Committee supporting Ice ceases operations; cites lack of support from ownership . . . Chiefs stun Thunderbirds with comeback


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The Green Bay Committee, which had been working to drum up support for the Kootenay Ice with the hopes of keeping the WHL franchise in Cranbrook, has ceased operations.

In fact, it has informed its members to “cease all of your sales initiatives.”

In an email to members that also went to “Ice supporters,” the committee requested that Kootenaynewthey “make sure (to) return all funding sheets to sponsors (and any cheques or cash).”

The committee reached this decision following a meeting earlier Tuesday.

“It is truly unfortunate that the new Ice ownership has decided not to actively engage in our committee’s initiatives,” the committee said in the email.

Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season, had been invited to Green Bay Committee meetings, but had refused to attend.

The committee began working this season amid speculation that the Ice will move to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season. The Winnipeg Free Press reported on Oct. 20 that it was told by sources that the relocated team will play in a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus while it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat arena in conjunction with the Rink Hockey Academy.

In an email sent to Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, the committee wrote:

“Obviously, we were greatly concerned about this article. We were hoping that you and Greg would deny this story and that you would remain actively engaged in our sales initiative.

“On October 22, 2018, you advised us that you would not be attending our scheduled Town Hall Meeting. You further advised us that you and Greg would not be involved in our sales initiatives and that you would be monitoring the situation.

“We were surprised and disappointed with your position; however, we decided to carry on with our Campaign and other initiatives to increase attendance. We expected that you and Greg would join us, especially given the fact that we were at an early stage in Season 2 of your new ownership.  For the past month, there has been considerable engagement between our Committee and the community.”

Taking Note has been told that the committee had raised around $50,000, money that now will be returned from whence it came.

In the email to Cockell, the committee also wrote:

“We have made considerable progress . . . However, the absence of active engagement by you and Greg with our committee has become a major issue in our community. We believe that this failure has become the biggest obstacle in our ability to achieve a highly successful sales campaign and to create an effective steering committee. As a result, we are terminating our Green Bay Committee effective immediately.

“However, we will consider re-activating our committee if you provide us with a real commitment that you and Greg are prepared to immediately join us and work with us, as partners; and have no plans to move ‘Our ICE’  from Cranbrook.”

The letter to Cockell is signed by committee members Allan Rella, Are Tironese and John Hudak.

The email to Cockell as well as the one to committee members and club supporters also was sent to Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, and to members of the WHL’s board of governors.

In 2016-17, the last season under the ownership of the Chynoweth family, the Ice average an announced attendance of 1,754 for 36 games. In 2017-18, the first season under Fettes and Cockell, the average was 2,442.

This season, through 12 games and amid speculation of a potential move, the average is 2,244. The Ice beat the visiting Regina Pats on Tuesday night before 1,965 fans, the smallest crowd this season.

“I refuse to be Chilliwacked,” Hudak told Taking Note, in reference to the Chilliwack Bruins, who, despite a number of denials, left for Victoria following the 2010-11 season. “But I have talked to some people . . . in hockey circles . . . and other sources. These guys are gone.”

Hudak, however, said that he will continue to work towards having a WHL franchise in his city, even if Fettes and Cockell move their franchise.

“I love my city,” Hudak said.

The Green Bay Committee, which worked with the Ice management team last season to get people to games who wouldn’t under ordinary circumstances have that opportunity, was named in honour of Green Bay, Wisc., “the little city,” Hudak said, “that can support an NFL team.”

Hudak only hopes that his city is given the opportunity to prove it can support a WHL team.


The Kootenay Ice has dropped another veteran player from its roster.

F Nick Bowman’s name doesn’t appear in the WHL’s weekly roster report, which was released on Tuesday. But his name wasn’t on the lineup sheet for the Ice’s game against the Pats in Regina on Tuesday night; the Ice dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Bowman’s name also has disappeared from the Ice’s roster on the WHL’s website.

While most WHL teams like to carry 23 players, the Kootenay roster includes only 20 — 11 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

The Ice acquired Bowman and a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Oct. 22, giving up twins Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn in the exchange. The Taphorns, 18, are from Yorkton, Sask.

Bowman, 18, had two goals in 10 games with the Ice, after earning one assist in 10 games with the Warriors. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he was a sixth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 bantam draft. In 137 career regular-season games, he has 15 goals and 14 assists.

Keenan Taphorn has four goals and an assist in seven games with Moose Jaw, while Kaeden has one assist in three games. He recently returned to the lineup after being out with an undisclosed injury.

In the past couple of weeks, the Ice also lost veteran 19-year-olds Sam Huston and Brendan Semchuk. The Ice has stated that it has suspended Huston, a defenceman, but hasn’t said anything more than that. Huston apparently left the team after being dropped to the third defensive pairing.

The team has said that Semchuk left in order to “pursue his educational goals.”


The Regina Pats have added F Sebastian Streu to their roster. He’s from Germany but also has Canadian citizenship, so doesn’t count as an import. . . . Streu, who will turn 19 on Nov. 22, had nine goals and three assists in 54 games with the Kootenay Ice last season. . . . This season, he had five goals and two assists in 10 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers when the Pats came calling. . . . Streu was in Regina’s lineup on Tuesday night and scored a goal as the Pats lost, 5-2, to the host Kootenay Ice.


Chris Selley of the National Post has chimed in with his opinion of whether major junior hockey players are student-athletes or employees, and you are able to read all about it right here.


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TUESDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

G Brodan Salmond stopped 32 shots to help the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 7-0 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Tri-City Americans. . . . Moose jaw (8-5-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Americans (11-6-0) are 8-3-0 over their past 11 games. . . . This was Game 8 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans. They now are 6-2-0, including 1-2-0 in the East Division. . . . Salmond, 20, posted his fourth career shutout, but his first with the Warriors. He made 56 appearances with the Kelowna Rockets over the previous three seasons. . . . The Warriors got a goal and three assists from F Tristin Langan, and a goal and two assists from each of D Josh Brook, F Brayden Tracey. . . . Langan has 13 goals, while Brook has six and Tracey five. . . . The Warriors led 3-0 and 6-0 at the period breaks. . . . Moose Jaw had D Brendan Kwiatkowski playing after he had been out since Sept. 22. . . . The Warriors remain without F Justin Almeida, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series in Kamloops on Nov. 5. . . . Moose Jaw head coach Tim Hunter, who also is the head coach of Canada’s national junior team, missed this one as he was at the CIBC Canada Russia game in Sherbrooke, Que. However, the Warriors had associate coach Mark O’Leary back after his stint at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Kelly Buchberger, in his first season as the Americans’ head coach, is in the Warriors’ Hall of Fame. From Langenburg, Sask., he played two seasons (1983-85) in Moose Jaw before going on to a pro career. In 111 games with the Warriors, he put up 36 points, including 26 goals, and 253 penalty minutes.


In Saskatoon, the Blades gave up nine power-play opportunities, lost 46 of 80 face-offs Saskatoonand were outshot 39-37, but still managed to score a 4-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Blades (13-7-2) have won three in a row. . . . The Tigers (9-9-3) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . F Ryan Chyzowski scored twice for the Tigers, giving them a 1-0 lead on a PP, at 8:58 of the first period, and cutting their deficit to 3-2 at 19:38 of the third period. He’s got seven goals. . . . In between those goals, F Max Gerlach (14), F Kyle Crnkovic (1) and D Chase Wouters (3) scored for the Blades. . . . Gerlach’s goal, coming against his former team, gave him 200 career regular-season points in 232 games. . . . Crnkovic’s goal was his first in the WHL. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Kirby Dach (12) added insurance for the Blades, with an empty-netter at 19:59 of the third. . . . Saskatoon got 37 saves from G Nolan Maier, who now is 11-5-1, 2.79, .912. . . . Medicine Hat F James Hamblin had a nine-game assist streak and a 10-game point streak snapped.


D Zac Patrick broke a 1-1 tie at 2:03 of the second period and the Kootenay Ice went on to beat the Regina Pats, 5-2, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (7-12-3) had lost their previous five games. . . . The Pats (7-13-0) had won three in a row. This was the first of six straight road games for Regina. . . . Patrick’s goal was his first in the WHL. He didn’t score in 42 games last season; this was his 11th game this season. . . . D Dallas Hines (3) upped the Ice’s lead to 3-1 just 17 seconds after Patrick scored. . . . F Austin Pratt (10) pulled Regina to within a goal at 2:53, but the Ice put it away with third period goals from F Cole Muir (5) and F Cameron Hausinger (6), on a PP. . . . F Sebastian Streu, who spent last season with the Ice, scored in his first game with the Pats. . . . G Duncan McGovern stopped 38 shots to earn the victory. . . . Regina G Max Paddock left at 8:05 of the first period after suffering a cut in a collision with Ice F Peyton Krebs. Paddock, who had stopped three of four shots, was replaced by Dean McNabb, who surrendered four goals on 29 shots. . . . D Makai Mitchell, 16, who is from Fort Collins, Colo., made his debut with the Pats. A list player, Mitchell had one goal and one assist in 11 games with the U-16 Rocky Mountain Roughriders of the NAPHL. He is expected to play two more games with the Pats before returning home. . . . The Ice lost D Jordan Chudley to a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Regina F Duncan Pierce at 3:28 of the third period. . . . Regina lost F Logan Nijhoff to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 11:24 of the third period, after a hit on Ice D Martin Bodak.


The Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-0 deficit in the third period and went on to beat the Seattle SpokaneChiefsThunderbirds, 3-2, in OT, in Kent, Wash. . . . Spokane (10-7-3) has won two straight. . . . Seattle (7-8-3) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . F Payton Mount, back after a five-game absence, gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead with his first WHL goal, at 3:36 of the first period. Seattle selected him with the 17th overall pick of the 2017 bantam draft. Mount had one assist in six games with the Thunderbirds last season; this season, he has a goal and five assists in 12 games. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (2) upped Seattle’s lead to 2-0 at 3:05 of the second period. . . . F Ethan McIndoe (6) got Spokane on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 7:05 of the third period, and D Ty Smith (3) tied it at 16:50. Smith also had two assists. . . . F Luke Toporowski (7), who had an assist on Smith’s goal, won the game at 3:58 of OT. . . . The Chiefs got 37 saves from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk wasn’t successful on a penalty shot at 16:38 of the second period.

 

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


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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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