Ice, Oil Kings continue to dominate in WHL’s east with shutouts . . . Blazers get past Giants . . . Winterhawks open with victory

There was a full slate of WHL playoff games on Saturday night, meaning all WHLplayoffs2022eight surviving teams were in on the action. When the smoke cleared, three teams, all playing at home, held 2-0 leads in the best-of-seven conference semifinal series. . . . In the other series, the Portland Winterhawks opened with a 4-2 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds. They will resume that series today in Portland. This series has a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format. It wasn’t able to open with two in Portland because the Winterhawks’ home arena was busy with grad ceremonies. . . .

At this point, it would seem that if you are looking for close games, you best pay attention to the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, through four games, the winners hold a 22-1 edge in goals scored, including 12-0 last night.

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THE WHL ON SATURDAY:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, F Jack Finley scored the game’s first two goals and G Daniel WinnipegIceHauser recorded the shutout as the No. 1 Ice steamrolled the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, 7-0, in Game 2 of their semifinal. . . . The Ice had won the opener, 6-1, on Friday night. . . . The teams now head for Moose Jaw and Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Finley, who has four goals in these playoffs, struck at 2:49 and 3:35 of the first period. . . . F Connor McClennon (5) made it 3-0, on a PP, at 9:01 and the Ice was off to the races. . . . F Matt Savoie (3), F Mikey Milne (7), F Zach Benson (6) and F Chase Wheatcroft (1) also scored. . . . Savoie and Benson, who also had three assists, scored while shorthanded; Milne struck on a PP.  . . . The Ice was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors were 0-for-3. . . . Hauser finished with 27 saves in earning his first playoff shutout after putting up eight in the regular season. In seven playoff games, he is 6-1, 1.29, .936. . . . The Warriors are playing without D Daemon Hunt, their captain, who is out with an undisclosed injury. He hasn’t played since being injured on March 19, missing the Warriors’ final eight regular-season games and their seven playoff games to date. . . .

In Edmonton, F Jaxsen Wiebe scored his first two playoff goals as the No. 2 Oil EdmontonKings held serve on home ice with a 5-0 victory over the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The series will resume in Red Deer with games on Monday and Wednesday, and with the Rebels still looking for their first goal. They were beaten 4-0 in Thursday’s opener. . . . Wiebe, who played the previous two seasons with Red Deer, opened the scoring with his first playoff goal at 11:45 of the second period. . . . F Dylan Guenther (6) upped the lead to 2-0 at 17:02. . . . F Justin Sourdif (1) counted Edmonton’s third goal on a penalty shot at 2:56 of the third period. . . . F Jakub Demek (2), on a PP, at 7:10, and Wiebe, while shorthanded, at 9:22, completed the scoring. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 26 shots in posting his second straight shutout. In these playoffs, he is 6-0, 1.00, .957, with three shutouts.

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Western Conference

In Kamloops, the No. 2 Blazers got past the No. 8 Vancouver Giants, 4-3, to take Kamloopsa 2-0 lead in their semifinal. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Langley, B.C., on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Drew Englot (2) gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 11:04 of the first period, but the Giants took a 2-1 lead into the second on goals from D Alex Cotton (5), at 12:49, and D Evan Toth (2), while shorthanded at 19:53. . . . Kamloops responded with three straight second-period goals, from F Connor Levis (2), at 1:21, F Caedan Bankier (3), at 6:41, and F Daylan Kuefler (3), on a PP, at 14:21. . . . Kuefler’s goal turned into the winner after F Ethan Semeniuk (2) pulled the Giants to within one at 15:53. . . . Bankier’s goal ran his point streak to 16 games — 10 to close out the regular season and six playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 23 shots for Kamloops, 12 fewer than Vancouver’s Jesper Vikman. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-9 on the PP, with five of those coming in the third period. . . . Vancouver was 0-for-5 after going 0-for-3 in Game 1. When they eliminated the No. 1 Everett Silvertips in six games, Vancouver was 12-for-32 on the PP. . . . The Blazers were missing F Luke Toporowski, who left in the first period of Game 1 with an apparent shoulder injury. . . . The Giants lost D Mazden Leslie and F Colton Langkow to undisclosed injuries in Game 1. Vancouver already was without forwards Payton Mount, Cole Shepard and Jacob Boucher, none of whom travelled to Kamloops. . . .

In Kent, Wash., D Clay Hanus struck for a PP goal late in the third period, Portlandbreaking a 2-2 tie and sending the Portland Winterhawks on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for today in Portland, with a third game to be played there on Wednesday. . . . F Jared Davidson (4) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:28 of the first period. . . . Portland took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Marcus Nguyen (1), at 8:44 of the second period, and F James Stefan (3), at 14:44. . . . F Matthew Rempe (4) pulled Seattle even at 19:00. . . . OT was on the horizon when Hanus scored his first goal of these playoffs, at 16:21 of the third period, on Portland’s fourth PP opportunity. The Winterhawks finished 1-for-4; Seattle was 0-for-1. . . . Portland F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 23 shots for Portland, three more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic.


Informer


JUST NOTES: F Niko Huuhtanen of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of the season. Huuhtanen, who will turn 19 on June 26, was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. From Finland, he had 37 goals and 40 assists in 65 regular-season games with the Silvertips. He added 10 points, including five goals, in five playoff games. . . .

F Jake Chiasson of the Brandon Wheat Kings now is with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Chiasson, who will turn 19 on May 25, was a fourth-round pick by the Oilers in the 2021 NHL draft. He was limited to 20 games this season by shoulder surgery, and finished with six goals and 12 assists. . . .

The Brooks Bandits won the AJHL championship on Saturday night, beating the visiting Spruce Grove Saints, 2-0, to win the best-of-seven final, 4-1. . . . G Ethan Barwick recorded a 21-save shutout. . . . The Bandits now move on to the Centennial Cup tournament in Estevan, Sask., that is to run from May 18-29. . . .

The Niverville Nighthawks, an MJHL expansion team, have signed Ethan Maertens-Poole as an assistant coach to work alongside head coach Kelvin Cech. Maertens-Poole spent the 2021-22 season as an associate coach with the junior B Golden Rockets of the KIJHL.


Cereal


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

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If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Bengay

Ingram a winner in NHL debut . . . Hockey Canada reveals its vax policy for 2022 WJC . . . COVID-19 strikes at Canada West hockey

Connor Ingram, who spent three seasons (2014-17) tending goal for the WHL’s PredatorsKamloops Blazers, made his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators. And he did it in style, turning aside 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. . . . The Wild went into the game as one of the NHL’s unbeaten teams, at 4-0. . . . Dean Evason, one of the Blazers’ all-time great players, is the Wild’s head coach. . . . The Predators are 2-4-0. They recalled Ingram from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals on Oct. 16 because G David Rittich was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . .“I still don’t think it’s hit me a little bit,” Ingram, 24, told reporters. “Ignorance is bliss at this point where you don’t really realize what’s going on yet, but it felt good.’’ . . . Ingram was beaten for the first time when F Nick Bjugstad beat him at 11:30 of the second period. . . . “My first shot in the Western League, my first shot in the American League both went in, so I was kind of half-expecting it to go in today, but it didn’t so that’s a nice way to start.’’ . . . The Predators next are scheduled to play on Tuesday night against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . .

Ingram was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. He played one-plus season with the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and 13 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears before Tampa Bay dealt him to Nashville on June 14, 2019, for a seventh-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He spent 2019-20 with Milwaukee.

Last season, with the hockey world experiencing pandemic turmoil, he got into nine games with IF Björklöven of Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan and five with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

Ingram’s season ended in January when the NHL and NHLPA announced that Ingram was “voluntarily taking part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.” . . . At the time, he was on the Predators’ taxi squad as a mandatory third goaltender, something that was necessary under the NHL’s pandemic protocol. . . . The confidential program provides assistance to players and their families for mental health and substance abuse issues.


Hockey Canada announced its vaccination policy on Friday, something that will Canadaimpact the 2022 World Junior Championship that is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5

From a news release:

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada and its board of directors have voted to implement a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all participants who are active in any international or national event hosted in Canada, including all on- or off-ice activities or programs hosted or controlled directly by Hockey Canada. This means that all participating players, coaches, team staff, on-ice officials, event volunteers, spectators and any other individual associated with an event who is in contact with the aforementioned group must have received the necessary doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the event. Hockey Canada will consider exemptions based on guidance from government and public health authorities, as well as experts retained by the organization.”

The complete news release is right here.


If you thought COVID-19 was on its way out, you are sadly mistaken . . .

A Saturday night Canada West men’s hockey game between the visiting CovidSaskatchewan Huskies and Regina Cougars was postponed. According to a Canada West news release, “Positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed within the Cougars.” The two teams had played in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the week, Canada West postponed a series between the Calgary Dinos and MacEwan after positive tests were found in the Griffins’ program. . . .

The Brandon Sun reported Saturday that “at least one confirmed COVID-19 case has been detected in association with an Oct. 17 hockey game between Elton/Forrest/Rivers/Strathclair/Hamiota and Vincent Massey high school hockey teams, according to a news release from the province on Oct. 20.” . . .

The Chicago Blackhawks played Sunday afternoon without F Jujhar Khaira and D Riley Stillman, both of whom are in COVID-19 protocol. Chicago also was without assistant coach Marc Crawford for the same reason. . . . The Blackhawks lost, 6-3, to the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Chicago now is 0-5-1. . . .

Kevin Ross, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive backs coach, was unavailable for Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, so injured veteran DB Richard Sherman was on the sidelines wearing a headset. Tampa Bay won, 38-3.


Oranges


While Connor Ingram was making his NHL debut on Sunday, there were two games taking place in WHL arenas . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Regina Pats, 4-1. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (5) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:43 of the second period. . . . F Tristen Robins (4) scored for the Blades but had his run of multi-point games halted at six. . . . The Blades (6-1-1), who were 1-for-9 on the PP, have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (2-7-0) have lost seven in a row. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2) scored the eventual winner on a PP at 16:48. . . . The Hitmen (4-3-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-6-0) went 0-3-0 on a weekend swing into the Central Division that also included stops in Edmonton and Red Deer.

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There were eight WHL games on Saturday . . .

In Portland, G Braden Holt blocked 22 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 1-0 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Holt’s second shutout of the season — he blanked visiting Portland 4-0 on Oct. 8 — allowed the Silvertips to run their record to 6-0-0. . . . Portland is 3-4-1. . . . D Jonny Lambos’s first goal of the season won it at 17:27 of the first period. . . . Holt has three shutouts in his career. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, was back behind the bench after a one-game absence while he travelled to Red Deer to watch some of the WHL Cup. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-1 first-period deficit with six straight goals, five of them in the second period, as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) scored twice and added an assist, with F Eric Atchison drawing three assists. . . . The Chiefs improved to 3-4-1; the Americans’ fifth straight loss dropped them to 2-5-0. . . . 

In Vancouver, G Jesper Vikman turned aside 23 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . A freshman from Stockholm whose NHL rights belong to the Vegas Golden Knights, Vikman has two shutouts in four starts. . . . F Justin Lies (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:26 of the second period. . . . The Giants now are 3-2-0; the Rockets are 2-2-0. . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to defeat the Royals, 4-1. . . . The Cougars (4-3-0) have won four in a row, all of them against the Royals as the teams play a six-game set. . . . The Royals (1-8-0) have lost seven in a row. They will conclude this series with games in Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (2) had a goal and an assist. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 19, acquired earlier in the week from the Spokane Chiefs, stopped 30 shots for Victoria. . . . F Caleb Willms, 19, acquired earlier in the day from the Medicine Hat Tigers, was in the Royals’ lineup. He cost them a conditional sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. He had five goals and 10 assists in 52 games with the Tigers. . . . The Royals also acquired D Anson McMaster, 19, from the Winnipeg Ice for a conditional seventh-rounder in the 2023 draft. McMaster, who had a goal and five assists in 66 games with the Ice, also made his Victoria debut in this one. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints announced that they have signed F Graeme Bryks, 20, who split four-plus seasons between the Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. As well, the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos said they have signed F Cage Newans, 18, who played 25 games over three seasons with the Royals.

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings skated to a 5-2 lead and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored twice for Edmonton, with F Jalen Luypen and F Carter Souch each earning three assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky scored his eighth goal of the season for the Tigers (4-4-1). . . . The Oil Kings are 6-2-1. . . .

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Lethbridge (4-3-0) trailed 3-2 after two periods and then scored the only three goals of the third period. . . . F Alex Thacker (3) had two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who got three assists from F Ty Nash. . . . Thacker’s second goal, at 18:49 of the third, was the winner. . . . F Evan Herman scored his first two goals of the season for the Raiders (2-7-0). . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Winnipeg Ice erased a 4-1 deficit with four goals in the last half of third period and beat the Warriors, 5-4. . . . D Nolan Orzeck (2) tied the game at 14:03 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (8) won it at 19:15. . . . F Matt Savoie (6) scored twice for the Ice and F Mikey Milne had three assists. . . . Moose Jaw got two goals from F Brayden Yager (5). . . . The Ice (9-0-0) was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors (3-5-0) didn’t receive even one opportunity. . . . The Warriors were without D Daemon Hunt, who drew a four-game suspension for a charging major and game misconduct in a game on Wednesday in Winnipeg. His hit took Winnipeg F Zach Benson out of the game; he didn’t play on Saturday. . . .

In Red Deer, F Blake Stevenson scored twice and added an assist as the Rebels dumped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . Stevenson has four goals this season. . . . The Rebels (6-3-1) have won three straight. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-5-0) had lost 9-2 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Red Deer lost D Jace Weir to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 12:37 of the first period.


Egg


There were nine WHL games on Friday night . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with five goals as they skated to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Oren Shtrom (2) had a goal and two assists. . . . The game featured two Wiesblatt brothers — Oasiz with the Tigers (4-3-1) and Ozzy with the Raiders (2-6-0). . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen opened a 5-0 lead and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Broncos. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (4) had two goals and an assist, with Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) scoring once and drawing two assists. . . . The Hitmen evened their record at 3-3-0, while the Broncos slipped to 2-5-2. . . .

In Regina, G Nolan Maier stopped 37 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Pats. . . . That gave the visitors at least a point in six straight (5-0-1). . . . F Tristen Robins had two assists for the Blades (5-1-1), his sixth straight multi-point game this season. That left him with 15 points, 12 of them assists, in six games. . . . The game featured only two minor penalties, both to the Pats (2-6-0), who surrendered one PP goal in their sixth straight loss. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels doubled the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the shot clock (42-21) and on the scoreboard, 6-3. . . . The Hurricanes (3-3-0) scored the game’s first goal at 1:00 of the opening period. The Rebels (5-3-1) led 4-1 after the period. . . . F Ben King scored his fourth goal of the season for the winners. . . . D Alex Cotton (4) scored twice for Lethbridge in his 150th game. . . .

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored five times in the game’s first 14:57 as they dropped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 9-2. . . . F Jared Luypen (3) had two goals and two assists, with F Carter Souch (2) scoring twice and setting up another in his 200th career game. F Dylan Guenther (2), F Jaxsen Wiebe (1) and F Logan Dowhaniuk (2) each added a goal and two assists. . . . Edmonton improved to 5-2-1, with Brandon slipping to 4-4-0. . . . The victory was the 109th for Brad Lauer as the Oil Kings’ head coach. That is second in the franchise’s history, behind only Derek Laxdal, who won 180 games during his four seasons (2010-14). . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last five goals in a 5-1 victory over the Royals. . . . The Cougars (3-3-0) have won three in a row, all of them against the Royals (1-7-0). This was the third of six straight games between these teams. . . . The Royals listed seven scratches as being injured. They dressed 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . The Cougars got at least one point from 13 different skaters. . . . F Jonny Hooker’s fifth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored three times in 48 seconds to take a 3-0 first-period lead as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 7-4. . . . The Blazers led 6-1 at one point before the Giants got to within two at 6-4. . . . F Logan Stankoven (5) and D Quinn Schmiemann (2) each scored twice for Kamloops (6-1-0), with F Josh Pillar (4) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . The Giants (2-2-0) got a goal, his first, and two assists from F Fabian Lysell. . . .

In Portland, F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Swetlikoff, who has five goals, broke a 1-1 tie with goals at 15:40 and 19:58 of the second period and completed his first career hat trick at 15:36 of the third. He has played in 116 regular-season games, five of them with Everett. . . . Swetlikoff, 20, was acquired from the Kelowna Rockets in the off-season. . . . Everett stayed unbeaten (5-0-0); Portland was left at 3-3-1. . . . With Mike Johnston on a scouting trip to Red Deer, site of the WHL Cup, associate coach Don Hay ran the Portland bench. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Thomas Milic stopped 19 shots to help the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-0. . . . Milic’s first shutout of this season and second of his career came in his 17th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) scored twice and D Kevin Korchinski had three assists. . . .


A bus carrying the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Miramichi Timberwolves was involved in a fatal accident on Sunday afternoon in Astle, N.B. . . . The Timberwolves were on their way to a game in Fredericton against the Red Wings when their bus and a car collided. The driver of the car died at the scene. The game was postponed. . . . According to the MJHL: “Those on the bus sustained limited injuries and grief counsellors have been brought in. Further counselling and support will be offered, as requested.”


JUST NOTES: F Jaydon Dureau signed an ATO with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch on Saturday. Dureau, 20, who played the previous three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, then scored the game’s first goal as the Crunch dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Rochester Americans. . . . Former WHL referee Steve Kozari worked his 1,000th NHL game on Friday night as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host Vegas Golden Knights, 5-3. Each team presented Kozari with an autographed team sweater. . . . Ryan Gibbons, who played five seasons (2001-06) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, was one of the linesmen on Saturday night when the Seattle Kraken played its first home game in franchise history. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Kraken, 4-2.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Novel

Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office

MacBeth

Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.


Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.


After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


Importdraft

The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.


Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.


The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.


G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


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