), who was acquired Wednesday from the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Medicine Hat was 4-for-6 on the PP. . . . According to the online scoresheet, the Pats won 54 of the game’s 75 faceoffs. . . . F Cole Sillinger made his WHL debut for the Tigers. From Regina, he is the son of former NHL/WHL F Mike Sillinger. Cole was the 11th-overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He plays for the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians.


F Alex Morozoff scored in OT to give the host Red Deer Rebels a 4-3 victory over the Red DeerSaskatoon Blades. . . . The Rebels improved to 9-4-1. . . . The Blades (8-4-2) have lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . Morozoff won it with his second goal of the season, at 1:21 of extra time. . . . F Jeff de Wit (8) gave Red Deer a 3-1 lead at 11:01 of the second period. . . . The Blades tied it on third-period goals from D Brandon Schuldaus (2) and F Kirby Dach (8), the latter at 17:55. Schuldaus also had two assists. . . . F Brandon Hagel (12) had two goals for Red Deer. . . . The Rebels had a 48-26 edge in shots. . . . F Gary Haden, acquired Thursday by the Blades from the Medicine Hat Tigers, was pointless in his Saskatoon debut. . . . This was the third game between these teams this month, which each holding serve on home ice. They’ll complete the season series in Saskatoon on March 3. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ GM/head coach, was back behind the bench after missing two games while spending time with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks  on a road trip that included fathers. Sutter’s son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks.


F Zachary Cox broke a 6-6 tie at 13:26 of the third period as the visiting Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes beat the Calgary Hitmen, 7-6. . . . Lethbridge (7-4-3) has points in six straight (4-0-2). . . . Calgary (4-8-2) has lost two in a row. . . . The Hurricanes snapped a 2-2 tie with three goals in a span of 4:10 early in the second period. . . . The Hitmen tied it, 5-5, on F Mark Kastelic’s second goal of the game and 12th of the season at 6:29 of the third. . . . F Jadon Joseph (6) gave Lethbridge a 6-5 lead at 7:31, only to have Calgary F Kaden Elder (6) tie it at 10:29. . . . Cox won it with his third goal of the season. . . . D Igor Merezhko had three assists for the winners, with F Logan Barlage adding a goal, his seventh, and two assists. . . . Kastelic also had two assists for a four-point night, and Elder finished with two goals and an assist. . . . The Hitmen lost F Josh Prokop to a spearing major and game misconduct at 14:18 of the third period. . . .


The Edmonton Oil Kings built a 7-0 second-period lead and went on to a 7-2 victory over EdmontonOilKingsthe Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Oil Kings (7-7-1) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice slipped to 4-6-3. . . . Edmonton had beaten visiting Kootenay 6-3 on Sunday. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings took control on first-period goals from D Conner McDonald (4), F Scott Atkinson (4) and F Liam Keeler (2). . . . The visitors added four more in the second period and coasted from there. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 39 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . G Sebastian Cossa, who has yet to play this season due to an undisclosed injury, was on the bench backing up Myskiw. . . . The Ice had G Jesse Makaj back in the lineup after he was scratched for one game. He came on in relief of starter Duncan McGovern and stopped six of seven shots in 27:06.


D Nolan Reid had a goal and two assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory SpokaneChiefsover the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs (7-3-3) had lost their previous two games (0-1-1). . . . The Winterhawks (7-4-1) had won their previous two games. . . . Spokane G Bailey Brkin stopped 36 shots. . . . The Chiefs got out to a 3-0 lead, getting first-period goals from F Carter Chorney (4) and F Eli Zummack (6), shorthanded, and a second-period tally from F Adam Beckman (7), on a PP. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld (9) got Portland’s goal 42 seconds into the third period. . . . Reid (2) iced it at 14:29. . . . Spokane F Jaret Anderson-Dolan was pointless in his first game after being returned by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . G Dante Giannuzzi made his first WHL start for Portland by stopping 18 shots.


F Zane Franklin scored three times as the Kamloops Blazers erased an early 2-0 deficit Kamloops1and went on to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 7-2, in Kent, Wash. . . . The Blazers (4-6-1) have won two in a row after a seven-game losing skid (0-6-1). . . . Kamloops hadn’t scored seven or more goals in a game since Feb. 21, 2017 when they beat the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0. They last scored seven or more goals on the road on Dec. 17, 2016, in an 8-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Thunderbirds (6-3-2) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . Seattle got off to a 2-0 lead on PP goals 50 seconds apart in the first period. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who scored his first two goals of the season, got Kamloops on the board at 11:47 of the first period. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (3), playing his first game after serving a four-game suspension, tied it at 7:25 of the second. . . . Franklin then scored twice to give the Blazers a 4-2 lead heading to the third. He completed his second career hat trick with his 10th goal at 6:04 of the third. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary had two goals, giving him four, and two assists, for his first career four-pointer. A sophomore, Zary went into the game with a goal and three assists in eight games. . . . The Blazers now head for Portland and a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Winterhawks. Portland swept two games in Kamloops — 7-3 and 5-3 — on Oct. 3 and 5.


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