Cougars’ Lamb doesn’t plan to coach. . . . Leschyshyn hat trick sparks Lethbridge win. . . . J-Train carries Blazers past Royals

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It appears that the Prince George Cougars will be hiring a head coach before the start of PrinceGeorgethe 2019-20 WHL season. General manager Mark Lamb has been the interim head coach since firing Richard Matvichuk on Feb. 6. . . . “That’s not the plan to come back,” Lamb has told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am. There’s going to be a search for it, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it yet.” . . . “Obviously when you’re in a situation like this,” Lamb added, “people kind of know, so I’ve gotten a lot of resumes already. I just wanted to concentrate on finishing the year strong and I think that’s what we did.” . . . The Cougars, who missed the playoffs, finished 3-11-2 under Lamb, after going 16-30-6 under Matvichuk. . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


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SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

NOTES: After home teams went 7-0 on opening night, they were only 4-4 on Saturday, with one visiting team — the Kamloops Blazers — winning in OT. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen featured a line brawl late in the third period. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders got huge games from their two Belarusians as they took a 2-0 lead over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Three players were suspended by the WHL after Friday’s games. F Kobe Mohr of the Kamloops Blazers, D John Ludvig of the Portland Winterhawks and D Jake Lee of the Seattle Thunderbirds didn’t play last night. . . . F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders may be looking at a suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct last night.


F Aliaksei Protas and D Sergio Sapego, the Prince Albert Raiders’ Belarusian connection, PrinceAlbertcombined for six points — each had two goals and an assist — to lead them to a 6-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-0, with Games 3 and 4 in Red Deer on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Protas scored the game’s first goal, at 6:08 of the first period, and Sapego made it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:32. . . . F Chris Douglas (1) pulled the Rebels to within a goal, on a PP, at 14:55, only to have Sapego (2) get that one back at 16:19. . . . F Dante Hannoun drew an assist on each of Prince Albert’s first three goals. . . . The Raiders lost F Brett Leason to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 3:50 of the second period. F Cam Hausinger, the subject of the check, wasn’t injured. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel scored a PP goal at 8:00 and then tied the game at 9:00, just 10 seconds after the major expired. . . . The Raiders took control by scoring the next three goals. . . . D Brayden Pachal (1) broke the tie at 11:14. . . . Protas (2) made it 5-3 at 2:08 of the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (2) upped the lead to 6-3 at 7:47. . . . Hagel (3) completed his hat trick, on a PP, at 10:24. . . . Red Deer was 3-5 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, six fewer than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders, whose night’s work included a stop on D Jeremy Masella on a penalty shot at 14:27 of the second period. The Raiders were ahead 4-3 at the time.


F Max Gerlach scored twice to help the host Saskatoon Blades to a 3-1 victory over the SaskatoonMoose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Blades lead the series, 2-0, with the teams headed to Moose Jaw for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Gerlach, who has three goals in the first two games, gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 11:55 of the second period. . . . F Carson Denomie (1) pulled the Warriors into a tie, on a PP, at 5:07 of the third period. . . . Gerlach snapped the tie at 10:05, and F Kirby Dash (1) added the empty-netter at 19:24. . . . D Dawson Davidson had two assists as he was in on both of Gerlach’s goals. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . Saskatoon outshot Moose Jaw, 30-22, including 13-5 in the third period. . . . The Blades got 21 stops from G Nolan Maier. . . . The Warriors, who started Brodan Salmond on goal in the opener, switched to Adam Evanoff for Game 2. He finished with 27 saves.


F Jake Leschyshyn stuck for three straight goals to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-Lethbridge1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Hurricanes lead the series, 2-0, as the teams head to Calgary for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday. . . . Nick Henry (2) got Lethbridge started with a goal just 25 seconds into the game. . . . Leschyshyn made it 2-0, on a PP, at 12:16, and then upped it to 3-0 at 19:13. . . . Leschyshyn scored his third goal of the game, and of the series, on another PP, at 8:57 of the third. That was his first playoff hat trick. . . . D Dakota Krebs (1) got Calgary’s goal, on a PP, at 11:28 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Leschyshyn and Henry, who also had an assist, from the Regina Pats in a deal earlier in the season. . . . While Lethbridge was 2-4 on the PP, Calgary went 0-7. . . . G Carl Tetachuk blocked 32 shots to record the victory over Jack McNaughton, who made 28 saves. . . . There was a multi-fight situation at 19:44 of the third period — officials handed out 86 penalty minutes, 49 to Lethbridge — so there just might be some discipline forthcoming. . . . D Devan Klassen and D Layne Toder of the Hitmen, along with Lethbridge D Nolan Jones, F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard all received fighting majors and game misconducts.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 49 shots, 23 of them in the second period, to lead the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . This was the opener in this series, with Game 2 set for Edmonton tonight. . . . F James Hamblin (1) got Medicine Hat in front, while shorthanded, at 4:18 of the second period, and F Hayden Ostir (1) made it 2-0 at 13:20. . . . F Josh Williams (1) got Edmonton’s goal at 17:58 of the third period. . . . Edmonton was 0-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-1. . . . The Oil Kings got 25 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . Edmonton had closed out the regular season on an 11-game winning streak.


G Roddy Ross, who didn’t finish Game 1, stopped 39 shots as his Seattle Thunderbirds Seattledumped the Vancouver Giants, 4-1, in Langley B.C. . . . The series is tied with Games 3 and 4 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . The Giants had won the opener, 7-1, on Friday. . . . Last night, Seattle took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Sean Richards (1), at 4:38, and D Simon Kubicek (1), on a PP, at 15:09. . . . F Jadon Joseph (2) got Vancouver on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 18:10. . . . The Thunderbirds got third-period insurance from F Andrej Kukuca (2), at 4:33, and F Nolan Volcan (1), into an empty net, at 17:58. . . . Volcan also had two assists. . . . Ross stopped 28 shots over the last two periods. . . . Vancouver was 1-4 on the PP; Seattle was 1-2. . . . The Giants got 24 saves from G Trent Miner. . . . Seattle was without D Jake Lee, who drew a TBD suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in Game 1. Vancouver F Justin Sourdif, who took that hit, didn’t play last night.


The Portland Winterhawks scored four times in the third period and beat the host PortlandSpokane Chiefs, 5-3. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, as it heads to Portland for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Last night, Spokane took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (2), at 6:19 of the first period, and F Luc Smith (1), at 13:19 of the second. . . . Portland responded with the next four goals. . . . F Josh Paterson (1) scored at 15:25 of the second period, and F Lane Gilliss (1) tied it at 8:11. . . . Paterson (2) gave Portland the lead at 9:51 and F Mason Mannek made it 4-2 at 12:37. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman (2) pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 17:26, only to have Portland D Matt Quigley (1) get the empty-netter just 19 seconds later. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 23 shots for Portland, seven fewer than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . The two teams combined for 13 PPs in Game 1; there weren’t any — not one — in Game 2. . . . Referees Steve Papp and Ward Pateman didn’t call any penalties. Zero. Zilch. Nada! . . . According to a news release from the Winterhawks, it was the first time in the team’s “43-year history both teams were held without a power-play chance.” . . . Portland was without D John Ludvig, who was suspended for two games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Game 1. F Ethan McIndoe of the Chiefs, who was hit by Ludvig, wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Spokane’s scratches included D Nolan Reid, who took a stick to the face early in Game 1, and F Luke Toporowski, who had an assist in the opener.


The Everett Silvertips erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals and then hung on for 4-Everett3 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-0. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and in Kennewick, Wash., on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . F Krystof Hrabik (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:51 of the first period. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (2) got Everett into a tie, on a PP, at 17:15. . . . D Jake Christiansen (1) gave the Silvertips the lead at 9:02 of the second period and F Gage Goncalves (1) stretched it to 3-1 just 19 seconds later. . . . F Robbie Holmes (1) made it 4-1 at 18:28. . . . The Americans got to within a goal on third-period scores from F Nolan Yaremko (2), shorthanded, at 2:36, and D Aaron Hyman (1), on a PP, at 18:58. . . . Christiansen also had an assist, and now has a goal and four helpers in the first two games. . . . Tri-City was 2-7 on the PP; Everett was 1-6. . . . Referees Mike Campbell and Dexter Rasmussen handed out 140 minutes in penalties, 76 to Everett. . . . That final total included 90 minutes worth of misconducts. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for the Silvertips, seven fewer than the American’s Beck Warm. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar, who didn’t finish Game 1, was scratched from Game 2.


F Jermaine Loewen scored on a rebound in OT to give the Kamloops Blazers a 4-3 victory Kamloops1over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Loewen’s winner came as he followed F Martin Lang to the Victoria net. Lang had cut in from the left side and tried to stuff in the winner, but the puck ended up laying loose in the crease for Loewen at 5:14 of OT. . . . The Blazers had scored on their first two shots of the game, F Kyrell Sopotyk (1) finding the range at 5:21 of the first period, and F Brodi Stuart (1) making it 2-0 at 7:06. . . . The Royals tied it on second-period PP goals from F Kody McDonald (1), at 2:53, and F Carson Miller (2), at 9:15. . . . Sopotyk (2) gave Blazers the lead, on a PP, at 3:54 of the third period, with McDonald (2) tying it at 4:11. . . . Victoria was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-2. . . . The Blazers were outshot 41-31 through three periods, but had a 4-1 edge in OT. . . . Kamloops got 39 saves from G Dylan Ferguson, who was playing his first game since leaving a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse, who had been 6-0-0 against the Blazers this season, turned aside 31 shots. . . . The Blazers scratched F Connor Zary for a second straight game. . . . Kamloops was without F Kobe Mohr, who was hit with a two-game suspension “for action at Victoria” in Game 1, according to the WHL website. It seems that Mohr’s stick came in contact with a linesman during that game. The Blazers claimed that the Royals filed for supplemental discipline; however, the Royals say they didn’t. . . . The Royals appear to be running into more injury problems. . . . They dressed seven defencemen — including APs Noah Lamb and Carson Golder — after scratching D Mitchell Prowse, who had played in Game 1. . . . In Game 2, the Royals mostly went with four defencemen — Lamb, Scott Walford, Ralph Jarratt and Rene Aquilon. D Jameson Murray, scratched from Game 1, was on the bench but didn’t play a shift. Jarratt, who has had an injury-plagued season, appeared to suffer a shoulder injury as Kamloops scored its third goal of the game. . . . Victoria F D-Jay Jerome played a couple of first-period shifts, but that was about all until he was out on a PP in OT. . . . Kamloops killed off that penalty, then won the game a couple of minutes later.


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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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It’s a big day in Allan, Sask. . . . No playoffs for Wheaties. . . . Blazers, Rockets all even in third. . . . Giants clinch conference flag

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This is going to be a great day in Allan, Sask. That’s because the folks there are in the HumboldtBroncosmiddle of their winter festival, and they will be taking time to rename the local arena in honour of the late Logan Schatz, who was the captain of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. The Allan and District Communiplex is to be renamed the Logan Schatz Memorial Arena. . . . Allan is located about 60 km southeast of Saskatoon. . . . Schatz, a native of Allan, was finishing up his fourth season with the Broncos when he was killed in the April 6 bus crash. . . . The dedication ceremony also will involved the unveiling of signage inside and outside the arena. Angie Rolheiser of northeastnow.com writes that the “signs were made by Humboldt Collegiate Institute industrial arts teacher Brian Hinz, who also taught Logan while he attended HCI.” . . . It is only fitting that there will be a hockey game in the Logan Schatz Memorial Arena tonight, with the Allan Senior Flames meeting the Kinistino Tigers in Game 2 of a Wheatland Hockey League playoff series. . . . Rolheiser’s story is right here.


There is an interesting conundrum in Kamloops where the Blazers ran out of goaltenders and had one on their bench Friday night whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips.

This all started on March 6 when Kamloops starter Dylan Ferguson, 20, was injured Kamloops1during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants.

The Blazers immediately brought in Rayce Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos to back up Dylan Garand. In Ferguson’s absence Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, made his fifth straight start last night as the Blazers lost, 5-4 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Cougars.

Ramsay was on the bench for the first four of those starts, but he couldn’t make it five because he had to return to Humboldt as the Broncos started a playoff series in Estevan against the Bruins last night. Ramsay made 29 saves as the Broncos opened with a 4-1 victory.

In the end, the Blazers were able to add G Danton Belluk to their roster as an emergency backup, getting him, with the WHL’s approval, on loan from the Silvertips. Under emergency conditions, Belluk will only be able to play should Garand be injured.

Belluk, 17, is from Lorette, Man. A 10th-round pick of the Silvertips in the 2016 bantam draft, he spent this season with the midget AAA Eastman Selects. Last season, he got into two games with the Silvertips.


Two WHL veteran forwards signed three-year entry-level NHL contracts on Friday.

Trey Fix-Wolansky, the captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings, signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Fix-Wolansky, 19, has 101 points, including 37 goals, in 63 games. He has single-season career highs in goals, assists and points. . . . From Edmonton, he has 244 points, including 151 assists, in 204 career regular-season WHL games over three seasons, all with the Oil Kings. . . . He wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. . . .

Jake Elmer, an undrafted free agent, signed with the New York Rangers. He has 38 goals and 41 assists in 67 games. Elmer, who turned 20 on Dec. 31, is from Calgary. The Regina Pats selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . They dealt him to the Kootenay Ice and he later was moved to the Hurricanes. Last season, he finished with 18 goals and 19 assists in 70 games with Lethbridge. . . . In 203 career regular-season games, he has 63 goals and 69 assists.


If you have attended a WHL game or a show at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, you may have seen Freda and/or Howard Brown. Both of them have been heavily involved with the volunteers and security at the arena; Freda also looked after the media and scouts in the press box for a number of years. . . . Freda now is dealing with kidney disease — she started dialysis earlier this month — and is hoping that a transplant is in her future. Howard has proven to be a match, and he now is going through the testing process to see if he can be the donor. . . . With Thursday having been World Kidney Day, they told their story to CFJC-TV in Kamloops, and it’s all right here. There is a story here, as well as video.


The Trinity Western Spartans won their second straight BCIHL championship on Friday TWUnight, beating the Vancouver Island Mariners, 9-1, in Aldergrove, B.C., to sweep the best-of-three series. . . . The Spartans are the first team to successfully defend its BCIHL championship since the Castlegar, B.C.-based Selkirk College Saints won in 2014-15 and 2015-16. . . . TWU finished the regular season at 18-5-0, then went 4-0 in the playoffs. Over the past two seasons, the Spartans’ combined record is 47-8-1. . . . TWU has applied for admission to Canada West in time for the 2020-21 season. A decision is expected later this year.


Darren Granger started in the hockey business as the assistant equipment manager with the Brandon Wheat Kings. That was about 25 years ago. He now has been in the NHL since 1992, first with the Vancouver Canucks as their assistant equipment manager. Since 2006, he has been the head equipment manager for the Los Angeles Kings. . . . Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times has more on Granger right here.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Brandon Wheat Kings had their playoff hopes come to an end as they were beaten, Pats5-4, by the host Regina Pats. . . . Regina (19-45-3) had lost its previous seven games. . . . Brandon (30-29-8) has lost five in a row. The Wheat Kings are four points away from a playoff spot but have only one game remaining. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . Regina is 4-2-1 in the season series; Brandon is 3-4-0. . . . The Pats won this one with three goals in the span of 1:31 in the third period. . . . Regina D Liam Schioler (5) tied the score, 3-3, at 9:13 of the third period. . . . D Brett Clayton (5) broke the tie at 9:47. . . . F Sergei Alkhimov (13) upped Regina’s lead to 5-3 at 10:44. . . . F Luka Burzan (40) got the Wheaties to within a goal at 11:40 but they weren’t able to get even. . . . Brandon F Ben McCartney shot wide on a penalty shot at 15:43 of the third period. . . . F Cole Reinhardt (22) and Burzan had given Brandon a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (5), on a PP, and Alkhimov got Regina even in the second period, and Brandon D Braydyn Chizen (2) gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 1:12 of the third. . . . G Dean McNabb stopped 34 shots for Regina. . . . The Wheat Kings got 39 stops from G Jiri Patera.


F Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored in OT to give the Prince George Cougars a 5-4 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Prince George (19-40-8) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (27-32-8) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is tied with the Kelowna Rockets for third place in the B.C. Division. If they are tied after tonight’s games, they will meet in a sudden-death play-in game in Kamloops on Tuesday night. . . . They Blazers and Cougars will play again tonight, this time in Prince George. . . . Kamloops is 6-0-2 in the season series; Prince George is 2-5-1. . . . The Cougars erased a 2-1 deficit with three goals in the first half of the third period. Mikhalchuk tied the game at 1:11; F Josh Curtis (13) gave the Cougars the lead at 6:51; and F Mike MacLean came out of the penalty to score his fifth goal of the season on a breakaway at 9:50. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (13) got Kamloops to within a goal, on a PP, at 13:39, and F Connor Zary (23) tied it from a scramble at 19:04 with G Dylan Garand on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Blazers held possession for most of the OT, but got a bit too fancy in the offensive zone and gave up a 2-on-1 with Mikhalchuk and Curtis going the other way. Mikhalchuk ended it with his 24th goal of the season. . . . D Rhett Rhinehart (5) scored Prince George’s first goal, with F Kobe Mohr (8) and F Ryley Appelt (5) giving Kamloops a 2-1 lead. . . . Mikhalchuk finished with two goals and two assists, while Curtis added two assists to his goal. . . . Zary also had three points, as he, too, had two helpers. . . . The Cougars got 26 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Garand stopped 24 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers scratched D Joonas Sillanpää, their Finnish freshman, for a third straight game.


F Max Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie in the third period to give the Saskatoon Blades a 3-2 Saskatoonvictory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Saskatoon (45-14-8) has won eight in a row, and 14 of 15. It also has won nine in a row on home ice. The Blades will finish second in the East Division. They open a first-round series against the Moose Jaw Warriors on March 22 in Saskatoon. . . . Prince Albert (53-10-4) had won its previous three games. The Raiders will finish atop the Eastern Conference and meet the Red Deer Rebels, the second wild-card team, in the first round. . . . Season series: Prince Albert, 5-2-0; Saskatoon, 2-4-1. . . . These two teams will play tonight in Prince Albert. . . . F Parker Kelly (35) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 1:21 of the first period. . . . The Blades went ahead 2-1 on goals from D Brandon Schuldhaus (8), at 5:44, and F Ryan Hughes (30), on a PP, at 0:37 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (41) got the visitors into a 2-2 tie, on a PP, at 4:49 of the third period. . . . Gerlach won it with his 41st goal, on a PP, at 7:17. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 28 shots for the Blades. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott, who stopped 29 shots, went into the game riding three straight shutouts. His shutout streak ended at a franchise-record 185:44 when Schuldhaus scored. The Raiders’ previous record (128:32) had been set by G Craig Hordal in 1995-96. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson played in his 300th regular-season game. . . . The Raiders’ scratches included F Dante Hannoun.


F Jake Leschyshyn scored three times to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory Lethbridgeover the host Red Deer Rebels. . . . Lethbridge (39-18-10) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings for top spot in the Central Division. The Oil Kings will go home-and-home with the Calgary Hitmen this afternoon and Sunday afternoon. The Hurricanes will meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat tonight. . . . Red Deer (33-28-6) has lost three straight. Despite the loss, the Rebels clinched the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot when the Brandon Wheat Kings lost. Red Deer will meet the conference-champion Prince Albert Raiders in the first round. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 4-1-1; Red Deer was 2-3-1. . . . F Dylan Cozens (34) and Leschyshyn, on a PP, gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with goals 30 seconds apart in the first period. . . . The Rebels tied it on two goals from F Reese Johnson, at 9:13 of the first period and 5:18 of the second. . . . Leschyshyn put the Hurricanes back out front at 12:58. . . . Johnson completed his third hat trick of the season by scoring his 27th goal at 13:41. . . . Leschyshyn’s 40th goal, at 4:15 of the third period, stood up as the winner. He’s got three career hat tricks; this was his first with Lethbridge, which acquired him from the Regina Pats this season. . . . G Carl Tetachuk earned the victory with 27 saves, two fewer than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders.


The Moose Jaw Warriors set a franchise record for most road victories in a season with a MooseJawWarriors6-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Currrent. . . . Moose Jaw (39-20-8) has won two in a row. It will finish third in the East Division and meet the Saskatoon Blades in a first-round playoff series. . . . The Warriors won 24 road games this season, one more than last season’s team. . . . Swift Current (11-50-6) will travel to Moose Jaw tonight. . . . Season series: Moose Jaw, 4-0-1; Swift Current, 1-3-1. . . . The Warriors got two goals and two assists from F Justin Almeida, who now has 108 points, including 76 assists. Almeida, who has had 12 career games with at least four points, leads the WHL in assists and is third in points, four points behind Portland Winterhawks F Joachim Blichfeld and two behind teammate Tristin Langan, who had one assist. . . . The Warriors also got goals from F Carson Denomie (7), F Keenan Taphorn (15), F Daniil Stepanov (8) and D Josh Brook (16). . . . Almeida and Stepanov each scored while shorthanded. . . . F Brayden Tracey was among Moose Jaw’s scratches.


Shivers
After being open for 690 Kootenay Ice games, Shivers concession stand will end its run when the team leaves for Winnipeg after Sunday’s game. “Thank you Kootenay Ice and hockey fans,” reads the sign. “Shivers opened on Sept 12, 2001. Since opening we have served you for 690 Kootenay Ice hockey games.” It is signed: “Ramona and Staff.”

F Ryan Jevne scored once and added two assists to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 5-2 Tigers Logo Officialvictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. . . . Medicine Hat (35-26-6) has won three in a row. With the victory, it clinched the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. The Tigers will play the Central Division champion, either the Edmonton Oil Kings or Lethbridge Hurricanes, in the first round. . . . Kootenay (12-45-10) has lost six in a row. . . . The Tigers won the season series, 5-1-0; the Ice was 1-4-1. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (21), Jevne (31) and F Ryan Chyzowski (27), on a PP, gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the first period. . . . D Linus Nassen (7) made it 4-0 at 12:58 of the second. . . . D Marco Creta (4) and F Holden Kodak (2) scored for the Ice in the third period, before F Brett Kemp (32) got an empty-netter for Medicine Hat. . . . Ice G Jesse Makaj stopped 51 shots, 22 more than the Tigers’ Mads Sogaard. . . . Kootenay F Austin Schellenberg left in the first period with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return. . . . The Ice brought in D Anson McMaster, 16, for the final two games of the season. A second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . The Ice has one home game remaining, Sunday afternoon against the Red Deer Rebels, and its stay in Cranbrook will be over. The franchise is relocating to Winnipeg.


The Victoria Royals got 35 saves from G Griffen Outhouse and two shootout goals to beat VictoriaRoyalsthe visiting Everett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . Victoria (34-29-4) had lost its previous four games. It will finish second in the B.C. Division and meet with the Kamloops Blazers or Kelowna Rockets in the first round. . . . Everett (46-16-5) has lost three in a row (0-4-1). It will finish atop the U.S. Division, and will see the Tri-City Americans in the first round. . . . Victoria is 2-1-0 in the season series; Everett is 1-1-1. . . . These two teams will meet again tonight in Everett. . . . Last night, F Connor Dewar (36) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:15 of the first period, only to have Victoria F Brandon Cutler tie it 17 seconds later. . . . Everett went ahead 2-1 as F Martin Fasko-Rudas (12) scored at 8:59 of the second period. . . . Cutler tied it with his 14th goal of the season, just 57 seconds later. . . . Victoria got shootout goals from D Ralph Jarratt and F Igor Martynov, with F Bryce Kindopp the only Everett shooter to score. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for the Silvertips. . . . F Lucas Cullen, 19, who spent his season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, made his Everett debut. . . . The Royals scratched D Mitchell Prowse, D Jameson Murray, D Matt Smith, F Tyus Gent, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver. . . . They had 16 skaters dressed, including two APs — D Kaden Reinders and D Noah Lamb.


F Jake McGrew enjoyed his third career hat trick to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-3 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Spokane (39-21-7) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. The Chiefs have one game remaining. The Winterhawks will play the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight and again Sunday. . . . Portland and Spokane will be first-round opponents. . . . Tri-City (34-27-6) has lost four straight (0-2-2). It will be the Western Conference’s first wild-card team and will meet the Everett Silvertips in the first round. . . . Season series: Tri-City, 6-4-1; Spokane, 5-5-1. . . . The Chiefs and Americans will play again tonight, this time in Spokane. . . . McGrew, on a PP, and D Roman Kalinichenko (2) gave the Chiefs an early 2-0 lead. . . . F Parker AuCoin, who scored 21 goals last season, got his 42nd of this season for the Americans at 13:34 of the opening period. He also had two assists in this one. . . . McGrew added his second goal at 19:15. . . . Chiefs F Luke Toporowski gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 13:18 of the second period. . . . Tri-City F Krystof Hrabik (21) tied it, on a PP, at 2:35 of the third. . . . Spokane D Filip Kral (10) broke the tie at 18:12, and McGrew completed his hat trick by scoring his 30th goal into an empty net at 19:03. . . . The Chiefs got 25 saves from G Reece Klassen, while Tri-City’s Talyn Boyko blocked 39 shots. . . . The Chiefs scratched F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, F Riley Woods, D Ty Smith and F Eli Zummack. F Bear Hughes, who played this season with the junior B Spokane Braves, made his WHL debut.


D Dylan Plouffe scored a late PP goal to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the VancouverKelowna Rockets in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (48-15-4) has won three in a row. With the victory, the Giants clinched first place in the Western Conference and will meet the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round. . . . Kelowna (27-32-8) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is tied for third with the Kamloops Blazers in the B.C. Division. Each team has one game remaining — the Rockets will entertain the Giants tonight, while the Blazers are playing the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Should the Blazers and Rockets end up tied for third place, a sudden-death play-in game will be held in Kamloops on Tuesday night. . . . Vancouver is 7-0-1 in the season series with Kelowna, which is 1-7-0. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (5) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 3:36 of the second period. . . . Kelowna F Kyle Crosby (7) tied it at 11:01. . . . Plouffe won it with his eighth goal of the season, at 16:50 of the third period. . . . The Giants got 17 stops from G Trent Miner. . . . Kelowna G Roman Basran stopped 29 shots. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-1. . . . The Rockets continue to play without D Lassi Thomson (concussion).


Tweetoftheday

Rebels give Sutter victory No. 500. . . . Almeida gets NHL deal, then leads Warriors to win. . . . Blazers closing in on Rockets


ThisThat

Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, is the newest member of the WHL’s 500 club.

Sutter recorded his 500th regular-season victory as a WHL head coach on Saturday night whlwhen the Rebels dumped the visiting Kootenay Ice, 8-4.

It was only fitting that Sutter should reach the milestone on Country and Western Night at the Centrium. From Viking, Alta., Sutter and his brothers are just as comfortable on the ranch as they are in the arena.

“I never thought about it until I came off and they told me to go back on the bench,” Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “I don’t know. Just been around a long time. It’s really that at the end of the day.”

Sutter, 56, went into this season with 468 regular-season coaching victories, and the Rebels now are (32-25-6). However, Sutter missed one victory this season while on a father-son junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks, although he is injured right now.

If you are wondering, that victory was credited to assistant coach Brad Flynn.

Sutter is in his 20th season as the Rebels’ owner and general manager,  and his 15th as head coach. He started in 1999-2000 and was there through 2006-07. He then had stints as head coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames. Sutter was back in Red Deer for the 2012-13 season, and he replaced head coach Jesse Wallin on Nov. 14, 2012.

Sutter is ninth on the WHL’s all-time list.

Sutter is the second WHL coach to reach 500 victories this season. Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, got there on Feb. 9 with a 6-5 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Habscheid, who now is at 508, celebrated by taking his club to a Dairy Queen in Lethbridge before heading home to Prince Albert.

Taking Note pointed that out to Sutter via text last night and asked how he planned to celebrate. His response was: “Haha . . . McDonald’s.”

In all likelihood, the next WHL head coach to get to 500 victories will be Shaun Clouston. He has 389 victories as he puts the wraps on his ninth regular-season as the Tigers’ head coach.

——

Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit after Saturday’s games:

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

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

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

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

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

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

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

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 508

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 500

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 389

19. Mike Johnston (Portland) 354

20. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level contract NHLwith the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a fifth-round selection by Pittsburgh in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Almeida, who turned 20 on Feb. 6, is from Kitimat, B.C. . . . He has 100 points, including a WHL-leading 70 assists, in 60 games. . . . In 252 career regular-season games, he has 232 points, including 146 assists. . . . The Prince George Cougars selected Almeida with the fifth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. They traded him to Moose Jaw on Jan. 5, 2017, in a deal that had F Nikita Popugaev go to the Cougars. The Warriors also got F Yan Khomenko and two bantam draft picks — a second-rounder in 2018 and a fifth in 2017.


The Seattle Thunderbirds were without freshman F Andrej Kukuca on Saturday night as they entertained the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Kukuca, a 19-year-old Slovakian freshman, returned to his home country in order to write an exam. He has 54 points, including 25 goals, in 57 games this season. . . . I don’t remember this kind of thing happening in previous seasons, but the Kootenay Ice is without D Martin Bodak and the Vancouver Giants are without F Milos Roman for the same reason.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida, who signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the MooseJawWarriorsday, scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has won two in a row. The Warriors will finish third in the East Division and open a first-round series against the Blades in Saskatoon on March 22. . . . Regina (18-44-3) has lost six straight. . . . Moose Jaw won the season series with Regina, 7-1-0. . . . Almeida got the Warriors started, on a PP, at 3:25 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey made it 2-0 at 11:51. . . . Moose Jaw went ahead 3-0 at 11:46 of the second period on a goal from F Daniil Stepanov, who had gone 18 games without a point. . . . Tracey (35) made it 4-0 at 1:27 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Wright (7) got Regina’s goal at 9:40. . . . Almeida’s 30th goal, into an empty net at 17:17, gave him 100 points this season, the third WHLer to get there. . . . F Luke Ormsby (8) got the Warriors’ final goal at 17:52. . . . D Jett Woo had three assists for the Warriors, while Tracey added an assist for a three-point game. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-6 on the PP; Regina was 0-2.


The Saskatoon Blades broke open a scoreless game with three second-period goals and Saskatoonwent on to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (43-14-8) has won five straight games. It will finish second in the East Division and meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round. Games 1 and 2 are to be played in Saskatoon on March 22 and 23. . . . Swift Current (10-48-6) has lost 17 in a row (0-14-3). The Broncos completed a seven-game road trip at 0-6-1 and were outscored 48-10 in the process. . . . Saskatoon took the season series, 7-0-1; Swift Current was 1-7-0. . . . Saskatoon got started when F Tristen Robins (9) scored, on a PP, at 6:43 of the second period. . . . F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (13), at 7:34, and F Ryan Hughes, at 19:15, made it 3-0. . . . Hughes made it 4-0 with his 29th goal just seven seconds into the third period. . . . D Dawson Davidson (12) made it 5-0 at 6:59. . . . The Broncos, without a goal in nine straight periods, finally scored at 12:41 when F Matthew Culling got his 11th. That ended the Broncos’ goal drought at 209 minutes. . . . F Kirby Dach (25) got Saskatoon’s last goal at 17:40. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Eric Florchuk. . . . G Dorrin Luding earned the victory with 16 saves. . . . Broncos D Matthew Stanley totalled 32 penalty minutes — one minor, two misconducts and a game misconduct — as he twice tried to instigate a fight. . . . Things don’t get any easier for the Broncos, who are to entertain the Prince Albert Raiders this afternoon. The Broncos played twice in Prince Albert this week, losing 6-0 and 8-0.


F Taylor Ross scored his club’s first three goals and added an assist to lead the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge (38-17-10) has won six in a row. It now sits atop the Central Division standings, two points ahead of the idle Edmonton Oil Kings. Lethbridge has two games remaining; Edmonton has four left. . . . Calgary (36-24-6) has lost two in a row. It appears headed to a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . F Sean Tschigerl gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead with his first career WHL goal at 11:12 of the first period. . . . Ross then struck for his second career hat trick, getting goals at 14:23 and 19:49 of the first period, and 1:16 of the second. He’s now got 35 goals. . . . The Hurricanes went ahead 5-1 on goals from F Jackson Shepard (5), at 7:18, and F Jake Elmer (38), at 11:08. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (3) scored for the Hitmen, shorthanded, at 9:33 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive, who has 32 goals, struck twice for Lethbridge, at 11:57 and 13:29, before F James Malm (34) and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (7) scored PP goals for Calgary. . . . Bellerive finished with five points, as he also had three assists. . . . Elmer ran his point streak to 16 games with a goal and an assist, while Lethbridge F Dylan Cozens had three assists and is on a 14-game point streak.


F Brandon Hagel scored once and added three assists in leading the host Red Deer Rebels Red Deerto an 8-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Red Deer (33-25-6) has won two in a row. It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who have three games remaining. . . . Kootenay (12-43-10) has lost four in a row. . . . With one game remaining, Red Deer is 5-0-0 in the season series; Kootenay is 0-3-2. . . The Rebels jumped out to an early 3-0 first-period lead on a goal from F Cam Hausinger (19) and two from F Reese Johnson, who has 24. Johnson’s first goal was shorthanded; the second one came via the PP. He also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Kootenay F Nolan Orzeck (3) made it 3-1 at 13:24. . . . The Rebels went up 5-1 on second-period goals from D Chad Leslie (1), at 2:14, and F Jeff de Wit (25), at 4:55. . . . F Jaeger White (27), at 7:18, and F Connor McClennon (13), at 10:16, on a PP, got the Ice to within two goals. . . . F Zak Smith (12) restored Red Deer’s three-goal lead at 14:42, only to have F Jakin Smallwood (13) get one back for the Ice, on a PP, at 15:33. . . . Hagel got his 40th goal, on a PP, at 19:34, and F Josh Tarzwell (10) closed out the scoring at 17:43 of the third period. . . . McLennon added two assists to his goal. . . . Red Deer was 2-4 on the PP; Kootenay was 2-5. . . . The Rebels were without D Alex Alexeyev, who appeared to suffer a knee injury in the third period of Friday’s 5-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Red Deer lost F Alex Morozoff to a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:55 of the second period. . . . Brent Sutter, Red Deer’s owner, general manager and head coach, earned his 500th regular-season WHL coaching victory with this one.


F Ryan Jevne’s two goals and an assist helped the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-2 Tigers Logo Officialvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (33-26-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points up on the Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon (30-27-8) has lost three straight. It is four points from a playoff spot with three games left to play. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . Brandon went 1-4-1 on a six-game Central Division swing. . . . Jevne gave his guys a 1-0 lead with a PP goal at 16:16 of the first period, only to have Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (43) tie it 28 seconds later. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (24) gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 7:53 of the second period, and Jevne’s 30th goal, shorthanded, made it 3-1 at 12:53. . . . The Wheat Kings got back to within a goal at 13:22 when D Chad Nychuk (3) scored on a PP, his second goal in two games. . . . Medicine Hat got insurance from F Hayden Ostir (11) at 13:33 of the third period. . . . The Tigers were 1-7 on the PP; Brandon was 1-2. . . . Medicine Hat got 28 saves from G Mads Søgaard. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera made 30 stops. . . . F Cole Sillinger, who has played three road games with the Tigers, played his first WHL game in Medicine Hat. The son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger, Cole had two assists in those first three games.


F Jermaine Loewen broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the Kamloops Blazers a 2-1 Kamloops1victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Kamloops (25-32-7) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (27-31-7) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Blazers. Kelowna has three games remaining — at home to Spokane, then a home-and-home with Vancouver. Kamloops has four to play — at home to Spokane, Victoria and Prince George, and one in Prince George. . . . On Friday, the Blazers beat the visiting Rockets, 2-1, in a shootout. . . . Kamloops went 6-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna wound up 4-4-2. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (11) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 6:00 of the second period. . . . Kelowna got even at 13:04 when F Kyle Topping (22) scored. . . . Loewen won it with his 25th goal, at 9:01 of the third period. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi took the game’s only penalty, a roughing minor at 8:25 of the first period. . . . The Blazers got 27 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Blazers remain without G Dylan Ferguson, so have Rayce Ramsay on the bench. He plays for the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, who are to begin their playoff run on Friday night. . . . G Roman Basran blocked 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . The Rockets were without D Lassi Thomson, who left Friday’s game after taking a hit from Loewen. . . . Kelowna F Mark Liwiski sat out the second of a three-game suspension.


The Prince George Cougars ended a 13-game home-ice losing skid with a 5-2 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Portland Winterhawks. . . . Prince George (18-40-8) had lost its past six games (0-5-1). . . . Portland (39-20-6) had beaten the Cougars, 3-2, on Friday night. Portland is second in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. Portland and Spokane will meet in the first round, but home-ice advantage has yet to be decided. . . . The Cougars hadn’t won at home since beating the Kelowna Rockets, 4-0, on Jan. 12. . . . Portland won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . D Clay Hanus (7) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 victory at 3:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got the game’s next four goals, from D Austin Crossley (3), at 8:31 of the second period; F Vladislav Mikalchuk (22), on a PP, at 5:20 of the third; F Connor Bowie (3), at 12:25; and F Josh Maser, on a PP, at 14:32. . . . F Cross Hanas (8) scored for Portland at 15:48, before Maser got his 30th, into an empty net, at 18:58. . . . Prince George was 2-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-4. . . . The Cougars had a season-high 49 shots on goal. . . . Prince George got 37 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . The Winterhawks again were without F Cody Glass, F Seth Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig, all of whom are injured.


F Nolan Volcan scored twice and G Roddy Ross blocked 46 shots to help the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (28-28-8) has points in seven straight games (5-0-2). . . . Everett (46-15-4) had points in its previous eight games (7-0-1) and had won five in a row. . . . Everett finished the season series, 7-2-1; Seattle was 3-5-2. . . . Volcan gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:34 of the second period. . . . F Robbie Holmes (12) got Everett into a 1-1 tie at 14:37. . . . Volcan broke the tie with his 23rd goal, at 17:39 of the third period. . . . D Simon Kubicek drew an assist on each of Volcan’s goals. . . . Ross was stellar as his guys were outshot 47-20, including 16-3 in the first period. . . . Seattle was 1-1 on the PP; Everett was 0-3. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 18 shots. . . . Seattle D Jarret Tyszka left in the second period after being struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Everett F Bryce Kindopp. . . . F Max Patterson was among Everett’s scratches with an undisclosed injury.


F Adam Beckman scored twice and added two assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a SpokaneChiefs6-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (37-20-7) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Divsion, but now is three points points behind the Portland Winterhawks. Spokane has four games remaining, while Portland has three. . . . Victoria (33-28-4) has lost three straight. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Spokane won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . First-period goals by F Ethan McIndoe (14), at 1:59, and Beckman, at 7:23, got the Chiefs started. . . . Victoria cut into the lead at 7:06 of the second period when F Brandon Cutler (12) scored. . . . The Chiefs closed it out with goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (17), Beckman (29), on a PP, D Filip Kral (9), who also had two assists, and D Ty Smith (7). . . . Beckman, a 17-year-old freshman from Saskatoon, has 56 points, including 29 goals, in 64 games. . . . Anderson-Dolan now has goals in seven straight games. . . . The Chiefs got 21 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Victoria F Kaid Oliver is awaiting shoulder surgery and won’t play again this season. Oliver, who last played on Feb. 23, leads the Royals in goals (27) and points (49). . . . The Royals also are without D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, F Tyus Gent, F Sean Gulka and D Jake Kustra, all of whom are injured.


D Bowen Byram set a WHL record with another OT goal as the Vancouver Giants beat the VancouverTri-City Americans, 4-3, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Vancouver (46-15-4) now is tied with the Everett Silvertips atop the Western Conference. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Tri-City (34-26-5) is going to finish in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver went 4-0-0 in the season series; Tri-City was 0-2-2. . . . Byram scored his sixth OT goal of the season at 2:28 of extra time. That is one more OT goal than F Deven Sideroff scored with the 2016-17 Kamloops Blazers and F Eric Fehr had with the 2004-05 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Giants led this one 3-0 late in the second period. They got goals from F Tristen Nielsen (14), at 4:59 of the first period; F Davis Koch (28), at 18:32; and F Justin Sourdif (21), at 6:22 of the second. . . . The Americans roared back, getting two goals from F Parker AuCoin (40), at 16:39 of the second and 7:00 of the third, and F Krystof Hrabik (19), at 18:11 of the third period. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck stopped 30 shots, eight fewer than Tri-City’s Beck Warm.


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Rasmussen staying with Red Wings. . . . Wheat Kings move into playoff spot. . . . Kamloops loses ground to Kelowna, Seattle


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D Colton Jobke (Kelowna, Regina, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). He has three goals and three assists in 47 games. Jobke is a dual German-Canadian citizen. . . .

F Roman Tománek (Calgary, Seattle, 2004-06) has been released by mutual agreement by Gyergyói Gheorghieni (Romania, Erste Liga). In 36 games, he had 16 goals and 18 assists. He started the season with Michalovce (Slovakia, 1. Liga), going pointless in two games. . . .

F Ian McDonald (Tri-City, 2000-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Selb (Germany, Oberliga Süd). In 43 games, he has 31 goals and 53 assists. He leads the league in assists and points. . . .

F Colton Yellow Horn (Lethbridge, Tri-City, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He has 23 goals and 30 assists, and leads the team in points.

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It seems that the debating inside the Detroit Red Wings’ organization is over.

F Michael Ramussen will be staying with the NHL team, meaning he won’t be going back NHLto the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.

Rasmussen, 19, was the ninth overall selection by the Red Wings in the NHL’s 2017 draft. The Red Wings kept him on their roster this season, and he has seven goals and eight assists in 49 games.

Under the terms of the CBA between the NHL and NHLPA, Rasmussen, as a 19-year-old, would have to play with the Red Wings or be returned to the Americans. Earlier this month, he spent three games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, on a conditioning stint. In order to be eligible to play for Grand Rapids in the AHL playoffs, he would have to be returned to the Americans. He could then join the Griffins if and/or when Tri-City’s season ended.

The Red Wings have until Monday’s NHL trade deadline to return Rasmussen to the Americans, so there still is time for a mind to change. However, that now seems most unlikely to happen.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Rasmussen had 31 goals and 28 assists in 47 games with the Americans last season, then added 16 goals and 17 assists in 14 playoff games.


Joel Craven’s hockey career may be over.

Shaun Clouston, the Medicine Hat Tigers’ general manager and head coach, confirmed Tigers Logo Officialthat the sophomore defenceman has suffered another concussion and this one is “potentially career-ending.”

“I think that’s where Joel is at,” Clouston told Medicine Hat media on Thursday. “I suppose there’s always an opportunity at some point in the future to change that, but I do believe that’s where Joel is at right now . . . that the risk is not worth it.”

Craven, an 18-year-old from Whitefish, Mont., who played minor hockey in Calgary, was in his second season with the Tigers.

Last season, he suffered a concussion and was limited to 33 games. This season, he has three goals and one assist in 32 games.

This season, Craven suffered a concussion in mid-October and didn’t play again until Dec. 2. He suffered yet another concussion on Feb. 10 and hasn’t played again.

“He had a bad concussion on a tough hit last (season), and this is his second one this year,” Clouston said. “It’s obviously a very challenging situation. I think for Joel, he battled hard, he wanted this. He faced some adversity with a ton of courage, and we fully respect where that’s at.”

Craven’s father, Murray, is a Medicine Hat native and played four seasons (1980-84) with the Tigers before going to a pro career that included 1,071 regular-season NHL games. Murray now is the senior vice-president of hockey operations with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

With Joel gone, the Tigers will keep D Damon Agyeman, 16, on their roster for the rest of this season. From Cochrane, Alta., he has played five games with the Tigers this season. He had been with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons.

Charles Lefebvre of chatnewstoday.ca has more on the Tigers right here.


D Mats Lindgren, a top prospect for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, has made a verbal commitment to the U of Michigan Wolverines. Apparently, he made the revelation on his Instagram account on Thursday.

From North Vancouver, B.C., Lindgren will turn 15 on Aug. 26.

Lindgren is playing with the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins bantam prep A team, and has six goals and 37 assists in 47 games.

His father, Mats, played 387 regular-season NHL games in a career that ended with the Vancouver Canucks in 2002-03. He now coaches minor hockey on the Lower Mainland.


The Brooks Bandits beat the visiting Camrose Kodiaks, 6-2, on Friday night to set a single-Brooksseason AJHL record with 54 victories. The Bandits now are 54-3-0, and have won an AJHL-record 30 straight games. . . . The Bandits, under general manager/head coach Ryan Papaioannou, also have set the AJHL record for home victories (29) in one season. . . . The 2012-13 Bandits finished 53-4-3 en route to winning a national championship. . . . The 1976-77 Red Deer Rustlers won 28 straight home games. . . . The Bandits are the host team for the 2019 national junior A championship tournament, May 11-19.


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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Brandon Wheat Kings continued their late-season run for a playoff spot with a 6-2 BrandonWKregularvictory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades. . . . Brandon (29-22-7) has won six in a row, and has moved into a playoff spot. It now holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Red Deer Rebels and one point behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Saskatoon (37-14-8) had won seven in a row and had at least a point in each of its previous 13 games (11-0-2). The Blades are second in the East Division and appear destined to finish there. . . . F Ryan Hughes (13) put the visitors ahead 1-0 at 2:18 of the first period, but the Wheat Kings scored the next five goals. . . . F Ridley Greig (13) tied it at 11:32, with D Zach Wytinck (5) breaking the tie at 15:11. . . . Brandon then added three second-period goals — from F Luka Burzan (35), at 4:03; F Caiden Daley (6), at 4:46; and F Stelio Mattheos (40), at 10:20. . . . F Max Gerlach (37) got Saskatoon’s other goal, on a PP, at 4:47 of the third period, but Brandon F Ben McCartney (19) got that one back, shorthanded, at 10:39. . . . Gerlach ran his point streak to 15 games. He’s got 13 goals and 12 assists in that stretch. . . . Brandon got 37 saves from G Jiri Patera, who has won six straight. His work included a first-period stop on F Gary Haden on a penalty shot with the visitors ahead, 1-0. . . . The Blades had D Aidan De La Gorgendiere back in their lineup after he hadn’t played since Feb. 2. . . . D Nolan Kneen was among Saskatoon’s scratches. Saskatoon head coach Mitch Love told Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, that Kneen is “nicked up.” . . . The Wheat Kings were without F Linden McCorrister (ill).


G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason returned from five-game absences to lead the host Prince PrinceAlbertAlbert Raiders to a 4-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Prince Albert (48-8-3) has won two in a row, and leads the overall standings by 13 points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Kootenay (11-38-9) has lost seven straight (0-6-1). . . . Scott stopped 21 shots to earn his fifth shutout of this season. He has eight shutouts in his career, four of them against the Ice, including the first three. . . . Leason drew the primary assists on the Raiders’ first, second and fourth goals. . . . D Brayden Pachal (14) gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at 7:59 of the first period, and F Sean Montgomery made it 2-0 at 12:18. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (14) added a second-period goal, and Montgomery (26) added a shorthanded score in the third. . . . The Ice got 26 saves from G Curtis Meger, who made 27 appearances with the Raiders last season.


F Logan Nijhoff scored in OT to give the Regina Pats a 5-4 victory over the visiting PatsCalgary Hitmen. . . . Regina (18-38-3) has won two in a row and five of their past eight. . . . Calgary (30-22-6) has lost two straight (0-1-1). It is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers. Calgary also holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Mark Kastelic (43) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 5:52 of the first period, only to have Regina take a 2-1 lead on goals from F Garrett Wright (5), at 7:31, and F Duncan Pierce (8), at 10:13. Pierce had missed the previous eight games. . . . F James Malm pulled Calgary even at 18:26, on a PP. . . . The Pats went ahead 4-2 on second-period goals from F Austin Pratt (23), on a PP, at 5:06, and F Carter Massier (4), shorthanded, at 8:56. . . . The Hitmen tied it before the period ended, on goals from D Vladislav Yeryomenko (5), at 15:27, and Malm (25), on a PP, at 18:08. . . . Nijhoff won it with his seven goal just 30 seconds into OT. . . . Kastelic, who added two assists to his goal, left with a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:06 of the third period. . . . Regina got 37 saves from G Dean McNabb. . . . Ice G Jack McNaughton stopped 25 shots.


F Justin Almeida figured in Moose Jaw’s first three goals as the Warriors beat the MooseJawWarriorsBroncos, 4-2, in Swift Current. . . . Moose Jaw (32-16-8) is headed for a third-place finish in the East Division, and a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Swift Current (10-41-5) has lost nine in a row (0-7-2). . . . The Broncos took a 1-0 lead when F Ethan Regnier (9) scored, on a PP, at 5:12 of the first period. . . . Almeida (24) tied it, on a PP, at 11:23. . . . F Tristin Langan (42) gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead at 13:22 of the second period, only to have Broncos F Tanner Nagel (11) tie it, on a PP, at 16:23. . . . F Brayden Tracey scored the Warriors’ last two goals, breaking the tie, on a PP, at 13:14, getting an empty-netter, at 19:43. . . . Tracey now has 29 goals in his freshman season. . . . Almeida added two assists to his goal. . . . Moose Jaw was 3-4 on the PP; Swift Current was 2-3. . . . The Warriors held a 37-13 edge in shots., including 14-2 in the first period and 13-5 in the third.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first two goals and got 29 stops from G Dylan EdmontonOilKingsMyskiw en route to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Edmonton (33-18-8) has won two in a row. It leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer (29-23-5) has lost four in a row and now is one point out of a playoff spot. . . . These same teams will play again tonight in Red Deer. . . . The Oil Kings got first-period goals from F Scott Atkinson (10), at 8:56, and F David Kope (11), at 15:24. . . . F Brandon Hagel (34) scored for Red Deer, at 14:29 of the second period. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders stopped 26 shots.


The host Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit with four straight goals and went on Lethbridgeto beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-3. . . . Lethbridge (31-17-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (31-23-5) has lost five in a row. It is third in the Central Division, five points behind Lethbridge. . . . The same teams will meet again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . The Tigers took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Corson Hopwo, at 3:43, and F Ryan Chyzowski (20), on a PP, at 6:05. . . . Lethbridge tied it before the period ended, on goals from F Jake Elmer (30), at 10:45, and F Logan Barlage (13), on a PP, at 13:41. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (34) gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead at 3:34 of the second period, and F Taylor Ross (30) made it 4-2 at 12:27. . . . Hopwo (6) got the Tigers to within a goal at 15:10. . . . F Jordy Bellerive iced it for Lethbridge with a pair of third-period goals — at 14:50, on a PP, and into an empty net at 19:27. Bellerive has 27 goals. . . . The Hurricanes got three assists from F Nick Henry. . . . Lethbridge was 2-6 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-8. . . . The Tigers had F Hayden Ostir (knee) back after he had been out since Jan. 4, but they are without F Ryan Jevne.


The Prince George Cougars ended a 17-game losing skid with a 2-1 shootout victory over PrinceGeorgethe Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Prince George (17-35-7) hadn’t won since beating the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 4-0, on Jan. 12. . . . The Cougars are 13 points out of a playoff spot with nine games remaining. . . . Kamloops (22-28-6) is fourth in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Kelowna Rockets. They’ll play in Kelowna tonight. . . . Kamloops is four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Blazers are 6-0-1 in the season series; the Cougars are 1-5-1. . . . F Josh Maser gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:13 of the first period. . . . The Blazers tied it when F Zane Franklin (26) scored at 13:16 of the third period. . . . Kamloops had a 19-5 edge in third-period shots. . . . The Cougars scored the only goals of the shootout from F Ethan Browne and F Vladislav Mikhalchuk. . . . The Cougars got 41 saves from G Taylor Gauthier, while G Dylan Ferguson stopped 31 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Cougars lost D Cole Moberg to an undisclosed injury during the game. . . . Things don’t get any easier for the Cougars, who are to meet the U.S. Division-leading Silvertips in Everett tonight. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen takes a look at the Cougars’ woes right here.


The Kelowna Rockets scored twice in a shootout to beat the host Spokane Chiefs, 4-3. . . . KelownaRocketsKelowna (25-29-5) is third in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Spokane (30-19-7) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, and is fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind the Tri-City Americans. . . . F Leif Mattson (21) gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 5:26 of the first period. . . . Spokane F Riley Woods (28) tied it, on a PP, at 7:32. . . . Kelowna went up 3-1 on second-period PP goals by F Nolan Foote (30), at 11:30, and F Alex Swetlikoff (3), at 17:58. . . . F Luke Toporowski (17) got the Chiefs to within one, on a PP, at 14:36 of the third period. . . . F Luc Smith (26) tied it with 27.3 seconds left in regulation time and G Bailey Brkin on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Rockets won it on shootout goals from D Lassi Thomson and Foote. . . . G James Porter blocked 40 shots to earn the victory over Brkin, who made 23 saves. . . . Kelowna F Ted Brennan, who had played one game since Jan. 19, was back in the lineup. . . . The Chiefs used rainbow-coloured tape on their sticks during their pregame warmup in a show of support for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone program.


The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Portland tri-cityWinterhawks, 4-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (33-21-3) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Division nine points behind Portland and two ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Portland (36-17-6) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Americans won the season series, 7-1-0. . . . Tri-City F Parker AuCoin (37) ran his point streak to 10 games by giving his guys a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game. . . . Portland took a 2-1 lead on first-period goals from D Jared Freadrich (11), at 10:52, and F Cody Glass (15), at 12:59. . . . Tri-City F Krystof Hrabik (16) tied it at 15:30. . . . F Samuel Huo (6) broke the tie at 15:32 of the second period, and F Nolan Yaremko (22) iced it with an empty-netter at 19:00 of the third period. . . . Tri-City was 0-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-1. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 34 shots for the winners, while Portland got 27 stops from Joel Hofer. . . . Warm stopped Portland F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL in goals and points, on a penalty shot at 3:00 of the third period to preserve a 3-2 lead. . . . The Winterhawks remain without D Nolan De Jong.


G David Tendeck stopped 26 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 4-0 victory over the VancouverVictoria Royals in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (31-24-3) is atop the B.C. Division by 20 points over Victoria. . . . Victoria (30-25-3) looks to be headed to a second-place finish in the B.C. Division. . . . This was the first of three straight games between these teams, as they will clash again tonight and Sunday afternoon in Victoria. . . . Vancouver leads the season series, 5-2-1; Victoria is 3-4-1. . . . The Giants’ first two goals came from defencemen Kaleb Bulych (3), at 11:15 of the second period and Seth Bafaro (6), at 19:45. . . . The winner got insurance in the third period from F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) and F Justin Sourdif (18). . . . Tendeck posted his 20th victory of this season and the 50th of his career. This season, he is 20-10-2, 2.41, .911, with four shutouts. He has seven shutouts in his career. . . . The Royals got 30 saves from G Brock Gould.


D Jarret Tyszka scored in OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 3-2 victory over the SeattleSilvertips in Everett. . . . Seattle (24-28-6) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett (41-14-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by eight points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett held 1-0 and 2-1 leads. . . . D Wyatte Wylie (9) made it 1-0 at 16:49 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it on a goal by F Nolan Volcan (20) at 4:36 of the second period. . . . F Jalen Price (6) put Everett back into the lead at 6:46. . . . F Andrej Kukuca (22) forced OT with a PP goal at 11:25 of the third period. . . . Tyszka won it with his seventh goal at 2:24 of OT. . . . Seattle was 1-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-2. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 39 shots for Seattle. . . . Everett got 27 saves from Dustin Wolf. . . . Seattle lost D Cade McNelly to a headshot major and game misconduct at 7:18 of the second period. Everett F Martin Fasko-Rudas had to be helped off the ice after the hit. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar was scratched for a third straight game.


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Lamb, Matvichuk talk about Cougars . . . Montgomery sets Raiders’ record . . . Søgaard, Tigers shock Silvertips

MacBeth

F Nikita A. Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been released by mutual agreement by Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). He had one goal in 37 games. He also had four goals and four assists in nine games with Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk (Russia, MHL, the top junior league). . . . Popugayev started the season with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) and was assigned to their junior team, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (Russia, MHL), where he had two goals and an assist in three games. CSKA traded Popugayev to Amur on Sept. 9.


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Mark Lamb, in his first season as general manager of the Prince George Cougars, worked his first game as head coach on Friday night in a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna.

That loss left the Cougars riding a 12-game losing skid (0-9-3) was they head for Langley, PrinceGeorgeB.C., and a Sunday afternoon appointment with the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants.

The Giants won twice in Prince George this week — 4-2 on Tuesday and 4-3 in OT on Wednesday.

The Cougars fired head coach Richard Matvichuk, who was in the last season of a three-year contract, after Wednesday’s game.

Lamb and Matvichuk talked about the move with Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen.

Here’s Lamb: “This has been ongoing for a while — I think it was inevitable that something was going to happen (Wednesday) night, win or lose. At the start of the (season) we talked about a lot of development and getting better all the time and we seemed to be stagnant and just kind of not getting better.

“It’s a lengthy streak and it’s hard on everybody — the coaches, the owners, office staff, everybody. It’s not a fun time and you just can’t keep it going. You have to do something to make it change.

“Whether he had one year or two years left was irrelevant on how we were thinking.”

Here’s Matvichuk: “When you go all-in, like we did two years ago, and you take a look at how many players were drafted in the last five years who aren’t even playing in the WHL, regardless of whether it’s a first-rounder or a seventh-rounder, the development curve wasn’t there.

“We knew as an organization last (season) when we decided to go into our rebuild it was going to be a struggle, and it was a struggle. We’re not far off where me and the coaching staff thought we’d be, right around 20 or 25 (wins) and fighting for that last playoff spot this year and that’s exactly where we’re at. Going through the season our goal was to get better every day, the playoffs was never an issue, it was about developing these kids to get ready for the next three years. It wasn’t about winning and losing, it was about making these players better every day and I truly believe that’s what we did.”

Clarke’s complete and thorough story is right here.


The AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines and Gord Thibodeau, their vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, have parted company. . . . Assistant coach Shawn Martin has taken over as interim GM/head coach. . . . “After 25 years of coaching, I have reached the inevitable point of hockey burnout,” Thibodeau said in a news release. “Moving forward I will take some time to rest, recharge and re-evaluate my future within the game of hockey.” . . . Thibodeau is the winningest head coach in WHL history, having put up 889 regular-season victories. . . . The Wolverines went into Friday at 19-30-2, good for seventh in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North. . . . Thibodeau, 55, has been coaching in the AJHL since 1994 spending time with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, Lloydminster Blazers, St. Albert Saints, Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Lloydminster Bobcats and the Wolverines. . . . He also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four different occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


D Kyle Chernenkoff had his BCHL playing career come to an end in January when Trailanother brain injury forced him to retire from the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . An alternate captain, Chernenkoff, 20, now is a member of the Trail coaching staff. . . . “It wasn’t really a hard decision to make,” Chernenkoff told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times. “It was a decision made for me by the doctors. It was a hard pill to swallow so I took a couple days to come to terms with it myself, and then transitioning into the coaching and being with the team made it easier for me to make that transition.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ben McCartney scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the BrandonWKregularvisiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . Brandon (23-21-7) had lost its previous two games. It now is six points from a playoff spot. . . . Swift Current (10-37-4) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Wheat Kings, who were 0-6 on the PP, fired 55 shots at Broncos G Riley Lamb, who is from Rivers, which is 30 km northwest of Brandon. . . . F Baron Thompson (6) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 17:49 of the first period, and D Braden Schneider (8) made it 2-0 at 13:48 of the second. . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (13) got Swift Current’s first goal, at 18:48. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (10) got the Broncos to OT with a goal at 18:40 of the third period. Yes, Lamb was on the bench for the extra attacker at the time. . . . McCartney, the second shooter in the first round, got the winner. . . . Brandon had a 21-6 edge in first-period shots, and it was 19-6 in the second period. . . . Brandon remains without G Jiri Patera (leg), but did get back D Braydyn Chizen from suspension and F Linden McCorrister from an undisclosed injury.


F Noah Gregor scored three times and added an assist as the Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertskated to an 8-2 victory over the Calgary Wranglers (aka Calgary Hitmen). . . Prince Albert (44-7-2) has won three in a row and leads the East Division by 18 points over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Calgary (27-20-5) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is fifth in the Central Division, one point behind the Red Deer Rebels. The Hitmen also hold down the Eastern Conference’s second-wild card spot. . . . This was the third game of the three-game Corral Series in which the Hitmen saluted the three teams that have called the Corral home — the Centennials, Cowboys and Wranglers. . . . The Raiders swept the four-game season series, the first time in franchise history that they have done that with Calgary. . . . The Raiders took control of this one by scoring the game’s first four goals. . . . F Dante Hannoun (25) got it started, on a PP, at 7:33 of the first period, with F Cole Fonstad making it 2-0 at 8:37. . . . Gregor upped that to 3-0 at 3:12 of the second period, and D Sergei Sapego (8) made it 4-0 at 3:33. . . . F Riley Stotts (16) scored for Calgary at 16:20, but the Raiders opened the third period with four straight goals to take an 8-1 lead. . . . Fonstad, who has 24 goals, finished with two goals and three assists, giving him his first career five-point game. . . . Gregor completed his second career hat trick with his side’s last two goals. He has 33 goals. . . . F James Malm (22) scored Calgary’s second goal on a penalty shot at 17:03 of the third. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton left in the first period after being involved in a collision with Raiders F Brett Leason. McNaughton had skated out to the hash marks in pursuit of a puck that Leason was chasing. That meant that Carl Stankowski came off the bench to see his first playing time since Nov. 23 when he suffered an ankle injury. . . . McNaughton stopped five of seven shots in 8:58, with Stankowski giving up six goals on 38 shots in 51:02. . . . Prince Albert got 21 saves from G Ian Scott. . . . F Sean Montgomery of the Raiders, who is from Calgary, played in his 331st regular-season game to set a franchise record. F Brett Novak (2000-06) had held the previous record. . . . Montgomery, 20, was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. He has played 65, 72, 69, 72 and now 53 games in each of his regular-seasons. . . . Montgomery had one assist last night, and now has 134 points, including 64 goals, in 331 games. This season, he has career highs in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49). . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders sat out Game 2 of a three-game suspension. . . . The Hitmen are without D Dakota Krebs, D Egor Zamula, F Jake Kryski and F Hunter Campbell.


D Josh Brook scored 35 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 4-3 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Moose Jaw (29-13-8) had lost its previous two games. It is third in the East Division, six points behind the Saskatoon Blades with three games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (27-15-10) has points in four straight (2-0-2). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Warriors, who got 47 saves from G Adam Evanoff, were 3-3 on the PP. . . . F Jake Elmer (21) put the Hurricanes ahead at 5:20 of the first period, only to have Brook tie it at 8:23. . . . Lethbridge went ahead 3-1 on goals from D Calen Addison (9), at 8:54, and F Taylor Ross (25), on a PP, at 0:19 of the second period. . . . F Justin Almeida, who also had two assists, got Moose Jaw into a tie with two second-period PP goals, at 6:53 and 15:54. He’s got 23 goals. . . . Brook, who also had two assists, won it with his 12th goal of the season. . . . The Warriors got three assists from F Brayden Tracey. . . . Elmer added two assists to his goal for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-5 on the PP. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tristin Langan back after he served a one-game suspension, but now is without D Jett Woo, who will sit for two games after taking a charging major and game misconduct in a 6-1 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Wednesday. Woo also will miss tonight’s game in Red Deer against the Rebels.


D Ryker Evans scored at 2:37 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in PatsRed Deer. . . Regina (15-36-3) is 26 points from a playoff spot with 14 games remaining. . . . Red Deer (28-18-4) has lost four straight (0-3-1). It is fourth in the Central Division, four points out of third and one up on the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Red Deer went up 1-0 when F Cam Hausinger (17) scored at 1:35 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it on F Ty Kolle’s 12th goal, on a PP, at 2:39. . . . F Brett Davis (16) put Red Deer back in front, on a PP, at 10:14. . . . Regina tied it when F Logan Nijhoff (4) scored at 15:24. . . . Evans won it when he scored his first WHL goal on a PP. A 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, Evans scored in his 31st games. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel drew an assist on his club’s second goal to tie the franchise’s career record of 161. He now shares it with F Arron Asham (1994-98). . . . Regina had D Tyson Feist back after a four-game absence, while F Brandon Dubinsky completed a four-game suspension by missing this game. . . . The Rebels had D Alex Alexeyev back in their lineup. He missed six games since last playing on Jan. 19.


Freshman F Lukas Svejkovsky had a goal and two assists, and veteran F Tristen Nielsen Vancouverhad two goals and an assist, to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (36-13-3) has won four in a row, including the last three on the road. . . . The Giants now are 20-3-2 against the other B.C. Division teams. They lead the division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kamloops (20-26-5) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets, who are to visit Kamloops tonight. The Blazers also are one point behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Svejkovsky, who opened the scoring on Jan. 30 when the Giants won, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops, did it again, this time at 16:07 of the first period. It was his sixth goal of the season. . . . F Connor Zary (13) pulled Kamloops even, on a PP, at 12:33 of the second period. . . . The Giants won it on two goals from Nielsen in the third period. He got his eighth goal at 12:44, then added insurance, on a PP, at 14:42. Both goals came off slick passes from F Jadon Joseph, with Svejkovsky getting the secondary assist each time. . . . Nielsen also had an assist on Svejkovsky’s goal. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner, who finished with 26 saves, appeared to be shaken up halfway through the third period when he stumbled and went down on his own behind the Giants’ net. Mike Burnstein, the athletic therapist, went out to chat with Miner as he was stretching his irons, but the goaltender stayed in and finished up. . . . The Blazers got 31 stops from G Dylan Ferguson. . . . Each team was 1-6 on the PP as both goaltenders stood tall. . . . With F Ryley Appelt still out with a finger injury incurred in a fight, the Blazers had F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, in the lineup for his sixth game of the season. Stankoven plays for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He leads the league in goals (40), assists (36) and points (76), all in 31 games. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi missed this one as he began serving a three-game suspension. . . . D Dallas Hines was one of Vancouver’s scratches. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw played in his 300th regular-season game. The team captain, he has played 95 games with Vancouver, after starting his career by playing 179 with the Victoria Royals, then 26 with the Red Deer Rebels.


F Mark Liwiski broke a 3-3 tie in the third period as the Kelowna Rockets scoured the KelownaRocketsgame’s last three goals to get past the visiting Prince George Cougars, 4-3. . . . Kelowna (22-26-5) is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Prince George (16-31-6) has lost 12 in a row (0-9-3) and is eight points from a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from D Cole Moberg (11), on a PP, at 13:13, and F Josh Curtis, at 16:13. . . . F Nolan Foote halved Kelowna’s deficit while shorthanded, at 18:14. . . . Curtis stretched the lead to 3-1 with his 11th goal, on a PP, at 19:07. . . . D Cayde Augustine pulled the Rockets to within a goal with his his first goal of the season, on a PP, at 9:20 of the second period. . . . That also was Augustine’s first WHL point and came in his 28th game. He’s a 17-year-old from Airdrie, Alta. . . . Foote’s 28th goal, at 8:05 of the third period, tied it, and Liwiski won it with his sixth goal, at 12:10. . . . G Roman Basran came on in relief for the Rockets and stopped all 15 shots he faced through two periods to earn the victory. . . . G Taylor Gauthier, Prince George’s starter, left the game at 9:05 of the third period with an injury. There wasn’t a penalty on the play. He had stopped 17 of 20 shots. Tyler Brennan, 15, came on to make his WHL debut, and stopped four of five shots. . . . Brennan, from Winnipeg, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. He is on the roster with Isaiah DiLaura out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Kelowna F Conner Bruggen-Cate completed a two-game suspension by sitting out.


The Portland Winterhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the PortlandSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Portland (33-15-5) is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Seattle (20-26-6) has lost two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 44th goal at 2:07 of the first period. . . . D John Ludvig (4) made it 2-0 at 10:41. . . . F Lane Gilliss (13) upped the lead to 3-0 at 11:18 of the second period. . . . Seattle cut into the deficit at 16:13 of the third period as F Matthew Wedman (26) scored, on a PP. . . . F Josh Paterson’s 20th goal, into an empty net, wrapped it up for the Winterhawks. . . . Seattle was 1-6 on the PP; Portland was 0-2. . . . G Shane Farkas earned the victory with 25 saves, one more than Seattle’s Cole Schwebius. . . . Farkas now is 9-1-0 in his career against Seattle. . . . Portland continues to play without F Cody Glass (knee). . . . Seattle D Simon Kubicek left in the first period and didn’t return. He is expected to miss some time with an undisclosed injury. . . . D Jarret Tyszka was back in Seattle’s lineup after missing a couple of games, but F Nolan Volcan remains out. . . . Attendance on a stormy night was announced as 2,688.


F Ethan McIndoe scored two goals and added two assists, and D Nolan Reid had a goal SpokaneChiefsand three helpers, as the Spokane Chiefs dumped the visiting Victoria Royals, 8-3. . . . Spokane (28-17-6) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, nine points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Victoria (26-22-3) is second in the B.C. Division, six points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Victoria actually held a 3-2 lead late in the first period, but then surrendered the game’s last six goals. . . . The Chiefs held a 49-31 edge in shots, including 20-14 in the first period and 21-8 in the third. They were 4-8 on the PP and won 46 of 74 faceoffs. . . . Spokane F Luc Smith (23) tied the game 3-3 at 17:45 of the first period. . . . McIndoe, who has 12 goals, broke the tie at 8:55, and Spokane later added four third-period goals. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored his seventh goal of the season for Spokane, and it was the 100th of his career. . . . Spokane F Connor Gabruch, who didn’t score for the first 34 games of his freshman season, scored his second goal in two games. . . . F Jake McGrew (23) and F Luke Toporowski (16) added goals for the winners, who in the third period scored three times on the PP and once while shorthanded. . . . Reid, who has two four-point games during his 315-game career, now has 12 goals this season. . . . D Mitchell Prowse (3), F Kaid Oliver (22) and F Kody McDonald, on a PP, scored for the Royals, who began a five-game road swing with this one.


F Parker AuCoin scored three times and added two assists to lead the Tri-City Americans tri-cityto a 7-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (28-19-3) has won three straight games. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind the Spokane Chiefs. The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, 13 points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kootenay (11-34-8) has lost two in a row. . . . F Peyton Krebs (18) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 6:22 of the first period, with AuCoin tying it, on a PP, at 11:49. . . . The Ice then took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Cole Muir (11), at 15:37, and F Holden Kodak (1), at 16:33. Holden, a 17-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., got his first WHL goal in his 40th game, 38 of them this season. . . . The Americans scored the games next five goals to take control. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (19) made it a one-goal game at 17:05. . . . F Krystof Hrabik scored while shorthanded at 13:38 of the second period to tie the score, and AuCoin’s 29th goal gave Tri-City the lead at 14:53. . . . F Paycen Bjorklund (4) and AuCoin, with his 30th goal, added insurance before the period ended. . . . In the third period, Hrabik got his 13th goal for the winners, with F Jakin Smallwood (10) counting for the ice. . . . AuCoin enjoyed his first career hat trick and his first five-point game.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 41 shots to lead the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers Logo Officialhost Everett Silvertips. . . . Medicine Hat (30-18-4) has won three in a row. The Tigers are tied for second with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Everett (37-13-2) had won its past four games. It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks, with the Silvertips holding a game in hand. . . . Søgaard, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Denmark, was hot right from the start, as he stopped 17 shots in the first period. . . . F James Hamblin scored the game’s only goal, his 29th, on a PP at 16:40 of the second period. . . . Everett got 28 saves from G Dustin Wolf. . . . This was a battle of two of the league’s best goaltenders. . . . Søgaard now is 14-4-4, 2.24, .933. . . . Wolf is 33-12-1, 1.81, .931.


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Did anything go wrong in Prince George? . . . Sask. Hockey Hall gets new name . . . Arena now bears Kennedy’s name


MacBeth

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He was released by Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga) on Tuesday. The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . . Freiburg now has five imports on its roster but is allowed to dress only four per game. The four other imports are d-men Radek Havel and Antti Kauppila, and forwards Brad McGowan, and Josef Mikyska. . . .

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Växjö (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). In 11 games, he had three goals and five assists. He left Avangard in late October and returned to Canada. . . .

F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). He has three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


ThisThat

Richard Matvichuk, in the final season of a three-year contract and with a new general manager looking over his shoulder, was going to have to win the WHL championship PrinceGeorgethis season in order to earn a new contract as the head coach of the Prince George Cougars.

Of course, that was never going to happen, what with the Cougars in a rebuilding mode.

So . . . with the team eight points from a playoff spot and only 16 games left to play, general manager Mark Lamb fired Matvichuk following a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night.

The Giants, at 35-13-3, are atop the B.C. Division, 35 points ahead of the Cougars (16-30-6), who have lost 11 straight games (0-8-3).

Lamb, who spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the GM/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, has taken over as head coach and will be in that role tonight when the Cougars meet the Rockets in Kelowna.

He will be joined behind the bench by associate coach Steve O’Rourke and Nick Drazenovic, who has been moved up from director of player development to assistant coach, at least for the rest of this season.

If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.

Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, will find another coaching job. After all, he was the ECHL’s reigning coach of the year when he left the Missouri Mavericks to sign with the Cougars on June 2, 2016. The Mavericks had finished with the ECHL’s best regular-season record (52-15-5) in 2015-16.

In Matvichuk’s first season in Prince George, the Cougars went 45-21-6 to finish atop the B.C. Division, a first for the franchise since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season.

You may recall that the Cougars went all-in that season. On Nov. 18, 2016, they acquired D Brendan Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for two players, as well as first- and third-round bantam draft picks. Then, on Jan. 5, 2017, the Cougars got Russian F Nikita Popugaev from the Moose Jaw Warriors for two players, including F Justin Almeida, and a couple of bantam draft picks. Popugaev gave the Cougars 25 points, nine of them goals, in 44 games over two seasons before going home 13 games into last season. Almeida has produced 184 points, 71 of them goals, in 150 games with the Warriors.

It turned out for naught as the Cougars lost a first-round playoff series, 4-2, to the Portland Winterhawks.

Last season, the Cougars were sellers — they unloaded the likes of F Kody McDonald, D Josh Anderson and D Dennis Cholowski — as they wound up 24-38-10, leaving them fifth in the B.C. Division and 20 points from a playoff spot.

Somewhere in all of this, the Cougars’ ownership group decided to make a u-turn in regard to its philosophy. Henceforth, the goal won’t be to aim for a single-season splash, to get caught up in what some people still see as the cyclical nature of major junior hockey. Rather, the owners decided that the Cougars are going to build through the draft with the goal of having a team that makes the playoffs on an annual basis. Make the playoffs, the thinking now is, and let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately, none of that does Matvichuk any good because he’s gone.

Remember, too, that hockey teams go through coaches these days the way   a Dairy Queen outlet goes through ice cream.

The Cougars are the second of the WHL’s 22 teams to make a coaching change this season. Kelowna was 4-10-0 when Jason Smith was fired and replaced by Adam Foote. The Rockets are 17-16-5 under Foote.

After last season, eight WHL teams changed head coaches. Seven teams, including the Cougars, also brought in new general managers.

The Cougars decided not to renew Todd Harkins’ contract after last season. He had been in the organization for four seasons, the first one as head scout and director of player personnel, the last one as general manager.

It was Harkins who hired Matvichuk.

With Lamb coming in and Matvichuk into the last year of his contract, many observers thought they could see the writing on the wall. Late on Wednesday night, their eyesight was proven to be 20/20.

Lamb signed a four-year contract with the Cougars, and now he gets to hire his own head coach. Or maybe he puts himself into the position on a permanent basis. His last stint as a head coach, with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, didn’t end the way he would have liked when he was dismissed after one season (2016-17).

Unless Lamb, 54, is one of those rare people who is able to shake free from the coaching bug, he may have a desire to give it another go with the hope that at some point he will be able to walk away on his terms.


F Ilijah Colina left the Prince George Cougars last week.

At the time, the Cougars said that Colina, a 19-year-old from North Delta, B.C., who was in his third WHL season, had gone home for “personal reasons.”

In a tweet (above) that was posted on Thursday evening, Colina’s mother, Carrie, has shed some light on her son’s departure.

The next time you attend a junior hockey game, take a minute to think about the stress the players face, almost all of them living away from home as they chase a dream, with some of them starting to realize that that’s all it is — a dream.

In 151 regular-season games, 68 with the Cougars and 83 with the Portland Winterhawks, Colina has 18 goals and 37 assists.


An update on F Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks, who has been rehabbing a knee injury, from Vince Sapienza, a sports reporter with FOX 5 in Las Vegas:


The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame has undergone a name change after receiving a $500,000 donation from the family of the late Ted Knight, a former co-owner of the saskhallRegina Pats.

It has been renamed the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.

From a news release:

“Ted Knight’s children — Tracey, Kevin and Kyle — wanted to honour their father’s name and his love for the game of hockey. Through this title sponsorship of the Hall, the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will remain a hub for hockey in the province and honour those individuals who have made a lasting impression on Saskatchewan hockey.”

Knight, who was born in Selkirk, Man., in 1939, played for the Winnipeg Braves when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

In 1986, Knight, Bill Hicke, Morley Gusway, Jack Nichol and Huddy Bell bought the Regina Pats. Knight was part of that ownership group for 10 years.

Knight, along with sons Kevin and Kyle, owned the Knight Automotive Group. It started with Crestview Chrysler Dodge in Regina and now has 15 dealerships in the three Prairie provinces.

Knight died on Oct. 13, 2017, at the age of 78.

The Hall of Fame is located in the Credit Union I-Plex, the home arena of the Swift Current Broncos.


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