Thomson won’t return to Rockets. . . . Wheat Kings fill out coaching staff. . . . Nyren’s story plays out in Kelowna courtroom


MacBeth

D Daniel Bukač (Brandon, 2016-18) has signed a three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 54 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL), he had four goals and 11 assists. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal in four games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL), four goals and six assists in 14 games with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), and one goal and one assist in three games with Cracovia Kraków (Poland, PHL). . . .

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) has retired from playing to become an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Last season, with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had 17 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F John Persson (Red Deer, 2009-12) has signed a one-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, in 27 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL), he had nine goals and two assists.


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The Kelowna Rockets may have known before Tuesday, but that’s when their fans found KelownaRocketsout that Finnish D Lassi Thomson won’t be back for a second season. Instead, he will play with Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. . . . Thomson, who is to turn 19 on Sept. 24, has signed a contract (two years plus an option for a third) with Ilves. He is from Tampere, and has played for Ilves’ U-16, U-18 and U-20 sides. . . . The Ottawa Senators selected Thomson with the 19th-overall pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on July 15. . . . Last season, Thomson put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 regular-season games with the Rockets. He was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year and to the conference’s second all-star team. . . . Thomson is spending this week playing for a Finnish team in a U-20 tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Teams from Czech Republic and Switzerland also are taking part. . . .

The news, now that it’s official, leaves quite a hole on the Rockets’ backend. And don’t forget that the Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets have two solid defencemen in Kaedan Korczak, 18, who was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2019 draft, and Jake Lee, 18, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 2. Both are heading into their third WHL seasons. . . . Kelowna also added Sean Comrie, 19, in a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 2. Comrie played last season at the U of Denver, but had just one assist in 18 games. It’s fair to say, then, that he goes into the season as something of a WHL unknown. . . . The Rockets only have two 20-year-olds on their roster — F Leif Mattson and F Kyle Topping — so could add a veteran defenceman in the third slot. . . . Only one thing is for certain — the Rockets will be making more than a couple of roster moves before May gets here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings rounded out their coaching staff on Tuesday with the news BrandonWKregularthat Don MacGillivray and Tyler Plante will return and that Mark Derlago has been added as a second assistant. . . . MacGillivray is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach, as is Plante, the goaltending coach. . . . Derlago, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed on as the team’s second assistant coach having chosen to end his playing career. He played last season with Esbjerg Energy in Denmark, scoring 17 goals and adding 18 assists in 36 games. . . . Plante is the son of Cam Plante, who played four seasons (1980-84) with the Wheat Kings; Derlago’s uncle, Bill, spent three-plus seasons (1974-78) with Brandon and was one of the most-prolific scorers in WHL history. . . . The coaching staff is headed up by Dave Lowry, who was named head coach on July 18. . . . Darren Ritchie, the Wheat Kings’ general manager, also is preparing for his first season in a new role. He was named GM on July 12. A former Wheat Kings forward, he also worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons and was their director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . The Wheat Kings’ complete news release is right here.


Former WHL D Giffen Nyren was sentenced in Kelowna on Tuesday after pleading guilty to attempting to take an 18-month-old baby from its mother’s arms on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. If he follows the conditions set by Judge Catharine Heinrichs, he won’t have a criminal record. . . . Nyren also will pay $4,648 in restitution to the baby’s family to cover lost wages and some daycare costs. . . . He also will write a letter of apology to the family and take part in a restorative justice program. . . . According to Brie Welton of infotel.ca, “The court heard that Nyren’s toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis.” . . . Welton also reported: “By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he’d been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra. . . . Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player.” . . . Nyren, from Calgary, played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen (2006-10). He went on to have stints in the AHL, ECHL and USports, before playing a bit in Europe. Last season, he played seven games with a team in Amiens, France, then got into 14 regular-season and seven playoff games with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. . . . Welton’s complete story is right here.


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JUST NOTES:

Hockey Canada revealed on Tuesday that two WHLers won’t be participating in the U-20 Summer Showcase that is to run July 27 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Wash. . . . F Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders and D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs have been dropped from the roster. Hockey Canada didn’t provide any further information. . . . Both players still could end up playing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Trinic and Ostrava, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has added Jonny Webb as its goaltending coach and former NHLer Chris Mason as a goaltending consultant. . . . Webb worked for the past three seasons with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He also was with the ACAC’s SAIT Trojans last season. He is a goaltending coach with Top Prospects Goaltending in Calgary. . . . Mason played in the WHL with the Victoria/Prince George Cougars (1993-97). He retired after playing two seasons (2013-15) in Europe. . . .

Brandon Shaw has left the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to join the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as assistant coach and player development co-ordinator. Shaw spent the previous two seasons working alongside Joe Martin, then the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. Martin, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, left Merritt after the 2018-19 season and now is the Bulldogs’ GM and head coach. . . .

Steve Gainey is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He helped out as an assistant coach last season. . . . Gainey, 40, played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kamloops Blazers and was on their coaching staff for one season (2007-08). His pro career included 33 regular-season NHL games. . . . Gainey’s assistant coaches will be Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and Jassi Sangha, who was the head coach last season, with Pete Friedel as the team’s trainer. . . . The Storm recently underwent an ownership change.


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Cozens gets NHL deal with Sabres. . . . Thomson signs with Senators. . . . Hurricanes have contract with import

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F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, in 22 games with Dinamo Riga, he had two assists in 22 games. He also played 14 games with Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga), scoring four goals and adding seven assists. . . .

F Adam Hughesman (Tri-City, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Bordeaux (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 44 games. He led the team in goals. . . .

D Matt MacKenzie (Calgary, Tri-City, 2007-11) has signed a one-year contract with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). Last season, in 46 games with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga), he had seven goals and 11 assists. . . .

D Artyom Minulin (Swift Current, Everett, 2015-19) has signed a two-year contract with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, with the Everett Silvertips (WHL), he had one goal and 17 assists in 51 games. . . .

F Igor Bacek (Tri-City, 2005-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 45 games, he had 14 goals and 26 assists. . . .

F Brady Brassart (Spokane, Calgary, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, in 61 games with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he had three goals and eight assists.


ThisThat

F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has signed a three-year entry-level contract Lethbridgewith the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. They selected him seventh overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Last season, he finished with 34 goals and 50 assists in 68 regular-season games with the Hurricanes. . . . Cozens suffered an injury to his left thumb during the Sabres’ development and underwent surgery earlier this month. The injury is expected to keep him out for up to three months, which means the start of his 2019-20 season likely will be delayed. . . . Cozens, 18, will almost certainly be back for a third season with the Hurricanes. His only other option is to play for the Sabres.


D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the Kelowna Rockets, has signed a three-KelownaRocketsyear entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators, who selected him 19th overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Thomson, from Finland, had 17 goals and 24 assists as a freshman with the Rockets last season. . . . Thomson will turn 19 on Sept. 24. He attended the Senators’ development camp, and he will play for Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase that is scheduled for Plymouth, Mich., from July 26 through Aug. 3. . . . It hasn’t yet been determined where Thomson will play in 2019-20. The Rockets, who will be host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are hoping to get him back, but there has been speculation that he will play for Ilves in Finland’s top professional league.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed Slovakian F Oliver Okuliar, 19, to a WHL contract. He was picked by the Hurricanes in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Okuliar played last season with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix, putting up 14 goals and 28 assists in 66 regular-season games. . . . The Hurricanes’ other import is D Danila Palivko, who will turn 18 on Nov. 30. From Belarus, he had two goals and 13 assists in 61 games last season.


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Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


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F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

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The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

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The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

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The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

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The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

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The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

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The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


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It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


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Holt everything! Giants strike first. . . . Two late second-period goals key to Game 1 victory. . . . Might so many commits work against NCAA schools?

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F Matt Fraser (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 18 goals and 16 assists in 52 games. The was second on the team in goals and third in points. . . .

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste bank Liga). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 52 games. . . .

D David Němeček (Saskatoon, 2013-14) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 46 games. . . .

D Lassi Thomson (Kelowna, 2018-19) has signed a two-year plus option contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Kelowna (WHL), he had 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. . . .

G Alexander Pechursky (Tri-City, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he was 13-16-2, 2.36, .917, with one assist, in 32 games.


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You could make an argument that the most surprising part of Thursday’s WHL bantam draft was the decision by the Kamloops Blazers to use both of their first-round selections on players who have made verbal commitments to the U of Michigan Wolverines.

Kamloops used the seventh-overall selection on D Mats Lindgren of the Burnaby Winter Club, then took F Connor Levis of St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick.

Both players have made verbal commitments to the Wolverines for the 2022-23 season.

So . . . you’re wondering why the Blazers, a team that had a mediocre season while in what was the WHL’s weakest division in 2018-19, would take two NCAA commits in the first round?

Well, Jess Myers of therinklive.com has written an excellent piece that details the changes to NCAA hockey and its recruiting process, all of which came into effect on May 1.

In that story, Myers writes:

“The new system may also reduce the high numbers of committed players that many colleges have now. The list of college commitments that is maintained by College Hockey, Inc., shows that in the Big Ten, Michigan has 37 players who have given verbal commitments to play for the Wolverines in the future, and presumably have been given a scholarship offer of some amount. The (Minnesota) Gophers and Wisconsin (Badgers) each has 31 commitments listed.”

I wasn’t able to find the list of 37 potential future Wolverines, but, then, I’m hardly a computer genius. I did find a list of 24 commits, but it doesn’t include any players committed for 2022-23. Another list, this one at collegehockeynews.com, shows Michigan with 33 commitments but it doesn’t include 2022-23, either.

However, I would suggest that somewhere there is a list that shows 37 commits for Michigan.

Still, the point is that Michigan and many other schools have a whole host of commits potentially on the way.

That being the case, it’s got to give Kamloops general manager Matt Bardsley a terrific starting point when he begins his serious recruiting pitch with Lindgren, Levis and their families.

Myers’ story is right here.


CORRECTION: D Sean Comrie, whose rights moved from the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday, just finished his first season with the U of Denver Pioneers. The Edmonton native had one assists in 18 games, after spending two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. Brandon selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft.

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MORE DRAFT BLOODLINES: The Calgary Hitmen selected F Jadon Kwiatkowski of Sammamish, Wash., in the 11th round. A reader tells me that he is from Lake Stevens, Wash., and that he played for the U-14 Everett Jr. Silvertips. His father, Jason, played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, with the Prince Albert Raiders and Tacoma Rockets, while an uncle, Joel, split four WHL seasons (1994-98) between Tacoma, the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars. . . .

In the sixth round, the Hitmen selected D Matthew Sutter, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Spruce Grove PAC Saints. He isn’t related to the Sutters of Viking, Alta.

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Here’s a look, in alphabetical order, at teams that had four or more players selected in the bantam draft:

Anchorage North Stars (4)

BWC H.A. Bntm Prep (8)

Calgary CBHA Bisons BAAA (6)

Colorado Thunderbirds 14U (6)

Dallas Stars Elite 14U (5)

Delta H.A. Bntm Prep Green (12)

Eastman Selects B1AAA (4)

Edge School Bntm Prep (11)

Fort Sask. Rangers BAAA (5)

Lloydminster Bobcats BAAA (4)

Martensville Marauders BAA (4)

North Zone Kings BAA (4)

Northern Alberta Xtreme Bntm Prep (6)

OHA Edmonton Bntm Prep (7)

Okanagan H.A. Bntm Prep (7)

Okotoks Oilers BAAA (4)

Red Deer Rebels BAAA (8)

Rink H.A. Nationals Bntm Prep (9)

Sherwood Park Flyers BAAA (4)

St. George’s School Bntm Prep (4)

Warman Wildcats BAA (4)

Yale H.A. Bntm Prep (11)


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Ryan Marushak is remaining with the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey DelisleChiefsLeague. The former general manager will be the team’s director of player personnel in what will be his eighth season with the organization. . . . Eric Ditto was named the team’s general manager and head coach on Thursday. . . . If you weren’t aware, Delisle was home to the late Max Bentley, an NHL star who had one of the great nicknames in sports history — the Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle.


Tyler Drader is the new head coach of the Calgary-based SAIT Trojans, who play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He spent the previous two seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs. . . . Drader takes over from Brent Devost, who resigned after one season with the Trojans. . . . There is a news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: First, please allow me to point out that this is the WHL final. It isn’t the WHL finals or the WHL Finals or the WHL FINALS. There is only one series, only one final, thus it is the WHL final. Thank you . . .

With that out of the way, the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup got started on Friday night in Prince Albert with the Vancouver Giants beating the Raiders, 5-4. They’ll play Game 2 in the Art Hauser Centre tonight, then head for Langley, B.C., and games on Tuesday, Wednesday and, if necessary, Friday in the Langley Events Centre. . . .

While there isn’t a player on either team who has played in a WHL final, there are coaches who have been there. . . . Jamie Heward, in his first season as the Giants’ associate coach, is in his second straight final. Last season, he helped guide the Swift Current Broncos to a championship. . . . Jeff Battah, an assistant coach with the Giants, was an assistant with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2008 when they got to the final under then-head coach Michael Dyck. Dyck, of course, now is the Giants’ head coach. . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt was an assistant under Marc Habscheid, now the head coach in Prince Albert, when the Kelowna Rockets won the 2003 title. Truitt was the head coach two seasons later when the Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out before Game 1 that Vancouver D Bowen Byram’s father, Shawn, played 116 games from 1986-88 with the Prince Albert Raiders, putting up 39 goals, 85 points and 300 PIMs. . . . Shawn began his WHL career by playing 62 games with the Regina Pats (1984-87). . . .

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants broke a 3-3 tie with two goals in the final minute of the second period and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders in Game 1 Vancouverof the WHL’s championship series. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Vancouver D Dylan Plouffe (5) opened the scoring from the right faceoff dot at 4:20 of the first period, one-timing a pass from D Bowen Byram while enjoying a two-man PP advantage. . . . F Dawson Holt (6) upped the lead to 2-0 at 6:06 as he pounced on a rebound off the end boards and rifled it home just 10 seconds after Vancouver’s second PP expired. . . . The Raiders cut the deficit in half when F Brett Leason (6) scored on a PP at 3:20 of the second period, beating G David Tendeck through the legs. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (8), the Giants’ captain, restored the two-goal lead at 5:13 as his shot from the top of the circles got past G Ian Scott. . . . The Raiders quickly got that one back as F Noah Gregor (8) made it 3-2 at 6:17 as he split the defencemen at the top of the Giants’ zone, took a pass and scored from 12 feet out. . . . The home team pulled into a tie when F Dante Hannoun (10), a sniper who didn’t score in the six-game semifinal victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, found the range off a rebound at 16:45 of the second period. . . . Vancouver went back out front with 30.9 seconds left in the period as F Yannik Valenti (2) whipped home a one-timer from high in the slot on a PP. . . . Holt (7), who is from Saskatoon, made it 5-3 with his second goal of the game, this one from a bad angle, with 16.5 seconds left in the period. . . . D Jeremy Massella (1) pulled the Raiders back to within a goal at 2:50 of the third period when he drove to the net from the right side and stuffed the puck past Tendeck. . . . Holt had six goals in 53 regular-season games; he’s got seven in 16 playoff games. . . . F Owen Hardy, Dmytriw, who is from Craven, Sask., and Byram each had two assists for the Giants. Byram leads all playoff scorers with 20 points. . . . F Parker Kelly had two assists for the Raiders, with Hannoun adding one to his goal. . . . Vancouver was 2-4 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-3. . . . Tendeck finished with 25 stops, four more than Scott. . . . F Aidan Barfoot was among the Giants’ scratches. He hasn’t played since suffering a suspected concussion in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Brett Iverson, with Sean Dufour and Tarrington Wyonzek on the lines.

(NOTE: Scoring changes after the game gave Byram two more assists, while taking one away from Hardy. That left Byram with a WHL-leading 22 points.)

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a game story right here.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a gamer right here.


Tweetoftheday

Have Rockets lost key d-man to Iles? . . . Kelowna, Seattle cut major trade. . . . Hitmen acquire Woo from Warriors. . . . Ice makes big noise in bantam draft


MacBeth

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). This season, he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in points. . . . Stanley also was the team’s skills coach and director of player development for the Feldkirch minor hockey program this season and will continue in those roles next season. . . .

F Brett Breitkreuz (Kelowna, Edmonton, Vancouver, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. Next season will be his 10th in Germany. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

G Chet Pickard (Tri-City, 2005-09) signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he was 19-4-0, 1.96, .914, with three shutouts, in 24 games. He was second in the league in GAA and sixth in save percentage. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship.


ThisThat

Part I: Some trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

I would suggest that the biggest news came from the camp of the Kelowna Rockets, and it didn’t have anything to do with a deal that was struck with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Rather, it involved Finnish D Lassi Thomson.

In fact, there are reports that Ilves of Finland’s top pro league has a deal with Thomson that includes an option for him to stay through the 2021-22 season.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had this to say in a news KelownaRocketsrelease: “We’re aware of the report that was released today. We were somewhat surprised; however, Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves as they had to release him to play for us this season. We look forward to the NHL draft (in) June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him and his club team Ilves decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest.”

Hamilton also told Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice: “Once he is picked, the NHL team will have input on where he goes anyways. I think the NHL team will want to see him play in North America so they see him as much as they want. They can have their developmental people with him and have him playing on a North American ice sheet.”

Thomson, who had a one-year contract to play over here, was the Western Conference nominee as rookie of the year after a season in which he put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. You can bet the Rockets were looking to him to run their first PP unit as they prepare to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

From Tampere, Finland, Thomson won’t turn 19 until Sept. 24.

At home, he played in the Ilves system for four seasons — U-16, U-18 and U-20 — before joining the Rockets.

——

Meanwhile, the Rockets made a splash on draft day by cutting a major trade with the Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna acquired D Jake Lee, F Dillon Hamaliuk and G Cole SeattleSchwebius, giving up F Conner Bruggen-Cate, the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft — the Rockets had acquired it earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings — a second-round pick in 2021 and Kelowna’s first-rounder in 2022. . . . The Rockets didn’t make the playoffs this season and are in the early days of a massive rebuild as they attempt to get competitive for a season that will end with them as the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . .

Lee, who is to turn 18 on July 13, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, his second in Seattle, he put up three goals and 21 assists in 67 games. . . . Hamaliuk, who will turn 19 on Oct. 30, is from Leduc, Alta. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. His season was ended by injury after 31 games, as he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists. . . . Schwebius, a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is from Kelowna. This season, he was 5-8-2, 3.89, .886 in 17 games with Seattle. . . .

Schwebius, 18, leaves the Rockets with three goaltenders on their roster, joining Roman Basran, who is to turn 18 on July 26, and James Porter, 19. This season, Basra was 20-19-4, 2.79, .906 in 51 games; Porter went 8-13-4, 3.32, .899 in 30 appearances.

Bruggen-Cate, who is heading into his 20-year-old season, is from Langley, B.C. He has played three seasons in Kelowna, totalling 26 goals and 46 assists in 200 games. Kelowna selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Seattle’s 20-year-old group now includes Bruggen-Cate, F Jaxan Kaluski, Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, D Jarret Tyszka and F Matthew Wedman,


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Seattle, having dealt Schwebius to Kelowna, turned around and acquired G Blake Lyda of Edmonton from the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . That selection had originated with Everett, moving to Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that had F Zack Andrusiak move to the Silvertips. . . . Lyda, who will turn 17 on May 21, was a fourth-round pick by Everett in the 2017 bantam draft. He was with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians, although he missed much of the season due to injury. . . . Right now, Lyda and Roddy Ross, who is to turn 19 on July 4, are the top two goaltenders on Seattle’s depth chart.


Kelowna acquired the 10th-overall pick, along with the WHL rights to D Sean Comrie, BrandonWKregularfrom Brandon for the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Comrie, 19, is from Edmonton. The Wheat Kings selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. Comrie was a freshman this season with the U of Denver Pioneers, after playing two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. This season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 34 games. . . . The deal left Brandon with the fifth and sixth selections, the first time it held two top six picks since 2013 when it took F Nolan Patrick fourth overall and D Kale Clague with the sixth pick. . . . This time, the Wheat Kings took F Nate Danielson of Red Deer with the fifth selection and F Tyson Zimmer of Russell, Man., in the six hole. . . . Danielson had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Rebels this season, while Zimmer had 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games with a bantam team at the OHA in Penticton.


The Winnipeg Ice acquired the third-overall selection and D Reece Harsch, 20, from the wpgiceSaskatoon Blades for four draft picks — the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2019 bantam draft, as well as a 2020 second-round pick and a fifth in 2021. . . . That ninth-overall pick and the second-round selection in 2020 originated with the Red Deer Rebels; the fifth started with the Blades and was dealt to the Ice for F Cyle McNabb in January. . . . The Ice then cut a deal with the Prince George Cougars, giving up the third-overall pick and a third in 2020 that originated with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the second-overall selection in 2019. . . . Winnipeg selected F Matt Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., with the first pick, and then took F Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., with the second selection. . . . Savoie has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver Pioneers starting with the 2021-22 season. His brother, Carter, was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has committed to the Pioneers for the 2020-21 season. . . . Interestingly, the Ice recently acquired Carter’s WHL rights from the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice brought the Savoies to Winnipeg in mid-April to show them around and seriously begin their sales pitch. . . . Geekie’s father, Craig, played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1991-94). Conor’s brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans, while another brother, Noah, was a second-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was acquired by the Blades from the Seattle Thunderbirds this season. He totalled four goals and 16 assists in 57 regular-season games. In three full WHL seasons he has 17 goals and 40 assists in 178 games. He was a part of the Seattle team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two years ago.

——

In the fourth round, Winnipeg grabbed F Rieger Lorenz of Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary this season. . . . Lorenz has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2022-23 season.

——

Winnipeg also made a deal with the Tri-City Americans in which the Ice acquired F Isaac Johnson, 20. . . . Winnipeg gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in the exchange. That pick originated with Spokane, moving to the Ice in a deal made in June in which D Bobby Russell went to the Chiefs. . . . From Andover, Minn., Johnson had 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games with the Americans this season when he left the team and apparently retired. At the time, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Johnson had retired for personal reasons. . . . In 2017-18, Johnson had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . The Ice roster now includes three 20-year-olds — Johnson, F Davis Murray and D Chase Hartje.


The Kamloops Blazers had two first-round selections for the first time in franchise  Kamloops1history. They took D Mats Lindgren out of the Burnaby Winter Club with the seventh-overall selection, then picked F Connor Levis of the St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick. . . . Both players have committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines for 2022-23. . . . Lindgren’s father, Mats, is a former NHLer. . . . In 2016, the Blazers used the 15th-overall pick on F Massimo Rizzo, who just completed his second season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . In 2017, the Blazers took F Josh Pillar with the 14th selection. In 2018, they grabbed F Logan Stankoven with the fifth pick. . . . Pillar showed dramatic improvement with the Blazers as this season wore on, while Stankoven lit up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers and will be a big part of the Kamloops scene over the next few seasons.


Before the draft got started, the Calgary Hitmen made a huge splash by acquiring Jett CalgaryWoo, one of the WHL top defencemen, from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for D Vladislav Yeryomenko, F Ryder Korczak, the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and a second-rounder in 2021. . . . Woo, the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, was a second-round selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level deal with Vancouver. . . . From Winnipeg, Woo is to turn 19 on July 27. He just completed his third season with Moose Jaw, and has 114 points, including 26 goals, in 178 games. This season, he finished with 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games. . . .

“This was our No. 1 priority in getting a puck moving defenceman,” Jeff Chynoweth, Calgary’s general manager, said in a news release. “To add a player of his calibre, one of the top scoring defencemen in the WHL, a player who plays hard at both ends, is huge for our club.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 defender and to get him for a whole season instead of after the trade deadline is an added bonus.”

The deal also signals that the Hitmen have their eyes on the prize for 2019-20 and won’t be content just being one of the players.

Yeryomenko, 20, is from Mishutki, Belarus. He was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville MooseJawWarriorsPredators in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign a pro deal. This season, his third with Calgary, he had seven goals and 26 assists in 33 games. In 188 regular-season games, he has 26 goals and 72 assists.

The Warriors have two other Belarusians on their roster — F Yegor Buyalski, 18, and F Daniil Stepanov, 18.

There have been rumblings that the rule involving 20-year-old import players may be about to change, perhaps with the removal of the two-spot designation. It could be that a team will be allowed to have three imports on its roster, if one of them is a 20-year-old. This deal may signal that Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar is expecting that rule to be changed.

Korczak, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 23, is from Yorkton, Sask. The younger brother of Kelowna Rockets D Kaedan Korczak, he had eight goals and seven assists in 50 games as a freshman with the Hitmen.


The Vancouver Giants didn’t have a first-round pick, and took D Joshua Niedermayer, a Vancouverson of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, with the 30th overall selection. A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Joshua had 10 goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at OHA in Penticton, B.C. . . . His brother, Jackson, 18, is a forward with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to Arizona State U and the Sun Devils for 2021-22. . . . Jackson was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2016 bantam draft. . . .

The Giants used their second pick in the draft, No. 43, to take F Bowden Singleton of Calgary. He had 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, but has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. . . .

In the fifth round, the Giants took F Colton Langkow of Scottsdale, Ariz. His father, Daymond, played four seasons (1992-96) with the Tri-City Americans while an uncle, Scott, spent three seasons (1992-95) tending goal for the Portland Winterhawks.


JUST NOTES: Kamloops took G Dylan Ernst from the Weyburn, Sask., bantam AA Red Wings with the 28th overall pick. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft. Dylan’s brother Ethan, 17, just finished his freshman season with the Kelowna Rockets. After Dylan was drafted, their mother, Bonnie, tweeted: “It’s hard enough to watch him in net, let alone playing against his brother. And that many times.” . . .

The Blazers used a seventh-round pick to take F Nash Bamford of Lacombe, Alta. He had eight goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. His father is country music star Gord Bamford, who was born in Australia and raised in Canada. He has 26 CCMA awards to his credit. . . .

The Everett Silvertips took F Austin Roest of Vernon, B.C., in the third round. His father, Stacy, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is the director of player development with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors selected D Carson Brisson of Edmonton in the fifth round. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with the minor midget Leduc Oil Kings this season. He has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for 2023-24. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds used an eighth-round pick to take F Cruz Lucius of Grant, Minn. He played this season with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy, putting up nine goals and 32 assists in 13 games. He has committed to the U of Minnesota Gophers for 2022-23. . . . His brother, Chaz, was taken in the fourth round a year ago by the Portland Winterhawks. Chaz is poised to enter the U.S. National Team Development Program after putting up 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy. He is committed to Minnesota for 2021-22.

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.

Prepping for Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . Blazers will play in front of huge crowd. . . . Winner moves on; loser goes home

There will be more than 5,800 hockey fans in the Sandman Centre in Kamloops tonight (Tuesday) as the Blazers and Kelowna Rockets play in the WHL’s first tiebreaker game in three years.

The winner will head for Victoria to open a first-round series with the Royals on Friday night. The loser is done for this season.

A tiebreaker is held only when teams are tied for a final playoff position.

The Rockets and Blazers finished tied for third place in the B.C. Division, each at 28-32-8. Kamloops1With each team having 28 victories, the league had to go to its second tiebreaker — the season series between the teams — to determine a home for tonight’s game. The Blazers won the season series, going 6-3-1; the Rockets were 4-4-2.

These teams last met on March 8 and 9, with the Blazers winning 2-1 in a shootout at home in the first game, then posting a 2-1 victory in regulation time in the second game.

The Blazers have played 10 games in March, going 5-3-2, while outscoring the opposition, 36-31. In their past six games, they are 5-0-1, having scored 24 goals while surrendering 10.

The Rockets are 2-3-3 in March — but in four of those games they were able to score only one goal. They won’t win tonight if they score only one goal.

——

Some notes before Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . .

The Rockets are expected to start G Roman Basran, who is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942 against the Blazers this season. It’s awfully hard to knock numbers like those ones. . . .

G Dylan Ferguson, 20, hasn’t dressed since appearing to suffer a groin injury during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6. He did skate with the Blazers on Monday. However, G Dylan Garand, 16, has started six games in a row since Ferguson was injured. The Blazers are 5-0-1 in those Garand starts. Two of those were against Kelowna — Garand is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . .

D Lassi Thomson, Kelowna’s Finnish freshman who is terrific on the PP, suffered a KelownaRocketsconcussion when he was checked by Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen in that March 8 game and hasn’t played since. Thomson skated on Monday, but he was wearing a yellow non-contact sweater, which would seem to indicate that he won’t play tonight. . . . His return, if it were to happen, would be huge. Thomson finished the season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. Against Kamloops, he had three goals and five assists in eight-plus games. . . .

Kelowna’s Matt Barberis, a defenceman with 179 games of WHL experience, also was in a non-contact sweater yesterday. However, he has played only 20 games this season — nine with the Vancouver Giants and 11 with the Rockets — and hasn’t been in a game since Feb. 9. . . .

The Blazers may have F Logan Stankoven in their lineup after he skated with them on Monday. He won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring championship, putting up 103 points, including 49 goals, in 38 games with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers. He was the fifth-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . He had one assist from seven earlier appearances with the WHL’s Blazers. . . .

The Rockets may get F Trevor Wong into their lineup. From Vancouver, he played for the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, putting up 42 points, 30 of them assists, in 34 games. He was the 18th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. The consensus is that he would have been taken earlier had he not indicated that he would be going to the U of Denver. Wong, 15, skated with the Rockets on Monday. . . . Wong played four earlier games with the Rockets, scoring once. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff of the Rockets took a puck to the face during a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. That resulted in more than two dozen stitches. On Saturday, he scored Kelowna’s second goal and set up the OT winner as the Rockets beat the visiting Giants, 3-2. . . .

The Rockets will be host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They have missed the playoffs only once (2006-07) since moving to Kelowna from Tacoma in time for the 1995-96 season. . . . The Blazers, meanwhile, missed the playoffs last season and three of the past five seasons. . . .

F Kobe Mohr of the Blazers was on the Edmonton Oil Kings’ roster on March 22, 2016, the date of the last WHL tiebreaker game, but he didn’t get into the game. . . .

——

There have been six other tiebreakers in WHL history. The road team has won five of them. Here they are, courtesy of whl.ca . . .

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).

Saturday night in the Dub . . . Evanoff sharp for Warriors . . . D-Jay spins hits for Royals . . . Wolf blanks Winterhawks


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period, and beat Saskatoonthe host Swift Current Broncos, 4-1. . . . Saskatoon (33-13-8) has points in nine straight (7-0-2). It leads the season series, 6-1-0. . . . The Blades are second in the East Division, six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Swift Current (10-38-4) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . While the Blades enjoyed Friday off, the Broncos played in Brandon and didn’t get home until 4 a.m. Because the Saturday game was part of a Hockey Day in Canada celebration in Swift Current, it started at 5 p.m. CT. . . . After a scoreless first period, F Gary Haden (26) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the second. . . . F Tyler Lees (2) tied it for the Broncos at 10:12. That was his first goal in nine games since the Broncos acquired him from the Victoria Royals with whom he had one goal in 27 games. . . . Saskatoon F Riley McKay broke the tie at 8:34 of the third period. He has nine goals in 54 games with the Blades, after totalling seven in 113 over two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Blades got insurance from F Max Gerlach (33), at 17:46, and F Cyle McNabb (6), into an empty net, at 19:41. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots for Saskatoon, 10 fewer than the Broncos’ Isaac Poulter. . . . Broncos D Matthew Stanley didn’t play after the first period, while Saskatoon F Kirby Dach, who will be a first-round selection in June’s NHL draft, left late in the second period after being struck by a puck in the throat area. A Blades official told Taking Note last night that Dach “will be fine” and that taking him out of the game was “precautionary.”


F Cole Fonstad broke a 5-5 tie at 13:32 of the third period as the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertbeat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in Lethbridge. . . . Prince Albert (45-7-2) has won four in a row. It leads the Eastern Conference by 18 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Lethbridge (27-16-10) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The victory provided Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid with the 500th regular-season victory of his WHL career. . . . For someone who played the game with offensive flair, it was only fitting that Habscheid’s milestone victory should come in a game with 11 goals. . . . F Jake Elmer (22) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 5:42 of the first period. . . . The Raiders responded with three straight goals, from F Eric Pearce (6), at 12:40; F Parker Kelly (25), on a PP, at 1:48 of the second period; and Fonstad, again, at 7:25. . . . Lethbridge roared back with three goals of its own, from D Ty Prefontaine (2), at 8:59; D Igor Merezhko (4), at 13:53; and F Jake Leschyshyn, at 16:24. . . . F Sean Montgomery (22) got the Raiders into a 4-4 tie at 18:50. . . . Leschyshyn broke the tie with his 31st goal, shorthanded, at 5:57 of the third period. . . . The Raiders tied it at 6:05 as F Ozzy Wiesblatt (22) scored, on a PP. . . . Fonstad won it with his 26th goal of the season. . . . One night earlier, Fonstad had two goals and three assists in an 8-2 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. He now has 60 points, including 26 goals, in 54 games. . . . F Nick Henry had three assists for Lethbridge. . . . With G Ian Scott given the night off, Boston Bilous started for the Raiders and made 29 stops, two fewer than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . The Raiders also had F Tyson Laventure in their lineup. Laventure, who turned 16 on Jan. 28, is from Lloydminster, Alta., and plays for the OHA Edmonton prep team. He played in three games with the Raiders right before the Christmas break. Laventure was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders completed a three-game suspension by missing this one.


G Adam Evanoff stopped 47 shots to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 2-1 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Rebels in Red Deer. . . . Moose Jaw (30-13-8) has won two straight. It is third in the East Division, six points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . Red Deer (28-19-4) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). It holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. Red Deer also is fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Warriors have been outshot 98-46 in their last two games, and have won both games. They beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3 in OT on Friday night, despite being outshot, 50-25. . . . F Brayden Tracey (24) got Moose Jaw’s first goal, at 13:03 of the second period. . . . F Tristin Langan (39) made it 2-0 at 16:44. . . . F Brett Davis (17) got Red Deer’s goal, but it didn’t come until 19:19 of the third period. . . . Red Deer was credited with winning 46 of the game’s 71 faceoffs. . . . Evanoff now is 15-8-3, 2.54, .919. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel broke the franchise’s career record for assists when he earned No. 162 on Davis’s goal. The previous record had been held by F Arron Asham (1994-98). . . . Warriors D Jett Woo missed this one as he completed a two-game suspension.


D Lassi Thomson scored twice and added an assist to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-1 KelownaRocketsvictory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Kelowna (23-26-5) has won two straight. It is third in the B.C. Division, six points behind the Victoria Royals and six ahead of Kamloops. . . . Kamloops (20-27-5) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kamloops is 4-2-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 3-3-1. . . . F Mark Liwiski gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 9:18 of the first period but he needed video review to do it. It looked like the puck went off his leg as he kicked at it, which is legal in the WHL if the player is outside the crease. The call on the ice was ‘no goal,’ but that was overturned on review, giving Liwiski his fifth goal in 10 games. . . . One night earlier, Liwiski’s appeared to make contact with Prince George G Taylor Gauthier’s head in the third period of a 3-3 game in Kelowna. Gauthier had to leave the game, with Tyler Brennan, 15, coming on to make his WHL debut. Shortly after, Liwiski broke a 3-3 tie, at 12:10, and that goal stood up as the winner. . . . Thomson made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second period, on a PP. . . . F Leif Mattson (19) upped it to 3-0, on another PP, at 9:38. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (20) got the Blazers’ goal, on a PP, with 0.9 showing on the clock. . . . Thomson put it away with an empty-netter at 19:58 of the third period. . . . An 18-year-old freshman from Finland, Thomson has 15 goals and 20 assists in 53 games. . . . Kelowna was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-4. . . . The Rockets got 25 saves from G Roman Basran, while G Dylan Ferguson turned aside 30 shots for the Blazers. . . . F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 draft, played in his seventh game of the season with Kamloops because F Ryley Appelt (finger) isn’t yet ready to return. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi sat out as he completed a two-game suspension.


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F Matthew Wedman scored at 3:18 of OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory Seattleover the Medicine Hat Tigers in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (21-26-6) had lost its previous two games. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Medicine Hat (30-18-5) has points in four straight games (3-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers, who opened a U.S. Division swing with a 1-0 victory over the Everett Silvertips on Friday, held a 3-1 lead in this one. . . . They got their first goal from F James Hamblin (30), on a PP, at 8:15 of the first period. . . . F Andrej Kukuca tied it at 11:58 of the second. . . . Medicine Hat went ahead 3-1 on goals from F Tyler Preziuso (19), at 18:18 of the second, and F Ryan Chyzowski (19), at 4:51 of the third. . . . Kukuca (18) pulled Seattle to within a goal at 10:18, and D Jake Lee (4) tied it at 13:15. . . . Wedman won it with his 27th goal of the season. . . . Kukuca also had two assists, meaning he was in on all four Seattle goals. . . . The 19-year-old Slovakian freshman has 43 points in 47 games. . . . F Ryan Jevne had three assists for the Tigers. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 27 shots for Seattle, with Medicine Hat getting 36 stops from Jordan Hollett. . . . Seattle was without D Simon Kubicek, who left in the first period of Friday’s game, and remains without F Nolan Volcan, the team captain.


F Jack Finley scored twice to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsKootenay Ice. . . . Spokane (29-17-6) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kootenay (11-34-8) has lost three in a row. . . . The Chiefs swept the season series, 5-0-0; Kootenay was 0-4-1. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (8) and Finley gave the Chiefs an early 2-0 lead, with goals at 3:08 and 5:47 of the first period. . . . D Martin Bodak got the Ice on the scoreboard at 7:03. . . . Spokane got the next two goals, from F Riley Woods (26), on a PP, at 9:04, and Finley (8), at 4:34 of the second period. . . . Bodak (8) scored again at 8:52. . . . D Bobby Russell (4) rounded out the scoring for the Chiefs, at 18:03. . . . Russell, who played last season with Kootenay, has scored three of his four goals against the Ice.


The Victoria Royals broke a 1-1 with five straight goals, four of them in the second VictoriaRoyalsperiod, en route to a 7-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Victoria (27-22-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets with two games in hand. . . . Tri-City (28-20-3) had won its previous three games. It is safely ensconced in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . F Igor Martynov (9) put the visitors out front at 3:21 of the first period. . . . F Connor Bouchard (5) tied it, on a PP at 9:23. . . . D Scott Walford (9) gave Victoria the lead back, at 11:41 of the first. . . . The Royals then took control on second period goals from F Phillip Schultz (12), at 5:06; F D-Jay Jerome, at 5:06 and again at 6:19; and F Kaid Oliver (23), at 17:06. The last two goals were via the PP. . . . Jerome now has 21 goals. Last season, he finished with one assist in 44 games — 31 with the Prince Albert Raiders and 13 with Victoria. This season, he has 37 points in 52 games. . . . In the third period, the Americans got goals from F Will Kushniryk (2), F Riley Sawchuk (6), while shorthanded, and F Samuel Huo (5). . . . F Kody McDonald (13) had Victoria’s other goal, on a PP. . . . Victoria was 3-6 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-2. . . . The Royals got three assists from D Jameson Murray, with Schultz adding two to his goal, and Jerome picking up one for a three-point night. . . . The Americans lost D Dom Schmiemann at 7:30 of the third period when he was given a major and game misconduct for becoming involved in a one-man fight. Chances are he will get a two-game suspension from the WHL.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 29 shots to record his sixth shutout of the season as the host EverettEverett Silvertips beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-0. . . . Everett (38-13-2) leads the U.S Division by seven points over Portland. . . . With the victory, Everett clinched a playoff spot for the 16th straight season, meaning it has been in the playoffs in every season that it has been in the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks (33-16-5) are seven points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett leads the season series, 6-3-0; Portland is 3-5-1. . . . After a scoreless first period, the Silvertips struck four times in the second, including twice on the PP and once while shorthanded. . . . D Jake Christensen got it started, on a PP, at 5:31. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (30) scored while shorthanded at 14:27, and F Max Patterson (13) made it 3-0 on a PP at 18:49. . . . Christensen scored Everett’s last two goals, at 19:26 of the second and 8:08 of the third, the latter coming via a PP. He’s got 12 goals. . . . Not only did Christensen score his first career hat trick, it was the first three-goal game by a defenceman in franchise history. . . . F Zack Andrusiak helped out with three assists. . . . Wolf now has 10 career shutouts. This season, he leads the WHL in victories (34), GAA (1.77), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (6). . . . Portland was shut out for the first time this season. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 48 shots for Portland, which remains without F Cody Glass (knee). . . . The Winterhawks lost D Brendan De Jong to an apparent left knee injury in the first period. He wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice following a hit into the end boards in Portland’s zone.