Habscheid: It was open season on our goaltender. . . . Lauer: We need to do more of that. . . . Cozens helps Canada stay unbeaten


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F Todd Fiddler (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Spokane, Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Neuilly-sur-Marne (France, Division 1). This season, with the Rosetown Red Wings (Allan Cup Hockey West), he had three goals and six assists in 10 games.


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OK. The WHL’s Eastern Conference final officially became a series after Game 2. The Edmonton Oil Kings tied the series, 1-1, with a 4-3 OT victory over the Raiders in Prince EdChynowethCupAlbert on Saturday night.

When the game was over, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ veteran head coach, pointed out what he felt were some deficiencies in the work of referees Mike Langin and Steve Papp when it came to protecting his goaltender, Ian Scott, from on-rushing Oil Kings.

Brad Lauer, the Oil Kings’ first-year head coach, said his guys need to get to the Prince Albert crease even more than they did in Game 2.

“One thing that concerned me a little bit was it was open season on our goaltender,” Habscheid told reporters. “We depend on the officials to defend our goaltender, because we have no recourse anymore these days. He was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect them to take care of that and they didn’t. That was real disappointing.”

As for Lauer, he said:

“Their (defencemen) do a really good job getting into (you). They box you out early and they tie you up. We found it really tough in Game 1 to get in front of the net. . . . We had to find ways to get to him and make things difficult for him. We did it a couple times. Did we do it enough? I don’t think so. We need to do more of that and create that second or third opportunity. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”

Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com has a story right here.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has a game story right here.

The series resumes with Games 3 and 4 in Edmonton on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.




The Western Conference final also will continue with games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights as the Vancouver Giants take a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs into Spokane. . . . The Chiefs have lost two games in a row for the first time since mid-February when they lost three in a row — 5-4 to the Giants in Langley, B.C., 7-5 to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., and 4-3 in OT to the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . After those losses, Spokane closed out the regular season on a 10-2-0 run, then opened the playoffs by going 8-2 before losing twice to the Giants. . . .

A key in this series may well be the status of Spokane F Luc Smith, who left Game 1 early in the first period with an apparent ankle injury. Here’s Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review after Game 2: “The Chiefs were without forward Luc Smith, who was hurt early in Game 1. (Spokane head coach Dan) Lambert said there is no update and they are waiting for Smith to see the team doctors. Smith was walking with a visible limp outside the Spokane dressing room.”


Team Canada ran its record to 3-0 at the IIHF U-18 World Championship by whipping CanadaBelarus, 11-1, on Sunday in Umea, Sweden. . . . F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) led Canada with two goals and three assists, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) adding a goal and an assist. F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) each scored once. F Daemon Hunt and F Brayden Tracey, both of the Moose Jaw Warriors, each had an assist. . . . G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) stopped 41 shots in his first start of the tournament. . . . Belarus now is 2-1. . . . Canada is next scheduled to play on Tuesday against Czech Republic. . . .

In Sunday’s other Group A game, Czech Republic improved to 2-1 with a 4-2 victory over Finland (0-3). . . . In Group B, Team USA went to 3-0 with a 6-3 victory over Russia (2-1), and Sweden went to 2-1 with a 5-1 victory over Slovakia (0-3). . . .

On Monday, Switzerland (0-2) is to meet Belarus in a Group A game, while, in Group B, Latvia (0-2) will meet Slovakia (0-3).

The tournament, in Umea and Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, runs through April 28.


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Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


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F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


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It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


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NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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