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


MacBeth

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. . . .


ThisThat

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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Holt everything! Giants strike first. . . . Two late second-period goals key to Game 1 victory. . . . Might so many commits work against NCAA schools?

MacBeth

F Matt Fraser (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 18 goals and 16 assists in 52 games. The was second on the team in goals and third in points. . . .

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste bank Liga). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 52 games. . . .

D David Němeček (Saskatoon, 2013-14) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 46 games. . . .

D Lassi Thomson (Kelowna, 2018-19) has signed a two-year plus option contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Kelowna (WHL), he had 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. . . .

G Alexander Pechursky (Tri-City, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he was 13-16-2, 2.36, .917, with one assist, in 32 games.


Kamloops1

You could make an argument that the most surprising part of Thursday’s WHL bantam draft was the decision by the Kamloops Blazers to use both of their first-round selections on players who have made verbal commitments to the U of Michigan Wolverines.

Kamloops used the seventh-overall selection on D Mats Lindgren of the Burnaby Winter Club, then took F Connor Levis of St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick.

Both players have made verbal commitments to the Wolverines for the 2022-23 season.

So . . . you’re wondering why the Blazers, a team that had a mediocre season while in what was the WHL’s weakest division in 2018-19, would take two NCAA commits in the first round?

Well, Jess Myers of therinklive.com has written an excellent piece that details the changes to NCAA hockey and its recruiting process, all of which came into effect on May 1.

In that story, Myers writes:

“The new system may also reduce the high numbers of committed players that many colleges have now. The list of college commitments that is maintained by College Hockey, Inc., shows that in the Big Ten, Michigan has 37 players who have given verbal commitments to play for the Wolverines in the future, and presumably have been given a scholarship offer of some amount. The (Minnesota) Gophers and Wisconsin (Badgers) each has 31 commitments listed.”

I wasn’t able to find the list of 37 potential future Wolverines, but, then, I’m hardly a computer genius. I did find a list of 24 commits, but it doesn’t include any players committed for 2022-23. Another list, this one at collegehockeynews.com, shows Michigan with 33 commitments but it doesn’t include 2022-23, either.

However, I would suggest that somewhere there is a list that shows 37 commits for Michigan.

Still, the point is that Michigan and many other schools have a whole host of commits potentially on the way.

That being the case, it’s got to give Kamloops general manager Matt Bardsley a terrific starting point when he begins his serious recruiting pitch with Lindgren, Levis and their families.

Myers’ story is right here.


CORRECTION: D Sean Comrie, whose rights moved from the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday, just finished his first season with the U of Denver Pioneers. The Edmonton native had one assists in 18 games, after spending two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. Brandon selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft.

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MORE DRAFT BLOODLINES: The Calgary Hitmen selected F Jadon Kwiatkowski of Sammamish, Wash., in the 11th round. A reader tells me that he is from Lake Stevens, Wash., and that he played for the U-14 Everett Jr. Silvertips. His father, Jason, played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, with the Prince Albert Raiders and Tacoma Rockets, while an uncle, Joel, split four WHL seasons (1994-98) between Tacoma, the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars. . . .

In the sixth round, the Hitmen selected D Matthew Sutter, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Spruce Grove PAC Saints. He isn’t related to the Sutters of Viking, Alta.

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Here’s a look, in alphabetical order, at teams that had four or more players selected in the bantam draft:

Anchorage North Stars (4)

BWC H.A. Bntm Prep (8)

Calgary CBHA Bisons BAAA (6)

Colorado Thunderbirds 14U (6)

Dallas Stars Elite 14U (5)

Delta H.A. Bntm Prep Green (12)

Eastman Selects B1AAA (4)

Edge School Bntm Prep (11)

Fort Sask. Rangers BAAA (5)

Lloydminster Bobcats BAAA (4)

Martensville Marauders BAA (4)

North Zone Kings BAA (4)

Northern Alberta Xtreme Bntm Prep (6)

OHA Edmonton Bntm Prep (7)

Okanagan H.A. Bntm Prep (7)

Okotoks Oilers BAAA (4)

Red Deer Rebels BAAA (8)

Rink H.A. Nationals Bntm Prep (9)

Sherwood Park Flyers BAAA (4)

St. George’s School Bntm Prep (4)

Warman Wildcats BAA (4)

Yale H.A. Bntm Prep (11)


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Ryan Marushak is remaining with the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey DelisleChiefsLeague. The former general manager will be the team’s director of player personnel in what will be his eighth season with the organization. . . . Eric Ditto was named the team’s general manager and head coach on Thursday. . . . If you weren’t aware, Delisle was home to the late Max Bentley, an NHL star who had one of the great nicknames in sports history — the Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle.


Tyler Drader is the new head coach of the Calgary-based SAIT Trojans, who play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He spent the previous two seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs. . . . Drader takes over from Brent Devost, who resigned after one season with the Trojans. . . . There is a news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: First, please allow me to point out that this is the WHL final. It isn’t the WHL finals or the WHL Finals or the WHL FINALS. There is only one series, only one final, thus it is the WHL final. Thank you . . .

With that out of the way, the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup got started on Friday night in Prince Albert with the Vancouver Giants beating the Raiders, 5-4. They’ll play Game 2 in the Art Hauser Centre tonight, then head for Langley, B.C., and games on Tuesday, Wednesday and, if necessary, Friday in the Langley Events Centre. . . .

While there isn’t a player on either team who has played in a WHL final, there are coaches who have been there. . . . Jamie Heward, in his first season as the Giants’ associate coach, is in his second straight final. Last season, he helped guide the Swift Current Broncos to a championship. . . . Jeff Battah, an assistant coach with the Giants, was an assistant with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2008 when they got to the final under then-head coach Michael Dyck. Dyck, of course, now is the Giants’ head coach. . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt was an assistant under Marc Habscheid, now the head coach in Prince Albert, when the Kelowna Rockets won the 2003 title. Truitt was the head coach two seasons later when the Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out before Game 1 that Vancouver D Bowen Byram’s father, Shawn, played 116 games from 1986-88 with the Prince Albert Raiders, putting up 39 goals, 85 points and 300 PIMs. . . . Shawn began his WHL career by playing 62 games with the Regina Pats (1984-87). . . .

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants broke a 3-3 tie with two goals in the final minute of the second period and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders in Game 1 Vancouverof the WHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Vancouver D Dylan Plouffe (5) opened the scoring from the right faceoff dot at 4:20 of the first period, one-timing a pass from D Bowen Byram while enjoying a two-man PP advantage. . . . F Dawson Holt (6) upped the lead to 2-0 at 6:06 as he pounced on a rebound off the end boards and rifled it home just 10 seconds after Vancouver’s second PP expired. . . . The Raiders cut the deficit in half when F Brett Leason (6) scored on a PP at 3:20 of the second period, beating G David Tendeck through the legs. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (8), the Giants’ captain, restored the two-goal lead at 5:13 as his shot from the top of the circles got past G Ian Scott. . . . The Raiders quickly got that one back as F Noah Gregor (8) made it 3-2 at 6:17 as he split the defencemen at the top of the Giants’ zone, took a pass and scored from 12 feet out. . . . The home team pulled into a tie when F Dante Hannoun (10), a sniper who didn’t score in the six-game semifinal victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, found the range off a rebound at 16:45 of the second period. . . . Vancouver went back out front with 30.9 seconds left in the period as F Yannik Valenti (2) whipped home a one-timer from high in the slot on a PP. . . . Holt (7), who is from Saskatoon, made it 5-3 with his second goal of the game, this one from a bad angle, with 16.5 seconds left in the period. . . . D Jeremy Massella (1) pulled the Raiders back to within a goal at 2:50 of the third period when he drove to the net from the right side and stuffed the puck past Tendeck. . . . Holt had six goals in 53 regular-season games; he’s got seven in 16 playoff games. . . . F Owen Hardy, Dmytriw, who is from Craven, Sask., and Byram each had two assists for the Giants. Byram leads all playoff scorers with 20 points. . . . F Parker Kelly had two assists for the Raiders, with Hannoun adding one to his goal. . . . Vancouver was 2-4 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-3. . . . Tendeck finished with 25 stops, four more than Scott. . . . F Aidan Barfoot was among the Giants’ scratches. He hasn’t played since suffering a suspected concussion in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Brett Iverson, with Sean Dufour and Tarrington Wyonzek on the lines.

(NOTE: Scoring changes after the game gave Byram two more assists, while taking one away from Hardy. That left Byram with a WHL-leading 22 points.)

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a game story right here.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a gamer right here.


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Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


ThisThat

The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


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WHL’s winds of change: Coaches and scouts on the move . . . and more news, too

MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) signed a one-year contract with the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B). Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 50 games with Kamloops (WHL). . . .

F James Wright (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year plus option contract with Linköping (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had two goals and six assists in 26 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), and three goals and two assists in 15 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL).


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Luke Pierce has signed on as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 34, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s Paralympic sledge hockey team after working for two seasons as head coach of the Kootenay Ice. . . . He lost his job with the Ice when he got caught up in an ownership change. . . . Prior to that, he was the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials for five-plus seasons. . . .

In Edmonton, Pierce will work alongside head coach Brad Lauer, who is preparing for his first season in that role. Pierce replaces Ryan Marsh, who was fired on May 29, along with head coach Steve Hamilton, and has since joined the Saskatoon Blades as an assistant coach. Hamilton now is the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen.

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings also announced that Jamie Novakoski, their director of scouting, won’t be back. He had been with the Oil Kings since 2007, working as director of scouting for the past five seasons. . . . According to the Oil Kings, he “will assist with the transition to a new director of scouting before leaving to pursue an opportunity outside of hockey.”


The Prince Albert Raiders announced Monday that they have added Jeff Truitt, Dan Gendur and Mike Brodeur to their coaching staff. . . . Truitt, 53, fills the vacancy created when associate coach Dave Manson left to join the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Truitt and Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid know each other well, having worked together with the Kelowna Rockets from 2000-04. When Kelowna won the 2004 Memorial Cup, Habscheid was the Rockets’ head coach and Truitt was associate coach. Truitt spent the past six seasons as the associate coach with the Red Deer Rebels. He also has AHL coaching experience, having worked with the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. . . . Last season, Gendur, 31, was the head coach of the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. He joined the Raiders late in the WHL season and worked with them through the playoffs. He is a former WHL player, having played with the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips (2004-08). . . . Brodeur, 35, is the Raiders’ new goaltending coach. He spent one season  (2003-04) playing with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. With the Raiders, Brodeur takes over from Kelly Guard, now an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


Veteran coach Willie Desjardins has signed on to work with the Prairie Rose School Division in establishing a new hockey academy that will involve three schools in the Medicine Hat Area. The 61-year-old Desjardins, who was the head coach of Canada’s national men’s team last season, continues to live in Medicine Hat, where he coached the Tigers for eight seasons (2002-10). . . . Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News has more right here.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Craig Goebel and Jared Crooks to their scouting staff. . . . Goebel spent the past 10 seasons scouting for the Regina Pats. His main assignment will be pre-scouting Seattle’s opponents. . . . Crooks, who played four seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, is the head instructor at the Mount Carmel Hockey Academy in Edmonton. He will scout for the Thunderbirds in northern Alberta.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have added Mark Sauer and Brennen York to their scouting staff. . . . Earlier this summer, the Wheat Kings lost veteran scout Mike Fraser when he left to sign on as the Everett Silvertips’ head scout. . . . Sauer, from Calgary, had been on the scouting staff at ISS for three years. . . . York is from Edmonton where he founded DraftGeek.


It’s official. The Vancouver Giants have added Jamie Heward to their coaching staff. The team announced Monday morning that Heward has been signed as the associate coach. . Vancouver. . He replaces Dean Chynoweth, who left after one season and has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . As a player, Heward spent parts of nine seasons in the NHL, after playing four seasons (1987-91) with his hometown Regina Pats. . . . Heward, 47, spent the past six seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, as an assistant coach and the director of player development. . . . This means that the Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, have lost three coaches since the season ended. Head coach Manny Viveiros now is an assistant with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, while assistant coach Ryan Smith has joined the Medicine Hat Tigers.

During his playing days in Regina, Heward was a member of what was known as the PUP Line. Its other members also were Regina natives — Frank Kovacs and Mike Sillinger. All three played as 16-year-olds, thus the PUP moniker.

On Monday, while Heward was busy with the Giants, Kovacs was busy, too, as you can see from this tweet . . .


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Robbie Fromm-Delorme, who was a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Richmond, B.C., Fromm-Delorme played last season in Byfield, Mass., at The Governor’s Academy in the USHS-Prep league. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 27 games. . . . He attended the Winterhawks’ training camp prior to the 2017-18 season.


Bill Reddick will chair the committee that will prepare the bid by the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes and the City of Lethbridge for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . Terry Huisman, the Hurricanes’ general manager of business operations, will be the co-chair. . . . Reddick is a partner with Mercer Wilde Group Chartered Accountants in Lethbridge and has long been involved with minor hockey in that city. . . . Huisman has been the general manager of business operations since 2012 and has played an integral role in leading the franchise out of the financial mess it was in not that long ago. . . . The Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals all are preparing bids for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They are scheduled to present those bids at a meeting of the WHL’s board of governors in Calgary on Oct. 3. A host city is expected to be named at the conclusion of that meeting.


The AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs have added Alex Mandolidis, Josh Watson and Richie Hubbell to a coaching staff this is headed up by GM/head coach Tyler Drader. . . . Mandolidis has spent the past five seasons with either the midget AAA Calgary Flames or midget AAA Calgary Northstars, while Watson has worked with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Hubbell has been the goaltending coach with the women’s team at Olds College.


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Veteran coach to join Raiders? . . . Leavold lands new scouting job . . . Votto: Eight-plus seasons, seven pop ups!


Scattershooting

The Prince Albert Raiders need to replace associate coach Dave Manson, who left to sign on as an assistant coach with the the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. . . . Taking Note has been told that spot with the Raiders may go to long-time coach Jeff Truitt. It makes sense because Truitt, who spent the past five-plus seasons with the Red Deer Rebels, and Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid have a history together. Truitt was an assistant coach in Kelowna during Habscheid’s time as the Rockets’ head coach. After four season’s as an assistant there, Truitt took over as head coach when Habscheid left after the 2003-04 season.



It’s Friday night and Sportsnet, coming off a Toronto Blue Jays telecast, has Sports Central showing on four channels. At 8 p.m. Pacific, it is to switch to a game between the Houston Astros and Mike Trout’s Los Angeles Angels. Finally, at 8:12 p.m., the switch is made. It’s the top of the fourth inning and Houston holds a 3-0 lead. . . . Here’s the deal Sportsnet. When you start showing viewers the respect they deserve and stop joining these games in progress, I’ll return to watching you again. See ya!


It’s Saturday night, and I just assumed Sportsnet would join the Houston Astros and host Seattle Mariners at 8 p.m. Pacific. So I watched the end of the game between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Turns out that Sportsnet started the game in Seattle on time. Oh well, maybe next time. Sheesh, who knew this could be so confusing?



Taking Note has been told that veteran WHL scout Brian Leavold now is working with the Saskatoon Blades. Leovold was one of those who left Swift Current as the Broncos went through a regime change.


I stumbled on this Twitter thread on Saturday morning. For the purposes of this tweet, a pop up is a flyball that lands or is caught within 140 feet of home plate. This, then, is amazing. . . . BTW, it seems that Joey Votto has yet to hit a pop up to a catcher, pitcher or first baseman. Seriously!


With so many Major League Baseball players in swing mode, why do pitchers throw fastballs in the strike zone? Why not one slider after another? Hey, just asking.



“Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and model wife Kate Upton are expecting their first child,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of Johnson’s baby powder, they plan to use a rosin bag.”


One more from Perry: “The minor-league Savannah Bananas’ rained-out game against the rival Macon Bacon — in which Bananas players will wear kilts — has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 25. But why stop there? Kilt the umpire!”


Perry has a hat trick: “Canada will legalize marijuana nationwide on Oct. 17, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced. “Coming soon to an NHL trophy case near you: the Lady Bong Trophy.”


MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on PTI early in the week and made the comment that Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout could raise his profile by putting himself out there more. To which Janice Hough — she’s over there at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com — commented: “What about if ESPN and Fox showed other teams beside the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs?” . . . Hey, hard to argue with her.


“Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t sure whether Jalen Hurts or title-game hero Tua Tagovailoa will be his starting QB,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “Note to Saban: Love Hurts.”


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