Four in chase for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Blazers sign first-round pick . . . Manson leaves Raiders for AHL gig

MacBeth

D Vladimír Mihálik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four goals and nine assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be played in the home arena of a WHL team, and organizations had until May 31 to express official interest in bidding to be the host club.

In the end, four teams filed letters of intent — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals.

The WHL has yet to make this official. In fact, a WHL spokesperson told Taking Note on memcupMonday that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of interest.

The Blazers and Rockets had held news conferences to announce their intentions. Cam Hope, the Royals’ general manager, had been adamant for months now that his organization would be preparing a bid.

The wild-card is the Hurricanes, who play in the 4,093-seat ENMAX Centre, which has room for 800 standees. (All capacity figures from the WHL’s 2017-18 Guide.)

Prior to the filing deadline, there was nary a hint that the Hurricanes might be interested in getting involved in the bidding.

The Memorial Cup has never been played in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1997 when they dropped a 5-1 decision to the host Hull Olympiques in the championship game.

The Lethbridge Broncos played in the 1983 tournament in Portland, but didn’t reach the title game.

The Hurricanes are community-owned; the other three franchises are privately owned.

Of course, it was only three years ago that the Lethbridge franchise was in such dire straits that Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell it to private interests.

In the end, that didn’t happen. Instead, general manager Peter Anholt took control and the rest, as they say, is history.

After six straight seasons out of the playoffs, the Hurricanes have been there each of the past three springs. They followed up a first-round elimination in 2016 by making two straight trips to the Eastern Conference final. One of the results of that is that the franchise has turned the corner and now is a money-maker.

The future is bright on the ice, too, as Lethbridge has some solid young talent, including forwards Dylan Cozens and Logan Barlage, who are coming off terrific 16-year-old seasons.

Hamilton told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel, who is the play-by-play voice of the Rockets, that Lethbridge “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”

At the same time Hamilton is hoping the fact that the tournament hasn’t been in B.C. since 2007 will mean something to the governors.

“The event has been in Regina, Brandon, Saskatoon and Red Deer since it was last in British Columbia,” Hamilton said. “I am hoping regionally it works and one of us in British Columbia gets it.”  

Meanwhile, Kamloops last appeared in the Memorial Cup in 1995 when it won the championship on home ice, capping a run of three titles in four seasons. The Blazers play out of the Sandman Centre, which has a capacity of 5,464.

The 2004 Memorial Cup was played in Kelowna, with the Rockets winning it as the host team. Since then, the Rockets, who play out of 6,007-seat Prospera Place, which has standing room for 500, have appeared in the 2005, 2009 and 2015 Memorial Cup tournaments, but without winning.

A Victoria team hasn’t reached the Memorial Cup final since 1981, when the Cougars went 1-3 during a three-team tournament in Windsor.

The Royals’ home arena, the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, has a capacity of 7,006.

The host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled to be announced following a WHL board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Teams will make their presentations during the meeting, after which the governors will vote and a host team will be revealed.

The 2019 Memorial Cup will be decided in Halifax, the home of the QMJHL’s Mooseheads.


The Kamloops Blazers have signed F Logan Stankoven, their first-round selection in the Kamloops1WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stankoven, from Kamloops, was take with the fifth-overall pick. . . . This season, Stankoven had 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team that plays out of Abbotsford, B.C. . . . In 2018-19, Stankoven will play for the major midget Thompson Blazers, who are based in Kamloops.

——

WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Charlie Wright, who was selected in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was the Blades’ third pick in the draft. . . . Wright, who will turn 15 on Oct. 22, is from Olds, Alta. This season, he had two goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels.


TheCoachingGame

Dave Manson has left the Prince Albert Raiders’ coaching staff to join the Bakersfield PrinceAlbertCondors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Manson had been on the Raiders’ coaching staff for 14 of the last 16 seasons, the past six as associate coach. . . . Manson, 51, is a native of Prince Albert. A rugged defenceman, he played three seasons (1983-86) with the Raiders and was part of their 1985 Memorial Cup-winning team. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 1,103 regular-season NHL games, split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . The Raiders have retired two numbers in their history — Manson’s No. 4 and F Mike Modano’s No. 9.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have a vacancy after Shae Naka, their assistant general manager/associate coach, left to join the staff at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna. Naka had been with the Warriors for six seasons.

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Parneta moves into GM’s office in Vancouver . . . Rockets release an import . . . Season ends for WHL champions

MacBeth

F Vladimír Sičák (Medicine Hat, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had four goals and 18 assists in 49 games. Karlovy Vary was in 1. Liga this season and won promotion to Extraliga for next season. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he was pointless in 20 games. He had six assists in 41 games while on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants introduced Barclay Parneta as their general manager on Wednesday morning. Parneta, 47, takes over from Glen Hanlon, who left the Giants earlier this month after two seasons as GM. . . . The Giants’ news release is right here. . . . Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for Postmedia, has a piece right here.


The Kelowna Rockets have released Czech F Marek Skrvne, who turns 19 on Aug. 6, after KelownaRocketsjust one season. He had four goals and nine assists in 69 games as a freshman last season. . . . The Rockets will make one selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft, as Czech D Libor Zabransky, 18, will return for a second season. . . . “Marek did nothing to cause the direction we are headed except for the fact that I think we need a defenceman back there as we are trying to build a team for 2020,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president and general manager, told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice. . . . The Rockets are preparing to bid on the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . According to the WHL Guide, the import draft will be held on June 26 or 27.


The men who own the Regina Pats are going to take at least a $2-million bath on the 2018 ReginaPats100Memorial Cup, which is being played in their city. Not only that, but they aren’t at all surprised; in fact, they expected it. . . . They ended up handing the CHL a $3-million hosting fee and another $650,000 to cover some expenses. . . . “If every seat had been sold for the Eagles concert — part of the gala opening ceremony at Mosaic Stadium — and for every game of the tournament, the owners would still have been staring at a seven-figure shortfall,” writes Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . You have to wonder what’s going on in the world of major junior hockey when one of the CHL’s partners is forced into taking this kind of bath? . . . Vanstone’s piece is right here and it more than adequately explains the financial situation surrounding this Memorial Cup.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst vs. Regina/Hamilton winner, 5 p.m.


Speculation has been running wild in Edmonton regarding the likelihood that the NHL’s Oilers will add Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney to head coach Todd McLellan’s coaching staff. . . . Gulutzan was fired as head coach of the Calgary Flames after the season, while Yawney was let go by the Anaheim Ducks. . . . The Oilers have room for one more assistant coach and those same speculators are betting on Manny Viveiros, the director of hockey operations and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos won the WHL’s playoff championship, but went 0-3 at the Memorial Cup, bowing out Wednesday night with a 6-5 loss to the host Regina Pats.


TheCoachingGame

Clint Mylymok has signed on with the NAHL’s Maryland Black Bears as the first general manager and head coach in the franchise’s history. He had been the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds for the previous four seasons. The Hounds play out of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Black Bears will play out of Odenton, Maryland, using the Piney Orchard Ice Arena as their home base. It once was a training centre for the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Geoff Grimwood has resigned as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. Grimwood spent three seasons with the Klippers. He had been an assistant coach with the WHL’s Victoria Royals for three seasons (2012-15) before signing on with Kindersley.

Tragedy averted as junior B team’s bus leaves road . . . O’Rourke not impressed with Warriors . . . WHL honours Rick Brodsky

MacBeth

F Jeremy Williams (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). He has 21 goals and 19 assists in 49 games. He leads the Tigers in goals and is tied for the team lead in points. As part of the contract extension, Straubing has agreed to loan Williams to Örebro (Sweden, SHL) for the rest of this season. Straubing has three games left in the regular season and cannot make the playoffs. Örebro has 10 games left in its regular season.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Tragedy was averted early Sunday when a bus carrying the junior B Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League slid off a B.C. highway.

The Posse was on its way home after having played Saturday night in 100 Mile House.

Head coach Mark McNaughton gave full marks to the bus driver, saying that he did a “phenomenal job.”

According to McNaughton, the bus came upon ice and started sliding.

“He adjusted to go the right way,” McNaughton told Andrea Demeer of Black Press. “He steered it straight into a snow bank instead of over towards the embankment.”

The driver, whose named wasn’t included in the story, and one player were taken to hospital in Princeton and later released.

Demeer’s story is right here.


Prince George had just dropped a 4-1 decision to the host Moose Jaw Warriors on PrinceGeorgeSaturday night, and Steve O’Rourke, the Cougars’ associate coach, didn’t like what he saw . . . from the Warriors.

“It’s not easy when a team plays only two lines for pretty much the whole night,” O’Rourke said on 94.3 the GOAT’s post-game show. “It’s embarrassing to watch (the Warriors) to tell you the truth. I’m very upset.

“To come out here and see a top place team and really they played two (or) two-and-a-half lines.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside. Yes, we gave up some chances and (goaltender Taylor Gauthier) played really well. We knew that was going to happen with a team this powerful.

“If you are not willing to play four lines during a 72-game schedule, it’s going to catch up to you somewhere. They are a good hockey club, give them credit, but I don’t know about the long term. Personally, I didn’t think it looks good on junior hockey. They have a fourth line that didn’t see the ice all night.”

There’s nothing like some fightin’ words to fire up things in the WHL, something we rarely hear these days. Unfortunately, the Warriors and Cougars aren’t scheduled to play again this season.


Rick Brodsky, a longtime owner and a former chairman of the board of governors, has whlbeen presented with a WHL Governors Award. . . . His involvement in the WHL began in 1977 when his family purchased the Saskatoon Blades. He left that ownership group early in 1992 when he purchased the Victoria Cougars, a franchise that he moved to Prince George after the 1993-94 season. . . . He sold the Cougars after the 2013-14 season and since has been only an interested observer. . . . Brodsky did two stints as the chairman of the board of governors, from 1986-90 and again from 1992-96, when he carried a lot of weight at the top levels of major junior hockey. . . . Brodsky’s brother Jack, who was involved in the Blades’ ownership for a long time, was a recipient of the same award for 2013-14.


Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, reported Monday that the team will be without sophomore F Nolan Foote “for a significant amount of time.” Foote suffered an undisclosed injury in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the host Everett Silvertips. That was Foote’s 100th WHL regular-season game. . . . Foote, a sophomore, has 12 goals and 26 assists in 48 games this season.


Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, tweeted Sunday that the Tigers “limp home from winless road trip without goaltender Jordan Hollett. Sidelined indefinitely (with) lower-body injury.” . . . Hollett was injured during Saturday’s 5-4 loss Tigers Logo Officialto the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. He left in the second period, apparently favouring his right leg.

“It looked liked (Ty) Ronning might’ve got the tongue of his skate trapped with the top of the pad and it was just a little freak thing,” Tigers assistant coach Bobby Fox told Zach Amin of CHAT News. “Just the speed off the rush and you could tell right away in the video that he wasn’t himself.”

Fox said the Tigers will add G Garin Bjorklund, 15, or G Kaeden Lane, 16, with Hollett out. . . . Bjorklund, a first-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, is with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. Lane plays at the Burnaby Winter Club. . . . The Tigers next are scheduled to play on Wednesday when they entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings.


The Spokane Chiefs have added F Cordel Larson, 16, to their roster. Larson, who plays for the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask., should be with the Chiefs on Wednesday when they visit the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Larson, from Weyburn, Sask., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has 12 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with the Hounds this season.


The Kootenay Ice has added G Jesse Makaj, 16, to is roster. From Vancouver, he plays for the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. In 14 games, he is 6-7-0, 3.14. Makaj was selected by the Ice in the second round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Ice G Dustin McGovern likely will be suspended after being hit with a match penalty for attempt to injure during Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Should that happen, Makaj will back up Matt Berlin. . . . The Ice is scheduled to visit Saskatoon tonight (Tuesday).


John Grisdale, the BCHL’s commissioner since 2003, revealed Monday that he is stepping aside following this season. Grisdale became the BCHL’s first commissioner when he succeeded Ron Boileau, who had been the league’s president. . . . “The BCHL has meant a lot to me and I’m happy with the work we’ve done but the time is right for me to step aside and let a new face run the show,” Grisdale said in a news release. “I believe the league is in a good place and I think I’m leaving it in a better position than when I began so I take great pride in that.” . . . For more, click right here.

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Scoreboard

MONDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

We never will forget Dec. 30, 1986. . . Canucks’ head coach back in minors for a day . . . Americans lose star for up to two months

Scattershooting

Lost in the hoopla of the outdoor game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Thursday was this fact: Canada won’t be involved in a New Year’s Eve game for the first time in forever. There will be a lot of people in this country who won’t know what to do.


It has been 31 years since four players died when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus crashed just east of the Saskatchewan city. The tragedy’s anniversary was recognized numerous times by a whole lot of people on social media on Saturday. However, there wasn’t a peep on the WHL’s website.


Headline at SportsPickle.com: NFL clarifies catch rule: Players must hold on to ball, take it home and raise it as their own.


Allow me to remind you that the real World Junior Championship starts when the playoff round begins, which will be on Tuesday. That is when the fun — and the real excitement — gets rolling.


“No NHL games were scheduled on Boxing Day,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Tiger Williams, we hear, was inconsolable.”


There were 11 games in the WHL on Saturday night. Seven of them went to OT or a shootout, meaning seven teams picked up loser points. Good luck to teams trying to move over others and get into playoff positions.


After burglars stole a toilet from a home belonging to former NBAer Charlie Villanueva, RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com reported: “Police say no arrests have been made because there’s nothing to go on.”


The 41-game U.S. college bowl season kicked off on Dec. 14. As Janice Hough (aka The Left Coast Sports Babe) noted: “And if you can name at least half of them without Google, you just might need a life.”


Ever wonder why there are so many bowl games? Here’s blogger Chad Picasner: “Remember, it’s all about supporting colleges and the sport. Or as my Uncle Al used to say, ‘I’m taking Notre Dame and the points.’ ”


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

It was on Dec. 30, 1986 when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus, en route to a game in Regina, crashed and four players were killed.

The accident occurred just east of Swift Current and took the lives of Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff. A memorial now is in place near the site of the accident.

Dan Lambert, now the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, was a defenceman with the Broncos, although he wasn’t on the bus at the time. During his time on the Kelowna Rockets’ coaching staff, Lambert spoke with Regan Bartel about his memories of that time in his life.

That interview, from a few years ago, is right here.

Of course, a book about the Broncos, the accident and much that came afterwards was published in 2012. Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos is available at chapters.indigo.ca or through Amazon. There’s more on the book in the piece below from Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops.


Green
Travis Green, a former WHL player and coach, was behind the bench of a bantam AAA team from Orange County, Calif., on Friday morning. In his other life, he is the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: Kevin Gallant)

Observers who were at a bantam AAA game in the Pat Quinn Classic at the Burnaby Winter Club on Friday morning may have noticed a familiar face behind the bench of the team from Orange County, Calif.

Yes, that was Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, helping out behind the bench. His son, Blake, plays on the Orange County team.

Taking Note has been told that Green helped coach Orange County during the game against the No. 1-seeded California Golden Bears. In that game, the Golden Bears, who had won their first four games, held a 2-1 lead when Green called a timeout. From that point, Orange Country outscored its opposition 8-1 to pull off a 9-3 victory and eliminate the top seed.

On Saturday, Orange County dropped a 6-0 decision to the Langley Eagles in the game for the bronze medal.

Green wasn’t available for that one because his other job took precedence. That night, the Canucks dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.


The Tri-City Americans will be without F Michael Rasmussen for up to eight weeks with a TriCity30wrist injury that required surgery. Interestingly, the news wasn’t reported by anyone close to the Americans. Instead, it was reported by Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. . . . The Detroit Red Wings selected Rasmussen in the first round, ninth overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . “He could have waited till the end of the season, but he was tired of playing in pain,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told St. James. “We decided on surgery now because on the short end, he’ll be back some time in late Janurary; on the long end, sometime in February.” . . . Rasmussen, who has signed with the Red Wings, first injured the wrist late in the 2016-17 regular season. On March 2, with Rasmussen not having played since Feb. 1, the Americans revealed that he had a “fractured wrist” but that the injury wouldn’t “require surgery as the fracture is healing on its own.” . . . This season, the 6-foot-6 Rasmussen has 16 goals and 15 assists in 22 games.


In the OHL, the Soo Greyhounds ran their winning streak to 23 with a 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Guelph Storm last night. The Greyhounds had made it 22 in a row with a 6-5 victory over the visiting Flint Firebirds on Friday night. . . . The Kitchener Rangers hold the OHL record for longest winning streak (25 games), set from Jan. 11, 1984, through March 16, 1984. . . . The London Knights went 31 games without a loss in 2004-05 (29 victories, two ties), but the longest winning streak contained in that was 18 games.


While a lot of the hockey world was intent on what was going on at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Friday, a neat story was being written in Edmonton.

That’s where Jeff Glass, a 32-year-old goaltender, played the first NHL game of his career. He stopped 42 shots, including 18 in the first period, as his Chicago Blackhawks beat the Oilers, 4-3 in OT.

WHL fans will remember Glass from three terrific seasons (2002-05) with the Kootenay Ice. In those seasons, he was 2.45, .909; 2.35, .911; and 1.76, .932. Yes, he was terrific.

Tim Campbell of nhl.com has more on Glass and that first game right here.