Hunter takes over Team Canada . . . Ex-Hitmen coach lands in Denver . . . Everett adds Backus, Fraser to front office


MacBeth

F Kaspars Saulietis (Kelowna, Regina, 2006-08) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 25 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 40 games with Dinamo Riga, and was pointless in three games while on loan to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in one game with the Florida Panthers (NHL), and had 20 goals and 42 assists in 73 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL). He led the Thunderbirds in assists and points.


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Tim Hunter, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has taken over as head coach of Canada’s national junior team. Hunter, 57, was an assistant with Canada each of the past Canadatwo seasons. . . . Hunter, who is preparing for his fifth season in Moose Jaw, replaces Dominique Ducharme, Canada’s head coach for each of the last two seasons. Ducharme has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . With Hunter moving up from assistant coach, Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been added to Canada’s staff. The other assistant coaches are Marc-Andre Dumont of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Jim Hulton of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . .

Mike Burnstein of the Vancouver Giants and Khore Elliott of the Victoria Royals have been named Team Canada’s athletic therapists. . . . Canada won the gold medal at the 2018 tournament in Buffalo, and will attempt to defend the title at the 2019 tournament that is scheduled to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26. . . . While Canada will play its round-robin games in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, it will hold its selection camp in Victoria. . . .

Group A comprises Canada, Czech Repulic, Denmark, Russia and
Switzerland, with Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Sweden and Team USA in Group B, which will play out of Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.


Dallas Ferguson, who left the Calgary Hitmen last month, is joining the U of Denver Pioneers as an assistant coach. He will work under first-year head coach Matt Carle, 28. . . . Carle has taken over from Jim Montgomery, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Ferguson, 45, left the U of Alaska-Fairbanks to join the Hitmen as head coach prior to last season. He had been on the Nanook’ coaching staff for 13 seasons, the last nine as head coach. . . . In announcing Ferguson’s resignation on June 26, Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth explained in a news release: ““Dallas approached me last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this year.”


The Everett Silvertips firmed up the top end of their scouting department on Tuesday as Everettthey named Alvin Backus their director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as their head scout. . . . Backus spent the past seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. His contract with Montreal expired on Saturday and wasn’t renewed. . . . Backus lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. Garry Davidson, who is heading into his seventh season as the Silvertips’ general manager, was the owner, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for seven seasons (2001-08). . . . Fraser, a WHL scout since 2005, lives in Edmonton. . . . He started scouting with the Swift Current Broncos in 2005 and spent seven seasons with them. Fraser has been working with the Brandon Wheat Kings since 2012-13. . . . The Silvertips lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel for four seasons, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who named him general manager on June 6.


Bob Jones has signed on as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Jones had been the head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals for three seasons, although he missed the 2017-18 season due to a serious health problem. Jones, 48, and the Generals then went their separate ways in April. . . . Derek Laxdal, a former head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, is the head coach with Texas.


Nathan Oystrick, a native of Regina, has been named the general manager and head HumboldtBroncoscoach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Oystick, 35, replaces Darcy Haugan, who was killed in the April 6 bus crash that also claimed 15 other lives. . . . Oystrick spent last season coaching a high school team in Colorado. In 2016-17, he was an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. . . . A defenceman, he played two seasons (2000-02) with the BCHL’s South Surrey Eagles before going on to four seasons at Northern Michigan U. His pro career included stints with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


Brayden Pettinger was a 20-year-old defenceman with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers when he suffered a devastating back injury during a game against the host Winnipeg Blues on Nov. 12, 2015. Pettinger, who is from Elgin, Man., now is in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. . . . These days, he and his father, Rick, are in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is undergoing a medical procedure. Brayden’s uncle, Larry, updated things with steinbachonline.com, and that piece is right here.


Geoff Grimwood has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors as assistant general manager and associate coach. Grimwood, 37, spent the past three seasons as the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. . . . In the past, he has worked with the WHL’s Victoria Royals and the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . With the Warriors, he’ll work alongside GM/head coach Rylan Ferster.


Jesse Dorrans is back as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces Bill Rotheisler, who was dismissed after two seasons on the job. . . . Rotheisler was hired prior to the 2016-17 season, taking over from Dorrans, who left to become GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He resigned after one season due to what the team said ws “personal reasons.”


F Skyler McKenzie of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year entry-level deal Portlandwith the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was a seventh-round selection by the Jets in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, McKenzie, 20, had 47 goals and 40 assists in 72 games. In 282 regular-season games with Portland, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native has 101 goals and 111 assist. He was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the WHL for one more season, but likely will start the season with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL affiliate.


Two WHLers have been selected to the roster of USA Hockey’s representative for the U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. It will feature teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . F Luke Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips were named to the roster. Toporowski is from Bettendorf, Iowa, while Wolf is from Tustin, Calif. . . . The complete Team USA roster is right here.


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Americans looking for head coach . . . Lajoie hopes to make hay with Kamloops . . . Broncos are poised to introduce their man

MacBeth

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with  Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite, he had eight goals and seven assists in 15 games, and he had nine goals and 13 assists in 31 games with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was tied for second on the Slovakian team in assists. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 56 games. . . .

F Justin Hickman (Seattle, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had five goals and three assists in 32 games. . . . Hickman is Lillehammer’s ‘Public Player’ for the coming season. The club pays the salary of the team’s public player in part from funds raised from fans. As of Monday morning, the club had raised NOK 186,837 (Cdn$30,662.00, US$23,026.00) from 499 donors since May 7. That was 110 per cent of the team’s goal. The donations ranged from NOK 1 (16 cents Cdn, or 12 cents U.S.) up to one donation of NOK 10,000 (Cdn$1,640.00, US$1,232.00). Donors are eligible to win prizes such as game-worn sweaters, game-worn warmup jerseys and free ice time at the team’s arena.

F Tomáš Karpov (Mosse Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with the Bracknell Bees (England, National). Last season, with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National), he had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals and points. . . .

F Karel Hromas (Everett, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Montpellier (France, Division 1). Last season, with Annecy (France, Division 1), he had eight goals and 11 assists in 26 games. He was second on his team in points. . . .

F Mads Eller (Edmonton, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). In 38 games, he had 15 goals and 12 assists. He was second on the club in goals.


ThisThat

With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having filled head-coaching vacancies (see below), there now are three WHL teams with empty offices.

The Tri-City Americans have joined the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants on that list. The Americans started their search on Monday after announcing that head tri-citycoach Mike Williamson won’t be returning.

According to the Americans’ news release, “Mike has decided to pursue other opportunities” after four seasons with them.

Later in the day, Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager, told Taking Note that “Mike has being doing this since he was 20; he just wants to do something else.”

Williamson, 44, played three seasons (1991-94) with the Portland Winter Hawks, then began his coaching career as an assistant with them in 1995-96. He later worked as Portland’s head coach, then spent five seasons as the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen, guiding them to a WHL championship in his first season (2009-10).

Williamson is the fifth-winningest head coach in WHL history, his 572 victories trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).

With Hay and Williamson no longer active, Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels is the winningest active WHL head coach, with 468 regular-season victories.

Williamson was only Tory’s third hire as a head coach, following Don Nachbaur (2003-09) and Jim Hiller (2009-14). Nachbaur now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, while Hiller is with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tory told Taking Note that he had received about 300 resumes by late Monday afternoon. He added that he plans to narrow it to “five or six for interviews” and that he is working on an Aug. 1 timeline, although that isn’t written in stone.

Brian Pellerin, who has spent the past four seasons as the Americans’ associate coach, will be one of those interviewed by Tory.

The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have yet to name a replacement for general manager Randy Hansch, head coach Steve Hamilton or assistant coach Ryan Marsh, all of whom no longer are with the club.

It is widely believed that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent last season as a scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, has been hired as director of hockey operations, but an announcement has yet to be made.

According to the Oil Kings’ Twitter account, they also are looking to hire a manager, game presentation and digital media, and a manager, communications.

The Giants will be replacing Jason McKee, who was fired on June 15 after two seasons with them. Barclay Parneta, who was hired as GM on May 23, made the announcement, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that “for me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

Parneta had been Tri-City’s assistant GM and there has been speculation that he might be interesting in Pellerin as head coach.


As expected, the Kamloops  Blazers have signed Serge Lajoie as their newest head coach.

Lajoie takes over from Don Hay, 64, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any coach in WHL history. Hay remains with the Blazers in an advisory role.

On June 21, you read here that “Lajoie is expected to sign on as head coach of the Kamloops1Kamloops Blazers, if he hasn’t already.”

Here’s what I wrote about Lajoie on June 18:

“Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

“Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

“Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

“Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

“Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

“Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.”

Lajoie is the first hire by Matt Bardsley, who was named the Blazers’ general manager on June 1. He replaced Stu MacGregor, who was moved to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi is the Stars’ owner and the Blazers’ majority owner.

The Blazers still are without a lead assistant coach and a director of player personnel. Mike Needham, the club’s lead assistant, and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel, were dismissed when the Blazers moved Hay and MacGregor aside.

The Blazers announced Lajoie’s signing via a news release that is right here. The news release doesn’t give any indication as to length of contract.


The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s reigning champions, are expected to introduce Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach at a SCBroncosnews conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, whose title was

Here’s what I wrote here on June 21:

“Taking Note has been told that Dean Brockman will be joining the Swift Current Broncos . . .

“Brockman, 51, spent the previous four seasons on the staff of the Saskatoon Blades, the past two as head coach. He was fired following the 2017-18 season.

“Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Many observers thought he would end up back in Humboldt, where he would have taken over from the late Darcy Haugan, the team’s general manager and head coach who was killed in the crash involving the Broncos’ bus on April 6.

Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Jamie Porter, who had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel, has left the organization. Porter has been with the Broncos through 15 seasons.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is out of a medically induced coma and has been visited by teammates in Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.

Vandervlis and two other players suffered burns when something went wrong as they Lethbridgesat around a fire at a home near Cochrane, Alta., on June 15.

F Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos was released from hospital on Thursday, while F Jordy Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, may be released today (Tuesday).

Peter Anholt, Lethbridge’s general manager, told Vanessa Hrvatin of the Calgary Herald that Vandervlis, who isn’t yet able to speak, has been “responding well” to visitors.

Hrvatin reported that Vandervlis, 20, is expected to “remain in the ICU for some time before moving to the burn unit of a hospital in Calgary for extensive skin grafting.”

Hrvatin’s story is right here.


The Spokane Chiefs have acquired D Bobby Russell, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a SpokaneChiefsconditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. . . . Russell, from Surrey, B.C., was a sixth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 41 games. He played most of the previous season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, but got into five games with the Ice, going pointless.


F Yegor Zudilov won’t be back for a second season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, which will allow them to pick twice in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . . . Zudilov, who will turn 18 on Sept. 10, is from Russia. Last season, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 23 games with the Hurricanes.


“The growth of European talent is immensely significant for the growth of the game (of hockey); however, it is not widely known that European players are treated differently under the Collective Bargaining Agreement from their North American counterpart,” writes Ryan Lake at forbes.com, referring to the NHL-NHLPA CBA. “Teams that draft a player from a European club have exclusive rights to sign the player to a contract for four years. However, if the player is from a North American club, the NHL team has only two years of exclusive rights.”

Lake’s complete story is right here. It explains the ins and outs of the CBA and its impact on European draft choices.


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Lamb signs on to shepherd Cougars . . . Anholt has updates on injured players . . . Deadmarsh back with Chiefs

MacBeth

F Tanner Eberle (Moose Jaw, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Allen Americans (ECHL), he had two goals and an assist in 11 games. He also had 21 goals and 11 assists in 63 games with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL). He was second on Jacksonville in goals. . . .

D Harrison Ruopp (Prince Albert, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had four goals and seven assists in 14 games with the Balgonie Bisons (Qu’Appelle Valley Senior). . . .

D Kendall McFaull (Moose Jaw, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with the U of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he had four goals and five assists in 27 games. He was the team captain. . . . McFaull was named to Canada West’s second all-star team, and won Canada West’s Student-Athlete Community Service Award, and the Dr. Randy Gregg Award (U Sports Student-Athlete Community Service).


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The Prince George Cougars introduced Mark Lamb as their new general manager on Tuesday morning. Lamb, 53, signed a four-year contract. He replaces Todd Harkins, PGCougars25whose contract wasn’t renewed after last season. Harkins had been the GM for four seasons. . . . Lamb, a native of Ponteix, Sask., spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . He left to join the NHL-Arizona Coyotes organization and spent 2016-17 as the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. However, he was dismissed after one season. . . . Lamb got into coaching as an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers in 2001-02, then spent six seasons as an assistant with the Dallas Stars. . . . Eric Brewer, one of the Cougars’ owners, was a defenceman with the Oilers when Lamb coached there. Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk was a defenceman with Dallas when Lamb was on its coaching staff. . . . According to the Prince George Citizen, Matvichuk is starting the last season of a three-year contract as the Cougars’ head coach, while associate coach Steve O’Rourke has two seasons left on a deal. Assistant coach Shawn Chambers’ contract expired on May 31 and there has been no word as to whether he has been extended. Last week, the Cougars hired Taylor Dakers as the organization’s first full-time goaltending coach.


Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, held a news conference on Tuesday to talk about the Friday night incident that left three hockey players in a Calgary hospital.

F Ryan Vandervlis, 20, remains in a medically induced coma and in critical condition, Lethbridgealthough he has been taken off dialysis. F Jordy Bellerive and F Matt Alfaro also are in Calgary’s Foothills Health Centre.

Vandervlis and Bellerive play for the Hurricanes; in fact, Bellerive is the captain. Alfaro, who played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice and the Hurricanes, just completed his first season with the U of Calgary Dinos.

The three were injured when something went wrong with a fire that was being lit at the home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong near Calgary.

Anholt began by reading a prepared statement that included:

“Alfaro and Bellerive sustained burns to their upper bodies and are continuing to make progress and steps towards full recovery. Vandervlis sustained burns to the front of his body and has continued to be in a medically induced coma. He, too, has shown signs of progress having been taken off dialysis (Monday), which again is a real positive step.”

Anholt also continued to discredit earlier reports that claimed the incident occurred during a bachelor party in honour of Wong.

“It has been reported that the campfire occurred during a bachelor party, these reports are inaccurate and totally false,” Anholt’s statement read. “The campfire incident occurred at the family home of former WHL player Tyler Wong along with nine of his friends prior to a planned day of golf and camping.”

Later, Anholt told the news conference that Wong is preparing for his wedding.

“Well, Tyler Wong is getting married and this happened before the wedding, so I guess you can say whatever you like as far as pre-wedding is concerned,” Anholt said. “We’re talking about nine awesome kids, men, good friends, and they were getting prepared to play some golf the next day and go camping. That’s what it was, done.”

Aaron Mahoney of lethbridgenewsNOW has more right here.


Adam Deadmarsh will be back for a second season as an assistant coach with the SpokaneChiefsSpokane Chiefs. Deadmarsh, 43, joined the Chiefs prior to last season and worked under head coach Dan Lambert. . . . Deadmarsh played 567 NHL games, split among the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. Deadmarsh won a Stanley Cup with the 1995-96 Avalanche. . . . He also worked as an assistant coach with Colorado (2009-12). . . . Before going on to a pro career, Deadmarsh played four seasons (1991-95) with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have placed G Josh Dechaine, who will turn 20 on Sept. 14, on waivers. The St. Albert, Alta., native got into 17 games with the Oil Kings in 2016-17 and 32 last season, when he was 12-14-5, 4.19, .867. . . . In 49 career regular-season games, he is 15-22-6, 4.26, .870.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Mekai Sanders, who was a ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Sanders, from Gig Harbor, Wash., played minor hockey with the Seattle Junior Hockey Association and Sno-King Hockey Association. . . . Last season, he played for the U-14 Detroit Compuware team, putting up six goals and 12 assists in 20 games.


The Kamloops  Blazers have signed F Matthew Seminoff, who was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Coquitlam, B.C., he had 12 goals and 13 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club Academy last season.


Dickson Liong’s writing used to end up on this blog, back in the days before he moved on to bigger and better things as The Sports Corporation’s director of communications. Now he has decided to leave TSC. . . . He writes about his decision right here.


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Blazers closing in on new head coach? . . . Vandervlis in medically induced coma, critical condition . . . Blades add associate coach


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). In 24 games, he had five goals and 13 assists, while averaging 18:42 TOI per game. He missed the first 31 games of the season due to an injury.


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The Kamloops Blazers may be closing in on a new head coach. Serge Lajoie, the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past three seasons, was in Kamloops on Monday for a face-to-face session with general manager Matt Bardsley.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, the winningest regular-season Kamloops1and playoff coach in WHL history, who now is in an advisory role.

Bardsley was named the general manager on June 1, replacing Stu MacGregor, who now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Blazers, owns the Stars. Bardsley had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999, the past five seasons as assistant general manager.

Gaglardi is believed to have met with Lajoie before hiring Bardsley as general manager.

Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.


The family of F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes confirmed on Monday that he is in critical condition in a medically induced coma following an accident involving a bonfire in Bearspaw, which is located just northwest of Calgary.

“Our son and brother, Ryan Vandervlis, was injured at a bonfire this past weekend,” the Lethbridgestatement reads. “We want to be clear that alcohol was not a factor in this accident.

“Ryan is in a medically induced coma as he suffered severe burns to his body. He is receiving exceptional medical care in an intensive-care unit in Calgary where he remains in critical condition.”

The statement was signed by Barb, Rene, Cara, Sean and Rachel Vandervlis.

Vandervlis, 20, teammate Jordy Bellerive, 19, and former Hurricanes forward Matt Alfaro were injured late Friday night after something, according to RCMP, was placed on the bonfire which was at a home in Bearspaw.

A news release from the Hurricanes on Monday indicated that Alfaro and Bellerive “are currently in stable condition.”

Cpl. Troy Savinkoff of the Cochrane RCMP told CBC News that “there was some form of celebration at a residence in the Bearspaw subdivision. They had some issues lighting a fire. In their attempt to light this fire, there was an accident and three males were burned and were taken to hospital with various injuries and burns.”

According to David Bell of CBC News, Savinkoff also indicated that while alcohol was consumed, it wasn’t consumed in excess nor was it a contributing factor.

(Bell’s story is right here.)

Savinkoff also indicated that an investigation continues but that there isn’t any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The Hurricanes also issued a news release on Monday, stating, in part, that the incident didn’t occur during a bachelor party.

“It has been reported that the campfire occurred during a bachelor party. These reports are inaccurate,” the new release reads. “The campfire occurred at the family home of (former Hurricanes captain) Tyler Wong the evening prior to a planned day of golf.”

The Wong family also released a statement on Monday. It reads, in part:

“On Friday evening, nine of Tyler’s friends came to our house to stay the night as they were planning to go golfing and camping on Saturday. It was not a stag or bachelor party, as has been inaccurately reported. In starting a campfire, the accident occurred. Mr. and Mrs. Wong were present and acted quickly to transport those injured to a Calgary hospital.”

Calgary EMS responded to a call late Friday night and intercepted a vehicle near Calgary. Alfaro, who now plays for the U of Calgary Dinos, Bellerive and Vandervlis were moved to the ambulance and taken to the Foothills Medical Centre.

Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, is expected to hold a news conference today (Tuesday) in Lethbridge.



Ryan Marsh has signed on with the Saskatoon Blades as associate coach. Marsh, 43, joins Saskatoonhead coach Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season with the Blades, and assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Jerome Engele, and goaltender coach Tim Cheveldae. . . . Marsh spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He also has coaching experience with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and in the AJHL. . . . The Oil Kings fired Marsh on May 28, the same day that they fired head coach Steve Hamilton. . . . Marsh, a defenceman, played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans (1992-95), then later played four seasons with the Golden Bears. . . . Marsh is from Quesnel, B.C., which also is Love’s hometown. They two men worked together as assistant coaches with Team Canada Red at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in 2016. . . . Marsh fills the vacancy created when the Blades dismissed Bryce Thoma, who had been with them for two seasons.


The Kootenay Ice has extended the contract of Jake Heisinger, its director, scouting and Kootenaynewhockey operations, for five years. He just completed his first season with the Ice and led the scouting staff at the 2018 WHL bantam draft. According to an Ice news release, “Heisinger oversees the scouting team and the evaluation of players for the WHL bantam draft. He also works closely with the prospects in the system regarding player development.” He also is involved in player evaluations and transactions. . . . At the same time, the Ice extended Taras McEwen, its manager, scouting and hockey operations, for three years. He also joined the Ice in 2017. . . . The Ice also announced that it has added Tyler MacDonald to its scouting staff. He had been a Manitoba regional scout for the Ice from 2009-14. Interestingly, MacDonald is the only scout listed on the Ice’s website.


The Kelowna Rockets have acquired F Mark Liwiski, who is to turn 17 on Aug. 8, from the KelownaRocketsEverett Silvertips for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Liwiski, who is from Dauphin, Man., was a third-round selection by Everett in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . He started last season with the Silvertips but was suspended and sent home in November after being “found to be in clear violation of team policy.” . . . Liwiski was pointless in 10 games with Everett. He finished the season with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, putting up 14 goals and 11 assists in 36 games.


Gaelan Patterson has joined the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves as an assistant coach. Patterson, 27, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included stops in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe. Last season, he played with the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze. . . . Patterson, who is from Saskatoon, will work under head coach Evan Vossen, replacing Darren Martens, who left after last season.


Tweetoftheday

RCMP investigating ‘fire incident’ that left three players hospitalized . . . Royals sign first-round pick

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) wasn’t offered a contract for this season after his one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga) expired on Sunday. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

RCMP in Cochrane, Alta., are investigating a Saturday night incident that resulted in three hockey players being taken to a Calgary hospital.

Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos, along with Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, remained in hospital Sunday night, being treated for Lethbridgeburns suffered in what the RCMP termed a “fire incident” that occurred “at approximately 11:43 p.m.”

According to the RCMP news release:

“Cochrane RCMP, along with Rockyview Fire and EMS were dispatched to a structure fire in the Bearspaw area of Rockyview County, located approximately 10 km east of Cochrane.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that a substance was placed into a fire-pit that caused an explosion. No structures were involved or affected by the incident.

“Three people who were in the area of the fire-pit sustained burn injuries. . . . The injured persons were transported via ground ambulance to a Calgary hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries. . . .

“The investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

While the RCMP has yet to release the identities of the three injured players, the Hurricanes revealed on Saturday night that they are Bellerive, Alfaro and Vandervlis.

The three players are in the Foothills Medical Centre. According to a report by Evan Radford of StarMetro Calgary, a spokesperson for Calgary EMS said that “one of the three is critical, one is in serious, potentially life-threatening condition, and one is in serious, non-life-threatening condition.”

Bellerive, 19, finished the 2017-18 season as the Hurricanes’ captain. Last summer, he went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins and earned a three-year entry-level NHL contract.

On Sunday, the Penguins issued a news release that indicated assistant general manager Bill Guerin “has spoken with Bellerive, who is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery.”

Bellerive is from North Vancouver, B.C.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. His 2017-18 season was short-circuited when he underwent shoulder surgery in December.

Alafaro, 21, has played one season with the Dinos. From Calgary, he played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice, before being traded to the Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season.


The Victoria Royals have signed D Nolan Bentham to a WHL contract. Bentham, who is from Victoria, was a first-round selection, 13th overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Bentham played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up five goals and 17 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team. . . . He is the son of John Bentham, a defenceman who had three assists in 35 games with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars in 1989-90.

——

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

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

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

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


In a news release following its annual general meeting in Vancouver last week, the WHL issued a news release that included this:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to provide specifics. But anything less than a complete ban on headshots, including fighting, is a fail . . . a large fail.

If you’re wondering why, well, if you haven’t already seen it already, the always literate Ken Dryden wrote a piece for The Athletic on the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman and its stance on concussions, CTE, checks to the head, etc.

Dryden’s essay is right here and it explains it all.


Josh Lee has signed on with the MJHL’s WayWayseecappo Wolverines as associate general manager and associate coach. Lee, 28, is from Edmonton. He will work under GM/head coach Taylor Harnett with the Wolverines.

Three players hospitalized with burns after something goes wrong . . . Giants need head coach . . . Wheaties mourn death of Borotsik

MacBeth

F Roman Horák (Chilliwack, 2009-11) signed a one-year contract with the Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 16 assists in 54 games, while averaging 19:13 TOI per game. . . .

F Levi Nelson (Swift Current, 2004-08) announced his retirement through an interview in The Sheffield Star. Last season, with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), he had 16 goals and 26 assists in 55 games.


ThisThat

Two members of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and a former teammate are being treated in hospital for burns received on Saturday night.

Matt Alfaro, Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis were injured when something went awry involving a bonfire.

Lisa MacGregor of Global News reported that “sources tell Global News they were hurt in a fire in Calgary . . . and one of the players is in critical condition.”

According to a news release issued late Saturday by the Hurricanes:

“All three players are currently being treated in hospital for various injuries sustained in the incident. . . . The Hurricanes’ focus and priority is on the health of the players injured and will have no further comments at this time. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Alfaro, from Calgary, was acquired by the Hurricanes from the Kootenay Ice during the 2016-17 season. He completed his junior eligibility by scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists in 20 games with the Hurricanes. In 263 regular-season games, 243 of them with the Ice, he had 62 goals and 93 assists. Last season, he had three goals and nine assists in 26 games with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive, a 19-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., is the Hurricanes’ captain. Last season, he had 46 goals and 46 assists in 71 games, and was named to the Eastern Conference’s second all-star team. In 206 regular-season games, he has 84 goals and 100 assists.

Bellerive, who wasn’t selected in an NHL draft, signed a three-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh after attending training camp with the Penguins prior to last season.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. In 162 regular-season games, all with the Hurricanes, he has 30 goals and 37 assists. Last season, he was limited by injuries to 19 games, and he finished with 11 goals and eight assists. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in early December and was hoping to be completely for his final junior season.


The Vancouver Giants fired head coach Jason McKee on Friday, making the announcement in a late-day three-paragraph news release.

McKee spent two seasons with the Giants, missing the playoffs in 2016-17, with a 20-46-6 record, and making the playoffs in 2017-18, at 36-27-9, good for third in the B.C. Division, Vancouver12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets and three behind the Victoria Royals. The Giants lost a seven-game series to the Royals in the first round of the playoffs.

Barclay Parneta, who is into his first year as the Giants’ general manager, pulled the trigger on McKee, who had one year left on his contract.

According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, Parneta said: “For me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

A couple of free-agent coaches with whom Parneta has at least some familiarity are Serge Lajoie and Brian Pellerin.

Lajoie just finished a three-year stint as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, guiding them to the 2017-18 Canadian championship. He took over the Golden Bears when Ian Herbers took a sabbatical to work as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. They chose to release Herbers after last season, and he has returned to the Golden Bears.

Parneta was the Tri-City Americans’ assistant general manager before signing with the Giants. The Americans selected Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft and also signed him, all on Parneta’s watch.

Pellerin, who played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders, has been the associate coach with the Americans for four seasons. He also spent four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.

In between Portland and Tri-City, he coach with the Central league’s Amarillo Gorillas, the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

The Giants join the Kamloops Blazers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos as teams in search of a head coach.

You would think McKee, 39, would be of interest to the Oil Kings. From Lloydminster, Alta., he spent 10 seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints, the last six as general manager and head coach, before joining the Giants. Under McKee, the Saints won three AJHL titles in six seasons and he twice was the league’s coach of the year

The Oil Kings are looking for a head coach after firing head coach Steve Hamilton after four seasons on May 29. Hamilton had been an assistant coach for four seasons before moving up to head coach.

Of course, the Oil Kings also need a general manager, having parted company with Randy Hansch at the same time.

Ewen’s complete piece on McKee’s firing by the Giants is right here.


Jack Borotsik, who played two season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on June 8 at BrandonWKregularthe Brandon Regional Health Centre. He was 68. . . . Borotsik, who was from Brandon, played two seasons (1967-69) with the Wheat Kings when the WHL was the Western Canada Hockey League. He totalled 60 goals and 98 assists in 119 regular-season games. He got into one NHL game, that with the St. Louis Blues in 1974-75. . . . The family has asked that donations in his memory be made to a charity of one’s own choice. . . . In November 2016, Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun featured Borotsik in one of his stories on past Wheat Kings. That story is right here.


Myles Cathcart has resigned as general manager of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Cathcart, who had been in the position for seven seasons, left after the organization decided to charge each of its players a “travel fee” of $267 per month. “It’s just my philosophical view that junior hockey should be different than AAA (midget),” Cathcart told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “I’m not mad, I just decided that it would be a good time for somebody to put their stamp on whatever they wanted to do. I’m not leaving on bad terms, I just didn’t want to do it.” . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


TheCoachingGame

Phil Roy is the new general manager and head coach of the junior A Notre Dame Hounds, an SJHL team that plays out of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Roy had been an assistant coach with the Clarkson U Golden Knights since 2011. From St. Leonard, Que., Roy takes over from Clint Mylymok, who resigned in order to sign on as GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Maryland Blackbears, an expansion team. Mylymok had been with the Hounds for four seasons.


The junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Dale Hladun, their general manager and head coach, to a three-year extension. Hladun is preparing for his fourth season with the Wranglers. Under Hladun, the Wranglers won the 2015-16 KIJHL championship, as well as the Cyclone Taylor Cup and the Keystone Cup.

Four in chase for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Blazers sign first-round pick . . . Manson leaves Raiders for AHL gig

MacBeth

D Vladimír Mihálik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four goals and nine assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be played in the home arena of a WHL team, and organizations had until May 31 to express official interest in bidding to be the host club.

In the end, four teams filed letters of intent — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals.

The WHL has yet to make this official. In fact, a WHL spokesperson told Taking Note on memcupMonday that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of interest.

The Blazers and Rockets had held news conferences to announce their intentions. Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, had been adamant for months now that his organization would be preparing a bid.

The wild-card is the Hurricanes, who play in the 4,093-seat ENMAX Centre, which has room for 800 standees. (All capacity figures from the WHL’s 2017-18 Guide.)

Prior to the filing deadline, there was nary a hint that the Hurricanes might be interested in getting involved in the bidding.

The Memorial Cup has never been played in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1997 when they dropped a 5-1 decision to the host Hull Olympiques in the championship game.

The Lethbridge Broncos played in the 1983 tournament in Portland, but didn’t reach the title game.

The Hurricanes are community-owned; the other three franchises are privately owned.

Of course, it was only three years ago that the Lethbridge franchise was in such dire straits that Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell it to private interests.

In the end, that didn’t happen. Instead, general manager Peter Anholt took control and the rest, as they say, is history.

After six straight seasons out of the playoffs, the Hurricanes have been there each of the past three springs. They followed up a first-round elimination in 2016 by making two straight trips to the Eastern Conference final. One of the results of that is that the franchise has turned the corner and now is a money-maker.

The future is bright on the ice, too, as Lethbridge has some solid young talent, including forwards Dylan Cozens and Logan Barlage, who are coming off terrific 16-year-old seasons.

Hamilton told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel, who is the play-by-play voice of the Rockets, that Lethbridge “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”

At the same time Hamilton is hoping the fact that the tournament hasn’t been in B.C. since 2007 will mean something to the governors.

“The event has been in Regina, Brandon, Saskatoon and Red Deer since it was last in British Columbia,” Hamilton said. “I am hoping regionally it works and one of us in British Columbia gets it.”  

Meanwhile, Kamloops last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1995 when it won the championship on home ice, capping a run of three titles in four seasons. The Blazers play out of the Sandman Centre, which has a capacity of 5,464.

The 2004 Memorial Cup was played in Kelowna, with the Rockets winning it as the host team. Since then, the Rockets, who play out of 6,007-seat Prospera Place, which has standing room for 500, have appeared in the 2005, 2009 and 2015 Memorial Cup tournaments, but without winning.

A Victoria team hasn’t reached the Memorial Cup final since 1981, when the Cougars went 1-3 during a three-team tournament in Windsor.

The Royals’ home arena, the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, has a capacity of 7,006.

The host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be announced following a WHL board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Teams will make their presentations during the meeting, after which the governors will vote and a host team will be revealed.

The 2019 Memorial Cup will be decided in Halifax, the home of the QMJHL’s Mooseheads.


The Kamloops Blazers have signed F Logan Stankoven, their first-round selection in the Kamloops1WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stankoven, from Kamloops, was take with the fifth-overall pick. . . . This season, Stankoven had 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team that plays out of Abbotsford, B.C. . . . In 2018-19, Stankoven will play for the major midget Thompson Blazers, who are based in Kamloops.

——

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

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

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

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Charlie Wright, who was selected in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was the Blades’ third pick in the draft. . . . Wright, who will turn 15 on Oct. 22, is from Olds, Alta. This season, he had two goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels.


TheCoachingGame

Dave Manson has left the Prince Albert Raiders’ coaching staff to join the Bakersfield PrinceAlbertCondors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Manson had been on the Raiders’ coaching staff for 14 of the last 16 seasons, the past six as associate coach. . . . Manson, 51, is a native of Prince Albert. A rugged defenceman, he played three seasons (1983-86) with the Raiders and was part of their 1985 Memorial Cup-winning team. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 1,103 regular-season NHL games, split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . The Raiders have retired two numbers in their history — Manson’s No. 4 and F Mike Modano’s No. 9.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have a vacancy after Shae Naka, their assistant general manager/associate coach, left to join the staff at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna. Naka had been with the Warriors for six seasons.