NHL Central Scouting likes WHLers. . . . Former Pats sniper dead at 42. . . . BCHL coach of the year makes move


MacBeth

F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had 15 goals and 25 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). This season, with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and two assists in seven gams. He missed most of the season after suffering a concussion. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) announced his retirement via his Twitter account. This season, with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite), he had 23 goals and 23 assists in 58 games. . . .

F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dresden (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 21 goals and 50 assists in 41 games. He led his team in assists and points. He was second in the league in assists and fourth in points.


ThisThat

NHL Central Scouting issued its final rankings prior to the 2019 draft and three of the top whlfive-rated North American skaters are out of the WHL. . . . D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants moved from No. 4 in the midseason rankings to No. 2. F Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades is at No. 3, and F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is ranked fifth. . . . F Jack Hughes of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program U-18 team is the top-ranked North American skater. . . . Central Scouting has seven NTDP skaters rated as potential first-round picks. . . . F Kaapo Kakko of TPS in Finland is atop the list of international skaters. . . . All told there are 50 WHLers in the final rankings. . . . The draft is scheduled for Rogers Arena in Vancouver, June 21 and 22. . . . There is more on the rankings right here.


F Riley Sutter of the Everett Silvertips has joined the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of Everettthe NHL’s Washington Capitals. Sutter, who will turn 20 on Oct. 25, was a third-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . This season, Sutter had 14 goals and 27 assists in 38 games. He missed 37 consecutive games with an undisclosed injury, before returning for Game 3 of a second-round series against the Spokane Chiefs. The Chiefs won that series in five games. . . . In 204 career regular-season WHL games, Sutter had 137 points, including 60 goals. . . . Hershey is scheduled to open the AHL playoffs on Friday. . . . If you’re wondering, Riley is a member of the famed hockey family. His father, Ron, is one of the Sutter twins and played 19 seasons in the NHL.


Three skaters from the WHL are on the roster for the Czech team that will play in the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is to begin on Thursday. . . . F Martin Lang of the Kamloops Blazers, F Matej Toman of the Prince George Cougars and D Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds are on the final roster that was revealed on Monday. . . . The tournament is to run through April 28 in the Swedish cities of Ornskoldsvik and Umea. . . .

Team Canada won its second pre-tournament game on Monday, beating Russia, 5-4, in Umea. Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), who had three assists in a 6-5 OT victory over Belarus on Sunday, scored twice, one on a penalty shot. F Peyton Krebs (WInnipeg Ice) had two assists. G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 32 shots. . . . Team Canada is to open tournament play on Thursday against Finland.



Joe Martin, the BCHL’s coach of the year for this season, has left the Merritt Centennials AlberniValleyto sign on as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ general manager and head coach. Martin, 38, spent four seasons as the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. This season, the Centennials were 36-15-4-3 and finished second in the Interior Division. They lost a first-round series, 4-1, to the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Martin had been with Merritt since signing on as an assistant coach prior to the 2011-12 season. . . . In Alberta Valley, Martin replaces Matt Hughes, who, according to the Bulldogs, “resigned his position from the club by mutual agreement” late in March. . . . Taking Note actually was told by a reliable source on April 4 that “Joe Martin is going to Alberni Valley.” On Friday, that same source told Taking Note: “It’s happening. Joe Martin to Alberni Valley.” . . . That same day, when Bulldogs business manager David Michaud was asked about Martin, his response was: “Joe Martin is under contract with the Merritt Centennials. If you want to write gossip about a man who just gave birth to a newborn have at it. Get better sources or call me.” . . . If Martin was under contract to Merritt on Friday and my source was feeding me gossip, it would seem that the deal between him and the Bulldogs got done in a hurry.


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Broncos sign 2016 first-rounder … Honour for Ice’s new logo … Ex-WHL coach out in Nanaimo shakeup

MacBeth

F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year extension with the Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). In 32 games, he has 16 goals and 13 assists, and he leads the team in goals and points. He is tied for third in the league in goals. . . .

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has been released by Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL) by mutual agreement due to a shoulder injury suffered on Dec. 16. He had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games. He is expected to return to Prague for treatment. . . .

F Peter Quenneville (Brandon, 2013-15) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He played for Aalborg last season, putting up 30 goals and 19 assists in 45 games. He led the league in goals and was fourth in the points race. . . . This season, with Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and an assist in 12 games, and he had three goals and an assist in nine games with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract with SaiPa on Dec. 12.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . . SOME OF THAT . . .

The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Jacson Alexander, 16, who was one of their two first-round selections in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Alexander, from Victoria, was taken with the 16th overall pick.

Alexander, who will turn 17 on Feb. 1, was in his first season with the BCHL’s Victoria SCBroncosGrizzlies — he put up three goals and seven assists in 29 games — but will join the Broncos after Christmas.

He committed to the U of Denver on Dec. 7, 2016, for the 2019-20 season, while playing for the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School prep team in the CSSHL.

This season, the 5-foot-10 Alexander also played for Hockey Canada’s Team Black at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge last month in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. He had one assist in five games.

Alexander could make his WHL debut on Dec. 27 when the Broncos return to play against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.

Alexander’s arrival will give the Broncos seven defencemen and may take some of the pressure off Manny Viveiros, the director of player personnel and head coach, with the trade deadline approaching on Jan. 10. Observers were watching closely to see if Viveiros would go to the marketplace to land a seventh defenceman, something that may not be necessary now.

BTW, in that 2016 bantam draft, the Broncos used the fourth overall selection to take F Logan Barlage, who was playing for the bantam AA Humboldt, Sask., Broncos. This season, the 6-foot-4 Barlage, a freshman, has a goal and six assists in 30 games with the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have the WHL rights to the only unsigned first-round selection from the 2017 bantam draft. They took D Joel Sexsmith of Edmonton with the ninth overall pick. He now is playing at the Edge School in Calgary.

Meanwhile, F Massimo Rizzo now is the lone first-round selection from the 2016 bantam draft not to have committed to the WHL.

The Kamloops Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall pick, but he chose to sign with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.

From Burnaby, B.C., Rizzo has six goals and 11 assists in 28 games with the Vees this season. He had a goal and three assists in five games as a teammate of Alexander’s on Team Black at the U-17 WHC.

Rizzo has yet to make an NCAA commitment, nor has he told the Blazers that he definitely won’t sign with them at some point.


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When it comes to sports logos, Chris Creamer is the man. You are able to find him at sportslogos.net, or on Twitter at @sportslogosnet.

On Friday, he announced the 2017 Creamer Award winners for best new sports logos.

KootenaynewThe 14-person judging panel considered logos that “made their in-game debut in 2017.”

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice placed third in the Primary Logo of the Year Award, behind baseball’s Memphis Redbirds and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

Of the Ice’s new logo, which is pictured on the left, Creamer wrote: “Love the hidden ICE in this logo, designed by Bill Frederick’s team at Fanbrandz, who gave this junior hockey team the identity update it so desperately needed. Well done!”

The top 50 in that category and whole lot more, including a mention of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 50th anniversary logo, can be found right here.


Less than a week after staging a father/son trip with his BCHL team, Mike Vandekamp is out of work.

Wes Mussio, a Vancouver-based lawyer who is the majority owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, revealed on Thursday, at 11:43 p.m., via Twitter that he had fired Vandekamp, the team’s general manager and head coach, “due to irreconcilable differences with the management team.”

Vandekamp’s contract would have expired at season’s end.

Late Friday night, the Clippers’ website continued to list Dustin Donaghy as the team’s

Clippers
On Nov. 10, Penny and Wes Mussio (second and third from left) were introduced as the new majority owners of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Darren Naylor (left) was named director of hockey operations, while team president David LeNeveu (fourth from left) retained five per cent. Mike Vandekamp (far right), then the general manager and head coach, was fired Thursday night and replaced by Naylor. (Photo: Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

head coach. However, a BCHL insider told Taking Note that Donaghy had been “fired by the Clippers.” Donaghy, from Cranbrook, played three seasons in the WHL (Spokane, Lethbridge, 2007-10).

Darren Naylor, who was part of that management team as the director of hockey operations, is the new GM and head coach.

Mussio and his wife, Penny, purchased 95 per cent of the Clippers last month and installed Naylor as director of hockey ops. Naylor also has been working as GM/head coach of the junior B Delta Ice Hawks, who are 26-2-1 in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Mussio had been the majority owner of the Ice Hawks but is believed to have sold his shares when he purchased the Clippers.

On Friday, Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin that he and Naylor were tired of butting heads with Vandekamp. (Sakaki’s complete story is right here.)

“The previous owner gave Mike a carte-blanche ability to do anything he wants and I wanted some input and I wanted Darren Naylor to have some input and sadly that didn’t seem like something Mr. Vandekamp was prepared to accept,” Mussio told Sakaki.

Mussio added: “We brought in a few key players and they were hit with resistance and we also tried to bring on some (affiliate players) and that was hit with resistance. So in order to move forward to the next (season), we need to have a look at players and recruit. Without any support from the coach, it’s pretty hard to do.”

Mussio also told Sakaki that Vandekamp had been given until Dec. 22 to commit to the new situation.

“He didn’t think it was in his personality . . . to do so, so that the end of it,” Mussio said.

Vandekamp, who has yet to comment, is a veteran junior coach who was in his seventh season with the Clippers. This season, the Clippers are 18-13-3-2 (that’s two ties), leaving them one point behind the Powell River Kings (18-10-3-3), who lead the BCHL’s Island Division.

The Clippers’ next game is Dec. 29 when they are scheduled to visit Powell River.

Vandekamp’s resume includes a season and a half as head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. In the BCHL, he also has worked with the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers. He joined the Clippers after four seasons with the AJHL’s Grand Prairie Storm.

As for the father/son trip . . . the Clippers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters, 7-2, on Friday, then got past the Penticton Vees, 4-2, on Saturday. Nanaimo ended the trip by dropping a 4-2 decision to the Merritt Centennials on Sunday afternoon.

Dominic Abassi is the news director for Island Radio and @NanaimoNewsNOW.


It was rather interesting on Friday when F Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has missed his NHL team’s past six games, discussed with reporters why he has been out of the lineup.

Matthews practised for the first time in almost two weeks and later talked about having symptoms of a concussion after colliding with Toronto D Morgan Reilly during a game against the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 9.

While Matthews didn’t go into great detail on the symptoms, he did say that he “went MapleLeafsthrough all that return to play, and all the protocols and everything and obviously, you know, they take it pretty seriously and they deemed me out so I went through all that stuff and I feel great now.”

Toronto next is scheduled to play today (Saturday) in New York against the Rangers, but it’s not yet known if Matthews will play.

Matthews’ conversation with reporters on Friday just may be another sign that NHL teams are loosening up when it comes to detailing injuries.

A couple of weeks ago, head coach Ken Hitchcock of the Dallas Stars explained why he no longer plays the “upper-body or lower-body” game.

“I think we collectively hate playing that game,” said Hitchcock, who posted his 800th victory as an NHL head coach on Thursday. “What I mean by that is we say upper-body, then you go on the phone, and then you look up things or you go to the doctors, find out what part of the upper body . . . We try to make your work easier, quite frankly, and so we just don’t like going through the dance.

“It’s easy to tell you what it is and let’s move forward. It’s just the whole game. It’s an injury and within two hours after we tell you it’s upper-body you know exactly what it is, so why not just tell you? And the players don’t go out and say: ‘He has a broken left pinkie and we’re going to go after that pinkie.’ Nobody thinks like that.

“Our feeling is just tell them what the injury is and move it forward and let’s stop the dance.”

But, then again, it could be that the Toronto braintrust wasn’t at all pleased with the way Matthews handled things on Friday. David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail takes a look at the situation right here.


Scoreboard

Dec. 18-Dec. 26:

No Games Scheduled.


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