It was a gay day for Luke Prokop . . . OHL implements mandatory vaccination policy . . . Giants add two from T-Birds

Kamloops


D Luke Prokop of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen became the answer to a trivia question on Monday. But what he did to gain this status was anything but trivial.

Prokop, 19, revealed on social media that he is gay.

“While the past year and a half has been crazy,” he wrote, “it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am.

“Today, I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prokop, was selected by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He signed a three-year entry-level contract in December. A native of Edmonton, Prokop is preparing for his fourth full season with the Hitmen, who picked him seventh overall in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.

Prokop, an alternate captain in 2020-21, played 14 games with Calgary in 2017-18, before becoming a regular in 2018-19. In 150 regular-season games, he has seven goals and 34 assists.

The response to Prokop’s becoming the first player under NHL contract and the first WHL player to come out as gay was quick, large in volume and supportive.

If you were on social media at any point on Monday, you will have seen a steady stream of messages.

His mother tweeted her love and support, while his brother, Josh, who completed his junior career last season as Calgary’s captain, tweeted: “Words cannot describe how proud I am of you each and every day. The amount of strength and courage you have displayed is truly remarkable. Being able to play hockey with you is just a bonus on top of being your brother. Love you always.”

The onslaught of tweets included this one from the Hitmen:

“We’re so proud of you, Luke. Representation matters and your courage will help so many others. We hope that future athletes won’t need to make these sort of statements & we remain committed to promoting inclusion & acceptance in our sport & supporting the LBGTQ+ community.”

“All of SMASHVILLE is behind you, Luke,” the Predators tweeted.

Here are a few others that appeared on Twitter . . .

Pittsburgh Penguins: “Thank you . . . for sharing your truth.”

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs: “Much respect & support Luke!”

Boston Bruins: “An important day for the hockey community! We’re excited to support you, Luke, as you help show that hockey truly is for everyone.”

Roman Josi, Predators captain: “We’re obviously very proud of him for taking that step. Our message as a team (is that) we’re obviously very supportive of him . . . hockey is for everyone, and I think the organization with the Predators really lives that.”

Vancouver Canucks: “It’s a big week for hockey, but no announcement will be more important than this. It’s a groundbreaking day. Thank you Luke.”

Western Hockey League: “All of us across the WHL are incredibly proud of you, Luke. Your leadership is inspiring & your courage will help so many others in the LGBTQ+ community.”

NHLPA: “NHL players commend the courage demonstrated by Luke Prokop to disclose his truth. We know the NHL hockey community will support Luke as he strives toward his goal of playing in the NHL, and we applaud the example he is setting for those in the game of hockey and beyond.”

Calgary Flames (who own the Hitmen): “When people feel empowered to be their authentic self, the world becomes a better place. Thank you, Luke, for being such an incredible representative for the Calgary Hitmen and our community. We’re so proud that you’re a member of the CSEC family.”

You cannot overstate the importance of Prokop’s decision as an active player within the hockey world. Time will tell whether others will follow suit. But I can tell you that I never thought I would see something like this in my lifetime, especially not in junior hockey.

Hopefully we now are closer to the day when an announcement like Prokop’s won’t even be a story.


Plans


Yes, the OHL is adopting a mandatory vaccination policy in time for the 2021-22 season.

In fact, that policy already is up on the OHL website for all to read.

In a letter dated July 15 and addressed to players and parents, David Branch, the OHL commissioner, wrote:

“In order to ensure a safe and healthy return to hockey this coming season, we OHLare implementing a mandatory vaccination policy to prevent against the transmission of COVID-19. Under this policy, we will require that players, along with all members of the OHL community, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide a proof of vaccination to the OHL at least two weeks prior to the start of training camps.”

Branch went on to write that the OHL believes “the vaccination of all OHL players, coaches, officials, billets and others involved in the league will provide a significant decrease in the likelihood of contacting COVID-19.”

He added: “There will be extremely high protection from developing severe illness from COVID-19 thereby enhancing player safety.”

Branch also pointed out that “teams will be able to travel across the Canada/US border and (it will) enhance other international travel for players with fewer restrictions and likely without quarantine requirements.”

As well, Branch wrote, that mandatory vaccinations will result in a “reduced requirement for COVID-19 testing throughout the season.”

The OHL’s mandatory vaccination policy that is posted on the league’s website states that it “includes individuals who attend training camp, practices, games or play in the OHL, and specifically includes all players, coaches, trainers, team and league staff, officials, volunteers, and billet families. Billet family members under the permitted age for vaccination by applicable Public Health Agencies are excluded.

“This policy is effective immediately, with due regard for the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.”

If someone in the above group chooses not to get vaccinated and isn’t able to provide documentation to substantiate their reason, the OHL will place that person “on an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of the pandemic or until such time that COVID-19 no longer poses a significant public health risk.”

If it is a player in that situation, he will be removed from his team’s roster until the pandemic ends or COVID-19 is deemed to no longer be a risk.

There hasn’t yet been reaction from the CHL, QMJHL or WHL, which would seem to indicate that this is strictly an OHL initiative.

But it’s hard to see one major junior league going ahead with this and the others not following suit.

Stay tuned . . .


KidDuck


The Kamloops Blazers say they will introduce their new general manager at a Kamloopsnews conference today (Tuesday) at 10 a.m. PT. . . . They have needed a GM since Matt Bardsley announced on May 25 that he was leaving the organization after three years. He left with three years remaining on his contract, saying that because of travel restrictions he wanted to get his family back to the U.S. They have since relocated to Portland and Bardsley has signed on with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers as an amateur scout. . . . Bardsley had worked in Portland with the Winterhawks since 1999 before joining the Blazers. . . . There has been speculation that Blades head coach Shaun Clouston will add the GM’s role to his duties. He has been the Blazers’ head coach for two seasons. Prior to signing in Kamloops, he spent 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the last seven as GM/head coach. . . . Earlier this month, the Everett Silvertips gave the GM’s title to head coach Dennis Williams and signed him to a contract extension. The Silvertips dumped general manager Garry Davidson after nine seasons, saying it was a cost-cutting move.


The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Payton Mount, 19, and D Cade McNelly, Vancouver20, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a pair of draft picks — a second-rounder in 2023 and a fifth-rounder in 2024. . . . Mount, a 5-foot-8, 180-pounder from Victoria, was the 19th overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 draft. In 140 regular-season games, he has 23 goals and 45 assists. His best season was 2019-20, when he put up 14 goals and 24 assists in 62 games. . . . The 6-foot-3, 205-pound McNelly, from Westlock, Alta., has six goals and 11 assists in 121 regular-season games. . . . The Giants finished the 2020-21 season with five other 2001-born players on their roster — F Bryce Bader, F Adam Hall, D Connor Horning, G Trent Miner and F Dallon Wilton. . . . At the same time, Seattle has two 2001-born players remaining on its roster from the end of the season — D Ryan Gottfriend and F Henrik Rybinski.


The Edmonton Oil Kings would appear to have their two import players for the Edmonton2021-22 WHL season. On Monday, they announced the signing of Slovakian F Jakub Demek, who was picked in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Last season, Demek, 18, had two assists in 10 games with HC Kosice in the Slovak Extraliga, and had six goals and 15 assists in 31 games with the country’s U-18 side. . . . Earlier, the Oil Kings announced that Czech D Simon Kubicek, who turns 20 on Dec. 19, had committed to playing for them. He was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Yegor Sidorov of Belarus, whose rights Bladeswere selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . From the Blades’ news release: “Born and raised in Vitebsk, Belarus, Sidorov spent last year playing and training under his home country’s national U17 and U18 development programs. The majority of his workload came as an underage forward in the U18 ranks, dressing in 24 games and racking up 14 points (7G-7A) along with 10 penalty minutes.” . . . Saskatoon also drafted German F Moritz Elias, 17, last month but has yet to announce his signing.


The Everett Silvertips have signed Finnish F Niko Huuhtanen, the second Everettoverall selection in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Huuhtanen, 18, is ranked 49th overall among European skaters eligible for the NHL draft that is to be held Friday and Saturday. . . . In 2020-21, he had 20 goals and 14 assists in 37 games with Tappara’s U-20 side. He also had two goals and three assists for Finland at the IIHF U-18 World championship in Texas. . . . He had signed a two-year contract with the Finnish pro team Tappara on May 19. . . . The Silvertips also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Michal Gut, 19, and Finnish D Kasper Puutio, 19, both of whom finished last season on their roster although choosing to play in Europe.



The Olympic Summer Games that are to get started this week were to have been held a year ago. Thus, they were the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

After the Games were postponed by the pandemic, organizers decided to maintain the name. So . . . the Games that are being held in 2021 actually are the 2020 Games, and they have kept the 2020 logo. . . .

BTW, the opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday but competition actually gets started today (Tuesday) with a women’s softball tripleheader — Australia vs. Japan, a 5 p.m. PT; U.S. vs. Italy, 8 p.m; and Mexico vs. Canada, 11 p.m. . . .

——

American tennis star Coco Gauff pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday Covidafter revealing that she has tested positive for COVID-19. . . . “I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she tweeted. ”It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.’’ . . .

Meanwhile, six British athletes were isolating in Tokyo after being close contacts of someone who tested positive. And the two athletes who were residents of the Olympic Village and tested positive Saturday have been identified as South African soccer players. They are believed to have had least 21 close contacts. . . . The South African team’s video analyst also tested positive. . . . As well, a men’s beach volleyball player from Czech Republic has tested positive, but hopes to be cleared in time to play on Monday. . . .



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have signed general manager/operations manager Brooks Christensen to a two-year contract extension. He joined the Silverbacks on June 2, 2017 as marketing manager. . . . The Silverbacks signed head coach Tyler Shattock to a two-year extension on June 29. From Salmon Arm, he took over as head coach during the 2019-20 season. . . . Larry Woo, 50, has joined the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. Woo, who is from Winnipeg, played two WHL seasons (1989-91) with the Victoria Cougars and Swift Current Broncos. With the Ice, he will work alongside head coach James Patrick, 58, who is preparing for his fifth season, and assistant coaches Josh Green and Byron Spriggs. Green, 43, has been an assistant there for two seasons and Spriggs, 27, is entering his second season. . . .

Former WHLer Mark Morrison has signed on as head coach the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate. Morrison, 58, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks. Prior to that, he spent six seasons as an assistant coach in the Jets’ organization, with the St. John’s IceCaps and the Moose. During a four-season WHL career, he put up 394 points, including 159 goals, in 244 regular-season games with the Victoria Cougars. With the Moose, he replaces Pascal Vincent, who left to join the Columbus Blue Jackets as an assistant coach. . . . Darryl Williams, who played 38 games with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars in 1985-86, has joined the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant coach. A coach for more than 20 years, he had been an assistant with the AHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. He will be rejoining Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault; the two spent nine seasons together with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers.


Moles

The summer of ’01: Where are the locusts? . . . SJHL keeping Chow in commish’s office . . . AJHL will look at 1-on-1 in exhibition OT

At 7:30 p.m., it was 43C in Kamloops. By 8:35, the temperature had retreated to 39C. We had hit our high at 5 p.m. — 46.4C. Hey, Jack, that’s 115.5F.

Environment Canada is calling for a high of 43C on Wednesday.

The overnight low was 24.6C at 5 a.m. You can’t even open windows and catch a fresh breeze. Our skylights are covered. The wall-to-wall windows on the east side of our kitchen are covered by vertical blinds with sheets over top of them. And still the A/C can’t keep up.

I should mention, too, that the South Thompson region, which includes Kamloops, is under a severe thunderstorm warning with the “potential for severe thunderstorms with very strong wind gusts, intense lightning and brief bursts of heavy rain.”

Did I mention there could be intense lightning?

Because the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has issued a bulletin calling for smoky skies in the South Thompson region.

“The region is being impacted or is likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours,” reads a statement that was issued Tuesday at 2:49 p.m.

Yes, wildfire season also is upon us with a vengeance. As of Tuesday evening, there are two huge blazes, one of them more than 3,700 hectares, located to the west of us. 

The last thing we need at this point in time is lightning.

In what used to be normal times, we might see 40C for a day or two in July, and the fire season didn’t really get roaring until August. Now we’ve got everything at once.

And if you haven’t heard there have been have been dozens of heat-related deaths in the Lower Mainland, and you can bet that the number will rise province-wide over the next few days.

The intense heat has sped up the snowmelt in some areas so there are flood concerns.

It seems that the only thing missing right now are the locusts. But, then, the murder hornets are said to be on their way.


As a reminder that the pandemic isn’t completely behind us, Baseball Manitoba announced Tuesday that it has cancelled all of its 2021 provincial championships. . . . From a news release: “The decision was made with the safety and development of our members as the top priority. Provincial championships create environments with large gatherings with people from across the province. Also, by cancelling provincial championships, we believe that there is more opportunity for a longer season for more players, as they compete late into summer within their regions.”


Newsflash



If anyone wants it, the title of the hardest-working person in the WHL is up for grabs for the first time in years. That’s because Rick Dillabough no longer is employed by the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun has more on Dillabough and his decision to walk away right here, and it’s great to see former owner Kelly McCrimmon singing the praises of his long-time employee and friend.


ICYMI, Bruce Springsteen was back on Broadway on Saturday night, and Peter Marks, the Washington Post’s theatre critic, was there for the district’s first full-length performance in 15 months. He wasn’t alone.

As Marks wrote, “His curation includes one of the key requirements for admission: a vaccination card. ‘It’s great,’ he remarks. ‘Unmasked, sitting next to each other.’ Bizarrely, theatergoers were greeted outside the St. James by a cadre of screaming, placard-waving anti-vaccination protesters, who feel aggrieved by the fact that the government wants to save their lives. Their rage is a bewildering counterpoint to the joy inside the theater at the freedoms the vaccines have given back to us. The demonstration is as out-of-touch as ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ feels in-touch.”



The SJHL’s board of governors and Bill Chow, the league’s commissioner, have sjhlagreed on a contract extension that will run through the 2022-23 season. Chow is preparing for his 11th season as commissioner. . . . Chow, who spent 10 seasons scouting for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was announced as SJHL president in May 2011. That was after he had retired from the Prince Albert Police Service, where he had spent almost 30 years. . . . With the SJHL, Chow took over from Laury Ryan, who had been in place for eight years.


Meat


The AJHL held its AGM on Saturday and decided on a 60-game regular season ajhlthat will have each of the 16 teams playing 16 interlocking games. The addition of the expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs brings the roster to 16 teams. . . . Interestingly, the AJHL will experiment in its exhibition season with an overtime format that will end with teams playing 1-on-1. After each exhibition game, teams will play a six-minute OT period, starting with 3-on-3. At the first whistle after the four-minute mark, it will shift to 2-on-2. And it’ll be 1-on-1 at the first whistle after the two-minute mark. If there aren’t any goals, a “best-of-three” shootout will be held. . . . The AJHL’s complete news release is right here.


Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been named to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence management group. Anholt will oversee the U-18 program. . . . Philippe Boucher, the general manager of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, will guide the U-17 program, with James Boyd, the general manager of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, doing the same for the U-20s. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


USA Hockey has invited 44 players to the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., July 24-31. None of the 44 players were on a WHL team roster in 2020-21. . . . The Showcase will feature three teams this time around, with Finland and Sweden also to appear. The event is used to evaluate players who are eligible for the 2022 IIHF World junior championship that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . USA Hockey’s camp roster is right here.


Ding


The Edmonton Oil Kings announced Tuesday that Czech D Simon Kubicek has Edmontoncommitted to play for them in 2021-22. Kubicek, who will turn 20 on Dec. 19, has played 113 regular-season WHL games, all with the Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 16 goals and 39 assists. . . . On Jan. 25, the Oil Kings acquired Kubicek from Seattle for F Vladimir Alistrov, 20, of Belarus. The teams also swapped undisclosed conditional picks in the WHL’s 2023 prospects draft. . . . Alistrov spent 2020-21 with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. . . . Kubicek played at home in 2020-21, with Motor Ceske Budejovice of the Czech ELH. He also had a goal and an assist in four games at the IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Kubicek is the lone import on the Oil Kings’ roster, with the CHL import draft scheduled for today (Wednesday).


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Kyle Schneider, 22, as their new assistant coach. Schneider, who played for the Ice Wolves as recently as 2019-20, takes over from Gaelan Patterson, now the head coach of the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . The USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints have signed Greg Brown as their head coach. He takes over from Oliver David, who now is an assistant coach with EHC Biel of the Swiss National League. Brown, 53, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Rangers. . . . The BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks have signed Tyler Shattock, their assistant GM and head coach, to a two-year extension. Shattock, 31, took over as head coach in the middle of the 2019-20 season. From Salmon Arm, he has been with the team since signing on as an assistant coach in October 2018. . . . Simon Ferguson now is the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. He has signed a three-year deal that runs through June 2024. Ferguson took over as interim head coach in January 2020, not long after the franchise changed hands. The interim part of his title was dropped in March 2020. His staff includes assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel, Josh Gorges, assistant coach and player development director, goaltending coach Chad Carter and athletic therapist Michael Bois.


Open

Hey, Silvertips, does Wolf give up goals in practice? Three games. Three wins. Three shutouts . . . Stankowski adding new chapter to career

Silvertips
Goaltender Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips has his eyes on the prize during a 3-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday night. Wolf has gone the distance in each of Everett’s three games and has yet to surrender even one goal. (Photo: Chris Mast/mastimages.com)

G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips put up his third straight shutout on Wednesday night, stopping 30 shots in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Tri-City EverettAmericans. . . . The Silvertips are 3-0-0 this season, with Wolf yet to allow even one goal. . . . If you’re wondering, Chris Worthy of the Flin Flon Bombers posted four straight shutouts in 1967-68, and that’s the WHL record. . . . Wolf now has 23 career shutouts, three off the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 179 games, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 190 games, 2013-18). Wolf now has appeared in 130 games. . . . Wolf, a seventh-round pick by the Calgary Flames in the NHL’s 2019 draft, has stopped all 70 shots he has faced this season, having earlier blanked the Spokane Chiefs, 2-0, and the Americans, 7-0. . . . Wolf lowered his career GAA to 1.82, second to the 1.73 of Kelly Guard (Kelowna, 115 games, 2002-04). . . . The Silvertips are next scheduled to play Friday against the host Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings were without D Braden Schneider as they dumped the Moose Jaw Warriors 8-2 in the Regina hub. Schneider was injured in the second period of a 6-4 loss to the Saskatoon Blades when his right knee appeared to get twisted underneath him in a collision. Last night, the Wheat Kings, who were 5-for-7 on the PP, got two goals and an assist from F Jake Chiasson, a goal and two helpers from F Nate Danielson, and three assists from each of F Ridly Greig and D Rylan Thiessen. . . . The New York Rangers selected Schneider with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. They have signed him to an NHL contract. . . . 

The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Swift BladesCurrent Broncos, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . F Tristen Robins got the winner just 29 seconds into OT. That was his second goal of the game and fifth of the season. . . . Saskatoon D Aidan De La Gorgendiere had tied the scored with 42.8 seconds left in the third period. . . . F Josh Filmon’s first WHL goal gave the Broncos (1-5-1) a 5-3 lead at 12:01 of the third period. . . . F Blake Stevenson scored for Saskatoon at 16:31. . . . G Nolan Maier picked up his 84th career victory and now is one away from the franchise’s career record (Tim Cheveldae, 1985-88). Cheveldae spent six seasons (2013-19) as the Blades’ goaltending coach. . . . The Blades now are 6-0-1. Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Blades, reports that the franchise’s best seven-game start (6-0-1, with the 1 being a tie) came in 1985-86. The 1975-76 Blades, Lazaruk tweeted, won their first six games before dropping a 7-3 decision to the Kamloops Chiefs.


Sheep 2
It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon and a couple of old guys are strolling along Shuswap Road east of Kamloops. One of their pals was just over the edge of the road. The other three regulars weren’t anywhere in sight.

Tim Peel, the former NHL referee, really didn’t give the league any choice when he spoke out loud without realizing his mic was live.

After saying what he said, the NHL, I suppose, had no choice but to bring a nhl2premature end to his career.

But I would suggest that the NHL really over-reacted.

Peel, who worked more than 1,400 regular-season and playoff games during his NHL career, was doing a game between the Detroit Red Wings and host Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. Early on, with his mic live, he uttered these words: “It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a f—— penalty against Nashville early in the . . .“ The mic got cut off at that point, so the rest of the sentence went unheard.

Just before that, Peel had given F Viktor Arvidsson of the Predators a minor penalty for tripping.

So the guy said the quiet part out loud. What’s the big deal? And don’t try to tell me that this is about gambling or the integrity of the game. After all, this is a league that hides player injuries more than any of the other big four sports. This is a league that doesn’t put any pressure on a coach to name his starting goaltender. So let’s forget the gambling/integrity part of it.

Simply put, this was a case of the NHL over-reacting.

Peel, 54, was scheduled to work his last game on April 24, after which he planned to skate off into the sunset.

So why couldn’t the NHL bring him in behind closed doors, slap him on the wrist, tell him to take a few days off, like maybe three weeks, and then have him work that final game?

What would have been the harm in that?

Instead, the NHL chose to scapegoat a veteran referee, and for what?

Because if you think Peel’s misstep is going to result in a change to the way NHL games are officiated, well, that’s just not going to happen.

Referees will continue to watch defencemen cross-check forwards into submission in the defensive zone, and the standard of officiating will change in the playoffs.

Besides . . . if it wasn’t like that what would we have to complain about?


There was an interesting goaltending matchup in the NHL on Wednesday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins dumped the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 5-2. Tristan Jarry, who earned the victory, backstopped the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings to the 2014 Memorial Cup title; Dustin Tokarski, who was in goal for the Sabres, won the 2008 Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . According to Jay Stewart (@jaystewie), the Chiefs’ vice-president of business operations: “From what I can tell, this is the first time since Feb. 13, 2002, that goaltenders who won Memorial Cups in the WHL played in the same NHL game.” Stewart’s research shows that Trevor Kidd, who won with Spokane in 1998, played for the Florida Panthers against Steve Passmore and the Chicago Blackhawks. Passmore won the 1994 Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers.


There always are a lot of good stories in and around a hockey season. I don’t think there was a better story to the WHL’s 2016-17 season than G Carl Stankowski, then of the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Back then, the Calgary native was a 16-year-old freshman who got into only seven regular-season games. But then G Rylan Toth, 20, was injured. Toth had played in 58 games, going 36-18-1, so there wasn’t any doubt about who was No. 1. But now he couldn’t answer the bell and the torch was passed — GULP! — to Stankowski. All the kid did was go 16-2-2, 2.50, .911 in leading the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship. . . . Since then, he has dealt with some serious health issues that he now hopes he has learned to handle as he plays with the Winnipeg Ice in the Regina hub. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post caught up with Stankowski this week and his column is right here.



How are things in B.C.? Thanks for asking. . . . Here are Wednesday’s numbers, thanks to Janet Brown of CKNW: “716 new cases, 383 Fraser Health, 303 hospital (-11), 85 ICU (+2), 3 deaths, 71 new variant cases for total 1,581, 148 active.” . . . That’s right, 716 newbies. But, hey, they’re only numbers, so party on, Garth!


Jesus


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: Kierra Lentz is the new director of marketing for the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. From Salmon Arm, she recently graduated with a diploma in broadcasting from SAIT in Calgary. . . . The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers have named Tyler King as their assistant general manager of business operations. According to a news release, King “will oversee the Oilers’ day-to-day off-ice operations, reporting to the organization’s board of directors as well as head coach and general manager Tyler Deis.” He was the Brooks Bandits’ business manager from 2017-19, during which time they play host to the 2019 national junior A championship. He also spent 14 months with Hockey Canada as logistics manager for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship that was held in the Edmonton bubble.


Morons

WHL dumps Jan. 8 start date; all will be quiet for next month . . . How/why did we start to normalize the numbers? . . . USTA out of Frisco Bowl, into First Responder Bowl

There won’t be many of us doing this over the next 10 days, but here’s a Christmas song that I really, really enjoy . . .


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the WHL for doing the right thing in not only whlscrubbing its Jan. 8 start date, but also for not coming up with another proposed start date.

The 22-team league, which has teams in four provinces and two states, announced Tuesday that “with public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on Jan. 8.”

This decision was made, according to a statement, “following further consultation with regional health authorities.”

What’s next for the WHL? According to the statement, its board of governors ”will meet in January to consider potential start dates.”


If you stop by here on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I didn’t post anything, not even a COVID-19 update, on Monday.

Well, I did edit a Mondays With Murray piece and posted that, but that was it.

CovidI actually started to put together a regular week-day piece, but I found that as I pulled in the COVID-19 numbers I only got more and more frustrated. No matter how you look at the numbers, there really isn’t an end in sight.

Yes, one vaccine is here and more are on the way. But it’s not a magic elixir that is going to make things better overnight. Yes, we are going to need still more patience.

Earlier on Monday, I had spoken with the owner of a small business in Kamloops and he, like me, figures we’re in this until the summer months get here. Even though it didn’t have to be that way.

And then I spoke with a friend in Regina, who told me about the clown show that hit Regina on Sunday in which the two lead clowns weren’t even from Regina. We talked, too, about the restrictions that are coming to Saskatchewan. It was, we agreed, like in so many other Canadian jurisdictions, too little, too late. And, we agreed, it didn’t have to be like this. If only the politicians had acted sooner, we agreed.

But, still, I was going to write something. I was going to cobble something together and get it on the site.

But then . . .

I had been told on Friday about a B.C. junior hockey team whose 19- and 20-year-olds had skated together that day. If, indeed, that happened it would have been in direct contravention of restrictions that had been put in place by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier in the month, one that prohibited such players from participating in indoor or outdoor sports.

On Monday, as I was getting my thoughts together, I got another text, this one informing me that same team had held a “full team practice” earlier in the day. As the source put it: “Other teams have gone home and they are practising!”

And then I saw the ‘woe is me’ piece that the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers — who aren’t the team referred to above — posted on their website. Well . . . that was enough to shut down my brain and open John Grisham’s latest novel.

At one point, Clippers owner Wes Mussio is quoted (on the Clippers’ website, not in the Grisham book):

“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining. I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”

Nowhere in the Clippers’ statement is there even one word about the safety of their community, or even a mention of families who have lost loved ones, or anything about people in hospitals. Nothing about healthcare workers. Nada about teachers. Retail workers? Forget it.

Nowhere is there anything about using these times as a teaching moment. Nothing about accountability. Nothing about being socially responsible. Not a word about trying to keep a community safe. Crickets about what the players can take out of living through this kind of adversity and having to deal with it.

In the meantime, the Canadian death toll from this pandemic reached 13,659 on Tuesday. The number of positive cases went over 475,000, an increase of 6,733 in the previous 24 hours.

At the same time, there have been 42,943 positive cases in B.C., and 647 deaths.

BCHL rosters include a number of American players. There have been 16.8 million positive cases and 304,000 deaths in their country.

But somehow we seem to have normalized all of this. Somehow these numbers have become just that — numbers.

How did that happen? By now most of us know someone who is or was ill, or someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, someone whose Christmas dinner table will have an empty space. We’ve read the stories about those families, or about the long-termers, those people who had the virus, some of them months ago, and continue to suffer. So how do so many people either ignore what’s going on or pretend it isn’t happening?

Perhaps some of them get their cues from what is going on in the U.S., especially in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA basketball and football, where the risk seems to be looked upon as though a positive test is nothing more than a mosquito bite.

Look, as much as I want to see junior hockey players back on the ice, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen until the numbers come down . . . way down. The virus will decide when junior hockey returns.

Having been around junior hockey for the better part of 50 years now, I fully understand the role it plays in so many communities. And I know how much it means to young players to be on the ice, all the while trying to carve out their future. But to suggest that it is an essential service or that the mental health of “many” fans is “declining”  because it is missing in action. . . please, get a grip.

Oh, and wear a mask!



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba reports 272 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the 7-day average up slightly to 309. There are also 9 more deaths being attributed to the virus, raising the province’s death toll to 508.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 194 new COVID-19 cases; it’s the 1st time in a week the daily total has been below 200. 7 additional deaths are also attributed to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,341 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. There are 742 people in hospital and 137 in ICU, both an all time high for the province.

CBC News: Health-care worker becomes first in B.C. to receive COVID-19 vaccine as province reports 522 new coronavirus cases and 21 more deaths. . . . A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna B.C. has grown to 60 confirmed cases. Large number of people in shared homes and social gatherings to blame for spread, says Interior Health.

CBC News: Ontario reports 2,275 new COVID-19 cases, the 1st time the province has had more than 2,000. It pushes the 7-day average to 1,926. (Note: The health minister’s office says today’s number may be higher due to a change in the way data are tabulated.) . . . Changes to how Public Health Ont. collects, analyzes cases mean today’s figure has 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the number — but by how much not yet clear. 20 more deaths, 39,600 tests completed. . . . Hospitals across Ontario have been ordered to brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients. A memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately.

CBC News: 1,741 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, health authorities say. That nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 1,790. 39 additional deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Quebec looking to use Christmas break as way to slow down surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. Schools, offices, non-essential businesses to close until Jan. 11 to help curb spread of 2nd wave.

Klamath Alerts: COVID-19 has claimed 54 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,214 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,129 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 96,092.

Seattle P-I: The number of confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday climbed to 205,069, including 2,953 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of Monday, there were 54,849 cases in King County according to King County Public Health’s dashboard. That included 948 deaths.

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The BC Senior Games Society has postponed the 2021 55+ BC Games that were to have been held in Victoria, from Sept. 14-18. Those Games will be moved to the fall of 2022 and be held in Victoria. The 2022 Games that were to have been held in Abbotsford now will be there in 2023. . . .

For the period Dec. 6-12, the NFL announced that it had 14 players and 31 staff members test positive. . . . During that time, 41,857 gets were given to 6,960 players and personnel. . . .

The Seattle Seahawks announced that “as case counts . . . remain high in Washington state, we will continue to play without fans in attendance at our final regular-season home game on Dec. 27 vs. the L.A. Rams.” . . .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, played kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known if they will be out for Sunday’s game. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders will be without WR Henry Ruggs III on Thursday when they meet the Los Angeles Chargers. He went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

The Winter X Games are scheduled to go ahead as planned, running from Jan. 29-31 in Aspen, Colo., but there won’t be any fans in attendance. The Games are operated by ESPN. . . .

Vanderbilt won’t be playing at the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the Commodores are dealing with an outbreak. That means the career of Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller is over after two games. The first woman to play in a Power Five game kicked two extra points in her second game on Saturday against Tennessee. . . .

The first bowl game of the Christmas season was schedule for Saturday between SMU and the U of Texas at San Antonio. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, was cancelled on Tuesday because of an outbreak in the SMU program. Don’t dry for USTA, though. The Roadrunners now have accepted an invitation to play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU. An opponent has yet to be announced. . . .  SMU ended up losing three games to the virus this season. . . . Meanwhile, Michigan continues to have COVID-19 issues and has cancelled it’s Saturday game at Iowa. Michigan AD Warde Manuel said that between the virus, contact tracing and injuries the Wolverines are without more than 50 players. Michigan ended up cancelling its last three games.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

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Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

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——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


 

Scattershooting on a Monday night while awaiting the arrival of 2020 . . . Happy New Year!

Scattershooting

I can count on Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, to come through annually with a link to a column by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is the column in which Collier uses a whole bunch of words to examine the triteness of language in sports over the previous year. . . . Well, Jack came through on Monday with the link to Collier’s column in which he, for the 36th time, awards the Annual Trite Trophy. . . .

At one point, Collier writes:

“Pirates play-by-play guy Joe Block must have set the record for earliest use of If The Playoffs Started Today, coming as it did on May 21, when he said that if the playoffs started that day, the Pirates would have been in a wild-card game.

“May 21.

“On the day the playoffs actually started, the Pirates were in last place, 22 games out.”

This is fun stuff — after all, it’s not Collier’s first rodeo — and it’s all right here. Enjoy!


The Fiesta Bowl, in which the Clemson Tigers got past the Ohio State Buckeyes, 29-23, in Phoenix on Saturday night, was all that is great about U.S. college football. We can only hope that the Jan. 13 BCS final, with Clemson meeting LSU in a clash of the Tigers, is as entertaining.


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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with some observations from the 49ers’ 26-21 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday night:

“Russell Wilson’s greatest scramble this year came after Sunday’s game, as he tried to explain the Seahawks’ delay-of-game penalty. . . .

“While there has been no satisfactory explanation given for the Seahawks’ game-wrecking delay-of-game penalty, scientists have found that mental processes — specifically, quick thinking — may be impaired by overly-vigorous chewing of gum. . . .

“NFL referees and their supervisors have no earthly clue what PI is. Some of them believe it is a guy named Magnum.”


F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice cut into the middle of the ice in the offensive zone during the first period on Saturday night and F Marcus Sekundiak of the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings lowered the boom. Savoie, who will turn 16 on New Year’s Day, is listed at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds; Sekundiak, 19, is shown at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds. . . . Sekundiak wasn’t penalized for the hit, but Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote that “Sekundiak . . . was the target of payback afterwards, absorbing a number of punishing hits from Ice players.” . . . As expected, the usual sober reflection occurred on social media, with folks suggesting: (a) it was a clean hit; (b) it was a headshot; (c) the Ice should have responded by gooning Sekundiak; (d) Sekundiak should have stayed in close proximity to the unconscious Savoie; (e) there shouldn’t be a suspension; (f) a 25-game suspension would suffice . . . and on and on it goes.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the hit . . .

Sekundiak wasn’t suspended and played in Brandon’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Monday night. . . . Savoie, who I think it’s safe to assume is in concussion protocol, didn’t play in Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders on Monday night. BTW, the Ice moved atop the East Division with that victory.



With the year’s end upon us, there are more lists and awards out there than there are snowflakes in a blizzard. . . . Patti Dawn Swanson, aka the River City Renegade, has joined the club, but her list is different, a whole lot different, than the norm. Check right here to see who earns The Old Man Shouts and Waves His Fist At Clouds Cup, The Flip Flop And Don’t Tell A Lie Laurel, and The Tranna Maple Beliebers Bauble, among others. It’s all good fun, unless you’re a recipient.


“Antonio Brown is working out for the New Orleans Saints,” Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com, wrote last week. “Have to assume head coach Sean Payton is just (toying) with Roger Goodell.”

——

One more from Hough: “Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who just returned from Mar-A-Lago, says despite being voted by NHL fans as an All-Star Game captain he’ll accept a one-game suspension and miss the game to ‘listen to his body.’ So did he miss the message from his body not to go party for a few days and eat junk food with Donald?”

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Hough, again: “Melting down over a movie cameo cut by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014? With all due respect I have blueberries in my fridge with thicker skins than Trump.”


Don’t be afraid to click on the link and check out the thread . . .


ICYMI, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired Brandon West, their general manager and head coach, on Friday night. . . . Simon Ferguson was named interim head coach. He was in his second season as head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets. . . . John Murphy and Rod Hume, the Warriors’ new owners, said in a news release: “This decision is about becoming a better hockey club now and in the future.  We are charting a new course and building a new culture.” . . . The Warriors were 7-23-7 and in last place in the seven-team Interior Division at the time of the move. . . . Former owner Kim Dobranski hired West on Jan. 28. Murphy and Hume purchased the franchise in October. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks dumped general manager and head coach Scott Atkinson on Monday. Former WHLer Tyler Shattock, who had been on staff as an assistant coach/assistant GM, has taken over as interim head coach. . . . Brooks Christensen, who had been the operations manager, now is the GM. . . . Atkinson had been with the Silverbacks since June 1, 2017. Salmon Arm was 1-8-1 in its 10 games prior to the axe falling. On the season, it is 21-15-2 and third in the Interior Division.


LemonWedge


JUST NOTES: Old friend Jay Varady, the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, will be the Pacific Division head coach at the AHL’s 2020 All-Star Classic in Ontario, Calif., Jan. 26 and 27. Varady, who coached in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, is in his second season with the Roadrunners. They had the AHL’s best record (23-6-0) through 29 games, with the coaches of division leaders after 29 games named to the Classic. . . . The festive season is almost over. How do I know this? Because the leftovers are almost gone and the fridge is looking terribly bare. . . . Have to wonder if F Kobe Mohr got a bigger suitcase for Christmas? He started the season with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, lost out in the 20-year-old game and went to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, made a stop with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, was dealt to the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, lost out, again, in the 20-year-old racket, and now is back with the Dragons. And the trade deadline isn’t even here yet. . . . Pitchers and catchers report in 42 days. . . . Happy New Year, and here’s to a healthy and safe 2020!


Blades and T-Birds add forwards . . . Rebels’ Hagel gets NHL deal . . . Two goalies get first WHL victories

ThisThat

The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Zach Huber, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a Saskatoonsixth-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . This season, Huber had four goals and an assist in 14 games with the Hitmen, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 56 games as a freshman with Calgary. . . . Huber could be in the Blades lineup when they entertain the Kootenay Ice on Thursday. . . . “Zach adds some depth scoring and some grit to our lineup,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “He’s a right-handed shot and 18 years old as well, which we feel fits our needs.”


The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired F Brecon Wood, who will turn 18 on Dec. 5, Seattlefrom the Moose Jaw Warriors for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Edmonton, Wood was a seventh-round pick by the Warriors in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 91 regular-season games with Moose Jaw, he had five goals and two assists. This season, he had one goal in seven games before choosing to leave the Warriors and join the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.



The Chicago Blackhawks have signed F Brandon Hagel, 20, to a three-year entry-level Red Deercontract. Hagel is third in the WHL scoring race with 28 points, including 12 goals, in 15 games. . . . Hagel, from Morinville, Alta., wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. In 208 regular-season games, all with the Rebels, he has 205 points, 74 of them goals. . . . Hagel, who will remain with the Rebels, signed as a free agent. He was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL draft but was never signed. Prior to this season, Hagel was in the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie camp. . . . “Negotiations started a few days ago and were just kind of finalized today,” Hagel told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “It’s a dream come true. My goal was to prove (the Sabres) wrong and I think I did a pretty good job of it. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


There is a move afoot in the United States to change the process by which athletes are recruited by NCAA Division 1 schools. . . .

Here’s Matt Wellens of the Duluth, Minn., News Tribune: “Last month the NCAA Division I council introduced two recruiting proposals into the legislative process in hopes of slowing down recruiting not only in hockey, but all sports. Should the proposals pass in April, the days of verbal commitments by high school sophomores, freshmen and even eighth-graders will be a thing of the past.

“The creators behind these proposals also believe the changes will reduce the number of decommitments and maybe even bring some civility back to a recruiting environment that has become hostile in recent years as the validity of verbal commitments is questioned.”

Wellens’ complete story is right here.


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added Tyler Shattock to their staff as an assistant coach. Shattock, 28, is from Salmon Arm.  . . . He played four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and the last part of 2009-10 with the Calgary Hitmen. He won a WHL title with the Hitmen and put up seven points in four Memorial Cup games. . . . He had an eight season pro career that ended after he played last season with the EIHL’s Braehead Clan.


TUESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Kootenay Ice scored the only goals of a shootout and beat the host Swift Current KootenaynewBroncos, 2-1. . . . The Ice (5-7-3) had lost its previous two games, and now is 1-3-2 on the road. . . . The Broncos (1-14-1) have lost eight in a row. They are 0-4-1 at home. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Brett Davis scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, while both Swift Current shooters were blanked. . . . F Ethan Regnier (3) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first period. . . . Davis (6) tied it, on a PP, at 15:49 of the third. . . . The Broncos spent the first four minutes of OT on the PP after Kootenay F Jaeger White was given a double minor for slewfooting as the third period ended. . . . The Ice got 41 stops through OT from G Jesse Makaj as he posted his first WHL victory. He now is 1-3-1 this season. . . . Earlier in the day, the Broncos released D Carter Spenst, 17. He was pointless in four games. He is expected to join the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, which is where he played last season. . . . Meanwhile, the Ice added F Owen Pederson, 16, to its roster. He had 20 points, six of them goals, in 12 games with the OHA Edmonton prep team. Peterson was a fifth-round pick by the Ice in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.


The Brandon Wheat Kings erased a 3-1 deficit and went on to beat the host Prince George BrandonWKregularCougars, 5-4. . . . The Wheat Kings (7-3-5) are 1-2-2 on a seven-game road trip; they now are 1-1-1 in the B.C. Division. The trip wraps up after games in Kamloops on Friday and Kelowna on Saturday. . . . The Cougars (5-7-3) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). . . . F Josh Maser (4) gave the home side a 3-1 lead at 19:41 of the first period. . . . The Wheat Kings got second-period goals from F Connor Gutenberg (6), on a PP, F Linden McCorrister (3) and D Braden Schneider (2) for a 4-3 edge. McCorrister added two assists to his goal. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (14), who also had three assists, upped the lead to 5-4 at 10”14 of the third period. . . . Prince George got to within a goal when F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (2) scored at 11:20. Mikhalchuk also had two assists. . . . Mattheos has 25 points, including 14 goals, in 15 games. This was his fourth career four-point game. . . . Brandon got 26 saves from G Ethan Kruger as he earned his first WHL victory. He is 1-0-2 in three starts this season. . . . The Cougars started G Taylor Gauthier, but he left after being shaken up in a goal-mouth collision with three seconds left in the second period. Gauther, who stopped 23 of 27 shots. was on the bench for the third period as Isaiah DiLaura stopped 16 of 17.


D Ty Smith drew three assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsSeattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Chiefs improved to 8-4-3; the Thunderbirds now are 7-4-2. . . . F Riley Woods (10) scored two PP goals for Spokane, giving it a 2-0 lead at 7:59 of the second period and making it 3-1 at 6:20 of the third. . . . F Egor Arbuzov (1) added the empty-netter at 18:57. . . . The Chiefs got 22 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Spokane was without F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who has an undisclosed injury.


Tweetoftheday

Cranbrook group working to keep Ice . . . One more father-son head-coaching combo . . . Blades, Tigers swap veteran forwards


MacBeth

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) a signed contract for the rest of this season with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 45 games with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga).


ThisThat

The Green Bay Committee, a group in Cranbrook that is working in support of the Kootenay Ice, held something of a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

With the WHL franchise surrounded by speculation that it will be moved to Winnipeg Kootenaynewbefore another season gets here, the committee would like to sell at least 500 season tickets over the next two weeks through what it calls Reach Out, hoping that will help convince owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell to keep the team in Cranbrook.

All in attendance at the meeting received information packages and order sheets for season-ticket packages. There will be another meeting on Nov. 1.

The Ice, which plays in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, apparently has sold about 1,700 season tickets, down a couple of hundred from last season. Attendance at the home-opener, on Sept. 22, was 2,862. Since then, the announced attendances have been 2,375, 2,287, 2,133, 2,334, 2,117 and 2,042. That latter figure was from Wednesday night when the Ice scored a 4-3 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Lee Pratt, Cranbrook’s mayor, told Bradley Jones of Summit 107:

“The attendance is down and they need more people in the stands. It’s as simple as that, it’s a business. Most businesses operate, they have to get a return on their investment, and obviously with the fan support they’re getting right now, it’s not a viable operation. So they’ve got to look for some long-term sustainability and that’s what they’re doing.”

(Jones’s complete story is right here.)

Pratt also was adamant that the City of Cranbrook is committed to keeping the WHL franchise right where it is.

“We made that commitment a number of years ago and we’re standing by that commitment,” Pratt said. “We’re working with them on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do with them what we can to ensure that they are here.”

Jones also reported that the Ice has a lease that runs to 2023.

“Pratt said the City offered to become a partner and re-negotiate parts of the lease once the Ice was purchased by the new ownership group . . . in 2017,” Jones reported, “but that the re-negotiations never happened.”

According to Jones, Pratt told the meeting that he believes the lease is one of the best in the CHL.

Interestingly, Jones also reported that “the Ice (wasn’t) in attendance . . . and had no official representation at the meeting.” Nor has the Ice had anything to say on the relocation speculation, telling Summit 107 that “no comment will be given.”

Meanwhile, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Summit 107 in a statement: ”The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments. The discussions (that) take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

Late last week, Robison told the Winnipeg Free Press that “the WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

That comment came as the Free Press reported that its sources have indicated the WHL’s “long-rumoured return to Winnipeg could be only months away from coming to fruition.”

According to that report, the Ice is likely to play out of a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus as it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat facility.

On Thursday, Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press reported that Gene Muller, the U of Manitoba’s director of athletics and recreation, “was asked what his school’s attitude would be if the Ice (was) to take up residence at the aging 1,400-seat campus arena. Muller politely declined comment.”

I don’t know about you, but this all is starting to have a familiar ring to it, or do you no longer remember the Chilliwack Bruins?


Elliotte Friedman’s always-readable 31 Thoughts was posted on Thursday. He was in Winnipeg this week for Wednesday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets, and this is his 30th thought for this week:

“It is not NHL-related, but after being in Winnipeg for a couple of days, it is clear the future of WHL Kootenay and how it relates to Manitoba is a storyline that’s not going away anytime soon.”

Friedman’s complete 31 Thoughts is right here.


Yes, I knew it would happen; in fact, I hoped it would happen.

On the subject of fathers and sons who have coached in the WHL . . .

The inbox on Thursday had another reminder, this one about Mike and Hardy Sauter.

Mike, who is now 70, was the head coach of the Lethbridge Broncos in 1976-77 and then again for the front part of the 1979-80 season.

Hardy, now 47, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1989-92). He spent one season (2007-08) as an assistant coach with the Chiefs, then was the head coach for two seasons (2008-10).

So . . . the Sauters join Kelly and Brent Kisio, along with Danny and Brad Flynn, as father-son combinations who have been WHL head coaches, even if only for one game.


Medicine Hat and Saskatoon have swapped 19-year-old forwards, with Gary Haden Saskatoonmoving to the Blades and Logan Christensen heading to the Tigers. . . . Haden had been at home in Airdrie, Alta., awaiting a trade after asking for a move about two weeks ago. . . . Last season, Haden had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games. This season, he had one goal and two assists in nine games before heading home. . . . In 115 career regular-season games, Haden has 25 goals and 28 assists. . . . Haden was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Christensen, from Morden, Man., was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. In 197 career games, he has 21 goals and 37 assists. This season, he put up a goal and two assists in 13 games. . . . The Tigers visit the Regina Pats tonight, while the Blades meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are expected to have Cole Sillinger, 15, in their lineup tonight Tigers Logo Officialagainst the Pats in Regina. . . . Sillinger is from Regina; his father, Mike, was a star with the Pats before going onto a lengthy NHL career. . . . This season, Cole has five goals and 13 assists in eight games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . The Tigers selected him with the 11th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship MooseJawWarriors— will be played in Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Place, Feb. 14-23. . . . That means the Warriors will have to vacate their home arena for between two and three weeks, including setup and teardown time for the curling gang. . . . The Scotties last was held in Moose Jaw in 2015. That season, the Warriors played at home on Feb. 6 — they lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs — and then were away for three weeks, not playing at home again until Feb. 27. In the interim, they played seven road games, five of them in the B.C. Division. The Warriors went 3-3-1 in those seven games.


F Blake Stevenson of the Tri-City Americans has been suspended for three games after he took a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Wednesday night. That was for a hit on Cougars F Jackson Leppard. . . . Stevenson will miss games in Spokane, Everett and Regina, and will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 when the Americans meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . .

Kevin Acheson, who is in his first season as the WHL’s disciplinarian, now has issued 23 suspensions totalling 54 games since the regular season opened.

Last season, Richard Doerksen handed out 11 suspensions worth 30 games between the start of the season and Oct. 24. In 2016-17, in the same time period, Doerksen had issued nine suspensions for 15 games.

One would hope that WHL players soon will start getting Acheson’s message — if you’re going to do the crime, you’re going to get more time than in recent seasons.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have named Jared Crooks as their skill development and video coach. Crooks, who played five seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, had been an Alberta-based scout for the Thunderbirds.


G Matthew Armitage, who spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen, has been acquired by the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Armitage, a 19-year-old from Creston, B.C., was 3.55, .890 in 19 games with the Hitmen last season. Salmon Arm acquired his rights from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on Sunday . . . Petes trade one player, get nine draft picks . . . Goaltenders in WHL news . . . Schlenker’s movin’ on up

Scattershooting

“San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt named his newborn son August,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “in honor of his college coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido. Just be thankful the Longhorns hired Garrido instead of Oil Can Boyd.”



Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, had this analysis of a recent trade between the Green Bay Packer and Seattle Seahawks: “The Packers sent backup QB, Brent Hundley to the Seahawks where he will carry a clipboard for Russell Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers. Hundley showed last season that he might someday become a journeyman QB who will not throw up on his shoes.”



College football players are being ejected when ruled to have targeted another player’s head for a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the WHL, meanwhile, teenagers are allowed to punch each other in the face and get only major penalties.



Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, writing about the mess at Ohio State: “Read the public documents Ohio State collected in its investigation of Urban Meyer and you will never again be able to view him as anything but boneless.”

The complete column is right here. After reading it you will never look at a plucked chicken the same way again.


Surely it is only a coincidence that Chris Jones, the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator, and his Saskatchewan Roughriders are 3-0 since ridding themselves of Duron (The Distraction) Carter. Right?


Here’s Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Bottled water has an expiration date?! So what happens when it expires?”



With Air Canada and WestJet having increased the fees to check bags, perhaps it’s time people flew in the baggage compartment and the bags were strapped into the seats.


MacBeth

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) signed a one-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had three goals and five assists in 24 games with the Calgary Flames (NHL). . . .

F Ryan Hollweg (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) has been released by Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga) by mutual agreement due to “long-term health problems.” Hollweg signed a one-year extension with Plzeň in April. Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 41 games.


ThisThat

When the OHL held what it calls its priority selection — most of us call it a draft — the Peterborough Petes selected F Will Cuylle in the first round.

Cuylle, who played last season with the minor midget AAA Toronto Marlboros, and his ohlfamily had told the Petes that he wouldn’t report if they selected him. The Petes rolled the dice and took him anyway, then tried to convince him to report.

When that failed, they traded him to the Windsor Spitfires on Friday in a deal that resulted in the Petes acquiring nine draft picks. Yes, NINE!

Here are the particulars from a Petes news release:

In the deal, Peterborough acquires one first-round pick, four second-round picks, three third-round picks, and one fifth-round pick, as follows:

  • Kingston’s 2nd round pick in 2019
  • Kingston’s 3rd round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 5th round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 3rd round pick in 2021
  • Barrie’s 2nd round pick in 2022
  • Windsor’s 3rd round in 2023
  • Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024* (conditional)
  • 1st round pick (5th overall) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)
  • 2nd round pick (end of round) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)

* Should Windsor acquire a 2nd round pick in 2020 or 2021, Peterborough will receive that pick and return Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024.

The Petes also will receive the 5th overall pick and the last pick in the 2nd round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection as compensation from the Ontario Hockey League.

——

In the OHL, if a team’s first-round selection doesn’t report to training camp he is considered to be a “defected” player and the team will get a compensatory pick if it trades the player prior to Sept. 15. The drafting team also gets a second-round pick if the player in question was a top five pick.

——

With the restrictions that the WHL apparently has placed on the trading of young players, we are left to wonder if we will start to see these kinds of deals happen in the WHL.

(ICYMI, I wrote about those restrictions right here.)

When a team is loading up because it is to play host to a Memorial Cup, will it be prepared to trade away six or seven bantam draft picks in order to land a star player who just might put that team over the top?


Chris Schlenker, a former WHL player and on-ice official, has been promoted by the NHL and will be a full-time referee this season.

Schlenker, 34, worked in the AHL and NHL last season.

From Medicine Hat, he played four seasons (2001-05) in the WHL, playing two-plus seasons with the Regina Pats and one-plus with the Prince Albert Raiders.

He also spent 10 years as a member of the Medicine Hat Police Service.

There is more on Schlenker right here, from scoutingtherefs.com.


The Prince Albert Raiders have added G Donovan Buskey, 18, from the Spokane Chiefs in PrinceAlbertexchange for a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Buskey, from Vancouver, was a third-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he was 10-10-0, 3.56, .871, with one shutout, in 22 appearances with the Spokane.

Adding Buskey adds to the Raiders’ goaltending depth and could figure in the 20-year-old decision-making process as the start of the regular season grows near.

Ian Scott, 19, who will go to camp with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, is No. 1 on the depth chart. Curtis Meger, 20, and Brett Balas, 17, also are on the Raiders’ roster.

The other 20-year-olds on the roster are F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery. They also hold the WHL rights to F Noah Gregor, 20, who could end up with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. The Raiders acquired Gregor’s rights from the Victoria Royals earlier in the summer.



The Prince George Cougars will open the regular season with Isaiah DiLaura, 18, and Taylor Gauthier, 17, as their goaltenders.

Gauthier is atop the depth chart. Last season, he was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885. This summer, he PrinceGeorgeplayed with the Canadian U-18 team that won the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In fact, Gauthier, from Calgary, was the winning goaltender in the final, coming on with his side down 2-0 and stopping 16 shots as Canada beat Sweden, 6-2.

The 10th overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, Gauthier was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885 last season.

DiLaura, from Elko New Market, Minn., was 3-3-2, 3.94, .888, in 14 appearances.

The third goaltender on their roster at the moment is Tyler Brennan, a first-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft who won’t turn 15 until Sept. 27. From Winnipeg, he will return to the Rink Hockey Academy and play for the midget prep team.

Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has more right here.


Because of injuries, the Edmonton Oil Kings used five goaltenders last season as they went 22-42-8 and missed the playoffs.

This season, with exhibition games just having started, they already are down to three EdmontonOilKingsand one of those, Sebastian Cossa, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 21.

Chances are that the Oil Kings, under first-year head coach Brad Lauer, will open the regular season with Todd Scott, 18, who was acquired last season from the Vancouver Giants, and Boston Bilous, 17, a fourth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft, as their goaltenders.

Scott, from Albertville, Minn., was 4-5-0, 3.89, .883 after joining the Oil Kings last season. He had been 8-7-4, 4.11, .869 with the Giants when they sent him east.

Bilous, from Langley, B.C., got into 16 games and went 0-10-1, 4.72, .838.

Cossa, from Fort McMurray, Alta., was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, going 3.37, .915 in 19 games. In seven playoff games, he was 2.28, .943.

With the three young goaltenders, Lauer told Derek Van Diest of Postmedia that age won’t have much to do with which two make the roster.

“They’re all young, so I don’t think the age part of it comes into play,” Later said. “It’s going to be how you’re playing that comes into play. I know we’ll be good defensively and responsible so, for me, goaltending is going to be how the exhibition seasons goes and how they develop through that.”

Van Diest’s complete story is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades are down to three goaltenders after releasing Cameron Beson, 16, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta. He has been in two Blades’ training camps now, and Saskatoonhas been placed on their protected list.

Sophomore Nolan Maier, a 17-year-old from Yorkton, is the Blades’ starter after going 23-17-2, 3.31, .895 in 43 appearances last season. He spent part of his summer winning gold with Canada’s U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, going 3.12, .872 in four games.

The other two goaltenders on the roster are Dorrin Luding, 19, of Prince George, and Koen MacInnes, a 16-year-old from Burnaby, B.C.

The Blades re-acquired Luding on June 21, getting him from the Seattle Thunderbirds on June 21 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Saskatoon had selected him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Last season, Luding got into 11 games with the Everett Silvertips (3-6-0, 3.64, .891) and 17 with Seattle (6-9-1, 3.81, .881). In 30 career games, he is 9-15-1, 3.75, .886.

Saskatoon picked MacInnes in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Burnaby Winter Club’s Elite 15s, going 2.36, .926 in 17 regular-season games.

The Blades have opened the exhibition season by going 3-0-0.


The Brandon Wheat Kings, who wrapped up training camp with their intrasquad game BrandonWKregularon Sunday, also are down to three goaltenders after releasing Connor Ungar, 16.

That leaves the Wheat Kings with Ethan Kruger, Dylan Myskiw and Jiri Patera as the remaining goaltenders.

Myskiw, 19, got into 22 games with Brandon last season, going 11-5-2, 3.41, .887. He spent the season backing up Logan Thompson, who was playing out his eligibility.

Patera, 19, is from Praha, Czech Republic. He played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, after the Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract, and will leave later this week to attend the Golden Knights’ camp.

Kruger, who turns 17 on Sept. 27, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who was badly burned during an incident involving a firepit on June 15, is back home after being released from a Calgary hospital on Friday.

Vandervlis, 20, suffered burns to as much as 60 per cent of his body and spent four weeks in a medically induced coma. For the last part of his hospital stay, he was in the burn unit at Foothills Hospital.

Two other hockey players — Jordy Bellerive and Matt Alfaro — were injured in the incident that took place at the home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong near Calgary. Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, is in camp with his club. Alfaro will be going into his second season with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive scored twice, including the OT winner, as Lethbridge opened its exhibition season with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night.



The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats found themselves without a general manager and head coach earlier this week when Brad Tobin left to join the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. . . . Tobin, 29, worked as an assistant with the Eagles for six seasons (2010-16) before leaving to join the Thunder Cats. . . . In Surrey, Tobin will work alongside Peter Schaefer, who took over as head coach on Aug. 28 following the departure of Brandon West. . . . One week before Tobin handed in his resignation, the Thunder Cats lost assistant coach Carter Duffin, who left to join the KIJHL’s Castlegar Rebels. . . . Earlier, Jeff Wagner, another Creston assistant coach, joined the Fernie Ghostriders as GM and head coach. After he left, Tobin hired Duffin, who had been with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, as an assistant coach.


G Kyle Dumba, 20, had his junior A rights swapped this week when the Nanaimo Clippers acquired them from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who got back D Sam MacBean, 20. . . . Dumba, who has split 41 career regular-season WHL games between the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, is in camp with the Regina Pats. He finished last season on the Pats’ roster, but didn’t get into any regular-season games. Last season, he also got into 30 regular-season and three playoff games with Salmon Arm.


Karablog
Kara is answering the phone and taking pledges as her grandma, Dorothy Drinnan, prepares for her fifth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. (Todd Drinnan photo)

Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


Tweetoftheday

Blades forward retires . . . Royals deal for Lees . . . Giants make move on radio dial, sign draft pick


MacBeth

D Brent Regner (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Texas Stars (AHL), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 66 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Nick Walters (Everett, Brandon, Lethbridge, 2010-15) signed a tryout contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had five goals and 14 assists in 50 games. . . . Walters has applied for German citizenship and his application is under consideration by the authorities. The contract converts to a one-year contract when/if his application is approved. . . .

D Jaynen Rissling (Calgary, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in five games with the Allen Americans (ECHL); three goals and 10 assists in 36 games with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL); and three goals and 11 assists in 21 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL).


ThisThat

F Caleb Fantillo of the Saskatoon Blades announced via Twitter on Wednesday evening that he is retiring. Fantillo, 20, is from Coquitlam, B.C. Last season, he had seven goals and three assists in 38 games with the Blades. He missed time with rib and knee injuries. . . . In 88 regular-season games with the Blades, he put up 12 goals and seven assists. Before being dealt to the Blades, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Saskatoon acquired Fantillo on Oct. 13, 2016, giving up a sixth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft in the exchange. . . . He had been a sixth-round pick by the Tigers in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . According to a news release from the Blades, Fantillo “plans to get a jump start on a future career in the health and fitness industry.”


The Victoria Royals have acquired F Tyler Lees, 18, from the Saskatoon Blades for a conditional seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Lees, from Regina, had two goals and an assist in 20 games with the Blades last season. . . . Saskatoon selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 bantam draft.


The Vancouver Giants announced Thursday morning that their games will be heard on Sportsnet 650 in 2018-19. . . . According to a news release, “Sportsnet’s Vancouver-based Vancouverall-sports radio station . . . will broadcast all Vancouver Giants games live . . .” The length of the agreement wasn’t revealed. . . . Sportsnet 650 also holds the radio broadcast rights to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . Dan O’Connor will return for a second season as the radio voice of the Giants. Before joining the Giants, he was the voice of the Prince George Cougars. . . . Last season, the Giants’ rights belonged to TSN 1040. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at the arrangement between the Giants and Sportsnet 650.

Later in the day, the Giants announced the signing of F Lukas Svejkovsky, who is from Point Roberts, Wash. Svejkovsky, who will turn 17 on Nov. 23, was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he had five goals and six assists in 16 regular-season games with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. He missed a good chunk of the season with due to injury. . . . His father, Jaroslav (Yogi), played one season (1995-96) with the Tri-City Americans, putting up 58 goals and 43 assists in 70 games. He has been the Giants’ skills coach since 2006.


Two WHL players — F Jordy Bellerive of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and D Josh Brook of Canadathe Moose Jaw Warriors — have been scratched from Canada’s roster for the World Junior Showcase that is scheduled to open in Kamloops on June 28. . . . Bellerive, 19, was injured in an accident involving a bonfire last month near Calgary, while Brook, 19, may be nursing a wrist injury. He suffered a wrist injury in a rookie camp with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens prior to last season and later underwent surgery. This summer, he missed the Canadiens’ development camp with what has been reported as another wrist injury. . . . Hockey Canada also announced that F Robert Thomas, 19, of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs has been scratched. . . . The three injured players still are expected to be at the camp. . . . Added to the Canadian roster were F Liam Foudy, 18, of the OHL’s London Knights, D Markus Phillips, 19, of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, and F Akil Thomas, 18, of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs.


Tanner Cochrane of Kamloops has joined the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks as an assistant coach. Cochrane, 25, spent the previous two seasons with the major midget Thompson Blazers, who are based in Kamloops. . . . In Salmon Arm, he joins Scotty Atkinson, the general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brett Knowles.


The MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons have added Calvin Bugyik to their front office as an assistant coach. For the past two seasons, he has been an assistant coach with the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild, who have won two straight league titles. . . . In Steinbach, he will work alongside GM/head coach Paul Dyck. . . . Bugyik replaces Joey Moggach, who had been with the Pistons for two seasons. He left the club after last seasons in order to spend more time at his full-time job and with family.

Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

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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.

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.

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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.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


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