No offer, Loewen now free agent. . . . 11 other ex-WHLers don’t get signed. . . . NYT with more on Boogaard, concussions

 

MacBeth

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had six goals and nine assists in 51 games. He started the season with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), going pointless in five games. He was released by Dynamo on Sept. 26 and signed with Barys on Sept. 27. . . .

F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had six goals and 23 assists in 57 games. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with Adendorf (Germany, Regionalliga Nord). This season,  with Harzer Falken Braunlage (Germany, Oberliga), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

G Garret Hughson (Spokane, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Acélbikák Dunaújváros (Hungary, rest Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he got into 25 games, going 8-13-1-0, 3.73, .909, with one shutout and one assist. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) has signed a one-year contract with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). This season, in 17 games with Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and eight assists.


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The Dallas Stars selected F Jermaine Loewen from the Kamloops Blazers in the seventh Kamloops1round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and he then attended their development camp.

However, Loewen now is an unrestricted free agent.

Ray Petkau, Loewen’s agent, confirmed to Taking Note on Sunday that the Stars chose not to make an offer to Loewen prior to Saturday’s deadline, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

“We do have AHL offers,” Petkau told Taking Note. “(There is) interest at the NHL level, but not sure yet where it’ll go.”

Loewen, now 21, has been one of the WHL’s best stories in recent years, having come all the way from a Jamaican orphanage to captain the Blazers.

He played five seasons with the Blazers, scoring 36 goals in 2017-18 and adding 28 more this season.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Loewen grew up in Arborg, Man., after being adopted by Tara and Stan Loewen. He didn’t play organized hockey until he was 10.

A true power forward who loves to drive to the opposition’s net off the left wing, Loewen finished his WHL career with 78 goals in 295 regular-season games, which isn’t bad when you consider that he didn’t get No. 1 until Game No. 85.

After not being selected in the NHL’s 2016 draft, he attended the San Jose Shark’s development camp. He also wasn’t picked in the 2017 draft.

——

At least 11 others players with WHL ties weren’t signed prior to June 1 by the NHL teams NHLwho held their rights. . . . Nine of those players were selected in the NHL’s 2017 draft . . .

D Daniel Bukac, a seventh-round pick by the Boston Bruins, played this season with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Bukac, 20, spent two seasons (2016-18) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

F Brett Davis of the Red Deer Rebels was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Stars. Davis also has played with the Lethridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice. He turned 20 on Saturday, so is eligible to return to the Rebels.

D Brendan De Jong of the Portland Winterhawks was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round. De Jong, who played five seasons with Portland, completed his junior eligibility this season.

F Zach Fischer, who played with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Spokane Chiefs (2014-18), was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round. Fischer, 21, split this season between the AHL’s Stockton Heat and the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks and Rapid City Rush.

G Jordan Hollett of the Medicine Hat Tigers was a fourth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators. Hollett, 20, is eligible to return for a fourth WHL season. The Tigers acquired him from the Regina Pats prior to the 2017-18 season.

F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans was taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round. Olson, 20, is eligible to return to the Americans after finishing with 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games this season.

D Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round. At 20, he is eligible to return for a fifth season with the Thunderbirds.

D Scott Walford of the Victoria Royals was a third-round selection by Montreal. Walford, 20, has played four seasons with the Royals and is eligible for one more.

F Lane Zablocki was a third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 27, but that means he has used up his junior eligibility. In the WHL, he played with the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. He finished this season, and his junior career, with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

Fischer and Zablocki now are unrestricted free agents; the others will be eligible for the 2019 NHL draft, which is to be held in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.

Two other players, both of whom were drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, also have gone unsigned. F Radovan Bondra (Vancouver Giants, Prince George Cougars, 2015-18) had been selected in the fifth round, while F John Dahlstrom (Medicine Hat Tigers, 2016-17) was taken in the seventh round.

Bondra and Dahlstrom, both 22, were drafted from clubs outside North American, so Chicago owned their rights for four years. Both players now are unrestricted free agents.


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The Winnipeg Ice has signed G Daniel Hauser to a WHL contract. Hauser, from Chestermere, Alta., was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he got into 23 regular-season games with the bantam prep team at the Calgary-based Edge School. He was 3.00, .911.


The New York Times story, written by John Branch, carries this headline: The N.F.L. Has Been Consumed by the Concussion Issue. Why Hasn’t the N.H.L.? . . . “With the Stanley Cup finals underway,” Branch writes, “Joanne Boogaard and a growing group of former players worry that people have moved on to a stage of acceptance — that the N.H.L. has emerged from its concussion crisis by steadfastly denying that hockey has any responsibility for the brain damage quietly tormenting players and their families.” . . . Boogaard is the mother of the late Derek Boogaard, whose brain was found to contain chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the disease that is caused by head trauma. . . . Branch is the author of the book Boy On Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard. . . . If you haven’t read the book, you should. . . . Branch’s latest piece on the Boogards, the NHL, concussions and all the rest is right here. You should read that, too.


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Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


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It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

——

The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

——

The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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Trials and tribulations of WHL scout . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark Portland win . . . Some Saturday highlights, too


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With four weeks left in the WHL’s regular season, four teams have clinched playoff spots — the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Vancouver Giants and Portland whlWinterhawks.

However, not one of the eight first-round playoff matchups has been set in stone.

The Raiders, for example, will finish atop the Eastern Conference, so will draw the second wild-card team. That slot will go to any one of seven teams.

The winner of the Central Division will get the first wild-card team, which obviously has yet to be decided. As for the division pennant winner, well, all five teams remain in the chase.

Although it’s not official, at least not mathematically, the Saskatoon Blades will have home-ice advantage in a first-round series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades are headed for a second-place finish in the East Division, with the Warriors in third.

In the Western Conference, only one team is assured of where it will finish — when it’s over, the Giants will be atop the B.C. Division.

Vancouver also is tied with Everett atop the conference standings, and the Giants hold a game in hand.

The Victoria Royals almost certainly will finish second in the B.C. Division — they are 20 points behind Vancouver and 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets — but other than that it’s a roll of the dice.

Portland is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Silvertips and 10 ahead of the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna, and the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet know in which spots they will wind up.

The Prince George Cougars aren’t officially out of it, but they are 12 points from a playoff spot, riding a 15-game losing skid (0-11-4) and have only 12 games remaining.


So . . . you think you’d like to scout for a WHL team, do you?

Here’s an early Sunday evening posting on Facebook from Mike Fraser, the Everett EverettSilvertips’ head scout . . .

“The 10 things I’ve learned in my 12 hours (so far) at Saskatoon airport:

“1. Travelling in winter isn’t always made easier by flying instead of driving.

“2. When you are accommodating and agree to a 6:15 pm flight to help appease people going to Puerto Vallarta, the Flying Gods don’t necessarily have to make your 6:15 flight on time either (I’m now delayed two more hours).

“3. If your flight starts getting delayed in 5- or 10-minute increments starting 3-or-so hours before departure time, that’s a bad sign and start looking at other options.

“4. Trying to cancel a hotel room in Red Deer because you’re stuck in Saskatoon doesn’t mean the hotel in Red Deer won’t charge you.

“5. Guys need to stop texting while standing at a urinal….that’s just weird, and gross.

“6. I’ve now had 12 of my last 13 trips delayed, a dynasty not even Tom Brady can touch.

“7. Starbucks closes very early at Saskatoon airport.

“8. No matter how many times I see the Jets highlights from last night, they still lost.

“9. I’ve learned that one woman likes to tell her boyfriend when they can sleep together based on her “cycles.” No I didn’t ask, she told an entire section of us while on a very loud and apparently open phone call.

“10. I still refuse to drink Pilsner.

“Cheers my friends, here’s to hoping I get home tonight.”

Later Sunday, Fraser posted: “And we’re now cancelled . . . let’s try again tomorrow?”

To be continued . . .


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Behind three goals and an assist from F Joachim Blichfeld, the Portland Winterhawks Portlandclinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (35-16-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who have a game in hand. . . . The Winterhawks, who will be in the playoffs for a 10th straight season, have 11 games remaining, but only three of them are at home. . . . Seattle (23-28-6) had won its previous two games. It is in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . The Thunderbirds went 2-1-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . With three games remaining, Portland leads the season series (6-2-0); Seattle is (2-5-1). . . . F Josh Paterson (21) broke a 1-1 tie at 16:26 of the first period, and Blichfeld took it from there, scoring Portland’s last three goals. . . . Blichfeld, who recorded his fourth career hat trick, leads the WHL in goals (48) and points (98), in 57 games. His third goal of the game was the 100th regular-season goal. . . . F Cody Glass, playing his second game in two nights after missing eight games with a knee injury, had the primary assist on each of Blichfeld’s goals. Glass has 68 points, including 54 assists, in 36 games. . . . Blichfeld scored once on the PP, once while shorthanded and once at even strength. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 1-2. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman scored his 32nd goal, on a PP, to run his goal-scoring streak to six games. . . . The Winterhawks had a 52-36 edge in shots. . . . G Josh Hofer stopped 34 shots to earn the victory. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius turned aside 47 shots. . . . Portland head coach Mike Johnston posted his 350th regular-season coaching victory. He is 19th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Winterhawks will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan had a goal and four assists, and F Stelio Mattheos had three goals and an assist, as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 6-3. . . . Brandon (26-22-7) has won three in a row and now is four points from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot that is held by the Red Deer Rebels. . . . That second spot will mean a first-round clash with Prince Albert (46-8-3), which had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders have lost two in a row for the first time this season. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings went into Prince Albert and won, 5-4 in OT. . . . G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason remain out of the Raiders’ lineup. . . . Brandon was 3-9 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-4. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Cole Reinhardt, while F Justin Nachbaur scored twice for the Raiders.


F Tate Popple scored twice, and F Brayden Tracey had a goal and two assists, helping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (31-15-8) had lost its previous two games. The Warriors are second in the East Division and headed for a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Regina (16-38-3) hasn’t lost 40 games in regulation-time since 2004-05 when it finished 12-50-10. . . . Regina F Austin Pratt was credited with his 22nd goal when the Warriors scored an own goal with a delayed penalty about to be called on the Pats. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He has 62 points, including 25 goals, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors were credited with a 47-19 edge in faceoffs. . . . It was Hall of Fame weekend in Moose Jaw as F Shawn Limpright and F Brian Sutherby, both of whom played four seasons (1998-2002) there, were inducted into the Warriors’ shrine.


The Saskatoon Blades solidified their hold on second place in the East Division with a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Saskatoon (37-13-8) has points in 13 straight games (11-0-2). It is second in the division, 13 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders and 12 up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold four games in hand. . . . Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are headed for a first-round playoff meeting. They will meet twice more this regular season — on March 5 in Moose Jaw and March 10 in Saskatoon. The Blades lead the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Four of Lethbridge’s last four games will be against Medicine Hat, starting with a home-and-home on Friday (Lethbridge) and Saturday (Medicine Hat).


F Mark Kastelic scored three goals to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (30-21-5) has won two in a row. . . . The Hitmen beat the visiting Tigers, 3-1, on Friday night. . . . Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Medicine Hat and three behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen continued to hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (31-21-5) has lost three straight. . . . On Saturday, the Hitmen erased a 3-2 third-period deficit with the game’s last three goals. Kastelic had opened the game’s scoring with his 40th goal of the season in the first period. He added a pair of third-period PP goals, equalizing at 9:06 and adding insurance at 16:18. . . . In between, D Vladilsav Yeryomenko’s third goal, at 12:02, turned into the winner.


G David Tendeck stopped 22 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (39-13-3) has won seven in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals, who have 13 games remaining. . . . The Giants haven’t enjoyed a 40-victory regular season since 2011-12 when they finished 40-26-6. . . . Vancouver also is tied with the Everett Silvertips (39-14-3) for top spot in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (23-28-5) has lost two in a row. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, 10 points behind Victoria and four ahead of the Kelowna Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . The Rockets left Sunday on their final multi-game road trip of the season; they’ll play a doubleheader in Victoria this afternoon and Tuesday night, then meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday night. . . . The Rockets have three games left with Vancouver, two of them in Langley, B.C., and two with the Portland Winterhawks, both in Kelowna. . . . Tendeck has three shutouts this season, matching his total from last season.


G Joel Hofer turned aside 25 shots as his Portland Winterhawks blanked the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 2-0. . . . Portland (34-16-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). After beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2, on Sunday, the Winterhawks, who are second in the U.S. Division, are five points behind the Everett Silvertips. Portland and Everett only have one game remaining with each other. . . . Red Deer (29-21-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels are 1-2-1 on a U.S. Division swing that ends Tuesday night with a visit to the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (10) scored the game’s first goal, just 41 seconds into the third period. . . . Portland’s second goal was an empty-netter off the stick of F Cody Glass (14). Glass was playing in his first game after suffering a knee injury on Jan. 26. He missed eight games. . . . Hofer has four career shutouts, two with the Swift Current Broncos and two since his trade to Portland.


F Kody McDonald scored two goals in regulation time and one in a shootout as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. . . . One night earlier, the Royals won, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . Victoria (29-23-3) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, 20 points behind the Vancouver Giants and 10 in front of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-7) has lost 15 in a row (0-11-4). The Cougars are 12 points from a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. They are fifth in the B.C. Division, 12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George also is 13 points from a wild-cardspot. . . . McDonald, 20, played the first 232 games of his WHL career with the Cougars, who dealt him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him from the Raiders earlier this season. . . . McDonald, who has 15 goals, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 0:51 of the third period, then forced OT with a goal at 17:03. . . . He won the game when he closed out the third round of the shootout with a goal. . . . F Carson Miller, who was part of the Prince Albert-Victoria deal that included McDonald, also had two goals for the Royals, with F Josh Maser scoring twice for the Cougars. Those were Miller’s first goals with Victoria since the trade.


G Roddy Ross stopped 46 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . If you’re new here, Seattle plays its home games in Kent. . . . Seattle (23-27-6) is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . Everett (39-14-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett also is tied with the Vancouver Giants for top spot in the Western Conference. The Giants (39-13-3) have a game in hand. . . . Everett and Seattle combined for 110 penalty minutes, 96 of them in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . You’re right. These teams don’t like each other, and they still have to play each other three more times. . . . This also could be a first-round playoff matchup. Everett leads the season series, 6-1-0; Seattle is 1-5-1. . . . F Matthew Wedman had a goal and two assists for the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He’s got 62 points, 31 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . This was Everett’s third game in fewer than 48 hours. They dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Thursday night, in a game that was rescheduled from Wednesday, then beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Silvertips will make it five games in six days by playing a doubleheader in Prince George on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night.


F Kyle Olson scored three times and added an assist to help the Tri-City Americans to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (31-20-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane and with a game in hand. . . . Spokane (30-19-6) has lost two straight. It is third in the U.S. Division, eight points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each had a goal and two assists for Tri-City. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and and assist from freshman F Adam Beckman. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, Beckman has 48 points, 25 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm may have been five times, but he still came up with 45 saves.


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Scattershooting from beside the Christmas tree . . . Vandekamp marks a milestone . . . Three tied for first in Central Division

Scattershooting

On the fifth day of our annual Christmas countdown, we’ve got Bing Crosby and David Bowie with The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth). It’s right here.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “Two nuns have been accused of embezzling about $500,000 from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, Calif., to support their gambling craze. Apparently they put too much money down on the Cardinals this season and not enough on the Saints.”


Whenever I see a reference made to the Moose Jaw Warriors’ merchandise store, it brings a smile to my face. They named it The Crushed Can, something that keeps the old barn’s memory alive. Thank you to whomever was responsible. Well done!


Ducks


If computers aren’t human, why do they always want to do updates when it’s inconvenient to the user?


The below tweet is from Friday night’s WHL game in Kent, Wash. It begs the question: Why aren’t all of these scouts doctors?


Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “I’m still digesting the news that North Carolina gave dismissed football coach Larry (The Hat) Fedora a $12-million buyout. What a deal. But colleges don’t have enough money to pay athletes.”


Headline at TheOnion.com: L.A. adds lanes for cyclists to recover from getting hit by cars.


Tree


The World Chess Championship in London was decided in the 13th match, after the first 12 ended in draws. According to Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong: “Norwegian Magnus Carlsen won it just before judges were going to decide the match using penalty kicks.”

——

One more from Chong: “Sesame Street has introduced Lisa, the first homeless Muppet. Really? So does living in a garbage can like Oscar the Grouch count as bona fide housing?”


If you’re looking for an entertaining read, check out Patti Dawn Swansson’s blog The River City Renegade.

You’ll find stuff like this . . .

Canadian Football League outfits are dumping coaches, scouts and management at an alarming rate. We haven’t seen this kind of cost cutting since the suits at Postmedia lost their minds. I don’t know if the CFL is still a professional sports league or a thrift store.”

And this . . .

“Steve Simmons of Postmedia Tranna calls Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play fossil Bob Cole the ‘voice of a lifetime’ and ‘the Hockey Sinatra.’ Oh, please. Apparently he never heard Danny Gallivan call a game. No one did it like Gallivan. His voice was electric. His vocabulary immense. I still get chills when I hear his call of Guy Lafleur’s tying goal in Game 7 of the 1979 Stanley Cup semifinal. ‘Lafleur, coming out rather gingerly on the right side . . .’ Rather gingerly. Who says that? Only Gallivan. Bob Cole is the Hockey Sinatra like I’m Celine Dion.”

The River City Renegade’s latest piece is right here.


2018 . . .

 

Selfie


After Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, suggest that he would like to limit defensive shifts, Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com offered this suggestion: “Uh, here’s a solution: Teach players to bunt.”


If you haven’t read this already, you are going to want to give it some of your time. It’s a story about Charles Barkley — yes, that Sir Charles — and his unlikely friend, Lin Wang. This is a wonderful story and it’s right here.


Queen


Jack Finarelli, who can be found at sportscurmudgeon.com, has come bad news for fans of the Baltimore Orioles: “The fact is that the Orioles are going to stink like a bloated rhino carcass in the hot sun on the veldt for at least a couple of years. Maybe those 115 losses in 2018 represented the nadir of this losing cycle; maybe not.”


ThisThat

Mike Vandekamp was behind a junior team bench for the 1,500th time on Saturday night when his Cowichan Capitals met the host Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a BCHL game.

Vandekamp has quite a coaching history, having made stops in his hometown of Fort St. CowichanJohn, B.C., as well as Grande Prairie, Alta., and the B.C. hockey havens of Prince George, Vernon, Merritt, Nanaimo and Duncan, the latter being the home base for the Capitals.

These days he’s the GM and head coach of the Capitals, who are 10-20-5 and tied for fourth in the five-team Island Division. He’s in his first season as the Capitals’ GM and head coach, and here’s hoping he gets some time to turn things around there.

And how did No. 1,500 go? The Capitals won, 6-3.

Vandekamp actually posted one of my all-time favourite tweets on March 2. He had started the season with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, but was dumped after an ownership change. So when the BCHL playoffs got started, Vandekamp was on the outside looking in, but, hey, he had a nice view from a beach in Hawaii. Still, like all those coaches who have the hockey disease, he could think of a million arenas in which he would rather have been.


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


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored four times in the third period en route to a 6-4 victory Lethbridgeover the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Lethbridge (18-9-6) has points in four straight (3-0-1), is 9-1-2 in its past 12, and is tied with the Red Deer Rebels (20-10-2) and Edmonton Oil Kings (18-12-6) atop the Central Division. . . . Calgary (15-15-4) had points in each of its previous six (5-0-1). . . . The Hitmen scored three times in the second period, taking a 3-2 lead when F Kaden Elder (14) scored, on a PP, at 13:40. . . . F Dylan Cozens (8) got Lethbridge into a tie at 5:29 of the third period, only to have F Riley Stotts (10) shoot Calgary back in front at 8:25. . . . Lethbridge D Ty Prefontaine (1) tied it at 8:49, and F Logan Barlage (9) snapped the tie at 9:49. F Jordy Bellerive (16) provided insurance with his second goal of the game, at 18:53. . . . That was Bellerive’s 100th career regular-season goal and it came in his 239th game. He also had an assist in this one, and now has 39 points, including 23 assist, in 33 games. . . . It was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for Calgary, which went 1-1-1.


F Dylan Guenther, the first selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft, scored twice to help EdmontonOilKingsthe Edmonton Ice to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . Edmonton (18-12-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1) and goes into the break in a tie atop the Central Division with the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Ice (8-22-6) is 14 points out of a playoff spot. . . . Guenther, a 15-year-old from Edmonton, has three goals and an assist in seven games with the Oil Kings. . . . A goal from F Brett Kemp and two from Guenther gave the home side a 3-1 lead in the first period. . . . F River Fahey (2) got the Ice to within a goal at 15:54. . . . Kemp, who has 22 goals, scored at 3:01 of the second, for a 4-2 lead, only to have D Martin Bodak (6) score for Kootenay at 4:14. . . . The Oil Kings put it away with three third-period goals, from F Vince Loschiavo (16), F David Kope (7) and F Scott Atkinson (5), the latter into an empty net. . . . Kootenay F Peyton Krebs, the team captain, took a game misconduct at 19:50 of the third period. . . . Kemp also had an assist, for a three-point evening. F Carter Souch had three assists for Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield for a second straight game.


F Kyle Olson’s second goal of the game, a shorthanded snipe in OT, gave the Tri-City tri-cityAmericans a 4-3 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . The Americans (17-12-2) have won three straight. . . . The Winterhawks (19-11-4) have points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . On Saturday, the Americans had scored three late goals, including a tying score with the extra attacker on the ice, to erase a 2-0 deficit and beat the visiting Winterhawks, 3-2 in OT. . . . Last night, Portland D Jared Freadrich (4) forced OT when he scored with the extra attacker on the ice and just 34 seconds left in the third. . . . Olson won it with his eighth goal of the season at 4:37 of extra time. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 1:06 of the second period. He also had two assists and now leads the WHL in goals and points (65), one more than F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Leason is with Canada’s national junior team, while Fix-Wolansky has sat out Edmonton’s past two games. . . . Olson tied it at 6:40 and teammate Riley Sawchuk, who had two goals and two assists, gave the Americans the lead at 9:01. . . . F Ryan Hughes (13) pulled Portland into a tie at 9:54. . . . Sawchuk, who has 11 goals, gave Tri-City a 3-2 lead at 12:58 of the third period. . . . This was the first four-point game of Sawchuk’s WHL career; in fact, he had never had three points in a game. This was his 159th regular-season game, all with Tri-City. . . .


F Eli Zummack scored in OT to give the host Spokane Chiefs a 6-5 victory over the Seattle SpokaneChiefsThunderbirds. . . . Spokane (19-11-4) has won three in a row. . . . Seattle (11-16-4) has lost three straight. . . . Spokane has won the first five meetings of the season. . . . Seattle went 0-2-1 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. That included a 5-3 loss to visiting Spokane on Friday. . . . Zummack also scored the OT winner in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on Dec. 8. . . . Last night, Zummack, who also had two assists, won it with his 11th goal at 1:47 of OT. . . . The lone assist went to F Adam Beckman, who finished with two goals — he’s got 17 — and two assists. Beckman, a 17-year-old rookie from Saskatoon, was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. This season, he’s got 28 points, including 11 assists, in 34 games. . . . Beckman, was in on each of his side’s last three goals, gave the Chiefs a 4-3 lead at 1:04 of the third period. . . . F Matthew Wedman (11) got Seattle into a tie at 8:07. . . . Spokane went back in front at 10:23 when D Noah King (3) scored. . . . The Thunderbirds forced extra time at 17:11 as F Dillon Hamaliuk (11) scored on a PP. . . . Seattle was 2-2 on the PP; Spokane was 1-4. . . . Spokane lost D Bobby Russell to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 6:02 of the second period after a hit on Seattle F Tyler Carpendale. . . . Seattle again was without F Noah Philp.


F Brayden Watts scored twice, including the winner late in the third period, as the VancouverVancouver Giants beat the Prince George Cougars, 2-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (22-8-2) had lost its previous two games. . . . Prince George (11-19-3) has lost five straight. . . . The Cougars are five games into an 11-game road trip that will pick up after the Christmas break. They are 0-5-0 in those first five outings. . . . The Giants got 30 saves from G David Tendeck, 17 of them in the second period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (7) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 4:02 of the first period. . . . Watts tied it, on a PP, at 9:23 of the second. He won it with his seventh goal, on another PP, with 49.5 seconds left in the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram and F Davis Koch drew assists on both goals. . . . Vancouver was 2-5 on the PP; Prince George was 0-5. . . . The Cougars got 32 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Prince George last played at home on Dec. 2, and won’t appear there again until Jan. 11. They will return from the break to play six more road games — in Kent, Wash., and Everett on Dec. 28 and 29, in Kamloops and Kelowna on Dec. 30 and Jan. 4, and then back into the U.S. Division against Tri-City and Spokane on Jan. 8 and 9. . . . Vancouver was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours; it went 1-2-0. . . .

Prior to the game, linesman Nathan Van Oosten was presented with a WHL Milestone Award by Kevin Muench, the senior director of officiating. The award celebrates outstanding achievements by those associated with the WHL. Van Oosten is in his 13th season as a WHL linesman, and has worked in three championship finals and two Memorial Cups. He also has been on the ice for one World Junior Championship, two World Championships and one Olympic Winter Games.


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