F Shane Wright of the minor midget AAA Don Mills, Ont., Flyers has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada so will be eligible for the OHL’s 2019 draft, which normally is for players who have completed their 15-year-old seasons.
With exceptional status, Wright, who turned 15 on Jan. 5, also will be eligible to play full-time in the OHL in 2019-20.
Wright has 150 points, including 66 goals, in 72 games with Don Mills, which plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He also had six goals and six assists in six games with Ontario as it won silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
The OHL draft is scheduled for April 6. Wright is the fifth player in OHL history to have received exceptional status, after John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day.
Hockey Canada has yet to rule on the application by the family of F Matt Savoie, who has applied for exceptional status in order to have the option of playing in the WHL at 15.
Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is from St. Albert, Alta. He is eligible for the WHL’s bantam draft, which is for players who have completed their 14-year-old seasons, but will be limited to five games next season unless brought in under emergency conditions.
This season, Savoie has 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. He played for Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, putting up six goals and seven assists in 13 games.
Last season, Savoie was named the MVP in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League. This season, he was selected the midget league’s MVP.
The WHL’s 2019 bantam draft is set for May 2 in Red Deer.
The WHL will hold its draft lottery later this month, with the six non-playoff teams entered. We already know four of those teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Kootenay Ice, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars.
In the draft lottery, a team may only move up two positions.
At the moment, the Broncos have the WHL’s poorest record, followed by the Ice and the Pats. However, Prince George holds Swift Current’s first-round selection and the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.
There is little doubt that Savoie, if he is granted exceptional status, will be the first pick in the bantam draft should he and his family decide they want to be part of whichever organization is making that selection.
Should Savoie be drafted and choose not to play in the WHL, he would have to return to midget next season. The granting of exceptional status applies only to major junior hockey and doesn’t allow a player to join a junior A team.
His brother, Carter, 17, plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2020-21 season.
The WHL has never had to deal with a player who has been given exceptional status. It has happened once in the QMJHL, with F Joe Veleno. In his fourth season in the QMJHL, he has 100 points, including 41 goals, in 55 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Veleno, now 19, has 262 points, including 173 assists, in 226 career regular-season QMJHL games. He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign with them.
If you are wondering what Wright had to go through, here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:
“Being granted ‘exceptional status’ isn’t easy. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, which is pretty early in the hockey season. On top of looking at a player’s on-ice skills, the governing bodies (in this case the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada) send out questionnaires to school teachers and coaches, while the player has to write an essay. The player also meets with a psychologist for a ‘life interview,’ to determine if the kid has the maturity to move away from home and compete against much older competition at age 15. OHF executive director Phil McKee said that both Wright and his family were ‘excellent to work with’ throughout the process.”
Kennedy’s entire piece is right here.
The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ 25-game winning streak ended on Friday night as they were beat by the Voltigeurs at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville. . . . The Huskies fell behind 2-0 after two periods, and cut the deficit in half at 5:05 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Rouyn-Noranda tied 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.
Ken Pearson is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Pearson, who is from Neepawa, replaces Dustin Howden, who left after five seasons with the Natives — two as assistant coach, two as head coach and one as GM/head coach. . . . Pearson, 45, is a veteran junior A coach, who spent seven seasons as the GM/head coach with the Winkler Flyers. He stepped aside as head coach prior to this season, but kept the GM’s title until he and the Flyers parted company last month. . . . Pearson began his coaching career with the Natives as an assistant coach for two seasons (1994-96). . . . This season, the Natives finished out of the playoffs, at 9-43-8, the poorest record in the 11-team league.
The Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings Athletic Club has named Fran Gow head coach of the midget AAA Ennis Kings. Now has extensive AJHL coaching experience, have worked more than 1,000 games, split among the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Grande Prairie Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder. He helped the Oil Barons to a national championship in 1999-2000. . . . Of late, Gow has been the AJHL’s vice-president of hockey operations and a coach mentor for Hockey Alberta.
G Ian Scott set a single-season shutout record as the Prince Albert Raiders skated to an 8-0 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert (52-9-4) has won two in a row. It will finish atop the WHL’s regular-season standings. . . . Swift Current (10-47-6) has lost 16 in a row (0-13-3). . . . Prince Albert, with Scott in goal, beat the visiting Broncos, 6-0, on Tuesday, and they’ll play again Sunday, this time in Swift Current. . . . The Raiders are off tonight, while the Broncos will meet the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders lead the season series, 6-0-1; the Broncos are 1-6-0. . . . Scott stopped 14 shots in posting his seventh shutout of the season, breaking the record that he was sharing with Luke Siemens (2012-13) and Rejean Beauchemin (2003-04). Scott, who has 10 career shutouts, also will set franchise single-season records for GAA and save percentage. He is 36-7-3, 1.86, .932. . . . D Brayden Pachal (15) got the Raiders started at 3:33 of the first period, and B Brett Leason, who had gone seven games without a goal, made it 2-0 with No. 34 at 4:59. . . . F Noah Gregor (39) and Leason (35) scored before the period ended for a 4-0 lead. . . . Before it was over, F Parker Kelly had scored twice, giving him 32, and F Cole Fonstad (29), who also had two assists, and F Spencer Moe (9) added one each. . . . The Raiders had a 48-14 edge in shots.
The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Regina Pats, 3-1. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has clinched third place in the East Division and will face the second-place Saskatoon Blades in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina (18-43-3) has lost five in a row. . . . The Warriors lead the season series with Regina, 6-1-0, with the final game in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . F Ty Kolle (14) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Justin Almeida (28) tied it, on a PP, at 9:08. . . . Moose Jaw took the lead at 9:51 when F Carson Denomie (6) scored. . . . F Brayden Tracey (33) got the empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . Regina G Max Paddock stopped 29 shots.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (37-18-10) has won five in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (32-26-6) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, two points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . With one game remaining, Lethbridge leads the season series, 6-1-2; the Tigers are 3-6-0. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (30) gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it at 10:39 when D Baxter Anderson (4) scored. . . . F Zachary Cox (11) put the home side ahead at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 18:22 as F Brett Kemp (28) scored on a PP. . . . Lethbridge F Taylor Ross (32) broke the tie, on a PP, at 2:06 of the third period. . . . F Dylan Cozens (33) made it 4-2 at 3:16, and F Nick Henry (27) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:17. . . . Henry’s goal was his 200th regular-season point. He’s got 76 goals and 124 assists in 191 games. This season, he has 90 points in 66 games. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer had his goal streak halted at 13 games. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, two more than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett.
The Red Deer Rebels overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-3. . . . Red Deer (32-25-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card berths, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . Brandon (31-25-8) has lost two in a row. With the Tim Hortons Brier — the Canadian men’s curling championship — being played in Westoba Place, the Wheat Kings are on a six-game trip through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. Through the first five games, Brandon is 1-3-1. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (20), at 3:48 of the first period; F Stelio Mattheos (42), at 1:36 of the second; and D Chad Nychuk (2), at 2:40. . . . F Brandon Hagel (39) started the Red Deer comeback at 9:03. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (18) got the Rebels to within a goal at 10:45 of the third period, and F Josh Tarzwell (9) tied it at 12:30. . . . Red Deer went out front when F Zak Smith (11) scored at 16:33. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (13) added insurance at 19:51. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev appeared to suffer a knee injury after colliding in open ice with McCartney in the third period. Alexeyev was placed on a stretcher before being taken off the ice. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in the next 48 hours, 72 hours. I don’t know any more than that right now,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com.
F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored two goals and set a franchise record in leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (38-18-8) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds one game in hand. . . . Calgary (36-23-6), which has clinched a playoff spot, had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is headed for a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . With two games left, Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Calgary is 1-4-1. They’ll finish the regular season with a home-and-home, playing March 16 in Edmonton and the next day in Calgary. . . . Edmonton went ahead 3-0 on goals from F Quinn Benjafield (14), at 9:19 of the first period; Fix-Wolansky, at 18:30; and F Vince Loschiavo, on a PP, at 4:07 of the second. . . . F Mark Kastelic (46) scored for Calgary, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Edmonton put it away with third-period goals from Fix Wolansky (35) and Loschiavo (33), the latter on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky set the franchise’s single-season assist record when he set up Loschiavo’s first goal. That was Fix-Wolansky’s 64th assist of the season, one more than D Dylan Wruck had in 2012-13. . . . Loschiavo also had an assist, to give him three points, while D Conner McDonald had three helpers. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 24 saves.
The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . Kamloops (24-32-7) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind Kelowna. Kamloops, which has five games left, also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (27-30-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Kamloops is 5-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 4-3-2. They’ll finish it tonight in Kelowna. . . . F Martin Lang (11) put the Blazers ahead at 16:13 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (34) got the Rockets even, on a PP, at 4:08 of the third period. . . . F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo both scored as Kamloops won the shootout, 2-0. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 26 shots for Kamloops, which had Rayce Ramsay, in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, backing up. Dylan Ferguson was injured in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants and is out day-to-day. . . . The Rockets got 32 saves from G Roman Basran. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who began serving a three-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct he incurred against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.
F Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists, all via the PP, as the Portland Winterhawks got past the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. . . . Portland (39-19-6) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince George (17-40-8) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . The Winterhawks are 3-0-0 in the season series that will be completed tonight in Prince George. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 on goals from D Cole Moberg (12), on a PP, at 13:55 of the first period, and F Matej Taman (9), at 2:29 of the second. . . . F Jake Gricius (25) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 16:38. . . . F Josh Paterson (23) tied the score at 2:36 of the third period, and Blichfeld (53) got the winner, at 14:51. . . . Blichfeld leads the WHL in goals and points (110). . . . Portland was 3-7 on the PP; Prince George was 1-5. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 40 shots for the Winterhawks. . . . D Ryan Miley, 18, made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks. From Brookings, S.D., he played this season with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . . F Cody Glass, F Seth Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig were Portland’s scratches, all out with injuries.
F Noah Philp scored twice for Seattle as the Thunderbirds beat the Victoria Royals, 2-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (27-28-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Victoria (33-27-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Philp, who has 24 goals, got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:40 of the first period. . . . He made it 2-0 at 17:47 of the second. . . . F Igor Martynov (11) scored a PP goal for Victoria at 19:59 of the second. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 19 shots, 11 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Scott Walford, D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver, all veterans and all injured, were among Victoria’s scratches.
G Bailey Brkin turned aside 37 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Spokane (36-20-7) is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (45-15-4) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips with each team having four games remaining. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 3-2-0; Spokane was 2-2-1. . . . Spokane took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from D Filip Kral (8), at 7:56; F Jake McGrew, at 11:39; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (16), at 19:39. The latter two came via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (21) scored for Vancouver, on a PP, at 17:52 of the second period, only to have McGrew (27) get that one back at 18:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan has goals in six straight games. . . . Spokane was 2-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . Brkin is 24-11-3, 2.78, .914.
Goaltenders Dustin Wolf and Max Palaga shared the shutout as the Everett Silvertips beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett (46-14-4) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). It leads the Western Conference standings by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (34-26-4) is likely to finish in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Palaga started and stopped one shot in 4:47. Wolf came on to turn aside 25 shots in 55:13. . . . Sorry, but I don’t have any idea why Palaga left. Presumably there was an injury of some sort. . . . F Reece Vitelli (11) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the second period, with D Wyatt Wylie (11) making it 2-0 at 16:14. . . . F Connor Dewar (35) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third period. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots, setting a franchise record for most saves in one season in the process. In 59 appearances this season, Warm has stopped 1,860 shots. G Eric Comrie stopped 1,849 shots in 2013-14. . . . The Silvertips had F Martin Fasko-Rudas back in the lineup. He last played on Feb. 22.