Lots of food for thought in losses by Broncos and Warriors . . . QMJHL increases penalties for fighting at government request . . . Mustangs cleared for return to ice

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are publicly owned and, as such, are obligated to hold annual general meetings and to release their financial statements.

Two of those teams — the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos — whlannounced combined losses of more than $1 million on Tuesday night, something that should have set off alarm bells among fans hoping for some kind of 2020-21 season.

Moose Jaw finished the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in last place in the East Division, while Swift Current was in the cellar of the Central Division. So neither team was in line to reap the rewards that come with qualifying for the playoffs.

The Broncos, whose average attendance dropped 444 from the previous season, lost $791,000, ending a run of six straight seasons in which they had shown a profit. Season-ticket sales were down 345, which is a big number for a team that plays in a 2,879-seat facility.

The Warriors, with their attendance down 366 per game, lost $391,299, running their two-season deficit to $556,444.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com reported that the team attributed $282,286 of its deficit  to “pandemic-related lost revenues.”

The Warriors also had to pay $180,846 as its share of the settlement of a $30-MooseJawWarriorsmillion class-action lawsuit, although that settlement has yet to be approved by the court. Still, assuming that it is, each of the WHL’s Canadian teams will be on the hook for that amount.

The Warriors, Palmer reported right here, still have $610,653 in the bank, but they did defer their annual $200,000 payment that is part of their commitment to the Multiplex. They have two payments left in a 10-year pledge.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that the Warriors Booster Club raised $238,771 in 2019-20.

The Warriors, like all WHL teams, are going to have a different organizational look whenever it is that play resumes. As club president Chad Taylor told Palmer: “We’ll need the help of the community when we get going again and hockey will look different — our staff will look different, we’ll be leaner — but that is the times and we’ll make it work.”

The Broncos, meanwhile, also will be leaner. These days, Dean Brockman, the SCBroncosdirector of hockey operations and head coach, is the only employee working on the hockey side of things, with Nathan MacDonald and Ryan Stricker on the business side. Their retail store — The Stable — is open and management has authorized 10 paid hours per week for communications.

Trent McLeary, a former Broncos player who now is chairman of the team’s board of directors, said after the AGM that “it’s a fight to survive,” stating that it will take the franchise years to recover from the loss.

“It’s like how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” McLeary told Steven Mah of the Southwest Booster. “We don’t think we have to make this up in one year . . . so there’s lots of challenges, lots of things that are going to challenge us as an organization, as a community. But we’re not the only ones, you look at baseball, you look at soccer, you look at everything.”

(Mah’s story is right here.)

The WHL’s two other publicly owned teams — the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — have yet to hold their annual general meetings.

The Raiders’ meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7. Following the 2018-19 season, one Raiders50in which they won the WHL championship, they announced a profit of $633,314. In the previous five seasons, they had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of them; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The Hurricanes have said they will hold their AGM on a November date that Lethbridgehasn’t yet been announced.

They are coming off four straight profit-making seasons. Last season’s profit of $282,168 allowed the four-season total to grow to $1,639,321. (Don’t forget, though, that they had losses totalling more than $1.25 million in the previous five seasons.)

When the 2019-20 season ended, Lethbridge was 37-19-7 and third in the Central Division. Its attendance was down one fan per game, to 3,970, over 2018-19. Still, it lost three home dates to the cancellation, and who knows how many playoff games were in its future?

The Hurricanes pay the City of Lethbridge an annual maintenance fee of $166,667 for their home arena, the Enmax Centre. Last month, the Hurricanes and the City agreed to a one-year deferment of that payment, in the process adding a year to the arena lease that now runs through 2029-30. The Hurricanes asked for the deferment, citing revenues lost to the pandemic.

We will find out in November just how much they lost.

I would suggest that the four publicly owned franchises are far from being the WHL’s biggest spenders. Of course, the privately owned teams don’t have to share their numbers with the public. But judging by what the Broncos and Warriors reported, and what is surely to come from the Hurricanes and Raiders, you have to think there is some major pain being felt.

And that’s why the WHL can’t afford to start a season without being able to operate at less than 50 per cent capacity in its arenas. The losses from a season played without restrictions, albeit a shortened one, were large. Losses from a season played without fans in the stands would be mind-numbing.


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Here, in summation, is what I believe has happened with the QMJHL and qmjhlnewfighting. . . . The league approached the government and asked for $20 million in subsidies to help its 12 Quebec-based team get through the pandemic. . . . Isabelle Charest, a former Olympic speed skater who is the junior education minister, suggested the league needed to do more to eliminate fighting. . . . On Wednesday, the QMJHL’s board of governors voted to slap a fighter with a major and a misconduct, meaning that player would have to sit out 15 minutes. A player also would face a one-game suspension after accumulating three fights, with more time off for each fight after that. . . . Here is the QMJHL’s Rule 47: “All players involved in a fight will now be assessed a misconduct penalty (duration of 10 minutes) which will be added to the major penalty (five minutes), except if a player involved is considered an instigator or an aggressor. An automatic one-game suspension will be assessed after the third fight, and for any additional fight.” . . . There is a chart right here that explains all possible situations. . . . I guess we can assume the QMJHL now is awaiting an etransfer from the government.


Flushot


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs said Wednesday that they have been “approved to resume our training hockey-related activities.” Things had been on hold since Sept. 25 when one of their players tested positive. . . . According to the Mustangs, all tests “administered . . . this week have come back negative and there is no risk of the spread of the virus.: . . .

The Tennessee Titans have a reported nine positive tests in their organization, and the NFL has said their game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers that had been scheduled for Sunday will be played Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Titans have halted football-related activities until at least Saturday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings, who played the visiting Titans on Sunday, haven’t had any positives. They should return to their practice facility today (Thursday). . . .

The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are forecasting a $10-million loss, revealed Wednesday that they have terminated some employees and laid off others in both business and football operations. . . . In a statement, the team said it “had to make significant adjustments to our workforce including temporary and permanent layoffs in both the Business Operations and Football Operations.” . . . Matt Lowry, a content provider with the team for four years, tweeted that he had been laid off, and added: “There’s too many awesome co-workers to thank, but you know who you are, and you’ll hear from me. And please WEAR A MASK so we can all enjoy the 2021 CFL season from wherever you may be.” . . .

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is in the process of terminating 40 per cent of its staff at TD Place. The arena and stadium are home to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, both of which are owned by OSEG. However, staff from those teams weren’t included in the terminations. . . .

MLB announced Wednesday that it will allow about 11,500 fans into NLCS and World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Fans haven’t been allowed into MLB games since spring training. . . . Face masks will be mandatory and, according to MLB, “No seats will be sold within 20 feet of where a player can be located on the field, in the dugouts or in the bullpen.” . . . Some numbers from Deadspin’s Jesse Spector: “In September, there were 6,913 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tarrant County, Texas, including 447 reported on Wednesday, the final day of the month. That brings the cumulative tally for the county to 46,527 people stricken by coronavirus, with 721 dead from the pandemic.”



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: Steve Hogle, who spent six seasons as president of the Saskatoon Blades, has been hired as the general manager of Hockey Edmonton. Hogle is from Edmonton and played minor hockey there. Before joining the Blades, he was with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as vice-president of communications and broadcasting. He replaces the retiring Dean Hengel with Hockey Edmonton. . . . The Minnesota Twins, who were eliminated from the American League playoffs yesterday, have lost 18 straight post-season games, going back to 2004. Since then, the Houston Astros, who finished off the Twins, have won 43 playoff games. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has a good look at Al Murray, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s assistant GM and director of amateur scouting, right here. It’s well worth your time.


Books

SJHL-Melfort player tests positive . . . PJHL looking to mid-October start . . . Winterhawks eliminate position

The coronavirus has found the SJHL. On Friday, a tweet from the league revealed that a player with the Melfort Mustangs “has tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor, told the Melfort Journal that to his knowledge “this is the first confirmed case in Melfort.” . . . According to the SJHL, “The player and the close contacts have been identified and contacted by the local public health office and have been advised to self-isolate. . . . There has been limited contact in the community.” . . . The last sentence in the statement read: “This is an advisory and there will be no further comments by any of the organizations at this time.” . . . The city shut down the Northern Lights Palace, the home of the Mustangs, for deep cleaning. It is to be reopened on Monday.


The 13-team junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League, which had said it hoped to begin regular-season play on Sept. 29, now says it is aiming for Oct. 15, although that could end up being moved to Nov. 1. . . . The PJHL’s teams, all of which are based on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, have completed training camps and named their rosters. However, Trevor Alto, the league’s commissioner, noted in a release that “not all of our facilities are prepared to host game play by . . . Sept. 29. We had identified this as a possibility and our schedule was prepared to make the adjustment.” . . . The league is planning on a 36-game regular season, with teams playing in four cohorts of three or four teams. After the first 18 games, the league will take a break in December “to quarantine for the second half where the cohorts will be adjusted for the remainder of the season and playoffs.” . . . Teams are permitted to begin exhibition games immediately. If facilities and cohorts are ready, regular-season play would begin Oct. 15. Failing that, the season will begin by Nov. 1.


Sting


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Brady McCollough, writing in the Los Angeles Times about college football being back on TV:“It sends a message that times have returned to normal. Fans in Big Ten country are going to gather in groups to watch, let their guards down by putting away their masks, scream and hug in indoor spaces when something good happens, and the virus will receive new life all over the region. All so Ohio State can get its crack at the College Football Playoff.” . . .

Bruce Jenkins, the San Francisco Chronicle: “That’s quite a season they’re having at the University of Houston, by the way. The team’s entire September schedule — Washington State, Rice, Memphis, Baylor and North Texas — has been wiped out by postponements or cancellations.” . . .

The Kamloops Curling Club has cancelled its 2020-21 season, citing the pandemic and an inability to play host to large bonspiels or banquets. The Kamloops Crown of Curling, held annually since 1974, won’t be held this year. . . . The B.C. men’s and women’s curling championships are scheduled to be decided in Kamloops, from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. A decision on whether those events, which are to be played at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, has yet to be made.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Adam Purner was the manager of group events and video co-ordinator for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. He tweeted Friday afternoon that his position has been eliminated. . . . The Winterhawks have been in receivership since May 7, but have yet to be sold. Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, had said in June that he was optimistic there would be a new owner before the end of July. . . . “The receiver is now looking through and assessing the various inquiries that have been made. I can tell you that there has been very strong interest,” Robison said at the time. “The receivership is not a reflection of the state of the franchise. The franchise is in very, very good position. It’s one of our premier franchises in the Western Hockey League.”


The MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze has added Will Kinsman and Tyler Brown to its coaching staff. . . . Kinsman, who spent the previous six seasons as the head coach of the Vincent Massey Trojans of the Winnipeg High School League, will work as general manager/head coach Josh Green’s assistant. . . . Brown, who played four seasons in the WHL (Regina, Saskatoon, 2014-18), will be the expansion team’s goaltending coach.


Politics

Hockey world mourning death of Melfort defenceman . . . Rollins: From enforcer to entrepreneur and author . . . USHL loses two teams for season

DylanAshe
Dylan Ashe, 18, loved his 1984 Chevrolet truck. (Photo: Della Ashe/Facebook)

Dylan Ashe, a defenceman with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs, was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Saturday night. Ashe, 18, died when his immaculately restored 1984 Chevrolet pickup left the road and rolled on Highway 37 near White Fox, Sask. . . . A native of Warman, Sask., he helped the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans to a bronze medal at the 2019 Telus Cup before joining the Mustangs as a 17-year-old. With Melfort, he had two goals and four assists in 46 games. . . . Ashe wasn’t selected in the WHL draft, but signed with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in April 2019 and was in their training camp prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . His mother, Della, wrote on Facebook: “This is the hardest and most heartbreaking post I have ever had to make. Dylan was driving back to the lake (Saturday) night and rolled the car. He didn’t make it out of the accident alive. I can honestly say I’m numb, and my heart literally feels broken. He was the most easy-going, fun-loving, and never in a rush for anything type of guy. He loved his family and truck. Oh that truck, boy did he work hard on it. My favourite thing was when he would come home and go directly to each of us and give us a big hug. He was making his last trip out to the lake and then heading home here for a couple days before taking off to Melfort for his second season with the Mustangs. He was looking forward to seeing all his hockey buddies. I am comforted knowing he was doing everything he loved to do, but unfortunately never fulfilled his dreams here, and now he will always be in my dreams. I can’t believe your life was so short. Please watch over us. I love you so, so, so much.” . . . Deanna Venn, an aunt of Dylan’s, has started a GoFundMe page that is right here.


If you’re an old-time hockey fan, you may remember Jerry Rollins as a tough guy who put up 338 penalty minutes with the WCHL’s Flin Flon Bombers in 1973-74 and another 473 in a 1974-75 season split between the Bombers (72) and Winnipeg Clubs (401). . . . These days, according to a news release that found its way into my inbox, Rollins is the “co-founder and chairman of the Sage Executive Group, a Southern California-based peer advisory group that helps CEOs, founders and executives achieve all-around success by positively impacting their business, families and communities.” On top of that, his new book — Enforcer to Entrepreneur: Achieving Hockey Stick Growth in Life, Business and Sports — is scheduled for an Oct. 1 publishing date.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “As Doris Burke moves to ESPN radio, she’ll become the first woman to call an entire conference finals and the NBA Finals for a national outlet. But she’ll be missed on television, especially in light of her superb work in Orlando. Gather up Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Reggie Miller, all the analysts working for ESPN and TNT; Burke is better than all of them.” . . . Jenkins isn’t wrong.


Just the other day the Atlanta Braves scored 29 runs in a game against the Miami Marlins. As Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, the Braves “violated every one of baseball’s 1,212 unwritten rules.”


Gilligan


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Mike Norvell, the head football coach of the Florida State Seminoles, tested positive and has gone into quarantine. The school’s athletic department made the announcement on Saturday. FSU wasn’t scheduled to play this weekend. . . . He is expected to miss his team’s game at Miami on Saturday. . . .

Florida Atlantic U was to have played Georgia Southern in a televised football game on ESPN on Saturday. However, FAU experienced an outbreak of positive tests involving players and on- and off-field staff so wasn’t able to play. . . . Other games cancelled or postponed this weekend for virus-related reasons included Baylor-Houston, Charlotte-North Carolina, BYU-Army, Florida Atlantic-Georgia Southern, and Arkansas State-Central Arkansas. . . .

The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that it would have a football season, after all. One day later, it was revealed that the U of Wisconsin Badgers football team had more than 40 positive tests among players and staff to that point. . . . ABC News reported: “On Thursday, UW-Madison reported 190 new positive COVID-19 tests among students and employees from on- and off-campus testing. As of Thursday morning, 400 students were in on-campus isolation, it said. There have been nearly 2,400 confirmed cases among UW-Madison students and employees since July 28, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County.” . . .

Jokerit, the KHL team that plays out of Helsinki, Finland, will be back on the ice for practice on Monday after health officials ended the club’s 14-day quarantine. Jokerit is scheduled to return to game action on Friday against visiting Sibir. . . .

The 2021 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed, after the 2020 Games were postponed in March. The 2021 Games had been scheduled for Halifax in July. Organizers have yet to announce a future date, but said they will be held in Halifax.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Explosive


The USHL lost two teams on Friday when the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Madison Capitals suspended operations for 2020-21. . . . The RoughRiders opted out because of storm damage to their home arena, the ImOn Ice Arena, from an Aug. 10 storm. . . . The Capitols, according to a USHL news release, “face significant county restrictions related to COVID-19 that affect their ability to practice, play and host spectators.” . . . The USHL is left with 14 teams that plan to open their regular season on Nov. 6.


One group — 50 Below Sports + Entertainment — owns the Winnipeg Blues and the expansion Winnipeg Freeze in the 12-team MJHL. I don’t know what the rules dealing with player transactions will be but I am told that the Blues traded 10 players to the Freeze on Thursday. The deal included 16-year-old twin brothers Rylan and Ryder Ringor of Winnipeg, both of whom played at the Elite 15 team at Rink Hockey Academy last season. . . . There isn’t anything on either team’s website about the player moves.


The BCHL, which plans on opening its regular season on Dec. 1, has released an exhibition schedule that is to start on Sept. 25 and features more than 100 games. Teams will play within their four-team cohorts. Interestingly, the schedule doesn’t include the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, although there has yet to be an announcement on the team’s immediate future.


JohnWayne

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.


EdChynowethCup

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.

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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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