Let’s help Hirsche leave his legacy . . . No playoffs so Blades fire Brockman . . . Second season next for WHL

Scattershooting

Scattershooting . . . following the end of another WHL regular season:

I don’t think there is a playoff format out there that would make everyone happy. But you are free to ask about the fairness of the format now being used by the WHL. Under it, eight teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. But the Saskatoon Blades, with the seventh-most points in the 12-team Eastern Conference, didn’t make it.


The Blades also finished with more victories (35) than two Eastern Conference teams that did qualify — the Prince Albert Raiders (32) and Red Deer Rebels (27). So what happened to the Blades? They got bit in the ass by the dreaded loser point. The Blades finished with four of them, while the Raiders and Rebels each finished 13.


The Blades, of course, fired head coach Dean Brockman on Sunday morning. You are free to discuss among yourselves if he lost his job because of the playoff format.


If the WHL playoff format called for the top eight teams in each conference to qualify, the Red Deer Rebels would have been on the outside, instead of preparing for a first-round set-to with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Had the Rebels missed, do you suppose the general manager would have fired the head coach? Hey, just asking.


Perhaps during the off-season the WHL pooh-bahs will take a look at a format that rewards losing in such a grand fashion. . . . Perhaps they also will take a serious look at banning fighting, because the time is long past for adults to stop allowing teenagers to punch each other in the face. There simply is too much evidence that cumulative blows to the head simply aren’t good for the brain. . . . And while they’re at it maybe they’ll get rid of that stupid trapezoid behind each goal and allow the goaltenders to get back to handling the puck.


Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors is the WHL’s 2017-18 scoring champion, thanks to 129 points. The last time one of the Warriors won the WHL scoring title? Troy Brouwer, in 2005-06, with 102 points. Of course, Halbgewachs also led the WHL in goals, with 70. . . . In his past two seasons, Halbgewachs put up 230 points, 120 of them goals, in 143 games.


The Warriors acquired Halbgewachs from the Kamloops Blazers on Dec. 6, 2012. The Blazers had selected him 19th overall in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. They acquired D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Tyler Bell, then, 18, Halbgewachs, who was 15, and a first-round selection in the 2015 draft. . . . That first-rounder turned out to be the fourth-overall pick and the Warriors used it to take D Jett Woo, who might be a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Kamloops later traded the fourth-round pick and a sixth in 2017 to Calgary for F Mike Winther, a 20-year-old who played 39 games with the Blazers before being dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Edmundson played 34 regular-season and 15 playoff games with the Blazers, helping them to the Western Conference final where they lost in five games to the Portland Winterhawks.


Is it fair that Winnipeg is home to Canada’s best football play-by-play man — Bob Irving of CJOB — and a hockey play-by-play voice — TSN’s Dennis Beyak — who is at the top of his field, too?


Thank you to everyone who has stopped by here or at one of the earlier homes of Keeping Score. We have had a good time over the past few years and it’s been a great ride, but I have decided to step back.

I have been writing about the WHL for a long time and it’s time. There is no other reason for this decision than that — it simply is time.

I have been writing for 45 years, so I am sure that I will continue to post on this blog, but not in anything resembling a daily fashion. Nor will I be doing WHL roundups or reporting regularly on WHL-related news.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be behind the cover of a book. First up, it’s Roy MacGregor’s Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada, then Father Bauer and the Great Experiment, by Greg Oliver, and the just-published A Matter of Confidence: The Inside Story of the Political Battle for B.C., by journalists Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman.

And, of course, the baseball season is about upon us.

So . . . farewell, stay safe and, please, if you haven’t already, take a few minutes and think about signing on as an organ donor.


ThisThat

Two years ago, Brock Hirsche, the captain of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. That was one year after two other team members had been diagnosed with it. They both were able to beat it.

It looked like Hirsche had beaten it, too, but it wasn’t to be. The cancer is back and has spread. Treatment has been unsuccessful and Hirsche has been told his cancer is terminal.

Hirsche, 26, is from Lethbridge. He played four seasons (2009-13) with the Prince George Cougars, wearing an ‘A’ for two seasons and serving as captain in his final season. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to 26 games over his last two seasons.

He moved on to the U of L and was the Proghorns’ captain in 2015-16, his third season there.

He didn’t play last season and, of course, didn’t play this season.

So what did he do after getting the latest diagnosis? He started a scholarship fund in his name.

“He wants to leave a legacy behind,” Pronghorns head coach Spiros Anastas tells Taking Note. “It’s a testament to the type of person he is. In one night we raised $11,000.”

If you would like to help, the link is right here. The U of Lethbridge will provide tax receipts.


The Saskatoon Blades announced Sunday morning that they had fired head coach Dean Brockman “effective immediately.”

The move came the morning after the Blades ended their season with a 5-4 victory over Saskatoonthe visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Brockman had two seasons left on a multi-year contract extension that was announced on Aug. 24.

The Blades finished 35-33-4, as they missed the playoffs for a fifth straight season, the last two under Brockman. He spent two seasons on the coaching staff as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach.

“While this was a difficult decision for us to make, we felt our performance over the last month of the season was very disappointing and the team did not meet the expectations we set out for them,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “We have been in a playoff position two years in a row coming down the stretch and just haven’t been able to take that next step, which ultimately led us to this decision.”

The news release didn’t make any mention of the status of assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Bryce Thoma, both of whom also are signed through 2019-20.

The Blades seemed to be comfortably in the conference’s second wild-card spot on Feb. 20, when they led the Raiders by eight points. The Raiders then went on a 9-0-2 rip, while the Blades were going 2-6-1. With everything decided, the Blades closed out the season by beating the Raiders twice.

The Blades were 63-68-13 over the past two seasons. Brockman is credited with 62 of those victories; he missed one while attending a funeral.

Priestner and Steve Hildebrand, the associate general manager, held exit interviews with the players on Sunday. Three players were provided to the media for interviews.

Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran radio voice, reported at dubnetwork.ca that F Chase Wouters, when asked if he was surprised by the firing, “stammered” and said: “I actually can’t comment on that, sorry.”

According to Lazaruk, team captain Evan Fiala responded with: “Sorry, no comment on it.”

F Braylon Shymr said, “Yeah, definitely surprised.” But he quickly added: “No further comments other than that.”

Lazaruk’s story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at Priestner’s media availability and offered up this entry right here.


The U of Alberta Golden Bears, with a roster comprising former WHL players, won their 16th Canadian university men’s hockey championship Sunday, beating the St. Francis Xavier U X-Men, 4-2, in Fredericton, N.B. . . . D Will Tomchuk, who played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and Prince George Cougars (2012-15), scored his only goal of the season at 4:18 of the second period and it stood up as the winner. That goal snapped a 2-2 tie as the Golden Bears erased a 2-0 deficit. . . . Alberta’s other goals came from F Stephane Legault (Edmonton Oil Kings, 2009-13), F Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels, 2011-2016) and F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon Blades, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria Royals, 2008-13). . . . G Zach Sawchenko, who joined the Golden Bears rather than return for a 20-year-old season with the Warriors this season, earned the victory with 24 saves. . . . Jason Hills of Postmedia has more right here.


The Kamloops Blazers’ season came to an end with a 6-5 shootout victory over the host Prince George Cougars on Saturday night.

The victory snapped a five-game skid for the Blazers and left head coach Don Hay with whl750 career regular-season victories. Earlier in the season, Hay broke the record of 741 that had been held by Ken Hodge since he retired after the 1992-93 season.

Unfortunately for Hay, after he broke Hodge’s record, the Blazers weren’t able to gain traction and they finished 7-14-2, which wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.

Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (following 2017-18):

1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 750

2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 720

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 468

9. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

11. Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

12. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 456

      Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 356

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326

23. Mike Johnston (Portland) 315

——

Victory totals of the remaining head coaches who finished the 2017-18 regular season:

John Paddock, Regina 165

Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw 145

Brent Kisio, Lethbridge 121

Steve Hamilton, Edmonton 110

Dan Lambert, Kelowna, Spokane 93

Jason Smith, Kelowna 88

Emanuel Viveiros, Swift Current 85

David Anning, Brandon, 79

Richard Matvichuk, Prince George 69

Dean Brockman, Saskatoon 62

Jason McKee, Vancouver 56

Dennis Williams, Everett 47

Dan Price, Victoria 39

Matt O’Dette, Seattle 33

James Patrick, Kootenay 27

Dallas Ferguson, Calgary 23



JUST NOTES . . .

F Alec Baer, who played out his 20-year-old season with the Kootenay Ice, will be joining the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Baer, who is from St. Louis Park, Minn., finished this season with 30 goals and 31 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 342 regular-season games — he also skated with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes — and finished with 187 points, including 86 goals. . . .

Everett’s last goal of the regular season, in an 8-1 victory over the host Victoria Royals on Saturday, was scored by F Matt Fonteyne, with assists to F Patrick Bajkov and D Kevin Davis. They are the club’s three 20-year-old players. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Thunderbirds got one goal from each of their 20-year-olds — D Austin Strand, D Turner Ottenbreit and F Donovan Neuls — in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. . . .

A tweet from Caden Fanshaw (@cfanner4) of Prince George’s front office, points out that Cougars F Jared Bethune “has only missed one regular-season game in the past three seasons, and played every playoff game possible in his career. That’s a combined 230 of 231 possible games.” . . .

Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald points out that the Silvertips won their third U.S. Division title in the last four years “and sixth in the franchise’s 15-year history, but the first without Kevin Constantine as head coach.” . . .

F Cohner Saleski, who is from Saskatoon, made his WHL debut with the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. Yes, he had family in attandance. In fact, according to a tweet from Jeff Helperl, Saleski’s father went home with a cool $53,250 in his jeans after winning the 50/50 draw.


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored five PP goals in the first period en route to a 7-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Neither Edmonton (22-42-8) nor Calgary (24-37-11) EdmontonOilKingsqualified for the playoffs. . . . Calgary went 3-2-1 in the season series; Edmonton was 3-3-0. . . . F Riley Stotts (19) gave the Hitmen the lead just 49 seconds into the first period. . . . It didn’t last long. . . . F Tomas Soustal got Edmonton’s first PP goal, at 5:47, and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (32) put the Oil Kings ahead at 10:00. . . . Soustal (22) added a second goal at 12:41, and F Brett Kemp (17) made it 4-1 at 13:04. . . . D Matthew Robertson upped it to 5-1 at 17:54. . . . F Cael Zimmerman (7) got the Hitmen to within three goals, on a PP, at 19:38. . . . Robertson’s second goal of the game, and seventh of the season, put Edmonton ahead 6-2 at 16:34 of the second period. . . . Calgary D Egor Zamula (2) struck on a PP at 0:17 of the third period, before Edmonton F Colton Kehler (32) closed out the scoring on, yes, another PP, at 7:57. . . . The Oil Kings got two assists from each of F Jake Neighbours and Kemp, with one each going to Soustal, Robertson, Kehler and Fix-Wolansky. . . . Neighbours, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, recorded four assists in 11 games with the Oil Kings. . . . Stotts added an assist to his goal for Calgary. . . . Edmonton finished 6-7 on the PP; Calgary was 2-6. . . . The WHL record for PP goals by one team in a single game is 10. The Tri-City Americans set that mark on Sept. 30, 1990, in a 16-3 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . The Oil Kings got 34 stops from G Todd Scott, while Nick Schneider blocked 19 for the Hitmen. . . . Announced attendance: 13,075.


At Portland, F Riley McKay scored the only goal of a four-round shootout to give the Spokane Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Spokane (41-25-6) finished third SpokaneChiefsin the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland (44-23-5). . . . The Winterhawks won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . These teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday in Portland. . . . McKay opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, at 9:46 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks scored the next four goals, the first three coming in the second period from F Mason Mannek (10), at 2:48; F Kieffer Bellows (41), at 12:15; and F Skyler McKenzie (47), at 16:07. . . . F Ryan Hughes (17) upped the lead to 4-1 at 2:11 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs got three goals in the last nine minutes of the period. . . . F Jake McGrew (19) scored, on a PP, at 11:43, and F Milos Fafrak (9) moved the visitors to within a goal at 12:20. . . . D Nolan Reid (14) tied it, 4-4, on a PP, at 19:39. . . . McGrew also had an assist. . . . Spokane was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 0-3. . . . G Donovan Buskey earned the victory with 33 saves, 14 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Lukus MacKenzie, who is injured, along with F Alex Overhardt and D Brendan De Jong. . . . Among Spokane’s scratches were F Kailer Yamamoto, who missed his third straight game, G Dawson Weatherill, F Zach Fischer (undisclosed injury), D Ty Smith, F Hudson Elynuik and D Dalton Hamaliuk. . . . With all the scratches, the Chiefs had 11 freshmen in their lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 8,170.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each scored twice to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Tri-City (38-25-TriCity309) is the Western Conference’s first wild-card team and will open the playoffs in Kelowna on Thursday, against the Rockets, who finished atop the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle (34-28-10) will meet the U.S. Division-winning Everett Silvertips. That seres starts Friday in Everett. . . . Tri-City finished 6-3-1 in the season series with Seattle, which was 4-4-2. . . . On Sunday, Yaremko gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 3:55 of the first period, only to have Seattle F Zack Andrusiak (36) tie it at 5:06. . . . The Americans went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from D Jake Bean (12), at 13:41, and Yaremko (22), at 19:51. . . . Seattle got to within a goal when F Dillon Hamaliuk (15) scored, shorthanded, at 7:13 of the third period. . . . AuCoin iced it with two PP goals, at 7:57 and 15:10. He finished with 19 goals. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Juuso Valimaki, and one each from Bean and Yaremko. . . . Tri-City was 2-8 on the PP; Seattle was 0-2. . . . G Patrick Dea started for the Americans and stopped nine of 10 shots in 31:26. Beck Warm finished up by allowing one goal on 10 shots in 28:33. . . . G Dorrin Luding blocked 37 shots for the Thunderbirds. . . . F Michael Rasmussen, F Max James and D Dylan Coghlan were among Tri-City’s scratches. . . . Seattle scratched D Turner Ottenbreit, F Noah Philp, who left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, F Donovan Neuls, F Tyler Carpendale and F Nolan Volcan, along with F Blake Bargar (undisclosed injury). . . . Announced attendance: 3,708.


END OF REGULAR SEASON


TWEET OF THE DAY

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Warriors first to clinch playoff spot . . . Dach just what Blades ordered . . . Ronning breaks 50, beats Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Colin Long (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a one-year extension with Gherdëina Selva Gardena (Italy, Alps HL). This season, he has four goals and 11 assists in 11 games. His season was cut short due to a “serious knee injury” suffered in a game against Sterzing on Dec. 26.


DAN’S DIARY . . .

Dan Courneyea, one of the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice officials, is at the Olympic Winter OlylogoGames in PyeongChang. He flew out of Kamloops on Friday, and saw his first game action on Wednesday.

He reports:

“Just finished the Slovakia vs Olympic Athletes of Russia game (kind doesn’t sound right).

“Russia played an incredible game but Slovakia decided to play smarter and got the win (3-2).

“Brett Iverson did the game.”

Iverson is a veteran WHL referee.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Max Wutzke, a defenceman with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, is recovering in hospital in Coquitlam after taking a hit from behind during a game against the host Coquitlam Express on Feb. 7.

Wutzke, a 19-year-old from Calgary, left the game at 1:55 of the first period.

He has since had surgery on a broken femur and is looking at likely another two weeks in hospital. Troy Mick, the Silverbacks’ president, told Taking Note that there Wutzke had to deal with some “complications from surgery.” Wutzke has had four operations on that femur.

Mick added that Wutzke faces a long road back, but “they say his career isn’t over.”

This season, his second with Salmon Arm, Wutzke has a goal and nine assists in 51 games.

D Lucas Wong of the Express drew a match penalty on the play and has since been suspended for six games.


The AJHL’s Canmore Eagles announced Wednesday that Jeremy Reich, their assistant general manager/assistant coach, has resigned “to pursue other career aspirations” in the area of firefighting. . . . Reich had been on the Eagles’ coaching staff since 2012, after finishing his playing career in Germany. . . . Reich, 39, and Andrew Milne, the Eagles’ GM and head coach, played together in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos in 1998-99. . . . Reich split 335 regular-season games between the Seattle Thunderbirds and Swift Current (1995-2000).


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If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Saskatoon at Moose Jaw

Regina at Medicine Hat

Brandon at Swift Current

Kootenay at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

WEDNESDAY:

At Regina, the Moose Jaw Warriors became the first WHL team this season to clinch a playoff spot as they beat the Pats, 6-3. . . . Moose Jaw (43-9-3) has won four straight. It MooseJawWarriorsleads the overall standings by three points over Swift Current. The Warriors have three games in hand. . . . Regina (29-24-6) is 1-1-1 in its past three games. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also is fourth in the East Division, one point behind Brandon. . . . The Pats and Warriors will meet twice more this week — in Moose Jaw on Friday, then back in Regina on Sunday. They will complete the season series on Feb. 24 in Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors lead the season series, 5-0-0; Regina is 0-4-1. . . . D Brandon Schuldhaus gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 6:53 of the first period. . . . Regina took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Cam Hebig (39), at 12:57 of the first, and F Sam Steel (22), on a PP, at 1:41 of the second period. . . . The visitors took control by scoring the next four goals, three of them in the second period. . . . F Tanner Jeannot got it started, on a PP, at 9:52, with Schuldaus (6) making it 3-2 at 10:15, and F Jayden Halbgewachs upping it to 4-2 at 10:35. Jeannot added his 35th goal, at 6:30, for a 5-2 lead. . . . D Josh Mahura (19), on a PP, scored for the Pats at 8:01. . . . Halbgewachs closed out the scoring with his WHL-leading 53rd goal at 18:54. . . . Halbgewachs added two assists to his two goals, while Jeannot had one helper. F Brett Howden helped out the winners with two assists, with Schuldaus getting one. . . . Schuldaus didn’t have a goal in 37 games with Red Deer this season before being dealt to Moose Jaw. Since then, he has six goals and four assists in 14 games. . . . F Matt Bradley drew three assists for Regina. Steel and Mahura each had one. . . . Regina was 2-5 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-5. . . . G Brody Willms earned the victory with 33 saves, three more than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . The Warriors continue to play without D Jett Woo and F Barrett Sheen. . . . Announced attendance: 6,047.


At Swift Current, F Tyler Steenbergen broke a 2-2 tie at 11:06 of the third period to help the Broncos to a 4-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Swift Current (41-13-4) SCBroncoshas won five straight. It is second in the overall standings, three points behind Moose Jaw, which holds three games in hand. . . . Brandon (30-21-5) has lost two in a row. It is third in the East Division, one point ahead of Regina. . . . Steenbergen, who scored the goal that gave Canada the 2018 World Junior Championship, got his seventh game-winner this season and the 22nd of his WHL career. . . . D Colby Sissons (12) gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 11:18 of the first period. . . . Brandon F Ty Lewis (30) tied it at 9:15 of the second period. . . . The Broncos went back out front at 9:46 as F Kole Gable (6) scored. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it 2-2 as F Rylan Bettens (4) scored at 13:27. . . . Steenbergen broke the tie with his 40th goal, at 11:06 of the third period, and F Glenn Gawdin (49) add the empty-netter at 19:49. . . . Gawdin and Steenbergen added two assists each. . . . Gawdin leads the WHL scoring race with 107 points, five more than Moose Jaw F Brayden Burke. . . . Swift Current was 0-2 on the PP; Brandon was 0-3. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots for the Broncos. . . . Brandon got 29 stops from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (UB) was among Brandon’s scratches, while D Chase Hartje (ill) and D Schael Higson (ill) also sat this one out. . . . Brandon F Baron Thompson served the final game of a four-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 2,734.


At Calgary, D Dylan Coghlan drew three assists to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Tri-City (29-19-8) has won two in a row. It holds down the TriCity30Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. It also is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane. . . . Calgary (17-32-7) had won its previous game. . . . The Americans opened a three-game dip into the Central Division with a 6-3 victory in Lethbridge on Tuesday. Tri-City will meet the host Kootenay Ice on Friday. . . . F Luke Coleman (13) got Calgary on the scoreboard first, at 8:34 of the first period. . . . Former Hitmen D Jake Bean (9) pulled Tri-City even, on a PP, at 16:59. . . . F Michael; Rasmussen (22) gave the Americans the lead, on a PP, at 19:54. . . . D Dakota Krebs (3), who went to Calgary in the Bean deal, tied it at 11:17 of the second period, only to have Tri-City F Jordan Topping (32) scored just seven seconds later. . . . F Parker AuCoin (15), who also had an assist, upped the lead to 4-2, shorthanded, at 13:03. . . . F Tristen Nielsen (12) got the Hitmen to within a goal at 3:11 of the third period. . . . Coleman added an assist for Calgary. . . . Tri-City was 2-4 on the PP; Calgary was 0-6. . . . G Beck Warm earned the victory with 36 saves. . . . Calgary got 21 stops from Nick Schneider. . . . Announced attendance: 5,213.


At Cranbrook, B.C., F Kirby Dach returned after a one-game injury-related absence to score on goal and set up two others as his Saskatoon Blades got past the Kootenay Ice, 3-Saskatoon2. . . . Saskatoon (29-26-3) has won three in a row. It now has won 30 games, one more than it won all of last season. The Blades also have 12 road victories, one more than last season. . . . Saskatoon holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, six points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . Kootenay (24-31-3) has lost three straight. It is tied with Red Deer for third in the Central Division. . . . The Blades took a 2-0 lead on PP goals from Dach (5), at 9:25 of the first period, and D Dawson Davidson (9), at 4:16 of the second. . . . The Ice tied it on goals from F Colton Veloso (20), on a PP, at 14:25 of the second and F Brett Davis (21), shorthanded, at 13:33 of the third. . . . At 17:12, Dach set up F Michael Farren (8) for the game-winner. . . . Farren also had an assist. . . . Davis added an assist to his goal for the Ice. . . . Saskatoon was 2-7 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-5. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 25 shots for the Blades, one more than the Ice’s Matt Berlin. . . . The Ice scratched D Jonathan Smart (undisclosed injury), who wasn’t listed on Tuesday’s injury report, while they remain without injured F Keenan Taphorn (UB). . . . Kootenay added F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, to their roster on Tuesday, but he was a healthy scratch from this one. . . . The Blades were en route to Cranbrook on Tuesday when they had to stop for the night in Pincher Creek, Alta., due to high winds and deteriorating driving conditions. They left Pincher Creek on Wednesday and proceeded with no problems, arriving in Cranbrook at 11 a.m. “Winds were down significantly and plows and sanding trucks had been out overnight,” Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, told Taking Note. “The highway actually opened at 10 (Tuesday night), but no sense going at that point.” . . . Announced attendance: 2,022.


At Portland, F Ty Ronning scored Nos. 50 and 51, and G David Tendeck made 49 saves, leading the Vancouver Giants to a 4-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (30-Vancouver18-8) is third in the B.C. Division, five points behind Kelowna and Victoria. . . . Portland (35-19-4) had won its previous five games. It is second in the U.S. Division, two points behind Everett. . . . F Dawson Holt (10) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:30 of the first period. . . . Portland went ahead 2-1 on second-period goals from F Reece Newkirk (5), at 2:49, and F Ryan Hughes (12), on a PP, at 17:02. . . . Ronning became the first player in Giants to get to 50 when he scored at 10:25 of the third period. He broke the tie with No. 51, at 17:32. . . . F Brayden Watts (13) got the empty-netter at 19:30, off a pass from Ronning. . . . D Bowen Byram had two assists for the Giants. . . . Portland was 1-4 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-2. . . . Tendeck stopped all 18 shots Portland fired his way in the third period. He had turned aside 19 shots in the second. . . . G Cole Kehler made 15 saves for Portland. . . . The Giants scratched four defencemen — Dylan Plouffe, Matt Barberis, Darion Skeoch and Alex Kannok Leipert, all of whom are injured. . . . They also are without F Milos Roman (ankle) and F Owen Hardy (ill). . . . D Joel Sexsmith, a first-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, made his debut with the Giants. . . . Announced attendance: 3,025.


At Spokane, F Kailer Yamamoto broke a 2-2 tie scoring on a deflection at 19:32 of the third period to give the Chiefs a 3-2 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Spokane (31-SpokaneChiefs20-5) is third in the U.S. Division, seven points back of Portland. . . . Kamloops (26-27-4) has lost two straight and remains six points out of a playoff spot. . . . D Joe Gatenby (12) put Kamloops ahead 1-0 at 3:26 of the first period. . . . Spokane F Eli Zummack (11) tied it at 10:32. . . . F Jake McGrew (14) gave the Chiefs a lead, on a PP, at 14:35. . . . The Blazers tied it at 14:06 of the third period on F Jackson Shepard’s eighth goal. . . . Yamamoto won it with his 14th goal. . . . The Chiefs got two assists from D Tyson Helgesen. . . . Yamamoto also had an assist. He now has 34 points, including 12 goals, in 14 games since returning to the Chiefs from the WJC. . . . F Orrin Centazzo had two assists for Kamloops. . . . Spokane was 1-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Dawson Weatherill made 29 saves for the Chiefs, while the Blazers got 24 saves from G Dylan Ferguson. . . . The Blazers again were without D Luke Zazula and F Luc Smith, both of whom are injured. . . . Blazers head coach Don Hay turned 64 on Tuesday, celebrating with a taco or two in Spokane, as you can see from the above tweet. . . . Announced attendance: 3,526.


At Kelowna, the Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period, as they skated to a 4-1 victory over the Rockets. . . . Red Deer (19-26-13) has won Red Deertwo in a row and now is tied with Kootenay for third in the Central Division. . . . Kelowna (34-18-5) has points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with Victoria for top spot in the B.C. Division, but the Rockets hold two games in hand. . . . The Rebels won despite being outshot 11-1 in the first period and 15-7 in the second. . . . F Josh Tarzwell (8) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 2:19 of the first period. . . . F Kyle Topping (19) tied it at 10:10 of the third period. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel (10) broke the tie at 11:08. . . . F Reese Johnson (19) upped it to 3-1, on a PP, at 13:21. . . . F Mason McCarty (30) got the empty-netter at 19:00. . . . D Dawson Barteaux had two assists for the winners, with Johnson adding one. . . . Red Deer was 1-2 on the PP; Kelowna was 1-6. . . . G Riley Lamb was terrific for the Rebels, finishing with 36 saves. . . . The Rockets got 14 stops from G Brodan Salmond. . . . G James Porter Jr., who left a Monday game with an apparent injury, was on Kelowna’s bench in a backup role. . . . Kelowna scratched F Kole Lind, who took a stiff check from Victoria D Ralph Jarratt on Monday afternoon. . . . Announced attendance: 4,526.


At Victoria, Tomas Soustal scored in the third round of a shootout to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 7-6 victory over the Royals. . . . Edmonton (17-32-7) has won three straight. . . . EdmontonOilKingsVictoria (34-21-4) has lost two in a row. It is tied with Kelowna for first place in the B.C. Division. . . . F Tyler Soy (30) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 1:02 of the first period. . . . Edmonton went up 2-1 on goals from F Trey Fix-Wolansky (24), on a PP, at 6:36 and F David Kope (10), at 7:54. . . . F Matthew Phillips (43) tied it at 8:33. . . . F Davis Murray (1) put Edmonton back into the lead at 14:15, and Victoria F Tanner Kaspick wrapped up a six-goal period by tying it at 17:35. . . . D Brayden Gorda (1) gave Edmonton a 4-3 lead at 2:44 of the second period, only to have Victoria D Kade Jensen (5) equalize at 9:52. . . . Soustal put the Oil Kings back out front at 14:09. . . . Kaspick (22) tied it, again, at 2:51, but Soustal (15) gave the visitors a 6-5 lead at 16:29. . . . The Royals forced OT when F Noah Gregor got his 22nd goal with 57.3 seconds left in the regulation time. . . . F Brett Kemp, D Matthew Robertson and F Nick Bowman head two assists each for Edmonton, with Soustal, Fix-Wolansky and Murray each getting one. . . . Victoria got two assists from each of D Mitchell Prowse and Soy, with Phillips, Kaspick, Jensen and Gregor adding one apiece. . . . Royals F Dante Hannoun picked up one assist, for his 200th career point. . . . Edmonton was 1-2 on the PP; Victoria was 1-6. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 32 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . With G Griffen Outhouse scratched — no, he wasn’t listed on Tuesday’s injury report — the Royals added G Joel Grzybowski to their roster from the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. He was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the season. . . . Grzybowski, 18, started, as he made his seventh WHL appearance, the first six of which were with Saskatoon last season. He stopped 21 shots. . . . F Ty Yoder, 15, made his WHL debut with the Royals. From Tofield, Alta., he was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. He has 38 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Elite 15s of the CSSHL. . . . D Ralph Jarratt was among Victoria’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,791.


THURSDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Regina at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Brandon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Saskatoon at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Tri-City vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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

Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.


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