Reinhardt gets Wheaties closer to playoff spot. . . . Myskiw earns first clean sheet. . . . Blichfeld first to 50 goals, 100 points


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D Sahvan Khaira of the Everett Silvertips didn’t play against the Cougars in Prince whlGeorge on Monday as he sat out a one-game suspension that, according to the WHL, was “as a result of actions at Seattle” on Saturday night. . . . As almost always happens in these situations, the WHL didn’t make any further comment and no one else is talking. . . . However, one person who was at the game told Taking Note that Khaira had become involved in something and that “a number of police went rushing back stage” somewhere between five and 10 minutes after the three stars had been announced. . . . The Thunderbirds won the game, beating the Silvertips, 4-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle took 66 of the game’s 130 penalty minutes, with 96 of those minutes handed out in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . Khaira, 20, began his WHL career with the Thunderbirds, playing 77 games with them before being dealt to the Swift Current Broncos. The Silvertips acquired him from the Broncos on July 30, sending F Ethan O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft the other way.



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“The Kootenai River Valley is fertile and beautiful, splitting two mountain ranges as it pushes across the Canadian border,” writes Erica Curless for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “This is the home of James Porter Jr. It is also the ancestral home of his elders and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. In some ways, Porter meanders between two worlds just like the river. He was raised with one foot, or perhaps skate, across the border in Canada and one foot in Bonners Ferry. When he’s home in Boundary County, where he lives on the tiny 12.5-acre reservation with his family, he is just a regular teenager because not many in the small farm town know or care about hockey.” . . . You will find an an interesting look at the Kelowna Rockets goaltender right here. . . . Porter stopped 26 shots on Monday afternoon as the Rockets beat the Royals, 5-2, in Victoria.


MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders opened up a 4-0 lead early in the second period and hung on PrinceAlbertfor a 4-3 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Prince Albert (47-8-3) had lost two in a row (0-1-1). The Raiders will finish atop the East Division and the Eastern Conference. . . . Moose Jaw (31-16-8) remains third in the East Division, 12 points behind the Saskatoon Blades and with three games in hand. . . . Prince Albert is 4-1-0 in the season series; Moose Jaw is 1-3-1. . . . The Raiders got two goals and two assists from F Noah Gregor. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (13) made it 1-0 at 10:14 of the first period, and Gregor upped it to 2-0 at 15:06. . . . F Sean Montgomery (24) made it 3-0, on a PP, at 18:00. . . . Gregor’s 35th goal got it to 4-0 at 4:08 of the second period. . . . The Warriors made it interesting with three third-period goals — one from F Tristian Langan (41), at 8:31, and two PP scores from freshman F Brayden Tracey, at 18:31 and 19:54. . . . Tracey now has 27 goals. . . . The Raiders had a 40-23 edge in shots, including 20-6 in the first period. . . . The Raiders again were without G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason, both of whom have missed five games. They also scratched D Max Martin, who was struck on the helmet by a puck on Saturday. . . . Prince Albert had F Cole Nagy in the lineup. Nagy, 17, plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, and has 25 goals and 38 assists in 39 games. He played one game with the Raiders earlier in the season.


F Cole Reinhardt scored in OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 3-2 victory over the BrandonWKregularvisiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Brandon (27-22-7) has won four in a row to close within two points of the Red Deer Rebels, who hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Swift Current (10-40-5) has lost eight straight (0-6-2). . . . All three games between these teams in Brandon were 2-2 after regulation time. Brandon won once in OT and once in a shootout, with the Broncos winning a shootout. . . . On Monday, the Wheat Kings held a 42-14 edge in shots, including 16-2 in the third period, but Broncos G Isaac Poulter gave his guys a chance to win it. . . . F Ian Briscoe (3) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 9:55 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (3) tied it at 15:34 of the second period. . . . The Broncos went ahead 2-1 when F Owen Blocker (5) scored at 16:59. . . . Brandon forced OT on F Luka Burzan’s 34th goal, on a PP, at 7:51 of the third period. . . . Reinhardt won it with his 19th goal, at 4:01 of OT. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera stopped 12 shots. . . . Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, tweeted that the Broncos lost D Matthew Stanley, Blocker and F Carter Chorney “to a stomach bug” during the game. They also lost D Alex Moar to an apparent wrist injury in the third period.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three times before the game was five minute old and EdmontonOilKingswent on to beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-0. . . . Edmonton (32-18-8) leads the Central Division, by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Medicine Hat (31-22-5) has lost four in a row. It is third in the Central Division, three points behind Lethbridge and two ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The season series? Edmonton is 4-0-1; Medicine Hat is 1-2-2. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw stopped 38 shots to post his first career WHL shutout. . . . Myskiw’s shutout came in his 77th regular-season appearance, 38 of them with Edmonton. This season, he is 21-11-5, 2.74, .908. . . . Andrew Peard, the radio voice of the Oil Kings, tweeted that Myskiw now is 9-0-1, 2.14, .935 in starts against the Tigers, including playoffs. . . . F Scott Atkinson (9) gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead at 2:30 of the first period. . . . F Andrew Fyten (15) made it 2-0 just 21 seconds later. . . . F Vladimir Alistrov (9), who also had two assists, upped it to 3-0 at 4:14. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (12), on a PP, and F Vince Loschiavo (27) added third-period goals for Edmonton.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 5-2 Lethbridgevictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Lethbridge (30-17-10) is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Kootenay (11-37-8) has lost five straight. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 6-0-0. . . . After this one, the Ice’s stay in Cranbrook has five games remaining, all of them in March, and then it’s off to Winnipeg. . . . F Jaeger White (23) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 17:28 of the first period, and F Davis Murray (9) made it 2-0 at 2:37 of the second. . . . The visitors went ahead 3-2 on second-period goals from F Dylan Cozens (28), shorthanded, at 11:07; F Jordy Bellerive (26), on a PP, at 13:01; and F Jake Elmer (29), on another PP, at 13:38. . . . Cozens hadn’t scored in his previous 10 games. He also came up short on a first-period penalty shot. . . . Elmer ran his goal-scoring streak to six games; he has nine goals in that stretch. . . . F Taylor Ross (28), on a PP, and F Nick Henry (22) added insurance at 8:07 and 17:14 of the third period, respectively. . . . Henry also had two assists. . . . Lethbridge D Caden Addison had three assists for the second time in three games. . . . The Hurricanes were 3-5 on the PP; the Ice was 0-7. . . . Kootenay G Duncan McGovern, who last played on Jan. 6 but hasn’t been listed as injured, was on the bench backing up starter Curtis Meger. G Jesse Makaj was scratched. . . . McGovern, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, hadn’t even dressed for a game since Jan. 6. . . . Lethbridge outshot Kootenay, 48-29, including 38-19 through two periods.


G Dylan Ferguson stopped 37 shots to lead the host Kamloops Blazers to a 3-1 victory Kamloops1over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kamloops (22-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . . Tri-City (31-21-3) had won its previous three games. The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, and they are fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Blazers went ahead 1-0 as F Connor Zary scored at 10:02 of the first period. At that point, Kamloops had an 11-2 edge in shots. . . . Tri-City would outshoot the Blazers 36-18 the rest of the way but could only get one puck behind Ferguson. . . . Zary added his 18th goal — and fifth three games — at 15:38 of the first period. He’s got six goals and four assists in his past six games. . . . F Kyle Olson (20) scored for the Americans at 18:50 of the third period, with G Beck Warm on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Kamloops iced it with an empty-netter from F Brodi Stuart (16) with 13.6 seconds remaining. . . . The Blazers remain without injured forwards Ryley Appelt and Martin Lang. . . . The Americans headed for home immediately after the game because they are scheduled to meet the Red Deer Rebels in Kennewick, Wash., tonight. The Rebels haven’t played since Saturday, so will have been in Kennewick enjoying some R and R.


G Dustin Wolf turned aside 30 shots to backstop the Everett Silvertips to a 4-1 victory Everettover the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Everett (40-14-3) has won 40 games for a third straight season. It leads the Western Conference by two points over the Vancouver Giants, and has a seven-point lead over the Portland Winterhawks atop the U.S. Division. . . . Prince George (16-34-7) has lost 16 in a row (0-12-4). . . . The Silvertips took a 2-0 lead on  second-period PP goals from F Max Patterson (14), at 5:05, and D Gianni Fairbrother (10), at 7:42. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the Cougars to within a goal at 17:18, but F Reece Vitelli (7) got that one back for Everett just 39 seconds later. . . . F Jalen Price (5) got Everett’s last goal at 2:08 of the third period. . . . Wolf now is 35-13-2, 1.76, .934. . . .  D Joel Lakusta was back in the Cougars’ lineup after not having played since Jan. 27. . . . F Connor Dewar (ill) was among Everett’s scratches. The Silvertips also were without D Sahvan Khaira, who served a one-game WHL suspension.


F Joachim Blichfeld, the WHL’s leading scorer, struck for three goals and added an assist Portlandto lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Portland (36-16-6) had points in four straight (4-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Winterhawks went 3-0-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Vancouver (39-14-3) had won its previous seven games. It leads the B.C. Division, and is two points shy of the Western Conference-leading Silvertips. . . . Portland was 4-0-0 in the season series; Vancouver was 0-3-1. . . . Blichfeld scored the game’s first three goals — at 12:05 and 14:54 of the first period, and 1:00 of the second. The first one came on a PP. This was his fifth career hat trick. . . . D Dallas Hines (7) got Vancouver on the scoreboard at 7:37, but Portland F Seth Jarvis (15) restored the three-goal lead, on a PP, at 2:23 of the third period. . . . F Justin Sourdif (17), who also had two assists, got the Giants back to within two goals at 3:52. . . . F Reece Newkirk (21) gave Portland a 5-2 lead at 6:09, before F Davis Koch (23) scored for Vancouver at 18:44. . . . Blichfeld, who has put up back-to-back hat tricks, leads the WHL in goals (51) and points (102). . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, notes that Blichfeld is the 24th player in  franchise history to score 50 goals in a season and just the third import player, after F Oliver Bjorkstrand, who did it twice, and F Joe Balej. . . . Kemper also points out that Blichfeld is the 35th Portland skater to reach 100 points in a season, and the second import, after Bjorkstrand who did it twice. . . . Blichfeld, who has eight points in two games, has nine more goals than F Mark Kastelic of the Calgary Hitmen, and he leads the points race by 14 over F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Portland G Shane Farkas stopped 28 shots in improving to 5-0-0 in career games against Vancouver. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Cody Glass, rather than have him play three games in fewer than 48 hours in his return from a knee injury. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without D Brendan De Jong and D Matthew Quigley.


The Kelowna Rockets broke a 2-2 with three third-period goals as they beat the Rockets, KelownaRockets5-2, in Victoria. . . . Kelowna (24-28-5) had lost its previous two games. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, eight points behind Victoria and four in front of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . Victoria (29-24-3) had won two in a row. . . . The same teams will play again tonight in Victoria. . . . D Lassi Thomson (16) put the Rockets out front at 9:04 of the first period. . . . F Kody McDonald (16) tied it, on a PP, at 4:20 of the second period. . . . D Schael Higson (4), playing his 300th regular-season game, gave Kelowna the lead at 15:32. He also has played with the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Royals tied it when F Kaid Oliver (25) scored at 8:33 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got the game’s last three goals, from F Kyle Topping (21), at 10:07; F Mark Liwiski (8), at 16:32; and F Conner Bruggen-Cate (5), at 17:53. . . . The Rockets lead the season series, 5-2-0, including 3-0-0 in Victoria. . . . The Royals lost D Jake Kustra to a charging major and game misconduct at 18:46 of the third period.


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Trials and tribulations of WHL scout . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark Portland win . . . Some Saturday highlights, too


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With four weeks left in the WHL’s regular season, four teams have clinched playoff spots — the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Vancouver Giants and Portland whlWinterhawks.

However, not one of the eight first-round playoff matchups has been set in stone.

The Raiders, for example, will finish atop the Eastern Conference, so will draw the second wild-card team. That slot will go to any one of seven teams.

The winner of the Central Division will get the first wild-card team, which obviously has yet to be decided. As for the division pennant winner, well, all five teams remain in the chase.

Although it’s not official, at least not mathematically, the Saskatoon Blades will have home-ice advantage in a first-round series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades are headed for a second-place finish in the East Division, with the Warriors in third.

In the Western Conference, only one team is assured of where it will finish — when it’s over, the Giants will be atop the B.C. Division.

Vancouver also is tied with Everett atop the conference standings, and the Giants hold a game in hand.

The Victoria Royals almost certainly will finish second in the B.C. Division — they are 20 points behind Vancouver and 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets — but other than that it’s a roll of the dice.

Portland is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Silvertips and 10 ahead of the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna, and the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet know in which spots they will wind up.

The Prince George Cougars aren’t officially out of it, but they are 12 points from a playoff spot, riding a 15-game losing skid (0-11-4) and have only 12 games remaining.


So . . . you think you’d like to scout for a WHL team, do you?

Here’s an early Sunday evening posting on Facebook from Mike Fraser, the Everett EverettSilvertips’ head scout . . .

“The 10 things I’ve learned in my 12 hours (so far) at Saskatoon airport:

“1. Travelling in winter isn’t always made easier by flying instead of driving.

“2. When you are accommodating and agree to a 6:15 pm flight to help appease people going to Puerto Vallarta, the Flying Gods don’t necessarily have to make your 6:15 flight on time either (I’m now delayed two more hours).

“3. If your flight starts getting delayed in 5- or 10-minute increments starting 3-or-so hours before departure time, that’s a bad sign and start looking at other options.

“4. Trying to cancel a hotel room in Red Deer because you’re stuck in Saskatoon doesn’t mean the hotel in Red Deer won’t charge you.

“5. Guys need to stop texting while standing at a urinal….that’s just weird, and gross.

“6. I’ve now had 12 of my last 13 trips delayed, a dynasty not even Tom Brady can touch.

“7. Starbucks closes very early at Saskatoon airport.

“8. No matter how many times I see the Jets highlights from last night, they still lost.

“9. I’ve learned that one woman likes to tell her boyfriend when they can sleep together based on her “cycles.” No I didn’t ask, she told an entire section of us while on a very loud and apparently open phone call.

“10. I still refuse to drink Pilsner.

“Cheers my friends, here’s to hoping I get home tonight.”

Later Sunday, Fraser posted: “And we’re now cancelled . . . let’s try again tomorrow?”

To be continued . . .


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Behind three goals and an assist from F Joachim Blichfeld, the Portland Winterhawks Portlandclinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (35-16-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who have a game in hand. . . . The Winterhawks, who will be in the playoffs for a 10th straight season, have 11 games remaining, but only three of them are at home. . . . Seattle (23-28-6) had won its previous two games. It is in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . The Thunderbirds went 2-1-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . With three games remaining, Portland leads the season series (6-2-0); Seattle is (2-5-1). . . . F Josh Paterson (21) broke a 1-1 tie at 16:26 of the first period, and Blichfeld took it from there, scoring Portland’s last three goals. . . . Blichfeld, who recorded his fourth career hat trick, leads the WHL in goals (48) and points (98), in 57 games. His third goal of the game was the 100th regular-season goal. . . . F Cody Glass, playing his second game in two nights after missing eight games with a knee injury, had the primary assist on each of Blichfeld’s goals. Glass has 68 points, including 54 assists, in 36 games. . . . Blichfeld scored once on the PP, once while shorthanded and once at even strength. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 1-2. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman scored his 32nd goal, on a PP, to run his goal-scoring streak to six games. . . . The Winterhawks had a 52-36 edge in shots. . . . G Josh Hofer stopped 34 shots to earn the victory. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius turned aside 47 shots. . . . Portland head coach Mike Johnston posted his 350th regular-season coaching victory. He is 19th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Winterhawks will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan had a goal and four assists, and F Stelio Mattheos had three goals and an assist, as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 6-3. . . . Brandon (26-22-7) has won three in a row and now is four points from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot that is held by the Red Deer Rebels. . . . That second spot will mean a first-round clash with Prince Albert (46-8-3), which had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders have lost two in a row for the first time this season. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings went into Prince Albert and won, 5-4 in OT. . . . G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason remain out of the Raiders’ lineup. . . . Brandon was 3-9 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-4. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Cole Reinhardt, while F Justin Nachbaur scored twice for the Raiders.


F Tate Popple scored twice, and F Brayden Tracey had a goal and two assists, helping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (31-15-8) had lost its previous two games. The Warriors are second in the East Division and headed for a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Regina (16-38-3) hasn’t lost 40 games in regulation-time since 2004-05 when it finished 12-50-10. . . . Regina F Austin Pratt was credited with his 22nd goal when the Warriors scored an own goal with a delayed penalty about to be called on the Pats. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He has 62 points, including 25 goals, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors were credited with a 47-19 edge in faceoffs. . . . It was Hall of Fame weekend in Moose Jaw as F Shawn Limpright and F Brian Sutherby, both of whom played four seasons (1998-2002) there, were inducted into the Warriors’ shrine.


The Saskatoon Blades solidified their hold on second place in the East Division with a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Saskatoon (37-13-8) has points in 13 straight games (11-0-2). It is second in the division, 13 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders and 12 up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold four games in hand. . . . Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are headed for a first-round playoff meeting. They will meet twice more this regular season — on March 5 in Moose Jaw and March 10 in Saskatoon. The Blades lead the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Four of Lethbridge’s last four games will be against Medicine Hat, starting with a home-and-home on Friday (Lethbridge) and Saturday (Medicine Hat).


F Mark Kastelic scored three goals to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (30-21-5) has won two in a row. . . . The Hitmen beat the visiting Tigers, 3-1, on Friday night. . . . Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Medicine Hat and three behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen continued to hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (31-21-5) has lost three straight. . . . On Saturday, the Hitmen erased a 3-2 third-period deficit with the game’s last three goals. Kastelic had opened the game’s scoring with his 40th goal of the season in the first period. He added a pair of third-period PP goals, equalizing at 9:06 and adding insurance at 16:18. . . . In between, D Vladilsav Yeryomenko’s third goal, at 12:02, turned into the winner.


G David Tendeck stopped 22 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (39-13-3) has won seven in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals, who have 13 games remaining. . . . The Giants haven’t enjoyed a 40-victory regular season since 2011-12 when they finished 40-26-6. . . . Vancouver also is tied with the Everett Silvertips (39-14-3) for top spot in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (23-28-5) has lost two in a row. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, 10 points behind Victoria and four ahead of the Kelowna Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . The Rockets left Sunday on their final multi-game road trip of the season; they’ll play a doubleheader in Victoria this afternoon and Tuesday night, then meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday night. . . . The Rockets have three games left with Vancouver, two of them in Langley, B.C., and two with the Portland Winterhawks, both in Kelowna. . . . Tendeck has three shutouts this season, matching his total from last season.


G Joel Hofer turned aside 25 shots as his Portland Winterhawks blanked the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 2-0. . . . Portland (34-16-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). After beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2, on Sunday, the Winterhawks, who are second in the U.S. Division, are five points behind the Everett Silvertips. Portland and Everett only have one game remaining with each other. . . . Red Deer (29-21-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels are 1-2-1 on a U.S. Division swing that ends Tuesday night with a visit to the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (10) scored the game’s first goal, just 41 seconds into the third period. . . . Portland’s second goal was an empty-netter off the stick of F Cody Glass (14). Glass was playing in his first game after suffering a knee injury on Jan. 26. He missed eight games. . . . Hofer has four career shutouts, two with the Swift Current Broncos and two since his trade to Portland.


F Kody McDonald scored two goals in regulation time and one in a shootout as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. . . . One night earlier, the Royals won, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . Victoria (29-23-3) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, 20 points behind the Vancouver Giants and 10 in front of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-7) has lost 15 in a row (0-11-4). The Cougars are 12 points from a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. They are fifth in the B.C. Division, 12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George also is 13 points from a wild-cardspot. . . . McDonald, 20, played the first 232 games of his WHL career with the Cougars, who dealt him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him from the Raiders earlier this season. . . . McDonald, who has 15 goals, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 0:51 of the third period, then forced OT with a goal at 17:03. . . . He won the game when he closed out the third round of the shootout with a goal. . . . F Carson Miller, who was part of the Prince Albert-Victoria deal that included McDonald, also had two goals for the Royals, with F Josh Maser scoring twice for the Cougars. Those were Miller’s first goals with Victoria since the trade.


G Roddy Ross stopped 46 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . If you’re new here, Seattle plays its home games in Kent. . . . Seattle (23-27-6) is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . Everett (39-14-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett also is tied with the Vancouver Giants for top spot in the Western Conference. The Giants (39-13-3) have a game in hand. . . . Everett and Seattle combined for 110 penalty minutes, 96 of them in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . You’re right. These teams don’t like each other, and they still have to play each other three more times. . . . This also could be a first-round playoff matchup. Everett leads the season series, 6-1-0; Seattle is 1-5-1. . . . F Matthew Wedman had a goal and two assists for the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He’s got 62 points, 31 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . This was Everett’s third game in fewer than 48 hours. They dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Thursday night, in a game that was rescheduled from Wednesday, then beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Silvertips will make it five games in six days by playing a doubleheader in Prince George on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night.


F Kyle Olson scored three times and added an assist to help the Tri-City Americans to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (31-20-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane and with a game in hand. . . . Spokane (30-19-6) has lost two straight. It is third in the U.S. Division, eight points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each had a goal and two assists for Tri-City. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and and assist from freshman F Adam Beckman. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, Beckman has 48 points, 25 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm may have been five times, but he still came up with 45 saves.


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Scattershooting on a Sunday while watching Jason Bourne. Again . . . Tigers are road warriors . . . Giants latest to clinch playoff spot

Scattershooting

Sheldon Kennedy spent the weekend in Swift Current, which was the host location for Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. While he was there, the City honoured him by naming an arena after him. To see the love affair between Kennedy and Swift Current makes my heart sing, because there once was a time when an observer never would have thought this was possible. . . . Well done!



ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Auston Matthews to a new contract on Tuesday. . . . What! You didn’t know that! . . . Well, you’re welcome.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on one of the Super Bowl commercials: “After the Washington Post ad in the fourth quarter, I mentioned to my Super Bowl party host that Jeff Bezos’ impending divorce action may influence the Post to the degree that their new slogan ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ may need to be altered to ‘Democracy dies in divorce.’ ”

——

And here is The Sports Curmudgeon on the Super Bowl’s halftime show: “Granted that I had no idea who any of the performers for the half-time show were. After glimpsing pieces of their acts, I can say with certainty that I need not expend an erg of energy to find out the next time any of them will be in concert near to where I live. The ad slogan for Camel cigarettes used to be, ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel.’ Well, I would not walk across the room to hear any of those folks perform.”


ChickenEgg


Perhaps you heard about the runner in Colorado who, when attacked by an 80-pound cougar, killed the big cat with his bare hands. As Dixon Tam put it on Twitter: “I hope Chuck Norris recovers from his injuries quickly.”


Ahh, yes, the Kootenay Ice Hall of Fame, announced eight days after the franchise’s post-season move to Winnipeg was confirmed. In an email, one fan told Taking Note that “it’s like sending flowers to your wife a week after you dumped her for another woman.”


If you’re wondering what Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades does on his nights off, he’s the star of the Saskatchewan karaoke circuit. . . . Actually, he was taking part in a Kinsmen-sponsored karaoke battle, so it was all in good fun and for a good cause.

 


Here for your reading pleasure is a piece written by Mark Fainaru-Wada, a staff writer at ESPN, about how the iconic Bob Costas came to the end of his run with NBC-TV. Yes, it had something to do with the NFL and, yes, it has something to do with concussions. . . . It’s all right here, and it’s another reminder about the power of the NFL.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Super Bowl halftime show marred by functioning sound system.


Luggage


ThisThat

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the WHL’s record for career victories as a head coach. He has 750 of those to his credit from stints with the whlKamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.

It was just last season when Hay broke the record of 742 that had been held for so long by Ken Hodge, who worked with the original Edmonton Oil Kings before making the move to Portland with the franchise.

On Saturday night, Marc Habscheid, now the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth man in WHL history to get to 500 victories.

So . . . you are wondering if Hay’s career victories record is safe, or whether Habscheid might break it?

Hay will turn 65 on Wednesday. Habscheid will hit 56 on March 1.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that Hay won’t be a WHL head coach again, although it’s apparent that he isn’t as done with coaching as we once were led to believe. (Hey, the Prince George Cougars might be in the market for a head coach once this season ends. Might Hay be a good fit there?)

Habscheid, meanwhile, is a career coach; he has been for more than 20 years. There is little doubt that he will coach for at least another 10 years. The question one has to ask is this: Will he spend the remainder of his coaching days in the WHL?

To date, Habscheid has had only one brief taste (2006-07) of the NHL, that as an associate coach, alongside head coach Dave Lewis, with the Boston Bruins. Peter Chiarelli, then the Bruins’ general manager, fired them after one season.

Perhaps Habscheid will end up as part of the management team with the NHL’s expansion Seattle franchise that is to begin play in 2021-22. When that organization starts hiring, it may take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights, see the number of former WHL head coaches involved there and decide to follow suit. Kelly McCrimmon, Mike Kelly, Ryan McGill, Bob Lowes, Kelly Kisio and Bruno Campese, each a former WHL head coach, all are on the Vegas payroll.

If Habscheid’s phone doesn’t ring and if he ends up staying in the WHL, and if Hay doesn’t get another head-coaching gig, you can bet Habscheid will end up with more regular-season victories than anyone else.

When would that happen? Perhaps sometime in 2025-26.

By that time, Habscheid might be the head coach of the WHL’s Abbotsford Aardvarks, or the Boise Bulls, or the Wenatchee Wings. Or he may still be in Prince Albert. Or perhaps he will settling comfortably in a new role as a pitchman for Dairy Queen.

No matter. It’ll be fun watching it all unfold.

There’s more on Habscheid right here in an interesting piece filed earlier this month by Mike Commito of Sportsnet.

——

THE WHL’S 300 CLUB

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 495

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 386

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Mike Johnston (Portland) 348

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Logan Stankoven set a franchise single-game points record on Sunday, counting eight thompsonblazersof them as the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers beat the visiting Kootenay Ice, 10-0, in a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game. . . . Stankoven scored three times and added five assists. . . . He leads the league in goals (43), assists (41) and points (84). His lead in the scoring race now is 34 points over F Tyler Crystal of the Vancouver North West Hawks. . . . According to a tweet from the team, Stankoven is one goal shy of the BCMMHL single-season goal record that is held by F Tyson Jost, who scored 44 times for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. . . . This was Stankoven’s third game of the weekend, after he played Friday and Saturday nights with the WHL’s Blazers, who selected him fifth overall in the WHLs 2018 bantam draft. This season, he has one assist in seven games with the Blazers. In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets, head coach Serge Lajoie gave him third-period time with veterans Jermaine Loewen and Zane Franklin in an attempt to inject some life into a stagnant offence. The goals didn’t come, but the chances were there as Stankoven showed again that he is more than capable to making the jump to the WHL.


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Riley McKay and F Chase Wouters had two goals each to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a Saskatoon6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (34-13-8) has points in 10 straight games (8-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Brandon (23-22-7) is seven points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Blades took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals from McKay, at 9:23; F Kyle Crnkovic (7), on a PP, at 14:36; and Wouters, at 15:07. . . . The Wheat Kings got to within a goal in the second period as F Linden McCorrister (12) scored while shorthanded, at 0:32, and F Stelio Mattheos (33) scored on a PP, at 10:39. . . . Wouters countered with his 12th goal, at 11:22. . . . F Ridley Greig (11) pulled the Wheat Kings back to within a goal, again, at 13:29, on another PP. . . . Saskatoon put it away on third-period goals from D Dawson Davidson (11), on a PP, at 5:02, and McKay (11), into an empty net at 18:27. . . . Each team was 2-7 on the PP. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Max Gerlach. . . . G Jiri Patera returned from a leg injury to start for Brandon and stop 31 shots. He hadn’t played since being injured on Jan. 25. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 25 shots for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were without F Kirby Dach, who left Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos after being struck by a puck in the throat area. Taking Note was told after Saturday’s game that Dach was taken from the game was only precautionary. Saskatoon next is to play Wednesday when it visits the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was on hand for this one and his piece is right here.


G Carl Stankowski earned his first victory since Nov. 23 as the host Calgary Hitmen Calgarydumped the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-2. . . . Calgary (28-20-5) is fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one in front of the Red Deer Rebels. Calgary does hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Moose Jaw (30-14-8) had won its previous two games. It is a comfortable third in the East Division. . . . The Warriors were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; they went (2-1-0). . . . Stankowski was making his second appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 23 in a 5-2 victory over his former club, the Seattle Thunderbirds, in Kent. Wash. . . . On Sunday, Calgary took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Mark Kastelic (38), at 1:16, and F Tye Carriere (6), at 5:59. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (13) scored for Moose Jaw at 14:55. . . . Second-period goals by F James Malm (23), at 3:39, and F Kaden Elder (23), at 15:47, left Calgary with a 4-1 lead. . . . D Josh Brook (13) got the Warriors to within two, on a PP, at 1:40 of the third. . . . Calgary iced it as F Riley Stotts (17), at 4:33, and F Cael Zimmerman (7), at 14:46, scored. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Carson Focht. . . . G Brodan Salmond turned aside 33 shots for Moose Jaw.


F Andrew Fyten scored once and added two assists to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-EdmontonOilKings2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Edmonton (30-16-8) is atop the Central Division, one point up on the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Regina (15-37-3) is 27 points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining. The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament won’t be in the playoffs this time around. . . . The Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Austin Pratt (20) scored at 17:32 of the first period. . . . F Carter Souch (9) tied it 50 seconds into the second period and F Scott Atkinson (8) made it 2-1 at 1:52. . . . D David Kope (10) made it 3-1 at 6:25, giving Edmonton three goals in 5:35. . . . Fyten (13) upped the lead to 4-1 at 4:23 of the third period. He’s got five goals and nine assists in 20 games with Edmonton since being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (5) scored for Regina, on a PP, at 9:13 of the third. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (29) of the Oil Kings closed out the scoring at 19:05. . . . The Oil Kings are 3-0-0 in the season series and have outscored the Pats, 16-4. Fix-Wolansky, who added an assist to his goal in this one, has two goals and eight assists in the series. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 34 saves, six fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . Regina F Cole Dubinsky was back after serving a four-game suspension. . . . The Oil Kings welcomed back F David Kope and D Matthew Robertson from injury-related absences, while F Jake Neighbours served the second of a four-game suspension.


F Ryan Chyzowski scored the only goal of a five-round shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Medicine Hat (31-18-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and three in front of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers went 3-0-1 in a four-game swing that included stops in Cranbrook, Everett and Kent, Wash. The only blemish was a 4-3 OT loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent. . . . Portland (33-16-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Tigers went (2-0-1), while the Winterhawks were (1-1-1). . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 10:23 of the first period. He leads the WHL in goals (45) and points (93). . . . The Tigers tied it at 4:36 of the third when F Ryan Jevne (25) scored while shorthanded. . . . Medicine Hat G Mads Søgaard made 28 saves through regulation time, then stopped four shots in OT and foiled five skaters in the shootout. . . . Portland got 38 saves from G Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks are without F Cody Glass (knee), who last played on Jan. 26, and D Brendan De Jong, who left Saturday’s 5-0 loss in Everett with an apparent injury to his left knee.


The Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George VancouverCougars, 4-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (37-13-3) has won five in a row. It will finish first in the B.C. Division, and now is one point behind the Everett Silvertips (38-13-2), who lead the Western Conference. . . . The Giants became the third WHL team — behind the Prince Albert Raiders and Everett — to clinch a playoff spot. Vancouver will be in the playoffs for a second straight season after missing three in a row. . . . Prince George (16-32-6) now has lost 13 in a row (0-10-3), the longest losing skid in the league this season. The Cougars are 10 points from a playoff spot. . . . F Ethan Browne (8) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:00 of the first period. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (12) tied it 42 seconds into the second period. . . . Vancouver put it away with three third-period goals, from F Davis Koch (22), on a PP, at 7:06; F Justin Sourdif (15), at 11:35; and F Tristen Nielsen (10), at 15:24. . . . Vancouver D Bowen Byram, who had two assists, took a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Cougars F Mitch Kohner at 13:48 of the third period. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 32 shots for the Giants, while G Taylor Gauthier, back after being shaken up and leaving a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday, made 25 saves for Prince George. . . . The Giants dressed only 11 forwards and then lost Brayden Watts in the first period. “Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks,” head coach Michael Dyck told Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.


Tweetoftheday

The Brandon-Everett trade that wasn’t . . . Bader leaves Raiders, cites personal reasons . . . Blichfeld hits 200 in victory

MacBeth

F Tomáš Netík (Medicine Hat, 2000-01) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga) after obtaining his release from Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had six goals and 18 assists in 30 games. . . .

G Juraj Hollý (Calgary 2010-11) has been traded by Liptovský Mikuláš to Dukla Trenčín (both Slovakia, Extraliga) for Marek Šimko. In 17 games, Hollý was 3-12-0, 3.47, .901 with one shutout.


ThisThat

The Brandon Wheat Kings traded F Stelio Mattheos, their leading scorer, to the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 10, which was the WHL’s trade deadline.

Except that they didn’t.

Josh Horton of the Everett Herald reported Wednesday that “the Silvertips agreed to a Everettdeal to acquire top-flight Brandon forward Stelio Mattheos . . . but the trade fell apart at the last minute.”

According to Horton, “A Silvertips player and draft picks were headed to Brandon in return for the 19-year-old Mattheos, sources said.”

Horton, citing sources, added that “both of the players involved had been informed of the trade and were getting ready to leave for their new teams when the deal collapsed.”

No one is saying how many WHL bantam draft picks were involved in the swap. However, Taking Note has been told that the teams had been working on the deal for a couple of months and that the Everett player who was told he was on his way to Brandon was F Reece Vitelli, whom the Silvertips selected in the fourth round of the 2016 bantam draft.

Garry Davidson, the Silvertips’ general manager, told Horton that a deal was in the works but that “it didn’t work out.” However, that is all Davidson, who is said to have been most upset, would say.

Taking Note also has been told that the deal didn’t really collapse, that it was more a case BrandonWKregularof it not having been filed in its entirety with the WHL office in time to beat the deadline of 3 p.m. MT.

Neither the WHL office nor Brandon GM Grant Armstrong would comment to Horton.

Interestingly, Davidson and Armstrong worked together with the Portland Winterhawks. Davidson, who is in his seventh season as Everett’s GM, was Portland’s director of player personnel for four seasons (2008-12); Armstrong, now in his third season as Brandon’s GM, was Portland’s head scout during that time.

This season, Vitelli, a 17-year-old sophomore from Winnipeg, has five goals and 11 assists in 45 games. He has one goal in five games since the trade deadline.

Last season, Vitelli finished with two goals and eight assists in 70 games, then added four goals and three assists in 22 playoff games.

Mattheos also is from Winnipeg. The Wheat Kings selected him with the first overall pick in the 2014 bantam draft. His NHL rights belong to the Carolina Hurricanes, who picked him in the third round of that league’s 2017 draft. Mattheos has yet to sign an NHL contract.

Mattheos is Brandon’s captain and leads the Wheat Kings in goals (30), assists (31) and points (61), all in 40 games.

Last season, Mattheos put up 43 goals and 47 assists in 90 games. In 228 career regular-season games, he has 243 points, including 113 goals.

The Silvertips and Wheat Kings aren’t scheduled to meet again this season. They played in Brandon on Oct. 19, with the home team winning, 5-2, behind three goals from Mattheos. Vitelli, playing in his home province, had one assist.


KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

On Dec. 19, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said that there would be an 36announcement “very soon” and that it would deal with “what the future of that franchise is.”

That franchise is the Kootenay Ice, an organization that is believed to be headed to Winnipeg once this season is over.

But we now are into the 36th day since Robison appeared on TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton with host Dean Millard.

Since then . . . crickets from the Ice and the WHL office.


F Bryce Bader has left the Prince Albert Raiders.

According to a news release from the Raiders, Bader, 17, flew to Calgary on Sunday “to PrinceAlbertwrite a final exam,” then “elected not to re-join the team for personal reasons.”

The Raiders added: “There will be no further comment from the hockey club.”

Bader’s departure leaves the Raiders’ roster at 21 players, including seven defencemen and 12 forwards.

Bader, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was selected by the Calgary Hitmen in the second round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

The Raiders acquired Bader from the Hitmen on Jan. 10 in exchange for F Quinn Olson, a 17-year-old Calgarian who has committed to the U of Minnesota-Duluth for 2020-21. In the deal, the teams also swapped conditional sixth-round selections in an undisclosed bantam draft.

This season, Bader had four goals in 10 games with the Hitmen this season, but had yet to play for the Raiders.

The Raiders, the CHL’s top-ranked team, is scheduled to conclude a B.C. Division swing tonight against the Vancouver Giants. The game will be televised on Sportsnet.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Joachim Blichfeld, the WHL’s leading scorer, struck for two third-period goals to help Portlandthe host Portland Winterhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (28-13-5) is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Tri-City (24-17-3) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). It remains fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind the Spokane Chiefs. At the same time, the Americans are in control of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, with a 12-point lead on the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . With two games left in the season series, Tri-City is 5-1-0; Portland is 1-1-4. That means that while Tri-City has won five of six games, Portland still has grabbed six points. . . . The Americans grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals 40 seconds apart by F Krystof Hrabik (10) and F Kyle Olson (14). . . . Portland pulled even late in the period as F Jaydon Dureau (10) scored at 18:58 and F Josh Paterson (17) found the range at 19:35. . . . The teams played a scoreless second period, before Blichfeld, who now has 42 goals, hit at 9:53 and 16:18, with F Cody Glass assisting on both scores. . . . Blichfeld’s second goal gave him 200 career regular-season points. He has 94 goals and 106 assists in 165 games. . . . Blichfeld, who also had an assist, leads the WHL with 86 points, 10 more than F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors and F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Blichfeld’s 42 goals are five more than Langan. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that Blichfeld is the second import in franchise history to get to 200 points. F Oliver Bjorkstrand, who put up 290 points in 193 regular-season games. . . . G Joel Hofer blocked 26 shots for Portland, 16 fewer than Tri-City’s Beck Warm. . . . Portland won 41 of the 63 faceoffs, and was 0-5 on the PP. Tri-City was 0-1. . . . The Americans were without F Blake Stevenson (undisclosed injury) and F Sasha Mutala, who was in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game. . . . D John Ludvig was among Portland’s scratches.


Tweetoftheday

Chiefs’ Larson stable after leaving on stretcher . . . New arena in Pats’ future? . . . Baron rules in Brandon

ThisThat

F Cordel Larson, a freshman with the Spokane Chiefs, left Saturday night’s game against SpokaneChiefsthe visiting Tri-City Americans on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital.

Shortly after the game, the Chiefs issued a statement saying that Larson “is in stable condition and has full use of all extremities. His overall injury status remains to be determined.”

Larson, a 17-year-old from Weyburn, Sask., was hurt at 8:10 of the second period, after being checked by Tri-City D Aaron Hyman, who was hit with a boarding major and game misconduct.

Larson was on the ice for a bit while being tended to, then was removed on a stretcher.

The Chiefs tweeted at the time that Larson “is awake and moving.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Taking Note that “it sounds like he will be OK . . . (it was) very scary.”

“He has feelings in all extremities and (we’re) just waiting on imaging,” Lambert added.

Larson was a ninth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. He played two seasons with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., before joining the Chiefs this season. He has six goals and an assist in 38 games.

The Chiefs next are scheduled to play on Tuesday when they visit the Seattle Thunderbirds.


If you happened to watch all — or any — of the WHL game between the Calgary Hitmen and host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sportsnet on Saturday afternoon, you saw the first RE/MAX WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation game of the season.

From a news release:

“This year, players will sport uniforms emblazoned with fun nicknames as opposed to traditional surnames across their shoulders. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on the limited-edition jerseys, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to local chapters of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In addition to game-worn uniforms, fans will have the chance to bid on one Don Cherry-autographed jersey in each participating WHL market.

During the 2017-18 WHL regular season, participating WHL clubs came together with RE/MAX to raise more than $265,500, representing the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the special games, which include the WHL’s 17 Canadian teams:

Fri., Jan. 25 – Red Deer Rebels

Fri. Feb. 1 – Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors

Sat., Feb. 2 – Prince Albert Raiders

Fri., Feb. 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings

Fri., Feb. 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars

Sat., March 9 – Kelowna Rockets, Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades.

——

The Brandt Centre, the home of the Regina Pats, is 41 years of age, and there are Patsdiscussions ongoing about its future.

The Pats and Regina Exhibition Association Limited signed a five-year lease last week.

“I’m glad there’s a lease in place; that’s an important foundation for securing a relationship,” Regina Mayor Michael Fougere told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “It is important to have a discussion about the future of the Brandt Centre. Do we refurbish? Do we work on a new facility in another location or on that location?

“There needs to be some collaboration and discussion by all parties. For the moment we do have the comfort of having a lease in place for a few years so we can have those discussions in a very productive way.”

It could be that when all is said and done Regina will be home to a new arena with more than 10,000 seats.

Harder has all the details right here.


If you haven’t heard, the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs and Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars, teams from the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, are playing an outdoors game today . . . in Fort St. James, B.C.

Organizers and team officials have constructed an outdoor rink at Ernie Sam Memorial Arena that is a bit smaller than regulation — it is 31 feet shorter and 12 feet narrower.

“It’ll be a lot more physical, one-on-one battles, moving the puck quicker, but it’s the same for both teams,” Trevor Sprague, the Cougars’ general manager, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen.

Clarke’s story is right here and it’s an interesting look at what all went into the production of what is a great Canadian hockey story.


Darren Rumble, who did a stint as an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds, has ohlsigned on as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. . . . When this season began, Rumble was in his sixth season as the head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. However, he was fired on Jan. 7. . . . Rumble spent two seasons (2011-13) on the Thunderbirds’ coaching staff. . . . As a player, he spent three seasons (1986-89) in the OHL, with the Kitchener Rangers. But he hadn’t coached in the OHL until signing with Saginaw. . . . Chris Lazary is the head coach in Saginaw, having moved up from associate coach to replace the fired Troy Smith on Nov. 18. . . . Smith has since joined the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos as an assistant coach.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Edmonton Oil Kings built up a 2-0 lead thanks to their PP and then went on to EdmontonOilKingsscore a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton (25-14-8) has points in five straight (4-0-1) and leads the Central Division by two points over Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (21-18-4) has lost two in a row. It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . The Oil Kings lead the season series 4-0-1. . . . D Matthew Robertson (6) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period, and F Carter Souch (8) made it 20 just 42 seconds into the second. . . . F Luke Coleman (13) got Calgary to within a goal at 6:51. . . . Edmonton F Vladimir Alistrov (6) stretched the lead to 3-1 at 3:51 of the third period. . . . Calgary F Carson Focht (12) rounded out the scoring, on a PP, at 7:23. . . . D Conner McDonald had two assists for Edmonton and now has 100 career regular-season points in 235 games. This season, he has nine goals and 18 assists in 47 games. . . . G Jack McNaughton made his 18th straight start for Calgary, stopping 24 shots. . . . Edmonton got 25 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . Calgary won 37 of the 57 faceoffs. . . . The Hitmen were without F Jake Kryski and F James Malm, while Edmonton F Quinn Benjafield remains on the shelf.


F Baron Thompson, who went into the game with two goals, scored three times to lead BrandonWKregularthe host Brandon Wheat Kings to a 7-5 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Brandon (19-18-6) has won two in a row to get within two points of a playoff spot. . . . Kootenay (10-30-8) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It went 2-3-1 on a six-game road trip. . . . The Wheat Kings had beaten the visiting Ice, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (30) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 14:13 of the first period. . . . F Jaeger White tied it at 15:35. . . . Brandon went ahead 2-1 at 16:26 as F Luka Burzan (27) counted on another PP. . . . The Ice went ahead 3-2 on goals from D Carson Lambos (1), on a PP, at 18:47, and White (20), at 1:10 of the second period. . . . Lambos, from Winnipeg, was playing in his fifth WHL game. He was the second overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Thompson, who had two goals in his previous 41 games this season, then scored twice, at 13:01 and 16:49 as Brandon went ahead 4-3. . . . F Cole Reinhardt upped that to 5-3 at 18:27. . . . Kootenay came back in the third period and tied on goals from F Jakin Smallwood (7), at 1:04, and F Austin Schellenberg (4), at 1:21. . . . However, Thompson completed his hat trick at 6:27, and Reinhardt (13), who also had an assist, added insurance at 19:04. . . . The Ice got three assists from D Chase Hartje, who was acquired from Brandon at the trade deadline. . . . The Ice’s scratches included F Connor McClennon, who missed a second straight game, D Martin Bodak, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, and D Valtteri Kakkonen (ill).

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The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 4-2 victory Saskatoonover the Pats in Regina. . . . Saskatoon (28-13-6) has won two in a row. It is second in the East Division, six points ahead of Moose Jaw, although the Warriors hold four games in hand. . . . Regina (12-33-2) has lost 10 straight (0-9-1). . . . The Blades beat the visiting Pats, 6-2, on Friday night and lead the season series 3-1-0; the Pats are 1-2-1. The home team had won each of the first three games. . . . The Blades won this one behind two goals from each of F Eric Florchuk and F Cyle McNabb. . . . Florchuk made it 1-0, on a PP, at 10:44 of the first period, with McNabb upping it to 2-0 at 3:38 of the second. . . . Florchuk got it to 3-0 with his 13th goal, at 18:50 . . . F Duncan Pierce (8) got Regina’s first goal, on a penalty shot while the Pats were shorthanded, at 2:30 of the third period. . . . McNabb restored the three-goal lead with his fourth goal of the season, at 6:01. . . . F Riley Krane (10) got Regina’s second goal, another shorthanded effort, at 11:27. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots for the Blades.


F Jackson Shepard broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the visiting Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes a 2-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge (24-13-8) had lost its previous two games. Lethbridge and Medicine Hat are tied for second in the Central Division, two points behind Edmonton. . . . Red Deer (26-14-3) had points in each of its past five games (4-0-1). It now is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . On Friday night, the Rebels won 3-1 in Lethbridge. . . . Last night, the Hurricanes won despite being credited with winning only 18 of 58 faceoffs. . . . F Jeff de Wit (24) put the Rebels in front, on a PP, at 12:27 of the first period. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (26) tied it at 12:23. . . . Shepard, who hadn’t scored in 15 games, won it with his third goal of the season at 9:52. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 35 shots to earn the victory over Ethan Anders, who made 29 saves. . . . De Wit left in the second period after crashing into the Lethbridge net. He didn’t return.


D Trevor Longo broke a 3-3 tie with 52.6 seconds left in the third period as the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 5-3. . . . Medicine Hat (26-16-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is tied with Lethbridge for second in the Central Division, two points behind Edmonton. . . . Swift Current (9-33-3) has lost three in a row. . . . The Tigers beat the Broncos, 3-1, on Friday night in Swift Current. . . . Last night, the home side took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Nick McCarry (1), at 2:37; D Dylan MacPherson (2), at 6:30; and F Brett Kemp (25), at 16:39. . . . The Broncos got started at 15:39 of the second period on a goal from F Owen Blocker (2). . . . The visitors made it a one-goal game when F Ethan O’Rourke (6) scored at 8:17 of the third period, and they tied it on a goal by D Connor Horning (4), on a PP, at 10:22. . . . Longo broke the tie with his fourth goal of the season, and F James Hamblin (26) got the empty-netter at 19:41. . . .  The Tigers had a 44-26 edge in shots, including 16-5 in the second period. . . . McCarry’s first WHL goal came in his fourth game this season. A 17-year-old from Calgary, he was pointless in two games last season.
This season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 30 games with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons before being added to the Tigers’ roster.


F Nolan Foote scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Kelowna Rockets a 4-3 victory KelownaRocketsover the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Kelowna (19-22-4) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria, which holds three games in hand. . . . Prince Albert (39-5-2) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is 2-0-1 on its B.C. Division trip and leads the Eastern Conference and the East Division by 18 points over Saskatoon. . . . The Rockets went into the weekend having lost six in a row. They beat the host Everett Silvertips, 2-0, on Friday night, meaning they scored victories over the two conference leaders on back-to-back nights. . . . Last night, the Raiders went ahead 1-0 on a goal by F Aliaksei Protas (9), at 4:51 of the first period. . . . Kelowna took a 2-1 lead before the period ended, on goals from F Kyle Topping (17), at 12:36, and Foote (22), at 16:03. . . . F Dante Hannoun (22) scored for the Raiders at 1:42 of the second period, and F Parker Kelly (22) gave them a 3-2 lead at 7:52 of the third. . . . The home team forced OT when D Lassi Thomson (10) scored, on a PP, at 14:51. . . . Foote, who also had two assists, was the first shooter of the second round and his goal stood up as the winner. . . . The Rockets got 30 saves from G Roman Basran, with Ian Scott stopping 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . The Rockets honoured former D Josh Gorges prior to the game. He announced his retirement as a player earlier in the week. Gorges, who is from Kelowna, captained the 2003-04 Rockets, who won the Memorial Cup on home ice. Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, was the head coach of that Kelowna team. Jeff Truitt, the Raiders’ associate coach, was on Habscheid’s staff in Kelowna.


The Portland Winterhawks broke open a scoreless game with five third-period goals and Portlandwent on to beat the visiting Everett Silvertips, 5-1. . . . Portland (27-12-5) has won two in a row to close to within nine points of Everett, which leads the Western Conference and the U.S. Division. . . . Everett (33-11-2) has lost two straight. . . . Everett still leads the season series, 5-3-0, although Portland is 3-4-1. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL in goals and points, figured in Portland’s first three goals. . . . He opened the scoring with his 39th goal, at 3:56, then drew an assist on D Jared Freadrich’s seventh goal, at 5:05, and F Cody Glass’s 13th, at 15:19. . . . Blichfeld is the first CHLer to 80 points this season, as he now has 82, in 44 games. . . . F Jake Gricius (20) and D Brendan De Jong (6) added empty-netters for Portland. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (10) scored for Everett at 19:45. . . . Glass also had two assists. He has 61 points, including 48 assists, in 31 games. . . . Portland won 40 of the 66 faceoffs. . . . G Josh Hofer, who was acquired by Portland from Swift Current for six draft picks, made his first start in Portland a strong one with 31 saves. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf turned aside 27 shots. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (ill) missed a second straight game, while F Riley Sutter sat out an eighth game with an undisclosed injury. . . . De Jong was back after an eight-game concussion-related absence, and this was his 300th regular-season game, all with Portland.


The Kamloops Blazers won for the first time in 14 road games as they bet the Prince Kamloops1George Cougars, 3-1. . . . Kamloops (16-24-3) had lost its previous six games. In terms of road games, the Blazers went 0-12-1 after beating the host Tri-City Americans, 4-1, on Nov. 23. . . . Prince George (16-24-3) has lost two in a row. . . . Kamloops and Prince George are tied for ninth in the Western Conference, two points from a playoff spot. . . . The Blazers are 4-0-0 against the Cougars this season, and have won nine straight in Prince George. . . . They’ll play again this afternoon at the CN Centre as the Blazers skate for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Last night, Kamloops grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kyrell Sopotyk (7), at 8:21 of the first period, and F Connor Zary (10), at 10:04 of the second. . . . F Josh Maser (17) cut the Cougars on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 15:16. . . . F Martin Lang (9) gave the Blazers some insurance at 8:54 of the third. . . . G Dylan Ferguson, who pulled himself after allowing three goals in the first period of a 5-2 loss to visiting Moose Jaw on Tuesday, stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . G Taylor Gauthier, making his eighth straight start, blocked 29 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Blazers scratched F/D Jeff Faith, who completed a five-game WHL suspension, and D Luke Zazula, who left Friday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders early in the second period. As a result, the Blazers were able to dress only 17 skaters, one under the maximum.


F Nolan Volcan broke a 4-4 tie with a shorthanded goal in the third period and the SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds went on to a 6-4 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (16-21-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Kamloops and Prince George. . . . Victoria has dropped four in a row. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 15:07 of the first period, and it was a Teddy Bear goal. The Thunderbirds were the last of the WHL’s 22 teams to have a Teddy Bear game, or a toque throw, etc. . . . The teams went to their dressing rooms while the ice was cleared. . . . When they returned, F Sean Richards (14) upped the lead to 2-0. . . . Victoria cut into the deficit at 18:48 of the second period on a goal from F D-Jay Jerome (17). . . . The teams then combined for seven third-period goals. . . . F Kaid Oliver (19) got Victoria into a tie at 0:47, and F Igor Martynov (5) gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 2:29. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman tied it at 3:12, only to have Victoria reclaim the lead on a goal by D Mitchell Prowse (2), at 7:25. . . . The Thunderbirds closed it out with three straight goals, from Wedman, at 10:52; Volcan (17), at 12:02; and Wedman (17), shorthanded, at 18:29. . . . Wedman’s second goal originally was credited to D Simon Kubicek, but was later changed. That gave Wedman his first career WHL hat trick. . . . D Jake Kustra and F Carson Miller, two players acquired via trade, were among Victoria’s scratches. . . . The Royals and Kamloops Blazers led the WHL by each playing in four Teddy Bear games.


F Sasha Mutala scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Tri-City Americans a 2-tri-city1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. . . . Tri-City (23-16-3) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Chiefs. . . . Spokane (24-14-5) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . The Chiefs lost despite leading 40-33 in shots and 42-23 in the faceoff circles. . . . Both ‘real’ goals came in the third period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (4) got Spokane’s goal at 5:04. . . . F Parker AuCoin (25) replied for Tri-City, on a PP, at 8:06. . . . F Kyle Olson gave Tri-City a 1-0 lead in the second round of the shootout, with Anderson-Dolan tying it in the third round. That left it for Mutala to win it. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots, six more than Tri-City’s Reece Klassen. . . . Warm has been in six shootouts this season and he has won them all, stopping 17 of 20 shots in the process. . . . The Americans have been to OT on 14 occasions this season. They have posted six shootout victories and five in OT, losing twice in OT and once in a shootout. . . . Tri-City lost D Aaron Hyman to a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:10 of the second period after a hit on freshman F Cordel Larson.


F Davis Koch scored in OT to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the Moose Jaw VancouverWarriors in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (29-12-2) has won six straight. It leads the B.C. Division by 15 points over Victoria. . . . Moose Jaw (24-11-8) has points in four straight (3-0-1), all on a trip into the B.C. Division. It is third in the East Division, six points behind Saskatoon with four games in hand. . . . D Jett Woo, whose NHL rights belong to the Vancouver Canucks, gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 7:08 of the first period. He’s got 38 points, including nine goals, nine, in 39 games. Last season, he finished with 25 points, including nine goals, nine, in 44 games. . . . D Bowen Byram (16) got Vancouver into a 1-1 tie at 9:36. He’s got 43 points in 43 games. . . . Koch won it with his 16th goal at 2:58 of OT. He has a goal in five straight games. In his past six games, he has put up five goals and nine assists. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 26 shots for Vancouver, one more than Moose Jaw’s Brodan Salmond.


Tweetoftheday

Cougars to be more ‘assertive’ with schedule making . . . Portland still unbeaten in East . . . Gauthier blanks Americans




MacBeth

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga South) after requesting and receiving his release from Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). He had 14 goals and 20 assists in 23 games.


ThisThat

Andy Beesley is the vice-president of business with the Prince George Cougars. A few days before Christmas, he sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat, a Prince George radio station, and they combined for an episode of the CatScan podcast. . . . If you have ever wondered about what goes into running the business end of a major junior franchise you will want to give this a listen. It’s 50 minutes of Beesley being honest in answering questions about ticket prices, attendance, scheduling, turning games into events, the survival of the WHL in Prince George, and even how he came to change his lifestyle and lose 100 pounds. . . .

One thing I found particularly interesting is that Beesley said the Cougars’ organization has changed its thought process and no longer will look for the one big score.

“We would love to win a Memorial Cup, but we just want to make the playoffs regularly,” he told Miller, “and that’s part of the path that the hockey side of the business is on now. We’ve changed our model a bit to aim for more of a consistent team year by year, rather than selling the farm and just having couple of studs that come in and then you cross your fingers and pay the price for the next five years. We’ve done away with that model.”

The Cougars are scheduled to entertain the Prince George Cougars on Friday night, more than five weeks after their most-recent home game. Between home games, they will have played 11 times on the road and taken the Christmas break.

Beesley promised the Cougars’ fans “that’s not going to happen again . . . we’re not going to put up with that again.”

He added that he, team president John Pateman, co-owner Eric Brown and general manager Mark Lamb “have all talked together and agreed that we need to do a far better job of not just giving input to our schedules but standing up for what the Prince George Cougars need. . . . we are going to be a lot more assertive and make sure we don’t have another six-week gap because we don’t think it’s fair to fans and it’s not fair to our business either.”

There’s lots of interesting stuff in the 50 minutes and it’s all right here.

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KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

All signs point to the Kootenay Ice packing up and moving to Winnipeg before another season gets here. However, no one from the Ice or the WHL office has had much, if 21anything to say about all the speculation.

However, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, did appear with host Dean Millard on TSN Radio (1260) in Edmonton on Dec. 19.

Asked about the situation, Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

We now are into our 21st day since Robison made that statement, and there has yet to be an announcement of any kind.


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Allow me to apologize to Gino De Paoli, the play-by-play voice of the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. It was his tweet that tipped me off to an item on G Nick Sanders that I used here yesterday. I meant to credit De Paoli, but it didn’t get done, and for that I offer up an apology. Sorry about that, Gino.

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The Prince George Cougars have signed F Blake Eastman, 15, to a WHL contract. He was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Eastman is playing for the Elite 15 team at OHA Edmonton, where he has 17 goals and eight assists in 21 games.

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The Spokane Chiefs have returned D Graham Sward to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Sward, 15, was the 17th overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Sward played one game with the Chiefs and scored his first goal as they beat the Ice, 8-4, in Cranbrook, B.C., on Sunday.

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The Swift Current Broncos have released F Quinton Waitzner, 18, who was a ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . From Victoria, he had two assists in 34 games this season, after finishing last season with one goal in 43 games. He also was pointless in five games in 2016-17. . . . Before joining the Broncos, he played for the junior B Saanich Braves.

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The Prince Albert Raiders have returned G Brett Balas, 17, to the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. From Calgary, he was a third-round pick by the Raiders in the WHl’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Balas was brought in by the Raiders to fill the roster spot created with starter Ian Scott with Team Canada at the WJC. . . . Balas got into two games with Prince Albert, going 2-0-0, 2.56, .871. One of the victories was in relief of starter Donovan Buskey.

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

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Portland Winterhawks erased an early 2-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to Portlanda 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Portland (24-11-5) has points in nine straight (6-0-3), and is 3-0-0 on its East Division swing. . . . Brandon (16-16-6) has lost two in a row. . . . F Ben McCartney (11) gave Brandon a 2-0 lead with goals at 1:14 and 3:45 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks tied it before the period ended on goals from F Michal Kvasnica (7) and F Seth Jarvis (10). . . . F Jaydon Dureau (9) broke the tie at 14:39 of the second period. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld upped Portland’s lead to 4-2, shorthanded, at 10:03 of the third period. He leads the WHL in goals (37) and points (76). . . D Braden Schneider (5) got the Wheat Kings to within a goal at 14:53. . . . Portland had a 51-35 edge in shots, including 22-9 in the first period. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera blocked 47 shots, 15 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . Portland D Nick Cicek, an 18-year-old freshman from Winnipeg, had one assist in his first 16 games. He had one assist last night, and now is on a six-game point streak, with nine helpers in that stretch. . . . Portland had F Cody Glass back in the lineup after his stint with Canada’s national junior team. He was held off the scoresheet. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley (suspended) and D Brendan De Jong (concussion).

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F Kyle Crnkovic had a goal and two assists to lead the host Saskatoon Blades to a 4-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Saskatoon (25-12-5) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle (12-21-4) is 1-2-0 on its East Division trip. . . . Crnkovic, a 16-year-old from Chestermere, Alta., was the 10th-overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. In 27 games, he has four goals and nine assists, with three goals and six assists having come in his past nine games. Yes, this was his first multi-point WHL game. . . . D Zach Ashton, who moved from Saskatoon to Seattle in a deal last week, gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead with his first WHL goal, at 6:35 of the first period. The goal came in his 14th WHL game, the third with Seattle. . . . Crnkovic tied it at 15:24, and F Josh Paterson (14) gave the Blades the lead, on a PP, at 17:30. . . . Seattle F Nolan Volcan, playing in his 300th regular-season game, tied it with his 15th goal, at 19:24. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-2 when F Matthew Wedman (13) accord at 4:36 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon reclaimed the lead before the period ended, on goals from F Chase Wouters (8), at 13:49, and F Eric Florchuk (11), at 17:20. . . . Volcan, 20, is from Edmonton. He was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2013 bantam draft. He has 213 points, including 88 goals, in those 300 regular-regular-season games. . . . F Cyle McNabb, acquired Monday from the Kootenay Ice, wasn’t in Saskatoon’s lineup. . . . The Blades remain without F Kirby Each and D Nolan Kneen. . . . F Sean Richards was in Seattle’s lineup for the first time since being acquired last week from the Everett Silvertips. He had to complete an eight-game WHL suspension before suiting up with the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle was without D Cade McNelly, who completed a three-game suspension.

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G Taylor Gauthier blocked 36 shots to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 1-0 victory PrinceGeorgeover the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Prince George (14-21-3) has won two in a row. The Cougars are 3-7-0 on an 11-game swing that began with a doubleheader in Portland on Dec. 7 and 8, and included the Christmas break. The trip wraps up tonight against the Spokane Chiefs, then the Cougars have to hustle home for games with the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Tri-City (20-15-2) has lost two straight. . . . Last night, Cougars F Ethan Browne scored the game’s only goal, his sixth, at 16:05 of the second period. . . . Gauthier, a 17-year-old sophomore from Calgary, was the ninth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has two shutouts in his career both of them this season. This season, he is 10-14-2, 3.08, .904. . . . Tri-City got 28 stops from G Beck Warm.

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Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a quiet New Year’s Eve . . . Tracey fills hat for Warriors . . . Americans get three SHG in victory

Scattershooting

It is because of items like this that I never miss reading Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) . . .

“The Chicago Bears are going to sell beer in cans not plastic cups. The reason is that beer cans are more environmentally friendly — they are recyclable — and plastic cups are now seen as spawn of the Devil. It was not all that long ago when all the momentum was to sell beer in plastic cups because when an angered and inebriated fan threw the beer container at an opposing player or official, the cup was a lot safer than a full can of liquid.

“According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Soldier Field peddles about 20,000 cases of beer a year at the Bears’ home games — including exhibition games — and whatever other ancillary events take place there.  That amounts to 480,000 cans of beer.

“That is a lot of ‘ammunition’ to put in the hands of potentially angry spectators — and that is almost a half-million plastic cups that need not be used.”

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Take time on this first day of 2019 to visit The Sport Curmudgeon’s site and read his take on the bad ads of 2018. I guarantee that you will find yourself nodding your head in agreement. . . . It’s all right here and it’s good stuff!



Whenever I’m flipping channels and come across The Bourne Identity, well, there goes another couple of hours. Yes, I happen to own the first three Bourne movies. No, I don’t think I have ever put one of them in the DVD player.


A note from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, who happens to be correct with this one: “Free, unsolicited advice for the WHL: Stop scheduling games for Dec. 27, thereby allowing players to spend Boxing Day with their families instead of having to travel. Scheduling-wise, this should be a snap now that the regular season has been shortened from 72 to 68 games per team.”

My take: Players shouldn’t be coming back from the Christmas break to a schedule that calls for them to play four games in five nights. Maybe it’s time to cut the schedule to 60 games.



You likely heard by now that Jim Lites, the Dallas Stars’ CEO, unloaded a premeditated and obscenity-laced rant aimed at forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn the other day. The chances are good, I would suggest, that Lites was only the messenger for owner Tom Gaglardi. . . . You may remember a time a few years ago when Craig Bonner, then the general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, was the messenger — via a letter that bore his name — when Gaglardi tried to get a particular newspaper to dump the writer who was covering the Blazers. . . . Yes, this latest performance was deja vu all over again, except that the writer wasn’t being paid millions by Gaglardi.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle had this one among his new year’s resolutions: “To buy myself a pair of $300 sneakers. Because what if it is the shoes? It would be cool to dunk again.”

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Ostler also had this one: “To invent a ballpark food. Perhaps something inspired by the turducken concept. Like, a churro inserted into a hot dog, inner-tube style, and the hot dog wrapped in a pizza. Churdogza. With a jalapeño hot-fudge ranch dip.”


Fishing


Meanwhile, columnist Dave Barry of the Miami Herald was wrapping up 2018 as only he is capable of doing. It’s all right here.


Are you old enough to remember when an NHL outdoor game was a big deal? Did you even realize that two teams — without going on the Internet, I couldn’t tell you which two — are playing somewhere outdoors today? . . . And now we hear that the NHL is expected to announce that Mosaic Stadium in Regina will be the site of a couple of games next season, one featuring the Winnipeg Jets against the Calgary Flames, with the Pats to play someone, likely the Moose Jaw Warriors, perhaps the day after the NHL game. . . . Sorry, but I just can’t get excited about this stuff. . . . Hey, wasn’t Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post writing about this a year or more ago?


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If ever there was a case for the WHL to get rid of the loser points, it is being made right whlnow in the Central Division. . . . Let’s check the standings. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings are 20-12-7, which means they have 20 victories and 19 losses. They also are in first place, two points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and three up on the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge is 19-10-7, meaning it has 19 victories and 17 losses. . . . Red Deer, meanwhile, is 21-12-2, so has 21 victories and 14 losses. . . . In other words, the team with the most victories and the fewest losses is in third place. . . . Of course, Red Deer holds a game in hand on Lethbridge and four on Edmonton. . . . Still, the loser point’s time is up. Please!



Happy New Year and thanks to all you for stopping off and hanging out in these parts in 2019. If you are so inclined, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and follow the instructions. Thank you, in advance.


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F Miles Koules (Medicine Hat, Portland, 2012-15) has been released after an unsuccessful tryout with HIFK Helsinki (Finland, Liiga). He had two goals in 13 games. Earlier, he was pointless in two games with the Cleveland Monsters (AHL). . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has been released by the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). He had four goals and six assists in 14 games. . . . Earlier this season, he had one goal in four games with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga), and three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL).


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The Prince George Cougars, battered and bruised from a brutal schedule, have added D PrinceGeorgeCole Beamin, 17, to their roster. . . . In 28 games with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Saskatoon native has two goals and an assist. . . . Beamin was pointless in two games with the Cougars last season. He played two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts before joining the Hawks. . . . Beamin was a second-round selection by the Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Cougars, who are 1-7-0 on an 11-game road trip, will play the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday.


The Calgary Hitmen continue to play musical goaltenders as they fill the back up spot Calgarybehind Jack McNaughton, who is seeing the bulk of the action with Carl Stankowski on the shelf with an ankle injury. . . . On Sunday, the Hitmen had Brayden Peters of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes on the bench during a 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. With Peters returning to the Hurricanes, who are playing in the Mac’s tournament in Calgary, the Hitmen now have added Ethan Hein of the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires to their roster. Hein, 16, is from Saskatoon, and was a third-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . The Hitmen acquired him in a Nov. 25, 2017, deal in which seven players and two bantam draft picks changed hands. . . . Calgary is at home to the Victoria Royals this afternoon.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 15.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 24.

Conditional draft picks: 9.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


WHL players at the World Junior Championship:

Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).

Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).

Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).

Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).

Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).

Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).

Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).

Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).

Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).

Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).

Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).

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MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brayden Tracey scored three times to lead the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 3-1 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Moose Jaw (20-8-6) has points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . Brandon (15-14-6) has lost four in a row. . . . The Warriors had beaten the Wheat Kings, 6-2, in Brandon on Sunday. . . . This was the fourth game in five nights for both clubs. Moose Jaw went 3-0-1; Brandon finished 0-4-0. . . . Last night, D Chase Hartje (3) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 10:31 of the first period. . . . Tracey, who has 14 goals, tied it at 11:54. . . . He gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead at 5:07 of the second, then added insurance, on a PP, at 5:45 of the third. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old from Calgary, was a first-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. He had two assists in five games with Moose Jaw last season. This season, he has 38 points in 34 games. . . . This was his first career hat trick and his second multi-goal game. . . . G Connor Ungar, 16, made his first WHL start for the Wheat Kings after coming on in relief and stopping nine of 10 shots in the third period of a 6-2 loss to the visiting Warriors on Sunday. Ungar finished this one with 24 saves. He plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. . . . Brandon F Linden McCorrister returned after a two-game absence, but D Schael Higson was scratched. That left Brandon with two 20-year-olds. . . . Brandon Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted before the game that he was told Higson’s absence was a “coach’s decision . . . he did not make the trip.” . . . F Stelio Mattheos, who leads Brandon in goals, assists and points, sat out the third of a three-game WHL-issued suspension.


The Victoria Royals coughed up a 3-1 lead and then needed OT to beat the Kootenay Ice, VictoriaRoyals4-3, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Victoria (18-14-1) is 2-1-0 on a six-game Central Division tour. . . . Kootenay (8-24-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . F Dino Kambeitz (6) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 8:46 of the first period. . . . F Davis Murray (6) tied it at 17:01. . . . Victoria F Dante Hannoun (18) put the Royals ahead at 4:15 of the second period and F Kaid Oliver (16) made it 3-1, on a PP, at 6:17. . . . Kootenay tied it on goals from F Brad Ginnell (9), at 15:28 of the second, and D Dallas Hines (4), at 3:37 of the third. . . . The Royals won it when D-Jay Jerome scored his 15th goal of the season, on a breakaway at 3:37 of OT. . . . The Ice opened the game with the first four shots on goal, but then surrendered 15 in a row. . . . Victoria finished with a 52-29 edge in shots, including 5-1 in OT, as they set a Royals franchise record for shots in one game. The previous record (50) was set on Jan. 14, 2012, in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. (The franchise record of 68 was set by the Chilliwack Bruins in a 4-3 loss to the Winterhawks in Portland. G Kurtis Mucha stopped 65 shots for Portland.) . . . G Jesse Makaj, who was named the Ice’s player of the month for December, finished with 48 saves, 22 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . Kootenay was credited with wining 49 of 80 faceoffs. . . . The Ice had both Ginnell and F Peyton Krebs in the lineup. Ginnell wasn’t suspended after taking a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jordy Bellerive doing an 8-4 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday. Bellerive wasn’t injured on the play; in fact, he picked up an assist on a goal just 45 seconds later. . . . Krebs left Saturday’s game late in the third period.


F Ryan Hughes had a goal and three assists to help the host Portland Winterhawks to a 6-Portland3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (21-11-5) has points in six straight (3-0-3). . . . Seattle (11-19-4) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . Seattle actually took a 3-1 lead into the second period on two goals by F Zack Andrusiak and one from F Tyler Carpendale (4). . . . Andrusiak, who has 27 goals, has 12 goals and two assists in six games against Portland this season. He has scored six times over the past two games. . . . Hughes, who had the third four-point game of his career, scored his 17th goal, on a PP, for Portland’s first tally. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL in goals (34) and points (72), pulled Portland even by scoring twice, at 0:39 and 5:59 of the second period, the second goal coming on a PP. . . . F Michal Kvasnica (5) snapped the tie at 8:56, and D Jared Freadrich (5) added insurance, on a PP, at 16:09. . . . F Seth Jarvis (8) got Portland’s final goal, at 8:03 of the third period. . . . Freadrich also had two assists, and Blichfeld added one. . . . Portland was 3-6 on the PP; Seattle was 1-7. . . . Seattle lost D Cade McNelly to a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Kvasnica at 13:28 of the second period. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman was given a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jake Gricius at 8:55 of the third period. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley and D John Ludvig, both of whom are serving suspensions, and D Brendan De Jong (concussion). . . . Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk was scratched. Quigley drew a TBD suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on Hamaliuk in Portland’s 8-6 victory over Seattle in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. . . . Seattle opens an East Division trip in Brandon on Saturday, while Portland begins its swing in Swift Current that same night. It remains to be seen who will be missing from both teams due to suspensions and injuries.


The Tri-City Americans scored three times while shorthanded en route to a 6-1 victory tri-cityover the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (19-13-2) had dropped a 2-1 decision in Spokane on Sunday night. . . . The Chiefs (20-13-4) are third in the U.S. Division, four points ahead of the Americans who hold three games in hand. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund got the Americans started with his first goal of the season — in his 22nd game — at 6:58 of the first period. . . . D Jarod Newell made it 2-0 with his first WHL goal — in his 21st game — just 44 seconds later. . . . F Kyle Olson (9) upped the lead to 3-0 at 17:45. . . . The Americans put it away with three shorthanded goals — F Parker AuCoin had two of them, with F Blake Stevenson (7) adding the other. . . . AuCoin now has 20 goals, one shy of his career high from 2016-17. . . . F Jake McGrew (13) scored for Spokane at 19:30 of the third period. . . . Olson had two assists and AuCoin one as both had three-point games. . . . G Arnold Campbell, who plays for the junior B Spokane Braves, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs by playing the third period. He stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 22 shots to record the victory. . . . D Nolan Reid of the Chiefs played in his 301st regular-season game. He got to No. 300 — 138 with the Chiefs after playing 162 with the Saskatoon Blades — on Sunday.


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