WHL’s Final Four all set . . . Thunderbirds complete comeback, oust Winterhawks . . . Kamloops next up for Seattle

Dan Russell, the longtime host of the Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, has written a book. Oh, has he! . . . While it’s the story of his life and career to this point, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. There are lots of anecdotes and a ton(ne) of behind-the-scenes stories. . . . You are able to purchase Kindle and soft-cover editions at Amazon and a hard-cover edition is on the way. . . . Full disclosure — I may have provided Russell with a helping editing hand, an ear and, at times, a shoulder. Despite all that, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Russell’s story.


Router


And then there were four . . .

WHLplayoffs2022The WHL’s 2022-23 playoffs are down to the Final Four — the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference, and the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 6-3, in Portland on Tuesday night to win that series, 4-3. Seattle trailed, 3-1, only a few days ago. . . .

So . . . the playoffs now take time off while the WHL holds a couple of its drafts. Game action is to resume on Friday with the opening games in both conference finals — the Oil Kings will be in Winnipeg and the Thunderbirds will spend some time in Kamloops.

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TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored three second-period goals in a span of 2:11 and went on to beat the No. 3 Winterhawks, 6-3, in Game 7 of Seattletheir conference semifinal. . . . Seattle became the 16th team in WHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. . . . The Thunderbirds last appeared in a Western Conference final in 2017 when they went on to win the franchise’s first league championship. . . . They will open the conference final with games against the No. 2 Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Kent, Wash., on May 24 and 25. If necessary, they’ll play in Kamloops on May 27, in Kent on May 29 and in Kamloops, again, on May 31. . . . Last night, F Nico Myatovic (2) got Seattle started with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the first period. . . . The Thunderbirds really took control early in the second period with those quick goals. D Jeremy Hanzel scored his first two playoff goals at 5:48 and 7:20, and F Lucas Ciona (6) made it 4-0 at 7:59. . . . The Winterhawks halved the deficit with a pair of PP goals — F Jaydon Dureau (1) struck at 10:03 and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3) at 19:09. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) pretty much iced it when he upped the lead to 5-1 at 11:51 of the third period. . . . Portland brought G Taylor Gauthier to the bench as it went on the PP with 5:22 left in the third period and it paid off as Fromm-Delorme (4) scored at 15:50. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (5) iced it for good with an empty-netter at 17:22. . . . G Thomas Milic, who was especially solid over the final three games, stopped 33 shots in this one, nine more than Gauthier. . . . Portland was 3-for-6 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . .

The last time a WHL team erased a 3-1 deficit to win a series? It happened twice in the spring of 2017 — and remember that there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. Anyway, in 2017, the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Red Deer Rebels, who had led 3-1, in a first-round series, and, in an Eastern Conference semifinal, the Regina Pats got past the Swift Current Broncos after trailing 3-1. . . . That same Pats squad went on to lose to the Thunderbirds in the championship final. . . .

Kamloops and Seattle met three times earlier this season, with the Blazers winning twice. . . . They faced off twice in November in Seattle, with Kamloops winning, 5-1, on the 20th and, 4-1, on the 24th. . . . They played in Kamloops on Dec. 10, with the Thunderbirds winning, 6-1.



Chris Branch, writing The Athletic Pulse for Tuesday, sums up the biggest story going into the weekend’s PGA Championship:

Terror reigns in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. Fans at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, will have to pay the following prices for beer:

Michelob Ultra: $18

Stella Artois: $19

People are understandably flabbergasted. We are used to paying more on gameday as sports fans, but this feels like too much. . . . Who’s paying $19 for a Stella anywhere?

Sadly — and as a cheap-beer lover, I don’t say this lightly — the beers are simply suffering from a branding problem. Nowhere on the menu does it say how many ounces are in that beer — they’re 25-ounce brews. Still expensive at about $9 for a 12-ounce beer, but not the rip-off you think it is. Just a little more expensive than the average beer price at NFL stadiums.

The $16 chicken caesar salad, though? That’s a bridge too far.


Bill and Denise Burke, the owners of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, announced on OHLTuesday that they have sold the franchise to Darren DeDobbelaer, a businessman from Brantford, Ont. . . . The transaction awaits the stamp of approval from the OHL’s board of governors. . . . DeDobbelaer owns the junior A Brantford 99ers and the junior B Brantford Bandits. . . . The Burkes had owned the franchise for 15 years. . . . The Burkes purchased the Mississauga IceDogs and moved the franchise to St. Catharines where it has operated as the Niagara IceDogs. . . . From Luke Edwards of the St. Catharines Standard: “While the team had made an impact and was visible throughout Niagara, the franchise also experienced some turbulent waters earlier this year. Billy and Joey Burke, the team’s head coach and general manager, respectively, were given two-year suspensions after the league learned about a group chat where the pair made comments that violated the league’s harassment and abuse/diversity policy. The pair are also part-owners of the team. . . .”


Needs


COVIDFrom the New York Daily News: Eric Clapton, who has railed against lockdowns and vaccines, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 77-year-old English singer has canceled two upcoming concerts, Tuesday in Zurich and Wednesday in Milan, after being diagnosed, his team announced Monday.

From The New York Times: Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ryan Ward is the new head coach of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. He had been the director of player development with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Ward replaces Brad Patterson, who had been with the Phantoms since 2009-10, the franchise’s inaugural season, and had been head coach since 2016-17. . . .

If you have interest in being a junior hockey play-by-play voice, you should know that two BCHL teams — the Merritt Centennials and Salmon Arm Silverbacks — are looking for new radio voices. . . .

In the BCHL last night, the visiting Penticton Vees got a goal from F Stefano Bottini (3) at 2:55 of OT to beat the Nanaimo Clippers, 3-2. . . . The announced attendance was 2,332. . . . The Vees lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for tonight in Nanaimo.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Waste

Remembering when Ginnell left the Bombers . . . Blades’ Maier king of WHL goaltenders . . . Bedard sets two Pats’ records

These days I am spending time going through more than 40 years worth of files. As pages and pages of clippings, news releases and more, most of them related to the WHL and various teams, go into the recycling bin there are memories, lots of memories involving personalities.

Like Patty Ginnell, or Paddy Ginnell, who was Pat Ginnell when he took over as head coach of the Flin Flon Bombers on June 1, 1966. Quick now . . . who did he succeed? That would be Tom Baird, who stayed on as the general manager.

The Bombers were in the SJHL at the time, but that changed when they moved FFBombersto what was then the Western Canada Junior Hockey League for its second season (1967-68). It had been the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League for its inaugural season (1966-67).

Anyway, Ginnell was 29 when he took over the Bombers. He had spent the previous three seasons playing for the IHL’s Des Moines Oak Leafs. You know that putting Ginnell behind the bench was a popular choice in Flin Flon because he had played for the Bombers when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

Ginnell coached the Bombers through Dec. 9, 1973, his final game a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats.

Why was that his final game?

He had purchased 40 per cent of the Victoria Cougars and was about to step in as general manager and head coach.

PatGinnell
PAT GINNELL

Ginnell told Mal Isaac of the Regina Leader-Post that he had been trying to purchase a piece of the Bombers but hadn’t met with any success.

“I’ve been manager-coach in Flin Flon for nine years,” he told Isaac, “and I don’t have a thing to show for it. I don’t even own a stick.” (If you did the math, you know that he actually was in his eighth season with the Bombers, but, hey, facts didn’t get in the way of a lot of stories back in the day.)

“It’s always been my desire to own and operate my own club and that was something I was unable to do in Flin Flon,” Ginnell continued. “Now I’ll have my own team.”

Interestingly, Ginnell’s impending move leaked with the Bombers on the road and before he was able to inform the team’s board of directors.

With the Cougars, Ginnell bought out Eric Bishop, who said he was quitting as the team’s general manager. The Cougars, who started that season with Ollie Dorohoy as their head coach, were in their third WCHL season, hadn’t made the playoffs in their first two and were struggling again.

Victoria finished that season at 22-40-6, which left it fifth in the six-team Western Division.

At some point before Ginnell bought a piece of the Cougars, he had been asked how long it would take him to turn the team into a contender. “One year minimum,” he replied.

Well, the Cougars, led by Mel Bridgman, finished the 1974-75 season atop the West Division with a 47-18-5 record but dropped a best-of-seven semifinal series to the New Westminster Bruins, 4-2.

The Bombers’ board of directors, meanwhile, accepted Ginnell’s recommendation that Mel Pearson, a teammate on the 1958 Memorial Cup-winning team, be the next GM/head coach. Pearson had spent the 1972-73 season with the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Pearson didn’t get to Flin Flon in time for the Bombers next game, on Dec. 13 against, yes, the Cougars. So trainer Nick Oklobdzija — he was known as Nick Alphabet — served as the interim head coach and posted one of his dozen or so career coaching victories, this one by a 10-2 score. Ginnell watched from the Whitney Forum stands as Dorohoy continued for the moment as the Cougars’ coach.

(Bruce Penton, writing in the Brandon Sun of March 7, 1974, noted that Oklobdzija “is undefeated in 12 tests as coach of the WCHL Bombers.”

“That goes back about eight or nine years,” Oklobdzija told Penton. “I’ve filled in here and there when (Ginnell) was away or suspended, or something. And we’ve never lost while I’ve coached.” The WHL’s coaching records show Oklobdzija with a 2-0-0 coaching mark.)

Pearson made his Flin Flon coaching debut on Dec. 18 with a 7-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. (One of Brandon’s goals came from John Paddock, now the Pats’ vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach.)

Pearson, who had signed a contract taking him through 1974-75, was gone early in the 1975-76 season, fired on Oct. 29. At the time, the Bombers had two victories in 12 games.

The Bombers then hired Mickey Keating to replace Pearson, thus ending Ginnell’s connection to the Flin Flon franchise.

As an aside, my favourite Keating quote emerged late in the 1976-77 season. At one point, I wrote a few stories detailing the history of the WHL and it included this:

A nine-hour meeting in Calgary resulted in a new playoff format. Under the original format, the Flin Flon Bombers, third in the East, were 20 points ahead of Regina and all but had a playoff spot locked up. Suddenly, there was a new format and the Bombers were fighting for a spot. Oh yes, they were also on a 15-game West Coast road trip.

“In this league, you need two pieces of equipment,” said Flin Flon boss Mickey Keating. “You need a face-guard when you play some of the teams on the ice and a back protector for the committee room. I had inklings that there may be changes in the playoffs but I had confidence there were intelligent hockey men in this league. I was shown different.”

Ahh, yes, those were the days.


Cats


If you have time on your hands, you could track down the Twitter account belonging to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) and check out the ‘apology’ from the Burke brothers — Billy and Joey. And then see if you can find the screen shot of the WhatsApp chat that got them into trouble with David Branch, the OHL commissioner. . . . And after you have done all that, you are free to wonder why the Burke boys weren’t suspended for life.

Meanwhile, there is ample speculation that the IceDogs are soon to be sold to, as Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered reported, “a group headed by Darren DeDobberlaer, an insurance magnate from nearby Brantford, who owns both the Brantford 99ers Jr. A team and the Brantford Bandits Jr. B team.”

Campbell also wrote: “Oh, yes, and the selling price is rumoured to be in the range of $20 million, which should disavow anyone of the notion that major junior hockey operators in Canada are mom and pop operations that require millions of dollars in tax money to meet their scholarship commitments and provincial government laws to help them skirt minimum wage requirements. Teams make money when they are strong and struggle financially when they aren’t. If the operators know what they’re doing, they can make it work. And as we’re seeing with the IceDogs, they can cash out when they sell the team.”

Campbell’s piece is right here and it’s because of reports like this that I subscribe to his site.



“The Greater Toronto Hockey League has hired a private investigator to scrutinize allegations that Jewish players with the U-13 Avenue Road Ducks and their family members were targeted with anti-Semitic slurs during games this season,” reports Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . That story is right here.

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Meanwhile, CBC Ottawa reports that “after some Black minor hockey players in western Quebec alleged they were racially abused, a Gatineau, Que., team has suspended six of its players and the provincial governing body cancelled weekend games.” . . . That story is right here.

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And, from Oakland, Mich., comes this from clickondetroit.com: “A 15-year-old boy is suing three players on an under 16 youth hockey team, their parents and the coach after he said he endured antisemitic bullying until he quit the team.” . . . That story is right here.


Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.


Spider


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

G Nolan Maier became the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL Saskatoonhistory as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 2-0. . . . Maier stopped 20 shots in posting his 121st career regular-season victory, breaking a record he had shared with Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . . Hirsch tweeted: “Congrats Nolan! Your perseverance, resilience and dedication is nothing short of inspirational. Enjoy the moment; you’ve earned it!” . . . The Blades won it with two third-period goals, from F Egor Sidorov (23), at 12:17, and F Trevor Wong (16), at 18:01. . . . Maier has three shutouts his season; he holds the franchise career record, with 11. . . . Saskatoon (37-26-4) moved into fourth place, one point ahead of the idle Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Raiders (26-34-5) are 10th, two points out of a playoff spot. . . .

F Jake Chiasson had two goals and two assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings Brandondoubled the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-3. . . . Chiasson, who has six goals, struck twice in the second period as Brandon took a 5-1 lead. Chiasson missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and only began play on March 4. He now has 15 points in 16 games. . . . D Mason Ward added two goals, giving him six, and an assist for Brandon, with D Chad Nychuk getting a goal, his 21st, and two assists. Nychuk has 68 points in 60 games. . . . Brandon (34-25-5), which has won four in a row, is sixth, four points behind Moose Jaw. Each team has four games remaining. . . . Medicine Hat (11-50-4) has lost nine straight games. . . .

In Red Deer, F Ben King, who leads the WHL in goals, scored in OT to give the RedDeerRebels a 5-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . King, who also had two assists, scored his 49th goal of the season at 2:56 of OT. . . . King has a WHL-leading 15 game-winning goals this season. F Brian Propp of the 1978-19 Brandon Wheat Kings holds the WHL record of 16. . . . F Logan Wormald scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 14. His second goal, at 8:33 of the third period, gave his side a 4-3 lead. . . . D Christoffer Sedoff (7) forced OT with a goal at 12:04. . . . Red Deer (44-17-4) is third, four points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings, who have a game in hand. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-5) is headed for a seventh-place finish. . . .

F Connor Bedard set two franchise records as his Regina Pats beat the Broncos, Regina4-2, in Swift Current. . . . Bedard scored twice to give him 47 this season. His 46th goal, a shorthanded effort, set the Pats’ record for most goals by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Jeff Friesen scored 45 times in 1992-93. . . . Bedard now has 89 point in 58 games, and that also is a Pats’ franchise record for a player in his 16-year-old WHL season. F Doug Wickenheiser finished the 1977-78 season with 88 points. . . . Regina got 37 saves from G Kelton Pyne. . . . Regina (25-34-5) is 11th and, with four games remaining, trails the eighth-place Broncos (26-34-7) by four points.

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Western Conference:

F Matthew Seminoff scored with four seconds remaining in the third period to Kamloopsgive the Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The goal came one second after the end of a Victoria PP opportunity. . . . F Logan Stankoven had three assists for the Blazers, including the only one on the winner. . . . Seminoff has 25 goals. . . . F Bailey Peach (36) scored twice and added an assist for Victoria, which came back to tie the score three times but wasn’t able to grab the lead. . . . Stankoven now has 99 points, leaving him three behind F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels, who leads the points race. . . . Stankoven, who has played 56 games, leads the WHL in points-per-game (1.77). . . .  Kamloops (47-16-2) is second, four points behind the Everett Silvertips. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Victoria (22-37-6) is tied for seventh with the Vancouver Giants, one point behind the idle Spokane Chiefs. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times and added an assist as the host Everett EverettSilvertips dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . The Silvertips, who clinched the U.S. Division regular-season pennant, scored the game’s last four goals, the first two from Swetlikoff, who has 33 goals. . . . Everett was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-for-2. . . . Everett had a 50-13 edge in shots. According to the online game sheet, shots were 10-0 in the third period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski had an empty-net goal and two assists for Everett. He’s got 46 goals. . . . Everett (45-10-10) leads the conference by four points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-42-7) has been eliminated from playoff contention. . . .

F Jack O’Brien had two goals to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 7-2 victory Portlandover the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . O’Brien has 13 goals. . . . F Cross Hanas scored his 25th goal and added two assists for the winners. . . . There was something of a brouhaha at 19:17 of the third period that resulted in 97 penalty minutes being handed out. . . . Portland (44-16-5) is third, three points behind Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (23-36-4) is tied for seventh with Victoria, one point behind Spokane and one ahead of the idle Prince George Cougars.


JUST NOTES: F Logan Nijhoff, the Regina Pats’ captain, has signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. Nijhoff, 20, had 20 goals and 23 assists in 52 games when the signing was announced on Thursday. He is completing his fifth season with Regina. Nijhoff attended the Ducks’ rookie camp in September. . . . The EIHL’s Cardiff Devils have fired head coach Jarrod Skalde, who was in his first season there. Assistant coaches Brodie Dupont and Neil Francis will run things through the end of the season. With four games left in the regular season, the Devils are third at 27-15-3.


War


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dog

It’s Green Shirt Day as we promote organ donation and remember the Humboldt Broncos . . .


The boys played a hockey game last night. Yes, they shook off the rust and away they went.

They did pretty well, too, getting 37 saves from goaltender Parker Tobin in posting an 8-0 victory before a world-wide audience.

Tobin was making his first appearance with his new team, having been acquired from the junior A Humboldt Broncos in exchange for defenceman Xavier Labelle earlier in the day.

“We were fortunate we got a great performance from Tobin and our top scorers scored,” said general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan.

The boys were led by the line of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Schatz and Evan Thomas, who combined for 12 points, including six goals.

There was a scary moment early in the second period when Schatz appeared to catch an edge as he cut behind Tobin’s net. Schatz crumpled to the ice and for a moment it looked as though he had suffered a knee injury. Athletic therapist Dayna Brons, the only girl on the boys team, was quick to the scene. She helped Schatz to the dressing room and was able to get him back to the bench before too much time had elapsed.

“She’s got magic fingers and she’s great with tape,” said Schatz, who also is the team captain. “If there’s an MVP on this team, she’s it. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Haugan was thrilled when Schatz returned to the bench and Brons signalled that the captain was OK to go.

“That allowed us to keep our lines intact and to execute our game plan to a T,” Haugan said. “We wanted our power play to obviously be big. We didn’t expect it to be that big so we’re very fortunate. You need your top guys to be your best guys and they were.”

The boys counted five times on eight power-play opportunities and that really was huge.

Joseph finished with three goals and an assist, with Schatz chipping in two of each, and Thomas putting up a goal and three helpers.

Defenceman Adam Herold, the youngest player on the team, and forward Conner Lukan also scored. Lukan was skating alongside Jacob Leicht and Logan Hunter, and that threesome easily could have had four or five more goals. Hunter recorded two assists, with Leicht getting one. Defenceman Stephen Wack also had one assist.

As for the opposition, Haugan said, they “stepped up all night, they were relentless. Obviously our guys did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and didn’t allow them to penetrate to the middle of the ice. We did get a couple of breaks so we did get lucky but all-in-all to escape with a 1-0 lead after one, we’ll gladly take it.”

Defenceman Logan Boulet showed a lot of heart and leadership in earning six assists for the boys.

“I felt great out there,” Boulet said. “I was using a Brad McCrimmon model stick and, man, I really was able to throw some great saucer passes out there. And I don’t know that the stick had anything to do with it, but I never wanted to leave the ice.”

Haugan added: “(Boulet) was a beast out there.”

Ahh, yes, the sticks.

Haugan said one of the toughest tasks he and assistant coach Mark Cross faced was getting the players to pick out the sticks they wanted to use.

“I have never seen or heard of a team having such a wide selection to choose from,” Haugan said. “There were sticks everywhere. We may have to build some kind of stick warehouse to house them all.”

After the game, the boys admitted to being quite excited about having been able to replace one of their travelling staples.

“One of the boys picked up a copy of Slap Shot,” Haugan said. “He got it from somewhere in Portland, I think. You can’t be on the road without Reggie Dunlop and Slap Shot, but our original DVD got broken somehow and, let me tell you, there were some broken hearts when that happened.

“But all’s well that ends well.”

It’s worth pointing out that the boys led 1-0 after the first period, which was played in Chicago Stadium. They were up 4-0 after the second, which was played in Maple Leaf Gardens. The teams played the final period in the Montreal Forum. The travel arrangements were all under the control of Glen Doerksen, the team’s travelling secretary.

So . . . what’s next for the boys?

Well, Haugan said, the coaches are well aware that focusing on one sport isn’t the way to go.

“The guys are talking about wanting to play some baseball,” Haugan said. “Apparently, some guy in Iowa built a ball diamond in a cornfield. So I think we’re wanting to give that a try.

“But we’ll have to scrounge some bats, balls and gloves first.”

JUST NOTES: There was a third man behind the bench with Haugan and Cross, and Haugan later revealed that he has added Brock Hirsche to his coaching staff. Hirsche played in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars, then returned to his hometown to play with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . .

Also joining the boys is Jonathan Pitre, who is incredibly popular with the media and will handle public and media relations. . . .

Tyler Bieber, an up-and-coming play-by-play voice, called last night’s game on 107.5 FM (aka The Prayer), with sports fanatic Brody Hinz handling the analysis and statistics, including zone entries and Corsi. . . .

(Christopher Lee of the Humboldt Journal may recognize some of the quotes here. Thanks for loaning them to me.)


The OHL dropped the hammer on the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, a month after some members of the organization were alleged to have used improper OHLlanguage in a group chat on WhatsApp, a transcript of which was given to the league. Joey Burke, one of the team’s minority owner and the governor, and Billy Burke, the head coach and a minority owner, have been suspended indefinitely. The IceDogs also have been fined $150,000. . . . From an OHL news release: “Based on the results of the league investigation, it is the position of the league that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the league’s Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program, which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.” . . . According to terms of the disciplinary action, both are able to apply for reinstatement on June 1, 2024. “At that time,” reads the news release, “the Commissioner will assess whether they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct.” . . . Rick Westhead of TSN later tweeted: “IceDogs co-owner Bill Burke, Joey and Billy’s father, told The Welland Tribune that ‘today a very sad day for the Burke family. We will have more to say in the coming days. We would . . . like to thank everyone that has reached out today with their overwhelming love and support.”


Meanwhile, the AHL has suspended F Ben Holmstrom of the Rochester Americans for eight games for using “homophobic language” during a game against the visiting Utica Comets on March 30. He was ejected at the end of the first period. . . . “As part of the suspension,” the AHL said in a statement, “Holmstrom will be participating in diversity and inclusion education.”


Now let’s hop on over to Quebec for this from Guy Quenneville of CBC News . . .

“More Black minor hockey players in western Quebec are coming forward with allegations of racial slurs less than a week after another Black player spoke out.

“On Monday, Hockey Outaouais and the team L’Intrépide de Gatineau confirmed in a statement they have launched an investigation after two of the team’s players said they were subjected to racist remarks. 

“One of those players, Anthony Allain-Samaké, told Radio-Canada the bullying led him to quit the team.”

His mother, Julie Allain, speaking French, told Quenneville: “Being called the N-word was still quite common for several players. I told him it is totally unacceptable.”

Quenneville’s story is right here.


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Spokane, F Nick McCarry struck 10 seconds into OT was the Chiefs beat the SpokaneEverett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . McCarry, who has 22 goals, has seven points, five of them goals, over his past four games. . . . Olen Zellweger, the  WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, scored his 14th goal and added an assist. He has 76 points in 53 games. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 32 shots, 18 of them in the second period, for Spokane. . . . Announced attendance was 7,252, an awfully impressive number for a midweek game. . . . The Chiefs’ victory eliminated the idle Tri-City Americans from the chase for a playoff spot. . . . Spokane (23-37-5), with three games remaining, is sixth, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals, and two up on the Prince George Cougars. . . . Everett (44-10-10) leads the conference by four points over the Kamloops Blazers. Each team has four games remaining. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the KelownaCougars, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . The Rockets, who won 1-0 in OT there on Tuesday, have won six straight in Prince George. . . . F Colton Dach scored once, his 26th, and added two assists. . . . F Pavel Novak (28) broke a 1-1 tie at 18:52 of the first period and the visitors put it away with two third-period goals. . . . Kelowna (39-19-6) now is two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds with each team having four games to play. . . . The Cougars are ninth, one point from a playoff spot.

Eastern Conference:

The host Lethbridge Hurricanes struck for six goals in the third period as they Lethbridgedropped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. . . . The game’s seven goals all came in the third period. . . . D Joe Arntsen scored twice, giving him seven, and added an assist, with F Justin Hall and F Alex Thacker each adding three assists. . . . F Jordan Keller scored his first WHL goal in his eighth game for the Blades. Keller, who turned 17 on March 8, is the son of Aaron Keller, who played four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers before going on to play 17 seasons in Japan. Aaron now helps out the Blazers as a development coach. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots in his first opportunity to break the WHL career record for victories. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings and five ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (36-26-4) remains fifth, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and five ahead of Brandon.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs and Rick Swan, their general manager and head coach, “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately,” the team announced Wednesday. Swan had been with the organization for 10 years, the last nine as GM and head coach. This season, the Pontiacs went 36-16-8, good for third in the North Division, then lost a six-game first-round series to the Whitecourt Wolverines.



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Three WHL coaches get Hockey Canada posts. . . . Rockets sign d-man from U of Denver. . . . McEwen now Blues’ GM, too

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D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). This season, he had three goals and 10 assists in 60 games.


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Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior Canadateam and its U-18 side. . . . Dale Hunter of the OHL’s London Knights has been named head coach of the national junior team. His assistants will be Mitch Love, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Andre Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . The 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . .

Dan Lambert, the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, will be head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Czech Republic and Slovakia in August. . . . Lambert’s assistants will be Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Mario Duhamel, who is an assistant coach with the 67’s.

Hockey Canada’s news release is right here.


Taras McEwen, the Winnipeg Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, now also is the general manager of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . According to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which purchased the Blues at about the same time it was moving the Ice to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., McEwen will continue in both roles. . . . As the Blues’ GM, McEwen takes over from Billy Keane, who has been the Blues’ head coach since 2016 and had been the GM since 2017. . . . The Blues haven’t yet announced if Keane will return as head coach. . . . McEwen, 28, is from Whitewood, Sask. He joined the Ice as the manager of scouting in 2016, and took over as manager of hockey operations a year later. His father, Brad, is a familiar face on the scouting circuit and presently is Hockey Canada’s head scout.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Sean Comrie, 19, who played this season for the U of KelownaRocketsDenver Pioneers. . . . Comrie, from Edmonton, was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He chose to go the NCAA route, and had one assist in 18 games with the Pioneers as a freshman this season. . . . On May 2, prior to the 2019 bantam draft, the Rockets acquired Comrie and the 10th-overall selection from Brandon for the fifth-overall selection. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 54 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Comrie is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are attempting to rebuild their roster in a hurry after not qualifying for the playoffs this season.


When last we left the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, an Ontario judge had unsealed documents that were connected to the team’s having committed recruiting violations. . . . Today comes word that city council in St. Catharines, Ont., the home of the IceDogs, has voted to change the name of a street — IceDogs Way — near the team’s home arena, the Meridian Centre. . . . According to Karena Walter of The St. Catharines Standard: “The move was in response to the 2017 decision by the Niagara IceDogs’ owners not to go forward with a $1 million donation for naming rights after problems hammering out a deal with the city.” . . . Walter’s story is right here.


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IceDogs’ situation looks awfully messy. . . . Pats, Hurricanes make a trade. . . . WHL final resumes tonight in Langley

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An Ontario Superior Court judge in Hamilton ruled last month that documents related to ohlthe OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and unauthorized contracts with players would be unsealed on Friday. They were, and TSN’s Rick Westhead has gone over those documents.

According to Westhead:

“The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs agreed to unauthorized side contracts with the families of two players — one of whom is still in the OHL — and likely had similarly secret and unsanctioned deals with a number of European players, according to an investigation into the team’s recruiting practices.”

Westhead provides a lot of details in this piece, which is particularly damning because the OHL, as he puts it, “is embroiled in a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of current and former players demanding they be paid minimum wage.”

The IceDogs are owned by Denise and Bill Burke.

Westhead continues:

“In connection with that case, Denise Burke testified in a Nov. 14, 2015, affidavit that while her OHL team brought in an average of $2.7 million, it still lost money.

“Seven months before the IceDogs purportedly signed a secret deal with the (Liam) Ham family, Denise Burke said that it would be ‘catastrophic’ if the IceDogs had to pay players.”

At that time, Denise Burke testified: “We knew that we wouldn’t become rich owning a team, but seeing as this is our only business, we have always hoped that we would at least be able to break even and at least make more money than we spend, otherwise sooner or later the ‘Bank of Burke’ will run dry.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


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The Regina Pats have acquired F Drew Englot, 16, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a Patsfourth-round selection in the 2022 WHL bantam draft. Englot, who is from Candiac, Sask., was picked by the Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . He has played the past two seasons with  the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds, who have won back-to-back league titles. This season he had 21 goals and 20 assists in 43 regular-season games.


Two former WHL coaches were fired by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers on Monday as they juggled their staff after the hiring of Alain Vigneault as head coach. . . . Kris Knoblauch and Rick Wilson both were dismissed. . . . Knoblauch, 40, had been with the Flyers for two seasons. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2006-07. He then spent five seasons with the Kootenay Ice, the last two as head coach. He also spent four-plus seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters. . . . Wilson, 68, joined the Flyers this season, on Dec. 4. He has been an NHL coach, mostly as an assistant since 1988-89. He spent eight seasons (1980-88) on Prince Albert’s staff, the last two as head coach.


Dave Andrews will retire after spending one more season as the president and CEO of the American Hockey League. Andrews, a former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, told the AHL’s board of governors on Monday that he is going to retire as of June 30, 2020. He is completing his 25th season as AHL president. . . . Andrews was the Cougars’ head coach for all of 1982-83 and part of 1983-84, when he was replaced by Les Calder. He later spent seven seasons as the director of hockey operations with the Nova Scotia/Cape Breton Oilers, then the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate.


The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s had their 14-game playoff winning streak come to an end on Monday as they were beaten 7-2 by the Storm in Guelph. The 67’s, who were outshot 36-20, lead the OHL championship series, 2-1. . . . They’ll play Game 4 in Guelph on Wednesday. . . . The 67’s had swept their first three series and then opened the final with two victories. . . . Ottawa G Mikey DiPietro, who suffered what is believed to have been a high ankle sprain in Game 2, wasn’t in uniform for this one. . . .

In the QMJHL, the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies dumped the Halifax Mooseheads, 5-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the championship final. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Halifax. . . . Both teams will play in the Memorial Cup because the Mooseheads are the host team. The tournament is to run from May 17 through May 26.


Mike Reagan has signed a new contract as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. This deal will take him through the 2020-21 season. . . . Reagan has been with the Bombers for 12 seasons, winning at least 30 games in six of them. The Bombers have been in the playoffs in each of those 12 seasons. . . . There is a news release right here.


Cam Basarab is the new head coach of the Trail-based Kootenay Ice of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He started this season as an assistant coach with the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He was moved up to head coach in November and then replaced on Jan. 23. . . . Basarab also was a video coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for the previous two seasons. . . . Basarab takes over from Kris Boyce, the head coach for the past three seasons.


F Liam Stewart, who played four seasons (2011-15) with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed on with the SkyCity Stampede of the New Zealand Hockey League. Stewart, born in Great Britain, has a New Zealand passport through his mother, ex-model Rachel Hunter, so won’t be classified as an import. . . . The Stampede, which plays out of Queenstown, is to open the season on May 31 against the Dunedin Thunder. . . . He was to have played this season with the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain, but was sidelined by a concussion. . . . Stewart’s father is rock musician Rod Stewart.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup resumes tonight (Tuesday) with the  Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Gains meeting at the Langley, B.C., Events Centre. . . . The series is tied, 1-1. . . . They’ll play again Wednesday and Friday in Langley. . . . The $64,000 question going into Game 3 is whether Prince Albert D Max Martin will play. He left Game 2 in the second period after falling awkwardly into the end boards and appearing to injure a shoulder. . . . Martin is key part of the Raiders’ back end. He had 41 points, including 35 assists, in 59 regular-season games, and has seven assists in 18 playoff games. . . . Here’s Darren Steinke of Stanks’ Sermon explaining the Raiders’ options: “If (Martin) doesn’t play that will likely shake up the Raiders normally locked-in defensive pairings of Martin with Sergei Sapego, captain Brayden Pachal with Zack Hayes, and Jeremy Masella with Kaiden Guhle.” . . . If Martin doesn’t dress, the Raiders likely will insert D Loeden Schaufler into what will be his fifth game of these playoffs.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, who has learned to change with the times.


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Ex-WHLer charged after incident at Kelowna beach. . . . Pilon takes over as Red Wings’ coach. . . . Storm is writing quite a story in OHL


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F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .

F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .

G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .

F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.


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Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.


At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him ohl$10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s WeyburnWeyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.


F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .

F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .

D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . . 

D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .

Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.


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Kamloops dumps visiting Kelowna in tiebreaker. . . . Two shorthanded goals in 28 seconds seal deal. . . . Blazers go to playoffs; Rockets go home

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The Kamloops Blazers scored two goals in 28 seconds on the same third-period penalty kill en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets in the seventh tiebreaker game in WHL history on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Blazers move into the playoffs. They will open against the Royals in Victoria on Friday. . . . Last night was only the second time in the seven tiebreakers that the home team has won. . . .

Kamloops had taken a 2-1 lead in the third period when Blazers F Ryley Appelt was Kamloops1penalized for tripping at 8:16. . . . F Connor Zary got an early jump off the Kamloops bench during a change, allowing him to get to the back of the Kelowna net in a hurry. He stripped the puck from G Roman Basran, came out the back side and stuffed it home for a 3-1 lead at 8:44. . . . A short time later, Kamloops F Brodi Stuart avoided an attempt by Basran to get a hip into him behind the net, skated out and scored for a 4-1 lead at 10:12. . . . The Rockets, whose offence pretty much dried up late in the season, weren’t able to get back in this one. . . . F Jermaine Loewen got the Blazers’ last goal, into an empty net. . . .

The Blazers dominated the first period, especially the first 12 or 13 minutes, and held a 17-7 edge in shots. Only Kelowna G Roman Basran, a post and a crossbar kept the Blazers off the scoreboard. . . . Kamloops D Jackson Caller drilled a post from the point at 9:00; F Connory Zary glanced a bad-angle flip off the crossbar two minutes later. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand had his moments later, especially stoning F Alex Swetlikoff from the doorstep. . . .

Kelowna pushed back in the second, but Kamloops got the game’s first goal at 4:11, just six seconds after Rockets F Dallon Wilton was penalized for interference for a hit on D KelownaRocketsJeff Faith. Zary pulled the face-off win back to F Kyrell Sopotyk on the point. He ripped a wrist shot past Basran’s blocker, off a post and in. . . . The officials went to video review at 7:38 after the Blazers crashed the Kelowna net, but whatever had happened was ruled no goal. . . . The Rockets tied it at 7:56 when D Kaedan Korczak got to a shoot-in along the right boards, and slipped a pass to F Mark Liwiski. His quick backhand seemed to surprise Garand and got past him for the equalizer. . . . The Blazers thought they might have scored at 13:14 when the puck bounced off the back boards, over top of the net and into the Kelowna crease area. However, it was ruled that Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had come in contact with the puck with a high stick. . . . Kelowna got its first PP at 15:26 after Faith was hit with an interference penalty for a hit on F Nolan Foote. Other than Foote hitting a post early, the Rockets really didn’t threaten. . . . Kelowna outshot Kamloops, 13-7, in that period. . . .

The Blazers broke the 1-1 tie at 6:10 of the third period when Kelowna D Dalton Gally went down early in an attempt to cut off a pass, only to have Blazers F Kobe Mohr toedrag around him and snap a shot past Basran from the high slot. . . . Then came Zary’s shorthanded goal, followed by a Mohr penalty shot on which Basran was able to get his five-hole closed in time to prevent a goal. . . . It was left for Stuart to get his shorthanded goal and for Loewen to add the empty-netter. . . .

Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, made his seventh straight start in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. The Blazers are 6-0-1 over that stretch. . . . Garand finished with 27 saves in this one. . . . Ferguson skated with the Blazers on Monday, but wasn’t dressed last night. The burning question in Kamloops until Friday night will be this: Does Garand get to start his first playoff game in his hometown if Ferguson is healthy? . . . G Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with the Blazers on an emergency basis. He backed up Garand last night. . . .

Basran, who kept the Rockets from getting blown out in the first period, self-destructed in the third when he gave up the two shorthanded goals. He was beaten four times on 34 shots in 50:12. James Porter came on to finish up after the Blazers’ fourth goal. He stopped all five shots he faced. . . .

As expected, each team added a first-round 2018 bantam draft pick to its lineup. Stankoven, who won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring title with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers, was in the Kamloops lineup. F Trevor Wong, from the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, played for the Rockets. . . . Stankoven was the fifth-overall pick in that draft; Wong was taken with the 18th selection. . . .

Attendance was announced at 5,876, and there weren’t many empty seats. It was the Blazers’ second announced sellout of the season. On Feb. 18, the Blazers beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 3-1, on Family Day. The announced crowed that day also was 5,876, but there were about 1,000 empty seats. . . .

While the Blazers head for Victoria, the Rockets’ season has ended. This means that the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup won’t appear in this spring’s playoffs. . . . The Rockets fired head coach Jason Smith after a 4-10-0 start. They hired Adam Foote to replace him and went 24-22-8, plus last night’s loss, with him in control. . . .

The WHL’s draft lottery is scheduled to be held today (Wednesday). As one of six non-playoff teams, the Rockets will be participants. The six lottery teams, with regular-season points in parenthesis, are the Swift Current Broncos (28), Winnipeg Ice (36), Regina Pats (42), Prince George Cougars (46), Kelowna Rockets (64) and Brandon Wheat Kings (70). . . . A team is able to move up only two spots in the lottery, so one of those first three teams will own the first pick. However, the Cougars hold Swift Current’s selection, and the Saskatoon Blades own Regina’s pick. . . . When the draft is held on May 2 in Red Deer, the Blazers will hold the seventh selection.

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There have been seven tiebreakers in WHL history . . .

2018-19: Kelowna 1 at Kamloops 5.

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).

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You may recall that on Feb. 15 the OHL announced that the Niagara IceDogs had been ohlfined $250,000 and also had two first-round draft picks taken away for recruiting violations. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that all of this had to do with a player emailing David Branch, the OHL commissioner, to say that the IceDogs had promised to pay him $10,000 for each season he played with them, and then reneged on the deal. . . . As Westhead reported: “A law firm hired by the Ontario Hockey League concluded that the Niagara IceDogs breached the league’s player recruitment rules by entering into a secret ‘side deal’ with a former player, according to a court decision obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


The Prince George Cougars have signed D Ethan Samson to a WHL contract. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From North Delta, B.C., he played this season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s Elite 15 team. In 33 games, he had seven goals and 17 assists.



The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Logen Hammett to a WHL contract. From Regina, Hammett will turn 16 on April 3. This season, with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, he had four goals and 19 assists in 40 games. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


F Rieger Lorenz, a likely first-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers. Lorenz, who will turn 15 on March 30, is from Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Edge School’s bantam prep team this season. . . . Lorenz is the fourth high-end bantam draft prospect to announce a commitment to the NCAA route in the last while, following F Matt Savoie (Denver), D Mats Lindgren (Michigan) and F Connor Levis (Michigan).


F Tanner Nagel, who finished up his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday, made his pro debut on Tuesday night with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. . . . Nagel was pointless in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Rapid City Rush. . . . With the Broncos, Nagel had 13 goals and 10 assists in 65 games.


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Wheat Kings beat Raiders in OT . . . Elmer glues loss on Broncos with hat trick . . . Blades run point streak to 12 games


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F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kristianstad (Sweden, Division 1) after Tyringe (Sweden, Division 1) received monetary compensation from Kristianstad. In 20 games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with 12 assists. . . . Coulter had a clause in his contract with Tyringe that allowed him to move to another Division 1 club if the new club was in the playoffs. With two games left in the regular season, Tyringe cannot make the playoffs. Kristianstad has qualified for the playoffs for promotion to Allsvenskan for 2019-20.


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There is an interesting scenario unfolding in Prince Albert where the Raiders are nearing the end of a glorious regular season.

On Friday night, they dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. The PrinceAlbertRaiders (46-7-3) lead the WHL’s overall standings by 14 points over the Everett Silvertips.

Trevor Redden, writing for panow.com, points out that as rosy things are with the Raiders right now, the future is more than a little hazy.

“As for what lies ahead beyond this season, we still don’t have any answers,” Redden writes. “When the subject of staffing for next season was brought up post-deadline with GM Curtis Hunt, he declined comment on his own status or that of the coaching staff, with all contracts set to expire at the end of this (season).

“As for (head coach Marc) Habscheid, he wasn’t able to provide any further illumination when asked for an update this week on his status beyond this season.

“ ‘No, nothing. Haven’t heard anything so I really don’t know what’s going on. That’s all I can say,’ Habscheid said.”

The staff includes associate coach Jeff Truitt and assistant coach Dan Gendur.

The Raiders, of course, are community-owned, as opposed to having private ownership, something that may, or not, be having an impact on the situation.

Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach on Nov. 1, 2014, replacing the fired Cory Clouston. At the time, the Raiders hired Habscheid to finish the 2014-15 season. On April 21, 2015, the Raiders announced that they had signed Habscheid to a four-year deal running through the end of this season.

As for Hunt, he took over as general manager on June 8, 2015, after the Raiders and Bruno Campese chose to go their separate ways. Interestingly, the Raiders hired Hunt more than six weeks after signing Habscheid. That, of course, goes against the hockey adage about a GM wanting his own coach. And, as the standing show, Hunt and Habscheid appear to be making it work.

Time will tell if they’ll be together again next season.


The OHL has fined the Niagara IceDogs a total of $250,000 and taken away 2019 and 2021 ohlfirst-round draft choices after they were found to have “violated certain league player recruitment policies.” . . . In a Friday afternoon news release, the OHL said that it had the law firm of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottleib LLP handle the investigation.

“The league takes our commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes ensuring a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said in a news release. “In order to maintain the integrity of this player experience and competitiveness within the league, it is critical that all clubs operate within the league recruitment guidelines. When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required.”

Later Friday, the IceDogs released this statement: “All current Niagara IceDogs players and hockey operations staff have no involvement in the sanctions assed today by the Ontario Hockey League. An appeal will be filed. Therefore, no comment will be made.”


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

D Zach Wytinck’s OT goal gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Raiders in BrandonWKregularPrince Albert. . . . Brandon (25-22-7) has won two in a row and is six points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Prince Albert (46-7-3) has points in six straight (5-0-1) and has a 14-point lead atop the overall standings. . . . The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . F Sean Montgomery (23) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 10:35 of the first period. . . . Brandon took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (17), at 13:46, and F Cole Reinhardt (17), at 3:27 of the second period. . . . F Parker Kelly got the Raiders into a tie at 14:10, and F Aliaksei Protas (10) provided them with a 3-2 lead at 2:48 of the third period. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) tied it at 8:43, but Kelly (29) put the Raiders back out front, on a PP, at 13:25. . . . The Wheat Kings scored the last two goals to win it. F Luka Burzan (32) tied it at 13:40, and Wytinck’s fourth goal of the season won it at 3:06 of OT. . . . Parker added an assist to his two goals. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 28 shots for Brandon, five more than the Raiders’ Boston Bilous. . . . With G Ian Scott still sidelined, Bilous made his third straight start. . . . Montgomery was back in Prince Albert’s lineup after a one-game absence, but Scott and F Brett Leason remain sidelined. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted his story right here.


G Max Paddock stopped 32 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 4-0 victory over the visiting PatsEdmonton Oil Kings. . . . Regina (16-37-3) won’t be in the playoffs this season. . . . Edmonton (31-18-8) leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours and they also have had a flu bug in their dressing room. The Oil Kings have had illness in their room of late. This time, F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield joined F Zach Russell in being unable to play. . . . Paddock record his second shutout of the season. . . . The Oil Kings were blanked for the first time this season. . . . F Austin Pratt (21) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the first period. . . . F Riley Krane (12) added insurance, on a PP, at 10:24 of the second period, and F Carter Massier (2) upped it to 3-0, while shorthanded, at 14:55. . . . Regina’s final goal came from F Garrett Wright (4) at 10:22 of the third period. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 3-1-0. The Oil Kings had been looking for the second sweep of the Pats in franchise history; the first was in 2010-11.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes got three goals from F Jake Elmer en route to a 7-2 victory Lethbridgeover the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Swift Current (10-40-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1). The Broncos have lost 40 games in regulation-time for the first time since 2010-11 (26-44-2). That (44) is the most single-season losses for the Broncos since they moved back to Swift Current from Lethbridge for the 1986-87 season. . . . Elmer gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with first-period goals at 1:47 and 4:41 of the first period. The second of those came while shorthanded. . . . Elmer completed his second career hat trick with a PP goal at 12:43 of the third period. That was the game’s final goal. . . . The Hurricanes got two goals from F Noah Boyko, who has seven, and singles from F Logan Barlage (12) and F Nick Henry (21). . . . F Carter Chorney (12) and D Connor Horning (6) replied for the Broncos, who were 0-8 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-3 on the PP. . . . Lethbridge unleashed a season-high 56 shots at G Riley Lamb. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 26 shots for Lethbrige.


G Carl Stankowski stopped 29 shots to help the host Calgary Hitmen to a 3-1 victory over Calgarythe Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Calgary (29-21-5) is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. They also are fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat (31-20-5) has lost two in a row. They are third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . F Mark Kastelic (39) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:40 of the second period. . . . D Egor Zamula (10) made it 2-0 at 7:41. . . . The Tigers got to within a goal at 19:13 as F Elijah Brown scored his 11th goal. . . . F Carson Focht (16) iced it for Calgary at 18:59 of the third period. . . . Medicine Hat got 27 saves from G Jordan Hollett. . . . The Tigers had D Linus Nassen back in their lineup. . . . The Hitmen had Zamula and D Dakota Krebs back from injuries, but remain without F Jake Kryski and G Jack McNaughton.


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At least one Kootenay Ice fan wasn’t impressed with a Valentine’s Day promotion the team ran on Thursday. The Ice, of course, is leaving Cranbrook for Winnipeg at the conclusion of this season.
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On Friday night in Cranbrook, they were thanking the families who have billeted players through the Ice’s 21 seasons in the community.

F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice and added two assists to help the Saskatoon Blades to an 8-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Saskatoon (36-13-8) has points in 12 straight games (10-0-2). It also has won one more game than it won all of last season. The Blades are second in the East Division, 12 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Kootenay (11-36-8) has lost four in a row. . . . The Blades, in their last appearance in Cranbrook, scored the game’s first four goals to take a 4-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Max Gerlach (36), Crnkovic and F Eric Florchuk, with two, accounted for those goals. Florchuk now has 20 goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs (19) got the Ice on the scoreboard at 11:22 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon responded with the next four goals, from F Chase Wouters (14), F Ryan Hughes, with two, and Crnkovic, who now has nine goals. Hughes has 23. . . . D Martin Bodak (10) and F Jaeger White (22) had the Ice’s last two goals. . . . Crnkovic enjoyed his first career four-point game. . . . Florchuk also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson had two assists, running his point streak to 15 games; he has two goals and 26 assists in that stretch. He also has at least one assist in 15 straight games. In his past five games, he has 12 points, including 11 assists. . . . Gerlach had a goal and an assist in running his point streak to 14 games. He has 23 points, including 12 goals, in that stretch. . . . Saskatoon had F Kirby Dach back in the lineup. He had missed two games after being struck on the throat by a puck.


G Max Palaga, in his first start since Jan. 20, stopped 31 shots as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna. . . . Everett (39-13-3) has points in three straight games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by nine points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (23-27-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett took a 2-1 lead into the third period; it now is 31-0-1 when leading after two. . . . F Kyle Topping (20) gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:26 of the first period. . . . Everett tied it at 12:18 as D Gianni Fairbrother (9) scored, on a PP. . . . Silvertips F Bryce Kindopp broke the tie at 8:18 of the second period, then added his 32nd goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:43 of the third period. . . . G Roman Basran stopped 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . Rockets D Lassi Thomson left the game late in the first period, after being high-sticked by Kindopp, then returned in the second wearing a full cage. . . . That may, or may not, have had something to do with the two head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Kelowna’s Adam Foote — exchanging greetings late in the first period. . . . Everett headed for home after the game as it has to be in Kent, Wash., to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight. Then it’s off to Prince George for the Silvertips who will play the Cougars on Monday (2 p.m.) and again on Tuesday night.


F Tanner Sidaway scored the game’s first two goals to get the Victoria Royals started to a VictoriaRoyals4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Victoria (28-23-3) is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-6) has lost 14 in a row (0-11-3) and is 10 points from a playoff spot. The Cougars are 0-3-0 since firing head coach Richard Matvichuk and replacing him with general manager Mark Lamb. . . . Sidaway, who has seven goals, scored at 3:50 of the first period and seven seconds into the second, while shorthanded. His second goal set a franchise record as the fastest goal to start a period. The previous record of nine seconds had been done on four occasions. . . . This also was Sidaway’s first multi-goal game. . . . The Cougars cut the deficit in half when F Josh Curtis (12) scored at 6:22. . . . F Kaid Oliver (24) restored the two-goal lead at 16:32, and F Logan Doust (4) added another goal, at 6:46 of the third period. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse posted his 109th regular-season victory, and moved into seventh on the WHL’s all-time list. The record (120) for most career victories is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92). . . . Victoria F Ty Yoder returned to play after being out since Jan. 4.


The Seattle Thunderbirds built up a 5-1 second-period lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory Seattleover the Red Deer Rebels in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (22-27-6) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazes. . . . Red Deer (29-20-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 7:45 of the first period, only to have F Zak Smith (10) tie it for Red Deer 37 seconds later. . . . The Thunderbirds responded with four second-period goals, from F Matthew Wedman, Philp (22), on a PP, F Andrej Kukuca (20) and F Henri Rybinski (4). . . . The Rebels got back in it with third-period goals from D Alexander Alexeyev (8), F Oleg Zaytsev (11) and F Reese Johnson (21), the latter scoring at 18:34. . . . Wedman wrapped it up with his 30th goal at 19:03. . . . With his two goals, Wedman, who also had an assist, ran his goal streak to five straight games. . . . F Brandon Hagel had three assists for Red Deer. . . . F Jeff de Wit, a Red Deer native who is on his second go-round with the Rebels, played in his 300th regular-season game. He also has played with Regina, Victoria and Kootenay. He has 54 goals and 55 assists in the 300 games. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Nolan Volcan, their captain, back in the lineup after missing nine games. He hadn’t played since Jan. 26.


G Beck Warm turned aside 42 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-3 victory over tri-citythe Kamloops Blazers in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (30-20-3) has won two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot and is fourth in the U.S. Division, three points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (21-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds in the race for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead as F Sasha Mutala (14) scored at 1:45 of the first period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 5:08 as D Montana Onyebuchi (5) scored. . . . The Americans took a 3-1 lead on second-period goals from F Connor Bouchard (6), at 11:08, and F Nolan Yaremko (20), at 18:17. . . . F Kobe Mohr (6) got Kamloops to within a goal at 3:42 of the third period. . . . D Wil Kushniryk (3) restored the two-goal lead at 6:59. . . . F Brodi Stuart (16) again got the Blazers to within a goal, at 17:51. . . . F Parker AuCoin (32) put it away for the Americans at 19:15. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who completed a two-game suspension.


The Vancouver Giants scored three straight PP goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the VancouverSpokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (38-13-3) has won six straight games. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (30-18-6) had points in each of its previous seven (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 3:13 of the first period on a PP goal by F Luc Smith. . . . The lead lasted 15 seconds until D Kaleb Bulych (2) scored for Vancouver. . . . Then came the three PP goals, from F Justin Sourdif (16), at 13:28 of the first period; F Milos Roman (21), at 18:38 of the second period; and F Jared Dmytriw (13), at 19:08. . . . The Chiefs got to within a goal, at 4-3, as Smith (25) and F Eli Zummack (13) scored at 3:47 and 11:51 of the third period, respectively. . . . After the Chiefs had a goal disallowed — it was ruled to have been kicked in from the crease — F Jadon Joseph (16) scored for Vancouver at 15:46. . . . F Riley Woods (27) scored for Spokane at 18:50. . . . Zummack also had two assists. . . . The Giants were 3-4 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-7.


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OHL deal includes 11 draft picks . . . Leason, Raiders just keep rolling . . . Wolf bars the door on Hitmen

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There was another one of those deals for which the OHL has become so well-known — ohlfour players and 11 draft picks. The Kingston Frontenacs sent two players to the Niagara IceDogs for two players and 11 draft picks. Seriously!

From the Kingston Frontenacs website . . .

The Kingston Frontenacs have acquired defenceman Billy Constantinou, forward Ian Martin, and 11 OHL Priority Selection picks from the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for forward Jason Robertson and defenceman Jacob Paquette.

In addition to Constantinou and Martin, the Frontenacs have acquired a number of OHL Priority Selection picks:

  • Sarnia’s 2nd-round pick in 2019
  • Windsor’s 7th-round pick in 2019
  • Windsor’s 3rd-round pick in 2020
  • Peterborough’s 2nd-round pick in in 2021
  • Niagara’s 5th-round pick in in 2021
  • Niagara’s 2nd-round pick in 2022
  • Kitchener’s 3rd-round pick in 2022
  • Niagara’s 2nd-round pick in 2023
  • London’s 3rd-round pick in 2024
  • Niagara’s 13th-round pick in 2020
  • Niagara’s 11th-round pick in 2021


So . . . the Nelson Leafs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Braves in Spokane on Saturday. These are teams that play in the junior B Kootenay International Hockey League. . . . After the game, things got a little heated on social media. The Nelson Star has that story right here.


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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brett Leason scored three times and Prince Albert scored two more shorthanded goals PrinceAlbertas the Raiders dumped the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-1. . . . Prince Albert (21-1-0) has won 14 straight games. It now heads out on a seven-game road swing that will feature stops in Medicine Hat, Cranbrook, B.C., Red Deer, Edmonton, Regina, Swift Current and Brandon. . . . The Hurricanes (9-8-4) have lost two in a row. . . . Leason opened the scoring with his 20th goal of the season, at 4:30 of the first period, to run his season-opening point streak to 22 games. . . . F Taylor Ross (12) pulled Lethbridge even 28 seconds into the second period. . . . D Brayden Pachal (3), who also had two assists, broke the tie at 18:55. . . . Leason then scored twice, shorthanded at 7:03 of the third, and at 11:35. . . . F Kody McDonald (3) added another shorthanded goal at 17:00. . . . Leason’s first career hat trick left him leading the WHL in goals (22) and points (47). He has two more goals than F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks, and one more point than F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Raiders now have scored 14 shorthanded goals. The Red Deer Rebels are next, with six. The WHL record? The Spokane Chiefs scored 31 of them in 1990-91. . . . At the same time, the Raiders have surrendered only seven PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly drew three assists. . . . F Sean Montgomery played in his 300th regular-season game, all with the Raiders. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. With 11 goals and 14 assists in 21 games, he is nearing his career highs of 13 goals, 17 assists and 29 points. . . . The Raiders lost Pachal in the second period when he was given a major for interference and a game misconduct for a hit on Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive.


The Regina Pats erased a 1-0 deficit with two second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory Kamloops1over the host Kamloops Blazers. . . . Regina (8-15-0) had lost its previous three games. The Pats are 1-3-0) on a seven-game road swing, including 1-2-0 in the B.C. Division. They last played at home on Nov. 10; they next are scheduled to play at home on Dec. 1. . . . Kamloops (8-10-2) had won their previous two games. The Blazers are 2-6-1 at home; they are 6-4-1 on the road. . . . F Zane Franklin opened the scoring, giving the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 3:26 of the first period. That was his career-high 15th goal this season. Last season, he had 14 goals in 67 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Acquired from Lethbridge over the summer, Franklin has 15 goals in 20 games with Kamloops. . . . The Pats scored the next three goals. . . . F Marco Creta (2) tied the score at 5:07 of the second period, and F Nick Henry (12) gave the visitors the lead with 16.6 left in the period. . . . Regina took a 3-1 lead as F Riley Krane (3) crashed the net and scored at 9:11 of the third. . . . Kamloops got to within a goal at 13:28 as F Kyrell Sopotyk (2) scored. . . . Regina F Jake Leschyshyn drew an assist on Henry’s goal to run his point streak to 11 games. He’s got 11 goals and 10 assists over that stretch.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 26 shots to help the host Everett Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the EverettCalgary Hitmen. . . . Everett (17-7-1) has points in three straight (2-0-1). The Silvertips are 6-1-1 in their past eight games. . . . Calgary (8-13-2) had won its previous three games. . . . Wolf posted his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. . . . This season, Wolf is 16-7-1, 1.87, .924. . . . F Riley Sutter (10) scored the first goal, at 7:16 of the opening period. . . . Everett’s other three goals came in the third period. . . . F Dawson Butt (6) made it 2-0 at 0:22, with F Martin Fasko-Rudas (4) scoring at 3:36, and F Bryce Kindopp (9) getting a shorthanded tally at 8:02. . . . Butt, who has six goals and five assists in 22 games, went into this season with a goal and two assists in 48 games. . . . This was regular-season Game No. 301 for Calgary F Jake Kryski, who has 69 goals and 122 assists in his career. He has played 136 games with the Kamloops Blazers, 37 with the Kelowna Rockets and 128 with Calgary. . . . F Akash Bains was back in Everett’s lineup after missing six games.

Changing face of WHL coverage . . . Denver commit to be in Kelowna . . . Broncos reveal full scouting staff


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F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Davos (Switzerland, NL A) after a successful tryout. Last season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. He was an alternate captain, and led the team in assists and points.


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With WHL teams preparing to open training camps, these are interesting times, especially from the outside looking in on the media that covers the league and its teams.

It’s no secret that the times, they are a changin’ . . .

A sports reporter who isn’t a stranger to covering a WHL team phoned a veteran player whlthe other day for an interview.

Things were fine until shortly after the chat ended. That’s when the reporter received an email from a team informing him that “they want me going through them before talking to anyone in the future.”

The reporter points out that “I had the kid’s number from when he was 14 years old and had nothing to do with the (team in question).”

As well, the reporter was told that “they say it’s a league policy.”

Except that . . .

Another reporter who covers a different team noted that “I haven’t had any trouble with getting through to the players,” adding that he hasn’t had any problems getting cell numbers.

“On the few occasions I have to get those phone numbers through other channels,” he added, he hasn’t heard any repercussions.

As he pointed out, it could be that this particular team sees the logic in not putting clamps on media.”

And yet another reporter informs that he has the cell number “of every kid” on the team he now covers “in my phone, and if something comes up after hours or during the summer, I contact them directly.

“I know they would prefer I go through the team in those circumstances, but they don’t grumble too much because (my paper) covers the team more than anyone else in the market. Since it’s also up to me to find my guys after practice, it would be a bit rich to get too angry in other circumstances.

“My major frustration remains head coaches from visiting teams who consider it below themselves to speak to local media.”

One other veteran of the WHL beat interjected that times are changing in the media world, and not just when it comes to print.

The team that he has covered had a good season in 2017-18, he noted, but “there were nights when there was no media in the press box. TV came far less often than usual, plus no local daily and very sporadic coverage from the weekly. Coverage is stretched incredibly thin and seems to only be trending downward league-wide. If they want to put up barriers to coverage that’s their prerogative, but it’s beyond asinine in my book.”

Mine, too. But it seems that the WHL is turning more and more to its own social media team for coverage, perhaps because it then is able to control the message.


The Kelowna Rockets will get things going on Monday when they open rookie camp. F Trevor Wong, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is expected to KelownaRocketsbe there, and is expected to stay for the opening of main camp.

Wong, from Vancouver, had 43 goals and 70 assists in 113 games with Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam A1-T1 club two seasons ago. Last season, he put up 64 goals and 77 assists in 30 games with the bantam varsity team at St. George’s School in Vancouver.

However, Wong has made a verbal commitment to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers, starting in 2021-22. Wong made that commitment at the age of 14. He turned 15 on May 4, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021.

Meanwhile, the Regina Pats have veteran G Kyle Dumba, 20, on their training camp Patsroster. He is one of three goaltenders and one of six 20-year-olds on the Pats’ main camp roster. . . . G Max Paddock, 18, is atop the depth chart, with Dumba, who has had stints with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, on there, along with Matthew Pesenti, 17, of Saskatoon. Pesenti played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Last season, Dumba made stops in Kamloops and Everett, got into 30 games with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, then was with Regina at season’s end. . . . G Jacob Wassermann, 18, was in the Pats’ plans, but the Humboldt native won’t play after being injured in the Broncos’ bus crash. . . .

The other 20s on the Pats’ main camp roster are D Cale Fleury, D Aaron Hyman, F Bryce Platt, D Brady Pouteau and D Liam Schioler.



Dennis Ulmer is the lone returnee to the scouting staff of the Swift Current Broncos, the team announced on Friday. . . . The remainder of the scouting staff left the organization SCBroncosfollowing the hiring of Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach on June 27 and the subsequent departure of Jamie Porter, who had been director of hockey operations. . . .  For the past 33 years, Ulmer, from Wilcox, Sask., has been a student, teacher, principal, administrator and coach at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox. . . . Those joining the Broncos’ scouting staff for the first time are Dean Moisan of Lloydminster, Alta., who is the director of player personnel for the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs; Craig Anderson of Brandon, who scouted for the Edmonton Oil Kings for the past nine seasons, and is the head scout and assistant GM with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers; Chad Leslie of Virden, Man., who had been scouting with the Saskatoon Blades (2015-18) and also scouts for Winkler; Kerry Gladson of Surrey, B.C., who spent the past four seasons with the Blades; Blaine Shackleton of Medicine Hat, who spent the past four seasons scouting for the junior B Chase Heat of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and 14 seasons with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Chris Olson of Saskatoon, who has coached in that city’s minor hockey system for 16 years; Steve March of St. Albert, Alta., the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Elite 15s for the past three seasons; Matt Green of Edmonton, who had been an intern with the International Scouting Services; Tyler Oswald of Calgary, a former player with Saskatoon and the Red Deer Rebels, who is an assistant coach with the midget AAA Calgary Northstars while taking sport management at Mount Royal U; and Dan Ruggiero of Kelowna, who has scouted for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets and Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Check out scbroncos.com for the complete news release.


F Gage Ramsay has chosen to retire from the Saskatoon Blades and go to school, rather Saskatoonthan return for his 20-year-old season. Ramsay was acquired by the Blades from the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 19, 2016, in exchange for F Josh Bruce, another 1998-born player. . . . Ramsay, who is from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by Vancouver in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. He had 15 goals and 18 assists in 123 games with the Blades. In 166 career WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 18 assists. . . . From a Blades’ news release: “Ramsay plans to use his WHL scholarship as he begins his pursuit of a career in business, starting with classes at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in September and the University of Saskatchewan in the new year.”

Ramsay is the second Saskatoon forward to retire this summer. Caleb Fantillo announced on July 19 that he was retiring ahead of what would have been his 20-year-old season.

The Blades now have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Dawson Davidson, F Max Gerlach and F Bradly Goethals.


Danny Flynn’s time as a WHL assistant coach is over after one season. The veteran major Portlandjunior coach is leaving the Portland Winterhawks to work as an eastern amateur scout for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Flynn is from Dartmouth, N.S., and joined long-time friend Mike Johnson, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, prior to the 2017-18 season. . . . Flynn had spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, guiding them to the league championship in 2016-17. . . . In major hockey alone, Flynn also has coached with the London Knights, Belleville Bulls, Soo Greyhounds and Moncton Wildcats. He also has coached in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. . . . The Winterhawks are expected to name a replacement within days.


F Jared Legien isn’t returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. Instead, he is returning to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, where he put up 30 goals and 26 assists in 51 games in 2014-15. . . . From Pilot Butte, Sask., he was a first-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. In 2012-13, he put up 40 goals and 26 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Prairie Storm. . . . He went on to play 145 regular-season WHL games, split among the Ice, Victoria Royals and Regina Pats. Last season, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 36 games with the Royals, then added 10 goals and seven assists in 25 games with the Pats. His career totals show 27 goals and 32 assists.


Jody Hull has signed on as the associate coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. He will work alongside head coach Billy Burke. . . . Hull, 49, is a veteran of 831 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons. He spent the past 12 seasons with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, the last six-plus as head coach. He was fired by the Petes on Jan. 5, 2018.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have hired former NHLer Scott Barney as their new HumboldtBroncosassistant coach, while adding Tyrol (Skip) Deeg as athletic therapist and equipment manager. . . . The Broncos open training camp on Thursday, Aug. 24. . . . Barney, 39, is from Ennismore, Ont. His pro playing career included 24 games with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and three with the Atlanta Thrashers. He retired as a player after spending the past two seasons in the Asia League. . . . Deeg, 37, is from Wynyard, Sask. He joins the Broncos from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Mark Cross, the assistant coach last season, and therapist Dayna Brons died in the April 6 crash involving the Broncos’ bus. . . . The Broncos also have added Rhett Blackmur, a former player with them, as a volunteer assistant coach. He is the service manager at Discover Ford in Humboldt, and has experience in minor hockey in the community.


Former WHL F Dustin Cameron has joined the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie DelisleChiefsJunior Hockey League as an assistant coach. Cameron, a 29-year-old from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2004 WHL bantam draft. He went on to play 87 regular-season games with the Blades before being dealt to the Prince Albert Raiders. He spent three seasons in Prince Albert and was team captain for the last two. In 284 WHL games, he totalled 86 goals and 84 assists. He retired from playing after spending one season in Great Britain and three in Germany. . . . In Delisle, he’ll work with head coach Eric Ditto and assistant coach David Richard. Ditto, from Saskatoon, returns for a fourth full season, while Richard, also from Saskatoon, is back for a second season. Richard played four seasons (2005-09) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 42 goals and 60 assists in 256 regular-season games.


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