Need hockey writer? He’s not Tim, but Horton can write . . . BCHL asks for help . . . AJHL team gets nickname

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t lead an entry with something as political as this.

But . . . but . . . but . . . these don’t appear to be normal times.

I mean, this is the President of the United States of America making these statements. I mean, just when you thought the elevator had reached the basement, you find out there’s another level down there.

And today we will find out there is yet another level . . . and on Saturday there will be another and on and on it goes.

I mean, this is the President of the United States of America, and this really is scary stuff.

I mean, what kind of times are we living in when a doctor has to tweet this following an address by the President of the United States of American . . .


Turd


Newspaper coverage of the WHL took a real hit on Thursday when the Everett Herald laid off Josh Horton, whose primary beat had been the Silvertips. It was a beat he covered with discipline, enthusiasm and thoroughness. . . . One of the best young writers covering the WHL, Horton had been furloughed on March 26. The layoff notice came down on Wednesday. . . . These are tough times in the newspaper business, but if you’re in management and need a terrific young writer, you will want to check him out.


It’s official. . . . According to a statement issued Wednesday, the BCHL is “requesting BCHLfinancial assistance from the provincial government to offset major losses for its teams due to the shutdown of the league.” . . . The BCHL has been shuttered since March 13, following the completion of the first round of its playoffs. . . . Of the BCHL’s 18 teams, 17 are located in B.C. The exception is the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild. . . . Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, explained: “We have every intention of playing hockey next season, with all 18 of our teams, if we get the green light from Hockey Canada, as well as the provincial health authorities.“But the reality is we’ve identified potential financial issues down the road due to this pandemic and want to address these problems now. The league has already lent its support to our teams through a contingency fund, but it’s clear that more is needed.” . . . The news release is right here.



It was a tough day on the rodeo circuit as the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition and the Calgary Stampede both announced that the 2020 events have been cancelled. . . . The Manitoba event is held annually in Morris, usually drawing around 30,000 people. It was to have been held July 16-19. . . . The Calgary Stampede, which draws more than one million visitors annually, had been scheduled for July 3-12. It has been held every year since 1923. . . .

Officials in Edmonton have announced that K-Days, their major summer event, has been cancelled. The 10-day exhibition was to have opened on July 17. . . . The city also has lost its Taste of Edmonton, Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Fringe Theatre Festival, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival and its International Jazz Festival, at least for this year. . . .

Another terrific event that has been cancelled for this year is the Salmon Arm, B.C., Roots and Blues Festival. It was to run from Aug. 13-16. . . .

Baseball Canada pulled the plug on all 11 of its national championship tournaments. . . . That included the men’s championship that had been scheduled for Sydney, N.S., Aug. 27-30, and the women’s Invitational at Stonewall, Man., Aug. 20-23. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

Track and field’s Diamond League has postponed the Prefontaine Classic (Eugene, Ore., June 7) and a meet in Paris (June 13), without announcing new dates. This means the Diamond League now has postponed or altered the first nine of its 15 events scheduled for 2020. . . .



The Thought for the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one originating with H.L. Mencken: “If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”


Terry McFaul has been named the Kelowna Rockets’ head scout, taking over from Lorne Frey, who stepped back after Wednesday’s WHL bantam draft and now is a senior advisor. . . . McFaul, from Calgary, has been a member of the Rockets’ scouting staff for 29 years.


Fridge


The AJHL franchise in Blackfalds, Alta., that is to start play in 2021-22, will be nicknamed Blackfaldsthe Bulldogs. . . . “We selected Bulldogs because there is already an established familiarity with the Town of Blackfalds and their minor hockey association,” owner Doug Quinn said in a news release. “It was less about a lack of imagination and more about wanting to be part of an established team and its community.” . . . The announcement had been scheduled for April 4, but was changed due to the COVID-19 situation. . . . The Bulldogs will be playing out of the new Blackfalds Multiplex Arena. . . . In October, the AJHL’s board of governors OK’d the transfer of the Calgary Mustangs franchise to Quinn, who also will be the Bulldogs’ head coach. He is a former coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . . Quinn, who is from Red Deer, played four seasons (1982-86) in the WHL, seeing time with the Nanaimo Islanders, New Westminster Bruins and Lethbridge Broncos.


TurnSignals

Blue Jays drop opener to Red Sox on Devers’ late dinger . . . Is U.S. college football season in jeopardy?

 

 

Yes, Thursday was to have been Opening Day.

Of course, it was wiped out.

But . . . baseball fans . . . there is hope.

I found this atop a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Since 1962, baseball lovers have played a board game called Strat-O-Matic, which uses real statistics, player tendencies and dice rolls to simulate games and seasons.

“Starting Thursday, which was to be Opening Day, New York-based Strat-O-Matic Media will replicate the postponed 2020 season through the computer version of the game and post the results, box scores and standings each day at 11 a.m. PDT on its website.

——

Some Opening Day highlights from the Strat-O-Matic website:

“The defending-champion Washington Nationals knocked off the Mets, 4-3, on a ninth-inning, tiebreaking home run by Howie Kendrick off Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Rafael Devers’ ninth-inning solo shot off Ken Giles gave the Red Sox a 3-2 win at Toronto. Colorado’s Garrett Hampson’s RBI double followed by David Dahl’s two-run single keyed a 10-7, 10-inning victory at San Diego. And Kolten Wong’s leadoff bomb off Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth lifted the Cardinals over the Reds.

“Pinch-hitters also produced two late-inning heroics for wins. The Milwaukee Brewers walked off the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, on a bottom of the 11th, three-run home run by Brock Holt, while Johan Camargo came off the bench to take Yoan Lopez out of the yard in the top of the ninth to propel the Braves past the Diamondbacks.

“And though not a last at-bat win, Baltimore scored twice off Adam Ottavino in the seventh inning to ruin the Yankees’ debut of Gerrit Cole in a 3-2 Birds win at Camden Yards.”

If you visit the Strat-O-Matic website, the link to the simulated games is right at the top.

Enjoy!


Soy


If you’re a hockey fan, you are going to want to check out cougarshockeyproject.ca. . . . According to a tweet that launched the website, it celebrates “this history of the Victoria Cougars in the Western Hockey League (with) player profiles, database, Vancouver Island arena guide and a blog.” . . .


With advertising revenues dropping like punctured balloons, news outlets are starting to issue layoffs and furloughs to employees. . . . Sound Publishing owns 43 publications in Washington state, including the Everett Herald, has cut staff. One of those to be furloughed was Josh Horton, who, among other things, has been covering the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Four of the seven people in the Herald’s sports department were furloughed. Sports columnist Nick Patterson, who used to be on the Silvertips beat, has been moved to the news room. . . .

——

 


The Thought of the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?” . . .

BTW, the curmudgeonly one also is the supplier of many of the cartoons that end up on this site, and I thank him for brightening our days. . . .


The Indianapolis 500 had been scheduled to run on May 24. It now has been postponed until Aug. 23. . . . This will be first time since 1945 that it hasn’t been held on the Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t held from 1941-45 because of the Second World War. . . . This will be the first Indy 500 since Roger Penske purchased IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. . . . IndyCar is hoping to get its season started with a race in Detroit on May 30. . . .


SourCream


If you don’t think that we have fallen down a rabbit hole consider that the odds-makers at www.SportsBettingDime.com have come up with some over/unders involving President Trump’s favourite words and phrases during his yammering in those inane press briefings/campaign rallies that go on daily. . . . Here’s a look:

Fantastic +Incredible + Amazing + Tremendous 24.5

Great 11.5

Big/Bigger/Biggest 10.5

More Tests than any other Country 9.5

Fantastic 8.5

Incredible 6.5

Amazing 5.5

Tremendous 5.5

Best 5.5

I/We’ve been treated unfairly 3.5

I/We inherited a broken system 3.5

Working Very Hard 2.5

We’re doing a great job 2.5

Not our fault 2.5


The OHL’s Kitchener Rangers have signed general manager Mike McKenzie to an extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. He has been the club’s GM since March 2017. He also acted as the team’s interim head coach from November 2019 through the end of this season. . . . He has been with the Rangers since 2012 when he signed on as an assistant coach. . . . McKenzie’s father, Bob, is a TSN hockey insider.


Scott Owens, the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, has announced his retirement. Owens, 64, spent 15 seasons as the head coach of the Colorado College Tigers. He has been with the Stampede for five seasons. . . .


An unidentified player with Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He is the third NHL player to test positive, along with two members of the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche said they got the test result on Thursday and that the player “has been at home in isolation since the first systems appeared, has recovered and is back to normal.” . . . The NHL halted its regular season on March 12. The Avalanche and Senators both were in California prior to that decision coming down. . . .


Winston


A year without any U.S. college football? The whispers have started. . . . Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports writes: “What was once unthinkable has quietly become a discussion point and concern throughout college athletics. Will the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season?” . . . The kickoff to the season (Aug. 29) is more than five months away. But the way things are going in the U.S., who knows? . . . Dodd’s piece is right here.

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “Spring games and practices have already been canceled and there’s no certainty that programs are going to be able to get work in this summer given the way things are trending right now. Are we going to be ready to stuff 100,000+ people into some stadiums around the country by the time fall rolls around? I wish I could say yes, but nobody can provide an end date for this ordeal.” . . .


 


 

Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

——

One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


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

WJC in Everett/Seattle? Why not in 2025? . . . Paddock, Farkas put up clean sheets . . . Silvertips roll past Thunderbirds


MacBeth

F Johannes Salmonsson (Spokane, 2005-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Timrå (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had five goals and seven assists in 52 games with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL).


ThisThat

As was reported earlier in the week, Team USA will stop off in Everett and Kamloops before starting play in the 2019 World Junior Championship that opens in Vancouver and 2019wjcVictoria on Dec. 26.

Team USA will hold its selection camp at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett from Dec. 14-18, and then will go to Kamloops for its pre-tournament camp from Dec. 19-23.

While this is big news for Kamloops, it is huge news for the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I would suggest that the World Junior Championship will be held in Everett and Seattle in 2025, that is if everything goes according to plan and Seattle has an NHL franchise at the time.

Why 2025? Because that’s the next time the tournament is scheduled to be held in the U.S.

The Silvertips are owned by Consolidated Sports Holding (CSH).

“That’s the whole underlying thing,” Zoran Rajcic, the COO of CSH, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, “to not only help them out in a close location to where they’re going to be for this year’s World Juniors, (but get) a chance for us to sit down with USA Hockey (to find out) if they’d consider us hosting a future World Juniors in Everettt.”

John Vanbiesbrouck, the former NHL goaltender who is in his first go-round as general manager of USA Hockey’s national junior team, told Horton:

“We’re still a ways out. But we’re also looking at the impact that Seattle is going to have on the NHL and, between Seattle and Everett, it’s certainly a possibility and something that we haven’t had on the West Coast for some time, if ever. It’s lining up to be a decent fit and hopefully we can take (a look) as it gets closer at it becoming a reality.”

Gord Miller of TSN tweeted on Feb. 12 that the IIHF has reportedly picked these host countries for the next 14 WJCs:

2019: Vancouver and Victoria.

2020: Czech Republic

2021: Canada

2022: Sweden

2023: Russia

2024: Canada

2025: U.S.

2026: Canada

2027: Finland

2028: Czech Republic

2029: Canada

2030: USA

2031: Russa

2032: Canada


There has been ample speculation that an arena will be built in Winnipeg and that it Kootenaynewwould eventually be home to the Kootenay Ice, a WHL team that presently plays in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice’s owners, Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, both were in Winnipeg when they purchased the franchise prior to the 2016-17 season. Cockell relocated to Cranbrook, with his family, as president and general manager. . . . The Winnipeg Free Press reported recently that the Ice would move to Winnipeg, likely in time for next season, and that the team would play out of an arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba until a 5,000-seat arena, built in conjunction to the Rink Hockey Academy, was ready for use. . . . Mike Sawatzky, who has been covering this story for the Free Press, reported Saturday:

“Reeve Brad Erb, who was recently re-elected, told the Free Press this week he has not been approached by representatives of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice for approval to build an arena adjacent to the Rink Hockey Academy (RHA) on the west end of South Landing and just off McGillivray Boulevard.

“A new facility for the RHA, which is currently under construction, lies within the municipality’s boundries.”

Erb told Sawatzky: “I’ve not officially had any introduction or conversation with anyone regarding a Western Hockey League team. I’m more curious than anything about some of the rumours that are out there and whether there’s any truth to them or not. That’s kinda where we stand.”

Sawatzky’s story is right here.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


SATURDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

F Reese Johnson’s shootout goal gave the visiting Red Deer Rebels a 4-3 victory over the Red DeerMoose Jaw Warriors. . . . Red Deer improved to 12-5-1, while Moose Jaw now is 7-5-4. . . . The Warriors erased a 3-1 deficit in the final 2:04 of the third period. . . . F Ryan Peckford (4) got Moose Jaw to within a goal at 17:56, with his second goal of the game, and F Daniil Stepanov (3) tied it at 18:26. . . . Johnson was the first shooter in the fourth round of the shootout. F Oleg Zaytsev had scored for Red Deer in the second round, with F Peckford quickly replying for the Warriors. . . . F Jeff de Wit scored his 12th goal for Red Deer as he ran his goal streak to six games. He has 12 goals in 18 games; he went into this season with 30 goals in 247 career regular-season games. Last season, de Wit finished with 11 goals in 43 games — one goal in seven games with the Regina Pats, two in 15 with the Kootenay Ice and eight in 21 with the Victoria Royals. He also had an assist last night, and now has 21 points, two shy of his career high, in 70 games, with Red Deer in 2015-16. . . . The Rebels were without D Jacob Herauf, who was injured during a 6-3 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday. . . . F Justin Almeida was among Moose Jaw’s scratches. He suffered an undisclosed injury while playing for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series in Kamloops on Monday. . . . The Rebels will meet the Broncos in Swift Current this afternoon in what will be the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both teams.


G Max Paddock stopped 20 shots to record his first WHL shutout as the host Regina Pats Patsgot past the Swift Current Broncos, 2-0. . . . The Pats (7-12-0) have won three in a row and four of five. . . . The Broncos (3-16-0) had lost two in a row. They have been blanked three times this season. . . . These teams have met three times this season and the Pats have won all three. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (13) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 19:22 of the first period, and F Scott Mahovlich (3) got the insurance marker at 2:03 of the second. . . . Paddock’s first shutout came in his 54th regular-season appearance. This season, he is 5-10-0, 3.82, .883. . . . Among the Broncos scratches were F Owen Blocker and D Garrett Sambrook, with undisclosed injuries, and D Matthew Stanley, who is ill and missed a second straight game. . . . The Pats will play their next six games on the road; they next play at home on Dec. 1.


The Saskatoon Blades got 31 saves from G Nolan Maier as they beat the Kootenay Ice, 2-1, Saskatoonin Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Blades (12-7-2) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice (6-11-3) has lost four straight. . . . F Gary Haden (6) opened the scoring, giving Saskatoon the lead at 8:41 of the first period. That was his fifth goal in eight games since being acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Ice tied it when F Cole Muir (4) scored at 18:59. . . . Saskatoon D Seth Bafaro (2) broke the tie at 4:29 of the second period. . . . Maier was named the game’s first star for the second night in a row. On Friday, he turned aside 35 shots in a 3-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . This season, Maier is 10-5-1, 2.84, .910. . . . Kootenay D Jonathan Smart played in his 200th regular-season game. A 19-year-old from Kelowna, he also has played with the Rockets (68 games) and Regina Pats (64 games).


F Brett Kemp started the scoring and he ended it as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host EdmontonOilKingsMedicine Hat Tigers, 4-3, in OT. . . . Edmonton (12-7-2) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . Medicine Hat (9-8-3) has lost two in a row. . . . Kemp, who has 14 goals, gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:20 of the second period and he won it at 1:11 of extra time. . . . These teams went into the third period tied 1-1. . . . D Trevor Longo’s first WHL goal gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 5:50. . . . The Oil Kings went ahead 3-2 on PP goals from F Vince Loschiavo (9), at 8:21, and F Andrei Pavlenko (5), at 11:19. . . . Medicine Hat forced OT when F Hayden Ostir (7) scored, on a PP, at 13:50. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Oil Kings had two assists and moved into the lead in the WHL scoring race, He has 42 points, two more than F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders, who didn’t play last night. Fix-Wolansky has a WHL-high 30 assists.


G Shane Farkas blocked 26 shots in earning his first shutout of the season as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 3-0. . . . Portland (11-6-1) has won four straight. . . . Kelowna (8-11-0) had won its previous four games. . . . This was the Rockets’ first loss under head coach Adam Foote, who had been 4-0-0 since replacing Jason Smith. . . . Farkas had three shutouts last season. . . . F Joachim Blickfeld (15), who was credited with 10 shots on goal, gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period. He also had two assists. . . . F Cody Glass (7) made it 2-0 at 6:43 of the second period, with F Reece Newkirk (11) putting it away at 11:04 of the third. . . . Portland finished with a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . Blichfeld has 38 points in 18 games. . . . Glass has 31 points in 15 games. . . . The same teams meet again today in Portland.


F Connor Dewar scored twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-1 victory over the EverettSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Everett (13-6-0) has won three straight and leads the U.S. Division. . . . The Silvertips, who now have won six straight on the road, have won both meetings with the Thunderbirds this season. . . . Seattle (7-8-2) has lost five in a row. . . . Everett took control of this game in the first period, when it outshot Seattle, 18-1, and emerged with a 3-0 lead. . . . Dewar, who has 14 goals, got it started at 2:57, with F Jalen Price (1) scoring at 7:44, and D Wyatte Wylie (3) making it 3-0 at 18:19. . . . Dewar made it 4-0 at 5:59 of the third period. . . .  Everett F Akash Bains was among the scratches. He scored twice in Kamloops on Friday night before leaving with an apparent knee injury. . . . The Silvertips, 6-1 victors over the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night, are back in Kamloops today for a 5 p.m. start.


G Trent Miner turned aside 32 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-1 victory over Vancouverthe Prince George Cougars in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (13-3-2) has won three in a row. . . . Prince George (7-8-3) had won its previous two games. . . . These teams will play again this afternoon in Langley. . . . Miner’s evening included 17 saves in the third period. . . . F Connor Bowie (1) have the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 6:10 of the first period. . . . The Giants won it with second-period goals from F Tyler Ho (1), at 11:44, and F Cyle McNabb (1), at 15:07.


D Filip Kral had a goal and two assists to help the Spokane Chiefs to a 7-2 victory over the SpokaneChiefsRoyals in Victoria. . . . The Chiefs (9-7-3) had lost three in a row. . . . The Royals (10-6-0) had beaten the visiting Chiefs, 7-5, on Friday night. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) of the Chiefs broke a 1-1 tie on a PP, at 13:38 of the first period. . . . Kral got his first goal of the season at 18:53. . . . F Eli Zummack (7) made it 3-1 just nine seconds into the second period as the Chiefs took control. . . . Kral drew assists on the goals by Toporowski and Zummack. . . . The Chiefs finished with two empty-net goals. . . . F Jake McGrew, who played for the Chiefs on Friday, was scratched from this one. He’s got six goals and nine assists in 16 games.


Tweetoftheday