Things are sparking in Riderville . . . Rebels (8-0-0) set franchise record . . . Bjarnason, Wheat Kings enjoy Kelowna stop

MondayMorning
This was the scene from our deck in Campbell Creek at 8 o’clock on Monday morning, looking east down the South Thompson River valley. The picture, taken with my cheap phone, really doesn’t show how pink the sun was as it fought through some smoke and, yes, that’s a fog bank over the river.

There is stuff going on in and around the Saskatchewan Roughriders and it isn’t going to end well for someone. The Roughriders are 6-10 — 2-9 in their last 11 Ridersoutings — as they come out of a bye week and prepare to meet the visiting Calgary Stampeders on Saturday. . . . The fun began on Tuesday when Cody Fajardo, the starting quarterback, didn’t take an active role in practice. Head coach Craig Dickenson, whose job would seem to be on the line, said that Fajardo was taking a “vet” day and that he would start on Saturday. Headline at leaderpost-com — Cody Fajardo given ‘vet day’; will start Saturday against Calgary. . . . On Wednesday, however, Dickenson said that backup Mason Fine will start. On top of which, Fajardo told the newshounds that he had been told five days previous that he wouldn’t be starting. . . . “Cody Fajardo has absorbed more than his fair share of hits during the 2022 CFL season,” writes Murray McCormick of The Leader-Post, “but even he was blindsided by his demotion from starting quarterback to second string with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.” . . . As for Fajardo, he told those same newshound: “I hope there’s somebody out there that might still want me. I don’t think this is the end of the Cody Fajardo book. But it might be the end of this chapter.” . . . With two games remaining — they finish up next weekend in Calgary — the Roughriders haven’t yet been eliminated from the playoff picture, but time is of the essence. . . . “We need a spark,” Dickenson said in giving his reason for the QB switch. . . . Well, take a trip around social media and check out the Saskatchewan fans. I think Dickenson’s spark has started a fire. Yes, they do take their football seriously on the flatlands.



Beer


G Talyn Boyko, 20, was back on the ice with the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for him, things didn’t go particularly well as they were Kelownabeaten, 3-0, by the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Rockets find themselves with three goaltenders on their roster after the NHL’s New York Rangers returned Boyko on Monday. Boyko, selected in the fourth round of the NHL draft, has signed with the Rangers, who had assigned him to the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. . . . The Rockets acquired the 6-foot-8 Boyko from the Tri-City Americans early last season. With Kelowna, he was 28-12-4, 2.79, .913 in 46 games. In 102 career WHL regular-season games, he is 43-43-8, 3.56, .899. . . . The other two goaltenders on the Rockets’ roster are both 18-year-old freshmen — Nicholas Cristiano of Langley, B.C., and Jari Kykkanen of Lloydminster, Alta. Kykkanen, a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2019 draft, is 3-3-1, 3.71, .883 in seven appearances; Cristiano, who has been in three games, is 0-1-0, 2.61, .879. . . . The Rockets now are carrying two 20-year-olds — Boyko and F Adam Kydd. . . .

The Rockets also announced that they have placed F Colton Dach, their captain, in concussion protocol, although I can’t find anything on the WHL website that indicates exactly what that means. Dach, who has experienced two concussions in about a month, is shown on the WHL roster report as being out week-to-week. The first of those two concussions came while he was in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Red Deer Rebels ran their record to 8-0-0 on Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels set a franchise record with the victory. The 2000-01 team, which won the Memorial Cup in Regina, opened 7-0-0 before dropping a 9-2 decision to the Warriors in Moose Jaw. Red Deer will try to run its record to nine in a row when it meets the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday. . . . F Ben King, 20, had two goals and an assist in last night’s victory; he’s got four goals and four assists in three games since returning from the camp of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. . . .

The WHL has two other unbeaten teams, with the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds both at 7-0-0. The Winterhawks are scheduled to visit the Tri-City Americans on Saturday. That same night, the Thunderbirds are to entertain the Spokane Chiefs. . . .

D Andrei Malyavin scored his first WHL goal for the Brandon Wheat Kings as they dumped the host Kelowna Rockets, 3-0, on Wednesday night. He also has five assists in 10 games. . . . Last season, Malyavin, an 18-year-old Russian, scored twice and added 11 assists in 44 games with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . The Wheat Kings got 29 saves from G Carson Bjarnason, who record his first WHL shutout. A 6-foot-4 sophomore who is eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft, he is 5-2-1, 2.12, .942 this season. . . . Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun reports that the Wheat Kings last won a game in Kelowna on Oct. 26, 2010. He adds: “Brandon blanks the Rockets for the first time since the franchise moved from Tacoma in 1995.” . . .

F Kyle Bochek of the Vancouver Giants ended up with a four-game suspension for the hit that resulted in F Ben Thornton of the Brandon Wheat Kings ending up in Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., on Friday night. Thornton, who suffered a concussion and a hip injury, is listed on the WHL roster report as being out week-to-week. He was released from hospital on Monday and is at home with family in Chilliwack. . . . F Brett Hyland of the Wheat Kings was given a three-game suspension for a high hit on Vancouver D Mazden Leslie in that same game. Leslie wasn’t injured on the play and, in fact, scored once and added an assist as the Giants dropped a 4-3 decision to the Winnipeg Ice in Langley, B.C., on Wednesday night. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers released F Alex Drover, 20, on Wednesday after acquiring D Kurtis Smythe, 20, from the Portland Winterhawks for an eight-round pick in the WHL’s 2023 draft. Drover had two goals and two assists in six games with the Tigers after being released by the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. . . . Smythe played 121 games over four seasons with the Winterhawks, putting up two goals and 29 assists. . . . Smythe joins F Dallon Melin and F Brendan Lee as the Tigers’ 20-year-olds. . . . The Winterhawks have only two 20-year-olds on their roster — G Dante Giannuzzi and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme — so it could be that another move is imminent. . . . FYI: These aren’t overage players — if they were overage, they wouldn’t be eligible; they are 20-year-old players and each team is allowed to have a maximum of three on its roster.


Gnome


Headline at fark.com — “What are you in for? Bank robbery. You? Murder. You? Cheating at fishing.”

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Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion) — Study Links Binge Eating to Stress, Contentment, Depression, Joy, Boredom, Anger, Relaxation.


YOU THOUGHT IT WAS OVER — From Reuters: China’s capital, Beijing, has dialled up measures to stop COVID, strengthening public checks and locking down some residential compounds after a quadrupling of its case load in recent weeks, just as a key Communist Party congress entered full swing. The city of 21 million people on Thursday reported 18 new locally transmitted cases for the previous day, bringing the tally for the past 10 days to 197. That is four times more than the 49 infections detected in the previous 10-day period.


Clowns


THE COACHING GAME:

Rick Bowness, in his first season as the head coach of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, remains MIA after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. He wasn’t with the club on Wednesday for a 4-3 OT victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, and he’ll be missing again tonight when the Jets meet the host Vegas Golden Knights. The team is hopeful that Bowness will back on the bench for the home-opener on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

Former NHL D Ladislav Smid has been hired by the Edmonton Oil Kings as a development coach. Smid, 36, has retired after 17 seasons as a pro, the last five in his home country of Czechia. He also played 474 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, whose parent company owns the Oil Kings. . . . Smid was a guest coach during the Oil Kings’ training camp prior to the start of this season.



THINKING OUT LOUD — OK, Sportsnet, we get it . . . you’ve put together a new set for Sportsnet Central, featuring Evanka Osmak and Ken Reid. We’ve seen the spot a few times by now, and I have a question: Why does Reid refer to her by her last name, while she calls him by his first name? . . . Sorry, fans of the New York Yankees, but your guys are done. Seventeen strikeouts! Yikes!! And Josh Donaldson looks completely lost, like a thirsty man wandering in the Gobi Desert. . . . BTW, the Houston Astros struck out twice in that game. Yes, twice! . . . The Vancouver Canucks have lost their first four games. They are the first team in NHL history to hold a multi-goal lead in each of its first four games and lose them all. They will go against the host Minnesota Wild tonight, and here’s hoping Vancouver wins so that Canucks Nation finally can get some sleep. Hey, it’s been ugly. Four games in and the fans want everyone replaced, from the owner to the head coach to F J.T. Miller, who signed to a seven-year extension a couple of months ago.


Universe


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

http://www.transplant.bc.ca/health-info/organ-donation/living-donation


Bears

COVID-19 forces OHL to shut down Wolves . . . Issues in NHL, AHL and MHL, too . . . Blazers, Rockets get good news . . . BCHL revamps schedule

Oh boy, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head all over the hockey world . . .

In the OHL, the Sudbury Wolves suspended all team activities after 12 players OHLtested positive. According to the OHL, “All players affected are currently asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms. . . .” All of the players are fully vaccinated as per OHL regulations. As the league pointed out in a news release: “The Ontario Hockey League had previously incorporated specific COVID-19 protocols including mandatory vaccination for all members of the OHL Community including players, staff, officials and billets.” . . . The Wolves have had their next three games postponed — they were to have visited the Soo Greyhounds tonight, played host to the Barrie Colts on Friday and then played in Barrie on Saturday. . . .

——

With COVID-19 numbers seemingly on the rise, the NHL sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that puts new restrictions in place “due to the recent increase nhl2in the number of COVID-19 infections, the number of clubs under enhanced measures, and the temporary shutdown of two NHL clubs.” . . . Through this memo, the NHL instructed clubs to cancel all team-organized Christmas parties, speaking events, autograph sessions and any charity events that would have been open to the public. . . . The memo reads: “Players and staff are reminded to limit the amount of exposure they have to large groups over the holidays, including large family gatherings, in order to reduce the risk of introducing infection into their team.” . . .

If you have watched any NHL games on TV over the past couple of nights you will have noticed what appears to be an enhanced effort by coaches to properly wear their masks. Have to think the NHL has talked with its coaches about that, too. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers cancelled their Tuesday practice after placing D Cody Ceci in COVID-19 protocol. . . . The New York Islanders are in the midst of an outbreak and have had three games postponed. . . . The Ottawa Senators are trying to get back on track after at one point having 10 players and an assistant coach in protocol. They also had games postponed. . . . The Carolina Hurricanes have three players in protocol — D Ethan Bear, D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pence — while F Tyler Bozak of the St. Louis Blues also is in protocol. . . .

The Boston Bruins were without head coach Bruce Cassidy when they dropped a Covid2-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night game because he went into protocol. With Cassidy out, assistant coach Joe Sacco ran the bench. . . . The Bruins had F Jake DeBrusk in their lineup on Tuesday night despite acknowledging that he has asked to be traded; the Boston faithful welcomed him with some booing. The Bruins also were without F Brad Marchand, who has been suspended for three games after a slew-footing incident, and F Anton Blidh (injured). . . .  Boston general manager Don Sweeney said that the Bruins weren’t able to bring up anyone from the Providence Bruins because of COVID-19 issues with their AHL affiliate. Providence actually has ceased all team activities because of what is reported as a mounting number of cases.

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The AHL also has shut down the Bridgeport Islanders, while a Wednesday night game that was to have had Hartford entertain the Springfield Thunderbirds was postponed because of COVID-19 issues involving the WolfPack. . . . The AHL also postponed a Wednesday game that was to have had the Bakersfield Condors visit the Stockton Heat. There is a COVID-19 issue with the Condors and the organization now is following enhanced protocols. . . . The Hershey Bears also have problems. They postponed a Nov. 27 game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and won’t play tonight in Lehigh Valley as they deal with COVID-19.

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Let’s not forget that the NHL has a schedule that will free up players to skate at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing that aren’t that far away. . . . But, as Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest 32 Thoughts, “As the COVID cases grow, it’s harder and harder to be optimistic about Beijing.” . . . His complete column is right here.

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The junior A Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that a player on their roster tested positive on Saturday. That test resulted in the postponement of a game that night against the visiting Campbellton Tigers. The player in question took a rapid test on Saturday that came back positive; he later took a PCR test that came back positive on Monday evening. . . . The Timberwolves have also had to postpone a Thursday game against the visiting Fredericton Red Wings.

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Despite all of the above and with the Omicron variant on its way, Dr. Bonnie WHLHenry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, lifted some restrictions in the Interior Health region on Tuesday, including one that limited indoor sporting events to 50 per cent capacity. That means the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets now are able to have all the seats in their facilities available to fans who are fully vaccinated for the first time since March 2020. . . . At the same time, restrictions remain in place for the Northern Health region, so the Prince George Cougars remain limited to 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre. . . . The Blazers’ next home game is scheduled for Saturday, when the Rockets visit. Kelowna is scheduled to entertain the Vancouver Giants tonight (Wednesday). . . . The Blazers will honour the memory of Don Moores during Saturday’s game. Moores, who was the club’s president and COO, died of a heart attack on June 30. Moores, 65, collapsed while on the course at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club.


IKEA


The BCHL has announced more schedule changes due to “travel issues and highway closures in the province.” . . . The league also announced that “due to ongoing floods, road closures and the approaching winter weather, the BCHL will remove all out-of-conference games for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.” . . . If you are planning to attend a game of any kind, it’s best to check a website or make a phone call to be sure that it’s still on the schedule. . . . The BCHL news release is right here.


COVID-19 didn’t ignore the NBA, either, as the Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James on Tuesday night when they met the Sacramento Kings. James had gone in to what the NBA calls its health and safety protocols. The Lakers went into Sacramento and beat the Kings, 117-92, without King James.


CIA


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: USA Hockey has announced a 31-player roster for its national junior team’s selection camp that is to open in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 12. There are three major junior players on the roster, all of them from the OHL. The roster is right here. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has a look at the team right here. This year’s tournament is set to open in Edmonton and Red Deer on Dec. 26. . . . Hockey Canada is to announce its selection camp roster this morning and F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats is expected to be on it. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks are believed to have set a WHL record on Tuesday when they put letters on the sweaters of eight — yes, eight! — players. They named D Clay Hanus and F Tyson Kozak co-captains, with the alternates being Jonas Brøndberg, Jaydon Dureau, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, Cross Hanas, Gabe Klassen and Kurtis Smythe. You get a letter and you get a letter and you . . . well, not so fast. . . . According to a news release: “Hanus will begin wearing the ‘C’ when the Winterhawks wear their red and black jerseys and Kozak will act as captain when the team wears its white jerseys.” . . . The six alternates will, uhh, alternate at home and on the road. . . .

Jake Grimes has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, citing “personal/family reasons,” according to a team-issued news release. Assistant coach Matt Anthony has taken over as the interim head coach. Chris Culligan remains as assistant coach, with John Hanna now an interim assistant coach. . . . Grimes, 49, was in his second season as the Eagle’s head coach. Before joining the Eagles, he spent two seasons as associate coach with the Guelph Storm, helping it to the OHL championship in 2018-19. . . .

The website Victoria Cougars Hockey Project did a countdown of the defunct team’s “TOP 10 All-Time Moustaches.” . . . It was quite a ride. . . .


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Theory

Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

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WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

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The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


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