Ex-Blazers head coach has new gig. . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ win. . . . McGrew’s OT goal puts Chiefs in front


MacBeth

F Dwight King (Lethbridge, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had 10 goals and 32 assists in 54 games.


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Well . . . that didn’t take long.

Serge Lajoie wasn’t out of work for two weeks after he and the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers made what both parties contend was a mutual decision to go their separate ways on April 11.

On Tuesday, Lajoie, who spent one season as the Blazers’ head coach, was named head coach of OHA Edmonton’s midget prep team.

Before signing on with the Blazers, Lajoie spent three seasons as the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears and five years with the NAIT Ooks.

With OHA Edmonton, Lajoie will take over from Randall Weber, who spent one season as the midget prep team’s head coach and now is the program’s general manager.

The Blazers, meanwhile, have yet to name a new head coach.


Team Canada completed round-robin play at the IIHF U-18 World Championship on Tuesday, erasing a 2-0 deficit and beating Czech Republic, 6-2, at Umea, Sweden. . . . CanadaCanada (4-0) finished on top of Group A and will meet Latvia, the fourth-place team in Group B, in a quarter-final game on Thursday. . . .

The tournament, which is being played in Ornskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden, concludes on Sunday. . . .

In yesterday’s victory, G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) stopped 23 shots in his second straight start for Canada. . . . .F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) scored once, and F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) had an assist. . . . There were three WHLers in Czech Republic’s lineup — D Simon Kubicek (Seattle Thunderbirds), F Martin Lang (Kamloops Blazers) and F Matej Taman (Prince George Cougars). . . .

In other games on Tuesday, Team USA dumped Latvia, 7-1; Finland dropped Switzerland, 12-0; and Sweden blanked Russia, 3-0. . . .

F Cole Caufield scored two goals for the Americans, giving him a tournament-leading 11. That is three shy of the tournament record set by Russian F Alex Ovechkin in 2002. . . . Caufield leads the tournament with 13 points, while teammate Jack Hughes, who had two assists yesterday, has 12. The tournament record is held by Russian F Nikita Kucherov, who put up 21 in 2011. . . .

Where do things go from here?

For starters, Switzerland finished the round-robin at 1-3 — the victory came in OT — and will meet Slovakia (0-4) in the best-of-three relegation round that opens on Thursday. Slovakia is the only one of the 10 teams not have won a round-robin game.

As mentioned, Canada and Latvia will meet in one quarter-final in Umea, with the winner playing the winner of a game between Sweden (3-1) and Czech Republic (2-2) in Ornskoldsvik. Sweden wound up second in Group B, while Czech Republic was third in Group A. . . On the other side of the draw, it’ll be Team USA (4-0), first in Group B, against Finland (1-3), fourth in Group B, in Ornskoldsvik, and Belarus (3-1), second in Group A, versus Russia (2-2), third in Group B, in Umea. . . .

Interestingly, Team USA and Finland met in the tournament’s championship game in 2015, 2017 and 2018 — the Americans won the first two, with Finland winning last year.


The Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, CHLQuebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate, has never employed a full-time president.

That is about to change.

The CHL, which encompasses 60 teams, announced on Tuesday that it has hired “an outside firm” to search for its first president. David Branch, the OHL commissioner, has been the CHL’s president since 1996, but it’s a part-time gig for him.

The late Ed Chynoweth was the CHL president from 1975-95, while also filling the role of WHL president.

A new president will report to Branch, Gilles Courteau, the president of the QMJHL, and Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner.

The CHL hopes to have a new president in place before the start of the 2019-20 season.


The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have signed F Ty Mueller, 16, to a letter of intent for 2019-20. Mueller, from Cochrane, Alta., played this season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons. As a 15-year-old, he put up 10 goals and 24 assists in 34 games. . . . He has committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks for 2022-23. . . . The Prince George Cougars selected Mueller in the third round of the 2018 WHL bantam draft.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s conference finals both will go at least five games. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings won at home on Tuesday night, beating the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-1, to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final. Game 4 will be played in Edmonton tonight, with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . .

In Spokane, the Chiefs beat the Vancouver Giants, 3-2 in OT, and now trail 2-1 in the Western Conference final. They’ll play again tonight in Spokane. with Game 5 scheduled for Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Vince Loschiavo scored two goals and set up another to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to EdmontonOilKingsa 5-1 victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. . . . The Oil Kings lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Edmonton tonight. . . . This was the Raiders’ worst loss of the season. They suffered 10 regulation-time losses in the regular season — four by one goal, three by two and three by three. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings broke open a scoreless game with four second-period goals. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (6) opened the scoring as he got loose off the left wing and went in alone to score at 1:27. . . . D Conner McDonald (2) made it 2-0 at 9:48, scoring shortly after Raiders F Zack Hayes had hit a post at the other end. . . . Loschiavo (7) wired a shot from the left dot, on a PP, at 14:48 for a 3-0 lead. . . . Loschiavo’s linemates combined for five assists — F Trey Fix-Wolansky drew an assist on each of the first three goals, with F Quinn Benjafield in on two of them. . . . D Matthew Robertson (4) made it 4-0 when he scored through a screen from high in the slot at 18:54. . . . The Raiders’ goal came from F Sean Montgomery (8), on a PP, with 0.3 seconds left in the period. . . . Edmonton F Josh Williams (2) completed the scoring, on a PP, at 16:05 of the third period. . . . Edmonton was 2-5 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-3. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 28 saves. In these playoffs, he now is 7-3, 1.79, .927. . . . The Raiders got 34 stops from G Ian Scott.

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F Jake McGrew’s goal in OT gave the Spokane Chiefs a 3-2 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsVancouver Giants. . . . Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 2-1, with Game 4 in Spokane tonight. . . . They’ll play Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. . . . Last night, F Eli Zummack (4) gave Spokane a 1-0 lead when he scored off a rebound at 17:40 of the second period. . . . Vancouver F Justin Sourdif (1) tied it when he broke in off the right wing and scored at 2:22 of the third period. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) put Spokane out front 2-1 when he scored off the rush at 10:51. . . . The Giants forced OT when F Jared Dmytriw (7) scored on a PP at 17:01. He actually put the puck off a skate belonging to Chiefs D Filip Kral and into the net. . . . McGrew won it with his second goal of these playoffs, at 8:51 of extra time, taking a centring pass from D Bobby Russell and whacking home the winning goal. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . G Bailey Brkin blocked 27 shots for the Chiefs, while David Tendeck turned aside 35 at the other end. . . . Kral missed some time in the first period and into the second after taking a hit from Sourdif behind the Chiefs’ net. He returned in the second period and finished the game. . . . The Chiefs again were without F Luc Smith, 20, who hasn’t played since leaving Game 1 after suffering an apparent ankle injury early in the first period.


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Blazers, Lajoie go their separate ways. . . . Broncos taking games to the Internet. . . . Giants sweep way into conference final

MacBeth

D Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 11 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL). This season, with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL), he had 12 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. Almond is a dual Swiss-Canadian citizen, and has played the past seven seasons in Geneva.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers announced late Thursday afternoon that they and head coach Serge Lajoie “have mutually parted ways.” Lajoie had replaced Don Hay as the team’s head coach prior to this season.

The four-paragraph news release didn’t mention assistant coach Dan Kordic, who came Kamloops1to the Blazers from the U of Alberta Golden Bears with Lajoie. They had helped the Golden Bears win the U Sports national title for 2017-18.

Jon Keen, the Blazers’ broadcaster, later tweeted that Kordic “has been retained.”

Lajoie, a defenceman in his playing days, got into seven games with the Blazers in 1986-87. He went on to play five seasons (1988-93) with the Golden Bears, where he played under head coach Billy Moores for four of those seasons. Interestingly, Moores is a former WHL coach, having spent one season (1985-86) as the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats. Moores is the older brother of Don Moores, who has been the Blazers’ president and chief operating officer for almost three years.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season as the Blazers’ general manager, explained things this way to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, who shared all of it on his Twitter account (@MarTheReporter):

“We had some reviews, discussing with Serge, talked about some things, both sides, and we came to the conclusion that I think a little bit was the fit. Might not have been the right fit for us and maybe for him.

“I think, even for Serge, being away from family played possibly a part of it. It’s tough for coaches, for anybody, when you’re away from family all year long.”

Lajoie’s family — wife Kelly and children Isabella and Marc — stayed in the Edmonton area. Isabella is finishing up Grade 12, while Marc, a first-round selection by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, spent this season playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team.

“I missed out on so much, in terms of my daughter’s accomplishments, my son’s accomplishments,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I would have loved to have been able to see his first WHL game. You sit down with your family and think — is this really worth it? It would not have been fair to the Blazers.”

In explaining his side of the decision, Lajoie said:

“I’m very comfortable with it. Both the Blazers and myself, totally on the same page. It was an evaluation that I made at the end of the year. I wanted to make sure I took some time at the end of the season to see if really this is something I could continue and commit the time and effort necessary to help continue to push the Blazers forward. Family was a big part in this decision. We came to an understanding, the Blazers and myself. Now is the right time to part ways and move on to the next opportunity.”

This season, the Blazers went 28-32-8, good enough for a third-place tie with the Kelowna Rockets in the B.C. Division. The Blazers then beat the visiting Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker that propelled them into the first round of the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals.

The writing may have been on the wall for the Blazers as early as Feb. 12 when they added co-owner Darryl Sydor as a full-time assistant coach. Sydor, who had moved back to Kamloops prior to this season, had been at most of the team’s home games, watching from the press box. After Feb. 12, he was behind the bench for all but a couple of games.

In a season-ending interview with Hastings, majority owner Tom Gaglardi said that Lajoie had a long-term contract. Asked if Lajoie would be back as head coach, Gaglardi told Hastings: “I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that.”

Gaglardi went on to praise Sydor’s contribution to the team and to the coaching staff. Asked if Sydor has “what it takes to be a head coach,” Gaglardi replied: “I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do.”

On Thursday, when Hastings asked Bardsley if Sydor would be the next head coach, the GM responded:

“We talked to Darryl and I think we’re comfortable Darryl is going to come back as a coach, At what capacity, we have to discuss that. Is it the head coach? We haven’t even discussed that. We’d like to have Darryl back as a coach.”

Despite the optics, Lajoie told Hastings that he didn’t see Sydor’s presence as any kind of threat. I recommend that you check out Hastings’ timeline on Twitter (@MarTheReporter) for more comments from Bardsley and Lajoie, along with a few quotes from Gaglardi.

The Blazers have completed 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi. The next hire will be the 11th full-time or interim head coach since they purchased the franchise.

In those 12 seasons, the Blazers have missed the playoffs four times, reached the Western Conference final once, gotten into the second round on one other occasion, and been bounced in the first round six times.

BlazersCoaches

The above chart is from the Blazers’ website. One asterisk indicates that he was replaced in mid-season; two asterisks indicates an interim head coach.


There are some nasty allegations being made by followers of the Prince Albert Raiders who journeyed to Saskatoon on Wednesday for Game 4 between their favourite club and PrinceAlbertthe Blades. Fans are claiming they had beer and macaroni thrown at them in the SaskTel Centre. . . . “I could feel something on the back of my neck, something really hard,” Raiders fan Matt Herbert told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “We discovered it was macaroni later, but they were just pelting it down on us. Next thing you know, I could feel some beer coming down my back. The guy beside me was soaked.” . . . The macaroni had been given to fans as part of a promotion. . . . D’Andrea wrote: “The Blades did not wish to comment on the record. The SaskTel Centre did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Raiders issued a response. . . . In it, they confirm that they’ve been told the occurrence is being examined by SaskTel Centre, and they hope nothing like this repeats itself for Game 5 Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.” . . . D’Andrea’s complete story is right here. . . . The Blades won Game 4, 4-1, to tie the series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Saskatoon on Sunday.


The Swift Current Broncos are taking their game broadcasts to the Internet. After being SCBroncoson The Eagle 94.1 since the late 1980s, the Broncos announced on Thursday that they are beginning “a new era of audio content production and distribution.” . . . According to the news release, “This will include streaming game-day broadcasts, podcasts and interviews that will provide Broncos Nation with leading in-depth coverage and access that we believe our fans will truly appreciate. . . . Further details are set to be released at a future date that is considerate of the parties involved and after a proper process has been completed.”


The Red Deer Rebels have signed D Blake Gustafson to a WHL contract. Gustafson, who will turn 17 on May 21, played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. He had four goals and one assists in 38 regular-season and playoff games. Gustafson was a 10th-round pick by the Rebels in the 2017 bantam draft.


There is an interesting story developing in the OHL where the Windsor Spitfires seem ohlabout to be sold, perhaps for as much as $12.8 million. According to reports, Dr. Azim Parekh is negotiating a deal that will end with him buying the Spitfires from a group that includes Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner. On Saturday, the Spitfires selected D Isa Parekh in the fifth round of the OHL draft. On Wednesday, the OHL held its U-18 draft, and the Spitfires, with the fifth overall pick, took D Aydin Parekh. . . . Yes, they both are sons of Dr. Parekh. . . . Dave Jewell of The Hockey Writers has a whole lot more on this story right here.


The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have signed Mat Hehr, their general manager and head coach, to a two-year contract extension. Hehr, 30, joined the Terriers as an assistant coach for 2016-17, then took over as head coach on Nov. 15, 2017. So he just completed his first season as the full-time head coach.


The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have promoted Brad Rihela to assistant general manager and associate coach. Rihela, 29, spent last season as their director of player personnel and assistant coach. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Rihela spent three seasons at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., coach in the bantam prep program. . . . In Chilliwack, Rihela will be working with Brian Maloney, the general manager of hockey and building operations and head coach.


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NOTES: The Vancouver Giants advanced to the Western Conference final by beating the host Victoria Royals, 6-1, in Thursday’s only WHL playoff game. The Giants, last in the conference final in 2010, swept the series, 4-0, and now await the winner of the series between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs. . . . That series will open in Langley, B.C., with games on April 19 and 20. . . .

The Chiefs lead that series, 3-0, and have a chance to wrap it up at home tonight. . . .

The other series also resumes tonight, with the Saskatoon Blades in Prince Albert to meet the Raiders. The Blades won, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Saskatoon to tie that series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 will be played Sunday in Saskatoon and, as of late Thursday afternoon, the lower bowl in the SaskTel Centre, with 6,000 seats, was sold out. . . . The winner of that series will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. They completed a sweep of the Hitmen with a 6-0 victory in Calgary on Wednesday night.

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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants are into the Western Conference final after beating the Royals, 6-1, Vancouverin Victoria. . . . The Giants swept the series and will meet either the Everett Silvertips or Spokane Chiefs in the conference final. The Giants, who finished atop the conference standings, will have the home-ice advantage, so the series will begin with two games in Langley, B.C., on April 19 and 20. . . . Last night, the Giants took control with three first-period goals, from F Lukas Svejkovsky (3), at 10:04; D Bowen Byram (4), at 16:19; and D Dallas Hines (3), at 16:37. . . . F Owen Hardy (3) made it 4-0 at 9:39 of the second period, before F D-Jay Jerome (2) got Victoria’s lone goal at 11:58. . . . F Brayden Watts (3) and F Jared Dmytriw (4) had the Giants’ other goals, both in the third period. . . . Dmytriw, who played the first three seasons (2014-17) with the Royals, also had two assists. He also is Vancouver’s captain. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Victoria was 0-1. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 17 shots for Vancouver, while G Griffen Outhouse completed his WHL career with a 27-save effort. . . . The Giants held a 157-63 edge in shots in the series, but, because of Outhouse’s superb play, needed OT to win Games 3 and 4. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt, who missed Game 3, was back in the lineup. Royals F Phillip Schultz, who left Game 3 in OT with an apparent injury to his left arm, also was in the lineup. . . . F Kaid Oliver, the Royals’ leading scorer in the regular season, missed all of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald, who has used up his junior eligibility, completed a six-game suspension by sitting last night, while D Jake Kustra sat out the second of a two-game suspension. F Tanner Sidaway missed all of this series with a hand injury.


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Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

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After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

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In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

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The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

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The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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Stankoven continues spinning records. . . . Almeida leads Warriors to win. . . . Sudden-Death Byram strikes in OT again


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A few WHL-related notes . . .

If you’re wondering why the Brandon Wheat Kings are on the road these days, the above tweet tells the story. The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier is scheduled to run from March 2 through March 9 in Westoba Place and the icemakers already are hard at work. . . . The Wheat Kings have nine games remaining. They will begin a six-game trek through the Central Division when they meet the Hitmen in Calgary on Friday. The Wheat Kings won’t play at home again until March 16 when they are to entertain the Regina Pats. . . . At this point, the Wheat Kings are hanging on to the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. Brandon is to play in Red Deer on March 8 and in Medicine Hat on March 9.

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Say what you want about WHL attendance figures — and there are a lot of times when the announced attendance doesn’t seem to match the number of butts in the seats — but the Everett Silvertips put 15,684 fans in the pews for back-to-back home games this weekend. . . . On the same nights, Friday and Saturday, the Spokane Chiefs played two home games and drew a total of 18,140 fans. . . . Just a thought but maybe the Memorial Cup would look good in one of those cities.

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When Kamloops lost, 2-0, to the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday night, the Blazers were credited with 18 shots on goal. . . . “That was 18 shots that the Kelowna scorekeepers kept,” Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “By our count, we had 27. It’s a little misleading. It’s a psychological advantage for them. We had some good chances, just like they did.” . . . Lajoie was saying out loud what a lot of WHL coaches think, and have thought over the years.

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When Wyatte Wylie scored his 10th goal of the season for Everett on Saturday night, it gave the Silvertips three defencemen with at least that many scores. Jake Christiansen has 12; Gianni Fairbrother has 10. . . . The three also have combined for 121 points.

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Mitch Love, in his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, spent the previous seven seasons on the staff of the Everett Silvertips. While Everett, which joined the WHL for 2003-04, has never missed the playoffs, the Blades clinched a berth on Saturday for the first time since 2013. . . . It’s neat that Love wasn’t able to conceal his excitement in the post-game media scrum. “There are a few guys in the room who obviously haven’t played a playoff game in their career,” Love said.“It is awesome for them. They are going to get that experience. We have a lot of guys that we have brought in here throughout the year that have had playoff experience. This is my eighth consecutive season of playoff hockey, so I may look like I’m not that excited tonight, but I am. I’m a hockey coach, and I am always looking to be better the next day. I’m excited for our guys.” . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, has more from the Blades’ clinching victory right here.

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You are free to wonder if the hockey fans of Saskatoon and area have re-discovered the Blades, now that they are playoff bound once again. Their last two home games have drawn crowds of 4,815 and 4,334 — the first time this season they have had back-to-back gatherings of 4,000-plus. . . . The Blades have six home games remaining.

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Headline at globalnews.ca: Saskatoon Blades clinch playoff birth with 4-3 shootout win over Kootenay Ice.

So . . . does that mean the Blades are due in April/May?

——

There still is a lot to be decided, but the first round of the playoffs could feature the Prince Albert Raiders, who will finish atop the Eastern Conference, against the Brandon Wheat Kings, who may end up in the second wild-card spot. . . . The Wheat Kings are the only team to have beaten the Raiders twice this season — 5-4 in OT in Prince Albert on Feb. 15, and 6-3 in Brandon the next night. . . . The Raiders then whipped Brandon, 7-1, at home on Saturday night. . . . “We were looking forward to this one,” Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Herald after Saturday’s game. “They were trying to take some liberties. They were running around at us and they were taunting us a bit after they got those two wins, so the guys were pretty excited to face them again.” . . . Habscheid, who just may have been priming the playoff pump, added: “That was probably as dominant a performance was we’ve had all season, which is good to see as we continue to get in that playoff mindset.”

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A tip of the Taking Note fedora to F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings and F Reece Vitelli of the Everett Silvertips. On Jan. 10, they were told that they had been involved in a trade and would be swapping teams. Shortly afterwards, they were told that, uhh, no, the trade was off. No one has spelled out exactly what happened, but both players handled the mess like true professionals, or true student-athletes. . . . Mattheos, 19, has put up 14 goals and 25 assists in 21 games since Jan. 10. . . . Vitelli, 17, has five goals and four assists in 18 games since then, but has been especially proficient of late with three goals and three assists over his past four games.

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The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s defending champions, won’t be in the playoffs this time around. They have played 57 games and are 10-42-5; they have won four times in regulation time. They begin a seven-game road trip on Tuesday in Edmonton as the Oil Kings hold their annual Hooky Hockey game. It starts at 11 a.m. . . . The Kootenay Ice (11-38-10) has won eight games in regulation time.

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It is information that is this that highlights why every WHL team should have an in-house historian.

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On the subject of attendance, according to hockeydb, the BCHL’s Penticton Vees are averaging 3,105 fans per game this season. Also of note are the Wenatchee Wild (2,426), Chilliwack Chiefs (2,147), Vernon Vipers (1,975) and Trail Smoke Eaters (1,873). . . . Penticton’s average attendance is higher than five WHL teams — the Medicine Hat Tigers (3,012), Prince Albert Raiders (2,602), Prince George Cougars (2,600), Swift Current Broncos (2,386) and Kootenay Ice (2,201).


F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League put his name into the record book with his 45th goal of the season on thompsonblazersSunday.

Stankoven broke the record in leading the Blazers to a 7-2 victory over the South Island Royals in Kamloops’ Memorial Arena.

The previous record of 44 had been set by F Tyson Jost of the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. Jost now plays for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

Stankoven also had three assists on Sunday, and now has 90 points in 34 games. The Blazers have four games remaining in their regular season.

The league record for points in a season is 108 and belongs to F Alex Kerfoot, who did it in 38 games in 2010-11 with the Vancouver North West Giants. Kerfoot, who had 36 goals and 72 assists that season, is a teammate of Jost’s with the Avalanche.

The Kamloops Blazers selected Stankoven with the fifth overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, has one assist in seven WHL games this season.

Last season, Stankoven played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up 57 goals and 33 assists in 30 games.


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida scored once and added three assists to help the host Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriorsWarriors to a 5-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Moose Jaw (34-16-8) has won three in a row. It is third in the East Division, eight points behind the Saskatoon Blades with two games in hand. . . . Kootenay (11-39-10) has lost nine straight (0-7-2). . . . This was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both teams. Moose Jaw finished 3-0-0). Kootenay actually was playing its fourth road game in five days — it went 0-2-2. . . . It was the 10th time in Almeida’s WHL career — and the fifth time this season — that he put up at least four points. He now has 87 points, including a league-leading 62 assists, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors scored the game’s first four goals. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (14) got the first one, scoring against his former team at 10:26 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey (31) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:27. . . . Tracey’s goal proved to be the winner. He leads the WHL with 10 GWG. . . . F Tristin Langan (45) upped it to 3-0, at 6:52 of the second period, and Almeida (25) made it 4-0, on a PP, at 9:56 of the third. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) scored for the Ice, on a PP, at 12:18. . . . F Tate Popple (11) got Moose Jaw’s last goal, on a PP, at 19:22. . . . Tracey added two assists to his goal and now has 73 points, including 42 assists in 58 games as a freshman. . . . Langan also had two assists. He’s got 96 points in 57 games. Langan is seven points off the WHL scoring lead that is held by F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks. Last season, Langan finished with 16 goals and 26 assists in 70 games. . . . Moose Jaw was 3-5 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-4. . . . The Warriors got 26 saves from G Brodan Salmond, while Curtis Meger also stopped 26 for the Ice.


D Bowen Byram scored his fourth OT goal of the season to give the Vancouver Giants a 2-Vancouver1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Vancouver (41-14-4) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It will finish atop the B.C. Division, and now is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips. The Giants have one game in hand. . . . Victoria (31-25-4) is second in the B.C. Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . These teams met three times in fewer than 48 hours. The Giants won, 4-0, in Vancouver on Friday; the Royals won 5-4 in a shootout on home ice on Saturday. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 6-2-2); Victoria was 4-4-2). . . . F Justin Sourdif (19) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 4:18 of the first period. . . . The Royals tied it at 16:00 of the third when F Phillip Schultz (15) scored, on a PP. . . . Byram won it with his 22nd goal of the season, just 59 seconds into OT. He’s got seven game-winners this season. . . . Vancouver was 1-4 on the PP; Victoria was 1-8. . . . The Giants got 25 saves from G Trent Miner. G David Tendeck was back in a Vancouver uniform after missing one game for what the team said was “personal reasons.” . . . The Royals got 28 stops from G Brock Gould. . . . The Royals scratched F Kaid Oliver, who went heavily into the boards in the second period of Saturday’s game and left the game favouring a wrist. Oliver leads the Royals in goals (27) and points (49) so it really will sting if he is out for any length of time.


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Lajoie fine with Blazers’ coaching addition . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ victory . . . Alexeyev helps Rebels end skid

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F Justin Kelly (Spokane, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) has announced his retirement. This season, he had two goals and five assists in 12 games with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2), but he hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion suffered in a game that night against Kaufbeuren. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). In 57 games, he had 11 goals and 12 assists, and was second on the team in scoring. Slovan has four regular-season games left and cannot make the playoffs.


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When the Kamloops Blazers officially added Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff on Tuesday, it wasn’t seen in some corners of the team’s fandom as just another move. Kamloops1That’s because Sydor is one of the team’s five owners. . . . After the Blazers dropped the visiting Victoria Royals, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week spoke with Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie about job security and a whole lot more. . . .

“I’m not worried,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I don’t see Darryl Sydor as a threat. For me, I’ve always invested my full energy in whatever I’ve taken on. But I value family. I also value education. I’ve got an education degree, a master’s degree. I have good roots back in Edmonton.

“The reason I tell you that is that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to be here. If there is an ulterior motive, to have him in to oversee things, I don’t see it. If that’s the case, again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve put a lot of work in this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in these players.

“I could leave with my head up high.”

As for Sydor, who has spent eight years as an assistant coach in the professional ranks, he told Hastings that he’s not a threat.

“I’m here to give guidance and if there’s feedback that I can give on how he can become a better coach, that’s what I’m here for,” Sydor said.

Hastings’ complete story is right here.


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Ghostridershave signed general manager and head coach Jeff Wagner to a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Wagner is in his first season with Fernie. . . . The Ghostriders are 25-13, with three ties and four OTLs, and will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division, behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, who are 39-4 with one tie and one OTL. . . . Wagner, from Calgary, joined the Ghostriders after working as the assistant GM with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thundercats.


The Young Stars Classic, a September fixture in Penticton, B.C., since 2010, won’t be held in 2019. . . . The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks confirmed that on Thursday, one day after the Winnipeg Jets revealed that will take part in a prospects’ tournament in Belleville, Ont., in September. . . . The Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had teams of prospects play in Penticton prior to 2018. However the Flames and Oilers didn’t take part in 2018, choosing instead to play games in Red Deer. That left the Canucks and Jets to face each other twice, with the UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears also playing each other twice. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more right here.


In all my time writing sports, Kaye Kaminishi may be the most unforgettable character I have met. Now 97, the Kamloops resident played baseball in Vancouver for the legendary Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian team that shone in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, Kaminishi ended up in an internment camp near Lillooet, B.C., and never did return to Vancouver. He was there recently, though, filming a Heritage Minute that is soon to be seen on your TV set. . . . John Mackie of Postmedia has more on this remarkable man right here


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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three third-period goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the Warriors, 3-2, in Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (31-17-8) is atop the Central Division, three points clear of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (30-15-8) has lost two in a row. It appears headed for a third-place finish in the East Division. . . . The Warriors played 12 of their previous 13 games on the road. In those 13 games, they were 9-3-1. . . . The Oil Kings had been 0-7-4 in their previous 11 games with Moose Jaw, not having beaten the Warriors since Feb. 20, 2016. On that night, the Oil Kings won, 3-2, in Moose Jaw with F Dario Meyer getting the winner. . . . F Carson Denomie (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 12:55 of the second period. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-1 on third-period goals from Loschiavo, at 2:11, and F Andrew Fyten (14), at 10:54. . . . D Josh Brook (14) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 12:59. . . . Loschiavo snapped the tie with his 26th goal at 13:38. He has eight game-winners this season; only F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Tristin Langan of the Warriors have more, with nine. . . . Loschiavo would have had a hat trick had he scored on a second-period penalty shot, but he was unable to beat G Adam Evanoff. . . . Loschiavo played the first 215 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Kootenay Ice, then was dealt to Moose Jaw and played 40 games there. On May 3, Edmonton sent F Nick Bowman and a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Warriors for Loschiavo. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 31 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Warriors got 36 saves from Evanoff. . . . With G Dylan Myskiw (ill) sidelined, the Oil Kings had G Matthew Pesenti, 17, backing up Scott. Pesenti, who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was with Edmonton on an emergency basis, because his WHL rights belong to the Regina Pats. He has spent time with the Pats this season and got into two games last month. . . . The Oil Kings also scratched F Scott Atkinson and F Zach Russell, both of whom also were ill. . . . Edmonton D Jake Neighbours served the last game of a four-game suspension. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tate Popple in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 31.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 Red Deervictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . This game was to have been played on Wednesday night but was postponed 24 hours when poor driving conditions kept the Rebels from making it to Everett in time. . . . Red Deer (29-19-5) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (38-13-3) leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Robbie Holmes (10) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:40 of the second period. That was his first goal since being acquired by Everett from the Regina Pats at the Jan. 10 trade deadline. He had nine goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Pats. He’s got a goal and two assists in 12 games with Everett. . . . F Brandon Hagel (32) pulled Red Deer even at 11:26 of the third period. . . . D Jake Christiansen scored for Everett in the fourth round of the shootout, only to have F Jeff de Wit equalize. . . . Alexeyev then won it in the next round. . . . Each of the goaltenders — Red Deer’s Ethan Anders and Everett’s Dustin Wolf — stopped 37 shots through OT. . . . Red Deer was 0-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ head coach, now has 496 regular-season victories as he strives to become the ninth coach in WHL history to get to 500.


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Habscheid, Sutter approach No. 500 . . . Almeida sinks Cougars in OT . . . Raiders post 40th victory


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F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) has signed a one-year contract extension with ZSC Zurich (Switzerland, NL A). This season, he is pointless in nine games with ZSC. On loan to the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B), he had five goals and 11 assists in 18 games, and on loan to the GCK Lions U20 Zurich (Switzerland, Elite Junior A), he had seven goals and five assists in five games.


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Two long-time WHLers are running almost neck-and-neck as they move closer to becoming only the eighth and ninth head coaches with 500 regular-season victories.

Just one victory separates Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders and Brent Sutter whlof the Red Deer Rebels as they close in on the milestone.

Habscheid, whose Raiders are into their 14th consecutive week as the top-ranked team in the CHL, has 495 victories. He wasn’t in Victoria on Tuesday night as the Raiders beat the Royals, 4-1, because he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.

Habscheid, 55, has coached the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria and Prince Albert.

Sutter, 56, is at 494 victories. He is the owner, general manager and head coach in Red Deer and has spent his entire coaching career with the Rebels. Sutter missed one victory earlier this season because he was on a fathers’ junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks.

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the career record for victories (750), having passed Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland, 742) last season while the head coach of the Blazers.

After Habscheid and Sutter, the current head coaches with the most regular-season victories are Shaun Clouston of the Medicine Hat Tigers, at 382, and Portland’s Mike Johnston, with 342.


The Prince George Cougars were without F Josh Maser on Tuesday as they dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Maser was serving the first of a three-PrinceGeorgegame suspension handed down earlier in the day. He was suspended under supplemental discipline for an unpenalized hit on Kamloops D Quinn Schmiemann during the Blazers’ 3-2 OT victory in Prince George on Sunday. On the WHL’s weekly roster report, Schmiemann is listed as being out for a week. . . . Why did the Blazers file for supplemental discipline? . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV that “it was a situation and a play that should’ve been called on the ice, should’ve been penalized. To what extent in the heat of the battle, you never know, but upon watching video I think it’s something we want to make sure we’re continuing to educate our players that that’s a dangerous play.” . . . As for the length of the suspension, Lajoie also told Klassen: “Three games. I’m not going to judge on that, but I’ve seen our players, for similar players, get more games.” . . . The Blazers have had two players suspended for more than three games for high hits this season. F Jermaine Loewen got four games after hitting D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 5 in Kamloops. Quigley missed three games. F/D Jeff Faith drew a five-game suspension under supplemental for an unpenalized hit on D Remy Aquilon of the host Victoria Royals on Jan. 9. Aquilon hasn’t played since absorbing that hit.


F Dylan James, 15, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of North Dakota where he will play for the Fighting Hawks. He is the first player born in 2003 to commit to UND. . . . From Calgary, he was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. James, who won’t turn 16 until Oct. 12, has 14 goals and 12 assists with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Last season, he put up 26 goals and 30 assists in 56 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons.


The Everett Silvertips have signed F Jacob Wright to a WHL contract. Wright, 16, is a list player from Langley, B.C. He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 24 games with the B.C. Major Midget League’s Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed G Brett Mirwald to a WHL contract. Mirwald, 15, is from Saskatoon. He was selected in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Saskaton Blazers, he is 14-2-0, 2.11, .910, with three shutouts in 17 appearances.


The junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has named Mike Wilson as its head coach, replacing Cam Basarab. . . . Wilson is familiar with Campbell River, having been the associate coach for two seasons (2015-17). . . . Basarab had been the head coach — he moved up from assistant coach — since early November following the departure of GM/head coach Lee Stone. Assistant coach Bill Brett took over as the GM. . . . The Storm is 27-9-3 and leads the North Division by 23 points over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Moose Jaw (25-11-8) has points in five straight games (4-0-1), all on a trip through the B.C. Division. The Warriors are third in the East Division, four points behind Saskatoon with three games in hand. . . . Prince George (16-24-5) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is two points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ilijah Collins (6), at 18:07 of the first period, and F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (16), at 3:51 of the second. . . . F Tristin Langan (37) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 7:12, and D Jett Woo (10) tied it at 6:14 of the third period. . . . Almeida won it with his 15th goal, off assists from Langan and D Josh Brook, who finished with two helpers. Almeida, from Kitimat, B.C., began his WHL career by playing 87 games with the Cougars, who had selected him fifth overall in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The Cougars had a 25-16 edge in shots, and won 31 of 50 faceoffs. . . . The game featured one minor penalty, that to Moose Jaw D Drae Gardiner for slashing at 9:59 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 23 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, from the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg on the bench in support of starter Isaiah DiLaura. Brennan was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Taylor Gauthier, the Cougars’ other goaltender, is at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.


F Nolan Volcan broke a 1-1 tie just 24 seconds into the second period as the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 2-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (17-21-5) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Kamloops and Prince George. . . . Spokane has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind Portland and two ahead of Tri-City. . . . F Matthew Wedman (18) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period. . . . Spokane tied it at 19:44 when F Jake McGrew (19) scored on a PP. . . . Volcan’s 18th goal, with Wedman drawing the lone assist, stood up as the winner. . . . G Roddy Ross blocked 34 shots in his first home start for Seattle, two more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . Ross was making his sixth appearance with Seattle since joining the Thunderbirds from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. He is 4-0-1, 2.11, .926. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who left the club following a death in his family. He is expected back in time to play Friday in Kamloops. . . . F Cordel Larson, who left the ice on a stretcher the last time the Chiefs played, on Saturday night, made the trip to Kent with his teammates but won’t play for at least a week. He’s fine, but needs time to recover from the trauma and some soreness. . . . Seattle F Jake Lee missed this game as he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.


The Prince Albert Raiders got out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back as they PrinceAlbertskated to a 4-1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Prince Albert (40-5-2) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is 3-0-1 in the B.C. Division swing that wraps up Thursday against the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. That game is to be televised by Sportsnet. . . . The Raiders, who last won 40 games in one season in 1998-99, lead the overall standings by 14 points over Everett. . . . Victoria (23-20-1) is second in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna. . . . F Justin Nachbaur (13) got the Raiders started, on a PP, at 15:02, with F Sean Montgomery adding his 20th goal just 47 seconds later. . . . F D-Jay Jerome (18) scored for Victoria at 1:00 of the second period only to have F Cole Fonstad (18) get that one back at 4:27. . . . D Max Martin (6) finished the scoring, on a PP, at 8:52 of the third period. . . . The Raiders were 2-3 on the PP; the Royals were 0-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 20 shots for Prince Albert, seven fewer than Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse. . . . Outhouse’s night included a right-pad stop on a third-period penalty shot by F Parker Kelly. . . . The Raiders were without head coach Marc Habscheid and F Brett Leason, both of whom are in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game. . . . In Habscheid’s absence, associate coach Jeff Truitt ran the bench and recorded his 136th victory as a head coach. That includes stints with the Kelowna Rockets and Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Loeden Schaufler, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 10, played his first game with the Raiders.


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A special Kidney Walk for Dorothy . . . A milestone for the Blades’ voice . . . Some tidbits from opening weekend

MacBeth

G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .

F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .

F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.


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I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.

Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!

Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .

Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.

Drinnanfamily
The Drinnan family, with the cake (donated by the North Shore Safeway) that celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dorothy’s kidney transplant.

We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.

Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.

DrinnanSilvius
Darlene and Alan Silvius joined us at the Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sunday. Darlene and Dorothy have a special relationship.

Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.

So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.

These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.

The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.

All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.

Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.

Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.


In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .

Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .


Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.

There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.

The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.

Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!


On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:

“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.


The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose BrandonWKregularJaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.


A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.



The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.


F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally Lethbridgefor a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.

He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.


The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San PortlandJose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .

WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .

D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.

Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.


The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers Kamloops1showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”


The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.


The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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