Four players with the Moose Jaw Warriors remained suspended by the WHL on Thursday despite the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) indicating that its investigation led it to determine that whatever happened involving the four didn’t involve criminality.
CTV News reported that EPS media relations advisor Scott Pattison, in an email, said: “Police have looked into the matter and believe the incident to be non-criminal in nature. As such, we have no further comment.”
The WHL announced on Feb. 11 that the four players in question — G Connor Ungar, 21, D Max Wanner, 19, F Marek Howell, 16, and F Lynden Lakovic, 16 — had been suspended. According to the one-paragraph news release issued by the WHL, the four were “suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into possible violations of team rules and the WHL Standard of Conduct policies.”
The four players appear on the WHL’s discipline page as having been suspended with the lengths of those suspensions “tbd for standard of conduct violation.”
Ungar, from Calgary, was having a terrific season at the time of the suspensions. He was the WHL’s goaltender of the month for January; he remains third in victories (26) and second in save percentage (.925).
Wanner, from Estevan, Sask., has signed with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2021 draft. He had 30 points, including eight goals, in 44 games.
Howell, a freshman from Calgary, had a goal and three assists in 44 games, while Lakovic, from West Kelowna, had two goals and five assists in 37 games in his first season.
The four played in a 4-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Feb. 3 and in a 2-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary on Feb. 5. They haven’t played since, though, meaning they now have missed 10 games.
The Warriors are 4-6-0 without them and, with seven games remaining in their regular season, are fourth in the Eastern Conference, 16 points behind the Saskatoon Blades and five ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com pointed out Thursday that suspensions of at least 10 WHL games have only been handed out “twice in the last decade.”
“Everett’s Dawson Butt received a 10-game suspension on Jan. 12, 2020 for actions in the final minute against Regina that led to serious facial injuries for a player,” Palmer wrote, “while Victoria’s Brandon Magee was handed a 12-game suspension on April 11, 2014 after receiving a match penalty against Portland for cross-checking multiple players in the head.”
The WHL, meanwhile, has yet to remove itself from its cone of silence.
From CBC News: “A spokesperson for the WHL did not respond to requests for updates about the players’ statuses, including the result of the investigation and whether they remain on suspension.”
From Moose Jaw radio station CHAB, which carries play-by-play of Warriors games: “A spokesperson for the WHL has not responded to several requests for updates on the status of the players and the league’s investigation.”
Thus, we can only assume that the suspensions remain in place and that whatever investigation the WHL is carrying out remains a work in progress. In fact, no details of the investigation, including who is conducting it or anything else about what is involved, have been released.
The Warriors are scheduled to visit the Swift Current Broncos tonight with a rematch in Moose Jaw on Saturday.
D Kyle Masters of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Masters, 19, was a fourth-round selection by the Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blazers acquired Masters from the Red Deer Rebels prior to this season. He has 11 goals and 48 assists in 58 games. . . . From Edmonton, he has 86 points, including 16 goals, in 164 career regular-season games with Red Deer and Kamloops. . . . The contract calls for an NHL salary of US$775,000 each season with $80,000 in the minors. There also is an annual $90,000 signing bonus. . . . Masters is the third Kamloops skater to sign an NHL contract in the past few days. F Caedan Bankier signed with the Wild, while F Ryan Hofer signed with the Washington Capitals. . . .
You can only imagine the chatter on the Blazers’ bus and in the dressing room these days. . . . “Oh, yeah,” Bankier told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “They’re all over us, me and Ryan, about buying them some dinner. We’ll have to think about that. Maybe we’ll get them a couple of Big Macs or something. Not too much.” . . . A laughing Hofer told Hastings: ““I might go to Tim Hortons, maybe get them some Timbits. I don’t know. We’ll see, but if we keep it going, they might get a good dinner.”
The Blazers, 3-2 shootout winners in Seattle on Tuesday and 7-1 winners in Everett on Wednesday, are at home to Everett tonight. The Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, have won 15 of 16 games since Feb. 1, clinching the B.C. Division title in the process.
Terry Bartman, a longtime scout with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, died on Monday in Medicine Hat. He was 65. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)
THURSDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
No Games Scheduled.
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