Lamb to wear two hats with Cougars. . . . Pats get Holmes back from Everett. . . . Raiders’ Sapego gets AHL deal


MacBeth

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Kobra Prague (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 25 games with Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga),he had 14 goals and 27 assists. He also had six goals and 21 assists in 18 games with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga). . . .

F Tyler Wong (Lethbridge, 2011-17) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, he had five goals and eight assists in 68 games with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). . . .

F Adam Cracknell (Kootenay, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games. He also was pointless in two games with the Anaheim Ducks (NHL), and had 15 goals and 13 assists in 32 games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL). . . .

F Garet Hunt (Vancouver, 2004-08) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had nine goals and 14 assists in 69 games. . . .

F Adam Helewka (Spokane, Red Deer, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he had 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games with the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL), and eight goals and 11 assists in 24 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). . . . Nur-Sultan was known as Astana until the Kazakhstan parliament voted in March 2019 to change the name. . . .

F Brandon Magee (Chilliwack/Victoria, 2009-15) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 22 games.


ThisThat

Mark Lamb won’t be joining the coaching staff of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Instead of flying into NHL cities all over North America, he’ll be riding a bus to cities that are home to WHL franchises.

The Prince George Cougars announced Thursday that Lamb now is the team’s 13th head PrinceGeorgecoach since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season. Lamb also is their general manager.

Lamb has a history with Dave Tippett, the Oilers’ new head coach, and there had been speculation that the two would reunite in Edmonton.

According to Lamb, he rejected overtures from the Oilers to stay in Prince George, and when is the last time that happened?

In a story by Ethan Ready of myprincegeorgenow that is right here, Lamb explained his decision this way:

“The NHL lifestyle is unbelievable, as we all know. And it should be unbelievable because it’s the best league in the world. That’s where everybody wants to be. You’re flying on chartered jets, staying in nice hotels. But I’m from Cadillac, Saskatchewan — there’s not a lot of jets out there.”

Lamb, who will turn 55 on Aug. 3, spent 16 seasons as a pro player. He was in the NHL long enough to play 403 regular-season games and 70 in the playoffs. He won a Stanley Cup with the 1989-90 Oilers. He then spent seven seasons as an NHL assistant coach before working for seven seasons (2008-16) as the general manager/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos.

“I’ve been there. I’ve had some success in the NHL as a player and won a Stanley Cup,” Lamb said. “I’m not downgrading it at all, it’s an unbelievable league, but the situation here is pretty gratifying.”

Lamb, who signed a four-year contract with the Cougars a year ago, has completed one season as the franchise’s general manager. He had been the interim head coach since Richard Matvichuk was fired on Feb. 7.

The Cougars finished 19-41-8 and didn’t make the playoffs in 2018-19. Interestingly, Lamb said at that time that he wasn’t interested in being a full-time head coach.

“That’s not the plan to come back, I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am,” Lamb told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen in late March.“There’s going to be a search for it . . .”

Early in May, Lamb told Clarke that the search for a head coach was in progress.

“I’ve talked to quite a few people and I’m going to be talking to more,” Lamb said. “You’ve got to be able to relate to the kids, know the trends how hockey is being played now, how you communicate. Just being down there coaching, I have a pretty good idea what it’s going to take and what type of coach the guys do need. I have a lot of connections not just in our league but in pro leagues and I’m doing a lot of work in those areas.”

At the end of the day, the Cougars’ ownership group obviously decided that Lamb fit all of those descriptions and was the best man for the job.

Or maybe Lamb’s wife, Tanya, who is from Edmonton, was tired of all the moving in recent years?

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Here is the last sentence of the news release in which the Prince George Cougars announced that general manager Mark Lamb also would be the head coach:

“The Cougars will be naming an associate coach and finalizing other members of the hockey operations department in the coming weeks.”

Steve O’Rourke, the team’s associate coach for the past three seasons, no longer is with the Cougars.

Lamb told Bill Phillips of pgdailynews.ca, for a story that is right here, that the new associate coach will have a lot on his plate.

“It’s going to be like two coaches,” Lamb said. “He’s going to have a lot of responsibility . . . I want to make that one of the tightest coaching staffs in the league, which will give us a greater opportunity to have success.”

Others in the Cougars’ hockey operations department include goaltending coach Taylor Dakers and Nick Drazenovic, the director of player development.


There now are two WHL teams without head coaches — the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are looking to replace David Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed, and the Spokane Chiefs, who lost Dan Lambert to the NHL’s Nashville Predators where he now is an assistant coach.

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager as they have yet to replace Grant Armstrong, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

Earlier, the Kamloops Blazers signed Shaun Clouston, who had been dismissed by the Medicine Hat Tigers, to replace Serge Lajoie. Willie Desjardins has taken over as the general manager and head coach in Medicine Hat.


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F Robbie Holmes is back with the Regina Pats. They have acquired Holmes, who will turn Pats20 on July 22, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for two 2020 bantam draft selections — a fifth- and a sixth-round pick. . . . Holmes, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., had played 148 regular-season games with the Pats before he was dealt to Everett on Jan. 10 for F Sloan Stanick, a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2022. . . . Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 26 games with Everett, after putting up nine goals and seven assists in 16 games with Regina. . . . In 174 career games, he had 32 goals and 34 assists. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes four 20-year-olds — Holmes, F Austin Pratt, F Dawson Holt, who was acquired from the Vancouver Giants last month, and F Sebastian Streu. . . . Everett now has five 20s on its roster — F Lucas Cullen, F Max Patterson, F Bryce Kindopp, D Jake Christiansen, D Wyatte Wylie.


The Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, have signed D PrinceAlbertSergei Sapego of the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. Sapego, from Belarus, had 10 goals and 33 assists in 58 regular-season games last season, then added three goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games. . . . The signing came after Sapego attended the Maple Leafs’ development camp. . . . Sapego will turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . The Raiders also have Belarusian F Aliaksei Protas, who was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2019 draft, on their roster, and they selected Russian F Ivan Kechkin in the 2019 import draft. . . . The Raiders have yet to post a pre-season roster on the WHL website, but the 20s on their playoff roster were G Ian Scott, Sapego, D Max Martin, D Brayden Pachal, D Zack Hayes, D Jeremy Masella, F Parker Kelly, F Brett Leason and F Brian Harris. . . . Scott (Toronto), Kelly (Ottawa Senators) and Leason (Washington Capitals) are expected to begin their pro careers with the start of the upcoming season.


If you click on Nick’s tweet, you will find the schedule for the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup . . .

 


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WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


ThisThat

Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


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The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

——

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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Tragedy averted as junior B team’s bus leaves road . . . O’Rourke not impressed with Warriors . . . WHL honours Rick Brodsky

MacBeth

F Jeremy Williams (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). He has 21 goals and 19 assists in 49 games. He leads the Tigers in goals and is tied for the team lead in points. As part of the contract extension, Straubing has agreed to loan Williams to Örebro (Sweden, SHL) for the rest of this season. Straubing has three games left in the regular season and cannot make the playoffs. Örebro has 10 games left in its regular season.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Tragedy was averted early Sunday when a bus carrying the junior B Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League slid off a B.C. highway.

The Posse was on its way home after having played Saturday night in 100 Mile House.

Head coach Mark McNaughton gave full marks to the bus driver, saying that he did a “phenomenal job.”

According to McNaughton, the bus came upon ice and started sliding.

“He adjusted to go the right way,” McNaughton told Andrea Demeer of Black Press. “He steered it straight into a snow bank instead of over towards the embankment.”

The driver, whose named wasn’t included in the story, and one player were taken to hospital in Princeton and later released.

Demeer’s story is right here.


Prince George had just dropped a 4-1 decision to the host Moose Jaw Warriors on PrinceGeorgeSaturday night, and Steve O’Rourke, the Cougars’ associate coach, didn’t like what he saw . . . from the Warriors.

“It’s not easy when a team plays only two lines for pretty much the whole night,” O’Rourke said on 94.3 the GOAT’s post-game show. “It’s embarrassing to watch (the Warriors) to tell you the truth. I’m very upset.

“To come out here and see a top place team and really they played two (or) two-and-a-half lines.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside. Yes, we gave up some chances and (goaltender Taylor Gauthier) played really well. We knew that was going to happen with a team this powerful.

“If you are not willing to play four lines during a 72-game schedule, it’s going to catch up to you somewhere. They are a good hockey club, give them credit, but I don’t know about the long term. Personally, I didn’t think it looks good on junior hockey. They have a fourth line that didn’t see the ice all night.”

There’s nothing like some fightin’ words to fire up things in the WHL, something we rarely hear these days. Unfortunately, the Warriors and Cougars aren’t scheduled to play again this season.


Rick Brodsky, a longtime owner and a former chairman of the board of governors, has whlbeen presented with a WHL Governors Award. . . . His involvement in the WHL began in 1977 when his family purchased the Saskatoon Blades. He left that ownership group early in 1992 when he purchased the Victoria Cougars, a franchise that he moved to Prince George after the 1993-94 season. . . . He sold the Cougars after the 2013-14 season and since has been only an interested observer. . . . Brodsky did two stints as the chairman of the board of governors, from 1986-90 and again from 1992-96, when he carried a lot of weight at the top levels of major junior hockey. . . . Brodsky’s brother Jack, who was involved in the Blades’ ownership for a long time, was a recipient of the same award for 2013-14.


Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, reported Monday that the team will be without sophomore F Nolan Foote “for a significant amount of time.” Foote suffered an undisclosed injury in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the host Everett Silvertips. That was Foote’s 100th WHL regular-season game. . . . Foote, a sophomore, has 12 goals and 26 assists in 48 games this season.


Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, tweeted Sunday that the Tigers “limp home from winless road trip without goaltender Jordan Hollett. Sidelined indefinitely (with) lower-body injury.” . . . Hollett was injured during Saturday’s 5-4 loss Tigers Logo Officialto the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. He left in the second period, apparently favouring his right leg.

“It looked liked (Ty) Ronning might’ve got the tongue of his skate trapped with the top of the pad and it was just a little freak thing,” Tigers assistant coach Bobby Fox told Zach Amin of CHAT News. “Just the speed off the rush and you could tell right away in the video that he wasn’t himself.”

Fox said the Tigers will add G Garin Bjorklund, 15, or G Kaeden Lane, 16, with Hollett out. . . . Bjorklund, a first-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, is with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. Lane plays at the Burnaby Winter Club. . . . The Tigers next are scheduled to play on Wednesday when they entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings.


The Spokane Chiefs have added F Cordel Larson, 16, to their roster. Larson, who plays for the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask., should be with the Chiefs on Wednesday when they visit the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Larson, from Weyburn, Sask., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has 12 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with the Hounds this season.


The Kootenay Ice has added G Jesse Makaj, 16, to is roster. From Vancouver, he plays for the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. In 14 games, he is 6-7-0, 3.14. Makaj was selected by the Ice in the second round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Ice G Dustin McGovern likely will be suspended after being hit with a match penalty for attempt to injure during Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Should that happen, Makaj will back up Matt Berlin. . . . The Ice is scheduled to visit Saskatoon tonight (Tuesday).


John Grisdale, the BCHL’s commissioner since 2003, revealed Monday that he is stepping aside following this season. Grisdale became the BCHL’s first commissioner when he succeeded Ron Boileau, who had been the league’s president. . . . “The BCHL has meant a lot to me and I’m happy with the work we’ve done but the time is right for me to step aside and let a new face run the show,” Grisdale said in a news release. “I believe the league is in a good place and I think I’m leaving it in a better position than when I began so I take great pride in that.” . . . For more, click right here.

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Scoreboard

MONDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Regina at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.


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