Americans make coaching change . . . Love leaves Blades for Heat . . . Winterhawks dumping logo


You need a head coach . . . and you need a head coach . . . you don’t need a general manager . . . you do need a GM . . . sounds like you have a new logo. Oh, and your arena has a new name . . .

Such was life in the WHL on a busy Monday.

Bob Tory, the part-owner, governor and general manager of the Tri-City AmericansAmericans, got the day started by announcing that head coach Kelly Buchberger’s contract isn’t being renewed.

Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted what some people no doubt were thinking: “The arrival of Don Nachbaur was a sure sign a move was imminent.”

Buchberger, 54, was named the Americans’ head coach in July 2018. He replaced Mike Williamson, who had left the organization the previous month after four seasons as head coach. Buchberger had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders before joining the Americans.

Nachbaur, 62, was the Americans’ head coach for six seasons (2003-09). After spending one season and five games of another coaching in Europe, Nachbaur returned to the Americans on Feb. 18 as associate coach under Buchberger.

Nachbaur began his WHL coaching career with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1994-95. All told, he has spent 19 seasons as a WHL head coach, splitting time with the Thunderbirds, Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He is a three-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s coach of the year, winning once in each of his stops.

Nachbaur is the WHL’s third-winningest head coach, with 692 regular-season victories, second only to Don Hay (750) and Ken Hodge (742).

Tory has been the Americans’ GM since 2000-01 and also owns part of the franchise, along with former players Stu Barnes and Olaf Kozig, and area businessman Dennis Loman. They purchased the team from Brian Burke, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather in April 2005.

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Meanwhile, in Saskatoon, the Blades are looking for a head coach after Mitch BladesLove joined the NHL’s Calgary Flames as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat.

Love, 37, spent the past three seasons as the Blades’ head coach, putting up a 95-44-16 regular-season record.

Love also was an assistant coach with Canada’s last two entries in the IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold and silver, and with Canada’s U18 team at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Love was an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips for seven seasons (2011-18) before joining the Blades as head coach.

In Stockton, Love takes over from Cail MacLean, who was added to the Flames’ coaching staff over the summer. MacLean had taken over the Heat from former Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska, who has been on the Flames’ staff for three seasons now.

The Blades reported that associate coach Ryan Marsh and goaltender coach Jeff Harvey will remain with the team, “as will all support staff.” The Blades also are looking to hire one more assistant coach.

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Also on Monday morning, Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reported that Everett“sources confirm that Dennis Williams will become the Silvertips’ full-time general manager.” Williams, who also is Everett’s head coach, had been serving as interim GM since the club parted ways with Garry Davidson.

The Silvertips made Williams’ promotion official later in the day.

Davidson had been the GM for nine seasons when the club announced on May 20 that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, citing an ongoing restructuring of hockey operations necessitated by the past two seasons.

Davidson was introduced by the Calgary Hitmen as their new director of player personnel on June 10. He replaced Dallas Thompson, who left the organization on May 26.

Williams, 41, is preparing for his fifth season as Everett’s head coach. On Feb. 12, 2020, the Silvertips signed him to an extension that runs through the 2022-23 season. On Monday, the team announced that it had signed him to a “multi-year contract extension.”

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Meanwhile, in Kamloops, the Blazers remain without a general manager Kamloopsfollowing the departure of Matt Bardsley, whose last day with them was June 30. He left the Blazers after three seasons as GM and with three years left on his contract. Bardsley and his family have returned to Portland. He now is an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

All signs seem to point to head coach Shaun Clouston taking on the dual role of GM/head coach in Kamloops. He spent seven seasons doing both jobs with the Medicine Hat Tigers before being replaced by Willie Desjardins prior to the 2019-20 season. Clouston, 53, then signed with the Blazers.

The process in Kamloops will have been slowed by the death of Don Moores, the organization’s president and chief operating officer. Moores, 65, died of an apparent heart attack while golfing on June 30. A celebration of life is to be held today (Tuesday), 1 p.m., at the Sandman Centre with capacity limited to 2,500.

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In Portland, the Winterhawks will hold a news conference on Wednesday morning at which they will announce the beginning of a rebrand that is going to mean a new logo.

“Portland’s hockey franchise needed a set of jerseys in 1976,” writes The Oregonian coumnist John Canzano. “The Chicago Blackhawks had a pile of used ones. Don’t know if you know this, but the Winterhawks’ biggest acquisition in that inaugural season was to accept the donation of an old set of Blackhawks’ jerseys.

The iconic Illinois Sauk Nation figure made the trip to Portland on the chest, where it’s been squatting for 45 years.”

The Winterhawks, of course, now have new owners, so things are about to change in a big, big way.

Canzano’s column is right here.

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And that brings us to Red Deer where the Rebels’ home has a new name. That RedDeerarena, which is located in Westerner Park, was named the Peavey Mart Centrium on Monday. The two parties have agreed on a five-year sponsorship deal. No financial terms were revealed. . . . The Peavey Mart Centrium is to be home to, among other things, part of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Peavey Industries, which has its head office in Red Deer, also becomes an “official agricultural supply partner” to Westerner Park. . . . The Centrium hadn’t had a name sponsor since a contract with Enmax expired a few years ago.


Moon


Zach Johnson tested positive before getting on a charter flight that was carrying golfers to the British Open that is to open on Thursday at Royal St. George’s. Johnson, who won the Open in 2015, will end a run of having started in 69 consecutive majors. . . . Interestingly, Johnson played in the John Deer Classic that wrapped up Sunday in Illinois. . . . Louis de Jager of South Africa, a local qualifier, also has tested positive and was forced to withdraw from the Open. . . . Among others who will be missing are Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama, who tested positive on July 2 and again since then, and two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson, who withdrew after being in close contact with someone who tested positive.


Bianca Andreescu of Canada announced on social media Monday that she won’t play tennis at the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. The Games are scheduled to open on July 23. . . . “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl,” she wrote, “but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.”


Island


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Dean Chynoweth, a former WHL player, GM and coach, has signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Chynoweth, 52, replaces Dave Hakstol, who left Toronto to become the first head coach of the expansion Seattle Kraken. Chynoweth had been with the Carolina Hurricanes for the previous three seasons after a season as an associate coach with the Vancouver Giants.


User

Wickenheiser, Goyette teammates again . . . Another Hextall headed to The Show . . . Rebels’ Sutter wheeling, dealing

Hopefully the day is right around the corner when the promoting and hiring of women in hockey’s workplace won’t be headline news. But we’re not there yet, although Monday’s happenings certainly have us going in the right direction. . . .

ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to senior director of player development, and also hired Danielle Goyette as director of player development, a position that also will cover the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. . . . Goyette and Wickenheiser, both Hockey Hall of Famers, were long-time teammates on Canada’s national women’s team; they won two Olympic golds and six world championships together. . . . Goyette has been the head coach of the U of Calgary Dinos women’s team for 14 years, or since she retired from the national team in 2007. . . . Dr. Wickenheiser got her MD’s licence last week and is starting a residency at a hospital in Toronto. . . .

Meanwhile, ESPN, which is putting together broadcast crews after signing a deal with the NHL that starts next season, has hired Leah Hextall. As Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported: “While the exact number of games she will broadcast is not yet know, she will be the first woman play-by-player to be a regular part of a national NHL TV package.” . . . She did one NHL game this season on Sportsnet, but gained more fame for calling an NCAA playoff game between Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota that went into a fifth OT period. . . . If you were to let Google be your friend, you would learn that Hextall has more than paid her dues for a lot of years, so she has earned this opportunity. . . . She is a cousin to former WHL/NHL G Ron Hextall, who now is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager. Two uncles, Bryan Jr. and Dennis, are former NHLers. Her grandfather, the late Bryan Sr., is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bryan Sr. led the NHL in goals in 1939-40 with the New York Rangers and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in OT of Game 6 to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Leah’s father, Randy, was in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp in the late 1960s — and I may have spent a shift or two on a line with him — and later played for the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, a team that once was coached by Bryan Sr. Randy, who won a Canadian junior A title (Centennial Cup) with the 1972-73 Terriers, passed away on July 12, 2019.


Bears


The Red Deer Rebels don’t have a head coach at the moment, but that didn’t RedDeerstop the previous one from making a couple of trades on Monday. Of course, Brent Sutter, that former coach, also is the franchise’s owner and general manager so if he’s going to make a trade, well, he can do just that. . . . On Monday, he started by doing a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings that involved a pair of 19-year-olds. . . . The Rebels get G Connor Ungar in exchange for D Mason Ward. . . . Ward, 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, has 19 points in 83 games with the Rebels over the past two seasons. He is the son of former Rebels BrandonD Lance Ward. Obviously, the Wheat Kings are looking for someone to bring some size and a physical game to their back end. . . . Ungar was 5-2-1, 2.87, .904 for the Wheat Kings in the Regina hub this season. In 15 career regular-season appearances, he is 6-4-1, 2.92, .905. . . . The Wheat Kings are left with Ethan Kruger, 20, and Nick Jones, 16, as the goaltenders on their roster now. Jones, from Calgary, was a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and has signed a WHL contract. . . . At this moment, the Rebels will be looking at keeping two of Ungar, Byron Fancy, 20, and Chase Coward, 18, on their roster. . . . “We just felt we had lots of depth, that we were working from (a position of) strength,” Sutter told Troy Gillard of rdnewsNOW. “They wanted Mason and we wanted the goaltender, so it made sense to do a one-for-one deal.” . . . (Gillard’s story is right here.) . . . Later in the day, Sutter Edmontondealt F Jaxsen Wiebe, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Liam Keeler, 20. Keeler, who is from Edmonton, was the 22nd overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. In 214 regular-season games with the Oil Kings, he had 26 goals and 48 assists. Wiebe, a seventh-round selection in 2017, had nine goals and 11 assists in 73 games with Red Deer. . . . As of now, the Rebels have four 20-year-olds to choose from — Fancy, Keeler, F Arshdeep Bains and F Zak Smith. . . . The Oil Kings have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Matthew Robertson, F Carter Souch and F Josh Williams. That number would grow to four should D Simon Kubicek report to training camp. Kubicek was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 25. After playing two seasons (2018-20) with Seattle, he spent 2020-21 in Czech Republic where he played 21 games with Motor Deske Budejovice in the Czech ELH. He also got into games with HC Stadion Litomerice in Czech2 and his country’s U20 side. Of course, should he earn a spot with the Oil Kings out of camp, he would be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old and an import.


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

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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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Longhairs

Years after kidney transplant, Ayres gets first NHL win in debut . . . Helps Hurricanes beat Maple Leafs on night to remember



If you are part of the organ transplant community, the Saturday night NHL game that had the Carolina Hurricanes meeting the Maple Leafs in Toronto really was one to remember.

You can bet that the NHL pooh-bahs won’t have found it overly entertaining, but it was . . . it really was!

After all, it’s not every night when you get to watch a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who has had a kidney transplant play goal in an NHL game. Not only did Dave Ayres, at the age of 42 years 194 days, tend goal, but he ended up with the victory, stopping eight of 10 shots as the Hurricanes won, 6-3.

Ayres became the second-oldest goaltender in NHL history to win in his NHL debut. The first? Lester Patrick, then the general manager and head coach of the New York Rangers, was in goal for a 2-1 OT victory over the Montreal Maroons in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final on March 20, 1927. Patrick was 44 years and 99 days old. For the record, Patrick stopped 18 of 19 shots.

Ayres did set one NHL record as the oldest goaltender to win his regular-season debut. Hugh (Old Eagle Eyes) Lehman of the Chicago Black Hawks was 41 years 21 days when he won his first game in 1926-27.

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In our home, it all began when I saw the above tweet and words “kidney transplant” jumped off my computer screen.

I hadn’t yet flipped over to the NHL game in Toronto. However, after seeing this tweet, I immediately changed the channel. I was just in time to see Carolina G Petr Mrázek go down in a collision with Toronto F Kyle Clifford at 11:19 of the second period. The Hurricanes had lost G James Reimer at 3:07 of the opening period in a collision that resulted in Mrázek entering and Ayres having to get into his goaltending gear.

But now Mrázek was hurt and the rest, as they say, became history.

If you didn’t see the game, the Hurricanes held a 3-1 lead when Ayres entered, and they quickly made it 4-1. But the Maple Leafs scored goals on their first two shots on Ayres as the Hurricanes struggled to get to the intermission with a lead.

They were able to do that, then scored two early third-period goals to stretch their 4-3 lead to 6-3 and give Ayres some breathing room. Ayres was steady in the third period, while his new teammates really shut down the home side, much to the dismay of the crowd.

During the second intermission, I headed for the Internet to find out what I could about Ayres. I didn’t care about his hockey-playing background; I wanted to know about his kidney issues.

I found this from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, from the Nov. 18, 2019, edition of The Globe and Mail:

“Like many kids growing up in Canada, Dave Ayres wanted to play hockey in the NHL.

“He was 25 and at a hockey training camp when his feet became so swollen he couldn’t put on his skates. Then one day while driving, he became so dizzy he nearly hit someone.

“It was Thanksgiving weekend when he ended up in the ER. His kidneys were working at 15 per cent capacity and he had to start dialysis immediately. Three days a week, four hours at a time, for the next seven months.

“Then in May, he came to St. Michael’s Hospital’s Kidney Transplant and Care Centre, where he received a new kidney, courtesy of his mom.”

A native of Whitby, Ont., Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004. After donning gear for an outdoor practice with the Maple Leafs just last month, he told Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun about those days:

“I told the doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital I needed to get back because I was supposed to go to the (Central Hockey League’s) Laredo Bucks. They said ‘we’ll try our best’ and my Mom (Mary) was a match. They ended up moving me along pretty quick (for the operation), about a year after I got sick.”

In his other life, Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Coca-Cola Coliseum, the home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. He also has been on the ice with the Marlies and Maple Leafs on occasion, as he was for the outdoor practice.

In yet another twist to this story, Ayres told media after Saturday’s game that he is scheduled to practice with the Maple Leafs on Monday. I am thinking that practice session just might draw a bit of press coverage.

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Here’s more from St. Michael’s Hospital:

“Dave’s case is not unusual, but he was one of the lucky ones. In Canada, one in 10 people has kidney disease — that’s the population of Vancouver and Calgary combined. It’s a chronic disease with no chance of remission. And it’s considered a silent killer because there are few symptoms — apart from the swelling and dizziness, like in Dave’s case, there can be fatigue, chills, back pain, itching — but it’s still difficult to detect. With an aging population, increas­ing rates of obesity and high blood pressure, and an epidemic of diabetes (the leading cause of kidney disease), the numbers are only going up.

“Some people can live with kidney disease for years, and many do — when it’s caught early enough and treated properly. But in too many cases, the kidneys fail, leaving only two options: dialysis or a kidney transplant. “Dialysis can take over a person’s life. And it’s not a life saver: half of patients 65 years of age and older starting dialysis today will not be alive in five years. And while transplant is by far the best solution, 3,600 Canadians are on the waiting list. It’s not a permanent fix either: a kidney from a deceased donor will last on average 10 to 15 years, and from a living donor 15 to 20 years.”

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Shortly after game’s end, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with Ayres’ name and number (90) already were available via their online shop and that a portion of the proceeds will be going to a kidney foundation.

As I have written about here previously, kidney disease isn’t going away. There isn’t a cure — a transplant really is just a form of treatment. But what is needed more than anything is more education. People from all walks of life need to understand that while there isn’t a cure, you can have kidney disease and get on with your life; if you are fortunate enough to have a transplant, you don’t have to forget about your dreams.

Dave Ayres is proof of that.


Roy Cooper is the governor of North Carolina:

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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

Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


ThisThat

F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

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The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

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The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

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The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

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The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

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The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

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The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


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It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


ThisThat

Great Scott! Leafs sign goaltender . . . Hitmen run win streak to five . . . Silvertips win battle of division leaders

On the third day of our annual Christmas countdown, here’s two classics from the great Darlene Love. . . . From David Letterman’s show in 2014, Christmas (Baby Please Come) is right here. . . . Another favourite, All Alone for Christmas, is right here.


MacBeth

F Yegor Babenko (Lethbridge, 2015-17) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL) after Severstal bought his rights from Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). With Tyumen, he had seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games. . . . Babenko was pointless in a three-game trial with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL) earlier this season. Dynamo offered him a contract after the trial but Babenko didn’t like the role Dynamo had planned for him and rejected the offer. . . .

D Tomáš Kudělka (Lethbridge, 2005-07) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga) for financial reasons. He had two goals and four assists in 24 games. . . . Medveščak also released five other players for the same reason on Friday. Medveščak is in financial difficulties since losing its main sponsor last week. It has had to release 12 players as a result. The Austrian-based Erste Bank Liga has granted the club permission to replace these players but the replacements must have Croatian citizenship. . . . The Croatian Ice Hockey Federation and the City of Zagreb have promised support for the club so it may complete the season.


ThisThat

G Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders has signed a three-year entry-level contract with Torontothe Toronto Maple Leafs, who selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The announcement was made with Scott in Victoria in the selection camp of Canada’s national junior team. . . . Scott, from Calgary, is 23-2-1, 1.61, .943 with the Raiders this season. He has put up four shutouts. . . . Scott’s season also includes a goal, as he fired the puck the length of the ice and into an empty net in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Nov. 16. . . . In 152 regular-season appearances, all with the Raiders, Scott is 72-58-12, 3.03, .903.


The Prince Albert Raiders are without D Brayden Pachal, their captain, as they conclude whlthe pre-Christmas part of their schedule by going home-and-home with the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The WHL revealed on Friday that it has suspended Pachal for two games “under supplemental discipline” for something that happened in a 6-5 OT victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. . . . The WHL didn’t reveal what happened to warrant the suspension; however, Pachal was hit with a triple minor at 17:02 of the first period (double high-sticking and roughing) after a hit on Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky, so perhaps it had something to do with it. . . . Pachal sat out last night’s game in Swift Current and won’t play in tonight’s rematch in Prince Albert. . . . He will be eligible to return on Dec. 27 when the Raiders visit the Saskatoon Blades.


F Kent Johnson of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters has committed to attend the U of Michigan and play for the Wolverines, starting in 2020-21. . . . Johnson, a 16-year-old from North Vancouver, was selected by the Everett Silvertips in the 10th round of the 2017 WHL bantam draft. . . . This season, he has 11 goals and 12 assists in 35 games with Trail.


With the WHL heading into the Christmas break after Sunday games, don’t forget that there also will be a trade moratorium in place. There won’t be any trades announced between Saturday at 12:01 a.m., and Dec. 27 at 12:01 a.m.

——

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Friday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 13.

Players: 29.

Bantam draft picks: 21.

Conditional draft picks: 5.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

D Steven Zonneveld broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and the host Regina Pats went on Patsto a 2-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Regina (9-23-1) snapped a nine-game losing skid (0-8-1). . . . Moose Jaw (16-8-5) has dropped two in a row. . . . The game’s three goals all came in the second period. . . . F Kaeden Taphorn (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 4:00, and Regina F Riley Krane (6) tied it at 13:48. . . . Zonneveld, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, scored his first career goal at 18:47. It came in his 15th game. . . . The Warriors held a 27-18 edge in shots. . . . Regina G Dean McNabb stopped 26 shots. . . . F Eric Alarie, who was picked in the first round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, made his debut with the Warriors. Alarie, 15, plays for the Rink Hockey Academy prep team in Winnipeg. . . . Head coach Tim Hunter of the Warriors and D Josh Brook are at the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp in Victoria. . . . Regina is without F Sebastian Streu, who is with Germany at the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) in Fussen, Germany.


F Gary Haden scored in the dying seconds to give the Saskatoon Blades a 3-2 victory over Saskatoonthe visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (21-10-3) has won four straight. . . . Brandon (14-10-6) has lost three in a row. . . . This was the first of six meetings between these teams. . . . The Blades took a 2-1 lead into the second period, goals by F Brandon Machado (2) and F Josh Paterson (10) following one by Brandon F Ridly Greig (7). . . . F Linden McCorrister (11) scored, shorthanded, to get the Wheat Kings into a 2-2 tie at 17:19 of the second period. . . . Haden scored his 13th goal of the season with 4.6 seconds left in the third period. . . . The Blades got 33 saves from G Nolan Maier, 18 of them in the third period. . . . With G Jiri Patera having left to attend the selection camp of the Czech Republic’s national junior team, the Wheat Kings started Ethan Kruger, who stopped 19 shots. . . . The Wheat Kings were without five injured players — F Jonny Hooker, D Vinny Iorio, D Jonny Lambos, F Lynden McCallum and D Braden Schneider. . . . D Jack Zayat, who signed a WHL deal on Thursday, made his Brandon debut. . . . Saskatoon is without F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, who is with Norway at the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) in Fussen, Germany. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at home for this one and posted his piece right here.


The Prince Albert Raiders opened up a 5-1 lead en route to a 6-4 victory over the Broncos PrinceAlbertin Swift Current. . . . The Raiders (30-2-1) have won two in a row, and are the first team in the CHL this season to reach 30 victories. . . . Swift Current slipped to 6-24-2. . . . These teams will play again tonight, this time in Prince Albert. . . . Prince Albert took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Carson Miller (10), F Noah Gregor (17) and F Eric Pearce (4). . . . F Joona Kiviniemi (8) got the Broncos on the scoreboard at 12:41 of the second period, on a PP. . . . F Sean Montgomery made it 4-1, shorthanded, at 17:32, and F Spence Moe (6) added another shorthanded score, at 9:46 of the third. . . . The Broncos made it interesting with late goals from F Alec Zawatsky (10), F Connor Horning (3) and F Matthew Culling (3), with Montgomery (15) adding an empty-netter for the Raiders. . . . The Raiders now have scored 17 shorthanded goals; they have allowed only 16 PP goals. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are second with eight shorthanded snipes. . . . Montgomery also had an assist for a three-point night. He has career highs in goals, assists (19) and points (34), all in 33 games. . . . The Raiders were 2-7 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-2. . . . The Broncos lost D Garrett Sambrook at 10:59 of the second period after he took a high hit from Raiders F Parker Kelly, who was given a headshot minor. Sambrook left and didn’t return. . . . The Raiders were without G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason, who are in camp with Canada’s national junior team; F Aliaksei Protas and D Sergei Sapego, both of whom are with Belarus at the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) in Fussen, Germany; and D Brayden Pachal, who served Game 1 of a two-game suspension. . . . Leason left in the third period of a game between Canada and a USports side after taking a shot on one hand. After the game, Mark Masters (@markhmasters) of TSN tweeted that Team Canada head coach “Tim Hunter says he just shook hands with Leason and Brett is a little sore but it didn’t seem overly serious.”


F Jake Kryski snapped a 1-1 tie at 17:26 of the first period and the host Calgary Hitmen Calgarywent on to a 5-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Hitmen (15-14-3) have won five in a row. . . . The Rockets (15-17-2) have lost two straight. . . . Kelowna is 1-2-0 on a Central Division trip that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. . . . D Egor Zamula (8) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 2:51 of the first period. . . . F Kyle Crosbie (5) got Kelowna into a 1-1 tie at 8:00. . . . Kryski broke the tie at 17:26. . . . F Riley Stotts (9) made it 3-1 at 2:01. . . . Kryski added his 16th goal, on a PP, at 13:30 and F Ryder Korczak (5), who was playing against his brother Kaedan, wrapped up the scoring at 19:23. . . . Kryski has tied his single-season career high in goals in 32 games; he had 16 in 71 games last season. . . . Zamula also had two assists. A Russian sophomore, he has eight goals and 19 assists in 32 games. Last season, in 70 games — 38 with Regina and 31 with Calgary — he totalled two goals and 16 assists. . . . Calgary won 35 of 58 faceoffs. . . . The Hitmen are missing D Vladislav Yeryomenko, who also is with Belarus in Fussen.


The Kootenay Ice erased an early 1-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 Kootenaynewvictory over the Kamloops Blazers in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (8-21-6) had lost its previous 12 games (0-9-3). . . . The Blazers (12-15-3) have dropped five in a row (0-4-1), all on a six-game trek through the Central Division that concludes tonight in Lethbridge. . . . F Connor Zary (8) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead 43 seconds into the first period. . . . Kootenay snapped right back to take a 2-1 lead on goals by F Davis Murray (5) at 2:23 — it was a Teddy Bear goal — and F Peyton Krebs (13), on a PP, at 4:37. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (3), on a PP, and F Jaeger White (13) added second-period goals for the Ice for a 4-1 lead. . . . The Blazers got to within a goal on two scores from D Quinn Schmiemann, at 11:37 of the second and 3:57 of the third. He’s got five goals. . . . F River Fahey (1) iced it for the Ice at 17:04. . . . Kootenay got 37 saves from G Jesse Makaj. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen completed a three-game WHL suspension by sitting out this one.


F Josh Williams scored two goals and drew two assists, while G Mads Søgaard blocked 49 Tigers Logo Officialshots as the Medicine Hat Tigers beat the Rebels, 4-1, in Red Deer. . . . Medicine Hat (17-14-3) has won four straight. . . . Red Deer (20-10-2) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . The Tigers now are 4-0-0 versus the Rebels this season. . . . The Rebels lead the Central Division, and are five points ahead of the fourth-place Tigers. . . . Williams enjoyed the first four-point night of his WHL career. . . . The Tigers erased a 1-0 deficit with the game’s last four goals, the first three on the PP. D Linus Nassen earned an assist on each of the PP scores. . . . F Chris Douglas (10) gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead at 5:33 of the first period. . . . Williams tied it at 14:28, and F James Hamblin (16) put the visitors ahead at 10:00 of the second period. . . . Williams (8) added insurance at 16:22 and F Bryan Lockner (9) iced it at 19:17 of the third. . . . Medicine Hat is 8-15 on the PP in the four victories over Red Deer. . . . The Rebels held a 50-38 edge in shots, including 19-10 in the third period. . . . Søgaard and Williams were named to the Top Prospects Game on Thursday. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev was in the lineup after visiting hospital following a hit in a Tuesday night game against the visiting Kamloops Blazers. He leaves today to join the Russian national junior team in Victoria.


F Jake McGrew scored three times and added an assist to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-3 SpokaneChiefsvictory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Spokane (18-11-4) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle slipped to 11-15-3. . . . F Nolan Volcan gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, shorthanded, at 10:40 of the first period. . . . McGrew gave the Chiefs a 2-1 lead with goals, the first on the PP, at 19:00 of the first and 1:35 of the second. . . . Volcan (12) tied it at 8:15. . . . F Adam Beckman (15) put the Chiefs back in front at 9:36. He leads all WHL freshmen in goals. . . . F Payton Mount (3) pulled Seattle back into a tie at 17:32. . . . F Eli Zummack (10) broke the tie at 19:45. . . . McGrew, who has 11 goals, completed his second career hat trick into an empty net at 19:31 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs are without D Ty Smith, who is with Canada’s national junior team, and D Filip Kral, who is with the Czech Republic’s team. . . . Spokane F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who hasn’t played since Oct. 27 because of a broken wrist, also is with Canada but has yet to take part in a full practice. He has been skating and lightly shooting but hasn’t been cleared for contact.


F Bryce Kindopp scored twice and the penalty-killers were perfect in leading the Everett EverettSilvertips to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Everett (26-7-2) has points in each of its past 13 games (11-0-2). . . . Vancouver (21-7-2) had won its previous seven games. . . . Everett leads the U.S. Divison; Vancouver is atop the B.C. Division. The Silvertips lead the Western Conference by 10 points over the Giants. Everett also leads the U.S. Division, by 14 points over the Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Silvertips broke open a scoreless game with four second-period goals. . . . Kindopp got it started, while shorthanded, at 10:36. . . . F Dawson Butt (6) made it 2-0 at 12:50, and F Reece Vitelli (4) upped it to 3-0 at 16:32. . . . Kindopp, who has 16 goals, seven of them over his past six games, made it 4-0 at 17:23. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 37 shots for Everett, losing his shutout bit at 17:44 of the third period when F Owen Hardy (6) scored. . . . Vancouver, which was 0-5 on the PP, held a 13-3 edge in shots in the third period. . . . Wolf also picked up an assist, his fourth of the season, on Everett’s third goal. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas was back in Everett’s lineup after a three-game absence. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk, a 15-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., made his debut with the Giants. Ostapchuk, who plays with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, was a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The Victoria Royals scored the game’s last five goals and beat the visiting Prince George VictoriaRoyalsCougars, 5-1. . . . Victoria improved to 15-13-1. . . . Prince George (11-18-3) has lost four in a row. . . . The Cougars are four games into an 11-game road trip that will continue Sunday in Langley, B.C., against the Vancouver Giants, and then pick up after Christmas. The Cougars won’t play at home again until Jan. 11. . . . D Rhett Rhinehart (3) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 12:27 of the first period. . . . That lead held up until F Dino Kambeitz (5) tied it at 14:25 of the second, and F Tarun Fizer (8) put the Royals ahead, on a PP, just 1:14 later. . . . The Royals put it away with third-period goals from F Kaid Oliver (15), F Brandon Cutler (7) and F Phillip Schultz (6). . . . Victoria got 34 saves from freshman G Brock Gould, making a rare start in place of Griffen Outhouse. In nine appearances, Gould is 3-4-0, 3.35, .865.


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