QMJHL has new commish, also moving to ban fighting . . . GTHL investigating irregularities . . . Blazers win battle of division kings

The QMJHL made it official on Tuesday — Mario Cecchini will be the new qmjhlnewcommissioner, replacing Gilles Courteau, who resigned effective immediately on Sunday after 37 years in office. . . . Cecchini is presently the interim president of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, so won’t take over his new position until May 8. . . . Martin Lavallee, who had been assistant commissioner, will serve as the interim commissioner until then. . . . The QMJHL had announced earlier that Courteau would be retiring in 2024, so a search for a replacement was well underway when he chose to leave his position on Sunday.


The QMJHL’s board of governors will vote in June on whether to ban fighting. . . . Le Journal de Quebec reported Monday that members voted in favour of the move last week, but that a move in that direction would have to be ratified in June. . . . Under the new regulations, according to the newspaper, a fight will result in automatic expulsion, with “certain exceptions,” such as when there is an instigator in a fight. . . . On Sept. 30, 2020, the QMJHL implemented a rule that results in a major and misconduct being given to a fighter. . . . The newspaper reported that during the 2010-11 season, the QMJHL averaged 0.78 fights per game. This season, through 536 games, that number was 0.14 (79 fights in 536 games).

If you’re not aware, it would appear that the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) is in a bit of a messy situation. Rick Westhead, who is doing such great work with TSN, reports that the GTHL “has opened multiple investigations into allegations that some teams and the non-profit companies that run them have been inappropriately bought and sold.” That is according to Scott Oakman, GTHL’s executive director. . . . Westhead’s story is right here and it is jam-packed with information, a lot of which will have you shaking your head. Such as this:

“One hockey parent whose son plays in the GTHL described to TSN his negotiations in July 2021 to buy a 25 per cent stake in a AAA organization for $1 million, and a current coach of a GTHL U14 AAA team told TSN that two parents approached him in October and informed him that they had ‘bought’ the right to control his team for $50,000.

“ ‘We went for coffee. They showed me what the new lineup was going to be, with a few kids literally benched for two of three periods, and they told me to take it up with our owner if I had an issue, which I did,’ the coach said. ‘I asked my owner how he was going to explain this to the GTHL and he told me he wouldn’t have to because it was an all-cash deal, all off the books.’ ”

Somehow I think it’ll be a while before we’ve heard the end of this one.

If the WHL playoffs started today:


Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)

Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)

Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)

Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)



Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)

Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)

Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)

Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)



The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout and beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 3-2, in Kent, Wash. . . . This was a meeting between the Western Conference’s two division leaders. . . . Kamloops took a 1-0 lead at 12:02 of the first period when F Connor Levis (19) held the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat G Thomas Milic. . . . Blazers G Dylan Ernst preserved a 1-0 first-period lead by stuffing F Brad Lambert’s deke-to-the-backhand attempt on a penalty shot. . . . A tip by F Logan Stankoven (31) off a shot from the left wing by F Caedan Bankier just 38 seconds into the second period gave the visitors a 2-0 edge. . . . Seattle F Jared Davidson (35) cut into the Kamloops lead at 8:08, beating Ernst with a snapshot from the top rim of the left circle, and then tied the score at 12:20. . . . The Blazers won it on shootout goals from Bankier and F Matthew Seminoff. . . .  Ernst finished with 34 saves, five fewer than Milic. . . . Stankoven didn’t finish the game due to an undisclosed injury. Kamloops assistant coah Don Hay told Radio NL’s postgame show: “It might be a day-to-day, week-to-week type of injury.” . . . Kamloops (41-11-6) has won three in a row. . . . Seattle (48-9-3) had won its previous 13 games. . . . The Blazers and Thunderbirds are scheduled for two more meetings before the regular season ends — in Kent on March 21 and in Kamloops on March 22. . . .

G Ethan Eskit made 30 saves in his first WHL start to lead the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Eskit, who turned 17 on Jan. 7, is from Calgary. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . . F Keaton Sorensen (23), in his 200th regular-season game, got the Raiders started when he scored on a penalty shot at 15:48 of the first period. . . . Eskit was solid after that as his teammates built a 4-1 lead on second-period goals from F Dawson Pasternak (12), F Ben Thornton (3), F Calder Anderson (15) and F Nolan Ritchie (23). . . . The Raiders got third-period goals from F Ryder Ritchie (18) and F Sloan Stanick (21), the latter scoring at 19:37. . . . Brandon (24-28-8) had lost its previous two games. . . . Prince Albert (25-32-3) has lost three in a row. . . . Brandon is 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Calgary, three behind Swift Current and five in arrears of Medicine Hat. . . . Prince Albert is 11th, three points behind Brandon and now six points from a playoff spot. . . .

F Matt Savoie broke a 1-1 tie at 18:10 of the second period and the host Winnipeg Ice went on to a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . This was the Ice’s first home game since Feb. 15; it went 8-2-0 on a lengthy road trip. Of its last nine games, including this one, seven will be played at home. . . . F Shane Smith (19) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 7:39 of the first period, only to have F Zach Benson (36) tie it at 10:03. . . . Savoie’s 34th goal, shorthanded, proved to be the winner. . . . F Conor Geekie (32) got the empty-netter. . . . The Ice has four 30-goal scorers on its roster and F Owen Pederson is at 29. The WHL record for most 30-goal scorers in one season is held by the 1986-87 Kamloops Blazers, who had nine of them. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 29 saves. This season, he is 33-4-1, 2.36, .914. In his career, he has won 74 of 84 decisions. . . . Winnipeg (50-9-1) is the first WHL team this season to 50 victories and 100 points. . . . Medicine Hat (26-25-9) had won its previous two games. . . .


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