Blades forward retires . . . Royals deal for Lees . . . Giants make move on radio dial, sign draft pick


MacBeth

D Brent Regner (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Texas Stars (AHL), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 66 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Nick Walters (Everett, Brandon, Lethbridge, 2010-15) signed a tryout contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had five goals and 14 assists in 50 games. . . . Walters has applied for German citizenship and his application is under consideration by the authorities. The contract converts to a one-year contract when/if his application is approved. . . .

D Jaynen Rissling (Calgary, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in five games with the Allen Americans (ECHL); three goals and 10 assists in 36 games with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL); and three goals and 11 assists in 21 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL).


ThisThat

F Caleb Fantillo of the Saskatoon Blades announced via Twitter on Wednesday evening that he is retiring. Fantillo, 20, is from Coquitlam, B.C. Last season, he had seven goals and three assists in 38 games with the Blades. He missed time with rib and knee injuries. . . . In 88 regular-season games with the Blades, he put up 12 goals and seven assists. Before being dealt to the Blades, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Saskatoon acquired Fantillo on Oct. 13, 2016, giving up a sixth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft in the exchange. . . . He had been a sixth-round pick by the Tigers in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . According to a news release from the Blades, Fantillo “plans to get a jump start on a future career in the health and fitness industry.”


The Victoria Royals have acquired F Tyler Lees, 18, from the Saskatoon Blades for a conditional seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Lees, from Regina, had two goals and an assist in 20 games with the Blades last season. . . . Saskatoon selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 bantam draft.


The Vancouver Giants announced Thursday morning that their games will be heard on Sportsnet 650 in 2018-19. . . . According to a news release, “Sportsnet’s Vancouver-based Vancouverall-sports radio station . . . will broadcast all Vancouver Giants games live . . .” The length of the agreement wasn’t revealed. . . . Sportsnet 650 also holds the radio broadcast rights to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . Dan O’Connor will return for a second season as the radio voice of the Giants. Before joining the Giants, he was the voice of the Prince George Cougars. . . . Last season, the Giants’ rights belonged to TSN 1040. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at the arrangement between the Giants and Sportsnet 650.

Later in the day, the Giants announced the signing of F Lukas Svejkovsky, who is from Point Roberts, Wash. Svejkovsky, who will turn 17 on Nov. 23, was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he had five goals and six assists in 16 regular-season games with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. He missed a good chunk of the season with due to injury. . . . His father, Jaroslav (Yogi), played one season (1995-96) with the Tri-City Americans, putting up 58 goals and 43 assists in 70 games. He has been the Giants’ skills coach since 2006.


Two WHL players — F Jordy Bellerive of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and D Josh Brook of Canadathe Moose Jaw Warriors — have been scratched from Canada’s roster for the World Junior Showcase that is scheduled to open in Kamloops on June 28. . . . Bellerive, 19, was injured in an accident involving a bonfire last month near Calgary, while Brook, 19, may be nursing a wrist injury. He suffered a wrist injury in a rookie camp with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens prior to last season and later underwent surgery. This summer, he missed the Canadiens’ development camp with what has been reported as another wrist injury. . . . Hockey Canada also announced that F Robert Thomas, 19, of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs has been scratched. . . . The three injured players still are expected to be at the camp. . . . Added to the Canadian roster were F Liam Foudy, 18, of the OHL’s London Knights, D Markus Phillips, 19, of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, and F Akil Thomas, 18, of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs.


Tanner Cochrane of Kamloops has joined the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks as an assistant coach. Cochrane, 25, spent the previous two seasons with the major midget Thompson Blazers, who are based in Kamloops. . . . In Salmon Arm, he joins Scotty Atkinson, the general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brett Knowles.


The MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons have added Calvin Bugyik to their front office as an assistant coach. For the past two seasons, he has been an assistant coach with the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild, who have won two straight league titles. . . . In Steinbach, he will work alongside GM/head coach Paul Dyck. . . . Bugyik replaces Joey Moggach, who had been with the Pistons for two seasons. He left the club after last seasons in order to spend more time at his full-time job and with family.

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Dewar goal gives Silvertips win in Game 1 . . . Wild goes home with Doyle Cup . . . Pistons push Hawks to the brink . . . Lots of coaching news

MacBeth

D Kirill Vorobyov (Portland, 2012-13) was traded by Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL) to CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) for cash compensation. This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk, he had four assists in 43 games while averaging 17:10 TOI per game. . . .

F Linden Vey (Medicine Hat, 2006-11) signed a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). This season, in 50 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), he had 17 goals and 35 assists while averaging 21:52 TOI. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in the points race. . . . Vey finished the season with the ZSC Zurich Lions (Switzerland, NL A), recording two goals and four assists in 10 games. . . .

D Dmitri Sinitsyn (Regina, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had signed with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL) for this season but missed the entire season due to injury. In 2016-17, he had nine assists in 42 games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, KHL), and one assist in nine games with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). . . .

F Lukáš Vantuch (Calgary, Lethbridge, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in 29 games with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He also had a goal and two assists in three games on loan to Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), and one goal and one assists in five games on loan to Piráti Chomutov. . . .

D Micki DuPont (Kamloops, 1996-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL). He had seven goals and 16 assists in 52 games. . . .

D/F Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had one goal and seven assists in 30 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL).


ThisThat

The Everett Silvertips drew first blood in the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for Everettthe Ed Chynoweth Cup, beating the host Swift Current Broncos, 2-1, on Friday night. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar (10) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:49 of the third period. . . . F Patrick Bajkov (14) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 14:43 of the first period. . . . The Broncos tied it at 11:26 of the second period on a goal by F Aleksi Heponiemi (4). . . . F Garrett Pilon had two assists for the winners, who got 34 saves from G Carter Hart. . . . G Stuart Skinner blocked 23 shots for Swift Current. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Steve Papp. . . . The Broncos took three of the game’s five minors. . . . Everett was 1-2 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-1. . . . Announced attendance: 2,890. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Swift Current tonight (Saturday). . . . Everett now is 8-0 on the road in these playoffs.


The BCHL-champion Wenatchee Wild scored the game’s last five goals en route to a 7-2 Wenatcheevictory over the host Spruce Grove Saints, the AJHL champions, on Friday night. . . . The Wild won the best-of-seven Doyle Cup series, 4-1, and now advance to the Royal Bank Cup that opens in Chilliwack on May 12. . . . F Logan Ganie’s second goal of the game, at 1:00 of the second period, pulled the Saints into a 2-2 tie. . . . Wild F August Von Ungern broke the tie at 1:57 and the Wild never looked back. . . . Wenatchee will be the second U.S.-based team to play in the Royal Bank Cup; the Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League got there in 2013.


In Nipawin, Sask., the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons scored twice in the third period Steinbachand took a 2-1 victory over the SJHL-champion Hawks on Friday night. . . . The Pistons hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series for the ANAVET Cup and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup. . . . The teams now head back to Steinbach for Game 6 on Monday and, if needed, Game 7 on Tuesday. . . . Last night, F Brandan Arnold gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 17:05 of the first period. That was his sixth goal — and 11th point — of the series. . . . The Pistons pulled even on F Drew Worrad’s goal at 3:58 of the third period. . . . F Jack Johnson broke the tie at 12:22 with his first goal of the series. . . . Steinbach G Matthew Thiessen stopped 24 shots, while Nipawin’s Declan Hobbs turned aside 34.


TheCoachingGame

The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs are to be the host team for the Royal Bank Cup tournament that runs from May 12 through May 20 at Prospera Centre. On Thursday, the Chiefs fired general manager/head coach Jason Tatarnic, replacing him with Brian Maloney, who had been the associate GM and associate head coach. . . . Tatarnic was in his fourth season with the Chiefs. This season, they finished 26-26-3-3, good for fourth place in the five-team Mainland Division. They went on to lose a first-round series to the division-winning Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . The change was announced with a three-sentence paragraph that was posted on the Chiefs’ website. The announcement didn’t mention Tatarnic. It ended with this: “President Glen Ringdal said the decision to elevate Maloney was made by Chiefs’ ownership (Thursday).” . . . The Chiefs are owned by Moray Keith, Jim Bond and Heinz Hasselmann, all successful Lower Mainland-based businessmen.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at the Tatarnic firing and a few other strange moves that have occurred of late in the world of junior hockey and the impact they could have.


Brad Berry, the head coach of the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, has signed a five-year deal that funs through 2022-23. Berry just completed his third season as the UND head coach and had one year left on his original four-year contract. . . . Major junior coaches will be interested in learning that the new contract gives Berry a base salary of US$400,000 per year. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Rob Wilson is the new head coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. He spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Nuremberg Ice Tigers of Germany’s DEL. . . . Wilson played part of one season (1988-89) with the Petes before going on to a pro career that included stops in North America and Europe. . . . Wilson replaces Andrew Verner, who had been the interim head coach since Jody Hull was fired in January.


Eric Veilleux is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, who will be the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament. Veilleux, 46, has been an assistant coach with the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, for the past two seasons. He has previous QMJHL head-coaching experience with the Shawinigan Cataractes, helping them win the 2012 Memorial Cup as the host team. He also spent two seasons as head coach of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. . . . In Halifax, Veilleux replaces Jim Midgley, who was fired on April 25 after one season as head coach. The Mooseheads went 43-18-6-1 and finished fourth overall under Midgley, then lost a second-round playoff series to the ninth-place Charlottetown Islanders. He had been an assistant coach for five seasons with the Mooseheads.


Casey O’Brien has signed on as the head coach of the Melville Prairie Fire, a team in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League. O’Brien was fired this season as the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


Kelly Guard, a former WHL goaltender, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as an assistant coach. Guard, 34, had been working as the Prince Albert Raiders’ goaltender coach. . . . Guard played two seasons (2002-04) with the Kelowna Rockets, helping them win the 2004 Memorial Cup.


The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have fired general manager and head coach Bill Rotheisler, who had one year left on his contract. . . . He just completed his second season with the Rebels. . . . “I don’t know what happened, to be honest with you,” Rotheisler told John Boivin of the Castlegar News. “I’m still waiting for my official papers that would explain the reason. I would love to provide you with an answer.” . . . Mike Johnstone, the team president, told Boivin that the board of directors “decided to go in a different direction.” . . . The Rebels finished this season in second place in their division, winning 30 of 47 games. They got past the defending-champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the first round of the playoffs, then lost a five-game series to the Nelson Leafs. . . . Boivin’s story is right here.

Broncos’ Estephan answers boo birds . . . Valimaki, Americans stayin’ alive . . . MacGregor: NHL season drags on too long

F Giorgio Estephan, who according to reports was treated rather rudely during Game 4 Lethbridgein Lethbridge on Wednesday night, answered the hooters with two goals and an assist on Saturday, leading the host Swift Current Broncos to a 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos lead the WHL’s best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, 3-2, and have an opportunity to end it in Lethbridge on Monday when you have to think Estephan and G Stuart Skinner will again be given a huge raspberry welcome by the fans there. . . . Skinner stopped 27 shots in Game 5. . . . He and Estephan were veteran Hurricanes when they were traded to the Broncos in January. . . . Estephan, with 10 goals in these playoffs, gave his guys a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 19:12 of the second period, then made it 4-2 at 6:41 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes got to within a goal when D Egor Zudilov (1) scored, on a PP, at 18:59, with G Logan Flodell on the bench for an extra attacker. . . . The Broncos had D Artyom Minulin and F Glenn Gawdin, their captain, back for this one. Minulin left Game 1 with an undisclosed injury, while Gawdin was injured in Game 2. . . . Minulin and Gawdin each had one assist last night. . . . F Brad Morrison scored once for Lethbridge, giving him a WHL-leading 37 points. He has tied the franchise record for points in one playoff season that was set by F Wes Walz in 1990.


In Everett, D Juuso Valimaki scored twice to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory TriCity30over the Silvertips on Saturday night. . . . Everett leads the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final, 3-2, and gets a second chance to wrap it up when they play Monday in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar (7) tied a WHL playoff record when he scored seven seconds into the game. He now shares the mark with F Trevor Linden of the Medicine Hat Tigers. He did it on April 15, 1988, as the Tigers beat the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-5. If you are wondering, the regular-season record of five seconds was set by F Dean Sexsmith of the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 30, 1987, in a 7-6 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . On Saturday, Valimaki, who has four goals, tied it at 2:29 of the second period, then gave his guys a 4-1 lead at 5:23 of the third. . . . The Americans got 35 saves from G Patrick Dea. . . . The Silvertips were without Slovkian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, who left Game 4 with an undisclosed injury. With Fasko-Rudas out, F Dawson Butt got into the lineup.


In Steinbach, Man., F Braden Purtill scored twice and G Matthew Thiessen stopped 25 Steinbachshots to help the MJHL-champion Pistons to a 3-1 victory over the SJHL-champion Nipawin Hawks on Saturday night. . . . The best-of-seven ANAVET Cup series is tied, 1-1, with the next three games scheduled for Nipawin on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. . . . Last night, Nipawin took a 1-0 lead on a goal from F Logan Casavant. F Brandan Arnold drew the primary assist. Nipawin scored five goals in the first two games; Arnold has three goals and two assists. . . . Steinbach F Austin Heidemann tied it, on a PP, at 4:06 of the third period. . . . Purtill broke the tie at 10:32, then added insurance, on a PP, at 13:44. . . . Announced attendance was 1,165.


In Wenatchee, Wash., G Austin Park blocked 31 shots to lead the BCHL-champion Wild to Wenatcheea 3-0 victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints. . . . The Wild leads the best-of-seven Doyle Cup series, 2-0, with the remainder of the series scheduled to be played in Spruce Grove starting with games on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, they’ll also play Thursday, Friday and Saturday. . . . Last night, F August Von Ungern gave the Wild a 1-0 lead at 11:29 of the third period. . . . The home team later added a pair of empty-netters, from F Jasper Weatherby and F A.J. Vanderbeck. . . . The announced attendance was 2,835.


Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail tackled the length of the NHL’s season in a Saturday piece that is right here.

Of the NHL playoffs, MacGregor writes: “The happiest hockey, the hockey fans enjoy by NHLfar the most, comes in the first round and sometimes in the second round, with the interest and, usually, the quality of play deteriorating steadily until the Stanley Cup is ultimately decided. What would be the climax in any other sport becomes, at best, duty to those hockey fans without a city in the final. Television numbers might still be up, but there is a profound difference between background sound and passionate cheering.”

As one would expect from MacGregor, this is a piece that hits the nail squarely on the head.

Of course, he also could have pointed his keyboard at virtually all levels of hockey because, really, the season has become pathetically long, not only for the fans, but also for so many teams and players. The calendar is going to turn to May and the WHL won’t be through the third round of its playoffs, with the championship final and the Memorial Cup still to come. It’s the same for junior A teams, whose season will conclude next month with the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack, B.C.

And we won’t even get into spring hockey, summer hockey and all the spring camps and tryout camps . . .

For me, it’s now baseball season. When it comes to the NHL, I will make a point of watching the Vegas Golden Knights, simply because the expansionists are the greatest story in sports right now.

I also watch the Golden Knights because I love the way they play the game, pressuring the puck all over the ice. As I watch, I wonder how many NHL teams will be scrambling to emulate this style next season.

But as the NHL playoffs drag on, so does the play, what with all of the uncalled cross-checking, holding, interference and other penalties. All that does is penalize speed and skill, something that quite likely will end up playing a role in the eventual demise of the Golden Knights.

As for the rest of the NHL playoffs . . . as for the over-hyped silliness that was the NHL draft lottery . . . as for all the rest of it . . . well, not even the presence of Brian Burke and his tired untied tie shtick in a TV studio is enough to draw me back.


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Mitchell looks back at Humboldt . . . Broncos, Americans win . . . MJHL title rests in Steinbach

ThisThat

Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix is one of Canada’s best-kept writing secrets. He is a wordsmith and an observer of the human condition who could more than hold his own in any marketplace. . . . On Saturday, he wrote about visiting Humboldt immediately after the Broncos’ bus crash and all that he discovered. That piece is right here.



F Giorgio Estephan’s third goal of the game, at 9:38 of OT, gave the host Swift Current Broncos a 4-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Game 2 of the WHL’s best-of-SCBroncosseven Eastern Conference final on Saturday night. . . . They’ll play Game 3 in Lethbridge on Tuesday. . . . TheBroncos had won the opener, 3-2, on Friday night. . . . Estephan and G Stuart Skinner, who stopped 36 shots, were acquired from the Hurricanes on Jan. 9. . . . The Broncos lost F Glenn Gawdin in the second period, according to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, “after he took a hit in the corner. Asked about his captain after the game, (Broncos head coach Manny) Viveiros responded: ‘He’s fine.’ ” As Harder noted: “That’s his customary response to questions about injuries — regardless of the severity.” . . . Harder added: “The Broncos were already without D Artyom Minulin, who didn’t finish Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury that was initially described as an illness. He missed three games in the first round due to an apparent shoulder issue and may have re-injured it on Friday.” . . .

Harder’s complete story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, also was at the game and his piece is right here.


In Everett, the Tri-City Americans scored three third-period goals and beat the Silvertips, 5-3. Tri-City F Max James broke a 3-3 tie with his first goal of these playoffs at 12:29 of the third period. . . . The Western Conference final is tied, 1-1, with Game 3 in Kennewick, Wash., on Monday night.


The Steinbach Pistons won the MJHL title on Saturday night, beating the hometown Virden Oil Capitals, 2-1. Virden won the first two games of the best-of-seven series, only to have Steinbach roar back with four straight victories to win its first championship since 2013. . . . Paul Dyck, a former WHL defenceman (Moose Jaw, 1989-91), is in his sixth season as the Pistons’ general manager and head coach. . . . The Pistons will play the SJHL champion — either the Nipawin Hawks or Estevan Bruins — for the ANAVET Cup. Nipawin leads the SJHL final, 3-2, with Game 6 in Estevan tonight (Sunday) at 7:30.


Former WHL player Sheldon Kennedy is being honoured by Assiniboine Community College of Brandon. Kennedy has been awarded ACC’s second annual Courage Award, and will be saluted at a dinner on Oct. 25. . . . He was born in Brandon and grew up in Elkhorn, Man. . . . Kennedy heads up the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and also is the co-founder of Respect Group.


Last fall, three men died in Fernie, B.C., after being exposed to ammonia while working on the ice plant in the community’s arena. After that tragedy, WorkdSafeBC began inspecting arenas and recreation facilities across the province. Now, Karin Larsen of CBC News reports, communities are having to find money for repairs. For example, Larsen writes, Rossland needs $200,000 “to keep (its arena) operating” because safety upgrades are needed around the ice plant. . . . The same holds true, to one extent or another, for numerous facilities. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Scattershooting: Kelowna favoured as 2020 MC host? . . . Broncos, Silvertips take early leads . . . Wild takes BCHL title to U.S.

Scattershooting

Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, announced Thursday that his organization, in conjunction with the city, Tourism Kelowna and KelownaRocketsProspera Place, officially is in the bidding to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets last played host to the four-team tournament in 2004, when they won it all. That season, the Rockets, under head coach Marc Habscheid, lost a seven-game Western Conference final to the Kevin Constantine-coached Everett Silvertips, who were in their first WHL season. The Silvertips then were swept from the championship final by the Medicine Hat Tigers.

What makes the Rockets’ decision to enter the 2020 fray so interesting is that it means officials from three of the five B.C. Division teams say they are preparing bids for the 2020 tournament.

Kamloops1The Kamloops Blazers announced on Nov. 9 that they will be in the chase, while the Victoria Royals also are expected to bid.

In November, I asked Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, if his organization is interested in playing host to the 2020 Memorial Cup and he gave me a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”

Around the same time, Hope told the Victoria Times Colonist that “we intend to bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup.”

Victoria and Vancouver will be the host cities for the 2019 World Junior Championship, VictoriaRoyalsand Hope sees a link between a successful WJC and the 2020 Memorial Cup. You can bet that ticket sales from the WJC will be a big part of Victoria’s bid presentation.

Any one of the other 19 WHL teams has until June 1 to make an expression of interest. Those who are still interested will make their bid presentations at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Following the presentations, the governors will vote and a host team/city will be revealed at the conclusion of the meeting.

At this early date, I would suggest that the Rockets are the favourites, for at least three reasons. Firstly, the 2004 tournament was a fabulous show and really raised the bar for future Memorial Cups. Second, the Rockets, with super scout Lorne Frey on staff, have a history of icing competitive teams. Third, Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, carries a lot of weight at the executive level.

The Royals could upset the applecart, though, because as nice as Kelowna is in May, who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks in Victoria at that time of year? They also have a recent history of being competitive, and Hope showed in January that he isn’t afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It didn’t work this time, with the injury bug perhaps playing a role, but he definitely showed a willingness to pull the trigger.

Kamloops is the underdog in this three-horse race, having missed the playoffs in two of the past four seasons, and having lost out in the first round in the other two. The Blazers are rebuilding, witness their January deal with Everett in which Kamloops dealt two veterans — F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala — for two roster players in F Orrin Centazzo and D Montana Onyebuchi, two 2002-born prospects and two 2019 bantam draft picks.

By Oct. 3, however, the 2018-19 season won’t be nearly far enough along to give the voting governors a handle on the bidding teams’ expected level of competitiveness for 2019-20. That means it will be up to each team to convince the governors with a thorough scouting report.

In the end, of course, it may come down to money, meaning the team that guarantees the largest profit — and we’re talking a few million Canadian dollars here — may win the bid.

That being the case, Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, could use some of his family money to guarantee the profit, a move that just might give Kamloops an edge.

The 2018 Memorial Cup is to be held in Regina, with the 2019 tournament in Halifax.


BTW, the Blazers revealed their 2018-19 season-ticket prices this week, with premium tickets going for $657, adult for $582, senior for $478, and youth/student for $403. The premium price is up $16 from last season, with the other three each having gone up by $15. . . . The WHL, of course, is reducing its regular-season schedule from 72 to 68 games, meaning that increase is for two fewer home games than in 2017-18.


The WHL has 22 teams. What might be the over-under for the number of teams to increase season-ticket prices?


The WHL’s conference finals began on Friday night, with the host Swift Current Broncos whlskating to a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and the Everett Silvertips getting past the visiting Tri-City Americans, also 3-2. . . . Game 2 in each series will be played in the same venue tonight. . . . When this season began, who had those four teams in the conference finals? . . . In Swift Current, G Stuart Skinner stopped 38 shots and F Aleksi Heponiemi broke a 2-2 tie at 11:11 of the third period. In 29 career playoff games, he has one goal and 27 assists. . . . Artyom Minulin didn’t finish the game for the Broncos, but head coach Manny Viveiros told Shawn Mullin, the team’s radio voice, that the third-year Russian defenceman has “a touch of the flu.” . . . In Everett, G Carter Hart stopped 24 shots and F Garrett Pilon scored twice for the Silvertips. . . . F Morgan Geekie had one of the Americans’ goals, meaning he has at least one goal in each of the club’s nine playoff games this season. Tri-City went into the game with an 8-0 record in these playoffs. . . . Everett now has won five straight games.


Please note that final is singular, so it is the Western Conference final and the other series is the Eastern Conference final. The next round will be the WHL final. OK?


The SJHL final continued Friday night, with the Nipawin Hawks beating the visiting Estevan Bruins, 3-1, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven final for the Canalta Cup. They’ll play Game 6 in Estevan on Sunday. . . . The Bruins got the game’s first goal, from F Michael McChesney at 2:24 of the first period, but weren’t able to get another one past G Declan Hobbs. D Josh McDougall pulled the Hawks even at 10:17, and F Chad McCartney got what proved to be the winner at 1:33 of the second period. D Gage Misskey also scored for Nipawin, at 19:55 of the second. . . .

In the MJHL, the Steinbach Pistons hold a 3-2 lead over the Virden Oil Capitals, who are scheduled to play host to Game 6 tonight. The Oil Capitals won the first two games in the series, only to have the Pistons roar back with three straight victories, including 4-0 in Virden on Monday and 7-1 in Steinbach on Thursday. . . . The MJHL and SJHL winners will meet for the ANAVET Cup, with a berth in the Royal Bank Cup on the line. That tournament opens in Chilliwack, B.C., on May 12. . . .

In the BCHL, the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild wrapped up its first championship on Thursday, beating the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, 3-0, to win the Fred Page Cup in front of 3,845 fans in the Toyota Town Center. The Wild is in its third season in the BCHL. Wenatchee is the first American team to win the BCHL title since the Bellingham Blazers in 1979. . . . The Wild next will face the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints, starting in Wenatchee with games on Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28. The winner of that series will advance to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack. . . . The Saints won the AJHL title on Friday, beating the host Okotoks Oilers, 3-2, to take the Inter Pipeline Cup final, 4-1.

If you’re wondering how Wenatchee and Spruce Grove will handle the travel, here’s an excerpt from an AJHL news release:

“If one team sweeps the first two games (in Wenatchee), the remainder of the series will be played in Spruce Grove. If the teams split the opening two games, Game 3 will be played in Wenatchee before the series switches to Spruce Grove for the remainder of the series.”


Assistant coach Ian Herbers’ three-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers is soon to Saskatoonexpire. He took a three-year sabbatical from the U of Alberta Golden Bears — he had been their head coach — to sign with the Oilers. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports right here that Herbers, should his deal with the Oilers not be renewed, could be headed back to the Golden Bears. . . . Matheson also reports that Serge Lajoie, who replaced Herbers at the U of A, “has interviewed for the vacant (head-coaching) job with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, which sounds like he’s being proactive (in case) Herbers moves back to the Bears.” . . . The Blades are looking for a head coach after firing Dean Brockman at the end of the regular season.


USA Hockey announced Friday that David Quinn will be head coach of its junior team that will play in the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . Quinn just completed his fourth season as the head coach of the Boston University Terriers. . . . Quinn’s assistant coaches with Team USA will be Mike Hastings of Minnesota State-Mankato, David Lassonde of Dartmouth and Steve Miller of Ohio State.


The Delta Hockey Academy has added a pair of former WHLers to its coaching staff. Milan Dragicevic takes over the Bantam Prep White team, while Rick Lanz will coach the U15 team. . . . Dragicevic played with the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City Americans, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90), and later spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Americans and two (2000-02) as the Vancouver Giants’ head coach. He also spent 12 seasons as the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . Lanz was on the Americans’ coaching staff for one season (1997-98).


If you’re young and thinking about a career as a play-by-play man, the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks may have a spot for you. They are looking for someone to handle play-by-play and to manage their social media accounts. . . . There’s more right here.


You see it before NHL games — a player seated on a bench cracks open a small packet, waves it under his nose and grimaces, and you know he’s ready. But what is that all about, and is it performance-enhancing? . . . The incomparable Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail checks it out in an entertaining read that is right here.

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!