Letter-writing time in Ontario . . . Jones close to KIJHL milestone . . . Raiders’ victory streak now at 10


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So . . . early in the week, David Branch, the OHL’s commissioner, penned an open letter directed at the Ontario government, stating that his league’s players should be exempt ohlfrom the province’s minimum-wage legislation because they are student-athletes and not employees.

On Tuesday, Michael Tibollo, Ontarios’ minister of tourism, culture and sport, wrote an open letter pledging his support and, presumably, that of the provincial government.

Then it seems it was the turn of Goldblatt Partners, the Toronto law firm that represents an untold number of former and present players who filed a class-action lawsuit against the OHL — and the WHL — asking that, among other things, players be paid minimum wage.

Joshua Mandryk, a lawyer with Goldblatt, wrote that OHL teams are owned by companies “who make money, big money in most cases, from the players’ work — work that the owners and the media like to call ‘play’ . . . Virtually all (OHL teams) are owned by private companies that are able to hide their books, and their profits, from the players, from their employees.

“Other multi-million dollar employers don’t get to avoid paying the employees who drive their revenue. Paying wages is part of doing business. Why should the OHL be any different?”

Rick Westhead of TSN has more on this story right here.


Terry Jones, the head coach of the junior B Beaver Valley Nitehawks, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, went into Friday night with 998 career victories — 759 of the regular-season variety and 239 from playoff games. . . . Jones, 52, is in his 23rd season with the Nitehawks. Imagine that . . . 23 seasons with one team. Amazing! . . . As a player, he spent two seasons (1982-84) with the Portland Winterhawks.

“When I started coaching, well before the Nitehawks, it was a ‘winning is everything’ attitude,” Jones told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times. “Now I’ve flip-flopped and believe coaching is more about developing young men into adults and good citizens, and hockey is the vehicle we do that. As a result of that attitude, we’ve won a lot of games, we’ve won some championships.

“When you change your goals of winning to just building a good team, a good group of guys that care about each other, I think anything can happen.”

Bailey’s complete story is right here and it is a great read about a remarkable man.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Parker Gavlas, 19, from the Regina Pats for an eighth-round pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . The Pats, who acquired D Kyle Walker, 18, from the Everett Silvertips on Thursday, were carrying nine defencemen, so this kind of move was hardly a surprise. At the same time, the Oil Kings’ roster included only six healthy defencemen. . . . Gavlas, from Saskatoon, had one assist in 12 games with the Pats. Last season, he was pointless in eight games with Regina.


The AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats have fired general manager/head coach Travis Clayton. He was in his second season with the Bobcats. . . . According to a post on the team’s website, “IHD and Lance Ward will provide interim coaching support . . . while the organization seeks a new head coach and general manager.” . . . IHD is Impact Hockey Development and Ward, a former WHLer (Red Deer Rebels, 1994-98), is a lead instructor in Lloydminster. . . . At the time of the move, the Bobcats were 5-13-1 and in last place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North Division. . . . On Friday night, the Bobcats dropped a 6-2 decision to the host Sherwood Park Crusaders.


Dinamo Minsk of the KHL has fired head coach Gordie Dwyer, along with assistant coaches Sergey Stas and Konstantin Koltsov, goaltending coach Andrey Kudin and trainer Gennady Lyango. . . . Dinamo was seven points out of a Western Conference playoff spot at the time. . . . Dwyer, 40, was in his second season as Dinamo’s head coach. . . . No replacements were named.


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FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

In Brandon, the Wheat Kings erased a 2-0 second-period deficit with five straight goals BrandonWKregularen route to a 6-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Brandon improved to 9-4-5. This was Brandon’s first home game since Oct. 20. The Wheat Kings went 2-3-2 on a seven-game trek that included a 2-2-1 record in the B.C. Division. . . . Red Deer (11-5-1) had won its previous three games. . . . F Brandon Hagel (13) and F Arshdeep Bains (3) gave Red Deer a 2-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (4) got the Wheat Kings started at 10:10 and F Stelio Mattheos (17) tied it on a PP at 15:26. That was his 100th regular-season goal. Mattheos also had two assists. . . . D Neithan Salame’s first goal, at 17:04, made it 3-2 and F Marcus Sekundiak (2) scored what proved to be the winner at 8:41 of the third. . . . The Wheat Kings got 40 stops from G Jiri Patera. . . . Brandon lost F Linden McCorrister to a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Red Deer F Jacob Herauf at 4:47 of the first period. Herauf needed help getting off the ice and was taken to hospital “where he remained for several hours” with an undisclosed injury, according to Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.


F Noah Gregor, F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery each scored twice as the PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 6-2. . . . The Raiders (17-1-0) have won 10 in a row. . . . The Broncos (3-15-1) had points in each of their previous three games (2-0-1). . . . F Eric Houk (2) got the Broncos to within a goal, at 3-2, at 18:17 of the second period. The Raiders, who had a 43-19 edge in shots, put it away with the next three goals. . . . Houk’s father, Rod, was a goaltender who played two seasons (1987-89) with the Regina Pats. . . . McDonald (3), playing his first game after missing eight, got his second of the night at 18:31 of the second. . . . Gregor (8) upped it to 5-2 at 2:11 of the third period. . . . Gregor also had three assists for a five-point outing. . . . F Brett Leason of the Raiders ran his point streak to 18 games with an assist on F Sean Montgomery’s eighth goal just eight seconds into the second period. Leason has at least one point in each of the Raiders’ 18 games this season. . . . Montgomery scored his ninth goal at 14:13 of the third period, on a PP. . . . The Raiders brought in D Nolan Allan for his fourth game and he picked up his first WHL point, an assist, on McDonald’s first goal. Allan, 15, was the third overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Davidson, Sask., Allan plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Broncos were without D Matthew Stanley (ill) and D Garrett Sambrook (undisclosed injury). . . . Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com was at the game and has a story right here.


F Jake Leschyshyn scored three goals and F Nick Henry had four assists to lead the host PatsRegina Pats to a 5-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Regina (6-12-0) has won two in a row. . . . Tri-City (10-5-0) had won its previous six games. This was Game 6 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans, who are 5-0-0 since last playing at home on Oct. 19. They next are scheduled to play at home on Nov. 23. . . . The Pats got started 30 seconds into the first period when F Austin Pratt (9) scored. . . . Leschyshyn made it 2-0 at 2:36, scored his second at 15:53 of the second period, for a 4-0 lead, and completed the hat trick with his 12th goal of the season at 7:27 of the third. . . . Regina got 39 saves from G Max Paddock. . . . Pats D Aaron Hyman had three assists; he’s got four goals and 16 assists in 18 games. Last season, in 26 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds and 28 with Regina, he totalled three goals and 10 assists.


F Liam Keeler broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period and the Edmonton Oil Kings went EdmontonOilKingson to beat the Kootenay Ice, 5-2, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Oil Kings (11-7-1) have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Ice (6-10-3) has lost three in a row. . . . Kootenay erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game on F Jaeger White’s 11th goal at 9:01 of the second period. . . . Keeler’s third goal, at 19:01 of the second, stood up as the winner. . . . F Quinn Benjafield had a goal, his eighth, and two assists for Edmonton. . . . F Vince Loschiavo returned to Edmonton’s lineup after a five-game absence. . . . F Tyler Horstmann, 16, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Oil Kings, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. From Richmond, B.C., Horstmann plays for the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep team.


F Jadon Joseph of Lethbridge ran his point streak to 11 games as the Hurricanes doubled Lethbridgethe visiting Calgary Hitmen, 4-2. . . . Lethbridge (8-5-4) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Calgary (5-12-2) has lost three in a row. . . . Joseph scored the game’s first goal, his ninth, at 1:01 of the first period. He has nine goals and six assists during his streak. . . . D Calen Addison (4) gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead at 8:13 of the second period and D Alex Cotton (1) made it 3-1 at 12:31. . . . Each team was assessed one minor penalty. . . . Calgary had a 36-19 edge in shots, but Lethbridge G Reece Klassen was solid.


F Max Gerlach and F Gary Haden scored against their former team as the Saskatoon SaskatoonBlades beat the Tigers, 3-1, in Medicine Hat. . . . Saskatoon improved to 11-7-2. . . . The Tigers now are 9-8-2. . . . F Josh Williams (3) gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 10:03 of the first period. . . . Gerlach, who was acquired from the Tigers in January, got his 13th goal, on a PP, at 17:57 of the second period. . . . Haden’s fifth goal — his fourth with the Blades since being acquired in a deal this season — turned into the winner at 5:31 of the third. . . . This was the first appearance in Medicine Hat as visiting players by Gerlach and Haden. . . . F Logan Christensen, who went the other way in the Haden deal, was pointless. . . . The Blades got 35 stops from G Nolan Maier.


The Everett Silvertips scored five PP goals as they beat the Blazers, 6-1, in Kamloops. . . . EverettEverett (12-6-0) has won two straight. . . . Kamloops (6-8-2) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . At 10:32 of the second period, the Silvertips had a 6-0 lead and had outshot the Blazers, 22-3. . . . F Sean Richards (3) got Everett rolling, on a PP, at 4:02 of the first period. . . . F Akash Bains then scored twice, at 10:29 on a PP, and at 1:41 of the second, for a 3-0 lead. He’s got four goals. However, he wasn’t on the bench for the third period after leaving while appearing to favour a knee in the second. . . . Everett finished 5-for-8 on the PP. . . . The Silvertips got four assists from D Gianni Fairbrother. . . . When Max Palaga entered the game for Everett to start the second period, it marked the first time this season that a goaltender other than Dustin Wolf was in the Silvertips’ goal. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, spent last season with the Blazers, but was cut early this season. He was with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers when the Blazers dealt him to Everett on Oct. 29 for a sixth-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . Palaga stopped seven of eight shots, after Wolf turned aside all six shots he faced. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson was beaten six times on 22 shots. He came out at 10:32 of the second, with Rayce Ramsay going in to make his WHL debut. He was perfect in stopping 14 shots. . . . Ramsay, 17, is with the Blazers while G Dylan Garand is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. When Garand returns, Ramsay will go back to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . D Artyom Minulin, 20, had one assist in his debut with the Silvertips. He had been acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. This was Minulin’s first game after he had off-season shoulder surgery. . . . Part of the game was played with two referees and one linesman after Nick Bilko left with a knee injury. He was injured when he got caught up in traffic along the boards in the middle of the first period. Nick Panter entered late in the second period to replace Bilko. . . . Former Blazers head coach Guy Charron was in the press box, helping the team’s new coaching staff as an eye in the sky. He also has been on the ice during recent practices. . . . The Silvertips left immediately after the game as they are to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., tonight. Everett then returns to Kamloops for a Sunday evening game. The Blazers don’t play tonight.


The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-1 victory over the KelownaRocketsSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . The Rockets (8-10-0) have won four in a row and seven of their last nine. . . . Five of Kelowna’s victories have come on the road. . . . Seattle (7-7-2) has lost four in a row. . . . F Kyle Topping scored Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 10:44 of the first period. He ran his goal-scoring streak to five games and his point streak to 12 games. . . . D Libor Zabransky (2) upped it to 2-0 at 3:10 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (11) made it 3-0 at 4:57. Foote has eight goals in a six-game goal-scoring streak. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (7) scored for Seattle at 15:03 of the second. . . . Kelowna D Dalton Gally was hit with an interference major and game misconduct at 7:59 of the second period after a hit on Seattle F Jaxan Kaluski. . . . Kelowna is 4-0 since Adam Foote replaced the fired Jason Smith as head coach. . . . The Rockets opened a six-game road trip with this one; they’ll play those six games in nine nights. . . . The trip continues with games in Portland tonight and Sunday.


The host Victoria Royals scored nine seconds into the game and went on to a 7-5 victory VictoriaRoyalsover the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Royals (10-5-0) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Chiefs (8-7-3) have lost three in a row. . . . F Tarun Fizer (2) got the Royals going with the early goal. . . . The WHL record for fastest goal to start a game? Dean Sexsmith of the Seattle Thunderbirds scored five seconds into a 7-6 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars on Jan. 30, 1987. . . . The Royals went ahead 2-0 when F D-Jay Jerome scored at 1:55. . . . The Chiefs would trail 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4, but weren’t able to equalize. . . . Jerome, who also had an assist, got his second goal of the game, and 10th of the season, at 10:20 of the third period for a 6-4 lead and D Scott Walford (1) added insurance at 13:43. . . . The Royals got three assists from F Sean Gulka, who, as you will have noticed from the above tweet, had some fans in the stands. He went into the game with two assists in 11 regular-season games, eight of them with the Chiefs. . . . F Brandon Cutler added a goal, his fifth, and two assists for Victoria. . . . F Riley Woods scored twice and added an assist for Spokane. He’s got six goals and three assists over his past four games. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt (foot) is on the shelf for the second time this season. According to the team, this one could keep him out for up to six weeks. . . . F Dante Hannoun, who missed three games, and F Kaid Oliver, who missed one, both were back in the Royals’ lineup. . . . Hannoun scored his seventh goal and added an assist.


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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.


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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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Blazers, fans to celebrate with Hay . . . T-Birds assistant coach looks back, ahead

A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Kamloops Blazers will honour head coach Don Hay in a pregame ceremony on Feb. 16 with the Kelowna Rockets in the house.

Hay became the winningest regular-season coach in WHL history on Saturday when he Kamloops1got No. 743 as the Blazers beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. He had tied the record one night earlier when his guys beat the visiting Winterhawks, 5-2.

The record had been held since 1993 by former Portland head coach Ken Hodge, who retired after the 1992-93 season.

Hay also holds the WHL coaching record for most career playoff victories (108). Hodge (101) is No. 2 on that list, too.

On Feb. 16, the first 4,000 fans will receive commemorative pucks. There also will be a banner raising as part of the celebration.

It likely is safe to assume there will be representation from the WHL office, too, although that isn’t mentioned in the news release.


Kyle Hagel is in his first season as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle SeattleThunderbirds; in fact, he’s in the first season of what he hopes will be a long and fruitful coaching career. He admits that it wasn’t easy to leave his playing career behind, but he also admits that his playing career wasn’t easy. . . . Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator has a piece right here on Hagel, who looks back at his career as a middleweight enforcer and wonders what’s ahead.


The CHL’s Top Prospects Game will be played in Red Deer next season. The 24th annual game is scheduled for Jan. 23. This season’s game was played in Guelph, home of the OHL’s Storm, on Jan. 25. . . . The game was last played in a WHL city in 2014 when it was held in Calgary. It also has been played in Calgary in 1999 and 2001, Edmonton in 2008, Saskatoon in 2002, Vancouver in 2005 and 2016, and in Kelowna in 2012.

Meanwhile, the WHL has scheduled its annual awards show and the 2018 bantam for Red Deer. The awards luncheon is scheduled for May 2, with the bantam draft on May 3.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Alex Thacker to a WHL contract. Thacker, a sixth-round selection by the Broncos in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, plays for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. He told Lindsay Morey of the Fort Saskatchewan Record that he signed on Jan. 23. . . . With the Rangers, he has 13 goals and 17 assists in 30 games.


The junior B Beaver Valley Nitehawks of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have a new general manager. Jamie Cominotta, the assistant GM for three years, has moved up to the GM’s position. Terry Jones, a former WHL player, had been GM and head coach; he now will focus on his head-coaching duties. He has been the head coach since 1997. . . . “Over time we’ve been looking at the process of our entire coaching staff and we’ve worked hard to delegate all the duties,” Jones told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times.“We’re doing this all largely as a hobby, so with all of us breaking down our duties it makes the job more manageable, and it also creates a team approach to building a hockey team.” . . . Jones played two seasons (1982-84) with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


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Enjoy!


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Red Deer at Moose Jay, 7 p.m.

Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Swift Current at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Spokane vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Everett at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Calgary vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.