Ex-WHLer needs kidney; can you help? . . . Who gets new arena first — Regina or Saskatoon? . . . Cancer claims Hartnell at 48

Ryan Smith, who spent four seasons (1991-95) in the WHL, needs a kidney — the sooner, the better. Smith, 46, played with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince George Cougars, totalling 158 points, including 131 assists, in 274 games before going on to the U of Manitoba Bisons. . . . A married father of two young sons, Smith and his family live in Lavington, B.C., which is near Vernon. . . . He was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy (aka Berger’s disease) about four years ago and has been on dialysis for almost two years. . . . Smith is on the deceased donor list, but is hoping to shorten what could be at least a four-year wait by finding a live donor. He thought he had found a live donor at one point; however, 10 months into the testing process the potential donor was found to have medical issues that short-circuited things, something that sometimes happens. . . . If you are interested in being a kidney donor, the contact information for the Living Kidney Donor Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is further down in this post. . . . Roger Knox of the Vernon Morning Star has Smith’s story right here.


So . . . I’m wondering who is going to win the race — Regina or Saskatoon? . . . PatsShaun Semple, who with his father, Gavin, now owns the Regina Pats lock, stock and barrel, says it’s time that the Saskatchewan capital had a new arena. As hard is it is to believe, the home of the Pats is 44 years of age and, as Shaun told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, “it’s getting tired. . . . There needs to be a new (arena) for sure.” . . . Harder’s complete story is right here, and what it tells me is that the conversation has started. . . .

Meanwhile, there has been talk in Saskatoon about a possible new arena, one Bladesthat would replace the SaskTel Centre, for a couple of years now. The home of the Blades is 33 years old and getting close to its best before date, if it isn’t already there. . . . A new facility likely would be built somewhere in the downtown area. In October, Phil Tank of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix wrote: “A funding plan for the project has not been finalized, but the cost is estimated between $172 million and $178 million. If the arena project is combined with a new downtown convention centre, the cost rises to between $330 million and $370 million.” . . . While Blades owner Mike Priestner hasn’t said a whole lot publicly about it, he has let it be known that he wants to be involved. Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, appeared in front of Saskatoon city council on Monday and, according to Kevin Mitchell of the StarPhoenix, “made a pitch for his group to take a larger role in SaskTel Centre’s operations.” . . . Mitchell’s story is right here.



Two WHL players, both of them eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft, have had their developmental seasons come to an end. . . . The Red Deer Rebels announced Wednesday that F Jayden Grubbe, the team captain, needs knee surgery (ACL) and won’t play again this season. According to the team, Grubbe “is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2021-22 season.” Grubbe, 18, was injured in the first period of a game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday. That was his fifth game of this season; he had a goal and two assists. . . . Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Ice revealed that F Carson Lambos “has left the Regina hub and returned to Winnipeg for a medical procedure. . . . More information will be provided at a later date.” Lambos, 18, was pointless in two games this season. He is a potential first-round selection in the NHL draft.


Rob Hartnell, who played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, has died. He was 48 when he died of cancer on Friday in Camrose, Alta. . . . Hartnell played 143 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes over parts of three seasons, then finished up his WHL career by putting up 59 points, including 25 games, in 48 games with the Tri-City Americans. . . . All told, he had 227 points, 98 of them goals, in 191 regular-season WHL games. . . . He went on to play professionally in the ECHL, WPHL and in Europe. He wound up his playing career in the Chinook Hockey League with the Bentley Generals. . . . He had been coaching the junior B Wetaskiwin Icemen until having to step aside for health reasons prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.


Kris Knoblauch, a former WHL player and coach, made his NHL head-coaching debut on Wednesday night, running the New York Rangers’ bench as they drubbed the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, 9-0. . . . Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. He was called into New York after the Rangers’ coaching staff was ruled out because of COVID-19 protocol. That took out Rangers’ head coach David Quinn and assistants Jacques Martin, David Oliver and Greg Brown. Gord Murphy, Hartford’s associate coach, and Chris Drury, the Rangers’ associate general manager, were behind New York’s bench with Knoblauch, 42. He played with the Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton/Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1996-99), and later coached with the Prince Albert Raiders and Kootenay (2006-12).


So . . . how are things going with the Buffalo Sabres? Well, they’ve lost 12 in a row and been outscored 50-19 in the process. . . . The Buffalo News published its latest NHL power rankings earlier this week and they had the Sabres in 32nd place. Yes, 32nd . . . behind the Seattle Kraken, the expansion club that won’t begin play until next season. . . . Oh yes, the Sabres canned head coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday.



There will be a new hockey conference in play come the 2021-22 season and it promises to be a good one. The Prep Hockey Conference will feature six of the top prep programs, each with a history of producing NCAA and NHL players. . . . The six are Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Minnesota), St. Andrew’s College (Toronto), Northwood School (New York), Culver Academies (Indiana), Mount St. Charles Academy (Rhode Island) and South Kent School (Connecticut). All six programs have developed NHLers and top-end NCAA players throughout their histories. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has more right here.


The Wheat City Whiskey Jacks are going to play a second straight season without making even one appearance on their home field in Brandon. The Whiskey Jacks will play out of Fargo, ND., for a second straight Expedition League season because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel. . . . Last season, the league played with six teams as four opted out; it now has 12 teams, all of whom have said they’re in for 2021. . . . The Expedition League is a collegiate summer circuit whose season opens in late May. . . . Thomas Friesen of The Brandon Sun has more on the Whiskey Jacks right here.



Zach16

——

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.

——

Vic2


JUST NOTES: The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks have lost one assistant coach and added two others to their staff. Adam Stuart has left to join the coaching staff at the North Alberta Xtreme. The Bucks have added Ehren Menard and Todd Skirving to general manager/head coach Ryan Donald’s staff. Menard has spent six seasons with the Knights of Columbus program in Edmonton. Skirving plays for the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers, who opted out of the 2020-21 season. He played in the BCHL with the Prince George Spruce Kings and Vernon Vipers, then spent four seasons at the Rochester Institute of Technology before turning pro.


Suspect

Vipers’ owner dies at 68 … WHL hits two GMs with fines … Raiders guarantee win over Broncos

MacBeth

F Brady Ramsay (Lethbridge, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). He started the season with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), scoring one goal and adding four assists in 13 games. He was released by the Steelers on Dec. 5.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The hockey community is in mourning today following the death of Duncan Wray, the longtime owner of the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Wray, who had owned the franchise since 1992, died suddenly Thursday morning, which happened to be his 68th birthday. . . . Besides owning the Vipers, Wray also was the chairman of the BCHL’s board of governors. . . . It was just on Saturday when the Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings played the final game in the history of Vernon’s Civic Arena. Prior to the game, Wray had, according to Roger Knox of the Vernon Morning Star, “received a loud ovation” when he was introduced to the crowd. . . . Former Vipers head coach Troy Mick too Knox: “This is the saddest day of my life. Part of my heart feels ripped out. I haven’t stopped crying since this morning.” . . . Knox’s story is right here.


The WHL’s disciplinary office added to its coffers on Thursday, having fined a couple of its general managers.

Peter Anholt of the Lethbridge Hurricanes got touched for $750 “for actions following” a whlJan. 5 game against the visiting Vancouver Giants, who won that contest, 5-2.

Stu MacGregor of the Kamloops Blazers will be $500 lighter after being fined “for actions following” a game against the visiting the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday night. The Blazers won that game, 2-1.

Meanwhile, two players have drawn three-game suspensions.

D Matthew Benson of the Moose Jaw Warriors will sit out after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in a game against the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday.

F Max James of the Tri-City Americans got hit with three games after he took a charging major and game misconduct for a hit during a game against the host Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night.


The Swift Current Broncos, having gone all-in at the WHL trade deadline, are hoping their fans will follow suit at the box office. The team announced Thursday that it is selling SCBroncospro-rated season tickets — prices are based on the number of regular-season home games remaining — through Jan. 31.

Season-ticket holders, of course, also have the first option on their seats for the 2018 playoffs. As well, should the Broncos have 2,100 season tickets sold by Jan. 31 — they went over 2,000 on Thursday — they will be giving away one free 2017-18 season ticket during each of the last 10 home regular-season games.

According to Dianne Sletten, the team’s director of business operations, “We’ve sold (more than) 250 season tickets this week and are thrilled to see an electric atmosphere as we push forward.”

The Broncos are at home Saturday when they entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. Three of the Broncos — D Tyler Steenbergen, Canada’s golden boy, D Artyom Minulin (Russia) and F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) — will be saluted for having played in the WJC in Buffalo.


The Swift Current Broncos are scheduled to play their first game since the trade deadline tonight against the host Prince Albert Raiders.

What makes this game noteworthy is that the Raiders, who are 19th in the 22-team PrinceAlbertWHL’s overall standings, have guaranteed a victory over the No. 2 Broncos.

Yes, they have!

“Here’s how it works,” reads a Raiders’ news release. “After we beat Swift Current, we’ll all be happy. To be honest, we don’t think we’re going to lose.

“In the small chance that the Broncos pull off a miracle, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll hand out ticket vouchers to all fans in attendance on the way out. Each fan can bring that voucher, as well as the used game ticket from Friday night, to the Raiders box office on Saturday, Jan. 13, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and redeem it for a free ticket to Saturday night’s game against the Moose Jaw Warriors.”

After the Raiders post the victory, they will trail the Broncos by 21 points.


On the subject of players having returned from the WJC, the Kelowna Rockets honoured D Cal Foote and F Dillon Dube prior to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday night. Both played for Canada in Buffalo, with Dube serving as team captain. . . . Unfortunately, Dube wasn’t in attendance on Wednesday, as a flu bug kept him out of action.

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks welcomed back F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and D Henri Jokiharju (Finland) on Thursday. Both players are expected to play tonight (Friday) in Kennewick, Wash., against the Tri-City Americans. The Americans should have D Jake Bean, who also played for Canada, in their lineup tonight, too. Bean was acquired by the Americans from the Calgary Hitmen earlier in the week. He arrived in Kennewick on Thursday.


The Tri-City Americans have signed F Blake Stevenson, 16, to a WHL contract. Stevenson has five goals and three assists in 27 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks and will remain there for the remainder of this season. Last season, he had 23 goals and 32 assists for the minor midget AAA CNHA Canucks. . . . The Americans selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


The Saskatoon Blades have released F Dryden Michaud, 19, and he has joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. From Maple Ridge, B.C., Michaud had two goals and two assists in 29 games this season. Last season, he had one goal in 29 games with the Blades.


The Saskatoon Blades have added F Tristen Robins and F Kyle Crnkovic to their roster for a three-game road trip that features stops in Red Deer on Saturday, Cranbrook, B.C., on SaskatoonSunday, and Calgary on Tuesday. . . . Robins, who turned 16 on Nov. 15, is from Brandon and plays at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. He is the son of former Blades G Trevor Robins. Tristen was acquired from the Regina Pats earlier in the week. They had selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Crnkovic, the Blades’ first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, played two WHL games earlier this season. He is playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team in the CSSHL. . . . The Blades won’t have F Kirby Dach on this trip. Dach, who is to turn 17 on Jan. 21, has four goals and 19 assists in 23 games. However, he hasn’t played since Dec. 27 and is sidelined on a weekly basis with an undisclosed injury.


F Ian Briscoe, 18, who was released by the Seattle Thunderbirds, has signed with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Briscoe, from Winnipeg, had three assists in 24 games this season. Last season, he had two goals in 20 games. He also played 22 games with Dauphin last season, recording six goals and 10 assists. . . . Seattle selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 bantam draft.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have dropped D Brenden Kwiatkowski, 17, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. Kwiatkowski, who is from Grande Prairie, had one assist in 22 games with the Warriors.


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).


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Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Regina, 7 p.m.

Calgary at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Lethbridge at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

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

Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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


TWEET OF THE DAY