WJC rosters include 14 WHLers . . . Tourney opens with four games . . . Finland-Sweden in Day 1 spotlight

Mowing
If you didn’t see this photo on Twitter earlier, it was taken on Christmas Day at about 2 p.m. Hey, I was born in Sherridon, Man., and raised in Lynn Lake, Man. — look them up on Google Maps — so I had never before seen grass this green on Dec. 25. LOL! . . . This is at the back of our home; there were nine deer on a field just west of the front yard. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get a really close look, so it may have been Rudolph and some friends.

MacBeth

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2014-16) has signed a two-way contract for the rest of this season with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) after clearing NHL unconditional waivers and having his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) terminated. He had two assists in 15 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).


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The 10-team World Junior Championship opens today in Vancouver and Victoria with two games in each venue.

In Vancouver, it’s Czech Republic versus Switzerland (1 p.m. PT) and Canada versus Denmark (5 p.m.)

In Victoria, it’s U.S.A. versus Slovakia (3:30 p.m.) and Finland versus Sweden (7:30 p.m.).

In other words, Day 1 should bring us three no-contests and one thriller. Don’t forget that 2019wjcas much as we look forward to this tournament, the early-going often is full of lop-sided games. What today’s schedule means is that you will be able to go out and soak up some of those Boxing Day sales before coming home to watch Finland and Sweden do battle.

BTW, make certain that you’re aware of the IIHF’s new late-hit rule because if you aren’t it’s going to make you crazy.

And note that you aren’t going to read a whole lot about the WJC on this site after this report. I’m not there, nor will I pay particular attention through the early part of the tournament. But there will be a whole lot of other places loaded with info from those who are taking in the games in person.

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The 10 teams taking part in the WJC filed their preliminary rosters on Tuesday.

Under IIHF regulations teams had to register at least 15 skaters and two goaltenders. If a team doesn’t file the maximum (20 skaters and three goaltenders), it is allowed to add players to its roster until two hours before games until reaching the maximum.

By my count, there are 14 WHL players on those rosters. Here’s a look:

Canada (6) — G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders; D Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs; F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Spokane; F Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks; F Brett Leason, Prince Albert. . . . Tim Hunter of Moose Jaw is Canada’s head coach; Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is one of the assistant coaches. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Czech Republic (3) — G Jiri Patera, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Filip Kral, Spokane; F Krystof Hrabik, Tri-City Americans. . . . The roster also includes former Brandon D Daniel Bukac, now of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and F Martin Kaut of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, whose CHL rights belong to Brandon. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Denmark (2) — G Mads Sogaard, Medicine Hat Tigers; F Phillip Schultz, Victoria Royals. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Finland (0) — The roster includes D Henri Jokiharju of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who played the previous two seasons with Portland; F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Finnish pro team Karpan Oulu, who spent the previous two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos; and F Sami Moilanen of Tappara Tampere, who played the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Kazakhstan (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Russia (1) — D Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Mark Rubinchik, who plays for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, was with the Saskatoon Blades for the previous two seasons. . . . Registered 11 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Slovakia (2) — F Andrej Kukuca, Seattle; F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants. . . . Registered 12 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Sweden (0) — Brandon holds the CHL rights to D Erik Brannstrom of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Switzerland (0) — F Justin Sigrist of the GCK Lions Zurich played with the Kamloops Blazers in 2017-18. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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USA (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Meanwhile, Mason Black, who is on Twitter at @NHL RankKing, went over the WJC rosters and has an easy-to-read NHL team-by-team list of prospects right here.

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If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.

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This piece is four years old, but if you’re a fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth your time. It’s from Rolling Stone and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what went into what has become a movie with an amazing following. . . . The story — it’s an oral history — is right here.


Here is one more great read for you. . . . It’s not that long ago when Austin Murphy was one of the best and most-prolific writers employed by Sports Illustrated. These days, as he writes, “I drive a van for Amazon.” . . . He has written a first-person piece on the adventure of a package deliverer and it’s awesome stuff. You’ll find it right here.


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Writers resting after MVI involving elk . . . Hurricanes’ future looks bright . . . Where were Americans’ fans? . . . A full MacBeth Report

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Jesse Geleynse and Andy Eide, two members of the media who were in Kennewick, Wash., to cover a WHL game on Monday night, were injured in a car accident on their way back to the Seattle area early Tuesday morning.

Geleynse, who works for the Everett Herald, and Eide, from 710 ESPN Seattle, had driven to Kennewick to cover Game 6 of the WHL’s Western Conference final between the Tri-City Americans and Everett Silvertips.

On the return trip on Interstate 90, their car was behind a semi tractor-trailer when an elk got in the way.

KOMOnews.com reported: “A preliminary investigation found that the semi and the Mazda were both heading east on I-90 when the semi hit an elk that was standing on the freeway. The Mazda driver swerved to avoid the elk that had been struck, lost control, and the car rolled over onto its top in the median.”

Those in the car were taken to hospital in Ellensburg, Wash.

Eide told Taking Note late Tuesday afternoon that he was at home and resting.

Geleynse also is at home, nursings cuts, bruises and a concussion.

The KOMO story is right here.


Three years have come and gone since Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, recommended that shareholders in the Lethbridge Hurricanes put a ‘For Sale’ sign on their franchise and sell to private owners.

“It’s not to say that this community organization can’t get things turned around,” Robison Lethbridgetold media after speaking to shareholders on May 4, 2015. “But we think, when you look at the franchise moving forward, that private interests would be in the best interest of the club.”

At that point, the Hurricanes hadn’t been in the playoffs for six seasons and were somewhere around $1.25 million in debt.

And then along came Peter Anholt. He hitched his white horse to the rail at the edge of town and . . .

Anholt had stepped in as general manager and head coach in December 2014. After the season, he signed a three-year contract as general manager.

The shareholders voted not to sell, and, well, the rest is history.

In the past three seasons, the Hurricanes have played 22 home playoff games, including 10 in 2017 and nine this season when they lost a third-round series in six games to the heavily favoured Swift Current Broncos.

The Hurricanes now can afford to buy lunch for their banker, rather than using a line of credit to pay for it.

Keep in mind, too, that Hurricanes’ fans wear their sunglasses at night because the future is that bright. Their favourite team reached the Eastern Conference final even though Anholt turned into a seller at the January trade deadline.

The Hurricanes’ roster now includes three of the WHL’s top young players — F Logan Barlage, who was acquired from the Broncos, and F Dylan Cozens, both of them having completed their 16-year-old seasons, along with D Calen Addison, who turned 18 on April 11.

Yes, things are looking good in Lethbridge, so good, in fact, the prospective private owners need not bother venturing into city limits.


You are free to wonder if the Tri-City Americans are long for the Kennewick-Richland-Pasco area of Washington State.

The Americans drew an announced crowd of 3,033 fans to Game 6 of the WHL’s Western Conference final against the Everett Silvertips on Monday night. In seven home games in TriCity30these playoffs, in what was their 30th season, the Americans’ average announced attendance was 3,053.

The Americans play in the 5,797-seat Toyota Center, which opened in 1988 and now is in need of upgrading.

However, the Kennewick Public Facilities District has asked voters three times for the OK to increase a sales tax to fund a project that would include, among other things, an upgrade for the hockey facility. Three times it has been rejected.

In November, with the latest referendum having been defeated, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager who owns a piece of the franchise, told the Tri-City Herald that the arena’s “infrastructure is certainly in trouble.”

According to Wendy Culverwell of the Herald, Tory said team expenses have doubled under current ownership while revenue has been flat.

“There comes a time when that doesn’t make sense any more,” Tory told Culverwell.

Culverwell wrote: “The Americans’ lease runs through 2020, but contains language that allows it to negotiate for a lower rent or even an early termination if it isn’t up to WHL standards.”

Tory, who has never cried wolf or threatened to relocate, also told Culverwell: “If you look around the WHL, our facility is not just the worst facility in the U.S. Division, but it’s probably at the very bottom of the league as far as the quality of the amenities.”

In the regular season, the Americans’ announced average attendance was 3,649, easily the lowest figure among the five U.S. Division teams. The Seattle Thunderbirds were the closest divisional opponent, at 4,950.

The Tri-Cities area of Washington State is home to around 300,000 people.


The MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons got a goal and two assists from F Bradley Schoonbaert as they dumped the host Nipawin Hawks, the SJHL champs, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series for the ANAVET Cup.  . . . Game 4 is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) in Nipawin, with Game 5 there on Friday. . . . Last night, the Pistons held period leads of 1-0 and 4-0. . . . F Brandan Arnold had an assist on Nipawin’s goal. He has been in on all six of the Hawks’ scores in the series. . . . G Matthew Thiessen stopped 16 shots for Steinbach. . . . The winner of this series will move on to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack, B.C., later this month.


The BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild is one victory away from a berth in the Royal Bank Cup, the junior A championship tournament that opens in Chilliwack, B.C., on May 12. . . . The Wild beat the host Spruce Grove Saints, the AJHL champions, 4-3 on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Doyle Cup series. The Wild is trying to became the first American-based team to win the Doyle Cup. . . . They’ll play Game 4 in Spruce Grove tonight (Wednesday). . . . Last night, goals from F Nathan Iannone and D Cooper Zech gave the Wild a 3-1 lead after two periods. . . . F Sam Hesler upped it to 4-1 at 8:10 of the third period. . . . The Saints made it close as F Parker Seretsky and F Chase Olsen scored at 12:34 and 12:57, respectively. . . . G Austin Park earned the victory with 34 saves.


JUST NOTES:

Tyler Kuntz is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. Kuntz, 39, spent this season as the assistant coach of the Daemyung Killer Whales in South Korea. Prior to that, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . Kuntz takes over from Brock Sawyer, an assistant coach who took over as interim head coach when the Kings fired GM/head coach Kent Lewis on Jan. 29. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed Chris Moulton, their assistant general manager, to a contract extension. The length of the deal wasn’t revealed. Moulton has been with the Chiefs since 2005, and has been the assistant GM since November 2016. . . .

D Mark Rubinchik, who turned 19 on March 21, won’t be back for a third season with the Saskatoon Blades. According to The MacBeth Report, Rubinchik, who is from Moscow, has signed a two-year, two-way contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). . . . Rubinchik had 23 assists in 63 games as a freshman in 2016-17. This season, in 67 games, he recorded four goals and 19 assists. . . . The Blades didn’t make the playoffs this season. Rubinchik was their lone import player after the Jan. 10 trade deadline, when they moved Czech D Libor Hajek to the Regina Pats. . . .

F Brad Morrison, 21, who leads the WHL playoff scoring race, has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Morrison, whose Lethbridge Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday night, was a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2015 draft but was never signed. . . . In 16 playoff games this spring, he put up 37 points, including 16 goals. He also leads all playoff scorers with 21 assists. . . . In 334 WHL regular-season games, split between the Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge, Morrison had 263 points, including 112 goals.


MacBeth

G Juha Metsola (Lethbridge, 2007-09) signed a two-year contract with Salevat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, in 52 games with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL), he was 28-17-6, 2.25, .923 with three shutouts and two assists. He twice was named the KHL’s goaltender of the week (Nov. 8 and Jan. 29). . . .

F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) signed a one-year contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Daniel Rákos (Swift Current, 2005-07) signed a “multi-year” contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and 15 assists in 47 games. . . .

D Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) signed a one-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he was pointless in 12 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), and had four goals and five assists in seven games while on loan to Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had 18 goals and 16 assists in 46 games. He led his team in goals and points. . . .

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) was traded by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk to Spartak Moscow (both Russia, KHL) for cash compensation. This season, in 12 games with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, he was 6-4-0, 2.11, .922 with one shutout. . . .

F Jakub Herman (Moose Jaw, 2009-10) signed a one-year contract with Zlin (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 11 assists in 39 games. . . .

D Mark Rubinchik (Saskatoon, 2016-18) signed a two-year, two-way contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, he had four goals and 19 assists in 67 games with Saskatoon. . . .

F Filip Ahl (Regina, 2016-17) signed a one-year contract with Tingsryd (Sweden, Allsvenskan). This season, he had seven goals and one assist in five games with Örebro J20 (Sweden, J20 SuperElit), one assist in 15 games with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), and 11 goals and four assists in 29 games while on loan to Karlskoga (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Halle (Germany, Oberliga). He had seven goals and 31 assists in 37 games, leading his club in assists and points. . . .

F Ladislav Ščurko (Seattle, Tri-City, 2004-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Detva (Slovakia, Extraliga). In 54 games, he had 17 goals and 11 assists. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals. . . .

F Andrej Kudrna (Vancouver, Red Deer, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract extension with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had 14 goals and 13 assists in 52 games. He led his team in goals.


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