Goodbye 2017; hello 2018 . . . Royals’ Phillips get NHL deal . . . Red-hot Halbgewachs helps Warriors sweep Wheaties

HappyNewYear

Happy New Year to everyone who stops by to visit this site. May you and yours have a tremendous 2018 full of good food, good friends and safe travels.


Happy New Year to all of those members of the Vegas Golden Knights’ front office and coaching staff with ties to the WHL. Enjoy your run as part of what is perhaps the biggest story in hockey today. . . . That would be folks like Kelly McCrimmon, Murray Craven, Vaughn Karpan, Bob Lowes, Kelly Kisio, Ryan McGill, Mike Kelly, Ryan Craig, Jim McKenzie, Erin Ginnell and Bruno Campese. . . . Gentlemen, I don’t know what you will do for an encore, but here’s to a 2018 that is better for you than 2017, if that’s possible. . . .


Happy New Year to Willie Desjardins, Dave King and the rest of Team Canada as the program continues preparations for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9-25. . . . Canada won the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, taking the championship game 3-0 over Switzerland on New Year’s Eve. . . . The Canadian roster included ex-WHL players like F Curtis Hamilton, F Zach Boychuk, D Jeff Schultz, D Victor Bartley and G Barry Brust, along with video coach Tyler Dietrich and therapist Jeff Thorburn. . . . Canada will open the Winter Games against Switzerland on Feb. 15. . . . Canada is likely to announce its Olympic roster on or about Jan. 11. . . .


Happy New Year to Derek Holloway and the many bus drivers throughout junior hockey. The highways in B.C. have been a mess for much of the past two weeks, and have been no treat across the Prairies, either. No one in any profession does a better job than these drivers, who do so much to keep the teams safe.


Happy New Year to the WHL’s on-ice officials. A lot of people forget that you often are driving the same highways and byways as the afore-mentioned bus drivers. Safe travels and be careful out there. Oh, and remember that despite what your ears sometimes tell you, the fans really do love you.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals signed a three-year entry-level contract with VictoriaRoyalsthe NHL’s Calgary Flames on Sunday. . . . The Royals’ captain, Phillips, 19, is from Calgary. He was selected by the Flames in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . This season, he has 28 goals and 31 assists in 39 games. . . . In 183 regular-season games, all with the Royals, the 5-foot-7, 155-pounder has 228 points, including 116 goals. That includes last season, when he finished with 50 goals and 40 assists in 70 games. . . . How did Phillips celebrate his good news? He and his teammates were in Kamloops, where they are to meet the Blazers in a New Year’s Day matinee.


Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, set a franchise record on Saturday night in a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels.

Clouston now has 324 regular-season coaching victories with the Tigers, one more than Willie Desjardins.

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (includes games of Dec. 31):

1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 736

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 554

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

10. Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

11. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456

12. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

13. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 451

14. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 437

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

19. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

      Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


NanaimoNewsNOW has been taking a look back at the top stories in that Vancouver Island city from 2016. The staff has decided that No. 3 on the list belongs to the referendum that was held on whether the city would be allowed to borrow $80 million for a waterfront events centre. That facility was to include an arena that would be home to a WHL franchise. . . . Voter turnout was 35.3 per cent and 80 per cent of those voted against the proposal. . . . According to this piece right here, “At the meeting following referendum day, several councillors offered apologies. Coun. Jerry Hong apologized for heated social media exchanges. Others said it was the Western Hockey League applying pressure (that) led to a rushed process.” . . . Whatever the reason, this has to have been one of the biggest stories involving the WHL in 2016, if only because it delivered a crushing blow to the league’s dream of having a second franchise on Vancouver Island.


For your reading enjoyment, right here is Dave Barry of the Miami Herald with a look at the year that was 2017, especially in the American political arena. America, I don’t know how you got here from there, but, well, who better than Barry to sum it all up. Prepare two cups of copy and enjoy!


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Moose Jaw, the Warriors scored three times on the PP, needing only 24 seconds to do it, en route to a 6-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Warriors (30-6-3) have MooseJawWarriorspoints in five straight games (4-0-1). . . . The Wheat Kings (25-11-1) have lost three in a row. . . . The Warriors had beaten the host Wheat Kings, 7-4, on Saturday afternoon. . . . Moose Jaw is atop the overall standings, nine points ahead of Swift Current and 12 ahead of Brandon. . . . F Jayden Halbgewachs led the Warriors with two goals and three assists. He’s got a CHL-leading 40 goals in 39 games. F Aaron Luchuk of the Barrie Colts leads the OHL with 31 goals in 36 games, while F Alex Barre-Boulet of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada is tops in the QMJHL with 31 in 34. . . . F Brayden Burke of the Warriors had a goal and two assists, giving him a WHL-leading 77 points. . . . Burke went over 300 regular-season points during the game and now has 302 points, including 229 assists, in 214 games. . . . Halbgewachs, who has seven goals and seven assists in his past five games, gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 15:04 of the first period. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (28) pulled Brandon even at 17:56. . . . Halbgewachs put the Warriors back out front, on another PP, at 10:47 of the second period. . . . The home team went ahead 4-1 on goals from Burke (19), on a PP, at 13:39, and F Tristin Langan, shorthanded, at 1:59 of the third period. . . . F Evan Weinger (18) scored for Brandon at 5:07, but the Warriors put it away on goals from Langan (8), at 6:59, and F Tanner Jeannot (28), at 15:16. . . . F Justin Almeida had two assists for Moose Jaw, giving him six helpers in the two-game series. . . . Jeannot added an assist to his goal. . . . The Warriors were 3-6 on the PP; the Wheat Kings were 0-5. . . . Halbgewachs’ goals came 10 and six seconds into PP opportunities, and Burke’s goal took eight seconds. . . . The Warriors got 25 saves from G Brody Willms, while Brandon’s Logan Thompson stopped 38 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 4,021.


At Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans erased a 3-1 deficit with three second-period goals, en route to a 4-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Americans (20-10-TriCity305) have points in seven straight (5-0-2). They are tied for third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland with two games in hand. . . . The Chiefs (20-15-3) are two points behind the Americans. . . . The Chiefs had beaten the visiting Americans, 4-3 in OT, on Saturday night. . . . F Isaac Johnson’s ninth goal of the season, on a PP, broke a 3-3 tie at 12:44 of the second period. . . . F Riley Sawchuk had given the Americans a 1-0 lead at 12:07 of the first period. . . . The visitors moved out front 3-1 on goals from F Jake McGrew (6), at 13:09, F Eli Zummack (10), on a PP, at 13:55, and F Zach Fischer (17), at 19:03. . . . D Dylan Coghlan (12) got Tri-City to within one, on a PP, at 5:19 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (11) tied the game at 9:30. . . . F Jordan Topping recorded three assists for the winners, with F Kyle Olson getting two. Coghlan and Johnson added one each. . . . Tri-City was 2-4 on the PP; Spokane was 1-4. . . . The Americans got 43 saves from G Patrick Dea. . . . Spokane starter Dawson Weatherill allowed four goals on 13 shots in 32:44. Donovan Buskey came on in relief to stop all 13 shots he faced in 24:40. . . . Announced attendance: 6,011.


At Portland, F Noah Philp scored the WHL’s final goal of 2017. It came in a shootout and gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Seattle, the WHL’s Seattlereigning champion, improved to 18-14-5 and has points in six straight games (5-0-1). Seattle holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind Tri-City and Spokane. . . . The Winterhawks (22-12-3) have points in three straight (1-0-2) and are second in the U.S. Division, one point behind Everett with two games in hand. . . . On Saturday night, the host Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 4-3 in OT. . . . In the season series, Seattle is 2-2-0; Portland is 2-0-2. . . . These two teams will meet each other eight more times this season. . . . Last night, F Skyler McKenzie (27) gave the home side a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 2:22 of the second period. . . . Seattle took a 2-1 lead on goals 37 seconds apart from D Reece Harsch (8), at 7:31, and F Nikita Malukhin (4), at 8:08. . . . F Reece Newkirk (2) got Portland into a 2-2 tie at 14:05. . . . F Matthew Wedman gave Seattle a 3-2 lead at 16:57 of the third period. . . . Portland F Ryan Hughes (5) forced OT at 19:02. . . . Philp, Seattle’s first shooter, won it with the only goal of the shootout. . . . D Turner Ottenbreit had two assists for Seattle. . . . Portland got two assists from F Cody Glass, who returned from a one-game absence due to a leg injury. . . . Seattle was 1-3 on the PP; Portland was 1-4. . . . Seattle G Liam Hughes stopped 33 shots, six more than Portland’s Cole Kehler. . . . Announced attendance: 10,568.


MONDAY (all times local):

Swift Current at Saskatoon, 2 p.m.

Calgary at Edmonton, 2 p.m.

Victoria at Kamloops, 2 p.m.

Prince George vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 2 p.m.

Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 4 p.m.

Prince Albert at Regina, 7 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY


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Saturday in the WHL: You get OT, you get OT, you get OT . . . Clouston gets a record . . . Blades, Ice keep rolling . . . Wild one in Langley

Scoreboard

SATURDAY:

At Prince Albert, the Regina Pats, outshot 48-20, scored a 2-1 victory over the Raiders. . . . Regina (18-18-3) has won two in a row. The Pats and Saskatoon are tied for the Eastern ReginaPats100Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . The Raiders (13-17-7) have lost four straight and now are six points out of a playoff spot. . . . These teams will meet again Monday, this time in Regina. . . . Regina F Jake Leschyshyn (11) broke a 1-1 tie with a shorthanded goal, at 13:43 of the third period. . . . F Jared Legien (14) have given the Pats a 1-0 lead just 56 seconds into the first period. . . . F Curtis Miske (12) tied it 57 seconds into the second period. . . . The Raiders held a 35-12 edge in shots after two periods, but found themselves in a 1-1 tie. . . . Prince Albert was 0-9 on the PP; Regina was 0-3. . . . G Tyler Brown earned the victory with 47 saves. . . . G Curtis Meger, who is from Regina, stopped 18 shots for Prince Albert. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served Game 1 of a two-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct he incurred on Thursday against the visiting Saskatoon Blades. . . . Announced attendance: 1,943.


At Swift Current, the Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last two goals and beat the Broncos, 4-3. . . . The Blades (18-17-3) have won four in a row and are tied with Regina for Saskatoonthe Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . The Broncos (26-9-2) have lost two in a row. They are second in the overall standings, seven points behind Moose Jaw. . . . The same two teams will play Monday in Saskatoon. . . . F Josh Paterson (18) pulled the Blades into a 3-3 tie with his second goal of the game at 8:33 of the third period. . . . F Braylon Shmyr (18) go the winner, at 15:25. . . . F Cam Hebig (29) had given the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:04 of the first period. . . . The Broncos took a 2-1 lead on goals from D Colby Sissons (8), at 8:26 of the first period, and F Max Patterson (4), at 5:18 of the second. . . . Paterson got his first goal, for a 2-2 tie, at 6:03 of the third period. He’s got nine goals in the Blades’ past eight games, seven of which have been victories. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (2) got the Broncos back into a tie just 22 seconds later. . . . F Chase Wouters had two assists for the Blades, with Hebig and Shmyr each getting one. . . . F Matteo Gennaro had three assists for the Broncos, and Malenstyn had one. . . . The Blades were 2-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 0-3. . . . G Nolan Maier of the Blades earned his seventh straight victory with 29 saves. . . . G Logan Flodell stopped 28 for the Broncos. . . . D Jacson Alexander, who left the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies to sign with the Broncos over the Christmas break, made his WHL debut and drew an assist on Swift Current’s first goal. . . . Announced attendance: 2,268.


At Brandon, F Brayden Burke and F Justin Almeida enjoyed four-point outings as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Wheat Kings, 7-4, in an afternoon game that was shown on MooseJawWarriorsSportsnet. . . . These teams will meet again tonight, this time in Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors (29-6-3) have points in four straight (3-0-1) and lead the overall standings by a comfortable seven points over Swift Current. . . . The Wheat Kings (25-10-1) have lost two in a row. They had won 10 straight home games. . . . Brandon is third in the overall standings, three points behind Swift Current. . . . Burke had a goal, his 18th, into an empty net, with Almeida drawing four assists. . . . Brandon grabbed an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Gunnar Wegleitner (9), at 2:42 of the first period, and F Linden McCorrister, at 6:50. . . . The Warriors took control by scoring the next five goals, the first three in the opening period. . . . F Ryan Peckford got it started at 7:49, with F Tristin Langan (6) tying it at 15:08 as he got credit for an own goal by Brandon G Logan Thompson, who tipped in what appeared to be a pass back to him by a teammate. . . . Peckford (15) gave Moose Jaw the lead at 19:43. . . . The visitors stretched the lead to 5-2 on second-period goals from D Jett Woo (7), at 9:30, and F Jayden Halbgewachs (38), on a PP, at 13:11. . . . McCorrister (12) got the Wheat Kings to within two at 16:21, only to have F Tanner Jeannot (27) get that one back for Moose Jaw at 18:11. . . . F Evan Weinger (17) got Brandon’s last goal, at 15:29 of the third period, with Burke then getting his goal, at 19:04. . . . Halbgewachs, Peckford and Langan added an assist each for Moose Jaw. . . . D School Higson had two assists for Brandon, with Weinger getting one. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-2 on the PP; Brandon was 0-5. . . . G Brody Willms turned aside 29 shots to earn the victory over Thompson, who stopped 32 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 4,511.


At Calgary, F Mark Kastelic scored 56 seconds into OT to give the Hitmen a 3-2 victory Calgaryover the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Calgary (11-19-6) had lost four in a row (0-2-2). They are 11 points out of a playoff spot. . . . Lethbridge (16-17-3) has points in its last two games (1-0-1). The Hurricanes are third in the Central Division, three points behind Kootenay. . . . The Hurricanes took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Jordy Bellerive (20), on a PP, at 13:24, and F Egor Zudilov (5), at 18:52. . . . Calgary F Andrei Grishakov pulled his guys even with a pair of second-period goals — at 3:15 and on a PP at 7:38. He’s got 10 goals this season. . . . Kastelic won it with his 10th goal. . . . F Jakob Stukel had two assists for Calgary. . . . Calgary was 1-1 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-3. . . . The Hitmen got 40 saves from G Nick Schneider. . . . G Reece Klassen stopped 27 shots for Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes lost F Zane Franklin to an undisclosed injury late in the first period. . . . Announced attendance: 8,494.


At Edmonton, F Colton Kroeker’s second goal, 42 seconds into OT, gave the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . The Ice (18-17-2) has points in six straight games (5-0-1) EdmontonOilKingsand is second in the Central Division, four points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Oil Kings (9-22-5) have points in four straight (2-0-2) but are 16 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Ice took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Keenan Taphorn (3), at 0:21 of the first period, and Kroeker, at 3:25. . . . The Oil Kings tied it as F Davis Koch (16) scored, shorthanded, at 7:34 of the first, and F Colton Kehler (12) got one at 2:51 of the second. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (11) put the Ice out front, on a PP, at 15:29. . . . The Oil Kings pulled even again when F Tomas Soustal (10) scored at 15:42. . . . Kroeker won it with his ninth goal. . . . D Dallas Hines had two assists for the Ice, with Hausinger adding one. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky drew two assists for Edmonton. . . . The Ice was 1-4 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-3. . . . G Bailey Brkin, back after a bout of the flu, earned the victory with 24 stops. . . . G Josh Dechaine made 29 saves for Edmonton. . . . Announced attendance: 7,050.


At Medicine Hat, F Mark Rassell scored at 4:39 of OT to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach, Tigers Logo Officialnow has 324 regular-season victories with Medicine Hat, giving him the franchise record. He shared the record with Willie Desjardins, who will lead Team Canada into the Spengler Cup final today in Davos, Switzerland. . . . The Tigers (20-15-2) lead the Central Division, by four points over Kootenay. . . . The Rebels (10-19-8) have lost four in a row (0-1-3). They also have lost eight straight games that have gone to extra time. They are 12 points away from a playoff spot. . . . The Tigers took a 1-0 lead when F Gary Haden (9) scored, shorthanded, at 11:31 of the first period. . . . F River Fahey’s first WHL goal, in his 11th game, got the Rebels even at 13:08. . . . The Tigers took a 3-1 lead on goals from Rassell, at 17:29 of the first, and F Tyler Preziuso (10), at 18:59 of the second. . . . Red Deer pulled even as F Arshdeep Bains scored his first WHL goal, in his fifth game, 48 seconds into the third period and F Mason McCarty got his 18th of the season at 17:02. . . . Rassell won it with his 31st goal this season. . . . McCarty and F Grayson Pawlenchuk had two assists each for Red Deer, while Bains also had an assist. . . . Red Deer was 0-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-4. . . . G Michael Bullion stopped 23 shots for the victory. . . . The Rebels opened with G Ethan Anders, who allowed three goals on 26 shots through two periods. Riley Lamb played the final 24:31, stopping 16 of 17 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 3,361.


At Langley, B.C., F Kody McDonald’s third goal of the game, with 11.7 seconds left in OT, gave the Prince George Cougars a 7-6 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars PrinceGeorge(14-18-5) are fifth in the B.C. Division, one point behind Kamloops. . . . The Giants (19-14-5) are 1-0-1 in their past two outings. They are third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria. . . . These teams will meet again in Langley on Monday afternoon. . . . The Cougars actually led 4-0 before the game was seven minutes old, on goals from D Dennis Cholowski, F Max Kryski (2), F Josh Curtis (5) and McDonald. . . . F James Malm (14) and F Ty Ronning got the Giants to within two before the first period ended. . . . McDonald restored the three-goal lead at 3:39 of the second period. . . . The Giants then scored four straight goals to take a 6-5 lead. . . . Ronning scored twice, at 12:36 and 17:15 of the second period, for the hat trick. He’s got a single-season high 34 goals, three more than he scored in 2015-16. Ronning’s third goal last night was the 100th of his career. It came in his 253rd game. He has two hat tricks this season and four in his career. . . . D Bowen Byram (3) tied the score at 3:10 of the third period, and F Jared Dmytriw (8) put Vancouver out front at 6:45. . . . Cholowski (10) tied it with a shorthanded goal with 0.30 left on the clock. . . . McDonald won it with his 18th goal. He had a career-high 17 goals last season. He has three career hat tricks, two of them this season. . . . Cholowski also had two assists, including one on the winner, for a four-point night. . . . The Cougars also got two assists from each of F Jared Bethune, F Nic Holowko and D Joel Lakusta, with Curtis getting one. . . . F Tyler Benson recorded four assists for Vancouver, with F Brayden Watts getting two. . . . Prince George was 1-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . G Isaiah DiLaura stopped 41 shots for the Cougars to earn his first WHL victory in his sixth appearance. . . . Vancouver’s Todd Scott blocked 32 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 3,767.


At Everett, D Jake Christiansen scored twice to help the Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett (23-14-2) leads the U.S. Division by two points over EverettPortland. . . . Kamloops (16-19-2) has lost four in a row (0-3-1) and now is five points behind Seattle, which holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Everett took a 1-0 lead as F Riley Sutter (18) scored, on a PP, at 1:06 of the first period. . . . F Brodi Stuart (10) tied it for the Blazers on a PP, at 4:06. . . . Stuart was ejected at 17:31 of the first for his part in a scrap with Everett D Kyle Walker. . . . The Silvertips took over the game with two more first-period goals and two in the second. . . . D Montana Onyebuchi (3) gave Everett the lead at 7:03 of the first, with F Orrin Centazzo (6) making it 3-1 at 15:57. . . . Christiansen, who has five goals, counted twice in the second period, at 11:01 and 12:58, the latter via the PP. . . . F Jackson Shepard (4) scored for the Blazers at 13:18 of the third. . . . Centazzo also had two assists, as did F Sean Richards. . . . Everett was 2-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-3. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 29 shots for the winners. . . . G Max Palaga got the start for Kamloops, his first start since he beat host Seattle 2-1 on Dec. 2. He gave up four goals on 23 shots in 31:01. Dylan Ferguson finished up, stopping 14 of 15 shots in 28:59. . . . Announced attendance: 4,752.


At Kelowna, the Rockets ran their home-ice winning streak to 12 games with a 3-2 five-round shootout victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna (23-11-3) has won five KelownaRocketsstraight games and leads the B.C. Division by three points over Victoria. The Rockets also are atop the Western Conference, one point ahead of Everett. . . . Victoria (21-14-4) is 1-0-1 in its past two games. . . . F Leif Mattson (10), who later would score the shootout winner, gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead just 44 seconds into this one. . . . Victoria tied it when F Tyler Soy (16) scored at 3:52. . . . The Rockets went back out front on a PP goal from F Kyle Topping (14) at 6:23 of the second period. . . . The Royals forced OT when F Matthew Phillips (28) scored at 14:56 of the third period. . . . Soy drew an assist on Phillips’ goal. That was Soy’s 148th assist, giving him the Royals’ career franchise record. The Victoria/Chilliwack record (151) belongs to F Brandon Magee. . . . Phillips also had an assist. . . . Kelowna was 1-3 on the PP; Victoria was 0-6. . . . The Rockets got 36 saves from G Roman Basran, while Griffen Outhouse stopped 30 shots for the Royals. . . . The Rockets lost F Liam Kindree to an undisclosed injury in the first period. . . . Announced attendance: 5,631.


At Kent, Wash., D Jarret Tyszka scored at 3:53 of OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Seattle (17-14-5) has points in five straight Seattlegames (4-0-1) and holds down the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. . . . The Winterhawks (22-12-2) are 1-0-1 in their past two. They are second in the U.S. Division, two points behind Everett. . . . These teams will do it again tonight with a New Year’s Eve test in Portland. . . . The Thunderbirds held a 7-0 edge in shots in OT, with Tyszka winning it with his fifth goal of the season. . . . F Skyler McKenzie had put the visitors out front with a PP goal 44 seconds into the second period. . . . Seattle D Jake Lee (2) tied it at 1:01. . . . F Alex Overhardt (8), on a PP, tied it for Portland at 15:14. . . . F Samuel Huo’s first WHL goal, 10 seconds into the third period, got Seattle into a 2-2 tie. . . . McKenzie (26) gave Portland the lead at 5:10. . . . Seattle F Nolan Volcan (16) counted on a PP, at 12:32, to force OT. He’s got goals in five straight games. . . . The Thunderbirds got two assists from F Zack Andrusiak. . . . D Brendan De Jong had three assists for the visitors with F Ryan Hughes getting two. . . . Portland was 2-5 on the PP; Seattle was 1-2. . . . G Liam Hughes, who hadn’t played since Nov. 17, stopped 31 shots for Seattle. . . . The Thunderbirds scratched G Matt Berlin, who appeared to be shaken up at the final buzzer of a 5-4 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Friday night. . . . G Cole Kehler blocked 29 shots for the visitors. . . . The Winterhawks were able to dress only 11 forwards. They were without five regulars — D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) are at the World Junior Championship, while F Cody Glass and D Keoni Texeira are injured. . . . Announced attendance: 5,667.


At Spokane, D Ty Smith scored at 4:09 of OT to give the Chiefs a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . These teams will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Kennewick, Wash., tonight. . . . The Chiefs (20-14-3) are tied with the Americans for third in the U.S. SpokaneChiefsDivision, three points behind Portland. . . . The Americans (19-10-6) have points in six straight (4-0-2). . . . The Chiefs held a 44-24 edge in shots, including 4-0 in extra time. . . . F Hudson Elynuik (19) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead 56 seconds into the first period. . . . The Americans took a 2-1 lead before the period ended, on goals from F Sasha Mutala (3), at 2:26, and F Jordan Topping (18), at 14:45. . . . Spokane took a 3-2 lead on second-period goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (19), on a penalty shot while shorthanded, at 2:04, and F Riley Woods (17), on a PP, at 8:24. . . . F Morgan Geekie (16) got the Americans even again, at 12:49 of the second. . . . Smith won it with his sixth goal of the season. . . . Elynuik added two assists to his goal, while Smith had one. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Dylan Coghlan before he was tossed at 7:34 of the second period with a clipping major. . . .  The Chiefs were 1-4 on the PP; the Americans were 0-5. . . . G Dawson Weatherill stopped 21 shots to earn the victory over Beck Warm, who stopped 41 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 8,119.


SUNDAY (all times local):

Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Seattle at Portland, 7 p.m.


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Portland loses Glass in victory . . . Lind feasts on Blazers, again . . . Giants bounce back to beat Silvertips

Scattershooting

Heavy snow. In Buffalo. On Dec. 29. Who’da thunk it?



The outdoor game drew 44,592 fans to New Era Field in Buffalo, a record for a World Junior Championship game. The previous record (20,380) was set in Ottawa at the tournament final between Canada and Sweden. . . . But does record attendance mean the game was a success? . . . I don’t think so, but it does mean that there will be more of these monsters.


Considering that this is the WORLD Junior Championship, the game was an embarrassment and shot holes through the event’s integrity. It wasn’t fair to the players; it absolutely wasn’t fair. Some of the highest-skilled junior hockey players in the world were reduced to playing chip-and-chase and that’s too bad. Here’s hoping that if they meet again in Buffalo, the tournament organizers don’t get greedy and move that game outside, too.



Dennis Beyak, the radio voice of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has been calling the play on some of the ‘lesser’ WJC games in Buffalo. It’s long past time that TSN gave him some serious national attention.


You are a real hockey fan if you know which WHL team once employed Beyak as its general manager.



If you are up for some major junior hockey, with two teams playing indoors, the Moose Jaw Warriors and the host Brandon Wheat Kings will be on Sportsnet this afternoon. Game time in Brandon is 2:30 p.m., which is 12:30 p.m. in Kamloops. . . . The Warriors (28-6-3) are atop the WHL’s overall standings; the Wheat Kings (25-9-1) are third, eight points back. Moose Jaw is 8-1-1 in its past 10 games; Brandon is 8-2-0.


Here for your reading pleasure is a Mike Royko column from Aug. 15, 1985. Royko, a legendary columnist with the Chicago Tribune, had written a column in which he skewered Frank Sinatra. The response? Sinatra wrote a letter to Royko, who responded with this piece right here. Enjoy!


MacBeth

F Richard Rapáč (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2006-07) has been assigned on loan by Poprad to Liptovský Mikuláš (both Slovakia, Extraliga) for the rest of the season. He had one goal and one assist in 11 games with Poprad.


Royals lose sniper to wrist injury

The Victoria Royals will be without F Noah Gregor for up to five weeks after he suffered a broken wrist in a 5-3 loss to the visiting Prince George Cougars on Wednesday night.

Gregor, who was acquired earlier in the month from the Moose Jaw Warriors, didn’t play in the host Royals’ 7-1 victory over the Cougars on Thursday night.

The Royals got Gregor, 19, and an eighth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft for F Ryan Peckford and a fourth-round pick in 2018.

This season, Gregor has two goals and an assist in four games with the Royals, after putting up 14 goals and 22 assists in 30 games with the Warriors.

The Royals did get F Dante Hannoun back on Wednesday after he was out since Dec. 2 with mononucleosis. He had two assists in each of the two games with Prince George. Hannoun has 13 goals and 28 assists in 33 games.

The Royals already were without F Regan Nagy, 20, who had 18 goals and six assists in 26 games when he suffered a broken finger. He has missed 10 games since last playing on Nov. 28. He also missed the two games prior to Nov. 28. Nagy isn’t likely to return for another couple of weeks.

It appears that Nagy won’t be back before the passing of the Jan. 10 deadline. The Royals have three other 20-year-olds on their roster — D Chaz Reddekopp, F Tyler Soy and D Kade Jensen, who was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 1 for a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.

It will be interesting to see what Victoria general manager Cam Hope does with his 20s between now and Nagy’s return.

Of course, with the departure of F Wyatt Sloboshan, the Regina Pats do have an opening for a 20-year-old, and Nagy is from Ogema, Sask. Ogema is located about 115 km south of Regina.


The Kootenay Ice has brought in F Jakin Smallwood, who turns 17 on Monday, from the midget AAA Leduc, Alta., Oil Kings. From Leduc, he has 11 goals and 15 assists in 23 games with the Oil Kings. . . . A fifth-round selection by Moose Jaw in the 2016 bantam draft, the Ice acquired him from the Warriors on Dec. 11, along with a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 draft for F Vince Loschiavo, 19.


A tip of the cap to the legendary Fred Sasakamoose, who has been named a Member of the Order of Canada. A native of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Sask., he lives in the nearby community of Sandy Lake. He was the first Indigenous player in the NHL when he got into 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54. . . . Sasakamoose told CBC: “It’s unbelievable. I thought getting to the NHL was to make it to the highest level of my life. But to reach the age of 84, and you receive the honours of Canada. That is one of the top awards that I will receive and remember for the rest of my life.” . . . These days, he works with young people who are fighting addictions. . . . Sasakamoose was saluted prior to last night’s game between the Blackhawks and the Oilers in Edmonton. . . . If you ever have an opportunity to hear Sasakamoose tell his story, don’t miss it.


Scoreboard

FRIDAY:

At Lethbridge, the Hurricanes broke a 3-3 tie with two third-period goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Hurricanes (16-17-2) are third in the Central LethbridgeDivision, six points behind Medicine Hat and four in arrears of Kootenay. . . . The Tigers (19-15-2) had won their previous two games, including a 4-2 victory over the visiting Hurricanes on Wednesday. . . . The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead on goals from D Igor Merezhko (3), at 14:35 of the first period, and F Dylan Cozens (11), on a PP, at 1:21 of the second. . . . F Jaeger White (5) halved the lead at 4:33. . . . F Giorgio Estephan (16) restored Lethbridge’s two-goal lead at 6:23. . . . The Tigers pulled even on goals from D David Quenneville (15), at 10:45 of the second period and F Ryan Chyzowski (12), on a PP, at 4:56 of the third. . . . The Hurricanes went back out front at 9:37 as F Jordy Bellerive (19) came out of the penalty box to score. . . . F Zane Franklin (11) provided some insurance at 12:49 and it turned into the game-winner when Tigers F Mark Rassell (29) found the range at 15:45. . . . D Calen Addison had two assists for Lethbridge, with Estephan, Bellerive and Franklin getting one each. . . . Quenneville and F James Hamblin each recorded two assists for the Tigers and Rassell had one. . . . Lethbridge was 1-2 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-4. . . . G Reece Klassen earned the victory with 37 saves. . . . The Hurricanes scratched G Stuart Skinner (ill) for a second straight game since the Christmas break. . . . With Skinner out, Bryan Thomson backed up after being brought in from the midget AAA Notre Dame Argos of Wlcox, Sask. . . . The Tigers got 28 stops from G Jordan Hollett. . . . Medicine Hat GM/head coach Shaun Clouston remains tied with Willie Desjardins for the most career regular-season victories (323) in franchise history. . . . Announced attendance: 4,313.


At Kamloops, F Kole Lind scored all of the game’s goals, leading the Kelowna Rockets to a 3-0 victory over the Blazers. . . . The Rockets (22-11-3) have won four in a row and now KelownaRocketslead the Western Conference by one point over Everett. . . . The Blazers (16-18-2) have lost three straight (0-2-1) and have been shut out twice in a row at home. The Kootenay Ice posted a 4-0 victory on Dec. 3. . . . Kamloops is three points out of a wild-card playoff spot. . . . These teams also met Wednesday in Kelowna, with the Rockets winning 2-1 in a shootout. . . . In four games since being deemed not good enough to play for Canada’s national junior team, Lind has put up seven goals and four assists. He has two hat tricks and one four-assist game in that stretch. . . . In four games against Kamloops this season, Lind has seven goals and five assists. . . . The Rockets lead the season series, 4-0-0; the Blazers are 0-3-1. . . . Lind, who now has 20 goals, opened the scoring, on a PP, at 12:34 of the first period. . . . Lind made it 2-0, on another PP, at 11:26 of the second period, and he made it 3-0 2:07 later. . . . F Nolan Foote drew assists on each of the first two goals. . . . Kelowna was 2-8 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G James Porter Jr. stopped 28 shots for Kelowna as he recorded his second shutout of his freshman season. He has shutouts in two his last three starts. . . . With Brodan Salmond injured, Porter Jr. has taken over as the Rockets’ starter. This season, he is 14-5-2, 3.22, .904. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 30 shots for the Blazers. . . . Announced attendance: 4,310.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Skyler McKenzie’s goal at 2:45 of OT gave the Portland Winterhawks a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland (22-12-1) had lost its Portlandprevious three games, including a 6-3 setback at the hands of the visiting Americans on Wednesday. The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, one point behind Everett. Portland holds three games in hand. . . . Tri-City (19-10-4) had won its previous four games. It is third in the U.S. Division, three points behind Portland. . . . After two scoreless periods, F Parker AuCoin (7) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 1:36 of the third. . . . Portland F Ty Kolle (4) tied it at 8:24. . . . The Americans went ahead again as F Jordan Topping (17) scored, on a PP, at 13:58. . . . The Winterhawks forced OT with G Shane Farkas on the bench as F Mason Mannek (5) counted at 19:00. . . . McKenzie won it with his team-leading 24th goal. . . .  F Alex Overhardt had two assists for Portland. . . . Tri-City was 1-2 on the PP; Portland was 0-5. . . . The Winterhawks got 39 saves from Farkas. That included stopping F Morgan Geekie on a penalty shot at 19:37 of the second period. . . . G Patrick Dea stopped 36 shots for the Americans. . . . The Winterhawks lost F Cody Glass, who leads them in assists (32) and points (54), in the dying seconds of the second period. He left after appearing to take a slash to his right leg from Tri-City D Dylan Coghlan. After the game, Glass had a brace on his right knee and he was to return to Portland, while the team went on to Kent, Wash., for a game tonight against Seattle. . . . D John Ludvig of the Winterhawks left for repairs after being struck by a puck while on the bench during the second period. . . . D Keoni Texeira was among Portland’s scratches. . . . With Texeira down, D Nick Cicek was in the lineup for his second WHL game. He had been returned to the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . Tri-City was without F Michael Rasmussen, who is sidelined with an undisclosed injury. . . . Announced attendance: 4,240.


At Kent, Wash., D Turner Ottenbreit broke a 4-4 tie at 11:49 of the third period as the Seattle Thunderbirds overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Spokane Chiefs, 5-4. . . . The SeattleThunderbirds (16-14-5) have points in four straight games (3-0-1). They are fifth in the U.S. Division, four points behind Spokane, but hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Chiefs (19-14-3) had beaten the visiting Thunderbirds, 5-4 in OT, on Wednesday. . . . Last night, Seattle took a 1-0 lead when F Nolan Volcan (15) scored at 11:21 of the first period, giving him nine points over four games. . . . The teams combined for five second-period goals, four of them by the Chiefs. . . . F Riley Woods pulled Spokane even, at 2:08. . . . The game remained tied until there were four goals in a span of 1:51 late in the period. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (18) put the Chiefs out front at 17:34. . . . F Noah Philp (8) got Seattle back into a tie at 18:01. . . . Spokane then took a two-goal lead as Woods (16) scored, at 18:23, and F Eli Zummack (9) counted at 19:25. . . . The Thunderbirds tied it on third-period goals from F Nikita Malukhin (3), at 1:41, and F Zack Andrusiak (18), at 9:54. . . . Ottenbreit won it with his fifth goal this season. It was the second game-winner of his 248-game career. . . . F Donovan Neuls and F Dillon Hamaliuk each had two assists for the winners, with Philp getting one. . . . The Chiefs got two assists from Anderson-Dolan and one from Woods. . . . The teams combined for 70 penalty minutes, but there were only three PP opportunities. Seattle was 0-2; Spokane was 0-1. . . . G Matt Berlin record the victory with 29 saves, eight more than Spokane’s Donovan Buskey. . . . Announced attendance: 4,441.


At Everett, the Vancouver Giants, beaten 11-0 by visiting Everett two nights earlier, bounced back to beat the Silvertips, 2-1. . . . The Giants (19-14-4) now have won more Everettgames than they have lost. They are third in the B.C. Division, three points back of Victoria. . . . The Silvertips (22-14-2) had won their previous three games and 11 of 12. They had set a single-game franchise record for goals scored in Wednesday’s victory. . . . Everett is second in the Western Conference, one point behind Kelowna and one ahead of Portland and Victoria. . . . Last night, F Matt Fonteyne (18) provided Everett with a 1-0 lead 51 seconds into the second period. . . . F Dawson Holt (4) tied it at 6:43 and F Tyler Benson (14) scored what proved to be the winner at 13:19. . . . Vancouver was 0-3 on the PP; Everett was 0-3. . . . G David Tendeck continued his fine play with 34 saves for Vancouver. . . . Everett got 23 stops from G Dustin Wolf. . . . Announced attendance: 5,525.


SATURDAY (all times local):

Regina at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Brandon, 2:30 p.m.

Lethbridge at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Prince George at Vancouver, 7 p.m.

Kamloops at Everett, 7:05 p.m.

Victoria at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 6:05 p.m.

Tri-City at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.


Tweet of the day


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Empty seats in Buffalo. What the heck happened? . . . WHL returns to action tonight with 11 games. A preview

Well, the 2018 World Junior Championship is through one day. Day 1 in Buffalo featured two routs, a pair of close games and a whole lot of empty seats.

Yes, it would appear that attendance — or lack of same — is going to be a big story at the BuffaloWJC for a second straight year . . . or have you forgotten what happened in Toronto and Montreal a year ago?

“There might have been 2,000 folks in the KeyBank Center stands to see the Czech Republic’s upset of Russia in the opener,” writes Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. “Canada got better as its 4-2 victory over Finland went along in a game played in front of maybe 8,000 fans. Team USA battered Denmark in front of a pathetic house of maybe 5,000 — and officials closed the 300 level and offered fans comp seats down below. Which had to make folks who paid for that level super-duper happy about the extra money they shelled out.

“Organizers have to be choking on their hot chocolate after the intimate gatherings that entered the building. The Canada-Russia game played here on Dec. 26, 2010 drew a sellout crowd of 18,690. The US-Finland game that day drew 14,093.  So what the heck happened Tuesday?”

In his column, that is right here, Harrington goes on to detail what he thinks happened, and it doesn’t portend well for the rest of the tournament.

Following the 2017 WJC, Harrington wrote a column that warned of what might happen if . . .

After Team USA won the gold medal, Harrington wrote: “But the bigger story should serve as a cautionary tale for the Sabres, USA Hockey and the International Ice Hockey Federation, which seems bent on squeezing every dollar out of this tournament it can. The Saskatoons, Halifaxes and Grand Forkses of the world need no longer apply because the IIHF clearly want big cities, big dollars.

“That led to embarrassing scenes of empty seats all over the Air Canada Centre in Toronto during the opening rounds and in the Bell Centre in Montreal up through the semifinals. The problem here is simple: Price point, price point, price point.

“And packages, packages, packages.”

That column from almost a year ago is right here.


The WHL swings back into action tonight (Wednesday) after a Christmas break that began following games of Dec. 17.

Of course, that also means that the annual trade moratorium has been lifted, and you whlcan expect the dealing to resume anytime and to run through Jan. 10, when the trade deadline arrives.

Since Nov. 13, the WHL’s 22 teams have combined to make 13 trades involving 25 players, 14 bantam draft picks and three conditional bantam picks.

Tonight, there are 11 games on the schedule; yes, all 22 teams are to play. It’s worth noting that 26 of the WHL’s best players won’t be playing, at least not in the WHL; that’s because they are with various teams at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

Here’s a brief look at tonight’s schedule (all times local):

REGINA (16-17-3) at BRANDON (24-8-1), 7 p.m. — The Pats are without F Sam Steel, while the Wheat Kings won’t have D Kale Clague. Both are with Team Canada in Buffalo. . . . Brandon has won nine of its past 10 games and is third in the East Division, 14 points ahead of Regina, which is to be the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup but hasn’t yet played much like a contender. The Pats, who hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and are 3-6-1 in their past 10. . . . Regina isn’t expected to have D Josh Mahura in the lineup after he was cut by Team Canada for a second time on Tuesday. Mahura had been dropped after Canada’s selection camp, but then was brought back as insurance in case D Dante Fabbro couldn’t answer the bell. Fabbro was pronounced OK to play on Tuesday, so Mahura was released. Again. He has flown home to Edmonton and the Pats have given him some family time. Whether he returns for the rematch with Brandon in Regina on Thursday remains to be seen.


PRINCE ALBERT (13-14-7) at SASKATOON (15-17-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Raiders and Blades are tied for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, each with 33 points. . . . The Raiders are 3-4-3 in their past 10 outings; the Blades are 5-5-0. . . . Saskatoon is 1-0-1 in the season series; Prince Albert is 1-1-0. . . . Prince Albert is missing D Voytech Budik (Czech Republic), while the Blades are without D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic). Interestingly, the two formed one defensive pair as the Czech got past Russia, 5-4, in Buffalo yesterday. . . . These teams will play again Thursday, this time in Prince Albert.


MOOSE JAW (27-6-2) at SWIFT CURRENT (25-7-2), 7 p.m. — The Warriors have the WHL’s best record, with the Broncos second, just four points in arrears. . . . Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw’s head coach, is with Team Canada in Buffalo as an assistant coach, meaning that assistant coach Mark O’Leary is in charge. . . . Warriors F Brett Howden (Canada) also is in Buffalo.while the Broncos have three players there — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), F Tyler Steenbergen (Canada), F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland). . . . The Warriors are 2-1-1 in the season series; the Broncos are 2-2-0. . . . They’ll continue the series on Thursday in Moose Jaw.


EDMONTON (7-22-4) at RED DEER (10-18-6), p.m. — The Oil Kings have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and are 2-6-2 in their past 10 outings. They own the WHL’s poorest record and are 15 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Rebels have points in three straight (1-0-2) and in six of 10 (1-4-5). However, they are seven points away from a playoff spot. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel, 19, has 23 points, including 16 assists, in 27 games but has sat out the past six games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Red Deer F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is in Buffalo, but D Alex Alexeyev, 18, should be back after he was released Tuesday by the Russian junior team. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who turns 17 on Jan. 9, remains with the Rebels after playing two games with them prior to the break. When he joined the Rebels, he was leading the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in scoring, with 57 points, 41 of them assists, in 22 games with the Valley West Hawks. . . . These teams haven’t met since the Rebels opened the regular-season with a doubleheader sweep (7-3, 5-3). . . . They’ll play again Thursday, this time in Edmonton.


CALGARY (10-18-5) vs. KOOTENAY (15-17-2), at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m. — The Ice is tied with Lethbridge for second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat. Kootenay has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is 5-4-1 in its past 10 games. . . . The Hitmen are 11th in the 12-team Eastern Conference. They have lost two in a row (0-1-1) and are 4-5-1 in their past 10. . . . This will the third straight game in which these teams have played each other. They close out the pre-Christmas schedule with a home-and-home series, Kootenay winning them both — 5-1 at home on Dec. 16 and 4-3 in OT on Dec. 17. . . . And guess what? Yes, they’ll make it four in a row on Thursday in Calgary. . . . The Hitmen are without their best player in D Jake Bean, who is with Canada in Buffalo, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus). . . . Kootenay D Martin Bodak is with Slovakia.


LETHBRIDGE (15-16-2) at MEDICINE HAT (18-14-2), 7 p.m. — Each of these teams won its last game before the break. . . . Lethbridge is 5-4-1 in its past 10 and has closed to within six points of the Central Division-leading Tigers, who are 3-5-2 over their past 10. . . . The Hurricanes lead the season series 2-1-0, but the teams haven’t met since Oct. 22. . . . Medicine Hat F Mark Russell has three goals and three assists in the three games against Lethbridge. . . . Tigers F Mason Shaw, who put up 27 goals and 67 assists in 71 games last season, has yet to play this season after suffering a knee injury while with the Minnesota Wild’s entry at an NHL rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich. . . . The Tigers also are waiting for freshman F Josh Williams to recover from a collarbone injury suffered during a practice at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge almost two months ago. . . . The Hurricanes have lost F Ryan Vandervlis, 19, for the rest of the season with shoulder woes. He had 19 points, 11 of them goals, in 19 games. Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt acquired F Lane Zablocki, 19, from Red Deer in the hopes that he can fill the void created by Vandervlis’s absence. Zablocki, who had 19 points in 31 games with Red Deer this season, has one assist in two games with Lethbridge. . . . The Hurricanes and Tigers will resume hostilities on Thursday in Lethbridge.


TRI-CITY (18-10-3) vs. PORTLAND (21-11-1), 7 p.m. — The Americans have won three in a row and are 5-4-1 over their past 10 games. . . . The Winterhawks (21-11-1) have lost two in a row and have stumbled of late — they are 2-7-1 in their past 10. . . . It all leaves Portland second in the U.S. Division, one point behind Everett and four ahead of the Americans. . . . Tri-City is without D Juuso Valimaki (Finland), while Portland is missing F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark), F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.) and D Henri Jokiharju (Finland). . . . The host Winterhawks beat the Americans 5-2 on Nov. 11 in the only previous meeting between these teams this season. . . . They’ll meet again Friday in Kennewick, Wash.


EVERETT (21-13-2) vs. VANCOUVER (18-13-4), at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m. — The Silvertips won their last two pre-Christmas games and nine of their past 10. That streak has lifted them to the top of the Western Conference, one point ahead of Portland, Kelowna and Victoria. . . . The Giants are the WHL’s hottest team, having won six in a row and eight of 10. They are third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Kelowna and Victoria. . . . Vancouver will be missing F Milos Roman (Slovakia), who leads all WHL freshmen with 29 points. . . . Everett is without Carter Hart, the WHL’s top goaltender, who started for Canada in its 4-2 victory over Finland in Buffalo on Tuesday. In his absence, freshman Dustin Wolf, a 16-year-old from Tustin, Calif., will get the bulk of the work. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he is 5-2-0, 2.00, .942 this season. . . . The Giants return from the break to play Everett twice (they’ll meet again Friday, this time in Everett), and then return to Langley for a doubleheader with Prince George. Vancouver then will journey into Alberta for three games in four nights (Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat), before travelling to Prince George for games on Jan. 9 and 10. . . . Yes, that stretch of nine games in 15 days may end up defining the Giants’ season.


PRINCE GEORGE (12-17-5) at VICTORIA (20-13-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Cougars have lost three in a row and are 3-6-1 in their past 10, as they have slid into the Western Conference cellar, four points behind Kamloops. . . . Victoria also has lost its last three, and is 3-5-2 in its past 10. But it is tied for first with Kelowna in the B.C. Division, and is only one point out of the Western Conference lead. . . . The Cougars will stay in Victoria for a game on Thursday night, then travel to Langley, B.C., for games with Vancouver on Saturday and Monday, before heading home for a weekend doubleheader against Tri-City and a Jan. 9-10 double-dip with visiting Vancouver. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk of the Cougars is in Buffalo with Belarus. . . . The Royals are missing F Ivan Martynov, who also is with Belarus. . . . F Tyler Soy, who is six assists away from owning the Victoria/Chilliwack franchise record for career assists, left the last game before Christmas with an apparent shoulder injury. There has been no word on his status since then. . . . Victoria has been playing without F Regan Nagy (finger) and F Dante Hannoun (ill). Both are key offensive performers. . . . This is the sixth straight season in which these teams have returned from Christmas to play twice in Victoria. The Royals are 8-1-1 in the previous 10 meetings.


KAMLOOPS (16-17-1) at KELOWNA (20-11-3), 7:05 p.m. — The Blazers last their last game before the break and are 5-4-1 in their past 10 games. More importantly, they are 16-8-1 since opening the season with a nine-game losing skid. They are fourth in the B.C. Division, seven points behind Vancouver, and are just one point shy of the Western Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. . . . The Rockets have won two in a row and seven of 10. Kelowna is one point out of the Western Conference lead and tied with Victoria atop the B.C. Division. . . . The Blazers lost two players to the WJC — D Ondrej Vala is with Czech Republic and freshman F Justin Sigrist is with Switzerland. . . . With Vala gone, the Blazers have added D Quinn Schmiemann from the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Rockets are without D Cal Foote and F Dillon Dube, both of whom are with Canada. . . . Kelowna is 2-0-0 in the season series, but the teams haven’t met since opening weekend when the Rockets posted 8-2 and 5-1 victories. . . . The Rockets will play in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Kamloops head coach Don Hay needs six regular-season victories to equal the WHL career record of 742, held by the retired Ken Hodge.


SEATTLE (15-14-4) at SPOKANE (18-13-3), 7:05 p.m. — The defending-champion Thunderbirds surged a bit going into Christmas as they won their last two games to finish a 10-game stretch at 4-4-2. They hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Chiefs lost their last game prior to the break — 10-3 to the visiting Thunderbirds — but have won six of 10. . . . These teams will meet again on Friday, this time in Kent, Wash., meaning they will have played each other in three straight games. . . . They are 1-1-0 in the season series, the Chiefs having posted a 9-2 home-ice victory on Dec. 9. . . . Spokane has two players at the WJC — F Kailer Yamamoto (U.S.) and D Filip Kral (Czech Republic). . . . Seattle F Sami Moilanen was among the last players released by Finland.


Tweet of the day


Scoreboard

TUESDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


WEDNESDAY (all times local):

Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Calgary vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Tri-City at Portland, 7 p.m.

Everett vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Kelowna 7:05 p.m.

Seattle at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.


THURSDAY (all times local):

Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Still no timeline for Seattle goalie . . . Ex-enforcer reaches out to Peat . . . Jette on comeback trail from concussion . . . Toigos involved in mammoth real-estate deal

Scattershooting

A little bit of snow, exactly as was called for by forecasters, and Kamloops turns into smashville. It’s as predictable as the POTUS waking up every day and entertaining us with a tweet or six. Hey, it snowed here on Tuesday and again Thursday, and it was a travelling road show both days.


Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post:

“What is the point of fighting? It is purposeless. On (Dec. 15), for example, the Pats’ Bryce Platt and the Saskatoon Blades’ Evan Fiala squared off. It was a fight for the sake of a fight — a needless spasm of pugilism that was then replayed on the Brandt Centre’s centre-ice scoreboard. Player safety is such an obvious priority that fighting is showcased via the in-house video system. The wrong message is being transmitted.”


Derek Boogaard. Rick Rypien. Wade Belak. Matt Johnson. Steve Montador. Rudy Poeschek. Stephen Peat. Dale Purinton. . . . All were major junior hockey enforcers. All later experienced, or are experiencing, health and lifestyle issues. . . . Yes, it’s time for the WHL to outlaw fighting. Period.


On a different subject, have you flipped through the TV listings lately? Have you noticed all the Christmas moves that are available? No, I’m not referring to Home Alone, Die Hard, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street or any of those. I’m referring to the dozens of movies like Finding Santa, Christmas at Holly Lodge, Switched for Christmas, Christmas in Mississippi, etc. Hey, they’re everywhere. When did the making of such movies become such a large industry?


There’s a WHL angle here, too, because my wife, who knows such things, tells me that Candace Cameron Bure is a big star in the Christmas movie game. Yes, she is married to former WHL star Valeri Bure (Spokane Chiefs, 1991-94).


It’s college football bowl season and that’s always a fun time. Did you get to watch the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday? What about the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday? I’m old enough to remember when the Holiday Bowl was, well, the Holiday Bowl. Now it’s the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. . . . Someone has a lot of fun playing name that bowl game during the offseason.


Former WHLer Peter Soberlak (Kamloops, Swift Current, 1985-89) is in the running to be the next athletic director at Thompson Rivers U in Kamloops. He has been at TRU for 14 years and now is in the school’s phys-ed department. . . . It’s likely that either Soberlak or Curtis Atkinson will be tabbed to replace the retiring Ken Olynyk. Atkinson, the associate director of sport for Canada West, was the interim AD at the U of Regina for about 18 months starting in December 2014. His wife, Heather, is a TRU professor.


Just wondering . . . who had more failures . . . the original Steve McGarrett or Perry Mason?



Look, this is all new to me here, so please bear with me as I stumble around for a while.

But if you enter your email address over there on the right I believe that you will be notified each time I post something new on this site.

I haven’t yet been able to get a DONATE button posted here. But if you care to help the cause, please visit the old site (takingnote.ca), click on the DONATE button and do it there.


MacBeth

F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had two assists in 20 games with the Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). He was released from a tryout contract on Dec. 19. . . .

G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has been assigned by Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SHL) to Södertälje (Sweden, Allsvenskan) on a one-game conditioning loan. Kolppanen has been out since just before the start of the season with an injury and only recently resumed training. . . .

D Sebastian Owuya (Medicine Hat, 2010-11) has been assigned on loan by Södertälje (Sweden, Allsvenskan) to Kallinge/Ronneby (Sweden, Division 1) for the remainder of this season. He was pointless in 14 games with Södertälje, and had one assist in three games while on loan to Nyköping Grypen (Sweden, Division 1).


A LITTLE OF THIS . . . SOME OF THAT . . .

Andy Eide, who follows the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle, chatted with general manager Russ Farwell and posted a story on Thursday. . . . In the story, Farwell Seattleaddresses the situation regarding G Carl Stankowski, who, at 16, led them to a WHL championship last spring but has yet to play this season. “He’s had some complications,” Farwell told Eide. “They’re looking, he’s maybe got some other health problems. They think they’ve got it figured out. They’re hoping this week to set the treatment and then we are thinking he’s going to play, which I wasn’t sure about at one point. It’s still up in the air, we don’t know for sure so that’s part of the frustration.” . . . The one thing that is certain is that the Thunderbirds have no idea when Stankowski might return to game action. . . . Farwell also addressed the impending arrival of the NHL in Seattle: “The cost for two people to go to an NHL game you can just about have a season ticket for us. We’re talking two different price points and I think the growth in the sport will be phenomenal. As people get excited about the game, communities start to build rinks and more kids get involved. That’s the key point for us and I think we’ll see the spin off from that.” . . . Eide’s complete story is right here.


Dale Purinton has been on the same road that Stephen Peat now is travelling. Both are former WHL enforcers, with a long history of fights both there and later in the NHL. These days, Peat is believed to be living on the streets of B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and Purinton would like to help him. . . . After the CBC did a story on Peat, Purinton got in touch with folks at the broadcaster. . . . Jeremy Allingham of CBC News has more right here.


In 2015-16, D Tyler Jette of Farmington, Minn., was one of 10 finalists for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award, which goes to the state’s top high school player. He also was nominated for the Reed Larson Award, which goes to the state’s top high school defenceman. On Sept. 26, 2016, Jette, then 18, signed with the Tri-City Americans. . . . He never played even one game with the Americans. So . . . what happened? . . . Jette suffered a concussion in training camp prior to last season and sat out the entire season. In fact, he didn’t play again until earlier this month when he joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. He now has played in three games and has one assist. . . . “The only thing that was hampering him at all was his conditioning,” Sherwood Park head coach Adam Manah told Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News, “which is to be expected after not playing for so long and only skating with us three or four times. He sees the ice well and moves the puck crisp and hard. All we need from him is to be a good shut-down guy. We can see there is some offensive instincts there too, but that will come in due time once he gets comfortable and gets his game rolling again.” . . . Jette no longer is listed among the prospects on the Americans’ website. . . . Jones’ story is right here.


The Kootenay Ice has signed G Gage Alexander, 15, who is from Okotoks, Alta. Alexander Kootenaynewwas a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. This season, he is 7-0-1, 1.75, .929 with the minor midget AAA Rockyview Raiders. . . . The Ice now has signed six of its 10 selections in the 2017 bantam draft — F Connor McClennon, who was taken second overall, D Anson McMaster, F James Form, G Will Gurski, F Owen Pederson and Alexander. . . . Left unsigned are D Jake Sanderson, a fourth-round pick from Calgary; D Brett Fogg of Humboldt, Sask., who was taken in the fifth round; D Benjamin Zloty, a sixth-rounder from Calgary; and F Michael Milne, who was taken in the eighth round out of the Yale Hockey Academy.


D Jake Harrison of West Kelowna, B.C., has committed to Michigan Tech for the 2019-20 season. Harrison, who is in his third season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, was a fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 143 regular-season BCHL games, he has 16 goals and 56 assists. This season, he has four goals and 19 assists in 35 games.


A piece of property in downtown Vancouver that is owned by Shato Holdings Ltd., which is run by brothers Peter and Ron Toigo, has sold for “a reported $245 million,” according to the Vancouver Sun. . . . The site is located on West Georgia Street and is presently home to a White Spot restaurant. . . . The property, which also includes a parking lot, was purchased by Carnival International Holdings Ltd., which, the Sun reports, “trades on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.” . . . The Toigos also are the majority owners of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The Sun’s complete story is right here.


Scoreboard

Dec. 18-Dec. 26:

No Games Scheduled.


Tweet of the day

WHL’s Western Conference: Might little happen before Jan. 10 trade deadline?

When looking at the WHL’s Western Conference teams in the run up to the Jan. 10 trading deadline, the most intriguing question marks would seem to surround the Victoria Royals and Kamloops Blazers.

The Royals are in the thick of things, just one point out of the conference lead and tied whlfor top spot, with Kelowna, in the B.C. Division.

The Blazers, who started 0-9-0 and seemingly deep-sixed their playoff hopes before the season was out of its infancy, are on a 16-8-1 tear and just one point out of a playoff spot.

So what’s the problem?

Well, management from both teams has committed to bidding to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament. That leaves one wondering if these teams will be buyers or sellers between Dec. 27, when the Christmas trade moratorium is removed, and the deadline.

Will Victoria general manager Cam Hope and his Kamloops counterpart, Stu MacGregor, go shopping in attempts to strengthen their present-day rosters? Or will they be more concerned with working to build championship-calibre teams for the 2019-20 season?

Your guess is as good as mine, but what is the message to fans if a GM dismantles a competitive team in order to try and build for two seasons down the road?

One other thing worth noting about the Western Conference is that none of its 10 teams has really fallen off the playoff pace, although the Prince George Cougars may be on the verge.

With everyone seemingly in the hunt, might we be in for a quiet trade deadline?

Asked last night if there was “anything brewing” and if “phones were ringing,” one general replied that it has been “really quiet.”

Anyway . . . here’s a look at the Western Conference’s 10 teams — eight will get into the playoffs — with the trade deadline on the horizon:


1. EVERETT (21-13-2): The Silvertips whacked visiting Portland 8-3 on Sunday, the final day before the Christmas break, to move past the Winterhawks and into first place in the U.S. Division. The Silvertips were mediocre early in the season, but put together a nine-game winning streak that served notice to the other teams in the conference. . . . G Carter Hart, who sat out all of October with mononucleosis, has been unworldly. He is 13-3-1 with five shutouts, a 1.32 GAA and a .961 save percentage. Before joining Canada’s national junior team early this month, Hart named the league’s goaltender of the week four times in a row. . . . With Hart gone, Dustin Wolf, 16, has proven that he’s the heir apparent, going 5-2-0, 2.00, .942. . . . Hart and Wolf backstop the conference’s best defensive club and Everett is scoring enough goals to win; it went into the break on a 9-1-0 roll. . . . Offensively, the bulk of the goals — 86 of 111 — have come from six players. As long as those six keep scoring and Hart keeps stopping them at the other end, the Silvertips will be in the chase. . . . Garry Davidson, the general manager, will be monitoring the market but will be leery to do anything that might break up a good thing.


2. (tie) PORTLAND (21-11-1): The Winterhawks threatened to run away with the U.S. Division before stumbling and going 2-7-1 on the run into Christmas. Some of that will have been due to a schedule that called for 10 of 13 games on the road during a 26-day stretch. They also are without three high-end players — F Kieffer Bellows (U.S.), F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) and D Henrik Jokiharju (Finland) — who will appear in the World Junior Championship. Take away players of that calibre and a team that had been doing fine defensively gave up 14 goals in losing its last two games. . . . Portland also went 23 games without F Ryan Hughes (leg), who will add secondary offence once he gets back into the flow of things. . . . Portland has the conference’s best talent — F Cody Glass is in the conversation when you’re talking about the WHL’s best player — and has been getting top-notch goaltending from Cole Kehler, 20, who got a nifty Christmas present in the form of a three-year free-agent deal with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . Come mid-January, the Winterhawks will have all their wheels rolling and the fans will be sleeping better. . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Johnston, the general manager and head coach, chooses to play the hand that he has right now.


3. (tie) KELOWNA (20-11-3): The Rockets won seven of their past 10 games as the break approached and find themselves tied for second in the conference (with Portland and Victoria) and tied for first in the B.C. Division (with Victoria). . . . The Rockets appear to be a team to be reckoned with in the second half. F Kole Lind, who was felled by strep throat for a handful of games in November, and F Dillon Dube, who is with Canada’s national junior team, are having monster seasons, as is F Carsen Twarynski, 20. . . .    F Kyle Topping and D Cal Foote, who also is with Canada prepping for the WJC, are point-a-game guys. . . . G Brodan Salmon was to have been their starter, but he has played in only one game since Oct. 15, than on Nov. 4. In his absence, James Porter, a freshman from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, has done well, going 13-5-2, 3.49, .895. . . . Still, the Rockets need to be better defensively, which means general manager Bruce Hamilton may be looking for some experienced help.


4. (tie) VICTORIA (20-13-3): The Royals fell off the B.C. Division’s top perch by dropping 10 of their past 16 games. They opened the season with seven straight victories, so are 13-13-3 since then. But they’ve got the guns to compete with anyone and their top line — Tyler Soy, Matthew Phillips and Noah Gregor — is as good as any in the WHL. . . . However, Soy left in the second period of the Royals’ final game before the break — it appeared to be a shoulder injury — and his status isn’t known. . . . Victoria badly needs to get F Regan Nagy, 20, back into the lineup. He’s got 18 goals in 26 games, but a finger injury has kept him out since Nov. 28. . . . GM Cam Hope isn’t afraid to pull the trigger — he acquired Gregor from Moose Jaw for F Ryan Peckford on Dec. 11, adding yet more speed while giving up grit, and getting a fourth 20-year-old by dealing for D Kade Jensen from Brandon on Dec. 1. When Nagy gets back, Hope will have to make another move because he can only keep three of Nagy, Soy, Jensen and D Chaz Reddekopp. . . . Like so many other general managers, Hope may be looking for a strong stay-at-home defender to help Griffen Outhouse, one of the WHL’s top goaltenders, but one who has been facing too many shots.


5. VANCOUVER (18-13-4): The Giants closed out the first half by winning six straight games and going 8-2-0 over 10 games. That lifted them into third place in the B.C. Division, just three points behind Kelowna and Victoria. That’s wonderful news for a franchise that has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and four of five. . . . Vancouver has been led by F Ty Ronning, who has 46 points, including 31 goals, in 35 games. F James Malm also is a point-a-game player, while F Tyler Benson, who finally is healthy (touch wood), put up 32 points, including 13 goals, in 22 games. . . . Aside from Ronning, the MVP may be G David Tendeck, who is 12-6-1, 2.90, .913 and showing signs that he’ll be the go-to guy in the second half. . . . D Bowen Byram, the third overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, has been getting better as his confidence grows with each passing game. He’s a keeper, for sure. . . . The Giants still need to be better defensively, like so many other teams, but don’t expect general manager Glen Hanlon to be involved in anything that might disrupt the franchise’s future. He likely could be convinced to add a veteran defenceman if the price isn’t steep.


6. TRI-CITY (18-10-3): The Americans won their last three games and find themselves third in the U.S. Division, four points in arrears of Portland. . . . The Americans went into the break on a three-game winning streak; they are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. . . . If they are to compete with the big guys, the Americans need more offence and better defence. The offence may come from within as F Michael Rasmussen has played in 22 games (31 points) and D Juuso Valimaki has gotten into 19 (20 points). When they are healthy, it raises the level of Tri-City’s all-around play and turns the power-play unit into a deadly weapon. . . . Tri-City is the only WHL team to have evenly split its goaltending duties to this point. Patrick Dea is 8-5-3, 3.19, .915 in 958 minutes over 17 games. Beck Warm also has gotten into 17 games, going 10-5-0, 3.31, .890. . . . Bob Tory, the Americans’ veteran general manager, once was dubbed ‘Trader’ Bob. There was a time when he would jump into the trading pool well before the deadline, before the prices got driven up. Last season, however, he made only one deal between Dec. 1 and the trade deadline, that coming on Dec. 2 when he sent G Kurtis Rutledge to the Kootenay Ice for a 2019 seventh-round bantam draft pick. It could be that Tory will provide a repeat performance.


7. (tie) SPOKANE (18-13-3): The Chiefs are tied with Tri-City for third in the U.S. Division, however the Americans hold three games in hand. . . . Spokane went into the Christmas break with a sour taste in its mouth, too, after losing 10-3 to visiting Seattle on Sunday night. “Let’s forget about that one,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. . . . Spokane needs to find a way to be better at home, where it actually has lost more than it has won (9-8-2). . . . Still, the Chiefs have three of the WHL’s most-exciting players — F Jaret Dolan-Anderson, D Ty Smith and F Kailer Yamamoto. The first two are scoring at better than a point-a-game, while Yamamoto, who started the season with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, has been around for only 12 games, and now is with the U.S.’s national junior team. . . . Once mid-January arrives and the distractions are gone, the Chiefs’ talent level — F Hudson Elynuik, 20, is having a career season with 17 goals and 29 assists in 34 games — would indicate that the second-half should be better. . . . That might indicate that Scott Carter, the general manager, won’t make much of a splash between now and Jan. 10.


8. SEATTLE (15-14-4): The Thunderbirds, the WHL’s defending champions, have fallen into the U.S. Division basement, five points behind Tri-City and Spokane. . . . Seattle is on a two-game winning streak, however. . . . The fall isn’t at all surprising when one considers that Seattle lost its four leading scorers from last season and six of its top nine. . . . You simply don’t replace that kind of production over one offseason. . . . Still, the Thunderbirds are in possession of the conference’s second wild-card spot, and you have to think the team’s new owners — brothers Dan and Lindsey Leckelt — would be pleased with a playoff spot. . . . G Carl Stankowski, who, as a 16-year-old, sparkled in the playoffs last spring (16-2-2, 2.50, .911), but hasn’t played this season thanks to hip woes. . . . In his absence, Seattle has used three goaltenders, who have GAAs of 3.30, 3.32 and 3.67, and save percentages of .895, .894 and .888. . . . Yes, the goaltending needs to be better. . . . With a number of teams hankering for experienced defencemen, GM Russ Farwell’s phone might be busy, because he’s got three — Turner Ottenbreit, 20, Austin Strand, 20, and Jarret Tyszka, 18 — who might bring a king’s ransom should he choose to sell.


9. KAMLOOPS (16-17-1): Head coach Don Hay went into the season needing 22 victories to equal the WHL’s career record for most regular-season coaching victories. The Blazers promptly lost their first nine games and it looked like Hay might not get there this season. . . . But the Blazers followed that skid with a 16-8-1 run and now are just one point out of a playoff spot. Hay is seven victories shy of becoming the winningest head coach in the league’s regular-season history. . . . If you are GM Stu MacGregor, what do you do? With ownership have announced that it will bid on the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, do you focus on making a run this season, or do you sell in an attempt to gather assets that will help in 2019-20? . . . But a team that hasn’t drafted particularly well in recent times and perhaps has lost F Massimo Rizzo, the 15th overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft, to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, has 13 players on its 23-man roster who aren’t likely to be around for 2019-20. . . . It could be that MacGregor really is between a rock and a hard place — darned if he does, darned if he doesn’t. . . . MacGregor’s dance may be the most interesting of them all between now and Jan. 10.


10. PRINCE GEORGE (12-17-3): The Cougars, who won the first pennant in franchise history last season when they finished atop the B.C. Division, have lost three in a row. They are last in the five-team B.C. Division, four points behind Kamloops. . . . The Cougars haven’t been a hit at the gate this season, despite going all-in a year ago and finishing 45-21-6, only to bow out in the first round of the playoffs. So it could be that management feels a playoff spot this season is of the utmost importance. . . . Prince George will come back from the break to play four games in six days — two in Victoria and two in Langley, B.C., against the Vancouver Giants. After that, the Cougars will return home to face Tri-City twice. Then the Giants go north for a doubleheader that will straddle the trade deadline. . . . In other words, between now and Jan. 10, the Cougars will meet the Giants four times and Victoria twice. Might the outcome of those games dictate which way GM Todd Harkins chooses to go? . . . The Cougars’ roster includes D Dennis Cholowski, and you can bet that Harkins is fielding calls about him. Cholowski, a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2016 NHL draft, is in his first WHL season but has shown that he is of all-star calibre.

A return to Scattershooting . . . Ice sweep Hitmen . . . Pats’ struggles continue . . . Giants really playing large

Scattershooting

We’re back and we’re scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching the Dallas Cowboys and the Raiders playing in Los Angeles, and what a day it was for whacky NFL happenings:


Thanks to all who contacted me over the past day or two. I especially like the note that referred to Taking Note’s return as a Christmas miracle. Uh, no. But I do live with a miracle.


While I was on hacker-enforced hiatus, the Saskatoon Blades issued an injury report that actually specified the injuries. Yes. Seriously. According to the Blades, G Ryan Kubic (knee), F Gage Ramsay (groin) and F Caleb Fantillo (knee) all were sidelined. . . . Of course, by the time the WHL office posted its weekly roster report, all three were out with “lower body” injuries.


The day may come when the WHL realizes that a renewed emphasis on transparency might translate to more fans in the stands.


According to the WHL standings, the Seattle Thunderbirds have a .515 winning percentage. But their record is 15-14-4, which means they have lost three more games than they have won. Sorry, but that doesn’t compute to a .500 record. Oh, and don’t bother telling me that it has to do with loser points, something that has bastardized standings and the record book unlike anything else in sporting history.


The Regina Pats were one of those bogus .500 clubs going into Sunday’s games. They were 16-16-3, which the WHL claims is .500, before losing 3-1 to the host Saskatoon Blades on Sunday. The Pats now are 16-17-3, which the WHL claims is .486.


The Pats, of course, are the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. With 36 games remaining in a 72-game schedule, they have lost four more games than they have won. Yes, their fans are in a tizzy. Should they be? No, not yet. They need to relax, enjoy Christmas and check back about Jan. 17. By that time, the trade deadline will have come and gone, meaning general manager/head coach John Paddock will have played out his hand, the World Junior Championship will be over, and there will be few remaining distractions. That’s when what Regina fans see is what they’ll get.


In the meantime, Regina hockey fans will be hoping their bankers all are friendly and that interest rates stay low, what with two outdoor games, an Eagles concert and the Memorial Cup all quickly approaching.



While Regina fans have their hands hovering over the panic button, followers of the Portland Winterhawks are staying away from bridges, and fans of the Red Deer Rebels are wondering what happened to their season.


Brent Sutter’s Rebels snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday night. Prior to the start of this season, who saw Red Deer with an 11-game losing streak included in its record? The Rebels are 10-18-6, leaving them seven points out of a playoff spot. They are 1-4-5 in their past 10 games.


Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, goes into the Christmas break with 736 regular-season victories. He needs six more to get to 742, which will move him into a tie with the retired Ken Hodge for the WHL’s career record.


The Blazers will come back from the Christmas break to play 13 games, seven on the road, from Dec. 27 through Jan. 21. That crazy WHL schedule then calls for them to play Portland three times in fewer than 48 hours, meeting in Kamloops on Jan. 26 and 27, and in Portland on Jan. 28. Of course, Hodge put up most of his coaching victories while with the Winterhawks.


You may have noticed that Portland F Cody Glass wasn’t able to crack the roster of Canada’s national junior team. That means that the Canadian team must be pretty darn good. . . . F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals didn’t even get invited to the selection camp. . . . Yes, Canada must be really, really good.


The Vancouver Giants go into Christmas having won six straight games, including home-and-home sweeps of Portland and Victoria. The Giants now are 18-13-4 — that’s a legitimate plus-500 — and only three points out of first place in the B.C. Division. That’s rarified air for a team that won 20 games last season and has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons.


With a new year on the horizon, the WHL’s 2017-18 Official Guide remains, well, unavailable. This is the second season in a row in which the WHL hasn’t been able to make the Guide available in a timely fashion.


ICYMI, the home arena of the Everett Silvertips underwent a name change while I was on hiatus. What once was Xfinity Arena now is . . . wait for it . . . Angel of the Winds Arena. The Angel of the Winds Casino Resort is paying US$3.4 million over a 10-year agreement for the naming rights. The casino is operated by the Stillaguamish Tribe. . . . Apparently, there wasn’t enough support to have the facility renamed The House That Kevin Left.


If you weren’t aware, the WHL now is shut down for Christmas. Most players will return to their teams on Boxing Day (aka Black Tuesday), with all 22 teams scheduled to play on Dec. 27. All 22 teams also will be in action on Dec. 30, after which each team will have returned from the break to play three games in four nights. Six teams — Brandon, Moose Jaw, Portland, Tri-City, Spokane and Seattle — also will play on Dec. 31, meaning those players have four games in five nights to think about while trying to enjoy Christmas.


SUNDAY’S SCOREBOARD:

At Calgary, D Jonathan Smart scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Ice (15-17-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is tied for Kootenaynewsecond with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (15-16-2) in the Central Division. . . . Kootenay won 14 games all of last season and 12 in all of 2015-16. . . . The Hitmen (10-18-5) have lost two in a row (0-1-1), both to the Ice. . . . Calgary is eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . On Sunday, the Hitmen took a 3-1 lead into the second period. . . . F Jakob Stukel (15) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 5:28. . . . The Ice tied it at 6:09 as F Michael King (6) scored. . . . The Hitmen then got goals from F Andrew Fyten (4), at 9:32, and F Mark Kastelic (8), shorthanded, at 17:36. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (9) pulled the Ice to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:18 of the second period. . . . Kootenay F Alec Baer forced OT with his 13th goal at 16:47 of the third period. . . . Smart, who was acquired from the Regina Pats on Nov. 14, won it with his fourth goal of the season on the only shot of OT by either team. That was his second score in 13 games with the Ice. . . . F Colton Kroeker drew an assist on each of his side’s last two goals. Baer also had an assist on the winner. . . . Kootenay was 1-6 on the PP; Calgary was 1-1. . . . Kootenay got 18 saves from G Duncan McGovern. . . . Calgary G Nick Schneider stopped 17 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 6,269.


At Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 3-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (15-17-3) is tied with the Prince Albert Raiders (13-14-Saskatoon7) for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card playoff spot. . . . The Pats (16-17-3) have lost four straight (0-3-1). The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot. Regina is fourth in the East Division, 14 points behind the third-place Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . On Sunday, the Blades took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Braylon Shmyr (15), on a PP, at 11:08, and F Chase Wouters (7), at 19:35. . . . F Matt Bradley (22) got the Pats to within one, on a PP, at 4:43 of the second period, only to have Saskatoon F Josh Paterson (12) get it back, on a PP, at 15:42. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn pulled the visitors back to within a goal at 14:40 of the third period. . . . Shmyr also had two assists as he figured in each of Saskatoon’s goals. . . . Saskatoon also got two assists from F Kirby Dach. . . . Saskatoon was 2-4 on the PP; Regina was 1-6. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 27 shots to earn the victory. . . . Regina got 22 stops from G Tyler Brown. . . . The Pats were without F Sam Steel and D Josh Mahura, both of whom are with Canada’s national junior team. Mahura had been among the players cut from the selection camp, but was recalled to the team on Saturday following an injury to D Dante Fabbro of Boston U. Fabbro suffered an undisclosed injury in an exhibition game against Denmark on Friday. If Fabbro isn’t able to play, Mahura is expected to be named to the 22-man roster on Dec. 25. . . . Announced attendance: 3,534.


At Everett, the Silvertips moved past Portland and into first place in the U.S. Division with a resounding 8-3 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (21-13-2) have Everettwon two straight and are 9-1-0 in their past 10. They lead the Winterhawks (21-11-1) by one point atop the U.S. Division. They also lead the Western Conference, by one point over Portland, the Kelowna Rockets (20-11-3) and Victoria Royals (20-13-3). . . . The Winterhawks have lost two in a row and are 2-7-1 in their past 10. . . . On Sunday, the teams were 2-2 going into the second period where the hosts exploded for five goals. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie, who has 23 goals, scored twice in the opening period, sandwiched around Everett goals from F Bryce Kindopp and F Luke Ormsby (1), who is from Monroe, Wash. That was Ormsby’s first goal since he was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kindopp (11) snapped the 2-2 tie at 5:20 of the second period to start the onslaught. . . . Before the period was over, Everett had goals from F Martin Fasko-Rudas (1), F Akash Bains (2), F Patrick Bajkov (20) and F Riley Sutter (13). . . . F Jake Gracious (5) of Portland and Everett F Brandson Hein (2) exchanged third-period goals. . . . Everett got two assists from each of D Montana Onyebuchi, F Reece Vitelli and F Connor Dewar, with Fasko-Rudas, Ormsby, Sutter and Bains getting one apiece. . . . Everett was 0-3 on the PP; Portland’s PP unit didn’t get on the ice. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 26 shots for the Silvertips. . . . Portland starter Shane Farkas allowed five goals on 24 shots in 29:15. Cole Kehler, who turned 20 on Sunday, came on to stop 12 of 15 shots in 30:45. . . . Portland F Ryan Hughes played his second game after returning from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered on Oct. 10. . . . Everett was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It went 2-1-0. . . . Announced attendance: 3,817.


At Spokane, F Nikita Malukhin scored his first two WHL goals to help the Thunderbirds to a 10-3 romp over the Chiefs. . . . Seattle (15-14-4), the WHL’s defending champion, has Seattlewon two in a row and holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points behind Spokane (18-13-3), which now is 17-2-1 when scoring at least three goals. . . . Malukhin, a freshman from Kazan, Russia, went into the game with one assist in 18 games. . . . F Blake Bargar, who has seven goals, and F Zack Andrusiak, who has 18, also had two goals each for Seattle. . . . Andrusiak opened the scoring 20 seconds into the game. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, on a PP, tied it for Spokane at 3:14. . . . The Thunderbirds took control by scoring the next five goals. . . . F Nolan Volcan (13), who drew four assists, and D Austin Strand (12) scored before the first-period ended, and Bargar, Malukhin and Andrusiak added second-period goals. . . . Spokane got to within three goals, at 6-3, as Anderson-Dolan (16) scored, on a PP, at 7:12 of the third period and F Riley Woods (13) counted at 8:37. . . . But the Thunderbirds wrapped it up with the game’s last four goals, from Bargar, F Matthew Wedman (4), D Reece Harsch (6) and Malukhin. . . . Wedman added two assists to his goal, with Strand, Harsch, Bargar and Andrusiak each getting one. . . . D Ty Smith had two assists for the Chiefs. . . . The Thunderbirds were 2-3 on the PP; the Chiefs were 2-4. . . . G Matt Berlin earned the victory with 31 stops. . . . Spokane starter Donovan Buskey was beaten five times on 19 shots in 34:50. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 15, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs, coming on in relief at 14:50 of the second period. He allowed five goals on 10 shots in 25:10. Arnold, from Nanaimo, B.C., was added on Friday after the Chiefs returned G Declan Hobbs, 19, to the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Hobbs, whose rights were acquired from the Kootenay Ice in July, had been with the Chiefs since Dec. 1. Arnold has been playing for the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. The Chiefs selected him in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 4,042.


At Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants ran their winning streak to six games with a 2-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Giants (18-13-4) are 8-2-0 in their past 10 Vancouvergames. They are third in the B.C. Division, just three points out of first place. . . . The Cougars (12-17-5) are last in the Western Conference. They are four points out of a wild-card spot and 11 points behind Vancouver. . . . D Bowen Byram (2) broke a scoreless tie at 11:31 of the third period. . . . F Ty Ronning scored Vancouver’s second goal, an empty-netter, at 19:00. He has 32 goals in 35 games; last season, he totalled 25 goals in 68 games. In 2015-16, he had 31 scores in 67 outings. In his career, he has 98 regular-season goals in 250 games. . . .  Ronning also drew an assist on Byram’s goal. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 40 shots for his second shutout of the season. He is 12-6-1, 2.90, .913. . . . The Cougars got 31 saves from G Tavin Grant. . . . Vancouver was 2-5 on the PP; Prince George was 0-2. . . . The Giants went 3-0-0 as they played three games in fewer than 48 hours. They swept the Victoria Royals in a home-and-home set. . . . The Cougars went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. They lost 4-0 in Everett on Saturday, meaning they have been blanked in two straight games. . . . The Cougars return from the Christmas break to play four road games — in Victoria on Dec. 27 and 28, and back in Langley on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1. . . . Announced attendance: 4,088.


If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


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