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.

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

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

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.

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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.

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You’ll be hearing from Hockey Gives Blood . . . Kamloops’ GM on the job . . . Wheat Kings, Tigers sign draft picks

MacBeth

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) signed a one-year contract with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite). This season, with Orlik Opole (Poland, PHL), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 35 games. He led the Lightning in goals and points, and was tied for the team lead in assists. . . .

F Zach Boychuk (Lethbridge, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL). This season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 11 goals and 13 assists in 35 games. He was the KHL’s forward of the month for November. . . .

F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina, Prince George, 2008-10) signed a one-year contract with Lausitzer Füchse Weisswasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had seven goals and nine assists in 40 games. . . .

D Alexei Platonov (Medicine Hat, 2015-16) signed a try-out contract with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal and two assists in 24 games. . . .

F Jaroslav Kristek (Tri-City, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract with Courchevel-Méribel-Pralognan (France, Division 2). This season, with Brest (France, Division 1), he had seven goals and 12 assists in 22 games. . . .

D Riley Stadel (Kelowna, Edmonton, 2011-17) signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). This season, with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 37 games. . . .

F Michal Poletín (Regina, 2009-10) signed a one-year contract with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and nine assists in 52 games. . . .

F Taylor Makin (Prince George, Vancouver, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Brest (France, Division 1). This season, with Acadia University (Atlantic University Sports), he had four goals and two assists in 12 games. . . .

F Jacob Doty (Seattle, Medicine Hat, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). This season, with the Braehead Clan Glasgow (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 16 goals and 19 assists in 56 games.


ThisThat

What follows was written earlier today (Sunday) but a four-hour power outage on the east side of Kamloops meant that its posting was delayed. So without further ado . . .

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I actually took a couple of days away from the laptop in order to paint our deck. It was supposed to have been done last summer, but the smoke from the forest fires limited the amount of time a person could spend outside.

This time I only had to battle the mosquitoes. I haven’t seen them this bad since we left Regina in the spring of 2000. This spring, in the Kamloops area, we had a sudden turn to 30 C temperatures and a quick snow melt from the higher areas, all of which combined for a perfect mosquito-hatching season.

Having sat on our deck and enjoyed many a mosquito-free evening over the last few years, I had forgotten that the only thing mosquitoes like more than heat and water is human flesh.

But, hey, I toughed it out and the painting is finished.


I did take time out late last week to have a cup of coffee with Stu Middleton, the man behind Hockey Gives Blood.

He is a busy man these days. But, oh boy, has he accomplished a lot in less than two HockeyGivesBloodmonths.

Hockey Gives Blood, the project he started following the April 6 crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, has partnered with Canada Blood Services, as it reads on its website, “to promote blood donation as an integral component of hockey programs . . .”

With that in mind, Hockey Gives Blood was front and centre at the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack and at the Memorial Cup in Regina last month.

Yes, Middleton says, Hockey Gives Blood has made some inroads, but it has a long, long way to go.

Middleton has big plans for the non-profit organization, most of which are still in the planning stage. But you can count on hearing a lot from Hockey Gives Blood in the near future.

In the meantime, watch for representatives at events like annual golf tournaments held by the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets, and the Humboldt Broncos Memorial tournament at the Humboldt Golf Club on Aug. 18.

You are able to check out Hockey Gives Blood right here.

If you haven’t seen it, Pam Cowan of the Regina Leader-Post wrote about Middleton and Hockey Gives Blood in April, and that story is right here.


As expected, the Kamloops Blazers introduced Matt Bardsley as their new general manager at a news conference on Friday morning.

Bardsley, 46, had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999, working his way up Kamloops1from scout to assistant general manager.

In Kamloops, Bardsley takes over from Stu MacGregor, who now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. The Stars are owned by Tom Gaglardi, who is the majority owner of the Blazers.

Bardsley steps into a Kamloops organization that needs a head coach, at least one assistant coach, and a director of player personnel.

Don Hay, the head coach for the past four seasons, has been moved to an advisory role, although he has made it apparent that he still wants to coach and that his phone line is open.

Assistant coach Mike Needham, who had been with the Blazers since 2010, and director of player personnel Matt Recchi, who had been in his position for 10 years, were told their contracts couldn’t be renewed.

Bardsley’s first job will be to hire a head coach, with Kyle Gustafson, who has been on the Winterhawks’ coaching staff since 2003-04, definitely in the running.

According to Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV, Bardsley said: “Kyle is a a good friend of mine. I have a long list of names, and he’s certainly a person who is on my list. He’s certainly qualified to have an opportunity, and he’ll be a head coach — soon.”

Meanwhile, the Blazers have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon (Monday) at which they are expected to announce the signing of F Logan Stankoven, who is from Kamloops.

Stankoven was the fifth overall selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. This season, he had 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C.

The Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and Stankoven announced Sunday that he will play for them in 2018-19.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Vincent Iorio, a highly touted second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Iorio was widely believed to be going the BrandonWKregularNCAA route before signing with the Wheat Kings. From Port Coquitlam, B.C., he has a late birthday, so won’t turn 16 until Nov. 14. . . . This season, he had four goals and 19 assists in 52 games with the U16 midget team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn. The previous season, he had eight goals and 24 assists in 39 games with the bantam T1 team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

Brandon also signed F Nolan Ritchie, 16, who was a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. His father, Darren, is a former Wheat Kings player who now scouts for the organization. . . . This season, Nolan had 40 goals and 44 assists in 45 games with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. His 84 points left him second in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League scoring race. In his draft season, he won the Winnipeg Bantam AAA League’s scoring derby with 89 points, 51 of them goals, with the Wheat Kings.

The Wheat Kings also have signed F Jake Chiasson and F Brett Hyland to WHL contracts. . . . Chiasson was a first-round selection, 15th overall, in the 2018 bantam draft, while Hyland was taken in the second round. . . . Chiasson, from Abbotsford, stayed at home this season and played at the Yale Hockey Academy. He had 20 goals and 48 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team. . . . Hyland, from Edmonton, had 10 goals and 25 assists in 17 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team this season.

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

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

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.

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

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

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 Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Cole Sillinger, who was a first-round selection, 11th overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 46 goals and 37 assists Tigers Logo Officialin 30 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. From Regina, his father, Mike, starred for the Regina Pats (1987-91) before going to a lengthy pro career that included 1,049 regular-season NHL games.

The Tigers also signed D Dru Krebs, who was taken in the second-round of the 2018 bantam draft. From Okotoks, Krebs had seven goals and 10 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Okotoks Oilers. . . . Krebs has two brothers playing in the WHL — Peyton is with the Kootenay Ice, while Dakota plays for the Calgary Hitmen. Yes, all three brothers are with teams in the Central Division, although Dru, at 15, isn’t eligible for full-time play until the 2019-20 season.


The City of Kennewick is going to make improvements to the 30-year-old Toyota Center tri-citythat is home to the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. Annie Fowler and Wendy Culverwell of the Tri-City Herald report that “visitors will soon see improvements . . . under an agreement that will keep the Americans for the foreseeable future.” . . . The major project this summer will be the installation of LED lighting. . . . In time, it is expected that a new ice plant and video board will be installed, and improvements will be made to the visiting team dressing room. . . . Taking Note has been told that improvements also will be made to the foyer and there will changes to the concessions. . . . The WHL had implemented a deadline of September 2019 for improvements to be made in order that the facility met league standards. . . . The Americans’ lease expires in 2020. . . . The Herald’s story is right here.


The Prince George Cougars and Vista Radio, owners of 94.3 the Goat, have agreed on a deal covering play-by-play rights for the 2018-19 season. Fraser Roger will call the play for a second straight season, with Hartley Miller back for a sixth season as the analyst.


Mark Chase has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. From Kamloops, Chase, 31, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . In Osoyoos, Chase takes over from Ken Law, who was dropped after being the only head coach in the team’s eight-year existence. Under Law, the Coyotes won one KIJHL title and six regular-season division titles. . . . Andrew Stuckey of Osoyoos Today has more right here.


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