Lamb to wear two hats with Cougars. . . . Pats get Holmes back from Everett. . . . Raiders’ Sapego gets AHL deal


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F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Kobra Prague (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 25 games with Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga),he had 14 goals and 27 assists. He also had six goals and 21 assists in 18 games with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga). . . .

F Tyler Wong (Lethbridge, 2011-17) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, he had five goals and eight assists in 68 games with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). . . .

F Adam Cracknell (Kootenay, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games. He also was pointless in two games with the Anaheim Ducks (NHL), and had 15 goals and 13 assists in 32 games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL). . . .

F Garet Hunt (Vancouver, 2004-08) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had nine goals and 14 assists in 69 games. . . .

F Adam Helewka (Spokane, Red Deer, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he had 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games with the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL), and eight goals and 11 assists in 24 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). . . . Nur-Sultan was known as Astana until the Kazakhstan parliament voted in March 2019 to change the name. . . .

F Brandon Magee (Chilliwack/Victoria, 2009-15) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 22 games.


ThisThat

Mark Lamb won’t be joining the coaching staff of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Instead of flying into NHL cities all over North America, he’ll be riding a bus to cities that are home to WHL franchises.

The Prince George Cougars announced Thursday that Lamb now is the team’s 13th head PrinceGeorgecoach since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season. Lamb also is their general manager.

Lamb has a history with Dave Tippett, the Oilers’ new head coach, and there had been speculation that the two would reunite in Edmonton.

According to Lamb, he rejected overtures from the Oilers to stay in Prince George, and when is the last time that happened?

In a story by Ethan Ready of myprincegeorgenow that is right here, Lamb explained his decision this way:

“The NHL lifestyle is unbelievable, as we all know. And it should be unbelievable because it’s the best league in the world. That’s where everybody wants to be. You’re flying on chartered jets, staying in nice hotels. But I’m from Cadillac, Saskatchewan — there’s not a lot of jets out there.”

Lamb, who will turn 55 on Aug. 3, spent 16 seasons as a pro player. He was in the NHL long enough to play 403 regular-season games and 70 in the playoffs. He won a Stanley Cup with the 1989-90 Oilers. He then spent seven seasons as an NHL assistant coach before working for seven seasons (2008-16) as the general manager/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos.

“I’ve been there. I’ve had some success in the NHL as a player and won a Stanley Cup,” Lamb said. “I’m not downgrading it at all, it’s an unbelievable league, but the situation here is pretty gratifying.”

Lamb, who signed a four-year contract with the Cougars a year ago, has completed one season as the franchise’s general manager. He had been the interim head coach since Richard Matvichuk was fired on Feb. 7.

The Cougars finished 19-41-8 and didn’t make the playoffs in 2018-19. Interestingly, Lamb said at that time that he wasn’t interested in being a full-time head coach.

“That’s not the plan to come back, I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am,” Lamb told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen in late March.“There’s going to be a search for it . . .”

Early in May, Lamb told Clarke that the search for a head coach was in progress.

“I’ve talked to quite a few people and I’m going to be talking to more,” Lamb said. “You’ve got to be able to relate to the kids, know the trends how hockey is being played now, how you communicate. Just being down there coaching, I have a pretty good idea what it’s going to take and what type of coach the guys do need. I have a lot of connections not just in our league but in pro leagues and I’m doing a lot of work in those areas.”

At the end of the day, the Cougars’ ownership group obviously decided that Lamb fit all of those descriptions and was the best man for the job.

Or maybe Lamb’s wife, Tanya, who is from Edmonton, was tired of all the moving in recent years?

——

Here is the last sentence of the news release in which the Prince George Cougars announced that general manager Mark Lamb also would be the head coach:

“The Cougars will be naming an associate coach and finalizing other members of the hockey operations department in the coming weeks.”

Steve O’Rourke, the team’s associate coach for the past three seasons, no longer is with the Cougars.

Lamb told Bill Phillips of pgdailynews.ca, for a story that is right here, that the new associate coach will have a lot on his plate.

“It’s going to be like two coaches,” Lamb said. “He’s going to have a lot of responsibility . . . I want to make that one of the tightest coaching staffs in the league, which will give us a greater opportunity to have success.”

Others in the Cougars’ hockey operations department include goaltending coach Taylor Dakers and Nick Drazenovic, the director of player development.


There now are two WHL teams without head coaches — the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are looking to replace David Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed, and the Spokane Chiefs, who lost Dan Lambert to the NHL’s Nashville Predators where he now is an assistant coach.

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager as they have yet to replace Grant Armstrong, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

Earlier, the Kamloops Blazers signed Shaun Clouston, who had been dismissed by the Medicine Hat Tigers, to replace Serge Lajoie. Willie Desjardins has taken over as the general manager and head coach in Medicine Hat.


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F Robbie Holmes is back with the Regina Pats. They have acquired Holmes, who will turn Pats20 on July 22, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for two 2020 bantam draft selections — a fifth- and a sixth-round pick. . . . Holmes, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., had played 148 regular-season games with the Pats before he was dealt to Everett on Jan. 10 for F Sloan Stanick, a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2022. . . . Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 26 games with Everett, after putting up nine goals and seven assists in 16 games with Regina. . . . In 174 career games, he had 32 goals and 34 assists. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes four 20-year-olds — Holmes, F Austin Pratt, F Dawson Holt, who was acquired from the Vancouver Giants last month, and F Sebastian Streu. . . . Everett now has five 20s on its roster — F Lucas Cullen, F Max Patterson, F Bryce Kindopp, D Jake Christiansen, D Wyatte Wylie.


The Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, have signed D PrinceAlbertSergei Sapego of the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. Sapego, from Belarus, had 10 goals and 33 assists in 58 regular-season games last season, then added three goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games. . . . The signing came after Sapego attended the Maple Leafs’ development camp. . . . Sapego will turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . The Raiders also have Belarusian F Aliaksei Protas, who was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2019 draft, on their roster, and they selected Russian F Ivan Kechkin in the 2019 import draft. . . . The Raiders have yet to post a pre-season roster on the WHL website, but the 20s on their playoff roster were G Ian Scott, Sapego, D Max Martin, D Brayden Pachal, D Zack Hayes, D Jeremy Masella, F Parker Kelly, F Brett Leason and F Brian Harris. . . . Scott (Toronto), Kelly (Ottawa Senators) and Leason (Washington Capitals) are expected to begin their pro careers with the start of the upcoming season.


If you click on Nick’s tweet, you will find the schedule for the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup . . .

 


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Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

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F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

——

The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


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Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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Is Lamb ticketed for NHL’s Oilers? . . . Is Gustafson Blazers’ next head coach? . . . They want how much for Memorial Cup tickets?


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All signs are pointing to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers introducing Dave Tippett as their next head coach, perhaps as early as today (Friday).

In fact, it could be that Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new general manager, and Tippett finalized things in Vancouver on Thursday prior to Holland’s induction into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Tippett, 57, has been working as senior advisor to the group that owns the NHL expansion franchise in Seattle. He has ample NHL coaching experience, although he hasn’t been behind an NHL bench since 2016-17 when he was with the Arizona Coyotes.

What impact might Tippett’s return to coaching have in the WHL? There is speculation, PrinceGeorgeas you can see from Robin Brownlee’s tweet, that Tippett might bring Mark Lamb on board as an assistant coach in Edmonton.

Lamb is preparing for his second season as the general manager of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.

Tippett spent six seasons (2002-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, and Lamb was an assistant coach for each of those seasons. Also, Lamb was the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, in 2016-17 when Tippett was the Coyotes’ head coach.

The Cougars also are one of two WHL teams — the Kamloops Blazers are the other — without a head coach at the present time.

Prince George fired head coach Richard Matvichuk late this season, with Lamb taking over. However, Lamb has said that he isn’t interested in continuing as head coach.

While speculation about a new head coach has been quiet out of Prince George, it is believed that Lamb has been planning to do a lot of work on filling the vacancy during the NHL draft, which is scheduled for Vancouver, June 21 and 22. By then the Cougars might be looking for a general manager, too.

After all, would you rather be the general manager of a WHL team or an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers?

Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has reported that the Blazers have Kamloops1“about five candidates” on their short list as they look to replace Serge Lajoie, whose stint as head coach lasted one season. Lajoie now is the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.

At the moment, I would suggest that Kyle Gustafson, who has been on the coaching staff of the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04, is the favourite to be the Blazers’ next head coach. Gustafson was in Kamloops last week and, no, he wasn’t here on a shopping trip.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season and his first bantam draft as Kamloops’ general manager, joined the Blazers after a long run with the Winterhawks, so he is quite familiar with Gustafson.

Furthermore, Gustafson came awfully close to getting a contract as the Blazers’ head coach last summer. He lost out when ownership chose to go in a different direction, deciding to go with Lajoie, who hadn’t coached previously in the WHL, over Gustafson, who had all that WHL experience and is especially familiar with the Western Conference.

Obviously, that didn’t work out, but now Gustafson finally may be about to get his first shot at being a WHL head coach. He certainly has paid his dues.

At one time, Darryl Sydor, one of the Blazers’ co-owners and an assistant coach with the team, was believed to be a favourite to be the next head coach. Taking Note has been told that Sydor will remain part of the team’s coaching staff, but that he won’t be the head guy.

If the Blazers haven’t signed Gustafson by mid-June, you have to think that he will visit Vancouver during the NHL draft and look up Lamb, or whomever is conducting the Cougars’ coaching search at that point.


It may be major junior hockey, but that hasn’t kept tickets for Sunday’s Memorial Cup final in Halifax from going into the pricing stratosphere. . . . The host Mooseheads will be in the final, playing either the OHL-champion Guelph Storm or QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who will meet in tonight’s semifinal game. . . . Tickets for the final carried an original price of $50 to $75. On Thursday, in places like StubHub and kijiji, sellers were looking for as much as $1,000 per ticket. Surely, no one is paying those prices, or are they? . . . There is more right here from Jon Tattrie of CBC News.


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The Calgary Hitmen have signed D Grayden Siepmann and F Brandon Whynott to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Siepmann is the fourth first-round selection from the May 2 bantam draft to sign a WHL contract. Calgary selected him with the 13th overall pick. . . . From Abbotsford, B.C., Siepmann played this season with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team, scoring eight goals and adding 21 assists in 29 regular-season games. He had two goals and two assists in five playoff games. . . . Whynott, from Langley, B.C., also played for the bantam prep team at Yale Academy, which is in Abbotsford. Whynott had 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 games, and had one goal and one assist in the playoffs. Whynott was taken in the second round of the 2019 bantam draft.


Stephen Whyno, a hockey writer with The Associated Press, has written a piece that carries this headline — Faces of concussions: NHL’s head-on battle with an epidemic. . . . This is devastating stuff, especially when former NHLer Daniel Carcillo says: “I’m going to choose when I’m going to go. I’ll make that decision of how much pain I’m going to put my loved ones through that are around me.” . . . Carcillo is 34 years of age and wonders what the future holds as he tries to live with the after-effects of at least seven concussions. . . . There is more to this story than Carcillo, though, and as you read it you come to the realization, again, that hockey at all levels needs to do everything it can to get rid of headshots. Yes, the WHL absolutely must ban fighting. . . . Whyno’s piece is right here. Give it 10 minutes of your time.


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Cougars’ Lamb doesn’t plan to coach. . . . Leschyshyn hat trick sparks Lethbridge win. . . . J-Train carries Blazers past Royals

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It appears that the Prince George Cougars will be hiring a head coach before the start of PrinceGeorgethe 2019-20 WHL season. General manager Mark Lamb has been the interim head coach since firing Richard Matvichuk on Feb. 6. . . . “That’s not the plan to come back,” Lamb has told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am. There’s going to be a search for it, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it yet.” . . . “Obviously when you’re in a situation like this,” Lamb added, “people kind of know, so I’ve gotten a lot of resumes already. I just wanted to concentrate on finishing the year strong and I think that’s what we did.” . . . The Cougars, who missed the playoffs, finished 3-11-2 under Lamb, after going 16-30-6 under Matvichuk. . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


EdChynowethCup

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

NOTES: After home teams went 7-0 on opening night, they were only 4-4 on Saturday, with one visiting team — the Kamloops Blazers — winning in OT. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen featured a line brawl late in the third period. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders got huge games from their two Belarusians as they took a 2-0 lead over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Three players were suspended by the WHL after Friday’s games. F Kobe Mohr of the Kamloops Blazers, D John Ludvig of the Portland Winterhawks and D Jake Lee of the Seattle Thunderbirds didn’t play last night. . . . F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders may be looking at a suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct last night.


F Aliaksei Protas and D Sergio Sapego, the Prince Albert Raiders’ Belarusian connection, PrinceAlbertcombined for six points — each had two goals and an assist — to lead them to a 6-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-0, with Games 3 and 4 in Red Deer on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Protas scored the game’s first goal, at 6:08 of the first period, and Sapego made it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:32. . . . F Chris Douglas (1) pulled the Rebels to within a goal, on a PP, at 14:55, only to have Sapego (2) get that one back at 16:19. . . . F Dante Hannoun drew an assist on each of Prince Albert’s first three goals. . . . The Raiders lost F Brett Leason to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 3:50 of the second period. F Cam Hausinger, the subject of the check, wasn’t injured. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel scored a PP goal at 8:00 and then tied the game at 9:00, just 10 seconds after the major expired. . . . The Raiders took control by scoring the next three goals. . . . D Brayden Pachal (1) broke the tie at 11:14. . . . Protas (2) made it 5-3 at 2:08 of the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (2) upped the lead to 6-3 at 7:47. . . . Hagel (3) completed his hat trick, on a PP, at 10:24. . . . Red Deer was 3-5 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, six fewer than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders, whose night’s work included a stop on D Jeremy Masella on a penalty shot at 14:27 of the second period. The Raiders were ahead 4-3 at the time.


F Max Gerlach scored twice to help the host Saskatoon Blades to a 3-1 victory over the SaskatoonMoose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Blades lead the series, 2-0, with the teams headed to Moose Jaw for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Gerlach, who has three goals in the first two games, gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 11:55 of the second period. . . . F Carson Denomie (1) pulled the Warriors into a tie, on a PP, at 5:07 of the third period. . . . Gerlach snapped the tie at 10:05, and F Kirby Dash (1) added the empty-netter at 19:24. . . . D Dawson Davidson had two assists as he was in on both of Gerlach’s goals. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . Saskatoon outshot Moose Jaw, 30-22, including 13-5 in the third period. . . . The Blades got 21 stops from G Nolan Maier. . . . The Warriors, who started Brodan Salmond on goal in the opener, switched to Adam Evanoff for Game 2. He finished with 27 saves.


F Jake Leschyshyn stuck for three straight goals to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-Lethbridge1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Hurricanes lead the series, 2-0, as the teams head to Calgary for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday. . . . Nick Henry (2) got Lethbridge started with a goal just 25 seconds into the game. . . . Leschyshyn made it 2-0, on a PP, at 12:16, and then upped it to 3-0 at 19:13. . . . Leschyshyn scored his third goal of the game, and of the series, on another PP, at 8:57 of the third. That was his first playoff hat trick. . . . D Dakota Krebs (1) got Calgary’s goal, on a PP, at 11:28 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Leschyshyn and Henry, who also had an assist, from the Regina Pats in a deal earlier in the season. . . . While Lethbridge was 2-4 on the PP, Calgary went 0-7. . . . G Carl Tetachuk blocked 32 shots to record the victory over Jack McNaughton, who made 28 saves. . . . There was a multi-fight situation at 19:44 of the third period — officials handed out 86 penalty minutes, 49 to Lethbridge — so there just might be some discipline forthcoming. . . . D Devan Klassen and D Layne Toder of the Hitmen, along with Lethbridge D Nolan Jones, F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard all received fighting majors and game misconducts.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 49 shots, 23 of them in the second period, to lead the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . This was the opener in this series, with Game 2 set for Edmonton tonight. . . . F James Hamblin (1) got Medicine Hat in front, while shorthanded, at 4:18 of the second period, and F Hayden Ostir (1) made it 2-0 at 13:20. . . . F Josh Williams (1) got Edmonton’s goal at 17:58 of the third period. . . . Edmonton was 0-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-1. . . . The Oil Kings got 25 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . Edmonton had closed out the regular season on an 11-game winning streak.


G Roddy Ross, who didn’t finish Game 1, stopped 39 shots as his Seattle Thunderbirds Seattledumped the Vancouver Giants, 4-1, in Langley B.C. . . . The series is tied with Games 3 and 4 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . The Giants had won the opener, 7-1, on Friday. . . . Last night, Seattle took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Sean Richards (1), at 4:38, and D Simon Kubicek (1), on a PP, at 15:09. . . . F Jadon Joseph (2) got Vancouver on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 18:10. . . . The Thunderbirds got third-period insurance from F Andrej Kukuca (2), at 4:33, and F Nolan Volcan (1), into an empty net, at 17:58. . . . Volcan also had two assists. . . . Ross stopped 28 shots over the last two periods. . . . Vancouver was 1-4 on the PP; Seattle was 1-2. . . . The Giants got 24 saves from G Trent Miner. . . . Seattle was without D Jake Lee, who drew a TBD suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in Game 1. Vancouver F Justin Sourdif, who took that hit, didn’t play last night.


The Portland Winterhawks scored four times in the third period and beat the host PortlandSpokane Chiefs, 5-3. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, as it heads to Portland for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Last night, Spokane took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (2), at 6:19 of the first period, and F Luc Smith (1), at 13:19 of the second. . . . Portland responded with the next four goals. . . . F Josh Paterson (1) scored at 15:25 of the second period, and F Lane Gilliss (1) tied it at 8:11. . . . Paterson (2) gave Portland the lead at 9:51 and F Mason Mannek made it 4-2 at 12:37. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman (2) pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 17:26, only to have Portland D Matt Quigley (1) get the empty-netter just 19 seconds later. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 23 shots for Portland, seven fewer than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . The two teams combined for 13 PPs in Game 1; there weren’t any — not one — in Game 2. . . . Referees Steve Papp and Ward Pateman didn’t call any penalties. Zero. Zilch. Nada! . . . According to a news release from the Winterhawks, it was the first time in the team’s “43-year history both teams were held without a power-play chance.” . . . Portland was without D John Ludvig, who was suspended for two games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Game 1. F Ethan McIndoe of the Chiefs, who was hit by Ludvig, wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Spokane’s scratches included D Nolan Reid, who took a stick to the face early in Game 1, and F Luke Toporowski, who had an assist in the opener.


The Everett Silvertips erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals and then hung on for 4-Everett3 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-0. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and in Kennewick, Wash., on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . F Krystof Hrabik (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:51 of the first period. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (2) got Everett into a tie, on a PP, at 17:15. . . . D Jake Christiansen (1) gave the Silvertips the lead at 9:02 of the second period and F Gage Goncalves (1) stretched it to 3-1 just 19 seconds later. . . . F Robbie Holmes (1) made it 4-1 at 18:28. . . . The Americans got to within a goal on third-period scores from F Nolan Yaremko (2), shorthanded, at 2:36, and D Aaron Hyman (1), on a PP, at 18:58. . . . Christiansen also had an assist, and now has a goal and four helpers in the first two games. . . . Tri-City was 2-7 on the PP; Everett was 1-6. . . . Referees Mike Campbell and Dexter Rasmussen handed out 140 minutes in penalties, 76 to Everett. . . . That final total included 90 minutes worth of misconducts. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for the Silvertips, seven fewer than the American’s Beck Warm. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar, who didn’t finish Game 1, was scratched from Game 2.


F Jermaine Loewen scored on a rebound in OT to give the Kamloops Blazers a 4-3 victory Kamloops1over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Loewen’s winner came as he followed F Martin Lang to the Victoria net. Lang had cut in from the left side and tried to stuff in the winner, but the puck ended up laying loose in the crease for Loewen at 5:14 of OT. . . . The Blazers had scored on their first two shots of the game, F Kyrell Sopotyk (1) finding the range at 5:21 of the first period, and F Brodi Stuart (1) making it 2-0 at 7:06. . . . The Royals tied it on second-period PP goals from F Kody McDonald (1), at 2:53, and F Carson Miller (2), at 9:15. . . . Sopotyk (2) gave Blazers the lead, on a PP, at 3:54 of the third period, with McDonald (2) tying it at 4:11. . . . Victoria was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-2. . . . The Blazers were outshot 41-31 through three periods, but had a 4-1 edge in OT. . . . Kamloops got 39 saves from G Dylan Ferguson, who was playing his first game since leaving a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse, who had been 6-0-0 against the Blazers this season, turned aside 31 shots. . . . The Blazers scratched F Connor Zary for a second straight game. . . . Kamloops was without F Kobe Mohr, who was hit with a two-game suspension “for action at Victoria” in Game 1, according to the WHL website. It seems that Mohr’s stick came in contact with a linesman during that game. The Blazers claimed that the Royals filed for supplemental discipline; however, the Royals say they didn’t. . . . The Royals appear to be running into more injury problems. . . . They dressed seven defencemen — including APs Noah Lamb and Carson Golder — after scratching D Mitchell Prowse, who had played in Game 1. . . . In Game 2, the Royals mostly went with four defencemen — Lamb, Scott Walford, Ralph Jarratt and Rene Aquilon. D Jameson Murray, scratched from Game 1, was on the bench but didn’t play a shift. Jarratt, who has had an injury-plagued season, appeared to suffer a shoulder injury as Kamloops scored its third goal of the game. . . . Victoria F D-Jay Jerome played a couple of first-period shifts, but that was about all until he was out on a PP in OT. . . . Kamloops killed off that penalty, then won the game a couple of minutes later.


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Lamb, Matvichuk talk about Cougars . . . Montgomery sets Raiders’ record . . . Søgaard, Tigers shock Silvertips

MacBeth

F Nikita A. Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been released by mutual agreement by Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). He had one goal in 37 games. He also had four goals and four assists in nine games with Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk (Russia, MHL, the top junior league). . . . Popugayev started the season with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) and was assigned to their junior team, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (Russia, MHL), where he had two goals and an assist in three games. CSKA traded Popugayev to Amur on Sept. 9.


ThisThat

Mark Lamb, in his first season as general manager of the Prince George Cougars, worked his first game as head coach on Friday night in a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna.

That loss left the Cougars riding a 12-game losing skid (0-9-3) was they head for Langley, PrinceGeorgeB.C., and a Sunday afternoon appointment with the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants.

The Giants won twice in Prince George this week — 4-2 on Tuesday and 4-3 in OT on Wednesday.

The Cougars fired head coach Richard Matvichuk, who was in the last season of a three-year contract, after Wednesday’s game.

Lamb and Matvichuk talked about the move with Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen.

Here’s Lamb: “This has been ongoing for a while — I think it was inevitable that something was going to happen (Wednesday) night, win or lose. At the start of the (season) we talked about a lot of development and getting better all the time and we seemed to be stagnant and just kind of not getting better.

“It’s a lengthy streak and it’s hard on everybody — the coaches, the owners, office staff, everybody. It’s not a fun time and you just can’t keep it going. You have to do something to make it change.

“Whether he had one year or two years left was irrelevant on how we were thinking.”

Here’s Matvichuk: “When you go all-in, like we did two years ago, and you take a look at how many players were drafted in the last five years who aren’t even playing in the WHL, regardless of whether it’s a first-rounder or a seventh-rounder, the development curve wasn’t there.

“We knew as an organization last (season) when we decided to go into our rebuild it was going to be a struggle, and it was a struggle. We’re not far off where me and the coaching staff thought we’d be, right around 20 or 25 (wins) and fighting for that last playoff spot this year and that’s exactly where we’re at. Going through the season our goal was to get better every day, the playoffs was never an issue, it was about developing these kids to get ready for the next three years. It wasn’t about winning and losing, it was about making these players better every day and I truly believe that’s what we did.”

Clarke’s complete and thorough story is right here.


The AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines and Gord Thibodeau, their vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, have parted company. . . . Assistant coach Shawn Martin has taken over as interim GM/head coach. . . . “After 25 years of coaching, I have reached the inevitable point of hockey burnout,” Thibodeau said in a news release. “Moving forward I will take some time to rest, recharge and re-evaluate my future within the game of hockey.” . . . Thibodeau is the winningest head coach in WHL history, having put up 889 regular-season victories. . . . The Wolverines went into Friday at 19-30-2, good for seventh in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North. . . . Thibodeau, 55, has been coaching in the AJHL since 1994 spending time with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, Lloydminster Blazers, St. Albert Saints, Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Lloydminster Bobcats and the Wolverines. . . . He also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four different occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


D Kyle Chernenkoff had his BCHL playing career come to an end in January when Trailanother brain injury forced him to retire from the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . An alternate captain, Chernenkoff, 20, now is a member of the Trail coaching staff. . . . “It wasn’t really a hard decision to make,” Chernenkoff told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times. “It was a decision made for me by the doctors. It was a hard pill to swallow so I took a couple days to come to terms with it myself, and then transitioning into the coaching and being with the team made it easier for me to make that transition.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ben McCartney scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the BrandonWKregularvisiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . Brandon (23-21-7) had lost its previous two games. It now is six points from a playoff spot. . . . Swift Current (10-37-4) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Wheat Kings, who were 0-6 on the PP, fired 55 shots at Broncos G Riley Lamb, who is from Rivers, which is 30 km northwest of Brandon. . . . F Baron Thompson (6) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 17:49 of the first period, and D Braden Schneider (8) made it 2-0 at 13:48 of the second. . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (13) got Swift Current’s first goal, at 18:48. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (10) got the Broncos to OT with a goal at 18:40 of the third period. Yes, Lamb was on the bench for the extra attacker at the time. . . . McCartney, the second shooter in the first round, got the winner. . . . Brandon had a 21-6 edge in first-period shots, and it was 19-6 in the second period. . . . Brandon remains without G Jiri Patera (leg), but did get back D Braydyn Chizen from suspension and F Linden McCorrister from an undisclosed injury.


F Noah Gregor scored three times and added an assist as the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertskated to an 8-2 victory over the Calgary Wranglers (aka Calgary Hitmen). . . Prince Albert (44-7-2) has won three in a row and leads the East Division by 18 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Calgary (27-20-5) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is fifth in the Central Division, one point behind the Red Deer Rebels. The Hitmen also hold down the Eastern Conference’s second-wild card spot. . . . This was the third game of the three-game Corral Series in which the Hitmen saluted the three teams that have called the Corral home — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers. . . . The Raiders swept the four-game season series, the first time in franchise history that they have done that with Calgary. . . . The Raiders took control of this one by scoring the game’s first four goals. . . . F Dante Hannoun (25) got it started, on a PP, at 7:33 of the first period, with F Cole Fonstad making it 2-0 at 8:37. . . . Gregor upped that to 3-0 at 3:12 of the second period, and D Sergei Sapego (8) made it 4-0 at 3:33. . . . F Riley Stotts (16) scored for Calgary at 16:20, but the Raiders opened the third period with four straight goals to take an 8-1 lead. . . . Fonstad, who has 24 goals, finished with two goals and three assists, giving him his first career five-point game. . . . Gregor completed his second career hat trick with his side’s last two goals. He has 33 goals. . . . F James Malm (22) scored Calgary’s second goal on a penalty shot at 17:03 of the third. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton left in the first period after being involved in a collision with Raiders F Brett Leason. McNaughton had skated out to the hash marks in pursuit of a puck that Leason was chasing. That meant that Carl Stankowski came off the bench to see his first playing time since Nov. 23 when he suffered an ankle injury. . . . McNaughton stopped five of seven shots in 8:58, with Stankowski giving up six goals on 38 shots in 51:02. . . . Prince Albert got 21 saves from G Ian Scott. . . . F Sean Montgomery of the Raiders, who is from Calgary, played in his 331st regular-season game to set a franchise record. F Brett Novak (2000-06) had held the previous record. . . . Montgomery, 20, was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He has played 65, 72, 69, 72 and now 53 games in each of his regular-seasons. . . . Montgomery had one assist last night, and now has 134 points, including 64 goals, in 331 games. This season, he has career highs in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49). . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders sat out Game 2 of a three-game suspension. . . . The Hitmen are without D Dakota Krebs, D Egor Zamula, F Jake Kryski and F Hunter Campbell.


D Josh Brook scored 35 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 4-3 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Moose Jaw (29-13-8) had lost its previous two games. It is third in the East Division, six points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (27-15-10) has points in four straight (2-0-2). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Warriors, who got 47 saves from G Adam Evanoff, were 3-3 on the PP. . . . F Jake Elmer (21) put the Hurricanes ahead at 5:20 of the first period, only to have Brook tie it at 8:23. . . . Lethbridge went ahead 3-1 on goals from D Calen Addison (9), at 8:54, and F Taylor Ross (25), on a PP, at 0:19 of the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida, who also had two assists, got Moose Jaw into a tie with two second-period PP goals, at 6:53 and 15:54. He’s got 23 goals. . . . Brook, who also had two assists, won it with his 12th goal of the season. . . . The Warriors got three assists from F Brayden Tracey. . . . Elmer added two assists to his goal for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-5 on the PP. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tristin Langan back after he served a one-game suspension, but now is without D Jett Woo, who will sit for two games after taking a charging major and game misconduct in a 6-1 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday. Woo also will miss tonight’s game in Red Deer against the Rebels.


D Ryker Evans scored at 2:37 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in PatsRed Deer. . . Regina (15-36-3) is 26 points from a playoff spot with 14 games remaining. . . . Red Deer (28-18-4) has lost four straight (0-3-1). It is fourth in the Central Division, four points out of third and one up on the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Red Deer went up 1-0 when F Cam Hausinger (17) scored at 1:35 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it on F Ty Kolle’s 12th goal, on a PP, at 2:39. . . . F Brett Davis (16) put Red Deer back in front, on a PP, at 10:14. . . . Regina tied it when F Logan Nijhoff (4) scored at 15:24. . . . Evans won it when he scored his first WHL goal on a PP. A 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, Evans scored in his 31st games. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel drew an assist on his club’s second goal to tie the franchise’s career record of 161. He now shares it with F Arron Asham (1994-98). . . . Regina had D Tyson Feist back after a four-game absence, while F Brandon Dubinsky completed a four-game suspension by missing this game. . . . The Rebels had D Alex Alexeyev back in their lineup. He missed six games since last playing on Jan. 19.


Freshman F Lukas Svejkovsky had a goal and two assists, and veteran F Tristen Nielsen Vancouverhad two goals and an assist, to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (36-13-3) has won four in a row, including the last three on the road. . . . The Giants now are 20-3-2 against the other B.C. Division teams. They lead the division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kamloops (20-26-5) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets, who are to visit Kamloops tonight. The Blazers also are one point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Svejkovsky, who opened the scoring on Jan. 30 when the Giants won, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops, did it again, this time at 16:07 of the first period. It was his sixth goal of the season. . . . F Connor Zary (13) pulled Kamloops even, on a PP, at 12:33 of the second period. . . . The Giants won it on two goals from Nielsen in the third period. He got his eighth goal at 12:44, then added insurance, on a PP, at 14:42. Both goals came off slick passes from F Jadon Joseph, with Svejkovsky getting the secondary assist each time. . . . Nielsen also had an assist on Svejkovsky’s goal. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner, who finished with 26 saves, appeared to be shaken up halfway through the third period when he stumbled and went down on his own behind the Giants’ net. Mike Burnstein, the athletic therapist, went out to chat with Miner as he was stretching his irons, but the goaltender stayed in and finished up. . . . The Blazers got 31 stops from G Dylan Ferguson. . . . Each team was 1-6 on the PP as both goaltenders stood tall. . . . With F Ryley Appelt still out with a finger injury incurred in a fight, the Blazers had F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, in the lineup for his sixth game of the season. Stankoven plays for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He leads the league in goals (40), assists (36) and points (76), all in 31 games. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi missed this one as he began serving a three-game suspension. . . . D Dallas Hines was one of Vancouver’s scratches. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw played in his 300th regular-season game. The team captain, he has played 95 games with Vancouver, after starting his career by playing 179 with the Victoria Royals, then 26 with the Red Deer Rebels.


F Mark Liwiski broke a 3-3 tie in the third period as the Kelowna Rockets scoured the KelownaRocketsgame’s last three goals to get past the visiting Prince George Cougars, 4-3. . . . Kelowna (22-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Prince George (16-31-6) has lost 12 in a row (0-9-3) and is eight points from a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from D Cole Moberg (11), on a PP, at 13:13, and F Josh Curtis, at 16:13. . . . F Nolan Foote halved Kelowna’s deficit while shorthanded, at 18:14. . . . Curtis stretched the lead to 3-1 with his 11th goal, on a PP, at 19:07. . . . D Cayde Augustine pulled the Rockets to within a goal with his his first goal of the season, on a PP, at 9:20 of the second period. . . . That also was Augustine’s first WHL point and came in his 28th game. He’s a 17-year-old from Airdrie, Alta. . . . Foote’s 28th goal, at 8:05 of the third period, tied it, and Liwiski won it with his sixth goal, at 12:10. . . . G Roman Basran came on in relief for the Rockets and stopped all 15 shots he faced through two periods to earn the victory. . . . G Taylor Gauthier, Prince George’s starter, left the game at 9:05 of the third period with an injury. There wasn’t a penalty on the play. He had stopped 17 of 20 shots. Tyler Brennan, 15, came on to make his WHL debut, and stopped four of five shots. . . . Brennan, from Winnipeg, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. He is on the roster with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Kelowna F Conner Bruggen-Cate completed a two-game suspension by sitting out.


The Portland Winterhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the PortlandSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Portland (33-15-5) is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Seattle (20-26-6) has lost two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 44th goal at 2:07 of the first period. . . . D John Ludvig (4) made it 2-0 at 10:41. . . . F Lane Gilliss (13) upped the lead to 3-0 at 11:18 of the second period. . . . Seattle cut into the deficit at 16:13 of the third period as F Matthew Wedman (26) scored, on a PP. . . . F Josh Paterson’s 20th goal, into an empty net, wrapped it up for the Winterhawks. . . . Seattle was 1-6 on the PP; Portland was 0-2. . . . G Shane Farkas earned the victory with 25 saves, one more than Seattle’s Cole Schwebius. . . . Farkas now is 9-1-0 in his career against Seattle. . . . Portland continues to play without F Cody Glass (knee). . . . Seattle D Simon Kubicek left in the first period and didn’t return. He is expected to miss some time with an undisclosed injury. . . . D Jarret Tyszka was back in Seattle’s lineup after missing a couple of games, but F Nolan Volcan remains out. . . . Attendance on a stormy night was announced as 2,688.


F Ethan McIndoe scored two goals and added two assists, and D Nolan Reid had a goal SpokaneChiefsand three helpers, as the Spokane Chiefs dumped the visiting Victoria Royals, 8-3. . . . Spokane (28-17-6) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Victoria (26-22-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Victoria actually held a 3-2 lead late in the first period, but then surrendered the game’s last six goals. . . . The Chiefs held a 49-31 edge in shots, including 20-14 in the first period and 21-8 in the third. They were 4-8 on the PP and won 46 of 74 faceoffs. . . . Spokane F Luc Smith (23) tied the game 3-3 at 17:45 of the first period. . . . McIndoe, who has 12 goals, broke the tie at 8:55, and Spokane later added four third-period goals. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored his seventh goal of the season for Spokane, and it was the 100th of his career. . . . Spokane F Connor Gabruch, who didn’t score for the first 34 games of his freshman season, scored his second goal in two games. . . . F Jake McGrew (23) and F Luke Toporowski (16) added goals for the winners, who in the third period scored three times on the PP and once while shorthanded. . . . Reid, who has two four-point games during his 315-game career, now has 12 goals this season. . . . D Mitchell Prowse (3), F Kaid Oliver (22) and F Kody McDonald, on a PP, scored for the Royals, who began a five-game road swing with this one.


F Parker AuCoin scored three times and added two assists to lead the Tri-City Americans tri-cityto a 7-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (28-19-3) has won three straight games. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Spokane Chiefs. The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, 13 points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kootenay (11-34-8) has lost two in a row. . . . F Peyton Krebs (18) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 6:22 of the first period, with AuCoin tying it, on a PP, at 11:49. . . . The Ice then took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Cole Muir (11), at 15:37, and F Holden Kodak (1), at 16:33. Holden, a 17-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., got his first WHL goal in his 40th game, 38 of them this season. . . . The Americans scored the games next five goals to take control. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (19) made it a one-goal game at 17:05. . . . F Krystof Hrabik scored while shorthanded at 13:38 of the second period to tie the score, and AuCoin’s 29th goal gave Tri-City the lead at 14:53. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (4) and AuCoin, with his 30th goal, added insurance before the period ended. . . . In the third period, Hrabik got his 13th goal for the winners, with F Jakin Smallwood (10) counting for the ice. . . . AuCoin enjoyed his first career hat trick and his first five-point game.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 41 shots to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers Logo Officialhost Everett Silvertips. . . . Medicine Hat (30-18-4) has won three in a row. The Tigers are tied for second with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Everett (37-13-2) had won its past four games. It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks, with the Silvertips holding a game in hand. . . . Søgaard, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Denmark, was hot right from the start, as he stopped 17 shots in the first period. . . . F James Hamblin scored the game’s only goal, his 29th, on a PP at 16:40 of the second period. . . . Everett got 28 saves from G Dustin Wolf. . . . This was a battle of two of the league’s best goaltenders. . . . Søgaard now is 14-4-4, 2.24, .933. . . . Wolf is 33-12-1, 1.81, .931.


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Did anything go wrong in Prince George? . . . Sask. Hockey Hall gets new name . . . Arena now bears Kennedy’s name


MacBeth

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He was released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga) on Tuesday. The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . . Freiburg now has five imports on its roster but is allowed to dress only four per game. The four other imports are d-men Radek Havel and Antti Kauppila, and forwards Brad McGowan, and Josef Mikyska. . . .

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Växjö (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). In 11 games, he had three goals and five assists. He left Avangard in late October and returned to Canada. . . .

F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). He has three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


ThisThat

Richard Matvichuk, in the final season of a three-year contract and with a new general manager looking over his shoulder, was going to have to win the WHL championship PrinceGeorgethis season in order to earn a new contract as the head coach of the Prince George Cougars.

Of course, that was never going to happen, what with the Cougars in a rebuilding mode.

So . . . with the team eight points from a playoff spot and only 16 games left to play, general manager Mark Lamb fired Matvichuk following a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.

The Giants, at 35-13-3, are atop the B.C. Division, 35 points ahead of the Cougars (16-30-6), who have lost 11 straight games (0-8-3).

Lamb, who spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, has taken over as head coach and will be in that role tonight when the Cougars meet the Rockets in Kelowna.

He will be joined behind the bench by associate coach Steve O’Rourke and Nick Drazenovic, who has been moved up from director of player development to assistant coach, at least for the rest of this season.

If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.

Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, will find another coaching job. After all, he was the ECHL’s reigning coach of the year when he left the Missouri Mavericks to sign with the Cougars on June 2, 2016. The Mavericks had finished with the ECHL’s best regular-season record (52-15-5) in 2015-16.

In Matvichuk’s first season in Prince George, the Cougars went 45-21-6 to finish atop the B.C. Division, a first for the franchise since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season.

You may recall that the Cougars went all-in that season. On Nov. 18, 2016, they acquired D Brendan Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for two players, as well as first- and third-round bantam draft picks. Then, on Jan. 5, 2017, the Cougars got Russian F Nikita Popugaev from the Moose Jaw Warriors for two players, including F Justin Almeida, and a couple of bantam draft picks. Popugaev gave the Cougars 25 points, nine of them goals, in 44 games over two seasons before going home 13 games into last season. Almeida has produced 184 points, 71 of them goals, in 150 games with the Warriors.

It turned out for naught as the Cougars lost a first-round playoff series, 4-2, to the Portland Winterhawks.

Last season, the Cougars were sellers — they unloaded the likes of F Kody McDonald, D Josh Anderson and D Dennis Cholowski — as they wound up 24-38-10, leaving them fifth in the B.C. Division and 20 points from a playoff spot.

Somewhere in all of this, the Cougars’ ownership group decided to make a u-turn in regard to its philosophy. Henceforth, the goal won’t be to aim for a single-season splash, to get caught up in what some people still see as the cyclical nature of major junior hockey. Rather, the owners decided that the Cougars are going to build through the draft with the goal of having a team that makes the playoffs on an annual basis. Make the playoffs, the thinking now is, and let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately, none of that does Matvichuk any good because he’s gone.

Remember, too, that hockey teams go through coaches these days the way   a Dairy Queen outlet goes through ice cream.

The Cougars are the second of the WHL’s 22 teams to make a coaching change this season. Kelowna was 4-10-0 when Jason Smith was fired and replaced by Adam Foote. The Rockets are 17-16-5 under Foote.

After last season, eight WHL teams changed head coaches. Seven teams, including the Cougars, also brought in new general managers.

The Cougars decided not to renew Todd Harkins’ contract after last season. He had been in the organization for four seasons, the first one as head scout and director of player personnel, the last one as general manager.

It was Harkins who hired Matvichuk.

With Lamb coming in and Matvichuk into the last year of his contract, many observers thought they could see the writing on the wall. Late on Wednesday night, their eyesight was proven to be 20/20.

Lamb signed a four-year contract with the Cougars, and now he gets to hire his own head coach. Or maybe he puts himself into the position on a permanent basis. His last stint as a head coach, with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, didn’t end the way he would have liked when he was dismissed after one season (2016-17).

Unless Lamb, 54, is one of those rare people who is able to shake free from the coaching bug, he may have a desire to give it another go with the hope that at some point he will be able to walk away on his terms.


F Ilijah Colina left the Prince George Cougars last week.

At the time, the Cougars said that Colina, a 19-year-old from North Delta, B.C., who was in his third WHL season, had gone home for “personal reasons.”

In a tweet (above) that was posted on Thursday evening, Colina’s mother, Carrie, has shed some light on her son’s departure.

The next time you attend a junior hockey game, take a minute to think about the stress the players face, almost all of them living away from home as they chase a dream, with some of them starting to realize that that’s all it is — a dream.

In 151 regular-season games, 68 with the Cougars and 83 with the Portland Winterhawks, Colina has 18 goals and 37 assists.


An update on F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks, who has been rehabbing a knee injury, from Vince Sapienza, a sports reporter with FOX 5 in Las Vegas:


The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame has undergone a name change after receiving a $500,000 donation from the family of the late Ted Knight, a former co-owner of the saskhallRegina Pats.

It has been renamed the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.

From a news release:

“Ted Knight’s children — Tracey, Kevin and Kyle — wanted to honour their father’s name and his love for the game of hockey. Through this title sponsorship of the Hall, the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will remain a hub for hockey in the province and honour those individuals who have made a lasting impression on Saskatchewan hockey.”

Knight, who was born in Selkirk, Man., in 1939, played for the Winnipeg Braves when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

In 1986, Knight, Bill Hicke, Morley Gusway, Jack Nichol and Huddy Bell bought the Regina Pats. Knight was part of that ownership group for 10 years.

Knight, along with sons Kevin and Kyle, owned the Knight Automotive Group. It started with Crestview Chrysler Dodge in Regina and now has 15 dealerships in the three Prairie provinces.

Knight died on Oct. 13, 2017, at the age of 78.

The Hall of Fame is located in the Credit Union I-Plex, the home arena of the Swift Current Broncos.


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Hitmen add two players to roster . . . Lamb discusses being WHL GM . . . Giants win battle of division leaders


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Earlier this week, the Calgary Hitmen returned G Brayden Peters to the midget AAA CalgaryLethbridge Hurricanes. On Thursday, they brought him back. This would seem to indicate that G Carl Stankowski (ankle) isn’t yet ready to return. With Stankowski out, G Jack McNaughton has started 19 straight games. A 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, McNaughton is 15-12-2, 3.32, .888 in 30 appearances this season. . . . At the same time, the Hitmen have added F Orca Wiesblatt from the MJHL’s Portage Terriers. He has six goals and nine assists in 16 games with the Terriers, and was pointless in two earlier games with the Hitmen. . . . The Hitmen are to entertain the Prince George Cougars tonight.


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the general manager of a WHL team? How about the GM of a team that has changed philosophy and now had a plan that involves building a strong foundation? Mark Lamb, the first-year general manager of the Prince George Cougars, sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat for an episode of the Cat Scan podcast and it’s all right here.


THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Davis Koch scored twice to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Prince VancouverAlbert Raiders in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (30-12-2) has won seven straight games. It leads the B.C. Division by 15 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Giants are 19-5-1 at home. They went 6-0-0 against the East Division this season, as all six teams visited Langley. . . . Prince Albert (40-6-2) had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders, who are 20-3-2 on the road, went 3-1-1 in its swing through the B.C. Division. They still lead the East Division by 20 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Brayden Watts (11) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 13:15 of the second period. . . . Koch upped the lead to 2-0 at 8:37 of the third period. That goal stood up as the winner, giving him three winners in as many games. . . . D Brayden Pachal (12) got the Raiders to within a goal at 18:22. . . . Koch iced the victory with an empty-netter at 19:32. . . . Koch, who has 18 goals, is riding a six-game goal streak and a seven-game point streak. He has 16 points, including seven goals, over those seven games. . . . For the season, Koch has 49 points in 44 games. . . . Prince Albert was 0-4 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 31 saves from G Trent Miner, who had a great night. He now is 14-3-1, 1.86, .933. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots. . . . Head coach Marc Habscheid was back with the Raiders, after having been in Red Deer at the Top Prospects Game. Also arriving in Vancouver from Red Deer in time to play were F Brett Leason of the Raiders and D Bowen Byram of the Giants. . . . The game was televised on Sportsnet. Early in the second period, analyst Sam Cosentino said he had been told there were 140 NHL people in the building.


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