Wheat Kings’ Thornton taken to hospital after “bad hit” . . . Bedard doing Bedard-like things . . . Head coach misses Jets’ first game

F Ben Thornton of the Brandon Wheat Kings and teammate Jake Chiasson were welcomed to B.C.’s Lower Mainland with a billboard when they arrived in the area on Thursday for a Friday night date with the Vancouver Giants in Langley. . . . The Wheat Kings won Friday’s game, 4-2, but things didn’t go well for Thornton, who ended up in hospital. With his parents in the stands, Thornton was hit by Giants F Kyle Bochek five minutes into the second period, and was taken off the ice on a stretcher and later to hospital. Bochek was hit with a charging major and game misconduct. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun tweeted after the game that “Ben Thornton is in hospital but apparently has movement in his extremities.” . . . Brandon head coach Don MacGillivray told Bergson: “(Thornton) was right at our bench and turned around and took a hit that he wasn’t really expecting. It was a bad hit. He hit the ice right away. Other than that, I can’t tell you too much because I don’t know too much.” . . . MacGillivray added: “He didn’t leave the rink until probably halfway through the third period. He’s gone to hospital to get checked out. We’re not sure how serious it is but obviously it’s serious enough that he went to hospital.” . . .

At 16:05 of the second period, Brandon F Brett Hyland was given a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver D Mazden Leslie, who apparently wasn’t injured. . . . By game’s end, the teams had taken a total of 116 penalty minutes — 58 apiece. . . .

Meawhile, Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, reported via Twitter that “Colton Dach leaves game after a high hit late in third.” Everett D Dexter Whittle was given a headshot major and game misconduct on the play. . . . Before leaving, Dach had two assists as the Rockets dropped a 5-4 decision to the visiting Everett Silvertips. Dach, 19, has a goal and two assists in three games since returning from the camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Everett got two goals and an assist from F Austin Roest, 18, who has seven goals and five helpers in seven games.


DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT . . . — F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats, who is likely to be the No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft, has a five-Reginapoint lead atop the WHL scoring race after scoring two goals and setting up another in a 4-3 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. Bedard has 19 points, five ahead of F Gabriel Szturc of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . In Swift Current, Bedard’s WHL-leading ninth goal broke a 3-3 tie with 7.8 seconds left in the third period. . . . The Pats are 6-4-0 and Bedard has four game-winners. . . . From Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: “Bedard didn’t score his 19th point until his 23rd game last season, which he finished with 100 points (including 51 goals) in 62 games.”


F Ben King, who lead the WHL in goals (52) last season, scored twice and added WHLan assist to help the visiting Red Deer Rebels to a 4-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday night. King, 20, was playing in his first game after being in camp with the Anaheim Ducks, who selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. The Rebels now are 6-0-0. . . . In Kennewick, Wash., F Logan Stankoven, the CHL’s player of the year for 2021-22, had two goals and an assist as the Kamloops Blazers dropped the Tri-City Americans, 7-1. Stankoven, 19, was playing in his first game since being returned to Kamloops by the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . A rematch of last season’s WHL final didn’t turn out to be much as the Seattle Thunderbirds (of Kent, Wash.) dumped the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0. While the Thunderbirds ran their record to 6-0-0, the Oil Kings slipped to 1-7-1.


NO, IT’S NOT OVER — Winnipeg head coach Rick Bowness wasn’t available Friday night when the Jets played host to the New York Rangers. It was the Jets’ first game of the regular season, and this is Bowness’ first season in Winnipeg, but he had to miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19. In his absence, associate coach Scott Ariel ran things as the Jets posted a 4-1 victory.


I have seen this before, but it popped up again on Friday, and I absolutely love this story . . .


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Danielle Smith graciously admits that genocide might be as bad as antivaxxers not getting to go to the movies.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Ethan Rowland, who lost his spot with the Kamloops Blazers when he got caught up in the 20-year-old cutdown deadline on Wednesday, has joined the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . .

A reminder that you should be following Geoffrey Brandow on Twitter if you’re looking for numbers on major junior hockey games. You’ll find him at @GeoffreyBrandow, and he follows the WHL, OHL and QMJHL like a hawk. Don’t believe me? Check him out.


Cow


THE COACHING GAME:

Mike Keenan is back behind a bench, this time as head coach of the Italian national men’s team. Italy is scheduled to play host to the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, so it all makes sense, doesn’t it? . . . Mike Pelino, once an assistant coach (1997-99) with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, will join Keenan as associate coach. . . . Keenan and Pelino will see their first tournament action in Budapest, Hungary, from Nov. 10-13, facing Ukraine, Slovenia and a final game against either Hungary, Japan or France.


THINKING OUT LOUD — Don’t know if you noticed, but the Montreal Canadiens signed D William Trudeau, 20, to a three-year entry-level contract on Friday. Trudeau, the player, will start this season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket. If the Rocket gets off to a poor start, you can bet some Canadians will blame it on Trudeau. . . . If you were in front of a TV set on Friday night, I hope you were able to catch the fourth quarter of the CFL game that had the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visiting the Calgary Stampeders. That was the CFL at its exciting best. The Tiger-Cats scored a last-minute touchdown to win in Calgary for the first time since 2004. They had lost each of their last 15 games in Calgary. . . . The end of that game followed hot on the heels of a terrific MLB playoff game in which the San Diego Padres bested the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1. It’s a best-of-five series and the Padres take a 2-1 edge into today’s fourth game.


Poor


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Or, for more information, visit right here.


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Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

MacBeth

F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

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The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


Tweetoftheday

At ‘going rate’ is Memorial Cup out of reach for teams? . . . Broncos in hiring mode . . . Viveiros now works for Oilers

MacBeth

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), he had one goal and 18 assists in 43 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .  Blum was released for financial reasons and signed by Sochi (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 27. He had three assists in 10 games with Sochi.


ThisThat

Has the CHL jumped the shark with the Memorial Cup? You are free to ask that question after a story by Josh Brown in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

“At the going rate,” Brown writes, “hosting the Memorial Cup is out of reach for the Kitchener Rangers.

“Chief operating officer Steve Bienkowski says the club, which is considered one of the Canadian Hockey League’s most stable franchises, could not afford to put on the annual junior hockey showcase at its current bidding price of $3.65 million.”

Bienkowski told Brown: “There is no way we could bid if that was the number. If it’s that dollar type of guarantee than we’re priced out. I’m not sure there is an Ontario market that is priced in.”

With the 2018 Memorial Cup ongoing in Regina, it was reported during the week that the Pats paid the CHL a total of $3.65 million — $3 million plus $650,000 for expenses — for hosting rights to what is the trophy’s 100th anniversary tournament. This also is the Pats’ 100th anniversary season.

The Pats owners expect to lose $2 million by the time all the bills are paid.

According to Brown:

“Kitchener guaranteed a profit of $1.8 million when it bid for — and won — the right to host the Memorial Cup in 2008.

“More than 53,000 fans attended games at the Aud and the club produced a tidy $1.95 million profit, which was the highest in CHL history at the time.”

Brown’s story, which is full of all kinds of nuggets, is right here.


As expected, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers announced Friday that they have added Manny Viveiros as an assistant coach. Viveiros spent the past two seasons as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.

The announcement came two days after the WHL-champion Broncos were eliminated from the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina after going 0-3. En route to the WHL title, the Broncos played a league-record 26 playoff games; they won two six-game series and two seven-game affairs. (The 1984 Regina Pats, 1986 Medicine Hat Tigers and 1979 Portland Winterhawks both played 25 games.)

Viveiros, 52, is a native of St. Albert, Alta. He coached for nine seasons in Europe before signing with the Broncos. A former defenceman with the Prince Albert Raiders, Viveiros also played in Europe for 16 seasons. Most of his European time was spent in Austria.

In Edmonton, he joins Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, who is a former GM/head coach of the Broncos, along with assistant coaches Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney, whose signings also were announced Friday.

McLellan (Saskatoon, 1982-87), Gulutzan (Brandon, Saskatoon, 1989-92), Yawney (Saskatoon, 1982-85) and Viveiros (Prince Albert, 1982-86) all played in the WHL. Considering that McLelland and Yawney were teammates who played against Viveiros, who played for the Blades’ arch-rivals in Prince Albert, there just might be some interesting conversations in the Oilers’ coaches’ room next season.

The Broncos announced Viveiros’s departure at a Friday morning news conference. At the same time, they announced that Dianne Sletten, their director of business operations, also is leaving the club.

If could be that the Broncos’ front office will have a completely new look come a new season.

They had been operating without a general manager, with Jamie Porter the director of hockey operations, and Viveiros holding the title of director of player personnel and head coach.

Porter has been rumoured as a possible candidate for openings with the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars, both of whom need a general manager. Also rumoured to be in the mix in Kamloops is Matt Bardsley, presently an assistant general manager with the Portland Winterhawks. Bardsley has been with the Winterhawks since 1999.


With Emanuel Viveiros leaving the Swift Current Broncos, it means that the past six WHL champions have lost their head coaches to the professional ranks. . . . Steve Konowalchuk SCBroncoswon the title with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2017, then signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. . . . In 2016, the Brandon Wheat Kings, under GM/head coach Kelly McCrimmon, won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. McCrimmon then joined the Vegas Golden Knights as assistant general manager. . . . In 2015, head coach Dan Lambert helped the Kelowna Rockets win the WHL, then signed with the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant coach. . . . Derek Laxdal was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach when they won the WHL in 2014. He then signed on with the NHL’s Dallas Stars as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. . . . In 2013, Travis Green was the head coach as the Portland Winterhawks won the WHL title. He later joined the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

So, you’re wondering, who was the last WHL head coach win a championship and stay put? Well, Laxdal was the head coach of the Oil Kings when they won the 2012 title, and he hung around for two more seasons. Before that it was Kris Knoblauch, who helped the Kootenay Ice to the 2011 championship and coached in Cranbrook for one more season.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst vs. Regina, 5 p.m.


Mike Pelino, a former assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed on as an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Pelino, 58, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. He was with the Chiefs for two seasons (1997-99).

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