All quiet on the Kootenay front . . . Raiders roll to another victory . . . ‘Tips win battle of U.S. Division leaders


MacBeth

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, as an alternate captain with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), he had one goal and 10 assists in 43 games. He also had three assists in 10 games with Sochi (Russia, KHL). . . .

F Zach Boychuk (Lethbridge, 2005-09) has been released by mutual agreement by Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 25 games. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). He had been released by Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL) after the end of a tryout contract on Nov. 11. He had three goals and three assists in six games. . . . Tvrdoň started the season with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga), scoring once in four games.


ThisThat

As readers stopped by here late Tuesday night and on through Wednesday, they learned that the Green Bay Committee had shut it down in Cranbrook, B.C., having started to whlbelieve that the Kootenay Ice, the WHL franchise its members had been working to save, is in its final season there.

The committee had been selling tickets and raising money through sponsorships for the Ice in the hopes of keeping the team in the 4,264-seat Western Financial Place.

With all signs pointing to a departure at season’s end, readers started to suggest possible landing spots, other than Winnipeg. Among those mentioned, in no particular order, were New Westminster, Billings, Chilliwack, Anchorage, Wenatchee, Penticton and Vernon.

None of those will be a destination, of course, as it seems the Ice is destined to end up in Winnipeg playing out of the East Division, while the Swift Current Broncos would slide back into the Central Division.

When that happens, Cranbrook will be home to an arena that meets WHL standards — including new lighting, boards and glass, and with plans for a new scoreboard with video boards to be installed in time for 2019-20.

Perhaps the one thing missing would be a team.

But there already are people in Cranbrook who are wondering if there might be another WHL team interested in relocating.

For starters, you can forget about the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. These are the four remaining community-owned franchises and they aren’t going anywhere.

But . . .

New owners took over the Prince George Cougars in time for the 2014-15 season and admit that they have been bleeding money. This season, the announced average attendance in Prince George is 2,521 through 11 games. Last season, the final figure was 3,024.

Might the Cougars’ ownership be interested in at least kicking some tires?

Meanwhile, the Tri-City Americans averaged 3,053 fans for seven playoff games last spring after a regular season in which that figure was 3,649. But the Toyota Center, which opened in 1988, needs help

A year ago, the Tri-City Herald published a story that centred on the needed improvements and included this:

“Neither (WHL commissioner Ron) Robison nor (Americans general manager Bob) Tory suggested the Americans might leave Kennewick. But they didn’t deny the possibility either.

“Tory said team expenses have doubled under current ownership while revenue has been flat.

“ ‘There comes a time when that doesn’t make sense any more,’ Tory said.”

Voters in Kennewick, Wash., have twice rejected a sales tax that would have had money directed to Toyota Center improvements.

A year ago, there really wasn’t another option for teams like the Cougars or Americans. That changes if/when the Ice heads for the Manitoba capital.

Interestingly, Tory is quite familiar with Cranbrook, having worked as Kootenay’s general manager for two seasons (1998-2000).


All was quiet on the Kootenay Ice front on Wednesday, the day after a local committee that was working towards ensuring that the WHL franchise stays in Cranbrook, B.C., chose to cease operations.

In a letter to Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, as well as one of its Kootenaynewtwo owners, the Green Bay Committee cited a lack of support from the Ice’s owners, Greg Fettes and Cockell, in its decision.

Fettes and Cockell, both with ties to Winnipeg, purchased the franchise prior to last season. This season has been loaded with speculation that the franchise will be relocated to Winnipeg before another season arrives.

Of late, however, there has only been silence from the Ice.

“The silence is deafening,” John Hudak, the committee’s marketing director, told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. “I can’t speak for the owners of the team, I’m not a mind-reader and I don’t know what they are planning on doing, but it’s just highly unusual that people who have been in town for a very short period of time are not making that comment. If they have attendance problems (and) then they aren’t making any comments here to us and (aren’t) willing to engage with us . . . It’s disturbing.”

Hudak’s committee had invited Cockell to attend meetings. Hudak told Taking Note on Wednesday that Cockell’s refusal to attend “surprised” the committee.

Hudak said there was a “representative of the Ice, but not a decision-maker” at the committee’s first meeting on Oct. 25.

Hudak told Global News-Winnipeg on Wednesday that the Ice’s lack of engagement is “probably the single biggest thing that has impacted our ability to lock up some ticket sales.

“Why should we support this if these people aren’t going to remain in the community.

“(We) haven’t heard from the Ice ownership if it will remain . . . their silence on the subject has become deafening.”

Global News reported that “Fettes has also partnered with Brad Rice, who opened Winnipeg’s The Rink Training Facility in 2009, and is building a new facility south of the city. Sources have told Global News a new 5,000-seat arena is planned to be developed on the site to accommodate the WHL team.”

In September, Fettes told Global: “As a fan, parent, and owner, I am passionate about hockey development in Winnipeg and across Canada. Because of this passion, I am involved with The Rink Player Development and their new facility at McGillivray and Loudon, including their expansion and development in the surrounding area.”

Kootenay’s next home game is scheduled for Friday night when the Calgary Hitmen are in town. Jeff Chynoweth is Calgary’s general manager. Fettes and Cockell purchased the Ice from Chynoweth, his brother, Dean, and their mother, Linda.


The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame revealed Wednesday that Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, will received the 2019 W.A.C. Bennett Award for contribution to sport in the province. . . . The award will be presented during the Hall of Fame’s induction gala on May 23 in Vancouver. . . . Toigo has owned the Giants since purchasing an expansion franchise that began play in the 2000-01 season. He has been instrumental in having the 2006 and 2019 World Junior Championships played in Vancouver, as well as the 2007 Memorial Cup. . . . Toigo already is in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Delta, B.C., Sports Hall of Fame.


G Gavin McHale, who made 45 WHL appearances over two seasons (2004-06), got to watch an NHL game while wearing the uniform of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. With starter Braden Holtby a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury that is believed to be minor, the Capitals started Pheonix Copley against the host Winnipeg Jets and brought in McHale, a 31-year-old from Winnipeg, as the emergency backup. . . . The Jets won the game, 3-1. . . . McHale, who made 33 appearances with the Seattle Thunderbirds and 12 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is the goaltender coach for the women’s hockey team at the U of Manitoba. . . . The 6-foot-7 McHale had been in the backup role once before. In February, he spent the third period on the Colorado Avalanche’s bench in support of Semyon Varlamov, who went in to replace the injured Jonathan Bernier.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have signed Alex Evin, their director of player personnel and associate coach, to a two-year extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Evin is in his second season with the Spruce Kings. . . . Adam Maglio, the Spruce Kings’ head coach, also is signed through 2020-21, as is general manager Mike Hawes.


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WEDNESDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott blocked 43 shots to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to their 11th straight PrinceAlbertvictory, this time beating the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. . . . The Raiders (18-1-0) now lead the overall standings by six points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Tigers (9-10-3) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Scott even took a shot at an empty-net goal, only to have the scoreboard in the Art Hauser Centre get in the way. “He thought he was Marty Brodeur at the end there with the shot,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com. “I thought it had a pretty good chance. He got some good weight on it and she was going. But then the clock obviously got in the way. That was the end of that.” . . . F Brett Leason (18) scored the game’s first goal, while shorthanded, at 8:58 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (9) added insurance at 11:16 of the third. . . . Leason has at least one point in all 19 Prince Albert games this season. He and F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings are tied for the WHL lead in goals. . . . Scott has three shutouts this season and six in his career. On the season, he is 15-1-0, 1.50, .946. . . . BTW, the Raiders now have scored 11 times while shorthanded; their WHL-leading penalty-killers have surrendered only seven goals. . . . D’Andrea’s story is right here.

G Beck Warm turned aside 24 shots to help the Tri-City Americans to a 3-0 victory over tri-citythe Broncos in Swift Current. . . . The Americans now are 12-6-0. This was Game 9 of an 11-game road trip on which they are 7-2-0, including 2-2-0 in the East Division. . . . The Broncos (4-16-2) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Warm had one shutout this season and two in his career. . . . F Kyle Olson (4) opened the scoring at 4:20 of the first period, with F Krystof Hrabik (5) made it 2-0 at 19:15. . . . F Isaac Johnson scored his seventh goal into an empty net at 19:56 of the third period. . . . The Broncos remain without D Matthew Stanley, while F Eric Houk now has missed two games since being injured in a fight with F Carter Massier during a 2-0 loss to the Pats in Regina on Saturday.


F Josh Maser scored the winner in OT and also had two assists to lead the Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (9-8-3) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (8-12-1) has lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . F Matej Toman (3) gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 10:05 of the second period. . . . Kelowna took a 3-2 lead on third-period goals from F Lane Zablocki (2), at 0:55, and F Kyle Topping (9), shorthanded, at 12:07. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (4) pulled the Cougars even at 19:43. . . . Maser won it with his sixth goal of the season with six seconds left in extra time.


F Riley Sutter’s shootout goal gave the host Everett Silvertips a 3-2 victory over the EverettPortland Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (15-6-0) have won five straight. . . . The Winterhawks (12-6-2) had their five-game winning streak snapped. . . . Everett leads the U.S. Division, by four points over Portland, which holds a game in hand. . . . The Silvertips led this one 2-0 in the first period on PP goals from F Connor Dewar (16), at 2:27, and F Bryce Kindopp (8), at 12:25. . . . The Winterhawks got third-period goals from F Reece Newkirk (13), at 3:14, and F Ryan Hughes (7), at 3:55. . . . Dewar and Portland F Joachim Blichfeld each scored in the first round of the shootout. Sutter, the first shooter in the third round, got the winner. . . . The Silvertips got 39 saves from G Dustin Wolf, while Portland’s Shane Farkas blocked 41.


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Silvertips ride bus to three wins . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark ‘Hawks. Again . . . DiLaura posts first shutout


MacBeth

F Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had one assist in six games with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), while on loan from the Colorado Eagles (AHL). He had been recalled and released by Colorado on Oct. 30. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has been released by Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL) after the end of a tryout contract. He had three goals and three assists in six games. Earlier this season, he had one goal in four games with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga).


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


SUNDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

F Connor Bouchard scored in the seventh round of a shootout to give the Tri-City tri-cityAmericans a 3-2 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . The Americans improved to 11-5-0. This was Game 7 of an 11-game road trip for the Americans. They are 6-1-0, including 1-1-0 in the East Division. . . . The Wheat Kings are 9-4-6. . . F Stelio Mattheos gave Brandon a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 18th goal, at 18:51 of the first period. . . . The Americans took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Riley Sawchuk (8) and F Blake Stevenson (3). . . . F Luka Burzan (13) got Brandon into a 2-2 tie, on a PP, at 3:18 of the third period. . . . F Isaac Johnson scored for the Americans in the third round of the shootout, but F Ben McCartney then tied it. . . . That left it for Bouchard, who had two assists, to win it.


F Reese Johnson scored in OT to give the visiting Red Deer Rebels a 3-2 victory over the Red DeerSwift Current Broncos. . . . Red Deer (13-5-1) has won two in a row. . . . The Broncos (3-16-2) has lost three in a row. . . . Swift Current grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ben King (4) and F Max Patterson (5), the latter at 0:40 of the second period. . . . F Zak Smith (11) got the Rebels on the scoreboard at 1:27 of the second period and F Josh Tarzwell (3) tied it at 19:34. . . . Johnson won it with his ninth goal at 1:00 of OT. . . . The teams had nine shots apiece in the first period; the Rebels held a 39-8 edge after that point, including 19-3 in the second period and 16-5 in the third. . . . Swift Current G Joel Hofer stopped 44 shots. Despite a 2-11-2 record and a 4.32 GAA, he has a .900 save percentage. . . . F Brandon Hagel, the Rebels’ leading scorer, didn’t play. He played Friday and Saturday games and may have tweaked something that had been bothering him, so was rested. . . . D Jacob Herauf, who was injured on Friday and sat out Saturday, played in this one. . . . Swift Current had F Owen Blocker and D Garrett Sambrook back after brief absences. . . . The Rebels played three road games in fewer than 48 hours and went 2-1-0. . . . The Broncos also played three games in fewer than 48 hours. They went 0-2-1.


F Carson Focht and F James Malm each had a goal and three assists to lead the Calgary CalgaryHitmen to a 7-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . Calgary (6-12-2) had lost its previous three games. . . . Kootenay (6-12-3) has lost five in a row. . . . F Riley Stotts gave Calgary a 2-1 lead at 9:10 of the second period and the Hitmen took control with two more goals, from Malm (11), at 10:37 of the second and D Egor Zamula (3), on a PP, at 7:09 of the third. . . . The Ice got to within 4-3 on third-period goals from D Martin Bodak (4) and F Brett Davis (7), but Calgary F Tye Carriere (2) scored 15 seconds later and Calgary later got two more goals. . . . Stotts finished with two goals, giving him three, and an assist. . . . Focht has four goals. . . . Calgary outshot the Ice, 44-32, including 23-8 in the third period. . . . Kootenay went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours.


The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Kamloops EverettBlazers, 5-2. . . . Everett (14-6-0) has won four straight. . . . Kamloops (6-9-2) had lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Everett has won all three meetings with the Blazers this season outscoring them 18-5 in the process. . . . The Silvertips won 7-2 in Kamloops on Friday night, then beat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, on Saturday, before getting back on the bus and returning to Kamloops for Sunday’s game. . . . The Silvertips now are 11-0-0 when they score the game’s first goal. . . . F Connor Dewar (15) broke a 2-2 tie at 4:59 of the third period and F Jackson Berezowski (4) added insurance at 14:31. . . . G Max Palaga, who is from Kamloops and spent last season with the Blazers, made his first start with the Silvertips, who acquired him in a trade last week. He stopped 26 shots to earn the victory. . . . G Dustin Wolf had started Everett’s first 19 games. Last season, while backing up Carter Hart, Wolf made 20 appearances. He finished 13-6-0 last season; this season, he is 13-6-0. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson started the game but left at 8:17 of the second period after somehow managing to cut a finger. He stopped 15 of 17 shots. He was replaced by Rayce Ramsay, who was beaten twice on 15 shots. With Dylan Garand set to return from the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, Ramsay will return today to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . In a couple of games that promise to be interesting this week, the Portland Winterhawks visit Everett on Wednesday and the Silvertips are in Portland on Friday. . . . The Silvertips lead the U.S. Division by three points over the Winterhawks.


F Joachim Blichfeld scored twice and F Cody Glass had three assists to lead the host PortlandPortland Winterhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Portland (12-6-1) has won five in a row. . . . Kelowna (8-12-0) has lost two straight. . . . The Winterhawks had beaten the visiting Rockets, 3-0, on Saturday night. . . . The Rockets went 1-2-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. They had beaten host Seattle, 3-1, on Friday. . . . F Mason Mannek (5), at 15:10 of the first period, and Blichfeld, at 5:55 of the second, gave Portland a 2-0 lead. . . . F Kyle Crosby (2) scored for Kelowna at 9:46, but F Reece Newkirk (12) got that one back, while shorthanded, at 11:08. . . . F Mark Liwiski (1) pulled the visitors to within one at 16:01. . . . Blichfeld added insurance with his 17th goal, at 8:12 of the third period. . . . Blichfeld has 39 points, including 22 assists, in 19 games. . . . Glass now has 34 points, 27 of them assists, in 16 games.


G Isaiah DiLaura blocked 26 shots to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 1-0 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Cougars (8-8-3) had dropped a 2-1 decision to the Giants on Saturday. . . . Vancouver (13-4-2) had won its previous three games. . . . DiLaura, an 18-year-old from Lakeville, Minn., record his first career shutout. This was his sixth appearance of the season; he got into 14 games last season. This time around, he is 3-2-1, 2.38, .926. . . . F Ethan Browne (4) scored the game’s only goal, on a PP, at 8:00 of the first period. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 31 shots for the Giants.


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Leason, Raiders freeze out Ice . . . King gives Broncos an OT victory . . . Ams’ Warm too hot for Silvertips


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The Edmonton Oil Kings announced Friday afternoon that F Ty Gerla “has left the team to pursue opportunities outside of hockey.” . . . Gerla, 19, is from Calgary. . . . He was pointless in seven games this season. . . . Last season, he had three goals and 15 assists in 59 games, after putting up five goals and six assists in 43 games as a freshman in 2016-17. . . .

Meanwhile, the Regina Pats announced earlier in the day that D Jonas Harkins “is no longer with the team and has gone home to B.C.” . . . Harkins, 18, had one assist in 10 games this season. In 34 career regular-season games, split evenly between the Prince George Cougars and the Pats, he has two assists. . . . The son of former Cougars GM Todd Harkins, Jonas was dealt to Regina on Jan. 5 in a deal that also included F Jesse Gabrielle.


Last week, Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat in Prince George posted another edition of Cat Scan, a podcast that deals with the Cougars. Miller provides colour on home game broadcasts, so follows the Cougars closely. In this edition, he chats with Eric Brewer, the former NHL/WHL defenceman who is one of the franchise’s six owners. It’s interesting and it’s all right here.


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FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Max Gerlach scored twice to help the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Saskatoon improved to 10-6-2. . . . The Warriors (6-5-3) had points in each of their previous two games (1-0-1). . . . F Kirby Dach (11) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead at 12:57 of the second period and they weren’t caught after that. . . . Gerlach, who has 10 goals, gave the visitors a 3-1 lead at 15:16, then made it 4-2 at 17:01 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon had a 36-26 edge in shots. . . . Moose Jaw associate coach Mark O’Leary is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.


F Brett Leason scored twice and added two assists as the host Prince Albert Raiders PrinceAlbertbounced the Kootenay Ice, 7-2. . . . Prince Albert (16-1-0) has won nine in a row. Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) reports that the Raiders have trailed for only two minutes 44 seconds in those nine victories. . . . Kootenay (6-8-3) had won its previous two games. It is 2-1-0 on a four-game trip into Saskatchewan. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals (17) and points (39). He has at least a point in each of his 17 games this season. Leason, 19, finished last season with 16 goals and 17 assists in 66 games. . . . The Raiders scored the game’s first three goals, two of them via the PP, to take control. Leason’s first goal, at 3:33 of the third period, gave them a 6-1 lead. . . . F Parker Kelly (7) scored a shorthanded goal for the Raiders at 16:32 of the second period. That was the Raiders’ 10 shorthanded goal of the season; they have allowed only six PP goals. . . . Kootenay D Dallas Hines and F Brett Davis each played in his 200th regular-season game. Hines, 20, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, has played only with the Ice. Davis, 19, played 85 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before moving on to the Ice. The Hurricanes selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . .The Ice added D Anson McMaster, 16, to its roster for the game. From Siksika, Alta., he was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. The 6-foot-4, 175-pounder has one goal and six assists with the midget AAA Okotoks Oilers. . . . The Raiders had F Cohner Saleski, 16, and D Nolan Allan, 15, in their lineup. Saleski, a first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, had one assist in two games earlier this season. He has seven goals and 10 assists in 12 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos. Allan was pointless in two earlier games with the Raiders. He has seven goals and eight assists in 15 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Raiders were without D Kaiden Guhle and F Ozzy Wiesblatt, both of whom are at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. Thus the need to add Saleski and Allan. . . . Prince Albert had D Sergei Sapego back after a three-game absence due to illness.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first five goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . The Oil Kings (10-7-1) have won five in a row. This was the opener of a six-game road trip. . . . The Pats fell to 4-12-0. They are 1-9-0 at home. . . . F Brett Kemp (10) scored twice for Edmonton, providing 2-0 and 3-0 leads, and added an assist. . . . Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky had four assists. He has five goals and 13 assists in his last six games, and leads the WHL with 25 assists. . . . D Brady Pouteau was in Regina’s lineup for the first time this season after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. . . . F Dylan Guenther, the first-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, made his debut with the Oil Kings. From Edmonton, Guenther has 15 goals and 10 assists in 12 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team.


F Noah King scored in OT to give the host Swift Current Broncos a 5-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos (2-14-1) had lost their previous eight games (0-7-1). Both of their victories this season have come in extra time. They beat the Wheat Kings in Brandon, 3-2 in a shootout, on Oct. 13. . . . The Hurricanes (7-5-4) have lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . F Ty Kolle (4) gave Lethbridge a 4-3 lead with a PP goal at 17:14 of the third period. . . . The Broncos tied it when D Connor Horning (3) scored on the PP at 19:24. . . . King won it at 2:59 of extra time with his second goal of the season. . . . D Alex Moar, who was acquired from the Everett Silvertips during the week, had the primary assist on the winner. . . . Lethbridge F Jadon Joseph ran his point streak to 10 games with his eighth goal, on a PP.


F James Malm, in his first game with his new club, broke a 5-5 tie at 18:42 of the third period as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 7-5. . . . Calgary (5-9-2) had lost its previous three games. . . . Medicine Hat (8-7-2) had points in its previous three games (2-0-1). . . . F Jake Kryski (9), who also had two assists, had given Calgary a 5-4 lead at 10:11 of the third period. . . . D Cole Clayton (2) pulled the Tigers even at 13:04. . . . Malm snapped the tie at 18:42. He has 10 goals, nine of them with the Vancouver Giants, who dealt him to Calgary for F Tristen Nielsen during the week. . . . Calgary F Mark Kastelic (14) iced it with an empty-netter. He finished with two goals and an assist.


F Stelio Mattheos scored twice, including the OT winner, as the Brandon Wheat Kings BrandonWKregularbeat the Blazers, 3-2, in Kamloops. . . . Brandon (8-3-5) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is 2-2-2 on a seven-game trip that ends tonight in Kelowna. The Wheat Kings are 2-1-1 in the B.C. Division portion of their road swing. . . . Kamloops (6-6-2) had won its previous four games. . . . Mattheos, who has 16 goals, pulled Brandon into a 1-1 tie at 19:51 in a goal that was counted after video review. Brandon crashed the net and the puck got across the goal line. Referee Steve Papp ruled ‘no goal’ because the net was off its moorings before the puck crossed the line. However, video review proved otherwise. . . . D Chase Hartje (2) gave Brandon a 2-1 lead at 7:05 of the third period. . . . Kamloops D Luke Zazula (2) tied it at 13:47. . . . The Wheat Kings won it when F Linden McCorrister hit Mattheos with a long pass and he went in to score at 3:34. . . . This game featured two goaltenders whose NHL rights belong to the Vegas Golden Knights. Brandon’s Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old from Czech Republic, was selected in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign an NHL deal. . . . Ferguson, 20, was taken by the Dallas Stars in the seventh round of that draft and later traded to Vegas. . . . Ferguson has signed with the Golden Knights. . . . Patera played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders so isn’t a stranger to North America. . . . Both goaltenders were outstanding, too. Ferguson finished with 38 saves, while Patera turned aside 32.


F Cody Glass had a goal and three assists to help the host Portland Winterhawks to a 7-3 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Portland (8-6-1) had lost its previous three games. . . . Victoria slipped to 9-4-0. . . . The Winterhawks took a 3-1 lead into the second period, only to have the Royals tied it on second-period goals from F Kaid Oliver (11), at 3:11, and F D-Jay Jerome (8), at 8:31. . . . Portland replied with the game’s last four goals. . . . F Ryan Hughes (5) broke the tie at 15:04 of the second, and F Joachim Blichfeld (11) added insurance at 9:55 of the third period. . . . D Jared Freadrich (2), who was acquired from Victoria in May, had Portland’s first goal. . . . D Brendan De Jong (4), who is from Victoria, had the Winterhawks’ second goal. . . . Glass now has 250 career regular-season points, including 85 goals, in 214 games, all with Portland. This season, he has six goals and 21 assists in 13 games.


The host Prince George Cougars scored four times in the first period and went on to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars (6-7-3) had lost their previous four games (0-2-2). . . . Seattle (7-5-2) has lost two straight. . . . F Josh Maser (5) got the Cougars started just 41 seconds into the game. D Joel Lakusta (3), F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (3) and F Tyson Upper (2) added goals before the first period ended. . . . The home team held a 17-7 edge in first-period shots. . . . Seattle got its goal from F Samuel Huo (2) at 19:22 of the third period. . . . The Cougars got 21 stops from G Isaiah DiLaura.


G Beck Warm stopped 53 shots to lead the visiting Tri-City Americans to a 4-2 victory tri-cityover the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Americans (10-4-0) have won six in a row. . . . Everett (10-6-0) had won its previous three games. . . . The Silvertips held a 55-16 edge in shots, including 26-5 in the third period. . . . Tri-City F Sasha Mutala (4) broke a 1-1 tie at 7:06 of the second period, just 21 seconds after F Connor Dewar (11) had scored for the home team. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (11) gave the Americans a 3-1 lead at 19:24. That goal turned into the winner after F Riley Sutter (8) scored for Everett at 12:35 of the third. . . . F Parker AuCoin (10) got the empty-netter for Tri-City. . . . The Silvertips are without head coach Dennis Williams, who is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in New Brunswick, through Nov. 10. In his absence, assistants Harry Mahood and Louis Mass are running things.


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A few notes, thoughts on WHL, marijuana . . . Rasmussen staying in NHL . . . Everett gets goalie from Kamloops


MacBeth

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) has been assigned on loan by Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). This season, with Dinamo, he was pointless in nine games, while averaging 8:36 TOI per game.


ThisThat

A few thoughts on the WHL and cannabis, with recreational marijuana having become legal in Canada a couple of weeks ago . . .

——

The CHL, the umbrella under which the three major junior leagues operate, works under the anti-doping policy established by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). Cannabis remains a banned substance under that policy, as it has been since the CHL adopted the policy in 2008.

The CCES uses a list of banned substances that originates with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Interestingly, while WADA has cannabis listed as a performance-enhancing drug, the CCES doesn’t agree that it should be there.

“The CCES, to be completely frank, has always argued that marijuana should not be on the list,” CCES president Paul Melia told CBC In June. “We don’t believe there is sufficient scientific evidence supporting its performance-enhancing benefits.”

——

No matter, because it is a banned substance as far as the CHL is concerned, and you are going to hear the word ‘education’ over and over again.

“That policy is very clear for the players — they cannot participate in any use of cannabis or other performance-enhancing drugs,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has said. “Consequently, it is incumbent on us to make sure we have a very effective education program to make sure the players are aware of that, first of all, and to really help promote a healthy lifestyle.”

——

There is an online course for WHL players, that includes video and a test based on comprehension. There also is a code of ethics that must be signed by players and coaches.

The CHL also has partnered with Health Canada on what is called #FocusedOn, a program that aims to educate players, coaches, management people, parents and others about cannabis.

——

If you are wondering, a first positive test will draw a warning. Suspensions will accompany further positive tests. Testing is conducted, without warning, after regular-season games, playoff games or any of the special events such as the Top Prospects game, a Canada-Russia game, or a Memorial Cup game.

——

Gare Joyce wrote an interesting piece for sportsnet.ca on the subject of the NHL and marijuana. The bulk of the story involved Joyce’s speaking with a former NHL player who now works in an NHL team’s front office.

Among other things, the ex-player told him: “I’d say right now, 60 to 70 per cent of the players in the league smoke marijuana. No doubt there are more players now using marijuana regularly than when I first came into the league. And I think there’ll be a greater awareness and understanding and acceptance (of marijuana use).”

That story is right here.

——

It stands to reason that there are WHL players using recreational marijuana. With it now being legal in Canada, chances are good that there will be more players at least experimenting with it.

One former WHL insider, when asked about marijuana use on today’s teams, told Taking Note that it “would not surprise me at all if it was in the 40-50 per cent range.”

(Recreational marijuana also is legal in the states of Oregon and Washington, but you must be 21 years of age in order to use it. That age is 19 in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., and 18 in Alberta.)

——

Some figures from Health Canada, all which are from prior to legalization . . . “12 per cent of Canadians reported using it at least once in 2015, according to the latest Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. That rate is even higher for young people, with usage as high as 21 per cent among youth, aged 15 to 19, and 30 per cent among young adults, aged 20 to 24.”

——

The area that may end up causing the most headaches for the WHL involves medical marijuana and especially cannabis-based products.

One parent with a son in minor hockey has told Taking Note that at least some midget-aged players are using cannabis-based creams — likely cannabidiol (CBD) without tetrahydrocannabinol (TTC) — in a search for pain relief, usually on joints like knees and hips.

The parent said this especially occurs when these teams play multiple games in compressed time periods on weekends. The parent also said that this is happening, at least in some instances, with parental approval and encouragement from coaches.

Defenceman Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals talked to the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell about a a memo that went from the NHL to its teams on legalization.

“I think they were nervous about guys bringing it across the border,” Orpik said, “because it’s still illegal (in the U.S.) and CBD oil, without the THC in it, is getting big, especially among athletes for pain management and sleep and stuff.”

As Pell explained, “CBD . . . is a cannabis extract. Unlike THC, another marijuana compound, it doesn’t make you high or intoxicated.”

The parent who spoke with Taking Note also admitted to having concerns about how long cannabis-based cream might stay in a player’s system, and also about, as Orpik noted, it being illegal in the U.S.

“What happens,” the parent wondered, “if a (young player) eligible for an NCAA scholarship gets caught taking cream across the border into the U.S.?”

For that matter, what would happen were a WHL player to find himself in that situation?

But you should know that the WHL says it is well aware of the medical side of all this.

“There is a medicinal application to the product,” Robison told Andrew McCormack of discovermoosejaw.com, “we’re very aware of that, as our medical staffs and training staffs are aware of that, and there is an ability within our national anti-doping program to get a therapeutic exemption should a player require that. It has to be accompanied by clear evidence from their doctor that this is something that’s required as opposed to something that might be used on a more recreational basis or casual basis from time to time.”


MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

It appears that F Michael Rasmussen won’t be back with the Tri-City Americans. The tri-cityDetroit Red Wings have told Rasmussen that he will be staying in the NHL and, in fact, he is scheduled to play his 10th regular-season game tonight against the host Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . When a junior-eligible player gets into his 10th game it means the first year of his entry-level contract begins, something that’s important down the road when it comes to qualifying for free agency. . . . Rasmussen, the ninth overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, has one assist in his first nine games, while averaging 12 minutes 39 seconds of ice time per game. . . . Rasmussen had 31 goals and 28 assists in 47 regular-season games with the Americans last season, then added 33 points, 16 of them goals, in 14 playoff games. In 161 career regular-season games, he put up 157 points, including 81 goals.


The Everett Silvertips have acquired G Max Palaga, 18, from the Kamloops Blazers, Everettgiving up a sixth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft in the exchange. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, got into 17 games with the Blazers last season, going 5-7-1, 3.71, .875. . . . The Blazers released him earlier this season and he has been with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. He was 2-2-1, 1.77, .943 in five games with Vernon. . . . In Everett, Palaga will back up Dustin Wolf, 17. . . . Blake Lyda, who had been backing up, suffered an undisclosed injury during a morning skate on Oct. 12 and is expected to be sideline for at least another month. . . . With Lyda out, the Silvertips added Danton Belluk to their roster for their East Division trip that concluded Saturday. Belluk has since returned to the midget AAA Eastman Selects. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers have added G Rayce Ramsay, 17, to their roster where he will back up Dylan Ferguson, while Dylan Garand, 16, is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Quispamsis and Saint John, N.B. . . . Ramsay, from Saskatoon, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, going 4-2-0, 3.03, .923.


The Kootenay Ice has returned G Will Gurski to the Shawnigan Lake School’s midget prep team. Gurski, 16, was brought in prior to the weekend. He practised with the Ice and backed up Duncan McGovern in one game with Jesse Makaj scratched. . . . Gurski, from Duncan, B.C., was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


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Broncos, Pats pay price of going all-in . . . Rockets get Wong signed . . . Leason and Raiders continue to dominate

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Is it too early to wonder if it is worth it for a major junior hockey team to really — make that really, really, really — go all-in as it attempts to win a championship?

Is it worth it even if that team wins the championship?

What about the host team for the Memorial Cup tournament? Is it worth it for that team to do the same thing?

Yes, this is all about the Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats.

The Broncos, of course, wheeled and dealed their way to the 2017-18 WHL SCBroncoschampionship. As one observer told Taking Note the other day, “They sold the farm, animals, crop and the dirt.”

And now the Broncos are paying the price. After dropping a 4-1 decision to the visiting Everett Silvertips on Saturday night, they are 1-13-0 and have lost six in a row. They are 0-4-0 at home; they are 1-9-0 on the road, the only victory a 3-2 shootout triumph over the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Oct. 13.

Surely, the Broncos won’t challenge the WHL record for fewest victories in a season, but early indications are that they will be hard-pressed to win 20 games. That is the number of victories posted by the 2010-11 Calgary Hitmen, to date the fewest in one season by a defending champion. (The 1998-99 Portland Winterhawks are No. 2, with 23.)

Meanwhile, the Pats, who lost in the Memorial Cup final last spring, were 6-2 losers to Patsthe Raiders in Prince Albert last night. The Pats are 3-11-0 and have lost five straight games. They are 0-8-0 at home and 3-3-0 on the road.

The Pats and Broncos have met once this season, with Regina posting a 6-5 victory in Swift Current on Oct. 5.

They will play Game 2 of the six-game season series in Regina today, with the teams having a combined 4-24-0 record.

Of course, the question remains as to just how long the Broncos and Pats will pay for all the moves leading into last season’s playoffs?

The Saskatoon Blades went all-in as they prepared for their role as the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup. Some people will tell you that the franchise still is in the process of recovering.


The Kelowna Rockets announced the signing of F Trevor Wong on Saturday, hours before they met up with the visiting Prince George Cougars. Wong, 15, made his WHL debut in KelownaRocketsthat game. . . . From Vancouver, the 5-foot-8, 135-pound Wong was selected by Kelowna with the 18th overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Many observers felt he would have been selected sooner had he not made a verbal commitment to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers starting in 2020-21. . . . Last season, Wong had 64 goals and 77 assists in 30 games with the bantam varsity team at St. George’s School in Vancouver. . . . This season, he has four goals and seven assists in 10 games with the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians. . . .

With Wong signed, you can bet that the Rockets, who will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, will turn their attention to attempting to sign F Ethan Bowen, who was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Bowen, 16, is from Chilliwack and is playing in his hometown for the BCHL’s Chiefs. He went into last night with six goals and five assists in 11 games. . . . Bowen has made a verbal commitment to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2020-21. . . . His older brother, Ryan, began this season with Kelowna but was released as the Rockets got down to the league-mandated maximum of three 20-year-olds.


No one in the WHL is having a better season than F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders. Leason, a 19-year-old Calgarian, had a goal and an assist, both in the first period, as the host Raiders beat the Regina Pats, 6-2, on Saturday night. That put him at 34 points in 16 games, breaking his career high of 33 from last season when he had one goal in 12 games with the Tri-City Americans and 32 points, 15 of them goals, in 54 games with the Raiders. . . . This season, Leason leads the WHL in goals (15), assists (19) and points (34). . . .

The Raiders acquired Leason from the Americans on Oct. 26, 2017, giving up a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. That pick had originated with the Americans, who traded it to the Raiders as part of a deal in which G Rylan Parenteau moved to Tri-City. . . . In 2016-17, as a freshman, Leason had eight goals and 10 assists with the Americans, who picked him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.


SATURDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to eight games as they bounced the PrinceAlbertvisiting Regina Pats, 6-2. . . . Prince Albert scored the game’s first six goals as it improved to 15-1-0. . . . Regina (3-11-0) has lost five in a row. . . . The Raiders’ last two goals both were of the shorthanded variety, from F Eric Pearce (2) and F Jakob Brook (4). Brook drew an assist on Pearce’s goal and, yes, Pearce had an assist on Brook’s tally. Those goals came 2:58 apart midway through the second period. . . . Prince Albert got 19 saves from G Ian Scott, who now is 13-1-0, 1.57, .943.


F Connor Dewar scored two goals and added two assists in leading the Everett Silvertips Everettto a 4-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Everett (10-5-0) has won three in a row; it went 4-2-0 on its East Division tour. . . . The Broncos (1-13-0) have lost six in a row. . . . This was the first meeting between these two franchises since last season’ WHL championship final. The Broncos won that best-of-seven series in six games. . . . Dewar, Everett’s captain, was playing his first game after serving a four-game suspension. He opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 2:15 of the first period. . . . F Tanner Nagel (3) pulled the Broncos even at 11:43. . . . D Gianni Fairbrother (1) of the Silvertips broke the tie with another shorthanded goal, at 16:54 of the second period. . . . Dewar scored his 10th goal of the season, on a PP, 15 seconds into the third period.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky had a goal and two assists as the host Edmonton Oil Kings scored a EdmontonOilKings5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Oil Kings (8-7-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Blades (8-5-2) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . Edmonton took control with the game’s first three goals. . . . F Quinn Benjafield got the first two, scoring on a PP at 18:33 of the first period and shorthanded at 5:16 of the second. He’s got five goals. . . . Fix-Wolansky got his 10th goal into an empty net at 19:06 of the third period. He has 28 points in 16 games this season, including four goals and six assists over his past four games. His 28 points trail only the 34 of F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Gary Haden, who was acquired Thursday from the Medicine Hat Tigers, scored both Saskatoon goals, the first while shorthanded. He’s got three goals this season. . . . D Keegan Slaney, the 20th overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings. From Airdrie, Alta., he has six assists in 11 games with the Edge School prep team in Calgary this season.


The Moose Jaw Warriors erased a 3-0 deficit and got past the host Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-MooseJawWarriors3, in a shootout. . . . The Warriors (6-4-3) had lost their previous two games (0-1-1). . . . The Tigers (8-6-2) have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . F Tristin Langan won this one with the only goal of the shootout. He was the second shooter in the third round. . . . F Brayden Tracey (4) pulled the Warriors into a 3-3 tie at 19:41 of the third period. . . . F Jaxon Steele (2) had given Medicine Hat a 3-0 lead at 2:25 of the third. . . . F Tate Popple (3) got Moose Jaw started at 4:39, and D Josh Brook (5) got the Warriors to within a goal at 12:13. . . . Moose Jaw took the game’s only two penalties — both minors.


F Nolan Foote scored on a PP just 43 seconds into OT to give the host Kelowna Rockets a KelownaRockets4-3 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Rockets (6-10-0) have won two in a row. . . . The Cougars (5-6-3) have lost three straight (0-1-2). . . . Foote was back in the Rockets’ lineup after a brief absence. This was his first game with his father, Adam, as the Rockets’ head coach. The senior Foote is 2-0-0 as a WHL head coach since taking over from the fired Jason Smith on Tuesday. . . . F Kyle Topping (6) had given the hosts a 3-2 lead, on a PP, at 1:08 of the third period. . . . D Ryan Schoettler (3) got the Cougars into a tie at 4:52.


F Jermaine Loewen scored three goals to lead the Kamloops Blazers to a 6-2 victory over Kamloops1the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . The Blazers (5-6-1) are on their first three-game winning streak of the season. . . . The Winterhawks (7-5-1) have lost two in a row. . . . The same teams will play again today in Portland as they conclude their season series. The Winterhawks won twice in Kamloops early in October. . . . Loewen was playing his second game after serving a four-game suspension for a high hit on Portland D Matthew Quigley in a 5-3 loss to the visiting Winterhawks on Oct. 5. Loewen returned Friday with a goal and an assist in a 7-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. That was Loewen’s first game as team captain; he was named captain while he was suspended. . . . F Joachim Blickfeld (10) gave Portland a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:20 of the first period. . . . The Blazers scored the next four goals, three of them before the first period ended. . . . Loewen scored PP goals at 8:19 of the first period and 2:10 of the second, the latter providing a 4-1 lead. He completed his first career hat trick at 5:17 of the third. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary had a goal, his fifth, and an assist, giving him six points over two games. . . . Portland lost D Jared Freadrich to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 18:40 of the first period.


The Tri-City Americans erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in beating the Chiefs, 5-3, in Spokane. . tri-city. . The Americans (9-4-0) have won five straight. . . . The Chiefs slipped to 7-4-3. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s second goal of the game, on a PP, at 7:39 of the third period gave the home team a 3-2 lead. . . . F Sasha Mutala (3) scored a PP goal to pull Tri-City even at 9:59, and F Isaac Johnson (6) got what proved to be the winner at 15:32. . . . F Nolan Yaremko (10), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . Anderson-Dolan’s goals were his first of this season and came in his second game since being returned by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.


The Seattle Thunderbirds got 41 saves from G Liam Hughes as they skated to a 5-1 Seattlevictory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Thunderbirds (7-3-2) had lost their previous three games (0-2-1). . . . The Giants (10-3-2) had points in their previous two (1-0-1). . . . The Giants had 17 shots in each of the last two periods but could only muster one goal, that from F Milos Roman (6) at 4:36 of the third period. . . . Seattle jumped out to a 4-0 lead on two goals in each of the first two periods. The outburst featured F Noah Philp’s ninth goal of the season, two from F Matthew Wedman, who has five, and F Samuel Huo’s first of the season.


F Kaid Oliver scored twice to help the host Victoria Royals to a 3-1 victory over the VictoriaRoyalsBrandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Royals (9-3-0) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Wheat Kings (6-3-4) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). Brandon now is 1-1-1 on a seven-game road swing that continues today against the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (13) put Brandon ahead 1-0, on a PP, at 14:50 of the first period. . . . Oliver, who has nine goals, tied it at 19:53 of the first, then broke the tie at 9:46 of the third. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt (2) got the empty-netter while shorthanded. . . . G Griffen Outhouse stopped 28 shots for the Royals. He returned after missing some time with an undisclosed injury. It’s believed that he tweaked something during practice nine or 10 days ago. . . . The Royals are without F Dante Hannoun, a key offensive contributor, as well as F Phillip Schultz, a freshman import from Denmark, and F Logan Doust, all out with undisclosed injuries.


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Cranbrook group working to keep Ice . . . One more father-son head-coaching combo . . . Blades, Tigers swap veteran forwards


MacBeth

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) a signed contract for the rest of this season with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 45 games with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga).


ThisThat

The Green Bay Committee, a group in Cranbrook that is working in support of the Kootenay Ice, held something of a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

With the WHL franchise surrounded by speculation that it will be moved to Winnipeg Kootenaynewbefore another season gets here, the committee would like to sell at least 500 season tickets over the next two weeks through what it calls Reach Out, hoping that will help convince owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell to keep the team in Cranbrook.

All in attendance at the meeting received information packages and order sheets for season-ticket packages. There will be another meeting on Nov. 1.

The Ice, which plays in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, apparently has sold about 1,700 season tickets, down a couple of hundred from last season. Attendance at the home-opener, on Sept. 22, was 2,862. Since then, the announced attendances have been 2,375, 2,287, 2,133, 2,334, 2,117 and 2,042. That latter figure was from Wednesday night when the Ice scored a 4-3 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Lee Pratt, Cranbrook’s mayor, told Bradley Jones of Summit 107:

“The attendance is down and they need more people in the stands. It’s as simple as that, it’s a business. Most businesses operate, they have to get a return on their investment, and obviously with the fan support they’re getting right now, it’s not a viable operation. So they’ve got to look for some long-term sustainability and that’s what they’re doing.”

(Jones’s complete story is right here.)

Pratt also was adamant that the City of Cranbrook is committed to keeping the WHL franchise right where it is.

“We made that commitment a number of years ago and we’re standing by that commitment,” Pratt said. “We’re working with them on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do with them what we can to ensure that they are here.”

Jones also reported that the Ice has a lease that runs to 2023.

“Pratt said the City offered to become a partner and re-negotiate parts of the lease once the Ice was purchased by the new ownership group . . . in 2017,” Jones reported, “but that the re-negotiations never happened.”

According to Jones, Pratt told the meeting that he believes the lease is one of the best in the CHL.

Interestingly, Jones also reported that “the Ice (wasn’t) in attendance . . . and had no official representation at the meeting.” Nor has the Ice had anything to say on the relocation speculation, telling Summit 107 that “no comment will be given.”

Meanwhile, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Summit 107 in a statement: ”The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments. The discussions (that) take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

Late last week, Robison told the Winnipeg Free Press that “the WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

That comment came as the Free Press reported that its sources have indicated the WHL’s “long-rumoured return to Winnipeg could be only months away from coming to fruition.”

According to that report, the Ice is likely to play out of a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus as it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat facility.

On Thursday, Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press reported that Gene Muller, the U of Manitoba’s director of athletics and recreation, “was asked what his school’s attitude would be if the Ice (was) to take up residence at the aging 1,400-seat campus arena. Muller politely declined comment.”

I don’t know about you, but this all is starting to have a familiar ring to it, or do you no longer remember the Chilliwack Bruins?


Elliotte Friedman’s always-readable 31 Thoughts was posted on Thursday. He was in Winnipeg this week for Wednesday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets, and this is his 30th thought for this week:

“It is not NHL-related, but after being in Winnipeg for a couple of days, it is clear the future of WHL Kootenay and how it relates to Manitoba is a storyline that’s not going away anytime soon.”

Friedman’s complete 31 Thoughts is right here.


Yes, I knew it would happen; in fact, I hoped it would happen.

On the subject of fathers and sons who have coached in the WHL . . .

The inbox on Thursday had another reminder, this one about Mike and Hardy Sauter.

Mike, who is now 70, was the head coach of the Lethbridge Broncos in 1976-77 and then again for the front part of the 1979-80 season.

Hardy, now 47, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1989-92). He spent one season (2007-08) as an assistant coach with the Chiefs, then was the head coach for two seasons (2008-10).

So . . . the Sauters join Kelly and Brent Kisio, along with Danny and Brad Flynn, as father-son combinations who have been WHL head coaches, even if only for one game.


Medicine Hat and Saskatoon have swapped 19-year-old forwards, with Gary Haden Saskatoonmoving to the Blades and Logan Christensen heading to the Tigers. . . . Haden had been at home in Airdrie, Alta., awaiting a trade after asking for a move about two weeks ago. . . . Last season, Haden had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games. This season, he had one goal and two assists in nine games before heading home. . . . In 115 career regular-season games, Haden has 25 goals and 28 assists. . . . Haden was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Christensen, from Morden, Man., was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. In 197 career games, he has 21 goals and 37 assists. This season, he put up a goal and two assists in 13 games. . . . The Tigers visit the Regina Pats tonight, while the Blades meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are expected to have Cole Sillinger, 15, in their lineup tonight Tigers Logo Officialagainst the Pats in Regina. . . . Sillinger is from Regina; his father, Mike, was a star with the Pats before going onto a lengthy NHL career. . . . This season, Cole has five goals and 13 assists in eight games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . The Tigers selected him with the 11th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship MooseJawWarriors— will be played in Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Place, Feb. 14-23. . . . That means the Warriors will have to vacate their home arena for between two and three weeks, including setup and teardown time for the curling gang. . . . The Scotties last was held in Moose Jaw in 2015. That season, the Warriors played at home on Feb. 6 — they lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs — and then were away for three weeks, not playing at home again until Feb. 27. In the interim, they played seven road games, five of them in the B.C. Division. The Warriors went 3-3-1 in those seven games.


F Blake Stevenson of the Tri-City Americans has been suspended for three games after he took a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Wednesday night. That was for a hit on Cougars F Jackson Leppard. . . . Stevenson will miss games in Spokane, Everett and Regina, and will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 when the Americans meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . .

Kevin Acheson, who is in his first season as the WHL’s disciplinarian, now has issued 23 suspensions totalling 54 games since the regular season opened.

Last season, Richard Doerksen handed out 11 suspensions worth 30 games between the start of the season and Oct. 24. In 2016-17, in the same time period, Doerksen had issued nine suspensions for 15 games.

One would hope that WHL players soon will start getting Acheson’s message — if you’re going to do the crime, you’re going to get more time than in recent seasons.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have named Jared Crooks as their skill development and video coach. Crooks, who played five seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, had been an Alberta-based scout for the Thunderbirds.


G Matthew Armitage, who spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen, has been acquired by the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Armitage, a 19-year-old from Creston, B.C., was 3.55, .890 in 19 games with the Hitmen last season. Salmon Arm acquired his rights from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


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Kelly, Brent Kisio got there first . . . Luebke wins spot at city hall . . . Wolf, ‘Tips don’t show Blades any love


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D Cam Barker (Medicine Hat, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). The contract has a tryout period through Nov. 30. Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 37 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), and one goal and one assist in three games with Langnau (Switzerland, NL A).


ThisThat

There wasn’t a clatter on the roof, but it was 6 o’clock Wednesday morning and I was wide awake.

Kelly and Brent Kisio.

Of course.

Just a few hours earlier, I had written a few paragraphs about Danny and Brad Flynn whlhaving become the first father-son combination to serve as head coaches in a WHL regular-season game.

Danny, a veteran major junior coach, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. He ran the bench for one game — a 5-3 loss to the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 19 — in the absence of Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach.

Danny’s son, Brad, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels. With GM/head coach Brent Sutter away, Brad was the Rebels’ coach-of-record on Tuesday in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen and again Wednesday for ???? in Medicine Hat.

Apologies to Kelly and Brent Kisio. Talk about a brain cramp on my part!

Kelly, 59, spent 18 seasons in the front office of the Calgary Hitmen. For four of those seasons (2004-08), he was the general manager and head coach. These days, he is in his third season as a pro scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Brent, 35, spent eight seasons (2007-15) as an assistant coach with the Hitmen. He now is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.


The Victoria Royals have added F Sean Gulka, 18, to their roster. Gulka, from Langley, B.C., was selected in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft, then was traded to the Spokane Chiefs in November. In eight games over two seasons, he had two assists with the Chiefs. . . . Spokane chose to drop him, so his rights reverted to the Royals. . . . The Royals now are carrying 24 players, including 15 forwards and seven defencemen. They conclude a six-game homestand on Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings.


Bruce Luebke, a former radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings, has turned to politics. Luebke was elected to Brandon’s city council during municipal elections in Manitoba on Wednesday. . . . Luebke had been the play-by-play voice for Wheat Kings’ games on radio station CKLQ for more than 20 years when he and the station surprised observers by parting company in July 2016. . . . Luebke was one of 10 people elected to Brandon’s city council. In the South Centre Ward, he got 348 (71 per cent) of the 492 votes cast to win in a two-man field.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to seven games with a 4-2 victory PrinceAlbertover the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . The Raiders (14-1-0) lead the overall standings by six points over the Vancouver Giants and 11 over the Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Warriors slipped to 5-4-2. . . . D Kaiden Guhle’s first WHL goal, on a PP, at 7:56 of the second period gave Prince Albert a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner. Guhle was the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Carson Miller (6) scored two first-period goals as the Raiders got off to a 2-0 lead. He later added an assist. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 14th goal, a shorthanded empty-netter, and added an assist. He also leads the WHL in assists (18) and points (32). He holds an eight-point lead over F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (2) scored for the Warriors in his first game since being acquired from the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday. His twin brother, Kaeden, who came along in the same trade, had the secondary assist on the goal. . . . Prince Albert lost F Noah Gregor to a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on D Jett Wood at 16:44 of the third period. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. He now is 12-1-0, 1.54, .945.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 23 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the EverettBlades in Saskatoon. . . . Everett (8-5-0) is 2-2-0 on its East Division trip. . . . The Blades (8-4-1) had been 1-0-1 in their previous two games. . . . That was Wolf’s first shutout of his sophomore season and the fifth of his career. . . . F Akash Bains (2) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 13:31 of the first period. . . . Everett held a 31-23 edge in shots, including 10-4 in the third period. . . . The Silvertips remain without F Connor Dewar, who is serving a four-game suspension. . . . This was the first meeting between Everett and Saskatoon since the Blades signed Mitch Love as their head coach during the off-season. Love spent two seasons as a hard-rock defenceman with Silvertips, then was on staff as an assistant coach for seven seasons.


F Peyton Krebs scored on a breakaway in OT as the Kootenay Ice got past the Brandon KootenaynewWheat Kings, 4-3, in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice (4-5-3) had lots its previous six games (0-3-3). Four of the Ice’s last six games have gone to extra time; Kootenay is 1-2-1 in those four games. . . . The Wheat Kings (6-2-4) have lost three in a row (0-1-2). They are 0-1-1 on a two-week trek that continues Saturday against the Royals in Victoria. Brandon next plays at home on Nov. 9. . . . F Jaeger White (8) scored two goals and drew the lone assist on Krebs’ game-winner at 2:09 of OT. Krebs also had two assists. . . . Brandon D Zach Wytinck (1) had given Brandon a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal at 3:56 of the third period. . . . Kootenay tied it when D Jonathan Smart (1) scored a PP goal at 4:28. . . . With G Jesse Makaj scratched — he wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday’s roster report — the Ice brought in Will Gurski, who turned 16 on Tuesday, as the backup behind Duncan McGovern. From Duncan, B.C., Gurski was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is playing for the prep team at Shawnigan Lake School. . . . As for the above tweet, from Branden Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, a source with knowledge of the situation told Taking Note that the goal judge “had to attend to an urgent family matter. There was a fire at his home.” Thankfully, no one was injured.


G Martin Søgaard blocked 30 shots to lead the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigers Logo Officialover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Tigers now are 7-6-1. . . . The Rebels (8-4-1) had won their previous three games. . . . Søgaard, a freshman from Denmark who turns 18 on Dec. 13, now is 4-0-1, 2.04, .936. . . . The Tigers scored the game’s first three goals to lead 3-0 before the second period was a minute old. . . . D Cole Clayton (1) got the first one at 8:00 of the opening period. . . . F Tyler Preziuso (6), F James Hamblin (7) and F Bryan Lockner (4) added PP goals for the winners. . . . Hamblin also drew two assists. . . . With GM/head coach Brent Sutter away for a second straight game, assistant coach Brad Flynn was the head coach of record. His record now is 1-1-0, after a 3-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday night.


The Tri-City Americans scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the host Prince tri-cityGeorge Cougars, 4-3. . . . The Americans (8-4-0) have won four in a row. They won the opener of the doubleheader, 5-1, on Tuesday. Tri-City is 3-0-0 on an 11-game road trip. . . . The Cougars (5-6-2) have lost two in a row. . . . D Rhett Rhinehart (1) gave the home side a 3-1 lead, on a PP, at 10:35 of the second period. . . . The Americans tied it on third-period goals from D Parker AuCoin (8), on a PP, and F Krystof Hrabik (3), the latter at 8:32. . . . F Nolan Yaremko, who scored his ninth goal earlier, and F Isaac Johnson, who had two assists, had the shootout goals for the visitors. . . . Tri-City lost F Blake Stevenson to a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jackson Leppard at 14:35 of the first period.


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