Popowich, Esposito leave WHL for school . . . Blades sign an import . . . Healing continues in Humboldt

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D Alexei Platonov (Medicine Hat, 2015-16) signed a one-year contract with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 24 games with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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Two more players with WHL eligibility remaining have chosen to leave the WHL and head to school.

F Tyler Popowich, 18, has decided to walk away from the Vancouver Giants, after scoring whleight goals and adding six assists in 64 games last season.
From Surrey, B.C., he was a first-round pick, third overall, by the Giants in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.

He was pointless in six games with Vancouver in 2015-16, then had seven goals and two assists in 53 games in 2016-17.

Popowich is the second first-round bantam draft pick to leave the WHL in two days. On Thursday, it was revealed that D Jantzen Leslie, 19, had left the Edmonton Oil Kings for Red Deer College. Leslie, from Lloydminster, Alta., was a first-round pick, 15th overall, by the Everett Silvertips in the 2014 bantam draft.

As well, D Drea Esposito, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, has chosen to leave the Calgary Hitmen in order to attend the U of Manitoba. He was a fifth-round selection by the Hitmen in the 2015 bantam draft. Esposito played two seasons with the Hitmen, recording two assists in 35 games as a freshman, then adding a goal and seven assists in 47 games last season.

Earlier, the Giants lost D Marcus Kichton, 19, when he chose to leave to go to school.

The Saskatoon Blades had two players leave their organization prior to what would have been their 20-year-old seasons.

F Gage Ramsay will attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic next month and then move on to the U of Saskatchewan rather than try for a 20-year-old spot with the Blades.

F Caleb Fantillo chose to leave, according to the Blades, in order “to get a jump start on a future career in the health and fitness industry.”


F Matthew Hodson of Saskatoon has signed a WHL contract with the Victoria Royals, who selected him in the third round of the 2018 bantam draft. He played last season with the bantam AA Saskatoon Outlaws, putting up 44 goals and 31 assists in 31 games. He was second in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League in goals and points. He added four goals and seven assist in seven playoff games.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, whose rights were Saskatoonselected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. From Norway, Roykas Marthinsen will turn 19 on Tuesday. He was selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft. He has yet to sign with them, but has twice skated at their development camp. . . . Last season, he had 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games with Almtuna IS J20 in Norway’s elite junior league. . . . Saskatoon has yet to sign D Emil Malysjev, its other selection in the CHL import draft. Malysjev, 17, has dual Sweden-Russian citizenship. He spent the past two seasons in HV71’s organization, and may play with its elite 18 team this season.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Lucas Ciona to a WHL contract. From Edmonton, he was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Last season, Ciona had 13 goals and 35 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. He is presently in camp with the Thunderbirds.


The healing continued in Humboldt on Friday as Washington Capitals F Chandler Stephenson, who is from Saskatoon, and his close personal friend Stanley Cup dropped in for a vist. . . . It also was Day 1 of training camp for the SJHL’s Broncos, although the prospective players weren’t made available to the visiting media. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was on hand and filed this column right here.

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When Kevin Garinger stepped up as president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, there wasn’t any way that he could have known what was ahead. Now, after one year in the position and having shepherded the organization through the tragedy of a bus accident that took 16 lives, he has stepped aside. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has more right here.

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Jamie Brockman is the new president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Well, actually, he is the new ‘old’ president. Brockman was president from 2012-17, before he stepped aside and Kevin Garinger took over for a year. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Brockman right here.


The Canadian junior A rights to G Dylan Myskiw, 19, of the Brandon Wheat Kings have been dealt to the Portage Terriers, along with F Ben Coppinger, 18, and future considerations. In return, the Selkirk Steelers received F Ryan Sokoloski, 20, D Ryden Fedyck, 17, and future considerations.

From Winnipeg, Myskiw was a sixth-round pick by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He played with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers in 2015-16, then got into 17 games with the Royals in 2016-17. Last season, he played in 22 games with the Wheat Kings.

Coppinger had four assists in 18 games with the Prince George Cougars last season, while also playing with the Steelers and the Manitoba Major Junior League’s St. Vital Victorias. He was a 10th-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

Sokoloski, from Winnipeg, was pointless in nine games with the Swift Current Broncos in 2015-16. They had selected him in the 11th round of the 2013 bantam draft. He played three seasons with the Terriers.

Fedyck, from Winnipeg, was selected by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the third round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He played last season with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers.


Thank you to those who have donated to Dorothy’s cause as she prepares to take part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. That will be the fifth anniversary of her transplant and, yes, she is excited. She also is one of the walk’s organizers. Of course, she is. . . . If you would like to donate, you are able to do so right here. . . . If you are interested, money raised in the Kamloops Kidney Walk, which is our only fundraiser, will be used to help those who get called to Vancouver (VGH or St. Paul’s) for transplants. Those people have to stay in Vancouver for two months or longer.


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Changing face of WHL coverage . . . Denver commit to be in Kelowna . . . Broncos reveal full scouting staff


MacBeth

F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Davos (Switzerland, NL A) after a successful tryout. Last season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. He was an alternate captain, and led the team in assists and points.


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With WHL teams preparing to open training camps, these are interesting times, especially from the outside looking in on the media that covers the league and its teams.

It’s no secret that the times, they are a changin’ . . .

A sports reporter who isn’t a stranger to covering a WHL team phoned a veteran player whlthe other day for an interview.

Things were fine until shortly after the chat ended. That’s when the reporter received an email from a team informing him that “they want me going through them before talking to anyone in the future.”

The reporter points out that “I had the kid’s number from when he was 14 years old and had nothing to do with the (team in question).”

As well, the reporter was told that “they say it’s a league policy.”

Except that . . .

Another reporter who covers a different team noted that “I haven’t had any trouble with getting through to the players,” adding that he hasn’t had any problems getting cell numbers.

“On the few occasions I have to get those phone numbers through other channels,” he added, he hasn’t heard any repercussions.

As he pointed out, it could be that this particular team sees the logic in not putting clamps on media.”

And yet another reporter informs that he has the cell number “of every kid” on the team he now covers “in my phone, and if something comes up after hours or during the summer, I contact them directly.

“I know they would prefer I go through the team in those circumstances, but they don’t grumble too much because (my paper) covers the team more than anyone else in the market. Since it’s also up to me to find my guys after practice, it would be a bit rich to get too angry in other circumstances.

“My major frustration remains head coaches from visiting teams who consider it below themselves to speak to local media.”

One other veteran of the WHL beat interjected that times are changing in the media world, and not just when it comes to print.

The team that he has covered had a good season in 2017-18, he noted, but “there were nights when there was no media in the press box. TV came far less often than usual, plus no local daily and very sporadic coverage from the weekly. Coverage is stretched incredibly thin and seems to only be trending downward league-wide. If they want to put up barriers to coverage that’s their prerogative, but it’s beyond asinine in my book.”

Mine, too. But it seems that the WHL is turning more and more to its own social media team for coverage, perhaps because it then is able to control the message.


The Kelowna Rockets will get things going on Monday when they open rookie camp. F Trevor Wong, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is expected to KelownaRocketsbe there, and is expected to stay for the opening of main camp.

Wong, from Vancouver, had 43 goals and 70 assists in 113 games with Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam A1-T1 club two seasons ago. Last season, he put up 64 goals and 77 assists in 30 games with the bantam varsity team at St. George’s School in Vancouver.

However, Wong has made a verbal commitment to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers, starting in 2021-22. Wong made that commitment at the age of 14. He turned 15 on May 4, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021.

Meanwhile, the Regina Pats have veteran G Kyle Dumba, 20, on their training camp Patsroster. He is one of three goaltenders and one of six 20-year-olds on the Pats’ main camp roster. . . . G Max Paddock, 18, is atop the depth chart, with Dumba, who has had stints with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, on there, along with Matthew Pesenti, 17, of Saskatoon. Pesenti played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Last season, Dumba made stops in Kamloops and Everett, got into 30 games with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, then was with Regina at season’s end. . . . G Jacob Wassermann, 18, was in the Pats’ plans, but the Humboldt native won’t play after being injured in the Broncos’ bus crash. . . .

The other 20s on the Pats’ main camp roster are D Cale Fleury, D Aaron Hyman, F Bryce Platt, D Brady Pouteau and D Liam Schioler.



Dennis Ulmer is the lone returnee to the scouting staff of the Swift Current Broncos, the team announced on Friday. . . . The remainder of the scouting staff left the organization SCBroncosfollowing the hiring of Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach on June 27 and the subsequent departure of Jamie Porter, who had been director of hockey operations. . . .  For the past 33 years, Ulmer, from Wilcox, Sask., has been a student, teacher, principal, administrator and coach at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox. . . . Those joining the Broncos’ scouting staff for the first time are Dean Moisan of Lloydminster, Alta., who is the director of player personnel for the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs; Craig Anderson of Brandon, who scouted for the Edmonton Oil Kings for the past nine seasons, and is the head scout and assistant GM with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers; Chad Leslie of Virden, Man., who had been scouting with the Saskatoon Blades (2015-18) and also scouts for Winkler; Kerry Gladson of Surrey, B.C., who spent the past four seasons with the Blades; Blaine Shackleton of Medicine Hat, who spent the past four seasons scouting for the junior B Chase Heat of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and 14 seasons with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Chris Olson of Saskatoon, who has coached in that city’s minor hockey system for 16 years; Steve March of St. Albert, Alta., the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Elite 15s for the past three seasons; Matt Green of Edmonton, who had been an intern with the International Scouting Services; Tyler Oswald of Calgary, a former player with Saskatoon and the Red Deer Rebels, who is an assistant coach with the midget AAA Calgary Northstars while taking sport management at Mount Royal U; and Dan Ruggiero of Kelowna, who has scouted for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets and Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Check out scbroncos.com for the complete news release.


F Gage Ramsay has chosen to retire from the Saskatoon Blades and go to school, rather Saskatoonthan return for his 20-year-old season. Ramsay was acquired by the Blades from the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 19, 2016, in exchange for F Josh Bruce, another 1998-born player. . . . Ramsay, who is from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by Vancouver in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. He had 15 goals and 18 assists in 123 games with the Blades. In 166 career WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 18 assists. . . . From a Blades’ news release: “Ramsay plans to use his WHL scholarship as he begins his pursuit of a career in business, starting with classes at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in September and the University of Saskatchewan in the new year.”

Ramsay is the second Saskatoon forward to retire this summer. Caleb Fantillo announced on July 19 that he was retiring ahead of what would have been his 20-year-old season.

The Blades now have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Dawson Davidson, F Max Gerlach and F Bradly Goethals.


Danny Flynn’s time as a WHL assistant coach is over after one season. The veteran major Portlandjunior coach is leaving the Portland Winterhawks to work as an eastern amateur scout for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Flynn is from Dartmouth, N.S., and joined long-time friend Mike Johnson, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, prior to the 2017-18 season. . . . Flynn had spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, guiding them to the league championship in 2016-17. . . . In major hockey alone, Flynn also has coached with the London Knights, Belleville Bulls, Soo Greyhounds and Moncton Wildcats. He also has coached in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. . . . The Winterhawks are expected to name a replacement within days.


F Jared Legien isn’t returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. Instead, he is returning to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, where he put up 30 goals and 26 assists in 51 games in 2014-15. . . . From Pilot Butte, Sask., he was a first-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. In 2012-13, he put up 40 goals and 26 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Prairie Storm. . . . He went on to play 145 regular-season WHL games, split among the Ice, Victoria Royals and Regina Pats. Last season, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 36 games with the Royals, then added 10 goals and seven assists in 25 games with the Pats. His career totals show 27 goals and 32 assists.


Jody Hull has signed on as the associate coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. He will work alongside head coach Billy Burke. . . . Hull, 49, is a veteran of 831 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons. He spent the past 12 seasons with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, the last six-plus as head coach. He was fired by the Petes on Jan. 5, 2018.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have hired former NHLer Scott Barney as their new HumboldtBroncosassistant coach, while adding Tyrol (Skip) Deeg as athletic therapist and equipment manager. . . . The Broncos open training camp on Thursday, Aug. 24. . . . Barney, 39, is from Ennismore, Ont. His pro playing career included 24 games with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and three with the Atlanta Thrashers. He retired as a player after spending the past two seasons in the Asia League. . . . Deeg, 37, is from Wynyard, Sask. He joins the Broncos from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Mark Cross, the assistant coach last season, and therapist Dayna Brons died in the April 6 crash involving the Broncos’ bus. . . . The Broncos also have added Rhett Blackmur, a former player with them, as a volunteer assistant coach. He is the service manager at Discover Ford in Humboldt, and has experience in minor hockey in the community.


Former WHL F Dustin Cameron has joined the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie DelisleChiefsJunior Hockey League as an assistant coach. Cameron, a 29-year-old from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2004 WHL bantam draft. He went on to play 87 regular-season games with the Blades before being dealt to the Prince Albert Raiders. He spent three seasons in Prince Albert and was team captain for the last two. In 284 WHL games, he totalled 86 goals and 84 assists. He retired from playing after spending one season in Great Britain and three in Germany. . . . In Delisle, he’ll work with head coach Eric Ditto and assistant coach David Richard. Ditto, from Saskatoon, returns for a fourth full season, while Richard, also from Saskatoon, is back for a second season. Richard played four seasons (2005-09) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 42 goals and 60 assists in 256 regular-season games.


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


MacBeth

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


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


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


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

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

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

Aiken’s complete story is right here.


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


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Hunter takes over Team Canada . . . Ex-Hitmen coach lands in Denver . . . Everett adds Backus, Fraser to front office


MacBeth

F Kaspars Saulietis (Kelowna, Regina, 2006-08) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 25 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 40 games with Dinamo Riga, and was pointless in three games while on loan to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in one game with the Florida Panthers (NHL), and had 20 goals and 42 assists in 73 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL). He led the Thunderbirds in assists and points.


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Tim Hunter, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has taken over as head coach of Canada’s national junior team. Hunter, 57, was an assistant with Canada each of the past Canadatwo seasons. . . . Hunter, who is preparing for his fifth season in Moose Jaw, replaces Dominique Ducharme, Canada’s head coach for each of the last two seasons. Ducharme has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . With Hunter moving up from assistant coach, Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been added to Canada’s staff. The other assistant coaches are Marc-Andre Dumont of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Jim Hulton of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . .

Mike Burnstein of the Vancouver Giants and Khore Elliott of the Victoria Royals have been named Team Canada’s athletic therapists. . . . Canada won the gold medal at the 2018 tournament in Buffalo, and will attempt to defend the title at the 2019 tournament that is scheduled to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26. . . . While Canada will play its round-robin games in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, it will hold its selection camp in Victoria. . . .

Group A comprises Canada, Czech Repulic, Denmark, Russia and
Switzerland, with Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Sweden and Team USA in Group B, which will play out of Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.


Dallas Ferguson, who left the Calgary Hitmen last month, is joining the U of Denver Pioneers as an assistant coach. He will work under first-year head coach Matt Carle, 28. . . . Carle has taken over from Jim Montgomery, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Ferguson, 45, left the U of Alaska-Fairbanks to join the Hitmen as head coach prior to last season. He had been on the Nanook’ coaching staff for 13 seasons, the last nine as head coach. . . . In announcing Ferguson’s resignation on June 26, Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth explained in a news release: ““Dallas approached me last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this year.”


The Everett Silvertips firmed up the top end of their scouting department on Tuesday as Everettthey named Alvin Backus their director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as their head scout. . . . Backus spent the past seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. His contract with Montreal expired on Saturday and wasn’t renewed. . . . Backus lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. Garry Davidson, who is heading into his seventh season as the Silvertips’ general manager, was the owner, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for seven seasons (2001-08). . . . Fraser, a WHL scout since 2005, lives in Edmonton. . . . He started scouting with the Swift Current Broncos in 2005 and spent seven seasons with them. Fraser has been working with the Brandon Wheat Kings since 2012-13. . . . The Silvertips lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel for four seasons, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who named him general manager on June 6.


Bob Jones has signed on as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Jones had been the head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals for three seasons, although he missed the 2017-18 season due to a serious health problem. Jones, 48, and the Generals then went their separate ways in April. . . . Derek Laxdal, a former head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, is the head coach with Texas.


Nathan Oystrick, a native of Regina, has been named the general manager and head HumboldtBroncoscoach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Oystick, 35, replaces Darcy Haugan, who was killed in the April 6 bus crash that also claimed 15 other lives. . . . Oystrick spent last season coaching a high school team in Colorado. In 2016-17, he was an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. . . . A defenceman, he played two seasons (2000-02) with the BCHL’s South Surrey Eagles before going on to four seasons at Northern Michigan U. His pro career included stints with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


Brayden Pettinger was a 20-year-old defenceman with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers when he suffered a devastating back injury during a game against the host Winnipeg Blues on Nov. 12, 2015. Pettinger, who is from Elgin, Man., now is in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. . . . These days, he and his father, Rick, are in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is undergoing a medical procedure. Brayden’s uncle, Larry, updated things with steinbachonline.com, and that piece is right here.


Geoff Grimwood has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors as assistant general manager and associate coach. Grimwood, 37, spent the past three seasons as the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. . . . In the past, he has worked with the WHL’s Victoria Royals and the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . With the Warriors, he’ll work alongside GM/head coach Rylan Ferster.


Jesse Dorrans is back as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces Bill Rotheisler, who was dismissed after two seasons on the job. . . . Rotheisler was hired prior to the 2016-17 season, taking over from Dorrans, who left to become GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He resigned after one season due to what the team said ws “personal reasons.”


F Skyler McKenzie of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year entry-level deal Portlandwith the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was a seventh-round selection by the Jets in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, McKenzie, 20, had 47 goals and 40 assists in 72 games. In 282 regular-season games with Portland, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native has 101 goals and 111 assist. He was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the WHL for one more season, but likely will start the season with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL affiliate.


Two WHLers have been selected to the roster of USA Hockey’s representative for the U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. It will feature teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . F Luke Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips were named to the roster. Toporowski is from Bettendorf, Iowa, while Wolf is from Tustin, Calif. . . . The complete Team USA roster is right here.


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Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office

MacBeth

Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


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The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.


Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.


After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


Importdraft

The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.


Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.


The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.


G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


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WHL title-winning coach out of work . . . Tigers’ Fox trots to a new position . . . Good read on Broncos’ trek to Vegas, too

MacBeth

F Tomáš Netík (Medicine Hat, 2000-01) signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had 15 goals and 30 assists in 49 games. . . .

G Leland Irving (Everett, 2003-08) signed a one-year contract with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in six games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL), he was 1-3-0, 3.47, .909.


Scattershooting

Steve Konowalchuk, who guided the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2016-17 championship, is unemployed after one season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. They dismissed Konowalchuk some time last week but only revealed it late Friday at the NHL draft in Dallas. . . . Konowalchuk, 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons.


“The Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl rings all have the motto ‘We all we got, we all we need’ inscribed on the side,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Well, except for that one ring they had specially made for Robert Di Nero.”


Headline at BorowitzReport.com: “Philadelphia Eagles accept Mueller’s offer to celebrate with him.”


The Medicine Hat Tigers announced Friday that Bobby Fox, an assistant coach for two Tigers Logo Officialseasons, now is the team’s director of player personnel. He replaces Carter Sears, who isn’t returning after one season with the Tigers. . . . Fox, who is from Calgary, joined the Tigers from the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers, where he had been assistant GM and associate coach. . . .  Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach, is left with one assistant coach, in Joe Frazer. . . . Clouston told Taking Note that he will add another assistant coach “if we find a good fit.”


I didn’t watch any of the NHL draft — not on Friday or Saturday. But I doubt that there is a drafted player who is a better story than F Jermaine Loewen of the Kamloops Blazers. He was selected by the Dallas Stars at No. 199 and, yes, Tom Gaglardi owns the NHL franchise and is majority owner of the Blazers. If you aren’t familiar with Loewen’s story, get thee to Google and check it out. On top of all that, he’s always got a smile on his face and he’s an engaging conversationalist. He’s also a power forward who, if he doesn’t make it to the NHL, will leave a trail of bruises along the way.

I noted somewhere that there were only 20 WHL players selected over the seven rounds — only four of the first 82 selections were from the WHL. It could be that this was a down draft for the WHL, or maybe more NHL execs are taking advantage of a part of the CBA that gives them four years to sign European and NCAA players, while they only hold a CHL player’s rights for two years.

The fact that neither the Kelowna Rockets nor the Portland Winterhawks — two teams with proven records of producing solid pros — didn’t have even one player taken may sum up the WHL’s weekend in Dallas.


You may have noticed that the victory parades saluting the Washington Capitals and Golden State Warriors were held on the same day. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Well, that’s something that will never happen in New York City.” . . . Hough, again: “Trump no doubt expects to see his face on a coin. Except Canada already has the loonie.” . . . One more from Hough: “Alex Ovechkin is reportedly the first Russian to lead his team to a championship in Washington, DC. Well, maybe the second.”


Let’s be honest. The biggest winner of Washington’s Stanley Cup title was Barry Trotz, and it isn’t even close. Trotz, the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in NHL history, had a contract with the Capitals that reports say paid him US$1.5 million per season. Winning the championship earned him a two-year extension that would have added $300,000 per season to that total. Instead, Trotz walked over to the New York Islanders and got a deal that reportedly is five years in length and pays at least $4 million a season.


Ryan Howse, who sniped 51 times for the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?) in 2010-11, is back in the coaching game. He is on board with the minor midget Cariboo Cougars, a new team that will play out of Prince George. He will work alongside head coach Brian Toll and assistant Chase Astorino. Howse has coached in Prince George, with the Coast Inn of the North Cougars, a midget Tier 1 team that he guided to a provincial title, and the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings.


There was a report that the Golden State Warriors went through US$900,000 in champagne after winning the NBA title. As Vancouver comic Torben Rolfsen pointed out: “That barely gets Alex Ovechkin through lunch.”


So . . . you are of the opinion that there are too many junior hockey teams in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, do you? Well, guess what? Here come a few more. . . . The Western Provinces Hockey Association, which represents itself as the Canadian Division of the pay-to-play Western States Hockey League, is setting up shop in places like Edson and Hinton, Alta., and Meadow Lake, Sask. . . . The Edson Aeros have signed Bernie Lynch as head coach. Lynch, who has extensive coaching experience in Europe, was on the Regina Pats’ coaching staff for a couple of seasons (1988-90).


RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com wonders: “If people on foot are called pedestrians, why aren’t people on bikes called pedalestrians?”


Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix was in Vegas with 10 surviving members of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos for the NHL awards night. When Mitchell writes it, you know it’s hammer on nail, and that’s the case again with this one. . . . It’s all right here.


Here’s a recent tweet from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks: “Just tried a corndog for the first time . . . Man, God Bless America!”


A drumroll, please, for three hits from Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express: “Nice of Trump to consider pardoning Muhammad Ali. Clearly no one told Trump that Ali’s conviction was overturned in 1971. Wasn’t that the same year Canada burned down the White House? . . . I think we could still take them — in a beauty pageant between our PM and their Prez. . . . I wonder when Putin will invite the Capitals to the Kremlin.”

Mooseheads set 2019 Memorial Cup prices . . . Vees, Harbinson agree on extension . . . Americans sign top draft pick


MacBeth

F Kruise Reddick (Tri-City, 2006-11) signed a two-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 27 goals and 39 assists in 54 games. He led the Flames in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Sami Moilanen (Seattle, 2016-18) signed a two-year-plus-option contract with Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Seattle, he had 22 goals and 23 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) signed a two-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). He had 24 goals and 42 assists in 40 games, leading his team in goals, assists and points. He was second in the league in assists and points. . . . Next season will be fifth in Feldkirch.


ThisThat

The WHL lost in court last week when, as Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted, “The Court of Appeal of Alberta has dismissed the WHL’s request to overturn a decision certifying this minimum wage lawsuit as a class action. Case will no move forward.” . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News later weighed in with some thoughts on this situation. Campbell’s piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads will be the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup. They have sent a letter to season-ticket holders detailing the price of ticket packages to the event, which result in some social media chatter. . . . One ticket package apparently will go for $320, plus taxes. . . . The Mooseheads haven’t yet detailed when ticket packages will be available to the general public. . . . The 2018 Memorial Cup begins today (Friday) in Regina.

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Hamilton vs. Regina, 8 p.m.

Game 2, Saturday – Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 2 p.m.

Game 3, Sunday – Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 5 p.m.

Game 4, Monday – Swift Current vs. Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Game 5, Tuesday – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


Surely it is a mere coincidence that neither Ken Hitchcock nor Don Hay, perhaps the two most-successful coaches in the history of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, aren’t employed as coaches today. . . . Both, however, remain in the employ of the teams they coached last season. . . . Hay is an advisor to hockey operations with the Blazers, having said last week that he has retired from them but still is interested in continuing his lengthy coaching career. . . . Hitchcock, the third-winningest coach in NHL regular-season history, spent this season as head coach of the Dallas Stars. He stepped aside after the season and now is a “consultant” with the team. . . . Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News has more on Hitchcock and his situation right here.

Marty Hastings, who covers the Blazers for Kamloops This Week, offers up his view of all that went on with Hay right here.


If you thought that Fred Harbinson might end up as a WHL general manager this off-season, you can forget about it. Harbinson is the president, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. Coming out of 2017-18, he had one season remaining on his contract. The Vees announced Tuesday that he now has been extended through the 2023-24 season. Next season will be Harbinson’s 12th with Penticton. The Vees are 481-144-14-40 during that time. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Vees revealed that F Massimo Rizzo will be the team captain next season. Rizzo, who will turn 17 on June 13, just completed his first season with Penticton. The Kamloops Blazers selected him in the first round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft; his family informed the Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that Rizzo wouldn’t be signing with them, choosing instead to pursue an NCAA scholarship.


JUST NOTES:

You can forget about Cam Russell as a WHL general manager. The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads have given him a four-year extension. The Halifax native and former NHL defenceman has been with the Mooseheads since 2000-01 and has been the GM through the past 10 seasons. . . .

The Tri-City Americans have signed D Marc Lajoie, who was a first-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder had 12 goals and 18 assists in 20 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. . . . He is the son of Serge Lajoie, the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past three seasons. . . .

The 2020 World Junior Championship will be played in the Czech Republic cities of Ostrava and Trinec, running from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . . The 2019 tournament is scheduled for Vancouver and Victoria, from Dec. 26, 2018, through Jan. 5, 2019. . . . The WJC last was held in Czech Republic in 2008 when Pardubice and Liberec shared it. . . .

Veteran coach Ted Nolan is looking for work after having been fired as the head coach of Poland’s national team. Poland was 1-4 at the IIHF World Championship (Division 1, Group A) in Budapest, and will be demoted to Division 1, Group B. . . .

The SJHL and the Humboldt Broncos are in the process of resolving that dispute over trademarks. Broncos president Kevin Garinger has said that the SJHL’s board of governors met and the trademarks will end up belonging to the team. . . . There is more right here.


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