F Chase Witala (Prince George, 2010-16) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had three goals and seven assists with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL), and was pointless in five games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL).
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
The Tri-City Americans, already without F Michael Rasmussen for up to eight weeks, are going to have to play without D Juuso Valimaki for the next while.
Valimaki has been with the Finnish national junior team at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.
The 19-year-old Valimaki is in his third season with the Americans. The Calgary Flames selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft.
Wes Gilbertson, who covers the Flames for Postmedia, tweeted Saturday evening that Valimaki “was playing through injury” at the WJC.
Valimaki went from Buffalo to Calgary where he was examined by the Flames’ medical staff. According to Gilbertson, any injury isn’t major, but is enough to keep Valimaki on the shelf for “likely . . . a couple of weeks.”
Valimaki has five goals and 15 assists in 19 games with Tri-City, but missed five games between Nov. 18 and Dec. 8 with an undisclosed injury. He returned to play three games and then left to join Finland’s national junior team.
Of course, when Valimaki does return, he will get to skate with D Jake Bean, one of the WHL’s top players, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen last night.
Rasmussen, meanwhile, had surgery before Christmas to repair a damaged wrist. A first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2017 draft, he has 31 points, including 16 goals, in 22 games this season. However, he didn’t play between Nov. 18 and Dec. 2, then came back to play five games. He last played on Dec. 16.
The Prince Albert Raiders got down to three 20-year-olds on Saturday by releasing F Devon Skoleski. The move became necessary after the Raiders acquired F Regan Nagy, 20, from the Victoria Royals earlier in the week. . . . From St. Adolphe, Man., Skoleski had eight goals and nine assists in 38 games this season, his third in the WHL. He played the previous two seasons with the Everett Silvertips. In 169 regular-season games, he has 31 goals and 39 assists. . . . The move leaves the Raiders with Nagy, F Curtis Miske and F Jordy Stallard as their 20-year-old players.
The Kootenay Ice has signed D Benjamin Zloty, who was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Calgary, he has three goals and six assists in 11 games with the midget AAA Calgary Royals this season. . . . The Ice now has signed seven of the 10 players it selected in the 2017 bantam draft.
At Prince Albert, F Kody McDonald, acquired in a trade earlier in the day, scored in OT to give the Raiders a 2-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders (15-17-8) have points in three straight (2-0-1). They now are five points out of a wild-card playoff spot. . . . The Rebels (10-21-9) have lost seven straight (0-3-4). . . . The Raiders had D Vojtech Budik back after his stint with Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship and he opened the scoring with his third goal of the season, 48 seconds into the second period. . . . That goal came after a first period in which the home side held a 17-0 edge in shots. . . . F Reese Johnson (13) pulled the Rebels even at 19:33 of the second. . . . McDonald won it at 1:08 of extra time with his 20th goal of the season. . . . Budik earned an assist on the winner. . . . Prince Albert was 0-2 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-3. . . . G Curtis Meger earned the victory with 18 saves. . . . Red Deer got 33 saves from G Ethan Anders. . . . Both teams will make it three games in fewer than 48 hours today as they hit the road — the Rebels will play in Swift Current, while the Raiders are in Regina. . . . Announced attendance: 1,901.
At Swift Current, the Broncos broke a 2-2 tie with two third-period goals and beat the Regina Pats, 4-2. . . . Swift Current (28-10-3) has points in three straight (2-0-1). The Broncos are second in the overall standings, 10 points behind Moose Jaw and six ahead of Brandon. . . . Regina (20-19-3) had won its previous four games. The Pats hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . The Broncos took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Kaden Elder, at 9:34, and F Matteo Gennaro, at 11:42. . . . Regina tied it in the second period as F Bryan Lockner (6) scored, on a PP, at 4:41 and F Nick Henry (7) counted at 18:46. . . . Gennaro (26) broke the tie at 15:15 of the third period and Elder (11) added insurance at 18:31. . . . D Josh Mahura had two assists for the Pats. . . . Regina was 1-4 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-3. . . . The Broncos got 33 saves from G Logan Flodell. . . . Regina starter Tyler Brown allowed two goals on 11 shots in 11:45 before being relieved by Jacob Wassermann, who made his WHL debut by stopping 15 of 17 shots in 48:15. Wassermann, who plays for the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, is on the Pats’ roster while G Max Paddock is sidelined. . . . F Austin Pratt, acquired earlier in the day from Red Deer, was in the Pats’ lineup. However, F Jesse Gabrielle and D Jonas Harkins, who came over to Regina from Prince George on Friday, didn’t play. . . . D Artyom Minulin played for the Broncos after returning from the World Junior Championship where he played for Russia. . . . Announced attendance: 2,284.
At Saskatoon, the Blades ran their winning streak to seven games with a 4-2 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Blades (21-17-3) now have won 10 of their past 11 games. They are in the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of Regina. . . . The Ice (18-21-3) has lost five in a row, going 0-4-1 as it played five games in six nights. This also was its eight game in 11 nights since the end of the Christmas break. Kootenay remains second in the Central Division, two points ahead of Lethbridge. . . . F Gage Ramsay, who went into the game with two goals this season, got his guys off to a quick start by scoring twice in the first period, at 3:07 and 12:46. . . . F Josh Paterson (20) made it 3-0 at 17:13. . . . Saskatoon F Cam Hebig (30) upped the lead to 4-0 at 8:33 of the third period. . . . The Ice got two late third-period goals from F Keenan Taphorn (4), at 15:48, and F Brett Davis (11), at 18:44. . . . Ramsay added an assist to his two goals, while Hebig had two helpers. . . . D Zachary Patrick had two assists for the Ice. . . . Kootenay was 0-1 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 27 shots. He’s got 10 victories in his past 10 starts. . . . Kootenay starter Bailey Brkin was beaten three times on 17 shots in the first period. Duncan McGovern finished up by stopping 14 of 15 shots in 38:51. . . . This was the first meeting of four between these teams this season. . . . D Libor Hajek, who played so well for Slovakia at the World Junior Championship, was back in the Blades’ lineup. . . . The Blades will make it three games in fewer than 48 hours when they meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon today. The Wheat Kings were idle last night. . . . Announced attendance: 3,241.
At Edmonton, F Jayden Halbgewachs, the WHL’s top sniper, scored twice to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 7-2 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . Moose Jaw (33-6-3) has points in eight straight (7-0-1) and is 10 points clear atop the overall standings. . . . The Oil Kings (10-24-6) have lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . The Warriors jumped out front 2-0 on first-period goals form F Tanner Jeannot (31) and Halbgewachs, at 5:05 and 10:32. . . . Edmonton tied it before the period ended on PP goals from F Davis Koch (18) and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (17). . . . The Warriors scored the game’s last five goals. . . . F Luka Burzan (6) broke the tie at 12:00 of the second period, and F Justin Almeida added insurance at 17:18. . . . Almeida (24) scored again at 2:14, Halbgewachs (44) got his second of the game, while shorthanded, at 14:25, and F Tate Popple (4) finished the scoring at 17:32. . . . F Brayden Burke, who leads the WHL points race, had three assists. . . . Fix-Wolansky and Koch each had an assist for Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings were 2-7 on the PP; the Warriors were 1-4. . . . The Warriors got 16 saves from G Brody Willms, while Edmonton’s Josh Dechaine stopped 25 shots. . . . Moose Jaw lost D Matthew Benson to a headshot major and game misconduct at 3:23 of the third period. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Colton Kehler, who served a one-game suspension after a slew-footing incident in Medicine Hat on Friday night. . . . Announced attendance: 7,375.
At Lethbridge, F Andrew Fyten scored Calgary’s first two goals and the Hitmen went on to a 6-1 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Calgary (13-21-6) has won four straight from Lethbridge and leads the season series, 4-2-0. Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, five points behind Lethbridge. . . . Lethbridge (17-19-3) has lost two in a row. It is 2-3-1 in the series with Calgary. The Hurricanes are third in the division, two points behind Kootenay with three games in hand. . . . Fyten gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 5:38 of the first period. . . . Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive (24) tied it at 15:05 with his seventh goal in six games. . . . Fyten (6) put the Hitmen back out front at 17:34. . . . The visitors took control with three second-period goals, from F Luke Coleman (8), at 1:34; D Jameson Murray (1), at 6:34; and F Riley Stotts (9), at 8:53. . . . F Cael Zimmerman (4) closed out the scoring, on a PP, at 19:19 of the third period. . . . James and F Jake Kryski each had two assists for Calgary, with Coleman and Stotts each adding one. . . . The Hitmen were 1-4 on the PP; the Hurricanes were 0-3. . . . Calgary G Nick Schneider stopped 37 shots. . . . The Hurricanes started G Stuart Skinner, who allowed five goals on 17 shots in 28:53. . . . Reece Klassen played the final 31:07, stopping 16 of 17 shots. . . . Calgary F Jakob Stukel came up short on a second-period penalty shot. . . . The Hitmen will play their third game of the weekend today when they entertain the Kelowna Rockets, who didn’t play last night. . . . Announced attendance: 3,773.
At Medicine Hat, the Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last two goals to beat the Tigers, 5-3. . . . Vancouver (23-14-5) has points in six straight (5-0-1) and has won six straight road games. The Giants, who have missed the playoffs each of the previous three seasons, are tied with Kelowna for first place in the B.C. Division. . . . Medicine Hat (22-16-3) had been 3-0-1 in its previous four games. It leads the Central Division by eight points over Kootenay. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (11) scored a shorthanded goal at 2:08 of the first period to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. . . . F Dawson Holt pulled the visitors even at 6:51. . . . The Tigers went back out front when F Ryan Chyzowski (14) scored, on a PP, at 2:53 of the second period. . . . Vancouver pulled even again just 55 seconds later when F Brad Morrison (11) scored. . . . The Giants took their first lead at 8:27 as F Brayden Watts (12) scored while shorthanded. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 9:53 when F Gary Haden (10) scored while on the PP. . . . The Giants won it with two third-period goals. . . . F Ty Ronning (36) broke the tie, on a PP, at 5:38, and Holt (6) provided insurance with his second goal of the game at 11:36. . . . Morrison and Watts had an assist each for Vancouver. . . . Chyzowski added an assist to his goal, too. . . . Medicine Hat was 2-7 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-4. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 23 shots for the Giants, two fewer than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett. . . . F Ryan Jevne of the Tigers completed a three-game suspension by sitting out this one. . . . Announced attendance: 3,353.
At Kamloops, the Victoria Royals erased a 3-0 first-period deficit and beat the Blazers, 5-4 in OT. . . . Victoria (23-15-4) has won two in a row and is third in the B.C. Division, one point behind Kelowna and Vancouver. . . . Kamloops (17-19-3) now is eights points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Blazers got first-period goals from F Nick Chyzowski (13), at 0:51; F Garrett Pilon (18), who ended a six-game drought, at 4:44; and F Travis Walton, with his first goal in his 21st game, at 19:08. . . . F Tyler Soy (18) got Victoria on the scoreboard at 14:52 of the second period, but D Joe Gatenby (9) got it back for Kamloops just 1:07 later. . . . The Royals got to within two goals at 16:52 as F Dino Kambeitz scored his ninth goal. . . . D Jared Freadrich (9) made it 4-3, on a Victoria PP, at 10:12, and F Matthew Phillips (30), who was the game’s best player and also had two assists, tied it at 14:36. . . . The game ended on the first shot of OT at 0:23. Soy won a puck battle deep in the Royals’ zone, and rifled the puck up ice to send Phillips and D Chaz Reddekopp in 2-on-1. Phillips made the pass to give Reddekopp a look at an open net and he didn’t miss for his fifth goal of the season. . . . Soy and Reddekopp also had an assist each. . . . The Blazers got two assists from D Nolan Kneen and one each from Pilon and Gatenby. . . . Victoria was 1-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 32 shots to record the victory over Dylan Ferguson, who made 30 saves. . . . The Blazers had F Justin Sigrist back after his time with Switzerland at the World Junior Championship. . . . F Jeff de Wit, who finished Friday’s 5-0 victory over visiting Everett, was among Victoria’s scratches. . . . The Royals left immediately after the game for Everett where they are scheduled to play the Silvertips today. . . . Announced attendance: 4,740.
At Prince George, F Parker AuCoin scored two third-period goals to force OT then got the only goal of a shootout as the Tri-City Americans, who had trailed 4-1, came back to beat the Cougars, 6-5. . . . Tri-City (21-12-5) had lost its previous two games. It is third in the U.S. Division, one point behind Everett. . . . Prince George (15-18-7) has points in four straight (2-0-2) and is tied with Kamloops, eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . F Jared Bethune, who had scored three times in the Cougars’ 4-3 victory on Friday night, got his 13th goal at 7:32 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. . . . F Aaron Boyd (7) made it 2-0 at 8:51. . . . F Sasha Mutala (5) cut into the deficit, on a PP, at 16:40. . . . The Cougars went ahead 4-0 with a pair of second-period PP goals just 1:31 apart — F Jackson Leppard (9) scored at 11:24 and D Dennis Cholowski (13) followed up at 12:55. . . . The Americans got to within a goal by scoring twice before the period ended, as F Jordan Topping (20) scored at 13:11 and F Max James got his sixth goal at 15:55. . . . The Cougars went ahead 5-3 at 3:30 of the third period when F Max Kryski got the third goal of his freshman season. . . . The Americans tied it on a pair of AuCoin PP goals, at 10:41 and 12:16. He’s got 10 goals. . . . AuCoin, the shootout’s first shooter, scored and his goal held up as the winner. . . . The Americans got two assists from each of D Mitchell Brown and Topping, with James getting one. . . . Leppard and D Joel Lakusta had two assists apiece for the Cougars, with Cholowski and Bethune adding one each. . . . Lakusta, who went into his third season with three goals and 16 assists in 104 games, has four goals and 16 helpers in 40 games this season. He has recorded six assists in his past four games. . . . Tri-City was 3-5 on the PP; Prince George was 2-4. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 38 shots for the Americans, and that included a save on F Josh Curtis on a penalty shot at 1:19 of OT. . . . The Cougars got 34 saves from G Tavin Grant. . . . Newly acquired F Kjell Kjemhus, who came over from Regina, and D Rhett Rhinehart (Prince Albert) made their Prince George debuts. . . . The Americans were fined $250 on Saturday for a “warm-up violation” prior to Friday’s game. . . . Tri-City will complete a three-game weekend today in Kamloops. . . . Announced attendance: 2,841.
At Everett, F Jake Gricius scored at 19:21 of the third period to give the Portland Winterhawks a 4-3 victory over the Silvertips. . . . Portland (23-13-3) had lost its previous three games (0-1-2). The victory lifted it past Everett and into first place in the U.S. Division. . . . Everett (23-16-2) has lost two straight. . . . Portland scored the game’s first three goals. . . . Gricius opened the scoring at 17:41 of the first period, and F Ryan Hughes (6) made it 2-0 just 17 seconds later. . . . F Ilijah Colina (3) upped the lead to 3-0, on a PP, at 1:39 of the second period. . . . Everett tied it with the next three goals, all via the PP. . . . F Wyatte Wylie (3) made it 3-1 at 8:11 of the second period. . . . F Matt Fonteyne made it a one-goal game, at 9:49, then tied it with his 20th goal, at 7:59 of the third period. . . . The teams appeared headed to OT when Gricius won it with his ninth goal of the season. . . . F Mason Mannek had two assists for the Winterhawks. . . . Everett got two assists from each of D Kevin Davis and F Patrick Bajkov. . . . Everett was 3-5 on the PP; Portland was 1-2. . . . G Cole Kehler stopped 36 shots for the Winterhawks, two more than Everett’s Dustin Wolf. . . . The Silvertips brought in D Dylan Anderson from the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, but he wasn’t in the lineup. Anderson, 15, was a fourth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 7,019.
At Kent, Wash., F Donovan Neuls scored twice and added an assist as the Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the Spokane Chiefs, 4-1. . . . Seattle (20-14-5) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . Spokane (21-16-3) is tied with Seattle for fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind Tri-City. Seattle and Spokane hold down the Western Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . Neuls opened the scoring at 18:10 of the first period. . . . Seattle D Jarret Tyska (6) made it 2-0 at 6:36 of the second period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (22) scored for Spokane at 12:44 of the second period. . . . Neuls (13) restored the two-goal lead, on a PP, at 16:05. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman (7) stretched the lead, on another PP, at 5:54 of the third period. . . . F Zack Andrusiak and D Turner Ottenbreit each had two assists for the winners. . . . Andrusiak, 19, went into this season with six goals and five assists in 67 games. This season, he has 18 goals and 20 assists in 39 games. . . . Seattle was 2-5 on the PP; Spokane was 0-6. . . . G Liam Hughes earned the victory with 39 saves, 10 more than Spokane’s Dawson Weatherill. . . . Announced attendance: 5,180.
SUNDAY (all times local):
Saskatoon at Brandon, 4 p.m.
Red Deer at Swift Current, 4 p.m.
Prince Albert at Regina, 4 p.m.
Kelowna at Calgary 4 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 4:05 p.m.
Tri-City at Kamloops, 5 p.m.
TWEET OF THE DAY