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

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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.


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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.


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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.


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Report: Ice announcement coming Monday . . . Rockets, Hurricanes make deal . . . Søgaard, Alexeyev get WJC opportunities


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The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the worst fears of Kootenay-based WHL fans will be made official on Monday.

In a story carrying the bylines of Jeff Hamilton and Mike Sawatzky, the newspaper is Kootenaynewreporting that “the owners of the Kootenay Ice are preparing to announce Monday they are moving their Western Hockey League franchise to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season, league sources have told the Free Press.”

The WHL franchise will play out of the Wayne Fleming Arena on the U of Manitoba campus for likely two seasons while a new arena is being built in the Manitoba capital’s southwest corner.

The Free Press also reports that Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who is the president and general manager, “have not commented publicly on news reports and WHL commissioner Rob Robison has not made himself available for an interview on the subject.”

The Free Press story is right here.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Thursday’s action:

No. of trades: 1.

Players: 1.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 10.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 18.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

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The Kelowna Rockets have acquired the WHL rights to F Alex Swetlikoff from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a fourth-round selection in the 2022 bantam draft.

Swetlikoff, a 17-year-old from Kelowna, has committed to the U of Denver for the 2020-21 KelownaRocketsseason. He was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2016 bantam draft. Seattle traded his rights to Lethbridge on May 3, getting back D Kirby Proctor, who is from Okotoks, Alta. He is with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, and has committed to attend the U of Nebraska-Omaha for 2020-21.

This season, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Swetlikoff is playing with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, with whom he has eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games. He will play for Canada West at the World Junior Challenge that opens this weekend in Bonnyville, Alta.

The Rockets will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, so you can bet that will be a major selling point as the organization works to recruit Swetlikoff.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Dawson Heathcote from their roster. He is expected to join the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Heathcote, 18, is from Nanaimo. . . . Last season, as a freshman with the Tigers, he had six goals and three assists in 47 games. This season, he had two assists in 27 games. . . . Heathcote was a seventh-round pick by the Tigers in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.


Two more WHLers are on national junior team selection-camp rosters. . . . G Mads Søgaard of the Medicine Hat Tigers will attend Denmark’s selection camp, while D Alex Alexeyev will be in camp with the Russian national junior team. . . . Søgaard is to join the Danish team after the Tigers game against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 15. Should he make the Danish team, he could miss as many as six of the Tigers’ games after the Christmas break. . . . The 2019 World Junior Championship is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


F Spencer Gerth of the Trinity Western Spartans is on the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s Young Stars’ roster that will play against Kazakhstan’s national junior team on Dec. 17. . . . Gerth, 20, played the previous three seasons in the WHL, with the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals. . . . This season, he has two goals and five assists in 11 games. . . .  The Young Stars will be part of a College Hockey Showcase that also is to include U of Victoria, with the three games at the Langley Events Centre. . . . Kazakhstan is scheduled to meet the Victoria on Dec. 11 and Trinity Western on Dec. 13, then will play the Young Stars on Dec. 17. All three games are to start at 7 p.m., and will be streamed at hockeytv.com. . . . Kazakhstan opens the 2019 World Junior Championship against Finland in Victoria on Dec. 27.

As part of the Kazakhstan visit, organizers are holding Hockey Day in Langley on Dec. 10. From a news release: “The Kazakhstan . . . team will be partnering with BC Hockey to host a Hockey Day in Langley event that will allow local minor hockey teams and academies an opportunity to meet the Kazakhstan team and take part in a skills competition. Coaches will also have a chance to meet and learn from some international-level coaches.” . . . For more info, email Barret Kropf at barret.kropf@twu.ca.



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