Ice acknowledges Vopat’s release . . . Two deals as deadline nears . . . Ex-Seattle assistant coach fired


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There is nothing on the Kootenay Ice’s website, nor is there anything on its Twitter account.

But the WHL team apparently has acknowledged that, yes, it did dismiss assistant coach KootenaynewRoman Vopat for “breaches of team policy.”

Jessica Dempsey, the sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, reported Monday afternoon that the team had issued a statement.

According to Dempsey, the statement read:

“Roman was a part-time resource for our coaches on home game days and was released from his consulting agreement based in breaches of team policy, including our social media policy and his consulting agreement,” 

Taking Note was told Sunday morning that Vopat had been dismissed late last week after he was critical of Tim Hunter, the head coach of Canada’s national team at the World Junior Championship, on social media.

If you missed the piece I posted on Sunday about Vopat’s dismissal, just scroll down here until you find it.


tradewire

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

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

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 2.

Players: 3.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 1.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 30.

Players: 57.

Bantam draft picks: 45.

Conditional draft picks: 11.

(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.)

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The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Brandon Machado, 18, and a fifth-round selection in the Saskatoon2021 WHL bantam draft from the Saskatoon for F Cyle McNabb, 18. . . .

It appears that this trade was sparked because McNabb wanted out.

“While it was certainly not our intention to move Cyle when acquiring him, after conversations with him, this was determined to be in the best interest of the player,” Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, said in a news release. . . .

Machado, from Airdrie, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . This season, he has two goals and an assist in 35 games. In 97 career regular-season games, he has three goals and four assists. . . . The Ice next is scheduled to play on Wednesday against the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . .

McNabb, from Winnipeg, is on the move for the second time in less than a week. The Ice acquired him from the Vancouver Giants on Friday for D Dallas Hines, 20. . . . McNabb had a goal and seven assists in 61 games with Vancouver last season. This season, he had one goal and two assists in 34 games with the Giants. He was Kootenay property long enough to get into three games on the weekend, recording one assist. . . . McNabb and Blades F Tristen Robins were teammates at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg in 2016-17. . . . McNabb is expected to be in Saskatoon’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . .

In the meantime, Saskatoon has added F Braden Plaschewsky, 16, to its roster and he is to make his WHL debut in tonight’s game against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Plaschewsky, from Calgary, was a second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. He has four goals and nine assists in 26 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes.

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The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Tyler Lees, 18, from the Victoria Royals for a SCBroncosconditional ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Lees has one goal and two assists in 27 games with Victoria. . . . Lees, from Regina, was a fifth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 2016-17, he had one goal in seven games with the Blades. Last season, he had two goals and an assist in 32 games with Saskatoon. . . . The Blades traded him to Victoria on July 19 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . .

Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of hockey operations and head coach, was the Blades’ head coach when Lees was on their roster. So there will be some familiarity there. . . .

As Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, tweeted, Lees played for the 2016-17 Regina Pats Canadians who won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship. F Matthew Culling and F Eric Houk, both of whom are on the Broncos’ roster, also were on that Regina team. . . .

The Broncos are next scheduled to play on Wednesday against the visiting Red Deer Rebels.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Carson Lambos to the midget prep team at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. Lambos, who is from Winnipeg, was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Lambos, who will turn 16 on Jan. 14, was pointless in three games with the Ice. . . . In 12 games with RHA, he has nine goals and eight assist.


G Nick Sanders has decided to retire from hockey. Sanders, 20, was with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . From Calgary, Sanders was a sixth-round pick by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He made 23 appearances with the Americans in 2015-16, then was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders early in 2016-17. He had hip issues with the Raiders and ended up having surgery. The was later dealt to the Calgary Hitmen and was in their training camp prior to this season. . . . He played two games with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats and 15 with the Oilers this season.


The QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats have fired head coach Darren Rumble. He was in his sixth season as their head coach. . . . Rumble, who was in the final season of his contract, was fired despite the Wildcats being 24-13-5 and tied for fifth in the 18-team league. So what happened? They had won only five of their previous 17 games and were 3-4-3 in their past 10, and owner Robert K. Irving had seen enough. . . . The Wildcats were 180-169-33 in regular-season games under Rumble. They got as far as the semifinals in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and reached the second round last season. . . . Josh Hepditch, in his second season as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach. . . . Rumble, 49, spent two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.


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Kootenay Ice dismisses assistant coach . . . Social media comments apparently draw pink slip . . . Move made late last week

Taking Note was told Sunday morning that the Kootenay Ice has dismissed assistant coach Roman Vopat, apparently over his criticism, via Twitter, of Tim Hunter’s work as head coach of Canada’s national junior team.

Another source familiar with the situation told Taking Note that “apparently they let him Kootenaynewgo on Friday.”

When contacted by Taking Note, Vopat, a former NHL and WHL player, responded: “I can’t confirm or deny. I will not make further comments.”

Matt Cockell, the Ice’s general manager, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Ice’s website no longer includes Vopat’s photo and bio on the Hockey Operations page.

Vopat was listed as an assistant coach on the Ice’s lineup sheet prior to a game against the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 31. However, it wasn’t there prior to Friday’s game against the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

Hunter, of course, also is the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.

On Wednesday, after Canada had lost 2-1 in OT to Finland in a quarterfinal game at the World Junior Championship in Vancouver, someone on Twitter suggested “you have to feel for the kids. They deserve a much better fate!”

Vopat responded: “I feel for them but you don’t deserve a thing in sport — earn it!!! Out-coached!!”

Also on Wednesday, after Canada’s captain, Max Comtois, was unsuccessful on a penalty shot in overtime, Vopat tweeted: “He isn’t the natural goal scorer like Glass, Leason, Frost or Tippett so (to) put him in that situation was a bad move by Hunter.”

Vopat also was critical of Hunter, who chose not to respond early in the tournament after Comtois came under fire for diving during games.

Hunter had been critical of F Alexis Lafrenière for some uninspired play, but said he wouldn’t address the diving situation with Comtois.

Vopat tweeted: “You know my problem I have with all this — he challenged 17-year-old on national tv, paper and social media about not performing but he doesn’t have the guts to call out his captain on diving all over the place.”

Vopat, 42, is a native of Litvinov, Czech Republic. He played in the WHL  (1994-96) with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. His professional playing career included 133 games in the NHL, split between the St. Louis Blues, who selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 1994 draft, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.

He retired after spending 12 seasons in Europe, the last one in 2010-11.

Vopat was in his fifth season as a WHL assistant coach. He was with the Prince George Cougars for two seasons (2014-16). This was his third season with the Ice.

Vopat was one of four coaches working alongside Ice head coach James Patrick. Jon Klemm is the team’s associate coach, with Gord Burnett the remaining assistant coach, and Nathan Lieuwen the video coach and goaltending consultant.

The Ice (8-27-7) has the second-poorest record in the 22-team WHL. After losing 6-0 to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Sunday, the Ice is four points ahead of the Swift Current Broncos (8-28-3), who hold three games in hand.

The Ice will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season amid all kinds of speculation that the franchise will relocate to Winnipeg at season’s end.

Last season, its first under the ownership of Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Cockell, the Ice finished 27-38-7.