Lawsuit info for players on WHL site. . . . Oil Kings get forward from Americans. . . . Raiders set to open Memorial Cup tonight


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D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser University (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists in 24 games. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenceman, and was a first team all-star. . . .

D Shaun Heshka (Everett, 2003-06) had his contract option year exercised by Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Mikhail Fisenko (Vancouver, Calgary, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and four assists in 53 games. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-season contract with the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). This season, with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games, and six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . .

F Troy Bourke (Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he had one goal and five assists. In 30 games with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), he had 11 goals and 34 assists. He led Orlando in assists and was second in points. . . .


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The WHL’s website has a new section. If you visit the website and click on the tab titled whlTHE WHL, you will note that the top item is WHL Class Action Lawsuit.

Included therein is a Notice of Certification and an Opt-Out Form.

Of course, this all has to do with the class-action lawsuit that has been filed against the CHL, including the WHL, as the notice on the website reads, “alleging that the class members are employees of their clubs and/or of the WHL and CHL, and are therefore entitled to employment benefits including minimum wage and overtime pay.”

The information on the website is aimed at players who were or are with teams located in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan during time periods that are specified in the posted information.

The notice reads: “If you fall within one or more of these definitions, you will be included in the class action unless you choose to opt out of the class action by following the steps listed below.”

Players have until July 14 to make a decision.

In other words, if you are or were a WHL player, you need to visit the WHL website and take a look right here.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired F Riley Sawchuk, 20, from the Tri-City Americans EdmontonOilKingsfor a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Sawchuk, who is from Prince Albert, had 20 goals and 33 assists in 67 games. In 195 regular-season games, all with the Americans, he had 37 goals and 47 assists. . . . The Americans selected Sawchuk in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Sawchuk’s departure leaves the Americans with five 1999-born players on their roster — F Krystof Hrabik, who is from Czech Republic, F Kyle Olson, D Riley Bruce, D Dom Schmiemann, and G Beck Warm. . . . The Oil Kings may lose their top three scorers from this season — F Quinn Benjafield and F Vince Loschiavo have completed their junior eligibility, while F Trey Fix-Wolansky, 20, has signed with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Sawchuk joins F Zach Russell, D Will Warm, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw as potential 20-year-olds on Edmonton’s roster.


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The Memorial Cup opens in Halifax today (Friday) with the WHL-champion Prince Albert PrinceAlbertRaiders meeting the host Mooseheads. . . . The Raiders will be trying to snap a 10-game losing streak by WHL champions that goes back to 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets beat the host Quebec Remparts, 9-3, in the semifinal on May 29. The Oshawa Generals beat the Rockets, 2-1 in OT, in the final two days later to start the WHL’s lengthy skid. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings went 0-3 in 2016, followed by the Seattle Thunderbirds (0-3, 2017) and Swift Current Broncos (0-3, 2018). . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt is behind the bench for a sixth time at the Memorial Cup. He was there with the 1997 Lethbridge Hurricanes, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Kelowna Rockets, and the 2016 Red Deer Rebels. He was the head coach of the 2005 Rockets; in the other instances, he was an assistant coach. . . . There is speculation that the Kamloops Blazers, looking for a coach to replace Serge Lajoie, want to chat with Truitt once the tournament is over. . . .
If you haven’t seen this piece right here by Jason Gregor, do yourself a favour and give it a read. He was in the stands for Game 7 on Monday in Prince Albert. A radio guy in Edmonton, Jason doesn’t often get to be a fan. But he was on this night because he had a nephew in the game. Oh, and Noah Gregor scored twice and set up the OT winner.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Niall Crocker, who was a first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Crocker, from Delta., B.C., will turn 15 on July 31. He had 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team.


The Everett Silvertips have signed G Keegan Karki, 19, who is a native of Sartell, Minn. According to eliteprospects.com, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Karki played only five games this season — three with the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays and two with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. . . . Karki had committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks more than three years ago, but later was decommitted. He also had a stint with the U.S. National Development Team Program.


Gary Samis, who had been the corporate sales manager with the Prince George Cougars, has died. Samis was 67 when he died in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. . . . Hartley Miller has more right here.


Curtis Brolund has been named the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba AAA U-18 Hockey League. The league previously was known as the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Brolund, who played two seasons with the team, has been an assistant coach with the Wheat Kings for eight seasons. . . . Brolund takes over from Ken Schneider, who stepped in on an interim basis after head coach Chris Johnston was fired early in January.


Dennis Kubat is the new head coach of the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Kubat was an assistant coach with the Trojans this season. . . . Kubat, 31, is from Outlook, Sask. . . . The Trojans also have named Cole Simpson as general manager. Simpson, 33, is from Tisdale. A defenceman in his playing days, he played four seasons (2004-07) in the WHL, splitting time with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Trojans chose not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, who had been their GM and head coach, after their season ended.


The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has hired Aaron Keller has its technical director and coach co-ordinator. . . . According to a news release, Keller’s “focus will be the development of KMHA’s players through the development of its coaches.” . . . Keller played in the KMHA before spending four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers and helping them win two Memorial Cup titles. He later spent 17 seasons playing professionally in Japan. Since returning from Japan, he has helped the Blazers’ coaching staff. . . . As well, the KMHA has added Lucas Gore as its goaltending coach. Gore, from Kamloops, played three seasons (2008-11) with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins.


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Graham fighting to get back in booth. . . . Ice unveils plans for its temporary home. . . . Raiders can close out WHL final tonight

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D Martin Bodák (Kootenay, 2017-19) has signed a one-year contract with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Kootenay, he had 11 goals and 14 assists in 58 games. . . .

D Brent Regner (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had 11 goals and 23 assists in 44 games.


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As he had for more than 650 Edmonton Oil Kings games, Corey Graham was calling the play on March 18, 2018. That was the Oil Kings’ final game of the 2017-18 season because they missed the playoffs. . . . That also was Graham’s last game to date. What happened? . . .

Jason Gregor has the story right here . . .

“I met Corey and his wife Nicole in their new home last month. Corey greeted me at the front door of their newly renovated bungalow. Freshly painted walls and three gorgeous white pillars showcased a welcoming open area for the kitchen and living room.

“Instead of calling Oil Kings games, Corey has been battling to stand up. Literally.

“He moved his wheelchair close to the couch and we talked about the events of the previous 10 months.”


While they were preparing to move from Cranbrook, B.C., to Winnipeg, the owners of the wpgiceteam that now is the Winnipeg Ice had said they would spend $400,000 on dressing up Wayne Fleming Arena, the 38-year-old arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. On Thursday, Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, announced that figure will be closer to $1.2 million. . . . As Paul Friesen wrote in the Winnipeg Sun: “You can buy a lot of lipstick for $1.2 million.” . . . That will allow them, Cockell said, to increase the arena’s capacity by 200, to 1,600, and to add such things as a new clock with video boards, as well as new glass and netting. . . . The Ice has said it will spend two seasons playing in the Wayne Fleming Arena as it awaits construction of a new facility. That new arena is to be built in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, but a shovel has yet to be put in the ground because some rezoning apparently has yet to be done. . . . Friesen’s complete piece is right here.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored a pair of empty-net goals to finish off a 6-3 victory over the visiting Halifax Mooseheads in Game 5 of the QMJHL’s championship final on Thursday night. . . . The Huskies lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Halifax on Saturday. . . . Halifax is the host team for the Memorial Cup so both teams will be playing in the tournament regardless of who wins this series. . . .

The OHL championship series is scheduled to resume tonight in Ottawa with the 67’s and Guelph Storm tied, 2-2. Ottawa won the first two games; Guelph followed by holding serve on home ice. . . . Game 6 is to be played in Guelph on Sunday.



Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pretty much summed up the NHL playoffs with this:

“A blown major penalty that leads to four power-play goals in a crucial game can’t be reviewed, but a play where a guy’s DNA is on the wrong side of the blueline can.”

He’s right, and his entire piece is right here.


Men’s and women’s hockey teams from Trinity Western U in Langley, B.C., and MacEwan U in Edmonton will begin play in Canada West, one of U Sports’ top conferences, in 2020-21. . . . The applications were accepted on Thursday as Canada West’s annual general meeting wrapped up in Whistler, B.C. . . . The TWU Spartans men’s team is coming off back-to-back championship seasons in the B.C. International Hockey League. The women’s team plays in the South Coast Women’s Hockey League. . . . Both of MacEwan’s teams, the Griffins, play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference where both teams have won three straight championships.


Brad Elliott Schlossman covers the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and NCAA hockey for the Grand Forks Herald. He regularly writes a feature that he calls The Daily Skate, and it’s a really good read. . . . On Thursday, he wrote, among other things, about the number of standalone diving calls this season in NCAA Division I hockey. . . . He also had some info on college teams moving the starting times for Saturday games up to 6 p.m. Minnesota State U-Mankato is one of those teams. Here’s what Kevin Buisman, the athletic director, told Schlossman: “This is a strategy that has been effective in other markets and after consulting players, coaches, fans, event staff and other program supporters, we decided to move forward with immediate implementation. I think this change will be particularly appealing to families with younger children and this is a demographic we need to grow as they represent the future fan base of Maverick hockey.” . . . Schlossman’s complete piece is right here.


Rikard Grönborg is one of the hot names in the coaching community these days. Grönborg, the head coach of the Swedish national team, spent one season (2004-05) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. These days, it was thought that he was high on the Buffalo Sabres’ list of prospective head coaches. However, his day in the NHL is going to have to wait as he has signed a two-year deal with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup could conclude tonight as the Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants meet in Game 5 in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders, who have posted 4-0 and 1-0 shutouts in two of the past three games, hold a 3-1 lead. In between the shutouts, they beat the Giants, 8-2. . . . Should the Giants win tonight, Game 6 would be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday.


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Broncos sign assistant coaches . . . Warriors have imports in fold . . . Hitmen add ex-talking head to front office

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F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) requested and was granted his release for personal reasons by the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He had signed a one-year contract in June. . . . Kovář, on the Hawks’ website: “I was really looking forward to playing for the Hawks next season and moving to the Altrincham area to continue my work as (a) personal trainer. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, I will now be staying in Kazakhstan for the foreseeable future.” . . . Kovář played for Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya Liga) last season, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games. He had played the previous four seasons in England.


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The Swift Current Broncos have announced the hiring of two assistant coaches — SCBroncosBrandin Cote and Scott Dutertre. . . . Cote, who is from Swift Current, was the associate coach at Red Deer College last season. Prior to that, he spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders and two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs. He played five seasons (1997-2002) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Dutertre, from Dinsmore, Sask., has been an assistant coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies, both men’s and women’s teams, for four seasons. He also is the national skating and skills coach for Ice Hockey Australia. . . . Cote and Dutertre fill the voids created by the departures of Ryan Smith, who now is with the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Jamie Heward, who has joined the Vancouver Giants.


Bil La Forge, who is into his first year as the general manager of the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, has more than a bit of hockey in his background. And, yes, he paid his dues before signing on as the Thunderbirds’ GM. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more right here in a good read on La Forge and the road he travelled to get to where he is today.



The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed their two selections from the 2018 CHL import MooseJawWarriorsdraft — Daniil Stepanov and Yegor Buyalsky, both 17-year-old forwards from Belarus. . . . Stepanov had three goals and 17 assists in 31 games with the U-18 Team Belarus. . . . Buyalsky had 19 goals and 29 assists in 49 games with the U-17 Team Belarus. He played at the 2018 Mac’s tournament in Calgary, putting up five goals and an assist in six games. . . . Both players already are in Moose Jaw as they prepare for the opening of training camp on Aug. 22. . . . The Warriors finished last season with two import defenceman — Oleg Sosunov and Dmitri Zaitsev. Neither is expected back as a 20-year-old. Sosunov will play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization; Zaitsev signed with Melallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.


Rob Kerr has been named assistant general manager, business operations by the Calgary Hitmen. He takes over from Melissa Blades, who now is manager, business operations with lacrosse’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . Both organizations are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which also owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Kerr spent the past 15 years at Sportsnet and for 12 of those was an on-air host at Calgary radio station Sportsnet 960—The Fan.


Alex Dixon is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager, replacing Trevor Heinzerling, who left to sign on the assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Dixon spent last season as the equipment manager with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. . . . Prior to that, he was with the USA National Team Development Program for two seasons and, before that, spent two seasons with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.


Todd Harkins has joined the West Van Hockey Academy as the director of program development and head coach of the bantam varsity side. Harkins spent the previous six seasons with the Prince George Cougars, the last four as general manager. Prior to that, he was the hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club for 12 years. . . . At the same time, the West Van academy revealed that Yashar Farmanara is leaving “operational and ownership rules” in order to pursue “interests outside of hockey.” A co-founder of the academy, he coached the Elite 15 team for the past two seasons. . . . Farmanara split five WHL seasons (2003-08) among the Seattle Thunderbirds, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers.


We in the Kamloops area have been well aware of F Jermaine Loewen of the Blazers and his startlingly good story for a few years now. But now that he has been selected by the Dallas Stars in the NHL draft, more people are being introduced to Loewen, a 20-year-old power forward with the perpetual smile. Jeff Miller of nhl.com has a piece on Loewen right here.


Mitch Topinka has signed on as an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Last season, he was on staff with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Doug Hedley, who was the general manager and head coach with the Blizzard last season, now fills both those roles with the Kings. . . . Topinka, who is from Whitewood, Sask., also scouted for the Blizzard while coaching a junior B team in Regina. . . . According to a Kings’ news release, Topinka was a stick boy with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks when Hedley was coaching there “in the early 2000s.”


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have added Jered Neufeld as an assistant coach. He spent the past two seasons as coach/assistant general manager with the Esterhazy Flyers of the Triangle Hockey League. . . . Neufeld also spent time on the coaching staff of the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s Red Deer Vipers. . . . Neufeld now is the general manager of Legacy Ford Fernie.


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