Cranbrook group working to keep Ice . . . One more father-son head-coaching combo . . . Blades, Tigers swap veteran forwards


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F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) a signed contract for the rest of this season with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 45 games with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga).


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The Green Bay Committee, a group in Cranbrook that is working in support of the Kootenay Ice, held something of a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

With the WHL franchise surrounded by speculation that it will be moved to Winnipeg Kootenaynewbefore another season gets here, the committee would like to sell at least 500 season tickets over the next two weeks through what it calls Reach Out, hoping that will help convince owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell to keep the team in Cranbrook.

All in attendance at the meeting received information packages and order sheets for season-ticket packages. There will be another meeting on Nov. 1.

The Ice, which plays in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, apparently has sold about 1,700 season tickets, down a couple of hundred from last season. Attendance at the home-opener, on Sept. 22, was 2,862. Since then, the announced attendances have been 2,375, 2,287, 2,133, 2,334, 2,117 and 2,042. That latter figure was from Wednesday night when the Ice scored a 4-3 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Lee Pratt, Cranbrook’s mayor, told Bradley Jones of Summit 107:

“The attendance is down and they need more people in the stands. It’s as simple as that, it’s a business. Most businesses operate, they have to get a return on their investment, and obviously with the fan support they’re getting right now, it’s not a viable operation. So they’ve got to look for some long-term sustainability and that’s what they’re doing.”

(Jones’s complete story is right here.)

Pratt also was adamant that the City of Cranbrook is committed to keeping the WHL franchise right where it is.

“We made that commitment a number of years ago and we’re standing by that commitment,” Pratt said. “We’re working with them on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do with them what we can to ensure that they are here.”

Jones also reported that the Ice has a lease that runs to 2023.

“Pratt said the City offered to become a partner and re-negotiate parts of the lease once the Ice was purchased by the new ownership group . . . in 2017,” Jones reported, “but that the re-negotiations never happened.”

According to Jones, Pratt told the meeting that he believes the lease is one of the best in the CHL.

Interestingly, Jones also reported that “the Ice (wasn’t) in attendance . . . and had no official representation at the meeting.” Nor has the Ice had anything to say on the relocation speculation, telling Summit 107 that “no comment will be given.”

Meanwhile, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Summit 107 in a statement: ”The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments. The discussions (that) take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

Late last week, Robison told the Winnipeg Free Press that “the WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

That comment came as the Free Press reported that its sources have indicated the WHL’s “long-rumoured return to Winnipeg could be only months away from coming to fruition.”

According to that report, the Ice is likely to play out of a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus as it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat facility.

On Thursday, Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press reported that Gene Muller, the U of Manitoba’s director of athletics and recreation, “was asked what his school’s attitude would be if the Ice (was) to take up residence at the aging 1,400-seat campus arena. Muller politely declined comment.”

I don’t know about you, but this all is starting to have a familiar ring to it, or do you no longer remember the Chilliwack Bruins?


Elliotte Friedman’s always-readable 31 Thoughts was posted on Thursday. He was in Winnipeg this week for Wednesday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets, and this is his 30th thought for this week:

“It is not NHL-related, but after being in Winnipeg for a couple of days, it is clear the future of WHL Kootenay and how it relates to Manitoba is a storyline that’s not going away anytime soon.”

Friedman’s complete 31 Thoughts is right here.


Yes, I knew it would happen; in fact, I hoped it would happen.

On the subject of fathers and sons who have coached in the WHL . . .

The inbox on Thursday had another reminder, this one about Mike and Hardy Sauter.

Mike, who is now 70, was the head coach of the Lethbridge Broncos in 1976-77 and then again for the front part of the 1979-80 season.

Hardy, now 47, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1989-92). He spent one season (2007-08) as an assistant coach with the Chiefs, then was the head coach for two seasons (2008-10).

So . . . the Sauters join Kelly and Brent Kisio, along with Danny and Brad Flynn, as father-son combinations who have been WHL head coaches, even if only for one game.


Medicine Hat and Saskatoon have swapped 19-year-old forwards, with Gary Haden Saskatoonmoving to the Blades and Logan Christensen heading to the Tigers. . . . Haden had been at home in Airdrie, Alta., awaiting a trade after asking for a move about two weeks ago. . . . Last season, Haden had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games. This season, he had one goal and two assists in nine games before heading home. . . . In 115 career regular-season games, Haden has 25 goals and 28 assists. . . . Haden was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Christensen, from Morden, Man., was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. In 197 career games, he has 21 goals and 37 assists. This season, he put up a goal and two assists in 13 games. . . . The Tigers visit the Regina Pats tonight, while the Blades meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are expected to have Cole Sillinger, 15, in their lineup tonight Tigers Logo Officialagainst the Pats in Regina. . . . Sillinger is from Regina; his father, Mike, was a star with the Pats before going onto a lengthy NHL career. . . . This season, Cole has five goals and 13 assists in eight games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . The Tigers selected him with the 11th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship MooseJawWarriors— will be played in Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Place, Feb. 14-23. . . . That means the Warriors will have to vacate their home arena for between two and three weeks, including setup and teardown time for the curling gang. . . . The Scotties last was held in Moose Jaw in 2015. That season, the Warriors played at home on Feb. 6 — they lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs — and then were away for three weeks, not playing at home again until Feb. 27. In the interim, they played seven road games, five of them in the B.C. Division. The Warriors went 3-3-1 in those seven games.


F Blake Stevenson of the Tri-City Americans has been suspended for three games after he took a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Wednesday night. That was for a hit on Cougars F Jackson Leppard. . . . Stevenson will miss games in Spokane, Everett and Regina, and will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 when the Americans meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . .

Kevin Acheson, who is in his first season as the WHL’s disciplinarian, now has issued 23 suspensions totalling 54 games since the regular season opened.

Last season, Richard Doerksen handed out 11 suspensions worth 30 games between the start of the season and Oct. 24. In 2016-17, in the same time period, Doerksen had issued nine suspensions for 15 games.

One would hope that WHL players soon will start getting Acheson’s message — if you’re going to do the crime, you’re going to get more time than in recent seasons.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have named Jared Crooks as their skill development and video coach. Crooks, who played five seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, had been an Alberta-based scout for the Thunderbirds.


G Matthew Armitage, who spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen, has been acquired by the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Armitage, a 19-year-old from Creston, B.C., was 3.55, .890 in 19 games with the Hitmen last season. Salmon Arm acquired his rights from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


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Ice and T-Birds make deal . . . No holiday for WHL disciplinarian . . . Scott, McGovern post shutouts . . . Humboldt families angered by book

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D Tomáš Voráček (Prince Albert, 2007-2009) has been assigned on loan by Sparta Prague to Mladá Boleslav (both Czech Republic, Extraliga) for one month. Voráček hasn’t appeared in any games for Sparta this season. Last season, he had three assists in 53 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), and one goal in five games with Sparta Prague.


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired D Loeden Schaufler, 18, from the Kootenay Ice in exchange for F Eric Fawkes, 17, a ninth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft and undisclosed conditional future considerations. . . . Schaufler, from DeWinton, Alta., was a third-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. He is pointless in one game this season. In 37 career regular-season games, he has six assists. . . . Fawkes was a second-round selection by Seattle in the 2016 bantam draft. He now is playing with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. From Winnipeg, he totalled 47 goals and 68 assists in 87 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild over the previous two seasons.


The WHL’s Department of Discipline, under chief custodian Kevin Acheson, was busy on Monday, despite it being Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

The suspension of Everett Silvertips F Sean Richards was set at five games, while F Jermaine Loewen of the Kamloops Blazers got four games.

Richards was suspended for a headshot major and game misconduct during a 2-1 OT loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. Seattle D Reece Harsch, who absorbed the hit, sat out Seattle’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night.

Loewen was suspended after taking a headshot major and game misconduct for a first-period hit on D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks in Kamloops on Friday. Quigley left the game and didn’t return to what was a 5-3 Portland victory. He also sat out Portland’s 4-1 victory in Everett on Saturday.

The Regina Pats were fined $500 after F Sergei Alkhimov instigated a fight in the last five minutes of a 7-3 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday.

The Pats also had two players suspended — Alkhimov got one game for his indiscretion, while F Jake Leschyshyn also drew a one-game sentence after taking a spearing major in the same game.

F Josh Maser of the Prince George Cougars drew a TBD suspension after taking a slew-footing major and game misconduct on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif during a 3-2 loss to the visiting Giants on Saturday.


Stewart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, checked in with an update on Monday. He continues to make progress as he rehabs after a couple of strokes.

“Still fighting issues from strokes,” he writes. “I go for CT Scan on Nov. 6 to see how stent is working.  Am doing Neuro Optometry just to see how eyes are. Blood pressure check Tuesday as I had a couple instances of very low and I hear it’s part of stroke. I have speech therapy Wednesday and nutrition call on Friday. Games Wednesday night and Sunday. Seeing how these go.”

If you happen to be at one of those games, stop by the Booster Club’s table and say hi to Stewart.


MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

G Ian Scott stopped 23 shots to help the visiting Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . It was Scott’s first shutout of this season and the fourth of his career. His first three shutouts all were against the Kootenay Ice. . . . Scott is off to quite a start this season, at 7-1-0, 1.63, .941. . . . F Brett Leason had a goal and two assists. He pulled into a tie for the WHL points lead with F Joachim Blichfeld of the idle Portland Winterhawks. Each has 17 points. . . . Last season, Leason finished with 33 points in 66 games. . . . While the Raiders improved to 8-1-0, the Hitmen, who went 6-0-0 in the exhibition season, now are 0-5-1.


G Duncan McGovern blocked 45 shots to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 5-0 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . McGovern has one shutout this season and three in his career. . . . The Ice acquired McGovern from the Tigers on Oct. 23, 2017, surrendering a fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft in the exchange. . . . The Ice got goals from five different players.


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Suspension’s length due to new standard or sheriff? . . . Paterson’s streak on the line . . . MacLeod needs our help


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Last season, according to the WHL website, the Department of Discipline handed out 75 different suspensions. One of those was for six games; none were for more.

D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats began serving a six-game suspension on Friday night whlafter he took a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct late in a 3-2 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. Gavlas also will miss the first five games of the regular season.

It could be that players in the WHL need to sit up and pay attention to this suspension.

Why?

Because there’s a  new sheriff in town and perhaps — just perhaps — this was his way of sending a message.

During the off-season, the WHL named Kevin Acheson its director of player safety, moving him from assistant director of officiating. Acheson, from Edmonton, was a long-time referee before moving into the off-ice position.

As the director of player safety, he will handle all on-ice and supplemental discipline, taking on that responsibility from Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president of hockey, who had handled discipline for a long, long time.

After its annual meeting in June, when the WHL revealed that Acheson would be handling discipline, the WHL also announced that it had taken “further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to enlighten its fans with any specifics as to the new regulations and standards. So we don’t know if this suspension was in answer to that, or if it really was a message from Acheson to the players.

On the hit in question, Gavlas appeared to strike Saskatoon F Josh Paterson on the back of his head with an elbow.

Paterson was scratched from the Blades’ final exhibition game against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. (The Blades finished with a 6-1-0 record after losing 5-2 in Prince Albert.)

If Paterson isn’t able to play in the Blades’ regular-season opener against the Broncos in Swift Current on Friday, it will end a stretch of 145 consecutive regular-season games for the 19-year-old from Edmonton. Last season, he had career highs of 31 goals and 22 assists in 72 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have released F Holden Katzalay, 18, who had two assists in 59 games as a freshman last season. Katzalay is from Vancouver, B.C. . . .

The Swift Current Broncos have released F Logan Foster, who had two goals and one assist in 23 games last season. Foster, 19, is from Kamsack, Sask. He also played 21 games with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires last season, recording eight goals and 11 assists.


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!


Wade MacLeod isn’t playing hockey this season; instead, he’s preparing for what will be the fourth brain surgery in five years.

MacLeod, 31, is from Coquitlam, B.C. He played two seasons (2005-07) with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials, then went on to spend four seasons at Northeastern U. He played last season in Germany, with Lowen Frankfurt of the DEL2.

MacLeod also is the son of Scott MacLeod, who played two seasons (1977-79) in the WHL, splitting 138 regular-season games between the Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Wranglers and New Westminster Bruins.

I received an email from a friend of Wade’s, all of which you also can read on a GoFundMe site . . .

“Wade has spent his entire life dreaming of being a husband and father while playing in the NHL. This dream almost came true five years ago, but while playing for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, Wade suffered a grand mal seizure on the ice, which led to the discovery of the first tumour.

“Wade returned to the game a year later, after undergoing brain surgery to remove the tumour. Following surgery, Wade lost the ability of speech and spent three months undergoing speech therapy.

“His dream of being a husband and father has come true with a beautiful wife, Karly, and their 11-month-old baby girl, sweet Ava James. Wade’s courage and unwavering determination to be a loving husband and father and still play the game he loves so much has been an inspiration to us all.

“Since then, Wade’s tumour has relentlessly grown back three times. Each time, Wade returned to the game but his dream of playing in the NHL was over.

“Wade was going to return to playing hockey in Dresden, Germany, last month, but that dream was dashed as he now is preparing for his fourth brain surgery in less than five years. He has a Grade 3 Glioblastoma tumour and it has come back, once again, with a vengeance, this after he went through surgery only two months ago.

“What this means for Wade and his family is that they have to incur all prescription costs that he will have to take his entire lifetime as well as any treatments outside of his basic medical services plan, which is weighing heavily on their finances. They won’t be able to sustain the strain with no income.

“Wade’s recovery would be so much easier without the financial strain as he no longer is able to provide for his family.

“Thank you for taking time to read this and consider funding to this cause.”

Friends have started a GoFundMe page that is right here.


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Shots fired . . .