McCrimmon on verge of selling Wheat Kings? . . . KIJHL announces return-to-play plan, loses three teams . . . Two WHLers sign to play in Sweden


The smoke started with a query on Wednesday night. . . . An insider with one WHL team wanted to know if I had heard “any rumblings out of Brandon . . . BrandonWKregularthat the team is on the verge of being sold.” . . . I hadn’t. But it seems that there might be something happening, especially if the WHL’s board of governors has been alerted. . . . Kelly McCrimmon purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings from Bob Cornell in 1992 and became the sole owner in 2001. McCrimmon took a step back from the Wheat Kings when he joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, then an expansion team, as assistant general manager on Aug. 2, 2016. He moved up to general manager on May 2, 2019. . . . If a sale occurs, speculation has Jared Jacobson as being involved. His family is the Jacobson in the Jacobson & Greiner Group of Companies — he is the president and CEO — that has been a part of Brandon for more than 60 years. . . .

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any news on the sale of the Portland Winterhawks, despite Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having said in June that he hoped to have the situation resolved within weeks.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison said: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

Bill Gallacher, who had owned the Winterhawks, had used the franchise as part of the collateral for a $20-million loan. When he forfeited on that, the Winterhawks ended up in receivership.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hopes to open its 2020-21 season on Nov. 13, a move from its original projection of Oct. 2. It also kijhlhas lost three teams, with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves all opting to sit out the season for pandemic-related reasons. . . . That leaves the league with 17 teams, each of whom will play 30 games in the regular season that is to begin without fans in the buildings. A schedule is to be released on Sept. 25. . . . The league’s news release is right here.

Interestingly, each of the three teams that opted out did so for a different reason.

Spokane isn’t able to participate because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel and that situation isn’t likely to change for a while now.

The Wranglers opted out because, as Greg Aiken, the organization’s president, told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.” . . . Aiken also said that not having fans at games was a difference-maker, too. “We can’t survive on these few fans,” he said. “We rely on 500 fans coming per game.” . . . Aiken’s story is right here.

In Beaver Valley, the Nitehawks’ decision was made by 16 players who decided they weren’t going to play. . . . As Jamie Cominotto, the general manager, explained to Jim Bailey of the Trail Times: “Our players decided they were not going to play, and we don’t have time to replace 16 players.” Cominotto said he had a Zoom meeting with the players, “and we explained the league plan for play, as well as the costs for them to play. The team fees went up a little bit, and obviously we were unable to help with the billeting financially, because we just don’t have the money.” . . . Cominotto also told Bailey that “we don’t have the billet homes that we usually have.” That would seem to be a problem in more than one jurisdiction, at least judging by the number of teams on social media who are looking for billet homes. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled three 2020 events — the National Women’s U-18 Championship that was to have been decided in Dawson Creek, B.C., Nov. 2-8; the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 6-12; and the World Junior A Challenge, in Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 13-20. . . . Hockey Canada is hoping to be able to place those events in those same communities in 2021. . . .

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NCAA will furlough about 60 staff members from its office in Indianapolis. They’ll be gone for between three and eight weeks starting later this month and running through January. . . . Senior management people have taken a 20 per cent cut in pay. . . .

The South African Ice Hockey Federation has pulled its U-20 men’s hockey team from the Division III championship that is scheduled to be played in Mexico City, Jan. 10-17. The tournament now will featured the host team and clubs from Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Israel and Turkey. . . .

Brandon’s three high school football teams won’t be playing this season, not even if the Winnipeg high school league is able to get off the ground. “We aren’t playing, plain and simple,” Neelin High head coach Rob Cullen told Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun. “We have already made our voice known that we will play in the spring as long as everything tapers down. I’m not going to put my athletes, my athletes’ families or anybody else at risk to play the sport of football at this time.”


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Jokerit, the Helsinki-based team that plays in the KHL, was to have opened the regular season against host Dinamo Minsk on Thursday. Minsk is in Belarus, the site of a great deal of political unrest of late. . . . Jokerit didn’t show up for its flight to Minsk, and the KHL later announced that the game had been forfeited to Dinamo Minsk. . . . According to newsnowfinland.fi, “Jokerit have faced growing pressure this week over their decision to travel to Belarus, amid an ongoing brutal crackdown against democracy protesters by regime forces. The club’s official supporters association Eteläpääty Ry says they’re very happy with the decision to cancel Thursday night’s game, after calling for a boycott of home matches if the fixture went ahead as planned.” . . . That story is right here. . . .

There are all kinds of political angles to this story. For starters, Jokerit has Russian owners with ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. . . . The hosting duties for the 2021 IIHF World championship are scheduled to be shared between Belarus and Latvia. However, Latvia has said it won’t take part if Belarus is involved. . . . In other words, this story is far from over.


Bacon


Two WHL players — F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings — have signed one-year contracts with Karlskrona HK, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra. . . . Erik Belin, Karlskrona HK’s general manager, said in a news release that the club “gets this opportunity as we live in a troubled time and players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever launched! These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft.” . . . Greig had 26 goals and 34 assists in 56 games with Brandon last season. . . . McClennon put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 42 games with the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a shoulder injury. . . . Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft and are expected to be selected somewhere in the first two rounds. . . . The HockeyEttan Södra season opens on Oct. 3, with Karlskrona scheduled to play its first game on Oct. 4. . . . Both players are believed to have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to return to the WHL, which hopes to open its regular season on Dec. 4.


JUST NOTES: Tali Campbell has left the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after one season as their general manager. He had been with the Clippers since Nov. 28, 2018 when he signed on as director of business operations. He took over as GM on Dec. 18, 2019. . . . The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League now is aiming to open its regular season on Sept. 21 or Sept. 28. This comes after it earlier had said it have four potential openings dates — Sept. 7 for a 48-game season, Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40) or Dec. 14 (32).


Scattershooting on Saturday night while chuckling over Pop’s latest thoughts . . .

Scattershooting

The NHL told its teams on Saturday that they could restrict admission to their dressing rooms in an attempt to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. . . . The league chose NHLnot to impose the restrictions, while leaving the decision up to each of its 31 teams. . . . If a team chooses to close its dressing room to the media, coaches and players will be made available in interview areas. . . . Earlier in the day, the New York Islanders, who lost to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 in OT, enforced the media restriction. “We will . . . pro-act to what we’re all going through to try and prevent as much potential associations with anybody who somehow contracted something,” Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders’ president and general manager, said.“We cannot control the amount of press that go in the room who have credentials, who come from everywhere. It’d be different if we knew the people.”

At the same time, the Washington Capitals and Penguins had their dressing rooms open after a Saturday afternoon game in Pittsburgh, which the visitors won, 5-2, and the Anaheim Ducks opened their room to the media after a practice session. The San Jose Sharks didn’t open their room after a pratice, and the Dallas Stars kept their room closed after a 1-0 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators. The Los Angeles Kings also kept their room closed after beating the visiting Minnesota Wild, 7-3.

Later Saturday, the New York Rangers announced that their dressing room will be closed, while Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on Hockey Night in Canada that the NHL is expected to make the closure league-wide at some time over the next couple of days.

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The WHL and its 22 teams won’t have to act to restrict media from dressing rooms because that’s something that happened prior to the 2002-03 season.

The WHL’s media policy, in place since then, reads in part: “The dressing rooms of each team are considered restricted access — no access is granted without the permission of the team concerned. Access to the dressing room, by the media or other personnel, is strictly at the discretion of each team.”

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Among cancellations related to the COVID-019 virus announced Saturday were the 2020 world women’s hockey championship and the Arctic Winter Games.

The IIHF pulled the plug on the women’s championship that would have brought 10 Halifaxwomenteams to Halifax and Truro, N.S., from March 31 through April 10. It’s expected that Halifax and Truro will play host to the 2021 tournament. The decision to cancel this year’s tournament was made during a conference call on Saturday. . . . The 2003 women’s championship, which was scheduled for Beijing, was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak.

From The Hockey News:

“The Women’s World Championship is also the seventh event the IIHF has cancelled this week. . . . International hockey’s governing body announced Monday the 2020 U18 World Championship Div. II Group B tournament in Bulgaria was set to be cancelled. Other events cancelled included U18 World Championship Div. II Group A in Tallinn, Estonia; U18 World Championship Div. III Group A in Istanbul, Turkey; U18 World Championship Div. III Group B in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; Women’s World Championship Div. I Group B in Katowice, Poland; and Women’s World Championship Div. II Group A in Jaca, Spain. Those decisions came on the recommendation of the IIHF’s medical committee.”

The men’s world championship, scheduled for Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, from May 8-24, remains a go, at least for now. Rene Fasel, the IIHF’s president, has said the tournament would be cancelled rather than play in empty arenas.

Also still on tap, at least for now, is the men’s U-18 World championship that is scheduled for Plymouth, Mich., from April 16 through April 26.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Arctic Winter Games that were to have been held in Whitehorse, from March 15 through March 21, also were cancelled. The event would have drawn more than 2,000 participants, some of them from such countries as Finland, Greenland, Norway and Russia. . . . Catherine Elliott, Yukon’s acting chief medical officer of health, had recommended the move.

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Daryl Wolski, a player agent with 2112 Hockey Agency who specializes in international placements, had four interesting tweets on Saturday:

“NLA and NLB leagues in Switzerland may considering cancelling both seasons on March 15.”

“KHL and VHL to meet to discuss 2020-21 season potential options for teams based in China.”

“Asia Hockey League will stream final playoff games and will have no fans allowed.”

“NLA teams in Switzerland get 1.6 millions Swiss (about Cdn $2.2 million) per team for TV rights therefore will consider playing with no fans.”


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, and Gregg Popovich, who fills the same position with the San Antonio Spurs, are men of strong opinions, opinions they aren’t afraid to share.

And, I say, good for them.

On Friday, Kerr, along with players Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, attended an anti-gun rally in Oakland that shone a spotlight on, what Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, called “the city’s progress in combatting gun violence.”

Kerr told Ostler: “I do some work with the Giffords Center. Gabby Giffords was there, the former congresswoman from Arizona, who has become a friend. We put together the event with the Giffords Center. It was really a chance for us to learn what Oakland is doing to reduce gun violence, and it’s remarkable. They’re doing work that is groundbreaking, they’ve reduced gun violence by 50 percent over the last five years.”

Ostler’s story is right here.

Meanwhile, Popovich was, according to Kristian Winfield and Dennis Young of the New York Post, ripping “into Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus.”

Popovich said: “I think most people understand the situation we’re in. Anything we can do in any facet of our lives, either as groups or individuals that can bring honor to our country, that can make us not be embarrassed about the way our government performs its job, would be wonderful.”

“Today,” Popovich said on Friday, “it was our president blaming Barack Obama for the fact that we don’t have the (testing) kits that we need right now. Seriously.”

Popovich then came up with a quote for all-time. “I think,” Popovich said, “he thinks Barack Obama tripped Mary Decker.”

In the 1984 Olympic Summer Games, Decker fell in the 3,000-metre race.

The Post’s story is right here.



The Kootenay Ice are gone. Again. . . . This time it’s the Ice from the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. The 14-year-old franchise, which played out of Trail, has been suspended by BC Hockey, apparently because of low player numbers. . . . Keegan Goodrich, BC Hockey’s vice-president of communications, told Jim Bailey of the Trail Daily Times: “It’s not cancelled; we just aren’t operating it until numbers change.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


The WHL honoured a couple of familiar faces with Distinguished Service Awards this weekend. . . . Bernie Burtney, the supervisor of off-ice officials for the Saskatoon Blades, was saluted on Friday night. Burtney has been a volunteer with the Blades for 30 seasons. . . . On Saturday night, it was Dean (Scooter) Vrooman’s turn to be honoured. Vrooman, who has retired, spent 32 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, and was the team’s radio voice for 26 of those. He also handled corporate sponsorships and made numerous appearances on behalf of the club in the community. . . . The WHL presents two such awards each season, one to someone from each conference who has made “an extraordinary contribution.” . . . Perhaps next season the WHL will consider honouring the late Pat Rozek, who was the Kamloops Blazers’ scorekeeper for 25 seasons at the time of his death on Dec. 22, 2016, at the age of 64.

Lamb, Matvichuk talk about Cougars . . . Montgomery sets Raiders’ record . . . Søgaard, Tigers shock Silvertips

MacBeth

F Nikita A. Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been released by mutual agreement by Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). He had one goal in 37 games. He also had four goals and four assists in nine games with Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk (Russia, MHL, the top junior league). . . . Popugayev started the season with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) and was assigned to their junior team, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (Russia, MHL), where he had two goals and an assist in three games. CSKA traded Popugayev to Amur on Sept. 9.


ThisThat

Mark Lamb, in his first season as general manager of the Prince George Cougars, worked his first game as head coach on Friday night in a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna.

That loss left the Cougars riding a 12-game losing skid (0-9-3) was they head for Langley, PrinceGeorgeB.C., and a Sunday afternoon appointment with the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants.

The Giants won twice in Prince George this week — 4-2 on Tuesday and 4-3 in OT on Wednesday.

The Cougars fired head coach Richard Matvichuk, who was in the last season of a three-year contract, after Wednesday’s game.

Lamb and Matvichuk talked about the move with Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen.

Here’s Lamb: “This has been ongoing for a while — I think it was inevitable that something was going to happen (Wednesday) night, win or lose. At the start of the (season) we talked about a lot of development and getting better all the time and we seemed to be stagnant and just kind of not getting better.

“It’s a lengthy streak and it’s hard on everybody — the coaches, the owners, office staff, everybody. It’s not a fun time and you just can’t keep it going. You have to do something to make it change.

“Whether he had one year or two years left was irrelevant on how we were thinking.”

Here’s Matvichuk: “When you go all-in, like we did two years ago, and you take a look at how many players were drafted in the last five years who aren’t even playing in the WHL, regardless of whether it’s a first-rounder or a seventh-rounder, the development curve wasn’t there.

“We knew as an organization last (season) when we decided to go into our rebuild it was going to be a struggle, and it was a struggle. We’re not far off where me and the coaching staff thought we’d be, right around 20 or 25 (wins) and fighting for that last playoff spot this year and that’s exactly where we’re at. Going through the season our goal was to get better every day, the playoffs was never an issue, it was about developing these kids to get ready for the next three years. It wasn’t about winning and losing, it was about making these players better every day and I truly believe that’s what we did.”

Clarke’s complete and thorough story is right here.


The AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines and Gord Thibodeau, their vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, have parted company. . . . Assistant coach Shawn Martin has taken over as interim GM/head coach. . . . “After 25 years of coaching, I have reached the inevitable point of hockey burnout,” Thibodeau said in a news release. “Moving forward I will take some time to rest, recharge and re-evaluate my future within the game of hockey.” . . . Thibodeau is the winningest head coach in WHL history, having put up 889 regular-season victories. . . . The Wolverines went into Friday at 19-30-2, good for seventh in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North. . . . Thibodeau, 55, has been coaching in the AJHL since 1994 spending time with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, Lloydminster Blazers, St. Albert Saints, Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Lloydminster Bobcats and the Wolverines. . . . He also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four different occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


D Kyle Chernenkoff had his BCHL playing career come to an end in January when Trailanother brain injury forced him to retire from the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . An alternate captain, Chernenkoff, 20, now is a member of the Trail coaching staff. . . . “It wasn’t really a hard decision to make,” Chernenkoff told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times. “It was a decision made for me by the doctors. It was a hard pill to swallow so I took a couple days to come to terms with it myself, and then transitioning into the coaching and being with the team made it easier for me to make that transition.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ben McCartney scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the BrandonWKregularvisiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . Brandon (23-21-7) had lost its previous two games. It now is six points from a playoff spot. . . . Swift Current (10-37-4) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Wheat Kings, who were 0-6 on the PP, fired 55 shots at Broncos G Riley Lamb, who is from Rivers, which is 30 km northwest of Brandon. . . . F Baron Thompson (6) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 17:49 of the first period, and D Braden Schneider (8) made it 2-0 at 13:48 of the second. . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (13) got Swift Current’s first goal, at 18:48. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (10) got the Broncos to OT with a goal at 18:40 of the third period. Yes, Lamb was on the bench for the extra attacker at the time. . . . McCartney, the second shooter in the first round, got the winner. . . . Brandon had a 21-6 edge in first-period shots, and it was 19-6 in the second period. . . . Brandon remains without G Jiri Patera (leg), but did get back D Braydyn Chizen from suspension and F Linden McCorrister from an undisclosed injury.


F Noah Gregor scored three times and added an assist as the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertskated to an 8-2 victory over the Calgary Wranglers (aka Calgary Hitmen). . . Prince Albert (44-7-2) has won three in a row and leads the East Division by 18 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Calgary (27-20-5) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is fifth in the Central Division, one point behind the Red Deer Rebels. The Hitmen also hold down the Eastern Conference’s second-wild card spot. . . . This was the third game of the three-game Corral Series in which the Hitmen saluted the three teams that have called the Corral home — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers. . . . The Raiders swept the four-game season series, the first time in franchise history that they have done that with Calgary. . . . The Raiders took control of this one by scoring the game’s first four goals. . . . F Dante Hannoun (25) got it started, on a PP, at 7:33 of the first period, with F Cole Fonstad making it 2-0 at 8:37. . . . Gregor upped that to 3-0 at 3:12 of the second period, and D Sergei Sapego (8) made it 4-0 at 3:33. . . . F Riley Stotts (16) scored for Calgary at 16:20, but the Raiders opened the third period with four straight goals to take an 8-1 lead. . . . Fonstad, who has 24 goals, finished with two goals and three assists, giving him his first career five-point game. . . . Gregor completed his second career hat trick with his side’s last two goals. He has 33 goals. . . . F James Malm (22) scored Calgary’s second goal on a penalty shot at 17:03 of the third. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton left in the first period after being involved in a collision with Raiders F Brett Leason. McNaughton had skated out to the hash marks in pursuit of a puck that Leason was chasing. That meant that Carl Stankowski came off the bench to see his first playing time since Nov. 23 when he suffered an ankle injury. . . . McNaughton stopped five of seven shots in 8:58, with Stankowski giving up six goals on 38 shots in 51:02. . . . Prince Albert got 21 saves from G Ian Scott. . . . F Sean Montgomery of the Raiders, who is from Calgary, played in his 331st regular-season game to set a franchise record. F Brett Novak (2000-06) had held the previous record. . . . Montgomery, 20, was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He has played 65, 72, 69, 72 and now 53 games in each of his regular-seasons. . . . Montgomery had one assist last night, and now has 134 points, including 64 goals, in 331 games. This season, he has career highs in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49). . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders sat out Game 2 of a three-game suspension. . . . The Hitmen are without D Dakota Krebs, D Egor Zamula, F Jake Kryski and F Hunter Campbell.


D Josh Brook scored 35 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 4-3 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Moose Jaw (29-13-8) had lost its previous two games. It is third in the East Division, six points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (27-15-10) has points in four straight (2-0-2). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Warriors, who got 47 saves from G Adam Evanoff, were 3-3 on the PP. . . . F Jake Elmer (21) put the Hurricanes ahead at 5:20 of the first period, only to have Brook tie it at 8:23. . . . Lethbridge went ahead 3-1 on goals from D Calen Addison (9), at 8:54, and F Taylor Ross (25), on a PP, at 0:19 of the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida, who also had two assists, got Moose Jaw into a tie with two second-period PP goals, at 6:53 and 15:54. He’s got 23 goals. . . . Brook, who also had two assists, won it with his 12th goal of the season. . . . The Warriors got three assists from F Brayden Tracey. . . . Elmer added two assists to his goal for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-5 on the PP. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tristin Langan back after he served a one-game suspension, but now is without D Jett Woo, who will sit for two games after taking a charging major and game misconduct in a 6-1 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday. Woo also will miss tonight’s game in Red Deer against the Rebels.


D Ryker Evans scored at 2:37 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in PatsRed Deer. . . Regina (15-36-3) is 26 points from a playoff spot with 14 games remaining. . . . Red Deer (28-18-4) has lost four straight (0-3-1). It is fourth in the Central Division, four points out of third and one up on the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Red Deer went up 1-0 when F Cam Hausinger (17) scored at 1:35 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it on F Ty Kolle’s 12th goal, on a PP, at 2:39. . . . F Brett Davis (16) put Red Deer back in front, on a PP, at 10:14. . . . Regina tied it when F Logan Nijhoff (4) scored at 15:24. . . . Evans won it when he scored his first WHL goal on a PP. A 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, Evans scored in his 31st games. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel drew an assist on his club’s second goal to tie the franchise’s career record of 161. He now shares it with F Arron Asham (1994-98). . . . Regina had D Tyson Feist back after a four-game absence, while F Brandon Dubinsky completed a four-game suspension by missing this game. . . . The Rebels had D Alex Alexeyev back in their lineup. He missed six games since last playing on Jan. 19.


Freshman F Lukas Svejkovsky had a goal and two assists, and veteran F Tristen Nielsen Vancouverhad two goals and an assist, to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (36-13-3) has won four in a row, including the last three on the road. . . . The Giants now are 20-3-2 against the other B.C. Division teams. They lead the division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kamloops (20-26-5) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets, who are to visit Kamloops tonight. The Blazers also are one point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Svejkovsky, who opened the scoring on Jan. 30 when the Giants won, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops, did it again, this time at 16:07 of the first period. It was his sixth goal of the season. . . . F Connor Zary (13) pulled Kamloops even, on a PP, at 12:33 of the second period. . . . The Giants won it on two goals from Nielsen in the third period. He got his eighth goal at 12:44, then added insurance, on a PP, at 14:42. Both goals came off slick passes from F Jadon Joseph, with Svejkovsky getting the secondary assist each time. . . . Nielsen also had an assist on Svejkovsky’s goal. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner, who finished with 26 saves, appeared to be shaken up halfway through the third period when he stumbled and went down on his own behind the Giants’ net. Mike Burnstein, the athletic therapist, went out to chat with Miner as he was stretching his irons, but the goaltender stayed in and finished up. . . . The Blazers got 31 stops from G Dylan Ferguson. . . . Each team was 1-6 on the PP as both goaltenders stood tall. . . . With F Ryley Appelt still out with a finger injury incurred in a fight, the Blazers had F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, in the lineup for his sixth game of the season. Stankoven plays for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He leads the league in goals (40), assists (36) and points (76), all in 31 games. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi missed this one as he began serving a three-game suspension. . . . D Dallas Hines was one of Vancouver’s scratches. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw played in his 300th regular-season game. The team captain, he has played 95 games with Vancouver, after starting his career by playing 179 with the Victoria Royals, then 26 with the Red Deer Rebels.


F Mark Liwiski broke a 3-3 tie in the third period as the Kelowna Rockets scoured the KelownaRocketsgame’s last three goals to get past the visiting Prince George Cougars, 4-3. . . . Kelowna (22-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Prince George (16-31-6) has lost 12 in a row (0-9-3) and is eight points from a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from D Cole Moberg (11), on a PP, at 13:13, and F Josh Curtis, at 16:13. . . . F Nolan Foote halved Kelowna’s deficit while shorthanded, at 18:14. . . . Curtis stretched the lead to 3-1 with his 11th goal, on a PP, at 19:07. . . . D Cayde Augustine pulled the Rockets to within a goal with his his first goal of the season, on a PP, at 9:20 of the second period. . . . That also was Augustine’s first WHL point and came in his 28th game. He’s a 17-year-old from Airdrie, Alta. . . . Foote’s 28th goal, at 8:05 of the third period, tied it, and Liwiski won it with his sixth goal, at 12:10. . . . G Roman Basran came on in relief for the Rockets and stopped all 15 shots he faced through two periods to earn the victory. . . . G Taylor Gauthier, Prince George’s starter, left the game at 9:05 of the third period with an injury. There wasn’t a penalty on the play. He had stopped 17 of 20 shots. Tyler Brennan, 15, came on to make his WHL debut, and stopped four of five shots. . . . Brennan, from Winnipeg, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. He is on the roster with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Kelowna F Conner Bruggen-Cate completed a two-game suspension by sitting out.


The Portland Winterhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the PortlandSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Portland (33-15-5) is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Seattle (20-26-6) has lost two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 44th goal at 2:07 of the first period. . . . D John Ludvig (4) made it 2-0 at 10:41. . . . F Lane Gilliss (13) upped the lead to 3-0 at 11:18 of the second period. . . . Seattle cut into the deficit at 16:13 of the third period as F Matthew Wedman (26) scored, on a PP. . . . F Josh Paterson’s 20th goal, into an empty net, wrapped it up for the Winterhawks. . . . Seattle was 1-6 on the PP; Portland was 0-2. . . . G Shane Farkas earned the victory with 25 saves, one more than Seattle’s Cole Schwebius. . . . Farkas now is 9-1-0 in his career against Seattle. . . . Portland continues to play without F Cody Glass (knee). . . . Seattle D Simon Kubicek left in the first period and didn’t return. He is expected to miss some time with an undisclosed injury. . . . D Jarret Tyszka was back in Seattle’s lineup after missing a couple of games, but F Nolan Volcan remains out. . . . Attendance on a stormy night was announced as 2,688.


F Ethan McIndoe scored two goals and added two assists, and D Nolan Reid had a goal SpokaneChiefsand three helpers, as the Spokane Chiefs dumped the visiting Victoria Royals, 8-3. . . . Spokane (28-17-6) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Victoria (26-22-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Victoria actually held a 3-2 lead late in the first period, but then surrendered the game’s last six goals. . . . The Chiefs held a 49-31 edge in shots, including 20-14 in the first period and 21-8 in the third. They were 4-8 on the PP and won 46 of 74 faceoffs. . . . Spokane F Luc Smith (23) tied the game 3-3 at 17:45 of the first period. . . . McIndoe, who has 12 goals, broke the tie at 8:55, and Spokane later added four third-period goals. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored his seventh goal of the season for Spokane, and it was the 100th of his career. . . . Spokane F Connor Gabruch, who didn’t score for the first 34 games of his freshman season, scored his second goal in two games. . . . F Jake McGrew (23) and F Luke Toporowski (16) added goals for the winners, who in the third period scored three times on the PP and once while shorthanded. . . . Reid, who has two four-point games during his 315-game career, now has 12 goals this season. . . . D Mitchell Prowse (3), F Kaid Oliver (22) and F Kody McDonald, on a PP, scored for the Royals, who began a five-game road swing with this one.


F Parker AuCoin scored three times and added two assists to lead the Tri-City Americans tri-cityto a 7-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (28-19-3) has won three straight games. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Spokane Chiefs. The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, 13 points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kootenay (11-34-8) has lost two in a row. . . . F Peyton Krebs (18) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 6:22 of the first period, with AuCoin tying it, on a PP, at 11:49. . . . The Ice then took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Cole Muir (11), at 15:37, and F Holden Kodak (1), at 16:33. Holden, a 17-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., got his first WHL goal in his 40th game, 38 of them this season. . . . The Americans scored the games next five goals to take control. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (19) made it a one-goal game at 17:05. . . . F Krystof Hrabik scored while shorthanded at 13:38 of the second period to tie the score, and AuCoin’s 29th goal gave Tri-City the lead at 14:53. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (4) and AuCoin, with his 30th goal, added insurance before the period ended. . . . In the third period, Hrabik got his 13th goal for the winners, with F Jakin Smallwood (10) counting for the ice. . . . AuCoin enjoyed his first career hat trick and his first five-point game.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 41 shots to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers Logo Officialhost Everett Silvertips. . . . Medicine Hat (30-18-4) has won three in a row. The Tigers are tied for second with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Everett (37-13-2) had won its past four games. It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks, with the Silvertips holding a game in hand. . . . Søgaard, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Denmark, was hot right from the start, as he stopped 17 shots in the first period. . . . F James Hamblin scored the game’s only goal, his 29th, on a PP at 16:40 of the second period. . . . Everett got 28 saves from G Dustin Wolf. . . . This was a battle of two of the league’s best goaltenders. . . . Søgaard now is 14-4-4, 2.24, .933. . . . Wolf is 33-12-1, 1.81, .931.


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Letter-writing time in Ontario . . . Jones close to KIJHL milestone . . . Raiders’ victory streak now at 10


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So . . . early in the week, David Branch, the OHL’s commissioner, penned an open letter directed at the Ontario government, stating that his league’s players should be exempt ohlfrom the province’s minimum-wage legislation because they are student-athletes and not employees.

On Tuesday, Michael Tibollo, Ontarios’ minister of tourism, culture and sport, wrote an open letter pledging his support and, presumably, that of the provincial government.

Then it seems it was the turn of Goldblatt Partners, the Toronto law firm that represents an untold number of former and present players who filed a class-action lawsuit against the OHL — and the WHL — asking that, among other things, players be paid minimum wage.

Joshua Mandryk, a lawyer with Goldblatt, wrote that OHL teams are owned by companies “who make money, big money in most cases, from the players’ work — work that the owners and the media like to call ‘play’ . . . Virtually all (OHL teams) are owned by private companies that are able to hide their books, and their profits, from the players, from their employees.

“Other multi-million dollar employers don’t get to avoid paying the employees who drive their revenue. Paying wages is part of doing business. Why should the OHL be any different?”

Rick Westhead of TSN has more on this story right here.


Terry Jones, the head coach of the junior B Beaver Valley Nitehawks, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, went into Friday night with 998 career victories — 759 of the regular-season variety and 239 from playoff games. . . . Jones, 52, is in his 23rd season with the Nitehawks. Imagine that . . . 23 seasons with one team. Amazing! . . . As a player, he spent two seasons (1982-84) with the Portland Winterhawks.

“When I started coaching, well before the Nitehawks, it was a ‘winning is everything’ attitude,” Jones told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times. “Now I’ve flip-flopped and believe coaching is more about developing young men into adults and good citizens, and hockey is the vehicle we do that. As a result of that attitude, we’ve won a lot of games, we’ve won some championships.

“When you change your goals of winning to just building a good team, a good group of guys that care about each other, I think anything can happen.”

Bailey’s complete story is right here and it is a great read about a remarkable man.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Parker Gavlas, 19, from the Regina Pats for an eighth-round pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . The Pats, who acquired D Kyle Walker, 18, from the Everett Silvertips on Thursday, were carrying nine defencemen, so this kind of move was hardly a surprise. At the same time, the Oil Kings’ roster included only six healthy defencemen. . . . Gavlas, from Saskatoon, had one assist in 12 games with the Pats. Last season, he was pointless in eight games with Regina.


The AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats have fired general manager/head coach Travis Clayton. He was in his second season with the Bobcats. . . . According to a post on the team’s website, “IHD and Lance Ward will provide interim coaching support . . . while the organization seeks a new head coach and general manager.” . . . IHD is Impact Hockey Development and Ward, a former WHLer (Red Deer Rebels, 1994-98), is a lead instructor in Lloydminster. . . . At the time of the move, the Bobcats were 5-13-1 and in last place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North Division. . . . On Friday night, the Bobcats dropped a 6-2 decision to the host Sherwood Park Crusaders.


Dinamo Minsk of the KHL has fired head coach Gordie Dwyer, along with assistant coaches Sergey Stas and Konstantin Koltsov, goaltending coach Andrey Kudin and trainer Gennady Lyango. . . . Dinamo was seven points out of a Western Conference playoff spot at the time. . . . Dwyer, 40, was in his second season as Dinamo’s head coach. . . . No replacements were named.


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FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

In Brandon, the Wheat Kings erased a 2-0 second-period deficit with five straight goals BrandonWKregularen route to a 6-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Brandon improved to 9-4-5. This was Brandon’s first home game since Oct. 20. The Wheat Kings went 2-3-2 on a seven-game trek that included a 2-2-1 record in the B.C. Division. . . . Red Deer (11-5-1) had won its previous three games. . . . F Brandon Hagel (13) and F Arshdeep Bains (3) gave Red Deer a 2-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (4) got the Wheat Kings started at 10:10 and F Stelio Mattheos (17) tied it on a PP at 15:26. That was his 100th regular-season goal. Mattheos also had two assists. . . . D Neithan Salame’s first goal, at 17:04, made it 3-2 and F Marcus Sekundiak (2) scored what proved to be the winner at 8:41 of the third. . . . The Wheat Kings got 40 stops from G Jiri Patera. . . . Brandon lost F Linden McCorrister to a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Red Deer F Jacob Herauf at 4:47 of the first period. Herauf needed help getting off the ice and was taken to hospital “where he remained for several hours” with an undisclosed injury, according to Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.


F Noah Gregor, F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery each scored twice as the PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 6-2. . . . The Raiders (17-1-0) have won 10 in a row. . . . The Broncos (3-15-1) had points in each of their previous three games (2-0-1). . . . F Eric Houk (2) got the Broncos to within a goal, at 3-2, at 18:17 of the second period. The Raiders, who had a 43-19 edge in shots, put it away with the next three goals. . . . Houk’s father, Rod, was a goaltender who played two seasons (1987-89) with the Regina Pats. . . . McDonald (3), playing his first game after missing eight, got his second of the night at 18:31 of the second. . . . Gregor (8) upped it to 5-2 at 2:11 of the third period. . . . Gregor also had three assists for a five-point outing. . . . F Brett Leason of the Raiders ran his point streak to 18 games with an assist on F Sean Montgomery’s eighth goal just eight seconds into the second period. Leason has at least one point in each of the Raiders’ 18 games this season. . . . Montgomery scored his ninth goal at 14:13 of the third period, on a PP. . . . The Raiders brought in D Nolan Allan for his fourth game and he picked up his first WHL point, an assist, on McDonald’s first goal. Allan, 15, was the third overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Davidson, Sask., Allan plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Broncos were without D Matthew Stanley (ill) and D Garrett Sambrook (undisclosed injury). . . . Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com was at the game and has a story right here.


F Jake Leschyshyn scored three goals and F Nick Henry had four assists to lead the host PatsRegina Pats to a 5-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Regina (6-12-0) has won two in a row. . . . Tri-City (10-5-0) had won its previous six games. This was Game 6 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans, who are 5-0-0 since last playing at home on Oct. 19. They next are scheduled to play at home on Nov. 23. . . . The Pats got started 30 seconds into the first period when F Austin Pratt (9) scored. . . . Leschyshyn made it 2-0 at 2:36, scored his second at 15:53 of the second period, for a 4-0 lead, and completed the hat trick with his 12th goal of the season at 7:27 of the third. . . . Regina got 39 saves from G Max Paddock. . . . Pats D Aaron Hyman had three assists; he’s got four goals and 16 assists in 18 games. Last season, in 26 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds and 28 with Regina, he totalled three goals and 10 assists.


F Liam Keeler broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period and the Edmonton Oil Kings went EdmontonOilKingson to beat the Kootenay Ice, 5-2, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Oil Kings (11-7-1) have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Ice (6-10-3) has lost three in a row. . . . Kootenay erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game on F Jaeger White’s 11th goal at 9:01 of the second period. . . . Keeler’s third goal, at 19:01 of the second, stood up as the winner. . . . F Quinn Benjafield had a goal, his eighth, and two assists for Edmonton. . . . F Vince Loschiavo returned to Edmonton’s lineup after a five-game absence. . . . F Tyler Horstmann, 16, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Oil Kings, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. From Richmond, B.C., Horstmann plays for the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep team.


F Jadon Joseph of Lethbridge ran his point streak to 11 games as the Hurricanes doubled Lethbridgethe visiting Calgary Hitmen, 4-2. . . . Lethbridge (8-5-4) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Calgary (5-12-2) has lost three in a row. . . . Joseph scored the game’s first goal, his ninth, at 1:01 of the first period. He has nine goals and six assists during his streak. . . . D Calen Addison (4) gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead at 8:13 of the second period and D Alex Cotton (1) made it 3-1 at 12:31. . . . Each team was assessed one minor penalty. . . . Calgary had a 36-19 edge in shots, but Lethbridge G Reece Klassen was solid.


F Max Gerlach and F Gary Haden scored against their former team as the Saskatoon SaskatoonBlades beat the Tigers, 3-1, in Medicine Hat. . . . Saskatoon improved to 11-7-2. . . . The Tigers now are 9-8-2. . . . F Josh Williams (3) gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 10:03 of the first period. . . . Gerlach, who was acquired from the Tigers in January, got his 13th goal, on a PP, at 17:57 of the second period. . . . Haden’s fifth goal — his fourth with the Blades since being acquired in a deal this season — turned into the winner at 5:31 of the third. . . . This was the first appearance in Medicine Hat as visiting players by Gerlach and Haden. . . . F Logan Christensen, who went the other way in the Haden deal, was pointless. . . . The Blades got 35 stops from G Nolan Maier.


The Everett Silvertips scored five PP goals as they beat the Blazers, 6-1, in Kamloops. . . . EverettEverett (12-6-0) has won two straight. . . . Kamloops (6-8-2) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . At 10:32 of the second period, the Silvertips had a 6-0 lead and had outshot the Blazers, 22-3. . . . F Sean Richards (3) got Everett rolling, on a PP, at 4:02 of the first period. . . . F Akash Bains then scored twice, at 10:29 on a PP, and at 1:41 of the second, for a 3-0 lead. He’s got four goals. However, he wasn’t on the bench for the third period after leaving while appearing to favour a knee in the second. . . . Everett finished 5-for-8 on the PP. . . . The Silvertips got four assists from D Gianni Fairbrother. . . . When Max Palaga entered the game for Everett to start the second period, it marked the first time this season that a goaltender other than Dustin Wolf was in the Silvertips’ goal. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, spent last season with the Blazers, but was cut early this season. He was with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers when the Blazers dealt him to Everett on Oct. 29 for a sixth-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . Palaga stopped seven of eight shots, after Wolf turned aside all six shots he faced. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson was beaten six times on 22 shots. He came out at 10:32 of the second, with Rayce Ramsay going in to make his WHL debut. He was perfect in stopping 14 shots. . . . Ramsay, 17, is with the Blazers while G Dylan Garand is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. When Garand returns, Ramsay will go back to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . D Artyom Minulin, 20, had one assist in his debut with the Silvertips. He had been acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. This was Minulin’s first game after he had off-season shoulder surgery. . . . Part of the game was played with two referees and one linesman after Nick Bilko left with a knee injury. He was injured when he got caught up in traffic along the boards in the middle of the first period. Nick Panter entered late in the second period to replace Bilko. . . . Former Blazers head coach Guy Charron was in the press box, helping the team’s new coaching staff as an eye in the sky. He also has been on the ice during recent practices. . . . The Silvertips left immediately after the game as they are to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., tonight. Everett then returns to Kamloops for a Sunday evening game. The Blazers don’t play tonight.


The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-1 victory over the KelownaRocketsSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Rockets (8-10-0) have won four in a row and seven of their last nine. . . . Five of Kelowna’s victories have come on the road. . . . Seattle (7-7-2) has lost four in a row. . . . F Kyle Topping scored Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 10:44 of the first period. He ran his goal-scoring streak to five games and his point streak to 12 games. . . . D Libor Zabransky (2) upped it to 2-0 at 3:10 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (11) made it 3-0 at 4:57. Foote has eight goals in a six-game goal-scoring streak. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (7) scored for Seattle at 15:03 of the second. . . . Kelowna D Dalton Gally was hit with an interference major and game misconduct at 7:59 of the second period after a hit on Seattle F Jaxan Kaluski. . . . Kelowna is 4-0 since Adam Foote replaced the fired Jason Smith as head coach. . . . The Rockets opened a six-game road trip with this one; they’ll play those six games in nine nights. . . . The trip continues with games in Portland tonight and Sunday.


The host Victoria Royals scored nine seconds into the game and went on to a 7-5 victory VictoriaRoyalsover the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Royals (10-5-0) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Chiefs (8-7-3) have lost three in a row. . . . F Tarun Fizer (2) got the Royals going with the early goal. . . . The WHL record for fastest goal to start a game? Dean Sexsmith of the Seattle Thunderbirds scored five seconds into a 7-6 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars on Jan. 30, 1987. . . . The Royals went ahead 2-0 when F D-Jay Jerome scored at 1:55. . . . The Chiefs would trail 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4, but weren’t able to equalize. . . . Jerome, who also had an assist, got his second goal of the game, and 10th of the season, at 10:20 of the third period for a 6-4 lead and D Scott Walford (1) added insurance at 13:43. . . . The Royals got three assists from F Sean Gulka, who, as you will have noticed from the above tweet, had some fans in the stands. He went into the game with two assists in 11 regular-season games, eight of them with the Chiefs. . . . F Brandon Cutler added a goal, his fifth, and two assists for Victoria. . . . F Riley Woods scored twice and added an assist for Spokane. He’s got six goals and three assists over his past four games. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt (foot) is on the shelf for the second time this season. According to the team, this one could keep him out for up to six weeks. . . . F Dante Hannoun, who missed three games, and F Kaid Oliver, who missed one, both were back in the Royals’ lineup. . . . Hannoun scored his seventh goal and added an assist.


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