Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


ThisThat

The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

——

WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Blazers add Sydor to coaching staff . . . Prince George city council wants Cougars to help with renos . . . Smith wins it in OT


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers have added co-owner Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff for the remainder of this season.

Sydor, 46, has been named a full-time assistant coach, and will join head coach Serge Kamloops1Lajoie and assistant coach Dan Kordic, both of whom are in their first season as WHL coaches, on the staff.

Chris Murray, a former NHLer who also played for the Blazers, is a part-time assistant coach, while Dan De Palma handles the goaltenders.

With 16 games remaining in their regular season, the Blazers (20-27-5) are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds (21-26-6), who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind the Kelowna Rockets (23-26-5), but with two games in hand.

The Blazers, who have lost their past three games (0-2-1), next will play tonight when they are to entertain the Victoria Royals.

Sydor played four seasons (1988-92) with the Blazers, helping them to the 1992 Memorial Cup title. He then went on to a pro career that included 1,291 games in the NHL and Stanley Cup championships with the Dallas Stars (1999) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2004). He retired after the 2009-10 season.

Sydor has worked as an NHL assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. He left the Blues in May, having spent last season with them.

“It was just time to take a step back,” Sydor told CFJC-TV of Kamloops at the time. “I’ve been(coaching) for only eight years, but playing the game of hockey a lot longer. It’s time to give back to the family, give back to myself, and just take a step back.”

Sydor, his wife and four sons moved back to Kamloops, and he has been a regular at Blazers games, watching from the press box. He also has been on the ice with them at some practices.

Sydor has been one of the Blazers’ owners since before the 2007-08 season. He joins majority owner Tom Gaglardi, along with ex-players Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla and Mark Recchi.

The WHL now has two owners who also are working as full-time coaches. Brent Sutter owns the Red Deer Rebels, and also is the team’s general manager and head coach.


City council in Prince George has decided that it won’t foot the entire bill for new boards PrinceGeorgeand glass in the CN Centre, as requested by the WHL. The tab for new boards and glass will come to $578,000. . . . The WHL wants the renovations made in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Mark Nielsen of the Prince George Citizen reports right here that “council directed staff to negotiate a deal that would see the Prince George Cougars cover half the cost.” . . . Coun. Kyle Sampson said: “I think it’s a large amount of money for us to pay. It’s the user group (Cougars) that are going to require this, the other user groups in this facility don’t require this and it’s their league that has mandated this change so the request for us to pay 100 per cent seems to be a bit steep.” . . . Sampson’s motion to have staff negotiate with the Cougars passed unanimously.


The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner will have a WHL flavour with Ron BChallDelorme, Barret Jackman, Shane Heyer and Mark Holick among the inductees. . . . Delorme, a long-time scout with the Vancouver Canucks, played for the Swift Current/Lethbridge Broncos (1973-76). He will go into the hall as a builder. . . . Jackman played four seasons (1997-2001) with the Regina Pats, before going on to a lengthy NHL career. . . . Heyer came out of the WHL to work 386 regular-season NHL games as a referee and 1,630 as a linesman. He also worked the lines in six Stanley Cup finals. . . . Holick was the head coach of the Surrey Eagles, who won the 1998 Royal Bank Cup as national junior A champions. The Eagles will be inducted in the team category. Holick coached in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice and Prince George Cougars, and now is the head coach of the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . . Also going into the hall will be former Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and the late Karen Wallace, who will be inducted as a builder for her work with female hockey in B.C. and nationally. . . . The 2019 induction dinner is scheduled for July 19 in Penticton, which is where the Hall of Fame is located.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Tri-City Americans erased a 3-1 deficit with three second-period goals and beat the tri-citySeattle Thunderbirds, 4-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . Tri-City (29-20-3) is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also is fourth in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Seattle (21-27-6) holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Americans took a 1-0 lead when F Parker AuCoin (31) scored while shorthanded, at 3:34 of the first period. . . . F Andrei Kukuca (19) tied it, on a PP, at 19:35. . . . Seattle went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Michael Wedman (28), at 4:29, and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (8), at 5:39. . . . The Americans got to within a goal at 7:54 when F Krystof Hrabik (14) scored. . . . D Aaron Hyman, a former Thunderbirds player, tied it, on a PP, with his 10th goal, at 10:02. . . . F Sasha Mutala (13) snapped the tie at 11:42 and that goal stood up through a scoreless third period. . . . G Beck Warm earned the victory with 30 saves, two more than Seattle’s Roddy Ross. . . . Seattle was credited with winning 42 of the game’s 59 faceoffs. . . . D Mitchell Brown was back in Tri-City’s lineup after last playing on Jan. 25. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who drew a two-game suspension after being penalized for a one-man fight during a 7-4 loss to the visiting Victoria Royals on Saturday night. . . . The Thunderbirds remain without F Nolan Volcan and D Simon Kubicek.


D Ty Smith scored twice, including the winner in OT, as the host Spokane Chiefs got past SpokaneChiefsthe Red Deer Rebels, 4-3. . . . Spokane (30-17-6) has points in seven straight games (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Red Deer (28-19-5) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. It also is fifth in the Central Division, one point behind the Calgary Hitmen and four behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Arshdeep Bains (6) gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead at 1:59 of the first period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (9), who also had two assists, tied it at 6:10. . . . Red Deer went back ahead as F Brandon Hagel (31) scored at 7:17 of the second period. . . . Smith tied it, on a PP, at 8:49, and F Adam Beckman (23) put the Chiefs out front at 18:42. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev’s 10th goal, at 2:06 of the third period, forced OT. . . . The Rebels were penalized for too many men at 19:48 of the third period, and Smith scored his sixth goal of the season, on the ensuing PP, at 0:30 of extra time. . . . G Bailey Brkin stopped 29 shots for the Chiefs, three more than the Rebels’ Ethan Anders.


If you like what you read here, and even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: Ex-player starts Hockey Gives Blood . . . Bruins win emotional opener . . . Holick signs with Yale

Scattershooting


Stu Middleton was playing for the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2000-01 when his father was killed in a car accident in the Rogers Pass while en route to a game. Since then, Middleton has been wanting to do something with his father’s memory in mind. Following the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Middleton hooked up with some former teammates and now a project is underway. It involves the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life Program and a website — hockeygivesblood.ca. . . . If you are with a team or league, you will want to check this out and you also will want to make this a full-time part of your program. . . . Pam Cowan of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.



The SJHL issued its players-of-the-week news release on Friday. . . . If you haven’t yet read the news release, it’s right here and it is well worth your time.


When there are tragedies such as the one involving the Humboldt Broncos, major media outlets often send in long-form writers who will attempt to capture the atmosphere in the community. Sports Illustrated assigned Greg Bishop to the story. . . . The top reads: “An unthinkable tragedy struck Humboldt when a bus crash killed 16 members of the Broncos junior hockey team. As the small city recovers, it doesn’t want to be defined by the crash; it wants to be defined by how its heartbroken community responds.” . . . If you haven’t seen it, Bishop’s piece is right here.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail gave the assignment to Marty Klinkenberg, who writes that these days “there is no normal” in Humbolt. His piece is right here.


The Estevan Bruins opened the SJHL’s best-of-seven championship final with a 5-2 victory over the Hawks in Nipawin on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 1,199 fans. They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Sunday) in Nipawin. . . . The Bruins put the game away with two late empty-net goals. . . . This was the first game for both teams since the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed en route to Nipawin for a playoff game on April 6. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Nipawin and filed two pieces. His game story is right here, while a piece looking at the overall scene is right here.



Meanwhile, there is quite a story being written in the AJHL where the Spruce Grove Saints have taken a 2-0 lead over the Okotoks Oilers in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . On Saturday night, the visiting Saints got an OT goal from F Chris Van Os-Shaw, who played the previous two seasons with the Humboldt Broncos, to beat the Oilers, 3-2. That was his second goal of the game. The Saints had tied the game on goal from F Josh Harris with 47 seconds left in the third period. . . . Van Os-Shaw, a 20-year-old from Regina, is ticketed for Minnesota State-Mankato next season. . . . One night earlier, Van Os-Shaw, the AJHL’s regular-season MVP, scored on a penalty shot and drew an assist on Harris’s OT winner in a 4-3 victory. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Spruce Grove on Monday and Tuesday nights.



TheCoachingGame

Mark Holick is back in the coaching game, this time in Canada. He has been named head coach of the Yale Hockey Academy’s midget prep team and the director of the midget programs. According to a news release, Holick “will also be working with students this off-season on skill development and will be assisting with student recruitment.” . . . Holick has extensive coaching experience, including more than six seasons as a WHL head coach. . . . Most recently, he spent more than one season as the head coach of Pustertal/Val Pusteria, an Italian entry in the Alps Hockey League. . . . The Yale Hockey Academy is located in Abbotsford, B.C.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have signed Garry VanHereweghe to a two-year deal as general manager and associate coach, while removing the interim head coach tag from Joe Murphy, who also got a two-year deal. . . . The Grizzlys finished last in the South Division, at 18-37-5, this season, and head coach Adam Redmond and Doug Hergenhein, the director of player personnel and head coach left late in the season. Murphy, who had been associate coach and assistant GM, was named interim head coach at that time. . . . VanHereweghe had been the vice-president of hockey operations with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles.


The junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Bedard as their new general manager, replacing Jamie Fiset, who has joined the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Fiset, who had been with the Flames through 12 seasons, starting as the goaltending coach, will be the Hawks’ general manager. . . . The Flames also announced that Bayne Ryshak will return as head coach.


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League need a new head coach after Ken Law’s contract wasn’t renewed. The Coyotes have been in Osoyoos for eight years, and Law had been there from the beginning. Owner Randy Bedard told Richard McGuire of the Osoyoos Times that “it’s just sometimes you know when it’s time to make a change. You get that feeling where it’s time to freshen up.” . . . Law told McGuire: “I was planning on coming back and was negotiating my contract. Randy just said that he decided to change things up. These things happen.” . . . This season, the Coyotes finished 32-11-2, with two ties, leaving them atop the Okanagan Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Chiefs. Osoyoos dropped the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference final in seven games to the Revelstoke Grizzlies. . . . McGuire’s story is right here.