Report: Ice to be part of ‘ambitious development’ plan in Winnipeg . . . Giants stun Chiefs with comeback . . . Porter, Rockets win in Everett


MacBeth

Curt Fraser (Victoria Cougars, 1974-78) has been named the new head coach of Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL) after the club fired head coach Jussi Tapola. Fraser was an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars (NHL) for the past six seasons. . . .

F Blair Jones (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has been released by Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after an unsuccessful tryout. He had one goal in six games. He had signed with Sparta on Dec. 27 for the rest of this season with a one-month tryout clause. . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with IK Pantern Malmö (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He was released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga) on Jan. 14, after putting up five goals and 15 assists in 35 games. . . .

G Ty Rimmer (Brandon, Prince George, Tri-City, Lethbridge, 2009-13) has been released by Kitzbühel (Austria, Alps HL) for personal reasons. In 29 games, he was 3.39, .920, with three shutouts. . . .

F Garrett Festerling (Portland, Regina, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract beginning next season with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 13 assists in 39 games. . . .

D Neil Manning (Vancouver, 2006-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL) after obtaining his release from the Rockford IceHogs (AHL). He was pointless in three games with Rockford, and had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL).


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KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

There has been ample speculation over the last while that the Kootenay Ice will be 31relocating to Winnipeg upon the conclusion of this WHL season.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton with host Dean Millard. At that time, Millard asked Robison about the Ice’s future.

Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

That was 31 days ago. WHL fans have yet to hear from the Ice or the league office.

——

The relocation of the Kootenay Ice “is expected to trigger an ambitious development plan with the operation of the major junior hockey team as its centrepiece,” the Winnipeg KootenaynewFree Press reports.

According to the newspaper, the Ice’s owners — Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell — and other investors “are in the midst of implementing a strategy that will see Winnipeg receive among the largest-ever private investments for the game’s development in Canada. The project is also said to include at least 20 acres of sports, recreational and commercial expansion.”

The newspaper also reports that the group has plans to buy the Winnipeg Blues, the last remaining MJHL franchise in the Manitoba capital, and to have them play out of the new facility.

The story also includes this: “The WHL did not respond when asked for comment.”

The Free Press story, reported by Jeff Hamilton and Mike Sawatzky, is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen have added G Brayden Peters, 16, to their roster. Peters, from Taber, had been playing with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by Calgary in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . With G Carl Stankowski still out with an ankle injury, Peters will back up Jack McNaughton. . . . Peters will fill the roster spot created when Ethan Hein, 16, was returned to the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires after spending some time backing up McNaughton.


F Jackson Niedermayer, the 17-year-old son of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, has committed to the Arizona State U Sun Devils for the 2021-22 season. . . . Jackson was born in Newport Beach, Calif. He is in his first season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, and has two goals and four assists in 36 games. . . . Niedermayer was selected by the Calgary Hitmen in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Scott played three seasons (1989-92) with the Kamloops Blazers and also owned a chunk of the Kootenay Ice.


G Matt Davis of the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2021-22 season. . . . Davis, 17, is from Calgary. . . . With the Saints, he is 16-5, with one tie, 1.95, .917. . . . The Spokane Chiefs acquired D Noah King, Davis and a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft from the Swift Current Broncos for F Carter Chorney, D Devin Aubin and F Kye Buchanan.


G Mikey DiPietro of the Ottawa 67’s set the OHL career shutout record on Friday night as he stopped 15 shots in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Peterborough Petes. . . . DiPietro, whose NHL rights belong to the Vancouver Canucks, now has 17 career shutouts, one more than Tom McCollum, who played for the Guelph Storm and Brampton Battalion (2006-09). . . . Ottawa acquired DiPietro, 19, from the Windsor Spitfires on Dec. 4.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ridly Greig scored in OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the BrandonWKregularKootenay Ice. . . . Brandon (18-18-6) is four points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Kootenay (10-29-8) had won its previous two games, both of them on the road. . . . D Braden Schneider (6) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 10:56 of the first period. . . . The Ice took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Brad Ginnell (10), at 1:13, and D Chase Hartje (5), on a PP, at 6:18. Hartje, 19, played his first game against Brandon since the Wheat Kings dealt him to the Ice at the trade deadline. . . . The Wheat Kings went ahead 3-2 on goals from F Cole Reinhardt, at 6:44, and F Luka Burzan (26), at 12:09. . . . Kootenay got the next two goals to take a 4-3 lead. F Jaeger White (18) counted, on a PP, at 13:03, and F Davis Murray (8) scored at 3:20 of the third. . . . Reinhardt’s 11th goal, via a PP, tied it 10:54, and Greig won it with his ninth goal, at 1:56 of OT. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 37 shots for Brandon, five more than Kootenay’s Jesse Makaj. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos had four points — all assists — for the sixth time in his WHL career. It was his first four-assist game. . . . The Wheat Kings promoted this game as Winnipeg Blue Bomber Night and QB Matt Nichols was on hand to greet fans and sign autographs. The Ice, of course, is expected to relocate to Winnipeg upon the conclusion of this season. . . . The teams will meet again tonight in Brandon. . . . The Ice was without F Connor McClennon, 16, who left Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Pats in Regina about eight minutes into the third period after absorbing a big hit in the neutral zone. The second-overall pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft has five goals and 10 assists in 26 games. . . . McClennon missed 12 games earlier with an undisclosed injury and had only returned to action on Jan. 4. . . . The Ice brought in D Carson Lambos, who turned 16 on Jan. 14, for the weekend. This was his fourth game of this season with the Ice. Lambos, the second-overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is from Winnipeg.


The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s first three goals and the last three en route to a Saskatoon6-2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (27-13-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). The Blades are second in the East Division, five points ahead of Moose Jaw. . . . Regina (12-32-2) has lost nine straight (0-8-1). . . . These two teams will meet again tonight, this time in Regina. . . . F Max Gerlach (27) gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the first period, and F Ryan Hughes (19) upped it to 2-0 just 20 seconds later. . . . F Kirby Dach (18) made it 3-0 at 4:29 of the second period. . . . The Pats got to within a goal on second-period scores by F Cole Dubinsky (2), at 14:08, and F Austin Pratt (17), at 17:56. . . . The Blades put it away with third-period goals from F Riley McKay (8), on a PP, at 1:16; F Chase Wouters (9), at 7:41; and F Cyle McNabb (2), at 19:08. . . . Saskatoon outshot the visitors, 34-17. . . . The Blades got three assists from D Dawson Davidson, who now has 46 points, including 38 assists, in 46 games. He finished last season with 43 points in 69 games — 43 with Regina and 26 with Saskatoon. . . . Regina G Max Paddock (ill) remains out, although he did skate on Friday morning. As a result, Matthew Pesenti remains with the team, backing up Dean McNabb. . . . The temperature in Saskatoon as game time approached was minus-23 C, so the Blades’ merchandise store offered 23 per cent off all toques and mitts.


F James Hamblin and F Corson Hopwo each scored once and added an assist to lead the Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Medicine Hat (25-16-4) has points in four straight (3-0-1) and is tied with Lethbridge for third in the Central Division, just two points from top spot. . . . Swift Current (9-32-3) has lost two in a row. . . . They’ll play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . The Tigers scored the game’s first three goals. . . . Hamblin (21) stuck while shorthanded at 6:35 of the second period, and F Corson Hopwo (3) made it 2-0 at 10:15. . . . D Trevor Longo (4) made it 3-0 at 9:26 of the third period. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (5) got the Broncos’ goal at 10:29. . . . The Tigers held a 46-24 edge in shots and won 36 of the game’s 60 faceoffs. . . . Each team took one minor penalty. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 43 shots for the Broncos, 20 more than the Tigers’ Jordan Hollett. . . . With G Mads Sogaard sideline with a hip problem, the Tigers had Garin Bjorklund backing up starter Jordan Hollett. Sogaard was injured in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. Bjorklund, 16, is from Calgary where he plays for midget AAA Buffaloes. He was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, and made two earlier appearances with the Tigers this season. . . . F Tyler Lees made his debut with the Broncos. He came over in a trade with the Victoria Royals on Jan. 7.


G Ethan Anders stopped 35 shots to lead the Red Deer Rebels to a 3-1 victory over the Red DeerHurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Red Deer (26-13-3) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind Edmonton and one ahead of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . Lethbridge (23-13-8) has lost two in a row. . . . They will do it all over again tonight, this time in Red Deer. . . . Red Deer took a 1-0 lead on F Jeff de Wit’s 23rd goal, at 19:27 of the first period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (23), in his 250th regular-season game, tied it, at 13:18 of the second period. . . . Red Deer F Chris Douglas (12) broke the tie, on a PP, at 17:29. . . . F Cam Hausinger (15) added insurance with the empty-empty-netter at 19:33 of the third period. . . . F Jett Jones made his WHL debut with the Hurricanes. Jones, 16, is from Olds, Alta., and plays for the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons for whom he has nine goals and 17 assists in 29 games.


The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last three goals and went on to a 4-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Prince Albert (39-5-1) has won four in a row, including two straight on this tour of the B.C. Division. . . . Last season, the Raiders finished with 38 victories and 77 points, so have already surpassed both of those totals. . . . The Raiders are 19-2-1 on the road. They lead the East Division by 19 points over Saskatoon. . . . Kamloops (15-24-3) has lost six in a row and is two points away from a wild-card playoff berth. . . . F Brett Leason (31) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds into the game. . . . Kamloops D Jackson Caller (3) tied it at 5:53. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (10) broke the tie at 14:53. . . . The Raiders put it away with two third-period goals — F Dante Hannoun (21) scored at 1:00 and F Justin Nachbaur got his 12th at 15:40. . . . G Boston Bilous, who was acquired by Prince Albert from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 10, stopped 29 shots in his debut with the Raiders. In fact, he hadn’t played since Nov. 24 when he was with the Oil Kings. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand made 22 saves in a stellar effort. . . . Kamloops F/D Jeff Faith served Game 4 of a five-game WHL suspension. . . . Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid played for the Kamloops Jr. Oilers — he had seven goals and 16 assists in six games in 1982-83 — and went 85-43-16 in two seasons (1997-99) as the Blazers’ head coach. . . . The Blazers left for Prince George immediately after the game. They’ll play the Cougars there tonight and again Sunday afternoon. Yes, that’s another case of a team playing three games in fewer than 48 hours.


The Vancouver Giants overcame an early 3-0 deficit and beat the host Spokane Chiefs, 6-Vancouver4. . . . Vancouver (28-12-2) has won five in a row and leads the B.C. Division by 13 points over Victoria. . . . Spokane (24-14-4) had won its previous four games. It is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland. . . . Spokane got three PP goals in the first half of the first period, the first two from F Luc Smith, who has 20 goals, and the other from D Nolan Reid (8). . . . F Tristen Nielsen (7) started Vancouver’s comeback at 18:33 of the first. . . . The Giants took a 4-3 lead on second-period goals from F Jared Dmytriw, at 1:52; D Seth Bafaro (5), at 6:11; and Dmytriw (10), at 8:40. . . . Spokane D Filip Kral (5) tied it at 4:12 of the third period. . . . Vancouver F Davis Koch (15) snapped the tie at 11:11, and F Justin Soudif (11) added the empty-netter at 19:21. . . . Nielsen also had an assist, and now has three goals and seven assists over his past four games. . . . Koch, who has goals in four straight games, added an assist too, and now has 12 points over his past five games. . . . The Giants got three assists from F Dawson Holt.


The Tri-City Americans got the only two goals of the shootout to beat the Seattle tri-cityThunderbirds, 3-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (22-16-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is fourth in the U.S. Division, five points behind Spokane. . . . Seattle (15-21-5) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . F Riley Sawchuk (14) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 3:06 of the second period. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Payton Mount (4), on a PP, at 13:22, and F Noah Philp (16), at 17:41. . . . F Parker AuCoin (24) pulled the Americans even at 8:41 of the third period. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and AuCoin scored in the shootout. . . . The Americans got 39 saves from G Beck Warm.


F Tristin Langan scored three times and G Adam Evanoff stopped 28 shots to lead the MooseJawWarriorsvisiting Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-0 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Moose Jaw (24-11-7) has won three in a row, all in the B.C. Division. It is third in the East Division, five points behind Saskatoon but with four games in hand on the Blades. . . . Victoria (22-18-1) has lost three straight. It is second in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna and with three games in hand on the Rockets. . . . While Evanoff was earning his first WHL shutout, Langan was recording his fifth WHL hat trick. . . . Evanoff stopped 13 shots in the first period, while his mates were mustering only four shots at the other end. . . . Langan got all of his goals in the second period, scoring at 9:27, 13:54 and 17:57, with the latter coming on a PP. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (11) had the game’s last goal, at 3:08 of the third period. . . . Langan, who finished last season with 42 points, including 16 goals, in 70 games, now has 74 points, including 36 goals, in 42 games. . . . F Justin Almeida drew an assist on each of Langan’s goals. . . . Each team took two minor penalties. . . . The Royals welcomed back two players who had been injured. F Sean Gulka last played on Dec. 15; F Logan Doust hadn’t played since Jan. 4.


G James Porter blocked 40 shots to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 2-0 victory over the KelownaRocketsSilvertips in Everett. . . . Kelowna (18-22-4) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, five points behind Victoria. . . . Everett (33-10-2) leads the U.S. Division by 11 points over Portland, which has two games in hand. . . . Porter’s night work included 19 saves in the second period and 13 in the third. . . . He has one shutout this season and four in his career. . . . The last time the Rockets recorded a shutout in Everett? On Nov. 28, 2003, G Kelly Guard stopped 13 shots in a 1-0 victory. . . . F Michael Farren (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 3:07 of the second period, and F Mark Liwiski (3) made it 2-0 at 10:56. . . . Farren, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the season, scored his first goal with the Rockets in his 26th game. . . . Liwiski, who played 10 games with Everett last season, has three goals and four assists in 40 games with the Rockets this season. . . . D Matt Barberis, 20, made his debut with the Rockets. Acquired on waivers from the Vancouver Giants on Jan. 10, Barberis has had injury woes and hadn’t played since Nov. 18. In fact, this was only his 10th game of this season. . . . D Gianni Fairbrother (ill) was among Everett’s scratches.


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Partnership between WHL, Kidney Foundation pays off . . . Pats’ owners expect $2-million loss on Memorial Cup . . . Former NHL ref remembers Flin Flon

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D Connor Cox (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Everett, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the U of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he had one goal and eight assists in 20 games. . . .

F Mário Bližňák (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and two assists in 24 games. On loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic,1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and one assist in 19 games. On loan to Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and four assists in 18 games. . . .

F Pavel Padakin (Calgary, Regina, 2012-15) has been traded by Sochi (Russia, KHL) to Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) for Dmitri Arkhipov and monetary compensation. With Sochi this season, Padakin had nine goals and a team-high 22 assists in 53 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract extension with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). in 49 games, he had 12 goals and 34 assists. An alternate captain, he led his team in assists in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in scoring. . . .

G Ty Rimmer (Brandon, Prince George, Tri-City, Lethbridge, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Kitzbühel (Austria, Alps HL). This season, in 42 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL), he was 14-23-1-1, 3.91,.898. . . .

F Brett Ferguson (Red Deer, 2008-11) signed a two-year contract extension with Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). In 48 games, he had 18 goals and 38 assists.


Scattershooting

The WHL announced Monday at the Memorial Cup in Regina that $265,500 was raised through the RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation campaign. . . . The WHL’s 17 Canadian teams each played host to an event during the regular season. . . . The money was raised through various initiatives, including the auctioning of sweaters that resembled Cherry’s suit jackets. . . . From the WHL news release: “The $265,500 raised is the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s largest public awareness and fundraising campaign for organ donation.” . . . The Cherry family has been a huge supporter of the Kidney Foundation for years. Tim, Cherry’s son, received a kidney from his sister, Cindy, in 1979. . . . If you are interested in signing up as an organ donor, please visit CanadaDonates.ca. . . . There wasn’t any mention in the news release about whether the WHL will be involved in the campaign again next season, but here’s hoping.


Who was the scheduling wizard who scheduled Game 5 of the Stanley Cup series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets for Sunday afternoon on the first long weekend of summer? No, I didn’t watch. I was driving, so caught the game on XM.


Early on Sunday, there were social media notices that plenty of seats were available for that day’s Memorial Cup game in Regina, between the Pats and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, starting at $75 plus fees. For junior hockey?


The Kelowna Rockets have signed F Ethan Ernst, a native of Weyburn, Sask., who turned 16 on Jan. 26. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 41 games with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds.


Hockey fans may not be aware that retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser first made his mark in the WHL, and it all started with a game in Flin Flon. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post spoke with Fraser about that and other WHL stories. It’s all right here.


Rick Wilson, a former WHL coach, has decided to retire, ending a coaching career that began with two seasons (1978-79) at his alma mater, the U of North Dakota. He then spent eight seasons with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders, six as an assistant coach and the last two as head coach. . . . Wilson, 67, worked as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. But most of his career was spent with the Dallas Stars, which is where he finished up this season.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Kadyn Chabot, 16, to a WHL contract. Chabot, from Lethbridge, had 13 goals and 22 assists in 32 games with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes this season. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Tigers in the 2017 bantam draft.


So here’s the deal. . . . The owners of the Regina Pats paid $3.65 million to the CHL for the right to play host to the 2018 Memorial Cup and celebrate the event’s 100th anniversary. . . . Shaun Semple, who is part of the ownership group and chairman of the tournament’s organizing committee, says they expect to lose about $2 million. . . . Alex Soloducha of CBC News has more right here.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at the Memorial Cup on Monday as the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs got past the WHL-champion Swift Current Broncos, 2-1. Steinke has a game story and some info on Bob Ridley, the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, right here.


The 1980 Memorial Cup, which started in Brandon and finished in Regina, was the messiest in the event’s history. You may recall that it featured questions about whether one team threw a game that eliminated the WHL-champion Pats; it also featured at least one chicken-throwing incident. . . . I know that I never will forget the sight of a reporter with a Regina radio station sporting a Pats cap and asking Mike Keenan, the head coach of the Peterborough Petes, questions about what had happened. Daniel Nugent-Bowman has produced an oral history of that tournament and it’s all right here.


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