Oil Kings add big defenceman in deal; send four assets to Hitmen . . . Bankier leads Blazers to sweep . . . QMJHL to retire No. 4

If there was any doubt about whether the Edmonton Oil Kings are serious about Edmontonthe title chase this season, it ended on Wednesday afternoon when they cut a deal with the Calgary Hitmen. Yes, the Oil Kings, the CHL’s top-ranked team, are all-in. . . . The Oil Kings (3-1-1) acquired D Luke Prokop, the first player in junior hockey history to come out as gay, from the Hitmen (1-2-0) in exchange for D Blake Heward, D Keagan Slaney, a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024. . . .

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prokop, 19, is from Edmonton. The Hitmen selected him with the seventh-overall pick of the WHL’s 2017 draft. He has one goal and one assist in three games this season. In 153 career games, he put up eight goals and 35 assists. . . . He came out on July 19. He signed an entry-level deal with the Nashville Predators, who had selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2020 draft, and is the only openly gay player signed to an NHL contract. . . . “He has had a significant impact on our team, our city and the entire hockey community with his courage and determination,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said of Prokop in a statement. “The trade provides Luke the opportunity to finish his WHL career in his hometown. We wish him the very best.” . . .

Slaney, 18, had two goals and nine assists in 78 games with Edmonton. From CalgaryAirdrie, Alta., he was the 20th overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Heward, from Regina, is the son of former WHL/NHL D Jamie Heward, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Henderson, Nev., Silver Knights. Blake, a seventh-round pick by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s 2018 draft, has three assists in 23 games with the Oil Kings. . . .

The Oil Kings and Hitmen are scheduled to meet for the first time this season on Nov. 5 and 6 when they go home-and-home, opening in Calgary and finishing the Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Edmonton. . . . Prokop should make his Edmonton debut on Friday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . On Friday, the Hitmen are at home to the Red Deer Rebels.


There were three WHL games on Wednesday night . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Prince Albert Raiders built a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Warriors. . . . F Sloan Stanick, acquired this week by the Raiders (1-4-0) from the Regina Pats, took a major for goaltender interference at 15:50 of the third period. The Warriors (2-2-0) scored twice on the PP but weren’t able to equalize. . . . D Kaiden Guhle had two assists in his first game back with the Raiders after being with the Montreal Canadiens. . . .

D Chad Nychuk scored twice, including the winner at 2:22 of OT, as the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-4. . . . The Blades (2-1-1) had a 35-24 edge in shots, but were outshot 4-0 in OT. . . . Nychuk has four goals for Brandon (3-3-0). . . . The Blades got two goals and an assist from F Brandon Lisowsky and a goal and two helpers from F Tristen Robins, who has two goals and six assists in three games. . . . Saskatoon was without F Jayden Wiens, who served the first of a two-game suspension after running into Brandon G Ethan Kruger in Saskatoon’s 6-2 victory in Brandon on Oct. 9. Kruger left that game with an apparent left leg injury, Kruger was scratched for a second straight game last night and, according to the online scoresheet, the Wheat Kings didn’t dress a backup goaltender for a second straight game. . . .

F Caedan Bankier scored three goals and set up two others to lead the Kamloops Blazers to an 8-3 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Bankier, who scored twice on the PP, has five goals with the Blazers at 4-0-0. They had beaten the host Royals, 3-2, on Tuesday. . . . F Brayden Schuurman scored his sixth goal for the Royals (1-4-0). . . . Bankier had three goals, including the OT winner, in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on May 1 during the 2021 development season. The 18-year-old from Surrey, B.C., was a third-round pick by the Minnesota Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blazers will complete a stretch of four road games in five nights by playing the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday and the Giants in Langley, B.C., on Saturday.

Jamie Kompon, now an associate coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, spent two seasons (2014-16) as the Portland Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach. He is in his sixth season on the Jets’ staff.


I hope you took time away from watching the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs play one of a gazillion hockey games that will be on TV this season to watch at least some of Canada’s men’s soccer team beating Jamaica, 4-1, in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night. . . . And if you did I hope you got to see Alphonso Davies’s goal because it was one for the ages. Yes, it should be the GOAL OF THE YEAR on every year-end highlight show two months down the road.

The QMJHL will retire No. 4 across the league in honour of the great Guy qmjhlnewLafleur. The ceremony will take place on Oct. 28 in Quebec City as the Remparts play host to the Shawinigan Cataractes. . . . From a QMJHL news release: “Lafleur was elected the league’s all-time greatest player as determined by a panel of experts during the 50th anniversary season celebrations, just ahead of the great Mario Lemieux. The Outaouais native played two seasons with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971, collecting 233 goals and 146 assists in 118 games. On Feb. 5, 1971, he became the only QMJHL player to score five goals in a single period. He finished that game with 11 points. The “Démon Blond” also led the 1971 Remparts to a Memorial Cup championship, the first of 13 national championships for the QMJHL.” . . . The Guy Lafleur Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the QMJHL playoffs. . . . Lafleur was among the first players inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame in 1997. . . . If you’re wondering, the QMJHL has had this on its agenda for a while now, but the pandemic kept getting in the way.


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Silvertips keep title hopes alive . . . WHL final headed back to Swift Current . . . Humboldt Broncos will be back on ice in 2018-19


D Lukáš Bohunický (Kootenay, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had three assists in 56 games. . . .

D Jesse Craige (Lethbridge, Chilliwack, 2004-10) signed a two-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). The team captain, he had 11 goals and 52 assists in 56 games. He was named to the UK Elite League’s first all-star team. He led defencemen in assists and points, and was second overall in assists in the entire league. . . .

G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract extension with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). In 56 games, he was 3.12 and .900. He was named Coventry’s player of the year by his teammates. Nastiuk is studying at Coventry Business School while playing for the Blaze.


The WHL’s championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup will be decided in Swift Current. The host Everett Silvertips beat the Broncos, 6-3, on Friday night, leaving Swift EdChynowethCupCurrent with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. . . . They’ll play Game 6 on Sunday night, with Game 7, if needed, scheduled for Monday. . . . The Memorial Cup begins Friday (May 18) in Regina. . . . Last night, Everett took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Wyatte Wylie (2), on a PP, at 6:19, and F Matt Fonteyne (9), at 16:07. . . . F Glenn Gawdin, who scored three times in the Broncos’ 3-2 OT victory in Game 4, pulled his guys even by scoring, on a PP, at 17:50 of the first and at 6:37 of the second period. He’s got 14 goals. . . . F Sean Richards (4) gave the Silvertips a 3-2 lead at 4:48 of the third period, with F Riley Sutter (9) upping it to 4-2 at 6:09. Sutter also had two assists. . . . D Noah King pulled the Broncos to within one  when he scored his first WHL goal at 12:51. . . . Everett hung on, though, and put it away with a pair of empty-netters from F Connor Dewar, who now has 12 goals. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 21 shots to earn the victory over Stuart Skinner, who made 34 saves. . . . Both teams were 1-3 on the PP. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Reagan Vetter. . . . Announced attendance: 6,628.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Zack Stringer, who was the eighth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stringer, from Lethbridge, had 30 points, including 17 goals, with the midget AAA Hurricanes despite playing with them as an underage. He added 16 points, 11 of them goals, in 10 playoff games, then had seven goals and three assists at the Telus Cup national championship tournament.

The Humboldt Broncos made it official on Friday — they will ice a team for the SJHL’s 2018-19 season. Darcy Haugan, their general manager and head coach, was one of the 16 people who died when the team’s bus was involved in a crash on April 6. The Broncos posted the GM/head coach position yesterday. . . . The team will hold a player camp in Saskatoon, May 25-27, that will be by invitation only and will be closed to the public and media. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.

Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix spent some time with Kaleb Dahlgren, a survivor of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash, the other day. Dahlgren has been at home since April 27, and these days he’s looking back but mostly ahead. . . . Mitchell’s piece is right here.

On Friday, it was revealed that Dahlgren plans to attend York U in Toronto and play for the Lions. Mark Cross, the Humboldt assistant coach who was one of 16 people who died because of the bus crash, also attended York. “My goal,” Dahlgren, 20, tweeted, “is to attend York in the fall of this year. However, the school has assured me I can begin whenever my body is ready.”

Dave Hunchak, who has coached in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Kamloops Blazers, also worked with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers and has been inducted into the SJHL Hall of Fame. He also has had issues with mental wellness and depression and all that goes with it. So when he was asked to go to Humboldt and help out following the Broncos’ bus crash on April 6, he didn’t hesitate. . . . Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail has more right here.

The Humboldt Broncos and the SJHL may be on the verge of lawyering up as they scrap for control of the #HumboldtStrong hashtag that has shown up on t-shirts and other merchandise following the April 6 bus crash. Geoff Lee of CBC News reports that the SJHL has applied for the trademark, but the Broncos want it. . . . That piece is right here.

The Prince George Cougars are in the midst of a shakeup, there having been a change at the top of the ownership group and, of course, general manager Todd Harkins lost his job. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen examines all of that right here, and also talks with John Pateman, the organization’s new president, about the past, present and future.

The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Dylan Guenther and D Keagan Slaney, their two EdmontonOilKingsfirst-round selections in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Guenther, from Edmonton, was the first overall selection; Slaney, from Airdrie, Alta., was taken with the 20th pick. . . . Guenther had 56 goals and 47 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. . . . Slaney had 13 goals and 23 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Airdrie Xtreme.

F Morgan Geekie of the Tri-City Americans has signed a three-year entry-level contract TriCity30with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . Geekie had 30 goals and 54 assists in 68 regular-season games in 2017-18. He added 17 goals and 10 assists in 14 playoff games. . . . He was a third-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . .  The team revealed that “the deal will pay Geekie US$650,000 in 2018-19 and $700,000 in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He will be paid $70,000 per season on the AHL level and receives a signing bonus of $240,000.” . . . Geekie is eligible to return to junior hockey in 2018-19 as a 20-year-old, but as a signed player he is almost certain to start his pro career.

Simon Ferguson is the new head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets, who play in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He takes over from Eric Blais, who will coach the Okanagan-Central Zone bantam AAA team next season. . . . Ferguson also was the Rockets’ head coach in 2014-15. He spent this season coaching at the Banff Hockey Academy. . . . Ferguson played five seasons in the WHL (1999-2004) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Kelowna Rockets. He was acquired by Kelowna during 2002-03 and helped the Rockets win the 2004 Memorial Cup.

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