Kootenay puts some seats on ice . . . Broncos, Pats struggling early . . . Smith back to Chiefs after NHL stint


MacBeth

Cranbrooktarps

A few weeks ago, Taking Note received an email from a reader who reported that the Kootenay Ice had blocked off some seats in one end of the 4,268-seat Western Financial Place.

According to the emailer, some season-ticket holders had been asked to relocate to seats Kootenaynewelsewhere in the arena.

“The past three seasons, attendance in sections F, G and H was pretty sparse,” the emailer continued. “Now, if one goes to the website and tries to buy season tickets, almost every seat in those three sections is unavailable.”

As you can see from the above photo, the Ice has indeed closed off some seats; in fact, there now are tarps over those seats.

During the offseason, the Ice, which has worked hard as an organization on community involvement and raising its visibility in the Cranbrook area, mounted a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — in an attempt to sell 2,500 before this season opened. Last week, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman reported that the count was at “1,670, a drop of 247 from last (season).”

When the Ice played their home-opener a week ago, the announced attendance was 2,862. The Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 5-3, in that one.

On Friday night, the announced attendance was 2,375 as the Ice dropped a 7-4 decision to the visiting Spokane Chiefs.


It appears that F Lukus MacKenzie’s WHL career is over. MacKenzie, 19, has returned home after being in camp with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . According to someone familiar with the situation, MacKenzie “lost his interest in playing.” It is expected MacKenzie soon will be going back to school. . . . MacKenzie, from Calgary, was one of the WHL’s toughest players over the previous three seasons. A third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in 2014 WHL bantam draft, he played two seasons (2015-17) there before being dealt to the Red Deer Rebels early last season. The Winterhawks later acquired him from the Rebels. . . . In 169 regular-season games, he put up 10 goals and 23 assists.


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D Dan Gatenby, who was released by the Tri-City Americans, has joined the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Gatenby, 20, is from Kelowna. He also has played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. . . . Last season, he had five assists in 57 games with the Americans. . . . In 120 regular-season WHL games, he has one goal and 12 assists. . . . Prior to joining Nanaimo, his junior A experience comprised two games with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors in 2014-15.


Barry Wolff, a long-time junior coach, has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. . . . Wolff spent the previous four-plus seasons with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, the first as head coach and then as general manager and head coach. He was fired by the Express, with whom he won the BCHL’s 2014 playoff championship, in late November with their record at 3-21-2. . . . He has been involved in junior B or junior hockey as a coach since at least 1996-97, spending most of that time in the BCHL. . . . He did spend one season (2004-05) in the MJHL, as the head coach of the OCN Blizzard. . . . The Stampeders had been looking for a GM/head coach since Taurean White resigned prior to beginning his second season with them. . . . Darren Webster, who will stay on as a part-time director of player personnel, has been working as the interim GM/head coach. . . . The Stampeders went into Friday’s action at 2-1-0.


FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES: The NHL’s New Jersey Devils have returned D Ty Smith to the Spokane Chiefs. The Devils selected Smith with the 17th overall pick of the NHL’s 2018 draft after he put up 73 points, including 59 assists, in 69 games. He is expected to be in Spokane’s lineup tonight as the Chiefs open their home schedule against the Kootenay Ice. . . . Two players off the Tri-City Americans’ 2017-18 roster remain with NHL teams. D Juusu Valimaki, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 6, is with the Calgary Flames. If he doesn’t start with them, he likely will be with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. F Michael Rasmussen, 19, is with the Detroit Red Wings; if he doesn’t stick there, he must be returned to the Americans. . . .

The WHL’s two representatives in the 2018 Memorial Cup are having a tough time finding that first victory this season. The Swift Current Broncos, the WHL’s defending champions, are 0-3-0 and have been outscored, 15-1. They were outshot 47-14 and beaten 5-0 by the host Edmonton Oil Kings last night, the second game in a row in which they’ve been blanked. Swift Current’s only goal in three games was scored by F Kaden Elder, who was dealt to the Calgary Hitmen on Thursday. . . . The Regina Pats, the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament, also are 0-3-0. Last night, they fell 8-4 at the hands of the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, who got three goals from F Dylan Cozens. . . . The Pats last opened 0-3-0 in 2008-09. . . . The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have started 4-0-0 for the first time since they entered the WHL in 2007-08. . . .

The Hurricanes lost D Igor Merezhko to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 19:31 of the second period for a hit on Regina F Austin Pratt. Pratt left the game at the time, but returned for the third period. . . . The Portland Winterhawks blew a 5-3 third-period lead, then failed to score on a rare 5-on-3 man advantage in overtime before dropping a 6-5 four-round shootout decision to the host Tri-City Americans.


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Memorial Cup 2020 decision on horizon . . . Ice gets Semchuk from Oil Kings . . . Raiders down to two goaltenders


MacBeth

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL) after being released by mutual agreement by Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL) on Wednesday. This season, he was pointless in five games with Dynamo. Boyd had played six seasons with Astana (2011-17) before joining Dynamo Moscow last season. . . .

F Pavel Padakin (Calgary, Regina, 2012-15) has been traded by Ak Bars Kazan to Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (both Russia, KHL) for F Razat Tamirov, 19, and F Islam Khasanov, 19. . . . This season, Padakin was pointless in three games with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), while averaging 11:11 TOI. Last season, with Sochi (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and 22 assists in 53 games while averaging 15:35 TOI.


ThisThat

The WHL’s board of governors will gather in Calgary on Wednesday and by day’s end we should know which of three cities will play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes are in the running and they will make their presentations in that order. . . . Marty Hastings has more right here on the process and the Kamloops bid.


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The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Brendan Semchuk, 19, from the Edmonton Oil Kings for Kootenaynewa conditional fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Semchuk, who was raised in Kamloops, was pointless in two games with the Oil Kings this season. He was a healthy scratch on Wednesday when the Oil Kings beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-2. . . . The Vancouver Giants selected Semchuk in the first round, 10th overall, of the 2014 bantam draft. They dealt Semchuk to Edmonton on Jan. 10, along with G Todd Scott and a 2018 third-round bantam pick, for F Davis Koch and a conditional third-round 2019 bantam pick. . . . Last season, Semchuk had eight goals and 11 assists in 33 games with Vancouver, and four goals and three assists in 16 games with Edmonton. . . . In 145 career regular-season games, he has 21 goals and 27 assists. . . . Semchuk could make his Ice debut tonight (Friday) against the visiting Spokane Chiefs.


The Calgary Hitmen reached the maximum of three 20-year-olds by acquiring F Kaden CalgaryElder from the Swift Current Broncos for a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Elder joins F Luke Coleman and F Jake Kryski as Calgary’s three 20s. . . . Elder, from Saskatoon, was a first-round selection, 22nd overall, by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 14 assists in 67 regular-season games, then added three goals and six assists in 26 playoff games as he helped the Broncos win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . In 250 career regular-season games, the first 67 with the Thunderbirds, he has 39 goals and 30 assists. This season, he had one goal in two games with the Broncos. . . . The Hitmen meet the Rebels in Red Deer tonight (Friday), before returning home to face the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday and the Rebels on Sunday. . . .

The Broncos, meanwhile, still have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Andrew Fyten, Russian D Artyom Minulin, who is injured at the moment, F Tanner Nagel, D Ryan Pouliot, and D Matthew Stanley, who was claimed on waivers from the Lethbridge Hurricanes earlier in the week.


The Prince Albert Raiders are down to two goaltenders after releasing veteran Curtis PrinceAlbertMeger. The move leaves them with Ian Scott, 18, who was a fourth-round selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s 2017 draft, and Donovan Buskey, 18, who was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs on Aug. 31 for a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Meger, 20, is from Regina. He was a freshman with the Raiders last season, and went 8-10-6, 3.43, .886. Meger had been on the Raiders’ protected list since he was 16. . . . With Meger out of the picture, the Raiders are down to three 20-year-olds — F Parker Kelly, F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery.


The Portland Winterhawks acquired F Rylan Bettens, 18, from the Brandon Wheat Kings Portlandon Thursday for an undisclosed conditional selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . Bettens was taken by Brandon in the third round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . He was pointless in one game this season. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 49 regular-season games. . . . In 114 career games, he has 11 goals and eight assists.

Earlier in the day, the Wheat Kings dropped D Ty Ettinger, 18, from their roster. Ettinger, from Ardrossan, Alta., had two goals and five assists in 45 games as a freshman with the Wheat Kings last season. This season, he was pointless in one game. . . . He was fifth-round pick by Brandon in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . The Wheat Kings now have eight defencemen on their roster, along with two goaltenders and 13 forwards. . . .

Joshua Critzer of dubnetwork.ca reported later Thursday that Portland F Lukus MacKenzie “is back home and as of right now is still on the roster.” It’s not clear whether the Winterhawks sent him home to await a trade or if MacKenzie asked for a deal and left on his own. . . . MacKenzie, 19, is from Calgary. He got into each of Portland’s first two games, but was pointless. Last season, he played with three teams, putting up four assists in 13 games with the Saskatoon Blades, and four assists in 17 games with the Red Deer Rebels, who dealt him to Portland. In 29 games with the Winterhawks, he had two goals and three assists. . . . A skater who brings a strong physical presence to a lineup, he has 10 goals and 23 assists in 169 career regular-season games.


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Monday’s WHL deals: Pats, Blades make big trade . . . Ice adds, subtracts goaltender . . . Portland acquires some muscle . . . Kelowna rolls dice

WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 37

PLAYERS: 67

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 45

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 5

THE DEADLINE: Wednesday, Jan. 10 (2 p.m. PT, 3 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. CT)


THE DEAL: The Regina Pats acquire D Libor Hajek, 19, from the Saskatoon Blades for D Dawson Davidson, 19, F Tristen Robins, 16, and a first-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Interestingly, the Blades and Pats are tied for the Eastern Conference’s ReginaPats100two wild-card spots. They are 10 points behind third-place Brandon in the East Division and seven points ahead of Prince Albert in the wild-card chase. . . . The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hajek has eight goals and 17 assists in 33 games with the Blades this season. In 167 games, all with the Blades, he has 15 goals and 62 assists. . . . Davidson, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, has nine goals and 28 assists in 83 games with Regina after being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers. In 207 career WHL games, he has 100 points, including 21 goals. This season, he has seven goals and 20 assists in 43 games. . . . Robins plays at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, where he has 10 goals and 12 assists in 17 games for the midget prep team in the CSSHL.

THE INFO: The Pats and Blades next play each other on Jan. 20 in Saskatoon. . . . Hajek, an alternate captain with the Blades, played well for his native Czech Republic in the SaskatoonWorld Junior Championship in Buffalo. He had a goal and seven assists in seven games as the Czechs placed fourth. He was a second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL’s 2016 draft and has signed an NHL contract. . . . The Pats acquired Davidson, who is from Moosomin, Sask., from the Kamloops Blazers on Dec. 27, 2016. Kamloops had picked him in the third round of the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Robins is the son of former WHL G Trevor Robins, who played three seasons (1989-92) with the Blades and one (1992-93) with Brandon. Tristen was a fourth-round pick by the Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The acquisition of Hajek left Regina with three imports, one over the limit, so it placed Russian D Egor Zamula, 17, on waivers. He has seven assists in 38 games as a freshman. . . . Finnish F Emil Oksanen, 19, is Regina’s other import.

WHY: The Pats are of the opinion that they needed another top-end defenceman, even after acquiring Cale Fleury from the Kootenay Ice on Nov. 13. They are hoping Hajek fills that role. . . . The Blades add a solid defenceman who may return as a 20-year-old and a prospect who scored 51 goals in bantam AAA last season in Winnipeg. Saskatoon also gets a first-round draft pick in 2019, the draft that follows the Pats’ Memorial Cup-hosting season. As Blades GM Colin Priestner put it in a news release: “If history is an indicator, Regina’s first-round pick next year has a serious chance of being a lottery pick as Memorial Cup host teams often go through a tough phase. So to have that first pick next year . . . we feel that gives us a good chance at selecting a star player.”


THE DEAL: The Kootenay Ice acquired G Matt Berlin, 19, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Berlin made 24 appearances with the Thunderbirds this season, going Kootenaynew12-7-3, 3.40, .893, with one shutout. . . . Last season, Berlin was 7-2-2, 2.82, .902 in helping the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship. . . . In 44 career appearances, seven with Spokane and 37 with Seattle, Berlin is 20-10-7, 3.33, .891.

THE INFO: Berlin joins Duncan McGovern, 17, as the Ice’s goaltenders. . . . Berlin was a seventh-round pick by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Seattle is left with three goaltenders on its roster, in Liam Hughes, 18, who has made four straight starts, Dorrin Luding, 18, and Carl Stankowski, 17. However, Stankowski has yet to play this season due to hip problems. . . . The Thunderbirds had been without a fifth-round pick, having dealt their 2018 and 2019 fifth-rounders to the Ice for F Noah Philp on Sept. 11.

WHY: Seattle is able to get a draft pick for a player who likely wouldn’t be on its roster next season. . . . The Ice, meanwhile, continues its search for a goaltender. Since May 24, Ice general manager Matt Cockell has traded for five goaltenders — Mario Petit (Everett), Bailey Brkin (Swift Current), Kurtis Chapman (Regina), McGovern (Medicine Hat) and Berlin.


THE DEAL: The Spokane Chiefs acquired G Bailey Brkin, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for an eight-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: In 23 appearances with the Ice, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Brkin, a SpokaneChiefsfreshman, was 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

THE INFO: The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., played last season with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs (45 games, 5.19, .890). . . . He won’t be joining the Chiefs, at least not right away; instead, he will play for the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. . . . Brkin was a list player with the Swift Current Broncos, who dealt him to Kootenay earlier this season.

WHY: With Brkin having some WHL experience, the Chiefs added some depth to the organization’s goaltending. They also have Dawson Weatherill (12-9-3, 3.23, .888) and Donovan Buskey (8-6-0, 3.51, .874) on their roster. On Monday, they brought back Arnold Campbell, 15, and he is expected to be in Kamloops on Tuesday when the Chiefs meet the Blazers. Arnold was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. Arnold, from Nanaimo, B.C., plays at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . . You are free to specualte if Weatherill or Buskey is injured, or if another move is in the works.


THE DEAL: The Portland Winterhawks acquired F Lukus MacKenzie, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels for a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: This season, in 30 games — 13 with the Saskatoon Blades and 17 with PortlandRed Deer — the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has eight assists. In 138 career games, he has eight goals and 20 assists.

THE INFO: The Rebels dropped the Calgarian from their roster on Thursday and he joined the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. He was pointless in one game with the Oilers. . . . Saskatoon selected him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.

WHY: The Winterhawks obviously wanted to add some toughness to their lineup because MacKenzie was one of the Eastern Conference’s toughest players when he was on a roster. . . . He has 163 penalty minutes in his WHL career, but don’t forget that the WHL chooses not to include some penalties, such as misconducts and game misconducts, in its penalty totals.


THE DEAL: The Vancouver Giants acquired D Brennan Riddle, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for F Brad Morrison, who turned 21 on Jan. 4.

THE NUMBERS: Riddle has a goal and five assists in 37 games this season. In 216 career Lethbridgegames, he has five goals and 29 assists. . . . This season, Morrison has 11 goals and 24 assists in 42 games with the Giants. In 302 career regular-season games, split between Vancouver and the Prince George Cougars, he has 96 goals and 127 assists.

THE INFO: Lethbridge acquired Riddle, who is from Balgonie, Sask., from the Prince Albert Raiders early last season. This season, Riddle was an alternate captain in Lethbridge. The Calgary Hitmen selected him in the first round of the 2012 bantam draft. VancouverHe never played for the Hitmen, who dealt him to Lethbridge on Jan. 7, 2014. . . . Morrison was selected by the Prince George Cougars with the seventh overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft. He is from Prince George. The Giants acquired him from the Cougars on June 2. The New York Rangers selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2015 draft, but he was never signed. Prior to this NHL season, he was in the Calgary Flames’ rookie camp.

WHY: It isn’t often that WHL teams are involved in a straight-up swap of two 20-year-olds, but that’s the case here. After three seasons out of the playoffs, Vancouver finds itself in contention for top spot in the Western Conference and wants to tighten up defensively. . . . The Hurricanes want more offence and should get that from Morrison and linemates. Morrison is a tremendous playmaker.


THE DEAL: The Calgary Hitmen acquired G Nick Sanders, 19, from the Prince Albert Raiders for a sixth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: The 6-foot-2 Sanders was 8-13-5, 3.91, .888 in 38 appearances over two Calgaryseasons with the Raiders. He got into four games with the Raiders this season (0-1-1, 4.89, .854) before being dropped from their roster. He has been with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats (6-5-2, 2.95, .915). . . . In 67 career games, split between the Raiders and Tri-City Americans, he is 19-22-6, 3.61, .890.

THE INFO: The Raiders acquired Sanders, who is from Calgary, from Tri-City on Oct. 13, 2016. . . . Bothered by hip issues, Sanders had offseason surgery and was late starting training camp with the Raiders. . . . He was selected by the Americans in the sixth round of the 2013 bantam draft.

WHY: The Hitmen have started a major rebuilding program, so are looking for competition at all positions. They are hoping Sanders can provide that among the goaltenders this season, and then compete for a 20-year-old spot prior to next season. . . . Also on the Calgary roster are Nick Schneider, 20, and Matthew Armitage, 18. Schneider is the starter, at 13-16-6, 3.51, .888. Armitage, a freshman, is 0-6-0, 3.70, .878.


THE DEAL: The Kelowna Rockets acquired F Ryan Bowen, 19, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for an eight-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: This season, Bowen had one goal and five assists in 13 games with the KelownaRocketsHurricanes. In 143 career games, between the Moose Jaw Warriors and Lethbridge, he has 21 goals and 36 assists.

THE INFO: Bowen was on Lethbridge’s suspended list after refusing an earlier trade to an unnamed team. From Chilliwack, he now is with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, although he has yet to play a game with them. . . . Bowen was a fifth-round pick by Moose Jaw in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . His younger brother, Ethan, a forward, was a second-round pick by Kelowna in the 2017 bantam draft. He hasn’t signed with the Rockets, choosing instead to commit to the U of North Dakota for 2020-21.

WHY: The Rockets rolled the dice, giving up a late draft pick in the hopes that they will be able to convince Ryan to join them. Of course, should that happen, it might allow them to get a foot in the door in terms of trying to get Ethan signed. . . . “We’re working to see if we can get (Ryan) here, but it looks like he may play junior A this (season),” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and GM, said in a news release. “But he’s a prospect that we will certainly have as an affiliate player and we’ll try to get him in eventually.”

Blichfeld leaves WJC game on stretcher . . . Organizers declare WJC a success . . . Royals add import from Hitmen, make deal with Raiders

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Portland Winterhawks boarded their bus Thursday afternoon and headed for Spokane where they will play the Chiefs tonight.

But you can bet the Winterhawks’ thoughts weren’t on the road in front of them. Rather, Portlandthey will have been wondering about the condition of F Joachim Blichfeld, a teammate who was stretchered off the ice midway through the second period of a relegation-round game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo earlier in the day.

Blichfeld hit his head on the boards after taking a high hit from behind from D Dmitri Deryabin of Belarus, who was assessed a match penalty on the play.

Blichfeld did flash a thumbs-up signal as he was carried from the ice surface. He was taken to hospital for further examination.

Blichfeld, 19, is from Frederikshavn, Denmark. He was selected by San Jose in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft and signed with the Sharks on on Dec. 28 while in Buffalo.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation series on Wednesday, Blichfeld had two goals and an assist as Denmark won the opener, 5-4.

On Thursday, Blichfeld had two primary assists as Denmark opened up a 2-0 lead. Belarus came back to tie it before Denmark won it, 3-2, in a shootout. The victory means Denmark stays in the top group for the 2019 WJC, with Belarus sliding back to Division 1A. (If you’re wondering, Kazakhstan won promotion to the big group, so will be in Victoria/Vancouver for the next tournament.)

This season with Portland, Blichfeld has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games. He missed a handful of games early in October with what is believed to have been a concussion.

This latest injury, then, depending on the diagnosis, might be his second brain injury of the season, meaning the Winterhawks will be extra careful with a player who is key part of their roster.


Officials from the IIHF and organizers of the 2018 World Junior Championship held a Buffalostate-of-the-event news conference in Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. Michael Traikos of the National Post was there and, as he wrote, “With noses growing, they called it a success.” . . . During the news conference, Traikos continued, “Organizers bragged that more than 200,000 tickets had been sold, ignoring that a quarter-final between the U.S. and Russia on Tuesday night had only 6,242 fans in a building that seats more than 19,000. They highlighted the record-setting crowd that braved the snow to watch an outdoor game that ‘was a little bit of magic,’  but then blamed the same weather for driving away fans at the other indoor games. . . . His complete column is right here.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News also was at the news conference, and his take is right here.

Interestingly, Campbell reported that Rene Fasel, the IIHF president, said that 50 per cent of the tickets already have been sold for the 2019 WJC that is to be held in Victoria and Vancouver.

That, Campbell wrote, “is quite a feat considering the 18-game pack (and one pre-tournament game) for Vancouver ranges in price from $650 ($34 per game) to $2,250 ($118 per game).”

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, told Vancouver sportscaster Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650 on Dec. 28 that tickets are “well over 60 per cent sold.”


The Portland Winterhawks lost F Lane Gilliss to an undisclosed injury on Sunday during a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. As a result, they have brought back F Jaydon Dureau from the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. He had been with the Winterhawks but was returned to the Pat Canadians following the Christmas break. The Pat Canadians won the Mac’s tournament in Calgary on Monday. Dureau had two goals and two assists in the championship game, a 4-0 victory over the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . . Dureau, 16, was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, he has 56 points, including 27 goals, in 26 games with the Pat Canadians. . . . Portland also returned D Nick Cicek to junior A, in his case to the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, but quickly brought him back when D Keoni Texeira went down with an undisclosed injury.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have brought in F Jake Neighbours for a look-see. From Airdrie, Alta., Neighbours was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings earlier this season. . . . In 23 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes, Neighbours has 17 goals and 25 assists. . . . If you’re interested in the return of D Brayden Gorda to the Oil Kings, there is more right here.


The Red Deer Rebels have dropped F Lukus MacKenzie, 18, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . MacKenzie had four assists in 17 games with the Rebels after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades, with whom he had four assists in 13 games. . . . From Calgary, MacKenzie was a third-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 138 games, he has eight goals and 28 assists.


WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 20

PLAYERS: 35

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 21

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 4


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals acquired F Andrei Grishakov, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Grishakov, from Chelyabinsk, Russia, has 22 goals and 39 assists in 107 VictoriaRoyalsgames with the Hitmen. This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has 11 goals and 15 assists in 37 games. . . . The Hitmen selected him in the CHL import draft after he put up 21 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with Traktor Chelyabinski’s U-17 team in 2015-16. He also played four games with the U-18 side that season, recording four goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Grishakov should be in Victoria’s lineup tonight (Friday) against the visiting Everett Silvertips. If he doesn’t play then, he will get another opportunity on Saturday when the Royals visit Kamloops. Yes, it’s a quick turn-around for Victoria.

WHY: The Royals have had room for an import since F Yan Khomenko returned to Russia and signed with Ak Bars Kazan, a KHL team. He is pointless in three games with Irbis Kazan, a junior team. . . . The Royals are hoping that putting Grishakov into their top six will ignite his offence. . . . Grishakov joins F Igor Martynov, who turns 19 on Jan. 19, as the Royals’ import players. Martynov is from Belarus and has been representing his country at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo. . . . The Hitmen, who aren’t likely to make the playoffs, have been in sell mode since Nov. 25 when they dealt top-flight forwards Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn to the Swift Current Broncos. Now it’s all about freeing up ice time for younger players.


THE DEAL: The Victoria Royals have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 18, from the Prince Albert Raiders for D Jeremy Masella, 18.

THE NUMBERS: From Lethbridge, Jerome has one assist in 31 games with the Raiders. PrinceAlbertHe split last season between the Red Deer Rebels and the Raiders, recording eight goals and eight assists in 55 games. . . . Masella had three goals and four assists in 35 games with the Royals. In 63 career games, all with Victoria, he has three goals and five assists.

THE INFO: Red Deer placed the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jerome on their protected list in 2016. The Rebels dealt him to Prince Albert on Dec. 28, 2016, along with a 2017 third-round bantam draft pick, for F Austin Glover. . . . The 6-foot-5, 214-pound Masella is from Phoenix. He had been on Victoria’s protected list since 2015. . . . This is the second deal between these teams this week. On Tuesday, the Royals dealt F Regan Nagy, 20, to the Raiders for the rights to F Hunter Strand, 15, sixth- and 10th-round picks in the 2018 bantam draft and a third-rounder in 2019. . . . Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, has made seven trades since Dec. 1.

WHY: For starters, both players get fresh starts and a chance to earn more ice time with new teams. . . . The Royals had been carrying eight defencemen so it seemed that someone would go before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. Victoria also adds another bigger forward as it continues to alter the size of its forward ranks. . . . The Raiders add size to their back end. Their roster shows nine defencemen, but Sergei Sapego is injured, Vojtech Budik is at the WJC in Buffalo, and Kaiden Guhle, the first overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, is only 15 so will have to go back to his club team at some point.


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Kootenay at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Tri-City at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Seattle at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Everett at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.