Stankoven continues spinning records. . . . Almeida leads Warriors to win. . . . Sudden-Death Byram strikes in OT again


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A few WHL-related notes . . .

If you’re wondering why the Brandon Wheat Kings are on the road these days, the above tweet tells the story. The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier is scheduled to run from March 2 through March 9 in Westoba Place and the icemakers already are hard at work. . . . The Wheat Kings have nine games remaining. They will begin a six-game trek through the Central Division when they meet the Hitmen in Calgary on Friday. The Wheat Kings won’t play at home again until March 16 when they are to entertain the Regina Pats. . . . At this point, the Wheat Kings are hanging on to the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. Brandon is to play in Red Deer on March 8 and in Medicine Hat on March 9.

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Say what you want about WHL attendance figures — and there are a lot of times when the announced attendance doesn’t seem to match the number of butts in the seats — but the Everett Silvertips put 15,684 fans in the pews for back-to-back home games this weekend. . . . On the same nights, Friday and Saturday, the Spokane Chiefs played two home games and drew a total of 18,140 fans. . . . Just a thought but maybe the Memorial Cup would look good in one of those cities.

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When Kamloops lost, 2-0, to the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday night, the Blazers were credited with 18 shots on goal. . . . “That was 18 shots that the Kelowna scorekeepers kept,” Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “By our count, we had 27. It’s a little misleading. It’s a psychological advantage for them. We had some good chances, just like they did.” . . . Lajoie was saying out loud what a lot of WHL coaches think, and have thought over the years.

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When Wyatte Wylie scored his 10th goal of the season for Everett on Saturday night, it gave the Silvertips three defencemen with at least that many scores. Jake Christiansen has 12; Gianni Fairbrother has 10. . . . The three also have combined for 121 points.

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Mitch Love, in his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, spent the previous seven seasons on the staff of the Everett Silvertips. While Everett, which joined the WHL for 2003-04, has never missed the playoffs, the Blades clinched a berth on Saturday for the first time since 2013. . . . It’s neat that Love wasn’t able to conceal his excitement in the post-game media scrum. “There are a few guys in the room who obviously haven’t played a playoff game in their career,” Love said.“It is awesome for them. They are going to get that experience. We have a lot of guys that we have brought in here throughout the year that have had playoff experience. This is my eighth consecutive season of playoff hockey, so I may look like I’m not that excited tonight, but I am. I’m a hockey coach, and I am always looking to be better the next day. I’m excited for our guys.” . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, has more from the Blades’ clinching victory right here.

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You are free to wonder if the hockey fans of Saskatoon and area have re-discovered the Blades, now that they are playoff bound once again. Their last two home games have drawn crowds of 4,815 and 4,334 — the first time this season they have had back-to-back gatherings of 4,000-plus. . . . The Blades have six home games remaining.

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Headline at globalnews.ca: Saskatoon Blades clinch playoff birth with 4-3 shootout win over Kootenay Ice.

So . . . does that mean the Blades are due in April/May?

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There still is a lot to be decided, but the first round of the playoffs could feature the Prince Albert Raiders, who will finish atop the Eastern Conference, against the Brandon Wheat Kings, who may end up in the second wild-card spot. . . . The Wheat Kings are the only team to have beaten the Raiders twice this season — 5-4 in OT in Prince Albert on Feb. 15, and 6-3 in Brandon the next night. . . . The Raiders then whipped Brandon, 7-1, at home on Saturday night. . . . “We were looking forward to this one,” Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Herald after Saturday’s game. “They were trying to take some liberties. They were running around at us and they were taunting us a bit after they got those two wins, so the guys were pretty excited to face them again.” . . . Habscheid, who just may have been priming the playoff pump, added: “That was probably as dominant a performance was we’ve had all season, which is good to see as we continue to get in that playoff mindset.”

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A tip of the Taking Note fedora to F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings and F Reece Vitelli of the Everett Silvertips. On Jan. 10, they were told that they had been involved in a trade and would be swapping teams. Shortly afterwards, they were told that, uhh, no, the trade was off. No one has spelled out exactly what happened, but both players handled the mess like true professionals, or true student-athletes. . . . Mattheos, 19, has put up 14 goals and 25 assists in 21 games since Jan. 10. . . . Vitelli, 17, has five goals and four assists in 18 games since then, but has been especially proficient of late with three goals and three assists over his past four games.

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The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s defending champions, won’t be in the playoffs this time around. They have played 57 games and are 10-42-5; they have won four times in regulation time. They begin a seven-game road trip on Tuesday in Edmonton as the Oil Kings hold their annual Hooky Hockey game. It starts at 11 a.m. . . . The Kootenay Ice (11-38-10) has won eight games in regulation time.

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It is information that is this that highlights why every WHL team should have an in-house historian.

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On the subject of attendance, according to hockeydb, the BCHL’s Penticton Vees are averaging 3,105 fans per game this season. Also of note are the Wenatchee Wild (2,426), Chilliwack Chiefs (2,147), Vernon Vipers (1,975) and Trail Smoke Eaters (1,873). . . . Penticton’s average attendance is higher than five WHL teams — the Medicine Hat Tigers (3,012), Prince Albert Raiders (2,602), Prince George Cougars (2,600), Swift Current Broncos (2,386) and Kootenay Ice (2,201).


F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League put his name into the record book with his 45th goal of the season on thompsonblazersSunday.

Stankoven broke the record in leading the Blazers to a 7-2 victory over the South Island Royals in Kamloops’ Memorial Arena.

The previous record of 44 had been set by F Tyson Jost of the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. Jost now plays for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

Stankoven also had three assists on Sunday, and now has 90 points in 34 games. The Blazers have four games remaining in their regular season.

The league record for points in a season is 108 and belongs to F Alex Kerfoot, who did it in 38 games in 2010-11 with the Vancouver North West Giants. Kerfoot, who had 36 goals and 72 assists that season, is a teammate of Jost’s with the Avalanche.

The Kamloops Blazers selected Stankoven with the fifth overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, has one assist in seven WHL games this season.

Last season, Stankoven played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games.


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida scored once and added three assists to help the host Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriorsWarriors to a 5-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Moose Jaw (34-16-8) has won three in a row. It is third in the East Division, eight points behind the Saskatoon Blades with two games in hand. . . . Kootenay (11-39-10) has lost nine straight (0-7-2). . . . This was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both teams. Moose Jaw finished 3-0-0). Kootenay actually was playing its fourth road game in five days — it went 0-2-2. . . . It was the 10th time in Almeida’s WHL career — and the fifth time this season — that he put up at least four points. He now has 87 points, including a league-leading 62 assists, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors scored the game’s first four goals. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (14) got the first one, scoring against his former team at 10:26 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey (31) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:27. . . . Tracey’s goal proved to be the winner. He leads the WHL with 10 GWG. . . . F Tristin Langan (45) upped it to 3-0, at 6:52 of the second period, and Almeida (25) made it 4-0, on a PP, at 9:56 of the third. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) scored for the Ice, on a PP, at 12:18. . . . F Tate Popple (11) got Moose Jaw’s last goal, on a PP, at 19:22. . . . Tracey added two assists to his goal and now has 73 points, including 42 assists in 58 games as a freshman. . . . Langan also had two assists. He’s got 96 points in 57 games. Langan is seven points off the WHL scoring lead that is held by F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks. Last season, Langan finished with 16 goals and 26 assists in 70 games. . . . Moose Jaw was 3-5 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-4. . . . The Warriors got 26 saves from G Brodan Salmond, while Curtis Meger also stopped 26 for the Ice.


D Bowen Byram scored his fourth OT goal of the season to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-Vancouver1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Vancouver (41-14-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It will finish atop the B.C. Division, and now is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips. The Giants have one game in hand. . . . Victoria (31-25-4) is second in the B.C. Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . These teams met three times in fewer than 48 hours. The Giants won, 4-0, in Vancouver on Friday; the Royals won 5-4 in a shootout on home ice on Saturday. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 6-2-2); Victoria was 4-4-2). . . . F Justin Sourdif (19) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 4:18 of the first period. . . . The Royals tied it at 16:00 of the third when F Phillip Schultz (15) scored, on a PP. . . . Byram won it with his 22nd goal of the season, just 59 seconds into OT. He’s got seven game-winners this season. . . . Vancouver was 1-4 on the PP; Victoria was 1-8. . . . The Giants got 25 saves from G Trent Miner. G David Tendeck was back in a Vancouver uniform after missing one game for what the team said was “personal reasons.” . . . The Royals got 28 stops from G Brock Gould. . . . The Royals scratched F Kaid Oliver, who went heavily into the boards in the second period of Saturday’s game and left the game favouring a wrist. Oliver leads the Royals in goals (27) and points (49) so it really will sting if he is out for any length of time.


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Craven, Moar done for this season. . . . Silvertips stretch Cougars’ skid to 17. . . . Oliver leads Royals to victory


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F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11)  signed a contract for the rest of this season on Friday with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany DEL2) after obtaining his release from the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He was pointless in 10 games with the Black Wings. . . . Hickmott hasn’t played a game since Oct. 14 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. He returned to practice the “past few weeks” with Linz. The club told Hickman last week there was no place in the lineup for him and that he was free to move to another club if he wanted. . . . Last Friday (Feb. 15) was the signing/transfer deadline for all European leagues except the KHL, whose trade deadline this season was Dec. 27.


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A few notes from the WHL’s weekly roster report. . . .

The Calgary Hitmen continue to list F Jake Kryski as indefinite. Kryski, 20, was having the whlbest of his five WHL seasons, with 46 points, including 19 goals, in 41 games when he was injured. . . .

The Everett Silvertips list F Dawson Butt and F Riley Sutter as week-to-week. Besides being a point-a-game player (41 in 38), Sutter is one of the league’s top face-off men, at 54.0 per cent. . . . Butt has seven goals and seven assists in 14 games, but it’s his grinding style of play that the Silvertips miss. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets list D Matt Barberis, 20, as being out for six to eight weeks. He has one assist in 11 games since being picked up from the Vancouver Giants, but  his experience is missing from Kelowna’s back end. Of course, with less than four weeks left in the regular season, his season — and his WHL career — might be over. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have shut down D Joel Craven for the season with an undisclosed injury. Craven, 18, finishes his sophomore season with three goals and an assist in 32 games. He missed half of October and all of November with concussion-like symptoms. . . . Meanwhile, the Tigers are showing one of their top forwards, Ryan Jevne, as being out week-to-week. Jevne is their second-leading scorer, with 55 points, including 26 goals, in 57 games. . . .

D Matt Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks is shown as being out week-to-week, while it would appear that D Alex Moar of the Swift Current Broncos had his season come to an end on Monday afternoon in Brandon when he left a 3-2 OT loss to the Wheat Kings clutching a wrist. . . .

The Vancouver Giants list two key forwards — Dawson Holt and Brayden Watts — as being out week-to-week. Watts, who had one arm in a sling on Monday, has 33 points, including 12 goals, in 52 games, while Hardy has nine goals and 12 assists in 56 games.


The soon-to-be Winnipeg Ice has signed F Chase Bertholet to a WHL contract. Bertholet, from Thompson, Man., was a fifth-round pick by the Red Deer Rebels in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . The Ice acquired him from the Rebels on Nov. 30 in a deal that had F Brett Davis and F Cam Hausinger go to Red Deer for four players, four bantam draft picks and one conditional selection. . . . Bertholet, 15, has 13 goals and 29 assists in 42 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos.


The Calgary Hitmen have released D Andrew Viggars from their roster and he is returning to the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Viggars, who turned 19 on Jan. 3, was pointless in two games with the Hitmen. . . . Last season, he had five assists in 39 games with Calgary. . . . This season, he has a goal and nine assists in 41 games with the Warriors. . . . The Hitmen selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.


“Fighting isn’t what it used to be in the WHL,” writes Dan Thompson in a story that has appeared in the Spokane Spokesman-Review. He’s got some quotes and anecdotes here from the likes of Dustin Donaghy and Kerry Toporowski, the latter once having skated his way to 505 minutes in penalties. . . . It’s all right here and it’s a good read.


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers announced Monday that they have “mutually parted ways” Winklerwith general manager Ken Pearson. . . . He had been the Flyers’ general manager and head coach for seven seasons (2011-18), before stepping aside as head coach prior to this season. . . . Jeff Jeanson has been named the interim general manager. . . . Steve Mullin took over as the Flyers’ head coach after working as Pearson’s assistant coach. . . . When Pearson stepped aside as the Flyers’ head coach, he had more regular-season victories (519) than any coach in MJHL history. Blake Spiller of the Portage Terriers passed Pearson earlier this season. . . . Winkler (22-29-5) is ninth in the 11-team league, four points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining.


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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last four goals as they beat the Cougars, 4-1, in EverettPrince George. . . . The Silvertips had beaten the host Cougars by that same score on Monday. . . . Everett (41-14-3) has won two straight. It leads the Western Conference by four points over the Vancouver Giants, who hold two games in hand, and leads the West Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Prince George (16-35-7) now has lost 17 in a row (0-13-4). . . . F Ethan Browne (9) gave the Cougars the lead at 5:56 of the first period. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (36) pulled Everett even at 17:29 of the second period, and F Bryce Kindopp (34) broke the tie at 3:46 of the third. . . . The Silvertips put it away on two goals from Reece Vitelli, at 17:36 and 18:28 of the third. Vitelli, who has nine goals, put the second one into an empty net. . . . The Cougars were 1-3 on the PP; the Silvertips never had even one opportunity. . . . Everett held a 37-17 edge in shots, including 14-5 and 16-5 in the first and second periods, respectively. . . . G Dustin Wolf earned the decision over G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Everett was without F Connor Dewar (ill) for a second straight game. . . . D Sahvan Khaira was back in Everett’s lineup after serving a one-game suspension. He played in his 302nd career regular-season game.


The Tri-City Americans erased a 3-1 deficit with five third-period goals en route to a 6-3 tri-cityvictory over the Red Deer Rebels in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (32-21-3) move into third place in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Red Deer (29-22-5) has lost three in a row. It holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Americans hustled home for this one after losing 3-1 in Kamloops on Monday afternoon. The Rebels hadn’t played since Saturday, so were well-rested. . . . The Rebels finished their U.S. Division swing at 1-3-1. . . . F Brandon Hagel (33) gave Red Deer a 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the first period. . . . Tri-City F Parker AuCoin tied it, on a PP, at 5:18. . . . The Rebels went ahead 3-1 on goals from F Chris Douglas (13), at 13:43 of the first period, and F Brett Davis (18), on a PP, at 1:12 of the third period. . . . The Americans pulled even on goals from F Riley Sawchuk (17), at 4:17, and F Sasha Mutala (16), at 5:17. . . . AuCoin (35) scored on a PP at 6:43 for a 4-3 lead. . . . F Kyle Olson (21), at 16:42, and F Krystof Hrabik (15), into an empty net, at 18:20 put it away. . . . Olson also had two assists. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 36 shots to earn the victory.


F Kaid Oliver scored twice and added two assists to help the host Victoria Royals to a 6-2 VictoriaRoyalsvictory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kelowna won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Victoria (30-24-3) is second in the B.C. Division, 10 points ahead of Kelowna. . . . The Rockets (24-29-5) are third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Blazers and Rockets have three games remaining in their season series. Kamloops is 4-2-1; Kelowna is 3-3-1. . . . On Monday, the Rockets opened the doubleheader on Vancouver Island by dumping the Royals, 5-2. . . . Last night, Victoria took control with three goals, two of them from Oliver, before the game was eight minutes old. . . . F Logan Doust (5) got the Royals started 44 seconds into the game. . . . Oliver made it 2-0 at 4:31 and 3-0, on a PP, at 7:52. . . . Two early second-period goals put the home boys ahead 5-0. F Phillip Schultz (14) scored, on a PP, 23 seconds in, and F Tarun Fizer (12) scored at 5:21. . . . Oliver assisted on both second-period goals, giving him his second career four-point game. . . . F Leif Mattson (20), at 11:22, and F Nolan Foote (29), on a PP, at 16:41, counted for the Rockets. . . . Victoria’s final goal came from F Kody McDonald (17) at 11:39 of the third period. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 34 shots for the Royals as he earned his 111th career regular-season victory. . . . The WHL record for most career regular-season victories by a goaltender is 120, and is shared by Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92) and Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2004-09). The Royals have only 11 games remaining, so Outhouse, 20, is running out of time if he hopes to get to 120 victories. . . . The Rockets welcomed back F Liam Kindree (broken nose) after a nine-game absence, but they remain without F Ted Brennan and D Matt Barberis. . . . The Royals were without D Jake Kustra, who sat out a one-game suspension after taking a charging major and game misconduct in Monday’s game.


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The Brandon-Everett trade that wasn’t . . . Bader leaves Raiders, cites personal reasons . . . Blichfeld hits 200 in victory

MacBeth

F Tomáš Netík (Medicine Hat, 2000-01) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga) after obtaining his release from Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had six goals and 18 assists in 30 games. . . .

G Juraj Hollý (Calgary 2010-11) has been traded by Liptovský Mikuláš to Dukla Trenčín (both Slovakia, Extraliga) for Marek Šimko. In 17 games, Hollý was 3-12-0, 3.47, .901 with one shutout.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings traded F Stelio Mattheos, their leading scorer, to the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 10, which was the WHL’s trade deadline.

Except that they didn’t.

Josh Horton of the Everett Herald reported Wednesday that “the Silvertips agreed to a Everettdeal to acquire top-flight Brandon forward Stelio Mattheos . . . but the trade fell apart at the last minute.”

According to Horton, “A Silvertips player and draft picks were headed to Brandon in return for the 19-year-old Mattheos, sources said.”

Horton, citing sources, added that “both of the players involved had been informed of the trade and were getting ready to leave for their new teams when the deal collapsed.”

No one is saying how many WHL bantam draft picks were involved in the swap. However, Taking Note has been told that the teams had been working on the deal for a couple of months and that the Everett player who was told he was on his way to Brandon was F Reece Vitelli, whom the Silvertips selected in the fourth round of the 2016 bantam draft.

Garry Davidson, the Silvertips’ general manager, told Horton that a deal was in the works but that “it didn’t work out.” However, that is all Davidson, who is said to have been most upset, would say.

Taking Note also has been told that the deal didn’t really collapse, that it was more a case BrandonWKregularof it not having been filed in its entirety with the WHL office in time to beat the deadline of 3 p.m. MT.

Neither the WHL office nor Brandon GM Grant Armstrong would comment to Horton.

Interestingly, Davidson and Armstrong worked together with the Portland Winterhawks. Davidson, who is in his seventh season as Everett’s GM, was Portland’s director of player personnel for four seasons (2008-12); Armstrong, now in his third season as Brandon’s GM, was Portland’s head scout during that time.

This season, Vitelli, a 17-year-old sophomore from Winnipeg, has five goals and 11 assists in 45 games. He has one goal in five games since the trade deadline.

Last season, Vitelli finished with two goals and eight assists in 70 games, then added four goals and three assists in 22 playoff games.

Mattheos also is from Winnipeg. The Wheat Kings selected him with the first overall pick in the 2014 bantam draft. His NHL rights belong to the Carolina Hurricanes, who picked him in the third round of that league’s 2017 draft. Mattheos has yet to sign an NHL contract.

Mattheos is Brandon’s captain and leads the Wheat Kings in goals (30), assists (31) and points (61), all in 40 games.

Last season, Mattheos put up 43 goals and 47 assists in 90 games. In 228 career regular-season games, he has 243 points, including 113 goals.

The Silvertips and Wheat Kings aren’t scheduled to meet again this season. They played in Brandon on Oct. 19, with the home team winning, 5-2, behind three goals from Mattheos. Vitelli, playing in his home province, had one assist.


KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

On Dec. 19, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said that there would be an 36announcement “very soon” and that it would deal with “what the future of that franchise is.”

That franchise is the Kootenay Ice, an organization that is believed to be headed to Winnipeg once this season is over.

But we now are into the 36th day since Robison appeared on TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton with host Dean Millard.

Since then . . . crickets from the Ice and the WHL office.


F Bryce Bader has left the Prince Albert Raiders.

According to a news release from the Raiders, Bader, 17, flew to Calgary on Sunday “to PrinceAlbertwrite a final exam,” then “elected not to re-join the team for personal reasons.”

The Raiders added: “There will be no further comment from the hockey club.”

Bader’s departure leaves the Raiders’ roster at 21 players, including seven defencemen and 12 forwards.

Bader, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was selected by the Calgary Hitmen in the second round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

The Raiders acquired Bader from the Hitmen on Jan. 10 in exchange for F Quinn Olson, a 17-year-old Calgarian who has committed to the U of Minnesota-Duluth for 2020-21. In the deal, the teams also swapped conditional sixth-round selections in an undisclosed bantam draft.

This season, Bader had four goals in 10 games with the Hitmen this season, but had yet to play for the Raiders.

The Raiders, the CHL’s top-ranked team, is scheduled to conclude a B.C. Division swing tonight against the Vancouver Giants. The game will be televised on Sportsnet.


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Joachim Blichfeld, the WHL’s leading scorer, struck for two third-period goals to help Portlandthe host Portland Winterhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (28-13-5) is second in the U.S. Division, seven points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Tri-City (24-17-3) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). It remains fourth in the U.S. Division, two points behind the Spokane Chiefs. At the same time, the Americans are in control of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, with a 12-point lead on the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . With two games left in the season series, Tri-City is 5-1-0; Portland is 1-1-4. That means that while Tri-City has won five of six games, Portland still has grabbed six points. . . . The Americans grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals 40 seconds apart by F Krystof Hrabik (10) and F Kyle Olson (14). . . . Portland pulled even late in the period as F Jaydon Dureau (10) scored at 18:58 and F Josh Paterson (17) found the range at 19:35. . . . The teams played a scoreless second period, before Blichfeld, who now has 42 goals, hit at 9:53 and 16:18, with F Cody Glass assisting on both scores. . . . Blichfeld’s second goal gave him 200 career regular-season points. He has 94 goals and 106 assists in 165 games. . . . Blichfeld, who also had an assist, leads the WHL with 86 points, 10 more than F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors and F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Blichfeld’s 42 goals are five more than Langan. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that Blichfeld is the second import in franchise history to get to 200 points. F Oliver Bjorkstrand, who put up 290 points in 193 regular-season games. . . . G Joel Hofer blocked 26 shots for Portland, 16 fewer than Tri-City’s Beck Warm. . . . Portland won 41 of the 63 faceoffs, and was 0-5 on the PP. Tri-City was 0-1. . . . The Americans were without F Blake Stevenson (undisclosed injury) and F Sasha Mutala, who was in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game. . . . D John Ludvig was among Portland’s scratches.


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Silvertips one win from WHL final . . . East final heating up . . . Broncos tell rowdy bunch to cool it

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G Carter Hart stopped 29 shots on Thursday night, leading the visiting Everett Silvertips Everettto a 3-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The result left the Silvertips with a 3-1 lead in the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final, with Game 5 scheduled for Everett tonight (Saturday). . . . The Silvertips took a 2-0 second-period lead on goals from F Riley Sutter (6) and F Reece Vitelli (4), and never looked back. . . . Vitelli, who scored twice in 70 regular-season games, has four goals in 14 playoff games. . . . F Matt Fonteyne (6) added an empty-netter for the winners, after F Riley Sawchuk (2) had scored for the home side. . . . Everett F Martin Fasko-Rudas left the game with an undisclosed injury. His status for Game 5 isn’t likely to be known much before tonight’s pregame warmup. . . . The announced attendance was 3,537, representing the Americans’ largest crowd in six home playoff games. The Americans’ average announced attendance in these playoffs is 3,056 in the 6,000-seat Toyota Center. . . . During the regular season, the Americans’ average, according to announced attendance figures, was 3,649.


The WHL’s Eastern Conference final, with the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes tied 2-2, is scheduled to resume tonight (Saturday) in Swift Current.

Things seem to be heating up, too, especially off the ice.

Following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final, won 5-1 by the host Hurricanes on Wednesday, Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, used his Twitter account to take Lethbridge hockey fans to task.

Dylan Purcell, a former Lethbridge Herald sports writer, chimed in with a tweet of his own.

Estephan, 20, played 288 regular-season games with the Hurricanes and was the team captain when he and G Stuart Skinner were traded to the Broncos in January.

Lethbridge fans responded Wednesday by booing Estephan when he was in possession of the puck. Of course, they also verbally abused Skinner, but that pretty much comes with the territory for a visiting team’s goaltender, doesn’t it?

Skinner responded by saying: “I’m fine with it. I like when fans get on me, but I would have expected a little bit more respect for the fans. Especially after everything me and Giorgio did for them.

“It kind of shows you the type of respect they have for us and how fast things can change. I’m fine with it . . . I saw it coming a long (time) ago.

“I want to beat the fans now. I’m ready to go.”

Meanwhile, in advance of Game 5, the Broncos announced a crackdown on “abusive or violent behaviour” at their home games. It seems the rowdies have been in evidence there, too.

In a news release, Trent McLeary, the organization’s acting chairman, stated that the SCBroncosteam “would like to ensure all of our fans that we are aware of incidents that have occurred at a couple of games in the first two rounds of playoffs involving visiting fans from Regina and Moose Jaw.

“Management from the hockey club has discussed behavioural issues with a number of individuals involved in incidents and made them aware there is zero tolerance for this behaviour in the future. All fans should be aware that abusive or violent behaviour will result in removal from the facility by security personnel and may be subject to review by the RCMP. . . .

“There have also been changes made to the seating arrangements for visiting fans to ensure everyone is having a safe and fun time at our events. We encourage our fans to hold themselves and others to a high standard that reflects appropriately on the hockey club and our community.”


The SJHL-champion Nipawin Hawks, led by three goals and an assist from F Brandan Arnold, downed the host Steinbach Pistons, 4-3, on Friday night in Game 1 of the ANAVET Cup. The best-of-seven series features the SJHL and MJHL champions against each other with the winner getting a berth in the Royal Bank Cup tournament at Prospera Place in Chilliwack, B.C., May 12-20. . . . Arnold snapped a 3-3 tie with his third goal at 18:56 of the third period. . . . They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Saturday) in Steinbach. . . . Arnold, 21, is from Dodsland, Sask. He has played 80 WHL games over three seasons, all with the Swift Current Broncos, recording five goals and five assists. . . . The Hawks got 29 saves from G Declan Hobbs.

In Wenatchee, Wash., F A.J. Vanderbeck scored at 6:17 of OT to give the BCHL-champion Wild a 3-2 victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series for the Doyle Cup. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Wenatchee tonight (Saturday). . . . Vanderbeck, 20, is from Monument, Colo. In 20 playoff games, he put up 13 goals and 15 assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky gave the Wild a 2-1 lead at 12:51 of the third period. . . . Spruce Grove D Brad Forrest tied it at 14:22. . . . The announced attendance was 2,486.


TheCoachingGame

Jeff Tambellini is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke TrailEaters. He replaces Cam Keith, who was fired on April 9 after two seasons on the job and despite having gotten the Smokies into the Interior Division final, where they lost in five games to the eventual-champion Wenatchee Wild. . . . From Port Moody, B.C., Tambellini played two seasons with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, during which he was named junior A player of the year in 2001-02. He played at the U of Michigan for three seasons before going on to a pro career that included 242 NHL games and finished in Europe. . . . He spent this season, his first after retiring as a player, as an assistant coach at the U of Michigan. . . . Tambellini’s father, Steve, is from Trail, while Steve’s father, Addie, played for the 1960-61 Smoke Eaters, the last amateur team from Canada to win the IIHF world championship.


Jay Woodcroft is the new head coach of the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Woodcroft takes over from Gerry Fleming who, along with assistant coach Tony Borgford, were fired. . . . Woodcroft, 41, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Oilers, under head coach Todd McLellan. The two of them also were together for three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and seven with the San Jose Sharks. . . . This season, the Condors finished 31-27-9-1. They were seventh in the eight-team Pacific Division and missed the playoffs. . . . The Oilers also dumped assistant coaches Ian Herbers and Jim Johnson. . . . Herbers just completed a three-year sabbatical from the U of Alberta Golden Bears and will be returning to that post. Serge Lajoie, who was the head coach in Herberrs’ absence, has been interviewed by the Saskatoon Blades, who are looking for a head coach to replace the fired Dean Brockman. . . . With Herbers behind the bench, the Golden Bears won the Canadian university championship in 2014 and 2015. Lajoie just led the Golden Bears to the 2018 title.


Dominique Ducharme, the head coach of Canada’s national junior team at each of the past two World Junior Championships, has been signed as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . A veteran QMJHL coach, Ducharme spent the past two seasons as GM/head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads for five seasons. . . . The Canadiens also announced that assistant coaches Jean-Jacques Daigneault and Dan Lacroix won’t return, while goaltender coach Stephane Waite has signed a new contract.


MacBeth

F Mike Aviani (Spokane, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). A dual Croatian-Canadian citizen, he had 10 goals and 14 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Andrew Clark (Brandon, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract extension with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). In 54 games, he had 24 goals and 35 assists. He led his team in scoring and was sixth in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Ryan Hollweg (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract extension with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). In 41 games, he had two goals and two assists. Next season will be his seventh with Plzeň. . . .

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 45 games. He led his team in goals, led the league in goals and points by a defenceman, and was named to the league’s all-star team. . . .

D Kristian Khenkel (Lethbridge, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). In 55 games, he had two goals and three assists. . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract extension with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). An alternate captain, he had six goals and seven assists in 36 games.


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