CFL players back to practice fields as strike ends . . . WHL conference finals on tap . . . Two veteran goalies change teams

Thankfully (mercifully?), the CFL and the CFLPA moved out of the media spotlight earlier this week, went quietly in behind closed doors and emerged with a seven-year agreement.

The CFL’s nine teams were on their respective practice fields on Thursday, with CFLlogoplayers and the board of governors expected to ratify the agreement in the days to come.

The players, it seems, made what TSN’s Dave Naylor referred to as “significant gains” in this agreement. But that doesn’t mean it was one of those deals with winners and losers.

Yes, Virginia, these labour disputes can have winners and winners. At first glance, this looks to be one of those deals.

In this instance, a league that has long talked about having its players as partners may actually have taken giant steps in that direction.

For example, while we don’t have access to numbers, the deal is said to include a decent increase in the salary cap and, more importantly for the players, the inclusion of all revenues, including from the Grey Cup game, as football-related revenues. And, it’s said, the players will have access to the books so will be able to have them independently audited.

Players also will be able to have some guaranteed money if they sign for a third year with the same team. Football, of course, is famous for having contracts that don’t feature guaranteed money.

The guaranteed money is all part of an attempt to keep players with teams for more than a year or two. While this CBA doesn’t directly tinker with the ratio and all that goes into that — teams must have seven Canadian starters — but it does allow players who have been with one team for three years or five in the league to, as Naylor put it, “play as Canadians in some circumstances.”

On top of all that, the players will get improved medical benefits from teams that want more padded practices. There will be 12 such practices permitted this season.

While this is a seven-year agreement, there is a clause that could end it after five years, which is when the current TV deal with TSN is to expire. If you aren’t aware the TSN deal is the CFL’s meat and potatoes. Without it, the CFL would starve to death.

One other key part is that this agreement is to end 30 days before the start of training camp. Past deals, including the one that just expired, were up the day before training camps opened, something that meant players had all travelled to sites and then had to sit around and wait. In the future, those extra 30 days could prove most important to those same players.

The exhibition season was to have started on Monday with the defending-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers to travel to Regina for a game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That game now will be played on May 31.

The first exhibition games now will be played on Friday, with the Toronto Argonauts in Ottawa to face the Redblacks, and the Edmonton Eskimos in Winnipeg.

The regular season is scheduled to open on June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes visiting the Calgary Stampeders.

Naylor’s piece for TSN is right here.



F Kris Foucault, who spent four seasons (2007-11) in the WHL, ran and swam to the rescue on May 10 in Nassau, Bahamas, when a six-year-old girl found herself in trouble at a beach. . . . “As I got through the wave, I saw her lifeless body floating on the top about 50 feet in front of me,” he told Lauren Merola of nhl.com. “I actually thought I was just recovering a body.” . . . The little girl was alive, but in great danger, and you can credit Foucault with saving her life. . . . Foucault, 31, has played the past six seasons in the DEL, Germany’s top league. This season, he had 12 goals and 16 assists in 24 games and now is coming off shoulder surgery. . . . Merola’s story is right here.


Strait


The WHL’s conference finals open tonight in Winnipeg and Kamloops. The last WHLplayoffs2022four standing are the teams with the first-, second-, fourth- and seventh-best regular-season records. Yes, that’s comparing apples and oranges because teams didn’t play outside their conferences this season, but it does show the quality of the remaining teams. . . . In Winnipeg, the Ice, who finished atop the overall standings, will play host to the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The Ice are 8-2 in the playoffs; the Oil Kings are 8-0. . . . In Kamloops, the Blazers, the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, will entertain the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds. The Blazers are 8-2; the Thunderbirds are 8-4, with four of those victories coming on the road. . . . Each of the two series will continue Saturday with games in Winnipeg and Kamloops.


The WHL held its annual draft on Thursday and you are able to find all the WHLdetails at whl.ca. . . . There also were a couple of trades involving veteran goaltenders, who could be impact players next season.

The Moose Jaw Warriors acquired G Connor Ungar, G Justen Maric and a fourth-round pick in 2026 from the Red Deer Rebels for G Kyle Kelsey, a fourth-rounder in yesterday’s draft and a sixth in 2026. With that fourth-round pick, which originally belonged to the Victoria Royals, the Rebels took D Tate Dolinsky of Winnipeg.

Ungar, a 20-year-old Calgarian, was acquired by Red Deer from the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to this season. He went 21-9-1, 2.43, .911 with the Rebels. . . . Maric, 18, is from Edmonton, and played this season with the U18 AAA CAC Canadians. The Rebels selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. . . . Kelsey, 18, is from Maple Ridge, B.C. He was 14-12-0, 2.83, .913 with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies this season. The Warriors had picked him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

Ungar joins F Calder Anderson, D Daemon Hunt, D Cole Jordan and F Ryder Korczak as the 2002-born players on Moose Jaw’s roster.

As things now sit, the Rebels have Chase Coward, 19, and Kelsey atop their goaltending depth chart, with Chase Wutzke, who turns 16 on July 26, in the third slot. Coward was 22-10-2, 2.51, .906 in 35 games this season.

The Rebels still have six 2002-born players on their roster — D Blake Gustafson, F Jace Isley, F Ben King, F Dallon Melin, D Christoffer Sedoff and D Joel Sexsmith.

In the other  deal involving a veteran goaltender, the Regina Pats got Koen MacInnes from the Everett Silvertips for two draft picks — a sixth yesterday (130) and a conditional seventh in 2024. . . . MacInnes, 20, is from Burnaby, B.C. He played with the Saskatoon Blades in 2019-20 and the 2021 development season. This season, with Everett, he went 21-7-5, 2.60, .909. . . . The Pats were lacking in experience in the goaltending department this season and are hoping MacInnes will solve that problem for 2022-23. . . . The Silvertips used that sixth-round pick to take F Lukas Kaplan of Spruce Grove, Alta.

In the only other draft-day trade the involved a player as opposed to picks, the Prince George Cougars got F Noah Boyko from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-round pick yesterday. . . . The Blades had acquired Boyko, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in late December. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he totalled 30 points, 16 of them goals, in 47 games. . . . Boyko and D Aiden Reeves are the lone 2002-born players on Prince George’s roster. . . . Saskatoon used that fourth-round pick to take F Maxx Hamelin of Winnipeg. . . . Boyko’s departure leaves the Blades with four 2002-born players on their roster — F Kyle Crnkovic, D Aidan De La Gorgendiere, F Josh Paulhus and F Josh Pillar.



From Wednesday’s New York Times: Federal health officials warned on COVIDWednesday that a third of Americans live in areas where the threat of Covid-19 is now so high that they should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. They cited new data showing a substantial jump in both the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations over the past week. . . . Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the seven-day average of hospital admissions from Covid rose 19 percent over the previous week. About 3,000 people a day were being admitted with Covid, she said, although death rates, a lagging indicator, remained low.

One more from The New York Times: More than 70 New York City judges descended on a Long Island resort last week to enjoy an annual three-night retreat. In the days after, 20 tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for New York’s courts, confirmed Wednesday that the judges had tested positive. He said that, to his knowledge, none of the judges were seriously ill, and that those who were symptomatic had not reported to work.


Decisions


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Penticton Vees completed a BCHL championship series sweep of the host Nanaimo Clippers with an 8-2 victory on Wednesday night. Penticton lost its first game of this spring’s playoffs, then won 16 straight. . . . The Vees held a 58-23 edge in shots, including 21-1 in the third period. . . . F Bradly Nadeau, a Penticton native, led the Vees with three goals and an assist. Nadeau, who turned 17 on May 5, is committed to the U of Maine. His brother, Josh, who also is headed for Maine, added a goal and two assists. . . . The announced attendance was 2,069. . . . While the 10-team national junior A championship for the Centennial Cup opened Thursday in Estevan, Sask., the Vees weren’t there. You will recall that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL, which oversees junior A hockey in Canada, prior to the start of this season. . . .

The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHLer Wacey Rabbit to a two-year contract extension as assistant coach. He just completed his first season as an assistant alongside Joe Martin, the general manager and head coach. . . . Rabbit, 35, played five seasons (2002-07) in the WHL, enjoying stints with the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants. He finished his pro career with three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. . . .

Jake Grimes, who stepped down as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles during this season, is joining the U of Waterloo Warriors as an associate coach. Grimes also has worked in junior hockey with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, Peterborough Petes and Guelph Storm. With the Warriors, he will be working alongside head coach Brian Bourque, who was a minor hockey teammate in Nova Scotia back in the day. . . .

The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have added Sam Waterfield and Tyler Steel to their coaching staff. Waterfield, who had been with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, will be the assistant general manager and associate coach, while Steel, a former Centennials goaltender, is the new goaltending coach.


Masher


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

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If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Wine

COVID-19 forces OHL to shut down Wolves . . . Issues in NHL, AHL and MHL, too . . . Blazers, Rockets get good news . . . BCHL revamps schedule

Oh boy, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head all over the hockey world . . .

In the OHL, the Sudbury Wolves suspended all team activities after 12 players OHLtested positive. According to the OHL, “All players affected are currently asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms. . . .” All of the players are fully vaccinated as per OHL regulations. As the league pointed out in a news release: “The Ontario Hockey League had previously incorporated specific COVID-19 protocols including mandatory vaccination for all members of the OHL Community including players, staff, officials and billets.” . . . The Wolves have had their next three games postponed — they were to have visited the Soo Greyhounds tonight, played host to the Barrie Colts on Friday and then played in Barrie on Saturday. . . .

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With COVID-19 numbers seemingly on the rise, the NHL sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that puts new restrictions in place “due to the recent increase nhl2in the number of COVID-19 infections, the number of clubs under enhanced measures, and the temporary shutdown of two NHL clubs.” . . . Through this memo, the NHL instructed clubs to cancel all team-organized Christmas parties, speaking events, autograph sessions and any charity events that would have been open to the public. . . . The memo reads: “Players and staff are reminded to limit the amount of exposure they have to large groups over the holidays, including large family gatherings, in order to reduce the risk of introducing infection into their team.” . . .

If you have watched any NHL games on TV over the past couple of nights you will have noticed what appears to be an enhanced effort by coaches to properly wear their masks. Have to think the NHL has talked with its coaches about that, too. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers cancelled their Tuesday practice after placing D Cody Ceci in COVID-19 protocol. . . . The New York Islanders are in the midst of an outbreak and have had three games postponed. . . . The Ottawa Senators are trying to get back on track after at one point having 10 players and an assistant coach in protocol. They also had games postponed. . . . The Carolina Hurricanes have three players in protocol — D Ethan Bear, D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pence — while F Tyler Bozak of the St. Louis Blues also is in protocol. . . .

The Boston Bruins were without head coach Bruce Cassidy when they dropped a Covid2-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night game because he went into protocol. With Cassidy out, assistant coach Joe Sacco ran the bench. . . . The Bruins had F Jake DeBrusk in their lineup on Tuesday night despite acknowledging that he has asked to be traded; the Boston faithful welcomed him with some booing. The Bruins also were without F Brad Marchand, who has been suspended for three games after a slew-footing incident, and F Anton Blidh (injured). . . .  Boston general manager Don Sweeney said that the Bruins weren’t able to bring up anyone from the Providence Bruins because of COVID-19 issues with their AHL affiliate. Providence actually has ceased all team activities because of what is reported as a mounting number of cases.

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The AHL also has shut down the Bridgeport Islanders, while a Wednesday night game that was to have had Hartford entertain the Springfield Thunderbirds was postponed because of COVID-19 issues involving the WolfPack. . . . The AHL also postponed a Wednesday game that was to have had the Bakersfield Condors visit the Stockton Heat. There is a COVID-19 issue with the Condors and the organization now is following enhanced protocols. . . . The Hershey Bears also have problems. They postponed a Nov. 27 game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and won’t play tonight in Lehigh Valley as they deal with COVID-19.

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Let’s not forget that the NHL has a schedule that will free up players to skate at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing that aren’t that far away. . . . But, as Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest 32 Thoughts, “As the COVID cases grow, it’s harder and harder to be optimistic about Beijing.” . . . His complete column is right here.

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The junior A Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that a player on their roster tested positive on Saturday. That test resulted in the postponement of a game that night against the visiting Campbellton Tigers. The player in question took a rapid test on Saturday that came back positive; he later took a PCR test that came back positive on Monday evening. . . . The Timberwolves have also had to postpone a Thursday game against the visiting Fredericton Red Wings.

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Despite all of the above and with the Omicron variant on its way, Dr. Bonnie WHLHenry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, lifted some restrictions in the Interior Health region on Tuesday, including one that limited indoor sporting events to 50 per cent capacity. That means the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets now are able to have all the seats in their facilities available to fans who are fully vaccinated for the first time since March 2020. . . . At the same time, restrictions remain in place for the Northern Health region, so the Prince George Cougars remain limited to 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre. . . . The Blazers’ next home game is scheduled for Saturday, when the Rockets visit. Kelowna is scheduled to entertain the Vancouver Giants tonight (Wednesday). . . . The Blazers will honour the memory of Don Moores during Saturday’s game. Moores, who was the club’s president and COO, died of a heart attack on June 30. Moores, 65, collapsed while on the course at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club.


IKEA


The BCHL has announced more schedule changes due to “travel issues and highway closures in the province.” . . . The league also announced that “due to ongoing floods, road closures and the approaching winter weather, the BCHL will remove all out-of-conference games for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.” . . . If you are planning to attend a game of any kind, it’s best to check a website or make a phone call to be sure that it’s still on the schedule. . . . The BCHL news release is right here.


COVID-19 didn’t ignore the NBA, either, as the Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James on Tuesday night when they met the Sacramento Kings. James had gone in to what the NBA calls its health and safety protocols. The Lakers went into Sacramento and beat the Kings, 117-92, without King James.


CIA


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: USA Hockey has announced a 31-player roster for its national junior team’s selection camp that is to open in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 12. There are three major junior players on the roster, all of them from the OHL. The roster is right here. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has a look at the team right here. This year’s tournament is set to open in Edmonton and Red Deer on Dec. 26. . . . Hockey Canada is to announce its selection camp roster this morning and F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats is expected to be on it. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks are believed to have set a WHL record on Tuesday when they put letters on the sweaters of eight — yes, eight! — players. They named D Clay Hanus and F Tyson Kozak co-captains, with the alternates being Jonas Brøndberg, Jaydon Dureau, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, Cross Hanas, Gabe Klassen and Kurtis Smythe. You get a letter and you get a letter and you . . . well, not so fast. . . . According to a news release: “Hanus will begin wearing the ‘C’ when the Winterhawks wear their red and black jerseys and Kozak will act as captain when the team wears its white jerseys.” . . . The six alternates will, uhh, alternate at home and on the road. . . .

Jake Grimes has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, citing “personal/family reasons,” according to a team-issued news release. Assistant coach Matt Anthony has taken over as the interim head coach. Chris Culligan remains as assistant coach, with John Hanna now an interim assistant coach. . . . Grimes, 49, was in his second season as the Eagle’s head coach. Before joining the Eagles, he spent two seasons as associate coach with the Guelph Storm, helping it to the OHL championship in 2018-19. . . .

The website Victoria Cougars Hockey Project did a countdown of the defunct team’s “TOP 10 All-Time Moustaches.” . . . It was quite a ride. . . .


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Theory

Lambert leaves Chiefs for Music City. . . . WHL teams sign more prospects. . . . Growlers win ECHL in first season


MacBeth

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). This season, with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus), he had one goal and nine assists in 42 games.


ThisThat
On May 21, the Spokane Chiefs signed head coach Dan Lambert to an extension, believed SpokaneChiefsto be two years in length.

On June 4, the Chiefs began their search for a new head coach.

Such are the vagaries of major junior hockey.

Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach for the past two seasons, has joined the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.

It turns out that the Predators came calling one day after the Chiefs and Lambert agreed on that extension.

“I was not looking,” Lambert told Dan Thompson for a story he wrote for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “This was not my intention at all.”

The Chiefs are one of three WHL teams without a head coach, joining the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Serge Lajoie, who departed after one season, while the Cougars need a head coach after firing Richard Matvichuk in February.

In Brandon, David Anning, the head coach of the Wheat Kings for three seasons, is without a contract after his expired on May 31. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach with Brandon.

In Spokane, it could be that assistant coach Scott Burt is atop the list of potential replacements. Burt has been on the Chiefs’ staff for six seasons now.

Lambert, 49, is a native of St. Boniface, Man. He played four seasons (1986-90) with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them to the 1989 Memorial Cup championship; he was named the tournament’s MVP. He went on to a pro career that ended after five seasons (2004-09) with the Hannover Scorpions of Germany’s DEL.

He got into coaching with the Kelowna Rockets, working as an assistant coach for five seasons (2009-14) and head coach for 2014-15. The Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2015 and reached the Memorial Cup final, where they lost to the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

He spent 2015-16 as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, the next season.

He signed with the Chiefs after being dismissed by the Sabres.

Spokane was 81-46-13 with Lambert as its head coach. This season, the Chiefs finished 40-21-7, then reached the Western Conference final, where they lost to the Vancouver Giants.

This season, the Chiefs had the WHL’s best power play in the regular season (29.1 per cent) and again in the playoffs (36.1). Yes, he is likely to be responsible for Nashville’s PP.

Thompson’s complete story is right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed three of their picks from the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft Red Deer— D Hunter Mayo, D Jace Weir and F Carter Anderson. . . . Mayo, from Martensville, Sask., was selected in the second round. He had 15 goals and 27 assists in 28 games with a bantam AA team in Martensville this season. . . . Weir, from Coldstream, B.C., also was taken in the second round. This season, he had eight goals and 24 assists in 18 games with the North Zone bantams in Coldstream. . . . Anderson, from Thompson, Man., was a third-round pick. This season, with the bantam prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy, he had 17 goals and 11 assists in 29 games.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed G Reid Dyck to a WHL contract. From Winkler, Man., Dyck was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. He was the second goaltender taken in the draft. . . . This season, he was 3.44 and .912 in 23 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks.

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The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Jayden Wiens to a WHL contract. From Carrot River, Sask., he was an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 44 regular-season games. He added four goals and five assists in seven playoff games, then had six goals and two assists in seven Telus Cup games.


Serge Lajoie, who worked this season as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, has been added to the U of Alberta’s Sports Wall of Fame. . . . Lajoie won four national hockey titles with the Golden Bears — one as a player, two as an assistant coach and one as a head coach. He also was once named the U of A’s top male athlete and Canadian university’s male hockey player of the year. . . . Matt Gutach has more right here.


Bill Chow, the president of the SJHL, has had his contract extended through May 31, 2021. Chow has been running the SJHL for eight seasons since taking over on May 31, 2011. . . . The SJHL news release is right here.


Jake Grimes, who had been an associate coach with the OHL-champion Guelph Storm, is qmjhlthe new head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. . . . Grimes and George Burnett, the Storm’s general manager and head coach, had been together for 13 years in Belleville and Guelph. . . . Grimes, who is from Dartmouth, N.S., had been the Storm’s associate coach for two seasons. . . . The Screaming Eagles fired Marc-Andre Dumont, their GM and head coach, on April 16. . . . Last month, they named Jacques Carrier as general manager, hockey operations, and John Hanna as assistant GM, hockey operations.


The Newfoundland Growlers, in their first ECHL season, won the Kelly Cup on Tuesday night, beating the Toledo Walleye, 4-3, in St. John’s. . . . The Growlers won the best-of-seven final, 4-2. . . . Two ex-WHLers combined for the goal that gave the Growlers a 4-1 lead at 13:32 of the second period. F Giorgio Estephan scored the goal, with Hudson Elynuik getting the lone assist. Estephan, who won a WHL title last season with the Swift Current Broncos, finished with two goals and an assist, while Elynuik, who completed his junior eligibility with the Spokane Chiefs last season, had two assists. . . . Also in the Growlers’ lineup last night were F Matt Bradley, who finished his WHL career last season with the Regina Pats, and Latvian D Kristians Rubins, who spent the previous two seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The last ECHL team to win the championship in its first season of existence? The Greensboro Monarchs, in 1990.


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