D Jakub Čutta (Swift Current, 1998-2001) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Litvínov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Čutta last played in 2015-16 with Västerås (Sweden, Allsvenskan), when he had three assists in 31 games. . . .
F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after his release by mutual agreement by Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). He had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games. Slovan has two regular-season games left, but can’t make the playoffs.
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
The Tri-City Americans may have F Michael Rasmussen in their lineup tonight (Saturday) when they meet the visiting Spokane Chiefs.
Rasmussen, who had wrist surgery before Christmas, last played on Dec. 16. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Rasmussen has 31 points, including 16 goals, in 22 games. He was a first-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2017 draft.
Rasmussen took part in full practices this week for the first time since having surgery.
“It’s been a good week,” head coach Mike Williamson told Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald. “He has worked hard to put himself in a position to get back. We are pretty sure he will play this weekend. . . . We are pretty sure he is ready to go. We will make that final determination (Saturday).”
The Americans are scheduled to entertain the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday.
Tri-City remains without D Juuso Valimaki, but he may return to the club next week.
Fowler’s complete story is right here.
The biggest smile in all of the west likely belongs to Bruce Vance these days. He’s one of the good guys and spent a lot of time working in WHL circles. These days, you can bet that his focus is on the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.
That’s because his daughter, Jessica, leads Canada West with six shutouts and a .921 save percentage.
Oh, did we mention that she spent two seasons at the U of Manitoba but couldn’t get into the Bisons’ lineup, other than one game that cost her a season of eligibility.
Then she transferred to Saskatchewan and had to sit out a season.
Claire Hanna of Global News in Saskatoon has more right here.
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Another day, another set of twins is brought to our attention.
This time it’s Brett and Garrett Festerling, now 31 and playing in Europe.
Brett, a defenceman, spent five seasons (2002-07) in the WHL, with the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants. He now plays for the Nürnberg Ice Tigers of Germany’s DEL.
Garrett, a forward, was in the WHL for four seasons (2003-07), with the Portland Winterhawks and Regina Pats. These days, he also is in the DEL, with Adler Mannheim.
Twins who played together . . .
Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)
Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)
Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)
Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)
Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)
Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)
Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)
Twins who played but not together . . .
Brett and Garrett Festerling, Tri-City/Vancouver, Portland/Regina (2002-07)
Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)
Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)
Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)
Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)
Officials who are twins and work together . . .
Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)
THE COACHING GAME . . .
Since being fired as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, Mike Vandekamp is hanging out at the rink and helping the minor hockey association.
“I want to continue to volunteer my time with that, mostly coach mentorship stuff,” Vandekamp, a former WHL coach, told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin. “That’s something that keeps a guy a little bit involved and down at the rink.”
Wes Mussio, the Clippers’ new owner, fired Vandekamp on Dec. 21, a move the coach said he never saw coming. Mussio announced the move via a late-night post on Twitter, citing irreconcilable differences.
“I don’t think there was ever a specific incident that led to this, or specific animosity or any disrespect shown,” Vandekamp said. “We were operating the hockey team the way we’ve always operated the hockey team.”
Under Vandekamp and assistant Dustin Donaghy, a former WHL player, the Clippers were 18-13-3-2 and second in the Island Division. Under Darren Naylor, the Clippers are 4-7-0-0 and have slipped to third, five points behind the Powell River Kings and Victoria Grizzlies.
Sakaki’s complete story is right here.
At Prince Albert, F Kody McDonald had a goal and two assists against his old club as the Raiders beat the Prince George Cougars, 6-2. . . . Prince Albert (19-20-9) has points in four straight (3-0-1) and remains four points behind Saskatoon in the chase for a wild-card spot. . . . Prince George (18-24-7) is 10 points out of a playoff spot. This was the start of a six-game East Division trek for Prince George. . . . McDonald opened the scoring with his 23rd goal, while shorthanded, at 3:51 of the first period. . . . F Josh Maser tied it with No. 22 at 9:48. . . . F Jordy Stallard (32) put the Raiders back out front at 9:48. . . . F Liam Ryan (2) got the visitors even again at 6:03 of the second period. . . . The Raiders scored the game’s last four goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (20) snapped the tie at 16:20. . . . F Curtis Miske (16) upped the lead to 4-2 at 1:21 of the third period. . . . F Cole Fonstad (13), just back from the Top Prospects game, scored at 8:36 and F Sean Montgomery (11) added a PP goal at 10:20. . . . Stallard, Montgomery and Parker each added an assist for the Raiders. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Cougars were 0-5. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Prince George got 29 stops from G Tavin Grant. . . . F Brogan O’Brien, who last played on Dec. 10, was back in the Cougars’ lineup. . . . The Raiders were without F Regan Nagy, whose right knee injury apparently isn’t as bad as it looked when it happened. “I think we dodged a bullet there,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “He was X-Rayed, MRI’d, and they all came back clear. It seemed there was a lot of trauma in that area, but he seems to have dodged a bullet and he’s pretty much day-to-day. As soon as he can play, he can play.” . . . Announced attendance: 1,896.
At Saskatoon, G Nolan Maier stopped 20 shots to lead the Blades to a 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Saskatoon (24-23-3) had lost its previous two games. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points behind Regina. . . . Edmonton (13-28-7) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Maier, who turned 17 on Jan. 10, has two shutouts this season. He is 16-9-1, 3.18, .904. . . . F Josh Paterson (24) scored the game’s first goal, at 3:05 of the first period. . . . F Max Gerlach (23) scored a PP goal at 6:07, and D Jackson Caller (3) made it 3-0 at 9:20. . . . The Blades got a second-period goal from F Michael Farren (4), on a PP, at 17:03, and one in the third from F Braylon Shmyr (25), at 12:39. . . . Saskatoon got two assists from F Kirby Dach, with Gerlach and Paterson each adding one. . . . Saskatoon was 2-11 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-3. . . . Edmonton took 17 of the game’s 25 minor penalties. . . . G Josh Dechaine started for the Oil Kings and was beaten three times on eight shots in 10:13. Todd Scott finished up by stopping 17 of 19 shots in 49:47. . . . The Blades had F Caleb Fantillo back in their lineup. He hadn’t played since Nov. 29. . . . D Dawson Davidson (ill) was among Saskatoon’s scratches, ending his chance of playing 73 games this season. The Blades acquired him from Regina earlier this month. . . . Announced attendance: 3,309.
At Lethbridge, F Brayden Burke scored in OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Moose Jaw (39-7-3) has won four straight and leads the overall standings by 11 points over Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (22-21-6) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Warriors took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Tristin Langan (13), at 11:35, and F Justin Almeida (29), on a PP, at 13:24. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon (5) got the home boys to within a goal at 19:45. . . . F Jadon Joseph (6) forced OT with a goal at 19:34 of the third period. . . . Burke, who was acquired from the Hurricanes last season, won it with his 23rd goal of the season at 2:38 of extra time. He leads the WHL scoring race with 95 points, three more than teammate Jayden Halbgewachs. . . . D Kale Clague drew three assists for Moose Jaw, with Burke and Almeida getting one apiece. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-1. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . G Logan Flodell stopped 30 shots for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes are without F Taylor Ross and F Dylan Cozens, while D Jett Woo remains out of Moose Jaw’s lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 4,158.
At Medicine Hat, D Cal Foote’s OT goal gave the Kelowna Rockets a 4-3 victory over the Tigers. . . . Kelowna (31-14-3) has won three straight and leads the Western Conference by one point over Everett. . . . Medicine Hat (25-19-6) went to OT for the fifth time seven games. It leads the Central Division by six points over Lethbridge. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s last three goals, Foote winning it with his 10th goal on a breakaway at 3:01 of extra time. . . . F Mark Rassell gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with goals at 0:42 and 5:43 of the first period. He has 41 goals, the third player this season to surpass 40. . . . F Leif Mattson (16) got Kelowna on the scoreboard at 19:45. . . . F Jaeger White (8) restored Medicine Hat’s two-goal lead at 17:39 of the second period. . . . F Kole Lind (25) got the visitors to within a goal at 5:20 of the third period, and F Conner Bruggen-Cate (14) tied it at 8:14. . . . D Gordie Ballhorn had two assists for Kelowna. . . . The Rockets were 1-2 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-1. . . . G Brodan Salmond stopped 29 shots for Kelowna, four fewer than Medicine Hat’s Michael Bullion. . . . F Dillon Dube was among Kelowna’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,041.
At Cranbrook, B.C., F Alec Baer and D Martin Bodak each scored twice to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 6-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings Kings. . . . Kootenay (22-23-3) has won two in a row. It is third in the Central Division, three points behind Lethbridge. . . . Brandon (28-16-5) has lost seven straight (0-4-3). It remains third in the East Division, six points ahead of Regina. . . . The same two teams will play in Cranbrook again tonight. . . . Last night, the Ice led 5-0 at 10:53 of the second period. . . . Bodak, who has five goals, got it started at 10:14 of the first period. Baer, on a PP, made it 2-0 at 13:00. . . . F Peyton Krebs (11) upped it to 3-0 at 1:22 of the second period. . . . F Sebastian Streu (7) made it 4-0, on a PP, at 4:28 and Baer’s 20th made it 5-0, on another PP, at 10:53. . . . Bodak added a third-period goal. . . . F Luka Burzan (7) and F Evan Weinger (23) scored for Brandon. . . . The Ice got three assists from F Brett Davis and two from F Colton Kroeker, with Baer adding one. . . . Kootenay was 3-3 on the PP; Brandon was 1-5. . . . G Matt Berlin stopped 21 shots for the home side. . . . Brandon’s Dylan Myskiw turned aside 27 shots. . . . The Wheat Kings will wrap up a seven-game road trip tonight. . . . Announced attendance: 2,230.
At Kamloops, head coach Don Hay tied the WHL’s career record for regular-season victories with No. 742 as the Blazers skated to a 5-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Hay now shares the record with long-time Edmonton/Portland coach Ken Hodge. Hay’s first opportunity to break the record comes tonight in a rematch with Portland. . . . Kamloops (22-23-3) has won four in a row but is still six points away from a playoff spot. . . . . Portland (28-16-4) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, four points behind Everett. . . . F Connor Zary (5) gave the home team a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:17 of the first period. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie (36) tied it, on a PP, at 9:18. . . . The Blazers went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Justin Sigrist (2), at 10:44, and F Jermaine Loewen, at 12:24. . . . Sigrist hadn’t scored opening night when he notched the Blazers’ first goal of the season in a 6-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . F Jake Gricius (10) added a Portland goal, on a PP, at 4:12 of the third period. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (16) provided some insurance at 14:20, and Loewen (23) got the empty-netter, at 18:23. . . . Portland was 2-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-2. . . . Blazers G Dylan Ferguson was the game’s first star, with 30 saves. . . . Portland G Cole Kehler, 20, stopped 20 shots. The Winterhawks acquired him from Kamloops on July 21, 2016, for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . It was a homecoming for F Ty Kolle and D John Ludvig of the Winterhawks. Both played their first WHL games in their hometown. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without top forwards Cody Glass and Kieffer Bellows, who have combined for 47 goals. . . . With the injuries, the Winterhawks have added F Seth Jarvis, a first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, to their roster. Jarvis, who turns 16 on Feb. 1, plays at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. . . . Kamloops F/D Tylor Ludwar didn’t return after his head and the right elbow of Portland D Matthew Quigley came into contact at 18:11 of the second period. It would be safe to assume that Ludwar is in concussion protocol. . . . Announced attendance: 3,721.
At Langley, B.C., F Tanner Kaspick’s second goal of the game, in OT, gave the Victoria Royals a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Victoria (28-17-4) is second in the B.C. Division, five points behind Kelowna. . . . The Giants (25-16-8) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). They are third in the B.C. Division, two points behind Victoria. . . . F Dawson Holt (8) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 2:54 of the first period. . . . Victoria tied it on F Andrei Grishakov’s 15th goal, at 7:34. . . . F Tyler Benson put the Giants back out front at 9:22. . . . The Royals took a 3-2 lead on second-period PP goals from Kaspick, at 7:25, and F Matthew Phillips (33), at 10:28. . . . Benson’s 19th goal at 19:06 of the third period forced OT. . . . Kaspick won it with his 16th goal at 2:28 of extra time. . . . Phillips added an assist to his goal for the Royals, while Holt did the same with the Giants. . . . Victoria was 2-5 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-4. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 22 shots for the winners. . . . The Giants got 28 stops from G David Tendeck. . . . Announced attendance: 3,357.
At Everett, F Matt Fonteyne broke a 1-1 tie 34 seconds into the second period and the Silvertips went on to a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (31-16-2) has won eight in a row and leads the U.S. Division by four points over Portland. . . . Seattle (25-17-6) had a five-game winning streak end. It is third in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of Spokane. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (14) put the home team out front at 9:25 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it at 11:50 on a PP goal from D Austin Strand (16). He has 11 PP goals this season. . . . Fonteyne put the home side ahead 2-1 with his 29th goal, on a PP. . . . F Connor Dewar added insurance at 9:40 of the third period. . . . Fonteyne also had an assist. . . . Seattle was 1-4 on the PP; Everett was 1-5. . . . G Carter Hart earned the victory with 20 saves, 10 more than Seattle’s Liam Hughes, who had missed the previous five games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Hart now is 18-3-1, 1.33, .958. . . . Seattle lost F Sami Moilanen in the second period with an undisclosed injury. . . . Everett F Sean Richards sat this one out as he began serving a two-game suspension. . . . He also will miss tonight’s rematch in Kent, Wash. . . . Announced attendance: 8,164.
SATURDAY (all times local):
Edmonton at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Regina at Swift Current, 2:30 p.m.
Prince George at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Kelowna at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Moose Jaw at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Calgary at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
TWEET OF THE DAY