Rebels give Sutter victory No. 500. . . . Almeida gets NHL deal, then leads Warriors to win. . . . Blazers closing in on Rockets


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Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, is the newest member of the WHL’s 500 club.

Sutter recorded his 500th regular-season victory as a WHL head coach on Saturday night whlwhen the Rebels dumped the visiting Kootenay Ice, 8-4.

It was only fitting that Sutter should reach the milestone on Country and Western Night at the Centrium. From Viking, Alta., Sutter and his brothers are just as comfortable on the ranch as they are in the arena.

“I never thought about it until I came off and they told me to go back on the bench,” Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “I don’t know. Just been around a long time. It’s really that at the end of the day.”

Sutter, 56, went into this season with 468 regular-season coaching victories, and the Rebels now are (32-25-6). However, Sutter missed one victory this season while on a father-son junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks, although he is injured right now.

If you are wondering, that victory was credited to assistant coach Brad Flynn.

Sutter is in his 20th season as the Rebels’ owner and general manager,  and his 15th as head coach. He started in 1999-2000 and was there through 2006-07. He then had stints as head coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames. Sutter was back in Red Deer for the 2012-13 season, and he replaced head coach Jesse Wallin on Nov. 14, 2012.

Sutter is ninth on the WHL’s all-time list.

Sutter is the second WHL coach to reach 500 victories this season. Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, got there on Feb. 9 with a 6-5 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Habscheid, who now is at 508, celebrated by taking his club to a Dairy Queen in Lethbridge before heading home to Prince Albert.

Taking Note pointed that out to Sutter via text last night and asked how he planned to celebrate. His response was: “Haha . . . McDonald’s.”

In all likelihood, the next WHL head coach to get to 500 victories will be Shaun Clouston. He has 389 victories as he puts the wraps on his ninth regular-season as the Tigers’ head coach.

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Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit after Saturday’s games:

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 508

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 500

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 389

19. Mike Johnston (Portland) 354

20. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level contract NHLwith the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a fifth-round selection by Pittsburgh in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Almeida, who turned 20 on Feb. 6, is from Kitimat, B.C. . . . He has 100 points, including a WHL-leading 70 assists, in 60 games. . . . In 252 career regular-season games, he has 232 points, including 146 assists. . . . The Prince George Cougars selected Almeida with the fifth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. They traded him to Moose Jaw on Jan. 5, 2017, in a deal that had F Nikita Popugaev go to the Cougars. The Warriors also got F Yan Khomenko and two bantam draft picks — a second-rounder in 2018 and a fifth in 2017.


The Seattle Thunderbirds were without freshman F Andrej Kukuca on Saturday night as they entertained the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Kukuca, a 19-year-old Slovakian freshman, returned to his home country in order to write an exam. He has 54 points, including 25 goals, in 57 games this season. . . . I don’t remember this kind of thing happening in previous seasons, but the Kootenay Ice is without D Martin Bodak and the Vancouver Giants are without F Milos Roman for the same reason.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida, who signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the MooseJawWarriorsday, scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has won two in a row. The Warriors will finish third in the East Division and open a first-round series against the Blades in Saskatoon on March 22. . . . Regina (18-44-3) has lost six straight. . . . Moose Jaw won the season series with Regina, 7-1-0. . . . Almeida got the Warriors started, on a PP, at 3:25 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey made it 2-0 at 11:51. . . . Moose Jaw went ahead 3-0 at 11:46 of the second period on a goal from F Daniil Stepanov, who had gone 18 games without a point. . . . Tracey (35) made it 4-0 at 1:27 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Wright (7) got Regina’s goal at 9:40. . . . Almeida’s 30th goal, into an empty net at 17:17, gave him 100 points this season, the third WHLer to get there. . . . F Luke Ormsby (8) got the Warriors’ final goal at 17:52. . . . D Jett Woo had three assists for the Warriors, while Tracey added an assist for a three-point game. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-6 on the PP; Regina was 0-2.


The Saskatoon Blades broke open a scoreless game with three second-period goals and Saskatoonwent on to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (43-14-8) has won five straight games. It will finish second in the East Division and meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round. Games 1 and 2 are to be played in Saskatoon on March 22 and 23. . . . Swift Current (10-48-6) has lost 17 in a row (0-14-3). The Broncos completed a seven-game road trip at 0-6-1 and were outscored 48-10 in the process. . . . Saskatoon took the season series, 7-0-1; Swift Current was 1-7-0. . . . Saskatoon got started when F Tristen Robins (9) scored, on a PP, at 6:43 of the second period. . . . F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (13), at 7:34, and F Ryan Hughes, at 19:15, made it 3-0. . . . Hughes made it 4-0 with his 29th goal just seven seconds into the third period. . . . D Dawson Davidson (12) made it 5-0 at 6:59. . . . The Broncos, without a goal in nine straight periods, finally scored at 12:41 when F Matthew Culling got his 11th. That ended the Broncos’ goal drought at 209 minutes. . . . F Kirby Dach (25) got Saskatoon’s last goal at 17:40. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Eric Florchuk. . . . G Dorrin Luding earned the victory with 16 saves. . . . Broncos D Matthew Stanley totalled 32 penalty minutes — one minor, two misconducts and a game misconduct — as he twice tried to instigate a fight. . . . Things don’t get any easier for the Broncos, who are to entertain the Prince Albert Raiders this afternoon. The Broncos played twice in Prince Albert this week, losing 6-0 and 8-0.


F Taylor Ross scored his club’s first three goals and added an assist to lead the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge (38-17-10) has won six in a row. It now sits atop the Central Division standings, two points ahead of the idle Edmonton Oil Kings. Lethbridge has two games remaining; Edmonton has four left. . . . Calgary (36-24-6) has lost two in a row. It appears headed to a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . F Sean Tschigerl gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead with his first career WHL goal at 11:12 of the first period. . . . Ross then struck for his second career hat trick, getting goals at 14:23 and 19:49 of the first period, and 1:16 of the second. He’s now got 35 goals. . . . The Hurricanes went ahead 5-1 on goals from F Jackson Shepard (5), at 7:18, and F Jake Elmer (38), at 11:08. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (3) scored for the Hitmen, shorthanded, at 9:33 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive, who has 32 goals, struck twice for Lethbridge, at 11:57 and 13:29, before F James Malm (34) and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (7) scored PP goals for Calgary. . . . Bellerive finished with five points, as he also had three assists. . . . Elmer ran his point streak to 16 games with a goal and an assist, while Lethbridge F Dylan Cozens had three assists and is on a 14-game point streak.


F Brandon Hagel scored once and added three assists in leading the host Red Deer Rebels Red Deerto an 8-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Red Deer (33-25-6) has won two in a row. It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who have three games remaining. . . . Kootenay (12-43-10) has lost four in a row. . . . With one game remaining, Red Deer is 5-0-0 in the season series; Kootenay is 0-3-2. . . The Rebels jumped out to an early 3-0 first-period lead on a goal from F Cam Hausinger (19) and two from F Reese Johnson, who has 24. Johnson’s first goal was shorthanded; the second one came via the PP. He also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Kootenay F Nolan Orzeck (3) made it 3-1 at 13:24. . . . The Rebels went up 5-1 on second-period goals from D Chad Leslie (1), at 2:14, and F Jeff de Wit (25), at 4:55. . . . F Jaeger White (27), at 7:18, and F Connor McClennon (13), at 10:16, on a PP, got the Ice to within two goals. . . . F Zak Smith (12) restored Red Deer’s three-goal lead at 14:42, only to have F Jakin Smallwood (13) get one back for the Ice, on a PP, at 15:33. . . . Hagel got his 40th goal, on a PP, at 19:34, and F Josh Tarzwell (10) closed out the scoring at 17:43 of the third period. . . . McLennon added two assists to his goal. . . . Red Deer was 2-4 on the PP; Kootenay was 2-5. . . . The Rebels were without D Alex Alexeyev, who appeared to suffer a knee injury in the third period of Friday’s 5-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Red Deer lost F Alex Morozoff to a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:55 of the second period. . . . Brent Sutter, Red Deer’s owner, general manager and head coach, earned his 500th regular-season WHL coaching victory with this one.


F Ryan Jevne’s two goals and an assist helped the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-2 Tigers Logo Officialvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (33-26-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points up on the Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon (30-27-8) has lost three straight. It is four points from a playoff spot with three games left to play. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . Brandon went 1-4-1 on a six-game Central Division swing. . . . Jevne gave his guys a 1-0 lead with a PP goal at 16:16 of the first period, only to have Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (43) tie it 28 seconds later. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (24) gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 7:53 of the second period, and Jevne’s 30th goal, shorthanded, made it 3-1 at 12:53. . . . The Wheat Kings got back to within a goal at 13:22 when D Chad Nychuk (3) scored on a PP, his second goal in two games. . . . Medicine Hat got insurance from F Hayden Ostir (11) at 13:33 of the third period. . . . The Tigers were 1-7 on the PP; Brandon was 1-2. . . . Medicine Hat got 28 saves from G Mads Søgaard. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera made 30 stops. . . . F Cole Sillinger, who has played three road games with the Tigers, played his first WHL game in Medicine Hat. The son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger, Cole had two assists in those first three games.


F Jermaine Loewen broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the Kamloops Blazers a 2-1 Kamloops1victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Kamloops (25-32-7) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (27-31-7) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Blazers. Kelowna has three games remaining — at home to Spokane, then a home-and-home with Vancouver. Kamloops has four to play — at home to Spokane, Victoria and Prince George, and one in Prince George. . . . On Friday, the Blazers beat the visiting Rockets, 2-1, in a shootout. . . . Kamloops went 6-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna wound up 4-4-2. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (11) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 6:00 of the second period. . . . Kelowna got even at 13:04 when F Kyle Topping (22) scored. . . . Loewen won it with his 25th goal, at 9:01 of the third period. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi took the game’s only penalty, a roughing minor at 8:25 of the first period. . . . The Blazers got 27 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Blazers remain without G Dylan Ferguson, so have Rayce Ramsay on the bench. He plays for the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, who are to begin their playoff run on Friday night. . . . G Roman Basran blocked 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . The Rockets were without D Lassi Thomson, who left Friday’s game after taking a hit from Loewen. . . . Kelowna F Mark Liwiski sat out the second of a three-game suspension.


The Prince George Cougars ended a 13-game home-ice losing skid with a 5-2 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Portland Winterhawks. . . . Prince George (18-40-8) had lost its past six games (0-5-1). . . . Portland (39-20-6) had beaten the Cougars, 3-2, on Friday night. Portland is second in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. Portland and Spokane will meet in the first round, but home-ice advantage has yet to be decided. . . . The Cougars hadn’t won at home since beating the Kelowna Rockets, 4-0, on Jan. 12. . . . Portland won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . D Clay Hanus (7) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 victory at 3:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got the game’s next four goals, from D Austin Crossley (3), at 8:31 of the second period; F Vladislav Mikalchuk (22), on a PP, at 5:20 of the third; F Connor Bowie (3), at 12:25; and F Josh Maser, on a PP, at 14:32. . . . F Cross Hanas (8) scored for Portland at 15:48, before Maser got his 30th, into an empty net, at 18:58. . . . Prince George was 2-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-4. . . . The Cougars had a season-high 49 shots on goal. . . . Prince George got 37 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . The Winterhawks again were without F Cody Glass, F Seth Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig, all of whom are injured.


F Nolan Volcan scored twice and G Roddy Ross blocked 46 shots to help the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (28-28-8) has points in seven straight games (5-0-2). . . . Everett (46-15-4) had points in its previous eight games (7-0-1) and had won five in a row. . . . Everett finished the season series, 7-2-1; Seattle was 3-5-2. . . . Volcan gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:34 of the second period. . . . F Robbie Holmes (12) got Everett into a 1-1 tie at 14:37. . . . Volcan broke the tie with his 23rd goal, at 17:39 of the third period. . . . D Simon Kubicek drew an assist on each of Volcan’s goals. . . . Ross was stellar as his guys were outshot 47-20, including 16-3 in the first period. . . . Seattle was 1-1 on the PP; Everett was 0-3. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 18 shots. . . . Seattle D Jarret Tyszka left in the second period after being struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Everett F Bryce Kindopp. . . . F Max Patterson was among Everett’s scratches with an undisclosed injury.


F Adam Beckman scored twice and added two assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a SpokaneChiefs6-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (37-20-7) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Divsion, but now is three points points behind the Portland Winterhawks. Spokane has four games remaining, while Portland has three. . . . Victoria (33-28-4) has lost three straight. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Spokane won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . First-period goals by F Ethan McIndoe (14), at 1:59, and Beckman, at 7:23, got the Chiefs started. . . . Victoria cut into the lead at 7:06 of the second period when F Brandon Cutler (12) scored. . . . The Chiefs closed it out with goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (17), Beckman (29), on a PP, D Filip Kral (9), who also had two assists, and D Ty Smith (7). . . . Beckman, a 17-year-old freshman from Saskatoon, has 56 points, including 29 goals, in 64 games. . . . Anderson-Dolan now has goals in seven straight games. . . . The Chiefs got 21 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Victoria F Kaid Oliver is awaiting shoulder surgery and won’t play again this season. Oliver, who last played on Feb. 23, leads the Royals in goals (27) and points (49). . . . The Royals also are without D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, F Tyus Gent, F Sean Gulka and D Jake Kustra, all of whom are injured.


D Bowen Byram set a WHL record with another OT goal as the Vancouver Giants beat the VancouverTri-City Americans, 4-3, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Vancouver (46-15-4) now is tied with the Everett Silvertips atop the Western Conference. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Tri-City (34-26-5) is going to finish in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver went 4-0-0 in the season series; Tri-City was 0-2-2. . . . Byram scored his sixth OT goal of the season at 2:28 of extra time. That is one more OT goal than F Deven Sideroff scored with the 2016-17 Kamloops Blazers and F Eric Fehr had with the 2004-05 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Giants led this one 3-0 late in the second period. They got goals from F Tristen Nielsen (14), at 4:59 of the first period; F Davis Koch (28), at 18:32; and F Justin Sourdif (21), at 6:22 of the second. . . . The Americans roared back, getting two goals from F Parker AuCoin (40), at 16:39 of the second and 7:00 of the third, and F Krystof Hrabik (19), at 18:11 of the third period. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck stopped 30 shots, eight fewer than Tri-City’s Beck Warm.


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Questions and food for thought . . . Vandervlis prepping for return . . . Fans gone missing . . . Leason, Fix-Wolansky penning great stories


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F Jeremy Williams (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). An alternate captain, he has 14 goals and 15 assists in 30 games. He leads the Tigers in goals, assists and points, and is fifth in the league’s scoring race.


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On the 10th day of our annual Christmas countdown, if you click right here you’ll find GENTRI — The Gentlemen Trio — with a neat version of Little Drummer Boy.


F Ryan Vandervlis, 20, who played 162 games over the past four seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is joining the junior B Red Deer Vipers. . . . The Vipers, who play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, announced the move via Twitter on Friday. . . . Vandervlis hasn’t played since suffering severe burns to 60 per cent of his body during a campfire incident in June. . . . Sean McIntosh of the Red Deer Advocate has more right here.


D James Miller of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees has committed to the Northern Michigan Wildcats for next season. Miller, 20, was a sixth-round pick by the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . Miller, from Spruce Grove, Alta., actually played two games with the U of New Hampshire Wildcats in 2017-18 before returning to Penticton. . . . He went into Friday’s action with 15 goals and 29 assists in 36 games with the Vees. Miller’s 44 points led all BCHL defencemen. . . . According to a news release from the Vees, Miller is the 18th player on their roster “with an NCAA Division 1 scholarship.”


A few WHL-related thoughts during the Christmas break . . .

Just the other day, I noticed this headline — Raiders win fight-fest in Swift Current — at paherald.sk.ca. The story was dated Dec. 14. I looked it up. There appear to have been five fights. Yes, the WHL has moved far away from the days when a fight-fest wasn’t a fight-fest unless the benches cleared and there was at least a 30-minute delay.

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Where have the hockey fans of Medicine Hat gone? Remember when the 4,006-seat Medicine Arena was sold out for every regular-season game? Now the Tigers play in the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre and the average announced attendance is 3,011 through 16 home games. What changed?

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On the same subject, the Saskatoon Blades appear to have turned the corner — finally! — and are a solid second in not only the East Division but the Eastern Conference. Their average announced attendance (AAA) is 3,658 through 15 games, which has them 14th in the 22-team league. Last season, the Blades finished with an AAA of 3,851 for 36 home dates.

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Will the Kelowna Rockets add an assistant coach over the holidays — to replace the departed Travis Crickard — and will it be former Rockets defenceman/captain Josh Gorges?

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Speaking of Crickard . . . was that him watching the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers practise one day this week?

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Really, there has been no better story in the WHL this half-season than the one written PrinceAlbertby F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders. He went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. This season, in 31 games, he has 28 goals and 36 assists. Here’s hoping that a hand injury suffered while in camp with Canada’s national junior team last week in Victoria doesn’t slow him down, although it has kept him out of the pre-tournament games to date.

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There also is a great story in Edmonton where Oil Kings F Trey Fix-Wolansky has 64 EdmontonOilKingspoints, including a WHL-leading 43 assists, in 34 games. The Edmonton native is lighting it up at home and not a lot of players get to do that. The story, though, is that the 5-foot-7 Fix-Wolansky has had to fight the height-challenged battle his entire career. He should have been in the selection camp of Canada’s national junior team, but his invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. He’s now going to spend the second half of the season continuing to prove himself to the doubters.

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Greg Meachem is a former sports editor of the Red Deer Advocate, who now works for the Rebels and writes at reddeerrebels.com. . . . He’s worth reading, especially for the honesty in the quotes from Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Rebels. Sutter never pulls any punches in his post-game comments.

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Is anyone else waiting for the Portland Winterhawks to run off about 10 victories in a row at some point after the break? Or is the competition in the U.S. Division simply to stiff for that to happen?

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Worth watching after the break . . .

In the East Division: The WHL record for fewest losses in one season belongs to the Brandon Wheat Kings, who lost five times in a 72-game season in 1978-79. The Wheat Kings finished 58-5-9 that season, one in which they settled for ties in lieu of OT. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders are halfway through their schedule with a 31-2-1 record, so depending upon your point of view they have lost either two or three games. . . . Of course, the Raiders are playing a 68-game schedule, so perhaps it’s time to open a new section in the record book.

In the Central Division: The Red Deer Rebels, having played 32 games, Lethbridge Hurricanes (33) and Edmonton Oil Kings (36) are tied for first place, each with 42 points. . . . Each of the three added major pieces prior to the break. Will one, two or three of them go shopping again before the Jan. 10 trade deadline?

In the B.C. Division: There are 12 division in the CHL’s three leagues and the B.C. Division has the 11th-poorest points percentage (.512), with a lot of that due to the of that due to the Vancouver Giants (22-8-2, .719). . . . The Kamloops Blazers hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds and two ahead of the Prince George Cougars. If the second half unfolds much like the first half, two of those teams will miss the playoffs; the other will meet the Everett Silvertips in the first round.

In the U.S. Division: The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs are tied for second in the U.S. Division, each with records of 19-11-4. Everett is 14 points ahead; Tri-City is six points back. . . . How important is home-ice advantage in the playoffs to the Winterhawks and Chiefs? Portland is 2-1-0 in the season series, with three games remaining.

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How upset are you if you’re a follower of the Kootenay Ice who bought a season-ticket during the team’s Drive to 25 off-season promotion, only to watch so many veteran players quit or be traded amid signs your once-favourite club will move to Winnipeg at season’s end? . . . The Ice already has dressed 38 players this season. It has an 8-22-6 record, meaning it has won eight of 36 games, and is 14 points away from a playoff spot.

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Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, sounded most uncomfortable in responding to a DelisleChiefsquestion about the Kootenay Ice from Dean Millard of the TSN radio in Edmonton on Thursday night. Robison said there will be an announcement involving the Ice “very soon,” but wasn’t any more specific than that, nor did he shed any light on the situation. . . . I can’t imagine what might be in that announcement, but when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season, the WHL didn’t confirm the much-rumoured move until almost three weeks after their season had ended.

Perhaps fans of the Ice can gain some solace from what Robison told Chilliwack fans after the Bruins left town: “We believe that under the right conditions Chilliwack can be a viable WHL market. We intend to give full consideration to returning should relocation occur in the future.”

One other thing about the Bruins’ move . . . While the WHL didn’t make an official announcement until April 20, 2011, it turned out that the Bruins’ owners and the WHL had agreed to sell the Chilliwack franchise on Jan. 13, 2011.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


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Tory, Stasiuk together, again . . . Blazers add assistant coach . . . Rebels sign Russian forward


MacBeth

F Layne Ulmer (Swift Current, 1997-2001) signed a one-year extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had 18 goals and 35 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Joel Broda (Tri-City, Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2004-10) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. . . . Rick Nasheim (Spokane Flyers 1980-81, Regina, 1982-83) is the assistant coach for Dornbirn. . . . For the curious ones out there, the Spokane Flyers began WHL life as the original Flin Flon Bombers, a charter member of the league in 1966. The franchise transferred to Edmonton for the 1978-79 season as the second version of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The franchise lasted one season in Edmonton, then was sold and moved to Great Falls MT, as the Great Falls Americans. The Americans ceased operations in December 1979 after 28 games. The franchise was re-activated as the Spokane Flyers for the 1980-81 season. The Flyers lasted one season plus a bit, folding 26 games into their second season in December 1981. . . .

F Brodie Dupont (Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL), he had 21 goals and 47 assists in 68 games. The team captain, he led the Admirals in assists and points. He was pointless in one game while on loan to the Stockton Heat (AHL).


ThisThat

The Tri-City Americans have hired Roy Stasiuk as their head scout, filling the spot in tri-citytheir front office that was created when Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM, left to join the Vancouver Giants as general manager. . . . Stasiuk, 55, is quite familiar with the WHL, having worked with the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton/Kootenay Ice. . . . He spent 10 seasons (1995-2005) as the Ice’s head scout. While with the Ice, Stasiuk worked with Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager. . . . Stasiuk also worked as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ general manager for four seasons (2005-09) and scouted for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-15).


Dan Kordic, an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past two seasons, has signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as an assistant coach. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Golden Bears’ head coach for the past three seasons, joined the Blazers as their new head coach on June 25. . . . Kordic, 47, played four seasons (1987-91) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and won a Memorial Cup with them in 1988. He went on to a pro career that included 197 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans remain the only WHL teams without head coaches. Steve Hamilton, who was fired as head coach by the Edmonton Oil Kings on May 28, is believed to be in the mix in Calgary.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Russian F Oleg Zaitsev, 17, who was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . “He’s an elite level player, a stud,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ Red Deerowner, GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Right now he’s the best Russian centre iceman in his age group. We’re very excited about adding him to our team. He’s signed a contract. He’s all in.” . . . Meachem reports that the Rebels likely will go with Russian D Alex Alexeyev, the Washington Capitals first-round pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft, and Zaitsev as their two imports. However, F Ivan Drozdov of Belarus, the Rebels’ other 2018 import draft pick, isn’t yet out of the picture.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals dropped F Jeff de Wit, 20, from their protected list and the Rebels have added him to their list. De Wit, who is from Red Deer, was a first-round selection by the Rebels in the 2013 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria.

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Chris Beaudry, an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos last season, now is on the coaching staff of the Melville Millionaires. Beaudry wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus when it crashed on April 6. He was driving to that night’s playoff game in Nipawin and was about 20 minutes away when the accident occurred. . . . In Melville, Beaudry fills a vacancy created when Mark Chase left to join the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as general manager and head coach.


Raelene and Russell Herold, and the estate of their son, Adam, who was killed in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, have filed a statement of claim in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount in damages, expenses, costs and interest, and names the driver of the big rig that was involved, along with the trucking company and the bus manufacturer. . . . Heather Polischuk of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.


“At first,” writes Mike Aiken of drydennow.com, “it seems like he’s living the life of Riley. Joe Murphy works as a labourer, when he needs money, and he sleeps in a tent in a farmer’s field, when he needs shelter.

“During a short chat, he’ll talk about settling down a bit in an apartment. He says he now calls Kenora his home by the water, but finding affordable housing is next to impossible, not just because of the market.”

This would be the same Joe Murphy who was an NHL first-round draft pick and who played in the league for 15 seasons. Yes, his story now is about concussions.

Aiken’s complete story is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times has written a terrific essay that is headlined: Why the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. Are So Far Apart on Social Justice Stances. . . . This is a great look at the NFL and how it has reacted to its players social protests, and the NBA and how it backs its players and promotes its stars. . . . Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this piece right here.


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