Meier takes three Stanley Cup rings into retirement . . . Broncos lose scouts, associate coach . . . News on two WHL trades

NOTE: Updated to include resignation of Swift Current Broncos associate coach Ryan Smith.


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Meierrings
Wayne Meier’s three Stanley Cup rings.

Wayne Meier, a longtime WHL and NHL scout, has told Taking Note that he is “ending my career and off to retirement.” . . . Meier, from Edmonton, has scouted, mostly in the west, for more than 45 years, spending 31 seasons working for NHL teams. . . . He started his scouting career with the Portland Winter Hawks in 1976. He went on to spend a total of 10 seasons with Portland, and was the director of player personnel for seven of those seasons. . . . He also worked in the NHL as a scout with the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He spent the past 12 seasons with the Penguins, so was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams.


There have been rumblings out of Swift Current for the past while that there was going to be some upheaval in the Broncos’ scouting department following the signing of Dean SCBroncosBrockman as director of hockey operations and head coach.

The above tweet from veteran scout Brian Leavold would seem to signal that something is happening as he indicates that he is leaving the staff “as have many others.”

There has yet to be an announcement from the Broncos on the state of their scouting staff, but all names have been deleted from the team’s website. As well, one person familiar with the WHL scouting fraternity has told Taking Note that “I believe they all have quit.”

The Broncos won the WHL championship on May 14, and Manny Viveiros, the team’s director of player personnel and head coach, left shortly after to join the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach.

Brockman was named the director of hockey operations and head coach on June 27.

One day before that, Jamie Porter, the Broncos’ assistant general manager and director of hockey operations, announced that he would be leaving the organization at the end of July. Porter had been with the Broncos since signing on as a scout in 2003.

Meanwhile, the Broncos also have lost a member of their coaching staff with the resignation of Ryan Smith, who had been their associate coach.

Smith had been the Humboldt Broncos’ general manager and head coach when he left three years ago to join Swift Current as associate coach.

In Humboldt, Smith, who had been the head coach of the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers, took over from Brockman, who had been there for 16 years before signing on as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades.

Jamie Heward, the director of player development and head coach, is still with the team, although Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted this week that the Vancouver Giants “are talking” to Heward “about being assistant coach.”

As Ewen pointed out, Heward and Michael Dyck, the Giants’ new head coach, were teammates with the Regina Pats “in the late 1980s.”



The Saskatoon Blades have acquired veteran F Riley McKay, 19, from the Spokane Chiefs Saskatoonfor a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft and a seventh-round pick in 2020. . . . From Swan River, Man., MacKay has played two seasons with the Chiefs, putting up seven goals and 15 assists. . . . McKay is one of the WHL’s toughest players and you can bet that Mitch Love, the Blades’ first-year head coach, saw a lot of him while he was an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips. In other words, you can bet that this deal has Love’s stamp of approval.


The Spokane Chiefs have acquired F Michael King, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a conditional fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . King was selected by the Ice in the seventh round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . King, from Winnipeg, had eight goals and seven assists in 56 games as a sophomore with the Ice last season. In his freshman season, he had two goals and seven assists in 66 games.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Vladimir Alistrov to a WHL contract. From Belarus, he was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. Last season, he had 31 goals and 39 assists while splitting 50 games with Team Belarus’s U-17 and U-18 teams. He also had three goals and four assists for Team Belarus at the IIHF’s U-18 World championship.


John Dean is the new head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Dean, 37, is the reigning coach of the year in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, where he guided the Toronto Patriots to a 40-8-3-3 record. . . . He spent three seasons (2014-17) as an assistant coach with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. . . . Dean takes over from Drew Bannister, who left the Greyhounds to become the head coach of the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.


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Dorothy and I live on Shuswap Road, about 20 km east of Kamloops. This fire, which started at 20 hectares and quickly grew to 400, was about 10 km west of us and we were never in any danger. As the fire burned, it moved north and west, but the crews did a tremendous job of keeping it away from homes and other structures.

It was a reminder, though, that it was one year ago when we were blanketed by smoke in what turned out to be an ugly summer.

Here’s hoping that we aren’t in for a repeat performance.

If you are interested in more photos and some terrific videos of planes fighting the fire, just go to Twitter and do a search for ‘Shuswap Road.’

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Pats, Chiefs sign import skaters . . . Moose Jaw d-man has KHL tryout . . . Americans add former Calgary forward


MacBeth

D Dmitri Zaitsev (Moose Jaw, 2016-18) signed a tryout contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had six goals and 22 assists in 62 games with Moose Jaw. . . . Zaitsev’s contract lasts through the end of the exhibition season, after which the two sides will decide on extending the contract. Metallurg plays its first exhibition game on Aug. 4 and its last on Aug. 26. The KHL regular season begins on Sept. 1. . . .

D Andrej Meszároš (Vancouver, 2004-05) signed a one-year contract extension with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). The team captain, he had six goals and 11 assists in 51 games last season. . . .

D David Turoň (Portland, 2002-03) signed a one-year extension with Polonia Bytom (Poland, PHL). Last season, he had eight goals and 15 assists in 38 games.


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The Regina Pats have signed both of their selections from the CHL’s 2018 import draft — PatsRussian F Sergei Alkhimov and Russian D Nikita Sedov, both of whom played last season with the Colorado Evolution, a U-16 midget team that plays out of the Evolution Elite Hockey Academy in Denver. . . . Alkhimov, 17, recorded eight goals and 15 assists in 13 games, while Sedov, also 17, had three goals and eight assists in 11 games. . . . According to the Pats, both players are “in training camp with Team Russia, competing for spots at the 2018 Gretzky Hlinka Cup.” . . . Sergei Bautin, a Russian defenceman who played with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (1992-94), is the head coach of the Evolution Elite midget team. John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager, was the Jets’ head coach when Bautin played in Winnipeg.


D Dmitri Zaitsev, 20, who played the past two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, has MooseJawWarriorssigned a tryout deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, a Russian team in the KHL. The MacBeth Report spells out the details of the agreement above. . . . Zaitsev is from Togliatti, Russia, and played for Metallurg’s youth teams, before coming over to the NAHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights for the 2015-16 season. . . . He had two goals and 18 assists in 70 games with Moose Jaw in 2016-17, then had six goals and 22 assists in 61 games last season. . . . The Warriors also had Russian D Oleg Sosunov on their roster last season. Sosunov, 20, is expected to play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization in 2018-19. . . . The Warriors made two selections in the CHL’s 2018 import draft, taking F Daniil Stepanov, 17, from Belarus, and F Yegor Buyalsky, 17, who also is from Belarus.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed Russian D Yegor Arbuzov, 17, after selecting him in the SpokaneChiefsCHL’s 2018 import draft. He played last season for CSKA Moskva’s U-17 club, scoring eight goals and adding five assists in 22 games. . . . Arbuzov owns sophomore D Filip Kral as the Chiefs’ two import players. Kral, from Czech Republic, was the club’s rookie of the year last season, after putting up nine goals and 26 assists in 54 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft.


The Portland Winterhawks have added assistant general manager to Kyle Gustafson’s portfolio. Gustafson, who is preparing for his 15th season with the organization, also is Portlandthe associate head coach. . . . According to the Winterhawks, Gustafson “will take on an increased role in player recruitment and scouting. Travis Green, now the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, was the last person to hold the combined position with the Winterhawks.”

As well, Matt Coflin, Portland’s head scout in B.C. since 2012, now is the assistant to the general manager, director of scouting and player development. He will “oversee the Winterhawks’ scouting department, as well as the development of Portland’s list players.” Coflin has been with the Winterhawks for six seasons.

Lisa Hollenbeck, who had been director of hockey administration, now is senior director, hockey operations. She has been with Portland since 2011. According to the news release, “She will handle all hockey operations’ communications, fillings, reporting with WHL, while maintaining a working understanding of rules and regulations, and organizing training camp.”

Again, from the news release: “These moves come in response to former assistant general manager Matt Bardsley accepting the position of general manager with the Kamloops Blazers in May.”


The Tri-City Americans have signed F Matt Dorsey, 19, after he played last season with tri-citythe BCHL-champion Wenatchee Wild. Dorsey is from Wenatchee. . . . He had four goals and seven assists in 18 games with the Wild, then added two goals and an assist in 14 BCHL playoff games. . . . The Calgary Hitmen selected Dorsey in the third round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft after he had 32 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the U-14 Arizona Bobcats. . . . The Americans selected him in the 11th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . In 2016-17, he had three goals and three assists in 34 games with the Hitmen. . . . He missed most of two seasons (2014-16) with knee problems.

The Americans also have signed F Tyson Greenway, who was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Greenway had 21 goals and 26 assists in 34 games with the bantam AAA St. Albert Sabres last season. This season, he is expected to play with the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders.



The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Colum McGauley, 18, from the Kelowna SCBroncosRockets for an eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . McGauley had two goals in 47 games as a freshman with the Rockets last season. . . . From Nelson, B.C., he was a fourth-round pick by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Kelowna acquired him from Spokane for F Tanner Wishnowski on Oct. 17, 2016.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have added Nathan MacDonald to their front office as director of business operations. With his Chartered Accountant designation since 2011, he has been working with Crowe MacKay LLP in his hometown of Calgary for seven years. He takes over from Dianne Sletten, who left the organization on May 25. She had been with the Broncos through six seasons.


The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs have “released” Larry Draper, their assistant general manager and associate coach, “due to budget constraints and position reformation,” according to a post on the team’s website. . . . Draper had been with the Pontiacs for five seasons. . . . Rick Swan has been the Pontiacs’ GM and head coach since 2013.


Brian Lizotte has signed a three-year deal as head coach of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the defending Memorial Cup champions. . . . Lizotte takes over from Mario Pouliot, who left to join the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies as general manager and head coach. . . . Lizotte worked the past two seasons as associate coach alongside Pouliot.


Johnathan Aitken, a former NHL first-round draft pick off the roster of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is the first general manager and head coach of the Cold Lake, Alta., Wings, a franchise in the Western Provinces Hockey Association, which is part of the Western States Hockey League, a pay-to-play circuit that has branded itself as junior A. . . . Aitken, from Edmonton, has been coaching minor hockey in Edmonton. . . . Aitken, 40, played four seasons (1994-98) in the WHL, the first two with Medicine Hat and the last two with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Boston Bruins selected him eighth overall in the NHL’s 1996 draft. He went on to play 44 NHL games — three with the Bruins and 41 with the Chicago Blackhawks.


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Americans looking for head coach . . . Lajoie hopes to make hay with Kamloops . . . Broncos are poised to introduce their man

MacBeth

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with  Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite, he had eight goals and seven assists in 15 games, and he had nine goals and 13 assists in 31 games with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was tied for second on the Slovakian team in assists. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 56 games. . . .

F Justin Hickman (Seattle, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had five goals and three assists in 32 games. . . . Hickman is Lillehammer’s ‘Public Player’ for the coming season. The club pays the salary of the team’s public player in part from funds raised from fans. As of Monday morning, the club had raised NOK 186,837 (Cdn$30,662.00, US$23,026.00) from 499 donors since May 7. That was 110 per cent of the team’s goal. The donations ranged from NOK 1 (16 cents Cdn, or 12 cents U.S.) up to one donation of NOK 10,000 (Cdn$1,640.00, US$1,232.00). Donors are eligible to win prizes such as game-worn sweaters, game-worn warmup jerseys and free ice time at the team’s arena.

F Tomáš Karpov (Mosse Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with the Bracknell Bees (England, National). Last season, with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National), he had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals and points. . . .

F Karel Hromas (Everett, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Montpellier (France, Division 1). Last season, with Annecy (France, Division 1), he had eight goals and 11 assists in 26 games. He was second on his team in points. . . .

F Mads Eller (Edmonton, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). In 38 games, he had 15 goals and 12 assists. He was second on the club in goals.


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With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having filled head-coaching vacancies (see below), there now are three WHL teams with empty offices.

The Tri-City Americans have joined the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants on that list. The Americans started their search on Monday after announcing that head tri-citycoach Mike Williamson won’t be returning.

According to the Americans’ news release, “Mike has decided to pursue other opportunities” after four seasons with them.

Later in the day, Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager, told Taking Note that “Mike has being doing this since he was 20; he just wants to do something else.”

Williamson, 44, played three seasons (1991-94) with the Portland Winter Hawks, then began his coaching career as an assistant with them in 1995-96. He later worked as Portland’s head coach, then spent five seasons as the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen, guiding them to a WHL championship in his first season (2009-10).

Williamson is the fifth-winningest head coach in WHL history, his 572 victories trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).

With Hay and Williamson no longer active, Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels is the winningest active WHL head coach, with 468 regular-season victories.

Williamson was only Tory’s third hire as a head coach, following Don Nachbaur (2003-09) and Jim Hiller (2009-14). Nachbaur now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, while Hiller is with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tory told Taking Note that he had received about 300 resumes by late Monday afternoon. He added that he plans to narrow it to “five or six for interviews” and that he is working on an Aug. 1 timeline, although that isn’t written in stone.

Brian Pellerin, who has spent the past four seasons as the Americans’ associate coach, will be one of those interviewed by Tory.

The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have yet to name a replacement for general manager Randy Hansch, head coach Steve Hamilton or assistant coach Ryan Marsh, all of whom no longer are with the club.

It is widely believed that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent last season as a scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, has been hired as director of hockey operations, but an announcement has yet to be made.

According to the Oil Kings’ Twitter account, they also are looking to hire a manager, game presentation and digital media, and a manager, communications.

The Giants will be replacing Jason McKee, who was fired on June 15 after two seasons with them. Barclay Parneta, who was hired as GM on May 23, made the announcement, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that “for me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

Parneta had been Tri-City’s assistant GM and there has been speculation that he might be interesting in Pellerin as head coach.


As expected, the Kamloops  Blazers have signed Serge Lajoie as their newest head coach.

Lajoie takes over from Don Hay, 64, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any coach in WHL history. Hay remains with the Blazers in an advisory role.

On June 21, you read here that “Lajoie is expected to sign on as head coach of the Kamloops1Kamloops Blazers, if he hasn’t already.”

Here’s what I wrote about Lajoie on June 18:

“Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

“Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

“Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

“Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

“Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

“Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.”

Lajoie is the first hire by Matt Bardsley, who was named the Blazers’ general manager on June 1. He replaced Stu MacGregor, who was moved to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi is the Stars’ owner and the Blazers’ majority owner.

The Blazers still are without a lead assistant coach and a director of player personnel. Mike Needham, the club’s lead assistant, and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel, were dismissed when the Blazers moved Hay and MacGregor aside.

The Blazers announced Lajoie’s signing via a news release that is right here. The news release doesn’t give any indication as to length of contract.


The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s reigning champions, are expected to introduce Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach at a SCBroncosnews conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, whose title was

Here’s what I wrote here on June 21:

“Taking Note has been told that Dean Brockman will be joining the Swift Current Broncos . . .

“Brockman, 51, spent the previous four seasons on the staff of the Saskatoon Blades, the past two as head coach. He was fired following the 2017-18 season.

“Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Many observers thought he would end up back in Humboldt, where he would have taken over from the late Darcy Haugan, the team’s general manager and head coach who was killed in the crash involving the Broncos’ bus on April 6.

Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Jamie Porter, who had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel, has left the organization. Porter has been with the Broncos through 15 seasons.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is out of a medically induced coma and has been visited by teammates in Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.

Vandervlis and two other players suffered burns when something went wrong as they Lethbridgesat around a fire at a home near Cochrane, Alta., on June 15.

F Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos was released from hospital on Thursday, while F Jordy Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, may be released today (Tuesday).

Peter Anholt, Lethbridge’s general manager, told Vanessa Hrvatin of the Calgary Herald that Vandervlis, who isn’t yet able to speak, has been “responding well” to visitors.

Hrvatin reported that Vandervlis, 20, is expected to “remain in the ICU for some time before moving to the burn unit of a hospital in Calgary for extensive skin grafting.”

Hrvatin’s story is right here.


The Spokane Chiefs have acquired D Bobby Russell, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a SpokaneChiefsconditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. . . . Russell, from Surrey, B.C., was a sixth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 41 games. He played most of the previous season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, but got into five games with the Ice, going pointless.


F Yegor Zudilov won’t be back for a second season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, which will allow them to pick twice in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . . . Zudilov, who will turn 18 on Sept. 10, is from Russia. Last season, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 23 games with the Hurricanes.


“The growth of European talent is immensely significant for the growth of the game (of hockey); however, it is not widely known that European players are treated differently under the Collective Bargaining Agreement from their North American counterpart,” writes Ryan Lake at forbes.com, referring to the NHL-NHLPA CBA. “Teams that draft a player from a European club have exclusive rights to sign the player to a contract for four years. However, if the player is from a North American club, the NHL team has only two years of exclusive rights.”

Lake’s complete story is right here. It explains the ins and outs of the CBA and its impact on European draft choices.


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Lamb signs on to shepherd Cougars . . . Anholt has updates on injured players . . . Deadmarsh back with Chiefs

MacBeth

F Tanner Eberle (Moose Jaw, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Allen Americans (ECHL), he had two goals and an assist in 11 games. He also had 21 goals and 11 assists in 63 games with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL). He was second on Jacksonville in goals. . . .

D Harrison Ruopp (Prince Albert, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had four goals and seven assists in 14 games with the Balgonie Bisons (Qu’Appelle Valley Senior). . . .

D Kendall McFaull (Moose Jaw, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with the U of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he had four goals and five assists in 27 games. He was the team captain. . . . McFaull was named to Canada West’s second all-star team, and won Canada West’s Student-Athlete Community Service Award, and the Dr. Randy Gregg Award (U Sports Student-Athlete Community Service).


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars introduced Mark Lamb as their new general manager on Tuesday morning. Lamb, 53, signed a four-year contract. He replaces Todd Harkins, PGCougars25whose contract wasn’t renewed after last season. Harkins had been the GM for four seasons. . . . Lamb, a native of Ponteix, Sask., spent seven seasons (2009-16) as the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . He left to join the NHL-Arizona Coyotes organization and spent 2016-17 as the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. However, he was dismissed after one season. . . . Lamb got into coaching as an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers in 2001-02, then spent six seasons as an assistant with the Dallas Stars. . . . Eric Brewer, one of the Cougars’ owners, was a defenceman with the Oilers when Lamb coached there. Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk was a defenceman with Dallas when Lamb was on its coaching staff. . . . According to the Prince George Citizen, Matvichuk is starting the last season of a three-year contract as the Cougars’ head coach, while associate coach Steve O’Rourke has two seasons left on a deal. Assistant coach Shawn Chambers’ contract expired on May 31 and there has been no word as to whether he has been extended. Last week, the Cougars hired Taylor Dakers as the organization’s first full-time goaltending coach.


Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, held a news conference on Tuesday to talk about the Friday night incident that left three hockey players in a Calgary hospital.

F Ryan Vandervlis, 20, remains in a medically induced coma and in critical condition, Lethbridgealthough he has been taken off dialysis. F Jordy Bellerive and F Matt Alfaro also are in Calgary’s Foothills Health Centre.

Vandervlis and Bellerive play for the Hurricanes; in fact, Bellerive is the captain. Alfaro, who played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice and the Hurricanes, just completed his first season with the U of Calgary Dinos.

The three were injured when something went wrong with a fire that was being lit at the home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong near Calgary.

Anholt began by reading a prepared statement that included:

“Alfaro and Bellerive sustained burns to their upper bodies and are continuing to make progress and steps towards full recovery. Vandervlis sustained burns to the front of his body and has continued to be in a medically induced coma. He, too, has shown signs of progress having been taken off dialysis (Monday), which again is a real positive step.”

Anholt also continued to discredit earlier reports that claimed the incident occurred during a bachelor party in honour of Wong.

“It has been reported that the campfire occurred during a bachelor party, these reports are inaccurate and totally false,” Anholt’s statement read. “The campfire incident occurred at the family home of former WHL player Tyler Wong along with nine of his friends prior to a planned day of golf and camping.”

Later, Anholt told the news conference that Wong is preparing for his wedding.

“Well, Tyler Wong is getting married and this happened before the wedding, so I guess you can say whatever you like as far as pre-wedding is concerned,” Anholt said. “We’re talking about nine awesome kids, men, good friends, and they were getting prepared to play some golf the next day and go camping. That’s what it was, done.”

Aaron Mahoney of lethbridgenewsNOW has more right here.


Adam Deadmarsh will be back for a second season as an assistant coach with the SpokaneChiefsSpokane Chiefs. Deadmarsh, 43, joined the Chiefs prior to last season and worked under head coach Dan Lambert. . . . Deadmarsh played 567 NHL games, split among the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. Deadmarsh won a Stanley Cup with the 1995-96 Avalanche. . . . He also worked as an assistant coach with Colorado (2009-12). . . . Before going on to a pro career, Deadmarsh played four seasons (1991-95) with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have placed G Josh Dechaine, who will turn 20 on Sept. 14, on waivers. The St. Albert, Alta., native got into 17 games with the Oil Kings in 2016-17 and 32 last season, when he was 12-14-5, 4.19, .867. . . . In 49 career regular-season games, he is 15-22-6, 4.26, .870.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Mekai Sanders, who was a ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Sanders, from Gig Harbor, Wash., played minor hockey with the Seattle Junior Hockey Association and Sno-King Hockey Association. . . . Last season, he played for the U-14 Detroit Compuware team, putting up six goals and 12 assists in 20 games.


The Kamloops  Blazers have signed F Matthew Seminoff, who was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Coquitlam, B.C., he had 12 goals and 13 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club Academy last season.


Dickson Liong’s writing used to end up on this blog, back in the days before he moved on to bigger and better things as The Sports Corporation’s director of communications. Now he has decided to leave TSC. . . . He writes about his decision right here.


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Writers resting after MVI involving elk . . . Hurricanes’ future looks bright . . . Where were Americans’ fans? . . . A full MacBeth Report

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Jesse Geleynse and Andy Eide, two members of the media who were in Kennewick, Wash., to cover a WHL game on Monday night, were injured in a car accident on their way back to the Seattle area early Tuesday morning.

Geleynse, who works for the Everett Herald, and Eide, from 710 ESPN Seattle, had driven to Kennewick to cover Game 6 of the WHL’s Western Conference final between the Tri-City Americans and Everett Silvertips.

On the return trip on Interstate 90, their car was behind a semi tractor-trailer when an elk got in the way.

KOMOnews.com reported: “A preliminary investigation found that the semi and the Mazda were both heading east on I-90 when the semi hit an elk that was standing on the freeway. The Mazda driver swerved to avoid the elk that had been struck, lost control, and the car rolled over onto its top in the median.”

Those in the car were taken to hospital in Ellensburg, Wash.

Eide told Taking Note late Tuesday afternoon that he was at home and resting.

Geleynse also is at home, nursings cuts, bruises and a concussion.

The KOMO story is right here.


Three years have come and gone since Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, recommended that shareholders in the Lethbridge Hurricanes put a ‘For Sale’ sign on their franchise and sell to private owners.

“It’s not to say that this community organization can’t get things turned around,” Robison Lethbridgetold media after speaking to shareholders on May 4, 2015. “But we think, when you look at the franchise moving forward, that private interests would be in the best interest of the club.”

At that point, the Hurricanes hadn’t been in the playoffs for six seasons and were somewhere around $1.25 million in debt.

And then along came Peter Anholt. He hitched his white horse to the rail at the edge of town and . . .

Anholt had stepped in as general manager and head coach in December 2014. After the season, he signed a three-year contract as general manager.

The shareholders voted not to sell, and, well, the rest is history.

In the past three seasons, the Hurricanes have played 22 home playoff games, including 10 in 2017 and nine this season when they lost a third-round series in six games to the heavily favoured Swift Current Broncos.

The Hurricanes now can afford to buy lunch for their banker, rather than using a line of credit to pay for it.

Keep in mind, too, that Hurricanes’ fans wear their sunglasses at night because the future is that bright. Their favourite team reached the Eastern Conference final even though Anholt turned into a seller at the January trade deadline.

The Hurricanes’ roster now includes three of the WHL’s top young players — F Logan Barlage, who was acquired from the Broncos, and F Dylan Cozens, both of them having completed their 16-year-old seasons, along with D Calen Addison, who turned 18 on April 11.

Yes, things are looking good in Lethbridge, so good, in fact, the prospective private owners need not bother venturing into city limits.


You are free to wonder if the Tri-City Americans are long for the Kennewick-Richland-Pasco area of Washington State.

The Americans drew an announced crowd of 3,033 fans to Game 6 of the WHL’s Western Conference final against the Everett Silvertips on Monday night. In seven home games in TriCity30these playoffs, in what was their 30th season, the Americans’ average announced attendance was 3,053.

The Americans play in the 5,797-seat Toyota Center, which opened in 1988 and now is in need of upgrading.

However, the Kennewick Public Facilities District has asked voters three times for the OK to increase a sales tax to fund a project that would include, among other things, an upgrade for the hockey facility. Three times it has been rejected.

In November, with the latest referendum having been defeated, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager who owns a piece of the franchise, told the Tri-City Herald that the arena’s “infrastructure is certainly in trouble.”

According to Wendy Culverwell of the Herald, Tory said team expenses have doubled under current ownership while revenue has been flat.

“There comes a time when that doesn’t make sense any more,” Tory told Culverwell.

Culverwell wrote: “The Americans’ lease runs through 2020, but contains language that allows it to negotiate for a lower rent or even an early termination if it isn’t up to WHL standards.”

Tory, who has never cried wolf or threatened to relocate, also told Culverwell: “If you look around the WHL, our facility is not just the worst facility in the U.S. Division, but it’s probably at the very bottom of the league as far as the quality of the amenities.”

In the regular season, the Americans’ announced average attendance was 3,649, easily the lowest figure among the five U.S. Division teams. The Seattle Thunderbirds were the closest divisional opponent, at 4,950.

The Tri-Cities area of Washington State is home to around 300,000 people.


The MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons got a goal and two assists from F Bradley Schoonbaert as they dumped the host Nipawin Hawks, the SJHL champs, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series for the ANAVET Cup.  . . . Game 4 is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) in Nipawin, with Game 5 there on Friday. . . . Last night, the Pistons held period leads of 1-0 and 4-0. . . . F Brandan Arnold had an assist on Nipawin’s goal. He has been in on all six of the Hawks’ scores in the series. . . . G Matthew Thiessen stopped 16 shots for Steinbach. . . . The winner of this series will move on to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack, B.C., later this month.


The BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild is one victory away from a berth in the Royal Bank Cup, the junior A championship tournament that opens in Chilliwack, B.C., on May 12. . . . The Wild beat the host Spruce Grove Saints, the AJHL champions, 4-3 on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Doyle Cup series. The Wild is trying to became the first American-based team to win the Doyle Cup. . . . They’ll play Game 4 in Spruce Grove tonight (Wednesday). . . . Last night, goals from F Nathan Iannone and D Cooper Zech gave the Wild a 3-1 lead after two periods. . . . F Sam Hesler upped it to 4-1 at 8:10 of the third period. . . . The Saints made it close as F Parker Seretsky and F Chase Olsen scored at 12:34 and 12:57, respectively. . . . G Austin Park earned the victory with 34 saves.


JUST NOTES:

Tyler Kuntz is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. Kuntz, 39, spent this season as the assistant coach of the Daemyung Killer Whales in South Korea. Prior to that, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . Kuntz takes over from Brock Sawyer, an assistant coach who took over as interim head coach when the Kings fired GM/head coach Kent Lewis on Jan. 29. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed Chris Moulton, their assistant general manager, to a contract extension. The length of the deal wasn’t revealed. Moulton has been with the Chiefs since 2005, and has been the assistant GM since November 2016. . . .

D Mark Rubinchik, who turned 19 on March 21, won’t be back for a third season with the Saskatoon Blades. According to The MacBeth Report, Rubinchik, who is from Moscow, has signed a two-year, two-way contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). . . . Rubinchik had 23 assists in 63 games as a freshman in 2016-17. This season, in 67 games, he recorded four goals and 19 assists. . . . The Blades didn’t make the playoffs this season. Rubinchik was their lone import player after the Jan. 10 trade deadline, when they moved Czech D Libor Hajek to the Regina Pats. . . .

F Brad Morrison, 21, who leads the WHL playoff scoring race, has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Morrison, whose Lethbridge Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday night, was a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2015 draft but was never signed. . . . In 16 playoff games this spring, he put up 37 points, including 16 goals. He also leads all playoff scorers with 21 assists. . . . In 334 WHL regular-season games, split between the Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge, Morrison had 263 points, including 112 goals.


MacBeth

G Juha Metsola (Lethbridge, 2007-09) signed a two-year contract with Salevat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, in 52 games with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL), he was 28-17-6, 2.25, .923 with three shutouts and two assists. He twice was named the KHL’s goaltender of the week (Nov. 8 and Jan. 29). . . .

F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) signed a one-year contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Daniel Rákos (Swift Current, 2005-07) signed a “multi-year” contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and 15 assists in 47 games. . . .

D Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) signed a one-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he was pointless in 12 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), and had four goals and five assists in seven games while on loan to Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had 18 goals and 16 assists in 46 games. He led his team in goals and points. . . .

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) was traded by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk to Spartak Moscow (both Russia, KHL) for cash compensation. This season, in 12 games with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, he was 6-4-0, 2.11, .922 with one shutout. . . .

F Jakub Herman (Moose Jaw, 2009-10) signed a one-year contract with Zlin (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 11 assists in 39 games. . . .

D Mark Rubinchik (Saskatoon, 2016-18) signed a two-year, two-way contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, he had four goals and 19 assists in 67 games with Saskatoon. . . .

F Filip Ahl (Regina, 2016-17) signed a one-year contract with Tingsryd (Sweden, Allsvenskan). This season, he had seven goals and one assist in five games with Örebro J20 (Sweden, J20 SuperElit), one assist in 15 games with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), and 11 goals and four assists in 29 games while on loan to Karlskoga (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Halle (Germany, Oberliga). He had seven goals and 31 assists in 37 games, leading his club in assists and points. . . .

F Ladislav Ščurko (Seattle, Tri-City, 2004-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Detva (Slovakia, Extraliga). In 54 games, he had 17 goals and 11 assists. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals. . . .

F Andrej Kudrna (Vancouver, Red Deer, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract extension with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had 14 goals and 13 assists in 52 games. He led his team in goals.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: Blades’ voice has idea to honour Tyler Bieber . . . Guy Charron? Call him commissioner . . . Virden up 2-0 in MJHL final

Scattershooting

Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, caught a ride with Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele on Thursday morning and the two headed for Humboldt.

They went to the Elgar Petersen Arena for the funeral of Broncos’ radio voice Tyler Bieber, who was killed in Friday’s bus crash.

While in the seats, just prior to the service starting, Lazaruk had an idea.

“One other thing I feel as I sit and look at Tyler Bieber’s spot in the 107.5 Bolt FM broadcast booth,” he tweeted, “. . . I want to honour Tyler’s memory by calling Humboldt Broncos game on Bolt-FM. For free! No talent fee! No gas money! No meal money! I don’t care where the game is.

“There are 58 regular-season games in 2018-19 and I hope 57 other broadcasters step up and do the same in Tyler’s memory.”

If there is a way to make this work, you can bet on it happening.

Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Peter Loubardias, Phil Andrews, Kelly Moore, Shawn Mullin, Ryan Switzer, James Gallo, Troy Gillard, Dave Randorf, John Fraser, Ben Holden, Joey Kenward, Tim Edmonds, Jason Gregor, Lee Jones, Tony Brar, Rob Mahon, Nick Gismondi, Brendan Parker, Peter Mills, Pete Krupsky and Cameron Birnie were among those to respond in a resoundingly positive fashion.


Tyler Bieber was a huge fan of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Upon hearing that, Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, called Bieber’s family — he ended up leaving a voicemail expressing condolences, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan — and also made sure that flowers were sent.



Bob Wilkie was a defenceman with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos. He survived the Broncos’ bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, and went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup with SCBroncosthem.

Wilkie later co-authored a book about the Broncos and that accident — Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.

On Sunday, he was in Saskatoon and Humboldt as he, Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Darren Kruger worked to spread hope among those impacted by the Humboldt bus crash.

This week, Wilkie dug up a souvenir of that 1989 Memorial Cup championship.



Elsewhere . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed three members of their organization to contract extensions, the lengths of which weren’t released. Assistant coach Scott Burt, equipment manager Tim Lindblade and Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, all have new deals. . . . Burt is preparing for his sixth season with the Chiefs. . . . Lindblade joined the Chiefs for the 2013-14 season. . . . Baird just completed his first season as equipment manager after 10 seasons as the Chiefs’ video co-ordinator.


Jeff Wagner is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had been assistant GM/associate coach with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats. . . . Wagner replaces Craig Mohr, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Ghostriders were first-round playoff casualties. This was his fourth season as the club’s GM/head coach.


Guy Charron, a former NHLer who did a couple of turns as the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is the new commissioner of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League. . . . You can bet that Charron will be a busy man because, as Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes, “The league has never been short on fiery personalities and hot-button issues — and this year is no different.” . . . Hastings has more right here.


JUST NOTES: If you’re following the WHL playoffs, you will be aware that the Tri-City Americans completed a four-game sweep of the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. The Americans play in the U.S. Division and were a wild-card entry into the playoffs. They have swept the B.C. Division’s top two teams — the Kelowna Rockets, who finished atop the division, and the Royals, who were second. Does this mean the Americans get to hoist a B.C. Division championship pennant prior to next season? . . . In the MJHL, Rylee Zimmer had a goal and two assists to help the host Virden Oil Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons. Zimmer tied the game at 14:07 of the third period and drew an assist on Landyn Cochrane’s winner at 15:48. . . . Virden won the opener, 2-1, in Steinbach on April 6. Game 2 had been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed out of respect for the Humboldt Broncos. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Steinbach. . . . The winner of the MJHL championship will meet the SJHL champ, either the Estevan Bruins or Nipawin Hawks, in the ANAVET Cup series. The SJHL final opens Saturday in Nipawin. . . .


A really interesting hockey book was published a year ago, but somehow I missed it. That book is Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. I came upon it last month, and simply devoured it. Written by Greg Oliver, it details all that went on as Canadian hockey moved into the national team era and beyond. When I was growing up in northern Manitoba, among my hockey heroes were the likes of Roger Bourbonnais, Terry O’Malley, Barry MacKenzie, Fran Huck, Seth Martin, Ken Broderick, Jean Cusson et al. These were the Canadian players who would venture to Europe and get in the face of the great Soviet machine. The stories of all that went into getting the national program off the ground — no, Clarence Campbell’s NHL didn’t like it at all — all are right here. Great stuff!

Let’s help Hirsche leave his legacy . . . No playoffs so Blades fire Brockman . . . Second season next for WHL

Scattershooting

Scattershooting . . . following the end of another WHL regular season:

I don’t think there is a playoff format out there that would make everyone happy. But you are free to ask about the fairness of the format now being used by the WHL. Under it, eight teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. But the Saskatoon Blades, with the seventh-most points in the 12-team Eastern Conference, didn’t make it.


The Blades also finished with more victories (35) than two Eastern Conference teams that did qualify — the Prince Albert Raiders (32) and Red Deer Rebels (27). So what happened to the Blades? They got bit in the ass by the dreaded loser point. The Blades finished with four of them, while the Raiders and Rebels each finished 13.


The Blades, of course, fired head coach Dean Brockman on Sunday morning. You are free to discuss among yourselves if he lost his job because of the playoff format.


If the WHL playoff format called for the top eight teams in each conference to qualify, the Red Deer Rebels would have been on the outside, instead of preparing for a first-round set-to with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Had the Rebels missed, do you suppose the general manager would have fired the head coach? Hey, just asking.


Perhaps during the off-season the WHL pooh-bahs will take a look at a format that rewards losing in such a grand fashion. . . . Perhaps they also will take a serious look at banning fighting, because the time is long past for adults to stop allowing teenagers to punch each other in the face. There simply is too much evidence that cumulative blows to the head simply aren’t good for the brain. . . . And while they’re at it maybe they’ll get rid of that stupid trapezoid behind each goal and allow the goaltenders to get back to handling the puck.


Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors is the WHL’s 2017-18 scoring champion, thanks to 129 points. The last time one of the Warriors won the WHL scoring title? Troy Brouwer, in 2005-06, with 102 points. Of course, Halbgewachs also led the WHL in goals, with 70. . . . In his past two seasons, Halbgewachs put up 230 points, 120 of them goals, in 143 games.


The Warriors acquired Halbgewachs from the Kamloops Blazers on Dec. 6, 2012. The Blazers had selected him 19th overall in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. They acquired D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Tyler Bell, then, 18, Halbgewachs, who was 15, and a first-round selection in the 2015 draft. . . . That first-rounder turned out to be the fourth-overall pick and the Warriors used it to take D Jett Woo, who might be a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Kamloops later traded the fourth-round pick and a sixth in 2017 to Calgary for F Mike Winther, a 20-year-old who played 39 games with the Blazers before being dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Edmundson played 34 regular-season and 15 playoff games with the Blazers, helping them to the Western Conference final where they lost in five games to the Portland Winterhawks.


Is it fair that Winnipeg is home to Canada’s best football play-by-play man — Bob Irving of CJOB — and a hockey play-by-play voice — TSN’s Dennis Beyak — who is at the top of his field, too?


Thank you to everyone who has stopped by here or at one of the earlier homes of Keeping Score. We have had a good time over the past few years and it’s been a great ride, but I have decided to step back.

I have been writing about the WHL for a long time and it’s time. There is no other reason for this decision than that — it simply is time.

I have been writing for 45 years, so I am sure that I will continue to post on this blog, but not in anything resembling a daily fashion. Nor will I be doing WHL roundups or reporting regularly on WHL-related news.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be behind the cover of a book. First up, it’s Roy MacGregor’s Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada, then Father Bauer and the Great Experiment, by Greg Oliver, and the just-published A Matter of Confidence: The Inside Story of the Political Battle for B.C., by journalists Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman.

And, of course, the baseball season is about upon us.

So . . . farewell, stay safe and, please, if you haven’t already, take a few minutes and think about signing on as an organ donor.


ThisThat

Two years ago, Brock Hirsche, the captain of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. That was one year after two other team members had been diagnosed with it. They both were able to beat it.

It looked like Hirsche had beaten it, too, but it wasn’t to be. The cancer is back and has spread. Treatment has been unsuccessful and Hirsche has been told his cancer is terminal.

Hirsche, 26, is from Lethbridge. He played four seasons (2009-13) with the Prince George Cougars, wearing an ‘A’ for two seasons and serving as captain in his final season. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to 26 games over his last two seasons.

He moved on to the U of L and was the Proghorns’ captain in 2015-16, his third season there.

He didn’t play last season and, of course, didn’t play this season.

So what did he do after getting the latest diagnosis? He started a scholarship fund in his name.

“He wants to leave a legacy behind,” Pronghorns head coach Spiros Anastas tells Taking Note. “It’s a testament to the type of person he is. In one night we raised $11,000.”

If you would like to help, the link is right here. The U of Lethbridge will provide tax receipts.


The Saskatoon Blades announced Sunday morning that they had fired head coach Dean Brockman “effective immediately.”

The move came the morning after the Blades ended their season with a 5-4 victory over Saskatoonthe visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Brockman had two seasons left on a multi-year contract extension that was announced on Aug. 24.

The Blades finished 35-33-4, as they missed the playoffs for a fifth straight season, the last two under Brockman. He spent two seasons on the coaching staff as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach.

“While this was a difficult decision for us to make, we felt our performance over the last month of the season was very disappointing and the team did not meet the expectations we set out for them,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “We have been in a playoff position two years in a row coming down the stretch and just haven’t been able to take that next step, which ultimately led us to this decision.”

The news release didn’t make any mention of the status of assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Bryce Thoma, both of whom also are signed through 2019-20.

The Blades seemed to be comfortably in the conference’s second wild-card spot on Feb. 20, when they led the Raiders by eight points. The Raiders then went on a 9-0-2 rip, while the Blades were going 2-6-1. With everything decided, the Blades closed out the season by beating the Raiders twice.

The Blades were 63-68-13 over the past two seasons. Brockman is credited with 62 of those victories; he missed one while attending a funeral.

Priestner and Steve Hildebrand, the associate general manager, held exit interviews with the players on Sunday. Three players were provided to the media for interviews.

Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran radio voice, reported at dubnetwork.ca that F Chase Wouters, when asked if he was surprised by the firing, “stammered” and said: “I actually can’t comment on that, sorry.”

According to Lazaruk, team captain Evan Fiala responded with: “Sorry, no comment on it.”

F Braylon Shymr said, “Yeah, definitely surprised.” But he quickly added: “No further comments other than that.”

Lazaruk’s story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at Priestner’s media availability and offered up this entry right here.


The U of Alberta Golden Bears, with a roster comprising former WHL players, won their 16th Canadian university men’s hockey championship Sunday, beating the St. Francis Xavier U X-Men, 4-2, in Fredericton, N.B. . . . D Will Tomchuk, who played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and Prince George Cougars (2012-15), scored his only goal of the season at 4:18 of the second period and it stood up as the winner. That goal snapped a 2-2 tie as the Golden Bears erased a 2-0 deficit. . . . Alberta’s other goals came from F Stephane Legault (Edmonton Oil Kings, 2009-13), F Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels, 2011-2016) and F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon Blades, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria Royals, 2008-13). . . . G Zach Sawchenko, who joined the Golden Bears rather than return for a 20-year-old season with the Warriors this season, earned the victory with 24 saves. . . . Jason Hills of Postmedia has more right here.


The Kamloops Blazers’ season came to an end with a 6-5 shootout victory over the host Prince George Cougars on Saturday night.

The victory snapped a five-game skid for the Blazers and left head coach Don Hay with whl750 career regular-season victories. Earlier in the season, Hay broke the record of 741 that had been held by Ken Hodge since he retired after the 1992-93 season.

Unfortunately for Hay, after he broke Hodge’s record, the Blazers weren’t able to gain traction and they finished 7-14-2, which wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.

Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (following 2017-18):

1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 750

2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 720

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

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

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

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

8. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 468

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

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

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

12. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 456

      Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456

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

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. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 356

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

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

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326

23. Mike Johnston (Portland) 315

——

Victory totals of the remaining head coaches who finished the 2017-18 regular season:

John Paddock, Regina 165

Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw 145

Brent Kisio, Lethbridge 121

Steve Hamilton, Edmonton 110

Dan Lambert, Kelowna, Spokane 93

Jason Smith, Kelowna 88

Emanuel Viveiros, Swift Current 85

David Anning, Brandon, 79

Richard Matvichuk, Prince George 69

Dean Brockman, Saskatoon 62

Jason McKee, Vancouver 56

Dennis Williams, Everett 47

Dan Price, Victoria 39

Matt O’Dette, Seattle 33

James Patrick, Kootenay 27

Dallas Ferguson, Calgary 23



JUST NOTES . . .

F Alec Baer, who played out his 20-year-old season with the Kootenay Ice, will be joining the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Baer, who is from St. Louis Park, Minn., finished this season with 30 goals and 31 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 342 regular-season games — he also skated with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes — and finished with 187 points, including 86 goals. . . .

Everett’s last goal of the regular season, in an 8-1 victory over the host Victoria Royals on Saturday, was scored by F Matt Fonteyne, with assists to F Patrick Bajkov and D Kevin Davis. They are the club’s three 20-year-old players. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Thunderbirds got one goal from each of their 20-year-olds — D Austin Strand, D Turner Ottenbreit and F Donovan Neuls — in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. . . .

A tweet from Caden Fanshaw (@cfanner4) of Prince George’s front office, points out that Cougars F Jared Bethune “has only missed one regular-season game in the past three seasons, and played every playoff game possible in his career. That’s a combined 230 of 231 possible games.” . . .

Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald points out that the Silvertips won their third U.S. Division title in the last four years “and sixth in the franchise’s 15-year history, but the first without Kevin Constantine as head coach.” . . .

F Cohner Saleski, who is from Saskatoon, made his WHL debut with the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. Yes, he had family in attandance. In fact, according to a tweet from Jeff Helperl, Saleski’s father went home with a cool $53,250 in his jeans after winning the 50/50 draw.


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored five PP goals in the first period en route to a 7-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Neither Edmonton (22-42-8) nor Calgary (24-37-11) EdmontonOilKingsqualified for the playoffs. . . . Calgary went 3-2-1 in the season series; Edmonton was 3-3-0. . . . F Riley Stotts (19) gave the Hitmen the lead just 49 seconds into the first period. . . . It didn’t last long. . . . F Tomas Soustal got Edmonton’s first PP goal, at 5:47, and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (32) put the Oil Kings ahead at 10:00. . . . Soustal (22) added a second goal at 12:41, and F Brett Kemp (17) made it 4-1 at 13:04. . . . D Matthew Robertson upped it to 5-1 at 17:54. . . . F Cael Zimmerman (7) got the Hitmen to within three goals, on a PP, at 19:38. . . . Robertson’s second goal of the game, and seventh of the season, put Edmonton ahead 6-2 at 16:34 of the second period. . . . Calgary D Egor Zamula (2) struck on a PP at 0:17 of the third period, before Edmonton F Colton Kehler (32) closed out the scoring on, yes, another PP, at 7:57. . . . The Oil Kings got two assists from each of F Jake Neighbours and Kemp, with one each going to Soustal, Robertson, Kehler and Fix-Wolansky. . . . Neighbours, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, recorded four assists in 11 games with the Oil Kings. . . . Stotts added an assist to his goal for Calgary. . . . Edmonton finished 6-7 on the PP; Calgary was 2-6. . . . The WHL record for PP goals by one team in a single game is 10. The Tri-City Americans set that mark on Sept. 30, 1990, in a 16-3 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . The Oil Kings got 34 stops from G Todd Scott, while Nick Schneider blocked 19 for the Hitmen. . . . Announced attendance: 13,075.


At Portland, F Riley McKay scored the only goal of a four-round shootout to give the Spokane Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Spokane (41-25-6) finished third SpokaneChiefsin the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland (44-23-5). . . . The Winterhawks won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . These teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday in Portland. . . . McKay opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, at 9:46 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks scored the next four goals, the first three coming in the second period from F Mason Mannek (10), at 2:48; F Kieffer Bellows (41), at 12:15; and F Skyler McKenzie (47), at 16:07. . . . F Ryan Hughes (17) upped the lead to 4-1 at 2:11 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs got three goals in the last nine minutes of the period. . . . F Jake McGrew (19) scored, on a PP, at 11:43, and F Milos Fafrak (9) moved the visitors to within a goal at 12:20. . . . D Nolan Reid (14) tied it, 4-4, on a PP, at 19:39. . . . McGrew also had an assist. . . . Spokane was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 0-3. . . . G Donovan Buskey earned the victory with 33 saves, 14 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Lukus MacKenzie, who is injured, along with F Alex Overhardt and D Brendan De Jong. . . . Among Spokane’s scratches were F Kailer Yamamoto, who missed his third straight game, G Dawson Weatherill, F Zach Fischer (undisclosed injury), D Ty Smith, F Hudson Elynuik and D Dalton Hamaliuk. . . . With all the scratches, the Chiefs had 11 freshmen in their lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 8,170.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each scored twice to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Tri-City (38-25-TriCity309) is the Western Conference’s first wild-card team and will open the playoffs in Kelowna on Thursday, against the Rockets, who finished atop the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle (34-28-10) will meet the U.S. Division-winning Everett Silvertips. That seres starts Friday in Everett. . . . Tri-City finished 6-3-1 in the season series with Seattle, which was 4-4-2. . . . On Sunday, Yaremko gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 3:55 of the first period, only to have Seattle F Zack Andrusiak (36) tie it at 5:06. . . . The Americans went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from D Jake Bean (12), at 13:41, and Yaremko (22), at 19:51. . . . Seattle got to within a goal when F Dillon Hamaliuk (15) scored, shorthanded, at 7:13 of the third period. . . . AuCoin iced it with two PP goals, at 7:57 and 15:10. He finished with 19 goals. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Juuso Valimaki, and one each from Bean and Yaremko. . . . Tri-City was 2-8 on the PP; Seattle was 0-2. . . . G Patrick Dea started for the Americans and stopped nine of 10 shots in 31:26. Beck Warm finished up by allowing one goal on 10 shots in 28:33. . . . G Dorrin Luding blocked 37 shots for the Thunderbirds. . . . F Michael Rasmussen, F Max James and D Dylan Coghlan were among Tri-City’s scratches. . . . Seattle scratched D Turner Ottenbreit, F Noah Philp, who left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, F Donovan Neuls, F Tyler Carpendale and F Nolan Volcan, along with F Blake Bargar (undisclosed injury). . . . Announced attendance: 3,708.


END OF REGULAR SEASON


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