Raiders put Giants behind 8-ball. . . . P.A. scores seven in first period. . . . Winds of change blowing in Brandon

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F Yegor Babenko (Lethbridge, 2015-17) has been traded by Severstal Cherepovets to Traktor Chelyabinsk (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. This season, with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games. He also was pointless in three games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), and had two goals three assists in 15 games with Severstal Cherepovets. . . .

F Liam Stewart (Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-season contract with the Southern Stampede Queenstown (New Zealand, NZIHL). Last season,  with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 35 games. He didn’t play this season after suffering a concussion. . . . Stewart holds dual UK/New Zealand citizenship and is considered a local player in New Zealand. However, in the UK, he is considered an import because he played his minor hockey in the U.S.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings revealed on Tuesday that they won’t be renewing the contract BrandonWKregularof Grant Armstrong, who had been their general manager through three seasons. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, said in a news release that Armstrong “was responsible for many of the moves that will serve us well in the future. At the same time, I also felt a change was necessary as we look to return to a higher level as an organization.” . . . McCrimmon is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He will be taking over as the Golden Knights’ GM on Sept 1. . . . Armstrong signed as Brandon’s general manager to take over from McCrimmon when he signed with Vegas. . . . The Wheat Kings were 102-87-23 with Armstrong as the general manager. This season, they finished 31-29-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. . . . Before joining Brandon, Armstrong was with the Victoria Royals for four seasons as director of player personnel and assistant GM. Prior to that, he worked with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons, the last four as head scout. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here. . . .

With a new general manager to be hired at some point, you are free to wonder about the future of head coach David Anning and assistant coach Don MacGillivray. After three seasons, their contracts are up, too. . . . The news release on Armstrong’s departure doesn’t mention the coaching staff.


The Tri-City Americans announced Tuesday that they have renewed the contracts of goaltending coaches Eli Wilson and Liam McOnie “through the 2021 season.” . . . Wilson and McOnie have worked with the Americans since the 2017-18 season. They also run goaltending camps through Eli Wilson Goaltending.


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The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers have hired Jason McKee as general manager and head coach, Vernonreplacing Mark Ferner, who got the team into the BCHL final this season, his fifth season in his second stint with the organization. . . . Ferner, 53, was the Vipers’ head coach for four seasons (2007-11), getting them into three national finals and winning two of them, before spending time on the coaching staffs of the Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers. This time, he had been the Vipers’ director of hockey operations and head coach since early in the 2014-15 season. . . . This season, the Vipers went 26-21-11 to finish fourth in the seven-team Interior Division. They reach the championship final where they were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . McKee, 40, was the head coach of the Vancouver Giants for two seasons (2016-18). Prior to that, he was with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for 10 seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . . Brothers John and Tom Glen purchased the Vipers in September from Libby Wray, whose husband, Dr. Duncan Wray, had owned the franchise from 1992 through his death on Jan. 11, 2018. . . . John Glen was quite involved with the Saints, although not at the ownership level. He also is a former scout with the Giants.


If you’re a junior hockey fan you should be following Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) on Twitter. He always has up-to-date information on players moving from the WHL to the Canadian university scene, including F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility with the Victoria Royals this season and will be playing for the Carleton Ravens of Ottawa next season. Findlay also reports that Josh Curtis, who was a 20-year-old with the Prince George Cougars, will be joining the Queen’s U Gaels, who play out of Kingston, Ont. Findlay also has F Ryan Jevne (Medicine Hat Tigers) going to the U of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, F Nolan Yaremko (Tri-City Americans) off to the Calgary-based Mount Royal Cougars, and F Ryan Vandervlis (Lethbridge Hurricanes), F Mike MacLean (Prince George) and F Jeff de Wit (Red Deer Rebels) all joining the Montreal-based Concordia Stingers.


The Halifax Mooseheads broke a 1-1 tie with two second-period goals and then added two more in the third, en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL’s championship final on Tuesday night. . . . The series now is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday night, and Game 6 back in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. A seventh game would be played in Rouyn-Noranda on Monday. . . . Both teams already know they will play in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. . . .

In the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s will meet the Storm in Guelph in Game 4 tonight (Wednesday). The 67’s hold a 2-1 lead after dropping a 7-2 decision to the host Storm on Monday night. That was the first loss of these playoffs for the 67’s, who now are 14-1.


Rich Pilon, who was named the head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings on April 29, now is the team’s general manager, as well. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon will add the GM’s duties, taking over from Tanner McCall, who had been the GM and head scout. . . . McCall, who also scouts for the Moose Jaw Warriors, had been with the Red Wings for five seasons, the last three as general manager and head scout.


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NOTES: Well, who saw that one coming? The Prince Albert Raiders went into Langley, B.C., and humbled the Vancouver Giants, handing them an 8-2 loss in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. Game 5 is set for Friday night in Langley. . . . Last night’s decision means that if the Giants are to win the series, they will have to do it in Prince Albert. Games 6 and 7, if one or both are needed, would be played there on Sunday and Monday. . . .

In Game 3, the Raiders took control with seven goals in the first period. . . . The WHL record for most goals in one period of a playoff game is nine and belongs to the Saskatoon Blades (March 30, 1986, second period of a 12-5 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors). . . .

Oh the games people play now/Every night and every day now. . . . According to the lineup sheet circulated prior to the game, Raiders D Max Martin would play, with D Loeden Schaufler and F Jakob Brook listed with question marks beside their names. That would seem to have indicated that one of those two would play and the other would sit. . . . Martin didn’t finish Game 2 after suffering an apparent shoulder injury when he went awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Last night, he took the pregame warmup and then was scratched. Schaufler and Brook both were dressed and on the Prince Albert bench. . . .

F Dante Hannoun of the Raiders had a goal and two assists in Game 3. He leads the WHL playoffs with 12 goals. His 23 points have him tied with Vancouver D Bowen Byram for the scoring lead. Byram had one assist in Game 3. . . .

According to tweets from Steve Ewen, there were a number of NHL luminaries in the crowd, among them Scotty Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), and Rob Blake and Todd McLellan (Los Angeles Kings).

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored 41 seconds into the first period and made it 2-0 at 2:27 PrinceAlbertas they went on to an 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. . . . Prince Albert had won Game 2, 4-0, so has outscored Vancouver, 12-2, over the last two games. . . . The visitors led 4-0 at 6:33 of the first period, 6-0 at 16:30 and 7-0 going into the second period. . . . The Giants took the game’s first four minor penalties, all of them in the opening 6:33. The Raiders responded with three PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (5,6) and F Brett Leason (8,9) each scored twice and added an assist for the victors, with F Dante Hannoun (12) scoring once and adding two assists. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (5), F Cole Fonstad (2) and F Noah Gregor (10) added a goal each. . . . D Sergei Sapego, F Aliaksei Protas and F Sean Montgomery added two assists each for the Raiders. . . . F Brayden Watts (6) and F Yannik Valenti (3) scored PP goals for the Giants after they had fallen behind 8-0. . . . Prince Albert was 4-8 on the PP; Vancouver was 2-8. . . . G Ian Scott blocked 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . Vancouver starter David Tendeck gave up three goals on 13 shots. He allowed two goals on four shots in 2:27, then was relieved by Trent Miner for the remainder of the first period. Miner allowed five goals on 14 shots. Tendeck returned for the final two periods and stopped eight of nine shots. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Chris Crich, with Ron Dietterle and Michael Roberts the linesmen.


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Ex-WHLer charged after incident at Kelowna beach. . . . Pilon takes over as Red Wings’ coach. . . . Storm is writing quite a story in OHL


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F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .

F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .

G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .

F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.


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Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.


At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him ohl$10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s WeyburnWeyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.


F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .

F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .

D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . . 

D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.


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NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .

Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.


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WHL sucks $1,500 out of Lauer. . . . No U-18 gold for Team Canada. . . . Ex-Tigers forward dead at 53


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“So it’s going to cost me a thousand bucks, but whatever it is, it is.”

That was Brad Lauer, who is in his first season as head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings, EdmontonOilKingsfollowing a 4-0 loss to the Raiders in Prince Albert on Friday night.

The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline spoke on Saturday night, posting on its website that Lauer had been fined $1,500 “for public comments.”

You can be the judge as to whether he got his money’s worth . . .

Early in the Eastern Conference final, Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid expressed concern about the officiating.

“One thing that concerned me a little bit,” Habscheid said after Game 2, “was it was open season on our goaltender. . . . He was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect (the officials) to take care of that and they didn’t. That was real disappointing.”

The referees that night were Mike Langin and Steve Papp.

At that point, the series was tied, 1-1.

On Friday night, it was Lauer sounding off.

“The officiating sucked,” Lauer told reporters after his PP unit wasn’t given even one opportunity in a 4-0 loss. The Raiders were 1-3 on the PP. “It’s not about their power plays because we deserved some calls (against us), but I’ve never been in a game where we’ve had no calls (for us). . . .”

(Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on Lauer’s rant right here.)

The referees for this one were Brett Iverson and Mark Pearce.

“There was a number of calls (that could have gone against Prince Albert). They could have called Vince Loschiavo, they hit him f—ing three seconds after the whistle goes, and then another trip in the third period. And Trey Fix-Wolansky is run from behind and no calls. Nothing. . . .

“So it’s going to cost me a thousand bucks, but whatever it is, it is.”

Habscheid wasn’t fined for his comments after Game 2, so one might have thought, at least for a moment at least, that perhaps Lauer would be given a freebie, too. But no such luck.

It could be that in this instance the difference between “real disappointing” and “sucked” is $1,500.

The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, going into Game 6 in Edmonton today (Sunday).


Before the IIHF U-18 World Championship got started, many observers were anticipating Canadaa championship final featuring Team Canada and Team USA.

Those two teams will meet today (Sunday) but it won’t be in the final; instead, they will play for third place after both were beaten in semifinal action.

Sweden, the host team, beat Canada, 4-3, on Saturday, after Russia had beaten the Americans, 3-2, in a shootout.

F Albin Grewe’s goal with 2:31 left in the third period broke a 3-3 tie and provided Sweden, which has never won this event, with its victory over Canada before 3,519 fans in Ornskoldsvik.

F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) scored twice for Canada, which went with Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) in goal.

Canada was hit with seven minor penalties, with Sweden taking two. Sweden scored one PP goal, that one giving it a 3-2 lead at 9:23 of the third period.

“Something we stressed all tournament was discipline,” F Alex Newhook of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies told the IIHF’s Lucas Aykroyd. “To have that effort tonight and to have that many penalties, it’s definitely a bit disappointing for our group. But we battled through a lot of that.”

In the other semifinal, F Rodion Amirov had two goals, the second one the only goal of the shootout, to spearhead Russia’s victory. Russia last won gold in this tournament in 2007.

Team USA, which was chasing its eighth gold in 11 years, got two goals from F Cole Caufield, who has tied the tournament record (14) that was set by F Alex Ovechkin in 2002.

Russian G Yaroslav Askarov, who isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2020, was outstanding, with 40 saves. He also got some help from the crossbar, as Team USA hit it twice, once by sniper Jack Hughes while on a PP late in the 10-minute OT period.

Meanwhile, in the relegation round, Slovakia beat Switzerland, 4-3, thanks to a late penalty shot, to tie the best-of-three series, 1-1, in Umea. . . . F Maxim Cajkovic scored on the penalty shot with 2:28 left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.

They’ll play Game 3 today in Umea.


Guy Phillips, who played three seasons (1984-87) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, has died. The Regina native was 53. . . . Phillips put up 186 points, including 81 goals, in 183 regular-season games with the Tigers, and added 23 goals and 28 assists in 51 playoff games. He helped the Tigers win the 1987 Memorial Cup. An alternate captain with that team, he had four goals and four assists in four games as he was named a tournament all-star. . . . He went on to play professionally and retired after the 1998-99 season. He played his last five seasons in Germany.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings are poised to introduce Rich Pilon, a former WHL and WeyburnNHL defenceman, as their new head coach. . . . Pilon, 51, is from Saskatoon. He played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then jumped right into the lineup of the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . He went on to play 631 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Islanders, although he also played with the New York Rangers (114 games) and St. Louis Blues (8). . . . Pilon has coached minor hockey in Saskatoon, including midget AAA teams. . . . It is expected that Tanner McCall will stay on as the Red Wings’ general manager and head scout, and will continue to scout for the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Red Wings fired head coach Wes Rudy in mid-December, with Kyle Haines taking over as the interim head coach. Haines remains with the Red Wings as an assistant coach. . . . Pilon’s son, Garrett, played for three seasons (2015-18) in the WHL, with the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. He had 10 goals and 23 assists in 71 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears this season.


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