F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .
F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .
F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .
F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .
G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .
F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.
Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.
At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him $10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.
Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.
F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .
F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .
D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . .
D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.
Halifax is the first Memorial Cup host to make their league final since the Quebec Remparts did it in 2015.
No host team has won their league since Kitchener in 2008.
No host has won their league and the Memorial Cup since London in 2005.
In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.
NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .
Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .
Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.
F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He was released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga) on Tuesday. The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . . Freiburg now has five imports on its roster but is allowed to dress only four per game. The four other imports are d-men Radek Havel and Antti Kauppila, and forwards Brad McGowan, and Josef Mikyska. . . .
F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Växjö (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). In 11 games, he had three goals and five assists. He left Avangard in late October and returned to Canada. . . .
F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). He has three goals and seven assists in 35 games.
Richard Matvichuk, in the final season of a three-year contract and with a new general manager looking over his shoulder, was going to have to win the WHL championship this season in order to earn a new contract as the head coach of the Prince George Cougars.
Of course, that was never going to happen, what with the Cougars in a rebuilding mode.
So . . . with the team eight points from a playoff spot and only 16 games left to play, general manager Mark Lamb fired Matvichuk following a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.
The Giants, at 35-13-3, are atop the B.C. Division, 35 points ahead of the Cougars (16-30-6), who have lost 11 straight games (0-8-3).
Lamb, who spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, has taken over as head coach and will be in that role tonight when the Cougars meet the Rockets in Kelowna.
He will be joined behind the bench by associate coach Steve O’Rourke and Nick Drazenovic, who has been moved up from director of player development to assistant coach, at least for the rest of this season.
If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.
Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.
Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, will find another coaching job. After all, he was the ECHL’s reigning coach of the year when he left the Missouri Mavericks to sign with the Cougars on June 2, 2016. The Mavericks had finished with the ECHL’s best regular-season record (52-15-5) in 2015-16.
In Matvichuk’s first season in Prince George, the Cougars went 45-21-6 to finish atop the B.C. Division, a first for the franchise since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season.
You may recall that the Cougars went all-in that season. On Nov. 18, 2016, they acquired D Brendan Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for two players, as well as first- and third-round bantam draft picks. Then, on Jan. 5, 2017, the Cougars got Russian F Nikita Popugaev from the Moose Jaw Warriors for two players, including F Justin Almeida, and a couple of bantam draft picks. Popugaev gave the Cougars 25 points, nine of them goals, in 44 games over two seasons before going home 13 games into last season. Almeida has produced 184 points, 71 of them goals, in 150 games with the Warriors.
It turned out for naught as the Cougars lost a first-round playoff series, 4-2, to the Portland Winterhawks.
Last season, the Cougars were sellers — they unloaded the likes of F Kody McDonald, D Josh Anderson and D Dennis Cholowski — as they wound up 24-38-10, leaving them fifth in the B.C. Division and 20 points from a playoff spot.
Somewhere in all of this, the Cougars’ ownership group decided to make a u-turn in regard to its philosophy. Henceforth, the goal won’t be to aim for a single-season splash, to get caught up in what some people still see as the cyclical nature of major junior hockey. Rather, the owners decided that the Cougars are going to build through the draft with the goal of having a team that makes the playoffs on an annual basis. Make the playoffs, the thinking now is, and let the chips fall where they may.
Unfortunately, none of that does Matvichuk any good because he’s gone.
Remember, too, that hockey teams go through coaches these days the way a Dairy Queen outlet goes through ice cream.
The Cougars are the second of the WHL’s 22 teams to make a coaching change this season. Kelowna was 4-10-0 when Jason Smith was fired and replaced by Adam Foote. The Rockets are 17-16-5 under Foote.
After last season, eight WHL teams changed head coaches. Seven teams, including the Cougars, also brought in new general managers.
The Cougars decided not to renew Todd Harkins’ contract after last season. He had been in the organization for four seasons, the first one as head scout and director of player personnel, the last one as general manager.
It was Harkins who hired Matvichuk.
With Lamb coming in and Matvichuk into the last year of his contract, many observers thought they could see the writing on the wall. Late on Wednesday night, their eyesight was proven to be 20/20.
Lamb signed a four-year contract with the Cougars, and now he gets to hire his own head coach. Or maybe he puts himself into the position on a permanent basis. His last stint as a head coach, with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, didn’t end the way he would have liked when he was dismissed after one season (2016-17).
Unless Lamb, 54, is one of those rare people who is able to shake free from the coaching bug, he may have a desire to give it another go with the hope that at some point he will be able to walk away on his terms.
As mental health awareness circulates through the #WHL I want to take this time to talk about my son and how he chose to speak up when things weren’t quite feeling right, the most proud of him I have ever been! #keeptalking
F Ilijah Colina left the Prince George Cougars last week.
At the time, the Cougars said that Colina, a 19-year-old from North Delta, B.C., who was in his third WHL season, had gone home for “personal reasons.”
In a tweet (above) that was posted on Thursday evening, Colina’s mother, Carrie, has shed some light on her son’s departure.
The next time you attend a junior hockey game, take a minute to think about the stress the players face, almost all of them living away from home as they chase a dream, with some of them starting to realize that that’s all it is — a dream.
In 151 regular-season games, 68 with the Cougars and 83 with the Portland Winterhawks, Colina has 18 goals and 37 assists.
An update on F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks, who has been rehabbing a knee injury, from Vince Sapienza, a sports reporter with FOX 5 in Las Vegas:
Cody Glass injury update: He's back on the ice, beginning to take in full practices for Portland. The hope is he returns to game action next week. I'm told while he was put in a knee brace for precautionary reasons, there was no ligament damage, per sources Good news#VegasBorn
The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame has undergone a name change after receiving a $500,000 donation from the family of the late Ted Knight, a former co-owner of the Regina Pats.
It has been renamed the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.
From a news release:
“Ted Knight’s children — Tracey, Kevin and Kyle — wanted to honour their father’s name and his love for the game of hockey. Through this title sponsorship of the Hall, the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will remain a hub for hockey in the province and honour those individuals who have made a lasting impression on Saskatchewan hockey.”
Knight, who was born in Selkirk, Man., in 1939, played for the Winnipeg Braves when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.
In 1986, Knight, Bill Hicke, Morley Gusway, Jack Nichol and Huddy Bell bought the Regina Pats. Knight was part of that ownership group for 10 years.
Knight, along with sons Kevin and Kyle, owned the Knight Automotive Group. It started with Crestview Chrysler Dodge in Regina and now has 15 dealerships in the three Prairie provinces.
Knight died on Oct. 13, 2017, at the age of 78.
The Hall of Fame is located in the Credit Union I-Plex, the home arena of the Swift Current Broncos.
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Eight days after announcing that the franchise will be leaving Cranbrook, B.C., for Winnipeg once this season is over, the Kootenay Ice has announced the formation of a Hall of Fame.
No, it’s not April 1. No, this isn’t a script for Saturday Night Live. This isn’t MAD Magazine.
You can’t make this stuff up. Seriously. You just can’t.
The Ice made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday, adding that former captain Jarret Stoll, 36, who played four seasons (1998-2002) in Cranbrook, will be the first inductee. Stoll captained the Ice in its Memorial Cup-winning season (2001-02).
According to a news release, selection to the Hall of Fame “is not a number retirement; however, all inductees will be honoured with a special ceremony and banner-raising to commemorate their achievements.”
The news release doesn’t indicate where Kootenay-area fans will have to go in future seasons to view the Hall of Fame, whether it will be located in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, the Ice’s home for the next two seasons, or later in its yet-to-be built home in an area in the southwestern corner of Winnipeg.
Stoll, in his second season as a development coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, is to be honoured prior to a game with the visiting Calgary Hitmen on March 2 after which Cranbrook’s time in the WHL will be down to three home games.
“The ceremony,” reads the news release that is right here, “will include a banner raising.”
What that means is that Western Financial Place, the home of the Ice, which already has a Wall of Fame, won’t have a WHL team after March 16, but there will be one Hall of Fame banner fluttering in the rafters.
The news release also states: “All banners hanging in the rafters at Western Financial Place, including the future Ice Hall of Fame banner, will remain in Cranbrook.”
Hey, good for Stoll, who will be on hand for the evening, along with his wife, Erin, who you may know as Erin Andrews of ESPN. There isn’t any doubt that he should be the first but it’s all about the timing.
In future seasons, fans and sponsors who supported the Kootenay Ice will be able to find solace by wandering into the arena, grabbing a seat, sipping on their coffee, and looking up into the rafters. They won’t have a WHL team, but, hey, those banners. . . .
One Ice fan told Taking Note: “It is a rare occasion that I am lost for words.”
Another long-time observer of the Cranbrook hockey scene offered: “I don’t understand this for a second. . . . It is insulting and ridiculous.”
Neil Godbout is the editor-in-chief of the Prince George Citizen. He has written a column headlined ‘Are we the next Cranbrook?’ It points out that with support for the Cougars seeming to be fading, “The Cougars are Prince George’s team. Whether they stay that way is up to Prince George.”. . . . The announced attendance on Tuesday was 2,030 when the Cougars dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Giants. On Wednesday, the number was 2,083 as the Cougars fell 4-3 in OT to the Giants. . . . Godbout’s piece is right here.
D Liam Schioler of the Regina Pats will attend Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont., next season and play for the Gaels. The 6-foot-3 Schioler, 20, is from Winnipeg. An alternate captain, he is in his fourth season with the Pats. He played in his 223rd regular-season game on Wednesday night as Regina dropped a 4-3 decision to the host Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary Hitmen) in the Corral.
The Everett Silvertips could run into something of a scheduling conflict in Angel of the Winds Arena should they advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs. . . . The first round should begin on March 22 and conclude on or about March 31. . . . That would mean the second round should start about April 2 or 3. . . . The Silvertips, who lead the Western Conference, are certain to be playing in the first round, likely against the conference’s second wild-card seed. Assuming the Silvertips advance to the second round, they are likely to run head-on into the Cirque de Soleil CRYSTAL, which is to hold a total of eight performances in Angel of the Winds Arena from April 10 through April 14. . . . It could be that the Silvertips and a second-round opponent will have to do some creative scheduling.
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The Saskatoon Blades unleashed a 48-shot attack in skating to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Saskatoon (32-13-8) has points in eight straight (6-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of Moose Jaw, although the Warriors do hold four games in hand. . . . Moose Jaw (28-13-8) has lost two in a row. . . . The Warriors had a 21-5 edge in first-period shots and emerged with a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kyle Crnkovic (6), at 9:46, and F Chase Wouters (10), on a PP, at 19:48. . . . F Ryan Hughes (20) made it 3-0 just 54 seconds into the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida (21) got Moose Jaw’s goal, on a PP, at 12:53 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson (10) got that one back, on a PP, at 18:11. . . . F Max Gerlach (32), on another PP, and D Brandon Schuldaus (5) — yes, on another PP — scored for Saskatoon in the third period. . . . Saskatoon was 4-6 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-5. . . . The Blades ended up outshooting the Warriors, 48-20. . . . Davidson also had two assists, as did Crnkovic. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo left at 3:20 of the third period with a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Blades F Kirby Dach. . . . The Warriors were without F Tristin Langan, as he served a one-game suspension.
#WHL MJ/SAS: @BladesHockey Kyle Crnkovic and Dawson Davidson each share 3 point affairs. Davidson extends point streak to 11 after recording fifth 3-point game of the season. Adds on to streaks of 9 and 7 games earlier this year. 2 points from 175 in career.
F Riley Stotts broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period as the Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary Hitmen) beat the Regina Pats, 4-3, in the second game of what they are calling the Corral Series. . . . Calgary (27-19-5) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. Red Deer and Calgary hold down the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, eight points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Regina (14-36-3) is 28 points out of a playoff spot with 15 games remaining. . . . The Hitmen are playing three games in the Corral and honouring three teams — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers — who played in the building. . . . F Kaden Elder put Calgary out front 54 seconds into the second period. . . . Regina took the lead on a pair of goals from F Ty Kolle, at 10:50 and 14:08. . . . F Mark Kastelic tied it with his 37th goal, at 15:23, and Elder’s 22nd goal, 35 seconds into the third period, provided Calgary with a 3-2 lead. . . . Kolle, who hadn’t scored in 27 games, completed his first WHL hat trick at 5:09. It came in his 122nd career game, his 28th with Regina. He now has 11 goals this season. He also had a shootout goal in the Pats’ 2-1 victory in Lethbridge on Tuesday night. . . . Stotts won this one with his 15th goal at 16:41. . . . Calgary got 33 stops from G Jack McNaughton, one fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . G Carl Stankowski, who last played on Nov. 23, was on Calgary’s bench in a backup role.
#WHL REG/CGY: In a back-and-forth game that sees both teams with a lead, it's the @WHLHitmen who pick up the win. Kaden Elder scores twice in 300th career game and a 5th consecutive multipoint match and Riley Stotts strikes for the game winner, the 100th career point.
The two Ryans — Chyzowski and Jevne — each scored twice to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Medicine Hat (29-18-4) has won two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Kootenay (11-33-8) has seven home games remaining before it leaves Cranbrook for Winnipeg. . . . The Tigers had a 21-3 edge in first-period shots and came out with a 2-1 lead. . . . F Brad Ginnell (12) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:24. . . . The Tigers took the lead as Chyzowski scored, on a PP, at 15:26, and D Cole Clayton (4) counted at 19:12. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (18) upped the Tigers’ lead to 3-1, on a PP, at 1:52. . . . The Ice came back to tie it on goals from F Peyton Krebs (17), on a PP, at 15:53, and F Jakin Smallwood (9) at 5:39 of the third period. . . . Jevne snapped the tie at 6:03. . . . Chyzowski added insurance with his 18th goal, on another PP, at 16:09, and Jevne put it away with his 24th goal, an empty-netter, at 19:32. . . . Jevne added two assists to his goal, with Preziuso getting two helpers and Chyzowski one. . . . Ice F River Fahey didn’t return after a first-period fight with Tigers F Trevor Longo . . . . The Tigers ended up with a 51-26 shot advantage. . . . Medicine Hat got 23 saves from G Mads Søgaard, with the Ice’s Jesse Makaj blocking 45 shots. . . . The Tigers were 3-4 on the PP; the Ice was 2-4. . . . This was the Ice’s second home game since the team’s owners announced that they will be moving the franchise to Winnipeg at season’s end. The announced attendance was 1,902, the smallest crowd of the season.
#WHL MH/KTN: @tigershockey are paced by 2 blocks of 3 goals to the victory. The Ryan(s) Express(es) continues to roll, Ryan Jevne sets a new single-season best with 48 points after 2G, 2A and Ryan Chyzowski doubles up in the goal column for the 4th time, all on road.
F Luke Toporowski scored twice and added an assist as the Spokane Chiefs skated to a 5-4 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Spokane (27-17-6) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks and three ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (21-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, eight points behind the Victoria Royals and two ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . D Lassi Thomson (13) got Kelowna started at 3:38 of the first period. . . . Toporowski, who has 15 goals, tied it at 5:02 and gave his guys the lead at 15:08, on a PP. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff’s first WHL goal, on a PP, got Kelowna into a 2-2 tie at 2:37 of the second period. . . . The Chiefs went ahead 4-2 on goals from F Connor Gabruch, his first, at 4:15, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (6), at 12:55. That was Anderson-Dolan’s 99th career regular-season goal. . . . Swetlikoff scored another PP goal, this one 23 seconds into the third period, but F Jake McGrew (22) restored Spokane’s two-goal lead at 2:08. . . . F Nolan Foote (26) got a shorthanded goal at 7:14 to pull the Rockets to within a goal. . . . F Leif Mattson had four assists for the Rockets, with Swetlikoff adding one to his pair of goals. . . . Spokane D Ty Smith was back in the lineup and had two assists, after leaving early during a 6-5 shootout loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Smith left after absorbing a hit from Portland F Joachim Blichfeld, who was given an interference major and game misconduct, but hasn’t been suspended. . . . The Rockets were without F Conner Bruggen-Cate, who served the first of a two-game suspension. . . . The Rockets had F Steel Quiring make his WHL debut while D Jackson DeSouza played his second game. Quiring, who turned 16 on Jan. 15, was a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, with DeSouza a fourth-round pick in that same draft. Quiring, from Vernon, B.C., plays for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. DeSouza, 15, is from Erie, Colo. DeSouza, who also plays for the Okanagan Rockets, made his WHL debut on Dec. 15 in a 2-1 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers.
#WHL SPO/KEL: @spokanechiefs Luke Toporowski is the newest member of the 25 career goal club after a pair about 10:00 apart and tacking on an assist on the game winner. The 3 point game sets a new career mark after twelve 2-point matches. Snapped a 9 game pointless drought.
D Bowen Byram scored his third OT goal of the season to give the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (35-13-3) had won three straight, including a 4-2 victory in Prince George on Tuesday night. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Prince George (16-30-6) has lost 11 in a row (0-8-3). It is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . Last night, the Giants took a 3-0 lead on second-period goals from F Jared Dmytriw (11), at 7:11; F Brayden Watts (12), at 8:34; and D Aidan Barfoot (3), at 12:55. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (20) started the Cougars’ comeback, on a PP, at 16:00 of the second period. . . . F Josh Maser (20) cut the deficit to one, on another PP, at 19:50. . . . F Reid Perepeluk tied the game with his first goal of the season, at 11:05 of the third period. . . . Perepeluk’s first goal came in his 39th game. Last season, he scored twice in 10 games. . . . Byram won it with his 21st goal of the season, 57 seconds into OT. . . . In 17 games since Jan. 1, Byram has 12 goals and 11 assists. . . . On Jan. 26, Byram scored at 2:39 of OT to give the Giants a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. On Jan. 30, he scored 33 seconds into OT to provide Vancouver with a 3-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots for the Cougars.
#WHL SEA/VIC: @victoriaroyals Phillip Schultz creates first career multigoal game and does so with a hat trick. 4 goals in February after recording 7 coming in. 10 of those 11 markers have all come on home ice and team improves to 6-2-0-1 in games where he scores.
F Phillip Schultz scored three times to help the Victoria Royals to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Victoria (26-21-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Seattle (20-25-6) had beaten the host Royals, 5-2, on Tuesday night. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Henri Rybinski (3) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game. . . . The Royals responded with the next three goals — from Schultz, on a PP, at 17:09; F Kaid Oliver (21), on a PP, at 3:52 of the second period; and Schultz, at 6:27. . . . F Andrej Kukuca got Seattle to within a goal at 4:44 of the third period, but F Dino Kambeitz (8) got it back for the Royals just 10 seconds later. . . . Kukuca (16) added a PP goal at 16:07. . . . Schultz completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:55. Schultz, an 18-year-old freshman from Denmark, has 11 goals and eight assists in 42 games. . . . D Scott Walford had three assists for the Royals, the fourth time in his career that he has had at least three helpers in one game. . . . Despite not appearing on the WHL’s weekly roster report that was issued on Tuesday, Seattle D Jarret Tyszka missed his second game in as many nights.
In an email to KTW, the #WHL confirmed it will not comment on the “actions during game versus Kamloops” on Feb. 2 that led to KEL forward Bruggen-Cate’s two-game suspension. Onyebuchi was given two games for a one-man fight.
F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was an alternate captain. . . .
F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and eight assists in 30 games.
The Victoria Royals have acquired F Brandon Cutler, 18, and a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Red Deer Rebels for F Dallon Melin, 16, and a fifth-rounder in 2019. . . . Cutler, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a ninth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 68 games with the Rebels. As a freshman, in 2016-17, he had a goal and two assists in 38 games. . . . Melin, from Camrose, Alta., has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . He had six goals and 14 assists in 27 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings last season. He also had one assists in three games with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Victoria selected Melin in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.
The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Sam Pouliot, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels for a conditional 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Pouliot had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels last season. He also got into 16 games with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, drawing three assists. In 2016-17, he had a goal and 12 assists in 36 games with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . Pouliot joins his brother, Ryan, 20, on the Broncos’ roster. Ryan, a 20-year-old defenceman, played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice. The Broncos claimed him on waivers during the summer.
RG Properties and Prospera Credit Union agree on new 5-year naming rights deal. Home of @Kelowna_Rockets will be known as Prospera Place until new deal expires January 31, 2024. The 1999 facility has gone by only two names…..Skyreach Place and Prospera Place. pic.twitter.com/xQgUXbH1VM
NYR announce hiring of Steve Konowalchuk WHL Amateur scout, me I would have made him an assistant coach with Hartford. He is a good coach for young players. I watched him when he coached @SeattleTbirds and Matt Barzal and Ryan Gropp
Steve Konowalchuk, who coached the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2017 championship, has joined the NHL’s New York Rangers as an amateur scout. . . . Konowalchuk 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons. After winning the 2017 Ed Chynoweth Cup, he left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks where he spent last season as an assistant coach. . . . With the Rangers, according to a news release, Konowalchuk “will be primarily responsible for scouting amateur players in the Western Hockey League.” . . . That news release is right here.
The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have undergone another coaching change, with Jason Beckett coming on board as the team’s third head coach since Aug. 21. . . . Rylan Ferster, who had been the general manager and head coach for seven seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had helped the Warriors win a national championship in 2016. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, was named the interim head coach on Aug. 21. However, Grimwood was dismissed on Monday night. . . . Assistant coach Matt Miller also is gone, having left on Monday, while athletic therapist Mike Bois, who had been there through four seasons, chose leave, as well. . . . Asked if he was surprised at being fired, Grimwood told Wayne Moore of castanet.net: “No, because I know the situation right now seems unstable. But I was surprised in the sense that I didn’t think they would pull the rug out on you going into the first week of the season. I thought I would have a chance to get out of the gate and see how we did. I respect that’s the owner’s choice and he has to make decisions he thinks are right. I happen to disagree with that because I think the players needed stability, and right now, it’s just not being provided.” . . . As for the players, Taking Note received an anonymous text early Tuesday afternoon, stating that they left the ice during practice and didn’t return. That later was confirmed by Moore. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night. Trail is scheduled to visit West Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . The Warriors are owned by KD Sports Ltd., which purchased the franchise in August. Kim Dobranski is the majority owner and president.
If you check out the above tweet from Bois, the Warriors’ ex-athletic therapist, you will see that a number of West Kelowna players have retweeted it and/or liked it. . . . Hmmm!
The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express have acquired the junior A playing rights to F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, who is on the roster of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos at the moment. . . . The Broncos acquired O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips for D Sahvan Khaira, 20, on July 30. . . . Last season, O’Rourke had five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Prince George Cougars, then recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with Everett. . . . The Express got O’Rourke and future considerations from the Prince George Spruce Kings for F Sam Kozlowski, 20. Kozlowski had eight goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Express last season.
Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.
A favourite #LDC memory was watching my old sidekick Dan Kepley rip the hair out of his forearms, just before we went to air. He’d been retired for a decade but still got so fired up on Labour Day in Calgary that I consider myself lucky to have survived those telecasts.