Milic backstops T-Birds to second WHL title . . . OHL, QMJHL both going to Game 6. . . . Who’s up next in Red Deer? . . . Giants, Wheat Kings make deal

Let’s be honest . . . the $64,000 question in WHL circles these days is: Will Brent RedDeerSutter be back coaching the Red Deer Rebels when another season gets here?

ICYMI, Steve Konowalchuk, the Rebels’ head coach for the past two seasons, resigned on Thursday, citing personal and family reasons.

The answer to that $64,000 question at this point, it seems, might be “Yes . . . no . . . maybe.”

When Greg Meachem of asked Sutter if he is interested in going back behind the bench, he replied: “Right now, no. With that being said, if we don’t find the right person I would have to rethink it through. Right now my goal is to find someone different.”

So . . . if you happen to be a bettor, do you take Sutter or the field?

Sutter, the Rebels’ owner and president, was the general manager and head coach from 1999-2007. He then spent two seasons as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and three as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

Sutter returned as the Rebels’ head coach during the 2012-13 season and stayed there until stepping aside after the 2020-21 season, which is when he hired Konowalchuk.

The Rebels went 86-36-6 in two regular seasons under Konowalchuk. This season, they went 43-19-6 and finished atop the Central Division. They got into the second round of playoffs, where they lost a seven-game series to the Saskatoon Blades. The Rebels won the first three games of that series, then lost the next four.

“It’s disappointing to see Steve resign,” Sutter said. “But I also understand when it comes to personal/family reasons. He’s a great coach, and even more so a great man.”

Konowalchuk had one season left on his contract.

The Rebels also announced that assistant coach Ryan Colville has left after five seasons on the staff.

According to a Rebels news release, Colville “plans to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Sutter said that Colville “is looking for a coaching opportunity closer to home in Cincinnati.”

Meachem’s story is right here.


Half of the Memorial Cup field is set with the Seattle Thunderbirds having won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as as WHL champions on Friday night in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds beat the Winnipeg Ice, 3-1, to win the series, 4-1. . . . The Thunderbirds join the host Kamloops Blazers as the two confirmed teams for the four-team Memorial Cup tournament. It is to open on May 25 with the Blazers facing the QMJHL champion. . . . The Thunderbirds’ first game is set for May 27 against the OHL champion. . . . Seattle went 16-3 in its run to the WHL title; two of those losses were to the Blazers. . . .

In the OHL, the London Knights beat the visiting Peterborough Petes, 4-1, on Friday night, a decision that forced a sixth game. Still, the Petes will take a 3-2 series lead into a Sunday game (4 p.m. ET) in Peterborough. A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday in London (4 p.m. ET). . . . Last night, London erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with the game’s last four goals. F Ryan Humphrey (8) broke a 1-1 tie at 4:31 of the second period. . . . Petes F Owen Beck took a match penalty for slew-footing at 19:20 of the third period. That penalty is expected to draw a suspension, perhaps of two games in duration. Beck had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 60 regular-season games, and has 16 points, eight of them goals, in 22 playoff games. . . .

In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads dumped the Quebec Remparts, 3-2, in Quebec City to stay alive in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . The Remparts hold a 3-2 edge going into Game 6 in Halifax on Sunday (4 p.m. ET). A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET) in Quebec City. . . . Last night, the Mooseheads got 35 saves from G Mathis Rousseau. . . . F Zachary L’Heureux (10) gave Halifax a 3-1 lead at 6:32 of the second period and it stood up as the winner. . . .

Check out Geoffrey Brandow on Twitter (@GeoffreyBrandow) for even more information after each CHL game. . . .

The Memorial Cup is scheduled to arrive in Kamloops on May 25 with the first game — the QMJHL champion against the host Blazers — set for May 26. . . . The good news is that the smoke that arrived Kamloops in the wee hours of Wednesday had pretty much moved on by Friday morning. Here’s hoping it stays gone.



Winnipeg (1) at Seattle (2) — The Seattle Thunderbirds won their second WHL Seattlechampionship, beating the Winnipeg Ice, 3-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . The Thunderbirds won the last four games as they took the series, and the Ed Chynoweth Cup, in five games. . . . This was the first time the Thunderbirds won the title on home ice. In 2017, they beat the Pats in a six-game series that ended in Regina. . . . Last season, Seattle lost the final in six games to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was named the playoff MVP. He stopped 30 shots last night. He led the playoffs in victories (16), GAA (1.95) and save percentage (.933). . . . The championship-winning goal came off the stick of F Nico Myatovic, an 18-year-old from Prince George, who went into the game with three goals in 18 games in these playoffs. He got his fourth goal on a penalty shot at 2:27 of the third period, a score that gave his guys a 2-0 lead. . . . F Sam Popowich (2) had Seattle’s first goal, at 13:45 of the second period. . . . F Evan Friesen (7) got the Ice within a goal at 5:02 of the third period. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic (6) gave Seattle insurance with the empty-netter at 18:54. . . . Seattle was 0-for-1 on the PP; Winnipeg was 0-for-2. . . . The Ice had a late-game PP, too, as Seattle F Lucas Ciona was hit with a boarding minor at 15:40 of the third period. However, the Ice, despite have good possession in the Seattle zone, passed up a number of shooting opportunities and when skaters did pull the trigger they weren’t able to beat Milic. . . . The Ice got another superb game from G Daniel Hauser, who finished with 35 saves. . . . F Jordan Gustafson played in his first game in the series after being injured on April 30. He played a key role on Seattle’s first goal as he and Popowich provided some net-front presence, with Popowich tipping in D Jeremy Hanzel’s point shot. . . . F Dylan Guenther and D Luke Prokop of the Thunderbirds won their second straight WHL title. Both were with the Oil Kings last season. Guenther suffered a knee injury in last season’s final series and wasn’t able to play in the Memorial Cup. . . . F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers won the playoff scoring race with 30 points, one more than teammate Olen Zellweger and Winnipeg F Matt Savoie. . . . Guenther had a WHL-leading 16 goals, two more than Ice F Connor McClennon. . . . Winnipeg D Ben Zloty was tops in assists, with 23, three more than Stankoven and Seattle F Brad Lambert.


The Vancouver Giants have acquired D Logan Hammett, 20, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2024 draft. Hammett, from Regina, had four goals and 33 assists in 144 regular-season games with Brandon. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2018 WHL draft. . . .

F Daylan Kuefler of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s New York Islanders. Kuefler, 21, is from Red Deer. He has played four seasons with the Blazers, totalling 144 points, 77 of them goals, in 184 regular-season games. This season, he put up 30 goals and 31 assists in 54 games. . . . The Islanders selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings and Swift Current Broncos will have new play-by-play voices next season. . . . Brandon announced on Friday that it and “broadcast partner Q Country 91.5 Radio . . . have parted ways with director of media relations and play-by-play host Chase Johnston.” Johnston was in that position for one season. . . . Craig Beauchemin is leaving the Broncos after four seasons as broadcast and community relations manager. There is speculation that he will surface as the radio voice of another WHL team. . . . The Tri-City Americans also are looking for a new play-by-play voice following the decision by veteran Craig West to leave the organzation last month. . . .

You may recall that F Spencer Smith of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees was taken to hospital in Port Alberni late in the first period of Wednesday’s playoff game. According to the Vees, Smith, 20, “went into medical distress after a high hit. . . . He went to the Port Alberni hospital for further evaluation where he was cleared and later released Wednesday evening.” . . . The Vees won the game, 4-1, to sweep the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and win their second straight championship.


The 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for June 4, and Dorothy is taking part once again. She will celebrate 10 years as a kidney-transplant recipient in September, so the annual Kidney Walk is a big deal for her. In fact, she is participating for a 10th straight year. Yes, that means she is fund-raising, with all donations going to the Kidney Foundation. . . . If you are interested in helping, you are able to do so on her home page, which is right here.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.



Hitmen lose their head coach . . . Porter leaving Broncos . . . A team-by-team look at what’s been happening


F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), he had 18 goals and 33 assists in 54 games. He was second on the Panthers in goals, assists and points. . . . Derlago played for Esbjerg in 2014-15, when he finished third in league scoring. Mark Pederson (Medicine Hat, 1983-88) is Esbjerg’s GM and head coach. . . .

D Jesse Dudas (Lethbridge, Prince George, Swift Current, Regina, 2003-09) signed a one-year extension with MAC Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, he had five goals and 15 assists in 30 games with Budapest in Erste Bank Liga. The club is moving to Slovakia’s Extraliga for this season. . . .

D Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had 11 goals and 12 assists in 51 games. An alternate captain, he led DEL defencemen in goals.


There were two more — that we know of — departures from the front offices of WHL teams on Tuesday.

The Calgary Hitmen announced that head coach Dallas Ferguson has resigned after one season “due to family reasons.”

General manager Jeff Chynoweth is quoted in a news release saying: “Dallas approached Calgaryme last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this (season). We respect this decision, supporting that family comes first and wish Dallas all the best in the future.”

Ferguson joined the Hitmen last summer after 13 seasons with the U of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, the last nine as head coach.

In his lone season in Calgary, the Hitmen, who were in rebuilding mode, went 24-37-11, finished fifth in the six-team Central Division and missed the playoffs.

Chynoweth, the former long-time GM of the Kootenay Ice, just completed his first season with the Hitmen, and now he’ll have to hire his second Calgary head coach.

When Chynoweth starts sorting through resumes, assistant coaches Jason LaBarbera, Trent Cassan and Joel Otto will get consideration.

“If one of these guys is the best candidate,” Chynoweth told Calgary freelancer Rita Mingo, who covered the story for Postmedia, “we’ll definitely look at him. In my past in Kootenay, we promoted a couple of assistant coaches.”

As for when a replacement might be named, Chynoweth told Mingo: “No timeline. I remember one year in Cranbrook, we didn’t hire someone until I think Aug. 6, three weeks before training camp. Ideally, the sooner the better for everyone involved. We’ve had a lot of resumes already and we’ll get more. It’s something that will play out, we’ll get lots of good candidates and we’ll definitely hire the right guy.”

Mingo’s story is right here.

Meanwhile, the Swift Current Broncos announced that Jamie Porter, their director of SCBroncoshockey operations, is leaving the organization “at the end of July.”

Porter had been with the Broncos since 2002 and had been the top dog in the scouting department since 2005.

The terse three-paragraph news release from the Broncos concluded with: “There will be no further comments from the organization.”

That leads one to believe that, in this instance, perhaps parting won’t be such sweet sorrow.

With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having introduced, or about to introduce, new head coaches this week, let’s take a team-by-team look at what has been happening . . .


East Division

Brandon Wheat Kings — All is quiet on the WHL’s eastern front.

Moose Jaw Warriors — Things are quiet in Moose Jaw, too.

Prince Albert Raiders — Associate coach Dave Manson now is an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. General manager Curtis Hunt and head coach Marc Habscheid will be looking for a replacement.

Regina Pats — There is speculation that general manager/head coach John Paddock will leave the bench, turning the head-coaching duties over to Dave Struch, the assistant GM and assistant coach. That move is expected to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.

Saskatoon Blades — They have hired Mitch Love as head coach to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired when last season ended. Brockman had been with the Blades for four seasons, the last two as head coach. Love joins the Blades from the Everett Silvertips, where he was an assistant coach for seven seasons. . . . The Blades also hired Ryan Marsh as an assistant coach, to replace Bryce Thoma, who was dismissed shortly after Brockman. Marsh was fired by the Edmonton Oil Kings following the season. He had been there for four seasons.

Swift Current — The Broncos have hired Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach, replacing Manny Viveiros, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Jamie Porter, who had been the director of hockey operations, will leave the organization at the end of July.


Central Division

Calgary Hitmen — Head coach Dallas Ferguson is leaving after one season, citing family reasons for his departure. Ferguson had taken over from Mark French, who spent three seasons with the Hitmen before leaving to become head coach of HC Fribourg-Gottéron in the Swiss National League.

Edmonton Oil Kings — They need a head coach, having fired Steve Hamilton, and an assistant after dismissing Ryan Marsh, who landed on his feet with the Saskatoon Blades. The Oil Kings also need a general manager after they and Randy Hansch chose to go in different directions. It has been speculated for almost two months that former WHLer Kirt Hill will be named director of hockey operations.

Kootenay Ice — Things have been quiet in Cranbrook, although the Ice did add Tyler MacDonald of Winnipeg to its scouting staff. According to the team website, he is the organization’s lone scout so it could be that more additions are soon to be made.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — The winds of change have left the Hurricanes alone.

Medicine Hat Tigers — They parted company with Carter Sears after one season as director of player personnel. Bobby Fox has moved from behind the bench as an assistant coach to replace Sears. Shaun Clouston, the GM and head coach, says he will hire an assistant coach if he finds a good fit.

Red Deer Rebels — The Rebels and Jeff Truitt, their veteran associate coach, went in separate directions after last season. Red Deer later hired Brad Flynn and Ryan Colville as assistant coaches, and is quietly looking for another assistant. Flynn had been the director of hockey operations and head coach for the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays. Most recently, Colville was the president, GM and head coach of the NAHL’s Cincinnati Thunder. . . . The Rebels also hired former WHL G Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach after Taylor Dakers left for the Prince George Cougars.



B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers — They moved out general manager Stu MacGregor, head coach Don Hay, assistant coach Mike Needham and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel. . . . Matt Bardsley is the new GM, after being in the Portland Winterhawks’ front office since 1999. He has hired Serge Lajoie as head coach. Lajoie is fresh off three seasons as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears — they won the Canadian university title last season. . . . Still to come — at least one assistant coach and a move atop the scouting department.

Kelowna Rockets — All quiet, although assistant coach Travis Crickard has been keeping busy in New Zealand, which is a long way from Flin Flon.

Prince George Cougars — The Cougars hired Mark Lamb as their general manager, replacing Todd Harkins, who was dismissed at season’s end. They also have added their first full-time goaltending coach, that being Taylor Dakers.

Vancouver Giants — Glen Hanlon left the club after two seasons as general manager, and that spot has been filled by Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM with the Tri-City Americans. Parneta then dismissed head coach Jason McKee, who had been there for two seasons. There is speculation that former WHL D Michael Dyck could be the next head coach. . . . Dyck is a former WHL player and coach, who has worked with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Giants. He spent three seasons (2002-05) as an assistant coach with Vancouver and was Lethbridge’s head coach for four seasons (2005-09). Of late, he has been coaching minor hockey in Lethbridge. He was the head coach of the midget AAA Hurricanes last season.

Victoria Royals — Things are quiet on Vancouver Island.


U.S. Division

Everett Silvertips — They lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hired him as general manager, so will be looking to fill that spot.

Portland Winterhawks — Matt Bardsley, who had been in the Portland front office since 1999, signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as general manager. He had been the Winterhawks’ since 1999.

Seattle Thunderbirds — Russ Farwell, the Thunderbirds’ general manager for 23 seasons, now is the vice president of hockey operations. Bil La Forge, who had been Everett’s director of player personnel, is the Thunderbirds’ new GM.

Spokane Chiefs — Things are quiet here, too.

Tri-City Americans — Bob Tory, the co-owner and general manager, needs to find an assistant GM to replace Barclay Parneta, now the GM with the Vancouver Giants. As well, head coach Mike Williamson is leaving after four seasons. Brian Pellerin, the associate coach for the past four seasons, may be the favourite to replace Williamson.


Gilles Bouchard has left the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to join the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, as an assistant coach. Bouchard, 47, had been the Huskies’ general manager and head coach. . . . In Syracuse, he’ll work alongside head coach Benoit Groulx. . . . Bouchard also was the head coach of the Canadian U-18 entry for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. Obviously, he will have to be replaced by Hockey Canada. . . . Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds, are the assistant coaches.


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