Thomson won’t return to Rockets. . . . Wheat Kings fill out coaching staff. . . . Nyren’s story plays out in Kelowna courtroom


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D Daniel Bukač (Brandon, 2016-18) has signed a three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 54 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL), he had four goals and 11 assists. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal in four games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL), four goals and six assists in 14 games with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), and one goal and one assist in three games with Cracovia Kraków (Poland, PHL). . . .

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) has retired from playing to become an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Last season, with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had 17 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F John Persson (Red Deer, 2009-12) has signed a one-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, in 27 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL), he had nine goals and two assists.


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The Kelowna Rockets may have known before Tuesday, but that’s when their fans found KelownaRocketsout that Finnish D Lassi Thomson won’t be back for a second season. Instead, he will play with Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. . . . Thomson, who is to turn 19 on Sept. 24, has signed a contract (two years plus an option for a third) with Ilves. He is from Tampere, and has played for Ilves’ U-16, U-18 and U-20 sides. . . . The Ottawa Senators selected Thomson with the 19th-overall pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on July 15. . . . Last season, Thomson put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 regular-season games with the Rockets. He was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year and to the conference’s second all-star team. . . . Thomson is spending this week playing for a Finnish team in a U-20 tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Teams from Czech Republic and Switzerland also are taking part. . . .

The news, now that it’s official, leaves quite a hole on the Rockets’ backend. And don’t forget that the Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets have two solid defencemen in Kaedan Korczak, 18, who was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2019 draft, and Jake Lee, 18, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 2. Both are heading into their third WHL seasons. . . . Kelowna also added Sean Comrie, 19, in a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 2. Comrie played last season at the U of Denver, but had just one assist in 18 games. It’s fair to say, then, that he goes into the season as something of a WHL unknown. . . . The Rockets only have two 20-year-olds on their roster — F Leif Mattson and F Kyle Topping — so could add a veteran defenceman in the third slot. . . . Only one thing is for certain — the Rockets will be making more than a couple of roster moves before May gets here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings rounded out their coaching staff on Tuesday with the news BrandonWKregularthat Don MacGillivray and Tyler Plante will return and that Mark Derlago has been added as a second assistant. . . . MacGillivray is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach, as is Plante, the goaltending coach. . . . Derlago, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed on as the team’s second assistant coach having chosen to end his playing career. He played last season with Esbjerg Energy in Denmark, scoring 17 goals and adding 18 assists in 36 games. . . . Plante is the son of Cam Plante, who played four seasons (1980-84) with the Wheat Kings; Derlago’s uncle, Bill, spent three-plus seasons (1974-78) with Brandon and was one of the most-prolific scorers in WHL history. . . . The coaching staff is headed up by Dave Lowry, who was named head coach on July 18. . . . Darren Ritchie, the Wheat Kings’ general manager, also is preparing for his first season in a new role. He was named GM on July 12. A former Wheat Kings forward, he also worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons and was their director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . The Wheat Kings’ complete news release is right here.


Former WHL D Giffen Nyren was sentenced in Kelowna on Tuesday after pleading guilty to attempting to take an 18-month-old baby from its mother’s arms on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. If he follows the conditions set by Judge Catharine Heinrichs, he won’t have a criminal record. . . . Nyren also will pay $4,648 in restitution to the baby’s family to cover lost wages and some daycare costs. . . . He also will write a letter of apology to the family and take part in a restorative justice program. . . . According to Brie Welton of infotel.ca, “The court heard that Nyren’s toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis.” . . . Welton also reported: “By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he’d been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra. . . . Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player.” . . . Nyren, from Calgary, played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen (2006-10). He went on to have stints in the AHL, ECHL and USports, before playing a bit in Europe. Last season, he played seven games with a team in Amiens, France, then got into 14 regular-season and seven playoff games with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. . . . Welton’s complete story is right here.


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JUST NOTES:

Hockey Canada revealed on Tuesday that two WHLers won’t be participating in the U-20 Summer Showcase that is to run July 27 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Wash. . . . F Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders and D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs have been dropped from the roster. Hockey Canada didn’t provide any further information. . . . Both players still could end up playing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Trinic and Ostrava, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has added Jonny Webb as its goaltending coach and former NHLer Chris Mason as a goaltending consultant. . . . Webb worked for the past three seasons with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He also was with the ACAC’s SAIT Trojans last season. He is a goaltending coach with Top Prospects Goaltending in Calgary. . . . Mason played in the WHL with the Victoria/Prince George Cougars (1993-97). He retired after playing two seasons (2013-15) in Europe. . . .

Brandon Shaw has left the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to join the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as assistant coach and player development co-ordinator. Shaw spent the previous two seasons working alongside Joe Martin, then the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. Martin, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, left Merritt after the 2018-19 season and now is the Bulldogs’ GM and head coach. . . .

Steve Gainey is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He helped out as an assistant coach last season. . . . Gainey, 40, played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kamloops Blazers and was on their coaching staff for one season (2007-08). His pro career included 33 regular-season NHL games. . . . Gainey’s assistant coaches will be Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and Jassi Sangha, who was the head coach last season, with Pete Friedel as the team’s trainer. . . . The Storm recently underwent an ownership change.


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Report: Chiefs have signed a coach. . . . Cozens, Krebs scratched from camp. . . . Cougars ink first-rounders. . . . Harden hot on half-mile of hell


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F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a four-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 11 goals and 12 assists in 57 games. He also had one goal and four assists in 11 games with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). . . .

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, in 45 games with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had eight goals and eight assists. . . .

F Adam Rossignol (Kootenay, Swift Current, Regina, Portland, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). Last season, he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West). . . .

D James Bettauer (Chilliwack, Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, 2008-09, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite). Last season, in 49 games with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and 13 assists.


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It seems that Manny Viveiros is coming back to the WHL, this time as the head coach of SpokaneChiefsthe Spokane Chiefs. . . . Jason Gregor, the host of The Jason Gregor Show on TSN1260 in Edmonton, tweeted the news on Monday evening. . . . Viveiros, who played four seasons in the WHL (Prince Albert, 1982-86), returned from Europe to spend two seasons as the director of player personnel and head coach with the Swift Current Broncos. After winning the WHL championship for 2017-18, he left the WHL for a job as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. That ended after last season, when Dave Tippett was hired as the Oilers’ head coach. . . . A month ago, he told Postmedia’s Jim Matheson that he didn’t have any interest in returning to the WHL. “It’s not really a place for me to go back to and no disrespect to that league,” Viveiros said. “I’ve won in Europe (in Austria) multiple times, I’ve won in the Western League. I had choices last year but (Edmonton) is home, my family, my wife’s parents are here.” . . . In Spokane, Viveiros will replace Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons as head coach to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. . . . With Viveiros in Spokane, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings as the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. The Wheat Kings also need a general manager.


Hockey Canada has scratched two injured WHL forwards from its summer development Canadacamp for the national junior team. . . . F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and F Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice both are injured and won’t be on the ice during the camp, which is to run July 7 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Mich. . . . Cozens had surgery last week after suffering an injury to his left thumb in the Buffalo Sabres’ development camp. He is expected to be sidelined for up to three months. The Sabres had picked him seventh overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Krebs suffered a partially torn left Achilles tendon during a workout and later underwent surgery. He attended the NHL draft and was taken 17th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. A timeline hasn’t yet been established for his return. . . . F Connor McMichael of the OHL’s London Knights has been added to the camp roster. He was a first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2019 draft.


F Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades has signed a three-year entry-level contract with Saskatoonthe Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him third overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Dach had 25 goals and 48 assists in 62 games with the Blades last season. He added five goals and three assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a WHL freshman, he had seven goals and 39 assists in 52 games. . . . Under terms of the CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA, Dach, 18, will have to play with the Blackhawks or the Blades in 2019-20.


Here’s what was reported here on June 27 . . .

The Vancouver Giants are poised to announce the signing of F Cole Shepard, a Vancouversource familiar with the situation has told Taking Note. . . . Shepard, 17, was a second-round pick by Vancouver in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 17 assists in 53 games with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. . . . Prior to that, he played at the Delta Hockey Academy. . . . Shepard made a verbal commitment to Harvard U on April 17, 2018, to start with the 2021-22 season. . . . Signing with the Giants will give him the opportunity to play with his brother Jackson, 19, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on May 25.


The Prince George Cougars have signed D Keaton Dowhaniuk and F Koehn Ziemmer, PrinceGeorgeboth of whom were selected in the first round of the 2019 bantam draft, to WHL contracts. . . . Dowhaniuk, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was the third-overall selection. He had eight goals and 27 assists in 25 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team last season. . . . The Cougars took Ziemmer with the fourth-overall selection. From Mayerthorpe, Alta., he also played with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 37 goals and 39 assists in 29 games. . . .

There now are only two of the 22 first-round selections who haven’t signed WHL contracts. F Connor Levis, the 20th overall pick, hasn’t signed with the Kamloops Blazers. D Tyson Jugnauth, taken 21st overall, has yet to sign with the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Levis, from Vancouver, won’t turn 15 until Oct. 5. Last season, he had 24 goals and 38 assists in 26 games with the bantam prep team at St. George’s School. He also has made a verbal commitment to the U of Michigan for the 2022-23 season. . . . Jugnauth, from Kelowna, had eight goals and six assists in 16 games with a bantam AA team there.


If it’s the second week in July, it means the Calgary Stampede is in high gear, and that means Chad Harden is driving in the half-mile of hell — aka the Rangeland Derby. . . . Harden, who scouts for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, is a regular on the chuckwagon racing circuit in Alberta and Saskatchewan. . . . On Monday, he won the first heat in 1:13.73 and won $2,700. For the evening, he was 15th of 36 entries. He goes into Tuesday’s action in fifth place in the aggregate and has won $13,300. . . . Laurence Heinen of Postmedia has more on Harden, aka The Prankster, and the chuckwagons right here.


Seattle has an NHL franchise that is scheduled to begin play for the 2021-22 season. While the team doesn’t yet have a nickname, its owner has a vision. Jerry Bruckheimer has told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he would like to see a USHL franchise and a western version of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in the area, both playing out of what will be the Seattle team’s training facility. . . . Bruckheimer and CEO Tod Leiweke also would love to see the World Junior Championship tournament played in Seattle, too. . . . Baker’s complete piece is right here.


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JUST NOTES:

Bill Rotheisler has joined the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder as assistant general manager and associate coach. He had been the AGM and associate coach with the St. Stephen Aces of the Maritime Junior Hockey League — the franchise has moved to Fredericton and now is the Red Wings. . . . Prior to moving east, Rotheisler spent five seasons coaching in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, the last two as GM and head coach of the Castlegar Rebels. . . .

Barry Dewar no longer is involved in the ownership of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Dewar had owned 51 per cent of Storm before selling to Tracy Mero, who now owns 100 per cent of the franchise. . . . “This is what I wanted,” Dewar told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s been 18 years. The suspension was the final kicker. The league is moving in a direction that I’m not happy with.” . . . Prior to last season, Dewar was suspended for tampering, a decision with which he didn’t agree. . . . Matt Kolle now is the Storm’s governor, business manager, hockey operations manager and general manager. . . . Hastings’ story is right here.


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Hurricanes bank more than $400,000 . . . Winterhawks, Ice, Blades trim rosters . . . Ex-WHLer joins coaching ranks


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G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has cleared KHL waivers and been assigned by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) to CSK VVS Samara (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Nizhnekamsk, he got into one game playing 33 minutes and allowing three goals on 14 shots, for a 5.36 GAA and a.786 SP.


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes reported to shareholders on Monday that they made a profit Lethbridgeof $422,443 in 2017-18. . . . That was down from the $737,710 profit the previous season. However, the 2017-18 financials included a payment of $167,000 to the City of Lethbridge that was due after improvements were made to their home arena. . . . The Hurricanes lost out in the Eastern Conference final in each of the past two seasons. . . . There was other interesting item to come out of the annual meeting. The Hurricanes will be out of their arena early in the playoffs next spring, what with the World men’s curling championship in the ENMAX Centre from March 30 through April 7. General manager Peter Anholt told shareholders that the tentative plan is for the team to play early home playoff games, if necessary, in the Nicolas Sheran Arena. . . . According to the City of Lethbridge’s website, the Nicolas Sheran Ice Centre has a seating capacity of 978. It is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s hockey teams. . . . “We’ve talked to a lot of other teams that have moved from their venue to another venue outside of their city, and it doesn’t work,” Anholt said. “We’ve got the Nicolas Sheran. It’s not perfect, there’s going to be some unhappy fans and unhappy advertisers, but we’ll deal with it.” . . . Aaron Mahoney of lethbridgenewsnow.com has more right here. . . . Interestingly, Mahoney reported that the Hurricanes didn’t make as much in 2017-18 as the previous season, despite “an increase in ticket sales by $30,000.”


The Portland Winterhawks appear to have gotten down to three 20-year-olds by releasPortlanding F Connor Barley, who no longer appears on their roster. Barley, from St. Andrews, Man., played last season with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers, putting up 35 goals and 32 assists in 58 games. . . . His departure leaves the Winterhawks with D Brendan De Jong, just back from a stint in camp with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, F Conor MacEachern and D Jared Freadrich as the three 20s. . . . The Winterhawks also got down to two goaltenders — sophomore Shane Farkas, who turns 19 on Dec. 1, and freshman Dante Giannuzzi, 16 — by releasing Evan Fradette, a 17-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., who was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Giannuzzi, from Winnipeg, was a fifth-round selection in the 2017 draft.


The Kootenay Ice dropped three veteran skaters from their roster on Monday, leaving it Kootenaynewwith 26 players on its roster, including two goaltenders and 10 defencemen. . . . F Gunnar Wegleitner, 20, F Sebastian Streu, who turns 19 on Nov. 22, and F Eli Lieffers, 18, all were released. . . . The Ice had acquired Wegleitner from the Brandon Wheat Kings on July 20 for a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. From Vancouver, he has also played for the Everett Silvertips and Victoria royals. In 112 regular-season games, he has 11 goals and nine assists. . . . From Neuwied, Germany, Streu had nine goals and three assists in 54 games as a freshman last season. He has dual Canadian/German citizenship so wasn’t classified as an import. . . . From Saskatoon, Lieffers was fourth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. He had one goal and one assist in 11 games over three seasons with the Ice. Lieffers was pointless in two games with the Ice last season. . . . Two of the 10 defenceman on Kootenay’s roster are imports — veteran Martin Bodak, a Slovakian who will turn 20 on Nov. 28, and Finnish freshman Valtteri Kakkonen. The Ice also has sophomore F Gilian Kohler, who is from Biel, Switzerland, on its roster.


The Saskatoon Blades are down to two goaltenders after returning G Koen MacInnes, 16, Saskatoonto the Burnaby Winter Club where he is expected to play for the Burnaby Winter Club’s midget prep team. A second-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, MacInnes started three exhibition games and went 3-0-0, 2.27, .929. . . . His departure leaves the Blades, as expected, with Nolan Maier, 17, atop the depth chart and Dorrin Luding, 19, as the backup, at least to open the regular season. . . . The Blades also dropped F Braden Plaschewsky, 16, from their roster. A second-round pick in that 2017 bantam draft, he is expected to play for the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He had two goals in six exhibition games with the Blades. . . . Saskatoon is carrying 26 players, including two goaltenders and nine defencemen.


Among the players making their way back to WHL teams from NHL camps on Monday — D Vladislav Yeryomenko to the Calgary Hitmen from the Nashville Predators; G Liam Hughes to the Seattle Thunderbirds from the Philadelphia Flyers; F Brett Davis to the Kootenay Ice from the Dallas Stars; and D Wyatte Wylie to the Everett Silvertips from Philadelphia. . . . Yeryomenko was a fifth-round pick by Nashville in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Hughes was on an amateur tryout with the Flyers. . . . Dallas selected Davis in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft. . . . The Flyers grabbed Wylie in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL draft.


Logan Proulx, who played two-plus seasons in the WHL, has joined the junior B Fairview, Alta., Flyers of the North West Junior Hockey League as an assistant coach. A defenceman, Proulx, who is from Trail, B.C., played 137 games over three seasons (2007-10) with the Edmonton Oil Kings, putting up nine goals and 13 assists.


You will recall mention here late last week of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League after they incurred a one-year suspension to owner Barry Dewar, a 20-game suspension to a head coach who wasn’t really the head coach, and a $10,000 fine, all for tampering. . . . Now comes word that Jassi Sangha, the club’s real head coach, has been suspended for a game after playing an ineligible player in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Princeton Posse on Saturday. . . . Larry Martel, the KIJHL’s first-year president, told Kamloops This Week that it was a clerical era. . . . KTW’s piece is right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. You might even be the person to push her total over $3,000. Thank you!


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Vegas assigns goalie to Brandon . . . Blades add Labelle to front office . . . Storm brewing in Kamloops


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D Keaton Ellerby (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, he had six assists in 42 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL).


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The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have assigned Czech G Jiri Patera, 19, to the Brandon BrandonWKregularWheat Kings, which leaves them with three goaltenders on their roster. . . . Patera, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, was selected by Vegas in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft. He played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. . . . With the CHL lifting its ban on import goaltenders prior to its 2018 import draft, the Wheat Kings selected Patera. . . . Of course, Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager, owns the Wheat Kings. . . . Also on Brandon’s roster are veteran Dylan Myskiw, 19, and freshman Ethan Kruger, who will turn 17 on Sept. 27. Kruger, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . While the WHL website shows Patera as having been born on Feb. 16, 2000, he actually was born on Feb. 24, 1999.


The Saskatoon Blades have added Xavier Labelle, 18, to their front office as a hockey Saskatoonoperations assistant. Labelle played the past two seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos and is a survivor of the April 6 bus crash. . . . From a Blades news release: “Following the accident, Xavier spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital recovering from his injuries, which included a fractured skull and concussion, internal bleeding, approximately 20 broken bones (including 13 in his spine), plus nerve damage affecting his legs and left arm.” . . . From Saskatoon, he continues to rehab in his hometown. . . . Labelle attended the Blades’ training camp on three occasions and also was on their protected list at one time.


The WHL has signed Zach Hodder as its manager, player development. According to a news release, he will be “responsible to lead the WHL player recruitment and development programs.” . . . From North Delta, B.C., Hodder, 25, played 128 WHL regular-season games over five seasons (2009-14), splitting time between the Vancouver Giants, Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders, Medicine Hat Tigers and Moose Jaw Warriors. He went on to use his WHL education policy to attend BCIT and Royal Roads U.


If there is a bigger mess in hockey today than that involving the Kootenay International KamStormJunior Hockey League and the Kamloops Storm, well, I can’t imagine it. . . . “It’s a great city and it’s a great hockey market and it’s just a bit of a mess right now,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week.“All franchises go up and down. Right now, we’re in a low point in that city.” . . . This is a story that involves charges of tampering, $10,000 in fines, a one-year suspension to one individual, a head coach who has been suspended for 20 games, except, well, it doesn’t seem that he really is the head coach. . . . It seems that someone else was named the head coach so that he could take the hit instead of the real head coach. Got that?. . . . Oh, it’s all enough to give you a headache. . . . Check out Hastings’ complete story right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


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OHL adjusts rule on trading of draft picks . . . Seattle adds d-man from Kootenay . . . Kitchener’s profit tops $400G


MacBeth

F Travis Ewanyk (Edmonton, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had 13 goals and 16 assists in 60 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). Ewanyk holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Konstantin Panov (Kamloops, 1998-2001) signed a one-year contract with SC Csíkszereda Miercurea-Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 43 games with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, KHL). He was the team captain. . . .

F Tomáš Slovák (Kelowna, 2001-03) signed a one-year contract with DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and eight assists in 48 games. . . . Jegesmedvék’ head coach is Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77; assistant coach Vancouver 2011-13; GM Vancouver 2016-18). . . . Slovák, in the Jegesmedvék news release: “I’ve been working with Glen Hanlon earlier on the Slovakian team, knowing each other, knowing what to expect.” Hanlon was the head coach of the Slovakian national team when Slovák played for the team in 2009-10.


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The OHL issued a news release on Wednesday, passing along information from the board of governors’ annual meeting.

For starters, the league is instituting a rule that will limit the trading of draft choices in ohlwhat it calls the OHL Priority Selection. Whereas this used to be wide open, the OHL wants to get to where teams are able to trade draft picks a maximum of four years away.

Starting on Sept. 1, according to the news release, “teams will be allowed to trade draft choices a maximum of six years into the future, transitioning to five years prior to the commencement of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection and four years prior to the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. At the conclusion of the phase-in period, league policy will stipulate that OHL teams may only trade a draft choice four years into the future.”

The OHL news release is right here.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired D Payton McIsaac from the Kootenay Ice for a Seattleninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . McIsaac, who will turn 18 on Dec. 26, is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. He was a second-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . He had one assist in 10 games with the Blades in 2015-16, then was pointless in one game with Saskatoon in each of the past two seasons. . . . It’s believed that the Blades dropped McIsaac from their list sometime after Christmas and the Ice added him. . . . On July 13, his Canadian junior A rights were dealt by the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds signed F Matthew Rempe, who had been added to their protected list on May 11, 2017. From Calgary, Rempe, 16, spent last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Elite 15s, putting up six goals and seven assists in 35 games. . . . According to a news release from the Thunderbirds, Rempe’s “older twin sisters, Steph and Alley, both play at Brown University in the NCAA.” As Seattle GM Bil La Forge said: “It is exciting he chose us to develop as a hockey player and to take advantage of the WHL scholarship program.”


A flash from the past . . . Dan Weaver of the Spokane Spokesman-Review on the retirement of Kerry Toporowski:


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Tyson Kozak, 15, who was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Kozan, who will turn 16 on Dec. 29, is from Souris, Man. Last season, he had 10 goals and 25 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars. . . . Kozak is expected to make his WHL debut this weekend at an exhibition tournament in Everett.


The Victoria Royals have signed D Carson Golder, who is from Terrace, B.C., and was added to the team’s protected list in June. Golder, who will turn 16 on Oct. 29, played last season with the Pursuit of Excellence Elite 15s, putting up eight goals and nine assists in 34 games. He added one goal and two assists in eight games with POE’s midget prep team.



The Regina Pats have signed F Cale Sanders, 16, and D Steven Zonneveld, 17, both of Patswhom were free-agent invitees to training camp, to WHL contracts. . . . Sanders, from Claresholm, Alta., played last season with the Calgary-based Edge School Elite 15s, putting up 19 goals and 29 assists in 36 games. . . . Zonneveld, from Calgary, had seven goals and 11 assists in 35 games with the midget AAA Calgary Flames. . . . Both players are with the Pats and could see action during an exhibition tournament in Regina this weekend.



The OHL’s Kitchener Rangers got to Game 7 of a conference final before being eliminated from last season’s playoffs. While they didn’t win a championship, they won big at the bank, as they showed a profit of $432,080 for their 2018 fiscal year. It was the 23rd straight season that the franchise has shown a profit, but, as Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record writes, “the club hasn’t seen a profit this high since it made about $550K in 2011-12.” . . . Brown’s story is right here and it’s definitely worth a read, just to see where the profits are going.


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.


The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have KamStormshaken things up a bit, what with Ed Patterson choosing not to return after five seasons as head coach. . . . All told, Patterson worked as the Storm’s head coach for seven seasons, as he also ran the bench from 2007-09. . . . Former Storm F Jassi Sangha is the new head coach, while majority owner Barry Dewar, who had been the general manager, has stepped back, allowing assistant GM Matt Kolle to take over as GM. . . . Sangha, 30, played two seasons (2006-08) for the Storm and also spent three seasons (2009-12) with the now-defunct Thompson Rivers U Wolfpack. . . . Andrew Fisher, who also played at TRU with Sangha, is the assistant coach, with another one yet to be named, while former WHL G Lucas Gore (Chilliwack Bruins, 2008-11) will handle the goaltenders. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the complete Storm story right here. . . . And if you’re like me, you’re wondering how it is that Patterson didn’t end up with a WHL job.


Murray Nystrom has signed on as the 10th head coach in the history of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns program. . . . Nystrom was the head coach of the St. Catharines, Ont.,-based Brock Badgers for 18 years, going 191-227-18-39 and making the playoffs on 14 occasions. . . . Nystrom left the Brock program in July 2017. . . . In Lethbridge, he will take over from Spiros Anastas, who left the Pronghorns earlier this month to sign on as head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays.


Tweetoftheday

Weinger gets AHL deal . . . Storm’s Patterson looking to move up . . . Farkas on roll with Portland


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

F Evan Weinger of the Brandon Wheat Kings has signs a contract with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Weinger, 20, is from El Segundo, Calif., and came up through the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program. The Wheat Kings acquired him this season from the Portland Winterhawks. . . . In 244 WHL games, he has 63 goals and 76 assists. That includes this season, in which he has 26 goals and 24 assists in 57 games with Brandon. . . . Weinger will stay with the Wheat Kings for as long as their season lasts.


It would appear that Ed Patterson’s coaching days are over with the junior B Kamloops KamStormStorm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The Storm lost 3-2 in double OT to the visiting Revelstoke Grizzlies on Friday night, dropping the first-round playoff series, 4-2. . . . After the game, Patterson told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “I definitely think I’ve done my time here. I would like to move on to bigger and better coaching roles, if possible. I’ll have to wait and see what’s open.” . . . Patterson, 45, had two stints as the Storm’s head coach (2007-09, 2013-18). Under him, the Storm never missed the KIJHL playoffs and got to the final four times (2008, 2009, 2014, 2015). . . . Patterson played four seasons (1988-92) in the WHL, splitting time with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos and Kamloops Blazers. He was part of the Blazers’ 1992 Memorial Cup-championship team. He also has worked as an assistant coach with the Blazers (2010-13). After playing in the WHL, he went on to a pro career that included 68 games in the NHL. . . . His son, Max, is a forward with the Swift Current Broncos.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

SATURDAY:

At Moose Jaw, F Justin Almeida, who sometimes gets overlooked behind the Warriors’ two big guns, had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . MooseJawWarriorsMoose Jaw (48-14-3) continues to lead the overall standings by one point over Swift Current. The Warriors hold one game in hand. . . . Saskatoon (31-31-3) has lost four in a row and is four  points out of a playoff spot with seven games remaining. . . . Almeida totalled 11 goals and 17 assists in 70 games split between Moose Jaw and Prince George last season. This season, in 65 games, he has 38 goals, including eight game-winners, and 49 assists, which should be enough to lift him out of the shadows being cast by F Jayden Halbgewachs, who leads the WHL with 61 goals, and F Brayden Burke, who is tied with Halbgewachs for second in the scoring race with 113 points. . . . Almeida scored the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:15 of the first period. . . . D Josh Brook (3) made it 2-0 at 14:27. . . . F Josh Paterson (28) scored for Saskatoon, at 15:31 of the second period. . . . The Warriors put it away with three third-period goals, from Halbgewachs, on a PP, at 10:39; F Brett Howden (23), at 11:13; and F Tristin Langan 916), shorthanded, at 16:32. . . . D Kale Clague also had two assists for the Warriors, with Howden and Halbghewachs adding one apiece. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-5 won the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . G Brody Willms earned the victory with 25 saves. . . . The Blades got 26 stops from G Nolan Maier. . . . Announced attendance: 3,398.


At Prince Albert, the Raiders ran their winning streak to six games with a 4-1 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Prince Albert (29-25-11) holds down the Eastern PrinceAlbertConference’s second wild-card spot, four points ahead of Saskatoon. Each team has seven games remaining. . . . Lethbridge (32-26-6) had won its previous three games. It is second in the Central Division, four pints behind Medicine Hat with a game in hand. . . . The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead at 11:11 of the first period as F Dylan Cozens scored his 21st goal of the season. . . . The Raiders tied it at 12:59 of the second period as D Brayden Pachal (6) scored for the second straight game. . . . D Vojtech Budik (13) broke the tie, on a PP, at 8:51 of the third period as he, too, scored for a second straight game. . . . D Max Martin (7) added insurance at 9:49, and F Cole Fonstad, who also had an assist, got No. 20 at 12:18. . . . Prince Albert was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-4. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders, six fewer than Logan Flodell of the Hurricanes. . . . The Hurricanes were without F Brad Morrison (ill). . . . The Raiders inducted long-time volunteer Roger Mayert and former D Chris Phillips into their Wall of Honour prior to the game. . . . Announced attendance: 2,043.


At Swift Current, the Broncos scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 3-1. . . . Swift Current (46-14-6) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is SCBroncossecond in the overall standings, one points behind Moose Jaw. . . . Brandon (34-26-5) is fourth in the East Division, one point behind Regina. The Wheat Kings hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . F Linden McCorrister (16) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 5:44 of the first period. . . . The Broncos tied it on F Matteo Gennaro’s 40th goal of the season, at 12:56. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi (27) broke the tie at 11:16 of the second period. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (14) added the empty-netter at 19:48 of the third period. . . . F Glenn Gawdin had two assists for the Broncos. He leads the WHL scoring race with 122 points. . . . There weren’t any PP opportunities in this one. The only penalties were coincidental roughing minors to Brandon F Marcus Sekundiak and F MacKenzie Wight of the Broncos at 7:17 of the first period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 18 shots for Swift Current. . . . Brandon G Logan Thompson blocked 33 shots. . . . F Kaiden Elder (ill) was among the Broncos’ scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 2,890.


At Calgary, F Sam Steel scored on a breakaway in OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Regina (34-25-6) moved back into third in the East Division, one ReginaPats100point ahead of Brandon. . . . Calgary (19-35-10) went to OT for a third straight game; it lost all three. The Hitmen have lost five in a row (0-2-3). . . . The Hitmen led this one 2-0 early in the third period. . . . F Tristen Nielsen (14) made it 1-0 at 1:20 of the first period, and F Mark Kastelic (16) upped it to 2-0 at 3:18 of the third. . . . D Aaron Hyman (2) got the Pats to within a goal at 3:56. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (16) tied the score at 11:46. . . . Steel won it with his 25th goal just 32 seconds into OT. . . . Regina got three assists from F Cam Hebig. . . . Each team was 0-2 on the PP. . . . The Pats got 23 saves from G Max Paddock. . . . Calgary G Nick Schneider stopped 31 shots. . . . Regina was playing its fourth straight road game — it is 3-1-0 — with four more to come. The Pats are out of their building because of the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian men’s curling championship. Regina next will play at home on March 14. . . . D Libor Hajek (ill) was among Regina’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 7,307.


At Medicine Hat, the Tigers opened up a 4-0 lead en route to a 6-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (33-24-8) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It leads the Tigers Logo OfficialCentral Division, by four points over Lethbridge. . . . Red Deer (24-29-13) had won its previous three games. It is third in the Central Divison, seven points ahead of Kootenay, which has six games left. . . . F Gary Haden got the Tigers’ first goal, at 2:04 of the first period. . . . The lead grew to 4-0 on second-period goals from F Hayden Ostir (9), at 2:03; F Ryan Jevne, shorthanded, at 11:28; and Haden, who has 17 goals, at 13:28. . . . D Hunter Donohoe (3) scored for Red Deer at 16:14. . . . The Tigers put it away with third-period goals from F James Hamblin (19) and Jevne (20). . . . D David Quenneville and F Mark Rassell each had two assists for the Tigers. . . . Red Deer was 0-2 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-4. . . . G Michael Bullion stopped 17 shots for the Tigers. . . . Red Deer starter Riley Lamb was beaten four times on 30 shots in 33:28. Ethan Anders finished up by stopping 22 of 24 shots in 26:31. . . . D Linus Nassen (wrist) was back in the Tigers’ lineup after sitting out 26 games. . . . Announced attendance: 3,920.


At Prince George, the Victoria Royals snapped a 3-3 tie with four third-period goals as they skated to a 7-3 victory over the Cougars. . . . Victoria (36-24-6) had lost its previous VictoriaRoyalsfour games (0-3-1). It is second in the B.C. Division, four points behind Kelowna and three ahead of Vancouver. . . . Prince George (23-34-8) had won three in a row. . . . F Tyler Soy gave Victoria a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 12:02 of the first period. . . . The Cougars tied it at 15:02 as F Aaron Boyd scored his 12th goal. . . . D Scott Walford’s first goal of the season, at 17:53, gave the Royals a 2-1 lead. . . . The home team tied it 28 seconds into the second period when F Brogan O’Brien (14) scored. . . . D Jared Freadrich (12) scored, on a PP, at 10:15 to send Victoria back out front. . . . F Jackson Leppard (14) got the Cougars back into a tie at 18:03. . . . The Royals took over in the third period. . . . F Noah Gregor (27) broke the tie at 2:12, and D Kade Jensen (7) made it a two-goal game at 3:19. . . . D Chaz Reddekopp, back after missing 20 games, got his seventh goal at 11:01, and F Tarun Fizer (1) finished the scoring, on a PP, at 19:36. . . . The Royals got goals from four difference defencemen for the first time in franchise history. . . . F Matthew Phillips had three assists as he set a Chilliwack/Victoria franchise record for most points (104) in one season. F Mark Santorelli had set the previous record (101) in 2007-08. . . . ’The Royals also got two assists from each of Soy and D Matthew Smith, with Jensen getting one. . . . O’Brien and Leppard had an assist apiece for the Cougars. . . . Victoria was 3-3 on the PP; Prince George was 0-3. . . . G Dean McNabb started for Victoria. He gave up three goals on 15 shots in 38:03, before Griffen Outhouse came on to stop all nine shots he faced in 21:01. McNabb came back in for the final 56 seconds and stopped the only shot sent his way. . . . The Cougars got 29 saves from Tavin Grant. . . . F Tanner Kaspick was among Victoria’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,241.


At Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants clinched a playoff spot with a 5-4 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Vancouver (33-22-9) had lost two in a row (0-1-1). The Giants, who Vancouverare third in the B.C. Division, have missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons and four of the past five seasons. . . . Kamloops (29-33-5) had won its previous two games. It is seven points from a playoff spot with only five games remaining. . . . The Blazers had beaten the visiting Giants, 5-1, on Friday night. . . . On Saturday night, the Giants opened up a 4-0 lead — they scored three times on their first five shots — and hung on for the victory. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (4) opened the scoring at 6:08 of the first period. . . . F Brayden Watts (16) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 14:03. . . . F Hunor Torzsok (1), at 15:20, and D Darian Skeoch (2), at 4:52 of the second period, upped it to 4-0. . . . The Blazers then struck for three goals in 3:52. . . . D Joe Gatenby, who also had three assists and was named first star, scored his 13th goal at 12:27. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (34) got Kamloops to within two goals at 15:13, and F Luc Smith (20) cut the deficit to one at 16:19. . . . F Tyler Benson (23) restored the Giants’ two-goal lead at 17:08. . . . Kamloops got back to within a goal at 7:05 of the third period when D Nolan Kneen scored his sixth goal. . . . The Giants got two assists from F Davis Koch, with Benson adding one. . . . Vancouver was 1-3 on the PP; Kamloops is 0-4. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 30 shots for the winners. . . . Kamloops starter Dylan Ferguson was beaten three times on 12 shots in the first period. Max Palaga started the second period, and gave up two goals on six shots in 17:08. Ferguson came back in and finished up by stopping all eight shots in faced in 21:14. . . . The Blazers again were without D Luke Zazula and D Montana Onyebuchi. . . . D Dylan Plouffe and F Milos Roman were among Vancouver’s scratches, as was F Owen Hardy (ill). . . . Announced attendance: 4,041.


At Everett, F Connor Dewar scored a PP goal in OT to give the Silvertips a 2-1 victory over Everettthe Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (43-18-5) has won two in a row. It leads the Western Conference by eight points over Portland. . . . Seattle (30-24-10) had won its previous two games. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Kamloops. The Thunderbirds have three games in hand. . . . F Patrick Bajkov (30) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 7:08 of the first period. . . . F Noah Philp (14) pulled Seattle even at 13:43 of the second period. . . . In the third period and OT, the Silvertips held a 27-1 edge in shots on goal. . . . They ended it at 2:57 of extra time on Dewar’s 35th goal of the season. . . . F Matt Fonteyne had two assists for Everett, with Bajkov getting one. . . . Everett was 1-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-2. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 17 shots for Everett. He now is 28-4-4, 1.53, .950 as he closes in on his third straight goaltender-of-the-year award. . . . Announced attendance: 8,319.


At Kelowna, F Hudson Elynuik scored three times and added an assist to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 lead over the Rockets. . . . Spokane (38-21-5) has won five in a SpokaneChiefsrow. It is third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland and eight ahead of Tri-City. . . . Kelowna (38-22-6) has lost four straight. It leads the B.C. Division, by four points over Victoria. . . . Elynuik, who has 27 goals, opened the scoring at 7:17 of the first period. . . . Kelowna F Carsen Twarynski (40) tied it, on a PP, at 19:27 of the second period. . . . D Ty Smith (14) gave the Chiefs a 2-1 lead at 5:01 of the third period. . . . The Rockets tied it at 13:41 on F Kole Lind’s 37th goal. . . . Elynuik broke the tie at 18:46, then added insurance at 19:44. . . . F Luke Toporowski had two assists for the winners, with Smith getting one. . . . Kelowna was 1-5 on the PP; Spokane was 0-5. . . . G Dawson Weatherill earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . G James Porter stopped 24 shots for Kelowna. . . . Announced attendance: 5,106.


At Kennewick, Wash., G Shane Farkas posted his second straight shutout in leading the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (39-20-5) Portlandhas points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, eight points behind Everett. . . . Tri-City (32-23-9) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, three points ahead of Seattle. . . . F Kieffer Bellows (35) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:55 of the first period, and F Cody Glass got the next two, at 12:43 of the first and 1:17 of the second. . . . Glass now has 33 goals. . . . F Lane Gilliss scored Portland’s other goals, at 8:33 of the second, and 2:06 of the third. He’s got six goals. . . . The Winterhawks got three assists from D Henri Jokiharju, two from D Dennis Cholowski and one from Bellows. . . . Portland was 0-2 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-3. . . . Farkas stopped 30 shots in posting his third shutout of the season. In his last four starts, he is 4-0-0 with two shutouts, having allowed three goals on 120 shots (.975). . . . G Beck Warm started for Tri-City, and gave up four goals on 25 shots in 32:54. Patrick Dea finished up, stopping 17 of 18 shots in 27:06. . . . The Winterhawks are 22-8-2 on the road. . . . Announced attendance: 4,281.


SUNDAY (all times local):

Everett vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 2 p.m.

Red Deer at Calgary, 4 p.m.

Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 4 p.m.

Regina at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

Portland vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 5:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Paddock: Pats will play their best . . . Chico’s the man for Cougars . . . Tigers’ Shaw back on blades . . . Storm’s days numbered in Kamloops?


MacBeth

D Stefan Warg (Seattle, Prince Albert, 2008-10) has signed a two-year contract extension with Malmö (Sweden, SHL). This season, he has two goals and 10 assists in 44 games, while averaging 16:39 ice time per game.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The situation staring the Regina Pats squarely in the face is the elephant in the WHL’s room at the moment.

The Pats, as you are aware, will be the host team for the Memorial Cup when it opens in May.

You also will be aware that they got off to a horrendous start this season, and have ReginaPats100known for some time that they won’t finish first or second in the East Division, the Moose Jaw Warriors (40-9-3) and Swift Current Broncos (37-13-4) simply being too far ahead. The Pats (28-22-5) trail the Warriors by 22 points and the Broncos by 17.

For a while, the third-place Brandon Wheat Kings (29-19-5) had a healthy lead, too, but that was before they turned into sellers at the trade deadline. Since then, they have gone 2-7-3 and now resemble a middle-of-the-pack squad rather than one that was running third in the overall standings.

Going into weekend games, then, the Pats are two points behind the Wheat Kings.

And there’s the rub. . . .

The third-place finisher in the East Division will play No. 2 in the opening round of the playoffs, which is likely to be Swift Current.

Finish fourth and chances are you will be the first wild-card team, meaning a first-round date with the first-place team in the Central Division, either the Medicine Hat Tigers or Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The injury-riddled Tigers have a five-point edge on the hard-charging Hurricanes.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know which is the easiest route.

Just don’t suggest to John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, that maybe, well, just maybe . . . you know . . .

“There’s a lot of hypotheticals,” he told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post.“One, be careful what you might wish for. Two, you can’t step on the ice as a player and you can’t go behind the bench as a coach without trying to win the game. It’s really just a joke (to suggest otherwise). You can’t go out and not play your best. . . .

“We’re not going to catch those top two teams. I’ve known that since October. But we’re going to have to play one or both at some point (in the playoffs). You want to play good and we also know we’re going to play in May and nobody else does. It’s very important to be playing better and better as the season goes on.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.


Chico Dhanjal worked his 700th WHL game with the Prince George Cougars on Jan. 31 while the team was on its East Division swing. A native of Saskatoon, the Cougars’ equipment manager celebrated 700 games during a game against the Pats in Regina.

Dhanjal, who seems to wear a perpetual smile, started with the Cougars in 2008-09, after working with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He has degrees in kinesiology and psychology from the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

The Cougars signed him to a three-year extension on Nov. 24, 2016.


The access ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash., home of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, lost US$361,861 in 2017, up from a loss of $155,268 the previous year. But, as Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes, city officials are “confident that the numbers show better days are ahead” for the facility. . . . Hunter’s story is right here.


F Mason Shaw, who has yet to play for the Medicine Hat Tigers this season, skated on Thursday for the first time at home since he suffered a knee injury in early September.

Shaw suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Minnesota Wild’s rookie team at an NHL Tigers Logo Officialpreseason tournament in Traverse City, Mich. He subsequently underwent surgery and only recently was cleared to resume skating.

CHAT News reported yesterday that Mason was wearing a non-contact jersey as he “skated several laps . . . by himself. It’s the first time he’s been on skates at his home rink, and the first time he was in full equipment since September.”

Shaw, 19, isn’t likely to play in the regular season, but hopes to be cleared for game action in time for the start of the playoffs.

It would be huge for the Tigers to get him back for playoff action. Last season, he finished with 27 goals and 67 assists in 71 games, then added 12 assists in 11 playoff games.

The Tigers (27-22-7) go into the weekend atop the Central Division, five points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes (25-21-6), who hold four games in hand.

Medicine Hat is really banged up, and is 3-4-3 in its last 10 games, while Lethbridge is 5-2-3.

The Tigers will play home-and-home with the Calgary Hitmen (16-30-7) this weekend, opening tonight (Friday) in Medicine Hat and finishing Sunday afternoon in Calgary.

The Hurricanes are in Moose Jaw tonight and Regina on Saturday.


There is an interesting hockey story unfolding in Quesnel, B.C., where a group has been trying to land a junior B franchise, preferably in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The West Fraser Centre will be home to a pair of games tonight (Kamloops Storm vs. 100 KamStormMile House Wranglers) and Saturday (Kamloops Storm vs. Myles Mattila and his Kelowna Chiefs in a game that also will promote mental health awareness).

Matt Kolle, the Storm’s assistant GM, is part of Parallel Sports Group, which has been working to bring junior B hockey to Quesnel. The KIJHL has twice rejected Quesnel-based expansion applications.

Kolle has told Melanie Law of the Quesnel Observer that the group now is looking at the possible relocation of an existing franchise. In that vein, Kolle told Law that the Storm’s management team has spent the past while reviewing its financial picture.

“In the next few weeks,” Kolle said, “we’ll know where Kamloops’ team stands. And (Parallel Sports Group) has also been having conversations with other (KIJHL) teams in financial strain that might be better off in Quesnel.

“It has always been something we would consider, but we wanted to see how the expansion bid would play out first.”

The Storm, owned by Barry Dewar, has played in Kamloops since relocating from Osoyoos, B.C., prior to the 2006-07 season.

Law’s complete story is right here.


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IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Regina at Medicine Hat

Brandon at Swift Current

Kootenay at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Spokane at Kelowna

Tri-City at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Lethbridge at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Regina, 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Saskatoon at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

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

Kamloops at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Tri-City at Portland, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Seattle vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Spokane at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY