Cozens on shelf for up to three months after thumb surgery. . . . Burnett signs to coach Blues. . . . Four more ex-WHLers get deals overseas


MacBeth

F Štěpán Novotný (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 33 games with Frýdek-Místek (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had a team-leading 22 goals and 10 assists. On loan to Třinec, he had two goals and three assists in 14 games. . . .

D Tomáš Kundrátek (Medicine Hat, 2008-10) has signed a three-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL), he had three assists in 25 games, and he was an alternate captain. He also had one goal and one assist in six games with Třinec, and one goal and three assists in 13 games with Davos (Switzerland, National). . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) has signed a one-year contract with the Bracknell Bees (England, National). Last season, he had five assists in eight games with Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), and 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National Division 1). . . .

F Trevor Cheek (Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Esbjerg Energy (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL), he had seven goals and three assists in 63 games.


ThisThat

It would seem that F Dylan Cozens’ participation in the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ training Lethbridgecamp is up in the air. He definitely will miss the World Junior Summer Showcase, which is scheduled for Plymouth, Mich., July 26 through Aug. 3. . . . Cozens was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the seventh-overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft in Vancouver on June 21. He suffered an injury to his left thumb on June 29 when he put his hand out in an attempt to cushion the fall after absorbing a hip check during the Sabres’ development camp. Cozens left the ice immediately and it was apparent that he had been injured just by the position of the thumb. . . . Cozens underwent surgery on Wednesday and, as the tweet from the Sabres suggests, will be sidelined for up to three months. . . . The Hurricanes will open training camp in late August and are to open the regular season on Sept. 20. . . . Last season, he finished with 34 goals and 50 assists in 68 regular-season games, then added four goals and four assists in seven playoff games.


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Gord Burnett is the new head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. A Regina native, Burnett spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Ice, which has moved to Winnipeg, and Blues both are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment. . . . With the Blues, Burnett replaces Billy Keane, who had been the GM/head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Taras McEwen was named the Blues’ new general manager in May.


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Warriors’ GM pays price for getting tossed . . . Stankoven lighting it up for Blazers . . . Huskies howl for Houlder

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MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He started the season with Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), and had five assists in eight games. . . . He was released by mutual agreement on Dec. 27. . . .

F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) has signed a two-year contract extension with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He has nine goals and seven assists in 32 games. . . .

D Nolan Yonkman (Kelowna, Brandon, 1996-2001) has signed a contract extension for the rest of this season with JYP Jyväskylä (Finland, Liiga). Yonkman had signed a two-month contract on Nov. 7 that took effect on Nov. 14. He has one assist in 12 games. . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). He had five goals and 15 assists in 35 games. . . . No reason was given for the release, however Medveščak Zagreb is in financial difficulties and has been releasing players for financial reasons over the past month.

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ThisThat

Ch-ch-ch-ching!

Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is a little lighter in the MooseJawWarriorswallet today after being fined $1,500 on Monday.

According to the WHL website, Millar was fined “for receiving a game misconduct” during Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

On the online scoresheet from that game there is this line: “GM Alan Millar issued game misconduct at second intermission.”

That penalty may have had something to do with a Brandon goal and a minor penalty, as described at discovermoosejaw.com by James Gallo, who also is the Warriors’ play-by-play voice:

“Brandon scored a controversial goal with just over three minutes left in the (second) period to make it 3-1.

“While on the power play, (Brandon’s) Ben McCartney took a shot from the bottom of the Warriors’ left circle. As the rebound came between the circles, Brandon’s Ridly Greig crashed the Warriors’ net and was on top of goalie Adam Evanoff. The play was allowed to continue and Baron Thompson scored.

“Brandon’s goal was allowed to stand even though Greig was issued a penalty for goalie interference on the play.”

Thompson’s goal gave Brandon a 3-1 lead and ended up being the game-winner.

Millar is the first GM to be fined since Stu MacGregor, then the GM of the Kamloops Blazers, was touched up for $500 for “actions following game versus Spokane” on Jan. 9, 2018.

The Warriors open a seven-game road swing tonight against the Kamloops Blazers. It could be that Millar will have a little less spending money than usual on this trek.

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The Kelowna Rockets played host to a news conference on Monday at which former KelownaRocketscaptain Josh Gorges announced his retirement as a player.

Gorges, who is from Kelowna, was a list player who went on to play four seasons (2000-04) with the Rockets. An intelligent, puck-moving defenceman, he was the team captain in 2003-04, when he also played for Canada at the World Junior Championship, helping win silver in Helsinki, Finland.

Gorges, now 34, went on to a pro career that included 783 regular-season NHL games split among the San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. He played 34 games with the Sabres last season.

There has been speculation that the Rockets would be adding Gorges to head coach Adam Foote’s staff. The Rockets have had a vacancy since parting company with Travis Crickard on Dec. 8.

There was no such announcement Monday, however, as the spotlight was strictly on Gorges and his retirement. The Rockets will honour Gorges on Saturday prior to a game against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Could there be an announcement made at that time?

There is more on Gorges’ retirement right here.

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During the news conference at which former WHL/NHL D Josh Gorges announced his retirement, Bruce Hamilton, the owner, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, said he wasn’t about to have any comment on a proposed class-action suit that has been filed by James McEwan. Like Gorges, McEwan is a former Rockets captain.

“This press conference has nothing to do (with) nor will we have any statement with regards to the legal issue that (was) brought forward this weekend,” Hamilton said.

Megan Turcato of Global News in Kelowna has more right here.

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You can hardly blame fans of the Kamloops Blazers if they are licking their lips at the thought of watching F Logan Stankoven over the next three or four WHL seasons.

Stankoven, who will turn 16 on Feb. 26, is from Kamloops, and was selected fifth overall thompsonblazersby the Blazers in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.

Last season, he put up 90 points, including 57 goals, in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C.

This season, he is lighting up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with his hometown Thompson Blazers.

Stankoven set a franchise record for points in a season on the weekend. He leads the league with 63 points, including 36 goals, in 26 games. The Blazers’ previous record (59) was set by F Riley Nash in 2005-06. Nash has played 443 NHL regular-season games and now is with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Stankoven also leads the league in goals and is tied for the lead in assists, with 27.

The league record for goals in a season (44) was set by F Tyson Jost of the  Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. He did it in 36 games.

The record for points in one season is held by F Alex Kerfoot, who put up 108 in 38 games with the Vancouver NW Giants in 2010-11. F Mathew Barzal had 103 in 34 games with the Vancouver NE Chiefs in 2012-13, and F Jordan Weal got to an even 100 points in 40 games with the Vancouver NW Hawks in 2007-08.

Of course, Jost and Kerfoot now are with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Barzal is with the New York Islanders and Weal is with the Arizona Coyotes.

Stankoven has played one game with the WHL’s Blazers this season, picking up an assist in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 19. He may have been the best of the Kamloops forwards on that night, too.

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The Grimshaw Huskies of the North Peace Hockey League honoured F Terry Houlder by retiring his number on Saturday night. According to NPHL stats guru Chris Clegg, Houlder put up 1,763 points in 669 regular-season games, plus 382 in 176 playoff games. He finally retired after turning 50. . . . Houlder, now 52, played three seasons (1984-87) in the WHL, the first two with the Lethbridge Broncos and the last one with the Calgary Wranglers. He enjoyed seasons of 88, 105 and 105 points. . . . Please read the thread on the above tweet for a whole lot more about Houlder and the game of senior hockey.

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One day after completing parent’s weekend, the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League tweeted on Monday that “as of today, Mark Chase has been relieved of his duties” as the team’s general manager and head coach. . . . The Coyotes are 13-21 with two ties and one OTL. They are third in the five-team Okanagan Division. . . . Chase was in his first season with the Coyotes after spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Chase is from Kamloops, where he was the GM/head coach of the major midget Thompson Blazers from 2013-15. . . . The Coyotes are expected to announce an interim head coach today.

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Winterhawks, Cougars make a deal . . . Molleken back in coaching game . . . Raiders stay perfect on home ice . . . Americans win in OT once again

Guess how Dorothy and I spent part of our Friday? File it under the best laid plans. . . . We decided to take the Trans-Canada Highway (No. 1) rather than the Coquihalla simply because we felt that with snow in the forecast the odds were greater of avoiding accidents. . . . Then it started to snow. . . . We were about 10 kilometres south of Boston Bar, so turned around and found a restaurant, which helped us kill the couple of hours we were stuck there. . . . In the end, though, we did get where we were going — through the snow, slush, sleet, rain and fog — and the granddaughter is terrific. . . . If you’re travelling, slow down, take your time and stay safe.


MacBeth

F Michal Poletín (Regina, 2009-10) has been assigned on loan by Zlín to Vítkovice Ostrava (both Czech Republic, Extraliga) for the rest of this season. With Zlín, he had three goals and five assists in 28 games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) after requesting and receiving his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). An alternate captain with Slovan, he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games. . . .

G Barry Brust (Spokane, Calgary, 2000-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). He was released by Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL) on Dec. 5. In nine games with Kunlun, he was 4-3-1, 3.11, .895. . . .

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had been released by Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga) on Dec. 15 after scoring four goals and adding four assists in 27 games. . . .

F Matěj Stránský (Saskatoon, 2010-13) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Mora (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL). He had three goals and three assists in 17 games. . . .

F Blair Jones (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had eight goals and 10 assists in 32 games with Kölner Haie (Cologne) (Germany, DEL). . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) has been released by mutual agreement by Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). He had five assists in eight games. . . .

F Jared Aulin (Kamloops, 1997-2002) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL) after obtaining his release from Rapperswil-Jona (Switzerland, NL A). He had four assists in 19 games.


ThisThat

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Friday’s action:

No. of trades: 1.

Players: 1.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 3.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 15.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 24.

Conditional draft picks: 9.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


The Portland Winterhawks have acquired the WHL rights to F Bobby Brink, 17, from the PortlandPrince George Cougars in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . There also are a few conditions to this deal: Should the Winterhawks sign Brink, the Cougars will get a second-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. If he is on Portland’s roster before Jan. 10, Prince George will get an additional pick, this one a fourth-rounder in 2021. As well, if Brink is on the Winterhawks’ roster on or before Oct. 10, the Cougars will also get a sixth-round pick in 2021. . . . Brink, from Excelsior, Minn., is playing with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. Going into Friday’s games, he was second in the USHL scoring race, with 33 points, including 15 goals, in 19 games. . . . He has been committed to the U of Denver Pioneers since Jan. 31, 2017.


Lorne Molleken is back in the coaching game. Molleken, the fourth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history, has been named the head coach of the Prairie Hockey Academy’s Elite 15s for the remainder of this season. . . . Molleken, a native of Regina, will be on the ice with his new team when it practises on Thursday in preparation for playing host to the Prairie Classic (Jan. 4-6). The PHA is based in Caronport, Sask. . . . PHA had fired Rodney MacPhee, the head coach of the Elite 15s when the season began, late in October. Kevin Watson stepped in as interim head coach until Molleken was hired. . . . Molleken put up 626 regular-season victories in stints with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Saskatoon Blades, Regina Pats and Vancouver Giants. He was fired by the Giants with two games left in the 2015-16 season.


Nathan Oystrick and the Humboldt Broncos have parted company. Oystrick, 36, took over as the SJHL team’s general manager and head coach in July, just three months after a bus accident had claimed the lives of 16 people, including GM/head coach Darcy Haugan. . . . The Broncos announced the move in a statement on the team’s website that was headlined ‘Humboldt Broncos part ways with Head Coach and General Manager Nathan Oystrick.’ . . . Assistant coach Scott Barney has been named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


WHL players at the World Junior Championship:

Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).

Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).

Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).

Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).

Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).

Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).

Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).

Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).

Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).

Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).

Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Saskatoon PrinceAlbertBlades, 4-2. . . . Prince Albert (33-2-1) has won five in a row and is 17-0-0 at home. . . . Saskatoon (21-11-5) had points in each of its previous six games (4-0-2). . . . The Raiders are 4-1-0 in the season series. . . . On Thursday night, the Raiders won in Saskatoon, 4-3 in OT. . . . F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (9) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead at 16:23 of the first period. . . . F Noah Gregor (23) tied it with his second goal of the game, and fourth in two nights, at 19:39 of the second period. . . . F Aliaksei Protas (7) snapped the tie at 10:33 of the third, and F Cole Fonstad (12) added insurance at 19:50 with the empty-netter. . . . Gregor also had an assist for his second straight three-point night. . . . The Raiders won 45 of 68 faceoffs. . . . Saskatoon D Brandon Schuldhaus was tossed at 8:51 of the first period with a kneeing major and game misconduct. D Max Martin, who absorbed the hit, returned for the second period and finished the game. . . . The Raiders are 5-0-0 without G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason, who are with Team Canada at the WJC.


The Regina Pats jumped out to a 2-0 lead and went on to a 3-2 victory over the visiting PatsBrandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Pats (11-24-1) have won two in a row, both of them over the Wheat Kings. One night earlier, Regina won, 3-2, in Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings (15-12-6) have lost two straight. . . . F Garrett Wright (2), at 12:01 of the first period, and F Austin Pratt (14), at 9:09 of the second, staked Regina to a 2-0 lead. . . . Brandon D Cole Reinhardt (7) made it 2-1 at 13:56. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (2) restored Regina’s two-goal lead at 11:34 of the third. . . . F Luka Burzan (19) got Brandon back to within a goal at 17:19. . . . Regina held a 38-20 edge in shots and won 35 of 59 faceoffs. . . . Brandon was without F Stelio Mattheos, who leads it in goals, assists and points, after he was suspended for three games after taking a match penalty for intent to injury in Thursday’s game. Mattheos drew the penalty after retaliating against Pats D Brady Pouteau, who drew a TBD suspension under supplemental discipline. . . . Regina F Robbie Holmes sat out a one-game suspension. He was ejected from Thursday’s game with a cross-checking major and game misconduct for hit on F Connor Gutenberg, who wasn’t injured.


F Tristin Langan scored the game’s last two goals as the Moose Jaw Warriors skated to a MooseJawWarriors4-3 OT victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . The Warriors (18-8-6) have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Broncos (7-25-3) had beaten the Warriors, 4-3 in OT, in Moose Jaw on Thursday. . . . Last night, the Broncos held a 2-0 lead only to have the Warriors tie it on goals from F Daemon Hunt (4), at 19:41 of the first period, and F Justin Almeida (9), at 0:41 of the second. . . . F Matthew Culling (6) gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead at 10:31 of the second period. . . . Langan, who has 26 goals, tied it at 15:40 of the second, then won it, on a PP, at 2:36 of OT. . . . Culling has goals in four straight games and in five of his past six games. . . . Almeida added two assists to his goal, while Langan had one. . . . The Warriors won 41 of 69 faceoffs. . . . Broncos G Joel Hofer stopped 35 shots. . . . The Broncos had Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi back in the lineup, but Finnish D Roope Pynnonen was scratched. Both missed Thursday’s game due to travel delays.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored four times in the first half of the second period en route EdmontonOilKingsto a 7-3 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton (19-12-6) has points in four straight (3-0-1). The victory lifted the Oil Kings into first place in the Central Division, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes, both of whom were beaten at home. . . . Calgary (15-16-4) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . F Vladimir Alistrov (5), F Zach Russell (1), F Andrei Pavlenko (6) and F Andrew Fyten (10) scored for Edmonton between 1:58 and 9:12 of the second period. . . . Russell, a 19-year-old from Calgary, scored his first goal in his 11th game with Edmonton. He had played 40 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2016-17 and one last season. . . . F Mark Kastelic scored twice for Calgary, giving him 25 goals. He had a career-high 23 last season.


F Dante Hannoun scored four goals and added an assist to lead the Victoria Royals to a 6-VictoriaRoyals2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Victoria (17-13-1) has won three in a row. With the WJC in their home arena, the Royals are on the road. They’ll play in each of the six Central Division cities over nine nights. . . . Lethbridge (18-10-6) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Hannoun, who is gunning for his fourth straight season with at least 25 goals, now has 17. . . . This was Hannoun’s first four-goal game after two hat-tricks. . . . Hannoun is the fourth player in franchise history to enjoy a four-goal game, after F Tyler Soy (2016-17), F Brandon Magee (2012-13) and F Kevin Sundher (2011-12). . . . F Tarun Fizun added a goal, his ninth, and two assists for the Royals, who held period leads of 2-1 and 5-2. . . . The Royals got 30 saves from G Brock Gould, who normally backs up Griffen Outhouse.


F James Hamblin scored twice to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Tigers Logo Officialvisiting Kootenay Ice. . . . Medicine Hat improved to 18-15-3, while Kootenay now is 8-23-6. . . . F Ryan Jevne (17), at 7:03 of the first period, and Hamblin, on a PP, at 4:27 of the second, gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. . . . D Martin Bodak (7) got the Ice’s goal at 19:15. . . . Hamblin upped the lead to 3-1 with his 19th goal, at 7:44 of the third, and F Ryan Chyzowski (12) got the empty-netter at 17:36. . . . The Ice won 36 of 60 faceoffs. . . . F Elijah Brown was back in Medicine Hat’s lineup for the first time since Nov. 13. . . . D Jonathan Smart, 19, who reportedly didn’t return to the Ice after the Christmas break, wasn’t in Kootenay’s lineup.


G David Tendeck stopped 28 shots to lead the visiting Vancouver Giants to a 6-0 victory Vancouverover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Vancouver (23-8-2) has won two straight. . . . Red Deer (20-11-2) has lost two in a row. . . . Tendeck stopped 25 shots through two periods, then the Giants outshot their hosts, 18-3, in the third. . . . The Giants scored twice in the second period and added four in the third. . . . F Tristen Nielsen had a goal, his fourth, and two assists, as did F Jared Legien, 20, who was playing his first game with Vancouver after joining the team from the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . Vancouver also had D Landon Fuller, 18, of the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers in its lineup. . . . Tendeck has two shutouts this season and five in his career. . . . With the WJC in Vancouver, the B.C. Division-leading Giants are on a six-game Central Division trek. They will play six games in 10 nights. . . . F Brett Davis (ill) was among Red Deer’s scratches.


F Zane Franklin scored the game’s last two goals to give the host Kamloops Blazers a 3-2 Kamloops1victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kamloops (13-16-3) had lost six in a row (0-5-1), all in the Central Division before Christmas. . . . Kelowna (16-17-3) will play host to the Blazers tonight. . . . F Lane Zablocki (4) gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 18:50 of the second period. . . . F Brodi Stuart (10) got Kamloops even, while shorthanded, at 7:23 of the third. . . . D Kaedan Korczak (3) restored Kelowna’s lead, on a PP, at 15:26. . . . Franklin got Kamloops into a 2-2 tie, on a PP and with G Dylan Ferguson on the bench for the extra attacker, at 18:54 of the third. . . . Franklin’s 19th goal of the season won it at 4:18 of OT. . . . Ferguson won it with 36 saves. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff, who had been with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, made his debut with his hometown Rockets.


F Parker AuCoin’s OT goal gave the visiting Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the tri-cityPortland Winterhawks. . . . Tri-City (18-12-2) has won four in a row, each of them in OT. . . . Portland (19-11-5) has points in four straight (1-0-3). . . . This was the third straight game between these teams and the Americans won each one in OT. . . . Before Christmas, the Americans won twice in OT — 3-2 in Kennewick, Wash., and 4-3 in Portland. . . . Tri-City won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 6-5 in a shootout, at home on Sept. 28. . . . After last night, they will meet four more times. . . . The Americans began their four-game OT winning streak by beating the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 8-7, on Dec. 8. . . . De Jong had given the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead with his fifth goal, on a PP, at 8:04 of the first period. . . . F Sasha Mutala (8) tied it, on a PP, at 17:27. . . . F Blake Stevenson (6) gave the Americans a 2-1 lead at 6:08 of the second. . . . The Winterhawks tied it when F Ryan Hughes (14) scored at 16:38. . . . AuCoin won it with his 18th goal, at 1:17 of OT. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots. . . . Portland was left with four defencemen after Brendan De Jong left with an undisclosed injury in the first period, and John Ludvig was given a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 15:01 of the second.


The Prince George Cougars scored once in each of the last two periods and hung on for a PrinceGeorge2-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Prince George (12-19-3) had lost its previous five games. The Cougars are six-games into an 11-game road trip from hell. They last played at home on Dec. 2, and won’t play there again until Jan. 11. They went 0-5-0 to open the trek, and will continue it tonight in Everett and Sunday in Kamloops. The Cougars will go home to do laundry, then play in Kelowna on Jan. 4. They then will spend a couple of days in the Okanagan before visiting the Tri-City Americans on Jan. 8 and the Spokane Chiefs on Jan. 9. . . . Seattle (11-17-4) has lost four straight (0-3-1). . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (13) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 1:04 of the second period. . . . F Josh Maser (11) made it 2-0 at 10:38 of the third. . . . F Payton Mount (3) got Seattle’s goal at 13:12. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 29 shots to earn the victory.


F Connor Dewar scored twice to lead the visiting Everett Silvertips to a 3-1 victory over Everettthe Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett (28-7-2) has points in 15 straight (13-0-2). . . . Spokane (9-12-4) had won its previous three games. It also had won seven in a row at home. . . . F Jack Finley (5) gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead at 18:19 of the first period. . . . F Gage Goncalves (1) got Everett even at 1:21 of the second. His first WHL goal came in his 37th game, 36 of them this season. . . . Dewar put the visitors out front, on a PP, at 14:01, and he put it away with an empty-netter at 18:21 of the third. . . . Dewar has 26 goals this season. . . . Everett held a 43-15 edge in shots, including 19-2 in the second and 12-3 in the third. . . . Everett remains without F Sean Richards, who is serving an eight-game suspension. After this one, he has three left — tonight (Saturday) against visiting Prince George, and a home-and home with the Tri-City Americans on Jan. 4 and 5. He will be eligible to return on Jan. 6 against the visiting Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Chiefs are without D Spokane Bobby Russell as he serves a two-game suspension. He also will sit tonight against the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . The Chiefs also are missing F Jaret Anderson-Dolan and D Ty Smith, both of whom are with Team Canada at the WJC, and D Filip Kral, who is playing for Czech Republic.


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Broncos sign assistant coaches . . . Warriors have imports in fold . . . Hitmen add ex-talking head to front office

MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) requested and was granted his release for personal reasons by the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He had signed a one-year contract in June. . . . Kovář, on the Hawks’ website: “I was really looking forward to playing for the Hawks next season and moving to the Altrincham area to continue my work as (a) personal trainer. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, I will now be staying in Kazakhstan for the foreseeable future.” . . . Kovář played for Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya Liga) last season, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games. He had played the previous four seasons in England.


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos have announced the hiring of two assistant coaches — SCBroncosBrandin Cote and Scott Dutertre. . . . Cote, who is from Swift Current, was the associate coach at Red Deer College last season. Prior to that, he spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders and two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs. He played five seasons (1997-2002) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Dutertre, from Dinsmore, Sask., has been an assistant coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies, both men’s and women’s teams, for four seasons. He also is the national skating and skills coach for Ice Hockey Australia. . . . Cote and Dutertre fill the voids created by the departures of Ryan Smith, who now is with the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Jamie Heward, who has joined the Vancouver Giants.


Bil La Forge, who is into his first year as the general manager of the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, has more than a bit of hockey in his background. And, yes, he paid his dues before signing on as the Thunderbirds’ GM. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more right here in a good read on La Forge and the road he travelled to get to where he is today.



The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed their two selections from the 2018 CHL import MooseJawWarriorsdraft — Daniil Stepanov and Yegor Buyalsky, both 17-year-old forwards from Belarus. . . . Stepanov had three goals and 17 assists in 31 games with the U-18 Team Belarus. . . . Buyalsky had 19 goals and 29 assists in 49 games with the U-17 Team Belarus. He played at the 2018 Mac’s tournament in Calgary, putting up five goals and an assist in six games. . . . Both players already are in Moose Jaw as they prepare for the opening of training camp on Aug. 22. . . . The Warriors finished last season with two import defenceman — Oleg Sosunov and Dmitri Zaitsev. Neither is expected back as a 20-year-old. Sosunov will play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization; Zaitsev signed with Melallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.


Rob Kerr has been named assistant general manager, business operations by the Calgary Hitmen. He takes over from Melissa Blades, who now is manager, business operations with lacrosse’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . Both organizations are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which also owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Kerr spent the past 15 years at Sportsnet and for 12 of those was an on-air host at Calgary radio station Sportsnet 960—The Fan.


Alex Dixon is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager, replacing Trevor Heinzerling, who left to sign on the assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Dixon spent last season as the equipment manager with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. . . . Prior to that, he was with the USA National Team Development Program for two seasons and, before that, spent two seasons with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.


Todd Harkins has joined the West Van Hockey Academy as the director of program development and head coach of the bantam varsity side. Harkins spent the previous six seasons with the Prince George Cougars, the last four as general manager. Prior to that, he was the hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club for 12 years. . . . At the same time, the West Van academy revealed that Yashar Farmanara is leaving “operational and ownership rules” in order to pursue “interests outside of hockey.” A co-founder of the academy, he coached the Elite 15 team for the past two seasons. . . . Farmanara split five WHL seasons (2003-08) among the Seattle Thunderbirds, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers.


We in the Kamloops area have been well aware of F Jermaine Loewen of the Blazers and his startlingly good story for a few years now. But now that he has been selected by the Dallas Stars in the NHL draft, more people are being introduced to Loewen, a 20-year-old power forward with the perpetual smile. Jeff Miller of nhl.com has a piece on Loewen right here.


Mitch Topinka has signed on as an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Last season, he was on staff with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Doug Hedley, who was the general manager and head coach with the Blizzard last season, now fills both those roles with the Kings. . . . Topinka, who is from Whitewood, Sask., also scouted for the Blizzard while coaching a junior B team in Regina. . . . According to a Kings’ news release, Topinka was a stick boy with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks when Hedley was coaching there “in the early 2000s.”


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have added Jered Neufeld as an assistant coach. He spent the past two seasons as coach/assistant general manager with the Esterhazy Flyers of the Triangle Hockey League. . . . Neufeld also spent time on the coaching staff of the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s Red Deer Vipers. . . . Neufeld now is the general manager of Legacy Ford Fernie.


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Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

——

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.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

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.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

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

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


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