CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


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With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


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Scattershooting on a Tuesday evening after spending time on Monday with Sabrina . . .

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If you’re wondering, Dave Ayres and his wife, Sarah, are expected back in the Toronto area today (Wednesday) after being feted in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday. You will recall that Ayres, who had a kidney transplant in 2004, is the EBUG (emergency backup goaltender) who helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the host Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-3, on Saturday night. . . . They are expected to be back in Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night where he again will be the EBUG, this time with the Vancouver Canucks in to play the Maple Leafs. . . . You don’t suppose that he might . . . nah, never happen.


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Congrats to Trevor Weisgerber, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Weisgerber, 40, who underwent a kidney transplant in St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon on Jan. 26, has been named winner of the Joe Bloski Award as the league’s coach of the year. . . . The Warriors went 30-13-1 and tied for fourth place in the 12-team league, one point out of third and seven short of first. They will open a first-round playoff series against the visiting Notre Dame Hounds on Thursday. . . . Weisgerber told me on Tuesday that “I am feeling pretty good . . . the fun begins on Thursday!” . . . If you aren’t familiar with Weisgerber’s story, you will find it all right here.



Grant Rezansoff, who played two seasons (1979-81) with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, died on Saturday at his home in Red Wing, Minn. A native of Surrey, B.C., he was 58. . . . In his second season with the Cougars, he scored 40 goals and added 57 assists. . . . After moving on from the WHL, Rezansoff played in the International and Central leagues before spending two seasons in Europe. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.


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The New York Mets are paying Bobby Bonilla, who last played in 2001, a total of $1,193, 248.20 a year until 2035. Now we are free to wonder if the NHL is headed into the same territory. . . . At the NHL trade deadline, it was pointed out that the Buffalo Sabres are paying D Christian Ehrhoff the nice sum of $857,143 per year until 2028. He last played with the Sabres in 2013-14 and was last in the NHL in 2015-16 with the Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Meanwhile, F Ilya Kovalchuk, who has gone from the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals in the past few weeks, is taking up cap space on four different NHL teams, with the New Jersey Devils also in the Payin’ Ilya Club.


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Until reading a book titled Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey, by Jeremy Allingham, I wasn’t aware that former Seattle Thunderbirds/Kelowna Rockets enforcer James McEwan had filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada.

It turns out that the lawsuit now is more encompassing that that, as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out here:

“Already facing a class-action lawsuit over not paying its players a minimum wage, the three major junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League could soon find themselves facing a concussion lawsuit that could include hundreds, if not thousands, of former frequent fighters in junior hockey.

“What started as a lawsuit launched against the CHL, the WHL and Hockey Canada by former WHL player James McEwan in January 2019 was recently re-filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include both the OHL and QMJHL. Six days after the lawsuit was re-filed, the QMJHL postponed a vote on whether or not to ban fighting, a vote that was scheduled for that day, but was moved to August.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.



JUST NOTES: Having heard about Sabrina Ionescu in recent days, I got a chance to watch her on a TSN channel on Monday night as her Oregon Ducks beat the host Stanford Cardinal. Earlier in the day, Ionescu had spoken at the memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi — Ionescu was close with both of them. She also was fighting a flu bug and apparently was sick to her stomach before the game. The 5-foot-11 point guard then went out and led the Ducks to victory, in the process becoming the first player, male or female, in NCAA Division 1 history to have career totals of at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Yes, she is quite a player. Try to tune in if the Ducks are on TV again. . . . How goofy has the NHL’s trade deadline day become? Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, singling out one incident from Monday: “The best moment of the day came when Johnny Gaudreau inexplicably left the ice at the Calgary Flames practice, leading everyone to freak out and speculate. It turns out he just had to pee. Trade deadline day is the best.”

CHL, WHL facing another lawsuit . . . Kaluski has career night vs. Raiders . . . Silvertips within five points of top spot


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D Tomáš Kundrátek (Medicine Hat, 2008-10) has exercised the out clause in his contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) and signed a contract for the rest of this season with Davos (Switzerland, NL A). Kundrátek started this season with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL), earning three assists in 25 games. He signed with Třinec on Dec. 5, and had one goal and one assist in six games.

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“Notice of a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League, Hockey Canada and the Western Hockey League has been filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” reports Gord Holder of the Ottawa Citizen, “claiming the leagues failed to enforce protocols for handling concussions and failed to provide players, parents and billet families with relevant health information about concussions.

“The representative plaintiff for the claim, filed Wednesday, is James Johnathon McEwan, a 31-year-old native of Kelowna, B.C., who played an enforcer’s role during four WHL seasons between 2004 and 2008.”

McEwan, now 31, played with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets, spending two seasons with each team.

Holder’s complete story is right here.

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The Tri-City Americans have dropped F Isaac Johnson, who will turn 20 on Jan. 19, from tri-citytheir roster. Johnson, from Andover, Minn., was a point-a-game player, with 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games. He was their fifth-leading scorer, with 32 points. . . . According to Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, Johnson has retired for personal reasons. . . . Last season, as a freshman, he had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games. . . . Before joining the Americans, he played with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, recording 14 goals and 14 assists in 47 games. . . . Johnson last played for the Americans in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips on Friday. He was scratched from a 4-1 loss in Everett on Saturday and didn’t play in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the visiting Prince George Cougars.

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Josh Horton of the Everett Herald has reported that F Peter Melcher has been waived by the Everett Silvertips and wasn’t claimed by any of the CHL’s teams. Melcher, 17, is a native of Czech Republic, although he played in Slovakia for the four seasons prior to this one. . . . The Silvertips selected him in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. He played for Slovakia in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August, then attended Everett’s training camp. However, he was injured (concussion, neck) during the preseason and hasn’t played since. . . . Melcher will be eligible to re-enter the CHL’s 2019 import draft.

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The Kelowna Rockets have deleted F Jack Cowell, 19, allowing him to join the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins of the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League. . . . Cowell, who is from Winnipeg, had two goals and three assists in 26 games with the Rockets this season. On Dec. 1, he was traded to the Kootenay Ice for a third-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. However, he refused to report to the Ice and the trade was voided. . . . In 182 regular-season WHL games, all with Kelowna, he had 18 goals and 38 assists.

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Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Calgary Hitmen scored three shootout goals and beat the Warriors, 3-2 in Moose Jaw. Calgary. . . Calgary (20-16-4) has won five in a row. It is fifth in the Central Division, three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Hitmen also hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, six points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Moose Jaw (21-9-7) has lost two straight. It is settling into third place in the East Division, eight points behind the Saskatoon Blades and 11 ahead of Brandon. . . . F Tristin Langan (31) gave Moose Jaw a 1-0 lead at 5:07 of the second period. . . . F kaden Elder (17) tied it at 16:23. . . . Moose Jaw went ahead 2-1 as F Keenan Taphorn (10) scored at 8:16 of the third. . . . Calgary D Dakota Krebs forced OT with his fourth goal, at 17:25. . . . F Justin Almeida and F Brayden Tracey scored for the Warriors in the four-round shootout, but the Hitmen got goals from F James Malm, F Carson Focht and F Josh Prokop to win it. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 33 shots for Calgary, two fewer than Moose Jaw’s Adam Evanoff. . . . Head coach Tim Hunter was back behind the Warriors’ bench after his stint with Canada’s national junior team. Under associate coach Mark O’Leary, the Warriors were 6-2-1. . . . The Warriors were without F Tate Popple (undisclosed injury) for a third game.

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F Jaxan Kaluski, playing in his 100th regular-season game, scored three times times to Seattlelead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Seattle (13-21-4) is 2-2-0 on its six-game East Division trip. The Thunderbirds are last in the Western Conference, but have closed to within three points of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the second wild-card berth. . . . Prince Albert (35-5-1) now is 18-3-0 on home ice. It also has lost three of its past five games, including three of four at home. The Raiders still lead the East Division by 14 points over the Saskatoon Blades. But their lead atop the overall standings is down to five points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Kaluski, a 19-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., scored his first WHL hat trick. He went into the game with two goals in 37 outings, then scored three times in 37:06. . . . Last season, he scored three times — twice in 22 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors and once in 24 games with Seattle. Going into last night, he had five goals in 99 career regular-season games. . . . Kaluski opened the scoring at 1:23 of the second period. . . . D Jeremy Masella (2) tied it at 2:08. . . . Kaluski then gave his guys a 3-1 lead with goals at 7:54 and 17:06. . . . F Matthew Wedman (14) clinched it with an empty-netter at 19:44. . . . Seattle got 32 saves from G Roddy Ross, who is 2-0-0 since being added to the roster from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks on Jan. 1. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly was eligible to return from a three-game suspension but was scratched.

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The Portland Winterhawks scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 5-2 Portlandvictory over the host Regina Pats. . . . Portland (25-11-5) has won six in a row and has points in 10 straight (6-0-3). It also is 4-0-0 on its six-game East Division trip. The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, 11 points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Regina (12-28-2) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . Portland got that 3-0 lead on goals from F Jake Gricius (18), at 8:15 of the first period, D Clay Hanus (5), at 19:40, and F Joachim Blichfeld, with his WHL-leading 38th, at 0:56 of the second. . . . F Austin Pratt (16) cut Regina’s deficit to two, at 18:42. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (6) restored the three-goal lead at 2:51 of the third period. . . . D Liam Schioler (4) pulled Regina back to within two at 8:15. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (10) put it away with the empty-netter, at 17:44. . . . Gricius also had two assists for the fifth three-point night of his career. . . . Portland G Shane Farkas stopped 24 shots as he made his 39th start of the season. . . . G Joel Hofer, acquired earlier in the day from the Swift Current Broncos for six WHL bantam draft picks, wasn’t in Portland’s lineup. . . . The Winterhawks had D Matthew Quigley back from a suspension, but again were without D Brendan De Jong (concussion). . . . With G Max Paddock ill, Matthew Pesenti, a 17-year-old who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was on Regina’s bench in support of Dean McNabb, who made 30 saves.

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F Zak Smith broke a 2-2 tie in the third period to give the visiting Red Deer Rebels a 3-2 Red Deervictory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Red Deer (23-13-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). The Rebels are tied for second with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Central Division, three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Swift Current slipped to 8-29-3. . . . F Carter Chorney (11) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 1:56 of the first period. . . . Red Deer went ahead on goals from D Dawson Barteaux (5), on a PP, at 9:19, and F Brandon Hagel (23), at 8:15 of the second. . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (11) tied it at 9:18 of the third period. . . . Smith broke the tie at 13:02 with his eighth goal of the season. . . . Red Deer had a 37-23 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the second period. . . . G Riley Lamb, signed by the Broncos earlier in the day and added to the roster from the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, was on the bench as Isaac Poulter stopped 34 shots. . . . The Rebels had D Alex Alexeyev back in the lineup after he played for Russia at the WJC. In fact, he is the only WHL player who can lay claim to having won a medal at this year’s tournament after Russia finished third. . . . F Kye Buchanan, 17, made his WHL debut with the Broncos. They added him to their roster from the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders on Saturday. . . . F Tyler Lees, acquired Monday from the Victoria Royals, wasn’t in Swift Current’s lineup.

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F Jake Elmer’s goal late in the third period gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory Lethbridgeover the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . Lethbridge (22-10-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2) and now leads the Central Division by three points over the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Kootenay (8-28-7) has lost eight in a row (0-7-1). . . . The Ice went ahead 1-0 at 4:19 of the first period as F Connor McClennon scored his fifth goal of the season. . . . Lethbridge went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Dylan Cozens (24), at 7:13, and F Jordy Bellerive (21), at 12:26. . . . Bellerive has points in 11 straight games, totalling 10 goals and 11 assists over that stretch. On the season, he has 21 goals and 31 assists in 40 games. . . . Elmer’s 19th goal, at 16:33, won it. . . . The Hurricanes outshot the Ice, 54-22, including 24-12 in the first period and 23-4 in the third. . . . Kootenay G Jesse Makaj made 51 saves. . . . G Curtis Meger, signed earlier in the day, was on the Ice bench as the backup.

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F Bryce Kindopp’s two goals helped the visiting Everett Silvertips to a 4-2 victory over the EverettKelowna Rockets. . . . Everett (32-8-2) has won three in a row. The Silvertips lead the U.S. Division by 11 points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (17-19-4) has lost three straight (0-2-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Victoria Royals and five ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Rockets went ahead 1-0 at 2:57 of the first period on a PP goal by D Lassi Thomson. . . . Kindopp tied it at 19:49. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar (29) broke the tie, on a PP, at 9:44 of the second period. . . . Thomson pulled the Rockets even with his ninth goal, at 19:58. . . . The Silvertips won it with two third-period goals. . . . Kindopp (21) broke the tie at 11:56, and D Gianni Fairbrother (6) got the empty-netter at 19:50. . . . Dewar also had two assists. . . . G James Porter stopped 40 shots for the Rockets, who were outshot 44-24, including 17-6 in the second period. . . .  Everett G Dustin Wolf earned the victory. He now is 28-8-1, 1.81, .929. . . . D Schael Higson, acquired earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings, was in Kelowna’s lineup.

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The Spokane Chiefs scored two PP goals on as many opportunities as they doubled the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Prince George Cougars, 4-2. . . . Spokane (23-13-4) has won three in a row and is third in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Portland Winterhawks and six ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Prince George (14-22-3) had won its previous two games. This was the last game of the Cougars’ road trip from hell, and they finished 3-8-0. They are two points behind the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Cougars last played at home on Dec. 2. They will entertain the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and Saturday. . . . Last night, the Chiefs went ahead 2-0 on first-period PP goals from D Nolan Reid (6) and D Ty Smith (4). . . . D Joel Lakusta (5) cut the deficit to a goal 31 seconds into the second period. . . . F Luc Smith (17) gave Spokane a 3-1 lead at 12:56 of the third period. . . . F Josh Maser (13) scored for the Cougars at 18:50. . . . F Jake McGrew (17) got the empty-netter for Spokane at 19:48. . . . Spokane was credited with winning 34 of the game’s 52 faceoffs.

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F Kody McDonald scored twice as the Victoria Royals beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, VictoriaRoyals5-3. . . . Victoria (21-15-1) has won three in a row. This was the Royals’ first home game since Dec. 15. They were out of their home arena because some of the WJC was being played there. . . . The Royals are second in the B.C. Division, seven points behind the Vancouver Giants. . . . Kamloops (15-20-3) has lost two straight and is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, nine points behind the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kamloops is 0-10-1 in its last 11 road games. That follows a 6-1-0 run on the road. . . . McDonald scored his first goals for Victoria after coming over from the Prince Albert Raiders on Jan. 3. . . . The Royals took control by scoring the game’s first four goals. They led 4-0 early in the third period. . . . D Jameson Murray (2) got it started at 11:19 of the first period, and McDonald upped it to 2-0 at 17:57. . . . McDonald’s eighth goal of the season, on a PP, increased the lead to 3-0 at 10:23 of the second. . . . F Brandon Cutler (10) made it 4-0 at 8:00 of the third. . . . F Martin Lang (8) got the Blazes on the scoreboard at 12:05, only to have F Phillip Schultz (7) get that one back, on a PP, at 15:43. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (6) and F Zane Franklin (20) rounded out the Blazers’ scoring. . . . Franklin, an off-season acquisition from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has 40 points in 38 games. Last season, he finished with 38 points 14 of them goals, in 67 games. . . . The Blazers and Royals will meet again Friday in Victoria.

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