Huskies win their first Memorial Cup. . . . Matvichuk in hunt for ECHL position? . . . Americans’ home getting improvements


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F Jesse Gabrielle (Brandon, Regina, Prince George, 2012-18) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL), he had five goals and 10 assists in 25 games. He also had four goals and two assists in 11 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Petr Dvorak (Regina, 2002-03) has signed a one-year contract extension with Valašské Meziříčí (Czech Republic, 2 Liga). This season, he had 18 goals and 31 assists in 38 games. He led the team in points.


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The QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the host 2019MCHalifax Mooseheads, 4-2, on Sunday to win their first Memorial Cup title. . . . The Huskies entered the QMJHL for the 1996-97 season. . . . This was the eighth meeting in the last while between these teams and the Huskies won six of them, including four in a six-game QMJHL championship final. . . . The Mooseheads led 2-0 on goals from F Samuel Asselin, on a PP at 19:16 of the first period, and F Raphael Lavoie, at 5:26 of the second. . . . F Felix Bibeau got the Huskies started with his fifth goal of the tournament, at 10:27 of the second period. . . . F Joel Teasdale, the tournament’s MVP, tied it at 15:11. . . . F Peter Abbandonato’s goal at 3:02 of the third period stood up as the winner. . . . F Vincent Marleau added insurance at 5:03. . . . The game had a WHL flavour to it, too, with two of its officials working the game — referee Chris Crich and linesman Tarrington Wyonzek. Also working were two QMJHL officials — referee Mario Maillet and linesman Maxime Chaput. . . . This was the second time in Memorial Cup history that two QMJHL teams met in the final. In 2006, the Quebec Remparts beat the host Moncton Wildcats, 6-2. . . . Huskies head coach Mario Pouliot is the first head coach to win back-to-back Memorial Cup championships with different teams. Last season, he was the head coach of the Acadia-Bathurst Titan, who won the QMJHL title and then won the Memorial Cup in Regina. . . . Willy Palov of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald has a game story right here. . . . The 2020 Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna with the Rockets as the host team.


The ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets are closing in on a new head coach and Richard Matvichuk, who was fired this season as the head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, is believed to be a candidate. . . . Justin A. Cohn of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported Saturday that an announcement could come in the next few days. . . . Cohn has Ben Boudreau, the son of Bruce Boudreau, the head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, as the leading candidate. . . . Matvichuk joined the Cougars for the 2016-17 season after spending two seasons as director of hockey operations and head coach with the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year for the 2015-16 season. . . . The Cougars fired Matvichuk late in what was his third season as head coach. . . . The Komets’ previous head coach, Gary Graham, was fired on May 13 after going 251-130-51 in six seasons. . . . Cohn’s complete story is right here.


The Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash., the home of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, will tri-cityhave a new ice plant and two large LED screens in place before another season arrives. . . . These improvements come after the lighting was revamped prior to this season. . . . Each screen will be eight feet high and 41 feet wide. . . . As Wendy Culverwell writes in the Tri-City Herald: “The ice plant and video boards were key to keeping the Americans as tenants after the WHL set the 2019-20 season as the deadline to comply with its new standards for player safety and fan amenities.” . . . When all the work is finished, the cost will be about US$4 million. . . . The Americans’ lease expires after the 2019-20 season. . . . Culverwell’s story is right here.


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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Cayden Glover to a WHL contract. He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. From Brandon, Glover had 47 goals and 19 assists in 36 games with the midget AAA Wheat Kings this season.


The MJHL’s OCN Blizzard will have two men running its bench in 2019-20. The team announced Sunday that Ryan Wood and Chris Perchaluk will be associate head coaches. Wood also will be assistant general manager, under GM Greg Hunter. . . . The Blizzard also has signed Nick Rusak as assistant coach. . . . Wood spent the past two seasons as the GM/head coach of the Kirkland Miners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. . . . Perchaluk played two seasons with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs and one with the Blizzard. He has been coaching minor hockey in The Pas, Man., since 2005. . . . Rusak, from Cranberry Portage, Man., has been an assistant coach with the Thompson-based bantam AAA Norman Wolves.


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Giants get forward from Hurricanes. . . . Seattle signs second first-round pick. . . . QMJHL teams to meet in Memorial Cup final for only second time

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F Taylor Vause (Swift Current, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 49 games, he had 16 goals and 29 assists. In the playoffs, he added six goals and 14 assists in 18 games. He led the league in playoff assists and points. . . .

F Ty Morris (Swift Current, Vancouver, Red Deer, 2003-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Peiting (Germany, Oberliga). This season, he had 19 goals and 53 assists in 47 games. He is preparing to play his 14th season in Germany.


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The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Jackson Shepard from the Lethbridge Hurricanes Vancouverin exchange for a third-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . Shepard, 19, is from North Vancouver. . . . The Kamloops Blazers selected him with the 22nd pick in the 2015 bantam draft. The Blazers dealt him to Lethbridge on July 31, getting back F Zane Franklin, 19 at the time, and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . This season, Shepard had five goals and 17 assists in 66 games. In 181 regular-season games, he has 17 goals and 39 assists. . . . F Cole Shepard, Jackson’s younger brother, was selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. Cole, 17, just completed his first season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. He has committed to attend Harvard and play for the Crimson in 2021-22.


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Two more first-round picks from the 2019 bantam draft have signed WHL contracts. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Kevin Korchinski, who was the 10th-overall selection. From Saskatoon, he had 10 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Generals, then added five goals and five assists in five playoff games. . . . Korchinski was the second of two first-round picks by the Thunderbirds. They selected F Jordan Gustafson of Ardrossan, Alta., with the eighth pick and signed him on Wednesday. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Oasiz Wiesblatt, who is from Calgary. He was the 12th-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Wiesblatt had 19 goals and 36 assists in 28 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons this season. He added six goals and seven assists in seven playoff games. . . .

Six of the 22 first-round selections now have signed WHL contracts.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Grady Lane, 16, to a WHL contract. . . . Lane, from Virden, Man., was an eighth-round selection by the Chiefs in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had five goals and seven assists in 32 games with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars. . . . Lane will attend the Chiefs’ 2019 training camp after sitting out the 2018 camp due to injury.


The two QMJHL entries — the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Halifax Mooseheads — will 2019MCmeet in the final of the four-team Memorial Cup tournament on Sunday in Halifax. . . . The QMJHL-champion Huskies advanced to the final with a 6-4 victory over the OHL-champion Guelph Storm on Friday night. . . . The Mooseheads received a bye to the final following a 5-4 loss to the Huskies on Wednesday night. Those three teams all were 2-1 in the round-robin and the Mooseheads advanced via the tiebreaker formula. . . . The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders went home early after going 0-3. . . . It is perhaps only fitting that the Huskies and Mooseheads are in the final as the QMJHL is celebrating its 50th anniversary season. . . . This will be the second time in the Memorial Cup’s history that two QMJHL teams have met in the final. In 2006, the Quebec Remparts beat the host Moncton Wildcats, 6-2. . . . Last night, the Huskies and Storm were tied, 3-3, after the second period. F Felix Bibeau broke the tie, giving the Huskies a 4-3 lead at 5:20 of the third period, then made it 5-3 at 12:33. . . . Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press has a game story right here.


Carter Zalluski, a bantam draft pick of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, died on Sunday. He was 24. According to an obituary, he “passed away suddenly.” . . . The Oil Kings selected Zalluski in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2010 bantam draft. He never did play in the WHL. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


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Mooseheads celebrate loss, advance to Memorial Cup final. . . . Huskies, Storm in semifinal. . . . Thunderbirds sign first pick

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F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has signed a one-year contract extension with Sokolov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games. . . . Sokolov played in 2. Liga this season and won promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with SC Csíkszereda Miercurea-Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). This season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games. He also had six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . . Láday is spending this summer playing for the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). He has two assists in two games. The NIHL regular season started on May 18, ends on July 28, and playoffs end no later than Aug. 18. . . .

F Max Brandl (Prince Albert, Portland, 2007-09) has signed a two-year contract with Landshut (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), he had five goals and 17 assists in 52 games. He was the team captain. . . .

F Colin Long (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Lustenau (Austria, Alps HL). This season, with Gherdëina Selva Val Gardena (Italy, Alps HL), he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 39 games. He was second on the team in goals, assists and points.


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The Prince Albert Raiders arrived back home on Wednesday afternoon, where they were greeted by appreciative supporters.

In Halifax, the host Mooseheads lost the last game of the round-robin portion of the 2019MCMemorial Cup and they celebrated.

Seriously!

As one WHL observer wrote in a note to Taking Note: “The fact that Halifax celebrates like that after losing against a huge rival is another example of why the Memorial Cup is stupid.

“I’m sorry. I have all the respect in the world for that trophy and its history, but that tournament is just completely pointless and dumb.”

It’s hard to disagree with that kind of logic, especially after last night’s circus in Halifax.

The QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored with 54 seconds left in the third period to beat the Mooseheads, 4-3, last night.

The Huskies beat the Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL’s championship final, meaning that Rouyn-Noranda has beaten Halifax in five of their past seven meetings.

But it’s the Mooseheads who have advanced to Sunday’s Memorial Cup final. The Huskies and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm will meet in Friday’s semifinal game. The Raiders went 0-3 and were eliminated on Tuesday.

Here is how Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press described the silliness:

“Any one of Halifax, Rouyn-Noranda or Guelph could have earned a berth in Sunday’s tournament final based on Wednesday’s outcome. All three clubs finished with 2-1 records, but the Mooseheads got the tiebreaker through a drawn-out mathematical formula.

“All Halifax needed to do to advance was win outright or lose by one goal up to 4-3. Rouyn-Noranda had to win 4-0, or by five or more goals to move on, while the Storm still had a chance if the game finished by any other score.”

Here’s Halifax head coach Eric Veilleux: “Knowing what everybody knows, obviously I hope I never have to go through that again. It’s really not easy.”

Perhaps Halifax defenceman Patrick Kyte summed it all up with this: “Even though we didn’t win, we got the job done.”

(Cicerella’s game story is right here.)

Of course, this is the risk you run with any kind of round-robin situation, and the CHL’s four-team format, including a host team, isn’t going away anytime soon.

As the afore-quoted WHL observer put it: “(It’s a) cash grab in the second-ugliest form in junior hockey . . . the highest-ugliest form being World Juniors.”

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, they will celebrate the Raiders’ season with a party at the Art Hauser Centre tonight. A good time will be had by all.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in Prince Albert when the Raiders arrived on Wednesday. His blog post is right here.


By now you will be well aware that the last four WHL champions to play in the Memorial Cup tournament are a combined 0-12. The Brandon Wheat Kings (2016), Seattle whlThunderbirds (2017), Swift Current Broncos (2018) and the Raiders all failed to win even one game at the CHL’s championship tournament.

So, you’re wondering, what’s going on?

Here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Different years, different teams, different situations. Logically, this is just a screwy numbers thing, like the fact a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 (Montreal), or that a franchise with a predominantly blue jersey hasn’t won the Cup since 1994 (New York Rangers).”

In the overall scheme of things, there likely isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.

But the one thing I don’t feel can be discounted is the travel factor. Because of the WHL’s geography, the championship final is almost always going to feature some killer travel.

In 2016, it was Brandon and Seattle in the final. The next year, Seattle and the Regina Pats met in the final. A year ago, it was Swift Current and the Everett Silvertips. This season, it was the Raiders and the Vancouver Giants, and they went seven games. They played on a Friday in Langley, B.C., then finished the series in Prince Albert with games on Sunday and Monday. The Raiders travelled to Halifax — three time zones to the east — on the Wednesday and played their first game on Friday.

The travel almost invariably leads to injuries, and by the time a team leaves for the Memorial Cup it is banged up and emotionally drained. And, in a four-team round-robin, you are up against it if you lose that first game.

One WHL fan suggested to Taking Note that the WHL needs to “eliminate the killer travel schedule, which is possibly going to get worse for many Eastern Conference teams. And, of course, save $$$ for smaller Eastern Conference franchises.”

The only way the “killer travel schedule” is eliminated is for the WHL to revamp its regular-season schedule and keep teams playing only in their own conferences. That isn’t likely to happen.

One solution — and it’s only a pipe dream — would be to split the WHL into two leagues, with the B.C. and U.S. teams in one league, and the East and Central division teams in another. There wouldn’t be any interlocking play; these would be two separate leagues.

Each league would hold its playoffs, with the two winners meeting in a western final. Meanwhile, the OHL and QMJHL winners also would go into a best-of-seven final.

The Memorial Cup final, then, would go back to being a true East vs. West best-of-seven series.

Of course, that won’t ever happen because the present format — with a host team as part of a four-team round-robin — is great for the host city and it helps fill the coffers for the host league and its teams.

The present tournament format allows for a celebration of major junior hockey for 10 days every May. It’s time to accept it for what it is, and if the WHL champion never wins another game, so be it.

It could be that Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) hit the nail on the head earlier in the week when he tweeted: “It’s more impressive to me to outplay and outlast 15 other teams to win your own league. The Memorial Cup is like dessert after a great meal — not for everyone and it never replaces the meal.”


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Jordan Gustafson to a WHL contract. The SeattleThunderbirds selected him with the eighth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Gustafson had 31 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers this season. . . .

Gustafson is the third of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections from the May 2 bantam draft to sign contracts. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer, the 18th selection, while the Prince Albert Raiders signed F Niall Crocker, who was taken with the 22nd pick.

Raiders finished at Memorial Cup. . . . Chiefs, Lambert sign extension. . . . Ex-Breakers winger, Wilson dies at 57

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D Kristian Khenkel (Lethbridge, 2013-14) has signed a two-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had four goals and 10 assists in 59 games.


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders were eliminated from the 2019 Memorial Cup on Tuesday night when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the OHL-champion Guelph Storm. 2019MC. . . The Raiders lost all three of their round-robin games while being outscored 15-6. . . . The Storm (2-1) is guaranteed at least a spot in the semifinal game. . . . The round-robin portion of the four-team event concludes tonight (Wednesday) with the host Mooseheads (2-0) meeting the QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1). The Huskies beat the Mooseheads, 4-2, in the QMJHL’s best-of-seven championship final. . . . Last night, the first period ended in a 2-2 draw, with Guelph scoring twice off the rush, and the Raiders getting two goals on redirections from in tight. . . . The Storm won it with a pair of second-period goals, from F Liam Hawel, at 1:21, on a PP, and F Nick Suzuki, at 5:02. . . . Suzuki, who also had an assist, put it away with another Suzuki goal at 6:42 of the third period. . . . The Storm got a goal and two assists from F Isaac Ratcliffe. . . . F Sean Montgomery, on a PP, and F Dante Hannoun had the Raiders’ goals. . . . The Raiders represented the WHL in the Memorial Cup for the second time in franchise history. In 1985, their third season in the WHL, they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com was in Halifax and his story is right here.

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JUST NOTES: The Raiders played 94 games this season — 68 in the regular season, 23 in the WHL playoffs and three in the Memorial Cup. It wasn’t until they got to the Memorial Cup that they lost three times in a row. . . .

WHL champions now have lost 13 straight Memorial Cup games. Prince Albert has joined the Swift Current Broncos (2018), Seattle Thunderbirds (2017) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2016) as WHL champs who have reached the Memorial Cup, only to go 0-3. The Kelowna Rockets lost the first game in that skid, falling 2-1 in OT to the Oshawa Generals in the final of the 2015 tournament. . . . What, if anything, is the reason for the recent struggles? If you have an opinion, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and I’ll have some thoughts at some point this week. . . .

According to the online scoresheet, the Storm won 41 of the game’s 59 faceoffs last night. . . .

The Mooseheads can move to Sunday’s final with a victory over the Huskies tonight. If the Huskies win, the three remaining teams will each be 2-1 and the playoff seedings would be decided via the tiebreaker formula.

Here is that formula, direct from the 2019 Memorial Cup Media Guide:

“In the event three teams should tie for first place at the conclusion of the single round-robin series of games, the game each team played against the fourth place team shall be removed from their records. The tiebreaking formula shall be as follows: Add each team’s goals for with their goals against which sum you divide into such team’s goals for. The team with the highest percentage gains the higher ranking in the standings and an automatic berth as home team in the Memorial Cup championship game. The remaining two teams shall play in the semifinal game. The home team in the semifinal game will be the team that won the round-robin game between the two teams. . . .

“In the event that after using the above mathematical exercise all three teams should still remain tied for first place, the game each team played against the fourth team shall be added to their records. The same formula (as above) will be applied to finalize the rankings of the three teams.

“In the event that two teams still remain tied, the round-robin game between the two teams will determine their order of position.”

Got that? If not, just let tonight’s game play itself out and all will be decided then.

BTW, that Media Guide is available as a PDF right here.

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F Noah Gregor was the best of the Prince Albert Raiders in their three-game Memorial Cup appearance. They scored six goals in their three losses, and he was in on the first PrinceAlbertfive, scoring two of them.

He also figured in each of Prince Albert’s last three goals in the Raiders’ seven-game WHL championship series victory over the Vancouver Giants.

Gregor, a 20-year-old from Beaumont, Alta., also was one of their top players through the regular season and playoffs, after having been acquired from the Victoria Royals on July 25 for what, according to the WHL website, was “cond. VictoriaRoyalscompensation.”

Taking Note was told on Tuesday that those considerations were three-fold:

1. An eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft in exchange for Gregor’s rights;

2. A 2019 third-round selection based on Gregor playing in a certain number of regular-season games, which he did; and,

3. A 2020 fourth-round selection based on Gregor playing a certain number of playoff games, which he did.

The third-round pick originated with the Prince George Cougars, and turned out to be 48th overall. The Royals used it to take F Tanner Scott, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He played this season with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 18 goals and 25 assists in 29 games.

Gregor, a fourth-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, had signed a pro deal prior to this season. At the time the Raiders acquired his rights, there was no guarantee that he would be back in the WHL; in fact, there was ample speculation that he would end up at least starting the season with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.

At the time of the deal, the Royals had already dealt D Jared Freadrich, 20, to the Portland Winterhawks, and Gregor was one of nine other 1998-born players on Victoria’s roster.

One of those players was F Dante Hannoun, who was moved to Prince Albert on Jan. 3, along with a pair of 2019 draft picks — in the fourth and eighth rounds. In exchange, the Royals got F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility this season; F Carson Miller, who turned 19 on Feb. 10; and a 2020 third-round selection.

That means the Royals hold Prince Albert’s third- and fourth-round selections in the 2020 bantam draft.

Gregor had 43 goals and 45 assists in 88 regular-season games, then added 13 goals and 11 assists in 24 playoff games.

Hannoun added 10 goals and 21 assists in 28 regular-season games with the Raiders. In the playoffs, he had 14 goals and 10 assists in 23 games, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 7 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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The Spokane Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have signed head coach Dan Lambert SpokaneChiefsto a contract extension. . . . The Chiefs’ news release didn’t provide the length of the extension. However, Karthik Venkataraman of KREM-TV in Spokane reported: “The Chiefs have not disclosed details of the extension. However, previous extensions have been two years with a club option for a third year.” . . . Lambert has completed two seasons as the Chiefs’ head coach, going 81-46-13 in the process. The Chiefs reached the Western Conference final this season, where they were beaten by the Vancouver Giants. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Lambert spent one season as head coach of the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. He also was an assistant coach with the Sabres for one season. . . . Prior to that, he spent five seasons (2009-14) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets, and one season as their head coach. . . . Lambert will be the head coach Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.


Mitch Wilson, who played two seasons (1980-82) with the WHL’s Seattle Breakers, died SeaBrealerson Saturday at his home in Brinnon, Wash. The native of Kelowna was 57. He had battled ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for a number of years. . . . “Thank you to everyone for your support through this difficult time,” his family posted on his Facebook page. “Mitch fought this battle the best he knew how and did so with courage.” . . . A rugged right winger, Wilson spent two seasons with the B.C. Junior Hockey League’s Kelowna Buckaroos before joining the Breakers. . . . In 1980-81, he had eight goals, 23 assists and 253 penalty minutes in 64 games. The next season, he finished with 18 goals, 17 assists and 436 penalty minutes in 60 games. . . .  He went on to a pro career that included 26 NHL games — nine with the New Jersey Devils and 17 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had two goals, three assists and 104 PMs in those 26 games.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer to a WHL contract. The Oil Kings selected him 18th overall in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Reimer, who will turn 15 on Oct. 9, is from Surrey, B.C., and played this season with the bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. He put up 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Braeden Lewis to a WHL contract. The Broncos selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 bantam draft. Lewis, from Virden, Man., turned 16 on Tuesday. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars, scoring 10 goals and adding 20 assists in 45 games.


Lee Stone is back with the junior B Campbell River Storm, as the Vancouver Island Hockey League team’s general manager and head coach. . . . Stone left the Storm earlier this season and joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. At the time, the Storm announced that it and Stone had “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . Cam Basarab, an assistant coach, took over as head coach, with assistant coach Bill Brett stepping in as GM. . . . In his time with the Storm, the club has totalled 254 victories, 71 losses,18 OTL and nine ties. According to the Storm, “His clubs have captured three league championships, a Cyclone Taylor Cup and a Keystone Cup.” . . . He also served as chairperson on Campbell River’s 2019 Cyclone Taylor Cup organizing committee. . . . The Storm also announced that Travis McMillan has signed on as assistant GM and associate coach. He had been the head coach of the Cochrane, Alta., Generals of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.


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Huskies dump Raiders at Memorial Cup. . . . WHL champs have lost 12 straight. . . . Must-win situation on Tuesday


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F Killian Hutt (Portland, Regina, Swift Current, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Herford (Germany, Regionalliga). This season, in 32 games, he put up 49 goals and 83 assists. He led the league in assists and points. . . .

D Dan Gibb (Prince George, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Amiens (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he had two goals and 12 assists in 43 games. . . .

D Ryan Button (Prince Albert, Seattle, 2007-11) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Red Bull Munich (Germany, DEL), he had three goals and 14 assists in 48 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.


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F Tyler Hinam’s second goal of the game, at 15:28 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and sent the QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on their way to a 6-3 victory over the 2019MCWHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders at the Memorial Cup tournament in Halifax. . . . The Raiders (0-2) are to play the OHL-champion Guelph Storm (1-1) tonight. A loss would eliminate the WHL champs. . . . The Raiders haven’t lost three straight games this season. . . . The host Mooseheads (2-0) and the Huskies (1-1) conclude the round-robin portion of the tournament on Wednesday. . . . With the score 3-3, Huskies D Noah Dobson seized a neutral zone turnover and took the puck down the right side and go it to the net, from where Hinam, who is from Cole Harbour, N.S., beat G Ian Scott. . . . F Peter Abbandonato added insurance at 16:53, and Dobson got the empty-netter at 18:19. . . . F Noah Gregor, perhaps the best player on the ice, had a goal and two assists for the Raiders. . . . F Cole Fonstad and D Brayden Pachal added a goal each for the Raiders. . . . The Huskies were 1-3 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-3. . . . Each team hit three or four posts in a game that featured a lot of scoring chances. . . . Huskies G Sam Harvey blocked 30 shots, three more than Scott.

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Here’s how Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com explained the situation in Halifax: “If the Raiders beat the Storm on Tuesday and the Huskies (1-1) defeat the Halifax Mooseheads (2-0) on Wednesday, then the Raiders and Storm would play a tiebreaker on Thursday. But if the Raiders defeat the Storm and the Mooseheads beat the Huskies, then there would be a three-way tiebreaking scenario between the Storm, Raiders and Huskies who would all have records of 1-2. A Raiders loss would be the end to their tournament.”

D’Andrea’s complete story is right here.

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JUST NOTES: When the CHL regular-season ended, Rouyn-Noranda was 59-8-1 and ranked No. 1, with the Raiders at 54-10-4 and in the No. 2 slot. . . . WHL champions now have lost 12 straight games at the Memorial Cup. It all started when the Kelowna Rockets were beaten, 2-1 in OT, by the Oshawa Generals in the 2015 final. . . . In 2016, the Brandon Wheat Kings went 0-3, while the host Red Deer Rebels were going 2-2. In 2017, the Seattle Thunderbirds went 0-3 in Windsor, Ont. In 2018, the Swift Current Broncos went 0-3 in Regina, while the host Pats were 3-2.  The Raiders now are 0-2. . . . Add up the records of the WHL champions and you get 0-12. . . . The WHL champs have been outscored 58-22 in those losses. . . . OHL teams have won five of the past 10 tournaments, with QMJHL teams winning four times and the WHL once (Edmonton Oil Kings, 2014). . . . The Raiders are 0-7 on the PP through two games. . . . Mario Poulliot, Rouyn-Noranda’s general manager and head coach, was with the Memorial Cup-winning Acadie-Bathurst Titan in Regina a year ago. Huskies D Noah Dobson also was with the Titan. The Huskies acquired Dobson early this season.


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The MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues are looking for a head coach after announcing on Monday that they and head coach Billy Keane “have agreed to part ways.” . . . Keane had been an assistant coach with the Blues for six seasons (2010-16) when he took over as head coach prior to the 2016-17 season. He was the general manager and head coach each of the past two seasons. . . . Keane, who is from Winnipeg, is a brother to former WHL/NHL F Mike Keane. . . . The Blues were purchased in April by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. On May 14, Taras McEwen, the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, was named the Blues’ GM. . . . At that time, Keane told Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press that “I’m definitely interested” in staying on as head coach.


Todd Watson, a former OHL coach, is the new head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes. . . . Watson, 52, was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers for two seasons (2005-07) and the head coach of the Saginaw Spirit for three-plus seasons (2007-11). He was the Spirit’s general manager for the last two-plus seasons of his stint there.


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Raiders can win WHL title tonight. . . . Giants hope to make some history. . . . Hudak wins Cranbrook by-election


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John Hudak, who was the spokesperson for the Green Bay Committee that attempted to help keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, won a seat on Cranbrook’s City Council in a by-election that was completed on Saturday. . . . Final preliminary results, as released by the City of Cranbrook, had Hudak with 1,115 votes (45.9 per cent of the vote), well ahead of Ron Miles, who was second at 518, and three other candidates. . . . The by-election was the result of Danielle Eaton having resigned in January. . . . A retired RCMP officer, Hudak was part of the Green Bay Committee, a group comprising mostly local businessmen who offered to sell sponsorships and season tickets in an attempt to benefit the Ice. However, the committee, which said it quickly sold $50,000 worth of sponsorships and tickets, disbanded when it realized that it wasn’t going to get any co-operation from the WHL team’s owners. . . . The Ice relocated to Winnipeg when its season ended.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the QMJHL championship with a 4-0 victory over the qmjhlhost Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday. The Huskies won the series, 4-2. . . . Huskies G Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout. Harvey, who is in his fifth season with the Huskies, has 20 career shutouts — 15 in the regular season and five in the playoffs. He put up four of those playoff shutouts in these playoffs. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup as the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . This is the 11th straight season in which the host team for the Memorial Cup hasn’t been able to win its league championship.


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NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants arrived back in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon and will resume the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Game 6 tonight (Sunday) at the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, and can win the second championship in franchise history — the first came in 1985 — with a victory tonight. . . . Should the Giants win tonight — and they won Game 5, 4-3, on Friday in Langley, B.C. — Game 7 would be played on Monday night in Prince Albert. . . .

Following the conclusion of Game 5 in Langley on Friday, fans in Prince Albert began lining up at the Art Hauser Centre at 11 p.m., with tickets for Games 6 and 7 going on sale Saturday morning. . . . Late Friday night, the Raiders advised fans via Twitter: “Tickets for Game 7 are non-refundable. If a Game 7 isn’t necessary, the tickets can be used as a voucher for any regular-season game in the 2019-20 season.” . . . Now I don’t know how much a ticket to Game 7 was selling for, but I have to think one of those tickets would be worth a whole lot more than one regular-season game. Wouldn’t it? . . .

If the Giants are to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, they are going to have to do something that has been accomplished only once before in WHL history. . . . There have been 11 championship finals go to Game 7; the first 10 were won by the home team. The last final to need Game 7 was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team in WHL history to win Game 7 on the road. They beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . .

Here is a look at the previous WHL championship series that have been decided in Game 7 . . .

1975 — The Saskatoon Blades actually won the first two games of what was an eight-point final — in other words, no OT — beating the New Westminster Bruins twice in legendary Queen’s Park Arena. The Bruins then won twice in Saskatoon, before the Blades won Game 5 at home. Back in New Westminster, the Bruins won, 4-1 and 7-2, to take the series, 8-6.

1976 — This also was an eight-point series featuring the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. The teams played to a 3-3 tie in Game 6 in New Westminster and the Bruins won Game 7, 3-1, the next night, winning the series, 9-5.

1981 — The Calgary Wranglers led the Victoria Cougars, 3-1, before the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back with 7-4 and 4-2 victories in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home, 4-2. This is the series that featured goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Victoria) and Mike Vernon (Calgary).

1984 — The Regina Pats won the middle three games at home to go ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2. The scene shifted to Kamloops where the Blazers won, 4-3 in OT and 4-2. In Game 6, the Pats were 12 seconds from winning the championship when Kamloops F Dean Evason tied the game. F Ryan Stewart later won it at 13;13 of OT.

1987 —The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks played a 3-3-1 format and were all even going back to Alberta for Game 7 after the Tigers won Game 6, 4-3. Back home, the Tigers won Game 7, 6-2.

1992 — The Kamloops Blazers took a 3-1 lead over the Saskatoon Blades in a final that used a 3-3-1 format. The Blades won Games 5 and 6 (5-1 and 4-3) at home. The Blazers won it all by taking Game 7, 8-0, at home.

1993 — The Portland Winterhawks led the series, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos after a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Oregon. The Broncos won Game 6, 7-5, in Portland, then went home and posted a 6-0 victory in Game 7.

1994 — For the third straight season, the WHL final went seven games, and for the second time in three seasons it featured the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades. Using a 2-3-2 format, Kamloops won twice at home and then took Game 4 in Saskatoon for a 3-1 lead. The Blades tied it by winning 3-2 at home and 2-1 in Kamloops, but the Blazers took Game 7, 8-1, at home.

2007 — For the first time in 13 years, the WHL final went seven games. This time, it featured the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead on the strength of three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0 — from G Tyson Sexsmith. But the Tigers went home for the last two games and won them both — 4-3 and 3-2 in double OT, the latter on a goal by F Brennan Bosch.

2012 — The Edmonton Oil Kings won Game 5, 4-3, at home to take a 3-2 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who went home and won Game 6, 3-2, two nights later. The series shifted to Edmonton for Game 7 and the Oil Kings won, 4-1.

2014 — It was the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks one more time. Portland won twice at home, then Edmonton did the same. The Oil Kings won Game 5, 3-2, in Portland, only to have the Winterhawks go into Edmonton and win Game 6, 6-5 in OT. The Oil Kings won the final with a 4-2 road victory in Game 7. The WHL’s first season was 1966-67. The Oil Kings are the only team in the league’s history to have won Game 7 of a championship series on the road.

(NOTE: Thanks to Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the legendary former play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, for laying the groundwork for all of this.)


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Memorial Cup-winning coach on move . . . Two WHL coaches get U-17 postings. . . . Lambert joins Trotz with Isles


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D/F Curt Gogol (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Chilliwack, 2007-11) signed a one-year contract with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). Last season, he was pointless in one game with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), and had three goals and three assists in 27 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL). . . .

F Taylor Stefishen (Prince George, 2010-11) signed a one-year contract with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one assist in four games with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite), and eight goals and 16 assists in 56 games with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL).


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Mario Pouliot, who guided the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan to its first Memorial Cup title in May, has left the team to become general manager and head coach of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Pouliot, 54, had been the Titan’s head coach since 2014. . . . The Huskies had an opening after Gilles Bouchard left to work as an assistant coach with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.


Andre Tourigny has taken over from Gilles Bouchard as head coach of the Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup next month in Edmonton and Red Deer. . . . Bouchard has signed on as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. . . . Tourigny is preparing for his second season as vice-president of hockey operations and head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . Tourigny’s assistant coaches are Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . The Gretzky Hlinka Cup runs Aug. 6-11.


Two WHL coaches were among the nine coaches named to Canada’s U-17 teams that will play in the World Hockey Challenge in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B., Nov. 3-10. . . . Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, was named the head coach of Team Canada Black, while Mark O’Leary, an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors, is an assistant coach with Team Canada Red. . . . Brett Gibson of the Queen’s U Gaels was named head coach Team Canada White, with Louis Robitaille of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres the head coach of Team Canada Red.


Hockey Canada has invited 40 players to its World Junior Showcase in Kamloops, July 28 through Aug. 4. The news release is right here.


Lane Lambert, a former WHL player and coach, is moving to the NHL’s New York Islanders, where he will be back with head coach Barry Trotz. Krotz left the Washington Capitals after winning the Stanley Cup and then signed with the Islanders. Lambert had been an assistant in Washington for the past four seasons. . . . The two also worked together in Nashville when Trotz was the Predators’ head coach. . . . Lambert, 53, played two seasons (1981-83) with the Saskatoon Blades. He has coached in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince George Cougars.


F Jackson Niedermayer of Newport Beach, Calif., will be joining the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for the 2018-19 season. Niedermayer, 17, is the son of Scott Niedermayer, a Hall-of-Fame NHL defenceman who played ?? seasons with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Jackson played the past two seasons with the U-16 Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Last season, he had 23 goals and 19 assists in 34 games. . . . There’s more on this story right here.


Former NHL D Joe Cirella is leaving the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds to work as an assistant coach with the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Cirella had been with the Greyhounds for six seasons, the first one as an assistant coach and the last five as associate coach.


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