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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Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


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F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


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It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


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NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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Hitmen, Oil Kings one win from moving on. . . . Giants, Silvertips, Chiefs into next round. . . . Royals have edge on Blazers


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The Kamloops Blazers are trying to venture where no WHL team has gone.

The Blazers were in Victoria on Saturday night, where they dropped a 6-3 decision to the Kamloops1Royals, who now hold a 3-2 lead the best-of-seven first-round series.

The Blazers are in the playoffs because they beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker in Kamloops on March 19.

That was the seventh tiebreaker in WHL history. No team advancing from a tiebreaker into the playoffs has ever gone on to win three games. In fact, before this season, the six teams that moved into the playoffs by winning tiebreakers combined to win three games — two by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the spring of 2014, and one by the Swift Current Broncos in 1990.

Here’s a look. . . .

In the spring of 1981, the Spokane Flyers made it into the playoffs with a 10-9 victory, in OT, over the New Westminster Bruins. The game was played in Trail, B.C., because of a labour dispute at Queen’s Park Arena, the home of the Bruins. The Flyers moved into the first round, only to be swept from a best-of-seven series by the Victoria Cougars.

The Calgary Wranglers got into the playoffs in 1984 by going into Saskatoon and beating the Blades, 8-7 in OT. The Wranglers promptly were swept from a best-of-seven series by the Regina Pats.

In 1990, the Swift Current got past the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-4, in a tiebreaker. Regina then took out Swift Current, winning a best-of-five series, 3-1.

The Oil Kings advanced in 2009 by beating the Raiders, 2-1 in OT, in Prince Albert. The Calgary Hitmen then swept the Oil Kings from a best-of-seven series.

The Raiders were back in a tiebreaker in 2014, this team beating the host Red Deer Rebels, 5-3. Edmonton then took out the Raiders, 4-0, in a first-round series.

In 2016, the Oil Kings skated out of Medicine Hat with a 6-4 victory over the Tigers. The Oil Kings then lost a first-round series to Brandon, 4-2.

Let’s not forget, too, that a case can be made for the Blazers getting into the tiebreaker because of a loser point.

On March 15, the host Blazers were trailing the Prince George Cougars, 4-2, with fewer than seven minutes left in the third period. F Kyrell Sopotyk scored on a PP to get Kamloops to within a goal.

Then, at 19:04, F Connor Zary dove after a loose puck in the Prince George crease and knocked it into the net to tie the game and force OT. The Cougars won the game on a goal by F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, but it was the loser point that arrived on Zary’s stick that got the Blazers into a tie with Kelowna and ultimately forced the tiebreaker game.

And now the Blazers find themselves two victories away from a berth in the second round of the playoffs. They can get there by beating the Royals in Game 6 in Kamloops on Monday night, and again in Game 7 in Victoria on Wednesday.



D Matthew Stanley, who played out his junior eligibility with the Swift Current Broncos this season, has signed with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. . . . In 180 regular-season WHL games — 145 with the Broncos and 35 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes — Stanley had five goals and 13 assists.


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NOTES: There will be two Battles of Alberta in the WHL playoffs today as the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Hitmen in Calgary, and the Edmonton Oil Kings visit the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Last night, in Lethbridge, the Hitmen beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, to take a 3-2 lead. . . . The Oil Kings hold a 3-2 edge on the Tigers. . . .

Three of the series in the Western Conference ended last night. The Vancouver Giants beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., to win that series, 4-2. . . . The Giants will open the second round at home on Friday against either the Kamloops Blazers or Victoria Royals. Victoria leads that series, 3-2, after a 6-3 home-ice victory last night. They’ll play Game 6 in Kamloops on Monday. . . .

The Everett Silvertips dumped the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-1, to win that series, 4-1, while the host Spokane Chiefs were beating the Portland Winterhawks, 4-1. Spokane won that series, 4-1. . . . Everett, which finished atop the U.S. Division, set a single-game franchise playoff records for goals. It will face the second-place Chiefs in the next round with that series opening in Everett on April 6 and 7. . . . With the Cirque du Soleil in Everett for an April run, this series will follow a 2-3-2 format. . . .

Home teams now are 21-18 in the first round. . . . F Bryce Kindopp of Everett and F Davis Koch of Vancouver lead the playoff scoring race, each with nine points. . . . Kindopp put up five goals and four assists against Tri-City; Koch had a goal and a league-leading eight assists against Seattle. . . . Vancouver F Jadon Joseph leads the league in goals, with six.

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SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Mark Kastelic, back from a two-game absence that was due to a brain injury, scored Calgarytwice and added an assist to lead the Calgary Hitmen to a 6-5 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Hitmen lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for today in Calgary. If needed, Game 7 will be played in Lethbridge on Tuesday. . . . With the world men’s curling championship in the Enmax Centre, the Hurricanes have moved home games to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorn women’s and men’s teams. . . . The Hitmen got out to a 2-0 first-period lead on PP goals from F Luke Coleman (3), at 7:05, and Kastelic (2), at 16:18. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (1) scored for Lethbridge at 17:11, but F Josh Prokop (3) got that one back for Calgary 36 seconds into the second period. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (4) pulled the Hurricanes back to within one at 2:59, only to have D Vladislav Yeryomenko (2) restore Calgary’s two-goal lead at 4:45. . . . The Hurricanes did get even on PP goals from F Nick Henry, at 8:44, and F Logan Barlage (2), at 12:04, but Calgary got two goals before the period ended — from F Cael Zimmerman (1), at 17:51, and Kastelic (3), at 19:36. . . . Leschyshyn (5) added another PP goal, at 15:31 of the third period, but the Hurricanes weren’t able to get one more. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from D Dakota Krebs. . . . Bellerive added two assists to his goal, and D Caden Addison had three assists. . . . Lethbridge was 3-8 on the PP; Calgary was 2-4. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 29 shots for the Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge starter Carl Tetachuk surrendered four goals on 24 shots in 24:45, before Bryan Thomson came on to finish the second period. He was beaten twice on six shots. Tetachuk came back for the third period and stopped all 12 shots he faced.


F Bryce Kindopp scored three times and added an assist as the host Everett Silvertips Everettdumped the Tri-City Americans, 9-1. . . . The Silvertips won the series, 4-1, and will meet the Spokane Chiefs in the second round.  The Chiefs eliminated the Portland Winterhawks last night. . . . The Chiefs and Silvertips will open in Everett with games on April 6 and 7. . . . Everett took control of this one with three goals in the second half of the first period. . . . Kindopp (3) got it started at 11:59; F Zack Andrusiak (3) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 15:15; and F Martin Fasko-Rudas (4) upped it to 3-0 at 18:53. . . . The Silvertips went on to build up an 8-0 lead as Kindopp added two more goals, Andrusiak added another, and F Connor Dewar (3) and F Gage Goncalves (2) added one each. . . . After F Kyle Olson (1) scored, on a PP, for Tri-City, D Ronan Seeley (1) closed out Everett’s scoring. . . . Dewar added three assists and Goncalves had two. . . . Tri-City was 1-2 on the PP; Everett was 1-4.


F Jadon Joseph scored twice to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle VancouverThunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Giants, who won 3-2 in Langley, B.C., on Friday, took the series, 4-2. It was the franchise’s first series victory since 2010. . . . Vancouver will meet the winner of the series between the Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Royals in the next round. That series is to open in Langley on Friday. . . . D Bowen Byram (3) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the first period. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (1) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 7:14. . . . Joseph, who scored six goals in the series, upped the lead to 4-0 by scoring at 15:08 and 18:13 of the second period, the latter on a PP. . . . F Tristen Nielsen (2) got Vancouver’s fifth goal at 2:40 of the third period. Nielsen also was awarded a penalty shot in the second period. No, he didn’t score. . . . F Andrej Kukuca (4) scored for Seattle at 15:32. . . . Vancouver was 1-3 on the PP; Seattle was 0-5. . . . The Giants got 33 saves from G David Tendeck, including 13 in the third period when Seattle held a 14-3 edge in shots. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 28 shots for the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle had D Cade McNelly back after he served a two-game suspension. F Sean Richards, who has been suspended indefinitely, missed his second game. . . . The Giants continue to play without F Aidan Barfoot and F Justin Sourdif, both of whom were injured during this series.


F Phillip Schultz scored three times to lead the Victoria Royals to a 6-3 victory over the VictoriaRoyalsvisiting Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Royals lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Kamloops on Monday. If needed, Game 7 would be played in Victoria on Wednesday. . . . F D-Jay Jerome (1), who hadn’t played regularly in the series until the last two periods of Game 5, gave Victoria a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period. . . . Kamloops tied it at 13:54 on a goal by F Ryley Appelt (1). . . . The Royals followed that with three straight goals. . . . Schultz (1) scored, on a PP, at 17:42. . . . D Noah Lamb’s first WHL goal made it 3-1 at 6:36 of the second period. . . . Schultz (2) made it 4-1 at 15:30. . . . F Logan Stankoven’s first WHL goal got the Blazers to within two goals at 10:48, but Victoria F Tanner Sidaway (1) got an empty-netter at 18:07. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen (3) scored at 18:31, and Schultz completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:20. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 27 shots for Victoria. . . . Kamloops starter Dylan Ferguson was beaten four times on 14 shots in 35:30. He was relieved by Dylan Garand, who stopped all nine shots he faced. . . . Victoria was 1-2 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . The Blazers had access to their complete roster for the first time in this series with F Brodi Stuart back from a one-game suspension. . . . D Matt Smith, who was hurt on a hit by Stuart in Game 3, was scratched again. . . . The Royals were without F Kody McDonald, who has been suspended indefinitely. . . . Victoria had D Mitchell Prowse in the lineup for the first time since Game 1, and F Alex Bolshakov made his playoff debut. A fourth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft, Bolshakov is from Seattle and played the past two seasons with the U16 Everett Jr. Silvertips. He was pointless in five regular-season games with the Royals.


F Luke Toporowski scored two first-period goals to get the Spokane Chiefs started SpokaneChiefstowards a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs won the series, 4-1. . . . Spokane will meet the Everett Silvertips in the second round. They’ll open in Everett on April 6 and 7, then play in Spokane on April 10 and 12. . . . F Cody Glass (knee) returned to Portland’s lineup after last having played on Feb. 23, and he opened the scoring, while shorthanded, at 4:04 of the first period. . . . Toporowski, now with four goals in these playoffs, erased Portland’s lead with goals at 4:52, on a PP, at 17:52. . . . F Riley Woods added insurance for the Chiefs with his third and fourth goals of the series at 1:28 and 3:13 of the third period. . . . Spokane was 1-2 on the PP and finished with six goals in 11 opportunities in the five games. . . . Portland was 0-4. . . . The Chiefs got 38 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 31 shots for Portland. . . . Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, had been 6-0 in first-round series in his WHL career.


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Red Deer captain gets NHL deal. . . . Focht scores hat trick for third time in five games. . . . Byram goal sets franchise record for Giants


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The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies beat the host Shawinigan Cataractes 8-3 on Wednesday night, running their winning streak to 25 games. That ties the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


F Reese Johnson, the captain of the Red Deer Rebels, has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . This season, the 20-year-old Saskatoon native has 22 goals and 23 assists in 62 games. He has single-season career highs in assists and points. . . . In 182 career regular-season games, he has 50 goals and 42 assists. . . . Johnson wasn’t selected in either the WHL bantam draft or the NHL draft.


The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives are in need of a general manager and head coach following the decision by Dustin Howden not to ask for a new contract. . . . Howden, 33, is from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He told Chris Jaster of the Brandon Sun: “I just feel it’s time for someone else to take the program to the next step.” . . . Howden has been with the Natives since 2014-15 when he was an assistant coach. He took over as head coach prior to 2016-17, and added the GM’s duties in time for this season. . . . This season, the Natives finished 9-43-8, which left them last in the 11-team league.



WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Jake Elmer ran his goal-scoring streak to 13 games as he helped the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Lethbridge (36-18-10) has won four in a row, and now has clinched a playoff spot. It also has moved into a tie with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds a game in hand. . . . Brandon (30-25-8) is 1-2-1 on a six-game trek through the Central Division. The Wheat Kings are tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Elmer opened the scoring at 5:36 of the second period, while shorthanded. He’s got 37 goals this season, and leads the WHL with six shorthanded snipes. . . . The longest goal-scoring streak in WHL history occurred from Nov. 6 through Dec. 15, 1984, as F Cliff Ronning of the New Westminster Bruins struck 27 times over 18 games. . . . The Hurricanes’ record (16 games) belongs to F Jason Ruff (Jan. 16 through Feb. 27, 1991). Ruff had 20 goals over that stretch. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn, who has 37 goals, gave his guys a 3-0 lead when he scored at 7:35 and 19:44, the latter on a PP. . . . F Zack Stringer’s first WHL goal, at 10:16 of the third period, made it 4-0. Stringer’s first goal came in his fourth game. He also had an assist, and now has three points. A 15-year-old from Lethbridge, Stringer, the eighth-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft, had 14 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the midget AAA Hurricanes this season. . . . F Luka Burzan (38) scored Brandon’s goal, at 11:09 of the third period. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 27 shots to earn the victory. . . . F Scott Mahovlich was back in Lethbridge’s lineup after having left the club on Feb. 13 to deal with a “family emergency.” He missed 10 games.


The Calgary Hitmen struck for four goals in the first period — three of them by F Carson CalgaryFocht — and then needed OT to beat the host Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-5. . . . Calgary (36-22-6) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, four points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Three of Calgary’s last four games are against the Oil Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (32-25-6) holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Calgary won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . Focht gave his guys a 2-0 lead with goals at 2:52, on the PP, and 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (23) got the Tigers on the scoreboard at 11:44. . . . F James Malm, on a PP, increased Calgary’s lead to 3-1 at 15:46 and Focht completed his third career hat trick — all three in the past five games — at 19:59. He’s got 26 goals, 10 of them in those past five games. . . . The Tigers followed with the next four goals to take a 5-4 lead. . . . F Ryan Jevne, who last played on Feb. 16, scored at 1:37 of the second period, and FCorson Hopwo made it 4-3 at 10:01. . . . The Tigers pulled even on D Trevor Longo’s fifth goal, at 7:58 of the third period, and went ahead at 11:07 when Jevne got his 28th goal, on a PP. . . . Malm forced OT with his 33rd goal at 16:18. . . . Calgary won it at 3:41 of OT when D Vladislav Yeryomenko notched his sixth goal of the season. . . . The Hitmen were 3-4 on the PP; the Tigers were 1-4. . . . Focht also had an assist for the fourth four-point game of his career. . . . Malm added an assist to his two goals. . . . Jevne added an assist to his two goals, while Longo had two helpers. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 37 shots for the Hitmen. . . . The Tigers also had F Brett Kemp back in their lineup. He had been out since Feb. 22.


G Trent Miner stopped 16 shots and D Bowen Byram set a single-season franchise record Vancouveras the Vancouver Giants dumped the Blazers, 5-0, in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (45-14-4) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is tied with the Everett Silvertips atop the Western Conference, each with five games remaining. . . . Kamloops (23-32-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). With six games to play, it is fourth in the B.C. Division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Kamloops and Kelowna will go home-and-home on Friday and Saturday. . . . The Blazers also are seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . This was the third game in a row between these teams — the Giants won all three, one of them in OT. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 8-0-0; Kamloops was 0-5-3. . . . Miner posted his third shutout of the season. He is 23-4-2, 1.94, .926. . . . F Jadon Joseph scored twice for the Giants, opening the scoring 34 seconds into the second period and closing it with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 16:47 of the third. . . . In between, the Giants got goals from F Davis Koch (27), F Justin Sourdif (20) and Byram. . . . Byram’s goal was his 25th of the season and set a single-season franchise record for goals by a defenceman. The previous record was set by Kevin Connauton in 2009-10. . . . F Milos Roman had three assists. The Giants are about to lose Roman for a handful of games. Like Kootenay Ice D Martin Bodak, he will be returning to his native Slovakia to write a mandatory exam. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson left at 1:37 of the second period. He was slow getting up after some goal-mouth action at 1:20, and actually needed to lean on  his stick in order to get to his feet. Seventeen seconds later, he left the game, unable to put any weight on one leg. . . . Ferguson stopped 10 of 11 shots in 21:37. Dylan Garand came on in relief and turned aside 17 of 21. . . . The Giants enjoyed a 32-16 edge in shots, including 14-2 in the second period when they began to take control. . . .  Vancouver was 3-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-5. . . . Vancouver had F Krz Plummer in their lineup. Plummer, who turns 17 on Feb. 13, was a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. This was his fifth WHL game, four of them this season.


The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Victoria Royals, 6-tri-city3, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (34-25-4) had lost five in a row (0-4-1). The Americans, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, have clinched a playoff spot. . . . Victoria (33-26-4) had points in each of its past four games (3-0-1). It is headed to a second-place finish in the B.C. Division. . . . F Phillip Schultz (19) put Victoria ahead 55 seconds into the game. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (5) tied it at 4:12. . . . Victoria went ahead again just 27 seconds later as F Carson Miller (14) scored. . . . The Americans tied it at 17:10 when D Dom Schmiemann (3) scored. . . . F Riley Sawchuk, who finished with two goals and an assist, put the Americans out front at 4:00 of the second period. . . . Victoria pulled even at 16:51 on F D-Jay Jerome’s 22nd goal. . . . Tri-City F Sasha Mutala (19) broke the tie at 18:08, and Sawchuk added insurance with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 13:54 of the third period. . . . Tri-City D Mitchell Brown (4) added the empty-netter at 18:58. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 20 shots for Tri-City, six fewer than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Ralph Jarratt, D Scott Walford and F Kody McDonald were among Victoria’s scratches.


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Wheat Kings beat Raiders in OT . . . Elmer glues loss on Broncos with hat trick . . . Blades run point streak to 12 games


MacBeth

F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kristianstad (Sweden, Division 1) after Tyringe (Sweden, Division 1) received monetary compensation from Kristianstad. In 20 games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with 12 assists. . . . Coulter had a clause in his contract with Tyringe that allowed him to move to another Division 1 club if the new club was in the playoffs. With two games left in the regular season, Tyringe cannot make the playoffs. Kristianstad has qualified for the playoffs for promotion to Allsvenskan for 2019-20.


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There is an interesting scenario unfolding in Prince Albert where the Raiders are nearing the end of a glorious regular season.

On Friday night, they dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. The PrinceAlbertRaiders (46-7-3) lead the WHL’s overall standings by 14 points over the Everett Silvertips.

Trevor Redden, writing for panow.com, points out that as rosy things are with the Raiders right now, the future is more than a little hazy.

“As for what lies ahead beyond this season, we still don’t have any answers,” Redden writes. “When the subject of staffing for next season was brought up post-deadline with GM Curtis Hunt, he declined comment on his own status or that of the coaching staff, with all contracts set to expire at the end of this (season).

“As for (head coach Marc) Habscheid, he wasn’t able to provide any further illumination when asked for an update this week on his status beyond this season.

“ ‘No, nothing. Haven’t heard anything so I really don’t know what’s going on. That’s all I can say,’ Habscheid said.”

The staff includes associate coach Jeff Truitt and assistant coach Dan Gendur.

The Raiders, of course, are community-owned, as opposed to having private ownership, something that may, or not, be having an impact on the situation.

Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach on Nov. 1, 2014, replacing the fired Cory Clouston. At the time, the Raiders hired Habscheid to finish the 2014-15 season. On April 21, 2015, the Raiders announced that they had signed Habscheid to a four-year deal running through the end of this season.

As for Hunt, he took over as general manager on June 8, 2015, after the Raiders and Bruno Campese chose to go their separate ways. Interestingly, the Raiders hired Hunt more than six weeks after signing Habscheid. That, of course, goes against the hockey adage about a GM wanting his own coach. And, as the standing show, Hunt and Habscheid appear to be making it work.

Time will tell if they’ll be together again next season.


The OHL has fined the Niagara IceDogs a total of $250,000 and taken away 2019 and 2021 ohlfirst-round draft choices after they were found to have “violated certain league player recruitment policies.” . . . In a Friday afternoon news release, the OHL said that it had the law firm of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottleib LLP handle the investigation.

“The league takes our commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes ensuring a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said in a news release. “In order to maintain the integrity of this player experience and competitiveness within the league, it is critical that all clubs operate within the league recruitment guidelines. When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required.”

Later Friday, the IceDogs released this statement: “All current Niagara IceDogs players and hockey operations staff have no involvement in the sanctions assed today by the Ontario Hockey League. An appeal will be filed. Therefore, no comment will be made.”


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

D Zach Wytinck’s OT goal gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Raiders in BrandonWKregularPrince Albert. . . . Brandon (25-22-7) has won two in a row and is six points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Prince Albert (46-7-3) has points in six straight (5-0-1) and has a 14-point lead atop the overall standings. . . . The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . F Sean Montgomery (23) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 10:35 of the first period. . . . Brandon took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (17), at 13:46, and F Cole Reinhardt (17), at 3:27 of the second period. . . . F Parker Kelly got the Raiders into a tie at 14:10, and F Aliaksei Protas (10) provided them with a 3-2 lead at 2:48 of the third period. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) tied it at 8:43, but Kelly (29) put the Raiders back out front, on a PP, at 13:25. . . . The Wheat Kings scored the last two goals to win it. F Luka Burzan (32) tied it at 13:40, and Wytinck’s fourth goal of the season won it at 3:06 of OT. . . . Parker added an assist to his two goals. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 28 shots for Brandon, five more than the Raiders’ Boston Bilous. . . . With G Ian Scott still sidelined, Bilous made his third straight start. . . . Montgomery was back in Prince Albert’s lineup after a one-game absence, but Scott and F Brett Leason remain sidelined. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted his story right here.


G Max Paddock stopped 32 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 4-0 victory over the visiting PatsEdmonton Oil Kings. . . . Regina (16-37-3) won’t be in the playoffs this season. . . . Edmonton (31-18-8) leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours and they also have had a flu bug in their dressing room. The Oil Kings have had illness in their room of late. This time, F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield joined F Zach Russell in being unable to play. . . . Paddock record his second shutout of the season. . . . The Oil Kings were blanked for the first time this season. . . . F Austin Pratt (21) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the first period. . . . F Riley Krane (12) added insurance, on a PP, at 10:24 of the second period, and F Carter Massier (2) upped it to 3-0, while shorthanded, at 14:55. . . . Regina’s final goal came from F Garrett Wright (4) at 10:22 of the third period. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 3-1-0. The Oil Kings had been looking for the second sweep of the Pats in franchise history; the first was in 2010-11.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes got three goals from F Jake Elmer en route to a 7-2 victory Lethbridgeover the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Swift Current (10-40-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1). The Broncos have lost 40 games in regulation-time for the first time since 2010-11 (26-44-2). That (44) is the most single-season losses for the Broncos since they moved back to Swift Current from Lethbridge for the 1986-87 season. . . . Elmer gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with first-period goals at 1:47 and 4:41 of the first period. The second of those came while shorthanded. . . . Elmer completed his second career hat trick with a PP goal at 12:43 of the third period. That was the game’s final goal. . . . The Hurricanes got two goals from F Noah Boyko, who has seven, and singles from F Logan Barlage (12) and F Nick Henry (21). . . . F Carter Chorney (12) and D Connor Horning (6) replied for the Broncos, who were 0-8 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-3 on the PP. . . . Lethbridge unleashed a season-high 56 shots at G Riley Lamb. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 26 shots for Lethbrige.


G Carl Stankowski stopped 29 shots to help the host Calgary Hitmen to a 3-1 victory over Calgarythe Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Calgary (29-21-5) is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. They also are fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat (31-20-5) has lost two in a row. They are third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . F Mark Kastelic (39) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:40 of the second period. . . . D Egor Zamula (10) made it 2-0 at 7:41. . . . The Tigers got to within a goal at 19:13 as F Elijah Brown scored his 11th goal. . . . F Carson Focht (16) iced it for Calgary at 18:59 of the third period. . . . Medicine Hat got 27 saves from G Jordan Hollett. . . . The Tigers had D Linus Nassen back in their lineup. . . . The Hitmen had Zamula and D Dakota Krebs back from injuries, but remain without F Jake Kryski and G Jack McNaughton.


Ice1
At least one Kootenay Ice fan wasn’t impressed with a Valentine’s Day promotion the team ran on Thursday. The Ice, of course, is leaving Cranbrook for Winnipeg at the conclusion of this season.
Ice2
On Friday night in Cranbrook, they were thanking the families who have billeted players through the Ice’s 21 seasons in the community.

F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice and added two assists to help the Saskatoon Blades to an 8-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Saskatoon (36-13-8) has points in 12 straight games (10-0-2). It also has won one more game than it won all of last season. The Blades are second in the East Division, 12 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Kootenay (11-36-8) has lost four in a row. . . . The Blades, in their last appearance in Cranbrook, scored the game’s first four goals to take a 4-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Max Gerlach (36), Crnkovic and F Eric Florchuk, with two, accounted for those goals. Florchuk now has 20 goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs (19) got the Ice on the scoreboard at 11:22 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon responded with the next four goals, from F Chase Wouters (14), F Ryan Hughes, with two, and Crnkovic, who now has nine goals. Hughes has 23. . . . D Martin Bodak (10) and F Jaeger White (22) had the Ice’s last two goals. . . . Crnkovic enjoyed his first career four-point game. . . . Florchuk also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson had two assists, running his point streak to 15 games; he has two goals and 26 assists in that stretch. He also has at least one assist in 15 straight games. In his past five games, he has 12 points, including 11 assists. . . . Gerlach had a goal and an assist in running his point streak to 14 games. He has 23 points, including 12 goals, in that stretch. . . . Saskatoon had F Kirby Dach back in the lineup. He had missed two games after being struck on the throat by a puck.


G Max Palaga, in his first start since Jan. 20, stopped 31 shots as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna. . . . Everett (39-13-3) has points in three straight games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by nine points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (23-27-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett took a 2-1 lead into the third period; it now is 31-0-1 when leading after two. . . . F Kyle Topping (20) gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:26 of the first period. . . . Everett tied it at 12:18 as D Gianni Fairbrother (9) scored, on a PP. . . . Silvertips F Bryce Kindopp broke the tie at 8:18 of the second period, then added his 32nd goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:43 of the third period. . . . G Roman Basran stopped 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . Rockets D Lassi Thomson left the game late in the first period, after being high-sticked by Kindopp, then returned in the second wearing a full cage. . . . That may, or may not, have had something to do with the two head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Kelowna’s Adam Foote — exchanging greetings late in the first period. . . . Everett headed for home after the game as it has to be in Kent, Wash., to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight. Then it’s off to Prince George for the Silvertips who will play the Cougars on Monday (2 p.m.) and again on Tuesday night.


F Tanner Sidaway scored the game’s first two goals to get the Victoria Royals started to a VictoriaRoyals4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Victoria (28-23-3) is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-6) has lost 14 in a row (0-11-3) and is 10 points from a playoff spot. The Cougars are 0-3-0 since firing head coach Richard Matvichuk and replacing him with general manager Mark Lamb. . . . Sidaway, who has seven goals, scored at 3:50 of the first period and seven seconds into the second, while shorthanded. His second goal set a franchise record as the fastest goal to start a period. The previous record of nine seconds had been done on four occasions. . . . This also was Sidaway’s first multi-goal game. . . . The Cougars cut the deficit in half when F Josh Curtis (12) scored at 6:22. . . . F Kaid Oliver (24) restored the two-goal lead at 16:32, and F Logan Doust (4) added another goal, at 6:46 of the third period. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse posted his 109th regular-season victory, and moved into seventh on the WHL’s all-time list. The record (120) for most career victories is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92). . . . Victoria F Ty Yoder returned to play after being out since Jan. 4.


The Seattle Thunderbirds built up a 5-1 second-period lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory Seattleover the Red Deer Rebels in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (22-27-6) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazes. . . . Red Deer (29-20-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 7:45 of the first period, only to have F Zak Smith (10) tie it for Red Deer 37 seconds later. . . . The Thunderbirds responded with four second-period goals, from F Matthew Wedman, Philp (22), on a PP, F Andrej Kukuca (20) and F Henri Rybinski (4). . . . The Rebels got back in it with third-period goals from D Alexander Alexeyev (8), F Oleg Zaytsev (11) and F Reese Johnson (21), the latter scoring at 18:34. . . . Wedman wrapped it up with his 30th goal at 19:03. . . . With his two goals, Wedman, who also had an assist, ran his goal streak to five straight games. . . . F Brandon Hagel had three assists for Red Deer. . . . F Jeff de Wit, a Red Deer native who is on his second go-round with the Rebels, played in his 300th regular-season game. He also has played with Regina, Victoria and Kootenay. He has 54 goals and 55 assists in the 300 games. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Nolan Volcan, their captain, back in the lineup after missing nine games. He hadn’t played since Jan. 26.


G Beck Warm turned aside 42 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-3 victory over tri-citythe Kamloops Blazers in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (30-20-3) has won two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot and is fourth in the U.S. Division, three points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (21-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds in the race for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead as F Sasha Mutala (14) scored at 1:45 of the first period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 5:08 as D Montana Onyebuchi (5) scored. . . . The Americans took a 3-1 lead on second-period goals from F Connor Bouchard (6), at 11:08, and F Nolan Yaremko (20), at 18:17. . . . F Kobe Mohr (6) got Kamloops to within a goal at 3:42 of the third period. . . . D Wil Kushniryk (3) restored the two-goal lead at 6:59. . . . F Brodi Stuart (16) again got the Blazers to within a goal, at 17:51. . . . F Parker AuCoin (32) put it away for the Americans at 19:15. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who completed a two-game suspension.


The Vancouver Giants scored three straight PP goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the VancouverSpokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (38-13-3) has won six straight games. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (30-18-6) had points in each of its previous seven (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 3:13 of the first period on a PP goal by F Luc Smith. . . . The lead lasted 15 seconds until D Kaleb Bulych (2) scored for Vancouver. . . . Then came the three PP goals, from F Justin Sourdif (16), at 13:28 of the first period; F Milos Roman (21), at 18:38 of the second period; and F Jared Dmytriw (13), at 19:08. . . . The Chiefs got to within a goal, at 4-3, as Smith (25) and F Eli Zummack (13) scored at 3:47 and 11:51 of the third period, respectively. . . . After the Chiefs had a goal disallowed — it was ruled to have been kicked in from the crease — F Jadon Joseph (16) scored for Vancouver at 15:46. . . . F Riley Woods (27) scored for Spokane at 18:50. . . . Zummack also had two assists. . . . The Giants were 3-4 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-7.


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Rockets lose forward to retirement . . . Warriors win second game in B.C. . . . Red-hot Byram sparks Giants’ victory

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ThisThat

The Kelowna Rockets announced on Wednesday morning that F Erik Gardiner has retired.

Gardiner, an alternate captain, was in his third season with the Rockets. The Regina Pats KelownaRocketsselected him in the second round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.

The Rockets acquired Gardiner and D James Hilsendager from Regina on Nov. 30, 2016, for D Jonathan Smart.

This season, Gardiner had five goals and 18 assists in 39 games. In 114 career regular-season games — four with Regina and 110 with Kelowna — he had 16 goals and 35 assists.

Gardiner, 19, is from Humboldt. He played minor hockey in the Saskatchewan community and also played 25 games with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos in 2016-17. Yes, he lost friends in the April 6 crash involving the Broncos’ bus.

“Due to health and personal reasons, I thought it was time to step away,” Gardiner said in a news release. “I want to focus on different things and take care of myself.”

Gardiner was limited to 31 games in 2017-18, losing a chunk in the middle of the season after being struck on the head while blocking a shot during a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Oct. 27. The impact of the shot actually broke his visor, but Gardiner returned and drew the primary assist on the winning goal.

Here’s what Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice, wrote on his blog at the time:

“With many in the building gasping as Gardiner went down in considerable pain and the replay was shown on the video screen, Gardiner took off his helmet, rubbed his head a few times before eventually making his way to his feet. Surprisingly, Gardiner stayed in the game, blocked another key shot on an Americans’ power play in overtime and then set up Carsen Twarynski for the game winner.”

One night later, Gardiner was in the lineup again, picking up two primary assists in a 4-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars in Kelowna.

However, he didn’t play again until Feb. 9 as he tried to overcome post-concussion symptoms.

In mid-April, Gardiner spoke about his Humboldt connections with Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier. That story is right here.

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The GSL Group, which owns the WHL’s Victoria Royals, has purchased the Delta Hockey Academy from the Delta, B.C., School District, for $1. The academy is based out of Planet Ice in North Delta, a facility owned by the GSL Group, which was founded by Graham Lee. . . . Sandor Gyarmati of the Delta Optimist has the story right here.

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The junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, who play out of Armstrong, B.C., have signed Dean McAmmond as their head coach, replacing the fired John Van Horlick. . . . Van Horlick was dismissed last week, with assistant coaches Liam Mconie and Graham Watkins running the team for a bit. They remain on staff to work with McAmmond, a former WHL and NHL forward. Joey Guerra also remains on staff. . . . Dallas Keller, the Knights’ general manager, told the Vernon Morning Star that Van Horlick will be staying with the organization as a scout and consultant. . . . That story is right here.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Kootenay Ice erased a 2-1 deficit with three straight goals en route to a 4-3 victory Kootenaynewover the Pats in Regina. . . . Kootenay (10-29-7) has won two in a row. Of its 10 victories, six are on home ice and four came in Saskatchewan. With the victory, the Ice moved ahead of the Pats by one point. . . . The Ice went into Tuesday’s game in Swift Current, where it beat the Broncos, 2-0, having won twice since Nov. 1. . . . Regina (12-31-2) has lost eight straight (0-7-1). . . . D Brady Poteau (2) gave the Pats a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 2:03 of the first period. . . . The Ice tied it on a goal by F Austin Schellenberg (3) at 12:08. . . . The Pats went back in front at 1:58 of the second period as F Sebastian Streu (5) scored, on a PP. . . . The Ice took a 4-2 lead on goals from F Jakin Smallwood (6), on a PP, at 4:32; D Valtteri Kakkonen (1), at 11:09; and F Davis Murray (7), at 1:38 of the third. . . . Regina F Duncan Pierce (6) made  it a one-goal game at 6:11 but the Pats weren’t able to get another goal. . . . Kakkonen, a freshman from Finland, scored his first goal in his 36th game. . . . Regina was 2-9 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-5. . . . The Ice got 26 saves from G Curtis Meger, who was making his first appearance since joining the team from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Meger, 20, is from Regina. Last season, he got into 27 games with the Prince Albert Raiders, going 8-10-6, 3.43, .886. . . . The Ice scratched F Jaeger White, who may have been injured while blocking a shot late in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. White scored the game’s first goal and added an assist in that victory.

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F James Hamblin’s shootout goal gave the host Medicine Hat Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Tigers Logo OfficialEdmonton Oil Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (24-16-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Edmonton (24-14-8) has points in four straight and now is atop the Central Division by two points over idle Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton leads the season series, 3-0-1; Medicine Hat is 1-1-2. Yes, three of the four games have gone to extra time. . . . The Tigers are fourth in the Central Division, one point out of third. . . . D Ethan Cap (5) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 5:19 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it on a goal by F Corson Hopwo (2), at 10:43. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (3) put the Oil Kings back in front at 19:57. . . . The Tigers tied it, again, at 4:35 of the third as F Ryan Jevne got his 21st goal. . . . Edmonton went in front, again, at 12:45 as F Josh Williams (10) scored, on a PP. That was his first goal with Edmonton since coming over from Medicine Hat in a Jan. 10 deal. . . . The Tigers forced OT when F Ryan Chyzowski (15) struck with 34.3 seconds left in regulation time. Chyzowski hadn’t played since Jan. 5 when he suffered a skate cut near a knee. . . . Hamblin, who had two assists, was the first shooter in the shootout and the only one to score. . . . Each team took one minor penalty. . . . The Tigers lost G Mads Søgaard with 5:16 left in the second period. He left after being involved in a collision with Jevne. . . . The Tigers were trailing 2-1 at the time. Jordan Hollett came on to stop 12 of 13 shots and record the victory. . . . D Matthew Robertson returned for the Oil Kings. He hadn’t played since Dec. 29.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last five goals and beat the Rockets, 5-1, in MooseJawWarriorsKelowna. . . . Moose Jaw (23-11-7) has won two in a row as it has opened its B.C. Division trek with back-to-back victories. It is third in the East Division, five points behind idle Saskatoon and with four games in hand on the Blades. . . . Kelowna (17-22-4) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, three points ahead of Prince George. . . . Last season, the Rockets finished atop the B.C. Division, at 43-22-7, so have already equalled that loss total. . . . Things aren’t about to get any easier for the Rockets, either, as they are scheduled to meet the Silvertips in Everett on Friday, then hurry home to face the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday. . . . The Warriors won the faceoff battle, 37-22. . . . F Carson Denomie (2) got the Warriors started at 4:08 of the first period. It was his first goal since Moose Jaw acquired him from Kamloops last week. . . . F Justin Almeida (14) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 15:08 of the second period. . . . D Jett Woo (8) upped it to 3-0 at 19:36. . . . The Warriors got third-period goals from F Drae Gardiner (1) and F Daniil Stepanov (5) before F Kyle Topping (16) scored for the Rockets. . . . D Josh Brook drew three assists, giving him five in the first two games of the B.C. Division trip. He has nine goals and 35 assists in 32 games. . . . G Brodan Salmond earned the victory with 18 saves. He spent the previous two seasons with the Rockets, but was released over the summer. This season, he is 13-4-4, 2.84, .900. . . . Kelowna’s lone scratch was D Matt Barberis, who has yet to play since being acquired from the Vancouver Giants. With the departures of D Libor Zabransky (released) and F Erik Gardiner (retired), the Rockets have only 21 players on their roster.

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The Prince Albert Raiders broke a 2-2 tie with four goals en route to a 6-2 victory over the PrinceAlbertCougars in Prince George. . . . The Raiders (38-5-1) have won three in a row and lead the East Division by 19 points over Saskatoon. This was the start of a B.C. Division tour that continues Friday in Kamloops. . . . The Cougars (16-23-3) had won their previous two games. They hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, a point ahead of idle Seattle. . . . The Raiders took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from F Sean Montgomery (19) and F Parker Kelly (21). . . . The Cougars tied it on goals from F Jackson Leppard (9), at 16:46 of the first period, and F Mike MacLean (4), at 2:40 of the second. . . . Prince Albert F Aliaksei Protas (8) snapped the tie, on a PP, at 10:51. . . . The visitors put it away with three third-period goals, from F Cole Fonstad (17), F Justin Nachbaur (11) and F Noah Gregor (27). . . . G Taylor Gauthier, making his seventh straight start for the Cougars, stopped 43 shots. . . . The Raiders got 23 stops from G Ian Scott, who now is 26-4-1, 1.78, .937. . . . F Ilijah Colina returned to the Cougars’ lineup after last playing on Dec. 30.

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D Bowen Byram’s goal in OT gave the Vancouver Giants a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City VancouverAmericans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Vancouver (27-12-2) has won four in a row and leads the B.C. Division by 11 points over idle Victoria. . . . Tri-City (21-16-3) has lost two straight. It holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card berth. . . . The Americans jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Riley Sawchuk (13) and F Sasha Mutala (11). . . . Vancouver went ahead 3-2 on second-period goals from F Jadon Joseph, F Davis Koch (14) and D Bowen Byram. . . . F Kyle Olson (11) got Tri-City into a 3-3 tie at 14:59. . . . Joseph gave Vancouver a 4-3 lead with his 15th goal with 0.6 left in the second. . . . The Americans tied it at 1:56 of the third period when F Parker AuCoin (23) scored on a penalty shot. . . . Byram, who also had an assist, won it with his 15th goal of the season, at 2:39 of OT. . . . Byram has points in seven straight games, with six goals and eight assists over that stretch. In 41 games, he now has 15 goals and 27 assists. . . . Joseph added an assist to his two goals, while Koch had two assists and now has three straight three-point outings. He has 14 goals and 30 assists in 41 games.

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Tweetoftheday

Ice adds another Winnipegger via trade . . . Giants deal for two vets . . . Tigers send Rybinski to Thunderbirds

tradewire

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Thursday, Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Friday’s action:

No. of trades: 3.

Players: 5.

Bantam draft picks: 4.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 28.

Players: 54.

Bantam draft picks: 44.

Conditional draft picks: 10.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

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The Kootenay Ice made another trade on Friday, acquiring F Cyle McNabb, 18, from the Vancouver Giants for D Dallas Hines, 20.

Any guesses as to McNabb’s hometown? Hey, no peeking. Yes, he’s from Winnipeg. (It is Kootenaynewanticipated that the Ice will relocate to Winnipeg following this season; management has been adding Manitoba-born players in recent trades.)

McNabb is a list player who signed with the Giants in March 2017. This season, he had a goal and two assists in 34 games with Vancouver. In 95 career games, he has two goals and nine assists.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hines, from Marwayne, Alta., played 221 regular-season games with the Ice, putting up 16 goals and 52 assists. This season, Hines, who was an alternate captain, has four goals and 12 assists in 36 games.

The Ice selected Hines in the fifth round of the 2013 WHL bantam draft.

VancouverThe Giants now have four 20-year-olds on their roster, with Hines joining F Davis Koch, F Jared Dmytriw and D Matt Barberis. However, Barberis has played in only nine games this season, the last one on Nov. 18. Should he come back from injury, the Giants would have a week to get down to three 20s.

Hines’ departure from the Ice leaves it with two 20s — F Jaeger White and Slovakian D Martin Bodak.

McNabb made his Chutney debut on Friday night against the host Medicine Hat Tigers, while Hines as in the Giants’ lineup when they played the Hurricanes in Lethbridge.


F Jadon Joseph found himself on the move on Friday for the second time in 35 days.

The Vancouver Giants acquired Joseph, 19, from the Regina Pats for two WHL bantam draft selections — a second-rounder in 2019 and a sixth-rounder in 2020.

While the Giants add an experience forward to their mix, the Pats, who made three Patstrades on Thursday, continue to stockpile draft picks.

“While it’s always tough to trade away a good player,” Regina general manager John Paddock said, “the draft picks coming back in the deal are important for the future of our hockey team.”

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Joseph, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2014 bantam draft. They dealt him to the Pats on Nov. 29 in a deal that had F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry join the Hurricanes. Regina also acquired F Ty Kolle, five bantam picks and two conditional bantam picks in the deal.

Joseph had two goals and four assists in 13 games with the Pats, after putting up 10 goals and nine assists in 23 games with Lethbridge this season. In 157 career regular-season games, he has 24 goals and 48 assists.

Joseph was in Vancouver’s lineup on Friday night as the Giants visited the Lethbridge Hurricanes.


It took more than two months, but F Henry Rybinski finally got his wish.

Rybinski, 17, had asked the Medicine Hat Tigers for a trade in late October, then went Tigers Logo Officialhome to Vancouver to wait. On Friday, the Tigers dealt him to the Seattle Thunderbirds for D Aidan Brook, 15, and two WHL bantam draft picks — a second-round selection in 2019 and a third in 2020.

The Thunderbirds held three second-round picks in the 2019 draft — their own, one that originated with the Regina Pats (Seattle got it in a deal for D Aaron Hyman on Jan. 10), and one that was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in Tuesday’s deal for F Zack Andrusiak. The Tigers will get the best of those selections.

Rybinski is expected to join the Thunderbirds on their six-game East Division trip that opened Friday night in Brandon.

The Tigers selected Rybinski in the second round of the 2016 bantam draft. In 77 regular-season games over two seasons, he had four goals and 13 assists.

When Rybinski asked out, Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach, explained that “Henry, his agent and family let us know that they were looking for increased ice time and a top-two centreman role for Henry on our team.”

Rybinski is represented by Rich Evans of Points West Sports and Entertainment.

Clouston said that Rybinski wasn’t about to be moved up the depth chart ahead of either SeattleJames Hamblin or Ryan Chyzowski, the team’s top centres.

This season, Rybinski had a goal and four assists in 14 games with the Tigers. After leaving Medicine Hat, he played nine games with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, scoring once and adding 11 assists.

The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Brook, from Roblin, Man., hasn’t signed a WHL contract. He is the younger brother of D Josh Brook, 19, who captains the Moose Jaw Warriors and F Jakob Brook, 16, a freshman with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Seattle selected Aidan in the fourth round of the 2018 bantam draft. He has one goal and 19 assists in 25 games with the Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s in Winnipeg this season.