Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Unvaxxed

Peeters has a real fish story to tell now . . . Speltz signs on as GM in AHL . . . Blazers, Blades in mourning

TWEET OF THE DAY:


Former NHL/WHL G Pete Peeters now lives in Sturgeon County, just north of Edmonton. So it was only fitting that Peeters was involved in the catching of a fish on the Fraser River that Patrick Johnston of Postmedia writes was “a sturgeon bigger than anything that’s been measured in modern history.” . . . Johnston writes: “The fish’s fork-length was a B.C. record: 352 cm (or 11 feet, six inches). Its girth was 141 cm (55 inches) and was estimated to weigh 890 pounds.” . . . Johnston’s story, along with a couple of photos, is right here.


Speltz

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have hired former Spokane Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Speltz, who is a long-time friend of Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon, has spent the past five seasons on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the last three as their head amateur scout. He joined the Leafs after being the Chiefs’ general manager for 26 seasons (1990-2016). He also was the Medicine Hat Tigers’ GM for two seasons (1988-90). . . . Prior to signing Speltz, McCrimmon also was responsible for the Silver Knights, who are preparing for their second AHL season.



And wouldn’t you know it . . . I just pre-ordered another book, after discovering that Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend is scheduled to be released on Nov. 2. . . . You should know that this one is written by George Johnson, who once upon a time was part of the gang at the late, great Winnipeg Tribune. Say what you want about George, just don’t question his love for Ol’ Blue Eyes and classic movies, or his ability to write. He’s one of our best, so Bearcat’s story will be a winner. . . . And, yes, he did wind up plus-1 during an NHL game. You know that story will be included.


Finally . . . we have a cancellation that hasn’t anything to do with the pandemic. The Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds were to have played an exhibition game in Kennewick, Wash., on Sept. 19. However, the teams have decided to stroke that game off the schedule, apparently because of the number of players they expect to have in NHL camps at that time. . . . The game would have been part of the Tri-City Americans’ tournament.



ICYMI, the CFL’s Edmonton Elks released Canadian OL Jacob Ruby after he Covidbreached COVID-19 protocols. This had to have been serious because CFL teams value offensive linemen the way politicians love votes. Dave Naylor of TSN later reported that Ruby “did repeatedly misrepresent to (the) team (that) he was vaccinated.” . . . Ruby had been in the CFL since 2015 when he was with the Montreal Alouettes. . . . The Elks, of course, have had 13 players test positive over the last while, and that led to the postponement of a game in Toronto against the Argonauts that was to have been played on Aug. 26. . . . As of Tuesday, the Elks had gone five days without a positive test; they are expected to return to team activities today. . . .

Meanwhile, the NFL’s New England Patriots surprised the football world on Tuesday by releasing veteran QB Cam Newton, who had started all three of their exhibition games. We may never find out if his apparently being unvaccinated had anything to do with the move by head coach Bill Belichick, who will open the season with Alabama product Mac Jones, a rookie, as the starter. . . .

In Indianapolis, the Colts placed QB Carson Wentz, C Ryan Kelly, who is a Pro Bowler, and WR Zach Pascal on the COVID-19 list as close contacts of a staff member who tested positive. . . . If the three test negative and are asymptomatic they will be able to return in five days. . . . “The fact that the three players were placed on the list as close contacts is an indication they are not vaccinated for the coronavirus as, per NFL protocols, vaccinated players would only be placed on the list for a positive test result,” writes Mike Wells of ESPN. . . . The Colts now have had at least nine players on the COVID-19 list since training camp started. They also have had two coaches test positive, including head coach Frank Reich. . . . 

And from the world of baseball and television . . . the New York Post reported Tuesday that former MLB pitchers Al Leiter and John Smoltz have refused to be vaccinated so “will no long appear in-studio for MLB Network.” . . . MLB has a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees and it goes into effect today (Wednesday). . . .

On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox took SS Xavier Bogaerts out of their game in the second inning after a positive test came back. The Red Sox lost the game, 8-5, to the host Tampa Bay Rays. . . . Boston has had six players test positive since Friday, the others being OF Kiké Hernández, INF Christian Arroyo, P Matt Barnes and P Martín Pérez. P Josh Taylor went on the list as a close contact.


Chapter 9,876 in the book How Did We Get Here From There — In chatting the other night with the husband and wife who own a couple of Dairy Queen franchises, I was told about a male and female who recently were refused service because she wasn’t wearing a mask. Yes, masks are mandatory indoors in B.C. . . . Anyway, the couple started beefing and the owners realized it was a waste of time and energy debating the issue so they walked away and the two disgruntled folks departed the premises. . . . That brings us to Port Alberni, B.C., where an idiot who was refused service because he wasn’t wearing a mask chose to leave the store, before returning to urinate on the counter. . . . Sheesh! What is happening to us? Just wear a mask. It’s not like you’re being asked to fight a grizzly bear with a plastic knife.


Plague


KING-TV in Seattle reports that if you’re planning on attending the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, you will have to wear a mask at all times — indoors or out — regardless of your vaccination status. . . . Why? Because Pierce County is experiencing unprecedented levels of COVID-19. . . . The State Fair runs from Sept. 3-26. . . . According to yaktrinew.com, “The masking requirement came one day after two hospital leaders said during a Washington State Hospital Association briefing that the Washington State Fair should be canceled due to the stress it would inevitably put on hospitals.”



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Matt Calvert, who recently retired after an 11-year NHL career, has joined the Brandon Wheat Kings as their development coach. From a news release: “Along with assisting the coaching staff with day-to-day operations, Calvert will focus primarily on the career development of current players and prospects, emphasizing skill development, fitness, nutrition, mental health, and education.” Calvert, who is from Brandon, played three seasons (2007-10) with the Wheat Kings. . . . The ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones have promoted Jason Payne from assistant to head coach, replacing Matt Thomas, who now is with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Payne, who is from Toronto, is the lone Black head coach in pro hockey at the moment. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan has more on Payne right here. . . .

Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) reported Tuesday morning that former WHL F Yogi Svejkovsky is going to work with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as a skills coach, who also will work with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks. He had been coaching at the Delta Hockey Academy. He spent 12 seasons (2006-18) as the Vancouver Giants’ skills coach. Svejkovsky, 44, had 101 points, including 58 goals, in his one WHL season (1995-96) with the Tri-City Americans. His son, Lukas, who turns 20 on Nov. 23, has split the past three seasons between the Giants and the Medicine Hat Tigers.


DrSues

A Punch for Team Canada? . . . Hitmen welcome Nielsen back . . . Flodell stones Blazers . . . Neuls leads Thunderbirds

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Could Ernie (Punch) McLean help out as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the 2019 World Junior Championship that is to be shared between Victoria and Vancouver?

Hey, why not?

McLean told Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver that, according to Dhaliwal, he “is planning to apply . . . because it is being held in Vancouver.”

“The worse thing they can say is no,” McLean told Dhaliwal. “I want to help these kids.”

McLean has WJC experience, having been Team Canada’s coach in 1978 (Montreal) and 1979 (Sweden). Canada wound up third in Montreal and fifth in Sweden.

McLean, 85, is the fifth-winningest coach in WHL regular-season, having run the Esteven Bruins and New Westminster Bruins.


D Kade Jensen of the Victoria Royals will sit for four games after taking a cross-checking whlmajor and game misconduct at the end of a 5-4 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on Saturday night. Jensen hit Kamloops D Luke Zazula during the play in question. . . . On Dec. 10, Jensen drew a three-game suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game with the host Prince George Cougars. . . . He also drew one- and two-game suspensions in 2015-16. . . . Jensen will miss tonight’s game in Portland and also will sit out games against host Vancouver (Friday and Jan. 26) and in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . The Royals are third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Kelowna and two behind Vancouver.


If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


If you enjoy stopping by here, and even if you don’t, feel free to make a donation to the cause by visiting my old site, taking note.ca, and clicking on the DONATE button. Thank you, in advance.


Scoreboard

TUESDAY:

At Calgary, F Tristen Nielsen returned from a 20-game absence to help the Hitmen to a 6-5 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Calgary (14-25-6) had lost its previous four Calgarygames. The Hitmen are fourth in the Central Division, seven points behind Kootenay. . . . Saskatoon (22-21-3) has lost two in a row and holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Nielsen, who was out with a wrist injury, had a goal and an assist. He also came up short on a second-period penalty shot. . . . F Braylon Shmyr gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:34 of the first period. . . . F Riley Stotts (11) got Calgary into a tie, at 13:16. . . . The Blades went back out front when F Brandon Machado scored his first WHL goal, at 3:28 of the second period. . . . Calgary took a 3-2 lead on second-period goals from F Jakob Stukel (21), at 4:08, and Nielsen (8), at 11:26. . . . Shmyr (24) got Saskatoon back into a tie, on a PP, at 15:49. . . . Calgary took control with the next three goals. . . . D Vladislav Yeryomenko (10) counted, on a PP, at 17:38 of the second. F Hunter Campbell (4) added a goal at 9:20 of the third period, and F Jake Kryski (10) made it 6-3 at 10:02. . . . Saskatoon made it interesting when F Chase Wouters (12) scored, on a PP, at 13:21, and F Max Gerlach got his 20th goal, at 16:53. . . . Kryski and Stotts each had two assists for Calgary, with Stukel adding one. . . . The Blades got three assists from D Jackson Caller, two from Wouters, and one from Shmyr. . . . Saskatoon was 3-5 on the PP; Calgary was 1-4. . . . Calgary got 22 stops from G Nick Schneider. At the other end, Nolan Maier made 23 saves. . . . F Mark Kastelic was among Calgary’s scratches, while Saskatoon scratched D Mark Rubinchik. Both have undisclosed injuries. . . . All told, the two teams combined to scratch nine injured players. . . . Announced attendance: 4,868.


At Kamloops, G Logan Flodell stopped 37 shots to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-2 victory over the Blazers. . . . Lethbridge (21-19-3) has won four in a row. It is second in Lethbridgethe Central Division, seven points behind Medicine Hat. . . . Kamloops (18-23-3) has lost three in a row and is eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . Lethbridge got out to a 3-0 lead on goals from F Taylor Ross (13), at 1:23 of the first period, F Brad Morrison (15), at 17:45, and F Zane Franklin, at 12:36 of the second period. . . . Morrison’s goal was the 100th of his career. . . . Kamloops got close on two third-period goals from F Jermaine Loewen, at 12:06 and 9:21, the latter on a PP. . . . Loewen has 20 goals in 38 games this season. He went into the season with 14 goals in 170 games. He also has five goals over his past three games. . . . Franklin put it away with his second goal of the game, and 13th of the season, into an empty net at 18:38. . . . Franklin added an assist to his two goals, with Morrison adding two assists to his one score. . . . Lethbridge also got two assists from F Jordy Bellerive. . . . Kamloops was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-2. . . . Flodell’s evening included one particular 10-bell save in the third period, when he got across and caught a puck with his blocker hand, taking what appeared to be a sure goal away from F Quinn Benjafield. . . . The Blazers got 24 saves from G Dylan Ferguson. . . . Announced attendance: 3,472.


At Prince George, F Donovan Neuls scored twice to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-2 victory over the Cougars. . . . Seattle (21-16-6) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). It Seattlenow holds down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Spokane. . . . Add a victory to the above tweet that was posted before the game. . . . Prince George (17-21-7) is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points out of a playoff spot. . . . F Max Kryski (4) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 7:08 of the first period. . . . Seattle took control by scoring the next four goals. . . . F Donovan Neuls tied it at 8:37, with F Nolan Volcan (19) giving Seattle the lead at 19:29. . . . D Austin Strand (15) added insurance at 8:26 of the second period and Neuls (16) scored at 9:00. . . . F Jackson Leppard (11) got Prince George’s other goal, on a PP, at 18:30. . . . F Blake Bargar (8) got Seattle’s last goal, into an empty net, at 18:54. . . . Strand added an assist to his goal. . . . Volcan’s goal has him with 45 points in 43 games, one more than he had in 64 games last season. . . . Prince George was 1-4 on the PP; Seattle was 0-3. . . . G Dorrin Luding, who is from Prince George, earned the victory, with 28 saves. . . . The Cougars got 29 saves from G Tavin Grant. . . . With G Liam Hughes out with an undisclosed injury, Seattle brought in Cole Schwebius, 16, to back up Luding. From Kelowna, Schwebius plays for the major midget Okanagan Rockets. Seattle selected him in the 10th round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Before the game, the Cougars added F Edge Lambert, 16, to their roster. He was a seventh-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, he has 13 goals and 13 assists in 28 games with his hometown midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. . . . Lambert didn’t play last night, but is expected to be in the lineup in tonight’s rematch. . . . Announced attendance: 2,474.


WEDNESDAY (all times local):

Regina at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Victoria at Portland, 7 p.m.

Seattle at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Brandon at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Pats have opening for 20-year-old . . . Might Silvertips bring back Tuulola? . . . Toigo says 2019 WJC tickets 60 per cent sold

MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a tryout contract with Stjernen Fredrikstad (Norway, GET-Ligaen). He is due to arrive in Fredrikstad on Jan. 3. This season, with Újpesti TE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Lisa), he was pointless in two games. He was released from a tryout contract on Sept. 28.


Pats looking to trade Sloboshan

The Regina Pats have an opening for a 20-year-old following the departure of F Wyatt Sloboshan. A native of Vanscoy, Sask., Sloboshan didn’t return to the Pats after the ReginaPats100Christmas break and his name no longer appears on Regina’s roster.

“He’s perfectly fine with it,” John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “He knew the inevitable was probably going to happen. Wyatt has been a trouper. He has played super hard for us. I won’t say he was on pins and needles but I just thought this was the better way to treat him. He wants to keep playing in the league. I have some interest in him from a couple, three places. I’m hopeful that works out.”

Each WHL team is allowed to keep three 20s on its roster. Regina also is carrying G Tyler Brown and F Matt Bradley.

This season, Sloboshan had four goals and 11 assists in 36 games. Last season, he put up four goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Saskatoon Blades, who traded him to the Spokane Chiefs on Dec. 15. He was pointless in one game with the Chiefs, before choosing not to return after Christmas.

Spokane traded him to Regina on Jan. 3, and he had seven goals and eight assists in 37 regular-season games with the Pats.

All told, he has 44 goals and 77 assists in 219 regular-season WHL games.

Sloboshan was a third-round selection by Swift Current in the 2012 WHL bantam draft, but never played for the Broncos, who dealt him to the Blades on Jan. 1, 2014.


Tuulola to return to Everett?

The Everett Silvertips may be working to get Finnish F Eetu Tuulola back in their lineup for the 2018-19 season.

Tuulola played for Everett in 2016-17, putting up 18 goals and 13 assists in 62 games. A Everettsixth-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL draft, Tuulola was loaned to Everett while under contract with HPK in Finland.

Because he was drafted off the roster of a European club, the Flames hold Tuulola’s right for four years, or until June 2020.

The Flames didn’t sign Tuulola last summer and he returned to play for HPK in Finland’s Liiga this season. A right-hand shot who can really shoot a puck, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has eight goals and four assists in 28 games. However, in his last six games, before joining Finland’s national team for the World Junior Championship, he had two goals and four assists and has been playing about 20 minutes per game.

That three-year contract with HPK expires following this season, at which time he would be free to sign with the Flames and perhaps rejoin the Silver-tips.

Of course, were that to happen, he would be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Silvertips, who have him on their protected list.


Toigo says empty seats won’t be problem in 2019

The 2018 World Junior Championship is through three days in Buffalo now and the empty seats in the KeyBank Center have become a big story.

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, says that won’t happen when the VanViclogo2019 tournament is shared between Vancouver and Victoria.

Here are three Thursday tweets from Vancouver sportscaster Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650:

“Ron Toigo tells me the empty-seat problem in Buffalo won’t be a problem for Vancouver and Victoria at the World Juniors next year.”

“Toigo says ticket sales for Vancouver and Victoria next year (are) ‘well over 60 per cent sold.’ ”

“Toigo says Rogers Arena gave him a great deal. ‘It makes the ticket prices very affordable. Trevor Linden played a big role in helping out.”

The games scheduled for Vancouver, including both semifinals and the final, will be played in Rogers Arena, the home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Linden, who won gold with Canada at the 1988 tournament in Moscow, is the president of hockey operations with the Canucks.

Later in the day, Toigo told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that comparing this year’s tournament to next year’s is “apples and oranges.”

Ewen’s story, which also includes some ticket prices for the 2019 event, is right here.


In the OHL last night, the Son Greyhounds won their 21st consecutive game, beating the Spirit, 4-1, in Saginaw. . . . The Greyhounds are 30-3-2 and lead the West Division by 10 points over the Sarnia Sting (25-9-2), who also are second in the overall standings. . . . The Greyhounds next are scheduled to play on Friday when they are to entertain the Flint Firebirds (11-20-3).


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

At Prince Albert, F Josh Paterson had three goals and an assist to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 6-4 victory over the Raiders. . . . The Blades (17-17-3) have won three straight Saskatoongames, including a 4-2 victory over the visiting Raiders on Wednesday night. . . . Prince Albert (13-16-7) has lost three in a row. . . . Saskatoon is tied with Regina for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff spots. They are four points ahead of the Raiders. . . . The Blades won after overcoming a 3-1 first-period deficit. . . . F Parker Kelly (15) gave the home side a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:33 of the first period. . . . Paterson tied it, on a PP, at 9:56. . . . F Eric Pearce (3) gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead at 16:27 and F Carson Miller (1) upped it to 3-1 at 18:46. That was Miller’s first goal since Jan. 14, when he scored twice in a 7-6 OT loss in Regina. He played only nine more games last season thanks to shoulder problems that would require surgery. . . . F Chase Wouters (8) got the Blades to within a goal at 4:12 of the second period. . . . Paterson broke the tie at 17:53, then completed his first WHL hat trick with his 16th goal of this season at 3:28 of the third period. . . . The Blades took a 5-3 lead as F Braylon Shmyr scored at 14:01. . . . F Brett Season (6) got the home team back to within a goal at 18:18, but Shmyr (17) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:14. . . . Shmyr also had two assists for a four-point night, earning his 200th career regular-season point, while Wouters also had four points, including three assists. . . . Shmyr has 200 points, including 91 goals, in 265 games. . . . The Blades were 1-1 on the PP; the Raiders were 1-3. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 38 shots for the Blades in recording his sixth straight victory, while the Raiders’ Ian Scott made 33 saves. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders left at 8:39 of the first period with a cross-checking major and game misconduct after he drilled Saskatoon D Mark Rubinchik in the face. . . . In the third period, the Blades lost D Evan Fiala, the team captain, after he took a puck in the face. The Blades later tweeted: “The captain is OK! Quite a few stitches but no broken bones and all chiclets accounted for.” . . . Saskatoon will be without F Kirby Dach (undisclosed injury) on a week-to-week basis. He left Wednesday’s game in the first period and didn’t return. . . . Announced attendance: 2,312. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in attendance and posted this piece right here.


At Regina, F Matt Bradley broke a 4-4 tie at 13:21 of the third period as the Pats ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Regina (17-ReginaPats10018-3) had been 0-4-1 in its previous five games. . . . The Wheat Kings (25-9-1) had beaten the visiting Pats, 5-3, on Wednesday night. . . . Brandon is third in the overall standings, three points behind Swift Current. . . . Regina is tied with Saskatoon for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . Last night, Brandon took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ty Lewis (19), at 16:18 of the first period, and F Evan Weinger (16), at 1:30 of the second. . . . Regina took the lead with three goals in a span of 2:23 early in the second. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (2) got it started at 4:14. Nijhoff, 16, also scored Wednesday. An eighth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he has two goals and an assist in eight games. . . . D Cale Fleury (8) tied it, 2-2, at 5:08, on a PP, picking up his 100th career point in the process. . . . F Bryan Lockner (5) gave the Pats the lead, on another PP, at 6:37. . . . D Zach Wytinck (2) got Brandon even at 11:11, only to have F Nick Henry (5) give the home boys the lead at 17:13. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (27) got Brandon back into another tie, at 8:57 of the third period. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn and D Dawson Davidson each had two assists for Regina, with Nijhoff and Bradley each getting one. . . . Brandon got two assists from Weinger and one from Lewis. . . . Regina was 2-8 on the PP; Brandon was 0-3. . . . G Tyler Brown earned the victory with 24 saves, while Dylan Myskiw stopped 31 for Brandon. . . . The Pats had G Jacob Wasserman on the bench backing up Brown. G Max Paddock, who went the distance in Brandon on Wednesday, was scratched as he is in the concussion protocol. Wasserman was brought in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . Regina also had F Cole Dubinsky, who turned 15 on Dec. 4, in its lineup. From Androssan, Alta., Dubinsky plays for the CSSHL’s Delta Hockey Academy prep team. Regina selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Jared Legien, acquired Wednesday from the Victoria Royals, had an assist in his Regina debut. . . . The Pats were without D Josh Mahura for a second straight game after he was released Monday by the Canadian national junior team in Buffalo. Mahura is expected to play on Monday night against visiting Prince Albert. . . . Announced attendance: 6,238.


At Moose Jaw, F Jayden Halbgewachs, who signed an NHL contract with the San Jose Sharks earlier in the day, had two goals and an assist to help the Warriors to an 8-2 MooseJawWarriorsvictory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Warriors (28-6-3) have points in three straight (2-0-1) and are atop the overall standings, five points ahead of the Broncos (26-8-2). The Broncos had won their previous six games. . . . The Broncos had beaten the visiting Warriors 5-4 in a shootout on Wednesday. . . . Last night, the Warriors took control with three goals before the game was nine minutes old. . . . F Justin Almeida (22) made it 1-0 at 5:47, with D Dmitri Zaitsev (2) scoring at 6:36, and Halbgewachs counting at 8:49. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (1) got the Broncos on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 11:03 of the second period. . . . F Luka Burzan (5) restored Moose Jaw’s three-goal lead at 16:22. . . . The visitors got to within two goals at18:25 when F Kole Gable (3) scored. . . . The Warriors put it away with four third-period goals, from Halbgewachs, who leads all of the CHL with 37 goals, F Tristin Langan (5), D Oleg Sosunov (7) and F Vince Loschiavo (11). . . . The Warriors got two assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot and D Josh Brook, and one each from Almeida, Langan, Burzan and Zaitsev. . . . F Glenn Gawdin had two assists for the Broncos. . . . Swift Current was 1-1 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-4. . . . G Brody Willms stopped 28 shots for the Warriors. . . . The Broncos started G Logan Flodell, who gave up three goals on 12 shots in 8:49. Joel Hofer then came on to stop one shot in 2:38. Flodell was sent back out and finished up. In all, he stopped 37 of 45 shots. . . .Swift Current F Matteo Gennaro left in the third period after taking a hit from Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen. . . . Announced attendance: 3,657.


At Calgary, F Brett Davis broke a 3-3 tie with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 18:10 of the third period to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Ice (17-17-Kootenaynew2) has won four in a row and has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division four points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Hitmen (10-19-6) have lost four in a row (0-2-2) and are 11 points out of a playoff spot. . . . These teams have met in four straight games, with the Ice winning all four of them — 5-1 at Cranbrook on Dec. 16, 4-3 in OT in Calgary on Dec. 17, 4-3 in OT on Wednesday in Cranbrook and 4-3 last night. . . . When this season began, the Hitmen had taken 16 straight victories from the Ice. . . . Kootenay now is 5-1-0 in the season series; the Hitmen are 1-3-2. . . . Last night, F Orca Wiesblatt (5) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 5:36 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it when F Alec Baer (14) scored at 11:40. . . . The Hitmen went back out front when F Mark Kastelic (9) scored at 12:09. . . . The Ice tied it again, this time when F Colton Veloso scored, on a PP, at 1:53 of the third period. . . . F Luke Coleman (7) gave Calgary a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal at 4:27. . . . Veloso (12) tied it, on a PP, at 12:55. . . . Davis then won it with his ninth goal. . . . F Cameron Hausinger drew assists on each the Ice’s last two goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs also had two assists for the winners. . . . Kastelic added an assist to his goal. . . . Kootenay was 2-8 on the PP; Calgary was 0-4. . . . The Ice held a 38-13 edge in shots on goal. . . . Kootenay G Duncan McGovern stopped 10 shots. . . . Calgary got 34 stops from G Nick Schneider. . . . G Bailey Brkin, who missed Wednesday’s game with the flu, was backing up McGovern. . . . The game was 45 minutes late starting after the Ice encountered some travel difficulties thanks to road conditions en route to Calgary. . . . F Brad Ginnell, acquired Wednesday from the Portland Winterhawks, made his Kootenay debut in his hometown. . . . The Ice is in a stretch of eight games, two of them at home, in 11 nights. It will play in Edmonton on Saturday, to complete a run of three games in four nights. On Monday, Kootenay will entertain Medicine Hat to start a stretch of five games in six nights — yes, five in six! — that is to include stops in Lethbridge, Swift Current, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. . . . Seriously, how does someone involved in the WHL not step in and stop something like this? . . . Announced attendance: 9,034.


At Edmonton, F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored at 4:48 of OT to give the Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Edmonton (9-22-4) has points in three straight games (2-0-EdmontonOilKings1). It is last in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Calgary. . . . The Rebels (10-19-7) have lost three in a row (0-1-2) and are 10 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Oil Kings had gone into Red Deer and won 3-1 on Wednesday night. . . . Last night, F Brian Harris gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 2:31 of the first period. . . . F Grayson Pawlenchuk (13) tied it at 14:01. . . . F David Kope (4) put Edmonton back out front at 11:59 of the second period. . . . D Dawson Barteux (1), on a PP, tied it, again, at 6:02 of the third period. His first career goal came in his 71st career game. . . . The Rebels took a 3-2 lead as F Mason McCarty (17) scored at 7:32. . . . Edmonton D Conner McDonald (3), who had three assists on Wednesday, forced OT at 11:10. . . . Fix-Wolansky won it with his 14th goal of the season. . . . McDonald and Fix-Wolansky each added an assist. . . . The Rebels got two assists from D Alex Alexeyev and one from Barteaux. . . . The Rebels were 1-4 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-4. . . . G Josh Dechaine earned the victory with 23 stops, one more than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders. Dechaine’s night included an OT stop on Red Deer D Brandon Schuldaus on a breakaway. . . . The Oil Kings have added D Aidan Lawson, 16, to their roster. A list player, he is from Providence, Utah, and has a goal and eight assists in 26 games with the Colorado Thunderbirds, a Tier 1 Elite team. . . . Edmonton also has added F Raphael Pelletier, 15, who was a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., he is playing for the CSSHL’s Northern Alberta Elite 15s. . . . Neither played last night. . . . Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com reported after the game that F Arshdeep Bains is staying with the Rebels for the remainder of the season. He was leading the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in scoring with 56 points in 22 games with the Valley West Hawks. . . . Announced attendance: 8,057.


At Victoria, the Royals scored twice in the game’s first six minutes en route to a 7-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Royals (21-14-3) had lost their previous VictoriaRoyalsfour games. They now are tied with Kelowna atop the B.C. Division. . . . One night earlier, the Cougars (13-18-5) had beaten the host Royals, 5-3. Prince George is fifth in the B.C. Division, three points behind Kamloops. . . . F Dino Kambeitz (8) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 5:28, and F Matthew Phillips made it 2-0 just 29 seconds later. . . . F Josh Maser (15) got the Cougars to within a goal, on a PP, at 6:50, but it was all Royals after that. . . . Phillips got his 27th goal, on a PP, before the first period ended. . . . F Spencer Gerth (3) and F Tyler Soy (15), on a PP, added second-period goals, with F Jeff de Wit (4) and D Jeremy Masella (3) scoring in the third period. . . . The Royals had de Wit, who was acquired Wednesday from Kootenay, and F Braydon Buziak, who came over from Regina, in the lineup for the first time. De Wit had a goal and an assist, with Buziak recording an assist. . . . The Royals got three assists from D Chaz Reddekopp and two each from F Dante Hannoun and D Scott Walford. . . . Victoria was 3-6 on the PP; Prince George was 1-6. . . . G Griffen Outhouse earned the victory by stopping 23 of 24 shots in 52:27. Dean McNabb played the final 7:33, stopping four shots. . . . Cougars starter Taylor Gauthier was beaten seven times on 24 shots in 46:08. Isaiah DiLaura finished up by stopping all six shots he faced in 13:52. . . . Announced attendance: 5,936.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Spokane vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.

Vancouver at Everett, 7:35 p.m.