Remembering Hick Abbott, a real Canadian hero, on Remembrance Day . . .

Some Remembrance Day reading . . .

Every year, I post a story that I wrote about Lyman (Hick) Abbott, who was a real Canadian hero. . . . This year is no exception. . . . So right here for your reading enjoyment, if you haven’t already seen it, is his story . . .


There’s more to the Hick Abbott story, too. He has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, and perhaps you will enjoy this story right here, too.

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Ex-Raiders captain succeeds Coach Q in Chicago . . . Kootenay suspends veteran defenceman . . . Russians earn split with WHL


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Last season, there wasn’t even one mid-season coaching change in the NHL. On Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Joel Quenneville, giving the league its second PrinceAlbertfiring in 48 hours days.

The Los Angeles Kings relieved John Stevens of his duties on Sunday, and promptly named Willie Desjardins as the interim head coach.

In Chicago, Jeremy Colliton was named the head coach of the Blackhawks.

Colliton, 33, is from Blackie, Alta. He played four seasons (2001-05) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain for the last two.

Colliton has been coaching since Jan. 15, 2014, when he was named the interim head coach with Mora IK in the Allsvenskan in Sweden. He spent three full seasons (204-17) as Mora IK’s head coach, before moving on to the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. He was in his second season as the IceHogs’ head coach when the Blackhawks promoted him to Chicago on Tuesday.

Glenn Hicks of panow.com spoke with former Raiders F Mark Odnokon about Colliton’s days in Prince Albert and that’s all right here.


The Kootenay Ice apparently has suspended veteran D Sam Huston.

Huston, a 19-year-old from Brandon, hasn’t played for the Ice since taking part in a 7-2 Kootenaynewloss to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Oct, 26. The WHL’s roster report of Oct. 30 showed him as having been deleted from Kootenay’s roster with no mention of having been placed on a suspended list.

The WHL roster report that was issued yesterday doesn’t contain any mention of Huston or F Brendan Semchuk, 19, who no longer is with the Ice.

According to Bradley Jones of Cranbrook radio station Summit 107FM, the Ice issued a statement saying that Huston’s “current status is suspended.”

Jones added: “It appears that Huston’s suspension from the team is indefinite as there were no further details provided about the current situation . . .”

The Ice didn’t provide any details as to why Huston was suspended.

A ninth-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft, he played 119 games with the Ice, and had four goals and 13 assists. This season, he had one goal in 12 games.

Semchuk, meanwhile, has left the team to “pursue his educational goals,” according to the Ice. He last played on Oct. 28 in an 8-5 home-ice loss to the Red Deer Rebels. Semchuk is shown as having played in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Broncos in Swift Current on Oct. 30, but, in fact, he was scratched.

Semchuk, from Kamloops, was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sept. 27 for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Semchuk, 19, had two goals and three assists in 15 games with Kootenay. The Vancouver Giants selected him 10th overall in the 2014 bantam draft. In 159 career regular-season games, he recorded 23 goals and 30 assists.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


The Everett Silvertips have added D Dylan Anderson, 16, to their roster. Anderson, from Langley, B.C., plays for the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., where he has 12 points, including two goals, in 12 games. . . . He was pointless in one game with Everett last season. . . . Anderson was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . The Silvertips are scheduled to play Friday against the Blazers in Kamloops.


Paul Elliott, a former WHL defenceman, has signed on as an assistant coach with the USA-Central Hockey League’s Laredo, Texas, Bucks. Elliott will work alongside Jarred Mohr, the team’s new head coach. Mohr has taken over from Wayne Smith, who left for what the team says is personal reasons after just one game, that on Oct. 26. . . . Elliott, 38, is from Surrey B.C. He played five seasons in the WHL (1996-2001), spending time with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers, Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats. . . . He played five seasons with the Bucks of the now-defunct Central Hockey League. . . . The USA-CHL is a four-team junior league in its first season of operation.


F Stepan Starkov broke a 1-1 tie with a late PP goal as Team Russia beat Team WHL, 3-1, canadarussia2017in Langley, B.C. . . . The WHL had won the opener of the CIBC Canada Russia Series, 2-1, in Kamloops on Monday night. . . . Starkov’s first goal of the series came at 18:18 of the third period with WHL F Nolan Foote serving a high-sticking minor. The WHL had failed to score on a PP opportunity just four minutes earlier. . . . Russia was 1-3 on the PP; the WHL lads were 0-3. . . . The WHL took a 1-0 lead on a goal from D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs at 5:10 of the first period. . . . F Bulat Shafigullin tied it at 19:07 of the first. . . . The Russians put it away at 19:10 of the third period as F Ivan Muranov got the empty-netter. . . . The Russian side got 33 saves from G Pyotr Kochetkov, who had backed up Daniil Tarasov on Monday. . . . G David Tendeck of the Vancouver Giants stopped 25 shots in a solid night’s work. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk was added to Team WHL’s roster yesterday, replacing F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors who was injured in Monday’s game. Almeida suffered an apparent shoulder injury and left the game early in the first period. . . . The series is scheduled to continue on Thursday in Sarnia, Ont., with the Russians playing Team OHL. Game 4 is to be played on Monday in Oshawa. . . . The games featuring Team QMJHL are scheduled for Sherbrooke on Nov. 13 and Drummondville on Nov. 15.


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Kelly, Brent Kisio got there first . . . Luebke wins spot at city hall . . . Wolf, ‘Tips don’t show Blades any love


MacBeth

D Cam Barker (Medicine Hat, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). The contract has a tryout period through Nov. 30. Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 37 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), and one goal and one assist in three games with Langnau (Switzerland, NL A).


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There wasn’t a clatter on the roof, but it was 6 o’clock Wednesday morning and I was wide awake.

Kelly and Brent Kisio.

Of course.

Just a few hours earlier, I had written a few paragraphs about Danny and Brad Flynn whlhaving become the first father-son combination to serve as head coaches in a WHL regular-season game.

Danny, a veteran major junior coach, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. He ran the bench for one game — a 5-3 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 19 — in the absence of Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach.

Danny’s son, Brad, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels. With GM/head coach Brent Sutter away, Brad was the Rebels’ coach-of-record on Tuesday in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen and again Wednesday for ???? in Medicine Hat.

Apologies to Kelly and Brent Kisio. Talk about a brain cramp on my part!

Kelly, 59, spent 18 seasons in the front office of the Calgary Hitmen. For four of those seasons (2004-08), he was the general manager and head coach. These days, he is in his third season as a pro scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Brent, 35, spent eight seasons (2007-15) as an assistant coach with the Hitmen. He now is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.


The Victoria Royals have added F Sean Gulka, 18, to their roster. Gulka, from Langley, B.C., was selected in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft, then was traded to the Spokane Chiefs in November. In eight games over two seasons, he had two assists with the Chiefs. . . . Spokane chose to drop him, so his rights reverted to the Royals. . . . The Royals now are carrying 24 players, including 15 forwards and seven defencemen. They conclude a six-game homestand on Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings.


Bruce Luebke, a former radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings, has turned to politics. Luebke was elected to Brandon’s city council during municipal elections in Manitoba on Wednesday. . . . Luebke had been the play-by-play voice for Wheat Kings’ games on radio station CKLQ for more than 20 years when he and the station surprised observers by parting company in July 2016. . . . Luebke was one of 10 people elected to Brandon’s city council. In the South Centre Ward, he got 348 (71 per cent) of the 492 votes cast to win in a two-man field.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to seven games with a 4-2 victory PrinceAlbertover the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . The Raiders (14-1-0) lead the overall standings by six points over the Vancouver Giants and 11 over the Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Warriors slipped to 5-4-2. . . . D Kaiden Guhle’s first WHL goal, on a PP, at 7:56 of the second period gave Prince Albert a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner. Guhle was the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Carson Miller (6) scored two first-period goals as the Raiders got off to a 2-0 lead. He later added an assist. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 14th goal, a shorthanded empty-netter, and added an assist. He also leads the WHL in assists (18) and points (32). He holds an eight-point lead over F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (2) scored for the Warriors in his first game since being acquired from the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday. His twin brother, Kaeden, who came along in the same trade, had the secondary assist on the goal. . . . Prince Albert lost F Noah Gregor to a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on D Jett Wood at 16:44 of the third period. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. He now is 12-1-0, 1.54, .945.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 23 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the EverettBlades in Saskatoon. . . . Everett (8-5-0) is 2-2-0 on its East Division trip. . . . The Blades (8-4-1) had been 1-0-1 in their previous two games. . . . That was Wolf’s first shutout of his sophomore season and the fifth of his career. . . . F Akash Bains (2) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 13:31 of the first period. . . . Everett held a 31-23 edge in shots, including 10-4 in the third period. . . . The Silvertips remain without F Connor Dewar, who is serving a four-game suspension. . . . This was the first meeting between Everett and Saskatoon since the Blades signed Mitch Love as their head coach during the off-season. Love spent two seasons as a hard-rock defenceman with Silvertips, then was on staff as an assistant coach for seven seasons.


F Peyton Krebs scored on a breakaway in OT as the Kootenay Ice got past the Brandon KootenaynewWheat Kings, 4-3, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (4-5-3) had lots its previous six games (0-3-3). Four of the Ice’s last six games have gone to extra time; Kootenay is 1-2-1 in those four games. . . . The Wheat Kings (6-2-4) have lost three in a row (0-1-2). They are 0-1-1 on a two-week trek that continues Saturday against the Royals in Victoria. Brandon next plays at home on Nov. 9. . . . F Jaeger White (8) scored two goals and drew the lone assist on Krebs’ game-winner at 2:09 of OT. Krebs also had two assists. . . . Brandon D Zach Wytinck (1) had given Brandon a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal at 3:56 of the third period. . . . Kootenay tied it when D Jonathan Smart (1) scored a PP goal at 4:28. . . . With G Jesse Makaj scratched — he wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday’s roster report — the Ice brought in Will Gurski, who turned 16 on Tuesday, as the backup behind Duncan McGovern. From Duncan, B.C., Gurski was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is playing for the prep team at Shawnigan Lake School. . . . As for the above tweet, from Branden Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, a source with knowledge of the situation told Taking Note that the goal judge “had to attend to an urgent family matter. There was a fire at his home.” Thankfully, no one was injured.


G Martin Søgaard blocked 30 shots to lead the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigers Logo Officialover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Tigers now are 7-6-1. . . . The Rebels (8-4-1) had won their previous three games. . . . Søgaard, a freshman from Denmark who turns 18 on Dec. 13, now is 4-0-1, 2.04, .936. . . . The Tigers scored the game’s first three goals to lead 3-0 before the second period was a minute old. . . . D Cole Clayton (1) got the first one at 8:00 of the opening period. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (6), F James Hamblin (7) and F Bryan Lockner (4) added PP goals for the winners. . . . Hamblin also drew two assists. . . . With GM/head coach Brent Sutter away for a second straight game, assistant coach Brad Flynn was the head coach of record. His record now is 1-1-0, after a 3-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday night.


The Tri-City Americans scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the host Prince tri-cityGeorge Cougars, 4-3. . . . The Americans (8-4-0) have won four in a row. They won the opener of the doubleheader, 5-1, on Tuesday. Tri-City is 3-0-0 on an 11-game road trip. . . . The Cougars (5-6-2) have lost two in a row. . . . D Rhett Rhinehart (1) gave the home side a 3-1 lead, on a PP, at 10:35 of the second period. . . . The Americans tied it on third-period goals from D Parker AuCoin (8), on a PP, and F Krystof Hrabik (3), the latter at 8:32. . . . F Nolan Yaremko, who scored his ninth goal earlier, and F Isaac Johnson, who had two assists, had the shootout goals for the visitors. . . . Tri-City lost F Blake Stevenson to a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jackson Leppard at 14:35 of the first period.


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Scattershooting while wondering what happened to the Astros . . . Sports Curmudgeon is unique . . . President Pateman answers questions

Scattershooting

After the New York Giants were drubbed by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles last weekend to fall to 1-5, the New York Post headline: From Bad To Hearse.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a most valid point:

“Pardon me, but I need to vent here.  We are only about a third of the way through the football season and I have reached my limit on something that TV announcers say far too often.  There is no such thing as a ‘very unique’ offense or defense; in fact, nothing in the universe is ‘very unique.’ Everything and anything are either ‘unique,’ or they are ‘not unique.’ There are no gradations there.”

He finishes up with this:

“Memo to TV announcers —  Please replace ‘very unique’ in your vocabulary with something that makes sense such as ‘highly unusual’ or ‘very different.’ ”

——

Also . . . please look up the definition of “howitzer” before using it to describe a slapshot from the blue line or a high fastball. . . . Oh, and hockey players don’t play “years.” They play seasons. There is a difference.



So . . . what happens to the WHL’s divisional alignment should the Kootenay Ice be the Winnipeg Ice before another season arrives? Obviously, the Ice would have to play in the East Division. That being the case, one would think that the Swift Current Broncos would then shift into the Central Division. That would keep six teams in each of the divisions.


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Headline at TheOnion.com: Manny Machado Denies Playing Dirty After Late Slide into Pitcher’s Mound

——

Headline at Fark.com: Manny Machado called up to the bush leagues.


Yes, MLB has a pace-of-play problem. If you don’t believe it, consider this note that Taking Note received from a Victoria-based reader late Wednesday:

“If anyone wonders why baseball’s TV ratings have declined, here’s what I was able to do tonight:

Watch the first hour of the Red Sox—Astros.

Drive downtown, watch a hockey game, drive home.

Watch the last half hour of the baseball game.

Four hours 40 minutes for nine innings is inexcusable.”

He’s right!

——

Col2


Lee Merkel, a fan of the Buffalo Bills, died recently at the age of 83. His obit in the Utica, N.C., Observer Dispatch included: “Lee has requested six Bufffalo Bills players as pallbearers so they can let him down one last time.”


Gerry James, a former head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, played for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a tremendous athlete, whose nickname was Kid Dynamite. His son is having some health issues and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the James family with travel-related costs. . . . You will find that page right here.


Just wondering: Is the United States of America the first country in the world to be governed via Twitter?


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he was pointless in one game with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract by Sport on Sept. 26.


ThisThat

John Pateman, one of the Prince George Cougars’ six co-owners, is the franchise’s president and has been for almost a year now. He recently sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat, the analyst on home game broadcasts, and talked all things Cougars for last week’s Cat Scan podcast. . . . If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to own a WHL team, give this a listen. . . . At one point, Pateman offered: “When we got into this, we would hope to not lose money. We managed to lose quite a bit and we’ll lose quite a bit this year. Until we can have a bit of a playoff run, I think we will continue to lose money. . . . we would obviously like to break even but I think we have to hit the second round of the playoffs to do that.” . . . Asked by Miller if the six owners are in it for the long run, Pateman chuckled and replied: “I don’t think we have a choice . . . we’re in. It is what it is.” . . . The podcast runs almost 36 minutes and it’s all right here.


You may recall the schmozzle that arose in January after the final game of the World Junior Championship when three Swedish coaches — Tomas Monten, Nizze Landen and Henrik Stridh — removed their silver medals immediately after receiving them and chose not to wear them for the rest of the post-game ceremony. Shortly thereafter, Monten was hit with a three-game suspension, with Landen and Stridh drawing two-game bans. Those suspensions were to have been served at the beginning of the 2019 event. However, they appealed and won as the Court of Arbitration for Sport tossed out the suspensions. . . . At the same time, the suspensions to the five players who removed their medals are still in place. . . . There is more on this story right here.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Jackson Leppard snapped a 1-1 tie at 2:40 of the third period and the Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars went on to beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-1. . . . The Cougars (5-5-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Broncos (1-11-0) have lost four in a row, with all losses coming on a B.C. Division tour that wraps up Tuesday in Kelowna. . . . Leppard also had two assists as he figured in all three Prince George goals. It was the third three-point night of his 116-game career. This season, he has two goals and four assists in 11 games. . . . Broncos G Joel Hofer stopped 37 shots. He has started four of the Broncos’ past five games, stopping 192 of 205 shots (.937). . . . The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes as the on-ice officials were late getting to the arena.


The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last five goals and beat the host Regina Pats, 5-1. Everett. . . Everett (7-4-0) is 1-1-0 on its East Division trek. . . . Regina (3-9-0) has lost three in a row. . . . Everett got F Sean Richards back after he served a five-game suspension, and he scored his club’s first goal, his first of the season. . . . F Reece Vitelli (1) broke the tie at 1:06 of the second period. . . . The Silvertips were without their captain, F Connor Dewar, after he drew a four-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a 5-2 loss in Brandon on Friday night. He also will miss games in Prince Albert (Tuesday), Saskatoon (Wednesday) and Moose Jaw (Friday). He will be eligible to return on Saturday in Swift Current, the last game of the Everett’s East Division swing.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored twice and added an assist, leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to EdmontonOilKingsa 6-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . The Oil Kings (6-7-1) had lost their previous eight games (0-7-1) after opening the season with five straight victories. . . . Kootenay (3-5-3) has lost six in a row (0-3-3). . . . Fix-Wolansky, who has nine goals, broke a 1-1 tie at 17:56 of the first period, on a PP, and the Ice was left to chase the game for its remainder. He now has 23 points in 14 games. . . . F Peyton Krebs (4) got Kootenay to within a goal, at 4-3, at 13:09 of the second period, on a PP. However, Edmonton F Jake Neighbours (3) upped his club’s lead to 5-3, on a PP, at 19:46. . . . Fix-Wolansky iced it at 18:06 of the third period. . . . The Oil Kings also got two goals from F Andrei Pavlenko (4). A sophomore from Belarus, he has four goals and two assists in 14 games; last season, he finished with three goals and one assist in 20 games.


F Owen Hardy scored twice to help the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the VancouverKelowna Rockets in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (10-2-2) was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours, having gone 0-1-1 in a home-and-home with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (4-10-0) also was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It had swept two games in Victoria before travelling to Langley. . . . Hardy gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 15:26 of the first period and provided them with a 3-1 edge at 11:48 of the third period. He’s got four goals this season. . . . D Bowen Byram had two assists for the Giants. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Kelowna gave G Roman Basran his third start of the weekend. He stopped 21 shots. . . . At the other end, Trent Miner blocked 28 shots. His 1.24 GAA and .958 save percentage are the best in the WHL. . . . The Giants were without F James Malm, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Saturday night. . . . The Rockets scratched F Lane Zablocki for a second straight game after he had made his season debut on Friday.


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WHL teams now allowed to trade first-year imports? . . . Gorda doesn’t report; deal is off . . . Did your team sign anyone on Tuesday?


MacBeth

F Tomáš Karpov (Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) has announced his retirement through the Bracknell Bees (England, National). According to the club, he has accepted a position as CEO of an unnamed company in the Czech Republic. Karpov had signed with Bracknell in June. . . . Last season, Karpov, an alternate captain, had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National). He led the team in goals and points. . . . Karpov completed his Master of Science in marketing innovation from the University of Winchester earlier this year.


ThisThat

Could it be that there has been another rule change made involving trades in the WHL, this one concerning the moving of players who are first-round selections in the CHL import draft?

Andrew McCormack of swiftcurrentonline.com wrote a training camp-related story whlinvolving the Swift Current Broncos on Aug. 2. In the story, he checked in with Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ new director of hockey operations and head coach. Here’s an excerpt:

The Broncos also now have signed both their CHL import draft picks from this year and will be bringing F Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen to camp. Both should start the season with the Broncos as they wait for (D Artyom) Minulin to recover from post-season shoulder surgery.

“We know (Minulin) is out for quite some time,” Brockman said. “Plan A is to bring both guys in and make sure they were everything we were told. We know that (Minulin) is available to us; we know what kind of a player he is. We just have to see what the other guys bring to the table and see if they’re going to fit in the way we want them to.

“You can move your first-year Euros after Dec. 1. We may not get to that point, but it gives us more options.”

——

Prior to this season, there has been a one-season moratorium on the trading of players selected in the import draft.

Using the Broncos’ situation as an example, under what now appears to be the old rule, should a healthy Minulin be ready to return to the roster, the team would have had two options: (a) trade or release Minulin; (b) release Kiviniemi or Pynnonen, both of whom are freshmen. Teams WERE NOT allowed to trade import players who were in their first season.

Now, judging by Brockman’s comment, if/when Minulin returns, the Broncos would be able to trade him, or wait until Dec. 1 and then trade either of the other two.

We await word from the WHL to enlighten us one way or the other on this situation.


D Brayden Gorda hasn’t reported to training camp with the Victoria Royals and it would seem his playing career, at least in the WHL, is over.

The Royals acquired the rights to Gorda, 19, from the Edmonton Oil Kings on July 25, VictoriaRoyalsgiving up a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in return.

Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, confirmed to Taking Note that Gorda won’t be reporting.

“At the time of the trade,” Hope told Taking Note, “both clubs were aware that he was considering whether or not to continue his WHL career. It seems that he has now made that decision. The trade becomes nullified as a result. . . . We wish Brayden the best in his next steps.”

Gorda, who is from Edmonton, was a third-round selection by the Oil Kings in the 2014 bantam draft. In 151 regular-season games, all with Edmonton, he had six goals and 26 assists. Last season, he was late reporting following the death of a close friend over the summer. Gorda ended up playing 30 games and finished with a goal and three assists.

After returning to the Oil Kings, he told Derek Van Diest of Postmedia:

“Now that I’m here and reconnected with the boys, it feels pretty good to see everyone and see a lot of smiles. I started thinking about coming back about a month ago, maybe a little over a month ago. I was doing a lot working out and stuff and getting dedicated and I just wanted to get back into it.”



The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Emil Malysjev, 17, whose rights were selected in the SaskatoonCHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-3 Malysjev, who has dual Swedish/Russian citizenship, played last season with HV71’s J18 and J20 teams, putting up two goals and five assists in 15 games with the former and four assists in 29 games with the latter. . . . Malysjev’s parents are from Russia, but he was born in Sweden — thus the dual citizenship. Interestingly, he has never lived in Russia. . . . Malysjev, who is fluent in English, was to arrive in Saskatoon late Tuesday. He could make his WHL debut in Regina at an exhibition tournament this weekend. . . . Earlier this week, the Blades signed their other 2018 import draft selection — Norwegian F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, 19, whose NHL rights belong to the Washington Capitals, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft.


The Prince George Cougars have signed G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg, who was the 21st PrinceGeorgeoverall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Brennan, who will turn 15 on Sept. 27, played at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy last season, going 11-3-1, 1.52, .947 with the bantam prep team. He led the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s bantam prep division in GAA, save percentage and shutouts (5). . . . With Brennan signed, it means that 21 of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections in the 2018 bantam draft are under contract. The only unsigned first-round pick is F Trevor Wong, who was taken 18th overall by the Kelowna Rockets. He has been in Kelowna’s camp, but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22.



The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Joe Arntsen, F Nick Dorrington and F Jett Jones Lethbridgeto WHL contracts. . . . Arntsen, 15, is from Swift Current and was a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 19 goals and 31 assists in 31 gams with the bantam AA Swift Current Raiders. He added two goals and six assists in six playoff games, and was pointless in six games with the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires. . . . Dorrington, a list player, is from Langley, B.C. Last season, he played for the Yale Hockey Academy Elite 15s in Abbotsford, B.C., scoring 17 goals and adding 15 assists in 33 games. He then had two goals and five assists in four playoff games. . . . Jones, 16, was placed on the Hurricanes’ protected list last year. From Olds, Alta., he played last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons, putting up 16 goals and six assists in 33 games. . . . All three players remain with the Hurricanes, who open the exhibition season on Friday against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.


The Victoria Royals have signed G Keegan Maddocks, 15, to a WHL contract. Maddocks, from Langley, B.C., was an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Maddocks played last season with the bantam prep team at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Langley, B.C. In 19 games, he was 9-7-0, 3.60, .896, with one shutout. . . . This summer, at the BC Hockey U-16 camp at Shawnigan Lake, he put up five shutouts in as many games.


The Everett Silvertips have signed D Olen Zellweger, a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he spent last season with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 10 goals and 22 assists in 30 games. He added three goals and two assists in five playoff games as his team won the league title. . . . Zellweger will turn 15 on Oct. 9.


The Moose Jaw Warriors, who signed two players on Monday, signed three more skaters MooseJawWarriorsto WHL contracts on Tuesday. . . . D Braden Miller, 16, is a list player who was added after attending the 2017 training camp. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he had four goals and nine assists in 28 games last season with the minor midget Sherwood Park Squires. . . . F Cade Hayes of Leader, Sask., was an eighth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. Hayes, 16, had 19 goals and 17 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans. While he led the Trojans in scoring, he was tied for second in freshman scoring in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . F Jesse Mistelbacher of Île-des-Chênes, Man., was placed on the Warriors’ protected list in October. Last season, with the midget AAA Eastman Selects, the 17-year-old had 15 goals and 32 assists in 48 games. He led the Selects in points.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed G Thomas Milic, who was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Coquitlam, B.C., he was 13-7-0, 2.06, .925 in 22 games with the bantam prep team at the Burnaby Winter Club.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Erik Atchison, 16, who was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Originally from Las Vegas, Atchison had eight goals and six assists in 13 games with the Arizona Bobcats U-16 team in the North American Prospects Hockey League last season. . . . Atchison is the fourth American-born player on the Chiefs’ roster at the moment, joining F Luke Gallagher of Spokane, F Jake McGrew of Orange, Calif., and F Luke Toporowski of Bettendorf, Iowa.


Taking Note has been told that the WHL has hired Michael Z. Morrissey as a video co-ordinator. . . . This is an interesting story. . . . Morrissey worked as an intern with the Saskatoon Blades during the 2017-18 WHL season. Then, unable to find anything in hockey, he hired on with the CFL’s B.C. Lions as a digital and video associate. . . . Now he is moving to the WHL office in Calgary and is to start there next month. . . . Why is this an interesting story? Because he is from Australia and came to Canada simply to pursue his passion for hockey.



A note from Stuart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club:

“Had 3 strokes, 2 in a span of 8 days. Am no longer able to get medical from work, now PortlandI’ll be on Cobra which is expensive. I have had writeups in Portland Tribune and GoFundMe and still have a huge need,.

If you can help, great; if you can’t, please share. I am wanting to go back to work and I can’t, at least not yet. Hoping I can keep ahead of bill collectors. Hospital stay was close to 500K and then there is supplies, more medical stuff that tears you up financially.

I never wanted this, I am worrried can you help?

Stuart

The GoFundMe page is right here.


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.


The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, who begin the regular season on Sept. 7, are going through a SurreyEaglescoaching change. According to a news release, Peter Schaefer, 41, has taken over as head coach after the Eagles and Brandon West “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . West, the news release reads, “will be stepping away from the organization because of personal reasons.” . . . The Eagles went 26-22-8 last season, West’s first in Surrey, and got into the second round of the playoffs. . . . Schaefer, the WHL’s player of the year with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1996-97, was the Eagles’ head coach in 2013-14. They had brought him back as an assistant coach for this season. With his promotion, the Eagles now are looking for an assistant coach. . . . One BCHL insider tells me there now have been 14 coaching changes in the BCHL over the past 18 months.


The 2020 national junior A championship will be decided in Portage la Prairie, Man., the home of the MJHL’s Terriers. . . . Portage last played host to the tournament in 2015 when the Terriers won it all. . . . The 2019 tournament is scheduled to be held in Brooks, Alta., home of the AJHL’s Bandits. . . . The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs were the host team for the 2018 RBC Cup and, yes, they won it.


Tweetoftheday

CHL’s Team of the Century: Montreal Jr. Canadiens top this list . . . How about these five series?

You may be aware that the CHL, which is celebrating 100 years of the Memorial Cup, has provided a site where you are able to learn about the first 99 championships.

If you haven’t already, click right here and give it a look. I guarantee that it will be well worth your time.

As part of this, the CHL ran a promotion aimed at selecting the Team of the Century. The TeamCenturyother day, it revealed the four finalists — the 1995 Kamloops Blazers, 2000 Rimouski Oceanic, 2005 London Knights and 2013 Halifax Mooseheads.

For what it’s worth, my top four, in order, would be the 1969 Montreal Jr. Canadiens, 1974 Regina Pats, 1973 Toronto Marlboros and 1978 New Westminster Bruins.

To take it one step further, here are five Memorial Cup matchups I would pay to see, if only they were possible:

1969 Montreal Jr. Canadiens vs. 1978 New Westminster Bruins — With the likes of Guy Charron, Bobby Guindon, Norm Gratton, Rejean Houle, Bobby Lalonde, Richard Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Marc Tardif among the forwards on the roster, the Jr. Canadiens would be my selection as the Team of the Century. They swept the Regina Pats in the best-of-seven final in 1969, winning twice in the Montreal Forum and twice in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium. . . . Ernie (Punch) McLean’s Bruins won the 1977 Memorial Cup in Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, beating the Ottawa 67’s, 6-5, in the final of the three-team round-robin tournament. The big, bad and burly Bruins’ roster included Barry Beck and Brad Maxwell on the back end and it would be a lot of fun watching McLean’s gang try to corral the Jr. Canadiens’ high-flying forwards.

——

1974 Regina Pats vs. 1973 Toronto Marlboros — The Pats were led by F Dennis Sobchuk, who was one of the all-time great junior players; F Clark Gillies, a true power forward who went on to a terrific career with the NHL’s New York Islanders; D Greg Joly, who was selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL draft; and G Ed Staniowski, who would be named the CHL’s player of the year the following season. The Pats’ head coach was Bob Turner, who as a defenceman had been part of five straight Stanley Cup winners with the Montreal Canadiens. . . . The Marlboros featured the Howe brothers, Mark and Marty, along with the likes of Paulin Bordeleau, Bruce Boudreau, Wayne Dillon, and goaltender Mike Palmateer. Toronto could score, as it proved in a 9-1 victory over the Quebec Remparts in the three-team tournament’s championship game. . . . The Pats were a high-powered squad with a lot of toughness and great goaltending. This would have been a terrific series.

——

1952 Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters vs. 1983 Portland Winter Hawks — To those of a certain generation, the Mad Hatters’ roster contained a number of magical names, such as Andy Bathgate, Lou Fontinato, Aldo (Bep) Guidolin, Harry Howell, Bill McCreary, Ron Murphy, Dean Prentice and Ron Stewart. Ohh, the memories! Yes, they could score, witness a four-game sweep of the Regina Pats in a final in which the victors held a 30-8 edge in goals. . . . These Winter Hawks were the first American team to win the Memorial Cup. They lost the WHL final to the Lethbridge Broncos, but then became the first host team to win it all in what was the first four-team tournament. Featuring the likes of Randy Heath, Ken Yaremchuk, Grant Sasser, Cam Neely and Alfie Turcotte, the Winter Hawks could wheel and deal. . . . A seven-game series between these teams might produce seven 10-9 scores.

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1989 Swift Current Broncos vs. 1995 Kamloops Blazers — The Broncos may have had the best power-play in the history of the junior game. Although they had tough guy Mark McFarlane on the bench, it was the PP that intimidated the opposition. With Dan Lambert, Darren Kruger and Bob Wilkie running it from the blue line, players like Kimbi Daniels, Peter Kasowski, Sheldon Kennedy, Brian Sakic, Peter Soberlak and Tim Tisdale, who has never had to buy lunch in Swift Current after he scored the OT goal in the championship game, wreaked havoc on opposing goaltenders. When you think about what some of these players went through, from a bus accident two years earlier that claimed the lives of four teammates to the sexual abuse heaped on some of them by Graham James, their coach, this championship is even more spectacular. . . . The Blazers were the host team for the four-team tournament, but went in through the front door as WHL champions. They then won the franchise’s third title in four-year period. This may have been the best of the three championship teams, boasting the likes of Nolan Baumgartner, Shane Doan, Hnat Domenichelli, Ryan Huska, Jason Holland, Jarome Iginla, Aaron Keller, Brad Lukowich, Tyson Nash, Darcy Tucker and Randy Petruk. They whipped the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the final.

——

1985 Prince Albert Raiders vs. 1966 Edmonton Oil Kings — Under head coach Terry Simpson, the Raiders were one of those teams that could play it any which way the opposition wanted. They had Ken Baumgartner and Dave Manson to keep the other guys honest. Dan Hodgson, one of the junior game’s greatest talents, keyed the offence, with help from snipers Pat Elynuik, Tony Grenier, Ken Morrison and Dave Pasin, and defenceman Emanuel Viveiros. . . . The Oil Kings, meanwhile, were in the Memorial Cup final for a seventh straight season. Led by defenceman Al Hamilton, they beat Bobby Orr’s Oshawa Generals in a six-game final in Maple Leaf Gardens. Unfortunately, the talented defenceman didn’t play a lot thanks to a groin injury that he apparently suffered in practice a week before the final series. In those days, teams were allowed to add players from elsewhere, and the Oil Kings brought in Jim Harrison, Ted Hodgson and Ross Lonsberry from the Estevan Bruins, all of whom contributed to the championship.

There you have it, for whatever it’s worth. Discuss among yourselves.

Scattershooting: The Memorial Cup, a flawed playoff format and more

Scattershooting

The tears hadn’t yet dried in Regina on Monday night when the bleating began on social media, with some fans crying for a change in the format of the four-team Memorial Cup tournament.

The Pats, the host team for this year’s tournament, had just dropped a 3-2 decision to the whlhost Swift Current Broncos in Game 7 of an opening-round WHL playoff series.

Of course, that means the Pats are finished until the Memorial Cup begins, something that is more than 40 days away.

A year ago, it was the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, the host team for the 2017 tournament, who got bounced in the first round. They came back, under head coach Rocky Thompson, a former WHL player and coach, to win the whole thing.

But, the social media gurus wanted to know, how is it fair that a team can lose in the first round and still win the national championship?

No, it isn’t right. But it’s time for people to realize that the Memorial Cup stopped being a national championship in 1983, which is when the present format that includes a host team was adopted.

If you ask around the WHL, those who have been involved in championships will tell you that the Memorial Cup doesn’t carry the cachet of a WHL championship. They also will tell you that playing in the round-robin Memorial Cup can be a letdown after taking part in a gritty, competitive best-of-seven championship series.

Now that we have that out of the way . . .

What the WHL needs to do is admit that its present playoff format is flawed, and — if it isn’t just providing lip service about wanting to minimize travel for its players — go back to having the first two rounds within each division. After the first two rounds, the division champions meet for conference titles, and the two survivors play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The WHL likes to think of itself as a mini-NHL, which is why the present format — one that includes two wild-card entries in each conference — is in place. What’s good for the NHL is good for the WHL, or so the thinking goes.

This playoff format proves that isn’t always the case.

Late last month, with the first round unfolding, the WHL sent its commissioner, Ron Robison, on tour. He started in the Pacific Northwest, mostly doing damage control after that debacle in the Oregon State Legislature in Salem involving minimum-wage legislation, but he also addressed the playoff format.

“We really feel like this is the best format and it works really well for our league,” Robison told Brandon Rivers of dubnetwork.ca. “First of all, when you consider the travel demands on our players, we want to really have those games in the first round in the division, because travel is limited. At the same time, it helps with your rivalries. . . .

“If you look throughout our league in each division, we have some great rivalries. Why not get that competition level really up high in the playoffs and see how it goes from there. There’s pros and cons but, generally speaking, this format makes a lot of sense for our league.”

Later, while in Medicine Hat, Robison told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News:

“I think when you look into it, it’s more than just the seeding of teams in a playoff competition, whether it’s conference format or a divisional format. For us, in this particular case it’s about the fact that we can reduce travel from the players’ standpoint, we can take advantage of the great rivalries we have.”

We will assume that Robison said this with a straight face, even though he was in BrandonWKregularMedicine Hat, the home of the Tigers, a team that ended up playing the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round in two straight years. That also meant travelling to Dauphin, Man., where the Wheat Kings played their first-round home games in both series because their home arena had been taken over by the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

Had the WHL used a divisional playoff format, the Tigers would have met the Calgary Hitmen in last season’s first round, and the Kootenay Ice this time around. The Ice, of course, didn’t even make the playoffs this season, thanks to the wild-card format.

Using the divisional format, the Wheat Kings would have clashed with the Moose Jaw Warriors in this season’s first round. Instead, Brandon ousted Medicine Hat in six games.

(In the Western Conference, the Tri-City Americans, a wild-card entry, swept the B.C. Division-champion Kelowna Rockets. In a divisional format, Tri-City would have opened against the Everett Silvertips, with Kelowna meeting the Kamloops Blazers, who didn’t qualify under this system.)

The present wild-card format also has other flaws.

For starters, the Saskatoon Blades didn’t make the playoffs despite having more victories and more points than two Eastern Conference teams that did advance.

This format also means that every first round includes four series that feature teams that finished second and third in each division. That means that teams that were awfully good over 72 games exit early. Two more awfully good teams are going to go home after the second round, too.

The biggest flaw, however, is that there now is the perception that the wild-card system can be gamed.

I’m not saying that’s what happened this season, but you may recall that the Wheat Kings were third in the overall standings — and third in the Eastern Conference and East Division — when the trade deadline arrived on Jan. 10. A third-place finish in the division would have meant a first-round meeting with Swift Current.

The Wheat Kings chose to trade away two top-end players — defenceman Kale Clague and forward Tanner Kaspick — for a bundle of future assets.

In the end, Regina moved past Brandon into third place, and, as we saw, lost out to Swift Current in the first round. The Wheat Kings ended up in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, which sent them into the playoffs against Medicine Hat, which had finished atop the Central Division, albeit with four fewer victories and five fewer points than Brandon.

The Wheat Kings now will open the second round against the host Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday. The Wheat Kings finished the regular season with more victories (40-33) and more points (85-72) than the Hurricanes.

There can be no arguing that the Wheat Kings ended up with an easier route to the conference final than they would have had with a third-place finish in their division. Of course, the Hurricanes may have something to say about that.

There also can be no arguing about the job done by Brandon general manager Grant Armstrong, who added nine assets, including four first-round bantam draft picks, in those two transactions.

Inadvertent or not, he seems to have helped his club improve its playoff odds.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, Tri-City, the first wild-card entry, will meet the TriCity30Victoria Royals in the second round, meaning it avoids a potential clash with Everett or the Portland Winterhawks for another round. Everett and Portland are preparing for a second-round series after the Winterhawks beat the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 3-1, in Game 7 last night.

Who knows how all of this will play out, but it all leaves me with one question:

What will be the reaction by the WHL pooh-bahs should Brandon and Tri-City, a pair of wild-card teams, end up in the championship final?


I recently came into possession of the feature stories written this season by Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun that focus on former Wheat Kings players. This was the second season in which Bergson has written one of these stories each week, and they are most enjoyable. If you can find them, I highly recommend them. I also wonder why more junior hockey writers — assuming that they really love to write — haven’t followed Bergson’s example by producing stories like these.


The fact that none of the numerous Hockey Insiders had the scoop on the retirements of Daniel and Henrik Sedin says a lot about the longtime Vancouver Canucks forwards. Obviously, there aren’t any leaks in the world of the future Hockey Hall of Famers. They were true to themselves right to the end.


Sooner or later, the WHL should be issuing a news release detailing the involvement by its 17 Canadian teams in the organ donor awareness program this season. You may recall that, among other things, the teams wore Don Cherry-tribute sweaters and then made them available via auction. I am guessing that the promotions raised well over $300,000 for the four western branches of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.


On Sept. 9, 1965, left-hander Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a perfect game. Yes, Vin Scully called it. Right here for your reading enjoyment, courtesy salon.com, is that call. It is, as is mentioned here, “pure baseball literature.”