Hitmen put together brother act . . . Broncos bring back Blocker . . . Hair cut in Kelowna

MacBeth

F Ryon Moser (Lethbridge, Swift Current, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the University of Lethbridge (Canada West, U Sports), he had five goals and 10 assists in 28 games. Moser has dual German-Canadian citizenship so he doesn’t count as an import. . . .

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has been released by Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga) after an unsuccessful tryout. Foster signed a one-year contract with Sport in March but the contract had a tryout clause through the end of September. He was pointless in one game this season. . . .

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has been released by mutual agreement by Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL). He was pointless in five games this season.


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The Calgary Hitmen scored something of a coup on Wednesday as they announced the signing of F Josh Prokop, 18, who had been with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Prokop, Calgaryfrom Edmonton, had made a commitment on Nov. 17 to attend Ohio State next season and play for the Buckeyes. . . . Prokop, who will play among Calgary’s top six forwards, was a fifth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. The Hitmen acquired his rights from the Broncos on Nov. 25 in a deal in which Calgary also got F Conner Chaulk, D Dom Schmiemann, F Riley Stotts, G Ethan Hein and a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. In exchange, the Broncos got F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Prokop had 21 goals and 15 assists in 48 games with the Vipers. He battled shoulder injuries last season, starting when he was hit from behind on Nov. 25. Then, in January, Prokop suffered a shoulder injury with four seconds left in a January game in Trail, had surgery and didn’t play again last season. This season, he had one goal and four assists in six games. . . . In Calgary, Prokop will get to be teammates with his younger brother, Luke, who is in his freshman season. . . . The last brother act to play with the Hitmen? Travis and Taylor Sanheim (2014-16). . . . The Hitmen next play Friday when they meet the Rebels in Red Deer.

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The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Owen Blocker, 18, from the Lethbridge SCBroncosHurricanes for an eighth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. . . . Blocker, a second-round pick by the Broncos in the 2015 bantam draft, was sent to the Hurricanes on Jan. 9 as part of the deal in which G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel landed in Swift Current. . . . From Oakbank, Man., Blocker totalled two goals and five assists in 58 games last season. He added three assists in 16 playoff games with Lethbridge. . . . The deal came one day after the Broncos claimed D Matthew Stanley, 20, on waivers from the Hurricanes. Stanley also was part of that Jan. 9 exchange, moving from Swift Current to Lethbridge.


The Kelowna Rockets got their roster down to 23 players on Wednesday by releasing KelownaRocketssophomore D Kelvin Hair, an 18-year-old from North Vancouver. He was a sixth-round pick by the Rockets in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. . . . Last season, he was pointless in 30 games with Kelowna. . . . The Rockets now are carrying two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 14 forwards. . . . Later on Wednesday, the Rockets fell to 0-3-0 after dropping a 4-2 decision to the visiting Prince George Cougars.


Head coach Dave Matsos won’t be working the bench this weekend as his Hamilton HamiltonBulldogs resume the OHL’s regular season. Matsos collapsed late in a 4-2 victory over the host Barrie Colts on Saturday and was taken to hospital by ambulance. He has since been released and spent time with players and staff on Tuesday. However, he won’t be returning to the bench while he rests and undergoes further testing. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Vince Laise will take over as head coach, with help from Ron Wilson, also an assistant coach, and Patrick Jarrett, who is an assistant coach/video coach. . . . The Bulldogs are scheduled to meet the Petes in Peterborough on Saturday, then return home to face the Ottawa 67’s on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Teri Pecoskie of the Hamilton Spectator reported that Matsos had been felled by “a seizure brought on by severe dehydration and a virus.”

According to Pecoskie, Shelly Boudah, Matsos’s sister, “posted the diagnosis on her Facebook page.”

Boudah also posted that her brother was “on his feet, eating and feeling pretty good.”

Pecoskie’s piece is right here.


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A special Kidney Walk for Dorothy . . . A milestone for the Blades’ voice . . . Some tidbits from opening weekend

MacBeth

G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .

F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .

F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.


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I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.

Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!

Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .

Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.

Drinnanfamily
The Drinnan family, with the cake (donated by the North Shore Safeway) that celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dorothy’s kidney transplant.

We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.

Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.

DrinnanSilvius
Darlene and Alan Silvius joined us at the Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sunday. Darlene and Dorothy have a special relationship.

Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.

So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.

These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.

The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.

All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.

Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.

Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.


In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .

Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .


Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.

There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.

The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.

Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!


On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:

“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.


The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose BrandonWKregularJaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.


A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.



The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.


F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally Lethbridgefor a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.

He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.


The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San PortlandJose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .

WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .

D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.

Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.


The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers Kamloops1showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”


The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.


The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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Tuesday’s WHL deals: If Broncos weren’t all-in before, they are now . . . Hurricanes land Barlage . . . Three other deals, too

WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 41

PLAYERS: 78

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 49

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 8

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


THE DEAL: The Swift Current Broncos acquired F Giorgio Estephan, 20, F Tanner Nagel, 19, and G Stuart Skinner, 19, from the Swift Current Broncos for F Logan Barlage, 16, F Owen Blocker, 17, D Matthew Stanley, 19, G Logan Flodell, 20, first- and third-round selections in the 2020 WHL bantam draft and a conditional second-round pick in 2021.

THE NUMBERS: Estephan, the Hurricanes’ captain, put up 297 points, including 119 SCBroncosgoals, in 297 regular-season games with Lethbridge. This season, he had 58 points, including 18 goals, in 39 games. . . . Estephan is fifth on the Hurricanes’ career list for games played (297), tied for seventh in points (297), nine in goals (119) and fourth in assists (178). . . . Last season, he finished with 35 goals and 54 assists in 68 games, then added 11 goals and 13 helpers in 18 playoff games. . . . Nagel was acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on Sept. 16, 2016. He has played 107 games with Lethbridge, recording 13 goals and 11 assists. This season, Nagel has three goals and five assists in 35 games. . . . Skinner made 182 appearances with the Hurricanes, going 88-66-13, 3.30, .907. He is first in franchise history in four career categories — games played (182), minutes played (9,885), saves (5,318) and victories (88). . . .

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Barlage has one goal and six assists in 37 games with the Broncos this season. Last season, he had 37 goals and 39 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos. In 2015-16, his draft season, Barlage put up 60 goals and 65 assists in 30 games with the bantam AA Humboldt Broncos. . . . Blocker, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, has one goal in 27 games this season. In 71 career games, he has one goal and one assist. . . . In 40 games this season, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound. . . . This season, Stanley has four assists in 40 games. In 91 career games, he has five assists. . . . Flodell made 35 appearances with the Broncos this season, going 24-8-3, 3.07, .913 with three shutouts. The Broncos acquired him from the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the season.

THE INFO: The Broncos now have five first-round selections from the 2013 bantam draft Lethbridgeon their roster — D Josh Anderson (Prince George), F Tyler Steenbergen (their own pick), Skinner, F Beck Malenstyn (Calgary) and F Kaden Elder (Seattle). However, the Broncos have traded away all of their first-rounders from 2014 through 2020 — D Dominic Schmiemann, 2014 (Calgary), F Riley Stotts, 2015 (Calgary), Barlage, and D Joel Sexsmith, 2017 (Vancouver). . . . The Broncos did get a 2019 first-round pick from Vancouver for the rights to Sexsmith. . . . Estephan, from Edmonton, was the fourth-overall selection in the 2012 bantam draft. He was a sixth-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2015 draft, but was never signed. . . . Nagel, who turns 20 on Jan. 27, is from Mossbank, Sask., but pretty much grew up in Swift Current. He was an alternate captain with the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge selected Skinner in the first round of the 2013 bantam draft. The Edmonton Oilers picked him in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract. . . .

The Broncos selected Barlage, who is from Humboldt, Sask., with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. He will turn 17 on Friday and is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . In 2013-14, with a peewee AA team in Humboldt, Barlage had 274 points, including 175 goals, in 56 games. . . . From Oakbank, Man., Blocker was selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos picked Stanley in the 12th round of the 2013 bantam draft. He’s from Balmoral, Man. . . . Flodell, from Regina, was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2012 bantam draft. Last season, with Saskatoon, he was an Eastern Conference second-team all-star.

WHY: Swift Current’s braintrust apparently felt it was one rung below Moose Jaw — at the time of the deal, the Warriors led the overall standings by eight points over the Broncos — and chose to try and do something about it. So the Broncos struck in a big way, but the price was steep. You have to think they know that’s the way it would be when Manny Viveiros, their director of hockey operations and head coach, first inquired about getting both Estephan and Skinner. . . . At the same time, the Hurricanes were eager to get their hands on Barlage. As Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt said in a news release: “To be able to get Barlage in the trade was the key to this move. He’s a big, young guy who has a lot of potential and we think he will be a real good player who will be an important piece to us now and (in the) future.”


THE DEAL: The Swift Current Broncos acquired F Andrew Fyten, 19, from the Calgary Hitmen for the rights to D Ethan Martini, 17, or a conditional third-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Fyten had six goals and 10 assists in 40 games with the Hitmen this Calgaryseason. In 155 career games, all with Calgary, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has 14 goals and 21 assists. . . . Martini is in his second BCHL season with his hometown Trail Smoke Eaters after playing at the Edge School in Calgary. He has six assists in 40 games this season. Last season, he had a goal and four assists in 58 games.

THE INFO: From Sundre, Alta., Fyten was a fifth-round pick by the Everett Silvertips in the 2013 bantam draft. He was dealt to Calgary on May 8, 2015, for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos selected Martini in the third round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Under the terms of the deal, if he doesn’t sign with Calgary, the Hitmen will get that third-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

WHY: The Broncos added some depth and some grit to their forward group, while the Hitmen get to take a shot at recruiting Martini, who has been a pretty solid junior A defender.


THE DEAL: The Medicine Hat Tigers acquired F Elijah Brown, who turned 18 on Jan. 5, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a second-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft Tigers Logo Officialand a conditional third-round pick in 2019.

THE NUMBERS: Brown had six goals and 14 assists in 80 games with Seattle. He had a goal and an assist in two games in 2015-16 and four goals and nine assists in 64 games last season. This season, he had a goal and four assists in 14 games when he chose to go home.

THE INFO: The Thunderbirds selected Brown, who is from Edmonton, in the first round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . He had been on Seattle’s suspended list since Nov. 1 when he chose to leave the club due to what he felt was a lack of playing time. . . . Medicine Hat assistant coach Bobby Fox and Brown were together on Team Alberta at the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup in 2015.

WHY: The Tigers get to add a former first-rounder who has some upside to their roster, while the Thunderbirds get a couple of assets for someone who didn’t fit with them.


THE DEAL: The Prince George Cougars acquired D Cameron MacPhee, 18, from the PrinceGeorgeMedicine Hat Tigers for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, who is from Edmonton, had one goal in 20 games with the Tigers this season. Last season, he had one assist in 16 games.

THE INFO: The Tigers had dropped MacPhee from their roster in November, saying that he had gone home to deal with a personal matter.

WHY: The Cougars didn’t pay a whole lot to get a half-season look at someone who could spend the next two seasons with them. . . . The Tigers add a draft pick for a player who wasn’t coming back to them.