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

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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.


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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.

Estephan the OT hero as Broncos tie WHL final . . . Boschman recalls first-year Senators . . . NYT’s Branch on the late Jeff Parker

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The host Swift Current Broncos erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-3 in OT, on Saturday night, tying the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for the Ed SCBroncosChynoweth Cup, at 1-1. . . . The series now heads for Everett and the next three games — on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (12) won it for the Broncos at 9:25 of extra time when he scored off a rebound. . . . The Silvertips had taken a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matt Fonteyne (7), at 3:14; F Martin Fasko-Rudas (5), at 10:11; and F Riley Sutter (7), at 14:26. . . . F Matteo Gennaro (9), who also had two assists, got the Broncos on the scoreboard at 8:17 of the second period. . . . D Colby Sissons (4) pulled the home side to within a goal at 6:22 of the third period. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen (12) tied it at 18:23, with G Stuart Skinner on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Skinner finished with 40 saves, six more than Everett’s Carter Hart. . . . Referees Stephen Campbell and Reagan Vetter gave the Broncos four of the game’s seven minors. . . . Everett had been 8-0 on the road in these playoffs. . . . According to Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow), this was the first time since Nov. 30, 2014, that Everett had blown a 3-0 lead. On that date, Brandow tweeted, Everett dropped “a 4-3 (OT) decision to the Kootenay Ice after going up 3-0. A span of 310 games between the regular season and postseason.” . . . Attendance was 2,890.


What does it say about the NHL that it didn’t put the clamps on Boston Bruins F Brad Marchand after the first time he licked an opponent’s face? And what is the difference between licking and spitting in someone’s face? Spitting surely would bring a suspension, wouldn’t it?


Kevin Mitchell, the superb writer from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, stopped by the intersection of Saskatchewan highways 35 and 335 on Friday, exactly four weeks after the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. . . . “It’s a restless corner,” he writes. “Cars drive past, passenger necks craned. Kids peek out the window as a school bus makes its daily pass. People stop, exit, wander through paths carved out beside piled hockey sticks, flowers, brightly-spinning pinwheels.” . . . The complete piece is right here and it’s well worth you time.


According to Bleacher Report, the UFC heavyweight championship is “the hardest title to keep.” . . . RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com begs to differ, noting “For my money, it’s world’s oldest man.”


Laurie Boschman, who played on the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings, has memories from playing on the Ottawa Senators when they were an NHL expansion franchise. While the Wheat Kings lost only five games in that WHL regular season, that Senators team is remembered as one of the worst in NHL history. Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail chatted with Boschman and the result is right here.


Just the other day I posted something here about the OHL having suspended F Givani Smith of the Kitchener Rangers for two games after he flipped the bird to the Son Greyhounds’ bench after a playoff game. Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record did some digging into what Smith, who is black, has dealt with during his career. I’ll give you a hint: This isn’t pretty. . . . Brown’s piece is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times wrote the book on former WHL and NHL player Derek Boogaard — Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard — and has continued to write on the concussion issue and hockey. In his latest piece, Branch writes about Jeff Parker, “who played in the NHL from 1986 to 1991 and died last year at age 53, and will be seen as another link between hockey head hits and CTE; the league has denied such a link exists.” . . . That story is right here.


If you are paying attention to Major League Baseball, you will be aware that there are an insane number of strikeouts in the game these days. How much of it can be blamed on hitters searching for the perfect launch angle? Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle had a conversation about just that with Tim Flannery, a former player and long-time coach, and it’s all right here. . . . It’s all part of a three-dot column, and those almost always are fun and full of interesting info. Enjoy!


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Mitchell looks back at Humboldt . . . Broncos, Americans win . . . MJHL title rests in Steinbach

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Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix is one of Canada’s best-kept writing secrets. He is a wordsmith and an observer of the human condition who could more than hold his own in any marketplace. . . . On Saturday, he wrote about visiting Humboldt immediately after the Broncos’ bus crash and all that he discovered. That piece is right here.



F Giorgio Estephan’s third goal of the game, at 9:38 of OT, gave the host Swift Current Broncos a 4-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Game 2 of the WHL’s best-of-SCBroncosseven Eastern Conference final on Saturday night. . . . They’ll play Game 3 in Lethbridge on Tuesday. . . . TheBroncos had won the opener, 3-2, on Friday night. . . . Estephan and G Stuart Skinner, who stopped 36 shots, were acquired from the Hurricanes on Jan. 9. . . . The Broncos lost F Glenn Gawdin in the second period, according to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, “after he took a hit in the corner. Asked about his captain after the game, (Broncos head coach Manny) Viveiros responded: ‘He’s fine.’ ” As Harder noted: “That’s his customary response to questions about injuries — regardless of the severity.” . . . Harder added: “The Broncos were already without D Artyom Minulin, who didn’t finish Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury that was initially described as an illness. He missed three games in the first round due to an apparent shoulder issue and may have re-injured it on Friday.” . . .

Harder’s complete story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, also was at the game and his piece is right here.


In Everett, the Tri-City Americans scored three third-period goals and beat the Silvertips, 5-3. Tri-City F Max James broke a 3-3 tie with his first goal of these playoffs at 12:29 of the third period. . . . The Western Conference final is tied, 1-1, with Game 3 in Kennewick, Wash., on Monday night.


The Steinbach Pistons won the MJHL title on Saturday night, beating the hometown Virden Oil Capitals, 2-1. Virden won the first two games of the best-of-seven series, only to have Steinbach roar back with four straight victories to win its first championship since 2013. . . . Paul Dyck, a former WHL defenceman (Moose Jaw, 1989-91), is in his sixth season as the Pistons’ general manager and head coach. . . . The Pistons will play the SJHL champion — either the Nipawin Hawks or Estevan Bruins — for the ANAVET Cup. Nipawin leads the SJHL final, 3-2, with Game 6 in Estevan tonight (Sunday) at 7:30.


Former WHL player Sheldon Kennedy is being honoured by Assiniboine Community College of Brandon. Kennedy has been awarded ACC’s second annual Courage Award, and will be saluted at a dinner on Oct. 25. . . . He was born in Brandon and grew up in Elkhorn, Man. . . . Kennedy heads up the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and also is the co-founder of Respect Group.


Last fall, three men died in Fernie, B.C., after being exposed to ammonia while working on the ice plant in the community’s arena. After that tragedy, WorkdSafeBC began inspecting arenas and recreation facilities across the province. Now, Karin Larsen of CBC News reports, communities are having to find money for repairs. For example, Larsen writes, Rossland needs $200,000 “to keep (its arena) operating” because safety upgrades are needed around the ice plant. . . . The same holds true, to one extent or another, for numerous facilities. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Merry Christmas, and a few tunes and a couple of stories, from Taking Note

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Of course, Kara Drinnan loves Christmas and the songs that accompany it.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night, from Taking Note and Wonder Woman. We are fortunate enough to have Joanna and Todd, our son and his wife, with us for Christmas. And, yes, Kara, our only grandchild, is here, too. As you can tell from the photo, Kara has been leading us in a few Christmas songs.

As you get ready to shut it down on Christmas Eve, and perhaps stuff a few stockings, right here it’s The Pogues, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl, with Fairytale of New York . . .

And right here is another  favourite. It’s Darlene Love with Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) from a 2014 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. It was the 28th straight year in which she performed that tune with Letterman.

One more, if you’re so inclined. It’s Bing Crosby and David Bowie with The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth, and it’s right here.

Finally, here’s one with a WHL flavour. It’s Michael Buble, who owns a chunk of the Vancouver Giants, and Bing Crosby, with White Christmas. It’s right here.


Meanwhile, here’s one of my favourite Christmas stories. It’s from the pages of the late Oakland Tribune, and it features a city editor named Alfred P. Reck. . . . It’s awesome, and it’s right here.


Craig McCallum played three seasons (2007-10)in the WHL, two with the Edmonton Oil Kings and one with the Prince Albert Raiders. He then went on to spend five seasons at the U of Saskatchewan where he played for the Huskies. Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here about how it almost didn’t happen for McCallum, who opens up about alcohol, drugs, culture and family, and a whole lot more.


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Scoreboard

Sunday-Tuesday:

No Games Scheduled.


Wednesday (all times local):

Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Calgary vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Tri-City at Portland, 7 p.m.

Everett vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Kelowna 7:05 p.m.

Seattle at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.