Rockets deal for 20-year-old from Royals . . . Oil Kings win again . . . Brandon’s Burzan fills the net


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The Kelowna Rockets have acquired F Lane Zablocki, who is to turn 20 on Dec. 27, from the Victoria Royals. In exchange, the Royals got a conditional seventh-round selection in KelownaRocketsthe 2019 WHL bantam draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . The Royals’ news release indicated that both draft picks were conditional; the Rockets’ news release didn’t use the word ‘conditional.’ . . . The Royals got Zablocki from the Lethbridge Hurricanes at last season’s trade deadline, giving up a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, a conditional third-rounder in 2019 and a sixth-rounder in 2018. . . . He recorded one goal and five assists in 25 regular-season games with the Royals, then added two goals and an assist in 10 playoff games. . . . Zablocki also has played with the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels. In 201 regular-season games, he has 58 goals and 64 assists. . . . Zablocki, from Wetaskiwin, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the 2013 bantam draft. The Detroit Red Wings selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . .

The Rockets were down to one 20-year-old for two weekend games in Prince George. They have been carrying two, but F Ryan Bowen was ill and didn’t play on the weekend. That left D Braydyn Chizen as the team’s lone 20-year-old. . . .

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, said that Zablocki isn’t expected to play “for another two weeks” as he recovers from an undisclosed injury. “He is just arriving back home to Regina from Detroit’s training camp where he was all summer,” Hamilton added, “and he will report to us on Monday.”

The Royals, meanwhile, have settled on F Dante Hannoun, D Ralph Jarratt and G Griffen Outhouse as their three 20s.

The Rockets snapped their season-opening four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Saturday night. Kelowna went into this game having lost 12 straight — four playoff games, four exhibition games and the first four games of this regular season.


Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Friday night that D Bailey Dhaliwal had one arm in a sling after injuring a shoulder during a 3-1 loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Dhaliwal, 19, left the game in the first period. . . . He has a history of shoulder woes. He was limited to six games last season because of surgery. In 2016-17, he was able to play in only 29 games. . . . “We’re going to see where he’s at . . . but obviously I’m concerned,” Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, told Ewen. “Anytime that shoulder is injured there’s a concern.” . . . Ewen has more on the Giants’ situation right here.


G Carl Stankowski is back in action after sitting out all of last season. You’ll recall that Stankowski, as a 16-year-old, was the story of the 2016-17 playoffs as he backstopped the Seattle Thunderbirds to the Ed Chynoweth Cup. But he didn’t play at all last season due to injury and illness. Now he’s back and playing with the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Todd Saelhof of Postmedia has more right here.


SATURDAY NIGHT STUFF:

The Washington Capitals have signed F Riley Sutter of the Everett Silvertips to a three-year entry-level NHL deal. He is to turn 19 on Oct. 25. Sutter, who is back with the Silvertips, was a third-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. His father, Ron, played 19 seasons in the NHL. . . . Last night, Sutter scored twice and added an assist to lead the visiting Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Each team scored twice via the PP. . . .

D Igor Merezhko of the Lethbridge Hurricanes was given a two-game suspension after he got tossed from Friday’s 8-4 victory over the Pats in Regina. Merezhko didn’t play in Lethbridge’s 8-4 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon and won’t play Friday against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Wheat Kings got four goals and an assist from F Luka Burzan as they built up a 7-0 second-period lead; he later added an empty-netter for a five-goal night, the first in the WHL this season. . . .

F Riley McKay scored in the 10th round of a shootout to give the host Saskatoon Blades a 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Blades are 3-0-0 for the first time since 2011-12. Danish G Mads Søgaard, who stands 6-foot-7, made his first WHL start for the Tigers by stopping 39 shots. . . . The Blades had F Josh Paterson back in the lineup after he missed two games last weekend after taking a high hit from D Parker Gavlas of the visiting Regina Pats in an exhibition game on Sept. 13. When Paterson sat out the first game, it ended a streak of 145 straight regular-season games played. Gavlas was hit with a six-game suspension for the hit. . . . Paterson had two assists and was chosen the game’s first star. . . .

D Jared Freadrich, playing in his 200th regular-season game, had a goal and three assists as the Portland Winterhawks scored three PP goals and won their home-opener, 4-2, over the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Winterhawks got three assists from F Cody Glass, with linemate  Joachim Blichfeld getting a goal and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks next play on Wednesday (and Friday) when they visit the Blazers in Kamloops. This will be the return of Portland assistant coach Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history who spent the previous four seasons with the Blazers. . . .

F Parker Kelly scored the game’s last two goals as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders erased a 5-2 deficit late in the third period and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5. Moose Jaw D Brandon Schuldaus completed a three-game suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in a playoff game against Swift Current on April 16. . . . F Brayden Tracey, the 21st overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, scored his first two WHL goals for the Warriors. Tracey, 17, is from Calgary. He had two assists in five games last season. This season, he had been pointless in two games. . . .

The host Victoria Royals erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits, the latter in the second period, en route to a 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. The Royals had beaten the Blazers, 3-2, on Friday night. Victoria G Griffen Outhouse stopped 71 of 76 shots (.934) in the two victories. . . . Kamloops scratched sophomore F Connor Zary (ill) last night. . . . The Royals went 4-0-0 on a season-opening four-game homestand. . . .

The Swift Current Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, avoided a third straight shutout as they slipped to 0-4-0 by losing 5-2 to the Rebels in Red Deer. The Broncos have been outscored, 20-3. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs won their home-opener, getting two goals and an assist from Riley Woods in a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice. One night earlier, the Chiefs came out of Cranbrook with a 7-4 victory over the Ice. . . . D Ty Smith had one assist and was plus-3 in his first game with the Chiefs since returning from the camp of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils with a three-year entry-level deal in his hip pocket. . . .

The visiting Edmonton Oil Kings skated to a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen, improving to 5-0-0 in the process. This is the first time in the franchise’s modern history, starting in 2007-08, that the Oil Kings have opened with five straight victories. . . . The Hitmen, who were 6-0-0 in the exhibition season, are 0-3-0. . . . This was the first meeting between these teams this season. During the offseason, the Oil Kings fired head coach Steve Hamilton and the Hitmen hired him.


If you are a WHL fan and are on Twitter, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). He regularly tweets interesting notes and stats involving WHL teams and players.


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Kootenay puts some seats on ice . . . Broncos, Pats struggling early . . . Smith back to Chiefs after NHL stint


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Cranbrooktarps

A few weeks ago, Taking Note received an email from a reader who reported that the Kootenay Ice had blocked off some seats in one end of the 4,268-seat Western Financial Place.

According to the emailer, some season-ticket holders had been asked to relocate to seats Kootenaynewelsewhere in the arena.

“The past three seasons, attendance in sections F, G and H was pretty sparse,” the emailer continued. “Now, if one goes to the website and tries to buy season tickets, almost every seat in those three sections is unavailable.”

As you can see from the above photo, the Ice has indeed closed off some seats; in fact, there now are tarps over those seats.

During the offseason, the Ice, which has worked hard as an organization on community involvement and raising its visibility in the Cranbrook area, mounted a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — in an attempt to sell 2,500 before this season opened. Last week, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman reported that the count was at “1,670, a drop of 247 from last (season).”

When the Ice played their home-opener a week ago, the announced attendance was 2,862. The Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 5-3, in that one.

On Friday night, the announced attendance was 2,375 as the Ice dropped a 7-4 decision to the visiting Spokane Chiefs.


It appears that F Lukus MacKenzie’s WHL career is over. MacKenzie, 19, has returned home after being in camp with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . According to someone familiar with the situation, MacKenzie “lost his interest in playing.” It is expected MacKenzie soon will be going back to school. . . . MacKenzie, from Calgary, was one of the WHL’s toughest players over the previous three seasons. A third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in 2014 WHL bantam draft, he played two seasons (2015-17) there before being dealt to the Red Deer Rebels early last season. The Winterhawks later acquired him from the Rebels. . . . In 169 regular-season games, he put up 10 goals and 23 assists.


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D Dan Gatenby, who was released by the Tri-City Americans, has joined the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Gatenby, 20, is from Kelowna. He also has played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. . . . Last season, he had five assists in 57 games with the Americans. . . . In 120 regular-season WHL games, he has one goal and 12 assists. . . . Prior to joining Nanaimo, his junior A experience comprised two games with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors in 2014-15.


Barry Wolff, a long-time junior coach, has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. . . . Wolff spent the previous four-plus seasons with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, the first as head coach and then as general manager and head coach. He was fired by the Express, with whom he won the BCHL’s 2014 playoff championship, in late November with their record at 3-21-2. . . . He has been involved in junior B or junior hockey as a coach since at least 1996-97, spending most of that time in the BCHL. . . . He did spend one season (2004-05) in the MJHL, as the head coach of the OCN Blizzard. . . . The Stampeders had been looking for a GM/head coach since Taurean White resigned prior to beginning his second season with them. . . . Darren Webster, who will stay on as a part-time director of player personnel, has been working as the interim GM/head coach. . . . The Stampeders went into Friday’s action at 2-1-0.


FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES: The NHL’s New Jersey Devils have returned D Ty Smith to the Spokane Chiefs. The Devils selected Smith with the 17th overall pick of the NHL’s 2018 draft after he put up 73 points, including 59 assists, in 69 games. He is expected to be in Spokane’s lineup tonight as the Chiefs open their home schedule against the Kootenay Ice. . . . Two players off the Tri-City Americans’ 2017-18 roster remain with NHL teams. D Juusu Valimaki, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 6, is with the Calgary Flames. If he doesn’t start with them, he likely will be with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. F Michael Rasmussen, 19, is with the Detroit Red Wings; if he doesn’t stick there, he must be returned to the Americans. . . .

The WHL’s two representatives in the 2018 Memorial Cup are having a tough time finding that first victory this season. The Swift Current Broncos, the WHL’s defending champions, are 0-3-0 and have been outscored, 15-1. They were outshot 47-14 and beaten 5-0 by the host Edmonton Oil Kings last night, the second game in a row in which they’ve been blanked. Swift Current’s only goal in three games was scored by F Kaden Elder, who was dealt to the Calgary Hitmen on Thursday. . . . The Regina Pats, the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament, also are 0-3-0. Last night, they fell 8-4 at the hands of the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, who got three goals from F Dylan Cozens. . . . The Pats last opened 0-3-0 in 2008-09. . . . The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have started 4-0-0 for the first time since they entered the WHL in 2007-08. . . .

The Hurricanes lost D Igor Merezhko to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 19:31 of the second period for a hit on Regina F Austin Pratt. Pratt left the game at the time, but returned for the third period. . . . The Portland Winterhawks blew a 5-3 third-period lead, then failed to score on a rare 5-on-3 man advantage in overtime before dropping a 6-5 four-round shootout decision to the host Tri-City Americans.


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