WHL marketplace starts to heat up . . . Blades add a defenceman, move out two . . . Chiefs juggle to firm up goaltending


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

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

Wednesday’s action:

No. of trades: 4.

Players: 5.

Bantam draft picks: 4.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 21.

Players: 42.

Bantam draft picks: 32.

Conditional draft picks: 10.

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


The Saskatoon Blades made a pair of trades on Wednesday, both of them involving defencemen.

The Blades began the day by acquiring D Reece Harsch, 19, from the Seattle SaskatoonThunderbirds for D Zach Ashton, 17, and a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 bantam draft.

Later, the Blades sent D Seth Bafaro, 19, to the Vancouver Giants for a fifth-round selection in the 2021 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Harsch was selected by Seattle in the eighth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

In 149 regular-season games with Seattle, he had 15 goals and 32 assists. He also was part of the Thunderbirds’ 2016-17 championship team. This season, Harsch has two goals and eight assists in 28 games.

“Reece is an experienced player we’ve had our eye on for a while,” Saskatoon general manager Colin Priestner said in a news release. “He plays a hard game, has 25 games of playoff experience, and knows what it takes to win a championship in this league.”

Harsch should be available Friday when the Blades entertain the Regina Pats.

Ashton, from Calgary, was a third-round selection by Saskatoon in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, as a freshman, he had one assist in nine games with the Blades. He played the previous two seasons with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes.

This season, Bafaro, who was born in Kamloops, has four goals and three assists in 27 Vancouvergames this season. In 116 career games, 31 with the Tri-City Americans and 85 with the Blades, he has seven goals and 11 assists.

Vancouver general manager Barclay Parneta is quite familiar with Bafaro. Parneta was Tri-City’s head scout and assistant GM when Bafaro began his WHL career with the Americans in 2016-17. The Americans selected him in the third round of the 2015 bantam draft.

Tri-City traded Bafaro to Saskatoon on July 5, 2017, getting back two bantam draft picks — a third-rounder in 2019 and a fifth-rounder in 2020.

The Giants are four games into their Central Division trip, having played in Medicine Hat on Wednesday night. Bafaro wasn’t in the lineup for that one, but should be available on Friday in Lethbridge.

BTW, Vancouver’s roster now includes nine defencemen, including Matt Barberis, who is injured and has only played nine games this season.


The Tri-City Americans have acquired F Nick Bowman, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a tri-citysixth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . Bowman, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., was acquired by the Ice, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Oct. 22, in exchange for forwards Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, who are twins. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings selected Bowman in the sixth round of the 2015 bantam draft. On May 3, they dealt him to Moose Jaw, with a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, for F Vince Loschiavo. . . . This season, Bowman had one assist in 10 games with the Warriors, then scored twice in 10 games with the Ice before choosing to leave the team. . . . In 137 career WHL games, he has 15 goals and 14 assists. . . . Bowman is playing for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and, according to Tri-City general manager Bob Tory, will remain there for the remainder of this season “and will affiliate with the Americans.”


The Spokane Chiefs did some juggling in their goaltending department on Wednesday.

For starters, they announced that Dawson Weatherill won’t play again this season. SpokaneChiefsAccording to a news release, Weatherill “is awaiting surgery.” The Chiefs didn’t specify what kind of surgery.

They then acquired Reece Klassen from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

And, finally, the Chiefs returned Campbell Arnold to the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Arnold got into one game with the Chiefs, stopping 10 of 11 shots.

Klassen, 19, is from Cloverdale, B.C. The Hurricanes signed Klassen in 2017 after he went undrafted. This season, with the Hurricanes, he is 11-4-7, 3.57, .891. In 49 regular-season games over two seasons with the Hurricanes, he is 16-12-10, 3.59, .889.

The Hurricanes moved Klassen after acquiring Liam Hughes, 19, from the Seattle LethbridgeThunderbirds on Tuesday. The Hurricanes now have Hughes and freshman Carl Tetachuk as their two goaltenders.

In Spokane, Klassen will team up with Bailey Brkin as the Chiefs’ goaltenders. Brkin, 19, is 14-7-2, 2.68, .919.

Weatherill, 19, is from Red Deer, and was a second-round pick by the Rebels in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he was 6-6-2, 4.33, .862 with the Chiefs, but hadn’t played since Dec. 16, which was Spokane’s last game before the Christmas break.

In 102 career appearances — five with the Rebels and 97 with the Chiefs — he is 44-33-14, 3.46, .885. The Chiefs acquired him from Red Deer on Sept. 28, 2016, in a deal that had G Tyson Verhelst go the other way.

The Chiefs are scheduled to entertain the Kamloops Blazers on Friday night.

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What lies ahead for WHL GMs? . . . Hitmen adding goalie with Stankowski out . . . Watson remembers McGeough


ThisThat

While the WHL’s trading deadline doesn’t arrive until Jan. 10, the 22 general managers know that it really is closer than that because of the Christmas moratorium that runs from Dec. 15 through Dec. 26.

At the same time, the 2018-19 regular-season is about one-third completed, and that’s whlenough for each general manager to have a pretty good idea how things are shaping up — with his team and how it stacks up against the competition.

For some of them then, there isn’t any sense waiting until January. That’s why general manager Matt Bardsley of the Kamloops Blazers made two deals on Monday.

This season’s arm’s race isn’t expected to be anything close to what went on a year ago. Back then, you may recall, things started to heat up on Nov. 13 when the Regina Pats acquired D Cale Fleury from the Kootenay Ice for D Jonathan Smart, F Cole Muir and two 2018 bantam draft picks — a second and a sixth.

Twelve days later, the Calgary Hitmen shipped F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a 2018 fifth-rounder to the Swift Current Broncos for five players — F Conner Chaulk, G Ethan Hein, F Josh Prokop, D Dom Schmiemann and F Riley Stotts — and a 2018 second-rounder.

From that point on, the WHL experienced its silliest silly season yet. In fact, before this season arrived, the WHL rewrote the regulations that govern trades. Now there are restrictions on the trading of 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds players.

Because of the new rules, it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires between now and Jan. 10.

On Monday, Bardsley traded away two players — a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old — and got back two players, one 20 and the other 19, and four bantam draft picks.

“You’re not allowed to trade a signed 15- or 16-year-old and the 17-year-olds have to agree to a trade,” Bardsley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “So you have a pretty small group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds that you’re allowed to trade.

“Last (season), with all those major trades, a lot of them included signed 15- and 16-year-olds. (Now) teams are going to have to make up it with the draft picks . . . so whether we use those to select a player or use those drafts to acquire a player — it gives some options of what you can do to improve your team.”   

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ‘em, 11 — draft picks.


F Cam Hausinger and F Connor McClennon, both of whom were injured on Saturday Kootenaynewnight in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, didn’t practice with the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday, indicating they won’t play tonight against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . However, F Peyton Krebs, who has missed four games, and D Valtteri Kakkonen, a Finnish freshman who has sat out five games, were on the ice Tuesday. . . . On the WHL’s weekly roster report, McClennon is listed as being out four-to-six weeks, with Hausinger out week-to-week. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Ice brought in F Skyler Bruce and F James Form. If both players make their WHL debuts tonight that will give the Ice 12 available forwards. . . . Bruce, 15, has 16 goals and 18 assists in 19 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Form, 16, is from Saskatoon where he plays for the midget AAA Blazers. He has seven goals and four assists in seven games. The Ice selected him in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . If Bruce and Form play tonight, they will become the 34th and 35th players to have suited up for the Ice this season. The Ice (7-16-4) is seven points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Calgary Hitmen are listing G Carl Stankowski as being out week-to-week with a Calgarylower-body injury. . . . As you no doubt are aware, Stankowski, then 16, came off the bench to backstop the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL title in the spring of 2017. He didn’t play at all last season due to injuries, including hip-related woes, and illness, then was acquired by the Hitmen during the off-season. . . . Stankowski went the distance in Calgary’s second-last game, stopping 24 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Friday night. . . . This season, Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879. . . . With Stankowski out, freshman Jack McNaughton will take over the starter’s role. In 12 appearances, he is 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . G Matt Armitage, who was with the Hitmen earlier in the season and has been playing with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, will join Calgary for three weekend games. . . . The Hitmen, who just came off a U.S. Division trip on which they went 3-1-1, are next scheduled to play on Friday when they visit the Red Deer Rebels.


Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post filed a piece on Tuesday that began like this:

“At an altitude of 38,000 feet, Brad Watson expressed his appreciation for a late, great friend who was always so down-to-earth.

“While flying from Denver to Detroit, Watson wrote a tribute to a fellow Regina-born NHL referee — Mick McGeough — and, upon landing, kindly shares the heartfelt sentiments with us.”

It’s all right here, and it’s the best tribute to McGeough that I’ve read since his death, at 62, last week.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


Simon Black, an assistant professor of labour studies at Brock U in St. Catharines, Ont., writes in the Toronto Star:

“Major junior hockey is big business. Everyone from coaches to Zamboni drivers to concession stand workers gets paid and protected under labour laws. Everyone, that is, but the players.”

Some of what he writes involves the CHL claim that major junior players are amateur student athletes.

However, as Black points out, “There’s also legal precedent dispelling the amateur myth. Hearing a case about whether the Brandon Wheat Kings should pay employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan assessments, the Tax Court of Canada ruled in 2000 that the relationship between club and players is indeed one of employer-employee.”

Simon’s complete piece is right here.


F Nick Bowman, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the month, has joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. Bowman, 18, is from Sherwood Park. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He had 13 goals and 13 assists in 117 games with the Oil Kings when they dealt him to the Moose Jaw Warriors prior to this season. . . . After recording one assist in 10 games with Moose Jaw, he was traded to the Ice on Oct. 22, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, for F Kaeden Taphorn and his twin brother, Keenan, also a forward. . . . After scoring twice in 10 games with the Ice, Bowman chose to leave the club.


Brad Moran, who won a WHL scoring title while with the Calgary Hitmen, has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He takes over form Darryl Olsen, who was fired on Nov. 22. . . . Moran, 39, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He spent five seasons with the Hitmen. He totalled 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games. Moran won the WHL’s 1999-2000 scoring title, with 120 points. . . . The Canucks are 4-22-1, 20 points out of fifth-place in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to 17 with a 4-3 victory over the PrinceAlbertRebels in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders (24-1-0) are 2-1-0 against the Rebels, having lost 4-3 in Red Deer on Oct. 6 and won 2-1 at home on Oct. 13. . . . Prince Albert set a franchise record with its seventh straight road victory. It had shared the record with the 1985-86 team. . . . The Rebels (16-7-1) have lost two in a row. . . . The visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from F Spencer Moe (4), at 2:59 of the first period, and F Parker Kelly (11), at 4:11. . . . D Ethan Sakowich (1) scored for Red Deer at 5:27, but F Cole Fonstad (7) got that one back for the Raiders at 9:07. . . . F Zak Smith (4) pulled the Rebels to with a goal at 9:43 of the second period. . . . F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 26th goal, on a PP, at 14:27, to restore Prince Albert’s two-goal lead. . . . F Jeff de Wit (16) counted on a PP, with G Byron Fancy on the bench for the extra attacker, at 19:01 of the third period for Red Deer’s third goal. . . . D Sergei Sapego had three assists for the winners. . . . Leason ran his point streak to 25 games — yes, every game this season — with an assist on Kelly’s goal. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals and points (56). . . . Leason went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Rebels were 1-7. . . . Sakowich’s goal was his fourth in 161 career regular-season games. He didn’t score in 72 games last season; in fact, his last goal came in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on March 11, 2017. . . . The Rebels were without their best defenceman, Russian Alex Alexeyev, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Raiders are back at it tonight when they meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. This will be the first meeting of the season between these teams.


The Tri-City Americans erased a 2-1 deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the tri-cityPrince George Cougars, 5-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (14-9-0) has won two in a row. . . . Prince George (10-12-3) has lost two straight. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (6) scored his second goal of the game, on a PP, at 4:09 of the second period to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. . . . F Isaac Johnson (9) tied the score, on a PP, at 9:51, and F Krystof Hrabik (7) snapped the tie at 18:42. . . . Tri-City put it away with third-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (6), at 6:00, and D Mitchell Brown (3), into an empty net, at 18:02. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots for the Americans. . . . D Aaron Hyman, who was acquired Monday from the Regina Pats, was in Tri-City’s starting lineup. He had one assist and it came on a PP. . . . The Americans lost F Kyle Olson to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 19:19 of the first period.


F Davis Koch figured in three of the game’s last four goals to lead the Vancouver Giants to Vancouvera 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants (17-6-2) have won three straight. . . . The Blades are 1-1-0 on a B.C. Division tour that continues tonight in Victoria. . . . Saskatoon scored all three of its goals in the game’s first 10 minutes, F Max Gerlach (16) giving it a 3-1 lead at 9:56. . . . Koch scored, on a PP, at 1:49 of the second period to get the Giants to within a goal. . . . F Aidan Barfoot (1), playing in his third game of the season and first since Sept. 22, tied it at 3:51. . . . F Milos Roman (13) gave Vancouver a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 3:21 of the third period. . . . Koch scored his eighth goal into an empty net at 19:46. . . . Koch has 13 points, including five goals, in a six-game point streak. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who was acquired Monday from the Kamloops Blazers, made his Saskatoon debut.


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Committee supporting Ice ceases operations; cites lack of support from ownership . . . Chiefs stun Thunderbirds with comeback


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The Green Bay Committee, which had been working to drum up support for the Kootenay Ice with the hopes of keeping the WHL franchise in Cranbrook, has ceased operations.

In fact, it has informed its members to “cease all of your sales initiatives.”

In an email to members that also went to “Ice supporters,” the committee requested that Kootenaynewthey “make sure (to) return all funding sheets to sponsors (and any cheques or cash).”

The committee reached this decision following a meeting earlier Tuesday.

“It is truly unfortunate that the new Ice ownership has decided not to actively engage in our committee’s initiatives,” the committee said in the email.

Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season, had been invited to Green Bay Committee meetings, but had refused to attend.

The committee began working this season amid speculation that the Ice will move to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season. The Winnipeg Free Press reported on Oct. 20 that it was told by sources that the relocated team will play in a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus while it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat arena in conjunction with the Rink Hockey Academy.

In an email sent to Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, the committee wrote:

“Obviously, we were greatly concerned about this article. We were hoping that you and Greg would deny this story and that you would remain actively engaged in our sales initiative.

“On October 22, 2018, you advised us that you would not be attending our scheduled Town Hall Meeting. You further advised us that you and Greg would not be involved in our sales initiatives and that you would be monitoring the situation.

“We were surprised and disappointed with your position; however, we decided to carry on with our Campaign and other initiatives to increase attendance. We expected that you and Greg would join us, especially given the fact that we were at an early stage in Season 2 of your new ownership.  For the past month, there has been considerable engagement between our Committee and the community.”

Taking Note has been told that the committee had raised around $50,000, money that now will be returned from whence it came.

In the email to Cockell, the committee also wrote:

“We have made considerable progress . . . However, the absence of active engagement by you and Greg with our committee has become a major issue in our community. We believe that this failure has become the biggest obstacle in our ability to achieve a highly successful sales campaign and to create an effective steering committee. As a result, we are terminating our Green Bay Committee effective immediately.

“However, we will consider re-activating our committee if you provide us with a real commitment that you and Greg are prepared to immediately join us and work with us, as partners; and have no plans to move ‘Our ICE’  from Cranbrook.”

The letter to Cockell is signed by committee members Allan Rella, Are Tironese and John Hudak.

The email to Cockell as well as the one to committee members and club supporters also was sent to Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, and to members of the WHL’s board of governors.

In 2016-17, the last season under the ownership of the Chynoweth family, the Ice average an announced attendance of 1,754 for 36 games. In 2017-18, the first season under Fettes and Cockell, the average was 2,442.

This season, through 12 games and amid speculation of a potential move, the average is 2,244. The Ice beat the visiting Regina Pats on Tuesday night before 1,965 fans, the smallest crowd this season.

“I refuse to be Chilliwacked,” Hudak told Taking Note, in reference to the Chilliwack Bruins, who, despite a number of denials, left for Victoria following the 2010-11 season. “But I have talked to some people . . . in hockey circles . . . and other sources. These guys are gone.”

Hudak, however, said that he will continue to work towards having a WHL franchise in his city, even if Fettes and Cockell move their franchise.

“I love my city,” Hudak said.

The Green Bay Committee, which worked with the Ice management team last season to get people to games who wouldn’t under ordinary circumstances have that opportunity, was named in honour of Green Bay, Wisc., “the little city,” Hudak said, “that can support an NFL team.”

Hudak only hopes that his city is given the opportunity to prove it can support a WHL team.


The Kootenay Ice has dropped another veteran player from its roster.

F Nick Bowman’s name doesn’t appear in the WHL’s weekly roster report, which was released on Tuesday. But his name wasn’t on the lineup sheet for the Ice’s game against the Pats in Regina on Tuesday night; the Ice dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Bowman’s name also has disappeared from the Ice’s roster on the WHL’s website.

While most WHL teams like to carry 23 players, the Kootenay roster includes only 20 — 11 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

The Ice acquired Bowman and a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Oct. 22, giving up twins Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn in the exchange. The Taphorns, 18, are from Yorkton, Sask.

Bowman, 18, had two goals in 10 games with the Ice, after earning one assist in 10 games with the Warriors. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he was a sixth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 bantam draft. In 137 career regular-season games, he has 15 goals and 14 assists.

Keenan Taphorn has four goals and an assist in seven games with Moose Jaw, while Kaeden has one assist in three games. He recently returned to the lineup after being out with an undisclosed injury.

In the past couple of weeks, the Ice also lost veteran 19-year-olds Sam Huston and Brendan Semchuk. The Ice has stated that it has suspended Huston, a defenceman, but hasn’t said anything more than that. Huston apparently left the team after being dropped to the third defensive pairing.

The team has said that Semchuk left in order to “pursue his educational goals.”


The Regina Pats have added F Sebastian Streu to their roster. He’s from Germany but also has Canadian citizenship, so doesn’t count as an import. . . . Streu, who will turn 19 on Nov. 22, had nine goals and three assists in 54 games with the Kootenay Ice last season. . . . This season, he had five goals and two assists in 10 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers when the Pats came calling. . . . Streu was in Regina’s lineup on Tuesday night and scored a goal as the Pats lost, 5-2, to the host Kootenay Ice.


Chris Selley of the National Post has chimed in with his opinion of whether major junior hockey players are student-athletes or employees, and you are able to read all about it right here.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


TUESDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

G Brodan Salmond stopped 32 shots to help the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 7-0 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Tri-City Americans. . . . Moose jaw (8-5-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Americans (11-6-0) are 8-3-0 over their past 11 games. . . . This was Game 8 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans. They now are 6-2-0, including 1-2-0 in the East Division. . . . Salmond, 20, posted his fourth career shutout, but his first with the Warriors. He made 56 appearances with the Kelowna Rockets over the previous three seasons. . . . The Warriors got a goal and three assists from F Tristin Langan, and a goal and two assists from each of D Josh Brook, F Brayden Tracey. . . . Langan has 13 goals, while Brook has six and Tracey five. . . . The Warriors led 3-0 and 6-0 at the period breaks. . . . Moose Jaw had D Brendan Kwiatkowski playing after he had been out since Sept. 22. . . . The Warriors remain without F Justin Almeida, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the CIBC Canada Russia Series in Kamloops on Nov. 5. . . . Moose Jaw head coach Tim Hunter, who also is the head coach of Canada’s national junior team, missed this one as he was at the CIBC Canada Russia game in Sherbrooke, Que. However, the Warriors had associate coach Mark O’Leary back after his stint at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Kelly Buchberger, in his first season as the Americans’ head coach, is in the Warriors’ Hall of Fame. From Langenburg, Sask., he played two seasons (1983-85) in Moose Jaw before going on to a pro career. In 111 games with the Warriors, he put up 36 points, including 26 goals, and 253 penalty minutes.


In Saskatoon, the Blades gave up nine power-play opportunities, lost 46 of 80 face-offs Saskatoonand were outshot 39-37, but still managed to score a 4-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Blades (13-7-2) have won three in a row. . . . The Tigers (9-9-3) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . F Ryan Chyzowski scored twice for the Tigers, giving them a 1-0 lead on a PP, at 8:58 of the first period, and cutting their deficit to 3-2 at 19:38 of the third period. He’s got seven goals. . . . In between those goals, F Max Gerlach (14), F Kyle Crnkovic (1) and D Chase Wouters (3) scored for the Blades. . . . Gerlach’s goal, coming against his former team, gave him 200 career regular-season points in 232 games. . . . Crnkovic’s goal was his first in the WHL. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Kirby Dach (12) added insurance for the Blades, with an empty-netter at 19:59 of the third. . . . Saskatoon got 37 saves from G Nolan Maier, who now is 11-5-1, 2.79, .912. . . . Medicine Hat F James Hamblin had a nine-game assist streak and a 10-game point streak snapped.


D Zac Patrick broke a 1-1 tie at 2:03 of the second period and the Kootenay Ice went on to beat the Regina Pats, 5-2, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (7-12-3) had lost their previous five games. . . . The Pats (7-13-0) had won three in a row. This was the first of six straight road games for Regina. . . . Patrick’s goal was his first in the WHL. He didn’t score in 42 games last season; this was his 11th game this season. . . . D Dallas Hines (3) upped the Ice’s lead to 3-1 just 17 seconds after Patrick scored. . . . F Austin Pratt (10) pulled Regina to within a goal at 2:53, but the Ice put it away with third period goals from F Cole Muir (5) and F Cameron Hausinger (6), on a PP. . . . F Sebastian Streu, who spent last season with the Ice, scored in his first game with the Pats. . . . G Duncan McGovern stopped 38 shots to earn the victory. . . . Regina G Max Paddock left at 8:05 of the first period after suffering a cut in a collision with Ice F Peyton Krebs. Paddock, who had stopped three of four shots, was replaced by Dean McNabb, who surrendered four goals on 29 shots. . . . D Makai Mitchell, 16, who is from Fort Collins, Colo., made his debut with the Pats. A list player, Mitchell had one goal and one assist in 11 games with the U-16 Rocky Mountain Roughriders of the NAPHL. He is expected to play two more games with the Pats before returning home. . . . The Ice lost D Jordan Chudley to a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Regina F Duncan Pierce at 3:28 of the third period. . . . Regina lost F Logan Nijhoff to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 11:24 of the third period, after a hit on Ice D Martin Bodak.


The Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-0 deficit in the third period and went on to beat the Seattle SpokaneChiefsThunderbirds, 3-2, in OT, in Kent, Wash. . . . Spokane (10-7-3) has won two straight. . . . Seattle (7-8-3) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . F Payton Mount, back after a five-game absence, gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead with his first WHL goal, at 3:36 of the first period. Seattle selected him with the 17th overall pick of the 2017 bantam draft. Mount had one assist in six games with the Thunderbirds last season; this season, he has a goal and five assists in 12 games. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (2) upped Seattle’s lead to 2-0 at 3:05 of the second period. . . . F Ethan McIndoe (6) got Spokane on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 7:05 of the third period, and D Ty Smith (3) tied it at 16:50. Smith also had two assists. . . . F Luke Toporowski (7), who had an assist on Smith’s goal, won the game at 3:58 of OT. . . . The Chiefs got 37 saves from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk wasn’t successful on a penalty shot at 16:38 of the second period.

 

Winds of change blow through Kelowna . . . Foote set to replace Smith . . . Taphorn twins are on the move


MacBeth

D Michael Fora (Kamloops, 2014-15) has rejoined Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland, NL A) after clearing unconditional NHL waivers on Saturday. This season, he was pointless in one game with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Last season, he was an alternate captain with Ambrì-Piotta and put up six goals and 21 assists in 50 games. . . . Fora signed a three-year extension through 2020-21 with Ambrì-Piotta in December with an out-clause allowing him to sign with an NHL team. He exercised the clause to sign with Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) in June. . . . Carolina wanted to assign Fora from Charlotte to the Florida Everblades (ECHL), but Fora wanted to return to Switzerland instead of reporting to Florida. Carolina and Fora mutually agreed to terminate his contract.


With Jason Smith having been fired as the head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, you likely are wondering who’s up next?

John Shannon of Sportsnet, who is friends with Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, tweeted Monday night that it will be Adam Foote. He will be the franchise’s fifth head coach in six seasons.

In all likelihood, Foote will be the Rockets’ head coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, an event that will be played in Kelowna.

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Earlier Monday, Hamilton told a media scrum in Kelowna that he had “a couple of guys that I’ve zeroed in on and I’ll probably have a good idea by (Tuesday). I’m dealing with a couple people and hopefully by (Tuesday) we’ll have somebody in place. Whether they’ll be here or not by then, time will tell.”

A new head coach, Hamilton said, doesn’t necessarily have to have junior experience.

“I think that’s really important but I don’t think that’s everything,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s all about communication with these guys today. If you can’t communicate with them, then you’re not going to get them to play for you.”

If Foote doesn’t get to Kelowna before tonight, assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Kris Mallette will run the bench against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.

Foote, 47, played three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds — he was a rugged defenceman — before going on to an NHL career that included 1,154 regular season games and 170 more in the playoffs.

However, Foote doesn’t have any coaching experience, although he has been a development consultant with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He also was the director of player development a year ago with Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup.

Foote’s son Nolan, a defenceman who will turn 20 on Dec. 13, played three seasons with the Rockets and now is a first-year pro with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected him 14th overall in the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Cal’s younger brother, Nolan, who turns 18 on Nov. 29, is in his third season with the Rockets. A forward, he has seven goals and five assists in 12 games. Last season, he finished with 13 goals and 27 assists in 50 games. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft and it is anticipated that he will be an early selection.

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Despite winning 88 games in his first two regular seasons as the head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, Jason Smith was fired on Monday.

The Rockets, who were 45-22-5 two seasons ago and 43-22-7 last season, are 4-10-0 after going 2-1-0 on a three-game weekend swing in which they twice beat the Victoria Royals (8-2 and 5-1) before losing to the Vancouver Giants (3-1).

The Rockets reached the third round of post-season play in Smith’s first season, but were swept by the Tri-City Americans in the first round last spring.

Smith was in the final season of a three-year contract. Assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Kris Mallette also are in the final seasons of their contracts.

“Any time that you are doing something like this, there’s no fun attached to it at all,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, told the media on Monday afternoon, “and yet, at the end of the day, how this hockey club does sits on my shoulders and this isn’t a decision, nor something that I just thought of this morning. It’s been on my mind now for a few weeks. I just felt that we were getting to a point where a decision needed to be made. . . .”

Hamilton admitted that he had been thinking about making a change for some time, but because the Rockets will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup he wanted to make sure he does the right thing.

“I didn’t just make my mind up on Friday night,” he said. “I made my mind up a while ago, but it’s working to find somebody that is going to be the replacement.

“If you’re going to make a change, we’re better off making the change now than waiting until the end of the (season) and starting over. Whoever is going to coach the team from here on in, I’ve got to believe is going to be the coach next (season) and that’s probably a good thing from our perspective. . . .”

Smith’s replacement will be charged with changing things in the dressing room and making sure that the Rockets become harder to play against, especially at home.

“One of the things that has concerned me now, for a while,” Hamilton explained, “has been we . . . had a culture in our dressing room for many years here through the Ryan Huska era, that everybody coming into Kelowna to play us knew that they were going to have their hands full.

“I just have sensed the last couple of years for sure . . . probably more than that, that it started to leave the room. . . . that a lot of the time is based on the characters you have in the room and that’s on me, that’s not on the coach. It’s my job to get the players here.

“I really hope the person that we bring in is going to bring a little bit of character back in there somehow.”

Hamilton also wants to see more discipline from his team, which has been at the top of the penalty tables in recent times.

“We’re not a tough team,” Hamilton said. “We’re just taking a lot of foolish, lazy penalties and that’s got to change.”

This is only the second time in franchise history that Kelowna has changed coaches in mid-season. In 1999-2000, Hamilton moved out Garth Malarchuk on Nov. 14, 1999, and brought in Marc Habscheid.

Habscheid stayed through 2003-04, finishing his run when the Rockets won the Memorial Cup as the host team.

Jeff Truitt, who had been on Habscheid’s staff, was promoted to head coach and lasted three seasons.

Ryan Huska, who had been a Kelowna assistant coach, was up next. He stayed for seven seasons, before joining the Calgary Flames’ organization and turning things over to assistant coach Dan Lambert.

The Rockets won the WHL title under Lambert in 2014-15, but he joined the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres after that season, at which point Hamilton hired Brad Ralph. That was the first time since Hamilton brought in Habscheid that someone from outside the organization was hired as head coach.

Ralph lasted just one season, despite going 48-20-4 and getting into the third round of the playoffs.

Smith was hired to replace Ralph, lost in the third round in the spring of 2017, and was ousted in the first round last spring. There won’t be another go-round for him in Kelowna.

Late last week, Smith was named as an assistant coach with the WHL team that will play in the CIBC Canada-Russia series on Nov. 5 and 6.

What is apparent through Hamilton’s move is that he didn’t feel comfortable having Smith take the Rockets into a Memorial Cup season. Doing that would have meant signing Smith to a new contract, likely for another two or three seasons.

“I want to be real fair to Jason here,” Hamilton said. “The talent is part of it. He was doing the best he could with what he had.

“And yet when I’m looking forward to the Memorial Cup next (season), whoever coaches this team, I need to get them to get the group together and we need to decide who’s going to be here and who’s not going to be here when we finish this season.”

Hamilton was adamant that the firing of Smith didn’t have anything to do with the Rockets’ attendance, which after six home games is down 494 per game from the same point last season.

“The move today has got nothing to do with that,” Hamilton said. “Trust me.”


The Moose Jaw Warriors have acquired the Taphorn twins — Kaedan and Keenan — MooseJawWarriorsfrom the Kootenay Ice. In return for the Taphorns, 18, the Ice got F Nick Bowman, 18, and a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . The Taphorn brothers are from Yorkton, Sask., so this deal gets them closer to home. Keenan was a second-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft, with Kaedan going to the Vancouver Giants in the third round. . . . Kaedan has 11 goals and 13 assists in 123 career games, while Keenan has 11 goals and 21 assists in 142 games. This season, Kaedan has a goal and two assists in 11 games, while Keenan has one of each in 11 games. . . . Bowman, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a sixth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 bantam draft. He has 13 goals and 14 assists in 127 career regular-season games. Last season, he had six goals and six assists in 56 games with Edmonton. This season, he had one assist in 10 games with the Warriors. . . . The Warriors acquired him from Edmonton, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, in exchange for F Vince Loschiavo, 20, on May 3. . . .

The Warriors are at home to the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday night. That same evening, the Ice will play host to the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Tri-City Americans have acquired F Wil Kushniryk, 18, from the Kelowna Rockets tri-cityfor a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Kushniryk is from Chilliwack, B.C. . . . Last season, as a freshman, Kushniryk had two goals and three assists in 51 games with the Rockets. This season, he was pointless in four games. . . . “Wil is a big guy with WHL experience,” Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, said in a news release. “He skates very well and will add depth to our forward group. With the long-term injury to Paycen Bjorklund we felt it was necessary to add a veteran forward.”


MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The U of Lethbridge Pronghorns will retire the late Brock Hirsche’s number (10) on Friday night, prior to a Canada West game against the visiting Calgary Dinos. Hirsche, a former captain of the Pronghorns, died on April 8 after a battle with testicular cancer. From Lethbridge, Hirsche returned to his hometown to play for the Pronghorns after spending four seasons with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . The news release announcing this is right here.


F Jaret Anderson-Dolan has been returned to the Spokane Chiefs by the NHL’s Los SpokaneChiefsAngeles Kings. Anderson-Dolan, a second-round pick by the Kings in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had one assist in five games with the Kings. In 212 regular-season games with the Chiefs, he has 93 goals and 100 assists. Last season, he had 40 goals and 51 assists, and was named to the Western Conference’s first all-star team. . . . Anderson-Dolan already has been added to Team WHL for its two-game part of the CIBC Canada-Russia series. Game 1 is scheduled for Nov. 5 in Kamloops, with Game 2 the next night in Langley, B.C. . . . Anderson-Dolan is expected to be in the Chiefs’ lineup on Friday when they entertain the Portland Winterhawks.


D Bobby Russell of the Spokane Chiefs has been suspended for one game after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct in an 8-2 loss to the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. He won’t play Friday against the visiting Portland Winterhawks.


The Prince Albert Raiders have brought in D Nolan Allan, the third-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He could make his WHL debut tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips. From Davidson, Sask., Allan has six goals and five assists in 12 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have dropped F Hayden Clayton, 18, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. He was pointless in four games with the Hurricanes this season. The same thing happened a year, as he went pointless in four games before being dropped and joining the Wolverines.


D Jayden Lee, a 17-year-old from North Vancouver, has committed to Quinnipiac U for the 2020-21 season. Last season, he had one goal and four assists in 29 games with the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen. This season, with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, he had a goal and five assists in 15 games. . . . Lee was a 10th-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


Mitchell Kirkup has returned to the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders as their director of scouting. Kirkup, who is a former Stampeders player and scout, also is a longtime scout with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.


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