Popowich, Esposito leave WHL for school . . . Blades sign an import . . . Healing continues in Humboldt

MacBeth

D Alexei Platonov (Medicine Hat, 2015-16) signed a one-year contract with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 24 games with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

Two more players with WHL eligibility remaining have chosen to leave the WHL and head to school.

F Tyler Popowich, 18, has decided to walk away from the Vancouver Giants, after scoring whleight goals and adding six assists in 64 games last season.
From Surrey, B.C., he was a first-round pick, third overall, by the Giants in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.

He was pointless in six games with Vancouver in 2015-16, then had seven goals and two assists in 53 games in 2016-17.

Popowich is the second first-round bantam draft pick to leave the WHL in two days. On Thursday, it was revealed that D Jantzen Leslie, 19, had left the Edmonton Oil Kings for Red Deer College. Leslie, from Lloydminster, Alta., was a first-round pick, 15th overall, by the Everett Silvertips in the 2014 bantam draft.

As well, D Drea Esposito, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, has chosen to leave the Calgary Hitmen in order to attend the U of Manitoba. He was a fifth-round selection by the Hitmen in the 2015 bantam draft. Esposito played two seasons with the Hitmen, recording two assists in 35 games as a freshman, then adding a goal and seven assists in 47 games last season.

Earlier, the Giants lost D Marcus Kichton, 19, when he chose to leave to go to school.

The Saskatoon Blades had two players leave their organization prior to what would have been their 20-year-old seasons.

F Gage Ramsay will attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic next month and then move on to the U of Saskatchewan rather than try for a 20-year-old spot with the Blades.

F Caleb Fantillo chose to leave, according to the Blades, in order “to get a jump start on a future career in the health and fitness industry.”


F Matthew Hodson of Saskatoon has signed a WHL contract with the Victoria Royals, who selected him in the third round of the 2018 bantam draft. He played last season with the bantam AA Saskatoon Outlaws, putting up 44 goals and 31 assists in 31 games. He was second in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League in goals and points. He added four goals and seven assist in seven playoff games.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, whose rights were Saskatoonselected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. From Norway, Roykas Marthinsen will turn 19 on Tuesday. He was selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft. He has yet to sign with them, but has twice skated at their development camp. . . . Last season, he had 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games with Almtuna IS J20 in Norway’s elite junior league. . . . Saskatoon has yet to sign D Emil Malysjev, its other selection in the CHL import draft. Malysjev, 17, has dual Sweden-Russian citizenship. He spent the past two seasons in HV71’s organization, and may play with its elite 18 team this season.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Lucas Ciona to a WHL contract. From Edmonton, he was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Last season, Ciona had 13 goals and 35 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. He is presently in camp with the Thunderbirds.


The healing continued in Humboldt on Friday as Washington Capitals F Chandler Stephenson, who is from Saskatoon, and his close personal friend Stanley Cup dropped in for a vist. . . . It also was Day 1 of training camp for the SJHL’s Broncos, although the prospective players weren’t made available to the visiting media. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was on hand and filed this column right here.

——

When Kevin Garinger stepped up as president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, there wasn’t any way that he could have known what was ahead. Now, after one year in the position and having shepherded the organization through the tragedy of a bus accident that took 16 lives, he has stepped aside. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has more right here.

——

Jamie Brockman is the new president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Well, actually, he is the new ‘old’ president. Brockman was president from 2012-17, before he stepped aside and Kevin Garinger took over for a year. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Brockman right here.


The Canadian junior A rights to G Dylan Myskiw, 19, of the Brandon Wheat Kings have been dealt to the Portage Terriers, along with F Ben Coppinger, 18, and future considerations. In return, the Selkirk Steelers received F Ryan Sokoloski, 20, D Ryden Fedyck, 17, and future considerations.

From Winnipeg, Myskiw was a sixth-round pick by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He played with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers in 2015-16, then got into 17 games with the Royals in 2016-17. Last season, he played in 22 games with the Wheat Kings.

Coppinger had four assists in 18 games with the Prince George Cougars last season, while also playing with the Steelers and the Manitoba Major Junior League’s St. Vital Victorias. He was a 10th-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

Sokoloski, from Winnipeg, was pointless in nine games with the Swift Current Broncos in 2015-16. They had selected him in the 11th round of the 2013 bantam draft. He played three seasons with the Terriers.

Fedyck, from Winnipeg, was selected by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the third round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He played last season with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers.


Thank you to those who have donated to Dorothy’s cause as she prepares to take part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. That will be the fifth anniversary of her transplant and, yes, she is excited. She also is one of the walk’s organizers. Of course, she is. . . . If you would like to donate, you are able to do so right here. . . . If you are interested, money raised in the Kamloops Kidney Walk, which is our only fundraiser, will be used to help those who get called to Vancouver (VGH or St. Paul’s) for transplants. Those people have to stay in Vancouver for two months or longer.


Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Mooseheads set 2019 Memorial Cup prices . . . Vees, Harbinson agree on extension . . . Americans sign top draft pick


MacBeth

F Kruise Reddick (Tri-City, 2006-11) signed a two-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 27 goals and 39 assists in 54 games. He led the Flames in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Sami Moilanen (Seattle, 2016-18) signed a two-year-plus-option contract with Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Seattle, he had 22 goals and 23 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) signed a two-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). He had 24 goals and 42 assists in 40 games, leading his team in goals, assists and points. He was second in the league in assists and points. . . . Next season will be fifth in Feldkirch.


ThisThat

The WHL lost in court last week when, as Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted, “The Court of Appeal of Alberta has dismissed the WHL’s request to overturn a decision certifying this minimum wage lawsuit as a class action. Case will no move forward.” . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News later weighed in with some thoughts on this situation. Campbell’s piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads will be the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup. They have sent a letter to season-ticket holders detailing the price of ticket packages to the event, which result in some social media chatter. . . . One ticket package apparently will go for $320, plus taxes. . . . The Mooseheads haven’t yet detailed when ticket packages will be available to the general public. . . . The 2018 Memorial Cup begins today (Friday) in Regina.

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Hamilton vs. Regina, 8 p.m.

Game 2, Saturday – Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 2 p.m.

Game 3, Sunday – Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 5 p.m.

Game 4, Monday – Swift Current vs. Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Game 5, Tuesday – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


Surely it is a mere coincidence that neither Ken Hitchcock nor Don Hay, perhaps the two most-successful coaches in the history of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, aren’t employed as coaches today. . . . Both, however, remain in the employ of the teams they coached last season. . . . Hay is an advisor to hockey operations with the Blazers, having said last week that he has retired from them but still is interested in continuing his lengthy coaching career. . . . Hitchcock, the third-winningest coach in NHL regular-season history, spent this season as head coach of the Dallas Stars. He stepped aside after the season and now is a “consultant” with the team. . . . Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News has more on Hitchcock and his situation right here.

Marty Hastings, who covers the Blazers for Kamloops This Week, offers up his view of all that went on with Hay right here.


If you thought that Fred Harbinson might end up as a WHL general manager this off-season, you can forget about it. Harbinson is the president, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. Coming out of 2017-18, he had one season remaining on his contract. The Vees announced Tuesday that he now has been extended through the 2023-24 season. Next season will be Harbinson’s 12th with Penticton. The Vees are 481-144-14-40 during that time. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Vees revealed that F Massimo Rizzo will be the team captain next season. Rizzo, who will turn 17 on June 13, just completed his first season with Penticton. The Kamloops Blazers selected him in the first round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft; his family informed the Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that Rizzo wouldn’t be signing with them, choosing instead to pursue an NCAA scholarship.


JUST NOTES:

You can forget about Cam Russell as a WHL general manager. The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads have given him a four-year extension. The Halifax native and former NHL defenceman has been with the Mooseheads since 2000-01 and has been the GM through the past 10 seasons. . . .

The Tri-City Americans have signed D Marc Lajoie, who was a first-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder had 12 goals and 18 assists in 20 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. . . . He is the son of Serge Lajoie, the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past three seasons. . . .

The 2020 World Junior Championship will be played in the Czech Republic cities of Ostrava and Trinec, running from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . . The 2019 tournament is scheduled for Vancouver and Victoria, from Dec. 26, 2018, through Jan. 5, 2019. . . . The WJC last was held in Czech Republic in 2008 when Pardubice and Liberec shared it. . . .

Veteran coach Ted Nolan is looking for work after having been fired as the head coach of Poland’s national team. Poland was 1-4 at the IIHF World Championship (Division 1, Group A) in Budapest, and will be demoted to Division 1, Group B. . . .

The SJHL and the Humboldt Broncos are in the process of resolving that dispute over trademarks. Broncos president Kevin Garinger has said that the SJHL’s board of governors met and the trademarks will end up belonging to the team. . . . There is more right here.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: The SJHL “will play hockey” . . . Big day for Beaudry . . . Willie helps out

Scattershooting

The SJHL’s board of governors voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to have the league’s playoffs played to a conclusion. The best-of-seven final will open Saturday with SJHLthe Estevan Bruins visiting the Hawks in Nipawin.

The league has been in a holding pattern since Friday when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to Nipawin for a game that night was involved in a crash in which 16 people died. The Hawks led that series, 3-1, at the time.

“We had a gruelling decision to make with respects on how we can pay tribute and honour the Humboldt Broncos,” SJHL president Bill Chow said in a statement. “On behalf of the board of governors, this intensive decision has been made and that decision is to carry through and finish off the 2017-18 season.

“The league will play hockey.”

The winner of the final will win the Canalta Cup and go on to play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion for the ANAVET Cup.

If you’re wonder, the Broncos’ organization is onside with the decision to play the final series.

“In my opinion, I think that hockey is important in our world, and it’s part of the healing process,” Broncos president Kevin Garinger told The Canadian Press. “I think it’s important to recognize that it is part of the healing process for everyone involved in this tragedy.”

Garinger also repeated that the Broncos expect to be one of the SJHL’s 12 teams when the 2018-19 season arrives.

“We know that hockey is critical for our Humboldt Broncos family,” he said. “We know that moving forward it will take time but we fully expect that the Humboldt Broncos organization will be part of the 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League schedule. We will look toward that when the time is right to consider it.”

——

SJHL final (best-of-seven):

Saturday: at Nipawin

Sunday: at Nipawin

Tuesday: at Estevan

Wednesday: at Estevan

If necessary:

Friday, April 20: at Nipawin

Sunday, April 22: at Estevan

Tuesday, April 24: at Nipawin


The Nipawin Hawks began preparations for the SJHL final at practice Wednesday afternoon, and they had a new assistant coach on the ice with them. Humboldt assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus on Friday because he was driving himself to the game, had on his coaching gear and was helping the Hawks.

Later in the day, Beaudry hit send on the following tweet:


If you follow the WHL, you know that the Saskatoon Blades didn’t qualify for the playoffs and, subsequently, head coach Dean Brockman was fired.

If you are one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason, well, before joining the Blades as an assistant coach, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the Broncos, the last 10 as general manager and head coach.

With that in mind, might Brockman end up back there, charged with putting the franchise back together?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, Brockman’s thoughts on the tragedy and what has transpired are right here in a piece from CBC.


On Tuesday afternoon, I posted a piece here — The boys grab some sticks and win a game — and the response has blown me away. On Wednesday morning, Cam Hutchinson, the editor of the Saskatoon Express, asked for permission to print the story in the next issue of that newspaper. Of course, I told him to go ahead. So, if you’re in the Saskatoon area, you can watch for it in print on Monday and online on Tuesday. . . . On Wednesday afternoon, following the death of Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons, I updated the story to include her.



There are stories everywhere involving victims of Friday’s bus accident. Here’s one that I absolutely love. . . . Graysen Cameron is one of the Humboldt players who was hospitalized after the accident. His brother, Bretton, is the captain of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He played three seasons (2007-10) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Willie Desjardins was the general manager and head coach. . . . Bretton badly wanted to get to Saskatoon in order to be with Graysen, but was having visa problems. It just happened that Desjardins called on Saturday to ask about Graysen. During the conversation, Bretton mentioned the visa issues. Well, it seems that Desjardins knows a lawyer through his NHL connections and, well, Bretton was on a plane to Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . These are the kinds of relationships that are forged while buses carry teams across this land.