F James Wright (Vancouver, 2005-10) and Linköping (Sweden, SHL) have mutually agreed not to pick up the option year on his contract for next season. This season, he had five goals and six assists in 44 games.
Some odds and ends as we prepare for the opening of the run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup . . .
Red Deer Rebels vs. Prince Albert Raiders — This one features the two most-recent members of the WHL’s 500 Club. Brent Sutter, the head coach of the Rebels, and Raiders’ head coach Marc Habscheid both reached the 500-victory mark this season. . . . Red Deer (33-29-6) will be without D Alex Alexeyev. With him in the lineup, the Rebels would be facing a tough task in the Raiders (54-10-4). Without him, Sutter will feel as though he has one hand tied behind his back. . . . These teams have faced each other once since the trade deadline, with the host Raiders winning 2-1 in a shootout on March 1. . . . They open with games in Prince Albert tonight and Saturday.
Medicine Hat Tigers vs. Edmonton Oil Kings — In four games since the trade deadline, Edmonton (42-18-8) is 3-0-1 against the Tigers. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw is 5-0-1, 1.79, .940 against Medicine Hat this season. . . . Medicine Hat (35-27-6) will need a gigantic effort from 6-foot-7 G Mads Søgaard, who is 0-2-2, 3.47, .909 in games against the Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton put a bow on the regular season by winning its final 11 games. . . . They’ll play Saturday and Sunday in Edmonton.
Moose Jaw Warriors vs. Saskatoon Blades — The Blades (45-15-8) last appeared in the playoffs in 2013, the season in which they went all-in as the host team for the Memorial Cup. Since then, they have undergone an ownership change and a massive rebuilding operation, and now, having clinched a playoff spot, the energy seems to be back in the city. . . . The Blades are 3-0-0 against the Warriors — including 4-2 and 5-3 victories this month — since the trade deadline, with a 15-6 edge in goals. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier is 3-1-0, 2.26, .907 against Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors (40-20-8) are the only team with two 100-point men — F Tristin Langan had 113, and F Justin Almeida 111. . . . The Blades outscored the Warriors, 259-234. . . . Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for Saskatoon tonight and Saturday.
Calgary Hitmen vs. Lethbridge Hurricanes — These teams have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Hurricanes posting 7-4 and 6-2 home-ice victories. . . . Lethbridge (40-18-10) closed in a rush, winning nine of its last 10 games, and opens the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. Calgary (36-26-6), which has lost four in a row, went 6-4-0 down the stretch. . . . The Hitmen need to find an answer for Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive, who lit them up for seven goals and six assists in six games. . . . Lethbridge G Carl Tetachuk (24-9-2, 2.88, .909) took the reins and ran with them after G Liam Hughes left the club. . . . Only Prince Albert (307) scored more goals than Lethbridge (268). . . . Games 1 and 2 will be played in Lethbridge tonight and Saturday.
Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Vancouver Giants — They split the season series, 2-2-0, but have only met once since Jan. 10 — the visiting Giants won 5-1 on March 12. . . . The Giants (48-15-5) had the WHL’s second-best record; the Thunderbirds (31-29-8) were 17th. . . . Both teams closed well, the Giants going 8-1-1, the Thunderbirds 7-1-2. . . . No one WHL player had a bigger impact after Jan. 10 than Seattle G Roddy Ross, who went 16-5-3, 2.76, .919 after moving up from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . As for the Giants, the doubters want to see how much they benefited from playing in a weak B.C. Division. . . . This series opens with games in Langley, B.C., tonight and Saturday.
Tri-City Americans vs. Everett Silvertips — Is this the battle of the goaltenders? Dustin Wolf of the Silvertips went 41-15-4, 1.69, .936. The Americans’ Beck Warm was 32-23-5, 2.94, .916. Wolf played one more minute than Warm — 3,615-3,614 — but faced 607 fewer shots. That’s a huge disparity on a per-game basis. . . . These teams have met five times since the trade deadline, with Everett going 4-1-0, but the victories were by scores of 4-1, 2-0, 2-1 and 3-0. . . . The Silvertips (47-16-5) remain without F Riley Sutter, one of the league’s top faceoff men. . . . The Americans (34-28-6) are without freshman F Blake Stevenson, whose season was ended by an undisclosed injury. . . . They’ll play tonight and Saturday in Everett.
Portland Winterhawks vs. Spokane Chiefs — Down the stretch, the Winterhawks missed D John Ludvig and F Cody Glass, both of whom were injured. Glass was limited to 38 games this season, missing a bunch because of a knee injury, finished with 15 goals and 54 assists. He and WHL scoring champion Joachim Blichfeld (68-53-61—114) form a deadly combination when they’re together. . . . Portland needs Ludvig and Glass back if it is to make a deep run. . . . Spokane has firepower with F Riley Woods, D Ty Smith, F Eli Zummack and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan all scoring at better than a point per game. Freshman F Adam Beckman put up 32 goals and 30 assists in playing all 68 games. . . . Spokane (40-21-7) finished second in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of Portland (40-22-6). Should we read anything into the fact that Portland was 1-0-0 against Kootenay, while Spokane was 5-0-0 against the Ice? . . . In three games since the trade deadline, Spokane went 2-1-0, outscoring Portland, 17-10. . . . They open with games tonight and Saturday in Spokane.
Kamloops Blazers vs. Victoria Royals — The Blazers (28-32-8) are in because they beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker on Tuesday. . . . The Royals (34-30-4) ran into injuries and rested players down the stretch. F Kaid Oliver, who led them in goals (27) and points (49), had his season ended by a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald (concussion) hasn’t played since March 2. . . . A lot of fans thought the Blazers were done when G Dylan Ferguson, 20, went down during a 5-0 loss to visiting Vancouver on March 6. But freshman Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old from Vancouver, stepped in and went 6-0-1, 1.54, .943. He has given up 11 goals in those seven starts, with five of them coming in a 5-4 OT loss to the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . Ferguson, who is from Lantzville, which is on Vancouver Island, has been cleared to play again. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse is 5-0-0, 2-10, .936 against Kamloops this season. . . . They’ve met four times since the trade deadline, with Kamloops going 3-1-0. The Blazers won the last three games, including an 8-0 home-ice victory on March 13 in which the Royals scratched nine players. . . . This series opens with games in Victoria tonight and Saturday.
Two more WHLers, both from Winnipeg, have signed three-year entry-level NHL contracts — G Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks with the St. Louis Blues and F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings with the Carolina Hurricanes. . . .
The Blues selected Hofer in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Hofer, 18, from the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 9, giving up six bantam draft picks, including first-rounders in 2019 and 2021. With Portland, he is 9-8-0, .318, .911, with two shutouts, in 18 appearances. . . . In 30 games with the rebuilding Broncos, he was 6-21-3, 4.02, .904, with one shutout. . . . In 67 career regular-season games, Hofer is 23-32-5, 3.45, .908, with four shutouts. . . . The Winterhawks, who finished third in the U.S. Division, open a first-round playoff series against the second-place Chiefs in Spokane tonight. . . .
Mattheos, 19, was a third-round pick by Carolina in the 2017 NHL draft. This season, he had 44 goals and 52 assists in ?? games. In 253 career regular-season games, he has 278 points, including 127 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings selected Mattheos with the first-overall pick of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . With Brandon out of the WHL’s playoff picture, Mattheos, the Wheat Kings’ captain, had reported to the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, who will turn 16 on April 11, spent the season with the prep team at OHA Edmonton. He had 21 goals and 26 assists in 28 games, and also had one goal in eight games with the Hitmen. . . . Calgary selected him with the fourth-overall pick of the 2018 bantam draft.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have added Cole Sillinger to their roster for the playoffs. He spent this season with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, whose season came to an end this week. . . . Sillinger was saluted as the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top forward, rookie of the year and most valuable player. Oh, he also led the league in scoring with 76 points, including 31 goals, in 39 games. . . . A son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, Cole was selected with the 11th-overall pick of the 2018 bantam draft. He has two assists in four games with the Tigers.
The Spokane Chiefs have added D Michael Ladyman, 17, to their roster. The Regina Pats selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . He already has played 22 games with the Chiefs this season, recording two assists. In 26 games with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, he put up four goals and 24 assists.
If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that the OHL has disciplined the Niagara IceDogs for being in violation of recruitment regulations. The IceDogs have been fined $150,000 and lost a first-round draft pick. . . . This comes a few years after the Windsor Spitfires were fined $400,000 and lost five draft picks for, yes, being in violation of recruitment regulations. . . .
“Well, now, isn’t that interesting?” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “The OHL, along with its partners in the QMJHL and WHL, have been spending the past couple of years convincing the public that many of their teams are mom-and-pop operations that would not survive without the help of ‘student-athletes’ and that to pay them any more than poverty wages would put some of their teams in peril. They’re fighting a class action lawsuit with everything they have and in many cases have successfully lobbied lawmakers to accommodate their needs when it comes to rewriting labor laws. All the while, they’re waving the flag that this beautiful Canadian institution of junior hockey is threatened if its owners are forced to pay players.”
Campbell’s complete piece is right here.
Shawn Martin has signed on as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. For the past two seasons, Martin, who is from Wainwright, Alta., has been the Wolverines’ assistant GM and assistant coach. . . . He also has worked with three other AJHL teams — the St. Albert Steel, Grande Prairie Storm and Sherwood Park Crusaders. He also spent four seasons as GM and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves. . . . Martin had been the Wolverines’ interim GM/head coach since Feb. 8 when Gord Thibodeau left after three years with the organization.
Danton Danielson is the new head coach of the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Danielson takes over from long-time coach Ken Morrison, who left the position after this season ended. . . . Danielson is coaching the bantam AA Saskatoon Outlaws, who are involved in playoffs at the moment.