The WHL, Part 5: There was tragedy, lots of movement and marshmallow punches . . .

Here is the fifth and final piece on the WHL’s first 25 years.  The five stories were written in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I have done just that over the past couple of weeks. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here, then, is Part 5 of 5. Thanks for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed these stories, and thank you for all of the positive feedback. . . .

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The fifth five-year segment was easily the best of the WHL’s first 25 years.

There was success in the stands, particularly in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, and in Saskatoon where the Blades welcomed a new facility.

There was stability, too. Recent additions, like the Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes, settled in for what appeared to be long stays.

But the greatest success came on the ice where the WHL won four Memorial Cup championships during the five seasons, opening with three in a row and closing with a victory by the Spokane Chiefs.

DougSauter

The 1986-87 season actually started on something of a strange note. The Regina Pats signed Doug Sauter, who was under contract to the Medicine Hat Tigers, to a two-year deal as general manager/head coach. The result was that the Pats agreed to compensate the Tigers.

The compensation turned into two veteran players — defenceman Kevin Ekdahl and forward Kevin Clemens. It was the first time in WHL history that a coach had, in effect, been traded.

The Pats also welcomed back another familiar face with Dennis Sobchuk, the greatest and most-popular player in franchise history, signing on as assistant coach/assistant manager.

This was a time of great change in the front offices and behind the benches. Barry Trapp left the Moose Jaw Warriors, saying, “I wasn’t fired. It was just a mutual agreement. It was a very friendly parting.”

BryanMaxwell

Medicine Hat signed Bryan Maxwell to replace Sauter, while Peter Esdale was the new coach in Spokane and Wayne Naka took over the Cougars in Victoria. In New Westminster, John Olver was the GM, with Ernie McLean the coach. Harvey Roy was out as the Bruins’ director of marketing, but he would surface in Moose Jaw as the GM and would hire Greg Kvisle to coach the Warriors. In Prince Albert, GM/head coach Terry Simpson left to coach the NHL’s New York Islanders and Rick Wilson took over.

Perhaps the biggest news in the summer of 1986 came on June 2 when the WHL announced it was doing away with round-robin playoff series in the East Division. Instead, the top two teams would get first- round byes.

In the WHL office, Richard Doerksen’s title was upgraded from executive assistant/referee-in-chief to vice-president.

There was trouble in Brandon, where the Bank of Nova Scotia called in a $77,000 demand loan, asking for payment on July 31. This resulted in the Wheat Kings’ board recommending to shareholders that the franchise be sold.

bob cornell brandon wheat kings mvc
BOB CORNELL (Photo: Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame)

In August, shareholders voted 1,411-404 in favour of selling the Wheat Kings. Offers were received from two groups — one in Edmonton headed by Vic Mah, the other comprising Brandon businessmen Bob Cornell and Stuart Craig, and Winnipeg businessman Dave Laing.

Cornell’s group purchased the Wheat Kings for more than $300,000 and then added a unique twist to the situation by signing a 10-year working agreement with the Keystone Centre. The Keystone took over operation of the club, and hired Bill Shinske to run the front office. Shinske hired Marc Pezzin as coach.

The WHL also welcomed the Swift Current Broncos to the fold. Behind the bench was Graham James, who had recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the Warriors over a lawsuit he had started the previous year.

“If we continue to average close to 2,000, we’ll have a real successful year and we’ll show a profit of about $80,000,” Gary Bollinger, the Broncos’ vice-president and alternate governor, said. “That doesn’t include playoff revenue. We were budgeting for an average of 1,600. If we averaged that, we’d still make a bit of a profit.”

The first coaching change of the 1986-87 season took place on Dec. 8 in Seattle when Sheldon Ferguson gave up the Thunderbirds’ coaching reins, but stayed on as GM. Dan McDonald was the new head coach, with former Portland Winter Hawks star Jim Dobson as the assistant.

Broncos
When the Swift Current Broncos’ bus crashed on Dec. 30, 1986, the hockey world lost Chris Mantyka (left), Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger and Brent Ruff. (Photo: Swift Current Broncos)

Disaster struck on Dec. 30 when the Broncos, en route to Regina to play the Pats, were involved in a bus accident. Four players — Scott Kruger, Trent Kresse, Brent Ruff and Chris Mantyka — were killed.

EdChynoweth3
ED CHYNOWETH

“There has never been anything more devastating that has happened to me personally,” Ed Chynoweth, the WHL president, said. “The question I keep asking myself is ‘Why?’ My heart goes out to all the parents and the people involved. I wish someone would call and say this is all a mistake.”

John Foster, the Broncos’ publicity director, said: “This team will band together and win it for those guys who died. The (survivors) were absolutely professional under stress. If the people of Swift Current could have seen them, they would have been proud.”

There was never any thought of the team not continuing. As team president John Rittinger said: “It’s up to the players and the fans now. We aren’t ready to throw in the towel.”

Defenceman Ed Brost, talking about the club’s next game, stated: “It will be difficult. To go right back out on the ice would be cheating ourselves emotionally and physically. Right now people have to remember athletes are human beings, not robots.”

Moose Jaw centre Theoren Fleury was in Czechoslovakia with Canada’s national junior team at the time of the accident.

“I just can’t believe it,” Fleury said. “I just sat on the bus all the way to practice today thinking about what’s going on with all those guys on that team right now. It just blows me away. I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing we can do about it and I think being helpless is the most frustrating thing about it.”

As if losing four players in the accident wasn’t enough, Herman Kruger, 67, suffered a fatal heart attack as he entered the church for his great-grandson’s funeral.

And later the same day, Sauter and Regina trainer Stan Szumlak came to the rescue of Keith Giles, a member of the Prince Albert executive, who was choking on some food.

Donations in memory of the players poured into the Broncos’ office and an education fund was set up in their memory. Another fund was started to raise money that would go towards the cost of replacing the bus.

On Feb. 2, a longtime veteran of the WHL’s coaching wars returned for one last fling when John Chapman replaced Wally Kozak behind the bench of the Calgary Wranglers. Chapman also was the Calgary GM.

On Feb. 15, Portland won a game in Spokane and Ken Hodge took over as the winningest coach in WHL history. His 547 victories were one more than Ernie McLean.

BradHornung
BRAD HORNUNG (Photo: University of Regina)

Tragedy struck the WHL again on March 1 when Regina centre Brad Hornung was checked into the end boards at the Agridome and suffered a broken neck.

Dr. Chris Ekong, a neurosurgeon, said Hornung suffered a burst fracture of the third cervical vertebrae and a crushed spinal cord. “Brad has no feelings in his arms and legs,” Dr. Ekong said. “He is completely paralysed from the neck down.”

Hornung would never regain the use of his arms and legs, but that didn’t stop him from going on with his life.

As the WHL completed its 25th season, Hornung was continuing with his education, taking courses at the University of Regina.

Despite the bus accident, Swift Current made the playoffs in its first season. But there wouldn’t be a Cinderella story as the Broncos dropped a best-of-five series to Prince Albert, 3-1.

April was highlighted by three coaching changes — Esdale’s contract wasn’t renewed by Spokane, Kvisle resigned in Moose Jaw and McLean stepped aside in New Westminster.

And Medicine Hat won the WHL championship. The Tigers faced elimination twice in each of their last two series, and dumped visiting Portland 7-2 in the seventh game of the championship final.

The Tigers would win their first of two consecutive Memorial Cup championships, the first under Maxwell, the second under Barry Melrose. Both came with Russ Farwell as general manager.

EdStaniowski

John Van Horlick took over as coach in New Westminster for 1987-88, with

Butch Goring the coach in Spokane. Jim Harrison was the new head coach in Moose Jaw, with Ed Staniowski his assistant. Harrison and Roy, the GM, were friends from their days in Estevan, while Staniowski was a former all-star goaltender with Regina.

And the WHL was returning to Lethbridge. The Tier One Junior Hockey Club of Lethbridge purchased the Wranglers for about $350,000 from Brian Ekstrom. The Lethbridge franchise would be called the Hurricanes, causing Lethbridge Herald columnist Pat Sullivan to wonder if the logo would be an overturned mobile home.

The sale also meant that there wouldn’t be a franchise in the city in which the WHL office was located. But the office wasn’t about to be moved.

“It was decided that it was certainly the most central location for our league,” Chynoweth said.

Going into the new season, the WHL passed a rule cracking down on checking from behind.

“We do use (NHL) rules and the NHL doesn’t have hitting from behind instituted in its rule book,” Chynoweth said, “but I predict that within two years the NHL will have the same rule.”

That is exactly what happened.

There was change in the WHL’s boardroom, too, as Portland’s Brian Shaw stepped down as chairman of the board and was replaced by Saskatoon’s Rick Brodsky.

On June 5, Swift Current celebrated its first birthday by revealing the franchise was no longer in debt.

Rittinger said: “We bought the franchise and we borrowed money to buy the franchise. So we took the season-ticket money to pay the bank loan off. The bank loan is paid off. We don’t owe the bank anything. And that’s incredible because we just got the franchise last year.”

Maxwell left Medicine Hat, joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Lethbridge named Glen Hawker as its first GM/head coach. Before the season started, Lethbridge reorganized, with Wayne Simpson taking over as GM.

On July 6, Hornung, in his first interview since being injured, told the Regina Leader-Post: “You have to accept it. Life goes on and you do the best with what you have. At first, it was a time of change, shock really, but right now, it’s actually gotten easier because you get used to the adjustments. Like everybody else, I have my good days and bad days. But I don’t have many bad days.”

Separate pregame warmups came to the WHL on Sept. 28.

GerryJames

With Seattle off to a 2-15-0 start, owner Earl Hale told Ferguson, the GM, to take a leave of absence. On Nov. 16, Ferguson was fired. A couple of weeks later, Hawker was fired in Lethbridge, where Blaine Galbraith took over. And on Dec. 8, Moose Jaw fired Harrison and hired Gerry James, the only person to have played in a Grey Cup game and Stanley Cup final in the same season.

On Feb. 2, Saskatoon beat Regina 7-2 before 3,308 fans in the final game at the Saskatoon Arena. Regina coach Doug Sauter, for one, was glad to see the end of the old barn: “I get screwed every time I come in here and I haven’t been kissed yet.”

One week later, on Feb. 9, Saskatoon beat Brandon 4-3 in front of 9,343 fans at Saskatchewan Place. Chynoweth announced prior to the game that the 1989 Memorial Cup would be played in Saskatoon.

On March 11, amidst rumours that the Warriors were on the verge of major financial problems, it was announced that Roy’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.

WHL attendance figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that Swift Current drew 82,080 fans to 36 home games, which was 99 per cent of capacity. Portland led in total attendance — 200,911. The league drew 1,405,874 fans, an increase of almost 80,000 over the previous season.

For the first time in league history, the scoring race ended in a dead heat.

Two centres — Fleury and Swift Current’s Joe Sakic — finished the regular season with 160 points. Sakic had 78 goals, Fleury 68. But there was nothing in the WHL bylaws to deal with the situation so the scoring race was ruled a tie.

JoeCelentano
JOE CELENTANO

The rumours were true — there were financial problems in Moose Jaw. The Warriors began sorting things out by separating the hockey side of things from the business side. With an accumulated debt of $234,000, Joe Celentano, a former referee with basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters, was hired as business manager.

On April 17, Medicine Hat beat visiting Saskatoon 3-0 to win its third straight East Division title. The only other team to win three consecutive East titles was the Flin Flon Bombers, beginning in 1968-69.

On May 3, the Tigers beat visiting Kamloops 5-2 to win their second straight WHL title, this one in six games.

The very next day, Bob Vranckaert, who was in the construction business in Alaska, said he would like to put an expansion franchise in Anchorage in time for the 1990-91 season. Born in Drumheller, Alta., and raised in Burnaby, B.C., Vranckaert spent more than 20 years in general commercial construction 800 miles north of Anchorage.

The WHL said it would play two exhibition and four regular-season games in Anchorage and use that, plus the 1989 world junior championship, which was to be held in Anchorage, as a barometer.

On May 8, the Pats announced that Sauter’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.

A week later, Sauter’s old team, the Tigers, beat the Windsor Spitfires 7-6 in Chicoutimi to become the sixth team in the 70-year history of the Memorial Cup to win back-to-back championships.

The board in Moose Jaw put H.J. (Toby) Tobias in charge and then resigned en masse. Tobias was empowered to chair a committee whose immediate responsibility was to carry on a fund-raising campaign aimed at erasing the club’s debt. The immediate goal was to raise $150,000.

Tobias said he would look into the team’s accounting procedures, recommend constitutional changes and appoint an auditor to present a year-end statement at the club’s annual meeting.

“To me it’s a four-stage project,” Tobias said. “Stage 1: Solve the immediate debt crisis and give us some breathing room. Step 2: Have a look at the front office and see if there are some things we can tighten up. Stage 3: Come up with a budget we can live with in years to come. Stage 4: Make sure fund-raising becomes a year-round effort.”

In mid-May, Pezzin resigned as coach in Brandon. He would be replaced by Sauter, who was reunited with Shinske. The two were old friends, going back to the Estevan and New Westminster Bruins. Sobchuk replaced Sauter in Regina.

Celentano resigned in Moose Jaw, saying: “By my staying I become just another liability, one of those accounts payable that they have to make every day, and they don’t have the money.”

On May 31, Tobias announced that the Warriors had reached their goal of $151,800. That figure covered debts accrued up until March 31. Tobias said: “The phoenix has risen from the ashes. The financial health of the club remains fragile . . . but it’s business as usual from here on in.”

Indications were that New Westminster owner Ron Dixon would move the franchise to the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. He just happened to be building an arena, the Tri-Cities Coliseum, there.

TimSpeltz
TIM SPELTZ

In July, Farwell and Melrose resigned in Medicine Hat. Shortly after, they signed in Seattle. Wes Phillips was named GM in Medicine Hat and hired Ron Kennedy, a former Estevan player, as coach. Before the season started, Phillips quit, citing business and family pressures, and Tim Speltz replaced him.

Peter Anholt was named head coach in Prince Albert, where Wilson quit to join the L.A. Kings as an assistant coach. Brad Tippett was the GM in Prince Albert.

The WHL arrived in Anchorage on the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25, 1988.

Kamloops and Portland played two exhibition games in Anchorage, drawing 2,100 to the first game and 1,750 the next night.

A shakeup occurred in Spokane. It started on Oct. 14 when Spokane GM Bob Strumm acquired six players while giving up four others in trades that involved three other teams. The Chiefs were 1-4-0 and had given up 33 goals in those five games.

Twelve days later, with the Chiefs 2-9-0, Strumm relieved Goring of his duties. Strumm, with a three-year contract extension that would take him through the 1991-92 season, went behind the bench, went 2-4-0 and immediately installed Gary Braun as coach.

On Nov. 11, Moose Jaw dumped Gerry James and installed Kvisle as head coach/director of hockey operations.

Three days later, Regina shook up things. Sobchuk moved from coach to GM, with Bernie Lynch moving up from assistant coach to head coach.

It was announced on Nov. 17 that Vranckaert had purchased the Victoria Cougars from Fraser McColl. Ownership actually had changed hands 10 days after the end of the season.

“Bob has been after me for a long time,” McColl said. “He wants to get into the business with a passion. And, perhaps, that’s the type of enthusiasm this team needs right now.”

On Nov. 20, the Tri-City Americans, having played their first 17 games on the road because the Coliseum wasn’t ready, opened at home with a 4-3 overtime victory over Seattle in front of a sellout crowd of 6,004.

Swift Current started the season with 12 straight victories, and went into the Christmas break at 28-5-0 and on a 10-game winning streak. Referring to the bus accident of two years previous, James said: “I think the bus accident galvanized the spirit of the community. I think that was a catalyst. Since then we’ve had to provide a product that’s been worthy of fans coming, but I think that incident certainly rallied the community.”

Added centre Tim Tisdale: “That’s all anybody in town talks about. It’s hard to believe. You go downtown and you’re eating in a restaurant and everybody at the next table is talking about the Broncos. It definitely helps your hockey.”

There was big news out of Calgary on Jan. 3, 1989, when Petr Nedved, a centre with a midget team from Litvinov, Czechoslovakia, defected after a midget tournament. His WHL rights belonged to Moose Jaw, but the Warriors would deal them to Seattle.

The season wasn’t over when Spokane owner Vic Fitzgerald said that Braun wouldn’t be returning.

On March 14, Chynoweth revealed that the WHL “had an inquiry from Terry Simpson about putting a team in Red Deer. They would have to get a new building.” A conditional franchise was sold to Simpson on Aug. 12, 1991. The Rebels would begin play in the fall of 1992.

Attendance figures compiled by The Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance was up 232,951 over 1987-88. Most of that was attributable to the first-year Americans who attracted 203,532 fans, which was 156,149 more than they drew the previous season in New Westminster.

There was a change in Seattle on April 11 when Medicine Hat businessman Bill Yuill bought the Thunderbirds from Earl Hale of Calgary.

The usual spate of front-office changes began in earnest with the news that: 1. Galbraith would not be back in Lethbridge; 2. Al Patterson, who quit in Victoria after the season ended, had signed as Tri-City’s GM; 3. Ron Byrne had signed as the GM in Victoria; 4. Sobchuk had resigned as GM in Regina; 5. Shinske had resigned in Brandon; and, 6. Tippett had quit in P.A.

Swift Current won 4-1 in Portland on April 30 to sweep the Winter Hawks in the championship final. The Broncos became the first team to sweep its way to the WHL championship — they also got past Moose Jaw and Saskatoon in four games each. The Broncos, just a season and a half after having four players killed in a bus accident, went 55-16-1, the best record in the CHL.

 “This is a great accomplishment for our franchise,” James said. “But I don’t want the Memorial Cup to decide if we had a great year.”

TimTisdale

Tisdale added: “We have the team to do it this year. If we can’t get up for four games, we don’t belong there. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the Memorial Cup.”

On May 14, Tisdale’s goal at 3:25 of the first sudden-death overtime period gave the Broncos a 4-3 victory over Saskatoon in the final game of the Memorial Cup. The game was played in front of 9.078 fans in Saskatchewan Place and brought to an end the most successful Memorial Cup tournament ever played.

Shortly after the Memorial Cup, the changes continued: 1. Lynch found out his contract in Regina wouldn’t be renewed; 2. Rick Kozuback signed a two-year contract as coach with Tri-City; 3. Simpson returned to Prince Albert as GM/head coach; 4. Bill Hicke was named GM in Regina; 5. Tippett signed as Regina’s head coach; 5. Maxwell returned from L.A. to sign as co-coach and director of hockey operations in Spokane; 6. Braun was Spokane’s co-coach and assistant director of hockey operations; 7. Melrose left Seattle to become head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings; 8. Marcel Comeau signed a two-year deal in Saskatoon but shortly after resigned to become head coach of the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks; 9. Anholt quit in P.A. to join Seattle as head coach; 10. Rob Daum signed as assistant coach/assistant manager in P.A.; and, 11. Terry Ruskowski signed to coach the Blades.

On June 14, 1989, Moose Jaw, so close to financial ruin just one year earlier, revealed at its annual meeting that there was a paper profit of $119,722 and that the Warriors had about $40,000 in the bank.

At its annual meeting, the WHL had two major announcements. It had decided for the first time to use full-time referees. “We’re hoping it leads to more consistent, professional refereeing,” Regina governor Ted Knight said. By the time all was said and done, the WHL had hired eight full-time and four part-time referees.

The WHL also said it would no longer allow teams to list 13-year-old players. From that point on, 14-year-olds would count for two spots on a list, players 15 and older for one.

Seattle set a single-game attendance record on Oct. 7 when 12,173 fans showed up to watch the Thunderbirds edge Portland, 4-3. “We could have sold 2,000 more tickets,” Seth Landau, the club’s director of marketing and public relations, said. “We were sold out the day before the game.” The previous attendance record belonged to Portland, which had attracted capacity crowds of 10,437 to Memorial Coliseum on numerous occasions.

The first coaching change came on Oct. 15 when Naka resigned in Victoria. Lyle Moffat replaced him.

On Nov. 1, Ken Hitchcock, 36 years of age and in the neighbourhood of 400 pounds, went public with the news that he was going on a serious diet.

“There comes a time in life when it becomes a case of now or never,” said the popular coach of the Kamloops Blazers. “I look down the road four or five years from now, what do I want to be doing? If that’s what I have to do to move up the ladder, that’s what I have to do.”

Victoria made another coaching change on Nov. 13 with Garry Cunningham becoming the Cougars’ third coach of the season. Moffat stayed on as marketing director.

A lawsuit launched by Hornung was settled out of court in November. Thirteen defendants, including the WHL, were named in the suit launched in July of 1987. Details of the settlement weren’t made public.

At a WHL board of governors’ meeting on Nov. 20, the chair switched bodies again. It was a case of deja vu, with Shaw taking over from Brodsky.

Kelly-McCrimmon
KELLY McCRIMMON (Photo: Brandon Wheat Kings)

On Dec. 17, Sauter was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder that strikes at the central nervous system. He would not return to coaching until late in the 1990-91 season when he finished the winter with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Brandon GM Kelly McCrimmon moved in behind Brandon’s bench.

There was a player revolt in Tri-City when Dixon named Bill LaForge director of player personnel. LaForge said he had a five-year contract.

On Dec. 31, with Portland scheduled to play in Tri-City, the Americans players refused. A statement signed by 19 players read in part: “We will definitely not participate in any further games without the termination of Mr. Bill LaForge from the Americans organization.”

The players ended their holdout the next day, winning 8-4 in Portland. Dixon had contacted players earlier in the day and said LaForge would no longer have any contact with them.

Defenceman Colin Ruck later explained the Tri-City deal: “He came into the dressing room screaming and cutting guys down. To get to us, he said we had to call him Coach. He had (coach) Rick Kozuback picking up pucks during practice. That really upset us. Bill came out and ran a really brutal practice. We felt we had to do something.”

Byrne was gone as Victoria’s GM before January ended, while Cunningham was out as coach on Feb. 5. Moffat went back behind the bench. The Cougars would set a CHL record, losing 29 in a row.

On Feb. 7, Seattle centre Glen Goodall had an assist in a 5-3 victory over visiting Tri-City to break the WHL record for most points in a career. That lifted his point total to 530, one more than Craig Endean, who had played with Seattle and Regina.

Two nights later, Seattle broke the WHL single-game attendance record as 12,253 fans watched a 5-3 victory over Spokane.

Figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance totalled 1,678,651, up about 40,000 over the previous season. Tri-City, which sold out every home game, led the way with total attendance of 216,360. Saskatoon, in its first full season in Saskatchewan Place, played in front of 209,542 fans. Seattle, which finished with its best-ever record (52-17-3; the best previous was 32-28-12 in 1977-78), drew 181,211 fans, up 66,189 from a year previous.

On March 28, Chynoweth admitted that two groups had applied for an expansion franchise for Tacoma, Wash.

The Spokane franchise changed hands on April 10, with Fitzgerald selling to the Brett brothers — Bobby, George and Ken — for more than $600,000. Bob Brett wouldn’t say what they paid, other than to say it was “too much.”

JackShupe

The postseason changes started in April when Speltz and Kennedy learned that Medicine Hat wouldn’t renew their contracts, and Rick Hopper was named head coach/director of hockey operations in Victoria. Jack Shupe, the Tigers’ first GM/head coach in 1970-71, was the new GM in Medicine Hat. He hired Tim Bothwell as coach.

On April 29, Kamloops scored a 6-5 overtime victory in Lethbridge to win the WHL final in five games. Kamloops lost the opener and then won four straight. The Blazers struck out at the Memorial Cup, though, as the Oshawa Generals, with Eric Lindros, won it all in Hamilton.

There was much expansion talk in the WHL, resulting in this comment from Brodsky: “It’s sort of like being in love. If you have to ask yourself whether you’re in love, you’re probably not. If we’re wondering why we should expand, then maybe we’re forcing the issue a bit. If expansion is right, we’ll know it.”

DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Farwell left Seattle to become GM of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Anholt added the GM’s nameplate to his door, and hired assistant GM Dennis Beyak from Saskatoon. Beyak had been in Saskatoon since 1981 and was the person deemed most responsible for the success of the 1989 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.

Simpson left Prince Albert again, this time to become an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. Daum was promoted to replace him.

There were shockwaves in Kamloops when Hitchcock resigned after six seasons with the Blazers. He signed as an assistant coach with Philadelphia. Tom Renney replaced Hitchcock, who left with a 291-125-15 regular-season record over six seasons, his .693 winning percentage the highest of any coach in WHL history.

Leaving wasn’t easy for Hitchcock, who said: “I got cold feet a couple of times. I almost went into (GM) Bob Brown’s office and said, ‘Call the whole thing off, I don’t want to go.’ ”

On Sept. 30, Chynoweth chatted about expansion: “There are what I like to call tire-kickers in Boise, Idaho; Eugene, Oregon; and, Tacoma, Washington. The WHL is in good shape and we’re aggressive to expand by one, possibly two teams in the West Division sometime soon. We are coming off our second record-setting attendance season. We’re also proud of the fact that this is the third year in a row we aren’t opening a new site. Believe it or not, but we’re stable.”

Bruce Hamilton, a former player and scout with the Blades, headed a group of Saskatoon and Tacoma investors who were eventually granted a franchise for Tacoma to start with the 1991-92 season.

On Oct. 30, with the 1990-91 season one month old, one night before Halloween, James went wild in Swift Current. Upset with referee Kevin Muench after the Broncos turned a 7-3 second-period lead into a 9-8 loss to visiting Medicine Hat, James went on to the ice in pursuit of Muench, then returned to the bench and threw sticks and water bottles onto the ice. James then removed his jacket, tie, shirt and one shoe and threw them onto the ice before his players escorted him to the dressing room.

Bothwell summed it up: “All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ I don’t know what words can describe what happened out there, from a lot of different aspects.”

James was suspended for six games and fined $2,000. “At least they didn’t ask me for the shirt off my back,” he said. The incident would show up on video on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and the David Letterman Show among others.

GerryJohansson
GERRY JOHANSSON

There was some silliness in Spokane, too. On Dec. 6, with Tri-City visiting Spokane, Maxwell and Americans assistant Gerry Johannson got into it after first period.

Here’s Maxwell: “He was waiting for me. He was yapping at me. He challenged me and I accepted the challenge.” Maxwell was said to have out-punched his opponent, 4-0.

Here’s Johansson: “He throws punches like marshmallows.”

Maxwell was suspended for three games and fined $500. Johansson got hit for $1,000 and four games.

Remember that $1 parking fee in Regina? Well, on Dec. 17, Regina Exhibition Park announced it was doubling it to $2. “I don’t think our fans will take very kindly to it if it does happen,” said co-owner/GM Bill Hicke. “If that’s the case it’ll drive another nail in the coffin.”

The Pats’ lease would expire after the 1990-91 season and Hicke had already made at least one trip into the Pacific Northwest to scout buildings.

A change in Prince Albert had Dale Engel move in as GM, with Rob Daum giving up that title but staying on as coach. It was no surprise when Daum left P.A. for Swift Current at season’s end.

On Feb. 4, Saskatoon fired head coach Terry Ruskowski, replacing him with former Blades defenceman Bob Hoffmeyer.

On March 17, Seattle was awarded the 1992 Memorial Cup.

The Leader-Post’s attendance figures showed that Tri-City, with 36 sellouts, again topped the WHL with 216,360 fans. Seattle was next at 215,248, up 34,037 from the season previous. But overall attendance was down 22,861 to 1,655,790.

LorneFrey
LORNE FREY

On April 17, Marcel Comeau was named the first head coach of the Tacoma Rockets. Hamilton would be the GM, with Lorne Frey, most recently with Swift Current, as director of player personnel.

Spokane scored a 7-2 victory over home-town Lethbridge to sweep the WHL final. The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup, with goaltender Trevor Kidd and right-winger Pat Falloon wrapping up dream seasons. Both played for the Canadian junior team that won the gold medal in Saskatoon.

One thing more than any other summed up the WHL as it headed into its second 25 years. When the 1991-92 season opened, the league not only had the same 14 teams for the fourth consecutive season, but it had welcomed the Tacoma Rockets to the fold.

—30—

Hockey world mourns McGeough’s death . . . Raiders, Leason take aim at WHL records . . . Silvertips win on late goal


ThisThat

Former WHL/NHL referee Mick McGeough died Friday night in a Regina hospital after his family had made the decision earlier to take him off life support. McGeough, who had suffered a stroke on Sunday, was 62.

McGeough brought a tremendous amount of personality, character and energy to every game in which he worked. And he worked a lot of games, including 1,146 in the NHL.

Kevin Muench, the WHL’s senior director of officiating, is from Moose Jaw and knew McGeough for a long time. Muench told the Regina Leader-Post:

“There will never be another Mick McGeough. He was one of a kind, on the ice and off the ice.

“Mick was an entertainer. He was like the Eddie Shack of officials. He was energized and flamboyant on the ice, and a great story-teller off the ice.

“Wherever you saw Mick, he was the centre of attention. Whether it was lunch at training camp or out for a beer after playing ball or golf, everybody wanted to sit at Mick’s table. You were guaranteed to hear some great stories.

“And he never told a story the same way twice. It got better and more embellished every time he told it! That was Mick.”

Muench told The Leader-Post that his last memory of McGeough was from the 2018 Memorial Cup in Regina.

“He invited a bunch of us old friends to his hotel room after a game one night,” Muench said. “We had a drink and ordered some pizza, and sat around and listened to Mick tell stories until tears were running down our cheeks with laughter. That is how it always was with Mick.

“His family, his friends, the hockey world, and the officiating world, we will all miss the enthusiasm he brought to life and to our great game of hockey.”

The Leader-Post’s story is right here.

Mark Spector of Sportsnet has a piece on McGeough right here.


OK, the onslaught on the WHL record book by the Prince Albert Raiders and F Brett Leason is getting serious.

The Raiders, now 24-1-0, got a goal and two assists from Leason in winning their 15th PrinceAlbertstraight game on Saturday night, beating the Kootenay Ice, 5-1, in Cranbrook, B.C.

In the process, the Raiders broke the franchise record for longest winning streak that had been set by the 1985-86 club. That edition of the Raiders, who were in their fourth season in the WHL, finished second in the Eastern Division (it was a two-division league then), at 52-17 with three ties.

If you’re wondering, the WHL record for longest winning streak in one season is 22 and is held by the 1967-78 Estevan Bruins. The Victoria Cougars actually won 24 straight from Feb. 6 1981, to Oct. 9, 1981, so that one was in overlapping seasons.

The 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings hold the record for longest unbeaten streak in one season, at 29 games. There were ties in those days. Remember? In overlapping the seasons, the Wheat Kings actually rattled off a 49-game unbeaten streak, from Feb. 11, 1978 through Dec. 7, 1978.

According to the Raiders’ website, they also tied the franchise record for consecutive road victories in a single season (6). They now share the record with that 1985-86 team.

Meanwhile, Leason extended his point streak to 24 games with the game’s first goal, at 13:34 of the first period. The WHL record for longest point streak was set at 56 by F Jeff Nelson of the Raiders in 1990-91.

Leason may have set a record for longest point streak to start a season, his 24-game heater breaking the mark that had been held by F Jeremy Reich of the Broncos to start the 1999-2000 season. Reich had the longest such streak since 1996-97, which is as far back as the WHL’s online statistics go.

The Raiders are next scheduled to play on Tuesday when they meet the Rebels in Red Deer. The Rebels beat the Raiders, 4-3, in Red Deer on Oct. 6.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


Brad Lukowich, a former WHL player and coach, is the new head coach of the Dallas Warriors. . . . The Warriors, according to their website, “were created to give our disabled U.S. military veterans a way to rehab through an amazing outlet. . . . The Warriors are highly active throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.” . . . A defenceman, Lukowich played three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers (1993-96) and was part of two Memorial Cup-championship teams. He also won two Stanley Cups in an NHL career that included 658 regular-season games. Lukowich also is a two-time Stanley Cup winner. He was an assistant coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2013-14. . . . The Warriors’ website is right here.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brayden Tracey took a penalty in OT and then he scored the winning goal, giving the MooseJawWarriorshost Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Moose Jaw (12-5-4) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . Lethbridge (11-8-5) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Both teams played the previous night, with the Hurricanes arriving in Moose from Brandon at around 3 a.m. This game started at 2:30 p.m. . . . Tracey, 17, was a first-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Tracey was penalized for tripping at 1:01 of OT, then scored his eighth goal of the season at 3:40 to end the game. He also had an assist, and now has eight goals and 14 helpers in 21 games. . . . The teams played through two scoreless periods. . . . F Tristin Langan (18), who also had two assists, gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 1:57 of the third period. . . . The visitors went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Taylor Ross (13), at 4:57, and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (5), at 9:53. . . . The Warriors tied it at 14:44 when D Josh Brook (7) scored on a PP. . . . Brook ran his point streak to seven games. He has two goals and 12 assists over that stretch. . . . Langan is riding an eight-game point streak, with eight goals and 11 assists over those games. . . . The Warriors won 40 of the game’s 64 faceoffs. . . . Lethbridge was without F Jadon Joseph, who drew a one-game suspension for a one-man fight in Friday’s 7-3 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings.


F Max Patterson scored at 12:26 of the second period and the goal stood up as the winner SCBroncosas the Swift Current Broncos got past the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 3-2. . . . The Broncos (4-18-2) had lost their previous five games (0-4-1). . . . The Oil Kings (14-9-4) had points in their previous two games (1-0-1). . . . The Broncos went into the game last in the Eastern Conference, 24 points behind the third-place Oil Kings. . . . The Broncos had taken a 2-0 lead on goals from F Andrew Fyten (5), at 19:46 of the first period, and F Ben King (5), on a PP, at 3:53 of the second. . . . The Oil Kings tied it with second-period goals 2:01 apart by F Brett Kemp (17) and D Ethan Cap (3), the latter on a PP. . . . Patterson, the son of former Seattle/Swift Current/Kamloops F Ed Patterson, scored his seventh goal at 12:26, just 15 seconds after Cap’s goal. . . . The Broncos got 29 saves, 14 of them in the third period, from G Isaac Poulter.


The Prince Albert Raiders set a franchise record with their 16th consecutive victory as PrinceAlbertthey bounced the Kootenay Ice, 5-1, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Raiders (24-1-0) broke the franchise record for longest winning streak that had been set by the 1995-96 club. . . . The Ice (7-16-4) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . Prince Albert held a 57-23 edge in shots. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason extended his point streak to 24 games with the game’s first goal, at 13:34 of the first period. Leason, who leads the WHL in goals (25), also had two assists. He also leads the WHL in points (54), two more than F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who had one assist in a 3-2 loss to the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (4), F Parker Kelly (10), F Noah Gregor (11) and D Brayden Pachal (5) also scored for the Raiders, who built a 4-0 lead. . . . F Michael Milne scored his first WHL goal for the Ice. The 16-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., scored in his fifth career game, all of them this season. . . . G Donovan Buskey stopped 22 shots for the Raiders in his fourth appearance this season. . . . The Ice, already without F Peyton Krebs, lost F Cam Hausinger and F Connor McClennon. . . . Hausinger, while on his knees, appeared to take a punch to the back of the heat. He went straight to the dressing room and missed the final 47 minutes. . . . McClennon, the second-overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft, left in the second period after going awkwardly, left skate first, into the boards. He, too, went right to the room and didn’t play the final 23 minutes. . . . Without Krebs, Hausinger and McClennon, the Ice is down to nine healthy forwards.


F Bryan Lockner and F Tyler Preziuso each had two goals to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers Tigers Logo Officialto a 7-3 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . Medicine Hat (11-12-3) will play host to the Rebels on Wednesday night. . . . Red Deer (16-6-1) had won its previous five games. The Rebels are to entertain the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. . . . The Tigers erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, and scored the game’s last five goals. . . . F Chris Douglas (6) gave the Rebels a 3-2 edge at 6:01 of the second period. . . . Preziuso, who has 10 goals, tied it at 14:13, and Lockner, who has seven, snapped the tie at 17:38. . . . F James Hamblin (10) added insurance, on a PP, at 18:46. . . . Third-period goals from Preziuso and D Trevor Longo (2) put it away. . . . Hamblin also had two assists, while Lockner added one for a three-point outing. . . . Lockner’s first career multi-goal game came in his 156th regular-season game.


The host Portland Winterhawks grabbed a 3-1 lead early in the second period and went Portlandon to a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Winterhawks (14-8-2) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Thunderbirds (8-12-3) have lost three in a row. . . . F Reece Newkirk (14) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead, shorthanded, at 7:23 of the first period. . . . F Zack Andrusiak, who scored all three Seattle goals, tied it, on a PP, at 7:43. . . . The Winterhawks got two quick goals, albeit in different periods, to take that 3-1 lead. F Jaydon Dureau (3) counted at 18:58 of the first period and F Cody Glass (9) sniped, on a PP, just 28 seconds into the second. . . . Andrusiak got the Thunderbirds to within a goal at 5:05, but F Mason Mannek (7) got that one back for Portland at 18:43. . . . Andrusiak’s 15th goal of the season, at 19:15 of the third period, completed his third career hat trick. He also has goals in six straight games. . . . Glass ran his point streak to 11 games — he’s got five goals and 17 assists over that stretch. . . . Portland outshot Seattle, 45-18, including 22-6 in the first period. The Thunderbirds bot 41 stops from G Liam Hughes.


The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Cougars, 4-1, in SaskatoonPrince George. . . . Saskatoon (15-8-2) opened a B.C. Division tour with the game. . . . Prince George slipped to 10-11-3. . . . F Mike MacLean (3) gave Cougars a 1-0 lead at 2:04 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Max Gerlach (15) tied it, on a PP, at 3:45 and D Seth Bafaro (3) broke the tie at 19:37. . . . The Blades put it away with third-period goals from F Eric Florchuk (8) and F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (7). . . . Saskatoon got 21 stops from G Nolan Maier. He now is 13-6-1, 2.68, .914. . . . The Blades will continue their B.C. Division tour in Langley, B.C., the home of the Vancouver Giants, on Tuesday and in Victoria on Wednesday.


Freshman F Adam Beckman scored twice to help the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-1 victory SpokaneChiefsover the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Spokane (13-8-3) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops now is 9-11-2. . . . The Blazers are 7-5-0 on the road — they went into this one having won six of their last seven away from home— but only 2-6-1 at home. They will entertain the Saskatoon Blades on Friday and the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. . . . Beckman opened the scoring at 15:45 of the second period, with F Luke Toporowski (8) making it 2-0, shorthanded, at 18:26. . . . F Brodi Stuart (7) scored for Kamloops, on a PP, at 12:09 of the third period. . . . Beckman closed out the scoring with his 12th goal, into an empty net, at 18:58. He leads all first-year players in goals. . . . F Eli Zummack drew three assists for the Chiefs. . . . G Bailey Brkin stopped 17 shots for Spokane. . . . Kamloops starter Dylan Ferguson left after two periods, having turned aside 19 of 21 shots. Dylan Garand came on in relief and stopped all five shots he faced in 18:53. . . . F Jermaine Loewen, the Blazers’ captain, sat out his second straight game.


The Tri-City Americans scored twice in the shootout and beat the Calgary Hitmen, 3-2, in tri-cityKennewick, Wash. . . . The Americans (13-9-0) had lost three in a row. . . . The Hitmen (10-13-3) have points in three straight (2-0-1). They went 3-1-1 on their U.S. Division trek. . . . Calgary scored the game’s first two goals — F Riley Stotts (7), at 13:02 of the first period, and F Carson Focht (6), on a PP, at 4:12 of the second. . . . F Blake Stevenson (4) got the Americans to within a goal at 8:59 of the third period, and F Sasha Mutala (5) forced OT at 18:36. . . . The Americans got shootout goals from F Kyle Olson and F Isaac Johnson, while the Hitmen weren’t able to beat G Beck Warm, who stopped 38 shots through OT.


The Vancouver Giants built up a 4-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the Victoria Royals Vancouverin Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants (16-6-2) have won two in a row. . . . The Royals (12-8-0) have lost two straight. . . . F Milos Roman (12), on a PP, F Davis Koch (6), F Jared Dmytriw (5), shorthanded, and F Justin Sourdif (6) have the Giants a 4-0 lead, the latter scoring at 11:09 of the third period. . . . F Tanner Sidaway (3) scored for the Royals at 16:17 of the third. . . . Koch, who has six goals and 17 assists in 24 games, has three goals and seven assists in a five-game point streak. . . . Koch’s goal was his 200th career regular-season point. It came in his 277th game. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 24 shots for the Giants. . . . G David Tendeck was on the Vancouver bench after a one-game absence.


F Connor Dewar scored twice, the second goal coming with 53.7 seconds left in the third Everettperiod, to give the host Everett Silvertips a 2-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Everett (18-7-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . Kelowna (11-14-1) had won its previous three games. . . . The Silvertips held a 42-18 edge in shots, including 16-5 in the first period and 19-7 in the third. The Rockets got 40 stops from G James Porter. . . . Dewar got the game’s first goal at 6:43 of the second period. . . . Kelowna F Kyle Topping (11) tied the score at 8:37 of the third period, on a PP. . . . Dewar won it with his 20th goal at 19:06. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 17 shots, improving to 17-7-1, 1.84, .924. . . . The Silvertips lost D Gianni Fairbrother at 12:09 of the first period as he was hit with a headshot major and game misconduct. . . . Kelowna D Braydyn Chizen was back after a one-game absence. . . . Everett has won each of the past six games with Kelowna and is 10-0-3 in the last 13 meetings.


Tweetoftheday

WHL officials: We were robbed! . . . Tale of twins continued . . . Izzy golden for Rockets . . . Saturday in the WHL

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

First, a couple of housekeeping items . . .

Please note that Taking Note has a new domain name — greggdrinnan.com — that came into effect on Saturday morning. In order to reach this page, that’s all you have to type into your browser or save in your bookmarks.

Feel free to spread the word.

Also, there now is a DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance.


You will recall the piece here yesterday about the Lethbridge Hurricanes having signed twin brothers Adam and Justin Hall, 16, Edmontonians who were selected in the eighth whland seventh rounds, respectively, of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

Mention was made of the Taphorn twins — Kaeden and Keenan, 17 — who are playing with the Kootenay Ice.

Emails on Saturday provided more twins info, which is provided here in chronological order . . .

Bob and Ted McAneeley, now 67, were the league’s first twins. From Cranbrook, B.C., they played with the Calgary Buffaloes in the league’s first season (1966-67). Bob, a forward, played for the Calgary Centennials in 1967-68, while Ted, a defenceman, was with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The twins were together again, in 1968-69, with the Oil Kings.

Unfortunately, the McAneeley boys just missed the Oil Kings run of seven straight Memorial Cup appearances (1960-66), during which time they won two titles (1963 and 1966).

The Sutter twins — Rich and Ron — played together for three seasons (1980-83) with the Lethbridge Broncos. From Viking, Alta., they both were forwards. The twins, now 54, played with the Broncos in the 1983 Memorial Cup, but weren’t fortunate enough to win a championship.

The Pohl brothers — Trevor and Troy — are from Vernon, B.C. Now 50, they played together with the Portland Winterhawks in 1986-87 and 1987-88. Both forwards, they were with Portland for all of the 1986-87 season and some of 1987-88.

The 49-year-old Kruger twins — Darren, a defenceman, and Trevor, a goaltender — are from Swift Current and played for the Broncos. Darren played there for two seasons (1987-89), while Trevor was there for three (1986-89). They were key contributors to the Broncos’ 1989 Memorial Cup championship. The Krugers are believed to be the only twins to have played together on a Memorial Cup winner from the WHL.

Thanks a bunch to those of you who took the time to email.


Three WHL on-ice officials were robbed of their equipment in Marysville, Wash., on Friday afternoon.

The three were en route from Vancouver to Kent, Wash., to work the Friday night game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and the visiting Kelowna Rockets.

They stopped in Marysville for their pregame meal. After eating, they returned to their vehicle and noticed that a bag that had been inside now was missing. There also was some damage to one of the door handles.

Aware that someone had been inside the vehicle, they checked the trunk and discovered that all of their equipment bags and suitcases were gone.

Kevin Muench, the WHL’s director of officiating, explained the rescheduling that had to be done:

“One referee was already in Seattle and we were able to contact two of our linesmen in Everett and have them go to Seattle. One of the referees scheduled to work (the game in Langley, B.C., between the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants) was redirected to Seattle.”

The game in Kent began with three officials on the ice, but the fourth official arrived early in the first period.

“We were able to make another assignment change with the help of another league to get a second referee to Vancouver in time for the game there,” Muench said.


Myles Mattila has done a whole lot in the world of mental health awareness in recent times, and he’s only 18 years of age. Mattila, this season a forward with the KIJHL’s  Kelowna Chiefs, was featured in a piece on Sportsnet that is well worth watching. . . . Mattila is a special young man who hasn’t let any of the publicity get to him. He just continues to do great work and to spread the word that help is available. . . . The Sportsnet feature is right here.


The junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League started Izzy Palumbo, 15, in goal on Saturday as they beat the visiting Columbia Valley Rockies, 7-4. . . . Palumbo stopped 28 shots in leading the Rockets to only their third victory in 38 games. . . . Palumbo, who plays for a Tier 3 midget team in Revelstoke, has always played on a boys’ team. She was signed as an AP with the Rockets in December.


If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


Scoreboard

SATURDAY:

At Saskatoon, the Blades got 45 saves from G Nolan Maier and an OT goal from F Eric Florchuk as they beat the Regina Pats, 4-3. . . . Saskatoon (23-21-3) had lost its previous Saskatoontwo games. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points behind the Pats. . . . Regina (24-20-5) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is fourth in the East Division, seven points behind Brandon. . . . Florchuk, who has nine goals, opened and closed the scoring in this one. . . . He opened the scoring at 9:17 of the first period. . . . F Chase Wouters (13) made it 2-0 at 16:22. . . . Regina scored the next three goals, with F Jesse Gabrielle (5) counting at 18:13 of the first period, former Blades F Cam Hebig (32) getting one at 5:32 of the second, and F Sam Steel (17) scoring at 18:43. . . . Saskatoon D Evan Fiala (5) tied it 3-3 at 12:22 of the third period. . . . Florchuk won it at 1:37 with boyhood pal Kirby Dach getting the lone assist. . . . Florchuk was acquired from Victoria at the trade deadline. . . . Dach was back in the lineup after not playing since Dec. 27. . . . Hebig and Steel each had an assist for the Pats. . . . Saskatoon was 0-1 on the PP; Regina was 0-4. . . . G Max Paddock, who hadn’t played since Dec. 27, stopped 28 shots for Regina. . . . The Pats were without F Jake Leschyshyn for a second straight game. On Friday, John Paddock, the Pats’ GM/head coach, told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post that Leschyshyn is “hurting. . . . He’s got a little bit of stuff going on, that’s all.” . . . Announced attendance: 4,346.


At Red Deer, G Dylan Ferguson stopped 25 shots in his ninth straight start to lead the Kamloops Blazers to a 3-1 victory over the Rebels. . . . Kamloops (20-23-3) has won two in Kamloops1a row, both on this quick three-game trip into the Central Division, but remains eight points from a playoff spot. The Blazers will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon in Edmonton. . . . Red Deer (10-25-11) has lost 13 in a row (0-7-6). . . . F Josh Tarzwell (4), who is from Red Deer, scored his first goal with the Rebels at 10:07 of the first period. He started the season with Lethbridge. . . . F Jackson Shepherd (4) got Kamloops into a tie at 12:24 of the second period, and F Travis Walton (2) broke the tie at 16:30. . . . F Orrin Centazzo (8) put it on ice for Kamloops at 17:54 of the third period. . . . Red Deer was 1-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 23 shots for Red Deer. . . . Don Hay of the Blazers now has 740 regular-season victories as a WHL head coach. He is two away from tying Ken Hodge for the most regular-season coaching victories in WHL history. . . . The Blazers are in Edmonton this afternoon, then return home for two games against Hodge’s former team, the Portland Winterhawks. They actually will play three straight games — Friday and Saturday in Kamloops, and Sunday in Portland. . . . Announced attendance: 4,374.


At Medicine Hat, D Vojtech Budik scored in OT to give the Prince Albert Raiders a 3-2 victory over the Tigers. . . . Prince Albert (18-20-8) has won two in a row. It is five points PrinceAlbertaway from a playoff spot. . . . Medicine Hat (24-18-5) has lost three straight (0-1-2), but still leads the Central Division by five points over Lethbridge. . . . F Mark Rassell (39) gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 9:27 of the second period. . . . The Raiders took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Curtis Miske (15), at 11:01, and F Regan Nagy (21), on a PP, at 17:48. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 2:25 of the third period when F Josh Williams (5) scored. . . . Budik (7) won it with his fourth goal in three games, this one coming 1:00 into OT. . . . F Jordy Stallard had two assists for the Raiders, with Miske adding one. . . . Prince Albert was 1-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-7. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 33 saves, nine more than Medicine Hat’s Michael Bullion. . . . Nagy appeared to injure his right knee when he came together with Tigers D Dalton Gally. Nagy wasn’t able to put any weight on his right leg as teammates helped him off the ice. . . . The Raiders are 2-0-0 in their trip into the Central Division. They will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon in Calgary. . . . Announced attendance: 3,475.


At Prince George, the Cougars scored the game’s last three goals en route to a 4-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Prince George (18-23-7) had lost its previous three PrinceGeorgegames. It is eight points from a wild-card spot. . . . Lethbridge (22-20-4) was 5-0-1 in its previous six games. it is second in the Central Division, five points ahead of Kootenay. . . . The Cougars broke a 2-2 tie with third-period goals 16 seconds apart by F Max Kryski (6), at 10:38, and F Josh Curtis (8), at 10:54. . . . F Jared Bethune (16) had given the home side a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:27 of the first period. . . . Lethbridge took a 2-1 lead on first-period goals from F Keltie Jeri-Leon (3), at 12:45, and F Jake Elmer (14), at 13:22. . . . D Austin Crossley pulled the Cougars into a 2-2 tie with his first goal, at 3:39 of the second period. . . . Prince George was 1-7 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-3. . . . G Tavin Grant made 28 saves to earn the victory over Logan Flodell, who stopped 28 shots. . . . The Hurricanes dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. They were without F Taylor Ross and F Dylan Cozens, who have been playing alongside Logan Barlage. . . . Lethbridge is 2-1-1 on a five-game swing into B.C. that ends Tuesday in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice. . . . Announced attendance: 2,704.


At Langley, B.C., G Shane Farkas recorded the shutout as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Vancouver Giants, 2-0. . . . Portland (27-15-4) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). PortlandIt is second in the U.S. Division, two points behind Everett. . . . Vancouver (25-15-7) had points in each of its previous 10 games (7-0-3). It is third in the B.C. Division, one point behind Victoria. . . . Farkas stopped 31 shots to earn his first WHL shutout. It came in his 22nd appearance. He is 6-4-0, 3.41, .904 as the backup to Cole Kehler. . . . F Ty Kolle (5) gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 13:32 of the third period, and F Mason Mannek (7) got the empty-netter, at 19:07. . . . Portland was 0-1 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-3. . . . The Giants got 25 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . F Ryan Hughes (ill) and F Cody Glass were out of Portland’s lineup for a second straight game, while F Kieffer Bellows missed his third game. It all meant that Portland again dressed eight defencemen and 10 forwards. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s general manager and head coach, was back behind the bench after a one-game absence while he was on a scouting trip. . . . Announced attendance: 4,154.


At Kelowna, F Kole Lind had a goal and three assists and G Cole Tisdale, 15, got his first WHL victory as the Rockets doubled the Victoria Royals, 8-4. . . . Kelowna (29-14-3) is atop KelownaRocketsthe Western Conference standings, one point ahead of Everett. . . . Victoria (27-17-4) had lost its previous four games. It is three points behind Kelowna. . . . Tisdale, 15, stopped 23 shots in his first WHL start. Tisdale is from Lethbridge, but he spent one year living in Kelowna. Before the game, he told Rockets play-by-play man Regan Bartel: “I came to a few Rockets games, but I always had to wait until after the Ogopogo head went up because I was scared of it.” If you haven’t been to a game in Kelowna, an Ogopogo likeness is lowered to the ice prior to the game and the Rockets make their entrance by skating through it. . . . Tisdale was an eighth-round pick by the Rockets in the 2017 bantam draft. He normally plays for the minor midget Lethbridge Hurricanes, but is with the Rockets because James Porter Jr. and Roman Basran are injured. . . . Victoria starter Griffen Outhouse blocked 32 of 39 shots in 52:08. Dean McNabb finished up with two saves in 5:32. . . . Kelowna took control of this one with three goals in the first 8:20 of the first period. . . . Lind (22) got it started at 3:18, with D Cal Foote (9) scoring at 4:33 and F Dillon Dube (21) making it 3-0, on a PP, at 8:20. . . . Victoria F Tyler Soy, in his 300th regular-season game, got his 22nd goal, on a PP, at 16:32. . . . F Kyle Topping (17) upped Kelowna’s lead to 4-1, on a PP, 31 seconds into the second period. . . . The Royals then got to within a goal on PP scores from F Matthew Phillips (32), at 12:23, and F Dante Hannoun (20), at 14:14. . . . But the Rockets put it away with four straight goals, starting with F Leif Mattson (15), shorthanded, at 17:03 of the second. F Jack Cowell added a pair in the third period, giving him 10, while F Carsen Twarynski got his 30th. . . . Cowell’s second goal, at 14:28 of the third, was into an empty net. . . . Victoria F Igor Martynov (15) closed out the scoring on a late penalty shot. . . . Kelowna got two assists from each of D James Hilsendager, Nolan Foote and Conner Bruggen-Cate, with Dube, Cal Foote and Mattson getting one apiece. . . . F Tanner Kaspick and Phillips each had two helpers for Victoria and Hannoun added one. . . . Victoria was 3-7 on the PP; Kelowna was 2-6. . . . The Royals are without 6-foot-3 D Kade Jensen (WHL suspension) and 6-foot-4 D Chaz Reddekopp (undisclosed injury). . . . Announced attendance: 5,941.


At Everett, G Carter Hart stopped 25 shots to record the shutout as the Silvertips beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-0. . . . Everett (29-16-2) has won six in a row and leads the U.S. EverettDivision by two points over Portland. . . . Brandon (28-14-4) has lost four straight (0-2-2). It is 0-2-1 and has been blanked twice on its U.S. Division trip. The Wheat Kings are third in the East Division, 10 points behind Swift Current. . . . Hart now has six shutouts this season and 25 in his career. The WHL career shutout record (26) belongs to Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2005-09). Sexsmith played in 179 games; Hart has made 169 appearances. . . . F Matt Fonteyne, who opened the scoring at 16:16 of the first period, had two goals and an assist. He’s got 27 goals. . . . Everett also got three points — a goal and two assists — from F Patrick Bajkov. He’s got 258 regular-season points now, and that’s just four off the franchise record held by F Zach Hamill (2003-08). . . . F Connor Dewar (22) had Everett’s other goal. . . . D Kevin Davis picked up two assists. Davis, 20, has six goals and 40 assists in 46 games. He has had 12 games with two or more assists. . . . Everett was 1-4 on the PP; Brandon was 0-1. . . . G Logan Thompson made 41 saves for Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon in Portland. . . . Announced attendance: 5,917.


At Kent, Wash., D Turner Ottenbreit, who has 21 goals in 259 career regular-season games, scored in the eighth round of a shootout as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the SeattleSwift Current Broncos, 7-6. . . . Seattle (24-16-6) has won four in a row and now is third in the U.S. Division, four points behind Portland. . . . Swift Current (33-10-4) has points in nine straight (7-0-2), and is 2-0-1 on a U.S. Division trip. It is second in the overall standings, seven points behind Moose Jaw. . . . The teams were tied 2-2 going into the second period, F Glenn Gawdin (37) and D Colby Sissons (11) having scored for the visitors, with F Nolan Volcan (24), on a PP, and F Sami Moilanen (19) having done the same for Seattle. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 5-2 lead on second-period goals from F Donovan Neuls (17), on a PP, at 0:58, F Matthew Wedman (9), at 7:59, and F Zack Andrusiak (21), at 14:42. . . . F Giorgio Estephan on a PP, got one back for the Broncos at 16:40, but F Noah Philp got that one back for Seattle just 40 seconds later. . . . Swift Current then erased a 6-3 third-period deficit on goals from F Tyler Steenbergen (36), at 6:29, Estephan (22), on a PP, at 17:03 and F Beck Malenstyn (5), at 18:46. . . . The Broncos twice scored in the shootout (Steenbergen and D Artyom Minulin), only to have Neuls and D Austin Strand tie it. . . . Andrusiak added two assists to his goal, with Neuls and Wedman getting one each. . . . Steenbergen also had four assists, with F Aleksi Heponiemi getting three as he ran his point streak to 27 games. Estephan and Malenstyn added one each. . . . The Broncos were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 2-5. . . . Seattle G Dorrin Luding stopped 26 shots. The Thunderbirds got a scare late in the third period when Luding went down and got a visit from trainer Phil Varney. With two other goaltenders injured, Seattle had Cole Schwebius, 15, on the bench backing up Luding. . . . This was Seattle’s Teddy Bear Toss game, with Volcan getting the goal at 5:14 of the first period. . . . The Broncos were without F Matteo Gennaro (undisclosed injury) for a second straight game. . . . Announced attendance: 6,142.


At Spokane, F Kailer Yamamoto scored in OT to give the Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Spokane (24-19-3) has won two in a row. The Chiefs hold down the SpokaneChiefsWestern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Americans, who now are fourth in the U.S. Division. . . . Tri-City (23-16-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . The Chiefs got out to a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ethan McIndoe (13) and F Jake McGrew (11), on a PP, in the first period, and F Zach Fischer (20), at 4:32 of the second period. . . . Tri-City cut into the lead on second-period goals from D Jake Bean (8) and F Isaac Johnson (13). . . . Spokane F Luke Toporowski (3) restored the two-goal lead at 10:43 of the third period. . . . The Americans tied it on goals from F Sasha Mutala (7), at 14:21, and D Mitchell Brown (2), at 15:33. . . . Yamamoto, who also had two assists, won it with his fifth goal 47 seconds into OT. . . . Yamamoto has nine points, three of them goals, in four games since returning from the WJC. . . . McIndoe added an assist to his goal. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Dylan Coghlan and one each from Mutala and Bean. . . . Spokane was 1-2 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-3. . . . G Bailey Brkin stopped 31 shots for Spokane. . . . Tri-City starter Beck Warm allowed two goals on 14 shots in the first period. Patrick Dea finished up with 27 saves on 30 shots in 40:47. . . . Announced attendance: 10,397.


SUNDAY (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Saskatoon, 2:05 p.m.

Prince Albert at Calgary, 4 p.m.

Kamloops at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

Swift Current at Everett, 4:05 p.m.

Brandon at Portland, 5 p.m.


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