Wrapping up a busy week with a Friday feast of odds and ends . . .

MacBeth

D Riley Guenther (Tri-City, Prince Albert, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in 28 games with the U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West). . . .

F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had three goals and four assists in 10 games. . . . He started the season with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), putting up seven goals and eight assists in 31 games. He was traded to Banská Bystrica on Jan. 25. . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga Nord), he had 27 goals and 49 assists in 40 games. He led the team in goals, and was second in assists and points. . . .

D Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and nine assists in 38 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.


ThisThat

 

Now that F Matt Savoie has signed with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, you are free to wonder where he’ll play next season. I would suggest that he will end up at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy — Ice co-owner Greg Fettes owns a piece of the action there — or, if Hockey Canada should decide to give him exceptional status, he’ll play for the Ice. . . . Savoie will be one of a few Ice prospects to play at RHA, which before long will have other WHL owners exploring how to hook their wagons to nearby academies.

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Don’t forget that 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which owns the Ice, also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. So you can look for an Ice prospect or three to play there, too. . . . Maybe that also will bring on a rush of other WHL franchises looking to purchase their own junior A teams.

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Having Savoie playing at RHA will allow the Ice to take advantage of the WHL rule that covers 15-year-old players and emergency recalls. By playing with a short roster and declaring an emergency situation at various points during the season, the Ice will be able to get Savoie into its lineup for far more than five games.

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There are rumours out there that claim the WHL has changed its 15-year-old rule in order to allow Savoie to play more than 30 games with the Ice in 2019-20. We know that isn’t true because the WHL surely would have informed its fans were that the case. Right?

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On Friday, the Ice acquired the WHL rights to F Dylan Holloway from the Everett Silvertips. Holloway, a Calgarian who is to turn 18 on Sept. 23, had 40 goals and 48 assists in 53 regular-season games with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers last season. He was honoured as the AJHL’s MVP and the CJHL’s player of the year. However, he has committed to play for the U of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall. . . . The Silvertips got a fifth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft in the exchange, along with a conditional first-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder in 2022.


The WHL held its annual general meeting in Kelowna on Tuesday and Wednesday. When it was over, the league posted a news release on its website that contained nothing in the way of breaking news.

Included in that news release, under the headline Over $10 Million Invested in Capital Improvements to WHL Arena Facilities, was this:

“All WHL Arena Facilities across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States will undergo over $10 million in capital improvements prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, including the installation of new NHL-licensed acrylic rinkboard systems, improved video scoreboards, and ugraded lighting standards. The improvements are designed to address player safety and improve the fan experience.”

The WHL forgot to thank taxpayers in various communities for their help in funding these projects. An oversight, surely.



The best part of the Toronto Raptors’ championship-winning victory on Thursday night in Oakland? Drake chose to stay in Toronto so his TV time, at least on the ABC telecast, was, well, it wasn’t.

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Look, the Raptors’ victory on Thursday night was a terrific accomplishment. But please don’t try telling me it was the greatest moment in Canadian sporting history. Because of the political situation at the time, nothing will ever top 1972 and the eight-game series between Canada and the Soviet Union that was won by Paul Henderson’s goal. . . . Put the Raptors’ championship right there with the Blue Jays’ first World Series victory, one step below Team Canada’s victory over the big, bad Russian bear.


The CFL’s regular-season opener was three plays old on Thursday night and the Saskatchewan Roughriders already had lost their No. 1 quarterback — Zach Collaros — to a headshot. This really wasn’t the start that the league or the Roughriders had wanted. Collaros has a history of concussions, so this was horrible news for the Roughriders. . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were penalized 25 yards on the play, but Simoni Lawrence, who delivered the cheapshot, wasn’t ejected. . . . A four-game suspension would be about right if the CFL wants to deliver a message about such plays. That won’t happen, though. Instead, it’s likely to be one game and a stern warning.


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Savoie signs with Ice, says he doesn’t know where he’ll play in 2019-20. . . . Royals get Warm from Oil Kings


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had 11 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He actually started the season on a try-out contract with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga), going pointless in one game. . . .

F Braden Christoffer (Regina, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with Stjernen Fredrikstad (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, in 47 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had seven goals and three assists. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 27 goals and 17 assists in 55 games. He led the Flyers in goals.


ThisThat

F Matt Savoie, the first-overall selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft, has turned his back on the U of Denver Pioneers and signed with the Winnipeg Ice.

The Ice announced Thursday that Savoie had signed a WHL contract. The move comes wpgiceafter he made a verbal commitment to Denver in March.

“Obviously, it’s a tough decision,” Savoie told Winnipeg radio station CJOB. “Both are great options. It was a long process. . . . In the end I felt Winnpeg gave me the best opportunity to develop as a player and a person.”

Savoie and family members visited Winnipeg and the Ice’s training facility and the Rink Hockey Academy after the May 2 bantam draft.

Savoie, 15, and his older brother, Carter, also spent last weekend in a spring camp that was put on by the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The Ice also holds the WHL rights to Carter, 17, who was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Carter also has made a commitment to Denver. The Ice acquired Carter’s rights from the Regina Pats on April 3. On Thursday, Carter said in a tweet that he intends to return to the Crusaders and that he also intends to honour his commitment to Denver.

“We’re pretty close,” Matt told CJOB of his relationship with Carter, “but we know we both have different paths in our hockey careers.”

The Ice held the first two selections in the 2019 bantam draft in Red Deer on May 2. It used the picks to take Savoie and F Conor Geekie, both of whom now have signed WHL deals.

From St. Albert, Alta., Savoie had 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. In five playoff games, he put up three goals and nine assists, helping his club win the league title. He later was honoured as the league’s MVP.

That came one year after he was the bantam prep league’s MVP for finishing 2017-18 with 28 goals and 69 assists in 30 regular-season games for the X-Treme.

The Savoie family applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status late in 2018. While Hockey Canada has yet to make an official announcement, numerous reports this spring indicated that the application had been denied.

Had Savoie been granted exceptional status, he would have been eligible to be on the Ice’s roster in 2019-20. As things now rest, he is eligible to play five games before his club team has it’s season end, after which he could join the Ice on a full-time basis. He also is eligible to play games with the Ice in 2019-20 on an emergency basis, and who knows what the maximum is under that rule?

When it was suggest to him by CJOB that he could play five games with the Ice in 2019-20, Savoie responded: “That’s a question for the WHL.”

If Hockey Canada doesn’t grant him exceptional status, he could return to the X-Treme for a second season with the midget team. He also could play a number of junior A games with the Crusaders as an AP.

Asked by Winnipeg radio station CJOB where he will play in 2019-20, Savoie replied that it is “undetermined where we’re going or what we’re doing.”

In the same news release that revealed Savoie’s signing, the Ice announced that it has released 100 more seats at Wayne Fleming Arena, the rink on the U of Manitoba campus in which it will play at least its next two seasons. After renovations, that arena is expected to have a capacity of around 1,600. The Ice didn’t reveal whether Savoie will get a cut of tickets that were sold after his signing was announced.

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WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

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

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SIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

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


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The Victoria Royals have acquired D Will Warm, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a VictoriaRoyalsfifth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Whistler, B.C., Warm played three seasons with the Oil Kings. Last season, he had two assists in 33 games. He missed a lot of time with a knee injury. . . . In 153 regular-season games, he has 10 goals and 28 assists. . . . The Oil Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Warm also was named the WHL’s humanitarian of the year for the 2018-19 season, winning the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy. . . . Warm is one of eight 20-year-olds on Victoria’s roster, joining F D-Jay Jerome, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford, D Jake Kustra and G Shane Farkas. . . . Farkas was acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on May 2. . . .

Edmonton’s roster now includes four 20-year-olds — F Zach Russell, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw. F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but has signed an NHL contract and is expected to play in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Ryan Nolan to a WHL contract. Nolan, from Calgary, was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had eight goals and 16 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Northstar Sabres.


Darrell Hay is back in the coaching game, having signed on with the Boise State Broncos. Hay, 39, is the son of Don Hay, who has more victories than any head coach in WHL history. . . . Darrell, a defenceman, played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Tri-City Americans. . . . During his pro career, he spent three seasons (2004-05, 2006-08) in Boise playing for the Idaho Steelheads. He is employed by the City of Boise, working in the Parks and Recreation Department, with a focus on the Ice Pilot youth hockey program. . . . Before relocating to Boise, Hay spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. . . . With the Broncos, he will work alongside head coach Lloyd Ayers. . . . The Broncos play in the PAC 8, an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II league.


Tweetoftheday

Have Rockets lost key d-man to Iles? . . . Kelowna, Seattle cut major trade. . . . Hitmen acquire Woo from Warriors. . . . Ice makes big noise in bantam draft


MacBeth

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). This season, he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in points. . . . Stanley also was the team’s skills coach and director of player development for the Feldkirch minor hockey program this season and will continue in those roles next season. . . .

F Brett Breitkreuz (Kelowna, Edmonton, Vancouver, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. Next season will be his 10th in Germany. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

G Chet Pickard (Tri-City, 2005-09) signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he was 19-4-0, 1.96, .914, with three shutouts, in 24 games. He was second in the league in GAA and sixth in save percentage. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship.


ThisThat

Part I: Some trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

I would suggest that the biggest news came from the camp of the Kelowna Rockets, and it didn’t have anything to do with a deal that was struck with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Rather, it involved Finnish D Lassi Thomson.

In fact, there are reports that Ilves of Finland’s top pro league has a deal with Thomson that includes an option for him to stay through the 2021-22 season.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had this to say in a news KelownaRocketsrelease: “We’re aware of the report that was released today. We were somewhat surprised; however, Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves as they had to release him to play for us this season. We look forward to the NHL draft (in) June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him and his club team Ilves decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest.”

Hamilton also told Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice: “Once he is picked, the NHL team will have input on where he goes anyways. I think the NHL team will want to see him play in North America so they see him as much as they want. They can have their developmental people with him and have him playing on a North American ice sheet.”

Thomson, who had a one-year contract to play over here, was the Western Conference nominee as rookie of the year after a season in which he put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. You can bet the Rockets were looking to him to run their first PP unit as they prepare to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

From Tampere, Finland, Thomson won’t turn 19 until Sept. 24.

At home, he played in the Ilves system for four seasons — U-16, U-18 and U-20 — before joining the Rockets.

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Meanwhile, the Rockets made a splash on draft day by cutting a major trade with the Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna acquired D Jake Lee, F Dillon Hamaliuk and G Cole SeattleSchwebius, giving up F Conner Bruggen-Cate, the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft — the Rockets had acquired it earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings — a second-round pick in 2021 and Kelowna’s first-rounder in 2022. . . . The Rockets didn’t make the playoffs this season and are in the early days of a massive rebuild as they attempt to get competitive for a season that will end with them as the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . .

Lee, who is to turn 18 on July 13, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, his second in Seattle, he put up three goals and 21 assists in 67 games. . . . Hamaliuk, who will turn 19 on Oct. 30, is from Leduc, Alta. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. His season was ended by injury after 31 games, as he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists. . . . Schwebius, a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is from Kelowna. This season, he was 5-8-2, 3.89, .886 in 17 games with Seattle. . . .

Schwebius, 18, leaves the Rockets with three goaltenders on their roster, joining Roman Basran, who is to turn 18 on July 26, and James Porter, 19. This season, Basra was 20-19-4, 2.79, .906 in 51 games; Porter went 8-13-4, 3.32, .899 in 30 appearances.

Bruggen-Cate, who is heading into his 20-year-old season, is from Langley, B.C. He has played three seasons in Kelowna, totalling 26 goals and 46 assists in 200 games. Kelowna selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Seattle’s 20-year-old group now includes Bruggen-Cate, F Jaxan Kaluski, Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, D Jarret Tyszka and F Matthew Wedman,


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Seattle, having dealt Schwebius to Kelowna, turned around and acquired G Blake Lyda of Edmonton from the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . That selection had originated with Everett, moving to Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that had F Zack Andrusiak move to the Silvertips. . . . Lyda, who will turn 17 on May 21, was a fourth-round pick by Everett in the 2017 bantam draft. He was with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians, although he missed much of the season due to injury. . . . Right now, Lyda and Roddy Ross, who is to turn 19 on July 4, are the top two goaltenders on Seattle’s depth chart.


Kelowna acquired the 10th-overall pick, along with the WHL rights to D Sean Comrie, BrandonWKregularfrom Brandon for the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Comrie, 19, is from Edmonton. The Wheat Kings selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. Comrie was a freshman this season with the U of Denver Pioneers, after playing two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. This season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 34 games. . . . The deal left Brandon with the fifth and sixth selections, the first time it held two top six picks since 2013 when it took F Nolan Patrick fourth overall and D Kale Clague with the sixth pick. . . . This time, the Wheat Kings took F Nate Danielson of Red Deer with the fifth selection and F Tyson Zimmer of Russell, Man., in the six hole. . . . Danielson had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Rebels this season, while Zimmer had 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games with a bantam team at the OHA in Penticton.


The Winnipeg Ice acquired the third-overall selection and D Reece Harsch, 20, from the wpgiceSaskatoon Blades for four draft picks — the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2019 bantam draft, as well as a 2020 second-round pick and a fifth in 2021. . . . That ninth-overall pick and the second-round selection in 2020 originated with the Red Deer Rebels; the fifth started with the Blades and was dealt to the Ice for F Cyle McNabb in January. . . . The Ice then cut a deal with the Prince George Cougars, giving up the third-overall pick and a third in 2020 that originated with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the second-overall selection in 2019. . . . Winnipeg selected F Matt Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., with the first pick, and then took F Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., with the second selection. . . . Savoie has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver Pioneers starting with the 2021-22 season. His brother, Carter, was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has committed to the Pioneers for the 2020-21 season. . . . Interestingly, the Ice recently acquired Carter’s WHL rights from the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice brought the Savoies to Winnipeg in mid-April to show them around and seriously begin their sales pitch. . . . Geekie’s father, Craig, played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1991-94). Conor’s brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans, while another brother, Noah, was a second-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was acquired by the Blades from the Seattle Thunderbirds this season. He totalled four goals and 16 assists in 57 regular-season games. In three full WHL seasons he has 17 goals and 40 assists in 178 games. He was a part of the Seattle team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two years ago.

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In the fourth round, Winnipeg grabbed F Rieger Lorenz of Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary this season. . . . Lorenz has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2022-23 season.

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Winnipeg also made a deal with the Tri-City Americans in which the Ice acquired F Isaac Johnson, 20. . . . Winnipeg gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in the exchange. That pick originated with Spokane, moving to the Ice in a deal made in June in which D Bobby Russell went to the Chiefs. . . . From Andover, Minn., Johnson had 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games with the Americans this season when he left the team and apparently retired. At the time, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Johnson had retired for personal reasons. . . . In 2017-18, Johnson had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . The Ice roster now includes three 20-year-olds — Johnson, F Davis Murray and D Chase Hartje.


The Kamloops Blazers had two first-round selections for the first time in franchise  Kamloops1history. They took D Mats Lindgren out of the Burnaby Winter Club with the seventh-overall selection, then picked F Connor Levis of the St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick. . . . Both players have committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines for 2022-23. . . . Lindgren’s father, Mats, is a former NHLer. . . . In 2016, the Blazers used the 15th-overall pick on F Massimo Rizzo, who just completed his second season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . In 2017, the Blazers took F Josh Pillar with the 14th selection. In 2018, they grabbed F Logan Stankoven with the fifth pick. . . . Pillar showed dramatic improvement with the Blazers as this season wore on, while Stankoven lit up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers and will be a big part of the Kamloops scene over the next few seasons.


Before the draft got started, the Calgary Hitmen made a huge splash by acquiring Jett CalgaryWoo, one of the WHL top defencemen, from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for D Vladislav Yeryomenko, F Ryder Korczak, the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and a second-rounder in 2021. . . . Woo, the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, was a second-round selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level deal with Vancouver. . . . From Winnipeg, Woo is to turn 19 on July 27. He just completed his third season with Moose Jaw, and has 114 points, including 26 goals, in 178 games. This season, he finished with 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games. . . .

“This was our No. 1 priority in getting a puck moving defenceman,” Jeff Chynoweth, Calgary’s general manager, said in a news release. “To add a player of his calibre, one of the top scoring defencemen in the WHL, a player who plays hard at both ends, is huge for our club.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 defender and to get him for a whole season instead of after the trade deadline is an added bonus.”

The deal also signals that the Hitmen have their eyes on the prize for 2019-20 and won’t be content just being one of the players.

Yeryomenko, 20, is from Mishutki, Belarus. He was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville MooseJawWarriorsPredators in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign a pro deal. This season, his third with Calgary, he had seven goals and 26 assists in 33 games. In 188 regular-season games, he has 26 goals and 72 assists.

The Warriors have two other Belarusians on their roster — F Yegor Buyalski, 18, and F Daniil Stepanov, 18.

There have been rumblings that the rule involving 20-year-old import players may be about to change, perhaps with the removal of the two-spot designation. It could be that a team will be allowed to have three imports on its roster, if one of them is a 20-year-old. This deal may signal that Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar is expecting that rule to be changed.

Korczak, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 23, is from Yorkton, Sask. The younger brother of Kelowna Rockets D Kaedan Korczak, he had eight goals and seven assists in 50 games as a freshman with the Hitmen.


The Vancouver Giants didn’t have a first-round pick, and took D Joshua Niedermayer, a Vancouverson of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, with the 30th overall selection. A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Joshua had 10 goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at OHA in Penticton, B.C. . . . His brother, Jackson, 18, is a forward with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to Arizona State U and the Sun Devils for 2021-22. . . . Jackson was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2016 bantam draft. . . .

The Giants used their second pick in the draft, No. 43, to take F Bowden Singleton of Calgary. He had 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, but has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. . . .

In the fifth round, the Giants took F Colton Langkow of Scottsdale, Ariz. His father, Daymond, played four seasons (1992-96) with the Tri-City Americans while an uncle, Scott, spent three seasons (1992-95) tending goal for the Portland Winterhawks.


JUST NOTES: Kamloops took G Dylan Ernst from the Weyburn, Sask., bantam AA Red Wings with the 28th overall pick. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft. Dylan’s brother Ethan, 17, just finished his freshman season with the Kelowna Rockets. After Dylan was drafted, their mother, Bonnie, tweeted: “It’s hard enough to watch him in net, let alone playing against his brother. And that many times.” . . .

The Blazers used a seventh-round pick to take F Nash Bamford of Lacombe, Alta. He had eight goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. His father is country music star Gord Bamford, who was born in Australia and raised in Canada. He has 26 CCMA awards to his credit. . . .

The Everett Silvertips took F Austin Roest of Vernon, B.C., in the third round. His father, Stacy, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is the director of player development with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors selected D Carson Brisson of Edmonton in the fifth round. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with the minor midget Leduc Oil Kings this season. He has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for 2023-24. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds used an eighth-round pick to take F Cruz Lucius of Grant, Minn. He played this season with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy, putting up nine goals and 32 assists in 13 games. He has committed to the U of Minnesota Gophers for 2022-23. . . . His brother, Chaz, was taken in the fourth round a year ago by the Portland Winterhawks. Chaz is poised to enter the U.S. National Team Development Program after putting up 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy. He is committed to Minnesota for 2021-22.

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.

Matt Savoie headed to Crusaders? . . . Tracey, Gauthier lead Canada past Finland. . . . WHL playoffs set to resume


MacBeth

F Chris Langkow (Spokane, Saskatoon, Everett, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had 17 goals and 22 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Brayden Low (Portland, Everett, 2010-15) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with the Reading Royals (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Jordan Draper (Red Deer, 2007-08) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games. . . .

F Jaedon Descheneau (Kootenay, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). This season, with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL), he had 19 goals and 32 assists in 52 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points.


ThisThat

It appears that the Savoie brothers, Carter and Matt, don’t have any plans of playing in the WHL. . . . Carter, 17, just finished his first season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park SherwoodParkCrusaders and plans on returning for 2019-20. He has committed to attending the U of Denver and playing for the Pioneers in 2020-21.

On Thursday, Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) tweeted: “Despite having his rights traded to Winnipeg, Carter Savoie WILL NOT be going to the WHL. He will stay with the Crusaders next season.” . . . A ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, his major junior were traded to the Winnipeg Ice on April 3 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and two conditional selections. . . . At this point, the Ice holds the first and ninth picks in the 2019 draft.

Yaremchuk posted that tweet after having Kyle Chase, the Crusaders’ president of hockey operations and general manager, on his podcast — Inside The Cru.

Matt Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is ranked by most, if not all, observers as the No. 1 prospect among players eligible for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled for Red Deer on May 2. . . . He has committed to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . He played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, and is expected to return there for 2019-20.

Savoie attended the Crusaders’ recent spring camp, which prompted Yaremchuk to ask Chase: “Is he that good?”

Chase’s response: “Yeah. Yeah, he is.”

Chase’s son, Greg, who played in the WHL and has played professionally for the past four seasons, watched Savoie for a bit before saying: “He’ll be in the NHL in four years.”

According to Kyle Chase, his son then asked “what a lot of us ask: How did he get that good so fast?”

Chase went on to describe Savoie: “He shoots bullets. He’s physical. He’s an elite skater. He’s tenacious. He’s on the puck. When you talk about those elite players . . . those guys are high-end and high-octane and high-energy. Matt’s got a little bit of Wendel Clark in him; when you take the puck from him he’s going to blow you up and take it back. He’s not just interested in lifting your stick. . . . He’s got a ton of courage and he’s got a ton of skill. . . . He’s head’s up . . . he’s unselfish.”

As for Sherwood Park’s plans, Chase said that “our intention is to affiliate him. We spoke to the family and to Matt. We want him affiliated . . . and play a minimum of 10 games as an affiliate with us next (season). The family has been very receptive . . . and Matt’s on board. We’re excited to have him around the organization.”

The complete podcast, which runs about 20 minutes, is right here.


F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice as Team Canada erased a 3-0 Canadasecond-period deficit and went on a 5-3 victory over Finland in its opening game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . Tracey tied the score at 3:57 of the third period, on a PP, as he finished off a 2-on-1 with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice). . . . Tracey scored what stood as the winner at 14:31, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) getting the lone assist. . . . Krebs iced it with an empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 39 shots. He was terrific in the first period in holding the Finns to two goals on 20 shots. . . . Canada is scheduled to play Switzerland today. . . . The tournament runs through April 28. . . . Team Canada added G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) to its roster earlier in the week. However, F Kirby Dach of the Blades had to turn down an invitation due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 5 of a second-round series with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . In other opening-day games, Russia beat Slovakia, 6-3; Team USA dropped Sweden, 6-1; and Belarus beat Czech Republic, 4-3.


The WHL’s two games in the 2019 CIBC Canada-Russia Series will be played in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. . . . The six-game series that also features two games against the OHL and QMJHL, is to be played Nov. 4-14. . . . For the first time since 2013, the series will begin in the QMJHL (Saint John, Nov. 4; Moncton, Nov. 5), then move to the OHL (Kitchener, Nov. 7; London, Nov. 11). . . . The series-ending games will be played in Saskatoon on Nov. 13 and Prince Albert on Nov. 14. . . . There is a news release on the series right here.


The Prince George Spruce Kings won the franchise’s first BCHL championship — the Fred SpruceKingsPage Cup — on Wednesday night, beating the Vipers 3-1 in Vernon to sweep the championship series in four games. . . . That ended a remarkable playoff run for the Spruce Kings, who went 16-1, the best post-season record in BCHL history. . . . F Ben Poisson, the Spruce Kings’ captain, gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:14 of the second period. That goal, his 13th of the playoffs, stood up as his second game-winner in as many nights. Poisson had scored the OT winner in a 4-3 victory in Vernon on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Spruce Kings, who entered the BCHL for the 1996-97 season, also clinched a berth in the National Junior A Championship, which is to be played in Brooks, Alta. Before that, the Spruce Kings will meet the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits for the Doyle Cup. . . . That series is to open in Brooks on April 26.

——

In the MJHL, the Portage Terriers beat the host Swan Valley Stampeders, 5-2, on Thursday night, tying the championship final, 3-3. . . . They’ll play Game 7 in Portage la Prairie on Monday. . . . Last night, the Terriers held a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . F Jay Buchholz, an 18-year-old from Fargo, N.D., had two goals for the winners, who trailed 2-1 with fewer than eight minutes to play in the third period. . . .

In the SJHL, the championship final between the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs is to resume tonight. The North Stars, with a 3-1 lead, will play host to Game 5. . . . A sixth game, if needed would be played Sunday in Melfort.


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NOTES: The WHL playoffs resume tonight as the conference finals get rolling with games in Prince Albert and Langley, B.C. . . . Each of the four teams still alive is 8-2 in these playoffs. . . . WHL fans have to be thinking it would be nice to see a couple of long series. The first round, with a maximum of 56 games, played out in 43, with three of the eight series going six games and one going the distance. . . . The second round, however, was finished in 19 games as the winners went 16-3. . . . F Dante Hannoun of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants lead the scoring race, each with 14 points, one more than Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . . Hannoun is tops in goals (9) and Koch leads in assists (12). . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders and G Bailey Brkin of the Spokane Chiefs each has eight victories. Scott has the best GAA, at 1.81, while Brkin is tops in save percentage (.931). . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings (54-10-4), will entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton topped the Central Division (42-18-8). . . . In the regular season, the Raiders won the season series, 3-1-0; the Oil Kings were 1-2-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Oil Kings winning, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Feb. 1, and the Raiders winning, 5-1, in Edmonton three days later. . . . In the four games, Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky had five goals and two assists, while D Conner McDonald had three goals and three assists. . . . G Todd Scott of Edmonton went the distance in three of the games, going 1-1-1, 4.62, .883. G Dylan Myskiw, who has had the hot hand in the playoffs, was 0-1-0, 5.04, .853. . . . F Noah Gregor led the Raiders, with two goals and six assists in the four games. F Cole Fonstad, who missed the last two games of the Raiders’ second-round series, had four goals and three assists, while F Brett Leason had a goal and six assists in three games. . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders was 2-1-0, 3.27, .897. . . . The Raiders will be without F Justin Nachbaur tonight as he completes a two-game suspension.

——

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants will be trying to prove that they are the WHL’s “top team” as they play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Giants finished atop the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. . . . The Chiefs were second in the U.S. Division, at 40-21-7. . . . According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, the Giants have seized on a couple of quotes from a Kevin Dudley story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review and are using them as a rallying point. . . . After the Chiefs had eliminated the Everett Silvertips, who had finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, head coach Dan Lambert made reference to having ousted “the top team in the league.” . . . At the same time, Spokane G Bailey Brkin told Dudley: “We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7.” . . . Yes, the Giants took note. “It bothers you to a certain extent,” D Dylan Plouffe told Ewen. “We’re just going to use it for motivation. That’s really all.” . . .

The Giants went 3-1-0 in the season series; the Chiefs were 1-2-1. . . . They have played each other three times since the trade deadline. The Giants won 6-4 in Spokane on Jan. 18 and 5-4 at home on Feb. 15. The Chiefs won 4-1 in Spokane on March 8. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods had a goal and five assists in six games, while F Luc Smith, in three games, had four goals. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw led his side with three goals and two assists in four games. F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had a goal and three assists. D Bowen Byram had a goal and two assists in the four games. . . . Brkin, who might be the playoff MVP to this point, was 1-1-0, 3.03, .915 against the Giants. . . . The Giants used both goaltenders — David Tendeck was 2-0-0, 3.88, .843; Trent Miner was 1-1-0, 4.13, .833.


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Ice acquires Savoie, the elder. . . . WHL firms up a pair of indefinite suspensions. . . . Minor illness keeps Byram off ice


MacBeth

F Travis Ewanyk (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL). This season, he had two goals and five assists in 40 games. . . .

G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has signed a one-year-plus-option year contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SEL), he was 6-10-1, 2.30, .916 in 18 games as the backup to Just Pogge (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-06). . . .

F Richard Mueller (Brandon, Saskatoon, Calgary, 1998-2003) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). An alternate captain this season he had 26 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. He led the Huskies in goals, assists and points. Next season will be his 16th in Germany. . . .

D Jonathan Harty (Everett, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had five goals and 13 assists in 52 games.


The Winnipeg Ice has acquired the WHL rights to F Carter Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 23, from the Regina Pats in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and wpgiceconditional second- and third-round picks — the year or years undisclosed.

Those conditional picks will depend on if/when Savoie should sign with the Ice.

This has led to speculation that the Ice will select F Matt Savoie, Carter’s younger brother, with the first pick of the 2019 draft when it is held in Red Deer on May 2. The Ice also holds the ninth selection in the first round.

The Savoie brothers are from St. Albert, Alta., and both have committed to the U of Denver, Carter for the 2020-21 season and Matt, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, for 2021-22.

The Pats selected Carter in the ninth round of the 2017 bantam draft. He is playing with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, having put up 31 goals and 42 assists in 58 regular-season games. The Crusaders are alive in the playoffs, and he has two goals and eight assists in 10 games.

Matt played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, scoring 31 goals and adding 40 assists in 31 games. In five playoff games, he had three goals and nine assists.

The Savoie family applied to Hockey Canada during the season in the hopes of gaining exceptional status for Matt, something that would allow him to spend 2019-20 on a WHL roster. Under present rules, a 15-year-old player is limited to five games — except under emergency conditions — while his club team’s season is alive. Although there has yet to be an official announcement from Hockey Canada, there have been reports that the family’s request has been denied.


Matt Cockell, the president and general manager of the Winnipeg Ice — formerly the KootenaynewKootenay Ice — did a question-and-answer session with the Winnipeg Sun’s Ted Wyman the other day. . . . Patti Dawn Swansson, who blogs as The River City Renegade, spent a goodly number of years covering junior and pro hockey in Winnipeg so is quite familiar with the puck scene in the Manitoba capital. She responded to one of Cockell’s answers at her blog.

At one point, Cockell told Wyman: “At the end of the day, the passion for hockey is really what’s exciting about Winnipeg. When you look across Canada, there really isn’t another city that embraces hockey the way Winnipeg does. We really believe it’s the hockey capital of Canada.”

To which, Swansson wrote: “Whoa boy. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Good Ol’ Hometown has already let one NHL franchise get away (no, it wasn’t Gary Bettman’s fault) and two Western Hockey League outfits. Pegtown is the ‘hockey capital of Canada’ like Pierre’s boy Justin is a man of all the people. And that’s coming from someone born and raised in River City, someone who recalls seeing a lot of empty seats in the old barn on Maroons Road. Yes, I realize that Cockell is going to say all the right things in order to sell his freshly minted WHL franchise to the rabble, but I’m not sure that faux flattery is the way to go about it. Peggers are hockey wise, they aren’t rubes.”

Wyman’s complete 21 questions with Cockell is right here.

If you are/were an Ice fan, who lives in the Cranbrook area, you shouldn’t read this. It might be bad for your health, especially the part where Cockell responds to a question about “what do you say to the hockey fans of Cranbrook?”

Cockell’s response: “We’ve had a lot of dialogue with them. I lived there right through to our last game. What our message has been in dialogue is that everybody did everything they possibly could, including the business community in Cranbrook, the fans in that community and our ownership group. We did everything we could to see if there was a sustainable opportunity there. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to get there, but at the end of the day we made a decision and we tried to be as honest as we could. It’s hard and yet, we need to focus now on what we’re doing moving forward and that’s really exciting.”

Some of that will be news to the Green Bay Committee, won’t it?


Chances are that F Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes will miss a game or two when the 2019-20 season opens, thanks to the slashing major and game misconduct that he was hit with as Tuesday’s game with the visiting Calgary Hitmen came to a close. . . . Barlage slashed Calgary F Carson Focht, who scored twice in Calgary’s 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the first-round series. . . . If you watch the video in the tweet below, you also will see the Lethbridge right winger break the stick of the Calgary left winger with a slash.


F Parker AuCoin, who played out his junior eligibility with the Tri-City Americans this season, has signed on with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. This season, he had 42 goals and 42 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . In 262 regular-season WHL games over four seasons, he has 88 goals and 92 assists. . . . From St. Albert, Alta., he was the 15th-overall pick in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft.


Dave Struch, the head coach of the Regina Pats, will be an assistant coach with the Canadian team that will compete in the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden, April 18 through 28. . . . Brett Gibson, the head coach at Queen’s U for 13 seasons, will be the U18 team’s head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Serge Aubin, who most recently was the head coach of the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s NL A. . . . Adam Brown of the Kelowna Rockets will be the U18 team’s goaltending consultant.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Victoria Royals will be without F Kody McDonald for the first four games of their second-round series with the Vancouver Giants. McDonald had been under an indefinite suspension after being hit with a match penalty for a stick-swinging incident during Game 4 of their first-round series against the Blazers in Kamloops on March 27. The WHL announced Wednesday that the suspension has been set at six games. He has four games remaining on it. . . .

The WHL also announced that the indefinite suspension to F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds has been set at eight games. He took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot in Game 4 of their first-round series on March 27. Richards, 20, missed the last two games of the series, so has six games remaining. He doesn’t have any junior eligibility remaining. According to the WHL, Richards “will be required to serve the remaining six games of his suspension during the 2019-20 season should he continue his playing career.” . . .

Barfoot hasn’t played since being hit by Richards and isn’t expected back for the early part of the Giants’ second-round series. They open against the Victoria Royals with games in Langley, B.C., on Friday and Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Wednesday that Vancouver D Bowen Byram didn’t skate for a second straight day. “GM Barclay Parneta says it is minor illness” and that Byram is expected to practice today and play Friday. . . . Giants F Yannik Valenti also didn’t skate Wednesday. . . .

Sportsnet will televise the first three games of the second-round series between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. . . . Games 1 and 2 are set for Friday (7 p.m. CST) and Sunday in Prince Albert (6 p.m. CST), with Game 3 in Saskatoon on Tuesday (7 p.m. CST). . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have added D Luke Gallagher, 18, to their roster as an AP. Gallagher, 18, had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs earlier in the season. From Mead, Wash., he joined the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters in January, and recorded seven assists in 15 regular-season games and one in 12 playoff games.

Savoie says he’s going to Denver; top bantam prospect tweets about his decision. . . . Calgary captain leaves finale early


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F Matt Savoie, the No. 1 prospect for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, announced via Twitter on Monday evening that he plans on attending the U of Denver and playing for whlthe Pioneers, starting with the 2021-22 season.

Savoie and his family applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status, a move that if granted would have allowed him to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old in 2019-20. Under WHL rules, a 15-year-old is permitted to play only five games before his club team has its season come to an end.

Hockey Canada has yet to announce its decision, although Savoie’s decision might indicate a ruling is imminent.

Earlier this month, dubnetwork.ca, citing what it called “multiple WHL sources,” reported that Savoie had been denied exceptional status. However, dubnetwork.ca has yet to confirm that report with Hockey Canada or the Savoie family, and hasn’t followed up on its story.

Savoie turned 15 on Jan. 1. Had he been born one day earlier, he would have been selected in the 2018 bantam and would be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season.

From St. Albert, Alta., he played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, totalling 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games, and was named the CSSHL’s most valuable player.

Savoie’s brother, Carter, 17, also has committed to Denver. Carter played this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. It could be that the plan is for Matt to play in the AJHL, too, until he joins the Pioneers.

Of course, there is a lot of hockey to be played between then and now, and a whole lot can happen, including the changing of minds.

The WHL will hold its annual draft lottery on Wednesday to determine the order of selection for the draft that is scheduled for Red Deer on May 2. The six non-playoff teams will be in the lottery, with teams allowed to move up only two spots. Thus, the three teams with the poorest regular-season records are in the running for the first pick.

The Swift Current Broncos finished with the poorest record, following by the Winnipeg Ice and Regina Pats. However, the Prince George Cougars hold Swift Current’s pick from an earlier trade, and the Saskatoon Blades own Regina’s selection.

It’s worth noting, too, that two other top prospects announced NCAA commitments earlier this season.

D Mats Lindgren, son of the former NHLer of the same name, won’t turn 15 until Aug. 26 but already has said he will attend the U of Michigan and play for the Wolverines, starting in 2022-23. Lindgren is from North Vancouver, B.C., and had four goals and 22 assists in 27 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep A team.

F Connor Levis, who will turn 15 on Oct 5, also has committed to Michigan for 2022-23. Levis is from Vancouver. This season, he had 24 goals and 38 assists in 26 games with  the St. George’s School bantam prep team.


There were, of course, four teams in the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament that took place in Regina. Of those four teams, only one will appear in this season’s playoffs. . . . The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan won the 2018 Memorial Cup, beating the WHL’s Regina Pats, in the tournament as the host team, in the final. Also there were the WHL-champion Swift Current Broncos and the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs. . . . The Titan concluded its regular season on Saturday, finishing with an 8-54-6 record, including a 1-29-4 mark on home ice. . . . Regina wound up 19-45-4, while Swift Current, at 11-51-6, finished with the WHL’s poorest record. . . . Hamilton, at 29-34-5, finished eighth in the 10-team Eastern Conference and will meet the first-place Ottawa 67’s (49-12-5) in the first round of the OHL’s playoffs. . . . Obviously, the cost of winning a championship in major junior hockey can be a steep price to pay. So can being the host team for the Memorial Cup tournament.


With the playoffs about to start, it will be worth watching the status of F Mark Kastelic, Calgarythe captain of the Calgary Hitmen.

Here’s Zach Laing of Postmedia, after the Hitmen lost, 3-1, to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday:

“With just under four minutes (left in the third period), Kastelic was tracking a loose puck near the Oil Kings bench when Edmonton left-winger Jake Neighbours finished a body-check resulting in Kastelic being slammed face first into the hard plexiglass stanchion.

“Wobbling to the bench, Kastelic had to be initially held up by teammates as he went directly to the locker room with Neighbours heading to the penalty box.”

Kastelic didn’t return to the game, but Laing reported seeing him walking around after the game “looking no worse for wear.”

Kastelic led the Hitmen in goals (47) and was tied with F James Malm for the lead in points, each with 77.

The Hitmen open the first round on Friday against the host Lethbridge Hurricanes.


F Trey Fechko of Eden Prairie, Minn., has committed to Arizona State U and says he will join the Sun Devils for the 2022-23 season. Fechko, who will turn 16 on Oct. 16, played this season for Holy Family Catholic High School, totalling 37 points, including 15 goals, in 24 games. . . . He was selected by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


Trevor Weisgerber, a former assistant coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, is the new head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Weisgerber takes over from Ray Wareham, who has left the post after 17 seasons. . . . Weisgerber was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Warriors for two seasons (2010-12). . . . Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com has more right here.


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Pearson goes home to coach. . . . Scott sets Raiders’ shutout record. . . . Rebels win, may have lost key d-man . . . . Thunderbirds near playoff spot

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F Shane Wright of the minor midget AAA Don Mills, Ont., Flyers has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada so will be eligible for the OHL’s 2019 draft, which Canadanormally is for players who have completed their 15-year-old seasons.

With exceptional status, Wright, who turned 15 on Jan. 5, also will be eligible to play full-time in the OHL in 2019-20.

Wright has 150 points, including 66 goals, in 72 games with Don Mills, which plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He also had six goals and six assists in six games with Ontario as it won silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

The OHL draft is scheduled for April 6. Wright is the fifth player in OHL history to have received exceptional status, after John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day.

Hockey Canada has yet to rule on the application by the family of F Matt Savoie, who has applied for exceptional status in order to have the option of playing in the WHL at 15.

Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is from St. Albert, Alta. He is eligible for the WHL’s bantam draft, which is for players who have completed their 14-year-old seasons, but will be limited to five games next season unless brought in under emergency conditions.

This season, Savoie has 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. He played for Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, putting up six goals and seven assists in 13 games.

Last season, Savoie was named the MVP in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League. This season, he was selected the midget league’s MVP.

The WHL’s 2019 bantam draft is set for May 2 in Red Deer.

The WHL will hold its draft lottery later this month, with the six non-playoff teams entered. We already know four of those teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Kootenay Ice, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars.

In the draft lottery, a team may only move up two positions.

At the moment, the Broncos have the WHL’s poorest record, followed by the Ice and the Pats. However, Prince George holds Swift Current’s first-round selection and the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

There is little doubt that Savoie, if he is granted exceptional status, will be the first pick in the bantam draft should he and his family decide they want to be part of whichever organization is making that selection.

Should Savoie be drafted and choose not to play in the WHL, he would have to return to midget next season. The granting of exceptional status applies only to major junior hockey and doesn’t allow a player to join a junior A team.

His brother, Carter, 17, plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2020-21 season.

The WHL has never had to deal with a player who has been given exceptional status. It has happened once in the QMJHL, with F Joe Veleno. In his fourth season in the QMJHL, he has 100 points, including 41 goals, in 55 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Veleno, now 19, has 262 points, including 173 assists, in 226 career regular-season QMJHL games. He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign with them.

If you are wondering what Wright had to go through, here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:

“Being granted ‘exceptional status’ isn’t easy. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, which is pretty early in the hockey season. On top of looking at a player’s on-ice skills, the governing bodies (in this case the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada) send out questionnaires to school teachers and coaches, while the player has to write an essay. The player also meets with a psychologist for a ‘life interview,’ to determine if the kid has the maturity to move away from home and compete against much older competition at age 15. OHF executive director Phil McKee said that both Wright and his family were ‘excellent to work with’ throughout the process.”

Kennedy’s entire piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ 25-game winning streak ended on Friday night as they were beat by the Voltigeurs at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville. . . . The Huskies fell behind 2-0 after two periods, and cut the deficit in half at 5:05 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Rouyn-Noranda tied the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


Ken Pearson is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Pearson, who is from Neepawa, replaces Dustin Howden, who left after five seasons with the Natives — two as assistant coach, two as head coach and one as GM/head coach. . . . Pearson, 45, is a veteran junior A coach, who spent seven seasons as the GM/head coach with the Winkler Flyers. He stepped aside as head coach prior to this season, but kept the GM’s title until he and the Flyers parted company last month. . . . Pearson began his coaching career with the Natives as an assistant coach for two seasons (1994-96). . . . This season, the Natives finished out of the playoffs, at 9-43-8, the poorest record in the 11-team league.


The Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings Athletic Club has named Fran Gow head coach of the midget AAA Ennis Kings. Now has extensive AJHL coaching experience, have worked more than 1,000 games, split among the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Grande Prairie Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder. He helped the Oil Barons to a national championship in 1999-2000. . . . Of late, Gow has been the AJHL’s vice-president of hockey operations and a coach mentor for Hockey Alberta.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott set a single-season shutout record as the Prince Albert Raiders skated to an 8-PrinceAlbert0 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert (52-9-4) has won two in a row. It will finish atop the WHL’s regular-season standings. . . . Swift Current (10-47-6) has lost 16 in a row (0-13-3). . . . Prince Albert, with Scott in goal, beat the visiting Broncos, 6-0, on Tuesday, and they’ll play again Sunday, this time in Swift Current. . . . The Raiders are off tonight, while the Broncos will meet the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders lead the season series, 6-0-1; the Broncos are 1-6-0. . . . Scott stopped 14 shots in posting his seventh shutout of the season, breaking the record that he was sharing with Luke Siemens (2012-13) and Rejean Beauchemin (2003-04). Scott, who has 10 career shutouts, also will set franchise single-season records for GAA and save percentage. He is 36-7-3, 1.86, .932. . . . D Brayden Pachal (15) got the Raiders started at 3:33 of the first period, and B Brett Leason, who had gone seven games without a goal, made it 2-0 with No. 34 at 4:59. . . . F Noah Gregor (39) and Leason (35) scored before the period ended for a 4-0 lead. . . . Before it was over, F Parker Kelly had scored twice, giving him 32, and F Cole Fonstad (29), who also had two assists, and F Spencer Moe (9) added one each. . . . The Raiders had a 48-14 edge in shots.


The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Regina Pats, MooseJawWarriors3-1. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has clinched third place in the East Division and will face the second-place Saskatoon Blades in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina (18-43-3) has lost five in a row. . . . The Warriors lead the season series with Regina, 6-1-0, with the final game in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . F Ty Kolle (14) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Justin Almeida (28) tied it, on a PP, at 9:08. . . . Moose Jaw took the lead at 9:51 when F Carson Denomie (6) scored. . . . F Brayden Tracey (33) got the empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . Regina G Max Paddock stopped 29 shots.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the visiting LethbridgeMedicine Hat Tigers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (37-18-10) has won five in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (32-26-6) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, two points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . With one game remaining, Lethbridge leads the season series, 6-1-2; the Tigers are 3-6-0. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (30) gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it at 10:39 when D Baxter Anderson (4) scored. . . . F Zachary Cox (11) put the home side ahead at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 18:22 as F Brett Kemp (28) scored on a PP. . . . Lethbridge F Taylor Ross (32) broke the tie, on a PP, at 2:06 of the third period. . . . F Dylan Cozens (33) made it 4-2 at 3:16, and F Nick Henry (27) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:17. . . . Henry’s goal was his 200th regular-season point. He’s got 76 goals and 124 assists in 191 games. This season, he has 90 points in 66 games. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer had his goal streak halted at 13 games. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, two more than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett.


The Red Deer Rebels overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, Red Deer5-3. . . . Red Deer (32-25-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card berths, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . Brandon (31-25-8) has lost two in a row. With the Tim Hortons Brier — the Canadian men’s curling championship —  being played in Westoba Place, the Wheat Kings are on a six-game trip through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. Through the first five games, Brandon is 1-3-1. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (20), at 3:48 of the first period; F Stelio Mattheos (42), at 1:36 of the second; and D Chad Nychuk (2), at 2:40. . . . F Brandon Hagel (39) started the Red Deer comeback at 9:03. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (18) got the Rebels to within a goal at 10:45 of the third period, and F Josh Tarzwell (9) tied it at 12:30. . . . Red Deer went out front when F Zak Smith (11) scored at 16:33. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (13) added insurance at 19:51. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev appeared to suffer a knee injury after colliding in open ice with McCartney in the third period. Alexeyev was placed on a stretcher before being taken off the ice. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in the next 48 hours, 72 hours. I don’t know any more than that right now,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored two goals and set a franchise record in leading the EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (38-18-8) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds one game in hand. . . . Calgary (36-23-6), which has clinched a playoff spot, had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is headed for a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . With two games left, Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Calgary is 1-4-1. They’ll finish the regular season with a home-and-home, playing March 16 in Edmonton and the next day in Calgary. . . . Edmonton went ahead 3-0 on goals from F Quinn Benjafield (14), at 9:19 of the first period; Fix-Wolansky, at 18:30; and F Vince Loschiavo, on a PP, at 4:07 of the second. . . . F Mark Kastelic (46) scored for Calgary, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Edmonton put it away with third-period goals from Fix Wolansky (35) and Loschiavo (33), the latter on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky set the franchise’s single-season assist record when he set up Loschiavo’s first goal. That was Fix-Wolansky’s 64th assist of the season, one more than D Dylan Wruck had in 2012-13. . . . Loschiavo also had an assist, to give him three points, while D Conner McDonald had three helpers. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 24 saves.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the visiting Kamloops1Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . Kamloops (24-32-7) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind Kelowna. Kamloops, which has five games left, also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (27-30-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Kamloops is 5-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 4-3-2. They’ll finish it tonight in Kelowna. . . . F Martin Lang (11) put the Blazers ahead at 16:13 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (34) got the Rockets even, on a PP, at 4:08 of the third period. . . . F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo both scored as Kamloops won the shootout, 2-0. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 26 shots for Kamloops, which had Rayce Ramsay, in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, backing up. Dylan Ferguson was injured in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants and is out day-to-day. . . . The Rockets got 32 saves from G Roman Basran. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who began serving a three-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct he incurred against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.


F Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists, all via the PP, as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks got past the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. . . . Portland (39-19-6) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince George (17-40-8) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . The Winterhawks are 3-0-0 in the season series that will be completed tonight in Prince George. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 on goals from D Cole Moberg (12), on a PP, at 13:55 of the first period, and F Matej Taman (9), at 2:29 of the second. . . . F Jake Gricius (25) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 16:38. . . . F Josh Paterson (23) tied the score at 2:36 of the third period, and Blichfeld (53) got the winner, at 14:51. . . . Blichfeld leads the WHL in goals and points (110). . . . Portland was 3-7 on the PP; Prince George was 1-5. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 40 shots for the Winterhawks. . . . D Ryan Miley, 18, made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks. From Brookings, S.D., he played this season with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . . F Cody Glass, F Seth  Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig were Portland’s scratches, all out with injuries.


F Noah Philp scored twice for Seattle as the Thunderbirds beat the Victoria Royals, 2-1, in SeattleKent, Wash. . . . Seattle (27-28-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Victoria (33-27-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Philp, who has 24 goals, got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:40 of the first period. . . . He made it 2-0 at 17:47 of the second. . . . F Igor Martynov (11) scored a PP goal for Victoria at 19:59 of the second. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 19 shots, 11 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Scott Walford, D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver, all veterans and all injured, were among Victoria’s scratches.


G Bailey Brkin turned aside 37 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Spokane (36-20-7) is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (45-15-4) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips with each team having four games remaining. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 3-2-0; Spokane was 2-2-1. . . . Spokane took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from D Filip Kral (8), at 7:56; F Jake McGrew, at 11:39; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (16), at 19:39. The latter two came via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (21) scored for Vancouver, on a PP, at 17:52 of the second period, only to have McGrew (27) get that one back at 18:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan has goals in six straight games. . . . Spokane was 2-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . Brkin is 24-11-3, 2.78, .914.


Goaltenders Dustin Wolf and Max Palaga shared the shutout as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett (46-14-4) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). It leads the Western Conference standings by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (34-26-4) is likely to finish in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Palaga started and stopped one shot in 4:47. Wolf came on to turn aside 25 shots in 55:13. . . . Sorry, but I don’t have any idea why Palaga left. Presumably there was an injury of some sort. . . . F Reece Vitelli (11) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the second period, with D Wyatt Wylie (11) making it 2-0 at 16:14. . . . F Connor Dewar (35) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third period. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots, setting a franchise record for most saves in one season in the process. In 59 appearances this season, Warm has stopped 1,860 shots. G Eric Comrie stopped 1,849 shots in 2013-14. . . . The Silvertips had F Martin Fasko-Rudas back in the lineup. He last played on Feb. 22.


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