Warriors’ GM pays price for getting tossed . . . Stankoven lighting it up for Blazers . . . Huskies howl for Houlder

——

MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He started the season with Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), and had five assists in eight games. . . . He was released by mutual agreement on Dec. 27. . . .

F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) has signed a two-year contract extension with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has nine goals and seven assists in 32 games. . . .

D Nolan Yonkman (Kelowna, Brandon, 1996-2001) has signed a contract extension for the rest of this season with JYP Jyväskylä (Finland, Liiga). Yonkman had signed a two-month contract on Nov. 7 that took effect on Nov. 14. He has one assist in 12 games. . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). He had five goals and 15 assists in 35 games. . . . No reason was given for the release, however Medveščak Zagreb is in financial difficulties and has been releasing players for financial reasons over the past month.

——

ThisThat

Ch-ch-ch-ching!

Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is a little lighter in the MooseJawWarriorswallet today after being fined $1,500 on Monday.

According to the WHL website, Millar was fined “for receiving a game misconduct” during Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

On the online scoresheet from that game there is this line: “GM Alan Millar issued game misconduct at second intermission.”

That penalty may have had something to do with a Brandon goal and a minor penalty, as described at discovermoosejaw.com by James Gallo, who also is the Warriors’ play-by-play voice:

“Brandon scored a controversial goal with just over three minutes left in the (second) period to make it 3-1.

“While on the power play, (Brandon’s) Ben McCartney took a shot from the bottom of the Warriors’ left circle. As the rebound came between the circles, Brandon’s Ridly Greig crashed the Warriors’ net and was on top of goalie Adam Evanoff. The play was allowed to continue and Baron Thompson scored.

“Brandon’s goal was allowed to stand even though Greig was issued a penalty for goalie interference on the play.”

Thompson’s goal gave Brandon a 3-1 lead and ended up being the game-winner.

Millar is the first GM to be fined since Stu MacGregor, then the GM of the Kamloops Blazers, was touched up for $500 for “actions following game versus Spokane” on Jan. 9, 2018.

The Warriors open a seven-game road swing tonight against the Kamloops Blazers. It could be that Millar will have a little less spending money than usual on this trek.

——

——

The Kelowna Rockets played host to a news conference on Monday at which former KelownaRocketscaptain Josh Gorges announced his retirement as a player.

Gorges, who is from Kelowna, was a list player who went on to play four seasons (2000-04) with the Rockets. An intelligent, puck-moving defenceman, he was the team captain in 2003-04, when he also played for Canada at the World Junior Championship, helping win silver in Helsinki, Finland.

Gorges, now 34, went on to a pro career that included 783 regular-season NHL games split among the San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. He played 34 games with the Sabres last season.

There has been speculation that the Rockets would be adding Gorges to head coach Adam Foote’s staff. The Rockets have had a vacancy since parting company with Travis Crickard on Dec. 8.

There was no such announcement Monday, however, as the spotlight was strictly on Gorges and his retirement. The Rockets will honour Gorges on Saturday prior to a game against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Could there be an announcement made at that time?

There is more on Gorges’ retirement right here.

——

During the news conference at which former WHL/NHL D Josh Gorges announced his retirement, Bruce Hamilton, the owner, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, said he wasn’t about to have any comment on a proposed class-action suit that has been filed by James McEwan. Like Gorges, McEwan is a former Rockets captain.

“This press conference has nothing to do (with) nor will we have any statement with regards to the legal issue that (was) brought forward this weekend,” Hamilton said.

Megan Turcato of Global News in Kelowna has more right here.

——

You can hardly blame fans of the Kamloops Blazers if they are licking their lips at the thought of watching F Logan Stankoven over the next three or four WHL seasons.

Stankoven, who will turn 16 on Feb. 26, is from Kamloops, and was selected fifth overall thompsonblazersby the Blazers in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.

Last season, he put up 90 points, including 57 goals, in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C.

This season, he is lighting up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with his hometown Thompson Blazers.

Stankoven set a franchise record for points in a season on the weekend. He leads the league with 63 points, including 36 goals, in 26 games. The Blazers’ previous record (59) was set by F Riley Nash in 2005-06. Nash has played 443 NHL regular-season games and now is with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Stankoven also leads the league in goals and is tied for the lead in assists, with 27.

The league record for goals in a season (44) was set by F Tyson Jost of the  Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. He did it in 36 games.

The record for points in one season is held by F Alex Kerfoot, who put up 108 in 38 games with the Vancouver NW Giants in 2010-11. F Mathew Barzal had 103 in 34 games with the Vancouver NE Chiefs in 2012-13, and F Jordan Weal got to an even 100 points in 40 games with the Vancouver NW Hawks in 2007-08.

Of course, Jost and Kerfoot now are with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Barzal is with the New York Islanders and Weal is with the Arizona Coyotes.

Stankoven has played one game with the WHL’s Blazers this season, picking up an assist in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 19. He may have been the best of the Kamloops forwards on that night, too.

——

The Grimshaw Huskies of the North Peace Hockey League honoured F Terry Houlder by retiring his number on Saturday night. According to NPHL stats guru Chris Clegg, Houlder put up 1,763 points in 669 regular-season games, plus 382 in 176 playoff games. He finally retired after turning 50. . . . Houlder, now 52, played three seasons (1984-87) in the WHL, the first two with the Lethbridge Broncos and the last one with the Calgary Wranglers. He enjoyed seasons of 88, 105 and 105 points. . . . Please read the thread on the above tweet for a whole lot more about Houlder and the game of senior hockey.

——

One day after completing parent’s weekend, the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League tweeted on Monday that “as of today, Mark Chase has been relieved of his duties” as the team’s general manager and head coach. . . . The Coyotes are 13-21 with two ties and one OTL. They are third in the five-team Okanagan Division. . . . Chase was in his first season with the Coyotes after spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Chase is from Kamloops, where he was the GM/head coach of the major midget Thompson Blazers from 2013-15. . . . The Coyotes are expected to announce an interim head coach today.

——

Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Questions and food for thought . . . Vandervlis prepping for return . . . Fans gone missing . . . Leason, Fix-Wolansky penning great stories


MacBeth

F Jeremy Williams (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). An alternate captain, he has 14 goals and 15 assists in 30 games. He leads the Tigers in goals, assists and points, and is fifth in the league’s scoring race.


ThisThat

On the 10th day of our annual Christmas countdown, if you click right here you’ll find GENTRI — The Gentlemen Trio — with a neat version of Little Drummer Boy.


F Ryan Vandervlis, 20, who played 162 games over the past four seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is joining the junior B Red Deer Vipers. . . . The Vipers, who play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, announced the move via Twitter on Friday. . . . Vandervlis hasn’t played since suffering severe burns to 60 per cent of his body during a campfire incident in June. . . . Sean McIntosh of the Red Deer Advocate has more right here.


D James Miller of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees has committed to the Northern Michigan Wildcats for next season. Miller, 20, was a sixth-round pick by the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . Miller, from Spruce Grove, Alta., actually played two games with the U of New Hampshire Wildcats in 2017-18 before returning to Penticton. . . . He went into Friday’s action with 15 goals and 29 assists in 36 games with the Vees. Miller’s 44 points led all BCHL defencemen. . . . According to a news release from the Vees, Miller is the 18th player on their roster “with an NCAA Division 1 scholarship.”


A few WHL-related thoughts during the Christmas break . . .

Just the other day, I noticed this headline — Raiders win fight-fest in Swift Current — at paherald.sk.ca. The story was dated Dec. 14. I looked it up. There appear to have been five fights. Yes, the WHL has moved far away from the days when a fight-fest wasn’t a fight-fest unless the benches cleared and there was at least a 30-minute delay.

——

Where have the hockey fans of Medicine Hat gone? Remember when the 4,006-seat Medicine Arena was sold out for every regular-season game? Now the Tigers play in the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre and the average announced attendance is 3,011 through 16 home games. What changed?

——

On the same subject, the Saskatoon Blades appear to have turned the corner — finally! — and are a solid second in not only the East Division but the Eastern Conference. Their average announced attendance (AAA) is 3,658 through 15 games, which has them 14th in the 22-team league. Last season, the Blades finished with an AAA of 3,851 for 36 home dates.

——

Will the Kelowna Rockets add an assistant coach over the holidays — to replace the departed Travis Crickard — and will it be former Rockets defenceman/captain Josh Gorges?

——

Speaking of Crickard . . . was that him watching the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers practise one day this week?

——

Really, there has been no better story in the WHL this half-season than the one written PrinceAlbertby F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders. He went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. This season, in 31 games, he has 28 goals and 36 assists. Here’s hoping that a hand injury suffered while in camp with Canada’s national junior team last week in Victoria doesn’t slow him down, although it has kept him out of the pre-tournament games to date.

——

There also is a great story in Edmonton where Oil Kings F Trey Fix-Wolansky has 64 EdmontonOilKingspoints, including a WHL-leading 43 assists, in 34 games. The Edmonton native is lighting it up at home and not a lot of players get to do that. The story, though, is that the 5-foot-7 Fix-Wolansky has had to fight the height-challenged battle his entire career. He should have been in the selection camp of Canada’s national junior team, but his invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. He’s now going to spend the second half of the season continuing to prove himself to the doubters.

——

Greg Meachem is a former sports editor of the Red Deer Advocate, who now works for the Rebels and writes at reddeerrebels.com. . . . He’s worth reading, especially for the honesty in the quotes from Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Rebels. Sutter never pulls any punches in his post-game comments.

——

Is anyone else waiting for the Portland Winterhawks to run off about 10 victories in a row at some point after the break? Or is the competition in the U.S. Division simply to stiff for that to happen?

——

Worth watching after the break . . .

In the East Division: The WHL record for fewest losses in one season belongs to the Brandon Wheat Kings, who lost five times in a 72-game season in 1978-79. The Wheat Kings finished 58-5-9 that season, one in which they settled for ties in lieu of OT. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders are halfway through their schedule with a 31-2-1 record, so depending upon your point of view they have lost either two or three games. . . . Of course, the Raiders are playing a 68-game schedule, so perhaps it’s time to open a new section in the record book.

In the Central Division: The Red Deer Rebels, having played 32 games, Lethbridge Hurricanes (33) and Edmonton Oil Kings (36) are tied for first place, each with 42 points. . . . Each of the three added major pieces prior to the break. Will one, two or three of them go shopping again before the Jan. 10 trade deadline?

In the B.C. Division: There are 12 division in the CHL’s three leagues and the B.C. Division has the 11th-poorest points percentage (.512), with a lot of that due to the of that due to the Vancouver Giants (22-8-2, .719). . . . The Kamloops Blazers hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds and two ahead of the Prince George Cougars. If the second half unfolds much like the first half, two of those teams will miss the playoffs; the other will meet the Everett Silvertips in the first round.

In the U.S. Division: The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs are tied for second in the U.S. Division, each with records of 19-11-4. Everett is 14 points ahead; Tri-City is six points back. . . . How important is home-ice advantage in the playoffs to the Winterhawks and Chiefs? Portland is 2-1-0 in the season series, with three games remaining.

——

How upset are you if you’re a follower of the Kootenay Ice who bought a season-ticket during the team’s Drive to 25 off-season promotion, only to watch so many veteran players quit or be traded amid signs your once-favourite club will move to Winnipeg at season’s end? . . . The Ice already has dressed 38 players this season. It has an 8-22-6 record, meaning it has won eight of 36 games, and is 14 points away from a playoff spot.

——

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, sounded most uncomfortable in responding to a DelisleChiefsquestion about the Kootenay Ice from Dean Millard of the TSN radio in Edmonton on Thursday night. Robison said there will be an announcement involving the Ice “very soon,” but wasn’t any more specific than that, nor did he shed any light on the situation. . . . I can’t imagine what might be in that announcement, but when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season, the WHL didn’t confirm the much-rumoured move until almost three weeks after their season had ended.

Perhaps fans of the Ice can gain some solace from what Robison told Chilliwack fans after the Bruins left town: “We believe that under the right conditions Chilliwack can be a viable WHL market. We intend to give full consideration to returning should relocation occur in the future.”

One other thing about the Bruins’ move . . . While the WHL didn’t make an official announcement until April 20, 2011, it turned out that the Bruins’ owners and the WHL had agreed to sell the Chilliwack franchise on Jan. 13, 2011.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


Tweetoftheday