Americans turn to Buchberger . . . Silvertips add two coaches, lose one . . . Hitmen to introduce their guy today


MacBeth

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and 12 assists in 67 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Victor Bartley (Kamloops, Regina, 2003-09) signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) signed a tryout contract with Kölner Haie (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and eight assists in 45 games, and also had one goal in six games with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . . His tryout deal runs until the Deutschland Cup break (Nov. 5). . . .

D Spencer Humphries (Tri-City, Calgary, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 40 games with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Slovan, and three goals and three assists in seven games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga).


ThisThat

Kelly Buchberger is the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Buchberger, with no WHL coaching experience, takes over from Mike Williamson, who left the organization tri-citylast month after four years as head coach. . . . Williamson is the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history. . . . The length of Buchberger’s contract wasn’t disclosed. . . . Buchberger, 51, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders last season. However, they chose to clean house following the season. Prior to that, he was with the Edmonton Oilers since 2004, spending six of those seasons as an NHL assistant coach. He also spent three seasons (2014-17) as the Oilers’ director of player personnel. . . . His only head-coaching experience is from 2007-08 when he was with the Springfield Falcons, then the AHL affiliate of the Oilers. . . . From Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger was a ninth-round pick by the Oilers in the NHL’ s 1985 draft. He went on to play 1,182 regular-season NHL games, splitting time with the Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He played two seasons (1984-86) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 26 goals, 39 assists and 320 penalty minutes. . . .

Brian Pellerin, 48, who has been the team’s associate coach for four seasons, will remain with the club and work alongside Buchberger. Pellerin is believed to have one year left on his contract. . . .

With the Americans having unveiled their head coach, the Calgary Hitmen remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. However, they have scheduled a news conference for today (Tuesday) to announce the 10th head coach in franchise history.


The Everett Silvertips have signed Louis Mass and Harry Mahood as assistant coaches to work alongside head coach Dennis Williams. . . . Mass, 41, is from Anchorage and has Everettspent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach through five seasons with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. . . . Mahood, from Thompson, Man., played four seasons (1979-83) in the WHL, spending time with the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. Yes, that is an amazing quarter of WHL teams. . . . Mahood, who will turn 56 on Aug. 8, has been in the coaching game since 1996 in Germany. Of late, he coached with Williams with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and USHL’s Bloomington Thunder, both of which were under the umbrella of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips. . . . Shane Clifford, who spent a total of 11 seasons, including the last four, as Everett’s goaltending coach, has left to coach goaltenders with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Last season, he also worked with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and Youngstown Phantoms. . . . The Silvertips had room on their coaching staff after Mitch Love, the assistant to the GM and assistant coach, signed on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.


There haven’t yet been any announcements, but Taking Note has been told by sources familiar with the WHL that Ryan Smith and Jamie Heward, both of whom have left the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff, will be joining other WHL teams. . . . Smith, who spent three seasons as the Broncos’ associate coach, is moving to the Medicine Hat Tigers to work with GM/head coach Shawn Clouston and assistant coach Joe Frazer. . . . Heward will be joining the Vancouver Giants where he will work with first-year assistant coach Michael Dyck. Heward had been with the Broncos for six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development.


The Saskatoon Blades and the Saskatoon Media Group have agreed to a four-year Saskatooncontract extension that involves the broadcast rights to the team’s WHL games. Under the new deal, the broadcasts will move from 92.9 The BULL FM to 98 COOL FM. . . . That’s good because no one is cooler than Les Lazaruk, who is preparing for his 25th season as the radio voice of the Blades. . . . The Blades also announced that “Lazaruk will host a live one-hour pre-game show from the concourse at SaskTel Centre prior to home games. Fans also will get a chance to hear from the players and staff every Thursday morning on 98COOL FM.”


The Portland Winterhawks have signed two import forwards — Dean Schwenninger, 17, who is from Switzerland, and Michal Kvasnica, 18, from Czech Republic. . . . Last season, PortlandSchwenninger had 13 goals and 24 assists in 19 games with Zug U-17 in the Elite Novizen. In 20 games with Zug’s U-20 side, he had five goals and three assists. In 15 games with Switzerland’s U-17 team, he added five goals and four assists. . . . Kvasnica had six goals and 10 assists in 45 games with HC Frydek-Mistek in Czech2. He also played eight games with HC Trinec U-20, putting up five goals and four assits. In seven games at the World U-18 championship, he had two goals and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks finished last season with two imports — Danish F Joachim Blichfeld and Finnish D Henri Jokiharju. . . . Blichfeld, who turns 20 today (Tuesday), is expected to play with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season. . . . Jokiharju has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. If he doesn’t make the Blackhawks, well, here’s what Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on Sunday: “The Winterhawks are moving on without him, so he likely will end up in Chicago or Rockford this season. It’s also possible Jokiharju will go to the Finnish Elite League for a year. It’s unlikely, but Jokiharju has some history with it. His father, Juha, played for more than a decade in the Liiga.” . . . The Rockford IceHogs are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Lazerus’s complete story is right here.Tweetoftheday

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Hicke, Delorme into Sask. Hockey Hall . . . Gawdin to top of points derby . . . Blades win, get breathing room

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The late Bill Hicke, a former player, owner, general manager and coach with the Regina Pats, will be one of the inductees into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. . . . The names of the inductees were revealed Saturday night in Swift Current, where the Credit Union iPlex is home to the Hall of Fame. . . . The induction dinner is scheduled for July 7 at the iPlex. . . . Also being inducted as players are Hayley Wickenheiser of Shaunavon, Sask., who won four Olympic gold medals with Canada’s women’s team; and Vancouver Canucks’ chief amateur scout Ron Delorme, who played with the Swift Current/Lethbridge Broncos before going on to a pro career. . . . The late Kelly Lovering will be inducted as a builder, with Lyle Wilhelm going in as an official. . . . Larry Johnson and the late Dennis Loeppky will be inducted in the grassroots category. . . . The 1987-88 Notre Dame Hounds, who won the Canadian junior A title, will go into the team category.


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IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Saskatoon at Moose Jaw

Regina at Medicine Hat

Brandon at Swift Current

Kootenay at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Victoria

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Kelowna


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Calgary, F Conner Chaulk’s second goal of the game, at 18:12 of the third period, gave the Hitmen a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Calgary (17-31-7) had lost its Calgaryprevious two games (0-1-1). . . . Medicine Hat (28-23-7) had won its previous two games. It leads the Central Division by seven points over Lethbridge, which now holds four games in hand. . . . Medicine Hat held a 20-10 edge in first-period shots but managed only a 1-0 lead, that on a goal from D David Quenneville, at 9:41. . . . Calgary took a 2-1 lead on goals by D Dakota Krebs (2), at 5:33 of the second period, and F Carson Focht, at 6:52. . . . The Tigers came back with two goals of their own, from F Ryan Jevne, on a PP, at 9:08, and F Bryan Lockner (10), at 18:59. . . . The Hitmen took a 4-3 lead as Focht (9) scored at 7:25 and Chaulk got his first at 10:09. . . . F Mark Rassell (45) pulled the Tigers into a tie at 14:25. . . . Chaulk won it with his 13th goal of the season. . . . The Hitmen got two assists from F Luke Coleman. . . . Rassell, Lockner and Quenneville had an assist each for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-4 on the PP; Calgary was 0-1. . . . The Hitmen got 44 stops from G Nick Schneider. . . . Tigers G Michael Bullion, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, turned aside 42 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 7,468.


At Prince Albert, F Glenn Gawdin had a goal and two assists to take over the WHL scoring lead as he helped the Swift Current Broncos to a 5-4 victory over the Raiders. . . . SCBroncosSwift Current (40-13-4) has won four in a row. It is second in the East Division, three points behind Moose Jaw, which has three games in hand. The Broncos last enjoyed at least 40 victories in a season in 2008-09 when they finished 41-24-7. Last season they finished 39-23-10. . . . Prince Albert (22-23-11) has lost three straight. It now is four points out of a playoff spot. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Broncos went (3-0-0); the Raiders were (0-3-0). The Broncos had beaten the visiting Raiders 5-1 on Friday. . . . Swift Current took a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period when F Andrew Fyten scored. . . . F Nikita Krivokrasov (2) tied it at 7:33. . . . Fyten (9) put the visitors back ahead at 17:41, only to have F Jordy Stallard (37) tie it, on a PP, at 19:22. . . . The Raiders took a 3-2 lead at 1:59 of the second period on a goal by F Kody McDonald. . . . The Broncos followed with three straight goals. Gawdin (48) scored, on a PP, at 4:23. D Josh Anderson (3) scored at 9:33, and F Tyler Steenbergen (39) made it 5-3 at 11:36. . . . Gawdin drew assists on each of the last two goals. . . . The Raiders tied it on goals from McDonald (28), on a PP, at 4:54, and F Cole Fonstad (17), at 13:18. . . . F Max Patterson won it with his eighth goal at 15:58. . . . Gawdin now has 104 points, two more than Moose Jaw F Brayden Burke. . . . The Broncos got two assists from F Beck Malenstyn, with Patterson and Steenbergen each getting one. . . . Stallard added two assists to his goal for the home side, with Fonstad getting one. . . . The Raiders were 2-3 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-5. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 23 shots for Swift Current. . . . The Raiders started G Ian Scott, who allowed five goals on 16 shots in 31:36. Curtis Meger finished up by stopping 12 of 13 shots in 26:21. . . . The Raiders were without F Parker Kelly, who drew a TBD suspension for a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct during Saturday’s 6-3 loss in Saskatoon. Each was scratched from the Blades game on Sunday. . . . F Tanner Nagel was scratched from the Broncos’ lineup after leaving Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. . . The Broncos are 6-1-0 in the season series; the Raiders are 1-4-2. . . . Announced attendance: 1,824.


At Saskatoon, F Michael Farren scored in the seventh round of a shootout to give the Blades a 2-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (28-26-3) has won two in a row. It Saskatoonholds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points behind Regina and four ahead of Prince Albert. . . . The Blades have matched last season’s victory total when they finished 28-35-9. . . . Regina (29-23-6) is fourth in the East Division, one point behind Brandon. . . . Regina went 1-1-1 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. The Blades also played three times in fewer than 48 hours, going 2-1-0. . . . D Logan Christensen (3) gave the Blades a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:12 of the first period. . . . Regina tied it at 3:25 of the third period when F Matt Bradley (33) scored, on a PP. . . . Regina was 1-5 on the PP; Saskatoon was 1-6. . . . The Blades got 38 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 28 shots for the Pats. . . . The Pats were without G Ryan Kubic (ill) for a second straight game, so had Jacob Wasserman of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos backing up. . . . F Kirby Dach was among Saskatoon’s scratches. He took a hit from behind from Prince Albert F Parker Kelly on Saturday night. . . . Saskatoon leads the season series, 5-2-0. Meanwhile, Regina is 2-2-3. . . . Announced attendance: 3,647.


At Portland, the Winterhawks scored three third-period goals to erase a 3-2 deficit and beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Portland (35-18-4) has won five in a row. It is Portlandsecond in the Western Conference, two points behind Everett and two ahead of Victoria. . . . Seattle (27-20-8) has lost three straight (0-2-1). It and Tri-City are tied for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . On Saturday, the visiting Winterhawks beat the Thunderbirds, 4-1. . . . On Sunday, both teams played three games in fewer than 48 hours — Seattle went 0-2-1, while Portland was 3-0-0. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (13) gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead at 4:48 of the first period. . . . Portland F Joachim Blichfeld tied it, shorthanded, at 13:16. . . . Seattle D Turner Ottenbreit (7) gave his guys a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 19:11. . . . F Lane Gilliss (4) pulled Portland back into a tie at 15:30 of the second period. . . . The Thunderbirds went back out front at 19:00 when F Matthew Wedman (13) scored on a PP. . . . F Ryan Hughes (11) tied it at 8:48 of the third period, and F Alex Overheard (13) put Portland ahead, 4-3, at 13:02. . . . Blichfeld, who also had an assist, added insurance with his 20th goal, into an empty net, at 19:40. . . . Portland got two assists from each of D Dennis Cholowski and F Jake Gricius. . . . D Austin Strand had two assists for Seattle, while Ottenbreit added one to his goal. Ottenbreit, 20, has a career-high 34 points, two more than last season. Last season, he had career highs in goals (7) and assists (25). This season, he has seven goals and 27 assists. . . . Seattle was 2-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-4. . . . G Shane Farkas stopped 19 shots for Portland, while Seattle’s Dorrin Luding turned aside 31. . . . Portland is 6-0-2 in the season series; Seattle is 2-5-1. . . . Announced attendance: 6,122.


At Spokane, the Silvertips built up a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Everett (36-17-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It leads the Western EverettConference by two points over Portland. . . . Spokane (30-20-5) had points in each of its previous 10 games (8-0-2). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind Portland and three ahead of Settle and Tri-City. . . . These two teams also were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. Everett went 2-0-1, including a 2-1 OT loss to the visiting Chiefs on Friday. Spokane finished the hectic weekend at 2-1-0). . . . F Spencer Gerth (5) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:11 of the second period, and F Riley Sutter (22) upped it to 2-0 at 19:00. . . . F Connor Dewar (29) made it 3-0 at 12:32 of the third period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (33) got Spokane on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 13:10, and F Kailer Yamamoto (13) made it a one-goal game at 17:07. . . . Yamamoto also had an assist. . . . Spokane was 1-4 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . The Silvertips got 24 stops from G Dustin Wolf. At the other end, Donovan Buskey blocked 18. . . . Everett leads the season series, 5-2-1; the Chiefs are 3-4-1. . . . Announced attendance: 5,219.


MONDAY (all times local):

Lethbridge vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 2 p.m.

Edmonton at Kamloops, 2 p.m.

Red Deer at Prince George, 2 p.m.

Victoria at Kelowna, 2:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Hannan into B.C. Hockey Hall . . . Reichel sinks Raiders . . . Hofer gets first blank job . . . Rockets burn Tigers


MacBeth

D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Brandon, 2002-04) announced his retirement in a long interview published Tuesday (in Swedish) on the Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL) website. He still is suffering from the effects of a concussion incurred during a game on Feb. 15, 2017. The piece is titled: I am no longer a hockey player. In it, he describes the hit (collided with a teammate on a three-on-three) and its after-effects. Last season, he had three goals and three assists in 40 games with Färjestad. He was an alternate captain.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

D Scott Hannan, who played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kelowna Rockets, is among BChallthe 2018 inductees to the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame that is located in Penticton. . . . Hannan, from Richmond, B.C., went on to play 1,055 regular-season NHL games with five teams. . . . Also going into the Hall are Willie Mitchell, another former NHL defenceman, and Gerry Sillers, who played with the WHL’s Vancouver Canucks and later spent 28 years as president of the Canucks alumni association. . . . Mitchell, from Port McNeil, played in 907 regular-season NHL games and won two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles King. . . . The 1980 Burnaby Lakers, who won the Canadian intermediate A championship, will be inducted in the team category. . . . The inductions will take place in Penticton on July 20.


F Barrett Sheen of the Moose Jaw Warriors will sit for five games after being suspended by the WHL for a headshot major and game misconduct he took on Saturday in a 5-3 loss whlto the host Medicine Hat Tigers. Sheen was penalized for a hit on Tigers D Joel Craven, who had to be helped off the ice. On this week’s WHL roster report, Craven is shown as being out week-to-week. . . . Sheen will miss four home games — against Red Deer, Prince George, Lethbridge and Kootenay — and a Feb. 14 game in Regina. He’ll be eligible to return on Feb. 16 against visiting Regina. . . .

F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Kamloops D Nolan Kneen during a 4-2 victory over the visiting Blazes on Sunday. Kneen wasn’t injured on the play. Blichfeld won’t play tonight against visiting Everett or Friday in Kennewick, Wash., against Tri-City. He will be eligible to return Saturday at home against Tri-City.


Some notes from the WHL’s weekly roster report: The following players all are listed as being out week-to-week or indefinitely with upper-body injuries — D Drea Esposito and F Conner Chaulk, Calgary Hitmen; F Akash Bains, Everett Silvertips; F Erik Gardiner, Kelowna Rockets; F Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes; D Joel Craven and D Linus Nassen, Medicine Hat Tigers; D Jett Woo, Moose Jaw Warriors; and D Sergei Sapego, Prince Albert Raiders. . . . D Bailey Dhaliwal is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. . . . D Chaz Reddekopp of the Victoria Cougars is out four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury. . . . D Roman Kalinichenko of the Tri-City Americans is out another three weeks with an upper-body injury. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother will be out up to three weeks with an upper-body injury. . . . F Hayden Ostir of Medicine will miss up to six weeks with an upper-body injury. . . . F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks is expected back this week from a hip injury, while teammate Kieffer Bellows (hand) should return next week.


If you’re interested in attending the 2018 Memorial Cup in Regina, you should know that tickets for the general public now are on sale. For more info, check out the Pats’ news release right here.


D Oscar Plandowski, who is from Halifax and is playing for the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team, has committed to Quinnipiac University for the 2021-22 season. . . . This season, Plandowski has 17 points, including 14 assists, in 22 games. . . . The 6-foot-0, 165-pounder is 14 years of age; he’ll turn 15 on May 18. . . . His father, Darryl, is the head amateur scout for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Darryl played at Northern Michigan for four seasons. From Lloydminster, Alta., he spent two seasons (1992-94) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle Thundebirds and scouted for the team for four seasons (1994-98).


Scoreboard

TUESDAY:

In Prince Albert, F Kristian Reichel of the Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s last two goals as they beat the Raiders, 4-3, in overtime. . . . Red Deer (13-25-12) has points in four Red Deerstraight games (3-0-1). . . . Prince Albert (20-20-10) has points in six straight (4-0-2). The Raiders now are three points behind Saskatoon, which holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Raiders will visit Saskatoon on Friday, after the Blades play host to the Rebels tonight. . . . The Rebels trailed three times before coming back for the victory. . . . F Justin Nachbaur (6) put the home side ahead 1-0 at 9:38 of the second period. . . . F Mason McCarty (26) pulled Red Deer event at 10:33. . . . The Raiders went back out front at 11:37 when F Curtis Miske (17) scored his 17th goal. . . . Red Deer F Alex Morozoff (2) tied it at 13:48. . . . F Eric Pearce (4) scored at 2:27 of the third period as Prince Albert went ahead 3-2. . . . Reichel, who has 19 goals, tied it at 7:43. He got the winner at 2:37 of OT. . . . Red Deer got two assists from F Brandon Hagel, with Reichel adding one to his two goals. . . . Red Deer was 0-1 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-3. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 25 shots for the Rebels, six more than that Raiders’ Ian Scott. . . . The Raiders had F Regan Nagy back in the lineup after he last played on Jan. 20 when he appeared to suffer a knee injury. It ended up being a whole lot better than originally feared. . . . Announced attendance: 2,056.


At Swift Current, G Joel Hofer stopped 30 shots to lead the Broncos to a 4-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Swift Current (36-12-4) has won four in a row. It is second SCBroncosin the overall standings, five points behind Moose Jaw, but the Warriors hold three games in hand. . . . The Cougars (18-25-8) are 0-2-1 on an East Division tour and are 13 points away form a playoff spot. . . . Hofer, a 17-year-old freshman from Winnipeg, recorded his first WHL shutout in his 14th appearance. He is 6-2-1, 2.61, .917. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen (37) scored the game’s first goal, at 13:01 of the first period. . . . F Matteo Gennaro (32) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 18:20 of the second. . . . F Max Patterson (7) and D Josh Anderson (2), who was acquired from the Cougars at the trade deadline, added third-period goals. . . . D Colby Sissons drew three assists, with F Glenn Gawdin adding two, and Steenbergen getting one. . . . G Tavin Grant stopped 36 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Broncos were without F Aleksi Heponiemi, although he wasn’t listed as being injured on the WHL roster report that was released on Tuesday. They again were missing D Sahvan Khaira and F Kaden Elder, while F Kole Gable was back after a brief absence. . . . Announced attendance: 2,816.


At Kelowna, F Dillon Dube and D Cal Foote each had a goal and two assists to help the Rockets to a 5-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Kelowna (32-14-4) has points in KelownaRocketsfive straight (4-0-1). The Rockets leapfrogged Everett and now leads the Western Conference by one point. . . . Medicine Hat (26-20-6) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the Central Division by six points over Lethbridge. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s first three goals and led 3-0 midway through the second period. . . . D Cal Foote (11) got it started at 18:08 of the first period. . . . The home team went ahead 3-0 on second-period goals from F Leif Mattson (18), at 1:35, and F Carsen Twarynski (32), on a PP, at 8:42. . . . D David Quenneville (21) got the Tigers on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 14:56. . . . F Kole Lind (27) got that one back for the Rockets at 18:54. . . . F Dawson Heathcote (6) got the Tigers to within two at 5:05 of the third period. . . . Dube (22) put it away with the empty-netter at 19:28. . . . Lind also had one assist. . . . Kelowna was 2-5 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-4. . . . The Rockets got 31 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . At the other end, Jordan Hollett blocked 39 shots. . . . Tigers F Ryan Chyzowski was given a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Kelowna D James Hilsendager at 10:06 of the third period. Chances are Chyzowski will be suspended, so will miss his club’s game tonight against his older brother, Nick, and the Blazers in their hometown of Kamloops. . . . Announced attendance: 4,373.


WEDNESDAY (all times local):

Prince George at Regina, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Edmonton vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Everett at Portland, 7 p.m.

Calgary vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

Victoria vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Blichfeld leaves WJC game on stretcher . . . Organizers declare WJC a success . . . Royals add import from Hitmen, make deal with Raiders

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Portland Winterhawks boarded their bus Thursday afternoon and headed for Spokane where they will play the Chiefs tonight.

But you can bet the Winterhawks’ thoughts weren’t on the road in front of them. Rather, Portlandthey will have been wondering about the condition of F Joachim Blichfeld, a teammate who was stretchered off the ice midway through the second period of a relegation-round game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo earlier in the day.

Blichfeld hit his head on the boards after taking a high hit from behind from D Dmitri Deryabin of Belarus, who was assessed a match penalty on the play.

Blichfeld did flash a thumbs-up signal as he was carried from the ice surface. He was taken to hospital for further examination.

Blichfeld, 19, is from Frederikshavn, Denmark. He was selected by San Jose in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft and signed with the Sharks on on Dec. 28 while in Buffalo.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation series on Wednesday, Blichfeld had two goals and an assist as Denmark won the opener, 5-4.

On Thursday, Blichfeld had two primary assists as Denmark opened up a 2-0 lead. Belarus came back to tie it before Denmark won it, 3-2, in a shootout. The victory means Denmark stays in the top group for the 2019 WJC, with Belarus sliding back to Division 1A. (If you’re wondering, Kazakhstan won promotion to the big group, so will be in Victoria/Vancouver for the next tournament.)

This season with Portland, Blichfeld has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games. He missed a handful of games early in October with what is believed to have been a concussion.

This latest injury, then, depending on the diagnosis, might be his second brain injury of the season, meaning the Winterhawks will be extra careful with a player who is key part of their roster.


Officials from the IIHF and organizers of the 2018 World Junior Championship held a Buffalostate-of-the-event news conference in Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. Michael Traikos of the National Post was there and, as he wrote, “With noses growing, they called it a success.” . . . During the news conference, Traikos continued, “Organizers bragged that more than 200,000 tickets had been sold, ignoring that a quarter-final between the U.S. and Russia on Tuesday night had only 6,242 fans in a building that seats more than 19,000. They highlighted the record-setting crowd that braved the snow to watch an outdoor game that ‘was a little bit of magic,’  but then blamed the same weather for driving away fans at the other indoor games. . . . His complete column is right here.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News also was at the news conference, and his take is right here.

Interestingly, Campbell reported that Rene Fasel, the IIHF president, said that 50 per cent of the tickets already have been sold for the 2019 WJC that is to be held in Victoria and Vancouver.

That, Campbell wrote, “is quite a feat considering the 18-game pack (and one pre-tournament game) for Vancouver ranges in price from $650 ($34 per game) to $2,250 ($118 per game).”

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, told Vancouver sportscaster Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650 on Dec. 28 that tickets are “well over 60 per cent sold.”


The Portland Winterhawks lost F Lane Gilliss to an undisclosed injury on Sunday during a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. As a result, they have brought back F Jaydon Dureau from the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. He had been with the Winterhawks but was returned to the Pat Canadians following the Christmas break. The Pat Canadians won the Mac’s tournament in Calgary on Monday. Dureau had two goals and two assists in the championship game, a 4-0 victory over the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . . Dureau, 16, was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, he has 56 points, including 27 goals, in 26 games with the Pat Canadians. . . . Portland also returned D Nick Cicek to junior A, in his case to the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, but quickly brought him back when D Keoni Texeira went down with an undisclosed injury.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have brought in F Jake Neighbours for a look-see. From Airdrie, Alta., Neighbours was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings earlier this season. . . . In 23 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes, Neighbours has 17 goals and 25 assists. . . . If you’re interested in the return of D Brayden Gorda to the Oil Kings, there is more right here.


The Red Deer Rebels have dropped F Lukus MacKenzie, 18, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . MacKenzie had four assists in 17 games with the Rebels after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades, with whom he had four assists in 13 games. . . . From Calgary, MacKenzie was a third-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 138 games, he has eight goals and 28 assists.


WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 20

PLAYERS: 35

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 21

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 4


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals acquired F Andrei Grishakov, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Grishakov, from Chelyabinsk, Russia, has 22 goals and 39 assists in 107 VictoriaRoyalsgames with the Hitmen. This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has 11 goals and 15 assists in 37 games. . . . The Hitmen selected him in the CHL import draft after he put up 21 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with Traktor Chelyabinski’s U-17 team in 2015-16. He also played four games with the U-18 side that season, recording four goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Grishakov should be in Victoria’s lineup tonight (Friday) against the visiting Everett Silvertips. If he doesn’t play then, he will get another opportunity on Saturday when the Royals visit Kamloops. Yes, it’s a quick turn-around for Victoria.

WHY: The Royals have had room for an import since F Yan Khomenko returned to Russia and signed with Ak Bars Kazan, a KHL team. He is pointless in three games with Irbis Kazan, a junior team. . . . The Royals are hoping that putting Grishakov into their top six will ignite his offence. . . . Grishakov joins F Igor Martynov, who turns 19 on Jan. 19, as the Royals’ import players. Martynov is from Belarus and has been representing his country at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo. . . . The Hitmen, who aren’t likely to make the playoffs, have been in sell mode since Nov. 25 when they dealt top-flight forwards Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn to the Swift Current Broncos. Now it’s all about freeing up ice time for younger players.


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 18, from the Prince Albert Raiders for D Jeremy Masella, 18.

THE NUMBERS: From Lethbridge, Jerome has one assist in 31 games with the Raiders. PrinceAlbertHe split last season between the Red Deer Rebels and the Raiders, recording eight goals and eight assists in 55 games. . . . Masella had three goals and four assists in 35 games with the Royals. In 63 career games, all with Victoria, he has three goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Red Deer placed the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jerome on their protected list in 2016. The Rebels dealt him to Prince Albert on Dec. 28, 2016, along with a 2017 third-round bantam draft pick, for F Austin Glover. . . . The 6-foot-5, 214-pound Masella is from Phoenix. He had been on Victoria’s protected list since 2015. . . . This is the second deal between these teams this week. On Tuesday, the Royals dealt F Regan Nagy, 20, to the Raiders for the rights to F Hunter Strand, 15, sixth- and 10th-round picks in the 2018 bantam draft and a third-rounder in 2019. . . . Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, has made seven trades since Dec. 1.

WHY: For starters, both players get fresh starts and a chance to earn more ice time with new teams. . . . The Royals had been carrying eight defencemen so it seemed that someone would go before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. Victoria also adds another bigger forward as it continues to alter the size of its forward ranks. . . . The Raiders add size to their back end. Their roster shows nine defencemen, but Sergei Sapego is injured, Vojtech Budik is at the WJC in Buffalo, and Kaiden Guhle, the first overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, is only 15 so will have to go back to his club team at some point.


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Kootenay at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Tri-City at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Seattle at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Everett at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Three WHLers a step closer to NHL . . . Hebig, Blichfeld and Halbgewachs sign contracts

Hebig
Cam Hebig (9) of the Saskatoon Blades flies through the air with the greatest of ease in this terrific photo by Steve Hiscock. Hebig signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Only Cam Hebig knows what he went through as he sat out all of the 2016-17 WHL season while trying to recover from what originally was believed to be a concussion suffered in training camp.

Recover he did, though, and now he is in the middle of a career season with the Saskatoon Blades. He leads his club in goals (28) and points (51) in 35 games.

On Thursday, Hebig, 20, got something of a reward as the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed him to a three-year entry-level contract.

According to capfriendly.com, Hebig’s contract calls for base salaries in the NHL of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000, with a salary in the minors of $70,000 each season. Each of the first two seasons carries $182,500 in performance bonuses, with $132,500 in the third season. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.

This season, 2017-18, covers the first year of the contract, with a junior salary of $10,500.

 As the Blades started training camp in August, Hebig told Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he really isn’t sure what had been wrong.

 “I’ve had that question a lot and I don’t know how to explain it,” Hebig said. “I went to a lot of doctors and went to see a lot of people. I never did get a clear diagnosis. It was always weird symptoms.

“I worked hard at the physio that they gave me and I think that helped me. We can put that now behind me.”

Hebig added that his patience was stretched to the maximum when he wasn’t able to get on the ice last season.

“Patience is right,” he told Zary. “It was definitely a long year. I learned a lot from that. Facing that adversity helped make me stronger. I feel confident now and I’m definitely glad I can put that behind me.”

When Zary asked what he learned, Hebig replied: “Just a lot about training, the body and how I can better myself. I learned to never quit and, when things get tough, just keep pushing and things are going to turn around for you.”

There can be no doubting that Hebig, who is from Saskatoon, is the Blades’ leader. They have won six of their last seven games, during which time he has five goals and five assists.

The surge has helped the Blades get into a playoff spot for the first time this season.

In doing that StarPhoenix story, Zary asked Hebig about goals for this season.

Hebig replied: “I want to come in and have fun. It’s my last (season). I’m going to give it my all every game and just stay positive. Going out, working hard every night and trying to be consistent and, I think if I do that, things will fall into place.”

The Blades selected Hebig in the third round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft. Now, in 233 career regular-season games, he has 186 points, including 85 goals.

Oh, yes, he also has an NHL contract in his hip pocket.

On Thursday, he told Zary:

“I worked so hard for it. It’s great. It’s very exciting for me and my family. To see it pay off is definitely a great feeling and it’s pretty cool to be signed by the Oilers.”


Two other WHLers signed NHL deals on Thursday, as F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks and F Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors got three-year entry-level deals from the San Jose Sharks.

Blichfeld’s deal was announced shortly after he and the Danish national junior team had been beaten, 4-1, by Finland at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

This season, Blichfeld, 19, has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games with Portland. In 89 career games, he has 41 goals and 47 assists.

Although he is from Denmark, he played for Malmo’s junior team in Sweden before joining the Winterhawks.

The Sharks selected Blichfeld, who is from Frederikshavn, Denmark, in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft.

Halbgewachs, who is from Emerald Park, Sask., signed as a free agent.

Halbgewachs’ contract, according to capfriendly.com, calls for NHL salaries of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000. The minor-league salary in each of the three seasons would be $70,000. There are performance bonuses of $182,500, $182,500 and $132,500. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.

As in Hebig’s case, this season, 2017-18, covers the first season of the deal, and there is a junior salary of $10,500.

This season, the 20-year-old Halbgewachs leads the CHL with 37 goals. In 37 games, he has put up 64 points.

Halbgewachs was selected by Kamloops in the first round of the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft, but never played for the Blazers. He was traded to Moose Jaw on Dec. 6, 2012, with D Tyler Bell and a first-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.

Last season, Halbgewachs exploded for 101 points, including 50 goals, in 71 games. In 241 career games, all with the Warriors, he has 106 goals and 109 assists.