Johnston 18th WHL coach with 400 victories . . . Habscheid one W from catching McLean in sixth . . . Oil Kings’ Knight proves dreams do come true

Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, ran his WHL regular-season victory total to 401 on PortlandAlternateSunday as his guys beat the Chiefs 4-3 in Kent, Wash. This one will go into the books as a Portland home game thanks to the schedule that has been put together in the midst of this pandemic. The remainder of the Winterhawks’ home schedule is expected to be played in Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, starting Friday with a visit by the Everett Silvertips.

But back to Johnston . . .

He became the 18th coach in WHL history with at least 400 coaching victories on Saturday night when the Winterhawks dumped the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-1.

Johnston, 64, has recorded all of his victories behind Portland’s bench. He is only the fourth head coach in WHL history to post at least 400 victories with one franchise. The others? Ken Hodge (Edmonton-Portland, 742), Brent Sutter (Red Deer, 526) and Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon, 465). While Ernie McLean put up 548 victories with the Estevan/New Westminster Bruins, he did it with two Bruins franchises — the one that relocated from Estevan and one that moved from Nanaimo.

Next up on the victory list for Johnston is Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna, 411).

Other active coaches with at least 400 victories are Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders, with 547; Sutter, 526; and Shaun Clouston of the Kamloops Blazers, 432. The Blazers, of course, have yet to play a game this season.

Habscheid has an opportunity to tie McLean for sixth place on the list tonight when the Raiders meet the Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre in Regina.

Don Hay, who is on Johnston’s staff in Portland, leads the list, at 750, with Hodge second at 742.

Don Nachbaur, who has joined the Tri-City Americans as associate coach, is third, at 692, with Lorne Molleken fourth, at 626.

They are followed by Mike Williamson, 572; McLean, 548; Habscheid, 547; Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell, 518; Jack Shupe and Peter Anholt, each 466; McCrimmon and Dean Clark, each 465; Bob Lowes, 453; Clouston, 432; Doug Sauter, 417; Comeau, 411; and Johnston, 401.

Please note that the figures involving active coaches are unofficial and subject to adjustments from the 2019-20 season should any of them have missed games while scouting or for any other reason. The WHL hasn’t yet updated its record book to include coaching records from that season.


Narc


G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips had quite a weekend — two games and Everetttwo shutouts. He stopped 22 shots on Saturday night in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs, then turned aside 18 shots in a 7-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., on Sunday. Wolf now has 22 career regular-season shutouts, four of the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 179 games, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 190 games, 2013-18). Wolf now has appeared in 129 games. . . . Wolf’s career GAA of 1.82 is second among goaltenders with a minimum of 100 games played. Kelly Guard (Kelowna, 115 games, 2002-04) holds the record of 1.73. . . . The Calgary Flames selected Wolf in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. He has signed with the Flames. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels (2-6-2) got swept in a three-game series with the RedDeerEdmonton Oil Kings on the weekend, losing 5-0 in Edmonton on Friday, 3-1 in Red Deer on Saturday and 5-2 back in Edmonton on Sunday. . . . The Rebels won’t play again until early April — the WHL hasn’t yet released the April schedule for the five Alberta teams — and they are without five players so can use the time off. F Ben King and F Kyle Masters were injured Friday and missed the next two games, but could return in two weeks. D Mason Ward apparently was injured Saturday, because he couldn’t go last night. D Joel Sexsmith last played on March 12, while F Jayden Grubbe, the team captain, won’t play again this season as he is to have knee surgery. . . . With three defencemen injured, the Rebels dressed five blue-liners on Sunday, two of them (Hunter Mayo and Jace Weir) 16 years of age. . . .

G Colby Knight of the Oil Kings earned his first WHL victory on Sunday in Edmontonbeating Red Deer. The victory allowed the Oil Kings to run their record to a WHL-leading 7-0-0. . . . “It feels amazing,” Knight, an 18-year-old from Red Deer, told Andrew Peard of oilkings.ca. “I had a dream about it last night and to have it happen, it’s just awesome.” . . . The Oil Kings selected Knight in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Edmonton has won each of its last 14 meetings with Red Deer.



Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the Saints have had to withdraw from the NCAA championship tournament. . . . The Saints (4-8-3) won the Eastern College Athletic Conference title on Saturday night, beating Quinnipiac in the final after sidelining Colgate in a semifinal game. . . . “The roller-coaster of emotions in the last 24 hours for everyone is unimaginable,” Brekke said in a statement released by the school on Sunday. “(Saturday) night we are holding the trophy above our heads and today we are shaking our heads in disbelief that the season is over. This hurts.” . . . Quinnipiac, which had won the ECAC regular-season title, will replace St. Lawrence in the NCAA tournament.

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As I watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship, I have to wonder why they bother having the coaches wear masks. I mean, what’s the purpose? . . . You have to know that a whole lot of coaches live in another world — they really are oblivious to the world outside their small circles — and they prove it with the way they handle masks. Embarrassing! . . . Perhaps hearing that Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive will be enough to make other coaches, no matter the sport, wear their masks properly at all times. Then, again, maybe not.


Spotted this headline on Twitter on Sunday — Tiger Woods didn’t brake before car crash. . . . Perhaps someone can explain why this is news.


Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ all-star first baseman, rejoined the team on Sunday for the first time since March 10. Votto, 37, left spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., after testing positive. . . . Votto indicated that doesn’t have any idea when he will be ready to play again, or whether he will be in the Reds’ starting lineup when the season opens on April 1.


Fish


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Poop

Warriors’ GM pays price for getting tossed . . . Stankoven lighting it up for Blazers . . . Huskies howl for Houlder

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MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He started the season with Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), and had five assists in eight games. . . . He was released by mutual agreement on Dec. 27. . . .

F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) has signed a two-year contract extension with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has nine goals and seven assists in 32 games. . . .

D Nolan Yonkman (Kelowna, Brandon, 1996-2001) has signed a contract extension for the rest of this season with JYP Jyväskylä (Finland, Liiga). Yonkman had signed a two-month contract on Nov. 7 that took effect on Nov. 14. He has one assist in 12 games. . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). He had five goals and 15 assists in 35 games. . . . No reason was given for the release, however Medveščak Zagreb is in financial difficulties and has been releasing players for financial reasons over the past month.

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ThisThat

Ch-ch-ch-ching!

Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is a little lighter in the MooseJawWarriorswallet today after being fined $1,500 on Monday.

According to the WHL website, Millar was fined “for receiving a game misconduct” during Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

On the online scoresheet from that game there is this line: “GM Alan Millar issued game misconduct at second intermission.”

That penalty may have had something to do with a Brandon goal and a minor penalty, as described at discovermoosejaw.com by James Gallo, who also is the Warriors’ play-by-play voice:

“Brandon scored a controversial goal with just over three minutes left in the (second) period to make it 3-1.

“While on the power play, (Brandon’s) Ben McCartney took a shot from the bottom of the Warriors’ left circle. As the rebound came between the circles, Brandon’s Ridly Greig crashed the Warriors’ net and was on top of goalie Adam Evanoff. The play was allowed to continue and Baron Thompson scored.

“Brandon’s goal was allowed to stand even though Greig was issued a penalty for goalie interference on the play.”

Thompson’s goal gave Brandon a 3-1 lead and ended up being the game-winner.

Millar is the first GM to be fined since Stu MacGregor, then the GM of the Kamloops Blazers, was touched up for $500 for “actions following game versus Spokane” on Jan. 9, 2018.

The Warriors open a seven-game road swing tonight against the Kamloops Blazers. It could be that Millar will have a little less spending money than usual on this trek.

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The Kelowna Rockets played host to a news conference on Monday at which former KelownaRocketscaptain Josh Gorges announced his retirement as a player.

Gorges, who is from Kelowna, was a list player who went on to play four seasons (2000-04) with the Rockets. An intelligent, puck-moving defenceman, he was the team captain in 2003-04, when he also played for Canada at the World Junior Championship, helping win silver in Helsinki, Finland.

Gorges, now 34, went on to a pro career that included 783 regular-season NHL games split among the San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. He played 34 games with the Sabres last season.

There has been speculation that the Rockets would be adding Gorges to head coach Adam Foote’s staff. The Rockets have had a vacancy since parting company with Travis Crickard on Dec. 8.

There was no such announcement Monday, however, as the spotlight was strictly on Gorges and his retirement. The Rockets will honour Gorges on Saturday prior to a game against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Could there be an announcement made at that time?

There is more on Gorges’ retirement right here.

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During the news conference at which former WHL/NHL D Josh Gorges announced his retirement, Bruce Hamilton, the owner, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, said he wasn’t about to have any comment on a proposed class-action suit that has been filed by James McEwan. Like Gorges, McEwan is a former Rockets captain.

“This press conference has nothing to do (with) nor will we have any statement with regards to the legal issue that (was) brought forward this weekend,” Hamilton said.

Megan Turcato of Global News in Kelowna has more right here.

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You can hardly blame fans of the Kamloops Blazers if they are licking their lips at the thought of watching F Logan Stankoven over the next three or four WHL seasons.

Stankoven, who will turn 16 on Feb. 26, is from Kamloops, and was selected fifth overall thompsonblazersby the Blazers in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.

Last season, he put up 90 points, including 57 goals, in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C.

This season, he is lighting up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with his hometown Thompson Blazers.

Stankoven set a franchise record for points in a season on the weekend. He leads the league with 63 points, including 36 goals, in 26 games. The Blazers’ previous record (59) was set by F Riley Nash in 2005-06. Nash has played 443 NHL regular-season games and now is with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Stankoven also leads the league in goals and is tied for the lead in assists, with 27.

The league record for goals in a season (44) was set by F Tyson Jost of the  Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. He did it in 36 games.

The record for points in one season is held by F Alex Kerfoot, who put up 108 in 38 games with the Vancouver NW Giants in 2010-11. F Mathew Barzal had 103 in 34 games with the Vancouver NE Chiefs in 2012-13, and F Jordan Weal got to an even 100 points in 40 games with the Vancouver NW Hawks in 2007-08.

Of course, Jost and Kerfoot now are with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Barzal is with the New York Islanders and Weal is with the Arizona Coyotes.

Stankoven has played one game with the WHL’s Blazers this season, picking up an assist in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 19. He may have been the best of the Kamloops forwards on that night, too.

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The Grimshaw Huskies of the North Peace Hockey League honoured F Terry Houlder by retiring his number on Saturday night. According to NPHL stats guru Chris Clegg, Houlder put up 1,763 points in 669 regular-season games, plus 382 in 176 playoff games. He finally retired after turning 50. . . . Houlder, now 52, played three seasons (1984-87) in the WHL, the first two with the Lethbridge Broncos and the last one with the Calgary Wranglers. He enjoyed seasons of 88, 105 and 105 points. . . . Please read the thread on the above tweet for a whole lot more about Houlder and the game of senior hockey.

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One day after completing parent’s weekend, the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League tweeted on Monday that “as of today, Mark Chase has been relieved of his duties” as the team’s general manager and head coach. . . . The Coyotes are 13-21 with two ties and one OTL. They are third in the five-team Okanagan Division. . . . Chase was in his first season with the Coyotes after spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Chase is from Kamloops, where he was the GM/head coach of the major midget Thompson Blazers from 2013-15. . . . The Coyotes are expected to announce an interim head coach today.

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