Winterhawks in receivership . . . Regular-season champions for sale . . . Owner has filed for bankruptcy

The Portland Winterhawks, who won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions for 2019-20, are in receivership and, according to a news release from the league, a FOR SALE sign is blowing in the wind.

The Oregonian, a Portland newspaper, has reported that the company that owns the Portlandfranchise, Portland Winterhawks Inc., filed for bankruptcy on Thursday.

According to Jeff Manning of The Oregonian: “Winterhawks owner William Gallacher allegedly failed to repay money his companies had borrowed in 2018. The lender, Bridging Financing, went to court in Toronto earlier this month and claims it took control of several of Gallacher’s companies, including the hockey team.”

Manning reported that “several” companies owned by Gallacher filed in Portland on Thursday.

According to Manning, the WHL “can terminate” a franchise if it “enters bankruptcy or is in receivership for more than 10 days.” As well, Rip City Management LLC, which operates the two arenas in which the Winterhawks play, could rip up their lease.

It’s unlikely any of that will happen, though.

From court documents: “At present, the Receiver has no indication that PWH is in financial distress apart from its involvement in the Bridging Loan. Accordingly, the Receiver views it as important to maintain the operations of PWH and the Winterhawks’ franchise to preserve their value for the benefit of all creditors of the Debtors in the Canadian Proceeding.”

Gallacher is a Calgary-based oil man, and you may be aware that the oil-and-gas sector is having a tough time of it these days. Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in 2008. Under his ownership, along with the leadership provided by Doug Piper, the team’s president, and Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, things turned around and what once was the WHL’s most-pathetic franchise played in four straight championship finals (2011-14), winning in 2013.

Manning’s complete story is right here.

According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Winterhawks’ average announced attendance for 32 homes games in the truncated 2019-20 season was 5,540, the fifth-highest average in the 22-team league. That was a decrease of 376 from 2018-19, when the Winterhawks had the fourth-highest average announced attendance.

The WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It later cancelled its season, including playoffs.

The Winterhawks finished with the WHL’s best record (45-11-7), their 97 points leaving them one ahead of the Everett Silvertips (46-13-4). Thus, Portland was awarded the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champion.

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The WHL released a statement on Sunday afternoon, saying that it is “working closely” with all involved “to ensure the smooth transition to new ownership in short order.”

According to the WHL, Doug Piper, the Winterhawks’ president, and Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, “will remain with the team and are committed to conducting business as usual . . .”

The WHL statement also included this: “. . . we expect that there will be a great deal of interest in obtaining ownership” of the Winterhawks.

So . . . while the first paragraph would seem to indicate there is a sale on the horizon, it would seem that process of locating buyers is just getting started.

You are free to wonder how easy/difficult it will be to sell one of the WHL’s premier franchises in these pandemic-dominated times? After all, I would suggest that there is no guarantee as to when, or even if, the 2020-21 season will start.

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OK. I have to admit that I burst out laughing when I read one sentence in the WHL’s news release.

Here it is: “There will be no further comment from the WHL or Portland Winterhawks at this time.”

I take you back to Nov. 28, 2012, when, you may recall, the WHL dropped a sledge hammer on the Winterhawks for what it called “a series of violations of the WHL regulations.”

The last line of that news release, which didn’t spell out what the Winterhawks had done to warrant such punishment, read: “The Western Hockey League will not make any further public comments on this matter.”

The Winterhawks followed up by issuing their own news release, spelling out the regulations they had violated. It wasn’t long before Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was busy doing damage control with lots of public comments.

For old time’s sake . . .

The WHL news release on the sanctions is right here.

The Winterhawks’ news release explaining those violations is right here.

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The 22-team WHL has four community-owned teams — the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — whose fates are controlled by local shareholders. As such, each of them holds an annual meeting at which financial statements are presented to shareholders.

The other 18 all are privately owned, so their financials aren’t available.

While the Winterhawks may be in better shape than some of Bill Gallacher’s other business interests, you can bet that all of the WHL teams are feeling the squeeze brought on by the pandemic. The WHL had 54 regular-season games remaining in its season when the plug was pulled, so teams lost out on that revenue. And then the playoff qualifiers took big hits with the cancellation of those games.

And now, with so many questions and so few answers floating in the ether, you have to wonder how preparations for a new season — the selling of sponsorships and season tickets — are progressing.

Granted, it’s still early to some, but if you’re an owner or a general manager training camps should be opening in slightly more than three months. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed. What of bringing over import players? And what about the billet situation — how is that going to play out with a highly infectious virus lurking who knows where?

The Winterhawks were the first WHL team to issue furloughs and layoff notices and to impose paycuts late in March. The Kamloops Blazers, another privately owned club, were close behind. Their majority owner, Tom Gaglardi, also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. He is the president of Northland Properties, which is almost completely reliant on the hospitality industry, meaning there is little in the way of revenue these days.

It’s safe to assume that other WHL teams, too, have done what they can to trim expenses as they are mired in a situation where they aren’t able to generate revenue.

Whether any of them end up going the way of the Winterhawks remains to be seen.

But you have to think some things are going to look a whole lot different by the time we come out the other end of his situation.

In the meantime, if you’ve been wanting to own a WHL franchise, you could do a whole lot worse than the Winterhawks, the defending regular-season champions.

Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

Thursday in WHL: Two indefinite suspensions, two $1,000 fines, two playoff games. . . . Will Glass return tonight?


MacBeth

D Michal Plutnar (Tri-City, 2011-14) signed a one-year contract with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had been assigned on loan by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Karlovy Vary for this season. In 45 games, he had four goals and 10 assists.


ThisThat

The WHL’s Department of Discipline came down on two players, a head coach and a general manager on Thursday, less than 24 hours after what was a wild Wednesday on the ice.

Before he was done, Kevin Acheson, a former referee who handles discipline for the DisciplineWHL, had handed out two indefinite suspensions and $2,000 in fines.

For starters, F Kody McDonald of the Victoria Royals has been suspended indefinitely after being hit with a match penalty for intent to injure during a 6-3 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops.

F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds also has been suspended indefinitely after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct during a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kent, Wash.

Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, was fined $1,000 “for public comments” that he made to Steve Ewen of Postmedia for a story that he wrote on Wednesday.

Finally, Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, was fined $1,000 “for actions following” a 3-2 loss to the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday.

The WHL went so far as to issue news releases related to the suspensions of McDonald and Richards, although each one was only four paragraphs in length and contained minimal information.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted in the McDonald news release: “The WHL takes incidents of this nature very seriously. Actions of this kind are unacceptable to the WHL. The WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of the incident at this time.”

And here is Robison in the Richards news release: “Player safety is the first priority for the WHL at all times. The WHL will continue to take a strong position in dealing with checking-from-behind penalties and players classified as repeat offenders. As Sean Richards has been suspended previously, the WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of this latest incident at this time.”

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If you missed it, McDonald was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 5:34 of the third period of Wednesday’s game with the teams tied, 3-3. As he skated to the penalty box, he kept trying to show the officials that he was bleeding from the mouth area.

After the Royals killed the penalty, McDonald returned to the players’ bench. He was standing at one end when, apparently riled by chatter of some kind coming from Kamloops F Zane Franklin, McDonald swung his stick a couple of times at the Blazers bench. He appeared to connect once with Franklin’s helmet, and also struck Kamloops trainer Colin (Toledo) Robinson, whose glasses were damaged.

McDonald was quickly escorted from the ice surface. Franklin was given an unsportsmanlike minor. The Blazers scored on the 4-on-4 and again on the PP, jumping out front 5-3. They would win the game, 6-3, and the series now is tied, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Victoria on Saturday, then return to Kamloops for Game 6 on Monday.

There may be more to the McDonald story, too.

Blazers broadcaster Jon Keen tweeted Thursday morning that McDonald was “involved in incident with vendor staff under the stands while coming off the ice. I couple of high school students taking the garbage out from concessions. Security intervening. Report filed.”

Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week reported: “Kamloops brass is looking into an alleged fracas that took place while the Victoria forward was making his way to the dressing room, with security guards allegedly involved. Security would have to report the incident to the WHL to spark a league investigation, according to a Blazers’ source.”

McDonald, 20, won’t play again in the series with the Blazers, and that will be a tough blow for the Royals, who will miss his scoring — he put up three goals in the four games — and his experience.

This is the second time this season that the Blazers have been involved in a situation that seemed to involve taunting. On Feb. 2, in a game in Kelowna, Rockets F Conner Bruggen-Cate appeared to say something that set off Blazers D Montana Onyebuchi. No one from either of the teams or the league has stated publicly what happened, but each of the players was given a two-game suspension.

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As for Richards, he was penalized at 4:16 of the first period for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot, who left the game and didn’t return.

Barfoot isn’t likely to play tonight when the teams play Game 5 in Langley, B.C. The series is tied 2-2 after Seattle overcame a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Richards, 20, is a repeat offender, having been suspended twice earlier in the season, once for eight games and the other time for five, while with the Everett Silvertips.

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Dyck’s comments came in a story written by Ewen about the return of Seattle D Jake Lee Vancouverto the Thunderbirds’ lineup after he had served a two-game suspension. He was suspended after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Justin Sourdif with six seconds left in the Giants’ 7-1 victory in Game 1.

Sourdif, an offensive threat, hasn’t played since and isn’t expected to be in the lineup tonight for Game 5.

Dyck, who felt Lee should have received more than two games, was a defenceman with the Regina Pats in 1986-87 when F Brad Hornung was left a quadriplegic after being hit from behind.

“I played with Brad Hornung. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it,” Dyck told Ewen. “It was the same type of play. The only thing that saved Justin Sourdif was the net. It’s a terrible play. He (Lee) is a young guy. But somebody has to teach him. All two games is … I don’t know.

“It’s one of the worst plays in hockey. It had nothing to do with making a play. It’s emotion. I understand that. But you have to learn.”

You should know that Dyck is absolutely correct. I covered the game in which Hornung was injured and later wrote extensively about the aftermath. With some of the hits in danger areas that I witness, and the way in which those who manage the game at this level have allowed cross-checking to creep back into the game, I fear that what Dyck calls “one of the worst plays in hockey” is going to bring with it devastating consequences one of these games.

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As for Millar’s fine, perhaps he had something to say about the officiating, or to the officials, after the Warriors’ 3-2 series-ending loss. The Blades won that game when F Max Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie at 15:39 of the third period.

That goal came on a 5-on-3 PP after the Warriors were hit with two delay-of-game minors in 32 seconds.

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The Portland Winterhawks will be facing elimination when they meet the Chiefs in PortlandSpokane on Saturday night. After splitting the first two games in Spokane, the teams played Tuesday and Wednesday in Portland with the Chiefs winning twice in OT — 5-4 and 4-3. . . . Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune that “we played really well” in Game 4. . . . Johnston added: “All we have to do is play the same the next game. We’re going to be fine in the series. We win in Spokane, then we come back here (for Game 6) on Monday. (The Chiefs) don’t want to come back here. As the series has gone along, our team has gotten better every game.” . . . Johnston also told Eggers that “we expect Cody (Glass) to be able to play on Saturday.” . . . Glass, who will turn 20 on Monday, was limited to 38 games this season, thanks to knee woes and a stint with Canada’s national junior team. But he did big damage in those games, putting up 15 goals and 54 assists. . . . The Vegas Golden Knights selected him sixth overall in the NHL’s 2017 draft. Eggers reports the Golden Knights’ medical staff has cleared Glass to play, as have Portland’s medical people. . . . As Johnston said, “He’s the best player in the league. It’s huge to have him back. If we get that game and get momentum back on our side, that’s all we need.” . . . Of course, this being the WHL playoffs you have to remember that you can’t believe 90 per cent of what you hear or read about injuries, and you have to take the other 10 per cent with a huge grain of salt.

Eggers’ complete story is right here.

And if you haven’t read his new book, you should. It is titled Jail Blazers: How the Portland Trail Blazers Became the Bad Boys of Basketball.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were two games on Thursday night. . . . The Calgary Hitmen beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2, to even that series, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Lethbridge’s Nicholas Sheran Arena on Saturday because the world men’s curling championship is in the Enmax Centre. The Hurricanes’ temporary home has 968 seats and room for 200 standees. . . . Game 6 will be played in Calgary on Sunday. . . .

Also last night, the Everett Silvertips beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash., to take a 3-1 lead. They will play Game 5 in Everett on Saturday. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades, who have advanced to the second round, will open their series with games in Prince Albert on April 5 and 7. . . .

The Vancouver Giants and Seattle Thunderbirds are 2-2 as they go into Game 5 tonight in Langley, B.C. . . . Neither F Aidan Barfoot nor F Justin Sourdif practised with the Giants on Thursday. Sourdif hasn’t played since being cross-checked by Seattle D Jake Lee in Game 1. Barfoot left Game 4 following a hit by Seattle F Sean Richards. Lee has returned from a two-game suspension; Richards has been suspended indefinitely. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly will complete a two-game suspension by sitting again tonight. It seems that while in the penalty box during Game 3, he made a throat-slash gesture in the direction of Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . .

The only other game tonight will have the Medicine Hat Tigers in Edmonton to face the Oil Kings. That series is tied, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Medicine Hat on Sunday.

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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Calgary Hitmen broke a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory Calgaryover the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 set for Lethbridge on Saturday. . . . The Hitmen took a 1-0 lead at 3:28 of the first period on a goal by F Riley Stotts (1). . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer (1) tied it at 1:36 of the second period. . . . Calgary took a 2-1 lead when F James Malm (1) scored at 8:53, only to have F Logan Barlage (1) tie it, on a PP, at 12:42. . . . Calgary F Josh Prokop (2) broke the tie at 1:44 of the third period, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (1) added insurance, on a PP, at 5:04. . . . F Luke Coleman (2) added an empty-netter at 17:45. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Ryder Korczak, with Stotts adding two to his goal. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-5. . . . G Jack McNaughton earned the victory with 37 saves, seven more than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . Calgary was without F Mark Kastelic, its captain, for a second straight game. He is in concussion protocol. . . . Calgary also is without F Jake Kryski, 20, who last played on Jan. 11.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 24 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Tri-EverettCity Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Silvertips lead the series, 3-1, and get their first opportunity to wrap it up at home on Saturday. . . . Last night, the Silvertips scored once in each period. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 12:34 of the first period. . . . F Max Patterson (2) made it 2-0 at 7:56 of the second. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (2) got the empty-netter at 19:19 of the third. . . . Everett was 1-5 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-2. . . . Wolf posted his first playoff shutout. He has 11 career regular-season shutouts, seven of them this season. . . . The Americans got 35 stops from G Beck Warm.


Tweetoftheday

Having been born and raised in northern Manitoba, this tugs at the feelies . . .

Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw. Ohh, the memories. . . . Blazers adding goaltender. . . . Ridley talks way into AHHOF

If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look. Yes, we used to have some fun on the WHL beat and, no, there won’t ever be another Crushed Can. . . .


MacBeth

D Dominik Bittner (Everett, 2011-12) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and 14 assists in 46 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers, their playoff hopes flickering like a fading light bulb, have lost G Dylan Ferguson to injury, so are expected to add G Rayce Ramsay to their roster.

Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Kamloops1From Saskatoon, Ramsay was 16-7-1, 2.73, .923 in his first season with Humboldt. . . . Ramsay got into 27 games with the Broncos, as he split time with Dane Dow, who made 34 appearances and was 19-12-2, 3.06, .906. . . . The Broncos aren’t scheduled to play again until March 15 when they open a best-of-seven first-round series with the Estevan Bruins. . . . Ramsay has made two appearances with the Blazers this season, going 1.99, .931 in 60 minutes of action.

Ferguson, who has played in 49 games (17-24-5, 3.01, .908), went down in the second period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. He needed to lean on his stick in order to get back on his feet, and tried to stay in the game. But he left at the next whistle, and needed help leaving as he was unable to put any weight on one leg.

G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, is the Blazers’ other goaltender. A third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he is 6-7-2, 3.40, .891.

The Blazers (23-32-7) have lost their past four games (0-3-1), three of them to the B.C. Division-champion Vancouver Giants. With six games left, Kamloops is fourth in the division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets are to meet tonight in Kamloops and Saturday night in Kelowna.

Kamloops also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Kelowna Rockets will be without F Mark Liwiski for their next three games, KelownaRocketsincluding this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Liwiski drew a three-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Portland F Seth Jarvis during a 4-3 victory over the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday. . . . The Rockets are to play in Kamloops tonight, with the Blazers in Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . Liwiski, who has 10 goals and six assists in 58 games, also will miss Kelowna’s game on Wednesday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, seven points ahead of the Blazers.


Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reports that three Winterhawks skaters — F Cody PortlandGlass, F Seth Jarvis and D Matt Quigley — were listed as “week-to-week” by GM/head coach Mike Johnston going into this week. . . . Danzer writes that Glass “has experienced some nagging discomfort in the knee he injured in late January.” Glass has missed Portland’s past three games. . . . Quigley has missed eight games with an undisclosed injury. . . Jarvis was injured during a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Sunday. Kelowna F Mark Liwiski received a boarding major and game misconduct on the play, and since has been suspended for three games by the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks have added D Ryan Miley to their roster since his team, the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, had its season come to an end. Miley, 18, is from Brooking, S.D. He had one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Eagles. He was pointless in one game with Portland last season.


The Victoria Royals have added a pair of defencemen — Kaden Reinders and D Noah VictoriaRoyalsLamb — to their roster. . . . They both played in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Reinders had been with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is pointless in nine WHL games, six of them this season. . . . Lamb played for the midget AAA Edmonton Knights of Columbus Pats. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft, and has played two WHL games, both this season. . . .


The Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner is going to have a definite Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat flavour. . . . The Class of 2019, as revealed on Thursday, includes Bob Ridley, the only play-by-play voice in the Tigers’ history, along with the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Tigers, the only team from Alberta to have won back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. . . . Ridley celebrated 50 years with CHAT in Medicine Hat last year. He has done more than 3,900 Tigers games and until recently doubled as the team’s bus driver. . . . Also to be inducted are Theo Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames, an Olympic gold medal and also played four seasons (1984-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors; Shirley Cameron, a player, coach and builder of women’s hockey in Alberta; Kevin Lowe, who won six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and two Olympic gold medals; and Duncan MacDougall, who is being recognized for “four decades of involvement at the grassroots level of the officiating program in Edmonton.” . . . The AHHF Awards Gala is scheduled for July 21 at the Coast Hotel in Canmore.

The 1986-87 Medicine Hat Tigers: Ron Bonora, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Rocky Dundas, Mark Fitzpatrick, Kelly Hitchins, Jamie Huscroft, Wayne Hynes, Kevin Knopp, Mark Kuntz, Dale Kushner, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Mike MacWilliam, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Mark Pederson, Guy Phillips, Jeff Wenaas, Keith Van Rooyen, Rod Williams, Russ Farwell (general manager), Bryan Maxwell (coach).

The 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers: Mike Barlage, Vince Boe, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Mark Fitzpatrick, Clayton Gainer, Murray Garbutt, Wayne Hynes, Dan Kordic, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Ryan McGill, Jason Miller, Mark Pederson, Jason Prosofsky, Darren Taylor, Neil Wilkinson, Mark Woolf, Cal Zankowski, Russ Farwell (general manager), Barry Melrose (coach).

(Rosters from chlmemorialcup.ca/history-rosters/)



Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is back with Hockey CanadaCanada as part of its Program of Excellence management group. . . . Millar will, according to a news release, “advise and support the Canadian contingents at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2020 IIHF U18 World Championship.” . . . This will be Millar’s second consecutive season with the program. . . . At the same time, Hockey Canada announced that Martin Mondou, the GM of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, will “guide and support three teams at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.” . . . Mark Hunter, the general manager of the OHL’s London Knights, will take over the U-20 program and Canada’s national junior team. Hunter spent four seasons with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as director of player personnel (2014-16) and assistant GM (2016-18) before returning toe London. He is likely to get at least some consideration as the next GM of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. As well, the expansion Seattle franchise likely will have him on its list of possible general managers. . . . Hockey Canada’s complete news release is right here.


JUST NOTES: The 2020 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is to be played in Charlottetown and Summerside, both of which are on Prince Edward Island, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. Games will be played in in Charlottetown’s 3,717-seat Eastlink Centre, as well as Summerside’s 3,728-seat Credit Union Place. . . . The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs will play host to the next Top Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 16, 2020. The 25th annual game will feature NHL draft-eligible players from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and has been playing with the OHA Edmonton prep team. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, he is pointless in six games with the Hitmen this season. . . . The Tri-City Americans have added F Sequoia Swan, 17, to their roster. He had been playing with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, whose season has ended. He was a sixth-round pick by the Americans in the 2017 bantam draft.


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Habscheid, Sutter approach No. 500 . . . Almeida sinks Cougars in OT . . . Raiders post 40th victory


MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) has signed a one-year contract extension with ZSC Zurich (Switzerland, NL A). This season, he is pointless in nine games with ZSC. On loan to the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B), he had five goals and 11 assists in 18 games, and on loan to the GCK Lions U20 Zurich (Switzerland, Elite Junior A), he had seven goals and five assists in five games.


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Two long-time WHLers are running almost neck-and-neck as they move closer to becoming only the eighth and ninth head coaches with 500 regular-season victories.

Just one victory separates Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders and Brent Sutter whlof the Red Deer Rebels as they close in on the milestone.

Habscheid, whose Raiders are into their 14th consecutive week as the top-ranked team in the CHL, has 495 victories. He wasn’t in Victoria on Tuesday night as the Raiders beat the Royals, 4-1, because he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.

Habscheid, 55, has coached the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria and Prince Albert.

Sutter, 56, is at 494 victories. He is the owner, general manager and head coach in Red Deer and has spent his entire coaching career with the Rebels. Sutter missed one victory earlier this season because he was on a fathers’ junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks.

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the career record for victories (750), having passed Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland, 742) last season while the head coach of the Blazers.

After Habscheid and Sutter, the current head coaches with the most regular-season victories are Shaun Clouston of the Medicine Hat Tigers, at 382, and Portland’s Mike Johnston, with 342.


The Prince George Cougars were without F Josh Maser on Tuesday as they dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Maser was serving the first of a three-PrinceGeorgegame suspension handed down earlier in the day. He was suspended under supplemental discipline for an unpenalized hit on Kamloops D Quinn Schmiemann during the Blazers’ 3-2 OT victory in Prince George on Sunday. On the WHL’s weekly roster report, Schmiemann is listed as being out for a week. . . . Why did the Blazers file for supplemental discipline? . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV that “it was a situation and a play that should’ve been called on the ice, should’ve been penalized. To what extent in the heat of the battle, you never know, but upon watching video I think it’s something we want to make sure we’re continuing to educate our players that that’s a dangerous play.” . . . As for the length of the suspension, Lajoie also told Klassen: “Three games. I’m not going to judge on that, but I’ve seen our players, for similar players, get more games.” . . . The Blazers have had two players suspended for more than three games for high hits this season. F Jermaine Loewen got four games after hitting D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 5 in Kamloops. Quigley missed three games. F/D Jeff Faith drew a five-game suspension under supplemental for an unpenalized hit on D Remy Aquilon of the host Victoria Royals on Jan. 9. Aquilon hasn’t played since absorbing that hit.


F Dylan James, 15, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of North Dakota where he will play for the Fighting Hawks. He is the first player born in 2003 to commit to UND. . . . From Calgary, he was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. James, who won’t turn 16 until Oct. 12, has 14 goals and 12 assists with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Last season, he put up 26 goals and 30 assists in 56 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons.


The Everett Silvertips have signed F Jacob Wright to a WHL contract. Wright, 16, is a list player from Langley, B.C. He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 24 games with the B.C. Major Midget League’s Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed G Brett Mirwald to a WHL contract. Mirwald, 15, is from Saskatoon. He was selected in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Saskaton Blazers, he is 14-2-0, 2.11, .910, with three shutouts in 17 appearances.


The junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has named Mike Wilson as its head coach, replacing Cam Basarab. . . . Wilson is familiar with Campbell River, having been the associate coach for two seasons (2015-17). . . . Basarab had been the head coach — he moved up from assistant coach — since early November following the departure of GM/head coach Lee Stone. Assistant coach Bill Brett took over as the GM. . . . The Storm is 27-9-3 and leads the North Division by 23 points over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Moose Jaw (25-11-8) has points in five straight games (4-0-1), all on a trip through the B.C. Division. The Warriors are third in the East Division, four points behind Saskatoon with three games in hand. . . . Prince George (16-24-5) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is two points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ilijah Collins (6), at 18:07 of the first period, and F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (16), at 3:51 of the second. . . . F Tristin Langan (37) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 7:12, and D Jett Woo (10) tied it at 6:14 of the third period. . . . Almeida won it with his 15th goal, off assists from Langan and D Josh Brook, who finished with two helpers. Almeida, from Kitimat, B.C., began his WHL career by playing 87 games with the Cougars, who had selected him fifth overall in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The Cougars had a 25-16 edge in shots, and won 31 of 50 faceoffs. . . . The game featured one minor penalty, that to Moose Jaw D Drae Gardiner for slashing at 9:59 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 23 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, from the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg on the bench in support of starter Isaiah DiLaura. Brennan was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Taylor Gauthier, the Cougars’ other goaltender, is at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.


F Nolan Volcan broke a 1-1 tie just 24 seconds into the second period as the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 2-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (17-21-5) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Kamloops and Prince George. . . . Spokane has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind Portland and two ahead of Tri-City. . . . F Matthew Wedman (18) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period. . . . Spokane tied it at 19:44 when F Jake McGrew (19) scored on a PP. . . . Volcan’s 18th goal, with Wedman drawing the lone assist, stood up as the winner. . . . G Roddy Ross blocked 34 shots in his first home start for Seattle, two more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . Ross was making his sixth appearance with Seattle since joining the Thunderbirds from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. He is 4-0-1, 2.11, .926. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who left the club following a death in his family. He is expected back in time to play Friday in Kamloops. . . . F Cordel Larson, who left the ice on a stretcher the last time the Chiefs played, on Saturday night, made the trip to Kent with his teammates but won’t play for at least a week. He’s fine, but needs time to recover from the trauma and some soreness. . . . Seattle F Jake Lee missed this game as he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.


The Prince Albert Raiders got out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back as they PrinceAlbertskated to a 4-1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Prince Albert (40-5-2) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is 3-0-1 in the B.C. Division swing that wraps up Thursday against the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. That game is to be televised by Sportsnet. . . . The Raiders, who last won 40 games in one season in 1998-99, lead the overall standings by 14 points over Everett. . . . Victoria (23-20-1) is second in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna. . . . F Justin Nachbaur (13) got the Raiders started, on a PP, at 15:02, with F Sean Montgomery adding his 20th goal just 47 seconds later. . . . F D-Jay Jerome (18) scored for Victoria at 1:00 of the second period only to have F Cole Fonstad (18) get that one back at 4:27. . . . D Max Martin (6) finished the scoring, on a PP, at 8:52 of the third period. . . . The Raiders were 2-3 on the PP; the Royals were 0-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 20 shots for Prince Albert, seven fewer than Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse. . . . Outhouse’s night included a right-pad stop on a third-period penalty shot by F Parker Kelly. . . . The Raiders were without head coach Marc Habscheid and F Brett Leason, both of whom are in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game. . . . In Habscheid’s absence, associate coach Jeff Truitt ran the bench and recorded his 136th victory as a head coach. That includes stints with the Kelowna Rockets and Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Loeden Schaufler, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 10, played his first game with the Raiders.


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It’s true! Hay joins Winterhawks . . . Ice extends two coaches, trainer . . . Willms’ season ends before it starts


MacBeth

F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2). Last season, he had two assists in 20 games with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL), and nine goals and eight assists in 23 games with Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2).


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Some reaction to the piece that appeared here yesterday advocating for the banning of fighting and headshots in the WHL:

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The final word, as it should, goes to a hockey mom . . .


As was reported here on Friday night, Don Hay has joined the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff as an assistant where he will alongside Mike Johnston, the vice-president, Portlandgeneral manager and head coach, and associate coach Kyle Gustafson.

Hay, the winningest regular-season and playoff coach in WHL history, spent the past four seasons as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, a team with which he won three Memorial Cups in the 1990s. However, on May 10, majority owner Tom Gaglardi announced at a news conference that Hay had retired.

“Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. “Don leaves a storied legacy within junior hockey circles. His accomplishments are astounding and he will be forever regarded as one of the greatest coaches in junior hockey history. We are extremely grateful to have had Don return to the Blazers and be able to end his coaching career where it all began.”

The Blazers announced at the time that Hay would stay with the organization, as senior advisor, hockey operations.

Hay wasn’t in attendance at that news conference, and when he met with the media the next day he let it be known that he still wanted to coach.

The Winterhawks had a position come open with Danny Flynn, a veteran coach, signed on as an eastern Canadian scout with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Flynn, a longtime friend of Johnston’s, spent one season in Portland.

Johnston and Hay also are longtime friends, going back to the 1995 World Junior Championship. Hay was the head coach and Johnston an assistant with Team Canada, which won the gold medal in Red Deer.

“We are thrilled to add a coach of Don’s calibre to our staff,” Johnston said in a news release. “When I first approached Don about the idea I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but he was both interested and excited. Kyle and I have always had a good rapport with Don and feel he will definitely be a great addition to our group.”

Former Winterhawks’ head coach Ken Hodge had been the WHL’s winningest regular-season coach, with 742 victories, before Hay broke the record last season. Hay finished the season with 750 victories.

Johnston ran his total to 323 last season, becoming the 23rd coach in WHL history to surpass 300.

The Winterhawks are scheduled to play in Kamloops on Oct. 3 and 5.



The Kootenay Ice announced three contract extensions during a news conference on KootenaynewMonday morning in Cranbrook. Assistant coach Gord Burnett has a two-year extension, while Darcy Ewanchuk, the trainer and equipment manager, was extended for three seasons, and Nathan Lieuwen, the goaltending consultant and video coach, signed a two-year extension. . . . Burnett, from Regina, is heading into his fourth season with the Ice, while Ewanchuk, from Sherwood Park, Alta., is preparing for season No. 14. Lieuwen, from Abbotsford, joined the Ice prior to last season. He was a goaltender with the Ice from 2007-12. . . . The Ice also announced that James Patrick is returning for his second season as head coach, with Jon Klemm back as associate coach, and Roman Vopat as assistant coach. . . . The Ice also revealed that as of Monday morning they had sold 1,598 season tickets, “down 319 from 2017-18 and 902 below the Drive to 25 target announced in May 2017.” . . . The complete news release detailing all announcements from the news conference is right here.


Brody Willms of the Moose Jaw Warriors, one of the WHL’s top goaltenders, isn’t expected to play this season because of a hip injury. Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general MooseJawWarriorsmanager, made the announcement on Monday.

Willms, a 20-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., was 37-11-4, 3.00, .898 in 54 appearances in leading the Warriors to their first Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy — most points in the regular season — in 2017-18. He set a single-season franchise record with the 37 victories.

An eighth-round selection by Moose Jaw in the 2013 WHL bantam draft, Willms went 62-34-10, 3.20, .900 in 118 appearances over five seasons with the Warriors.

Two WHL goaltenders — Carl Stankowski of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Nick Sanders of the Prince Albert Raiders — missed time last season with hip woes. Sanders, who played in only four games, was dealt to the Calgary Hitmen on Jan. 8, while they acquired Stankowski on Aug. 7. Stankowski sat out the entire season after stepping in and backstopping the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship in 2016-17.

The Warriors used Willms and freshman Adam Evanoff in goal last season. Evanoff, 18, was 15-4-1, 2.65, .906, so likely moves to the top of Moose Jaw’s depth chart. From Penticton, Evanoff was a 10th-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

Among the other goaltenders expected in Moose Jaw’s camp are Ethan Fitzgerald, 17, of Calgary, who was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, and Jackson Berry of Chestermere, Alta., who will turn 16 on Dec. 6. He was a sixth-round pick in 2017. Fitzgerald and Berry both have signed with the Warriors.



The Regina Pats have acquired G Carter Woodside, 17, from the Kootenay Ice for a Patsconditional eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Woodside, from Asquith, Sask., was picked by the Ice in the sixth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The trade’s condition has to do with the number of games Woodside plays for the Pats in 2018-19. . . . He played last season with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, going 15-5-0, 2.53, .900 in the regular season. . . . Also on the Pats’ goaltending depth chart are sophomore Max Paddock, 18, and WHL veteran Kyle Dumba, 20.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Kai Uchacz, their first-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, to a WHL contract. From De Winton, Alta., he had 25 goals and 17 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Okotoks Oilers last season. . . . As the lists below show, WHL teams now have signed 19 of the 22 first-round draft picks.

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The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

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The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


When it comes to the Medicine Hat Tigers’ training camp and exhibition schedule, there Tigers Logo Officialis going to be an interesting battle for spots on the depth chart. Barring the unexpected, veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, will be the starter. . . . Mads Sogaard, a Dane who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, will be in the battle to backup Hollett. Sogaard, 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, so culture shock shouldn’t be much of an issue. In 22 games, he was 2.64, .909. . . . Garin Bjorklund, at 16-year-old from Calgary, also will be in camp. He was a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . Also in the picture is Kaeden Lane, who turns 17 on Oct. 10. From Burnaby, he’s a bit smaller than Sogaard, at 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds. . . . Matt Pouncy of chatnewstoday.ca has more right here.



D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the SpokaneChiefsNew Jersey Devils, who selected him with the 17th overall pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Smith, from Lloydminster, Alta., was the first WHL player taken in that draft. The Chiefs selected him first overall in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he put up 14 goals and 59 assists in 73 games. . . . For 2017-18, Smith was named the WHL’s scholastic player of the year, earning the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy, and to the Western Conference’s first all-star team.


Nathan Hollinger has joined the Calgary Hitmen as their athletic therapist. He spent last season working as the athletic therapist/strength and conditioning coach with the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. He also has worked with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers (athletic therapist/equipment manager, 2015-17) and Regina Pats (student athletic therapist, 2014-15). . . . Hollinger takes over from Kyle Vouriot, who is moving on to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose as assistant athletic therapist and assistant strength and conditioning trainer.



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


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Hay back in coaching game? Is he filling vacancy with Winterhawks? . . . Source has him going to Portland

Don Hay, with more regular-season and playoff victories than any coach in WHL history, may be joining the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach.

A source familiar with the situation informed Taking Note late Friday night that Hay is being added to the Portland coaching staff.

The Winterhawks have an opening after announcing on Friday that Danny Flynn is leaving after one year as an assistant coach to work as an amateur scout in Eastern Canada for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. In the news release announcing Flynn’s departure, the Winterhawks said they would fill the position “within the coming days.”

DonHay
A source has told Taking Note that Don Hay will be joining the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach. (Photo: Gregg Drinnan)

Hay spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced Hay’s retirement at a news conference on May 10. Hay, who wasn’t present at the news conference, was reassigned as a hockey operations consultant in the team’s front office.

The next day, Hay, 64, met with the media outside the Blazers’ dressing room and it was most apparent that he wanted to continue coaching.

Later, on May 22, Hay told Don Taylor and Bob Marjanovich of TSN-Vancouver 1040 that he was prepared to look at “all different possibilities.”

“I do want to coach,” Hay said. “I still have the passion to coach . . . the passion is still there.

“I enjoy getting up every day and having the challenge of coaching and going to the rink. Coaching is more than just teaching hockey. It’s life skills and social skills for the young guys who are leaving home at an early age. It’s something that I’ve done for a long time that I feel I can still do a good job of.”

Hay finished the 2017-18 season with 750 regular-season victories, having broken the mark of 742 that had been held by Ken Hodge, who coached the original Edmonton Oil Kings (1973-76) and the Winterhawks, before retiring after the 1992-93 season.

Hay also is No. 1 in WHL playoff victories, with 108, seven more than Hodge.

Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, became the 23rd head coach in WHL history to get to 300 victories. He finished the season at 315.

Hay was part of three Memorial Cup-winning teams in Kamloops. He was an assistant coach with the Blazers when the won in 1992, and was the head coach in 1994 and 1995.

Hay last worked as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1997-98. He later spent three seasons (2001-04) as the head coach of the AHL’s Utah Grizzlies, before working as head coach of the Vancouver Giants for 10 seasons. He left the Giants to join the Blazers for the 2014-15 season.

This summer, Hay was the head coach of the Canadian team that played at the U-18 IIHF World Championship in Russia. Canada lost 2-1 to Czech Republic in a quarterfinal game.

Johnston and Hay have been close friends since they worked together on the Canadian national junior team’s coaching staff as it won the 1995 World Junior Championship in Red Deer.

“He was a big help on that coaching staff,” Hay told me last season, “and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Now, it seems, they’ll be working together again.

The Winterhawks are scheduled to play twice in Kamloops this season, and they’ll get those games out of the way early, on Oct. 3 and 5. The Blazers are to play in Portland on Oct. 27 and 28.