Thankfully, the madness that was the WHL trading deadline has passed us by. Might I suggest that somewhere along the line some people appear to have forgotten that this is junior hockey. . . . Is it not completely absurd to be moving around 15- and 16-year-olds, some of whom haven’t even had a taste of the WHL?
Just putting this out there, but when the Regina Pats lost 4-3 in OT to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings last night they had four players — D Josh Mahura, F Nick Henry, F Robbie Holmes and D Liam Schioler — in the lineup who played in Game 6 of last spring’s WHL championship final. F Jake Leschyshyn, who played last night, missed last season’s playoffs with a knee injury. F Sam Steel, who didn’t play last night, is resting after playing for Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. . . . The Pats made seven trades after the Christmas break. . . . This is what you call a massive makeover.
The biggest winners at the WHL trade deadline? How about the folks who recruit for NCAA hockey teams? Hey, with the whacky WHL schedule and teams combining to move 110 players and 77 bantam draft picks since Nov. 13, you have to think NCAA recruiters are fine-tuning their sales pitches.
It didn’t used to be this way, you know. There was a time when players and draft picks didn’t fly around like snowflakes at the WHL trade deadline. Asked what changed, one GM told Taking Note: “Greed. It’s all about the money now. You can’t build a team anymore.”
One thing to keep in mind after all that has gone on in the last while is this: At the end, only one team can win.
The way I see it, there are four legitimate championship contenders in the WHL right now. My rankings look like this: 1. Portland; 2. Moose Jaw; 3. Everett; 4. Swift Current. . . . For the fans of the other 18 teams, well, the WHL is sorry but there’s always next season.
I would say that Tri-City and Kelowna are close, and I really like Vancouver as a dark horse. But they aren’t quite there. The Americans? They need to get their key guys healthy, something they haven’t been able to do for most of two seasons now.
Thanks to eliteprospects.com, a site that is invaluable during a hockey season, but even moreso with a trade deadline approaching.
Peter Anholt gets it. He really does. On Tuesday morning, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes traded two players — G Stuart Skinner and F Giorgio Estephan — who have been cornerstones of that franchise. Later that night, after the Hurricanes scored a 5-4 OT victory over the Red Deer Rebels, Anholt met with fans to explain the trade and to answer any questions they might have.
All those players who left Regina over the past while? Here’s hoping their parents didn’t purchase Memorial Cup tickets and make travel plans.
F Jared Aulin (Kamloops, 1997-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Rapperswil (Switzerland, NL B). This season, he has 10 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. He leads his team in assists and points; he is fourth in the league’s scoring race and second in assists.
A LITTLE OF THIS …
Scott Burt, an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs, will have his number (12) retired by the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on Feb. 3 when they entertain the Utah Grizzlies. Burt played 403 games with the Steelheads over seven seasons (2000-07). Burt is second in Steelheads history in games played (403), third in goals (111) and third in points (250). He played on two ECHL-championship clubs. . . . Burt, now 40, played four seasons (1994-98) in the WHL, making stops with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels.
The Swift Current Broncos have dropped F Logan Foster, 18, from their roster. He has joined the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. From Kamsack, Sask., Foster had one assist in seven games with the Spokane Chiefs last season. This season, he had two goals and an assist in 22 games with the Broncos. The Chiefs selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 bantam draft.
The Red Deer Rebels have dropped D Sam Pouliot, 17, from their roster. He is expected to join the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. He had one goal in 12 games with the Rebels. A native of Ottawa who now calls North Vancouver, B.C., home, he is an undrafted list player who was in his first WHL season.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Jaxon Steele, 17, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He was pointless in 17 games with the Tigers.
THE COACHING GAME …
KABOOM! The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a two-season contract extension that contains an option on a third season. . . . Stuart is a former Dynamiters player. From Calgary, he is in his second season on the bench. This season, the Dynamiters are 27-6-1-1 (one OTL and one tie) and lead the overall standings by a point over the Nelson Leafs.
At Moose Jaw, F Tristan Langan scored four goals, including three in a row in the first period, to lead the Warriors to an 8-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Moose Jaw (34-6-3) has points in nine straight games (8-0-1) and leads the overall standings by 10 points over Swift Current. . . . Calgary (13-23-6) had lost two in a row. . . . F Jakob Stukel gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 4:22 of the first period. . . . The Warriors scored the next six goals. . . . Langan, who has 12 goals, scored at 7:42, 14:12 and 19:36 of the first period. His fourth goal, at 8:08 of the second period, gave the home side a 6-1 lead. . . . F Justin Almeida (25), F Brecon Wood (2), F Tyler Smithies, with his first WHL goal, and F Tate Popple (5) also scored for Moose Jaw. . . . Stukel, who has 20 goals, scored twice, the second one coming on a third-period penalty shot. . . . F Carson Focht also scored for Calgary. . . . The Warriors got three assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot and Jayden Halbgewachs, with D Dmitri Zaitsev getting two and Smithies one. . . . The Warriors were 2-4 on the PP; the Hitmen were 1-3. . . . The Warriors got 17 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . Calgary starter Nick Schneider gave up six goals on 22 shots in 28:08. Matthew Armitage came on to stop 10 of 12 shots in 31:52. . . . Announced attendance: 3,048.
At Regina, F Brett Kemp scored at 1:40 of OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the Pats. . . . The Oil Kings (12-24-6) have won two in a row. . . . The Pats (21-19-4) have points in two straight (1-0-1) and hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Saskatoon. . . . One night earlier, Kemp, who has 11 goals, scored at 2:06 of OT to give Edmonton a 3-2 victory in Brandon. . . . Last night, F Robbie Holmes gave Regina a 2-0 lead before the first period was half over. Holmes, who has 12 goals, scored at 4:37 and 9:59. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (18) got Edmonton’s first goal, at 12:12. . . . The Oil Kings took a 3-2 lead on two goals from F Colton Kehler, at 1:07 of the second period and 1:13 of the third. . . . The Pats forced OT when F Matt Bradley (26) scored at 14:25. . . . Fix-Wolansky also had an assist. . . . F Austin Pratt drew two assists for Regina and Bradley had one. . . . The Pats were 0-2 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 33 shots for Edmonton, four more than Regina’s Ryan Kubic, who was acquired earlier in the day from the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Cam Hebig, who went to Regina in the same deal, didn’t play. . . . D Libor Hajek, who came over from Saskatoon on Tuesday, made his Regina debut. F Jesse Gabrielle, who was acquired from Prince George, also was in Regina’s lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.
At Saskatoon, F Bryan Lockner scored in his Medicine Hat debut as the Tigers beat the Blades, 3-2. . . . Medicine Hat (23-16-3) leads the Central Division by 10 points over Lethbridge and Kootenay. . . . Saskatoon (22-18-3) has lost two in a row and now holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Prince Albert.. . . . The Blades actually acquired Lockner from the Regina Pats on Wednesday morning, then flipped him to Medicine Hat in a deal that brought F Max Gerlach to Saskatoon. Gerlach made his Saskatoon debut and had an assist. . . . The Tigers opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Gary Haden (11), at 1:57, and Lockner (8), at 6:00. . . . F Braylon Shmyr (22) pulled the Blades to within a goal at 17:39. . . . D David Quenneville (18) gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead at 12:31 of the third period. . . . The Blades got to within a goal when F Chase Wouters (11) scored at 19:45. . . . Quenneville also had an assist, as did F Elijah Brown, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. . . . Wouters had an assist for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were 0-2 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-4. . . . G Jordan Hollett earned the victory with 31 saves, 12 fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . Maier was backed up by Tyler Brown, who was acquired from Regina earlier in the day. . . . F Ryan Jevne was back in Medicine Hat’s lineup after serving a three-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 2,709.
At Prince George, F Josh Maser scored four goals, the last one coming in OT, as the Cougars beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Prince George (16-19-7) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). The Cougars are tied with Kamloops, six points out of a wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver (24-14-6) is 7-0-1 in its past eight games. It went 4-0-1 on a five-game road trip that ended with this game. The Giants are second in the Western Conference, one point behind Kelowna. . . . One night earlier, the Giants had beaten the host Cougars, 5-1. . . . Last night, seven goals were scored and they all came from two players, as F Ty Ronning had all three Vancouver goals. . . . Ronning, who has 39 goals, scored the game’s first two goals, at 10:16 of the first period and 7:53 of the second. . . . Maser, who now has 20 goals, gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead with goals at 9:17 of the second and 0:08 and 17:35 of the third. . . . The Giants forced OT when Ronning completed his hat trick with 29.9 seconds left in the third. . . . Master won it at 2:49 of OT. . . . The Cougars got two assists from F Josh Curtis. . . . Vancouver was 0-2 on the PP; Prince George was 0-3. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 27 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Giants got 33 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . The Giants had traded G Todd Scott to Edmonton earlier in the day, a move that left them without a backup goaltender. Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen reports that Cougars G Isaiah DiLaura was on the lineup sheet as the Giants’ backup “and would have been called into service” had Tendeck been injured. . . . D Darian Skeoch was among Vancouver’s scratches. He had played in Tuesday’s victory. . . . Announced attendance: 2,495.
At Everett, G Dustin Wolf turned aside 29 shots to lead the Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett (25-16-2) has won two in a row and leads the U.S. Division by a point over Portland. . . . Tri-City (22-13-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland and three ahead of Seattle. . . Wolf, 16, has been starting for Everett in the absence of Carter Hart, who won gold with Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. Wolf now is 9-5-0, 2.17, .933, with three shutouts. . . . Hart is expected to return Saturday in Spokane. . . . The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Connor Dewar and D Kevin Davis. . . . Dewar, who has 18 goals, scored the game’s first and fourth goals, at 5:27 of the first period and 8:35 of the third, on a PP. . . . Davis made it 2-0 while shorthanded at 10:41 of the second period, then added his sixth goal at 4:35 of the third. . . . F Matt Fonteyne had two assists, and Davis had one. . . . Everett was 1-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-3. . . . G Patrick Dea started for Tri-City and allowed four goals on 51 shots in 50:05. Beck Warm finished up by stopping all six shots he faced in 9:55. . . . Tri-City F Max James was handed a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Everett F Matt Fonteyne at 7:24 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala, both acquired Sunday from Kamloops, made their Everett debuts. Vala had a game-high 11 shots on goal. . . . The Americans were without D Jake Bean, who is expected to make his debut on Friday against Portland, and F Morgan Geekie, F Kyle Olson, D Juuso Valimaki and F Michael Rasmussen, all of whom are hurt. . . . Announced attendance: 2,997.
At Kelowna, F Kyle Topping score two goals and added an assist to help the Rockets to a 7-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (26-12-3) has won two in a row and leads the Western Conference by a point over Vancouver. . . . Spokane (21-18-3) has lost three straight. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Topping, who has 17 goals, got the scoring started at 5:14 of the first period. . . . D Kaedan Korczak’s first WHL goal made it 2-0 at 14:57. . . . The Chiefs followed that with three straight goals, from D Jeff Faith (4), at 18:27; D Tyson Helgesen (6), at 0:19 of the second period; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (23), on a PP, at 2:11. . . . The Rockets erased the deficit and took a 5-3 lead as F Nolan Foote (12) scored at 3:37, D Cal Foote (7) counted, on a PP, at 14:20, and D Braydyn Chizen (4) added another at 7:53 of the third period. . . . F Zach Fischer (19), who also had an assist, pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 15:41. . . . The Rocket put it away as Topping scored at 18:06 and F Kole Lind added his 21st goal at 18:55. . . . The Rockets got three assists from F Carsen Twarynski, with Lind, Topping and Nolan Foote adding one each. . . . Kelowna was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 1-3. . . . G Roman Basran started for Kelowna but was shaken up and left at 5:53 of the first period. He stopped all five shots he faced. James Porter Jr. finished up, stopping 23 of 27 shots in 54:07. . . . The Chiefs got 18 stops from G Donovan Buskey. . . . Spokane again had Campbell Arnold, 15, backing up Buskey with Dawson Weatherill scratched again. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.
THURSDAY (all times local):
No Games Scheduled.
FRIDAY (all times local):
Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Regina, 7 p.m.
Calgary at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Lethbridge at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Prince George at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.