Hanlon leaving Giants . . . Blazers’ top pick gives them the word . . . Thunderbirds’ import will stay home

MacBeth

F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) a signed one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the U of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and eight assists in 28 games. . . .

F Dominik Uher (Spokane, 2009-12) signed a two-year contract with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). This season, with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 48 games. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). He had three goals and seven assists in 19 games. . . .

D Tomáš Kundrátek (Medicine Hat, 2008-10) signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL), he had two goals and 11 assists in 53 games. . . .

D Zack Yuen (Tri-City, 2008-13) signed a one-year two-way contract extension with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). He had two goals and one assist in 21 games this season. He also was pointless in eight games with KRS Heilongjiang Harbin (China, Russia Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants became the third B.C. Division team searching for a general manager when they revealed on Monday that Glen Hanlon is leaving after two seasons in that role. . . . The Prince George Cougars, who didn’t bring back Todd Harkins, and Kamloops Blazers, who dumped Stu MacGregor, also are looking to hire general managers. . . . According to a Giants news release, Hanlon “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” . . . Hanlon, 61, spent two seasons (2011-13) with the Giants as an assistant coach under Don Hay before spending a couple of seasons coaching in Belarus and Switzerland. . . . Dean Chynoweth, the Giants’ associate coach, may be the leading candidate to replace Hanlon. Chynoweth, 49, spent five seasons (2004-09) as the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos. He just completed his first season with the Giants, working alongside head coach Jason McKee.


The Hamilton Bulldogs won the OHL championship on Sunday night. Here are a few paragraphs written earlier in the week by Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator:

When the Canadian Hockey League awarded the Memorial Cup to Regina, it cited the failings of FirstOntario Centre as the main reason why.

“At the end of the day, it was the facility that would not allow Hamilton to stay in the race,” CHL president David Branch said back then.

That may be true. Then again, the yellow-T-shirt-wearing, noise-making, atmosphere-creating, lower-bowl-filling crowd — which was 2,100 people bigger than will be at any of the Memorial Cup games at the Brandt Centre (capacity 6,500) — sure looked good and suggested the tournament really should’ve been here.

Not to mention the fact that Hamilton has a championship-calibre team that’s playing the country’s best outfit to a standstill right now. The host Regina Pats? They were eliminated from their playoffs 40 days ago.”


Here’s more from Radley:

Sure, most teams’ TV and radio announcers are homers to one degree or another. Many are employees of the team, so it’s hardly a surprise. Most keep it reasonably in check, however.

That said, is there any call in sports more finger-nails-on-a-chalkboard grating than Buck Martinez yelling “Get up, ball!” every time a Blue Jay hits a home run? It’s just one step short of running onto the field and hugging the guy as he rounds third base.


It seems that Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, didn’t give us all of the organization’s bad news when he announced the departure of four people from Kamloops1the front office on Thursday.

Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, reported Tuesday that the Blazers were told before the May 3 bantam draft that F Massimo Rizzo is “pursuing an NCAA scholarship and will not be coming to training camp in the fall.”

The Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall selection of the 2016 bantam draft. This season, Rizzo had 13 goals and 25 assists in 50 games with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. He will be back with the Vees in 2018-19.

On Thursday, Gaglardi announced the departures of general manager Stu MacGregor, head coach Don Hay, assistant coach Mike Needham and director of player personnel Matt Recchi.


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed G Stuart Skinner of the Swift Current Broncos to a three-year entry-level contract on Monday. Skinner, who is from Edmonton, was a third-round selection by the Oilers in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . He posted a record-tying six shutouts in helping the Broncos to the WHL championship.


So . . . if you’re Eli Manning, the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, what’s it like playing in Philadelphia?

“Philly, you just gotta get used to,” Manning tells Steiner Sports. “. . . because you’re not used to seeing a nine-year-old cursing at you and talking about my mom and stuff. Once you get used to it, it’s fine. It just takes a year or two. Now (15 years later) he’s 24 and training his four-year-old to curse at me.”


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed D Nolan Allan, the third overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Allan, from Davidson, Sask., had 12 goals and 32 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Humboldt Broncos.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times notes that Kiyaunta Goodwin of Louisville, Ky., “is six-feet-seven, weighs 370 pounds, wears size-18 shoes, leg presses 1,000 pounds, bench presses 315, displays uncanny agility, likes art music and robotics, and has a football offer from Georgia in his pocket, according to Bleacher Report.” . . . Perry then adds: “Oh and did we mention that he’s only 14 years old and an eighth-grader?”


It appears that F Sami Moilanen won’t be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds for what Seattlewould have been his 19-year-old season. From Sipoo, Finland, Moilanen played two seasons with Seattle. He had 43 points, including 21 goals, in 70 games as a freshman, adding 16 points, seven of them goals, in 20 playoff games as the Thunderbirds won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. This season, he had 22 goals and 23 assists in 50 games as he was hampered by injuries. . . . Seattle’s second import, Russian F Nikita Malukhin, had five goals and four assists in 52 games as a freshman this season.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, is a hockey fan, and as he writes: “A difference between Canadian and U.S. hockey fans — at least Canadian fans can find Winnipeg on a map?”


“Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning should both do well with playoff ticket sales,” Hough notes. “As we get into mid- May, I’m guessing people in both cities will pay well for a chance to spend three hours inside out of 30-plus degree weather.”


“So the Leafs are bounced in the first round,” pens Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette, “the Raptors pull an epic choke after Drake makes an ass of himself, and the Jays get no-hit the night Stroman pitches. This Toronto 24/7 thing is entertaining.”


A note from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Reuters reports a Paris museum is offering special viewing hours to ‘naturists.’ Nudes taking in nudes? Busts before busts? Art-wise I’m not sure how to frame it.”


Currie, again: “The Toronto Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey two days after he was named NBA coach of the year.  It’s the fastest fall from grace for a Casey since the Mudville nine.”

Broncos win first WHL title since ’93 . . . Take out Silvertips in six games . . . Skinner ties shutout record; Gawdin is MVP

MacBeth

D Dan Gibb (Prince George, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the University of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and six assists in 19 gams. He was the team captain. . . .

F Alexander Chirva (Moose Jaw, Kootenay, 2013-15) signed a two-year contract extension with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, he had two assists in eight games. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). The team captain, he had seven goals and 21 assists in 38 games. . . .

F Chase Witala (Prince George, 2010-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Starbulls Rosenheim (Germany, Oberliga). He signed with Rosenheim on Jan. 22, and put up six goals and 11 assists in 12 games. . . . This season, prior to signing with Rosenheim, he had three goals and seven assists in 11 games with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL); was pointless in five games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL); and was pointless in two games with Zilina (Slovakia, Extraliga).


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos scored two first-period goals, the second one with 0.6 seconds remaining, en route to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips on Sunday night. SCBroncosThe Broncos won the best-of-seven WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2. . . . This was the third championship in Swift Current’s history. The Broncos won it all in 1989, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, beating the Blades in the final 29 years ago. In 1993, they won their second WHL title, but didn’t fare as well at the Memorial Cup in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This also was the first time since 1993 that a Saskatchewan-based team has won the WHL championship. . . . This was Everett’s second trip to the WHL final. It first got that far in 2004, which was its first season — yes, it’s first season — in the WHL. That time, it was swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (13) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:41 of the first period. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi, who drew the primary assist on Estephan’s goal, made it 2-0 with his fifth goal at 19:59. . . . F Beck Malenstyn added the empty-netter with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots as he recorded his sixth shutout of these playoffs and his second in the last three games of the final. He now shares the WHL record for shutouts in one playoff with Dustin Slade (Vancouver, 2006). . . . Everett got 22 stops from G Carter Hart. . . . Broncos F Glenn Gawdin, the team captain, was named the playoff MVP. He finished with 32 points, including 14 goals. . . . F Brad Morrison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes led all playoff scorers with 37 points. F Morgan Geekie of the Tri-City Americans was No. 1 in goals (17) and Heponiemi was tops in assists (25). . . . Swift Current was 1-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-2. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Reagan Vetter. . . . The attendance was 2,890.


Two of the men who coached in the WHL final may be on the move shortly.

There is speculation in NHL circles that the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks all have at least some interest in Manny Viveiros, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach. All three NHL teams are, or will be, looking to fill assistant coach vacancies.

Viveiros is the WHL’s reigning coach of the year. His situation is certain to be a big story during the Memorial Cup in Regina.

Meanwhile, sources indicate that Mitch Love, who has been on Everett’s coaching staff since 2011-12, has been interviewed by the Saskatoon Blades, who are looking to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired when their season ended.

The Blades also have shown interest in Serge Lajoie, who spent the past three seasons as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears. This season, Lajoie guided the Golden Bears to the Canadian university championship.

Lajoie is looking now because Ian Herbers has returned to the U of A after being dropped by the Oilers. Herbers had been on sabbatical while with the Oilers.

Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, was selected by the Tri-City Americans with the 14th overall selection of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The four teams are set for the 100th running of the Memorial Cup tournament that opens Friday in Regina. Interestingly, none of the four teams won its league’s regular-season title.

The Regina Pats, of course, are the host team. They finished seventh in the WHL’s overall standings. The Moose Jaw Warriors were first overall, then lost out to the Swift Current Broncos in the second round. The Broncos, who were second overall, six points behind the Warriors, won the WHL title at home on Sunday night.

In the OHL, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who were second overall, beat out the No. 1 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, winning Game 6, 5-4, on Sunday. In the 68-game regular season, the Greyhounds finished 13 points ahead of the Bulldogs.

In the QMJHL, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the visiting Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada, 2-1, in Game 6 on Sunday night. In the regular season, the Armada finished first overall, with 107 points, 11 more than the second-place Titan.

——

The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Hamilton vs. Regina, 8 p.m.

Game 2, Saturday – Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 2 p.m.

Game 3, Sunday – Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst, 5 p.m.

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Swift Current vs. Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Game 5, Tuesday, May 22 – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday, May 23 – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, May 24, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


The legendary Clare Drake, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, died on Sunday morning. He was 89. Drake was a long-time coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, and his coaching tree is as large as anyone who has ever been involved in hockey. . . . Jim Matheson, the hall-of-fame hockey writer, has more right here.


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Skinner, Sissons get Broncos to within one victory of title. . . . Can end it all on Friday . . . VIJHL to give three points for regulation win

MacBeth

F Marcin Kolusz (Vancouver, 2003-04) signed a one-year contract extension with Podhale Nowy Targ (Poland, PHL). The team captain, he had 11 goals and 20 assists in 38 games. . . .

D Max Ross (Lethbridge, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Poprad (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he had five goals and 12 assists in 36 games. He was the team captain.


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos are one victory away from their third WHL championship after beating the host Everett Silvertips, 1-0, on Wednesday night. . . . The Broncos lead SCBroncosthe best-of-seven championship final, 3-1, and can wrap up the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Friday night in Everett. . . . If the Silvertips win on Friday, they’ll head back to Swift Current for games on Sunday and, if necessary, Monday. . . . Last night, G Stuart Skinner stopped 32 shots to record the shutout, while D Colby Sissons scored the game’s only goal. . . . Sissons scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, on a PP, at 14:35 of the second period, beating G Carter Hart from the left side of the high slot. . . . Hart finished with 18 saves. . . . Skinner has faced 139 shots in four games, and has stopped 132 of them, for a .950 save percentage. . . . Referees Mike Campbell and Chris Crich gave the Broncos six of the game’s 11 minor penalties. Swift Current was 1-4 on the PP; Everett was 0-5. . . . Everett scored on its first PP of this series, but is 0-13 since then. . . . The announced attendance was 5,081. . . . The Broncos also won the WHL championship in 1989, when they went on to win the Memorial Cup, and 1993.


In his second season as the head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, Manny Viveiros has his club one victory away from winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. The Broncos hold a 3-1 lead over the Everett Silvertips in the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final. . . . Robert Tychowski of Postmedia takes a look at Viveiros and his career right here.


Meanwhile, back in Swift Current, fans have gathered in the pews at the Credit Union iPlex to watch the game on the big screen. The fans were there for Game 3 on Tuesday night and again for Game 4 on Wednesday night. Of course, it wouldn’t be game without having fresh ice for each period. As you can see from the above tweet, the Zamboni driver has been taking care of that, and you can bet he and the fans will be back on Friday night.


The Young Stars Classic, the annual preseason tournament that takes place in Penticton, B.C., each September, will have a markedly different look this year. In the past, it has included prospect teams from four NHL teams. This time around, it will feature two games between prospects from the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, along with a two-game series between the UBC Thunderbirds and U of Alberta Golden Bears. . . . The Classic is scheduled to run Sept. 7-9 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the home of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. . . . The collegians are scheduled to meet on Sept. 7 (4 p.m.) and Sept. 8 (6 p.m.), with the Canucks and Jets facing each other on Sept. 7 (7:30 p.m.) and Sept. 9 (2 p.m.).


A tip of the Taking Note cap to the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Starting in 2018-19, it will award three points for a regulation-time victory. An overtime victory will be worth two points with a loss in overtime garnering one point. . . . The nine-team VIJHL plays two OT periods and now will go back to using a shootout if there isn’t a decision.

Broncos, Silvertips to meet for WHL title . . . Estephan keys Swift Current win . . . Davis caps Everett’s amazing comeback

The Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips will meet in the WHL’s championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. The best-of-seven series will be played in a 2-3-2 format, opening in Swift Current with games on Friday and Saturday nights. They’ll play in Everett on May 8, May 9 and, if necessary, May 11. If needed, Games 6 and 7 would be played in Swift Current on May 13 and May 14.

The Broncos haven’t been in the WHL final since 1993 when they got past the Portland Winter Hawks — yes, the nickname was two words back in the day — in seven games.

The Broncos beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-1, on Monday night to win the best-SCBroncosof-seven Eastern Conference final, 4-2. . . . The Hurricanes went into the game with an 8-0 record at home in these playoffs. They also had scored at least five goals in seven of those victories. . . . The Broncos now are 5-5 on the road. . . . Last night, the Broncos erased a 1-0 deficit with three second-period goals in a span of 96 seconds. F Matteo Gennaro tied it 1-1 at 6:33; F Alexi Heponiemi made it 2-1 at 7:02 and F Beck Malenstyn upped it to 3-1 at 8:09. . . . Former Hurricanes captain Giorgio Estephan gave Lethbridge fans something to remember him by with a PP goal for a 4-1 lead at 2:12 of the third period. . . . Broncos G Stuart Skinner finished with 33 saves, 19 of them in the first period when his guys were outshot, 20-2.

In Kennewick, Wash., the Silvertips erased a 5-2 third-period deficit to beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-5 in OT. Everett won the Western Conference final, 4-2. . . . Everett last Everettreached the championship final in 2004, its first season in the WHL, when it was swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . D Kevin Davis (3) won it with his second goal of the game, at 5:58 of OT. Davis, who turned 21 on March 14, was playing in his 401st game with the Silvertips — 347 regular-season games and 54 in the playoffs. Yes, he went into the game with two goals in his previous 53 playoff games. . . . Everett is 7-0 on the road in these playoffs. . . . Tri-City had trailed 2-1 before scoring four straight goals, the last one, by F Jordan Topping (4) at 8:52 of the third period. . . . F Connor Dewar (9) started the Everett comeback at 9:52. Davis (2) pulled his guys to within one at 13:53, and F Garrett Pilon (11) tied it at 14:29. . . . Pilon had left the game at 17:30 of the first period after taking a hit from behind from Tri-City F Michael Rasmussen. However, Pilon returned for the second period. . . . Tri-City D Juuso Valimaki, who had two goals in a 5-2 victory in Game 5 on Saturday, had four assists in Game 6 as he figured in each of his club’s first four scores. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 18 shots for Everett. . . . Tri-City G Patrick Dea made 31 saves, 18 of them in the first period when his guys were outshot 20-4. . . . Announced attendance was 3,033.


The OHL announced Monday that it had suspended F Givani Smith of the Kitchener Rangers for two games after he made an “inappropriate gesture” at the end of Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the visiting Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. . . . Kitchener won the game in OT to tie the best-of-seven series, 3-3. Smith had a goal and two assists in the victory. . . . The teams played Game 7 on Monday night in the Soo, with the Greyhounds winning, 4-3 in double OT, to advance to the championship final against the Hamilton Bulldogs. . . . Smith, who turned 20 on Feb. 27, sat out last night. He was a second-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . The OHL final is scheduled to open Thursday in the Soo.


With Ian Herbers officially having returned to his post as head coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears, it means that Serge Lajoie is looking for work. Herbers spent the last three years on sabbatical as he worked as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. With him gone, Lajoie took over as the Golden Bears’ head coach and won the 2018 USports championship. . . . It’s an open secret that Lajoie has talked with the Saskatoon Blades about their head-coaching vacancy. The Blades are looking to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired at season’s end. . . . Jason Hills of Postmedia reports that Lajoie also has talked with the Red Deer Rebels, who have an opening after they and associate coach Jeff Truitt chose to part company.


Erik Largen is the new head coach at the U of Alaska-Fairbanks. Largen, 31, spent the previous two seasons with the Nanooks as an assistant coach. He now is the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I hockey ranks. . . . Largen takes over from Lance West, who had been the interim head coach for the 2017-18 season after Dallas Ferguson left to take over as head coach of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. . . . College Hockey News has more on this story right here.


MacBeth

D Mitch Versteeg (Lethbridge, 2006-09) signed a one-year extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had three goals and seven assists in 49 games. . . .

F Jesse Mychan (Everett, Tri-City, 2011-13) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in five games with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), and 14 goals and 11 assists in 43 games with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL). . . .

D Jim Vandermeer (Red Deer, 1997-2001) signed a one-year contract extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). As a player/assistant coach, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 33 games this season. . . .

F Spencer Edwards (Red Deer, Seattle, Moose Jaw, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with Amiens (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, he had 20 goals and 22 assists in 44 games with Bordeaux (France, Ligue Magnus).


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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 on a Sunday . . . Warriors, Broncos both win . . . Chiefs complete perfect weekend

Scattershooting

It’s obvious that the Everett Silvertips are in the Seattle Thunderbirds’ kitchen and they’re cooking up a tremendous dinner. If you haven’t seen the comments from Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette after the last couple of games, you need to hunt them up because this has turned into the WHL’s best rivarly.


The Thunderbirds and Silvertips are scheduled to meet again on Saturday in Everett and March 10 in Kent, Wash. After that, they may end up going head-to-head in the first round of the playoffs. Fans of both teams need to buckle up and enjoy the ride, because these rivalries tend to come and go, depending on the competitiveness of both sides.


In this instance, these teams are competitive with each other, never mind the fact that Everett is 22 points ahead in the standings. In the season series, Everett is 4-2-2; the Thunderbirds are 4-3-1.


The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets made an attempt to revive their rivalry on Saturday night in the Little Apple. The Rockets blew a 3-0 lead, trailed 4-3, then came back to win 6-5 in a game that concluded with something of a brouhaha. But you can’t have a fierce rivalry when one team — in this case, Kelowna — is 6-0-0 in the season series.



No, I won’t be waking up at 5 a.m., just because there are NHL trade deadline shows on TV. . . . Yawn!


Remember when teams would get franchise-type players like D Erik Karlsson and keep them for the duration of their careers?


Those of us from a certain generation relived some memories this weekend when the New York Rangers reunited the GAG Line. You remember Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert, don’t you? . . . If you don’t, and even if you do, Larry Brooks of the New York Post has more right here.


Yes, the Swift Current Broncos lost F Tanner Nagel to injury following a fight in a game on Sunday afternoon. Hey, what’s a kid with a brain injury now and then? By all means, let’s keep fighting in the game.


If you’re looking for an interesting read, you may want to try Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA. . . . Written by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, along with lawyer Michael McCann, it really opens a window onto the NCAA and the way it has used inane rules to take advantage of student-athletes.


When you’re pondering who might win the WHL’s Ed Chynoweth Cup, don’t count out the Spokane Chiefs as long as their big three — D Ty Smith, F Jaret Anderson-Dolan and F Kailer Yamamoto — are healthy.


With the U.S. sixth in the medal count, behind Russia, during the Olympic Winter Games, Michael Rosenberg of SI.com pointed out that Russia “isn’t even officially here. I was pretty fired up about that. That’s like losing a bar bet to an empty stool.”


Did you see Fergie’s rendition of the U.S. national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game? After that one, Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., noted: “Even Rosanne was saying, ‘I’m finally off the hook!’ ”


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Saskatoon at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Saskatoon, F Brayden Burke had a goal and two assists to lead the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-2 victory over the Blades. . . . Moose Jaw (46-12-3) has won two in a row, and has set MooseJawWarriorsa franchise record for most victories in one season. The Warriors lead the overall standings, by two points over Swift Current. Moose Jaw has two games in hand. . . . Saskatoon (31-29-3) has lost two straight. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Prince Albert, which has a game in hand. . . . F Ryan Peckford gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:52 of the opening period. . . . The Blades tied it at 6:55 when F Braylon Shmyr scored his 33rd goal. . . . Burke scored the next two goals, at 4:59 and 14:52 of the second period, to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead. He’s got 31 goals. . . . F Josh Paterson (27) pulled the home side to within a goal at 12:10. . . . F Jayden Halbgewachs got the empty-netter for Moose Jaw, his WHL-leading 59th goal of the season, at 19:04. . . . F Justin Almeida had two assists for Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors were 0-3 on the PP; the Blades were 0-4. . . . G Adam Evanoff stopped 33 shots for the Warriors, one more than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . D Dawson Davidson again was among Saskatoon’s scratches. . . . D Kale Clague was among Moose Jaw’s scratches. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo completed a three-game suspension by missing this one. . . . The Warriors will go on to play in Lethbridge on Tuesday and Cranbrook, B.C., on Wednesday as they play four games in five nights. . . . Announced attendance: 3,662.


At Calgary, F Ty Lewis marked his return to Brandon’s lineup with two goals as the Wheat Kings doubled up on the Hitmen, 6-3. . . . Brandon (33-24-5) has won two in a row, BrandonWKregularboth on the road. It is fourth in the East Division, one point behind Regina. Brandon is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, six points up on Saskatoon. . . . Calgary (19-34-7) had won its previous two games. . . . F Conner Chaulk (14) gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 4:14 of the first period. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Cole Reinhardt (16), at 5:30, and D Schael Higson (4), on a PP, at 13:32. . . . F Jakob Stukel (30) tied it, on a PP, at 15:40. . . . Brandon went out front 3-2 at 19:00 as F Luka Burzan (11) scored. . . . Lewis, who hadn’t played since Feb. 19, upped the lead to 4-2 with a shorthanded goal at 9:14. . . . F Jake Kryski (14) pulled the Hitmen back to within a goal at 18:02. . . . The Wheat Kings then got two empty-netters, from Lewis (34) and F Ben McCartney (2). . . . F Stelio Mattheos had two assists for Brandon, with Burzan getting one. . . . Kryski and Chaulk each had an assist for Calgary. . . . Each team was 1-4 on the PP. . . . The Wheat Kings got a big game from G Logan Thompson, who stopped 45 shots as he celebrated his 21st birthday. . . . G Matthew Armitage, in his first start since Feb. 3, stopped 33 shots for Calgary. . . . The Wheat Kings played three games in fewer than 48 hours, going 2-1-0. . . . Announced attendance: 7,376.


At Edmonton, F Glenn Gawdin and F Beck Malenstyn each had four points, and G Stuart Skinner recorded the shutout, as the Swift Current Broncos dumped the Oil Kings, 8-0. . . . SCBroncosSwift Current (44-14-5) is second in the overall standings, two points behind Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (18-36-8) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Edmonton went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Gawdin, who has 54 goals, scored on a first-period penalty shot, then added a second-period shorthanded goal. . . . Gawdin now has a WHL-leading 117 points, eight more than Moose Jaw F Brayden Burke. . . . Malenstyn scored his 12th goal and added three assists. . . . The Broncos, who led 2-0 and 5-0 by period, also got two goals from F Tyler Steenbergen (43) and singles from F Matteo Gennaro (38), D Sahvan Khaira (6) and D Connor Horning (3). . . . F Giorgio Estephan had two assists, with Khaira and Gennaro getting one each. . . . Swift Current was 1-7 on the PP; Calgary was 0-6. . . . Skinner, who is from Edmonton, stopped 20 shots in posting his sixth shutout this season and the 12th of his career. . . . G Josh Dechaine started for the Oil Kings and was beaten eight times on 38 shots in 52:42. Boston Bilous, who hadn’t played since Dec. 15 because of mononucleosis, finished up by stopping all three shots he faced in 7:18. . . . Swift Current F Tanner Nagel left the game at 4:04 of the second period after being injured in a fight with Edmonton F Colton Kehler. . . . Announced attendance: 8,431.


At Everett, the Spokane Chiefs erased a 1-0 deficit with five goals and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Silvertips. . . . Spokane (36-21-5) has won three in a row. It is third in the SpokaneChiefsU.S. Division, one point behind Portland. . . . Everett (41-18-5) had points in each of its previous 11 games (9-0-2). It leads the Western Conference, by five points over Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips completed a run of seven games in 10 days at 5-1-1. . . . The Chiefs were went 3-0-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours, the first two at home. . . . Everett also played three games in fewer than 48 hours, going 2-1-0. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (19) gave the Silvertips a 1-0 lead at 16:26 of the first period. . . . F Riley Woods (21) tied it at 7:42 of the second period, and F Riley McKay (3) put the visitors ahead at 13:44. . . . F Kailer Yamamoto (19) upped the lead to 3-1 at 15:59. . . . D Filip Kral (6) added insurance at 1:34 of the third period, with D Matt Leduc (1) making it 5-1 at 15:34. . . . F Sean Richards (20) got Everett’s second goal, at 16:29. . . . D Ty Smith had two assists for Spokane. . . . Everett was 0-1 on the PP; Spokane was 0-2. . . . G Donovan Buskey stopped 29 shots for the Chiefs. . . . The Silvertips got 24 saves from G Dustin Wolf. . . . Announced attendance: 6,087.


MONDAY (all times local):

Kamloops vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Tuesday’s WHL deals: If Broncos weren’t all-in before, they are now . . . Hurricanes land Barlage . . . Three other deals, too

WHEELING AND DEALING …

NUMBER OF TRADES (since Nov. 13): 41

PLAYERS: 78

BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 49

CONDITONAL BANTAM DRAFT PICKS: 8

THE DEADLINE: Wednesday, Jan. 10 (2 p.m. PT, 3 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. CT)


THE DEAL: The Swift Current Broncos acquired F Giorgio Estephan, 20, F Tanner Nagel, 19, and G Stuart Skinner, 19, from the Swift Current Broncos for F Logan Barlage, 16, F Owen Blocker, 17, D Matthew Stanley, 19, G Logan Flodell, 20, first- and third-round selections in the 2020 WHL bantam draft and a conditional second-round pick in 2021.

THE NUMBERS: Estephan, the Hurricanes’ captain, put up 297 points, including 119 SCBroncosgoals, in 297 regular-season games with Lethbridge. This season, he had 58 points, including 18 goals, in 39 games. . . . Estephan is fifth on the Hurricanes’ career list for games played (297), tied for seventh in points (297), nine in goals (119) and fourth in assists (178). . . . Last season, he finished with 35 goals and 54 assists in 68 games, then added 11 goals and 13 helpers in 18 playoff games. . . . Nagel was acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on Sept. 16, 2016. He has played 107 games with Lethbridge, recording 13 goals and 11 assists. This season, Nagel has three goals and five assists in 35 games. . . . Skinner made 182 appearances with the Hurricanes, going 88-66-13, 3.30, .907. He is first in franchise history in four career categories — games played (182), minutes played (9,885), saves (5,318) and victories (88). . . .

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Barlage has one goal and six assists in 37 games with the Broncos this season. Last season, he had 37 goals and 39 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos. In 2015-16, his draft season, Barlage put up 60 goals and 65 assists in 30 games with the bantam AA Humboldt Broncos. . . . Blocker, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, has one goal in 27 games this season. In 71 career games, he has one goal and one assist. . . . In 40 games this season, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound. . . . This season, Stanley has four assists in 40 games. In 91 career games, he has five assists. . . . Flodell made 35 appearances with the Broncos this season, going 24-8-3, 3.07, .913 with three shutouts. The Broncos acquired him from the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the season.

THE INFO: The Broncos now have five first-round selections from the 2013 bantam draft Lethbridgeon their roster — D Josh Anderson (Prince George), F Tyler Steenbergen (their own pick), Skinner, F Beck Malenstyn (Calgary) and F Kaden Elder (Seattle). However, the Broncos have traded away all of their first-rounders from 2014 through 2020 — D Dominic Schmiemann, 2014 (Calgary), F Riley Stotts, 2015 (Calgary), Barlage, and D Joel Sexsmith, 2017 (Vancouver). . . . The Broncos did get a 2019 first-round pick from Vancouver for the rights to Sexsmith. . . . Estephan, from Edmonton, was the fourth-overall selection in the 2012 bantam draft. He was a sixth-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2015 draft, but was never signed. . . . Nagel, who turns 20 on Jan. 27, is from Mossbank, Sask., but pretty much grew up in Swift Current. He was an alternate captain with the Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge selected Skinner in the first round of the 2013 bantam draft. The Edmonton Oilers picked him in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract. . . .

The Broncos selected Barlage, who is from Humboldt, Sask., with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. He will turn 17 on Friday and is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . In 2013-14, with a peewee AA team in Humboldt, Barlage had 274 points, including 175 goals, in 56 games. . . . From Oakbank, Man., Blocker was selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos picked Stanley in the 12th round of the 2013 bantam draft. He’s from Balmoral, Man. . . . Flodell, from Regina, was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2012 bantam draft. Last season, with Saskatoon, he was an Eastern Conference second-team all-star.

WHY: Swift Current’s braintrust apparently felt it was one rung below Moose Jaw — at the time of the deal, the Warriors led the overall standings by eight points over the Broncos — and chose to try and do something about it. So the Broncos struck in a big way, but the price was steep. You have to think they know that’s the way it would be when Manny Viveiros, their director of hockey operations and head coach, first inquired about getting both Estephan and Skinner. . . . At the same time, the Hurricanes were eager to get their hands on Barlage. As Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt said in a news release: “To be able to get Barlage in the trade was the key to this move. He’s a big, young guy who has a lot of potential and we think he will be a real good player who will be an important piece to us now and (in the) future.”


THE DEAL: The Swift Current Broncos acquired F Andrew Fyten, 19, from the Calgary Hitmen for the rights to D Ethan Martini, 17, or a conditional third-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: Fyten had six goals and 10 assists in 40 games with the Hitmen this Calgaryseason. In 155 career games, all with Calgary, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has 14 goals and 21 assists. . . . Martini is in his second BCHL season with his hometown Trail Smoke Eaters after playing at the Edge School in Calgary. He has six assists in 40 games this season. Last season, he had a goal and four assists in 58 games.

THE INFO: From Sundre, Alta., Fyten was a fifth-round pick by the Everett Silvertips in the 2013 bantam draft. He was dealt to Calgary on May 8, 2015, for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos selected Martini in the third round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Under the terms of the deal, if he doesn’t sign with Calgary, the Hitmen will get that third-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

WHY: The Broncos added some depth and some grit to their forward group, while the Hitmen get to take a shot at recruiting Martini, who has been a pretty solid junior A defender.


THE DEAL: The Medicine Hat Tigers acquired F Elijah Brown, who turned 18 on Jan. 5, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a second-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft Tigers Logo Officialand a conditional third-round pick in 2019.

THE NUMBERS: Brown had six goals and 14 assists in 80 games with Seattle. He had a goal and an assist in two games in 2015-16 and four goals and nine assists in 64 games last season. This season, he had a goal and four assists in 14 games when he chose to go home.

THE INFO: The Thunderbirds selected Brown, who is from Edmonton, in the first round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . He had been on Seattle’s suspended list since Nov. 1 when he chose to leave the club due to what he felt was a lack of playing time. . . . Medicine Hat assistant coach Bobby Fox and Brown were together on Team Alberta at the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup in 2015.

WHY: The Tigers get to add a former first-rounder who has some upside to their roster, while the Thunderbirds get a couple of assets for someone who didn’t fit with them.


THE DEAL: The Prince George Cougars acquired D Cameron MacPhee, 18, from the PrinceGeorgeMedicine Hat Tigers for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.

THE NUMBERS: The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, who is from Edmonton, had one goal in 20 games with the Tigers this season. Last season, he had one assist in 16 games.

THE INFO: The Tigers had dropped MacPhee from their roster in November, saying that he had gone home to deal with a personal matter.

WHY: The Cougars didn’t pay a whole lot to get a half-season look at someone who could spend the next two seasons with them. . . . The Tigers add a draft pick for a player who wasn’t coming back to them.