Wheat Kings beat Raiders in OT . . . Elmer glues loss on Broncos with hat trick . . . Blades run point streak to 12 games


MacBeth

F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kristianstad (Sweden, Division 1) after Tyringe (Sweden, Division 1) received monetary compensation from Kristianstad. In 20 games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with 12 assists. . . . Coulter had a clause in his contract with Tyringe that allowed him to move to another Division 1 club if the new club was in the playoffs. With two games left in the regular season, Tyringe cannot make the playoffs. Kristianstad has qualified for the playoffs for promotion to Allsvenskan for 2019-20.


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There is an interesting scenario unfolding in Prince Albert where the Raiders are nearing the end of a glorious regular season.

On Friday night, they dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. The PrinceAlbertRaiders (46-7-3) lead the WHL’s overall standings by 14 points over the Everett Silvertips.

Trevor Redden, writing for panow.com, points out that as rosy things are with the Raiders right now, the future is more than a little hazy.

“As for what lies ahead beyond this season, we still don’t have any answers,” Redden writes. “When the subject of staffing for next season was brought up post-deadline with GM Curtis Hunt, he declined comment on his own status or that of the coaching staff, with all contracts set to expire at the end of this (season).

“As for (head coach Marc) Habscheid, he wasn’t able to provide any further illumination when asked for an update this week on his status beyond this season.

“ ‘No, nothing. Haven’t heard anything so I really don’t know what’s going on. That’s all I can say,’ Habscheid said.”

The staff includes associate coach Jeff Truitt and assistant coach Dan Gendur.

The Raiders, of course, are community-owned, as opposed to having private ownership, something that may, or not, be having an impact on the situation.

Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach on Nov. 1, 2014, replacing the fired Cory Clouston. At the time, the Raiders hired Habscheid to finish the 2014-15 season. On April 21, 2015, the Raiders announced that they had signed Habscheid to a four-year deal running through the end of this season.

As for Hunt, he took over as general manager on June 8, 2015, after the Raiders and Bruno Campese chose to go their separate ways. Interestingly, the Raiders hired Hunt more than six weeks after signing Habscheid. That, of course, goes against the hockey adage about a GM wanting his own coach. And, as the standing show, Hunt and Habscheid appear to be making it work.

Time will tell if they’ll be together again next season.


The OHL has fined the Niagara IceDogs a total of $250,000 and taken away 2019 and 2021 ohlfirst-round draft choices after they were found to have “violated certain league player recruitment policies.” . . . In a Friday afternoon news release, the OHL said that it had the law firm of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottleib LLP handle the investigation.

“The league takes our commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes ensuring a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said in a news release. “In order to maintain the integrity of this player experience and competitiveness within the league, it is critical that all clubs operate within the league recruitment guidelines. When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required.”

Later Friday, the IceDogs released this statement: “All current Niagara IceDogs players and hockey operations staff have no involvement in the sanctions assed today by the Ontario Hockey League. An appeal will be filed. Therefore, no comment will be made.”


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

D Zach Wytinck’s OT goal gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Raiders in BrandonWKregularPrince Albert. . . . Brandon (25-22-7) has won two in a row and is six points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Prince Albert (46-7-3) has points in six straight (5-0-1) and has a 14-point lead atop the overall standings. . . . The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . F Sean Montgomery (23) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 10:35 of the first period. . . . Brandon took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (17), at 13:46, and F Cole Reinhardt (17), at 3:27 of the second period. . . . F Parker Kelly got the Raiders into a tie at 14:10, and F Aliaksei Protas (10) provided them with a 3-2 lead at 2:48 of the third period. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) tied it at 8:43, but Kelly (29) put the Raiders back out front, on a PP, at 13:25. . . . The Wheat Kings scored the last two goals to win it. F Luka Burzan (32) tied it at 13:40, and Wytinck’s fourth goal of the season won it at 3:06 of OT. . . . Parker added an assist to his two goals. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 28 shots for Brandon, five more than the Raiders’ Boston Bilous. . . . With G Ian Scott still sidelined, Bilous made his third straight start. . . . Montgomery was back in Prince Albert’s lineup after a one-game absence, but Scott and F Brett Leason remain sidelined. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted his story right here.


G Max Paddock stopped 32 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 4-0 victory over the visiting PatsEdmonton Oil Kings. . . . Regina (16-37-3) won’t be in the playoffs this season. . . . Edmonton (31-18-8) leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours and they also have had a flu bug in their dressing room. The Oil Kings have had illness in their room of late. This time, F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield joined F Zach Russell in being unable to play. . . . Paddock record his second shutout of the season. . . . The Oil Kings were blanked for the first time this season. . . . F Austin Pratt (21) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the first period. . . . F Riley Krane (12) added insurance, on a PP, at 10:24 of the second period, and F Carter Massier (2) upped it to 3-0, while shorthanded, at 14:55. . . . Regina’s final goal came from F Garrett Wright (4) at 10:22 of the third period. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 3-1-0. The Oil Kings had been looking for the second sweep of the Pats in franchise history; the first was in 2010-11.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes got three goals from F Jake Elmer en route to a 7-2 victory Lethbridgeover the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Swift Current (10-40-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1). The Broncos have lost 40 games in regulation-time for the first time since 2010-11 (26-44-2). That (44) is the most single-season losses for the Broncos since they moved back to Swift Current from Lethbridge for the 1986-87 season. . . . Elmer gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with first-period goals at 1:47 and 4:41 of the first period. The second of those came while shorthanded. . . . Elmer completed his second career hat trick with a PP goal at 12:43 of the third period. That was the game’s final goal. . . . The Hurricanes got two goals from F Noah Boyko, who has seven, and singles from F Logan Barlage (12) and F Nick Henry (21). . . . F Carter Chorney (12) and D Connor Horning (6) replied for the Broncos, who were 0-8 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-3 on the PP. . . . Lethbridge unleashed a season-high 56 shots at G Riley Lamb. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 26 shots for Lethbrige.


G Carl Stankowski stopped 29 shots to help the host Calgary Hitmen to a 3-1 victory over Calgarythe Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Calgary (29-21-5) is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. They also are fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat (31-20-5) has lost two in a row. They are third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . F Mark Kastelic (39) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:40 of the second period. . . . D Egor Zamula (10) made it 2-0 at 7:41. . . . The Tigers got to within a goal at 19:13 as F Elijah Brown scored his 11th goal. . . . F Carson Focht (16) iced it for Calgary at 18:59 of the third period. . . . Medicine Hat got 27 saves from G Jordan Hollett. . . . The Tigers had D Linus Nassen back in their lineup. . . . The Hitmen had Zamula and D Dakota Krebs back from injuries, but remain without F Jake Kryski and G Jack McNaughton.


Ice1
At least one Kootenay Ice fan wasn’t impressed with a Valentine’s Day promotion the team ran on Thursday. The Ice, of course, is leaving Cranbrook for Winnipeg at the conclusion of this season.
Ice2
On Friday night in Cranbrook, they were thanking the families who have billeted players through the Ice’s 21 seasons in the community.

F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice and added two assists to help the Saskatoon Blades to an 8-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Saskatoon (36-13-8) has points in 12 straight games (10-0-2). It also has won one more game than it won all of last season. The Blades are second in the East Division, 12 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Kootenay (11-36-8) has lost four in a row. . . . The Blades, in their last appearance in Cranbrook, scored the game’s first four goals to take a 4-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Max Gerlach (36), Crnkovic and F Eric Florchuk, with two, accounted for those goals. Florchuk now has 20 goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs (19) got the Ice on the scoreboard at 11:22 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon responded with the next four goals, from F Chase Wouters (14), F Ryan Hughes, with two, and Crnkovic, who now has nine goals. Hughes has 23. . . . D Martin Bodak (10) and F Jaeger White (22) had the Ice’s last two goals. . . . Crnkovic enjoyed his first career four-point game. . . . Florchuk also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson had two assists, running his point streak to 15 games; he has two goals and 26 assists in that stretch. He also has at least one assist in 15 straight games. In his past five games, he has 12 points, including 11 assists. . . . Gerlach had a goal and an assist in running his point streak to 14 games. He has 23 points, including 12 goals, in that stretch. . . . Saskatoon had F Kirby Dach back in the lineup. He had missed two games after being struck on the throat by a puck.


G Max Palaga, in his first start since Jan. 20, stopped 31 shots as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna. . . . Everett (39-13-3) has points in three straight games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by nine points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (23-27-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett took a 2-1 lead into the third period; it now is 31-0-1 when leading after two. . . . F Kyle Topping (20) gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:26 of the first period. . . . Everett tied it at 12:18 as D Gianni Fairbrother (9) scored, on a PP. . . . Silvertips F Bryce Kindopp broke the tie at 8:18 of the second period, then added his 32nd goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:43 of the third period. . . . G Roman Basran stopped 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . Rockets D Lassi Thomson left the game late in the first period, after being high-sticked by Kindopp, then returned in the second wearing a full cage. . . . That may, or may not, have had something to do with the two head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Kelowna’s Adam Foote — exchanging greetings late in the first period. . . . Everett headed for home after the game as it has to be in Kent, Wash., to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight. Then it’s off to Prince George for the Silvertips who will play the Cougars on Monday (2 p.m.) and again on Tuesday night.


F Tanner Sidaway scored the game’s first two goals to get the Victoria Royals started to a VictoriaRoyals4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Victoria (28-23-3) is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-6) has lost 14 in a row (0-11-3) and is 10 points from a playoff spot. The Cougars are 0-3-0 since firing head coach Richard Matvichuk and replacing him with general manager Mark Lamb. . . . Sidaway, who has seven goals, scored at 3:50 of the first period and seven seconds into the second, while shorthanded. His second goal set a franchise record as the fastest goal to start a period. The previous record of nine seconds had been done on four occasions. . . . This also was Sidaway’s first multi-goal game. . . . The Cougars cut the deficit in half when F Josh Curtis (12) scored at 6:22. . . . F Kaid Oliver (24) restored the two-goal lead at 16:32, and F Logan Doust (4) added another goal, at 6:46 of the third period. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse posted his 109th regular-season victory, and moved into seventh on the WHL’s all-time list. The record (120) for most career victories is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92). . . . Victoria F Ty Yoder returned to play after being out since Jan. 4.


The Seattle Thunderbirds built up a 5-1 second-period lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory Seattleover the Red Deer Rebels in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (22-27-6) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazes. . . . Red Deer (29-20-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 7:45 of the first period, only to have F Zak Smith (10) tie it for Red Deer 37 seconds later. . . . The Thunderbirds responded with four second-period goals, from F Matthew Wedman, Philp (22), on a PP, F Andrej Kukuca (20) and F Henri Rybinski (4). . . . The Rebels got back in it with third-period goals from D Alexander Alexeyev (8), F Oleg Zaytsev (11) and F Reese Johnson (21), the latter scoring at 18:34. . . . Wedman wrapped it up with his 30th goal at 19:03. . . . With his two goals, Wedman, who also had an assist, ran his goal streak to five straight games. . . . F Brandon Hagel had three assists for Red Deer. . . . F Jeff de Wit, a Red Deer native who is on his second go-round with the Rebels, played in his 300th regular-season game. He also has played with Regina, Victoria and Kootenay. He has 54 goals and 55 assists in the 300 games. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Nolan Volcan, their captain, back in the lineup after missing nine games. He hadn’t played since Jan. 26.


G Beck Warm turned aside 42 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-3 victory over tri-citythe Kamloops Blazers in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (30-20-3) has won two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot and is fourth in the U.S. Division, three points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (21-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds in the race for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead as F Sasha Mutala (14) scored at 1:45 of the first period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 5:08 as D Montana Onyebuchi (5) scored. . . . The Americans took a 3-1 lead on second-period goals from F Connor Bouchard (6), at 11:08, and F Nolan Yaremko (20), at 18:17. . . . F Kobe Mohr (6) got Kamloops to within a goal at 3:42 of the third period. . . . D Wil Kushniryk (3) restored the two-goal lead at 6:59. . . . F Brodi Stuart (16) again got the Blazers to within a goal, at 17:51. . . . F Parker AuCoin (32) put it away for the Americans at 19:15. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who completed a two-game suspension.


The Vancouver Giants scored three straight PP goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the VancouverSpokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (38-13-3) has won six straight games. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (30-18-6) had points in each of its previous seven (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 3:13 of the first period on a PP goal by F Luc Smith. . . . The lead lasted 15 seconds until D Kaleb Bulych (2) scored for Vancouver. . . . Then came the three PP goals, from F Justin Sourdif (16), at 13:28 of the first period; F Milos Roman (21), at 18:38 of the second period; and F Jared Dmytriw (13), at 19:08. . . . The Chiefs got to within a goal, at 4-3, as Smith (25) and F Eli Zummack (13) scored at 3:47 and 11:51 of the third period, respectively. . . . After the Chiefs had a goal disallowed — it was ruled to have been kicked in from the crease — F Jadon Joseph (16) scored for Vancouver at 15:46. . . . F Riley Woods (27) scored for Spokane at 18:50. . . . Zummack also had two assists. . . . The Giants were 3-4 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-7.


If you like what you read here, and even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


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Lajoie fine with Blazers’ coaching addition . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ victory . . . Alexeyev helps Rebels end skid

MacBeth

F Justin Kelly (Spokane, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) has announced his retirement. This season, he had two goals and five assists in 12 games with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2), but he hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion suffered in a game that night against Kaufbeuren. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). In 57 games, he had 11 goals and 12 assists, and was second on the team in scoring. Slovan has four regular-season games left and cannot make the playoffs.


ThisThat

When the Kamloops Blazers officially added Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff on Tuesday, it wasn’t seen in some corners of the team’s fandom as just another move. Kamloops1That’s because Sydor is one of the team’s five owners. . . . After the Blazers dropped the visiting Victoria Royals, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week spoke with Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie about job security and a whole lot more. . . .

“I’m not worried,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I don’t see Darryl Sydor as a threat. For me, I’ve always invested my full energy in whatever I’ve taken on. But I value family. I also value education. I’ve got an education degree, a master’s degree. I have good roots back in Edmonton.

“The reason I tell you that is that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to be here. If there is an ulterior motive, to have him in to oversee things, I don’t see it. If that’s the case, again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve put a lot of work in this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in these players.

“I could leave with my head up high.”

As for Sydor, who has spent eight years as an assistant coach in the professional ranks, he told Hastings that he’s not a threat.

“I’m here to give guidance and if there’s feedback that I can give on how he can become a better coach, that’s what I’m here for,” Sydor said.

Hastings’ complete story is right here.


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Ghostridershave signed general manager and head coach Jeff Wagner to a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Wagner is in his first season with Fernie. . . . The Ghostriders are 25-13, with three ties and four OTLs, and will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division, behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, who are 39-4 with one tie and one OTL. . . . Wagner, from Calgary, joined the Ghostriders after working as the assistant GM with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thundercats.


The Young Stars Classic, a September fixture in Penticton, B.C., since 2010, won’t be held in 2019. . . . The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks confirmed that on Thursday, one day after the Winnipeg Jets revealed that will take part in a prospects’ tournament in Belleville, Ont., in September. . . . The Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had teams of prospects play in Penticton prior to 2018. However the Flames and Oilers didn’t take part in 2018, choosing instead to play games in Red Deer. That left the Canucks and Jets to face each other twice, with the UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears also playing each other twice. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more right here.


In all my time writing sports, Kaye Kaminishi may be the most unforgettable character I have met. Now 97, the Kamloops resident played baseball in Vancouver for the legendary Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian team that shone in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, Kaminishi ended up in an internment camp near Lillooet, B.C., and never did return to Vancouver. He was there recently, though, filming a Heritage Minute that is soon to be seen on your TV set. . . . John Mackie of Postmedia has more on this remarkable man right here


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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three third-period goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the Warriors, 3-2, in Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (31-17-8) is atop the Central Division, three points clear of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (30-15-8) has lost two in a row. It appears headed for a third-place finish in the East Division. . . . The Warriors played 12 of their previous 13 games on the road. In those 13 games, they were 9-3-1. . . . The Oil Kings had been 0-7-4 in their previous 11 games with Moose Jaw, not having beaten the Warriors since Feb. 20, 2016. On that night, the Oil Kings won, 3-2, in Moose Jaw with F Dario Meyer getting the winner. . . . F Carson Denomie (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 12:55 of the second period. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-1 on third-period goals from Loschiavo, at 2:11, and F Andrew Fyten (14), at 10:54. . . . D Josh Brook (14) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 12:59. . . . Loschiavo snapped the tie with his 26th goal at 13:38. He has eight game-winners this season; only F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Tristin Langan of the Warriors have more, with nine. . . . Loschiavo would have had a hat trick had he scored on a second-period penalty shot, but he was unable to beat G Adam Evanoff. . . . Loschiavo played the first 215 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Kootenay Ice, then was dealt to Moose Jaw and played 40 games there. On May 3, Edmonton sent F Nick Bowman and a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Warriors for Loschiavo. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 31 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Warriors got 36 saves from Evanoff. . . . With G Dylan Myskiw (ill) sidelined, the Oil Kings had G Matthew Pesenti, 17, backing up Scott. Pesenti, who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was with Edmonton on an emergency basis, because his WHL rights belong to the Regina Pats. He has spent time with the Pats this season and got into two games last month. . . . The Oil Kings also scratched F Scott Atkinson and F Zach Russell, both of whom also were ill. . . . Edmonton D Jake Neighbours served the last game of a four-game suspension. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tate Popple in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 31.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 Red Deervictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . This game was to have been played on Wednesday night but was postponed 24 hours when poor driving conditions kept the Rebels from making it to Everett in time. . . . Red Deer (29-19-5) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (38-13-3) leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Robbie Holmes (10) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:40 of the second period. That was his first goal since being acquired by Everett from the Regina Pats at the Jan. 10 trade deadline. He had nine goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Pats. He’s got a goal and two assists in 12 games with Everett. . . . F Brandon Hagel (32) pulled Red Deer even at 11:26 of the third period. . . . D Jake Christiansen scored for Everett in the fourth round of the shootout, only to have F Jeff de Wit equalize. . . . Alexeyev then won it in the next round. . . . Each of the goaltenders — Red Deer’s Ethan Anders and Everett’s Dustin Wolf — stopped 37 shots through OT. . . . Red Deer was 0-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ head coach, now has 496 regular-season victories as he strives to become the ninth coach in WHL history to get to 500.


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Scattershooting on a Sunday while watching Jason Bourne. Again . . . Tigers are road warriors . . . Giants latest to clinch playoff spot

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Sheldon Kennedy spent the weekend in Swift Current, which was the host location for Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. While he was there, the City honoured him by naming an arena after him. To see the love affair between Kennedy and Swift Current makes my heart sing, because there once was a time when an observer never would have thought this was possible. . . . Well done!



ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Auston Matthews to a new contract on Tuesday. . . . What! You didn’t know that! . . . Well, you’re welcome.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on one of the Super Bowl commercials: “After the Washington Post ad in the fourth quarter, I mentioned to my Super Bowl party host that Jeff Bezos’ impending divorce action may influence the Post to the degree that their new slogan ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ may need to be altered to ‘Democracy dies in divorce.’ ”

——

And here is The Sports Curmudgeon on the Super Bowl’s halftime show: “Granted that I had no idea who any of the performers for the half-time show were. After glimpsing pieces of their acts, I can say with certainty that I need not expend an erg of energy to find out the next time any of them will be in concert near to where I live. The ad slogan for Camel cigarettes used to be, ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel.’ Well, I would not walk across the room to hear any of those folks perform.”


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Perhaps you heard about the runner in Colorado who, when attacked by an 80-pound cougar, killed the big cat with his bare hands. As Dixon Tam put it on Twitter: “I hope Chuck Norris recovers from his injuries quickly.”


Ahh, yes, the Kootenay Ice Hall of Fame, announced eight days after the franchise’s post-season move to Winnipeg was confirmed. In an email, one fan told Taking Note that “it’s like sending flowers to your wife a week after you dumped her for another woman.”


If you’re wondering what Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades does on his nights off, he’s the star of the Saskatchewan karaoke circuit. . . . Actually, he was taking part in a Kinsmen-sponsored karaoke battle, so it was all in good fun and for a good cause.

 


Here for your reading pleasure is a piece written by Mark Fainaru-Wada, a staff writer at ESPN, about how the iconic Bob Costas came to the end of his run with NBC-TV. Yes, it had something to do with the NFL and, yes, it has something to do with concussions. . . . It’s all right here, and it’s another reminder about the power of the NFL.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Super Bowl halftime show marred by functioning sound system.


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ThisThat

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the WHL’s record for career victories as a head coach. He has 750 of those to his credit from stints with the whlKamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.

It was just last season when Hay broke the record of 742 that had been held for so long by Ken Hodge, who worked with the original Edmonton Oil Kings before making the move to Portland with the franchise.

On Saturday night, Marc Habscheid, now the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth man in WHL history to get to 500 victories.

So . . . you are wondering if Hay’s career victories record is safe, or whether Habscheid might break it?

Hay will turn 65 on Wednesday. Habscheid will hit 56 on March 1.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that Hay won’t be a WHL head coach again, although it’s apparent that he isn’t as done with coaching as we once were led to believe. (Hey, the Prince George Cougars might be in the market for a head coach once this season ends. Might Hay be a good fit there?)

Habscheid, meanwhile, is a career coach; he has been for more than 20 years. There is little doubt that he will coach for at least another 10 years. The question one has to ask is this: Will he spend the remainder of his coaching days in the WHL?

To date, Habscheid has had only one brief taste (2006-07) of the NHL, that as an associate coach, alongside head coach Dave Lewis, with the Boston Bruins. Peter Chiarelli, then the Bruins’ general manager, fired them after one season.

Perhaps Habscheid will end up as part of the management team with the NHL’s expansion Seattle franchise that is to begin play in 2021-22. When that organization starts hiring, it may take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights, see the number of former WHL head coaches involved there and decide to follow suit. Kelly McCrimmon, Mike Kelly, Ryan McGill, Bob Lowes, Kelly Kisio and Bruno Campese, each a former WHL head coach, all are on the Vegas payroll.

If Habscheid’s phone doesn’t ring and if he ends up staying in the WHL, and if Hay doesn’t get another head-coaching gig, you can bet Habscheid will end up with more regular-season victories than anyone else.

When would that happen? Perhaps sometime in 2025-26.

By that time, Habscheid might be the head coach of the WHL’s Abbotsford Aardvarks, or the Boise Bulls, or the Wenatchee Wings. Or he may still be in Prince Albert. Or perhaps he will settling comfortably in a new role as a pitchman for Dairy Queen.

No matter. It’ll be fun watching it all unfold.

There’s more on Habscheid right here in an interesting piece filed earlier this month by Mike Commito of Sportsnet.

——

THE WHL’S 300 CLUB

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 495

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 386

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Mike Johnston (Portland) 348

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Logan Stankoven set a franchise single-game points record on Sunday, counting eight thompsonblazersof them as the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers beat the visiting Kootenay Ice, 10-0, in a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game. . . . Stankoven scored three times and added five assists. . . . He leads the league in goals (43), assists (41) and points (84). His lead in the scoring race now is 34 points over F Tyler Crystal of the Vancouver North West Hawks. . . . According to a tweet from the team, Stankoven is one goal shy of the BCMMHL single-season goal record that is held by F Tyson Jost, who scored 44 times for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. . . . This was Stankoven’s third game of the weekend, after he played Friday and Saturday nights with the WHL’s Blazers, who selected him fifth overall in the WHLs 2018 bantam draft. This season, he has one assist in seven games with the Blazers. In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets, head coach Serge Lajoie gave him third-period time with veterans Jermaine Loewen and Zane Franklin in an attempt to inject some life into a stagnant offence. The goals didn’t come, but the chances were there as Stankoven showed again that he is more than capable to making the jump to the WHL.


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Riley McKay and F Chase Wouters had two goals each to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a Saskatoon6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (34-13-8) has points in 10 straight games (8-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Brandon (23-22-7) is seven points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Blades took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals from McKay, at 9:23; F Kyle Crnkovic (7), on a PP, at 14:36; and Wouters, at 15:07. . . . The Wheat Kings got to within a goal in the second period as F Linden McCorrister (12) scored while shorthanded, at 0:32, and F Stelio Mattheos (33) scored on a PP, at 10:39. . . . Wouters countered with his 12th goal, at 11:22. . . . F Ridley Greig (11) pulled the Wheat Kings back to within a goal, again, at 13:29, on another PP. . . . Saskatoon put it away on third-period goals from D Dawson Davidson (11), on a PP, at 5:02, and McKay (11), into an empty net at 18:27. . . . Each team was 2-7 on the PP. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Max Gerlach. . . . G Jiri Patera returned from a leg injury to start for Brandon and stop 31 shots. He hadn’t played since being injured on Jan. 25. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 25 shots for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were without F Kirby Dach, who left Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos after being struck by a puck in the throat area. Taking Note was told after Saturday’s game that Dach was taken from the game was only precautionary. Saskatoon next is to play Wednesday when it visits the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was on hand for this one and his piece is right here.


G Carl Stankowski earned his first victory since Nov. 23 as the host Calgary Hitmen Calgarydumped the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-2. . . . Calgary (28-20-5) is fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one in front of the Red Deer Rebels. Calgary does hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Moose Jaw (30-14-8) had won its previous two games. It is a comfortable third in the East Division. . . . The Warriors were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; they went (2-1-0). . . . Stankowski was making his second appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 23 in a 5-2 victory over his former club, the Seattle Thunderbirds, in Kent. Wash. . . . On Sunday, Calgary took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Mark Kastelic (38), at 1:16, and F Tye Carriere (6), at 5:59. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (13) scored for Moose Jaw at 14:55. . . . Second-period goals by F James Malm (23), at 3:39, and F Kaden Elder (23), at 15:47, left Calgary with a 4-1 lead. . . . D Josh Brook (13) got the Warriors to within two, on a PP, at 1:40 of the third. . . . Calgary iced it as F Riley Stotts (17), at 4:33, and F Cael Zimmerman (7), at 14:46, scored. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Carson Focht. . . . G Brodan Salmond turned aside 33 shots for Moose Jaw.


F Andrew Fyten scored once and added two assists to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-EdmontonOilKings2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Edmonton (30-16-8) is atop the Central Division, one point up on the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Regina (15-37-3) is 27 points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining. The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament won’t be in the playoffs this time around. . . . The Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Austin Pratt (20) scored at 17:32 of the first period. . . . F Carter Souch (9) tied it 50 seconds into the second period and F Scott Atkinson (8) made it 2-1 at 1:52. . . . D David Kope (10) made it 3-1 at 6:25, giving Edmonton three goals in 5:35. . . . Fyten (13) upped the lead to 4-1 at 4:23 of the third period. He’s got five goals and nine assists in 20 games with Edmonton since being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (5) scored for Regina, on a PP, at 9:13 of the third. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (29) of the Oil Kings closed out the scoring at 19:05. . . . The Oil Kings are 3-0-0 in the season series and have outscored the Pats, 16-4. Fix-Wolansky, who added an assist to his goal in this one, has two goals and eight assists in the series. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 34 saves, six fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . Regina F Cole Dubinsky was back after serving a four-game suspension. . . . The Oil Kings welcomed back F David Kope and D Matthew Robertson from injury-related absences, while F Jake Neighbours served the second of a four-game suspension.


F Ryan Chyzowski scored the only goal of a five-round shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Medicine Hat (31-18-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and three in front of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers went 3-0-1 in a four-game swing that included stops in Cranbrook, Everett and Kent, Wash. The only blemish was a 4-3 OT loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent. . . . Portland (33-16-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Tigers went (2-0-1), while the Winterhawks were (1-1-1). . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 10:23 of the first period. He leads the WHL in goals (45) and points (93). . . . The Tigers tied it at 4:36 of the third when F Ryan Jevne (25) scored while shorthanded. . . . Medicine Hat G Mads Søgaard made 28 saves through regulation time, then stopped four shots in OT and foiled five skaters in the shootout. . . . Portland got 38 saves from G Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks are without F Cody Glass (knee), who last played on Jan. 26, and D Brendan De Jong, who left Saturday’s 5-0 loss in Everett with an apparent injury to his left knee.


The Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George VancouverCougars, 4-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (37-13-3) has won five in a row. It will finish first in the B.C. Division, and now is one point behind the Everett Silvertips (38-13-2), who lead the Western Conference. . . . The Giants became the third WHL team — behind the Prince Albert Raiders and Everett — to clinch a playoff spot. Vancouver will be in the playoffs for a second straight season after missing three in a row. . . . Prince George (16-32-6) now has lost 13 in a row (0-10-3), the longest losing skid in the league this season. The Cougars are 10 points from a playoff spot. . . . F Ethan Browne (8) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:00 of the first period. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (12) tied it 42 seconds into the second period. . . . Vancouver put it away with three third-period goals, from F Davis Koch (22), on a PP, at 7:06; F Justin Sourdif (15), at 11:35; and F Tristen Nielsen (10), at 15:24. . . . Vancouver D Bowen Byram, who had two assists, took a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Cougars F Mitch Kohner at 13:48 of the third period. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 32 shots for the Giants, while G Taylor Gauthier, back after being shaken up and leaving a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday, made 25 saves for Prince George. . . . The Giants dressed only 11 forwards and then lost Brayden Watts in the first period. “Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks,” head coach Michael Dyck told Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a rainy Sunday . . . Rasmussen on Wings’ roster . . . Raiders win fifth straight . . . It’s a milestone for Mayer

Scattershooting

Brad Rock of the Deseret News proved that he’s ready for NBA training camps with this:

“The NBA season is nearly here, but there’s nothing to see until the playoffs.

“Well, maybe a few things.

“Last season went like this: Kawhi Leonard dissed Gregg Popovich, Bobby Portis broke Nikola Mirotic’s face, Dwane Casey was fired before being named Coach of the Year, and Kobe Bryant won an Oscar.

“Next they’ll be telling us a player is dating a Kardashian.

“Never mind. That’s not news.”

——

Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post:

“The hockey community as a whole should dispense with the dopey double talk and fully embrace the concept of player safety. Severe sanctions should be imposed for fighting. The pugilism is especially appalling at the major-junior level, with people paying money to watch barely compensated teenagers punch each other in the head. Hockey should have evolved far beyond that by now, but so many coaches, general managers and administrators are woefully stuck in the 1970s.”

——

You may have heard that HBO has decided boxing no longer will be a part of its programming. Larry Merchant, a long-time boxing insider with HBO, put it like this: “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ.”

——

Paul Gosar is a Republican candidate in Arizona who has six siblings endorsing his opponent. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “And you think your Thanksgiving family dinner might be awkward.”

——

The Saskatoon Blades are two games into a stretch of four games in five nights and six in eight nights, with the last five of those on the road. I guess I was rather naive to think that kind of scheduling would disappear when the WHL cut its regular-season schedule from 72 games to 68.

——

“Richard Mietz of Germany broke a Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a guy dressed as a landmark,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “It was a monumental achievement.”

——

It would seem that Currie is a big fan of marathons. After Jamie Buckland of Great Britain broke the Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a man dressed as a French maid, Currie noted: “Not only that, he dusted the competition.”

——

Who knew there were such records? Other than Currie, that is?

——

Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express passes along this one from a fake John Gruden account on Twitter: “I’ll tell ya what. Watching Patrick Mahomes throw the football is like music to my ears, man. He reminds me of that one West Virginia song. Take Mahomes country road.”

——

Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette: “I’m looking for a smartphone that tells you to get off the stupid phone and get a life.”


ThisThat

If you were an early visitor to this site after I posted on Saturday night, you will have seen a lead item that was critical of the WHL for its focus on video at the expense of what whlI referred to as “old-fashioned news releases.”

I also posted a tweet in which there was a link to a season-opening interview with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner.

Shortly after that post went live, I heard from Taylor Rocca, the WHL’s senior manager, communications, pointing out that the WHL did post an old-fashioned news release on its website, one that included most, if not all, of what Robison touched on in his video appearance.

Apologies to all involved for my having missed that news release, which was posted on Sept. 20.

A couple of things from that news release, which you are able to find right here . . .

On the trading of young players: “The WHL has adopted new restrictions on the trading of 15- and 16-year-old players. Effective this season, a 15- or 16-year-old player who has signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement cannot be traded under any circumstance.”

The trading of first-year import players, which has been prohibited prior to now, apparently will be allowed between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trade deadline. But there isn’t any mention of this in the news release.

On new disciplinary standards: “The WHL has taken further steps to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head. The WHL Seven Point Plan was first adopted in 2011 to establish a comprehensive education and prevention plan to address player safety issues.

“In strengthening the WHL’s Player Safety Seven Point Plan, Kevin Acheson was appointed the WHL Director, Player Safety and is responsible to oversee all on-ice discipline and supplemental discipline matters during pre-season, regular season and playoff games. In addition, new standards have been implemented with a particular focus on repeat offenders and checks to the head.”

There also was a paragraph further down that I was thrilled to see. It had to do with a promotion the WHL was involved with last season and will do again in 2018-19: “The WHL is proud to give back to its communities through a number of community initiatives scheduled for throughout the 2018-19 season, including the second run of RE/MAX presents WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.”

Last season, the WHL’s 17 Canadian franchises took part in this promotion and raised $265,500 on behalf of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.


The Saskatoon Blades played without F Brad Goethals, 20, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Raiders in Prince Albert on Sunday night. According to Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, Goethals has left the team. . . . A native of Ile Des Chenes, Man., Goethals had one goal in three games this season after recording 15 goals and 17 assists in 69 games last season. . . . Without Goethals, the Blades are down to a pair of 20-year-olds — F Max Gerlach and D Dawson Davidson.


The Tri-City Americans are going to be without F Michael Rasmussen for a while, perhaps even for the remainder of the WHL season. Rasmussen, 19, will be on the Detroit Red Wings’ roster when they open the NHL’s regular season against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. . . . Rasmussen, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, is from Vancouver. The Red Wings selected him with the ninth overall pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, he had 31 goals and 28 assists in 58 games with the Americans. In 161 regular-season WHL games, he has 81 goals and 76 assists.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders struck for three goals in 16 seconds en route to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders broke open a scoreless game with second-period goals from F Justin Nachbaur (7:30), F Ozzy Wiesblatt (7:39) and F Parker Kelly (3) as they ran their record to 5-0-0. . . . That established a club record for fastest three goals and was four seconds off the WHL record. The Raiders’ record of 22 seconds had been set by F Wayde Bucsis, F Mike Modano and F Pat Elyniuk on Feb. 25, 1987 in Brandon. . . . The Blades went into the game at 3-0-0. . . . 

F Brayden Watts tied the game at 19:15 of the third period and then won it in a shootout as the host Vancouver Giants beat the Spokane Chiefs, 5-4. . . . Watts also had two assists. . . .

F Tristin Langan scored twice to lead the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors to a 2-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Langan, 20, has two goals and four assists in four games. . . . The Pats now are 0-4-0. . . . G Brodan Salmond, who played last season with the Kelowna Rockets, stopped 31 shots in winning his first start with the Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw had D Brandon Schuldhaus back in the lineup after he served a three-game suspension left over from last season. . . .

F Brandon Hagel had a goal and three assists, and D Dawson Barteaux had four assists as the Red Deer Rebels beat the host Calgary Hitmen, 6-5, in OT. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev, a Russian freshman, won the game 31 seconds into OT. Hagel and Barteaux drew assists on the winner. . . . Hagel, 20, has 10 points, including seven assists, in five games. . . . Calgary F Tristen Nielsen took a boarding major and game misconduct at 2:04 of the second period for a hit on Red Deer D Carson Sass.


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If you are a WHL fan and are on Twitter, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). He regularly tweets interesting notes and stats involving WHL teams and players, such as this one from Saturday night:

A special Kidney Walk for Dorothy . . . A milestone for the Blades’ voice . . . Some tidbits from opening weekend

MacBeth

G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .

F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .

F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.


ThisThat

I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.

Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!

Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .

Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.

Drinnanfamily
The Drinnan family, with the cake (donated by the North Shore Safeway) that celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dorothy’s kidney transplant.

We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.

Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.

DrinnanSilvius
Darlene and Alan Silvius joined us at the Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sunday. Darlene and Dorothy have a special relationship.

Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.

So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.

These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.

The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.

All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.

Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.

Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.


In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .

Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .


Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.

There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.

The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.

Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!


On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:

“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.


The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose BrandonWKregularJaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.


A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.



The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.


F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally Lethbridgefor a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.

He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.


The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San PortlandJose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .

WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .

D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.

Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.


The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers Kamloops1showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”


The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.


The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


Tweetoftheday

Americans turn to Buchberger . . . Silvertips add two coaches, lose one . . . Hitmen to introduce their guy today


MacBeth

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and 12 assists in 67 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Victor Bartley (Kamloops, Regina, 2003-09) signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) signed a tryout contract with Kölner Haie (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and eight assists in 45 games, and also had one goal in six games with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . . His tryout deal runs until the Deutschland Cup break (Nov. 5). . . .

D Spencer Humphries (Tri-City, Calgary, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 40 games with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Slovan, and three goals and three assists in seven games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga).


ThisThat

Kelly Buchberger is the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Buchberger, with no WHL coaching experience, takes over from Mike Williamson, who left the organization tri-citylast month after four years as head coach. . . . Williamson is the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history. . . . The length of Buchberger’s contract wasn’t disclosed. . . . Buchberger, 51, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders last season. However, they chose to clean house following the season. Prior to that, he was with the Edmonton Oilers since 2004, spending six of those seasons as an NHL assistant coach. He also spent three seasons (2014-17) as the Oilers’ director of player personnel. . . . His only head-coaching experience is from 2007-08 when he was with the Springfield Falcons, then the AHL affiliate of the Oilers. . . . From Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger was a ninth-round pick by the Oilers in the NHL’ s 1985 draft. He went on to play 1,182 regular-season NHL games, splitting time with the Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He played two seasons (1984-86) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 26 goals, 39 assists and 320 penalty minutes. . . .

Brian Pellerin, 48, who has been the team’s associate coach for four seasons, will remain with the club and work alongside Buchberger. Pellerin is believed to have one year left on his contract. . . .

With the Americans having unveiled their head coach, the Calgary Hitmen remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. However, they have scheduled a news conference for today (Tuesday) to announce the 10th head coach in franchise history.


The Everett Silvertips have signed Louis Mass and Harry Mahood as assistant coaches to work alongside head coach Dennis Williams. . . . Mass, 41, is from Anchorage and has Everettspent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach through five seasons with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. . . . Mahood, from Thompson, Man., played four seasons (1979-83) in the WHL, spending time with the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. Yes, that is an amazing quarter of WHL teams. . . . Mahood, who will turn 56 on Aug. 8, has been in the coaching game since 1996 in Germany. Of late, he coached with Williams with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and USHL’s Bloomington Thunder, both of which were under the umbrella of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips. . . . Shane Clifford, who spent a total of 11 seasons, including the last four, as Everett’s goaltending coach, has left to coach goaltenders with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Last season, he also worked with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and Youngstown Phantoms. . . . The Silvertips had room on their coaching staff after Mitch Love, the assistant to the GM and assistant coach, signed on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.


There haven’t yet been any announcements, but Taking Note has been told by sources familiar with the WHL that Ryan Smith and Jamie Heward, both of whom have left the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff, will be joining other WHL teams. . . . Smith, who spent three seasons as the Broncos’ associate coach, is moving to the Medicine Hat Tigers to work with GM/head coach Shawn Clouston and assistant coach Joe Frazer. . . . Heward will be joining the Vancouver Giants where he will work with first-year assistant coach Michael Dyck. Heward had been with the Broncos for six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development.


The Saskatoon Blades and the Saskatoon Media Group have agreed to a four-year Saskatooncontract extension that involves the broadcast rights to the team’s WHL games. Under the new deal, the broadcasts will move from 92.9 The BULL FM to 98 COOL FM. . . . That’s good because no one is cooler than Les Lazaruk, who is preparing for his 25th season as the radio voice of the Blades. . . . The Blades also announced that “Lazaruk will host a live one-hour pre-game show from the concourse at SaskTel Centre prior to home games. Fans also will get a chance to hear from the players and staff every Thursday morning on 98COOL FM.”


The Portland Winterhawks have signed two import forwards — Dean Schwenninger, 17, who is from Switzerland, and Michal Kvasnica, 18, from Czech Republic. . . . Last season, PortlandSchwenninger had 13 goals and 24 assists in 19 games with Zug U-17 in the Elite Novizen. In 20 games with Zug’s U-20 side, he had five goals and three assists. In 15 games with Switzerland’s U-17 team, he added five goals and four assists. . . . Kvasnica had six goals and 10 assists in 45 games with HC Frydek-Mistek in Czech2. He also played eight games with HC Trinec U-20, putting up five goals and four assits. In seven games at the World U-18 championship, he had two goals and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks finished last season with two imports — Danish F Joachim Blichfeld and Finnish D Henri Jokiharju. . . . Blichfeld, who turns 20 today (Tuesday), is expected to play with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season. . . . Jokiharju has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. If he doesn’t make the Blackhawks, well, here’s what Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on Sunday: “The Winterhawks are moving on without him, so he likely will end up in Chicago or Rockford this season. It’s also possible Jokiharju will go to the Finnish Elite League for a year. It’s unlikely, but Jokiharju has some history with it. His father, Juha, played for more than a decade in the Liiga.” . . . The Rockford IceHogs are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Lazerus’s complete story is right here.Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: Blades’ voice has idea to honour Tyler Bieber . . . Guy Charron? Call him commissioner . . . Virden up 2-0 in MJHL final

Scattershooting

Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, caught a ride with Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele on Thursday morning and the two headed for Humboldt.

They went to the Elgar Petersen Arena for the funeral of Broncos’ radio voice Tyler Bieber, who was killed in Friday’s bus crash.

While in the seats, just prior to the service starting, Lazaruk had an idea.

“One other thing I feel as I sit and look at Tyler Bieber’s spot in the 107.5 Bolt FM broadcast booth,” he tweeted, “. . . I want to honour Tyler’s memory by calling Humboldt Broncos game on Bolt-FM. For free! No talent fee! No gas money! No meal money! I don’t care where the game is.

“There are 58 regular-season games in 2018-19 and I hope 57 other broadcasters step up and do the same in Tyler’s memory.”

If there is a way to make this work, you can bet on it happening.

Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Peter Loubardias, Phil Andrews, Kelly Moore, Shawn Mullin, Ryan Switzer, James Gallo, Troy Gillard, Dave Randorf, John Fraser, Ben Holden, Joey Kenward, Tim Edmonds, Jason Gregor, Lee Jones, Tony Brar, Rob Mahon, Nick Gismondi, Brendan Parker, Peter Mills, Pete Krupsky and Cameron Birnie were among those to respond in a resoundingly positive fashion.


Tyler Bieber was a huge fan of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Upon hearing that, Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, called Bieber’s family — he ended up leaving a voicemail expressing condolences, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan — and also made sure that flowers were sent.



Bob Wilkie was a defenceman with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos. He survived the Broncos’ bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, and went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup with SCBroncosthem.

Wilkie later co-authored a book about the Broncos and that accident — Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.

On Sunday, he was in Saskatoon and Humboldt as he, Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Darren Kruger worked to spread hope among those impacted by the Humboldt bus crash.

This week, Wilkie dug up a souvenir of that 1989 Memorial Cup championship.



Elsewhere . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed three members of their organization to contract extensions, the lengths of which weren’t released. Assistant coach Scott Burt, equipment manager Tim Lindblade and Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, all have new deals. . . . Burt is preparing for his sixth season with the Chiefs. . . . Lindblade joined the Chiefs for the 2013-14 season. . . . Baird just completed his first season as equipment manager after 10 seasons as the Chiefs’ video co-ordinator.


Jeff Wagner is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had been assistant GM/associate coach with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats. . . . Wagner replaces Craig Mohr, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Ghostriders were first-round playoff casualties. This was his fourth season as the club’s GM/head coach.


Guy Charron, a former NHLer who did a couple of turns as the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is the new commissioner of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League. . . . You can bet that Charron will be a busy man because, as Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes, “The league has never been short on fiery personalities and hot-button issues — and this year is no different.” . . . Hastings has more right here.


JUST NOTES: If you’re following the WHL playoffs, you will be aware that the Tri-City Americans completed a four-game sweep of the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. The Americans play in the U.S. Division and were a wild-card entry into the playoffs. They have swept the B.C. Division’s top two teams — the Kelowna Rockets, who finished atop the division, and the Royals, who were second. Does this mean the Americans get to hoist a B.C. Division championship pennant prior to next season? . . . In the MJHL, Rylee Zimmer had a goal and two assists to help the host Virden Oil Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons. Zimmer tied the game at 14:07 of the third period and drew an assist on Landyn Cochrane’s winner at 15:48. . . . Virden won the opener, 2-1, in Steinbach on April 6. Game 2 had been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed out of respect for the Humboldt Broncos. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Steinbach. . . . The winner of the MJHL championship will meet the SJHL champ, either the Estevan Bruins or Nipawin Hawks, in the ANAVET Cup series. The SJHL final opens Saturday in Nipawin. . . .


A really interesting hockey book was published a year ago, but somehow I missed it. That book is Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. I came upon it last month, and simply devoured it. Written by Greg Oliver, it details all that went on as Canadian hockey moved into the national team era and beyond. When I was growing up in northern Manitoba, among my hockey heroes were the likes of Roger Bourbonnais, Terry O’Malley, Barry MacKenzie, Fran Huck, Seth Martin, Ken Broderick, Jean Cusson et al. These were the Canadian players who would venture to Europe and get in the face of the great Soviet machine. The stories of all that went into getting the national program off the ground — no, Clarence Campbell’s NHL didn’t like it at all — all are right here. Great stuff!