Rebels stuck in Hood River, game postponed 24 hours . . . Hurricanes announce Plan B details . . . Gerlach burns former club


MacBeth

D Dalton Yorke (Kelowna, Prince Albert, Tri-City, 2012-17) has signed a one-year contract extension with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2). In 46 games, he has one goal and 11 assists. Yorke is a dual German-Canadian citizen. . . . Frankfurt GM Franz-David Fritzmeier: “Dalton has developed very well this season. He has made a big leap forward and has become an important cornerstone of our defence. We are pleased that we were able to extend the contract with him at an early stage.” . . .

F Pavel Brendl (Calgary, 1998-2001) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kopla Joensuu (Finland, Division 2). Last season, he had five goals and three assists in 12 games with Arlanda (Sweden, Division 1).


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The Red Deer Rebels spent much of Wednesday in Hood River, Ore., tweeting with the hashtag #stuckinhoodriver.

It sounds so much like a rock tune. In fact, the only thing missing was CCR.

With apologies to John Fogerty . . .

“I rode in on the Greyhound

“I’ll be walkin’ out if I go

“I was just passin’ through

“Must be seven months or more

“Ran out of time and money

“Looks like they took my friends

“Oh, Lord, I’m stuck in Hood River again.”

The Rebels opened a five-game road swing through the U.S. Division with a 4-3 OT loss to Red Deerthe Chiefs in Spokane on Tuesday night. They tried on Wednesday to get to Everett for a date that night with the Silvertips but they got stopped by what the Pacific Northwest locals have labelled snomageddon.

Red Deer wasn’t able to take the usual way, which would have had them on I-90 via the Snoqualmie Pass. But that route was closed due to the poor driving conditions.

Instead, the Rebels tried to go south via Yakima and Kennewick, then west to Portland, and north to Everett. They got as far as Hood River on I-84 before running into more road closures.

So . . . there they were, stuck in Hood River, an hour east of Portland, which is 200 miles south of Everett. Keep in mind, too, that the traffic conditions in the Seattle area aren’t especially conducive to quick travel at the best of times.

All of this resulted in the WHL postponing Wednedsay’s game for 24 hours. The Rebels and Silvertips now are scheduled to play in Everett tonight.

All because Red Deer got #stuckinhoodriver.

“The man from the magazine

“Said I was on my way

“Somewhere I lost connections

“Ran out of songs to play

“I came into town, a one-night stand

“Looks like my plans fell through

“Oh, Lord, stuck in Hood River again.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation reopened the westbound lanes of I-84 last night at 7:30. That, of course, was far too late for the Rebels to make it to Everett by game time. However, the Rebels were able to get to Everett last night.

The rescheduling means that the Silvertips will play five games in six nights, four of them on the road. After playing Red Deer, they will have to get to Kelowna for a Friday night date with the Rockets, then head back home to visit the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday. On Sunday, Everett will head to Prince George for a Monday-Tuesday doubleheader with the Cougars. Oh, and the Monday game is to start at 2 p.m.

The Rebels will visit the Thunderbirds on Friday, the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday and the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday, before heading back to Alberta for a Feb. 22 date with the host Edmonton Oil Kings.


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have made it official. With the World Men’s Curling LethbridgeChampionship in the 5,479-seat ENMAX Centre, March 30 through April 7, they will be playing some playoff games, as needed, in Nicholas Sheran Arena.

According to a news release, there will be 1,176 spots available for as many as three first-round playoff games. They will be distributed through a lottery process to fans who purchase playoff ticket packages.

From that news release: “Those who are not selected in the playoff package draw, as well as other interested community members, are invited to attend a free family-friendly community event to watch the games on the big screen, eat and drink, and enjoy some great family programming and giveaways.”

The WHL playoffs are scheduled to open on March 22. Nicholas Sheran Arena is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s hockey teams.

The complete news release is right here. It contains all the information you need to know and more.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the third period en route to a 5-2 BrandonWKregularvictory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Brandon (24-22-7) is six points from a wild-card spot. . . . Edmonton (30-17-8) leads the Central Division by one point over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . D Conner McDonald gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 17:37 of the first period. McDonald’s goal was his 17th of the season, tying the franchise’s single-season record for defencemen that was set by Cody Corbett in 2013-14. . . . F Ben McCartney (16) got Brandon even at 1:55 of the second period. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (24) provided the Oil Kings with a 2-1 edge at 17:25. . . . Brandon followed that with four third-period goals, from F Linden McCorrister (13), shorthanded, at 0:26; F Luka Burzan (31), at 6:30; F Stelio Mattheos (34), at 13:01; and F Connor Gutenberg (13), into an empty net, at 19:43. . . . Mattheos also had two assists. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera stopped 36 shots, 19 more than Edmonton’s Dylan Myskiw.


F Parker Kelly scored twice to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 3-1 victory over the PrinceAlbertBroncos in Swift Current. . . . Prince Albert (46-7-2) has won five in a row. It leads the Eastern Conference by 16 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Swift Current (10-39-4) has lost six straight (0-5-1). . . . F Dante Hannoun (26), who also had two assists, gave the Raiders the lead, on a PP, at 2:24 of the second period and Kelly doubled it at 5:33. . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (14) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 2:49 of the third period. . . . Kelly iced it with his 27th goal at 15:23 of the third period. . . . The Raiders had  43-16 edge in shots — 13-5, 17-7 and 13-4 by period. . . . G Isaac Poulter made 40 saves for the Broncos. . . . G Boston Bilous stopped 15 shots for the Raiders. . . . The Raiders were without G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason and F Sean Montgomery. Scott and Leason both are injured; Montgomery, who had played in 155 consecutive games, is ill. . . . The Raiders had F Justin Nachbaur back from a three-game suspension. . . . Prince Albert had F Cole Nagy, 17, make his WHL debut with them. He plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Nagy was a sixth-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2016 bantam draft. He signed with the Raiders on Jan. 2. 


The two Jakes — Elmer and Leschyshyn — scored two goals each and added an assist to Lethbridgelead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge (28-16-10) had lost its previous three games (0-1-2). It is third in the Central Division, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two in arrears of the first-place Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Calgary (28-21-5) and Red Deer are tied for fourth in the Central Division; they also are tied for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . Lethbridge is 5-1-0 in the season series with Calgary. . . . The Hurricanes completed a six-game homestand with a 3-1-2 record. . . . The Hurricanes took control early as they scored five times on 16 first-period shots. . . . Elmer opened the scoring at 2:50 of the first period, and Leschyshyn made it 2-0 at 7:05. . . . F Riley Stotts (18) pulled Calgary to within one at 9:35. . . . Elmer upped the lead to 3-1 with his 24th goal, shorthanded, at 15:36; F Jordy Bellerive (25) made it 4-1, at 16:37; and F Taylor Ross (26) got the fifth goal, at 17:11. . . . F Ryder Korczak (6) had Calgary’s other goal, at 9:03 of the second period. . . . Leschyshyn wrapped up the scoring with his 33rd goal, at 6:36 of the third period. . . . G Carl Tetachuk earned the victory with 36 saves. . . . The Hurricanes were without F Scott Mahovlich, who has left the team “to be with family after a family emergency,” according to a news release. General manager Peter Anholt said in the news release that Mahovlich, 19, “has returned home to be with family for whatever length of time that he requires.” Mahovlich is from Abbotsford, B.C.


F Max Gerlach, who began his career with Medicine Hat, scored two goals to help the SaskatoonSaskatoon Blades to a 6-3 victory over the host Tigers. . . . Saskatoon (35-13-8) has points in 11 straight games (9-0-2). It is second in the East Division, 10 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Medicine Hat (31-19-5) had points in each of its previous five games (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The home side had a 1-0 lead at 2:44 of the first period on a PP goal by F James Hamblin (31). . . . Gerlach tied it, on a PP, at 15:28, and F Ryan Hughes (21) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead, on another PP, at 9:10 of the second period. . . . Gerlach upped the lead to 3-1 with his 35th goal, at 12:47. . . . Gerlach, 20, played the first 180 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Tigers. According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Gerlach, after his first goal, “shrugged off the lack of support from his former fans and joked, ‘I built this place’ as he returned to Saskatoon’s bench.” His first WHL goal was the first goal scored in the Canalta Centre. It came on Sept. 26, 2015, with the Tigers beating the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-3. . . . Last night, Gerlach’s second goal tied his career high. He scored 16 goals in 35 games with the Tigers last season, and added 19 in 30 with the Blades after being dealt to Saskatoon. . . . He also is on a career-high 12-game point streak, with 21 points in that stretch. . . . And one other Gerlach note. According to Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, Gerlach’s goal was the 15,000th in franchise history. . . . Lazaruk also pointed out that this was the first time since Jan. 8 that the Blades didn’t score the game’s first goal. They had gone up 1-0 in 12 straight games. . . . F Nick McCarry (2) got the Tigers to within a goal at 15:41, but F Eric Florchuk (18) got that one back at 19:38. . . . The Blades got insurance from F Tristen Robins (8), at 1:52 of the third period, and F Chase Wouters (13), shorthanded, at 3:52. . . . F Ryan Jevne (14) scored Medicine Hat’s last goal, on a PP, at 16:22. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson had three assists. Davidson is riding a 14-game point streak, with 24 points in that time. . . . Davidson has 64 points, 54 of them assists, in 56 games. His 54 assists are second in the WHL to F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Blades scratched F Kirby Dach for a third straight game after he was struck in the throat by a puck. . . . Saskatoon also is without D Aidan De La Gorgendiere, who last played on Feb. 2 when he took a hit from D Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who now is three games into a four-game suspension. . . . The Tigers were without D Linus Nassen and D Joel Craven, while F Hayden Ostir remains out.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the game’s first four goals as they skated to a 6-1 victory Kamloops1over the visiting Victoria Royals. . . . Kamloops (21-27-5) had lost its past three games (0-2-1). It is one point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card berth. Kamloops also is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Victoria (27-23-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Royals are 5-2-1 in the season series; the Blazers are 3-5-0. . . . Kamloops had scored three goals on 71 shots in going 0-2-1 in its previous three games. In this one, the Blazers erupted for four goals on 13 shots in the first period. . . . F Connor Zary accounted for the game’s first two scores, at 3:58 and 11:42, with the first one shorthanded. . . . F Zane Franklin (25) made it 3-0 at 18:48, and F Brodi Stuart (15) upped it to 4-0 with 3.3 seconds left. . . . F Phillip Schultz (13) got a PP goal for Victoria at 3:20 of the second period. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (21), who also had two assists, counted the Blazers’ second shorthanded goal of the game, at 4:34 of the third period. . . . Zary, who has 16 goals, completed his first WHL hat trick at 13:45 of the third period. . . . Zary, a second-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, has a late birth date so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2020. He now has 48 points in 48 games. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 36 shots for the Blazers. . . . With F Martin Lang and F Ryley Appelt both out, the Blazers dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . D Montana Onyebuchi was back in the Blazers’ lineup after serving a two-game suspension and he had two assists. . . . Darryl Sydor, one of the Blazers’ five owners, made his WHL coaching debut behind the team’s bench. He was named a full-time assistant on Tuesday.


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Habscheid eighth WHL coach to 500 wins . . . Celebrates with chocolate sundae . . . Sutter should be next to milestone

MacBeth

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a contract for the rest of this season with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had eight goals and 31 assists in 44 games with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2).


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Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth coach in WHL history with 500 regular-season victories as his club beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in Lethbridge PrinceAlberton Saturday night.

Habscheid, a 55-year-old native of Swift Current, went into this season with 456 victories. The Raiders, who have the WHL’s best record, now are 45-7-2. Habscheid missed a Jan. 22 game — the Raiders beat the Royals, 4-1, in Victoria — while at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.

How did Habscheid celebrate last night? The Hurricanes stopped at a Dairy Queen. “I had a large chocolate sundae,” Habscheid told Taking Note. “The boys got whatever they wanted. Best $180 I ever spent.”

As for the picture in the above tweet, Habscheid said: “The picture with my boys will be with me forever.” If you look at the photo, that’s Habscheid wearing the top hat that is awarded to the team’s player of the game.

Habscheid coached in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins and Victoria Royals before signing on with the Raiders as a midseason replacement for Cory Clouston in 2014-15.

On Saturday, Habscheid coached in his 995th regular-season game. He is en route to becoming the eighth head coach in WHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark.

The Raiders next are to play on Wednesday when they visit the Swift Current Broncos.

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, is No. 1 in victories (750), while former Portland head coach Ken Hodge is tops in games coached (1,364).

This season, on his way to No. 500, Habscheid has passed Dean Clark, Kelly McCrimmon, Jack Shupe and Peter Anholt, all former coaches, as well as Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels.

Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Rebels, will be the next to 500. With the Rebels at 28-19-4, Sutter now has 495 regular-season victories.

——

THE WHL’S 500 CLUB

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500


With G Jack McNaughton having been injured on Friday night, the Calgary Hitmen have Calgaryagain added G Brayden Peters to their roster. . . . McNaughton was hurt when he ventured out to the hashmarks after a loose puck and was involved in a first-period collision with F Brett Leason of the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. Both players left the game, which the Raiders won, 8-2, and didn’t return. . . . Peters plays for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes and had been up with the Hitmen previously to backup McNaughton with Carl Stankowski injured. . . . Stankowski is back now and will carry the load with McNaughton out, starting today against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.

——

Meanwhile, F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders, who was involved in that collision with Calgary Hitmen G Jack McNaughton, sat out Saturday night’s game in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told play-by-play man Trevor Redden that Leason is “nicked up . . . but it’s nothing earth-shattering and we’ll provide him with a bit of rest.”

The Raiders also scratched G Ian Scott, giving him a night off, and had Brett Balas up from the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks to back up Boston Bilous. . . . Balas, who turned 18 on Jan. 31, was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He got into two games with the Raiders earlier in the season, going 2-0-0, 2.56, .871.

This may have been the first time in WHL history that a team had a B.B. in goal and a B.B. on the bench.


F Conner Bruggen-Cate was welcomed with open mouths, as opposed to open arms, on Saturday night when his Kelowna Rockets met the Blazers in Kamloops.

These two teams played in Kelowna on Feb. 2 and, yes, something happened. Whatever it was it resulted in two-game suspensions to Bruggen-Cate and Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi.

Bruggen-Cate was suspended for what the WHL said were his “actions.” Those “actions” appeared to set off Oyebuchi, who tried to get at Bruggen-Cate, who chose not to engage. Onyebuchi was suspended for a one-man fight.

Had the WHL suspended each player for three games, neither would have been eligible to play on Saturday night.

As it was, Onyebuchi completed his sentence, while Bruggen-Cate was in the Rockets’ lineup.

The announced crowd of 3,365 didn’t seem too aware of Bruggen-Cate’s presence until early in the second period when he was booed while on an early power play. The boos turned to cheers less than two minutes later when he was penalized for interference.

From that point on, he was booed most times he touched the puck, but he turned the boos to cheers, again with another interference penalty late in the period.

The 19-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., got the last laugh, however, as the Rockets won the game, 4-1.

As for what happened on the ice on Feb. 2, well, no one’s talking. It’s almost as though the WHL implemented a gag rule.

On Friday night, Jo Hendricks, a frequent anthem singer at Blazers games, performed while wearing an Onyebuchi sweater. Without the rugged defenceman, the Blazers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Vancouver Giants.


The visiting WHL teams at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds, will notice a new look in their dressing room next season. The KeyArena in Seattle will be undergoing huge renovations in anticipation of the arrival of an NHL expansion team, so the Seattle University Redhawks men’s basketball team is expected to play a handful of games in Kent. University officials have asked that the visitors’ dressing room be painted in the team colours, and the arena operators have agreed. . . . Meanwhile, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, which also plays in KeyArena, will play five home games in Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena, the home of the Silvertips. But the Storm season doesn’t begin until May, so the Silvertips shouldn’t be affected. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter has those tidbits and more in a story detailing the ShoWare Center’s 2018 finances, and it’s all right here.


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Some info on Kootenay’s lease . . . Dach, Haden, Gerlach burn Wheat Kings . . . Americans bury ‘Hawks in third

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If you’re wondering what’s in the lease between the City of Cranbrook and the WHL’s Kootenay Ice involving Western Financial Place, here’s a taste . . .

Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman obtained a copy of the lease, which Kootenaynewruns through 2023, through an FOI request.

“The Kootenay Ice must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance,” Crawley writes. “For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.”

Crawley also writes:

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

On Monday, Crawley, who is listed on the Ice’s website as the team’s photographer, reported that “two groups have approached” the junior A BCHL “to look at getting a franchise in Cranbrook for the fall . . .”

That piece is right here.


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The 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship is scheduled to be held at the CN Centre PrinceGeorgein Prince George, from March 14-22. The facility is home to the Prince George Cougars, meaning that they will be on the road late in the 2019-20 regular season and perhaps into the first round of the playoffs, should they qualify. . . . This season, the WHL’s regular season concludes on March 17, with the playoffs to begin on March 22. . . .

The 2019 World Men’s event is to be held in Lethbridge’s ENMAX Centre, from March 30 through April 7, meaning the Hurricanes may be out of their facility for a playoff game or two. Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, already has stated that, if necessary, playoff games will be moved to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, which has about 1,000 seats and is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s teams. . . .

In Prince George, the junior A Spruce Kings, who skate in the B.C. Hockey League, play their home games in the 1,800-seat Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, a facility that might be considered as a Plan B for the Cougars, depending on how things turn out. . . .

Interestingly, Cougars general manager Mark Lamb was the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos in the spring of 2010 and again in 2016 when the World Women’s event was held in the Saskatchewan city.

In 2010, the Broncos played two first-round ‘home’ playoff games — Games 3 and 4 — in Regina’s Brandt Centre. They ended up being swept by the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Broncos didn’t make the playoffs in 2015-16, so their schedule wasn’t impacted.


The WHL has suspended D Montana Onyebuchi of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conner Bruggen-Cate of the Kelowna Rockets for two games each for their involvement in an whlincident during a Saturday night game.

Onyebuchi was suspended for being involved in what the WHL says was a “one-man fight” at 2:09 of the third period in a game won, 2-1 in OT, by the host Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate was suspended for what the WHL says were his “actions” that apparently precipitated Onyebuchi’s attempt to involve him in a fight.

At the time, Onyebuchi was given a fighting major and game misconduct, while Bruggen-Cate wasn’t penalized.

“There’s not really much to comment on,” Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “Happy that it was in the hands of the WHL office . . . the kind of research that they needed to do and came down with a ruling. We’re just happy that it was addressed.

“It was a situation where it really got to Montana. My approach was that we wanted to make sure that Montana was supported, wanted to make sure that he felt he was supported by his teammates, by the organization, by the league.

“That’s why it was important for the league to do the due diligence . . . for us to be there to support Montana regardless of what transpired.” 

Onyebuchi will sit out two home games — Friday night versus the Vancouver Giants and Saturday against the Rockets.

Bruggen-Cate also will miss two home games — tonight against the Spokane Chiefs and Friday against the Prince George Cougars — but will be eligible to play Saturday in Kamloops.


The Trinity Western U Spartans really, really want to be accepted into Canada West, the U Sports-governed conference that covers the four Western Canadian provinces.

“We treated it like an Olympic bid,” Spartans head coach Barret Kropf told Taking Note TWUin reference to the presentation that TWU made to Canada West in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday.

Kropf said that TWU had its president, vice-president, the Township of Langley’s general manager and a councillor, the athletic director, one of the players and himself all involved in the presentation.

“It went well,” said Kropf, whose club plays in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and plays out of the Langley Events Centre, the same facility that is home to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

TWU and the Edmonton-based Grant MacEwan Griffins, who are to make their presentation this morning, are both hoping to be admitted to Canada West for the 2020-21 season.

TWU and Grant MacEwan already are members of U Sports, but their hockey teams have continued to play in the BCIHL and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, respectively. They now are hoping to make a switch.

The difference between recruiting for a Canada West team as opposed to a BCIHL club would be “like night and day,” Kropf said, adding that he already is hearing from WHL players who have expressed interest in 2020-21.

This season, the Spartans’ roster includes the likes of F Jarrett Fontaine, F Spencer Gerth, D Travis Verveda, F Brayden Brown and F Brandon Potomak, all of whom have WHL experience.

Asked how close the Spartans are right now to being competitive with Canada West teams, Kropf replied: “I think we’re right there . . . we’re in the mix.”

Canada West is expected to vote on whether to add TWU and Grant MacEwan when it holds its annual general meeting in Whistler, B.C., from May 5-8. Interestingly, it is TWU’s turn to play host to the AGM.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Kirby Dach scored three times and the Saskatoon Blades counted the game’s last four Saskatoongoals as they beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-3. . . . Saskatoon (31-13-8) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). The Blades are second in the East Division, six points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who now hold four games in hand. The teams are to meet tonight in Saskatoon. . . . Brandon (22-21-7) has lost two in a row and is six points away from a wild-card playoff berth. . . . With Brandon’s loss, the Eastern Conference-leading Prince Albert Raiders (43-7-2) became the first WHL team to clinch a playoff spot this season. . . . F Max Gerlach gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:19 of the first period as he hit the 30-goal mark for a fourth straight season. He has 130 goals in 262 regular-season games. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (32), who also had two assists, pulled Brandon even, on a PP, at 3:24 of the second period. . . . Dach shot the Blades in front, 3-1, with goals at 7:45 and 8:04. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it on second-period PP goals from F Luka Burzan (30), at 11:05, and F Cole Reinhardt (16), just 51 seconds later. . . . Saskatoon went ahead 4-3 as F Eric Florchuk scored at 15:22. . . . Dach completed his second career hat trick, both this season, on a PP, at 5:02 of the third period. . . . Gerlach, who also had an assist, added his 31st goal, at 13:27, and Florchuk got his 17th, on a PP, at 15:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-3 on the PP; Brandon was 3-6. . . . The Blades got four assists from F Gary Haden, who has 13 points, including nine goals, in a five-game point streak. . . . F Ryan Hughes added three assists for the Blades, with D Dawson Davidson picking up one to run his point streak to 10 games. He has 14 points, 13 of them assists, over that stretch. . . . Brandon D Braydyn Chizen sat this one out as he completed a four-game WHL suspension. . . . D Aiden De la Gorgendiere was among the Blades’ scratches after being injured on a hit by F Jake Neighbours of the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night. Neighbours drew a four-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct on the play.


G Max Paddock stopped 38 shots and two more in a shootout as the Regina Pats got past Patsthe Hurricanes, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Regina (14-35-3) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Lethbridge (27-15-9) had won its past two games. It is second in the Central Division, three points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Hurricanes held an 11-5 edge in shots in the third period, and it was 5-1 in OT. . . . F Blake Allan, who was acquired from the Kootenay Ice, scored his first goal in 14 games with the Pats to give them a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes tied it when F Taylor Ross (24) scored at 13:57. . . . Regina got shootout goals from F Ty Kolle and F Sergei Alkhimov, with F Jordy Bellerive scoring for the home team. . . . C Carl Tetachuk stopped 29 shots for Lethbridge. . . . This was the first time that F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry of the Hurricanes had faced their former team. They were acquired from the Pats on Nov. 29 in a deal that had Kolle and F Jadon Joseph, along with as many as seven bantam draft picks, go the other way. . . . Regina had F Cale Sanders, 16, make his WHL debut. From Claresholm, Alta., he has 16 goals and 17 assists in 28 games with the Edge School prep team in Calgary. . . . F Cole Dubinsky of the Pats sat out Game 2 of a four-game suspension.


G Trent Miner stopped 20 shots and picked up an assist to lead the Vancouver Giants to a Vancouver4-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Vancouver (34-13-3) has won two in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 18 points over the Victoria Royals and now is five points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips. . . . Prince George (16-30-5) has lost 10 straight (0-8-2) and is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . The same teams meet again tonight in Prince George. . . . Miner, a freshman from Brandon, turned 18 on Tuesday. He now is 18-4-1, 1.85, .931. . . . Miner picked up an assist as F Davis Koch (21) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 16:14 of the first period. . . . F Owen Hardy (9) made it 2-0 at 5:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got to within a goal at 13:41 when F Josh Curtis (9) scored. . . . The Giants went ahead 4-1 on goals from F Justin Sourdif (14), at 14:38, and D Bowen Byram (20), at 15:14. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (19) got the Cougars’ second goal, on a PP, at 16:53 of the third period. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, on the bench in support of Taylor Gauthier, with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. Brennan, from Winnipeg, plays for the prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy. He was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Gauthier finished with 27 stops.


The Tri-City Americans struck for five third-period goals as they beat the visiting tri-cityPortland Winterhawks, 5-3. . . . Tri-City (27-19-3) has won two straight. It is comfortably in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, but also is fourth in the U.S. Division, just one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Portland (32-15-5) had won its previous two games. It is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Winterhawks grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Jaydon Dureau (11), at 6:42, and F Josh Paterson (19), at 11:19. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Americans opened the third with four straight goals — from F Parker AuCoin (27), at 0:37; F Samuel Huo (4), on a PP, at 8:06; F Nolan Yaremko (18), at 11:33; and F Connor Bouchard, on a PP, at 16:13. . . . D Jared Freadrich (9) kept Portland’s hopes alive at 17:12, but Bouchard iced it with his fourth goal, into an empty net, at 18:40. . . . Bouchard also had an assist, giving him his first three-point night in 109 career regular-season games, 49 of them this season. . . . Portland remains without F Cody Glass (knee), who is shown as day-to-day on the WHL’s weekly roster report.


G Roddy Ross turned aside 41 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-3 victory over Seattlethe host Victoria Royals. . . . Seattle (20-24-6) had lost its past two games. It is one point behind the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Victoria (25-21-3) had points in each of its previous four games (2-0-2). It is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Thunderbirds and Royals will meet again tonight in Victoria. . . . The Royals outshot the visitors 12-6, 14-7 and 18-8 by period, but couldn’t put enough pucks behind Ross to win. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matthew Wedman, at 16:36, and D Jake Lee (3), on a PP, at 18:35. . . . F Kaid Oliver (20) got the Royals to within a goal, on a PP, at 4:44 of the second period. . . . D Owen Williams (3) got that one back for Seattle at 10:43. . . . The Royals got back to within a goal at 9:39 of the third period as F Kody McDonald (11) scored. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly replied at 11:27 with his first WHL goal in 47 games, 32 of them this season. . . . Again, Victoria got to within a goal, this time when D Scott Walford (8) scored at 13:37. . . . Wedman iced it with his 25th goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:36. . . . G Brock Gould stopped 16 shots for the Royals. . . . D Jarret Tyszka and F Nolan Volcan were among Seattle’s scratches, while the Royals were without veteran D Ralph Jarratt, who is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. Jarratt has battled injuries all season and has played in only 25 games.


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Report: WHL looking at Kamloops-Kelowna incident . . . Discipline handed out from Saturday games . . . Stankowski ready to play again


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CFJC-TV in Kamloops reported late Monday afternoon that the WHL “is looking into an incident in the third period of Saturday night’s game in Kelowna between the Rockets whland Kamloops Blazers.”

The Rockets won the game, 2-1 in OT.

At 2:09 of the third period, D Montana Onyebuchi was given a fighting major and game misconduct after he went after F Conner Bruggen-Cate of the Rockets, who wasn’t penalized.

According to CFJC-TV, the WHL “is trying to find out what set off Onyebuchi that led to the one-sided fight.”

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Onyebuchi, whose father is from Nigeria, is from Dugald, Man. The 18-year-old is in his third WHL season. The Blazers acquired him from the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 8, 2018. The Silvertips had selected him in the third round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Bruggen-Cate, 19, is from Langley, B.C. He is in his third full season with the Rockets after being a sixth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.


The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline had a busy Monday as three players were suspended and one coach was fined, all the result of incidents in games played on Saturday night.

F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings will sit for four games after taking a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:33 of the third period of their 4-3 OT victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . Neighbours was playing his first game after having missed a dozen with an undisclosed injury.

F Justin Nachbaur of the Prince Albert Raiders drew a three-game suspension after he became embroiled in a fracas at the final buzzer of their 4-3 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Nachbaur ended up with a fighting major and game misconduct after becoming involved with F Tristin Langan of the Warriors.

Langan was suspended for one game for his game misconduct. According to the online scoresheet, Langan was given a minor penalty for checking from behind at 18:53 of the third period. Shortly after, he was hit with a minor for leaving the penalty box, a fighting major and a game misconduct.

Neighbours and Nachbaur began serving their suspensions on Monday night as the Raiders played in Edmonton.

Meanwhile, even though there isn’t anything on the online scoresheet to indicate it, it seems that Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, was given a game misconduct at the conclusion of their 7-2 loss to the host Everett Silvertips on Saturday night. He now has been fined $750 for that transgression.


The Calgary Hitmen have activated G Carl Stankowski, so have returned G Brayden CalgaryPeters to the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879, but has been out since Nov. 23 with an ankle injury. He missed all of last season while with the Seattle Thunderbirds, due to injury and health issues. The Hitmen acquired him from Seattle on Aug. 7. . . . In 2016-17, Stankowski, then 16, stepped in as the playoffs began and backstopped the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship. . . . Peters got into one game during his stint with the Hitmen, going the distance in a 6-2 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current on Jan. 30. . . .

The Hitmen also have added D Tyson Galloway, 16, to their roster. From Kamloops, Galloway has 12 assists in 32 games with the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League’s Thompson Blazers. The Hitmen selected him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.

The Hitmen are next scheduled to play on Wednesday when they entertain the Regina Pats.


Representatives of the Grant MacEwan U Griffins and Trinity Western U Spartans men’s hockey teams will present their cases today in the hopes of being admitted to Canada West for the 2020-21 season.

Canada West is an eight-team conference that features eight teams from schools in Canada’s four western-most provinces.

Both schools are members of U Sports, the governing body for university athletics in Canada, but the men’s hockey teams have played in other leagues, the Spartans in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and the Griffins in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

The Griffins, who are based in Edmonton, have won the ACAC’s last two playoff titles. The Spartans are the BCIHL’s defending champions.

Adding the two schools would bring Canada West men’s hockey to 10 teams, the others being the Alberta Golden Bears, Calgary Dinos, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Manitoba Bisons, Mount Royal Cougars, Regina Cougars, Saskatchewan Huskies and UBC Thunderbirds.


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MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brett Leason had a goal and two assists to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . Prince Albert (43-7-2) has won two in a row. The PrinceAlbertRaiders lead the overall standings by 12 points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Edmonton (29-16-8) had won its previous four games. It leads the Central Division by four points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Oil Kings had beaten the Raiders, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . Prince Albert won the season series, 3-1-0; Edmonton was 1-2-1. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (11) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 17:00 of the first period. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (23) tied it, on a PP, 37 seconds into the second period. . . . The Raiders responded with two goals in the second period and two in the third. . . . F Parker Kelly (24) broke the tie, on another PP, at 4:04 of the second, with Leason (33) making it 3-1 at 9:13. . . . F Jakob Brook (5) upped it to 4-1 at 5:33 of the third, and F Cole Fonstad (22) rounded out the scoring at 10:53. . . . Prince Albert was 2-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-3. . . . The Raiders got 25 saves from G Ian Scott, while Todd Scott turned aside 41 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . Prince Albert F Sean Montgomery, who had one assist, played in his 330th regular-season game, all with the Raiders. That ties the franchise record (F Brett Novak, 2000-06) for franchise’s career games played mark, at 330. . . . Montgomery has 133 points, including 64 goals, in those 330 games. . . . F Dante Hannoun, who was acquired by the Raiders from the Victoria Royals at the trade deadline, played in his 300th regular-season game and drew two assists. Hannoun has played 14 games with the Raiders after getting into 286 with the Royals. He has 262 points, including 103 goals, in his career.


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Sunday’s WHL trade: Blazers, Silvertips swap six players, two picks. . . . Everett adds two veterans

WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 26

PLAYERS: 54

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 34

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 5

THE DEADLINE: Wednesday, Jan. 10 (2 p.m. PT, 3 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. CT)


THE DEAL: The Everett Silvertips acquired F Garrett Pilon, 19, and D Ondrej Vala, 19, from the Kamloops Blazers for F Orrin Centazzo, 17,  D Montana Onyebuchi, 17, F Kalen Ukrainetz, 15, F Nathanael Hinds, 15, and first- and fourth-round selections in the 2019 bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Pilon, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, led the Blazers in goals (17), assists (25) and points (42) in 38 games this season. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder has 177 points, Everettincluding 53 goals, in 177 career regular-season games. . . . This season, Vala, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, has seven goals and 13 assists in 31 games. In 163 career games, he has recorded 21 goals and 45 assists. . . . The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Centazzo has six goals and five assists in 40 games this season. In 81 career games, he has 10 goals and 10 assists. . . . Onyebuchi, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, is a right-hand shot who has three goals and seven assists in 38 games this season. . . . The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Ukrainetz is playing for the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. He has 11 goals and 10 assists in 29 games this season. . . . The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Hinds has seven goals and 15 assists in 28 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Bruins this season.

THE INFO: Pilon is the son of former WHL/NHL D  Rich Pilon. Garrett, an alternate Kamloops1captain with Kamloops, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft and has signed with them. He was born in Mineola, N.Y., and played minor hockey in Saskatoon. . . . Vala, who is from Pardubice, Czech Republic, is in his third WHL season. He has just returned from representing his country at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo. He also played for Czech Republic in the 2017 WJC. Vala wasn’t selected in the NHL draft, but has signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars. . . . Centazzo, from Marwayne, Alta., played bantam and midget hockey in Lloydminster, Alta. He was a fifth-round pick by Everett in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Onyebuchi, from Dugald, Man., was selected by Everett in the third round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . From Wynyard, Sask., Ukrainetz was selected by Everett in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. In 2016-17, he had 26 goals and 24 assists in 30 games with the bantam AA Humboldt, Sask., Broncos. . . . Hinds, from Winnipeg, was a third-round pick by Everett in that same draft. The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder has seven goals and 15 assists in 28 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Bruins this season. Last season, Hinds put up 24 goals and 31 assists with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Warriors.

WHY: Everett, with the best goaltender in junior hockey in Carter Hart on its roster, is in the race for top spot in the Western Conference and hopes this gives it a leg up on the likes of the Kelowna Rockets, Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans, the latter of whom added all-star D Jake Bean from the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night. . . . Pilon is an under-appreciated player who plays both ends of the ice. Everett also had an opening for an import, so Vala joins Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, who is in his first season. . . . The Blazers have said that they will bid to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. This is the first step towards gathering assets that will allow them to build a competitive team for 1919-20.