Ex-WHLer, family leave Ukraine for Saskatoon . . . Are you able to help them? . . . Hurricanes halt Ice’s 15-game tear

If you have been a follower of the WHL for a few seasons, the name Andrei Lupandin should ring a bell.

A native of Kharkov, Ukraine, he played four seasons (1995-99) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, putting up 159 points, 56 of them goals, in 239 regular-season games. He also had 23 points, including 17 assists, in 43 playoff games. He then went on to a pro career that had him play in the IHL, WCHL, CHL, ECHL, AHL and UHL. Lupandin wrapped up his career after playing six seasons in Belarus and three more in Ukraine.

After that, Lupandin, now 44, returned to Kharkov where he and his wife, Antonina, started a family. They have two boys — Ilya, 14, and Denys, 12.

Unfortunately, their home became a casualty of the Russian war on Ukraine. With the boys unable to attend school, the Lupandins chose to leave everything behind and move to Saskatoon in the hopes of getting a new start.

A GoFundMe page now is up and running in the hopes of raising some money to help the family get that start.

On the GoFundMe page, it explains: “They escaped to Slovakia and made the decision to start a new life in Canada, leaving family, friends and their life behind. They have moved to Saskatoon due to the large Ukrainian population, (arriving) with little more than a hockey bag and one suitcase for the family of four.

“They have no work and need to start over. We are raising funds to help them with buying essentials, saving money to live and for future accommodations and household items.”

Also from that page: “As they left Slovakia to come to Canada, Andrei’s father died. Andrei wasn’t able to go say goodbye. Now he has no family remaining in the Ukraine and wants to make a better life for his boys.

“Please consider supporting this strong and brave family as they try to make Canada their home.”

That GoFundMe page is right here.


The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline added $1,500 to its Christmas shopping fund following a Saturday night skirmish between the visiting Prince George Cougars WHLand Victoria Royals. Each organization was fined $500 for a “multiple fight situation” that broke out as the final buzzer sounded. As well, the Royals were fined an additional $500 for “instigator in last five minutes” of the game. F Alex Edwards of the Royals drew the only suspension out of the incident; he will miss one game for being the instigator in the game’s last five minutes. . . .

Elsewhere, three players got one-game sentences out of penalties issued in Saturday games. . . . F Colton Dach of the Kelowna Rockets will sit out after taking a headshot major and game misconduct against the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . F Jace Isley was suspended after taking a goaltender interference major and game misconduct against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . D Sam McGinley of the Swift Current Broncos will miss a game after taking a game misconduct against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.


The Moose Jaw Warriors got down to three 20-year-olds on Monday by trading F Riley Ginnell to the Regina Pats for a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2026 Reginadraft. . . . Ginnell had one goal and two assists in 14 games with the Warriors this season. They acquired him from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Oct. 11 for a fifth-rounder in 2024. In 113 regular-season games over four seasons with Brandon, he had 21 goals and 26 assists. Last season, he had single-season highs in goals (14), assists (20) and points (34). . . . Ginnell’s father, Erin, is a former WHLer who played with the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Wranglers, New Westminster Bruins, Seattle Thunderbirds and Regina Pats. He played in 27 games with the Pats in 1986-87, putting up 10 goals and 12 assists. . . . Erin is in his seventh season as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Riley’s grandfather, Pat, was a the WHL’s coach of the year in four different seasons. . . .

The Warriors found themselves with four 20-year-olds, one over the maximum, when the New York Rangers returned F Ryder Korczak last week. By moving Ginnell, the Warriors have chosen to go with Korczak, D Cole Jordan and G Connor Ungar. . . . Ginnell joins F Jakob Brook, D Luke Bateman and D Tanner Brown as Regina’s 20-year-olds. With four on the roster, another move can be expected here. The Pats are two games into a 10-game road trip, and Ginnell is expected to join them in time for a game against the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday. . . .

If you were wondering, there have been 11 trades since Oct. 25 with teams moving 18 players, 26 draft picks and three conditional draft picks.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes rode a pair of first-period goals to a 2-1 victory over Lethbridgethe host Winnipeg Ice. . . . Lethbridge improved to 12-9-1 as it ended Winnipeg’s 15-game winning streak. The Ice now is 20-2-0. . . . Winnipeg is 8-1-0 at home; Lethbridge is 5-5-0 on the road. . . . F Tristan Zandee (2) scored on a PP at 6:14 of the opening period, and F Tyson Zimmer (5) made it 2-0 at 18:20. . . . F Brayden Edwards had the primary assist on each of those goals. . . . F Ty Nash, who was acquired by the Ice from Lethbridge earlier this season, scored his ninth goal of the season, at 1:28 of the third period, to get the home side to within a goal. . . . G Harrison Meneghin, the game’s first star, turned aside 36 shots. . . . The Ice, which was outshot 19-10 in the first period, got 37 stops form Mason Beaupit. . . . Ice F Conor Geekie extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. . . . These same teams will play again tonight in Winnipeg.

D Steven Holtz of the Michigan Wolverines was hospitalized and on a ventilator last week as a virus made its way through some team members. He now has been released from hospital, and was at practice on Tuesday. However, head coach Brandon Naurato said Holtz has a ways to go before he’s back on the ice. . . . There’s more right here from collegehockeynews.com.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Rebels’ Radar reaches milestone. . . . Ice’s run in Kootenays almost over. . . . Chiefs add a Bear to their roster


Wednesday was the last day of the regular season in Finland’s Liiga. . . . F Malte Strömwall (Tri-City, 2011-13), playing for KooKoo Kouvola, finished the season leading the league in goals and points. In 52 games, he put up 57 points, including 30 goals. . . . Strömwall is the first player from KooKoo to win either title. He also is the first points leader in 31 years and the first goal leader in 24 years from a team that missed the playoffs. KooKoo finished in 13th place. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18), playing for Kärpät Oulu, led all Liiga rookies in assists (30) and points (46), in 50 games. . . . Heponiemi led his team in points, tied for the lead in assists for first-place Kärpät, finished in 12th place overall in points & 13th place overall in assists.


Dave (Radar) Horning was in Cranbrook for the Kootenay Ice’s first WHL game, and he’ll be there Sunday for the last one. . . . Horning is the equipment manager for the Red Deer Rebels, and he worked his 2,000th game on Tuesday night. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate has more on one of the WHL’s good guys right here.

F Tristan Zandee has made a commitment to the Colorado College Tigers. Zandee, 15, is from Chestermere, Alta., and was a second-round selection by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Zandee made the announcement via Twitter on Thursday evening. . . . He had 20 goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the midget Airdrie CFR Bisons this season. He also was pointless in one game with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.

The Kootenay Ice’s first home game? On Sept. 26, 1998, F Jarret Stoll had two goals and two assists to lead the Ice to a 6-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Steve McCarthy, F Andy Penny, F Kyle Wanvig and F Mike Green also scored for Kootenay. . . . Red Deer goals came from F Kevin Marsh, with two, and F Shawn McNeil. . . . G Clayton Pool stopped 38 shots for the Ice. . . . Dustin Schwartz and Shane Bendera combined for 26 saves for the Rebels.


The Kootenay Ice is to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight in Cranbrook, B.C., and the Red Deer Rebels come calling on Sunday.

After that game, the curtain will drop on 21 seasons of the WHL in the Kootenays.

Owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell are taking the Ice to Winnipeg, choosing to leave Cranbrook’s 4,264-seat Western Financial Place to spend at least two seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, which right now has about 1,400 seats, as they await construction of a new facility.

The Ice (12-44-10) is in the process of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Last season, its first under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, it finished 27-38-7.

The Spokane Chiefs have added F Bear Hughes, a 17-year-old native of Post Falls, Idaho, SpokaneChiefsto their roster. . . . Hughes, who signed a WHL contract in January, spent this season with the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He led the team with 66 points, including 41 goals, and was named the league’s top rookie. . . . In the playoffs, he added six goals and four assists in seven games. . . . Hughes is the second player off the Braves to have been added to the Chiefs’ roster this week. G Campbell Arnold, who turned 17 on Jan. 2, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He was a second-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.

The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have signed Craig Anderson as head scout and assistant Neepawageneral manager, while adding Kori Pearson as director of U,S. scouting. . . . Both are former Neepawa players. . . . Anderson, from Brandon, played two seasons (1993-95) with the Natives, then played for the Brandon U Bobcats. . . . Anderson served in a similar capacity with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers when Ken Pearson was the GM/head coach there. Pearson now is the Natives’ GM/head coach. . . . Kori Pearson played three seasons (1993-96) with the Natives, then played with Dakota College in Bottineau, N.D., and Concordia, Minn., College. He now is an assistant coach with the East Ridge Raptors of the Minnesota High School Hockey League, while living in Cottage Grove, Minn. He also worked under Ken Pearson as Winkler’s director of U.S. scouting.


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