Blazers closing in on new head coach? . . . Vandervlis in medically induced coma, critical condition . . . Blades add associate coach


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). In 24 games, he had five goals and 13 assists, while averaging 18:42 TOI per game. He missed the first 31 games of the season due to an injury.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers may be closing in on a new head coach. Serge Lajoie, the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past three seasons, was in Kamloops on Monday for a face-to-face session with general manager Matt Bardsley.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, the winningest regular-season Kamloops1and playoff coach in WHL history, who now is in an advisory role.

Bardsley was named the general manager on June 1, replacing Stu MacGregor, who now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Blazers, owns the Stars. Bardsley had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999, the past five seasons as assistant general manager.

Gaglardi is believed to have met with Lajoie before hiring Bardsley as general manager.

Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.


The family of F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes confirmed on Monday that he is in critical condition in a medically induced coma following an accident involving a bonfire in Bearspaw, which is located just northwest of Calgary.

“Our son and brother, Ryan Vandervlis, was injured at a bonfire this past weekend,” the Lethbridgestatement reads. “We want to be clear that alcohol was not a factor in this accident.

“Ryan is in a medically induced coma as he suffered severe burns to his body. He is receiving exceptional medical care in an intensive-care unit in Calgary where he remains in critical condition.”

The statement was signed by Barb, Rene, Cara, Sean and Rachel Vandervlis.

Vandervlis, 20, teammate Jordy Bellerive, 19, and former Hurricanes forward Matt Alfaro were injured late Friday night after something, according to RCMP, was placed on the bonfire which was at a home in Bearspaw.

A news release from the Hurricanes on Monday indicated that Alfaro and Bellerive “are currently in stable condition.”

Cpl. Troy Savinkoff of the Cochrane RCMP told CBC News that “there was some form of celebration at a residence in the Bearspaw subdivision. They had some issues lighting a fire. In their attempt to light this fire, there was an accident and three males were burned and were taken to hospital with various injuries and burns.”

According to David Bell of CBC News, Savinkoff also indicated that while alcohol was consumed, it wasn’t consumed in excess nor was it a contributing factor.

(Bell’s story is right here.)

Savinkoff also indicated that an investigation continues but that there isn’t any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The Hurricanes also issued a news release on Monday, stating, in part, that the incident didn’t occur during a bachelor party.

“It has been reported that the campfire occurred during a bachelor party. These reports are inaccurate,” the new release reads. “The campfire occurred at the family home of (former Hurricanes captain) Tyler Wong the evening prior to a planned day of golf.”

The Wong family also released a statement on Monday. It reads, in part:

“On Friday evening, nine of Tyler’s friends came to our house to stay the night as they were planning to go golfing and camping on Saturday. It was not a stag or bachelor party, as has been inaccurately reported. In starting a campfire, the accident occurred. Mr. and Mrs. Wong were present and acted quickly to transport those injured to a Calgary hospital.”

Calgary EMS responded to a call late Friday night and intercepted a vehicle near Calgary. Alfaro, who now plays for the U of Calgary Dinos, Bellerive and Vandervlis were moved to the ambulance and taken to the Foothills Medical Centre.

Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, is expected to hold a news conference today (Tuesday) in Lethbridge.



Ryan Marsh has signed on with the Saskatoon Blades as associate coach. Marsh, 43, joins Saskatoonhead coach Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season with the Blades, and assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Jerome Engele, and goaltender coach Tim Cheveldae. . . . Marsh spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He also has coaching experience with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and in the AJHL. . . . The Oil Kings fired Marsh on May 28, the same day that they fired head coach Steve Hamilton. . . . Marsh, a defenceman, played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans (1992-95), then later played four seasons with the Golden Bears. . . . Marsh is from Quesnel, B.C., which also is Love’s hometown. They two men worked together as assistant coaches with Team Canada Red at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in 2016. . . . Marsh fills the vacancy created when the Blades dismissed Bryce Thoma, who had been with them for two seasons.


The Kootenay Ice has extended the contract of Jake Heisinger, its director, scouting and Kootenaynewhockey operations, for five years. He just completed his first season with the Ice and led the scouting staff at the 2018 WHL bantam draft. According to an Ice news release, “Heisinger oversees the scouting team and the evaluation of players for the WHL bantam draft. He also works closely with the prospects in the system regarding player development.” He also is involved in player evaluations and transactions. . . . At the same time, the Ice extended Taras McEwen, its manager, scouting and hockey operations, for three years. He also joined the Ice in 2017. . . . The Ice also announced that it has added Tyler MacDonald to its scouting staff. He had been a Manitoba regional scout for the Ice from 2009-14. Interestingly, MacDonald is the only scout listed on the Ice’s website.


The Kelowna Rockets have acquired F Mark Liwiski, who is to turn 17 on Aug. 8, from the KelownaRocketsEverett Silvertips for a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Liwiski, who is from Dauphin, Man., was a third-round selection by Everett in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . He started last season with the Silvertips but was suspended and sent home in November after being “found to be in clear violation of team policy.” . . . Liwiski was pointless in 10 games with Everett. He finished the season with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, putting up 14 goals and 11 assists in 36 games.


Gaelan Patterson has joined the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves as an assistant coach. Patterson, 27, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included stops in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe. Last season, he played with the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze. . . . Patterson, who is from Saskatoon, will work under head coach Evan Vossen, replacing Darren Martens, who left after last season.


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RCMP investigating ‘fire incident’ that left three players hospitalized . . . Royals sign first-round pick

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) wasn’t offered a contract for this season after his one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga) expired on Sunday. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

RCMP in Cochrane, Alta., are investigating a Saturday night incident that resulted in three hockey players being taken to a Calgary hospital.

Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos, along with Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, remained in hospital Sunday night, being treated for Lethbridgeburns suffered in what the RCMP termed a “fire incident” that occurred “at approximately 11:43 p.m.”

According to the RCMP news release:

“Cochrane RCMP, along with Rockyview Fire and EMS were dispatched to a structure fire in the Bearspaw area of Rockyview County, located approximately 10 km east of Cochrane.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that a substance was placed into a fire-pit that caused an explosion. No structures were involved or affected by the incident.

“Three people who were in the area of the fire-pit sustained burn injuries. . . . The injured persons were transported via ground ambulance to a Calgary hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries. . . .

“The investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

While the RCMP has yet to release the identities of the three injured players, the Hurricanes revealed on Saturday night that they are Bellerive, Alfaro and Vandervlis.

The three players are in the Foothills Medical Centre. According to a report by Evan Radford of StarMetro Calgary, a spokesperson for Calgary EMS said that “one of the three is critical, one is in serious, potentially life-threatening condition, and one is in serious, non-life-threatening condition.”

Bellerive, 19, finished the 2017-18 season as the Hurricanes’ captain. Last summer, he went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins and earned a three-year entry-level NHL contract.

On Sunday, the Penguins issued a news release that indicated assistant general manager Bill Guerin “has spoken with Bellerive, who is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery.”

Bellerive is from North Vancouver, B.C.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. His 2017-18 season was short-circuited when he underwent shoulder surgery in December.

Alafaro, 21, has played one season with the Dinos. From Calgary, he played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice, before being traded to the Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season.


The Victoria Royals have signed D Nolan Bentham to a WHL contract. Bentham, who is from Victoria, was a first-round selection, 13th overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Bentham played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up five goals and 17 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team. . . . He is the son of John Bentham, a defenceman who had three assists in 35 games with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars in 1989-90.

——

The 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.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

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.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


In a news release following its annual general meeting in Vancouver last week, the WHL issued a news release that included this:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to provide specifics. But anything less than a complete ban on headshots, including fighting, is a fail . . . a large fail.

If you’re wondering why, well, if you haven’t already seen it already, the always literate Ken Dryden wrote a piece for The Athletic on the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman and its stance on concussions, CTE, checks to the head, etc.

Dryden’s essay is right here and it explains it all.


Josh Lee has signed on with the MJHL’s WayWayseecappo Wolverines as associate general manager and associate coach. Lee, 28, is from Edmonton. He will work under GM/head coach Taylor Harnett with the Wolverines.

Three players hospitalized with burns after something goes wrong . . . Giants need head coach . . . Wheaties mourn death of Borotsik

MacBeth

F Roman Horák (Chilliwack, 2009-11) signed a one-year contract with the Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 16 assists in 54 games, while averaging 19:13 TOI per game. . . .

F Levi Nelson (Swift Current, 2004-08) announced his retirement through an interview in The Sheffield Star. Last season, with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), he had 16 goals and 26 assists in 55 games.


ThisThat

Two members of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and a former teammate are being treated in hospital for burns received on Saturday night.

Matt Alfaro, Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis were injured when something went awry involving a bonfire.

Lisa MacGregor of Global News reported that “sources tell Global News they were hurt in a fire in Calgary . . . and one of the players is in critical condition.”

According to a news release issued late Saturday by the Hurricanes:

“All three players are currently being treated in hospital for various injuries sustained in the incident. . . . The Hurricanes’ focus and priority is on the health of the players injured and will have no further comments at this time. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Alfaro, from Calgary, was acquired by the Hurricanes from the Kootenay Ice during the 2016-17 season. He completed his junior eligibility by scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists in 20 games with the Hurricanes. In 263 regular-season games, 243 of them with the Ice, he had 62 goals and 93 assists. Last season, he had three goals and nine assists in 26 games with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive, a 19-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., is the Hurricanes’ captain. Last season, he had 46 goals and 46 assists in 71 games, and was named to the Eastern Conference’s second all-star team. In 206 regular-season games, he has 84 goals and 100 assists.

Bellerive, who wasn’t selected in an NHL draft, signed a three-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh after attending training camp with the Penguins prior to last season.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. In 162 regular-season games, all with the Hurricanes, he has 30 goals and 37 assists. Last season, he was limited by injuries to 19 games, and he finished with 11 goals and eight assists. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in early December and was hoping to be completely for his final junior season.


The Vancouver Giants fired head coach Jason McKee on Friday, making the announcement in a late-day three-paragraph news release.

McKee spent two seasons with the Giants, missing the playoffs in 2016-17, with a 20-46-6 record, and making the playoffs in 2017-18, at 36-27-9, good for third in the B.C. Division, Vancouver12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets and three behind the Victoria Royals. The Giants lost a seven-game series to the Royals in the first round of the playoffs.

Barclay Parneta, who is into his first year as the Giants’ general manager, pulled the trigger on McKee, who had one year left on his contract.

According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, Parneta said: “For me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

A couple of free-agent coaches with whom Parneta has at least some familiarity are Serge Lajoie and Brian Pellerin.

Lajoie just finished a three-year stint as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, guiding them to the 2017-18 Canadian championship. He took over the Golden Bears when Ian Herbers took a sabbatical to work as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. They chose to release Herbers after last season, and he has returned to the Golden Bears.

Parneta was the Tri-City Americans’ assistant general manager before signing with the Giants. The Americans selected Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft and also signed him, all on Parneta’s watch.

Pellerin, who played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders, has been the associate coach with the Americans for four seasons. He also spent four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.

In between Portland and Tri-City, he coach with the Central league’s Amarillo Gorillas, the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

The Giants join the Kamloops Blazers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos as teams in search of a head coach.

You would think McKee, 39, would be of interest to the Oil Kings. From Lloydminster, Alta., he spent 10 seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints, the last six as general manager and head coach, before joining the Giants. Under McKee, the Saints won three AJHL titles in six seasons and he twice was the league’s coach of the year

The Oil Kings are looking for a head coach after firing head coach Steve Hamilton after four seasons on May 29. Hamilton had been an assistant coach for four seasons before moving up to head coach.

Of course, the Oil Kings also need a general manager, having parted company with Randy Hansch at the same time.

Ewen’s complete piece on McKee’s firing by the Giants is right here.


Jack Borotsik, who played two season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on June 8 at BrandonWKregularthe Brandon Regional Health Centre. He was 68. . . . Borotsik, who was from Brandon, played two seasons (1967-69) with the Wheat Kings when the WHL was the Western Canada Hockey League. He totalled 60 goals and 98 assists in 119 regular-season games. He got into one NHL game, that with the St. Louis Blues in 1974-75. . . . The family has asked that donations in his memory be made to a charity of one’s own choice. . . . In November 2016, Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun featured Borotsik in one of his stories on past Wheat Kings. That story is right here.


Myles Cathcart has resigned as general manager of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Cathcart, who had been in the position for seven seasons, left after the organization decided to charge each of its players a “travel fee” of $267 per month. “It’s just my philosophical view that junior hockey should be different than AAA (midget),” Cathcart told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “I’m not mad, I just decided that it would be a good time for somebody to put their stamp on whatever they wanted to do. I’m not leaving on bad terms, I just didn’t want to do it.” . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


TheCoachingGame

Phil Roy is the new general manager and head coach of the junior A Notre Dame Hounds, an SJHL team that plays out of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Roy had been an assistant coach with the Clarkson U Golden Knights since 2011. From St. Leonard, Que., Roy takes over from Clint Mylymok, who resigned in order to sign on as GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Maryland Blackbears, an expansion team. Mylymok had been with the Hounds for four seasons.


The junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Dale Hladun, their general manager and head coach, to a three-year extension. Hladun is preparing for his fourth season with the Wranglers. Under Hladun, the Wranglers won the 2015-16 KIJHL championship, as well as the Cyclone Taylor Cup and the Keystone Cup.