Blazers, Lajoie go their separate ways. . . . Broncos taking games to the Internet. . . . Giants sweep way into conference final

MacBeth

D Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 11 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL). This season, with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL), he had 12 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. Almond is a dual Swiss-Canadian citizen, and has played the past seven seasons in Geneva.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers announced late Thursday afternoon that they and head coach Serge Lajoie “have mutually parted ways.” Lajoie had replaced Don Hay as the team’s head coach prior to this season.

The four-paragraph news release didn’t mention assistant coach Dan Kordic, who came Kamloops1to the Blazers from the U of Alberta Golden Bears with Lajoie. They had helped the Golden Bears win the U Sports national title for 2017-18.

Jon Keen, the Blazers’ broadcaster, later tweeted that Kordic “has been retained.”

Lajoie, a defenceman in his playing days, got into seven games with the Blazers in 1986-87. He went on to play five seasons (1988-93) with the Golden Bears, where he played under head coach Billy Moores for four of those seasons. Interestingly, Moores is a former WHL coach, having spent one season (1985-86) as the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats. Moores is the older brother of Don Moores, who has been the Blazers’ president and chief operating officer for almost three years.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season as the Blazers’ general manager, explained things this way to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, who shared all of it on his Twitter account (@MarTheReporter):

“We had some reviews, discussing with Serge, talked about some things, both sides, and we came to the conclusion that I think a little bit was the fit. Might not have been the right fit for us and maybe for him.

“I think, even for Serge, being away from family played possibly a part of it. It’s tough for coaches, for anybody, when you’re away from family all year long.”

Lajoie’s family — wife Kelly and children Isabella and Marc — stayed in the Edmonton area. Isabella is finishing up Grade 12, while Marc, a first-round selection by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, spent this season playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team.

“I missed out on so much, in terms of my daughter’s accomplishments, my son’s accomplishments,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I would have loved to have been able to see his first WHL game. You sit down with your family and think — is this really worth it? It would not have been fair to the Blazers.”

In explaining his side of the decision, Lajoie said:

“I’m very comfortable with it. Both the Blazers and myself, totally on the same page. It was an evaluation that I made at the end of the year. I wanted to make sure I took some time at the end of the season to see if really this is something I could continue and commit the time and effort necessary to help continue to push the Blazers forward. Family was a big part in this decision. We came to an understanding, the Blazers and myself. Now is the right time to part ways and move on to the next opportunity.”

This season, the Blazers went 28-32-8, good enough for a third-place tie with the Kelowna Rockets in the B.C. Division. The Blazers then beat the visiting Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker that propelled them into the first round of the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals.

The writing may have been on the wall for the Blazers as early as Feb. 12 when they added co-owner Darryl Sydor as a full-time assistant coach. Sydor, who had moved back to Kamloops prior to this season, had been at most of the team’s home games, watching from the press box. After Feb. 12, he was behind the bench for all but a couple of games.

In a season-ending interview with Hastings, majority owner Tom Gaglardi said that Lajoie had a long-term contract. Asked if Lajoie would be back as head coach, Gaglardi told Hastings: “I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that.”

Gaglardi went on to praise Sydor’s contribution to the team and to the coaching staff. Asked if Sydor has “what it takes to be a head coach,” Gaglardi replied: “I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do.”

On Thursday, when Hastings asked Bardsley if Sydor would be the next head coach, the GM responded:

“We talked to Darryl and I think we’re comfortable Darryl is going to come back as a coach, At what capacity, we have to discuss that. Is it the head coach? We haven’t even discussed that. We’d like to have Darryl back as a coach.”

Despite the optics, Lajoie told Hastings that he didn’t see Sydor’s presence as any kind of threat. I recommend that you check out Hastings’ timeline on Twitter (@MarTheReporter) for more comments from Bardsley and Lajoie, along with a few quotes from Gaglardi.

The Blazers have completed 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi. The next hire will be the 11th full-time or interim head coach since they purchased the franchise.

In those 12 seasons, the Blazers have missed the playoffs four times, reached the Western Conference final once, gotten into the second round on one other occasion, and been bounced in the first round six times.

BlazersCoaches

The above chart is from the Blazers’ website. One asterisk indicates that he was replaced in mid-season; two asterisks indicates an interim head coach.


There are some nasty allegations being made by followers of the Prince Albert Raiders who journeyed to Saskatoon on Wednesday for Game 4 between their favourite club and PrinceAlbertthe Blades. Fans are claiming they had beer and macaroni thrown at them in the SaskTel Centre. . . . “I could feel something on the back of my neck, something really hard,” Raiders fan Matt Herbert told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “We discovered it was macaroni later, but they were just pelting it down on us. Next thing you know, I could feel some beer coming down my back. The guy beside me was soaked.” . . . The macaroni had been given to fans as part of a promotion. . . . D’Andrea wrote: “The Blades did not wish to comment on the record. The SaskTel Centre did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Raiders issued a response. . . . In it, they confirm that they’ve been told the occurrence is being examined by SaskTel Centre, and they hope nothing like this repeats itself for Game 5 Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.” . . . D’Andrea’s complete story is right here. . . . The Blades won Game 4, 4-1, to tie the series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Saskatoon on Sunday.


The Swift Current Broncos are taking their game broadcasts to the Internet. After being SCBroncoson The Eagle 94.1 since the late 1980s, the Broncos announced on Thursday that they are beginning “a new era of audio content production and distribution.” . . . According to the news release, “This will include streaming game-day broadcasts, podcasts and interviews that will provide Broncos Nation with leading in-depth coverage and access that we believe our fans will truly appreciate. . . . Further details are set to be released at a future date that is considerate of the parties involved and after a proper process has been completed.”


The Red Deer Rebels have signed D Blake Gustafson to a WHL contract. Gustafson, who will turn 17 on May 21, played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. He had four goals and one assists in 38 regular-season and playoff games. Gustafson was a 10th-round pick by the Rebels in the 2017 bantam draft.


There is an interesting story developing in the OHL where the Windsor Spitfires seem ohlabout to be sold, perhaps for as much as $12.8 million. According to reports, Dr. Azim Parekh is negotiating a deal that will end with him buying the Spitfires from a group that includes Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner. On Saturday, the Spitfires selected D Isa Parekh in the fifth round of the OHL draft. On Wednesday, the OHL held its U-18 draft, and the Spitfires, with the fifth overall pick, took D Aydin Parekh. . . . Yes, they both are sons of Dr. Parekh. . . . Dave Jewell of The Hockey Writers has a whole lot more on this story right here.


The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have signed Mat Hehr, their general manager and head coach, to a two-year contract extension. Hehr, 30, joined the Terriers as an assistant coach for 2016-17, then took over as head coach on Nov. 15, 2017. So he just completed his first season as the full-time head coach.


The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have promoted Brad Rihela to assistant general manager and associate coach. Rihela, 29, spent last season as their director of player personnel and assistant coach. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Rihela spent three seasons at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., coach in the bantam prep program. . . . In Chilliwack, Rihela will be working with Brian Maloney, the general manager of hockey and building operations and head coach.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants advanced to the Western Conference final by beating the host Victoria Royals, 6-1, in Thursday’s only WHL playoff game. The Giants, last in the conference final in 2010, swept the series, 4-0, and now await the winner of the series between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs. . . . That series will open in Langley, B.C., with games on April 19 and 20. . . .

The Chiefs lead that series, 3-0, and have a chance to wrap it up at home tonight. . . .

The other series also resumes tonight, with the Saskatoon Blades in Prince Albert to meet the Raiders. The Blades won, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Saskatoon to tie that series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 will be played Sunday in Saskatoon and, as of late Thursday afternoon, the lower bowl in the SaskTel Centre, with 6,000 seats, was sold out. . . . The winner of that series will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. They completed a sweep of the Hitmen with a 6-0 victory in Calgary on Wednesday night.

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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants are into the Western Conference final after beating the Royals, 6-1, Vancouverin Victoria. . . . The Giants swept the series and will meet either the Everett Silvertips or Spokane Chiefs in the conference final. The Giants, who finished atop the conference standings, will have the home-ice advantage, so the series will begin with two games in Langley, B.C., on April 19 and 20. . . . Last night, the Giants took control with three first-period goals, from F Lukas Svejkovsky (3), at 10:04; D Bowen Byram (4), at 16:19; and D Dallas Hines (3), at 16:37. . . . F Owen Hardy (3) made it 4-0 at 9:39 of the second period, before F D-Jay Jerome (2) got Victoria’s lone goal at 11:58. . . . F Brayden Watts (3) and F Jared Dmytriw (4) had the Giants’ other goals, both in the third period. . . . Dmytriw, who played the first three seasons (2014-17) with the Royals, also had two assists. He also is Vancouver’s captain. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Victoria was 0-1. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 17 shots for Vancouver, while G Griffen Outhouse completed his WHL career with a 27-save effort. . . . The Giants held a 157-63 edge in shots in the series, but, because of Outhouse’s superb play, needed OT to win Games 3 and 4. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt, who missed Game 3, was back in the lineup. Royals F Phillip Schultz, who left Game 3 in OT with an apparent injury to his left arm, also was in the lineup. . . . F Kaid Oliver, the Royals’ leading scorer in the regular season, missed all of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald, who has used up his junior eligibility, completed a six-game suspension by sitting last night, while D Jake Kustra sat out the second of a two-game suspension. F Tanner Sidaway missed all of this series with a hand injury.


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WHL’s War of the Words continues. . . . Blades skate back into series. . . . Oil Kings, Giants win in OT, go ahead 3-0

MacBeth

D Blake Orban (Vancouver, Edmonton, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with the U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had one goal and five assists in 25 games.


ThisThat

OK. Let’s review . . .

Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders and one of eight men with more than 500 regular-season WHL victories, got his club’s second-round series with whlSaskatoon really going by accusing the Blades of doing more diving than members of the Saskatoon Diving Club.

Mitch Love, the Blades’ first-year head coach, waited until after the second game and, with his club trailing 2-0, suggested that the Raiders’ players dish out more headshots than competitors with the Prince Albert Boxing Club.

Love, though, went a step further and suggested that the WHL, a league whose pooh-bahs love to talk about the importance of player safety, has “turned a blind eye to that kind of thing . . .”

Love added that he had expressed his concerns to the WHL, but “it falls on deaf ears, and here we are.”

That brings us to Game 3, which was played Tuesday night in Saskatoon.

Prior to the game, it was Habscheid’s turn to fire a volley in the WHL’s latest War of the Words.

“This is all fun and games, but it comes to a bigger issue,” Habscheid told Trevor Redden of panow.com for a story that is right here. “The fact that he’s questioning the integrity of our league about player safety, that crosses the line. I did not think that was an appropriate comment.”

You will remember that it was Habscheid — aka Mark (The Entertainer) Habscheid — who started all this.

Yesterday, he told Redden that it’s all gamesmanship.

“That’s just a weak ploy to try to change the narrative,” Habscheid said. “He’ll probably start yelling at me from his bench, too, just to add to it . . . so whatever, we don’t care.”

For the record, Love wasn’t seen yelling at Habscheid as the Blades skated to a 1-0 victory last night.

——

With Habscheid and Love both having mentioned the importance of player safety, allow me to point out a thing or two.

The WHL issued a news release on March 28 announcing that F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds had been suspended indefinitely.

Richards had taken a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in a game the previous night.

In that news release, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted thusly: “Player safety is the first priority for the WHL at all times.”

That quote was recycled last week when the WHL announced that Richards’ suspension had been set at eight games.

One on-line dictionary defines hypocrisy like this: “The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform.”

A league that condones fighting simply cannot trumpet the importance of player safety.

A league that continues to hand out measly two-game suspensions for checking-from-behind fouls and headshots cannot trumpet the importance of player safety. It just can’t.

After D Jake Lee of the Thunderbirds drew a two-game suspension

for a hit from behind on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif in Game 1 of a first-round series, Giants head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia:

“I played with Brad Hornung. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. It was the same type of play. The only thing that saved Justin Sourdif was the net. It’s a terrible play. He (Lee) is a young guy. But somebody has to teach him. All two games is … I don’t know.

“It’s one of the worst plays in hockey. It had nothing to do with making a play. It’s emotion. I understand that. But you have to learn.”

Dyck, as I mentioned here after he was fined $1,000 for his comments, is right. But is anyone listening?

The time has long since passed by for the WHL to ban fighting and to issue suspensions to those who choose to engage in fisticuffs.

And it’s time for the WHL to get serious about suspensions for headshots and checks from behind. No more of this two-game stuff. Let coaches and players know that such a foul means a player could sit for a month.

Yes, start with 10 games, and then the league can puff out its chest and tell people that player safety is a priority in the WHL.

And when it comes to the neanderthals who continue to insist that hockey needs fighting, well, . . .

Patti Dawn Swanson, aka The River City Renegade, blogged about ‘the code’ the other day:

“You hit me with a cheap shot — or hit me legally but too hard for my liking — and I now must knock your block off. If not me, one of my guard dogs will take care of business. Might not do it immediately. Might not do it that same night. Might have to wait a year. But someone is coming after you and you better not turn tail when challenged. You want the respect of friend, foe and fan? Only way is to ‘man up.’ That’s the ‘code.’

Well, the ‘code’ is stupid and so are hockey players for following it.”

She’s right and that piece is right here.


It seems that the Swift Current Broncos no longer have a radio rights holder.

Shawn Mullin, the Broncos’ play-by-play voice for the past nine seasons, indicated in a SCBroncosTuesday afternoon tweet that talks on a new agreement have broken down between the Broncos and The Eagle 94.1

“Despite what I believe were the best intentions on all sides,” Mullin tweeted, “the Broncos and the radio station have been unable to reach an agreement to continue our broadcasts.”

Mullin, who is from Ottawa, moved to Swift Current after four seasons as the radio voice of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters.

Regan Bartel, who calls the Kelowna Rockets’ games, and Jon Keen, the Kamloops Blazers’ broadcaster, both are former Swift Current play-by-play voices.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were three second-round games on Tuesday night, and there will be three more tonight. The difference is that there is one team facing elimination tonight. . . .

Last night, the Edmonton Oil Kings went into Calgary and beat the Hitmen, 2-1 in OT. That means the Oil Kings can move into the Eastern Conference final with a victory over the host Hitmen tonight. . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades rode the goaltending of Nolan Maier to a 1-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. Still, the Raiders hold a 2-1 lead going into Game 4 in ’Toontown tonight. . . .

In Victoria, the Vancouver Giants beat the Royals, 5-4 in OT, and now lead that series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for Victoria on Thursday night. . . .

The Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs didn’t play last night. Their series resumes tonight in Spokane with the Chiefs holding a 2-0 lead. Remember that this series is following a 2-3-2 format because Cirque du Soleil is in Everett’s Angels of the Wind Arena through Sunday.

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Nolan Maier stopped 26 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 1-0 victory over the Saskatoonvisiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Saskatoon tonight. . . . The teams will be back in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night. . . . This was only the second time the Raiders have been blanked this season and Maier has been the goaltender both times. On Dec. 9, he stopped 32 shots in a 1-0 victory in Saskatoon. F Tristen Robins scored the only goal, at 5:14 of the second period. . . . Last night, the game’s lone goal came from F Kirby Dach (5), who was able to fight off a check, reach into the crease and backhand a loose puck into the net at 4:21 of the first period. . . . The Raiders came within inches of equalizing in the dying seconds when F Sean Montgomery had a redirection go off the right post. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott also was stellar, with 26 saves. . . . Despite the ongoing verbiage from the head coaches, the game included only five minor penalties. The Blades were 0-2 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-1.


D Wyatt McLeod scored from the left point to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 2-1 victory EdmontonOilKingsover the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton holds a 3-0 lead in the series and gets its first chance to close it out tonight in Calgary. . . . F Zach Russell (1) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 7:57 of the second period. . . . The Oil Kings nursed that lead into the last three minutes of the third period when they were hit with back-to-back minor penalties. . . . Calgary scored on the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage, with F Mark Kastelic getting his sixth goal, at 18:53, to force OT. That goal came one second before the first minor was to expire. . . . McLeod won it with his second goal of these playoffs, at 2:46 of OT. Russell had the lone assist on the winner. . . . Calgary was 1-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-5. . . . According to the online scoresheet, Calgary was 38-19 on faceoffs, with Kastelic going 20-10. . . . G Dylan Myskiw blocked 24 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . The Hitmen got 27 saves from G Jack McNaughton. . . . The Hitmen had F Jake Kryski back in their lineup. He had been out since Jan. 11 with an undisclosed injury.


F Owen Hardy’s second goal of the night, this one in OT, gave the Vancouver Giants a 5-4 Vancouvervictory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The Giants, with a 3-0 lead in the series, will have the opportunity to end it in Game 4 on Thursday in Victoria. . . . Last night, Vancouver went ahead 1-0 at 3:32 of the first period when F Jared Dmytriw, a former Royals skater, scored his second goal of the playoffs. . . .  The Royals responded with goals from F Sean Gulka (2), at 9:10, and F Igor Martynov (2), on a PP, at 19:31. . . . F Milos Roman (2) tied it for Vancouver, on a PP, at 3:44 of the second period. . . . D Mitchell Prowse (1) put Victoria back in front at 13:06 on the Royals’ first shot of the period. . . . That lead lasted until Hardy (1) scored 14 seconds into the third period. . . . The Royals went back out front at 10:15 on a goal from F Carson Miller (5). . . . The Giants forced OT when D Alex Kannok Leipert (2) scored at 15:40. . . . Hardy, who had nine goals in 64 regular-season games, won it with his second goal of the game — and of the playoffs — at 13:34 of OT. He’s from Nanaimo, so no doubt had some familiar faces in the crowd, too. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Victoria was 1-3. . . . Vancouver held a 28-9 edge in shots through two periods. An interested observer told Taking Note that “of the Royals’ nine shots, three have gone in and two were clearing attempts from their own end of the ice that hit the net.” . . . In the end, the count was 57-20, including 15-5 in OT. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner stopped 16 shots, but the story was Victoria G Griffen Outhouse and his 52 stops. . . . In the three games, the Giants hold a 124-45 edge in shots, but are only ahead 10-5 in goals. . . . Vancouver won Game 2, 2-1 in OT. . . . The Giants were without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round and has yet to play in this series. . . . D Ralph Jarratt, who didn’t finish Game 2, was among Victoria’s scratches. The Royals also were without F Tanner Sidaway for a third straight game, while F Kody McDonald served the fifth of a six-game suspension. As well, D Jake Kustra began serving a two-game suspension. . . . With their lineup depleted by injuries and suspensions, the Royals had two APs in the lineup — D Noah Lamb and F Alex Bolshakov. . . . On top of all that, the Royals may have lost F Phillip Schultz, who has two goals and seven assists in nine playoff games, with some sort of arm injury. About a minute before the game ended, Schultz went hard into the boards at the Vancouver bench. The gate was open and he hit an edge of the boards. Schultz dropped his gloves and stick and appeared to be in serious pain as he went to the dressing room.


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Cutler, Royals boot Blazers from playoffs. . . . Game slowed by two broken panes of glass. . . . Hitmen, Hurricanes to play Game 7 tonight


MacBeth

D Jesse Dudas (Lethbridge, Prince George, Swift Current, Regina, 2003-09) has signed a two-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga), he had 11 goals and 28 assists in 51 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Nick Walters (Everett, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL). This season, he had one goal and seven assists in 48 games.


ThisThat

F Nolan Yaremko, who played out his junior eligibility with the Tri-City Americans, has signed an ATO with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. Yaremko, from Spirit River, Alta., had 67 goals and 92 assists in 278 games over four regular seasons with the Americans. . . . This season, the Americans’ captain had 28 goals and 38 assists in 68 games.


D Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors has joined the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. They selected Woo in the second round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and have signed him to a contract. . . . This season, he had 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games.


The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup, staved off elimination on Monday night as they beat the visiting Quebec Remparts, 6-1. . . . The first-round series is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 set for tonight in Halifax. . . . The Mooseheads (49-15-4) finished atop the Eastern Conference; the Remparts (27-28-13) wound up eighth.


Scott Barney has signed a three-year contract as the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He began this season as an assistant coach with the Broncos, then was named interim head coach when the organization and Nathan Oystrick parted company.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Calgary Hitmen will be in Lethbridge tonight for Game 7 of their first-round series with the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge forced a final game with a 7-6 OT victory in Calgary on Sunday. . . . With the world men’s curling championship in the Enmax Centre, tonight’s game will be played in the Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s hockey teams. . . . The Hitmen won Game 5, 6-5, in that building on Friday night. . . .

In Monday’s only playoff game, the visiting Victoria Royals beat the Kamloops Blazers, 4-1, to win the series, 4-2. . . . The Royals, who finished second in the B.C. Division, will meet the Vancouver Giants, who wound up on top of the Western Conference, in the second round. That series will open with games in Langley, B.C., on Friday and Saturday. . . . In the regular season, the Giants were 6-2-2 in the season series; the Royals were 4-4-2. . . . Last season, the Royals took out the Giants in seven games in a first-round series. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that F Justin Sourdif was on the ice wearing a non-contact sweater on Monday as the Vancouver Giants practised. Sourdif hasn’t played since being injured in Game 1 of Vancouver’s six-game victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot, who also was injured against Seattle, is doubtful for the weekend.

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MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Victoria Royals scored three second-period goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the host Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Royals won the series, 4-2, and will open the second-VictoriaRoyalsround against the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. . . . The burning question going into Game 6 was: Who will start in goal for the Blazers? Veteran Dylan Ferguson, 20, had started Game 5 in Victoria on Saturday, but it was Dylan Garand who finished what was a 6-3 Royals victory. . . . When Game 6 began, Garand, a 16-year-old freshman, was in goal. . . . There was a sellout crowd (5,876) on hand for this one, but, as things turned out, they didn’t get many reasons to cheer. . . .

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FIRST PERIOD: After the Blazers opened in a rush and carried much of the play, everything came screeching to a halt. . . . There was a 25-minute delay at 4:14 of the first period as a pane of glass shattered just inside the Victoria blue line on the penalty box side of the ice. Victoria F Logan Doust hit Kamloops F Connor Zary and the heel of Doust’s stick appeared to strike the glass, at which point it crumbled like yesterday’s toast. . . . Victoria got the game’s first goal at 12:05 by forcing a turnover high in the Kamloops zone. That allowed F Brandon Cutler (2) to gain some room and he was able to snap a quick shot past Kamloops G Dylan Garand. At that point, the Blazers held a 6-3 edge in shots. . . . The Blazers’ best chance came a few seconds later as F Zane Franklin came free on the left side, but Victoria G Griffen Outhouse got across and made a great save with his right pad. . . . Kamloops finished with an 11-3 edge in shots. . . . The Blazers were 0-2 on the PP, getting three shots on back-to-back opportunities. . . . Victoria was 0-1.

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SECOND PERIOD: The Royals scored on their second shot of the period to go up 2-0 as Cutler (3) got his stick on a point shot by D Jake Kustra and tipped it through Garand’s legs at 5:57. The Royals were on their second PP of the game at the time with Kamloops D Sean Strange off with one of those dreaded delay-of-game (puck over glass) penalties. . . . At that point, Kamloops had outshot Victoria, 14-5. . . .

Believe it or not, the second period featured a 20-minute delay as another pane of glass exploded after Victoria F Sean Gulka and Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen came together just above the hash marks in the Victoria zone on the penalty box side of the ice. Strangely enough, they didn’t even hit the pane that shattered, but rather one beside it. This one fell apart at 10:43. . . .

Franklin was whistled for cross-checking at 13:11 — he was behind Victoria’s net while the puck on its way out of the zone — and the Royals scored on the PP, as D Ralph Jarratt (1) beat Garand with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. . . . Kamloops was leading on the shot clock, 16-7, at that point. . . .

Victoria was awarded a penalty shot at 18:10 after F Tarun Fizur picked Kamloops D Luke Zazula’s pocket at the Royals’ blue line and headed in alone, only to be hooked from behind by F Kobe Mohr. Garand came up with a glove save and you know that the fans were hoping that would give the Blazers a lift. . . .

However, Victoria F Dino Kambeitz hit F Carson Miller (4) with a centring pass and he jammed the puck through Garand for a 4-0 lead with 12.3 seconds remaining. Kambeitz had passed the puck through Kamloops D Quinn Schmiemann and, after the goal, looked back at the home team’s player and said something. Schmiemann went right at Kambeitz behind the Blazers net and was hit with a roughing minor. . . . That put Victoria on the PP to open the third period.

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THIRD PERIOD: The Blazers began the period with Ferguson in goal. He took over from Garand, who was beaten four times on 13 shots. . . . Outhouse denied Kamloops F Connor Zary on two point-blank opportunities, one on a quick shot from the slot, at 4:50, and the other on a backhand, at 5:40. . . . The Blazers finally got on the scoreboard at 14:18 as F Orrin Centazzo (1), the trailer, took a pass from Mohr and whipped it past Outhouse. . . . For a moment the fans could see a glimmer of light. . . . But Mohr took a boarding penalty at 14:57 and F Josh Pillar went off for slashing at 15:45 and the Kamloops dream was over. . . . The Royals were 2-7 on the PP; the Blazers were 0-2. . . . Outhouse finished with 34 saves. . . . Ferguson stopped all 10 shots he faced. . . .

JUST NOTES: After the handshakes, and with almost all the players off the ice, all four on-ice officials skated over and shook hands with Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen, who played his final WHL game. Loewen is one of the great stories in WHL history; if you aren’t familiar with it, Google is a wonderful friend. . . . As good as Outhouse played in the series, D Scott Walford was the Royals’ series MVP in my eyes. He is their maestro back there, and he ran the show through six games with various defencemen moving in and out of the lineup every game. . . . 

Victoria D Jameson Murray left the ice gingerly at 11:10 of the second period. He played a couple of shifts before the period’s end, but wasn’t on the Royals’ bench for the third period. . . . The Royals had D Matthew Smith back after he missed Games 4 and 5. . . . Jarratt played in his 43rd career playoff game with Victoria, two shy of the franchise record that is held by F Tyler Soy (2012-18). . . .

The Royals were without F Tanner Sidaway, who was suspended for one game for a hit on Zary at 11:48 of the third period in Game 5. Zary wasn’t injured on the play. Sidaway was given a minor penalty for charging. Sidaway had a goal and two assists in the first five games of the series. . . . Victoria also is without F Kody McDonald, who was hit with an indefinite suspension for a stick-swinging incident in Game 4. As well, F Kaid Oliver (shoulder) is out for the remainder of the season.


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Brewer says Cougars’ “uptick is coming.” . . . Raiders, Blades are up 3-0 and in control. . . . Chiefs take Winterhawks to the Woods’ shed


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If you are waiting for the Prince George Cougars to make a move, like out of town, forget about it.

Eric Brewer, a former NHL/WHL defenceman who is part of the organization’s PrinceGeorgeownership group of six, made a second apperance with Hartley Miller on the latter’s Cat Scan podcast, and made it quite clear that the Cougars aren’t going anywhere. He said he is in it for the long term and that means a long time.

“Long-term for me means a long way out,” Brewer said. “I don’t know how you would quantify a long term. There really has been no discussion to move the team that I’m aware of. We’re just trying to improve . . .

“We’re asking people to be patient because we feel the uptick is coming. . . . It’s coming but it does take time. Some people have stayed away a little bit . . . they want to see kind of where we’re going with it, and we understand. . . . Certainly winning a few games and a playoff run or two would help.”

Brewer added that the ownership group, which has owned the team for five years, really wants “this thing to be good and we want it to be a real positive experience for the families, for the fans, for the businesses, for the community overall. It’s a real big part of Prince George, It is the community’s team . . . we may own it, but we’re just kind of a vehicle for everyone to be a part of it.”

The Cougars missed the playoffs, and Brewer said it was “definitely a growing” season for the team. “But,” he added, “we are getting there . . . we are going up.”

Brewer also talked about the Cougars’ 17-game losing streak, the firing of head coach Richard Matvichuk, the Kootenay Ice moving to Winnipeg and a whole lot more. . . . It’s all right here.


The WHL hasn’t announced its exhibition schedule, but there will be two games, both featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince George Cougars, played in Dawson Creek, B.C. . . . Those games will be played at the Encana Events Centre on Sept. 12, 7 p.m., and Sept, 14, 1 p.m. . . . Proceeds from the games are ticketed for the Dawson Creek and District Hospital Foundation. . . . D Wyatt McLeod of the Oil Kings if from Dawson Creek, so this will be a homecoming of sorts for him.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Jacob Hoffrogge to a WHL contract. Hoffrogge, from Saskatoon, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Hoffrogge, who turned 16 on Feb. 18, had two goals and 14 assists in 39 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts this season.


F Tristyn DeRoose scored at 4:54 of OT to give the host Estevan Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Humboldt Broncos in Game 7 of an SJHL playoff series on Tuesday night. . . . The Bruins had taken a 2-0 first-period lead on goals 19 seconds apart by F Will Koop and F Eddie Gallagher. . . . The Broncos tied it on second-period goals by D Josh Patrician, at 1:26, and F Reagan Poncelet, at 1:57. . . . DeRoose, who turned 20 on Jan. 29, won it with his first goal of these playoffs. He has played in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors. In fact, he started this season with the Warriors. In 109 WHL games, he has five goals and eight assists. In the regular season with Estevan, the native of Ceylon, Sask., recorded seven goals and 18 assists in 25 games. . . . Estevan got 29 saves from G Grant Boldt, while G Rayce Ramsay stopped 38 shots for Humboldt. . . . The announced attendance was 2,662.


Topher Scott at thehockeythinktank.com has written a piece titled: The Cost of AAA Hockey. . . . My goodness, this is scarier than Stephen King at his best. Unless you’re a loans officer or the president of a bank, of course. . . . It’s all right here.


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NOTES: Going into Tuesday’s games, the first round of the playoffs had featured nine games in suspensions and $1,500 in fines. There don’t appear to have been any major incidents last night, although one hit in the Victoria Royals’ 3-2 victory over the host Kamloops Blazers may come in for a look. . . .

The Royals may ask for supplemental discipline after a second-period hit by F Brodi Stuart of Kamloops on D Matt Smith, who left the game and didn’t return. There wasn’t a penalty on the play, but Victoria head coach Dan Price obviously felt there was a high elbow involved. He could be seen signalling with an elbow at referee Sean Raphael, and also appeared to suggest to Raphael that the referee should “watch the replay.” . . . After the game, Price told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “I’m not going to comment on (the hit by Stuart). I appreciate you asking the question. I said what I had to say to the referee so I just want to make sure I leave that in the hands of the league. That’s above my pay grade. Our general manager will make that decision.” . . . As Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning, Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, was pondering his options. . . .

Only the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans weren’t in action last night. They will play Game 3 tonight in Kennewick, Wash., with the Silvertips leading, 2-0. . . . Only the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Calgary Hitmen won’t play tonight. They are scheduled to play Game 4 in Calgary on Thursday night. . . . Home teams were 2-5 last night and now are 14-9 in these playoffs. . . . 

Last night, F Cole Sillinger scored his first WHL goal for the Medicine Hat Tigers. It came in his third playoff game. His dad, Mike, totalled 20 goals in 23 playoff games with the Regina Pats back in the day. . . .

When F Jared Anderson-Dolan of the Spokane Chiefs was penalized for interference 24 seconds into the second period of their game in Portland last night, it was the first penalty called in more than four periods between these teams. There wasn’t even one penalty called in Game 2 or in the first period of Game 3.

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Max Gerlach snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Saskatoon Blades skated to a 3-Saskatoon2 victory over the host Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Blades hold a 3-0 lead in the series, with Game 4 in Moose Jaw tonight. . . .  F Kyle Crnkovic (1) gave Saskatoon the lead at 18:03 of the first period. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (1) tied it at 11:29 of the second. . . . F Kirby Dach (2) put Saskatoon back out front at 17:15. . . . Warriors F Carson Denomie (2) tied it at 6:27 of the third. . . . Gerlach won it with his fourth goal of the series, on a PP, at 15:39. . . . The Warriors took back-to-back delay-of-game penalties at 13:40 and 14:12 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon was 1-5 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-3. . . . G Nolan Maier earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Moose Jaw G Adam Evanoff made his second straight start and stopped 37 shots. . . . F Brayden Tracey returned to the Warriors’ lineup after missing his club’s previous four games.


F Noah Gregor scored twice to help the visiting Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-2 victory over PrinceAlbertthe Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is to be played tonight in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders haven’t won a playoff series since 2005 when they dumped the Saskatoon Blades (4-0) and Medicine Hat Tigers (4-2) before losing in seven games to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference final. Since then, the Raiders were ousted six times in the first round and had seven non-playoff seasons. . . . The Raiders, who held a 42-16 edge in shots, got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and were never headed. . . . Gregor (1) made it 1-0 at 1:09 of the first period, and F Dante Hannoun (2) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 13:22. . . . F Brandon Hagel (4) scored for Red Deer at 4:37 of the second period. . . . Gregor (2) restored the two-goal lead at 16:45 of the third period, only to have F Reese Johnson (1) get Red Deer to within one at 18:58. . . . Prince Albert F Parker Kelly (1) iced it with the empty-netter at 19:41. . . . All four of the Prince Albert goals were unassisted. . . . The Raiders got 14 saves from G Todd Scott. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders turned aside 38 shots. . . . The Raiders played without F Brett Leason, who served a one-game suspension for a hit from behind on Rebels F Cam Hausinger in Game 2. Hausinger wasn’t injured on the play. . . . The Rebels are without D Alex Alexeyev (knee), who won’t play in this series.


The Calgary Hitmen opened up a 3-0 lead midway through the game and went on to beat Calgarythe visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-3, behind two goals and an assist from F Carson Focht. . . . The Hurricanes lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 tonight in Calgary. . . . F Ryder Korczak (1) gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 3:24 of the first period, and Focht (1) made it 2-0 at 4:43. . . . F Josh Prokop (1) upped that to 3-0 at 9:01 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes got to within one on second-period goals from F Dylan Cozens (2), at 9:39, and F Zack Stringer (1), at 17:38. . . . Calgary went back up by a pair when Focht (2) scored, on a PP, at 6:13 of the third. . . . Cozens (3) got the Hurricanes back close at 11:27, before Calgary F Luke Coleman (1) got the empty-netter at 19:55. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 26 shots for Calgary, five fewer than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . F Mark Kastelic, Calgary’s captain and a 47-goal man in the regular season, was among the scratches. According to a tweet from Jeff Hollick (@JeffHollick), Kastelic “is out indefinitely with a concussion after a boarding incident and a punch to the head in Game 2.” . . . The Hurricanes were without F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard, both of whom served one-game suspensions that were handed down after they became involved in a brouhaha at the end of Game 2. . . . When this series returns to Lethbridge for Game 5 on Friday, they’ll be playing in Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns because the world men’s curling championship will be in the Enmax Centre. The Nicholas Sheran Arena has 968 seats and 200 standing room spots.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 32 shots to lead the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 5-0 victory Tigers Logo Officialover the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Tigers lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled to be played tonight in Medicine Hat. . . . F Cole Sillinger, 15, scored his first WHL goal to get the Tigers started. The 11th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft counted at 15:09 of the first period. . . . F James Hamblin (2) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 9:24 of the second period, with F Elijah Brown (3) adding to the lead at 12:53. . . . The Tigers wrapped it up with third-period goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (1) and F Hayden Ostir (2). . . . Medicine Hat was 0-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-2. . . . Edmonton F Vince Loschiavo wasn’t able to score on a third-period penalty shot. . . . Søgaard, the 6-foot-7 freshman from Aalborg, Denmark, is 2-1, 1.68, .959 in the three games of this series. He has stopped 118 of 123 shots. . . . Edmonton starter Dylan Myskiw surrendered four goals on 23 shots in 41:55. Todd Scott came on in relief and was beaten once on 11 shots in 18:05.


The Vancouver Giants erased a 3-2 deficit with three straight goals en route to a 6-4 Vancouvervictory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Giants lead the series, 2-1. . . . They are to meet again tonight in Kent for Game 4. . . . Seattle went ahead 1-0 at 4:06 of the first period when F Matthew Wedman (1) scored. . . . The Giants took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Tristen Nielsen (1), on a PP, at 19:27, and D Bowen Byram (2), at 3:21 of the second period. . . . Seattle went ahead 3-2 as F Payton Mount scored his first two goals, both on the PP, at 8:40 and 11:09 of the second period. The Giants took a pair of too-many-men minors 3:19 apart, and Seattle scored on both PP opportunities. . . . Mount had scored five goals in 57 regular-season games, with just one of those coming via the PP. . . . Vancouver tied it when F Jadon Joseph (3) struck, on a PP, at 18:48 of the second period, then took the lead when D Alex Kannok Leipert (1) scored 24 seconds into the third. . . . D Dallas Hines (1) made it 5-3 at 7:02. . . . Seattle got to within a goal as F Sean Richards (2) scored at 16:38, but Vancouver F Brayden Watts (1) got the empty-netter at 19:38. . . . Nielsen and Byram each had two assists for three-point outings. . . . G David Tendeck made his first start of the series for Vancouver, stopping 25 shots. Trent Miner had started the first two games. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 31 shots. . . . Vancouver was 2-3 on the PP; Seattle was 2-5. . . . The Thunderbirds were without D Jake Lee, who completed a two-game suspension for a hit on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif with six seconds remaining in Game 1. Sourdif hasn’t played since then, and isn’t expected to be in the lineup tonight.


F Riley Woods scored in OT to give the visiting Spokane Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the SpokaneChiefsPortland Winterhawks. . . . Spokane leads the series, 2-1. . . . They’ll do it again tonight in Game 4 in Portland. . . . The Winterhawks grabbed a 2-0 on first-period goals from F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (1), at 1:39, and F Joachim Blichfeld (2), at 6:57. . . . Spokane responded with three straight goals, from F Luke Toporowski (1), who had missed Game 2, at 16:37; F Luc Smith (2), on a PP, at 5:03 of the second period; and F Ethan McIndoe (2), at 5:42. . . . Portland then took a 4-3 lead as D Jared Freadrich (1) scored at 10:06 and Fromm-Delorme (2) got his second at 1:44 of the third. He had scored three times in 60 regular-season games. . . . Spokane F Jack Finley (1) tied it, 4-4, at 7:48. . . . Woods won it with his second goal of the series, at 9:35 of OT. . . . Spokane was 1-1 on the PP; Portland was 0-1. . . . The teams had played Game 2 without taking a minor penalty. There were two called in Game 3. . . . Spokane G Bailey Brkin stopped 28 shots, 10 fewer than Portland’s Joel Hofer. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without F Cody Glass (knee), while D John Ludvig completed a two-game suspension by sitting out this one.


The Victoria Royals scored the game’s last two goals, both of them in the third period, VictoriaRoyalsand beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Kamloops. . . . Victoria leads the series, 2-1. . . . Game 4 is to be played tonight in Kamloops. . . . F Carson Miller (3) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 17:36 of the first period. He has a goal in each game of this series. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen (2) tied it at 19:03. . . . After a scoreless second period, F Connor Zary (1) gave Kamloops a 2-1 lead, shorthanded, at 2:15 of the third. . . . Zary was playing his first game of the series after being out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Zary scored after stripping the puck from a Victoria defenceman behind the Royals’ net and coming out the backside to stuff it into the net. . . . At 4:48, Victoria F Brandon Cutler (1) scored a playgrounder at the other end to get his guys back into a tie. . . . The Royals won it at 8:08 when D Scott Walford, the best player in this game, and F Kody McDonald broke out 2-on-1. Walford slipped the puck to McDonald, who got G Dylan Ferguson to open up and then slid the disc through his legs for his third goal of the series. . . . The Blazers had one excellent change with time winding down but F Kyrell Sopotyk had his backhand attempt sail wide of the right post. . . . Victoria was 0-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-2. . . . G Griffen Outhouse was sharp in making 32 saves. He set a franchise record for career playoff victories (10), breaking the mark he had been sharing with Coleman Vollrath (2012-16). . . . Ferguson finished with 28 saves. . . . Victoria D Matt Smith, who had missed 10 games since last playing on Feb. 24, started the game but left in the second period after a hit from Kamloops F Brodi Stuart. . . . Victoria was without D Mitchell Prowse for a second straight game. . . . With Prowse out and Smith gone, the Royals sent with four defencemen for most of the game’s final 25 minutes. In the third period, they used two pairings — Walford with Jameson Murray, and Jake Austria with Ralph Jarratt. . . . Kustra was playing his first game after missing six in a row. . . . Kamloops F Kobe Mohr sat out as he completed a two-game suspension for slashing a linesman following a faceoff in Game 1. . . . The video below provides a look at Mohr’s transgression.


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Blades win first playoff game since 2011. . . . Addison gets OT goal for Lethbridge. . . . Record night for Outhouse in Victoria

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While 16 teams were preparing to being the WHL playoffs this weekend, the Kootenay Ice were on the move.

Yes, the movers were at Western Financial Place on Friday morning, cleaning out the team’s office and its retail space. The franchise has left Cranbrook, B.C., and now is the Winnipeg Ice.

Meanwhile, the WHL office hit Ice F Peyton Krebs with a one-game suspension after he was hit with a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in Sunday’s 5-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels.

Because that was the Ice’s final game of this season, Krebs will serve that suspension next season, meaning he will miss the team’s first regular-season game as the Winnipeg Ice.


It turns out that Todd Harkins is not going to the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.

As my once reliable source texted on Friday: “I guess my source was wrong about Harkins.”

Yeah, I guess he was. I apologize to anyone who may have been impacted by what was written here earlier in the week. Seriously. Something like this is my worst nightmare.

St. George’s School, which is based in Vancouver, announced Friday that Harkins has been named its Head of Hockey as of April 1.

From the news release:

“Todd has an extensive background as a player, coach and general manager. He brings a wealth of both on- and off-ice experiences as well as a passion for working with student-athletes. Todd played professionally from 1990–2001 and represented the USA at the World Championships in 1992, 1995 and 1998. He has coached multiple minor hockey teams including — most recently — the bantam varsity team at the West Van Hockey Academy. Todd also was the general manager (four years) and head scout/director of player personnel (one year)” with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.


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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

NOTES: Seven of the WHL’s first-round series began on Friday, with only the Medicine Hat Tigers and Edmonton Oil Kings not playing. They will get started tonight in Edmonton. . . . The other seven series all will resume tonight. . . . Last night, the Saskatoon Blades won a playoff game for the first time since April 3, 2011, when they beat the Raiders, 2-1 in OT, in Prince Albert. F Matej Stransky scored the winner, at 4:24 of OT. . . . Two players — D Jake Lee of the Seattle Thunderbirds and D John Ludvig of the Portland Winterhawks — took majors and game misconducts last night, so may find themselves suspended before tonight’s schedule gets started. . . . G Griffen Outhouse of the Victoria Royals set one franchise record and tied another in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers, who were without F Connor Zary. . . . Read on. . . .

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G Ian Scott turned aside 21 shots to help the Prince Albert Raiders to a 3-0 victory over PrinceAlbertthe visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for tonight in Prince Albert. . . . Scott has put up four shutouts over his last six starts. He finished the regular season with eight shutouts; this was his first of the playoffs. . . . F Dante Hannoun (1) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 19:28 of the first period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (1) upped it to 2-0 at 8:49 of the second period, and F Sean Montgomery (1) made it 3-0 at 16:53. . . . G Ethan Anders stopped 25 shots for Red Deer. . . . The Rebels are without D Alex Alexeyev (knee), who won’t play in this series.


F Chase Wouters scored the first OT goal of these playoffs, giving the Saskatoon Blades a Saskatoon3-2 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . They’ll play the second game tonight in Saskatoon. . . . This was the first playoff game in Saskatoon since the spring of 2013, and the announced attendance was 5,193. . . . The Warriors led this one 2-0 on goals by F Kaeden Taphorn (1), at 3:03 of the second period, and F Eric Alarie (1), at 4:34. . . . Alarie, in the Moose Jaw lineup because F Brayden Tracey was scratched, scored his first WHL goal. Alarie, who turned 16 on Jan. 27, is from Winnipeg. A first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the 2018 bantam draft, he was pointless in two regular-season games with the Warriors. He played with the prep team at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, putting up 17 goals and 29 assists in 27 games. . . . F Max Gerlach (1) got the Blades to within a goal, on a PP, at 7:21 of the second period, and F Riley McKay (1) tied it at 11:48 of the third. . . . Wouters (1) won it at 3:23 of OT. . . . Saskatoon held a 38-23 edge in shots, including 14-6 in the second period, 10-2 in the third, and 3-1 in OT. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 21 shots for Saskatoon, 14 fewer than Moose Jaw’s Brodan Salmond. . . . Tracey, the WHL’s highest-scoring freshman, was among Moose Jaw’s scratches. Tracey, who finished with 81 points, including 36 goals, in 66 games, sat out Moose Jaw’s last two regular-season games. . . . The WHL didn’t issue any suspensions from a game-ending brouhaha involving the Swift Current Broncos and host Warriors on Saturday, so Moose Jaw had F Tristin Langan and D Josh Brook in the lineup.


D Calen Addison’s OT goal gave the host Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the LethbridgeCalgary Hitmen. . . . Game 2 is to be played tonight in Lethbridge. . . . F Mark Kastelic, who had left Calgary’s final regular-season game on Sunday after taking a hard hit into a stanchion, gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 14:36 of the first period. . . . F Nick Henry (1) tied it for Lethbridge at 1:35 of the second period. . . . D Devan Klassen (1) put Calgary back out front at 3:33. . . . Lethbridge tied it when F Dylan Cozens (1) scored at 11:24 of the second period. . . . The teams played through a scoreless third period. . . . The Hurricanes got 31 saves from G Carl Tetachuk. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton blocked 30 shots.


The Vancouver Giants opened the second period with two goals 23 seconds apart, then Vancouverscored twice more before the period ended, as they skated to a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Langley, B.C. . . . Game 2 is set for tonight in Langley. . . . D Dylan Plouffe led the Giants with two goals and an assist. . . . F Milos Roman (1), on a PP, at 1:20 of the second, and F Lukas Svejkovsky (1), at 1:43, got the Giants started. . . . F Jadon Joseph (1), shorthanded, made it 3-0 at 6:47, and Plouffe got the 4-0 goal at 16:57. . . . Seattle got its goal from F Andrej Kukuca (1), at 19:57. . . . The Giants added third-period goals from F Dawson Holt (1), Plouffe, on a PP, and D Bowen Byram (1). . . . Vancouver was 2-7 on the PP; Seattle was 0-7. . . . The Giants got 27 saves from G Trent Miner. . . . Seattle starter Roddy Ross surrendered six goals on 31 shots. Cole Schwebius came on in relief to stop eight on nine shots in 15:27. . . . Seattle D Jake Lee was hit with a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 19:54 of the third period.


G Griffen Outhouse set one franchise record and tied another as he lead the Victoria VictoriaRoyalsRoyals to a 4-0 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . They’ll go again tonight in Victoria in Game 2. . . . Outhouse, who stopped 28 shots in earning his first playoff shutout, tied the record for most career playoff victories that had been held by Coleman Vollrath (2012-16). It was Outhouse’s 21st playoff appearance, breaking Vollrath’s record of 20. . . . This was Victoria’s first shutout this season. . . . F Sean Gulka (1) opened the scoring at 6:23 of the first period, and F Carson Miller (1) made it 2-0 at 9:51 of the second period. . . . F Dino Kambeitz scored Victoria’s last two goals, at 13:17 of the second, and an empty-netter at 16:23 of the third. . . . Kamloops got 33 saves from G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson, who was injured during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6, backed up Garand. Ferguson hadn’t dressed for the Blazers’ past seven games. . . . The Blazers had been 5-0-1 in their previous six games, including Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets in a tiebreaker game that qualified them for the playoffs. . . . The Blazers scratched F Connor Zary (undisclosed). He was the team’s second-leading scorer with 67 points, including a team-leading 43 assists, in 63 games. He finished the regular season with nine points, including five goals, in his last four games, then added a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s tiebreaker victory. . . . The Royals had F Kody McDonald back in the lineup, but D Matt Smith, D Jameson Murray and D Jake Kustra were missing. F Kade Oliver (shoulder) won’t play again this season.


The host Spokane Chiefs scored three PP goals in the second period en route to a 5-2 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for tonight in Spokane. . . . The Chiefs erased a 1-0 first-period deficit by scoring the game’s next five goals. . . . Spokane went 3-5 on the PP; Portland was 2-8. . . . F Jake Gricius (1) gave Portland a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 11:20 of the first period. . . . Spokane took a 3-1 lead on three second-period PP goals, from F Adam Beckman (1), at 3:08; F Riley Woods (1), at 12:02; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (1), at 17:56. . . . F Kaden Hanas, who had three assists in 21 regular-season games, gave the Chiefs a 4-1 lead with his first WHL goal at 3:34 of the third period. . . . F Ethan McIndoe (1) upped it to 5-1 at 4:23. . . . Portland’s last goal, at 19:03, came from F Joachim Blichfeld (1). . . . The Chiefs got a solid game from G Bailey Brkin, who stopped 34 shots, 17 more than Portland’s Joel Hofer. . . . The Winterhawks lost D John Ludvig to a headshot major and game misconduct with 17.6 seconds left in the first period. F Ethan McIndoe of the Chiefs left the game after the hit, but returned early in the second period. . . . The Chiefs also lost D Nolan Reid after he was struck in the face by a stick during the first period. . . . Portland F Cody Glass (knee) didn’t make trip to Spokane. He hasn’t played since Feb. 23. . . . F Jake McGrew was among Spokane’s scratches. He had 54 points, 31 of them goals, in 61 regular-season games. McGrew had a goal and an assist in Spokane’s 10-1 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Saturday. . . .


F Martin Fasko-Rudas and F Max Patterson each had a goal and two assists to lead the Everetthost Everett Silvertips to a 6-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for tonight in Everett. . . . The Silvertips held a 33-9 edge in shots after two periods but only were leading 1-0 on the first of F Connor Dewar’s two goals, at 17:44 of the first period. . . . Dewar made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 6:54 of the third period, and Patterson increased that to 3-0 at 12:34. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (1) scored for Tri-City at 13:30. . . . Everett put it away with goals from F Zack Andrusiak (1), into an empty net, at 17:40; F Lucas Cullen (1), at 18:39; and Fasko-Rudas (1), on a PP, at 19:49. . . . Everett got three assists from D Jake Christiansen. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 21 shots for Everett, while Tri-City’s Beck Warm blocked 42. . . . Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest coach in WHL regular-season history, has joined Americans’ play-by-play voice Craig West to provide analysis during this series. Nachbaur put up 692 regular-season victories in stints with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City and the Spokane Chiefs.


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It’s a big day in Allan, Sask. . . . No playoffs for Wheaties. . . . Blazers, Rockets all even in third. . . . Giants clinch conference flag

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This is going to be a great day in Allan, Sask. That’s because the folks there are in the HumboldtBroncosmiddle of their winter festival, and they will be taking time to rename the local arena in honour of the late Logan Schatz, who was the captain of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. The Allan and District Communiplex is to be renamed the Logan Schatz Memorial Arena. . . . Allan is located about 60 km southeast of Saskatoon. . . . Schatz, a native of Allan, was finishing up his fourth season with the Broncos when he was killed in the April 6 bus crash. . . . The dedication ceremony also will involved the unveiling of signage inside and outside the arena. Angie Rolheiser of northeastnow.com writes that the “signs were made by Humboldt Collegiate Institute industrial arts teacher Brian Hinz, who also taught Logan while he attended HCI.” . . . It is only fitting that there will be a hockey game in the Logan Schatz Memorial Arena tonight, with the Allan Senior Flames meeting the Kinistino Tigers in Game 2 of a Wheatland Hockey League playoff series. . . . Rolheiser’s story is right here.


There is an interesting conundrum in Kamloops where the Blazers ran out of goaltenders and had one on their bench Friday night whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips.

This all started on March 6 when Kamloops starter Dylan Ferguson, 20, was injured Kamloops1during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants.

The Blazers immediately brought in Rayce Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos to back up Dylan Garand. In Ferguson’s absence Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, made his fifth straight start last night as the Blazers lost, 5-4 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Cougars.

Ramsay was on the bench for the first four of those starts, but he couldn’t make it five because he had to return to Humboldt as the Broncos started a playoff series in Estevan against the Bruins last night. Ramsay made 29 saves as the Broncos opened with a 4-1 victory.

In the end, the Blazers were able to add G Danton Belluk to their roster as an emergency backup, getting him, with the WHL’s approval, on loan from the Silvertips. Under emergency conditions, Belluk will only be able to play should Garand be injured.

Belluk, 17, is from Lorette, Man. A 10th-round pick of the Silvertips in the 2016 bantam draft, he spent this season with the midget AAA Eastman Selects. Last season, he got into two games with the Silvertips.


Two WHL veteran forwards signed three-year entry-level NHL contracts on Friday.

Trey Fix-Wolansky, the captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings, signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Fix-Wolansky, 19, has 101 points, including 37 goals, in 63 games. He has single-season career highs in goals, assists and points. . . . From Edmonton, he has 244 points, including 151 assists, in 204 career regular-season WHL games over three seasons, all with the Oil Kings. . . . He wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. . . .

Jake Elmer, an undrafted free agent, signed with the New York Rangers. He has 38 goals and 41 assists in 67 games. Elmer, who turned 20 on Dec. 31, is from Calgary. The Regina Pats selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . They dealt him to the Kootenay Ice and he later was moved to the Hurricanes. Last season, he finished with 18 goals and 19 assists in 70 games with Lethbridge. . . . In 203 career regular-season games, he has 63 goals and 69 assists.


If you have attended a WHL game or a show at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, you may have seen Freda and/or Howard Brown. Both of them have been heavily involved with the volunteers and security at the arena; Freda also looked after the media and scouts in the press box for a number of years. . . . Freda now is dealing with kidney disease — she started dialysis earlier this month — and is hoping that a transplant is in her future. Howard has proven to be a match, and he now is going through the testing process to see if he can be the donor. . . . With Thursday having been World Kidney Day, they told their story to CFJC-TV in Kamloops, and it’s all right here. There is a story here, as well as video.


The Trinity Western Spartans won their second straight BCIHL championship on Friday TWUnight, beating the Vancouver Island Mariners, 9-1, in Aldergrove, B.C., to sweep the best-of-three series. . . . The Spartans are the first team to successfully defend its BCIHL championship since the Castlegar, B.C.-based Selkirk College Saints won in 2014-15 and 2015-16. . . . TWU finished the regular season at 18-5-0, then went 4-0 in the playoffs. Over the past two seasons, the Spartans’ combined record is 47-8-1. . . . TWU has applied for admission to Canada West in time for the 2020-21 season. A decision is expected later this year.


Darren Granger started in the hockey business as the assistant equipment manager with the Brandon Wheat Kings. That was about 25 years ago. He now has been in the NHL since 1992, first with the Vancouver Canucks as their assistant equipment manager. Since 2006, he has been the head equipment manager for the Los Angeles Kings. . . . Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times has more on Granger right here.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Brandon Wheat Kings had their playoff hopes come to an end as they were beaten, Pats5-4, by the host Regina Pats. . . . Regina (19-45-3) had lost its previous seven games. . . . Brandon (30-29-8) has lost five in a row. The Wheat Kings are four points away from a playoff spot but have only one game remaining. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . Regina is 4-2-1 in the season series; Brandon is 3-4-0. . . . The Pats won this one with three goals in the span of 1:31 in the third period. . . . Regina D Liam Schioler (5) tied the score, 3-3, at 9:13 of the third period. . . . D Brett Clayton (5) broke the tie at 9:47. . . . F Sergei Alkhimov (13) upped Regina’s lead to 5-3 at 10:44. . . . F Luka Burzan (40) got the Wheaties to within a goal at 11:40 but they weren’t able to get even. . . . Brandon F Ben McCartney shot wide on a penalty shot at 15:43 of the third period. . . . F Cole Reinhardt (22) and Burzan had given Brandon a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (5), on a PP, and Alkhimov got Regina even in the second period, and Brandon D Braydyn Chizen (2) gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 1:12 of the third. . . . G Dean McNabb stopped 34 shots for Regina. . . . The Wheat Kings got 39 stops from G Jiri Patera.


F Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored in OT to give the Prince George Cougars a 5-4 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Prince George (19-40-8) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (27-32-8) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is tied with the Kelowna Rockets for third place in the B.C. Division. If they are tied after tonight’s games, they will meet in a sudden-death play-in game in Kamloops on Tuesday night. . . . They Blazers and Cougars will play again tonight, this time in Prince George. . . . Kamloops is 6-0-2 in the season series; Prince George is 2-5-1. . . . The Cougars erased a 2-1 deficit with three goals in the first half of the third period. Mikhalchuk tied the game at 1:11; F Josh Curtis (13) gave the Cougars the lead at 6:51; and F Mike MacLean came out of the penalty to score his fifth goal of the season on a breakaway at 9:50. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (13) got Kamloops to within a goal, on a PP, at 13:39, and F Connor Zary (23) tied it from a scramble at 19:04 with G Dylan Garand on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Blazers held possession for most of the OT, but got a bit too fancy in the offensive zone and gave up a 2-on-1 with Mikhalchuk and Curtis going the other way. Mikhalchuk ended it with his 24th goal of the season. . . . D Rhett Rhinehart (5) scored Prince George’s first goal, with F Kobe Mohr (8) and F Ryley Appelt (5) giving Kamloops a 2-1 lead. . . . Mikhalchuk finished with two goals and two assists, while Curtis added two assists to his goal. . . . Zary also had three points, as he, too, had two helpers. . . . The Cougars got 26 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Garand stopped 24 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers scratched D Joonas Sillanpää, their Finnish freshman, for a third straight game.


F Max Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie in the third period to give the Saskatoon Blades a 3-2 Saskatoonvictory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Saskatoon (45-14-8) has won eight in a row, and 14 of 15. It also has won nine in a row on home ice. The Blades will finish second in the East Division. They open a first-round series against the Moose Jaw Warriors on March 22 in Saskatoon. . . . Prince Albert (53-10-4) had won its previous three games. The Raiders will finish atop the Eastern Conference and meet the Red Deer Rebels, the second wild-card team, in the first round. . . . Season series: Prince Albert, 5-2-0; Saskatoon, 2-4-1. . . . These two teams will play tonight in Prince Albert. . . . F Parker Kelly (35) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 1:21 of the first period. . . . The Blades went ahead 2-1 on goals from D Brandon Schuldhaus (8), at 5:44, and F Ryan Hughes (30), on a PP, at 0:37 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (41) got the visitors into a 2-2 tie, on a PP, at 4:49 of the third period. . . . Gerlach won it with his 41st goal, on a PP, at 7:17. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 28 shots for the Blades. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott, who stopped 29 shots, went into the game riding three straight shutouts. His shutout streak ended at a franchise-record 185:44 when Schuldhaus scored. The Raiders’ previous record (128:32) had been set by G Craig Hordal in 1995-96. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson played in his 300th regular-season game. . . . The Raiders’ scratches included F Dante Hannoun.


F Jake Leschyshyn scored three times to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory Lethbridgeover the host Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge (39-18-10) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings for top spot in the Central Division. The Oil Kings will go home-and-home with the Calgary Hitmen this afternoon and Sunday afternoon. The Hurricanes will meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat tonight. . . . Red Deer (33-28-6) has lost three straight. Despite the loss, the Rebels clinched the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot when the Brandon Wheat Kings lost. Red Deer will meet the conference-champion Prince Albert Raiders in the first round. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 4-1-1; Red Deer was 2-3-1. . . . F Dylan Cozens (34) and Leschyshyn, on a PP, gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with goals 30 seconds apart in the first period. . . . The Rebels tied it on two goals from F Reese Johnson, at 9:13 of the first period and 5:18 of the second. . . . Leschyshyn put the Hurricanes back out front at 12:58. . . . Johnson completed his third hat trick of the season by scoring his 27th goal at 13:41. . . . Leschyshyn’s 40th goal, at 4:15 of the third period, stood up as the winner. He’s got three career hat tricks; this was his first with Lethbridge, which acquired him from the Regina Pats this season. . . . G Carl Tetachuk earned the victory with 27 saves, two fewer than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders.


The Moose Jaw Warriors set a franchise record for most road victories in a season with a MooseJawWarriors6-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Currrent. . . . Moose Jaw (39-20-8) has won two in a row. It will finish third in the East Division and meet the Saskatoon Blades in a first-round playoff series. . . . The Warriors won 24 road games this season, one more than last season’s team. . . . Swift Current (11-50-6) will travel to Moose Jaw tonight. . . . Season series: Moose Jaw, 4-0-1; Swift Current, 1-3-1. . . . The Warriors got two goals and two assists from F Justin Almeida, who now has 108 points, including 76 assists. Almeida, who has had 12 career games with at least four points, leads the WHL in assists and is third in points, four points behind Portland Winterhawks F Joachim Blichfeld and two behind teammate Tristin Langan, who had one assist. . . . The Warriors also got goals from F Carson Denomie (7), F Keenan Taphorn (15), F Daniil Stepanov (8) and D Josh Brook (16). . . . Almeida and Stepanov each scored while shorthanded. . . . F Brayden Tracey was among Moose Jaw’s scratches.


Shivers
After being open for 690 Kootenay Ice games, Shivers concession stand will end its run when the team leaves for Winnipeg after Sunday’s game. “Thank you Kootenay Ice and hockey fans,” reads the sign. “Shivers opened on Sept 12, 2001. Since opening we have served you for 690 Kootenay Ice hockey games.” It is signed: “Ramona and Staff.”

F Ryan Jevne scored once and added two assists to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 5-2 Tigers Logo Officialvictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. . . . Medicine Hat (35-26-6) has won three in a row. With the victory, it clinched the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. The Tigers will play the Central Division champion, either the Edmonton Oil Kings or Lethbridge Hurricanes, in the first round. . . . Kootenay (12-45-10) has lost six in a row. . . . The Tigers won the season series, 5-1-0; the Ice was 1-4-1. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (21), Jevne (31) and F Ryan Chyzowski (27), on a PP, gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the first period. . . . D Linus Nassen (7) made it 4-0 at 12:58 of the second. . . . D Marco Creta (4) and F Holden Kodak (2) scored for the Ice in the third period, before F Brett Kemp (32) got an empty-netter for Medicine Hat. . . . Ice G Jesse Makaj stopped 51 shots, 22 more than the Tigers’ Mads Sogaard. . . . Kootenay F Austin Schellenberg left in the first period with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return. . . . The Ice brought in D Anson McMaster, 16, for the final two games of the season. A second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . The Ice has one home game remaining, Sunday afternoon against the Red Deer Rebels, and its stay in Cranbrook will be over. The franchise is relocating to Winnipeg.


The Victoria Royals got 35 saves from G Griffen Outhouse and two shootout goals to beat VictoriaRoyalsthe visiting Everett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . Victoria (34-29-4) had lost its previous four games. It will finish second in the B.C. Division and meet with the Kamloops Blazers or Kelowna Rockets in the first round. . . . Everett (46-16-5) has lost three in a row (0-4-1). It will finish atop the U.S. Division, and will see the Tri-City Americans in the first round. . . . Victoria is 2-1-0 in the season series; Everett is 1-1-1. . . . These two teams will meet again tonight in Everett. . . . Last night, F Connor Dewar (36) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the first period, only to have Victoria F Brandon Cutler tie it 17 seconds later. . . . Everett went ahead 2-1 as F Martin Fasko-Rudas (12) scored at 8:59 of the second period. . . . Cutler tied it with his 14th goal of the season, just 57 seconds later. . . . Victoria got shootout goals from D Ralph Jarratt and F Igor Martynov, with F Bryce Kindopp the only Everett shooter to score. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for the Silvertips. . . . F Lucas Cullen, 19, who spent his season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, made his Everett debut. . . . The Royals scratched D Mitchell Prowse, D Jameson Murray, D Matt Smith, F Tyus Gent, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver. . . . They had 16 skaters dressed, including two APs — D Kaden Reinders and D Noah Lamb.


F Jake McGrew enjoyed his third career hat trick to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-3 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Spokane (39-21-7) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. The Chiefs have one game remaining. The Winterhawks will play the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight and again Sunday. . . . Portland and Spokane will be first-round opponents. . . . Tri-City (34-27-6) has lost four straight (0-2-2). It will be the Western Conference’s first wild-card team and will meet the Everett Silvertips in the first round. . . . Season series: Tri-City, 6-4-1; Spokane, 5-5-1. . . . The Chiefs and Americans will play again tonight, this time in Spokane. . . . McGrew, on a PP, and D Roman Kalinichenko (2) gave the Chiefs an early 2-0 lead. . . . F Parker AuCoin, who scored 21 goals last season, got his 42nd of this season for the Americans at 13:34 of the opening period. He also had two assists in this one. . . . McGrew added his second goal at 19:15. . . . Chiefs F Luke Toporowski gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 13:18 of the second period. . . . Tri-City F Krystof Hrabik (21) tied it, on a PP, at 2:35 of the third. . . . Spokane D Filip Kral (10) broke the tie at 18:12, and McGrew completed his hat trick by scoring his 30th goal into an empty net at 19:03. . . . The Chiefs got 25 saves from G Reece Klassen, while Tri-City’s Talyn Boyko blocked 39 shots. . . . The Chiefs scratched F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, F Riley Woods, D Ty Smith and F Eli Zummack. F Bear Hughes, who played this season with the junior B Spokane Braves, made his WHL debut.


D Dylan Plouffe scored a late PP goal to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the VancouverKelowna Rockets in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (48-15-4) has won three in a row. With the victory, the Giants clinched first place in the Western Conference and will meet the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round. . . . Kelowna (27-32-8) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is tied for third with the Kamloops Blazers in the B.C. Division. Each team has one game remaining — the Rockets will entertain the Giants tonight, while the Blazers are playing the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Should the Blazers and Rockets end up tied for third place, a sudden-death play-in game will be held in Kamloops on Tuesday night. . . . Vancouver is 7-0-1 in the season series with Kelowna, which is 1-7-0. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (5) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 3:36 of the second period. . . . Kelowna F Kyle Crosby (7) tied it at 11:01. . . . Plouffe won it with his eighth goal of the season, at 16:50 of the third period. . . . The Giants got 17 stops from G Trent Miner. . . . Kelowna G Roman Basran stopped 29 shots. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-1. . . . The Rockets continue to play without D Lassi Thomson (concussion).


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Scattershooting after watching the GOAT vs. The Kid . . . Chiefs’ Larson OK, just sore . . . Boyko sparks Ams’ victory

Scattershooting

Tony Romo is in his second season as an analyst on CBS-TV’s No. 1 NFL crew. He already is No. 1 in his field. He was at his best — and then some — on Sunday as he worked the game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. Oh my, was he good!


grandma

By now you may have heard that Gladys Knight is to sing The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in her hometown of Atlanta. Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong expects her to arrive on The Midnight Train To Georgia.

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Here’s RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl. Pip Pip hooray!”


Chong also reports that “China has successfully grown cotton on the moon. President Trump immediately put a 25-per-cent tariff on it.”



If you’re like me and spend time watching PTI five days a week, would you agree that we are watching Michael Wilbon grow into an angry old man? Or is it all part of a shtick?


I really wish someone could explain how the Excited States got to the point where the Clemson Tigers, the NCAA’s top football team, were treated to fast food in the White House one day before Michael Strahan, a host on the TV show Good Morning America, invited the team for a visit and a feast of lobster and caviar. I mean, shouldn’t it be the other way around?



If you are a gatherer of hockey cards, you may want to get them out and start taking a good look at the backgrounds. That’s because Stephen Zerance has discovered the Menendez brothers, who killed their parents in 1989, in front row seats at an NBA game that is part of a 1989-90 card that features Mark Jackson of the New York Knicks. . . . This is an interesting story and it’s all right here.


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You think it’s easy being a reporter in this day and age of high technology? Here’s a tweet from Perry Bergson, who covers the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun . . .


A quiz from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

President Trump was widely panned for the Clemson football team’s White House visit because he:

a) Served the players fast-food hamburgers and pizza

b) Regaled them with nonstop political-football stories

c) Kept all the Happy Meal prizes for himself.

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Here’s another note from Perry, about something he saw on social media . . .

Jim DeBow, via Twitter, on President Trump feeding the Clemson football team hamburgers and pizza during their White House visit: “He was going to get Taco Bell but found out that Mexico wouldn’t pay for it.”


A couple of NBA-related notes from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle . . .

“History won’t view the (Houston) Rockets as a significant powerhouse, but (James) Harden is lodging himself among the all-time greats of individual scoring.”

DeMarcus Cousins made his debut with the Golden State Warriors on Friday, and that resulted in this from Jenkins . . .

“When Cousins fouled out and returned to the bench to rousing applause, (Steph) Curry was beaming. He looked like a parent at his kid’s school play. Harden may win his second consecutive MVP award, and (Boston’s Kyrie) Irving surely will dazzle fans right to the end. In the category of pure leadership, Curry stands alone.”



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F Cordel Larson of the Spokane Chiefs, who left a Saturday night game on a stretcher and SpokaneChiefswas taken to hospital, is on the road to recovery.

Larson, 17, was injured in the second period of a 2-1 shootout loss to the visiting Tri-City Americans when he crashed heavily into the end boards.

Larson was released from hospital on Sunday and is expected to join his teammates at the arena today. He won’t take part in practice, but he will be reunited with his teammates.

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Taking Note on Sunday night that Larson “is doing well . . . just soreness.”

Lambert also told Taking Note that the play on which Larson was injured “wasn’t a dirty hit . . . just unfortunate.”

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So . . . pretend for a moment that you work for the WHL and your main responsibility is to mete out discipline.

On Saturday night in Spokane, F Cordel Larson of the Chiefs skated down the right side of the offensive zone and went wide on Tri-City Americans D Aaron Hyman.

Hyman put a hip into Larson, who went heavily into the end boards and was down for about seven minutes.

When all was said and done, Hyman had a boarding major and game misconduct, while Larson was on a stretcher and on his way to hospital.

Larson, a 17-year-old freshman from Weyburn, Sask., is listed on the Chiefs’ website at 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds.

Hyman, a 20-year-old Calgarian, is in his fourth full WHL season. The Americans list him at 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds.

As you watch the video in the above tweet, ask yourself: Does that hit warrant a suspension?

The WHL decided it didn’t because Hyman was in the Americans’ lineup on Sunday as they met the Winterhawks in Portland.



The above tweet was posted on Saturday.

If you aren’t familiar with one of the great stories in WHL history, it all began on Jan. 19, 1983, when the Seattle Thunderbirds traded F Tom Martin to the Victoria Cougars in exchange for a bus. Yes, it really happened.

Evan Weiner of nhl.com wrote about the trade on Oct. 31, 2008, and it’s all right here.


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Red Deer Rebels built up a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the host Calgary Hitmen, 4-1. . . . Red Deer (27-14-3) now is second in the Central Division, one point behind Edmonton Red Deerand a point ahead of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (21-19-4) has lost three in a row and now is 10 points behind Medicine hat. . . . The Rebels were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; they went 2-1-0. . . . F Brandon Hagel (27) got Red Deer started with a shorthanded goal at 1:49 of the first period. . . . F Alex Morozoff (8) upped it to 2-0 at 14:59, and F Arshdeep Bains (4) got it to 3-0 at 1:40 of the second. . . . Calgary got its goal fro F Hunter Campbell (2), shorthanded, at 9:50. . . . D Carson Sass (7) scored Red Deer’s fourth goal, on a PP, at 14:41. . . . Red Deer was 1-7 on the PP; Calgary was 0-2. . . . The Hitmen lost F Mark Kastelic at 16:32 of the second period when he was ejected with a match penalty for head-butting. . . . At 3:47 of the third period, Calgary D Egor Zamula was hit with a headshot major and game misconduct. . . . G Byron Fancy stopped 23 shots for Red Deer. . . . With G Carl Stankowski still out of action, G Jack McNaughton made his 19th straight start for the Hitmen. He stopped 28 shots. . . . The Hitmen scratched F Jake Kryski and F James Malm. . . . The Rebels were without D Alex Alexeyev. He left Saturday’s game in the second period, but came back and finished. However, he obviously was unable to play yesterday. . . . Red Deer also was without F Jeff de Wit, who was injured Saturday in a goal-mouth collision. . . . F Sean Tschigerl, a 15-year-old from Whitecourt, Alta., made his WHL debut with the Hitmen. The fourth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, he has 43 points, including 18 goals, with the OHA Edmonton prep team.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the game’s last two goals and beat the Cougars, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops1Prince George. . . . Kamloops (17-24-3) went into the doubleheader in Prince George having lost six straight. Now the Blazers have won two in a row. They beat the Cougars 3-1 on Saturday night. . . . Kamloops is tied with Seattle for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Cougars. . . . Prince George (16-24-4) has lost three in a row. . . . Kamloops is 5-0-0 against the Cougars this season, having outscored them 20-8. On top of that, Kamloops now has won 10 straight games in Prince George. . . . The Blazers went 2-1-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . F Josh Maser (18) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 12:01 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 12:27 when D Montana Onyebuchi (5) scored. . . . F Matěj Toman (5) put the Cougars ahead 2-1 at 15:50. . . . F Martin Lang (10) pulled the Blazers even at 8:38 of the third period. . . . F Zane Franklin won it with his 21st goal, at 4:10 of OT. . . . Lang, who had a goal and an assist on Saturday, added an assist to his Sunday goal. . . . The Cougars failed to score on the game’s lone PP. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 27 shots for Kamloops, eight fewer than the Cougars’ Taylor Gauthier, who made his ninth straight start. . . . F/D Jeff Faith returned to the Blazers’ lineup after serving a five-game suspension, but D Luke Zazula missed his second game in a row.


G Griffen Outhouse turned aside 39 shots to lead the Victoria Royals to a 2-1 victory over VictoriaRoyalsthe Silvertips in Everett. . . . Victoria (23-19-1) had lost its previous four games. The Royals are third in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna with two games in hand. . . . Everett (33-12-2) has lost three straight. It leads the U.S. Division by nine points over Portland. . . . Outhouse stopped 13 shots in the first period, 12 in the second and 14 in the third. . . . F Tarun Fizer (10) put Victoria ahead at 1:40 of the second period. . . . Everett F Bryce Kindopp (23) tied it 57 seconds into the third. . . . F Kody McDonald (10) broke the tie at 7:54. . . . The Silvertips got 20 saves from G Max Palaga. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours — Victoria went 1-2-0; Everett was 0-3-0. . . . The Royals scratched D Ralph Jarratt, who apparently was injured while blocking a shot on Saturday night. . . . Victoria was able to dress only 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . D Gianni Fairbrother, who had been ill, was back in Everett’s lineup after a two-game absence.


G Talyn Boyko made 45 saves to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-2 victory over the tri-cityWinterhawks in Portland. . . . Tri-City (24-16-3) has points in four straight (3-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot by 14 points, and also is fourth in the U.S. Division, just two points behind Spokane. . . . Portland (27-13-5) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, nine points behind Everett. . . . The Americans lead the season series, 5-0-0; Portland is 1-3-1. . . . The Americans played their third game in fewer than 48 hours and finished 3-0-0, with the first two victories both coming in shootouts. . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead at 10:49 of the first period when F Kyle Olson scored, on a PP, and never trailed. . . . Olson, who has 13 goals, made it 2-0 at 19:09. . . . F Cross Hanas (6) scored for Portland at 2:49 of the second period. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (3) restored Tri-City’s two-goal lead at 5:59 of the third. . . . F Joachim Blickheld (40) pulled Portland to within one at 14:31 but the Winterhawks weren’t able to equalize. . . . The Winterhawks outshot the visitors 15-8, 14-5 and 18-5 by period. . . . Boyko, a 16-year-old freshman from Drumheller, Alta., was making his fourth start — his fifth  appearance — of the season. He is 2-1-1, 4.08, .886. The 6-foot-6 Boyko was a third-round pick by the Americans in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.


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