Three organ donor games this weekend . . . Giants’ Byram won’t face discipline . . . Hitmen make four roster moves


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There are still 12 WHL teams yet to hold their second annual Organ Donation Awareness games.

Actually, the official name of the promotion — deep breath — is RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.

All 17 of the WHL’s Canadian teams play host to one game a night to raise money for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

There are three of these games scheduled for this weekend, with the Regina Pats and Vancouver Giants playing host to their games on Friday and the Brandon Wheat Kings holding their game on Saturday.

Teams wear Don Cherry-themed uniforms, with the sweaters available via auction at some point.

Games still to come:

Fri., Feb. 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants.

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings.

Fri., Feb. 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos.

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice.

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals.

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen.

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars.

Sat., March 9 – Kelowna Rockets, Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades.


According to a tweet from Steve Ewen of Postmedia, the Vancouver Giants “have been Vancouvertold by the WHL that D Bowen Byram won’t receive an additional suspension for his checking-to-the-head major on Sunday.” . . . Byram was hit with the major and game misconduct at 13:48 of the third period for a hit on Cougars F Mitch Kohner. . . . The Giants won the game, 4-1, to clinch a playoff spot for a second straight season. . . . The Giants also lost F Brayden Watts with an undisclosed injury in that game. Ewen reports that Watts already has been ruled out for a game on Friday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs.


The Calgary Hitmen have made four roster moves, adding F Orca Wiesblatt and D CalgaryAndrew Viggars to their roster, while returning D Tyson Galloway and F Sean Tschigerl to their club teams. . . . Wiesblatt, 18, is from Calgary. He has six goals and nine assists in 16 games with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers. He has earned one assist in six earlier games with Calgary this season. Last season, Wiesblatt had five goals and eight assist in 49 games with the Hitmen. . . . Viggars, 19, also is from Calgary. This season, he had one goal and nine assists in 40 games with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. He played with the Hitmen last season, earning five assists in 39 games. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, was a second-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. He is on his way back to the Kamloops-based major midget Thompson Blazers after getting into three games with the Hitmen. . . . Tschigerl was the fourth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Whitecourt, Alta., he has gone back to the OHA Edmonton prep team. This season, he has played in six games with the Hitmen.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Brendan Williamson, 16, to a WHL contract. SeattleWilliamson, from Abbotsford, B.C., visited Seattle over the weekend and the signing was announced Monday morning. . . . The Thunderbirds acquired Williamson’s rights in a Jan. 1 deal in which they also got F Sean Richards, a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, a third-rounder in 2021 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2022 from the Everett Silvertips for F Zack Andrusiak. . . . This season, Williamson has 12 goals and 28 assists in 29 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.


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Report: WHL looking at Kamloops-Kelowna incident . . . Discipline handed out from Saturday games . . . Stankowski ready to play again


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CFJC-TV in Kamloops reported late Monday afternoon that the WHL “is looking into an incident in the third period of Saturday night’s game in Kelowna between the Rockets whland Kamloops Blazers.”

The Rockets won the game, 2-1 in OT.

At 2:09 of the third period, D Montana Onyebuchi was given a fighting major and game misconduct after he went after F Conner Bruggen-Cate of the Rockets, who wasn’t penalized.

According to CFJC-TV, the WHL “is trying to find out what set off Onyebuchi that led to the one-sided fight.”

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Onyebuchi, whose father is from Nigeria, is from Dugald, Man. The 18-year-old is in his third WHL season. The Blazers acquired him from the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 8, 2018. The Silvertips had selected him in the third round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Bruggen-Cate, 19, is from Langley, B.C. He is in his third full season with the Rockets after being a sixth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.


The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline had a busy Monday as three players were suspended and one coach was fined, all the result of incidents in games played on Saturday night.

F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings will sit for four games after taking a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:33 of the third period of their 4-3 OT victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . Neighbours was playing his first game after having missed a dozen with an undisclosed injury.

F Justin Nachbaur of the Prince Albert Raiders drew a three-game suspension after he became embroiled in a fracas at the final buzzer of their 4-3 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Nachbaur ended up with a fighting major and game misconduct after becoming involved with F Tristin Langan of the Warriors.

Langan was suspended for one game for his game misconduct. According to the online scoresheet, Langan was given a minor penalty for checking from behind at 18:53 of the third period. Shortly after, he was hit with a minor for leaving the penalty box, a fighting major and a game misconduct.

Neighbours and Nachbaur began serving their suspensions on Monday night as the Raiders played in Edmonton.

Meanwhile, even though there isn’t anything on the online scoresheet to indicate it, it seems that Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, was given a game misconduct at the conclusion of their 7-2 loss to the host Everett Silvertips on Saturday night. He now has been fined $750 for that transgression.


The Calgary Hitmen have activated G Carl Stankowski, so have returned G Brayden CalgaryPeters to the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879, but has been out since Nov. 23 with an ankle injury. He missed all of last season while with the Seattle Thunderbirds, due to injury and health issues. The Hitmen acquired him from Seattle on Aug. 7. . . . In 2016-17, Stankowski, then 16, stepped in as the playoffs began and backstopped the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship. . . . Peters got into one game during his stint with the Hitmen, going the distance in a 6-2 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current on Jan. 30. . . .

The Hitmen also have added D Tyson Galloway, 16, to their roster. From Kamloops, Galloway has 12 assists in 32 games with the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League’s Thompson Blazers. The Hitmen selected him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.

The Hitmen are next scheduled to play on Wednesday when they entertain the Regina Pats.


Representatives of the Grant MacEwan U Griffins and Trinity Western U Spartans men’s hockey teams will present their cases today in the hopes of being admitted to Canada West for the 2020-21 season.

Canada West is an eight-team conference that features eight teams from schools in Canada’s four western-most provinces.

Both schools are members of U Sports, the governing body for university athletics in Canada, but the men’s hockey teams have played in other leagues, the Spartans in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and the Griffins in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

The Griffins, who are based in Edmonton, have won the ACAC’s last two playoff titles. The Spartans are the BCIHL’s defending champions.

Adding the two schools would bring Canada West men’s hockey to 10 teams, the others being the Alberta Golden Bears, Calgary Dinos, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Manitoba Bisons, Mount Royal Cougars, Regina Cougars, Saskatchewan Huskies and UBC Thunderbirds.


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MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brett Leason had a goal and two assists to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . Prince Albert (43-7-2) has won two in a row. The PrinceAlbertRaiders lead the overall standings by 12 points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Edmonton (29-16-8) had won its previous four games. It leads the Central Division by four points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Oil Kings had beaten the Raiders, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . Prince Albert won the season series, 3-1-0; Edmonton was 1-2-1. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (11) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 17:00 of the first period. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (23) tied it, on a PP, 37 seconds into the second period. . . . The Raiders responded with two goals in the second period and two in the third. . . . F Parker Kelly (24) broke the tie, on another PP, at 4:04 of the second, with Leason (33) making it 3-1 at 9:13. . . . F Jakob Brook (5) upped it to 4-1 at 5:33 of the third, and F Cole Fonstad (22) rounded out the scoring at 10:53. . . . Prince Albert was 2-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-3. . . . The Raiders got 25 saves from G Ian Scott, while Todd Scott turned aside 41 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . Prince Albert F Sean Montgomery, who had one assist, played in his 330th regular-season game, all with the Raiders. That ties the franchise record (F Brett Novak, 2000-06) for franchise’s career games played mark, at 330. . . . Montgomery has 133 points, including 64 goals, in those 330 games. . . . F Dante Hannoun, who was acquired by the Raiders from the Victoria Royals at the trade deadline, played in his 300th regular-season game and drew two assists. Hannoun has played 14 games with the Raiders after getting into 286 with the Royals. He has 262 points, including 103 goals, in his career.


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Myth of junior hockey and national champions . . . Rizzo commits to UND . . . Hitmen sign two picks

It is time for hockey fans and the media alike to come to the realization, if they haven’t already, that events like the Memorial Cup and Royal Bank Cup don’t decide national championships.

They are entertainment vehicles and social gatherings and nothing more, and should be enjoyed as such.

They also are showcases for the players who are fortunate enough to get to participate in MemCupRegthe tournaments. Fans also are guaranteed to see some of the best teams in major junior and junior A hockey, so the games mostly are competitive and, as such, entertaining.

But so long as the formats include host teams and round-robin play, these events don’t culminate with the crowning of national champions.

The 2018 Memorial Cup, the 100th anniversary of the trophy, was played in Regina over the past few days. It concluded Sunday with the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the host Pats, 3-0.

To reach the final, the Pats, who had lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs, eliminated two league champions — the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pats didn’t have it on Sunday and were beaten by a superior team in the Titan.

After losing to the Pats in the final game of the round-robin and falling to 0-3, the Broncos talked of injuries and fatigue, their 26-game run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup apparently having taking a toll.

But are the Pats the better team because they won one particular game in a round-robin tournament?

Regina and Swift Current met six times in the regular season — the Broncos were 5-0-1, the Pats were 1-4-1. The Broncos wound up at 48-17-7, while the Pats finished 40-25-7.

In the playoffs, the Broncos took out the Pats in a first-round series that went seven games.

In 14 meetings between the teams this season, then, the Broncos were 9-4-1.

But on one night in May, the Pats won, 6-5. Does that mean Regina was the better team? No. It means that on any given day . . .

Meanwhile, in the world of junior A hockey, the host Chilliwack Chiefs won the Royal Bank Cup, which is a five-team tournament. Does that mean the Chiefs won the national championship and are junior A’s best team?

Consider that they finished the BCHL’s regular season at 26-26-3, with three ties. That left them fourth in the Mainland Division, 16 points out of first place. They then lost a seven-game first-round series to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Meanwhile, the Wenatchee Wild was 37-16-4, with one tie, and third in the Interior Division, seven points out of first place. The Wild then went 16-4 to win the BCHL playoff championship. Wenatchee followed that with a five game Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints.

At the RBC, Wenatchee won its four round-robin games, two in OT, including a 2-1 victory over Chilliwack. The Chiefs won three times, once in OT, and had the one OT loss.

During the round-robin, the Wild beat the Wellington Dukes, 7-1. But in a semifinal game, the Dukes posted a 2-1 victory, despite having been outshot 51-14.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Ottawa Jr. Senators, 3-2, in the other semifinal, then doubled the Dukes, 4-2, in the final.

Does all of this mean that Chilliwack is a better team than Wenatchee. No. It means that during one week in May things went the Chiefs’ way, just like things didn’t go Swift Current’s way the following week.

So, as long as there are host teams and round-robin formats, let’s stop concerning ourselves with national championships and just enjoy the proceedings.

OK?


The Memorial Cup final was nearing the end of the second period on Sunday when I heard from a long-time reader of this blog.

The message: “If I hear Mastercard one more time I’m gonna lose my (crap).”

If you are a regular visitor here, you will be well aware that this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

There are some things in life that should never have price tags placed on them, and the Memorial Cup is one of them.

Would the NHL sell naming rights to the Stanley Cup to, say, Visa? The Visa Stanley Cup?

How about the NBA? Would it turn its major trophy into the American Express Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy?

The winner of the NFL’s Super Bowl is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The team that wins MLB’s World Series gets the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Win the WHL title and you get the Ed Chynoweth Cup, not the Nike Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The Memorial Cup has been in competition since 1919, and if you understand its origin I think you will agree that naming rights to it never should have been on the table.

Here’s William J. Walshe, writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 6, 1939:

“The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict . . .”

Peter Robinson has more on the origin of the Memorial Cup right here.

Robinson writes, in part: “As the generation that it was originally meant to honour has passed on with the last surviving First World War veteran John Babcock’s death in 2010, the trophy now serves as a commemoration for all the country’s war dead and others that served.”


The 2018 Memorial Cup, held at the Brandt Centre in Regina:

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday, May 20 – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst 3, Regina 0 (6,484)


MacBeth

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B), he had 25 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


SThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

Please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


F Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them. On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the U of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month.

“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”

According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.

Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Sean Tschigerl and D Tyson Galloway to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Tschigerl, from Whitecourt, Alta., was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He had 70 points, including 31 goals, in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. He had three goals and 11 assists in 29 games. Galloway was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.


Clayton Jardine, 27, is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He takes over from Geoff Grimwood, who left the club earlier this month. . . . Jardine, a native of Lacombe, Alta., was an assistant coach under Grimwood in 2015-16. Jardine spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at New England College, an NCAA Division III school. . . . The Klippers also announced that Larry Wintoneak will be returning as an assistant coach. Wintoneak has been with the Klippers for four seasons in what is his second go-round in Kindersley.