Kootenay Ice unveils Hall of Fame on way out of Cranbrook . . . Blades stretch lead over Warriors . . . Byram’s red-hot streak continues

MacBeth

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has been released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team’s captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games.


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Eight days after announcing that the franchise will be leaving Cranbrook, B.C., for Winnipeg once this season is over, the Kootenay Ice has announced the formation of a Hall of Fame.

No, it’s not April 1. No, this isn’t a script for Saturday Night Live. This isn’t MAD KootenaynewMagazine.

You can’t make this stuff up. Seriously. You just can’t.

The Ice made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday, adding that former captain Jarret Stoll, 36, who played four seasons (1998-2002) in Cranbrook, will be the first inductee. Stoll captained the Ice in its Memorial Cup-winning season (2001-02).

According to a news release, selection to the Hall of Fame “is not a number retirement; however, all inductees will be honoured with a special ceremony and banner-raising to commemorate their achievements.”

The news release doesn’t indicate where Kootenay-area fans will have to go in future seasons to view the Hall of Fame, whether it will be located in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, the Ice’s home for the next two seasons, or later in its yet-to-be built home in an area in the southwestern corner of Winnipeg.

Stoll, in his second season as a development coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, is to be honoured prior to a game with the visiting Calgary Hitmen on March 2 after which Cranbrook’s time in the WHL will be down to three home games.

“The ceremony,” reads the news release that is right here, “will include a banner raising.”

What that means is that Western Financial Place, the home of the Ice, which already has a Wall of Fame, won’t have a WHL team after March 16, but there will be one Hall of Fame banner fluttering in the rafters.

The news release also states: “All banners hanging in the rafters at Western Financial Place, including the future Ice Hall of Fame banner, will remain in Cranbrook.”

Hey, good for Stoll, who will be on hand for the evening, along with his wife, Erin, who you may know as Erin Andrews of ESPN. There isn’t any doubt that he should be the first but it’s all about the timing.

In future seasons, fans and sponsors who supported the Kootenay Ice will be able to find solace by wandering into the arena, grabbing a seat, sipping on their coffee, and looking up into the rafters. They won’t have a WHL team, but, hey, those banners. . . .

One Ice fan told Taking Note: “It is a rare occasion that I am lost for words.”

Another long-time observer of the Cranbrook hockey scene offered: “I don’t understand this for a second. . . . It is insulting and ridiculous.”

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While the Kootenay Ice was announcing the first inductee into its Hall of Fame, a moving fan was at the Cranbrook home of president/general manager Matt Cockell on Wednesday.

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Neil Godbout is the editor-in-chief of the Prince George Citizen. He has written a column headlined ‘Are we the next Cranbrook?’ It points out that with support for the Cougars seeming to be fading, “The Cougars are Prince George’s team. Whether they stay that way is up to Prince George.”. . . . The announced attendance on Tuesday was 2,030 when the Cougars dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Giants. On Wednesday, the number was 2,083 as the Cougars fell 4-3 in OT to the Giants. . . . Godbout’s piece is right here.


D Liam Schioler of the Regina Pats will attend Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont., next season and play for the Gaels. The 6-foot-3 Schioler, 20, is from Winnipeg. An alternate captain, he is in his fourth season with the Pats. He played in his 223rd regular-season game on Wednesday night as Regina dropped a 4-3 decision to the host Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary Hitmen) in the Corral.


The Everett Silvertips could run into something of a scheduling conflict in Angel of the EverettWinds Arena should they advance to the second round of the WHL playoffs. . . . The first round should begin on March 22 and conclude on or about March 31. . . . That would mean the second round should start about April 2 or 3. . . . The Silvertips, who lead the Western Conference, are certain to be playing in the first round, likely against the conference’s second wild-card seed. Assuming the Silvertips advance to the second round, they are likely to run head-on into the Cirque de Soleil CRYSTAL, which is to hold a total of eight performances in Angel of the Winds Arena from April 10 through April 14. . . . It could be that the Silvertips and a second-round opponent will have to do some creative scheduling.


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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

 

The Saskatoon Blades unleashed a 48-shot attack in skating to a 6-1 victory over the Saskatoonvisiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Saskatoon (32-13-8) has points in eight straight (6-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of Moose Jaw, although the Warriors do hold four games in hand. . . . Moose Jaw (28-13-8) has lost two in a row. . . . The Warriors had a 21-5 edge in first-period shots and emerged with a 2-0 lead on goals from F Kyle Crnkovic (6), at 9:46, and F Chase Wouters (10), on a PP, at 19:48. . . . F Ryan Hughes (20) made it 3-0 just 54 seconds into the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida (21) got Moose Jaw’s goal, on a PP, at 12:53 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson (10) got that one back, on a PP, at 18:11. . . . F Max Gerlach (32), on another PP, and D Brandon Schuldaus (5) — yes, on another PP — scored for Saskatoon in the third period. . . . Saskatoon was 4-6 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-5. . . . The Blades ended up outshooting the Warriors, 48-20. . . . Davidson also had two assists, as did Crnkovic. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo left at 3:20 of the third period with a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Blades F Kirby Dach. . . . The Warriors were without F Tristin Langan, as he served a one-game suspension.


F Riley Stotts broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period as the Calgary Cowboys (aka Calgary cowboysHitmen) beat the Regina Pats, 4-3, in the second game of what they are calling the Corral Series. . . . Calgary (27-19-5) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. Red Deer and Calgary hold down the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, eight points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Regina (14-36-3) is 28 points out of a playoff spot with 15 games remaining. . . . The Hitmen are playing three games in the Corral and honouring three teams — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers — who played in the building. . . . F Kaden Elder put Calgary out front 54 seconds into the second period. . . . Regina took the lead on a pair of goals from F Ty Kolle, at 10:50 and 14:08. . . . F Mark Kastelic tied it with his 37th goal, at 15:23, and Elder’s 22nd goal, 35 seconds into the third period, provided Calgary with a 3-2 lead. . . . Kolle, who hadn’t scored in 27 games, completed his first WHL hat trick at 5:09. It came in his 122nd career game, his 28th with Regina. He now has 11 goals this season. He also had a shootout goal in the Pats’ 2-1 victory in Lethbridge on Tuesday night. . . . Stotts won this one with his 15th goal at 16:41. . . . Calgary got 33 stops from G Jack McNaughton, one fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . G Carl Stankowski, who last played on Nov. 23, was on Calgary’s bench in a backup role.


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The Kootenay Ice had an announced attendance of 1,902 on Wednesday at their second home game since the announcement that the franchise will be moving to Winnipeg after this season.
IceMH2
Fans of the Kootenay Ice are saying their thank yous before the season ends and the team moves to Winnipeg.

The two Ryans — Chyzowski and Jevne — each scored twice to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers to a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Medicine Hat (29-18-4) has won two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Kootenay (11-33-8) has seven home games remaining before it leaves Cranbrook for Winnipeg. . . . The Tigers had a 21-3 edge in first-period shots and came out with a 2-1 lead. . . . F Brad Ginnell (12) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:24. . . . The Tigers took the lead as Chyzowski scored, on a PP, at 15:26, and D Cole Clayton (4) counted at 19:12. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (18) upped the Tigers’ lead to 3-1, on a PP, at 1:52. . . . The Ice came back to tie it on goals from F Peyton Krebs (17), on a PP, at 15:53, and F Jakin Smallwood (9) at 5:39 of the third period. . . . Jevne snapped the tie at 6:03. . . . Chyzowski added insurance with his 18th goal, on another PP, at 16:09, and Jevne put it away with his 24th goal, an empty-netter, at 19:32. . . . Jevne added two assists to his goal, with Preziuso getting two helpers and Chyzowski one. . . . Ice F River Fahey didn’t return after a first-period fight with Tigers F Trevor Longo . . . . The Tigers ended up with a 51-26 shot advantage. . . . Medicine Hat got 23 saves from G Mads Søgaard, with the Ice’s Jesse Makaj blocking 45 shots. . . . The Tigers were 3-4 on the PP; the Ice was 2-4. . . . This was the Ice’s second home game since the team’s owners announced that they will be moving the franchise to Winnipeg at season’s end. The announced attendance was 1,902, the smallest crowd of the season.


F Luke Toporowski scored twice and added an assist as the Spokane Chiefs skated to a 5-SpokaneChiefs4 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Spokane (27-17-6) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks and three ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (21-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, eight points behind the Victoria Royals and two ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . D Lassi Thomson (13) got Kelowna started at 3:38 of the first period. . . . Toporowski, who has 15 goals, tied it at 5:02 and gave his guys the lead at 15:08, on a PP. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff’s first WHL goal, on a PP, got Kelowna into a 2-2 tie at 2:37 of the second period. . . . The Chiefs went ahead 4-2 on goals from F Connor Gabruch, his first, at 4:15, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (6), at 12:55. That was Anderson-Dolan’s 99th career regular-season goal. . . . Swetlikoff scored another PP goal, this one 23 seconds into the third period, but F Jake McGrew (22) restored Spokane’s two-goal lead at 2:08. . . . F Nolan Foote (26) got a shorthanded goal at 7:14 to pull the Rockets to within a goal. . . . F Leif Mattson had four assists for the Rockets, with Swetlikoff adding one to his pair of goals. . . . Spokane D Ty Smith was back in the lineup and had two assists, after leaving early during a 6-5 shootout loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Smith left after absorbing a hit from Portland F Joachim Blichfeld, who was given an interference major and game misconduct, but hasn’t been suspended. . . . The Rockets were without F Conner Bruggen-Cate, who served the first of a two-game suspension. . . . The Rockets had F Steel Quiring make his WHL debut while D Jackson DeSouza played his second game. Quiring, who turned 16 on Jan. 15, was a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, with DeSouza a fourth-round pick in that same draft. Quiring, from Vernon, B.C., plays for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. DeSouza, 15, is from Erie, Colo. DeSouza, who also plays for the Okanagan Rockets, made his WHL debut on Dec. 15 in a 2-1 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers.


D Bowen Byram scored his third OT goal of the season to give the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 Vancouvervictory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (35-13-3) had won three straight, including a 4-2 victory in Prince George on Tuesday night. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Prince George (16-30-6) has lost 11 in a row (0-8-3). It is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . Last night, the Giants took a 3-0 lead on second-period goals from F Jared Dmytriw (11), at 7:11; F Brayden Watts (12), at 8:34; and D Aidan Barfoot (3), at 12:55. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (20) started the Cougars’ comeback, on a PP, at 16:00 of the second period. . . . F Josh Maser (20) cut the deficit to one, on another PP, at 19:50. . . . F Reid Perepeluk tied the game with his first goal of the season, at 11:05 of the third period. . . . Perepeluk’s first goal came in his 39th game. Last season, he scored twice in 10 games. . . . Byram won it with his 21st goal of the season, 57 seconds into OT. . . . In 17 games since Jan. 1, Byram has 12 goals and 11 assists. . . . On Jan. 26, Byram scored at 2:39 of OT to give the Giants a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. On Jan. 30, he scored 33 seconds into OT to provide Vancouver with a 3-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots for the Cougars.


F Phillip Schultz scored three times to help the Victoria Royals to a 5-3 victory over the VictoriaRoyalsvisiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Victoria (26-21-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Seattle (20-25-6) had beaten the host Royals, 5-2, on Tuesday night. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Henri Rybinski (3) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game. . . . The Royals responded with the next three goals — from Schultz, on a PP, at 17:09; F Kaid Oliver (21), on a PP, at 3:52 of the second period; and Schultz, at 6:27. . . . F Andrej Kukuca got Seattle to within a goal at 4:44 of the third period, but F Dino Kambeitz (8) got it back for the Royals just 10 seconds later. . . . Kukuca (16) added a PP goal at 16:07. . . . Schultz completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:55. Schultz, an 18-year-old freshman from Denmark, has 11 goals and eight assists in 42 games. . . . D Scott Walford had three assists for the Royals, the fourth time in his career that he has had at least three helpers in one game. . . . Despite not appearing on the WHL’s weekly roster report that was issued on Tuesday, Seattle D Jarret Tyszka missed his second game in as many nights.


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Some info on Kootenay’s lease . . . Dach, Haden, Gerlach burn Wheat Kings . . . Americans bury ‘Hawks in third

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If you’re wondering what’s in the lease between the City of Cranbrook and the WHL’s Kootenay Ice involving Western Financial Place, here’s a taste . . .

Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman obtained a copy of the lease, which Kootenaynewruns through 2023, through an FOI request.

“The Kootenay Ice must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance,” Crawley writes. “For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.”

Crawley also writes:

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

On Monday, Crawley, who is listed on the Ice’s website as the team’s photographer, reported that “two groups have approached” the junior A BCHL “to look at getting a franchise in Cranbrook for the fall . . .”

That piece is right here.


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The 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship is scheduled to be held at the CN Centre PrinceGeorgein Prince George, from March 14-22. The facility is home to the Prince George Cougars, meaning that they will be on the road late in the 2019-20 regular season and perhaps into the first round of the playoffs, should they qualify. . . . This season, the WHL’s regular season concludes on March 17, with the playoffs to begin on March 22. . . .

The 2019 World Men’s event is to be held in Lethbridge’s ENMAX Centre, from March 30 through April 7, meaning the Hurricanes may be out of their facility for a playoff game or two. Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, already has stated that, if necessary, playoff games will be moved to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, which has about 1,000 seats and is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s teams. . . .

In Prince George, the junior A Spruce Kings, who skate in the B.C. Hockey League, play their home games in the 1,800-seat Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, a facility that might be considered as a Plan B for the Cougars, depending on how things turn out. . . .

Interestingly, Cougars general manager Mark Lamb was the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos in the spring of 2010 and again in 2016 when the World Women’s event was held in the Saskatchewan city.

In 2010, the Broncos played two first-round ‘home’ playoff games — Games 3 and 4 — in Regina’s Brandt Centre. They ended up being swept by the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Broncos didn’t make the playoffs in 2015-16, so their schedule wasn’t impacted.


The WHL has suspended D Montana Onyebuchi of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conner Bruggen-Cate of the Kelowna Rockets for two games each for their involvement in an whlincident during a Saturday night game.

Onyebuchi was suspended for being involved in what the WHL says was a “one-man fight” at 2:09 of the third period in a game won, 2-1 in OT, by the host Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate was suspended for what the WHL says were his “actions” that apparently precipitated Onyebuchi’s attempt to involve him in a fight.

At the time, Onyebuchi was given a fighting major and game misconduct, while Bruggen-Cate wasn’t penalized.

“There’s not really much to comment on,” Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “Happy that it was in the hands of the WHL office . . . the kind of research that they needed to do and came down with a ruling. We’re just happy that it was addressed.

“It was a situation where it really got to Montana. My approach was that we wanted to make sure that Montana was supported, wanted to make sure that he felt he was supported by his teammates, by the organization, by the league.

“That’s why it was important for the league to do the due diligence . . . for us to be there to support Montana regardless of what transpired.” 

Onyebuchi will sit out two home games — Friday night versus the Vancouver Giants and Saturday against the Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate also will miss two home games — tonight against the Spokane Chiefs and Friday against the Prince George Cougars — but will be eligible to play Saturday in Kamloops.


The Trinity Western U Spartans really, really want to be accepted into Canada West, the U Sports-governed conference that covers the four Western Canadian provinces.

“We treated it like an Olympic bid,” Spartans head coach Barret Kropf told Taking Note TWUin reference to the presentation that TWU made to Canada West in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday.

Kropf said that TWU had its president, vice-president, the Township of Langley’s general manager and a councillor, the athletic director, one of the players and himself all involved in the presentation.

“It went well,” said Kropf, whose club plays in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and plays out of the Langley Events Centre, the same facility that is home to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

TWU and the Edmonton-based Grant MacEwan Griffins, who are to make their presentation this morning, are both hoping to be admitted to Canada West for the 2020-21 season.

TWU and Grant MacEwan already are members of U Sports, but their hockey teams have continued to play in the BCIHL and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, respectively. They now are hoping to make a switch.

The difference between recruiting for a Canada West team as opposed to a BCIHL club would be “like night and day,” Kropf said, adding that he already is hearing from WHL players who have expressed interest in 2020-21.

This season, the Spartans’ roster includes the likes of F Jarrett Fontaine, F Spencer Gerth, D Travis Verveda, F Brayden Brown and F Brandon Potomak, all of whom have WHL experience.

Asked how close the Spartans are right now to being competitive with Canada West teams, Kropf replied: “I think we’re right there . . . we’re in the mix.”

Canada West is expected to vote on whether to add TWU and Grant MacEwan when it holds its annual general meeting in Whistler, B.C., from May 5-8. Interestingly, it is TWU’s turn to play host to the AGM.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Kirby Dach scored three times and the Saskatoon Blades counted the game’s last four Saskatoongoals as they beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-3. . . . Saskatoon (31-13-8) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). The Blades are second in the East Division, six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who now hold four games in hand. The teams are to meet tonight in Saskatoon. . . . Brandon (22-21-7) has lost two in a row and is six points away from a wild-card playoff berth. . . . With Brandon’s loss, the Eastern Conference-leading Prince Albert Raiders (43-7-2) became the first WHL team to clinch a playoff spot this season. . . . F Max Gerlach gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:19 of the first period as he hit the 30-goal mark for a fourth straight season. He has 130 goals in 262 regular-season games. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (32), who also had two assists, pulled Brandon even, on a PP, at 3:24 of the second period. . . . Dach shot the Blades in front, 3-1, with goals at 7:45 and 8:04. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it on second-period PP goals from F Luka Burzan (30), at 11:05, and F Cole Reinhardt (16), just 51 seconds later. . . . Saskatoon went ahead 4-3 as F Eric Florchuk scored at 15:22. . . . Dach completed his second career hat trick, both this season, on a PP, at 5:02 of the third period. . . . Gerlach, who also had an assist, added his 31st goal, at 13:27, and Florchuk got his 17th, on a PP, at 15:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-3 on the PP; Brandon was 3-6. . . . The Blades got four assists from F Gary Haden, who has 13 points, including nine goals, in a five-game point streak. . . . F Ryan Hughes added three assists for the Blades, with D Dawson Davidson picking up one to run his point streak to 10 games. He has 14 points, 13 of them assists, over that stretch. . . . Brandon D Braydyn Chizen sat this one out as he completed a four-game WHL suspension. . . . D Aiden De la Gorgendiere was among the Blades’ scratches after being injured on a hit by F Jake Neighbours of the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night. Neighbours drew a four-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct on the play.


G Max Paddock stopped 38 shots and two more in a shootout as the Regina Pats got past Patsthe Hurricanes, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Regina (14-35-3) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Lethbridge (27-15-9) had won its past two games. It is second in the Central Division, three points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Hurricanes held an 11-5 edge in shots in the third period, and it was 5-1 in OT. . . . F Blake Allan, who was acquired from the Kootenay Ice, scored his first goal in 14 games with the Pats to give them a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes tied it when F Taylor Ross (24) scored at 13:57. . . . Regina got shootout goals from F Ty Kolle and F Sergei Alkhimov, with F Jordy Bellerive scoring for the home team. . . . C Carl Tetachuk stopped 29 shots for Lethbridge. . . . This was the first time that F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry of the Hurricanes had faced their former team. They were acquired from the Pats on Nov. 29 in a deal that had Kolle and F Jadon Joseph, along with as many as seven bantam draft picks, go the other way. . . . Regina had F Cale Sanders, 16, make his WHL debut. From Claresholm, Alta., he has 16 goals and 17 assists in 28 games with the Edge School prep team in Calgary. . . . F Cole Dubinsky of the Pats sat out Game 2 of a four-game suspension.


G Trent Miner stopped 20 shots and picked up an assist to lead the Vancouver Giants to a Vancouver4-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (34-13-3) has won two in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals and now is five points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips. . . . Prince George (16-30-5) has lost 10 straight (0-8-2) and is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . The same teams meet again tonight in Prince George. . . . Miner, a freshman from Brandon, turned 18 on Tuesday. He now is 18-4-1, 1.85, .931. . . . Miner picked up an assist as F Davis Koch (21) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 16:14 of the first period. . . . F Owen Hardy (9) made it 2-0 at 5:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got to within a goal at 13:41 when F Josh Curtis (9) scored. . . . The Giants went ahead 4-1 on goals from F Justin Sourdif (14), at 14:38, and D Bowen Byram (20), at 15:14. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (19) got the Cougars’ second goal, on a PP, at 16:53 of the third period. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, on the bench in support of Taylor Gauthier, with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. Brennan, from Winnipeg, plays for the prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy. He was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Gauthier finished with 27 stops.


The Tri-City Americans struck for five third-period goals as they beat the visiting tri-cityPortland Winterhawks, 5-3. . . . Tri-City (27-19-3) has won two straight. It is comfortably in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, but also is fourth in the U.S. Division, just one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Portland (32-15-5) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Winterhawks grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Jaydon Dureau (11), at 6:42, and F Josh Paterson (19), at 11:19. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Americans opened the third with four straight goals — from F Parker AuCoin (27), at 0:37; F Samuel Huo (4), on a PP, at 8:06; F Nolan Yaremko (18), at 11:33; and F Connor Bouchard, on a PP, at 16:13. . . . D Jared Freadrich (9) kept Portland’s hopes alive at 17:12, but Bouchard iced it with his fourth goal, into an empty net, at 18:40. . . . Bouchard also had an assist, giving him his first three-point night in 109 career regular-season games, 49 of them this season. . . . Portland remains without F Cody Glass (knee), who is shown as day-to-day on the WHL’s weekly roster report.


G Roddy Ross turned aside 41 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-3 victory over Seattlethe host Victoria Royals. . . . Seattle (20-24-6) had lost its past two games. It is one point behind the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Victoria (25-21-3) had points in each of its previous four games (2-0-2). It is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Thunderbirds and Royals will meet again tonight in Victoria. . . . The Royals outshot the visitors 12-6, 14-7 and 18-8 by period, but couldn’t put enough pucks behind Ross to win. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matthew Wedman, at 16:36, and D Jake Lee (3), on a PP, at 18:35. . . . F Kaid Oliver (20) got the Royals to within a goal, on a PP, at 4:44 of the second period. . . . D Owen Williams (3) got that one back for Seattle at 10:43. . . . The Royals got back to within a goal at 9:39 of the third period as F Kody McDonald (11) scored. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly replied at 11:27 with his first WHL goal in 47 games, 32 of them this season. . . . Again, Victoria got to within a goal, this time when D Scott Walford (8) scored at 13:37. . . . Wedman iced it with his 25th goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:36. . . . G Brock Gould stopped 16 shots for the Royals. . . . D Jarret Tyszka and F Nolan Volcan were among Seattle’s scratches, while the Royals were without veteran D Ralph Jarratt, who is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. Jarratt has battled injuries all season and has played in only 25 games.


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Colina cites personal reasons in leaving P.G. . . . Tracey, Warriors rolling . . . Oil Kings win in P.A. . . . Farkas, Klassen record shutouts

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On Friday night, the Kootenay Ice played its first home game since the WHL and the team’s owners announced on Tuesday that the franchise will be relocating to Winnipeg at the end of this season. Scroll down for more photos from the game in Cranbrook, which the Ice won, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos.

MacBeth

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) has been recalled by Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) from Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). With Dinamo, he was pointless in 15 games. He had four goals and seven assists in 14 games with Liepaja. . . .

F Juraj Bezúch (Lethbridge, 2011-12) has been traded by Hradec Králove (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Dukla Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga) for Petr Štindl. With Hradec Králove, Bezúch had three goals and four assists in 30 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had two goals and two assists in three games. . . .

F Roman Pšurný (Medicine Hat, 2004-06) has been assigned on loan to Brno (Czech Republic Extraliga) by Přerov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). In 45 games, he had 11 goals and 25 assists with Přerov. He is eligible to play the rest of this season with both clubs. . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga) after requesting and receiving his release from Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga) on Thursday. In 24 games, he had one goal and four assists. He played last season for Pelicans, recording two goals and seven assists in 45 games.


ThisThat

F Ilijah Colina has left the Prince George Cougars for what the teams says is “personal PrinceGeorgereasons.” . . . In a news release, the team says Colina’s decision is “fully supported by the Cougars organization.” . . . This season, Colina, who turns 19 on Feb. 18, has six goals and six assists in 39 games. From North Delta, B.C., he has 55 points, including 18 goals, in 151 career regular-season games. He played 83 games with the Portland Winterhawks, before being acquired by the Cougars. Colina was part of a Jan. 10, 2018 deal in which Portland got D Dennis Cholowski and the rights to G Ty Taylor. The Cougars landed Colina and F Connor Bowie, along with a 2020 first-round bantam draft pick, second-rounders in 2018 and 2019, a third-rounder in 2020, and a conditional sixth-rounder in 2019. . . .

With Colina gone, the Cougars have added F Craig Armstrong to their roster. Armstrong, from Airdrie, Alta., was the ninth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.. He plays at the Edge school in Calgary, where he has 12 goals and 13 assists in 24 games with the prep team. . . . Armstrong was with the Cougars on Friday night in Kamloops, but didn’t play against the Blazers.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brayden Tracey scored the game’s first three goals and later added an assist to lead the MooseJawWarriorsMoose Jaw Warriors to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (28-11-8) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). The Warriors are third in the East Division, three points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . This was Moose Jaw’s first home game after a seven-game road swing (6-0-1), and the Warriors now will play their next five games away from home. . . . Medicine Hat (27-18-4) has lost two in a row. The Tigers are fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Red Deer Rebels. Medicine Hat also holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. This season, he has 51 points, including 22 goals, in 47 games. This was his second hat trick of the season. . . . Tracey opened the scoring at 8:52 of the first period, then completed his hat trick in the second period with goals at 4:57 and 8:40. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (12), F Kjell Kjemhus (1) and F Justin Almeida (19) also scored for Moose Jaw. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (16) scored the Tigers’ goal, at 10:36 of the third period. . . . Kjemhus got his first goal in 22 games with the Warriors after coming over in a deal with the Prince George Cougars. . . . G Adam Evanoff stopped 33 shots for the Warriors. . . . The Tigers had F Cole Sillinger in their lineup for the third time this season. Sillinger, 15, is from Regina. He was the 11th-overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky and D Conner McDonald each scored twice to help the Edmonton EdmontonOilKingsOil Kings to a 6-3 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Edmonton (28-15-8) has won three in a row and now leads the Central Division by four points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Prince Albert (41-7-2) now is 20-4-0 at home. The lead the East Division by 17 points over the Saskatoon Blades. This was the Raiders’ first home game since Jan. 12. They were 4-1-1 on a road swing in the interim. . . . F Cole Fonstad gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 12:41 of the first period. . . . Edmonton took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Jalen Luypen (7), at 7:59, and McDonald, at 9:13. . . . Fonstad tied it with his 20th goal, at 16:28, and D Brayden Pachal (13) gave the Raiders a 3-2 lead at 17:49. . . . Edmonton took control with the next four goals, two of them late in the second, and both from Fix-Wolansky, at 18:25, on a PP, and 19:21. He’s got 27 goals. . . . McDonald added his 14th goal at 5:09 of the third and F Vince Loschiavo, who was playing in his 301st regular-season game, got his 22nd goal into an empty net at 16:36. . . . Edmonton got 39 saved from G Todd Scott. . . . The Oil Kings sent Prince Albert starter Ian Scott to the bench after scoring five times on 27 shots in 45:09. . . . D Matthew Robertson was among Edmonton’s scratches.


F Gary Haden scored twice as the Saskatoon Blades skated to a 3-1 victory over the Pats Saskatoonin Regina. . . . Saskatoon (30-13-8) has points in five straight (4-0-1). it is second in the East Division, three points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Regina (13-35-3) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Saskatoon had a 17-3 edge in shots in the first period but only F Max Gerlach (28) was able to beat Regina G Max Paddock. . . . Haden made it 2-0 at 7:35 of the second period. . . . The Pats outshot the visitors 22-14 in the second period and got one goal, that from F Sergei Alkhimov (11), at 15:31. . . . Haden iced it with an empty-netter at 19:59 of the third. He’s got 23 goals. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 34 shots for the Blades, five fewer than Paddock. . . . D Ryker Evans was back in Regina’s lineup after missing 23 games, but the Pats were without G Dean McNabb and F Duncan Pierce. . . . With McNabb, out, Regina had Carter Woodside backing up Paddock. Woodside, who plays with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, was a sixth-round pick by the Kootenay Ice in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. Regina acquired him from Kootenay on Aug. 20, giving up a conditional eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . F Cole Dubinsky of the Pats began serving a four-game suspension for a kneeing major and game misconduct he incurred on Tuesday in Calgary. F Hunter Campbell of the Hitmen, who was on the receiving end, was scratched from last night’s game in Calgary.


F Luka Burzan scored in OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 6-5 victory over the centsCalgary Centennials (aka the Calgary Hitmen) in a game played at the Calgary Corral. . . . Brandon (22-19-7) has points in four straight (3-0-1). It is four points behind Calgary, which holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Calgary (25-19-5) has lost three in a row (0-1-2). . . . Calgary took a 1-0 lead as F Tye Carriere (5) scored at 1:53 of the first period. . . . Brandon F Caiden Daley (4) tied it 15 seconds later. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (31) gave Brandon a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 5:58 of the second period. . . . Calgary followed with goals from F Luke Coleman, on a PP, at 6:37, and F Mark Kastelic, at 15:15. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it when F Connor Gutenberg (12) scored, on a PP, at 17:17. . . . Kastelic (34), who also had an assist, put the Centennials ahead, on a PP, at 1:08 of the third period. . . . Brandon then took the lead on two goals from F Ben McCartney, who has 15, at 2:21 and 14:15. . . . Coleman forced OT when he scored his 17th goal at 18:18. . . . Burzan won it with his 29th goal just 16 seconds into OT. . . . Mattheos added two assists to his goal, including the only helper on the winner. . . . Brandon got three assists from D Zach Wytinck, with McCartney adding one to his brace of goals. . . . Both teams are without their starting goaltenders, Brandon’s Jiri Patera with a leg injury and Calgary’s Carl Stankowski with an ankle problem. . . . The Wheat Kings got 27 saves from Ethan Kruger, with Jack McNaughton stopping 32 shots for Calgary. . . . The Wheat Kings were without D Braydyn Chizen, who is two games into a four-game suspension for a headshot major he took Tuesday in Edmonton.


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There were messages for the players as the Kootenay Ice played its first home game since a move to to Winnipeg was made official on Tuesday . . .
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. . . and there was a message to the many billet families who have taken in players over the 21 seasons in which the Ice has called Cranbrook home . . .
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. . . and, yes, there was a message for the owners of the Ice, too.

F Jaeger White broke a 2-2 tie late in the third period to give the Winnipeg Ice (aka KootenaynewKootenay Ice) a 3-2 victory in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (11-32-8) has lost its previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Broncos (10-36-3) have lost two in a row. . . . The Ice took a 1-0 lead when F Connor McClennon scored at 9:12 of the first period. . . . F Owen Blocker (4) pulled the Broncos even at 15:10, and D Christian Riemer (1) gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 12:10 of the second. . . . Riemer, an 18-year-old freshman from Regina, got his first goal in his 38th game of the season. . . . McLennon (8) tied it at 8:18 of the third period, and White got the winner at 19:08. He’s got 21 goals this season. . . . G Jesse Makaj stopped 24 shots for the Ice, four fewer than the Broncos’ Isaac Poulter. . . . F Tanner Nagel, the team captain, was among the Broncos’ scratches. . . . The was the Ice’s first home game since the WHL announced on Tuesday that the franchise will relocate to Winnipeg when this season ends.


F Jake Leschyshyn, F Nick Henry and D Igor Merezhko each scored twice to lead the LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge (26-15-8) had lost its previous two games. It is second in the Central Division, four points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Rebels. . . . Red Deer (28-17-3) has lost two straight. . . . Leschyshyn and Henry, mid-season acquisitions from the Regina Pats, made it 2-0 with goals at 5:39 and 16:49 of the first period. . . . F Josh Tarzwell (7) scored for Red Deer at 2:03 of the second. . . . Leschyshyn (29) scored again at 5:20, with Henry (20) counting at 9:46. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (9) got Red Deer closer at 14:57. . . . Merezhko, who now has three goals, iced it with third-period goals at 3:12 and 14:40, the latter a shorthanded empty-netter. . . . Henry also had an assist for a three-point outing. . . . Lethbridge was 2-4 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-6. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel went to the dressing favouring a hand after a scrap with Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive at 6:43 of the second period, but he later returned. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 26 shots to earn the victory.


F Kyrell Sopotyk scored twice, the second one into an empty net, to help the host Kamloops1Kamloops Blazers to a 4-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Kamloops (20-25-4) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). The Blazers are tied with the Seattle Thunderbirds for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, one point behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets are to meet in Kelowna tonight. . . . Prince George (16-28-5) has lost eight straight (0-6-2) and now trails Kamloops by seven points. . . . Sopotyk gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 9:35 of the first period, with F Orrin Centazzo (13) upping it to 2-0 at 19:35. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (18) scored for the Cougars, on a PP, at 3:09 of the second period. . . . F Brodi Stuart (14) got that one back for Kamloops at 10:31 of the third period. . . . Sopotyk, who has nine goals, got the empty-netter at 18:34. . . . The Cougars were 1-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-4. . . . Both goaltenders were sharp, with Dylan Ferguson making 26 saves for Kamloops and Taylor Gauthier stopping 40 for the Cougars. . . . The Blazers had D Quinn Schmiemann back after a four-game absence. He was injured on Jan. 20 on a hit by Prince George F Josh Maser, who was given a three-game suspension under supplemental discipline. . . . Kamloops was without D Jeff Faith, who drew a two-game suspension for a kneeing major and game misconduct against the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. . . . F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, played his fourth game of the season with Kamloops. He didn’t pick up any points, but the Cougars took two minor penalties on him.


G Shane Farkas stopped 24 shots and F Reece Newkirk had two goals as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks dumped the visiting Vancouver Giants, 3-0. . . . Portland (31-14-5) is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Vancouver (32-13-3) had points in each of its previous 10 games (9-0-1). It leads the B.C. Division by 15 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Portland is 3-0-0 against Vancouver this season. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld scored the game’s first goal, his WHL-leading 43rd, at 8:48 of the second period. . . . Newkirk made it 2-0 at 4:42 of the third, and added an empty-netter, his 20th goal of the season, at 19:16. . . . Blichfeld also had an assist. He leads the WHL in points, with 90, nine more than F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Blichfeld’s 43 goals are five more than Langan.


F Zack Andrusiak scored a goal and added three assists as the visiting Everett Silvertips Everettbeat his old team, the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-2, in Kent, Wash. . . . Everett (36-12-2) has won three in a row. It leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Seattle (19-23-6) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). The Thunderbirds are tied with the Kamloops Blazers for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Silvertips and Thunderbirds will meet again tonight, this time in Everett. . . . The Silvertips are 5-0-0 in the season series. . . . Everett acquired Andrusiak from Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that included F Sean Richards going the other way. . . . F Andrej Kukuca (13) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 14:51 of the second period. . . . Everett took a 3-1 lead on three PP goals from F Bryce Kindopp — at 16:37 of the second period and 0:26 and 6:42 of the third. . . . Kindopp, who has 28 goals, enjoyed his first career hat trick. . . . F Matthew Wedman (23) got Seattle to within a goal, on a PP, at 8:11. . . . F Dawson Butt (7), at 14:11, and Andrusiak (35), at 15:23, put it away. . . . Everett was 3-5 on the PP; Seattle was 1-5. . . . G Dustin Wolf earned the victory with 29 saves. . . . Seattle remains without F Nolan Volcan, the team captain. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Kai Uchacz in their lineup for the first time. A 15-year-old from De Winton, Alta., Uchacz was the 10th-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He has 15 goals and 15 assists in 26 games with the midget AAA Okotoks Oilers. Uchacz will return to Okotoks after weekend games.


G Reece Klassen stopped 25 shots and F Adam Beckman had two goals as the host SpokaneChiefsSpokane Chiefs beat the Kelowna Rockets, 4-0. . . . Spokane (26-17-5) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Division, 10 points behind the Portland Winterhawks and and four ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (20-25-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, seven points behind the Victoria Royals and one ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who are to visit Kelowna tonight. . . . The Rockets have been blanked five times this season. . . . Klassen, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Jan. 2, posted his first career shutout. It came in his fourth appearance with the Chiefs. . . . F Jake McGrew (21) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:02 of the first period, with Beckman making it 2-0 at 15:55 of the second. . . . D Nolan Reid (9) upped it to 3-0 at 1:54 of the third period. . . . Beckman, a 17-year-old freshman from Saskatoon, rounded out the scoring with his 21st goal at 3:50. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he’s got 39 points in 48 games. . . . Kelowna G James Porter stopped 13 of 15 shots, but left with an apparent injury after giving up the second goal. Roman Basran finished up, stopping 15 of 17 shots in 23:11.


The Victoria Royals grabbed a 3-1 first-period lead and went on to a 5-2 victory over the VictoriaRoyalsvisiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Victoria (25-20-2) is second in the B.C. Division, seven points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Tri-City (25-19-3) holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Victoria went ahead 1-0 at 2:58 of the first period on a goal by F Igor Martynov (8), only to have the Americans tie it at 10:50 when F Krystof Hrabik (11) scored. . . . D Ralph Jarratt gave (5) Victoria a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 15:07, and F Logan Doust (3) made it 3-1 at 17:55. . . . Tri-City got to within a goal at 7:32 of the third period as F Kyle Olson (16) scored on a PP. . . . The Royals locked it up on goals from F D-Jay Jerome (19), at 8:35, and F Tarun Fizer (11), into an empty net, at 15:51. . . . Victoria had D Jake Kustra back in the lineup after he had been out since Jan. 10. . . . These teams meet again tonight in Victoria.


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Scattershooting . . . with questions, thoughts about chill in Cranbrook and Ice in Winnipeg

Scattershooting

Scattershooting in the aftermath of the WHL board of governors’ decision to allow the Kootenay Ice to leave Cranbrook for Winnipeg. . . .

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When the Green Bay Committee surfaced in Cranbrook in November and expressed its intentions of selling tickets and sponsorships in an attempt to keep the WHL franchise in wpgiceits community, why did the Ice ownership choose not to help out, especially if the intention was to stay put? . . . When the committee quickly raised what it says was more than $50,000 and the ownership still wouldn’t get involved, why didn’t the WHL and the Ice owners fess up then?

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Taking Note has been told that the Ice “squeezed” season-ticket holders out of the north end of the arena and closed it off as this season started. Apparently, some folks didn’t want to move and chose not to renew their season-tickets.

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One fan told Taking Note that 10-game Flex Packs weren’t offered this season until the schedule was into November, more than a month later than the previous season. Prices for adult tickets also increased from $180 to $210, with child-student ducats going from $75 to $90.

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The season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — had a goal of 2,500 season tickets, which would have represented more than 12 per cent of Cranbrook’s population. Just wondering, but was that realistic? Or would it even have mattered had the goal been surpassed?

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A statement issued Wednesday by the City of Cranbrook:

“The City of Cranbrook is disappointed to hear that the Kootenay ICE Hockey Club has decided to leave the community, as indicated in the announcement by the team ownership group Tuesday.

“The City is proud of its residents and the business community for getting behind and supporting the Kootenay ICE during the franchise’s 20-year history in Cranbrook. The Kootenay ICE provided many memorable moments for its fans here in Cranbrook. However, Cranbrook will continue to be a strong hockey town and will find other ways to continue to provide hockey excitement in our community.

“There will be various business and financial details that the City will work through during the remainder of the season. The City is looking at opening discussions with the Kootenay ICE management on behalf of taxpayers. “The City will take the opportunity to reflect and look forward in order to plan for the future, taking time to fully explore opportunities that will work best for the community.”

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In January 2009, the Kootenay Ice and the City of Cranbrook signed a new lease that, according to a news release from the team’s website, didn’t include an exit clause. Jeff Chynoweth, then the Ice’s president and general manager, was quoted in the news release: “It has always been our number one goal to remain in Cranbrook and this new lease will ensure that stability for the next 15 years.” . . . Ten years later, the Ice has nine home games remaining before it moves to Winnipeg. . . . Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when the Ice’s owners sit down with representatives of the City of Cranbrook to negotiate an exit.

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The Ice will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, including two in a row under the this ownership. Last season, the Ice finished 27-38-7 and was fourth in the Central Division, six points out of fourth. This season, at 10-32-8, the Ice is fifth in the five-team division, 24 points out of fourth. It also is 24 points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . In other words, this season’s team isn’t anywhere near as proficient as was last season’s club. . . . In fact, this season’s team could set the franchise record for fewest victories. In 2015-16, the Ice won 12 games; in 1996-97, as an expansion team in Edmonton, and in 2016-17, the Ice won 14 games.

Prior to the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline, one WHL team insider told Taking Note: “They’re doing a horrible job there in every respect and losing a ton of respect around the league for tanking so boldly and not announcing Winnipeg.”

There are those who feel that the Ice is trying to improve its odds of landing F Matthew Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1. From St. Albert, Alta., he has 57 points, including 25 goals, in 25 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. Savoie and his family have applied to Hockey Canada requesting exceptional status, something that would allow him to play in the WHL as a 15-year-old. At present, rules limit 15-year-olds to five WHL games while their club teams’ seasons are in progress.

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Before acquiring D Chase Hartje, 19, and G Curtis Meger, 20, earlier this month, the Ice was carrying two 20-year-olds and one 19-year-old. Today, the roster features three 1998s, two 1999s, seven 2000s, nine 2001s and three 2002s. The Ice has had 43 players suit up for at least one game this season.

The Ice has been carrying three goaltenders, including Duncan McGovern, a Winnipegger whose name doesn’t appear on the WHL’s weekly roster report as being injured, but who hasn’t played since Jan. 6.

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A statement issued Wednesday by Tom Shypitka, the Kootenay East MLA (Liberal):

“Like many of you, I have had the pleasure of attending and being an Ice fan for the past 20 years. We can be disappointed or angry as our team packs its bags, or we can say Thank You for 20 years of great hockey.

“I personally look at the Western Hockey League in how they package and protect their brand. The WHL gave the green light for the Ice to relocate and I wonder if they provide enough security to those communities that take on the risk to invest in the infrastructure that goes with a WHL franchise.

“To the players, thank you for all the entertainment you provided and your professionalism that went with it. You were great ambassadors and role models for our Kootenay region. You will be missed.

“I am hoping my calendar permits me to be there to cheer you on when the puck drops for the last time.”

——

Look, I get it. I understand why someone from Winnipeg would want to buy a WHL team and move it from Cranbrook to the Manitoba capital. Greg Fettes is a businessman, a wealthy businessman, who doesn’t get involved in anything with the intention of losing money. He would much rather drop a WHL team into Winnipeg, with a metropolitan population of 778,489 — from the 2016 census — than keep it in Cranbrook (19,259).

But there was Fettes telling Global News Winnipeg in a Sept. 9 email: “The entire Kootenay Ice organization is focused on providing a premier experience for our players, corporate partners, and patrons in Cranbrook.

“We look forward to another amazing season and continuing to build our relationship with the community of Cranbrook and the surrounding area.”

If you are wondering why hockey fans in Cranbrook and area are feeling used and abused these days, just think about that quote.

——

The WHL is never going back to Cranbrook. Never. Period. Just like it will never go back to Chilliwack. If both markets aren’t finished with the WHL, well, the WHL is finished with them. Yes, the bridges have been burned and then blown up.

——

The Winnipeg Ice started off by asking fans for $50 non-refundable deposits just to get on a list for seats in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena. The Ice will spend the next two seasons there and, at the moment, that facility seats about 1,400. That figure should be closer to 2,000 after something like $400,000 is spent on improvements. . . . So for $50 you can get on a list but won’t know what the season tickets might cost.

——

One fan in Cranbrook tells me that he now understands why “most merchandise with the Ice’s new logo on it didn’t have the Kootenay name on it.”

——

One of those domain names — winnipegice.ca — that Fettes and his eight-year-old son had so much fun with in April 2017? It was up and running on Tuesday, the day the WHL announced it had OK’d the move.

You also are able to order Ice merchandise there. The link from winnipegice.ca takes you to the Kootenay Ice’s merchandise shop that is located in Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

——

The Winnipeg Ice will play its first game tonight (Friday) when it entertains the Swift Current Broncos in Cranbrook.

WHL: Kootenay Ice, R.I.P; Long Live the Winnipeg Ice . . . Ice has nine games left in Cranbrook . . . Off to Manitoba capital after this season

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning to provide the last rites to the Kootenay Ice.

The WHL’s Cranbrook-based franchise is dead after 21 seasons. It will be reborn in wpgiceWinnipeg after it plays nine more home games in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place.

In Winnipeg, the franchise will continue to be known as the Ice and will play out of the WHL’s East Division, something that will result in the Swift Current Broncos moving to the Central Division. That allows each division to remain at six teams.

The Winnipeg Ice began taking $50 non-refundable deposits this morning, noting that the team will spend a couple of seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena and that seating will be limited. That deposit will get you on “a priority list for season-seat membership,” according to a news release at winnipegice.ca.

As for ticket prices, the news release stated: “Season-seat pricing will be communicated

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Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, arrives at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning to announce the relocation of the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg.

prior to the seat-selection period. At this time, no decision has been made on whether fans can choose a multi-year season-seat commitment option.”

Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the Ice from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season, joined Robison at the news conference that was held in WFP and lasted about 30 minutes.

They had met with members of the business community earlier in the morning in an event that one observer told Taking Note appeared to be by “invite only to friendly business people.”

That observer said the message was that “we are apologetic that it didn’t work . . . and we had to make a business decision,” and that the situation was looked at from a league point of view “for several years and we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work.”

When the scene shifted to the arena for the news conference, there were a few fans present who had hoped to be allowed in. However, they were told that it was for media only. Someone did stream it on Facebook, so there were people elsewhere in the building who were able to watch.

According to two Taking Note correspondents who were in attendance, Robison began by acknowledging that losing the franchise is difficult for Cranbrook fans. He also thanked the fans for their support over the team’s 21 seasons in their city.

roccawrapup 2
Taylor Rocca (left), the WHL’s senior manager, communications, wraps up the news conference at which the Kootenay Ice’s move to Winnipeg was made official. Seated, from left, are WHL commissioner Ron Robison, and Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell.

Robison pointed out that the previous owners — the Chynoweth family — attempted to increase fan support but that it has continued to slide over the past number of years.

In Robison’s estimation, the Chynoweths, as well as Fettes and Cockell, did everything they could to get things turned around.

Robison tried to take some of the heat off the franchise’s owners by claiming that “this was a Western Hockey League decision ultimately — not the ownership decision — to transfer this franchise. It was a decision made over an eight- or nine-year period of assessment of this market and the ability of this franchise to be sustainable over a long period of time.”

It turns out that the WHL’s board of governors voted on the move in December; Robinson refused to say whether the vote was unanimous.

Asked what this announcement means for other small-market WHL teams, Robison responded that those teams, some of which are community-owned, have to work hard to maintain a balance. He added that moving the Ice isn’t a reflection on the Cranbrook community.

flemingarena
The Winnipeg Ice will spend two seasons playing in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, which, at the moment, has a capacity of 1,400. (U of Manitoba photo)

Asked what went wrong in Cranbrook, Robison referred to the WHL playoffs in the spring of 2011, pointing to poor attendance at Ice games, and adding that the attendance has been declining since then.

The Ice won the WHL championship that season, but the announced average attendance for nine home playoff games was only 3,049. Kootenay beat the Portland Winterhawks in the final, winning in five games, but the arena wasn’t sold out. Of course, it didn’t help attendance that a lot of WHL games, including all games in the final, were televised.

Robison also admitted that attendance league-wide has been declining, saying that it has changed overall for most teams, and stating again that the Ice’s owners, past and present, did all they could to boost attendance.

When Fettes was asked how long he has been looking at the Winnipeg market, he said he had been wanting to buy into the WHL long before purchasing the Ice. He added that the Ice’s owners have been studying the attendance situation and began working on moving plans last summer.

As for the chances of another team moving to Cranbrook, Robison told the news conference that there aren’t any teams interested in moving at this time.

The Ice is the first WHL team to change locations since the Chilliwack Bruins were sold and moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season.

Prior to the start of this season, the Ice launched a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — with a goal of selling 2,500 season tickets, which would have marked an increase of about 600 from the previous season. Instead of an increase, however, the drive resulted in about 1,700 season tickets.

In 2017-18, the first season under new ownership, the team had an announced average attendance of 2,442, up from 1,754 the previous season.

This season, attendance has slipped to an average of 2,218.

In November, a group comprised mainly of local businessmen — the Green Bay Committee — began work to sell tickets and sponsorships on behalf of the Ice. After raising what members said was more than $50,000, the committee ceased operations due to an “absence of active engagement” from the Ice owners, who chose not to attend GBC meetings or provide anything in the way of support.

At the time, John Hudak, the GBC’s marketing director, told the Cranbrook Townsman that “it’s extremely disappointing that we have had to terminate our campaign at this particular time, but it is what it is.”

On Tuesday, Hudak told Taking Note: “I have never ever heard of successful business people turning down business.”

Asked if 2,500 season tickets would have kept the franchise in Cranbrook, Cockell admitted the community had reacted well in Year 1, but ticket sales didn’t show well prior to this season and reflected a reduction in management’s benchmark goal.

But, Cockell added, management had to acknowledge that people in the community have worked hard in support of the team.

Robison, Fettes and Cockell also spent time with Mayor Lee Pratt and some city councillors, but the franchise’s exit from its lease has yet to be negotiated.

It’s believed that the Ice players were given the spiel earlier in the morning. They then were taken to Kimberley for a team outing, so there weren’t any players around the arena to speak with the media following the news conference.

Robison, Fettes and Cockell departed via a side door, so didn’t have any interaction with fans who were waiting in the arena’s foyer.

“Leaving town and throwing the fans under the bus” is how Hudak put it.

With 18 games left, the Ice is 10-32-8. It is ninth in the 10-team Eastern Conference and won’t make the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the second in a row under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell.

Last season, the Ice went 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points. This season, it is 22 points from a wild-card spot.

The franchise began as the Edmonton Ice, an expansion franchise that was owned by longtime WHL president Ed Chynoweth. Unable to gain any traction in two seasons (1996-98) in that marketplace, he moved the franchise to Cranbrook where it now is in its 21st season.

The Ice has won three WHL championships (2000, 2002 and 2011) and the 2002 Memorial Cup.

The Ice will play its final game in Cranbrook on March 17 against the Red Deer Rebels.

The Winnipeg Ice’s next game is scheduled for Friday against the Swift Current Broncos in Cranbrook.

JUST NOTES: Taylor Rocca, the WHL’s senior manager, communications, was on hand to do the introductions at the news conference in Cranbrook. Before going to work for the WHL, he was a sports writer at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman and, yes, he covered the Ice. . . . Fettes confirmed at the afternoon news conference in Winnipeg that he has reached agreement to purchase the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. The Blues are the only Winnipeg-based franchise left in the MJHL, which once also included the West Kildonan North Stars, St. Boniface Saints and St. James Canadians. . . . If you have been following this story, you will recall that Fettes purchased two domain names — WinnipegIce.com and WinnipegIce.ca — in April 2017. Asked about that, Fettes said that through his business (24-7 Intouch, a global call centre), he has hundreds of domain names. On this occasion, he claimed he and his eight-year-old son were playing around and just made up some more. . . . The website winnipegice.ca was up and running on Tuesday. . . . Robison has long wanted to have a WHL franchise in the capital city of each of the four Western Canadian provinces. Under his watch, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers were awarded an expansion franchise that began play in 2007-08 in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital; the Chilliwack franchise relocated to Victoria, the capital of B.C.; and now Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, has a franchise. Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital, has long been home to the Pats.

Ice situation should be addressed today; news conference scheduled for Cranbrook . . . Brandon adds goalie, forward


MacBeth

F Dominic Zwerger (Spokane, Everett, 2013-17) signed a contract extension with Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland, NL A) through the 2021-22 season. The contract extension has an NHL exit clause after the 2020-21 season. This season, an alternate captain, he has 16 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.


ThisThat

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, and the owners of the Kootenay Ice are to address the media in Cranbrook this morning at 10:30.

The news conference, which will include Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, is to be held at the team’s office in Western Financial Place.

At the same time, the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice’s owners “have Kootenaynewscheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce they are moving their franchise to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season . . .”

The Free Press didn’t indicate a time or a site for that news conference, but Tuesday is expected to be the coldest day of this winter in Winnipeg, with a high of -29 C.

The news conferences are being held on Day 41 of the Kootenay Kountdown — it has been 41 days since Robison appeared with Dean Millard on Edmonton radio station TSN 1260 and said there would be an announcement regarding the Ice “very soon.”

The Ice, at 10-32-8, has the WHL’s second-poorest record and won’t be in the playoffs for a second straight season under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, who purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season. This will be the fifth straight season out of the playoffs for the Ice.

Last season, the Ice finished 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points.

The Ice began life in 1996 as the Edmonton Ice, but left the Alberta capital for Cranbrook after two seasons. In its 21 seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice won three WHL championships (2011, 2002, 2000) and one Memorial Cup, that in 2002.

The Ice will be first franchise to have won a Memorial Cup to relocate since the QMJHL’s Granby Predateurs. They won the 1996 Memorial Cup and moved to Sydney, N.S., in 1997 where they now are the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The last WHL relocation occurred following the 2010-11 season when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria where they now operate as the Royals.

This season, the Ice has the lowest announced average attendance in the 22-team WHL, at 2,218. The Ice has nine home games remaining, starting Friday against the Swift Current Broncos, the only team in the WHL with a poorer record.

Last season, the average for 36 home games was 2,442, up from 1,754 in 2016-17, the final season under the ownership of the Chynoweth family.

The Ice has been playing in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, which opened in 2001. In its first two seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice played in that city’s Memorial Arena.

In its first season in the new arena, the Ice’s announced average attendance was 3,635, which remains the single-season high.

That was one of seven seasons in which that figure was north of 3,000, somewhere it hasn’t been since 2008-09 (3,071).

The relocated Ice is expected to spend a couple of seasons playing in the 1,400-seat Wayne Fleming Arena at the U of Manitoba while it waits for its permanent home to be built. It is expected that some work will be done to freshen up that facility and that some seats will be added.

If you click right here and scroll down to the last two photos, you will see a couple of pictures from the interior of the Wayne Fleming Arena as it now stands.

The expected relocation announcement comes just days before WHL governors and general managers travel to Las Vegas, as they do every year on Super Bowl weekend, for meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s too bad that they couldn’t have moved those meetings to Cranbrook this time . . . you know, just to thank the businesses and fans of the area for 21 seasons of support.


With G Jiri Patera (leg) on the shelf, the Brandon Wheat Kings have added G Connor BrandonWKregularUngar, who turned 17 on Jan. 12, to their roster. He had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . Ungar will back up freshman Ethan Kruger, who is 5-6-2, 3.45, .893. . . . Ungar, who began the season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, made two earlier appearances with the Wheat Kings, going 0-1-0, 3.09, .892 in 78 minutes. . . . The Wheat Kings open a four-game trip into the Central Division tonight in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. . . .

The Wheat Kings also have added F Jake Chiasson, 15, to their roster. He has been playing at the Yale Hockey Academy in his hometown of Abbotsford, B.C. Chiasson was the 15th overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, with Yale’s prep team, he has 22 goals and 36 assists in 29 games.


The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack fired head coach Todd Gill on Monday. Dale DeGray, the Attack’s general manager, announced that assistant coach Alan Letang has taken over as interim head coach, with Jordan Hill now the lone assistant coach. . . . The Attack was 61-42-12 under Gill, who was in his second season as head coach. . . . This season, the Attack is 23-20-4, and in fifth place in the 10-team Western Conference.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired head coach Geoff Grimwood on Monday and WestKelownanamed Brandon West as their general manager and head coach. . . . You may recall that this is the second time this season that Warriors owner Kim Dobranski has fired Grimwood. . . . Grimwood was named interim head coach iafter Rylan Ferster, the veteran GM and head coach, suddenly resigned on Aug. 21. . . . Three weeks later, Dobranski fired Grimwood, but reinstated him after the players rebelled, leaving the ice during one practice and going for a hike, rather than practise, the next day. . . . Grimwood had been hired on July 3 as associate coach and assistant GM. . . . West, who is from Kelowna, is a veteran BCHL coach. He was in his third season as head coach of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks when he was fired on Nov. 9, 2016. He spent last season as the head coach of the Surrey Eagles, but that ended in August through one of those mutual parting of the ways. This season, he had been with the Penticton Vees, as an assistant coach, since Oct. 15. . . . The Warriors are 25-21-1 and in fourth place in the Interior Division. They have clinched a playoff spot.


The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have fired assistant coach Gavin Brandl and replaced him with Devin Windle, a former general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Windle was in his third season as the Millionaires’ GM and head coach when he was fired on Nov. 29. He spent two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant coach in Nipawin, working with Doug Johnson, the Hawks’ general manager and head coach. . . . Brandl was in his first season with Nipawin.


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Hughes leaves Hurricanes, cites ‘personal reasons’; Tetachuk starter in Lethbridge . . . Philly writers honour Propp


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes, in a heated race for the Central Division pennant, lost their Lethbridgestarting goaltender on Monday when Liam Hughes left the WHL team.

In a statement released by the team, Hughes, a 19-year-old from Kelowna, said:

“”At this time I have decided to leave hockey for personal reasons. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but for me, personally, it is the right time to step away from a game that I love.

“I want to thank all of my family, friends and fans for your support, as I pursued my hockey dreams. I leave with fond memories from the game and I am excited to start the next chapter in my life.”

In the same news release, the Hurricanes said they “respect the decision made by Liam and his family.”

The statement continued: “The entire organization wishes Liam the best moving forward. There will be no further comment from the hockey club.”

This leaves the Hurricanes with Lethbridge native Carl Tetachuk, who turned 18 on Jan. 8, as their starting goaltender. A list player, he moved up through the Lethbridge minor hockey ranks, playing bantam AA and AAA, and midget AA and AAA there.

This season, his first in the WHL, he is 10-5-0, 3.05, .903.

The Hurricanes have added G Bryan Thomson, a 16-year-old from Moose Jaw, to their roster for the remainder of this season. A second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft, Thomson had been playing with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. With the Hounds, Thomson was 6-9-0, 2.94, .890.

Hughes was selected by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.

On Sept. 18, 2017, the Oil Kings dealt Hughes to the Seattle Thunderbirds for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

The Hurricanes acquired Hughes and an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft from Seattle on Jan. 1 in exchange for veteran F Keltie Jeri-Leon, F Michael Horon and a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. Horon, 17, is from Lethbridge. He has since played one game with the Thunderbirds.

This season, Hughes was 2-3-1, 3.44, .892 in six appearances with the Hurricanes. He had started six of their last eight game. In 29 games with Seattle, he had been 10-16-3, 3.67, .899.

In 78 career regular-season games, Hughes is 29-35-12, 3.38, .903.

Prior to acquiring Hughes, the Hurricanes had been going with Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old sophomore from Cloverdale, B.C., and Tetachuk as their goaltenders. The day after the trade for Hughes, the Hurricanes dealt Klassen to the Spokane Chiefs for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

The Hurricanes (24-13-8) and Medicine Hat Tigers (26-16-4) are tied for third in the Central Division, two points behind the first-place Oil Kings (25-14-8) and one behind the Red Deer Rebels (27-14-3).

The Hurricanes are next to play on Friday when they meet the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash.


There’s more right here on former Brandon Wheat Kings’ star Brian Propp, this award and all that he has been through of late.


D Egor Zamula of the Calgary Hitmen has been suspended for one game after being hit with a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-1 loss to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Sunday. . . . Zamula was tossed for a hit on Red Deer F Oleg Zaytsev at 3:47 of the third period. . . . Zamula won’t play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars.


The Calgary Hitmen have returned G Brayden Peters and F Sean Tschigerl to their midget AAA teams. . . . Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and was the fourth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was pointless in one game with the Hitmen, and now is back with the prep team at OHA Edmonton. . . . Peters, a 17-year-old from Taber, Alta., was brought in to back up starter Jack McNaughton with Carl Stankowski (ankle) out of action. Peters didn’t see any playing time, and now is back with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen selected Peters in the fifth round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Carson Lambos to the Rink Hockey Academy prep team in Winnipeg. . . . Lambos, 15, was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Lambos, who is from Winnipeg, now has played five games with the Ice. He scored his first WHL goal on Saturday night in a 7-5 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon. Interestingly, he scored the goal while his brother, Jonny, a freshman defenceman with Brandon, was in the penalty box.


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