This trade deadline bit quieter . . . Chiefs add some truculence . . . Smart, Peckford join junior A teams

MacBeth

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after being released by mutual agreement by Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). He had two goals and two assists in 17 games. . . . Kuvayev started this season with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had one goal and one assist in eight games when he was released on Sept. 26 by mutual agreement. . . .

D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had four goals and thee assists in 27 games. He was released on Jan. 2. . . .

D David Turoň (Portland, 2002-03) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zagłębie Sosnowie (Poland, PHL) after obtaining his release from Polonia Bytom (Poland, PHL). He had five goals and 11 assists in 27 games.

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If you were wondering . . .

A year ago, I began counting down the WHL trade deadline on Nov. 13, 2017, because tradewirethat was when the first major deal was made in the lead-up to Jan. 10.

It was on Nov. 13, 2017, when the Regina Pats, loading up because they were the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, dealt two players — D Jonathan Smart and F Cole Muir — along with two bantam draft picks and a conditional pick to the Kootenay Ice for D Cale Fleury.

By the time the deadline went by, the WHL’s 22 teams had made 58 trades involving 110 players, 77 bantam draft selections and 12 conditional picks.

So . . . how’d it go this time around?

This time, I started counting on Nov. 26. There hadn’t been a trade since Nov. 9; on Nov. 26, there were three trades — involving the Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans, the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades, and the Blazers and Spokane Chiefs.

That signalled to me that teams were open for business.

In the end, the 22 teams combined to make 44 trades involving 77 players, 63 bantam draft selections and 15 conditional bantam draft picks.

A year ago, there were 17 transactions made on Jan. 10; this time, there were 11.

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The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Kaden Hanas, who turned 19 on Dec. 18, and added SpokaneChiefshim to they roster. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hanas, from Strathmore, Alta., had been playing with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. An alternate captain, he had five goals and 12 assists, along with 85 penalty minutes, in 30 games. Last season, in 49 games, he had seven goals, six assists and 168 PiM.

The Chiefs also have released D Mike Ladyman, 17, who is expected to join the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. Ladyman is from Winnipeg.

He was a fifth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. However, the Pats dropped him from their protected list and the Chiefs added him to their list in November 2017.

This season, Ladyman had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs, who will keep on their protected list.

On Tuesday, the Chiefs released D Luke Gallagher, who is expected to join the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. Gallagher, 18, is from Mead, Wash., and was an eighth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft.

This season, he had two assists in 22 games. Last season, he finished with a goal and three assists in 33 games.

Like Ladyman, Gallagher will remain on Spokane’s protected list.

The Chiefs found themselves overstocked with defenceman as Filip Kral returned from a stint with Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship and 6-foot-5 Matt Leduc, who hadn’t played since Oct. 12, returned for the Chiefs’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Wednesday.

With these moves, Spokane now is carrying seven defencemen.

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D Alec Capstick of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen has made a commitment to attend Miami of Ohio and play for the RedHawks next season. . . . Capstick, 19, made the announcement via Twitter. . . . On Feb. 12, 2015, he had made a verbal commitment to the U of Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish. . . . From Langley, he has three goals and 19 assists in 39 games this season. . . . He was a fourth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.

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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have added F Rylan Thiessen, 17, to their roster. He had been with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. A list player, Thiessen has 11 goals and 17 assists in 25 games with the Wheat Kings. Last season, he finished with eight goals and 24 assists in 48 games. . . . He has played two games with the Hurricanes this season, but has yet to earn a point.

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The BCHL’s Penticton Vees have acquired the junior A rights to D Jonathan Smart, 19, pentictonwho didn’t return to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice after the Christmas break. . . . The Vees acquired his rights from the Alberta Valley Bulldogs for future considerations. . . . Smart, a first-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, played 216 regular-season WHL games, splitting time between the Rockets, Regina Pats and the Ice. . . . “Jonathan decided to leave the Kootenay Ice to be closer to home for personal reasons,” Fred Harbinson, the Vee’s president, GM and head coach, said in a news release. “At that point we acquired his rights from Alberni who had listed him a few weeks prior. Jonathan has a smooth skill set and adds experience to our backend with over 200 WHL games under his belt.” . . . Smart could make his Penticton debut on Friday against the visiting Powell River Kings.

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G Shane Farkas of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks had his junior A rights move from the West Kelowna Warriors to the Prince George Spruce Kings to the Cowichan Capitals on Thursday. . . . Farkas, 19, is 24-9-5, 2.86, .901 in 39 appearances with the Winterhawks this season. . . . On Wednesday, the Winterhawks sent six WHL bantam draft picks, including two first-rounders, to the Swift Current Broncos for G Joel Hofer, 18.

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F Ryan Peckford, who left the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors in November, is going to be playing for the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Peckford, 19, left the Warriors on Nov. 26, and went home to Stony Plain, Alta., to contemplate his future. A second-round selection by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, Peckford has 49 goals and 61 assists in 200 regular-season WHL games over four seasons. . . . This season, he had eight goals and eight assists in 20 games with Moose Jaw. . . . Peckford played 140 games with the Royals, who dealt him to the Warriors on Dec. 11, 2017, along with a fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, for F Noah Gregor and an eighth-round pick in 2018.

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F Quinton Waitzner, released this week by the Swift Current Broncos, has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Waitzner, an 18-year-old from Victoria, played 82 games with the Broncos. This season, he had two assists in 34 games.

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The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have acquired the rights to F Jesse Mistelbacher, 17, from the Swan Valley Stampeders for a fifth-round pick in that league’s 2019 draft. Mistelbacher, from Ile Des Chenes, Man., had one assist in 15 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but has been released and will join Virden. . . . He was a sixth-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. They released him and the Warriors placed him on their protected list in October 2017.

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The midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings made a coaching change earlier this week, with former head coach Ken Schneider returning to take over form the fired Chris Johnston. . . . Chris Jaster of the Brandon Sun reports that the change was made after Tuesday night’s practice. . . . Schneider was the team’s coach from 2010-14. . . . The Wheat Kings were 23-8-0 and in third place in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League at the time of the change. . . . Jaster reported that Bruce Moar, the team’s president, “wouldn’t say why Johnston was fired.” However, Jaster wrote, “it did come on the heels of a full line brawl at the end of Saturday’s road game against the Winnipeg Thrashers. Brandon also finished a game against Yellowhead in November in fisticuffs.” . . . Schneider played for the WHL’s Wheat Kings (1980-82) and now scouts for the Regina Pats. . . . Johnston spent five seasons (1990-95) in the WHL, playing with the Wheat Kings, Red Deer Rebels and Regina.

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Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.

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Cougars to be more ‘assertive’ with schedule making . . . Portland still unbeaten in East . . . Gauthier blanks Americans




MacBeth

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga South) after requesting and receiving his release from Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). He had 14 goals and 20 assists in 23 games.


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Andy Beesley is the vice-president of business with the Prince George Cougars. A few days before Christmas, he sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat, a Prince George radio station, and they combined for an episode of the CatScan podcast. . . . If you have ever wondered about what goes into running the business end of a major junior franchise you will want to give this a listen. It’s 50 minutes of Beesley being honest in answering questions about ticket prices, attendance, scheduling, turning games into events, the survival of the WHL in Prince George, and even how he came to change his lifestyle and lose 100 pounds. . . .

One thing I found particularly interesting is that Beesley said the Cougars’ organization has changed its thought process and no longer will look for the one big score.

“We would love to win a Memorial Cup, but we just want to make the playoffs regularly,” he told Miller, “and that’s part of the path that the hockey side of the business is on now. We’ve changed our model a bit to aim for more of a consistent team year by year, rather than selling the farm and just having couple of studs that come in and then you cross your fingers and pay the price for the next five years. We’ve done away with that model.”

The Cougars are scheduled to entertain the Prince George Cougars on Friday night, more than five weeks after their most-recent home game. Between home games, they will have played 11 times on the road and taken the Christmas break.

Beesley promised the Cougars’ fans “that’s not going to happen again . . . we’re not going to put up with that again.”

He added that he, team president John Pateman, co-owner Eric Brown and general manager Mark Lamb “have all talked together and agreed that we need to do a far better job of not just giving input to our schedules but standing up for what the Prince George Cougars need. . . . we are going to be a lot more assertive and make sure we don’t have another six-week gap because we don’t think it’s fair to fans and it’s not fair to our business either.”

There’s lots of interesting stuff in the 50 minutes and it’s all right here.

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KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

All signs point to the Kootenay Ice packing up and moving to Winnipeg before another season gets here. However, no one from the Ice or the WHL office has had much, if 21anything to say about all the speculation.

However, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, did appear with host Dean Millard on TSN Radio (1260) in Edmonton on Dec. 19.

Asked about the situation, Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

We now are into our 21st day since Robison made that statement, and there has yet to be an announcement of any kind.


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Allow me to apologize to Gino De Paoli, the play-by-play voice of the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. It was his tweet that tipped me off to an item on G Nick Sanders that I used here yesterday. I meant to credit De Paoli, but it didn’t get done, and for that I offer up an apology. Sorry about that, Gino.

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The Prince George Cougars have signed F Blake Eastman, 15, to a WHL contract. He was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Eastman is playing for the Elite 15 team at OHA Edmonton, where he has 17 goals and eight assists in 21 games.

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The Spokane Chiefs have returned D Graham Sward to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Sward, 15, was the 17th overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Sward played one game with the Chiefs and scored his first goal as they beat the Ice, 8-4, in Cranbrook, B.C., on Sunday.

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The Swift Current Broncos have released F Quinton Waitzner, 18, who was a ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . From Victoria, he had two assists in 34 games this season, after finishing last season with one goal in 43 games. He also was pointless in five games in 2016-17. . . . Before joining the Broncos, he played for the junior B Saanich Braves.

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The Prince Albert Raiders have returned G Brett Balas, 17, to the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. From Calgary, he was a third-round pick by the Raiders in the WHl’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Balas was brought in by the Raiders to fill the roster spot created with starter Ian Scott with Team Canada at the WJC. . . . Balas got into two games with Prince Albert, going 2-0-0, 2.56, .871. One of the victories was in relief of starter Donovan Buskey.

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Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Portland Winterhawks erased an early 2-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to Portlanda 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Portland (24-11-5) has points in nine straight (6-0-3), and is 3-0-0 on its East Division swing. . . . Brandon (16-16-6) has lost two in a row. . . . F Ben McCartney (11) gave Brandon a 2-0 lead with goals at 1:14 and 3:45 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks tied it before the period ended on goals from F Michal Kvasnica (7) and F Seth Jarvis (10). . . . F Jaydon Dureau (9) broke the tie at 14:39 of the second period. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld upped Portland’s lead to 4-2, shorthanded, at 10:03 of the third period. He leads the WHL in goals (37) and points (76). . . D Braden Schneider (5) got the Wheat Kings to within a goal at 14:53. . . . Portland had a 51-35 edge in shots, including 22-9 in the first period. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera blocked 47 shots, 15 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . Portland D Nick Cicek, an 18-year-old freshman from Winnipeg, had one assist in his first 16 games. He had one assist last night, and now is on a six-game point streak, with nine helpers in that stretch. . . . Portland had F Cody Glass back in the lineup after his stint with Canada’s national junior team. He was held off the scoresheet. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley (suspended) and D Brendan De Jong (concussion).

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F Kyle Crnkovic had a goal and two assists to lead the host Saskatoon Blades to a 4-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Saskatoon (25-12-5) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle (12-21-4) is 1-2-0 on its East Division trip. . . . Crnkovic, a 16-year-old from Chestermere, Alta., was the 10th-overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. In 27 games, he has four goals and nine assists, with three goals and six assists having come in his past nine games. Yes, this was his first multi-point WHL game. . . . D Zach Ashton, who moved from Saskatoon to Seattle in a deal last week, gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead with his first WHL goal, at 6:35 of the first period. The goal came in his 14th WHL game, the third with Seattle. . . . Crnkovic tied it at 15:24, and F Josh Paterson (14) gave the Blades the lead, on a PP, at 17:30. . . . Seattle F Nolan Volcan, playing in his 300th regular-season game, tied it with his 15th goal, at 19:24. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-2 when F Matthew Wedman (13) accord at 4:36 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon reclaimed the lead before the period ended, on goals from F Chase Wouters (8), at 13:49, and F Eric Florchuk (11), at 17:20. . . . Volcan, 20, is from Edmonton. He was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2013 bantam draft. He has 213 points, including 88 goals, in those 300 regular-regular-season games. . . . F Cyle McNabb, acquired Monday from the Kootenay Ice, wasn’t in Saskatoon’s lineup. . . . The Blades remain without F Kirby Each and D Nolan Kneen. . . . F Sean Richards was in Seattle’s lineup for the first time since being acquired last week from the Everett Silvertips. He had to complete an eight-game WHL suspension before suiting up with the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle was without D Cade McNelly, who completed a three-game suspension.

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G Taylor Gauthier blocked 36 shots to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 1-0 victory PrinceGeorgeover the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Prince George (14-21-3) has won two in a row. The Cougars are 3-7-0 on an 11-game swing that began with a doubleheader in Portland on Dec. 7 and 8, and included the Christmas break. The trip wraps up tonight against the Spokane Chiefs, then the Cougars have to hustle home for games with the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Tri-City (20-15-2) has lost two straight. . . . Last night, Cougars F Ethan Browne scored the game’s only goal, his sixth, at 16:05 of the second period. . . . Gauthier, a 17-year-old sophomore from Calgary, was the ninth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has two shutouts in his career both of them this season. This season, he is 10-14-2, 3.08, .904. . . . Tri-City got 28 stops from G Beck Warm.

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