High Noon for Hannoun, Raiders. . . . Mid-season acquisition scores OT winner. . . . Prince Albert rules WHL for first time since 1985


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F Riley Holzapfel (Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 53 games, he had 19 goals and a team-leading 34 assists. . . .

F Spencer Edwards (Red Deer, Seattle, Moose Jaw, 2006-11) has signed a  one-year contract extension with Amiens (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, he had nine goals and 17 assists in 44 games. . . .

D Tomáš Slovák (Kelowna, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract extension with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four assists in eight games. He started this season with Jegesmedvék Miscolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga), putting up one goal and three assists in 39 games. . . .

F Tomáš Hričina (Regina, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 49 games. . . .

F Oliver Jokeľ (Swift Current, 2008-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had three goals in 15 games. On loan to Humenné (Slovakia, 1. Liga), he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 31 games. . . .

F Keegan Dansereau (Calgary, Swift Current, 2003-09) has signed a one-year contract with Dunaújváros (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga), he had nine goals and 30 assists in 56 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Zach McPhee (Tri-City, Everett, Kootenay, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Trollhättan (Sweden, Division 2). This season, with U of Regina (USports, Canada West), he had four goals and three assists in 27 games. . . .

F Rihards Bukarts (Brandon, Portland, 2013-16) has signed a one-year contract with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had nine goals and 13 assists in 42 games. . . .

F Mike Aviani (Spokane, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Nice (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had four goals and seven assists in 23 games. He also had three goals and four assists in 15 games with the Herning Blue Fox (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Cain Franson (Vancouver, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Amiens (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with U of Calgary (USports, Canada West), he had six goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . .

D Craig Schira (Regina, Vancouver, 2003-09) has signed a two-year contract extension with Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SHL). This season, he was the team captain, and had two goals and 12 assists in 41 games.


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It wasn’t the running of the bulls in Prince Albert, but . . .


The Prince Albert Raiders won the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Monday night, beating the PrinceAlbertvisiting Vancouver Giants, 3-2 in OT, in Game 7 of the WHL’s championship series. . . . It’s the second time in league history that the title has been won in an overtime period in Game 7. . . . F Noah Gregor, with two goals in regulation time, and F Dante Hannoun, with the winner in OT, scored for the Raiders. Both players are 20, meaning they are in their final seasons of junior hockey. . . . Both players were acquired from the Victoria Royals. . . . The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round selections in the 2019 bantam draft, on Jan. 3, giving up F Kody McDonald, F Carson Miller and a third-round pick in the 2020 draft in the exchange. . . . Gregor, who has signed with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, was acquired on July 25 for “conditional compensation,” whatever that is. . . .

As for the first time that Game 7 was decided in OT, it happened in 2007 and, yes, it involved the Giants. Vancouver had taken a 3-2 lead in the series with the Medicine Hat Tigers as G Tyson Sexsmith put up three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0. . . . The last two games were played in Medicine Hat. The Tigers won Game 6, 4-3, then took Game 7, 3-2, when F Brennan Bosch scored at 7:26 of the second OT period. . . . The Giants were the host team for the 2007 Memorial Cup and — wouldn’t you know it — they beat the Tigers, 3-1, in the final.


The Prince Albert Raiders, who won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions on CHLMonday night, will open the Memorial Cup on Friday night in Halifax.

The Raiders will meet the host Mooseheads, who lost the QMJHL final in six games to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

The Huskies will play their first Memorial Cup game on Saturday against the OHL-champion Guelph Storm. Guelph took out the Ottawa 67’s in six games in the OHL final.

The Mooseheads and Storm will meet on Sunday, with the Huskies and Raiders playing on Monday.

The Storm and Raiders are scheduled to play on May 21, with the round-robin concluding on May 22 with the Mooseheads meeting the Huskies.

If a tiebreaker is necessary, it will be played on May 23, and the semifinal is scheduled for May 24.

The tournament wraps up with the championship game on May 26.

The WHL has won the Memorial Cup once in the past 10 tournaments. That was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings won the championship. Prior to that, the WHL had won five the previous eight tournaments.


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EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders have won their first WHL championship since 1985 when, in just their third season in the league, they went on to win the Memorial Cup under head coach Terry Simpson. . . . Curtis Hunt, the Raiders’ general manager, was a defenceman on that championship team. . . .

This was the third straight season in which the Ed Chynoweth Cup was won in Saskatchewan. Two seasons ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Regina Pats in six games, winning Game 6 in Regina. Last season, the Swift Current Broncos won it at home, beating the visiting Everett Silvertips in Game 6. . . . This is the second season in a row that the champion of the 22-team WHL is a community-owned team. There are four of those in the WHL, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Moose Jaw Warriors being the other two. . . .

The captains of the Raiders and Giants both are from Saskatchewan and were teammates with the Victoria Royals. Raiders D Brayden Pachal, 19, is from Estevan. He was a freshman with the Royals in 2015-16, then was dealt to the Raiders the next season. Giants F Jared Dmytriw, 20, is from Craven. He was with the Royals for two full seasons (2014-16) before being dealt to the Red Deer Rebels and then to Vancouver last season. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, now has posted 74 WHL playoff victories during his career behind the bench. That is seventh in WHL history, behind Don Hay (108), Ken Hodge (101), Ernie McLean (87), Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell (80), and Brent Sutter (79). . . . During the regular season, Habscheid became the eighth WHL head coach to get to 500 victories. . . . Habscheid now has won two titles as a head coach; he also won with the 2002-03 Kelowna Rockets. . . .

The Raiders, who were 28-4-2 at home in the regular season, finished the playoffs at 9-3. . . . The Giants, who were 22-9-3 on the road in the regular season, were 7-4 in the playoffs. . . .

Bowen Byram of the Giants became the first defenceman in WHL history to win the playoff scoring race. He finished with 26 points, one more than F Brett Leason of the Raiders. Prince Albert forwards Dante Hannoun and Noah Gregor, who combined on the winning goal in OT of Game 7, each had 24. . . . Hannoun led in goals (14), one more than Gregor, while Byram was tops in assists (18), two more than teammate Davis Koch. . . .

Hannoun had five goals and four assists in the seven-game final. After three games, he had three goals and four assists. So the Giants held him to two goals over the final four games, but he still was able to score the biggest goal of the season. . . .

This was the 12th time that the WHL championship has been decided in Game 7, and the road team has only won one of those games. That was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Winterhawks, 4-2, in Portland to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

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MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun’s OT goal gave the Prince Albert Raiders a 3-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 7 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Raiders, PrinceAlbertwho hadn’t lost three straight games all season, had led the series 3-1 before dropping two straight games. . . . Hannoun, a mid-season acquisition from the Victoria Royals, won it with 1:35 left in the first OT period. F Noah Gregor, who had the Raiders’ two goals in regulation, had the puck on the left side and sent a terrific pass to Hannoun, who was open off the right side of the Vancouver net. He didn’t miss the open side. . . . Vancouver F Milos Roman, who had gone 12 games without a goal, opened the scoring at 4:45 of the second period. D Bowen Byram skated down the left side of the offensive zone and hit Roman with a great pass for Roman’s third goal of the playoffs. . . . Gregor (12) pulled the Raiders even at 14:57, beating G David Tendeck through a screen from the slot. . . . Gregor (13) gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead at 4:25 of the third period, scoring from the left side. . . . F Parker Kelly drew an assist on each of Gregor’s goals. Kelly had five two-point games in the final — twice scoring two goals and three times setting up a pair. . . . Roman got the Giants back even at 8:30, scoring on a rebound while on the PP. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason was penalized for delay of game — the dreaded puck-over-glass penalty — at 14:27 of OT, but the Raiders were able to kill it off. That set the stage for Hannoun. . . . The Raiders got 24 saves from G Ian Scott. He led all playoff goaltenders in victories (16), GAA (1.96), save percentage (.925) and shutouts (5). He was named the playoff MVP. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 37 shots for Vancouver. He finished the playoffs at 11-5, 2.38, .918. . . . The Giants were 1-4 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-1. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Jeff Ingram, with Chad Huseby and Tarrington Wyonzek on the lines.


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Giants force Game 7 in WHL final. . . . Ed Chynoweth Cup to be awarded tonight. . . . Guelph Storm advances to Memorial Cup

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An airtanker unloads retardant on a fire about 25 km east of downtown Kamloops on Sunday afternoon.

The calendar reads May 12, but the thermometer shows that the temperature already is above 30 C. Records already are being set in the Pacific Northwest, along the West Coast of B.C., and into the province’s Interior.

That, of course, means that fire season is upon us, despite the fact that we have yet seen even one bolt of lightning. To date, every mention I have seen of a fire this season has referred to “human-caused.”

There already have been a number of relatively small fires, but the first big one involving evacuation orders started on Saturday near Fraser Lake, which is west of Prince George.

On Sunday, the fire pictured above — it is the Buse Creek fire — broke out about 25 km east of downtown Kamloops, on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway. By 1:30 p.m., they were working it with two airtankers. By 5:30 p.m., the tankers were gone and a pair of helicopters were filling up in the South Thompson River and going back and forth, dropping water on the fire.

As evening fell, the fire was still considered to be out of control, and appeared to be moving slowly in a southerly direction. Ground crews were scheduled to work it through the night.

The forecast calls for a 30 per cent of showers tonight and Monday, and more rain on Tuesday. Here’s hoping it doesn’t change.


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The Guelph Storm won the OHL championship on Sunday, dumping the visiting Ottawa GuelphStorm67’s, 8-3, to win the series, 4-2. . . . This is the fourth time the Storm has won the J. Ross Robertson Cup. . . . The 67’s had gone into the series with a 12-0 record in these playoffs and had won the first two games. . . . The Storm trailed, 2-0, after one period, then scored five times in the second period to take control. . . . Guelph got two goals and two assists from each of F Isaac Ratcliffe, the team captain, and D Dmitri Samorkov. . . . F Nick Suzuki of the Storm was the playoff MVP. He led all scorers with a franchise record 42 points, including 16 goals, in 24 games. . . . The Storm has had quite a run. It is the only team in OHL history to have trailed three series, 2-0, and come back to win them all. . . . Guelph trailed the London Knights, 3-0, in the first round before coming back to win the series. Then, in a semifinal, the Storm was down 3-1 to the Saginaw Spirit before winning the last three games. . . . The Storm will be in the Memorial Cup for the sixth time. . . .

The QMJHL will be represented at the Memorial Cup by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who won the championship on Saturday, and the host Halifax Mooseheads. The Huskies beat the Mooseheads, 4-2 in the championship series. . . . The Memorial Cup is to run from Friday through May 26.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup will be decided tonight (Monday) when the Vancouver Giants and the host Prince Albert Raiders meet in the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Giants forced Game 7 with a 4-2 victory over the host Raiders on Sunday night. . . . The road team now is 7-0 in Game 6s in these playoffs. . . .

This will be the 12th time in WHL history, and the first time since 2014, that Game 7 has been needed to decide the WHL championship. In 2014, the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team to win a final series Game 7 on the road when they beat the Winterhawks, 4-2, in Portland. . . . However, that series was 2-2 after four games. . . . ICYMI: I took a look in a post here on Saturday night at the first 11 championship series to go seven games. . . .

In WHL history, teams have come from behind 3-1 deficits to win series on 13 occasions. Two of those were teams that trailed 3-0 — the 1996 Spokane Chiefs, in a first-round series with the Portland Winterhawks, and the 2013 Kelowna Rockets, in the Western Conference final against the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . .

However, only one team — the Jack Shupe-coached Victoria Cougars — has managed to erase a 3-1 deficit in the championship series and then win Game 7. The Cougars fell behind the Calgary Wranglers in 1981, before winning the last three games of the series. . . . They opened with three games in Victoria — Calgary won the opener, 3-2; Victoria tied it, 5-1; then Calgary posted an 8-6 victory to go home with a 2-1 edge. The Wranglers then went ahead, 3-1, with a 6-5 victory. The Cougars then rolled to three victories in as many nights — 7-4 on April 29 and 4-2 the next night, both in Calgary, and 4-2 in Victoria on May 1. . . . This was the first time in WHL history that a team had won a best-seven-series in any round after trailing 3-1. . . .

To sum it up: The Giants are trying to become the 14th team in WHL history to erase a 3-1 deficit in the final series and win the championship. They also are trying to become only the second team in WHL history to win Game 7 of the championship series on the road. . . . You can bet that Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck will let his guys know that history awaits!

The Raiders, meanwhile, haven’t lost three games in a row this season, and now are hoping to follow the example set by the 1992 and 1994 Kamloops Blazers. In both seasons, the Blazers met the Saskatoon Blades in the championship series. In each instance, Kamloops took a 3-1 lead and then found itself playing Game 7. In 1992, the Blazers won the title with an 8-0 victory at home. In 1994, the Blazers beat the Blades, 8-1, in Game 7 in Kamloops.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G David Tendeck stopped 36 shots and F Davis Koch scored twice as the Vancouver VancouverGiants skated to a 4-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is tied, 3-3, with the winner of tonight’s Game 7 going home with the big bauble. . . . The Giants last won the title in 2006; the Raiders haven’t won it since 1985. . . . Vancouver, down 3-1 in the series, had won Game 5, 4-3, in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. . . . Last night, F Parker Kelly (7) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead just 53 seconds into the first period when he put his own rebound in behind Tendeck. Kelly had scored 41 seconds into Game 3, which the Raiders went on to win, 8-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . Koch (4) pulled the Giants even at 6:58, getting a nifty backhand shot past Raiders G Ian Scott. . . . Vancouver went ahead 2-1 at 15:17 when F Owen Hardy scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. . . . Kelly (8) pulled the Raiders even with 32.2 seconds left in the period, taking a pass from F Aliaksei Protas and scoring. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Giants went ahead 3-2 at 3:40 of the third as F Jared Dmytriw, their captain, scored his ninth goal, coming free in front of Scott and putting in a rebound off a shot by F Lukas Svejkovsky. . . . Dmytriw had the primary assist on Hardy’s goal, too. . . . The Raiders had a glorious chance to pull even when Vancouver F Jadon Joseph went off for tripping at 11:30. However, Tendeck closed the door and Prince Albert was penalized for too many men at 13:23. The Giants weren’t able to score on their PP, either. . . . Koch (5) put it away with an empty-netter with 14.2 seconds left to play. . . . Each team finished 0-2 on the PP. . . . The Raiders had a 38-27 edge in shots, including 16-10 in the first period and 11-7 in the third. . . . Scott finished with 23 saves. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Steve Papp, with Sean Dufour and Michael Roberts on the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a gamer right here.


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Giants, Raiders head back to P.A. . . . Game 6 scheduled for Sunday. . . . Guelph one win from title in OHL


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The Guelph Storm won its third straight game on Friday night, beating the host Ottawa ohl67’s, 4-3, to take a 3-2 lead in the OHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 6 in Guelph on Sunday. . . . Last night, the Storm got a goal and an assist from F Alexey Toropchenko, who has seven goals in his past four games. He has 13 goals in these playoffs. . . . F Tye Felhaber scored twice for Ottawa. He now leads the OHL playoffs, with 17 goals. . . . The 67’s opened the playoffs with 14 straight victories, but now have lost three in a row — for the first time this season — and are facing elimination on Sunday.



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The Prince George Cougars and Vista Radio have extended their broadcast agreement through the 2019-20 season. . . . The Cougars’ games, home and away, will again be heard on 94.3 The GOAT. . . . Fraser Rodgers will be back for his third season as the play-by-play voice. . . . Hartley Miller, The GOAT’s sports director, will be the analyst for a seventh straight season.


Sean Murray, a goaltending coach who has worked with the Portland Winterhawks, TrailVancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars, has signed on with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Murray, a coach for more than 20 years, spent five seasons (2006-11) with the Giants, and was part of their Memorial Cup title in 2007. . . . He also pent three-plus seasons with the Winterhawks and two working with the Cougars. . . . The Smoke Eaters also have hired Jeff Urekar, who had been the head coach of the major midget North East Chiefs, as assistant GM.


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced Friday that they have “parted ways” OilBaronswith Tom Keca, who had been their general manager and head coach through four seasons. . . . In a news release, David Fitzgerald, the organization’s president, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to agree on terms with Tom to extend his contract beyond this season. In light of this, we decided that it was best for the organization to move in a different direction next season.” . . . Before taking over as GM/head coach, Keca had been an assistant coach with the Oil Barons for four-plus seasons. He also spent five seasons (2000-05) on the staff as an assistant before taking over as head coach of the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Dave Dupas has stepped in as general manager and head coach “until further notice.” . . . Dupas has been an assistant coach with Fort McMurray for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings for four seasons. . . . This season, the Oil Barons went 32-19-9 to finish fourth in the Viterra AJHL North. They beat the Grande Prairie Storm, 3-1, in a best-of-five first-round series, then lost a best-of-seven affair to the Sherwood Park Crusaders, 4-2.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is headed back to the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. . . . The Vancouver Giants beat the Raiders, 4-3, on Friday night in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders now hold a 3-2 lead in the series. . . . The two teams will climb on to the same plane today and fly to Prince Albert where Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday. . . .

Prior to Game 5, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “The one thing I know for sure is that you don’t give games away. You have a chance like this, you play this like it’s Game 7. “You want to end it as quick as possible. (Friday) is our Game 7.” . . .

After Game 5, Habscheid told reporters: “If someone had told me at the start of the (season) that we’d have two games at home to try and win the league title, we’d take it.” . . .

This is the third straight WHL final to go six games. . . . Two seasons ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the host Regina Pats, 4-3 in OT, to win that series, 4-2. . . . Last season, it was the Swift Current Broncos winning Game 6, 3-0 over the visiting Everett Silvertips, to take that series, 4-2. . . .

On Friday, at 8:15 p.m. PT, with Game 5 between Vancouver and Prince Albert in the first intermission, Rogers Sportsnet had Plays of the Month on four channels, MLB’s Best on one channel and Highlights of the Night on another. Just sayin’ . . . No, Game 6 of the OHL’s championship final wasn’t on any of the channels earlier in the evening either.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants erased a 2-1 deficit with three-second period goals en route to a 4-Vancouver3 victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. . . . Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Monday. . . . Last night, the Giants got the game’s first goal, at 7:42 of the first period, when F Brayden Watts (7) deposited a rebound off a shot by F Tristen Nielsen into an empty side. . . . The team scoring first now is 5-0 in this series. . . . The Raiders tied it at 10:44 as F Aliaksei Protas (12) scored from the slot off a rebound from a shot by F Sean Montgomery. . . . The teams then combined for five goals in the second period. . . . The visitors took their only lead at 2:45, just nine seconds after killing off a penalty. F Dante Hannoun came free in front of the Giants’ net and beat G David Tendeck for his WHL-leading 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . Vancouver tied it 50 seconds later as D Bowen Byram (8) skated into the left side of the slot and beat G Ian Scott for his first goal of the series. . . . F Davis Koch (3) put the home boys back out front, putting home a rebound at 9:24. He had gone 12 games without a goal. . . . D Dylan Plouffe (6) upped Vancouver’s lead to 4-2 at 11:13 with a shot from the top of the left circle off a play by F Dawson Holt, who gained possession of the puck with some good work along the boards and then threw out a terrific pass. . . . The Raiders got back to within a goal at 15:54 as F Noah Gregor (11) got a backhand shot through Tendeck after the Giants failed to clear their zone. . . . F Jadon Joseph had two assists for Giants, while Byram added an assist to his goal, as did Watts. . . . The Raiders got two assists from F Brett Leason. . . . Leason and Byram remain tied for the playoff points lead, each with 25, two ahead of Hannoun. . . . Tendeck finished with 37 saves, including 16 in the third period as he helped keep the Raiders off the scoreboard. . . . Scott stopped 26 shots. . . . The Giants were 0-1 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-2. . . . The Raiders had D Max Martin back in the lineup after he missed Games 3 and 4. He was injured in the second period of Game 2 after crashing awkwardly into the end boards. With Martin back in, D Loeden Schaufler came out. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Fraser Lawrence, with Ron Dietterle and Brett Mackey working the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.


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Scott, Leason lead Raiders to win. . . . P.A. can wrap up WHL title Friday. . . . All quiet on the Cranbrook front


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D Taylor Aronson (Portland, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and 14 assists in 43 games. . . .

F Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Brody Sutter (Saskatoon, Lethbridge, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). This season, with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga), he had nine goals and 12 assists in 45 games. . . .

F Semyon Krasheninnikov (Tri-City, 2014-15) has signed a one-year contract with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Zvezda Moscow (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he was pointless in one game, and had eight assists in 30 games with Tambov (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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With their WHL franchise having packed up and moved to Winnipeg, hockey fans in Cranbrook, B.C., are wondering: What’s next? Well, as Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman points out, we’re already into May and there isn’t another team in town, so it is likely too late for the 2019-20 season. In this piece right here, Crawley also wonders what’s happening on negotiations between the WHL franchise’s owners and the City of Cranbrook on a lease that is to run through 2022-23.


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In the OHL, F Alexey Toropchenko scored two goals for a third straight game in leading the host Guelph Storm to a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa 67’s on Wednesday night. The best-of-seven championship final is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Ottawa on Friday night. Game 6 is to be played in Guelph on Sunday afternoon. . . . Ottawa won the first two games of the final, at which point the 67’s were 14-0 in these playoffs. . . .

In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies also are tied, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda tonight, with Game 6 in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. The four-team tournament is to run from May 17-26.


The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has signed head coach Matt Keillor to a two-year extension that will run through the 2020-21 season. Keillor has been with the Storm since the middle of the 2015-16 season. He had been coaching the midget AAA Storm when the AJHL club chose to fire head coach Kevin Higo in December. . . . This season, the Storm finished 30-26-4 before losing a best-of-five first-round playoff series, 3-1, to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.


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NOTES: It is often dangerous to take the WHL’s online summaries as gospel immediately after games end, even once the word FINAL appears at the top. Such was the case on Tuesday following the Prince Albert Raiders’ 8-2 victory over the host Vancouver Giants in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . At some point following the game, F Brett Leason of the Raiders was credited with another assist, leaving him with two goals and two assists. . . . Raiders F Parker Kelly had an assist taken away, so he finished with two goals. . . . Raiders forwards Dante Hannoun and Noah Gregor each lost an assist, so wound up with a goal and an assist apiece. . . . When the changes were applied, Vancouver D Bowen Byram was left alone atop the scoring race, with 23 points, one ahead of Hannoun and Leason. . . .

That brings us to Game 4, which was played last night in Langley, B.C. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders, who scored seven goals in the first period of Game 3 one night earlier, didn’t score until the third period of Game 4, but that was enough for a 1-0 victory over the Giants. . . . They’ll play Game 5 in Langley on Friday, with the Raiders having their first crack at winning their first championship since 1985. . . .

When was the last 1-0 game in a WHL final? Last spring, G Stuart Skinner and the Swift Current Broncos beat the host Everett Silvertips, 1-0, on May 9. Skinner stopped 32 shots and D Colby Sissons scored the game’s only goal, on a PP, at 14:35 of the second period as the Broncos took a 3-1 lead in the series. . . . Everett came back to win Game 5, 6-3, on home ice two nights later, but Skinner put up another shutout, his sixth of those playoffs, as the Broncos won, 3-0, on May 13 to take the series, 4-2. . . .

Last night, Leason scored the game’s only goal, so he now has 23 points, tying him with Byram for the playoff scoring lead. Hannoun remains one point back, while two other Prince Albert forwards — Aliaksei Protas and Noah Gregor — are three back.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott stopped 36 shots to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 1-0 victory over the PrinceAlbertVancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders now lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-1, and get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley. . . . This was Scott’s fifth shutout of these playoffs, one shy of the WHL’s single-season record that is shared by Dustin Slade (Vancouver, 2006, 18 games) and Stuart Skinner, who did it in 26 games with the Swift Current Broncos a year ago. . . . Scott blanked the Giants, 4-0, in Game 2 on Saturday in Prince Albert. . . . The Raiders have outscored the Giants, 13-2, over the past three games. . . . F Brett Leason scored the game’s lone goal, going in alone to beat Vancouver G David Tendeck at 4:21 of the third period. . . . Just moments earlier, the Giants had hit a post behind Scott. . . . Vancouver had two earlier breakaways — F Davis Koch late in the first period and F Milos Roman early in the second period — but couldn’t solve Scott. . . . D Sergei Sapego had a breakaway for the Raiders late in the second period but wasn’t able to score. . . . Tendeck finished with 25 saves. . . . Prince Albert was 0-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-1. . . . The Giants held a 15-9 edge in first-period shots and 11-5 in the third. . . . The Raiders scratched D Max Martin for a second straight game. Unlike Tuesday night, Martin didn’t take the pregame warmup before being scratch from Game 4. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Mark Pearce. Nick Bilko and Brett Mackey worked the lines.


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Byram chasing WHL history. . . . Scott is in select company, too. . . . Final series to resume Tuesday in Langley

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D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants is attempting to skate where no other player has gone since the WHL started play in the autumn of 1966.

Byram leads all playoff scorers with 22 points, two more than F Dante Hannoun of the VancouverPrince Albert Raiders.

The Giants and Raiders are tied, 1-1, in the WHL’s best-of-seven final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with Game 3 set for Tuesday night in Langley, B.C.

The record for most points by a defenceman in one playoff season is 34 and belongs to John Miner, a hard-shooter who put up nine goals and 25 assists in 23 games with the Regina Pats in 1984.

Second on that list is Keith Brown of the Portland Winterhawks, who had 33 points, 30 of them assists, in 25 games in 1979.

Derrick Pouliot of Portland is third, having recorded 32 points, including 27 assists, in 21 games in 2014.

Tied for fourth, each with 31 points, are Darren Veitch of the 1980 Pats and Greg Hawgood of the 1986 Kamloops Blazers. Veitch did it in 18 games; Hawgood managed to do it in 16 outings.

But none of those five led the playoffs in scoring.

Byram, who had 71 points in 67 regular-season games, has played in 17 playoff games, with at least three more to come.

Will he be able to hold off Hannoun? Might Raiders forwards Noah Gregor and/or Brett Leason, who are four points back, make a late run? Or what of Giants F Davis Koch, who also has 18 points?

Stay tuned.


Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders stopped 15 shots in earning the shutout Saturday in PrinceAlberta 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 2 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . Scott now is one of 13 goaltenders to have put up at least four shutouts in one playoff season. The record of six is shared by Dustin Slade of Vancouver, who did it in only 18 games in 2006, and Stuart Skinner, who managed to do that in 26 games with the Swift Current Broncos last season.


Judging by the WHL website, it would seem that the official name of the Ed Chynoweth Cup final series is the 2019 Rogers #WHLChampionship Series. Even though there hasn’t been a WHL game on Rogers since the first three games of the second-round series between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. . . . As Game 1 of the WHL final began in Prince Albert on Friday evening, Sportsnet had the same NHL game on five of the six channels, with the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers on the other. . . . If you are a WHL fan, feel free to slam palm of hand on forehead.


If you don’t like the WHL’s present playoff format, Ray Marcham, who has a blog he calls The Outlet, will take you back, back, back . . . to the days when round-robins were a part of our spring. . . . If you’re a long-time fan and lived through a few of those series, reading his piece, which is right here, just may give you nightmares.

If you’re wondering why the WHL went away from any kind of round-robin format, you may get a bit of a hint from this story right here.


JUST NOTES: How important is the first goal of a game to the Raiders. They are 11-0 when scoring first in these playoffs. Combine the regular season and playoffs, and they are 55-0. . . . Marc Habscheid of the Raiders now has 71 playoff victories as a WHL head coach. He is seventh on the WHL’s all-time list, behind Don Hay (108), Ken Hodge (101), Ernie McLean (87), Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80, and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, went into this spring with 18 playoff victories, all with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He now is up to 31. . . .

Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for Postmedia, reports right here that in Vancouver’s camp it’s all about the forecheck.

Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has a piece right here on Vancouver D Bowen Byram and his tie to Prince Albert and the Raiders.


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The junior B Summerland, B.C., Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has had to make a coaching change after John DePourcq chose to step aside after seven seasons. According to a news release from the Steam, DePourcq cited “increasing work and family obligations” as the reasons for his decison. . . . Ken Karpuk is the Steam’s new head coach. Karpuk, 57, is from Penticton. . . . The Steam made the playoffs in each of DePourcq’s seven seasons and advanced past the first round on five occasions. . . . As well, Steve Hogg has been named full-time general manager after working in an interim capacity since April 28 when the club announced that, by mutual agreement, Mike Rigby’s contract wouldn’t be renewed. . . . . DePourcq will remain with the organization in an advisory capacity.


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If you haven’t seen this already, take time to check out the thread . . .

Giants caught in Dante’s Inferno as Raiders even final series. . . . Teams now head for Langley. . . . AJHL will lose one team


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D Dylan Busenius (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 2008-14) has signed a one-year contract with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with the University of Calgary (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and 16 assists in 27 games. . . .

F Juraj Bezúch (Lethbridge, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Hradec Králove (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and four assists in 30 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had two goals and two assists in four games. On loan to Dukla Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and two assists in seven regular-season games, then added five goals and two assists in 10 playoff games.


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The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s are 14-0 in these playoffs after scoring a 4-3 victory over the ohlvisiting Guelph Storm in Game 2 of the championship final on Saturday afternoon. . . . Ottawa, which swept its way through the first three series, leads the final, 2-0. . . . However, the 67’s lost G Mikey DiPietro at 14:50 of the first period when he went down with an injured right leg after appearing to catch it on the goal post. After the game, he was using crutches and has his right foot and ankle in a boot. It’s believed that he suffered a high ankle sprain. . . . At that time, Ottawa was trailing, 2-0. G Cedrick Andree came on to replace DiPietro and stopped 26 shots to key the victory. . . . The series will continue on Monday with Game 3 in Guelph. Game 4 is to be played there on Wednesday. . . . DiPietro, 20, was a third-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed with them and, in fact, played one game with them this season.


In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are 1-1, with Game 3 scheduled for Halifax on Monday night. The Mooseheads beat the host Huskies, 5-4 in double OT, on Friday. . . . Both teams already are assured berths in the Memorial Cup tournament because the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . On Friday, F Benoît-Olivier Groulx scored the winner, his second goal of the game, at 9:53 of the second OT period.


The BCHL-champion Prince George Spruce Kings won the Doyle Cup on Saturday night, beating the visiting Brooks Bandits, the AJHL champions, 4-2. . . . The Spruce Kings won the series, 4-2. . . . Both teams have berths in the national junior A championship tournament because Brooks is the host team. . . . The MJHL-champion Portage Terriers also will be there, having won the ANAVET Cup with a 7-3 victory over the host Battlefords North Stars on Thursday night. The Terriers won that series, 4-1. . . . The national tournament is to run from May 11 through May 19. . . . The Terriers already know that they will play in the 2020 tournament because they will be the host team.


The AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs are taking a leave of absence for the 2019-20 season. The CalgMustangsorganization revealed on Saturday that it had applied to the AJHL for the OK to move to Strathmore before a new season gets here. However, the AJHL denied the request and an appeal also was denied. . . . “Over the past two seasons our off-ice product has not equaled the success we had on the ice,” Mike Cartney, the Mustangs’ president, wrote in a letter. “Low ticket sales, decreasing advertising revenue and a lengthy playoff absence have left the franchise in a difficult position, financially. The board of the directors . . . (has) had lengthy discussions about all of our options and ultimately (has) voted in favour of taking a leave of absence from the AJHL for the upcoming 2019-20 season.” . . . The Mustangs were one of eight teams in the 16-team league’s South Division. This season, they finished fifth, at 29-22-9, then lost a best-of-five first-round playoff series to the Camrose Kodiaks, 3-2. . . . Ty Drader, who had been the Mustangs’ general manager and head coach, was named Friday as the head coach of the ACAC’s Calgary-based SAIT Trojans.


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NOTES: The WHL’s best-of-seven championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is tied, 1-1, after the host Prince Albert Raiders beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Saturday night. . . . The Giants had won, 5-4, on Friday night. . . . The teams now will fly — on the same airplane — to Vancouver today for games at the Langley Events Centre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. . . . The Raiders are 13-5 in these playoffs; the Giants are 13-4. . . .

If you missed it late Friday night, there were a couple of scoring changes following the completion of the Giants’ 5-4 victory in Game 1. Vancouver D Bowen Byram was awarded two more assists, giving him four in the game. At the same time, F Owen Hardy, who had been credited with two assists, had one taken away.

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SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders held the visiting Vancouver Giants to 15 shots en route to a 4-0 PrinceAlbertvictory in Game 2 of the WHL’s championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The series is 1-1 with the next three games in the Langley, B.C., Events Centre — Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders stopped all 15 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of these playoffs. That leads the CHL. . . . Prince Albert held a 27-10 edge in shots through two periods. . . . Raiders F Dante Hannoun (11), who is from Delta, B.C., opened the scoring when he beat the coverage to the front of the Vancouver net and was able to rap a pass in behind G David Tendeck at 10:17 of the first period. . . . Hannoun, 20, scored nine times through the first two rounds, then was blanked for six games in the third round. This was his second goal in two games in the final. . . . Hannoun, who faced the Giants often while he was with the Victoria Royals, also had two assists, and now has 56 points in 52 career games, regular-season and playoffs, against Vancouver. He has two goals and three assists in the first two games of this series. . . . The home boys went ahead 2-0 as D Sergei Sapego (3) scored off a pass from F Parker Kelly at 7:43 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (9) added to the lead with a PP goal at 10:39. . . . F Brett Leason (7) closed out the scoring with an empty-netter at 18:39. . . . The Giants had Tendeck on the bench for the extra attacker with four minutes still to play. . . . Tendeck finished with 30 saves. . . . Raiders F Parker Kelly had two assists for a second straight game. . . . The Raiders were 1-5 on the PP; the Giants were 0-2. . . . D Max Martin of Prince Albert left the game at 11:30 of the second period after falling awkwardly into the end boards. He immediately went to the dressing room and didn’t return. Head coach Marc Habscheid didn’t indicate whether Martin would travel to Vancouver, saying only that the veteran defenceman would be “re-evaluated” on Sunday. . . . The referees were Fraser Lawrence and Steve Papp, with Deion Foster and Chad Huseby on the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.

Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has a lead right here.

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a gamer right here.


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Protas leads Raiders into final. . . . Belarusian sniper has six goals in two games. . . . Will open against visiting Giants on Friday


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The WHL final will feature the Vancouver Giants and Prince Albert Raiders. The series, whlwith the winner taking home the Ed Chynoweth Cup, is to follow a 2-3-2 format, with Games 1 and 2 in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference title on Sunday, beating the Oil Kings, 4-2, in Edmonton to take the series, 4-2. . . . The Giants took out the Spokane Chiefs in five games, finishing that series in Langley, B.C., on Friday night with a 3-2 victory. . . .

The teams will travel via the friendly skies during the WHL final, so the Giants will fly east for the games in Prince Albert. The two teams, along with various league officials, will share a flight to Vancouver for the middle part of the series. . . . The Giants’ three home games are scheduled to be played in Langley on May 7, 8 and, if necessary, 10. If the series goes long enough, Games 6 and 7 would be played in Prince Albert on May 12 and 13. . . .

The Raiders finished atop the regular-season’s overall standings, at 54-10-4. . . . The Giants went 48-15-5 for the best record in the Western Conference. . . . The last time conference champions met in the WHL final was in 2015 when the Brandon Wheat Kings (53-11-8) went up against the Kelowna Rockets (53-13-6). The Rockets swept the final series. . . . The Raiders and Giants met once during the regular season. The Giants beat the visiting Raiders, 3-1, on Jan. 24 behind two goals from F Davis Koch and 31 stops by G Trent Miner.


The first two teams that will play in the Memorial Cup have been decided. The Halifax qmjhlMooseheads and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who are to play for the QMJHL championship, both will play in the four-team tournament. The Mooseheads are in as the host team, so the QMJHL’s other finalist gets an automatic berth. . . . Halifax scored a 2-1 OT decision over the Drummondville Voltigeurs to win that series, 4-2, and get to its first final since 2013. . . . The QMJHL final opens with Games 1 and 2 in Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday and Friday nights. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled to run from May 17-26 in Halifax.


The Ottawa 67’s have one of the spots in the OHL’s championship final, while the other ohlwill go to either the Guelph Storm or Saginaw Spirit. . . . The 67’s are 12-0 in the playoffs, having swept the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals, having outscored the opposition to the tune of 82-29. . . . The Spirit won three of the first four games in the other semifinal, only to have the Storm roar back with 4-0 and 5-1 victories to tie it, 3-3. . . . They’ll play Game 7 in Saginaw tonight (Monday). The Storm won, 4-0, in Saginaw on Friday, then skated to a 5-1 victory on home-ice on Sunday.


F Lucas Raymond scored his third goal of the game in OT to give Sweden, the host team, a IIHF4-3 victory over Russia in the championship game at the IIHF’s U-18 World Championship on Sunday before 5,602 fans in Ornskoldsvik. . . . It’s the first time that Sweden has won the tournament that started in 1999. Russia won silver for the fourth time. . . . Raymond won it with a wrist shot from just above the hash marks, beating G Yaroslav Askarov at 5:44 of the extra period. . . . Sweden had taken a 2-0 lead, only to have Russia come back and take a 3-2 lead. Raymond, who finished the tournament with four goals, tied the game, 3-3, at 10:47 of the third period, just 25 seconds after F Maxim Groshev gave Russia its only lead. . . .

In the third-place game, Team USA scored four times on the PP and beat Team Canada, 5-2, behind a goal and two assists from F Jack Hughes. That gave Hughes 32 points in his two tournament appearances, breaking Russian F Alex Ovechkin’s career points record of 31. . . . Hughes won the tournament scoring title with 20 points. . . . “In 2016,” writes Lucas Aykroyd of the IIHF, “the last time these archrivals met for bronze, the U.S. thrashed Canada 10-3 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was the most lopsided score in U18 bronze history. This wasn’t that bad, but America still left no doubt who was in control.” . . . F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) had one of Canada’s goals. G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) stopped 36 shots. . . . The Americans have won a medal in each of the past 16 tournaments. . . . Canada hasn’t won this tournament since 2013 and last won a medal (bronze) in 2015. . . . The 2020 tournament is to be held in Plymouth, Mich. . . . Aykroyd, who does a terrific job covering IIHF events, has a story right here.


EdChynowethCup

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Aliaksei Protas scored three times for a second straight game as the Prince Albert PrinceAlbertRaiders beat the Oil Kings, 4-2, in Edmonton. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference final, 4-2, and advanced to the WHL’s championship series for the first time since 1985 when they won the franchise’s only Memorial Cup title. . . . The Raiders will open the WHL final at home against the Vancouver Giants with games on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (5) gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead on Sunday, at 11:49 of the first period. . . . Protas, a freshman from Belarus, tied it with his ninth goal of the playoffs, on a PP, at 14:05. . . . The visitors went ahead just 16 seconds later when Protas got his 10th goal. . . . F Noah Gregor (7) upped the lead to 3-1, on a PP, at 17:58. . . . Fix-Wolansky (6) cut into the lead, shorthanded, at 10:41 of the second period, only to have Protas complete his hat trick with his 11th goal at 16:40. . . . The teams played a scoreless third period. . . . Protas, who turned 18 on Jan. 6, had 11 goals in 61 regular-season games. He now leads the WHL playoffs with 11 goals in 16 games. He holds a two-goal lead over teammate Dante Hannoun, who didn’t score in the six games with Edmonton after finishing the second-round series with three goals in the sixth game with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Sean Montgomery drew two assists for the Raiders. . . . F Quinn Benjafield had two assists for Edmonton. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 32 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 12-4, 1.84, .930. . . . The Oil Kings got 20 stops from G Dylan Myskiw, who finished 7-6, 2.15, .914. . . . The Raiders were 2-5 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-4. . . . On Saturday night, the WHL had revealed that Edmonton head coach Brad Lauer had been fined $1,500 for comments he made about the Game 5 officiating in a post-game scrum with reporters.


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