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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WHL scouts on move . . . Calgary scout has good day at Stampede . . . Raiders d-man signs Czech pro deal


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F Zane Jones (Chilliwack/Victoria, Calgary, Everett, Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Visby/Roma (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, in 28 games with Sollentuna (Sweden, Division 1), he had a team-high 16 goals and five assists. . . . Currently, Jones is playing his second season with the Newcastle North Stars (Australia, AIHL). In 12 games, he has eight goals and seven assists. Jones has dual Canadian/Australian citizenship, so doesn’t count as an import in the AIHL. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs Leuven (Belgium, BeNe Liga). Last season, with the Berlin Blues (Germany, Regionalliga), he had 29 goals and 21 assists in 22 games. He led the Blues in goals and points. . . . Presently, Wudrick is playing for the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 15 games. He leads the Ice Dogs in assists and points, and is second in the league in assists and third in points. This is his fourth season in the AIHL. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 13 assists in 44 games. . . .

D Vojtěch Budík (Prince Albert, 2015-18) signed a one-year contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Prince Albert (WHL), he had 14 goals and 27 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has been traded by Spartak Moscow to Admiral Vladivostok (both Russia, KHL) for Vadim Pereskokov. Last season, with Khimik Voskresensk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), Kuvayev had 13 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.


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They are the unsung heroes of the WHL — and all other junior and pro hockey teams — and a few of them are on the move.

This isn’t at all surprising, considering the changes in the player personnel/scouting whldepartments made by a handful of teams.

For starters, Dylan Franson has left the Prince George Cougars to join the scouting staff of the Everett Silvertips, who have brought in Alvin Backus as director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as head scout. Backus had been with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, while Fraser scouted for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Franson had been with the Cougars for two seasons.

Meanwhile, Matt Blair has left the Kamloops Blazers’ scouting staff. He had scouted for the Blazers for 11 seasons. The Blazers have a new general manager in Matt Bardsley, who had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999. However, they have yet to replace Matt Recchi, who was dropped as director of player personnel on May 10.

There also is speculation that Jamie Porter, who is vacating his post as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of hockey operations at month’s end, will surface with the Tri-City Americans. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, has an opening after assistant GM Barclay Parneta signed on as GM with the Vancouver Giants.

As well, the buzz is that veteran scout Daryl Anning will be leaving the Broncos for the Vancouver Giants and what one source told me would be “an increased role.” Anning is the father of David Anning, the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

If you are a scout making a move, or if you are aware of anyone switching teams, help me give these folks some recognition by emailing me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Still with the scouting fraternity, Chad Harden, who works for the Calgary Hitmen, is busy these days at the Calgary Stampede.

A pro chuckwagon driver when he’s not in the rinks, Harden won Heat 3 of the StampedeRangeland Derby at the Stampede on Saturday night.

Harden came off the No. 4 barrel and almost got the rail on Chanse Vigen of Wolseley, Sask., who was driving his father Mike’s team. Vigen got to the finish line first, by about a head, but took a five-second penalty because of a barrel infraction.

That left Harden, who won the 2009 Rangeland Derby, with the Heat 3 victory in the Kubota Dealers of Alberta rig. His time of 1:11.79 was the second-fastest of Day 2.

Harden, 47, is from Mulhurst Bay, Alta. He also has scouted for the Prince George Cougars and Kootenay Ice.


The Colorado Avalanche has signed Czech F Martin Kaut, the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft, to a three-year, two-way contract. The Brandon Wheat Kings hold Kaut’s WHL rights, but he is expected to open the season with the Colorado Eagles, the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate. . . . Kaut has played the past two seasons with HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga, the country’s top pro league.


D Vojtech Budik won’t be back for a fourth season with the Prince Albert Raiders after signing a one-year deal with Pardubice of Czech Republic’s Extraliga. Had Budik, who is from Holice, Czech Republic, returned, he would have been a two-spotter as a 20-year-old and an import. . . . In 189 regular-season games with the Raiders, he had 18 goals and 65 assists. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2016 draft but wasn’t signed.


So . . . LeBron has joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and the way that columnist Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post sees it, LaVar Ball is about done with the that particular NBA team. Her superb column on this situation is right here.