A tip of the fedora to the Windsor Lancers . . . Blades, Thunderbirds swap high-end forwards . . . Rebels lose veteran goalie to ‘congenital defect’

On May 24, I posted this on Taking Note:

The U of Windsor Lancers men’s hockey team is going to spend some time in Merritt, B.C., in August. They will be involved in a hockey academy while there, and they also will play a couple of exhibition games. The big news — really big news — is that they are going to spend time working with First Nations communities who continue on the road to recovery from wildfires and floods that hit them hard in 2021. . . . The Lancers will be helping to erect five emergency homes, a project that should take five days if all goes according to plan. . . . “We’re always looking for opportunities for our student athletes to learn and grow at the rink and away from the rink,” head coach Kevin Hamlin said, “and this just seemed to be a great fit given all the craziness that’s happened and come to light out west.” . . . There’s more on this story from AM800 News right here.

The New Westminster Bruins raised single-game ticket prices prior to the 1985-86 season . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired F Kyle Crnkovic, 20, the WHL’s fifth-Seattleleading scorer last season, from the Saskatoon Blades for F Conner Roulette, 19, and a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2026 draft. . . . Crnkovic, a first-round pick by the Blades in the WHL’s 2017 draft, had 94 points, including 39 goals, in 68 games last season. In 210 games over four-plus seasons with Saskatoon, he put up 81 goals and 140 assists. He is from Chestermere, Alta. . . . Seattle now has two 20-year-olds on its roster, the other being F Jared Davidson, who finished last season with 42 goals and 47 assists in 64 games. . . . Seattle selected Roulette, who is from Winnipeg, in the second Saskatoonround of the WHL’s 2018 draft. In 131 games with the Thunderbirds, he had 117 points, including 49 goals. Last season, he put up 24 goals and 42 assists in 65 games. He added 18 points, five of them goals, in 25 playoff games as Seattle reached the WHL final. . . . The Dallas Stars picked Roulette in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blades, who open training camp on Thursday, have yet to post a training camp roster on their website. But I believe they now have two 20-year-olds with them — F Josh Pillar and D Aidan De La Gorgendiere. Moving Crnkovic, then, would perhaps indicate that another deal/acquisition is imminent.

G Chase Coward won’t be on the Red Deer Rebels’ roster when the new season gets rolling. Coward, 19, got into 35 games last season, but medical issues now RedDeerhave him on the sideline. . . . “Chase underwent testing this summer and discovered a congenital defect to his lower body,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, president and general manager, said in a news release. “At this time, Chase has decided he will not attend training camp or be a part of the Rebels’ roster to start the season, and we support him as he navigates through the process.” . . . In 41 regular-season games, 35 of them last season, the Swift Current native was 24-11-3, 2.62, .904. . . . Last season, Coward was 22-10-2, 2.51, .906. . . . As WHL observer Alan Caldwell tweeted: “This leaves the Rebels with no experienced goaltenders since they traded Coward’s 21-22 batterymate Connor Ungar to Moose Jaw in the spring.” . . . Perhaps the Rebels would be interested in one of two veteran OHL goaltenders, both of them 20 years of age, who have been waived. Tucker Tynan was dropped by the Soo Grehyounds, while the Peterborough Petes have dropped Tye Austin. . . . G Kyle Kelsey, 18, who was acquired from the Warriors in the Ungar deal, may get a look. However, the Rebels, who open camp on Thursday, have yet to post a training camp roster.

The MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport) reports that two former WHLers — Brandon Davidson and Tyler Wong — signed contracts with Kunlun Red Star Beijing of the KHL this week. Davidson, who played last season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, signed a two-year deal, while Wong signed a four-year extension after putting up 14 goals and 14 assists in 48 games last season. He has played the past three seasons with Kunlun Red Star. . . . Davidson, 31, played three seasons (2009-12) with the Regina Pats. Wong, 26, spent five seasons (2012-17) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The interesting thing about these signings is that Kunlun Red Star will be playing out of Mytishchi, Russia, for a second straight season because of COVID-19 restrictions for foreigners entering China. According to The MacBeth Report, “Mytishchi is an outer northern suburb of Moscow.” . . . Am I the only one who finds it interesting that Canadian players are signing contracts to play in Russia while that country is making war on Ukraine?



The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder announced late Monday that Jeff Shantz, its general manager and head coach, was leaving to join the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes as a development coach. . . . From a news release: “Sean Brown has assumed all head coach and general manager duties for the Thunder, and has begun our search for Jeff’s replacement.” . . . Brown was named associate GM and associate coach on July 18. . . . Shantz was introduced as the GM/head coach on July 13 after a five-year run as a coach at the Edge School in Calgary. Shantz, 48, played three seasons (1990-93) with the Regina Pats before going on to play 642 regular-season NHL games. He finished his pro career by playing eight seasons in Europe. . . .

The BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters have signed Tim Fragle, their general manager and head coach, to a contract extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. . . . Fragile is preparing for his third season with the Smoke Eaters with whom he spent two seasons (1997-99) as a player. . . .

The AHL’s Calgary Wranglers have added former WHL players Mackenzie Skapski and Daniel Johnston to head coach Mitch Love’s staff. . . . Skapski, a former goaltender, will serve as development goaltending coach; Johnston will be the video coach and also work in team services. . . . They will work alongside assistant coaches Don Nachbaur and Joe Cirella. . . . Skapski, 28, played three seasons (2011-14) with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. In a five-season pro career, he got into two NHL games with the New York Rangers, going 2-0-0, 0.50, .978 with one shutout. . . . Johnston, 29, played four full seasons (2009-13) and parts of two others in the WHL, starting with the Portland Winterhawks and finishing with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He spent the past two seasons on the Brandon Wheat Kings’ coaching staff. . . .

Former NHL D Ladislav Smid will be a guest coach when the Edmonton Oil Kings, the WHL’s defending champions, open training camp this week. Smid, from Frydiant, Czech Republic, has retired after a 17-season pro career, the last five with Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech Extraliga. He spent 11 seasons in the NHL, playing with the Edmonton Oilers, who own the Oil Kings, and the Calgary Flames. . . . The Oil Kings also revealed that Kirt Hill, who is preparing for his fifth season as president of hockey operations and general manager, has signed a multi-year contract extension, but the exact length wasn’t provided. . . . The Oil Kings also revealed that Luke Pierce, who moved from assistant coach to head coach after Brad Lauer left for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, also has signed a multi-year extension. Again, the exact length wasn’t provided. . . . There is more on the Oil Kings’ hockey operations staff right here.

THINKING OUT LOUD — A reminder to those folks who cover junior hockey: There isn’t any such thing as an overage player; he is a 20-year-old player. Were he overage, he wouldn’t be eligible to play. . . . And while we’re at it, there aren’t any assistant captains; there are alternate captains. . . . If you are a fan of the Oakland A’s or Washington Nationals, I feel for you. Consider that after Tuesday’s games, they had combined for 92 victories. The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, had won 90 games. . . . Hey, WHL, you’ve got teams opening training camps this week and there still are rosters that aren’t available. Believe it or not, there really are fans and other observers who are interested in these things. . . . Hey, WHL, perhaps you could create a full-time, high-salaried position for Alan Caldwell. You know, Minister of Statistics, Rosters, Draft Picks and Information, or something like that. If you’re interested, Caldwell is posting rosters right here as he is able to locate them. He also will be updating them as camps progress. I checked the spreadsheets there Tuesday night and got a message telling me that “some tools might be unavailable due to heavy traffic.” Yes, WHL, people really are interested in this stuff.


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Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office


Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.

Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.

After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.

Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.

The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.

G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


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