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.



Coyotes give Guenther the good news . . . Rebels roar back for 15th victory . . . AJHL team’s players OK after bus accident

The Arizona Coyotes have told F Dylan Guenther that he’ll be staying in the NHL. Guenther, 19, had two goals and four assists in nine games when he was Edmontongiven the news on Saturday. . . . He played his 10th game last night — he was pointless in a 3-2 victory over the host Washington Capitals — meaning the first year of his three-year contract has kicked in. . . . From Edmonton, he was the ninth overall selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Last season, he put up 45 goals and 46 assists in 59 games with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, then added 13 goals and eight assists in 16 games as the team won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . In 137 regular-season WHL games, all with the Oil Kings, he totalled 86 goals and 92 assists. . . . The Coyotes could change their minds later and return him to the Oil Kings, of course, but the first year of his contract will have been used up. Because he is 19 and was drafted out of major junior, he has to play in major junior or the NHL; he can’t be assigned to the AHL. . . . With the Oil Kings early in a rebuilding cycle, chances are that he would have been moved for future assets had he been returned.



The Red Deer Rebels are 15-0-0 after going into Moose Jaw and beating the RedDeerWarriors, 4-2. . . . Moose Jaw led 2-1 after the second period. It was the first time this season that the Rebels trailed going into a third period; the Warriors had been 6-0-0 when leading after two. . . . The 1967-68 Estevan Bruins hold the WHL record for most consecutive wins (22) to open a season. . . . This victory allowed the Rebels to set a franchise record for longest winning streak. The 2001-02 team had a mid-season 14-game streak . . . F Kai Uchacz scored twice for Red Deer. He leads the WHL with 15 goals and has scored at least once in five straight games. . . . The Rebels are 3-0-0 on a nine-game road trip. . . . F Jace Isley also scored twice for the winners. His shorthanded goal at 10:28 of the third period tied the score, 2-2, and his ninth goal of the season, at 13:30, stood up as the winner. . . .

F Jordan Keller scored twice as the Saskatoon Blades counted the game’s last Saskatoonthree goals and beat the Wheat Kings, 4-1, in Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings have lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . Keller scored one goal in eight games last season. This season, he has four goals and three assists in 14 games. . . . The Blades were 2-for-4 on the PP, while penalty killers were 4-for-4 and now have killed off 18 straight penalties over three games. . . .

In Medicine Hat, F Tyson Zimmer scored his second goal of the season and added an assist to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory over the Tigers. . . . The Hurricanes have points in four straight (3-0-1); the Tigers have lost five in a row (0-3-2). . . .

D Olen Zellweger and F Caden Zaplitny each scored twice as the Everett EverettSilvertips doubled the Raiders, 4-2, in Prince Albert. . . . Zellweger scored once and Zaplitny twice before the first period was seven minutes old. . . . The Silvertips went 4-2-0 on their East Division trip, finishing up with three straight victories. . . . Zaplitny has three goals and three assists in 16 games. Last season, he finished with three and three in 38 games. . . .

The visiting Swift Current Broncos scored the game’s first three goals and went on to beat the Regina Pats,5-2. . . . F Josh Filmon scored twice for the Broncos, giving him 10. He has 15 points in 10 games. . . . F Connor Bedard drew two PP assists for Regina as he ran his point streak to 15 games. . . . G Gage Alexander stopped 40 shots for the Broncos. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals en route Portlandto a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . One night earlier, the Winterhawks had beaten the Thunderbirds, 5-1 in Portland. . . . The Winterhawks have points in five straight (3-0-2). . . . Portland was 4-for-5 on the PP and also scored a shorthanded goal. . . . Seattle was 0-for-11 with the man advantage. . . . F Gabe Klassen scored twice for Portland — one of them shorthanded — and now has 11 goals. . . . F Luca Cagnoni had two goals for the winners. . . . Seattle was again without F Jared Davidson, its leading scorer, with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Thunderbirds are 1-3-0 since opening the season with nine straight victories. . . .

F Connor Dale scored his first two WHL goals to help the host Winnipeg Ice to a WinnipegIce5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Ice has won 10 straight. . . . The Americans went 2-4-0 on their East Division trip. . . . Dale, a 17-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., has six points in 12 games. He was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . The Americans got a goal and two assists from F Ethan Ernst. He’s got 22 points, 10 of them goals, in 15 games. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic ran his point streak to 10 games with two assists. . . .

G Talyn Boyko stopped 44 shots and F Andrew Cristall scored twice to lead the Kelownahost Kelowna Rockets to a 3-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Cristall broke a 1-1 tie with his 10th goal at 1:28 of the second period and added insurance at 10:32 of the third. . . . F Logan Stankoven scored his 10th goal for Kamloops. He has at least one point in each of the nine games he has played since returning from the camp of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Kelowna had F Colton Dach, its captain, back in the lineup after he sat out five games with a concussion. . . .

The Prince George Cougars completed a doubleheader sweep in Spokane, PrinceGeorgebeating the Chiefs, 5-3. . . . The Cougars had won 7-2 on Friday. . . . Prince George now has won three in a row; the Chiefs have lost seven straight. . . . F Chase Wheatcroft of the Cougars scored twice in each game, giving him 10. . . . F Riley Heidt gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead with a shorthanded penalty shot goal at 19:04 of the second period. . . . Prince George got 40 stops from G Ty Young. . . . The Chiefs are to entertain the Portland Winterhawks this evening with each team playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Cougars (9-7-0) find themselves atop the B.C. Division. although the second-place Kamloops Blazers (7-4-2) have three games in hand. . . .

Don’t forget . . . if you aren’t already, start following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) on Twitter for more game-related stats and info. You can’t go wrong there.


The Victoria Royals announced on Saturday that their Nov. 26 game against the visiting Regina Pats and F Connor Bedard is sold out. “This is the most-anticipated regular-season game in Royals franchise history since opening night in 2011,” the Royals tweeted. . . .

The Penticton Vees ran their BCHL season-opening record to 16-0-0 on Saturday night with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Wenatchee Wild. Next on the schedule for the Vees is a visit from the Vernon Vipers on Thursday. . . .

The BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals have added F Anton Yatsyshin, 18, to their roster. He has played in 45 WHL regular-season games — 40 with the Calgary Hitmen last season and five this season with the Prince Albert Raiders. From Kyiv, Ukraine, he had nine points, four of them goals, with Calgary and one goal with the Raiders before being release.

THINKING OUT LOUD — Really, just what was the Boston Bruins’ braintrust thinking? What were the conversations about as they reached a decision to sign that guy? I just hope they aren’t surprised at the backlash. . . . I have had to quit watching intermission shows. The gambling blorf has driven me elsewhere. It all is just so shameful, especially when we see the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid and even Kevin Weekes flogging this stuff. . . . Would you agree that the Houston Astros have MLB’s best pitching staff? . . . It was a tough day for Canada’s national men’s soccer team with Alphonso Davies (hamstring) and keeper Maxime Crépeau (leg) going down with injuries. Canada plays its first game at the World Cup on Nov. 23. Ouch! . . . Sorry, Canucks fans, but I fear your favourites are in for another one of those seasons. I mean, sheesh, leading the stumbling Nashville Predators 3-0 early on home ice and losing 4-3 in a shootout. Bo Horvat’s overskating the puck on Vancouver’s final shootout sums up the season to this point, doesn’t it?


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.


Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!

It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.

As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.

Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”

The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.

The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.


The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.


With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .


1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth



2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker

The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.

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Have Rockets lost key d-man to Iles? . . . Kelowna, Seattle cut major trade. . . . Hitmen acquire Woo from Warriors. . . . Ice makes big noise in bantam draft


F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). This season, he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in points. . . . Stanley also was the team’s skills coach and director of player development for the Feldkirch minor hockey program this season and will continue in those roles next season. . . .

F Brett Breitkreuz (Kelowna, Edmonton, Vancouver, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. Next season will be his 10th in Germany. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

G Chet Pickard (Tri-City, 2005-09) signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he was 19-4-0, 1.96, .914, with three shutouts, in 24 games. He was second in the league in GAA and sixth in save percentage. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship.


Part I: Some trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

I would suggest that the biggest news came from the camp of the Kelowna Rockets, and it didn’t have anything to do with a deal that was struck with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Rather, it involved Finnish D Lassi Thomson.

In fact, there are reports that Ilves of Finland’s top pro league has a deal with Thomson that includes an option for him to stay through the 2021-22 season.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had this to say in a news KelownaRocketsrelease: “We’re aware of the report that was released today. We were somewhat surprised; however, Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves as they had to release him to play for us this season. We look forward to the NHL draft (in) June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him and his club team Ilves decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest.”

Hamilton also told Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice: “Once he is picked, the NHL team will have input on where he goes anyways. I think the NHL team will want to see him play in North America so they see him as much as they want. They can have their developmental people with him and have him playing on a North American ice sheet.”

Thomson, who had a one-year contract to play over here, was the Western Conference nominee as rookie of the year after a season in which he put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. You can bet the Rockets were looking to him to run their first PP unit as they prepare to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

From Tampere, Finland, Thomson won’t turn 19 until Sept. 24.

At home, he played in the Ilves system for four seasons — U-16, U-18 and U-20 — before joining the Rockets.


Meanwhile, the Rockets made a splash on draft day by cutting a major trade with the Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna acquired D Jake Lee, F Dillon Hamaliuk and G Cole SeattleSchwebius, giving up F Conner Bruggen-Cate, the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft — the Rockets had acquired it earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings — a second-round pick in 2021 and Kelowna’s first-rounder in 2022. . . . The Rockets didn’t make the playoffs this season and are in the early days of a massive rebuild as they attempt to get competitive for a season that will end with them as the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . .

Lee, who is to turn 18 on July 13, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, his second in Seattle, he put up three goals and 21 assists in 67 games. . . . Hamaliuk, who will turn 19 on Oct. 30, is from Leduc, Alta. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. His season was ended by injury after 31 games, as he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists. . . . Schwebius, a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is from Kelowna. This season, he was 5-8-2, 3.89, .886 in 17 games with Seattle. . . .

Schwebius, 18, leaves the Rockets with three goaltenders on their roster, joining Roman Basran, who is to turn 18 on July 26, and James Porter, 19. This season, Basra was 20-19-4, 2.79, .906 in 51 games; Porter went 8-13-4, 3.32, .899 in 30 appearances.

Bruggen-Cate, who is heading into his 20-year-old season, is from Langley, B.C. He has played three seasons in Kelowna, totalling 26 goals and 46 assists in 200 games. Kelowna selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Seattle’s 20-year-old group now includes Bruggen-Cate, F Jaxan Kaluski, Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, D Jarret Tyszka and F Matthew Wedman,

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Seattle, having dealt Schwebius to Kelowna, turned around and acquired G Blake Lyda of Edmonton from the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . That selection had originated with Everett, moving to Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that had F Zack Andrusiak move to the Silvertips. . . . Lyda, who will turn 17 on May 21, was a fourth-round pick by Everett in the 2017 bantam draft. He was with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians, although he missed much of the season due to injury. . . . Right now, Lyda and Roddy Ross, who is to turn 19 on July 4, are the top two goaltenders on Seattle’s depth chart.

Kelowna acquired the 10th-overall pick, along with the WHL rights to D Sean Comrie, BrandonWKregularfrom Brandon for the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Comrie, 19, is from Edmonton. The Wheat Kings selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. Comrie was a freshman this season with the U of Denver Pioneers, after playing two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. This season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 34 games. . . . The deal left Brandon with the fifth and sixth selections, the first time it held two top six picks since 2013 when it took F Nolan Patrick fourth overall and D Kale Clague with the sixth pick. . . . This time, the Wheat Kings took F Nate Danielson of Red Deer with the fifth selection and F Tyson Zimmer of Russell, Man., in the six hole. . . . Danielson had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Rebels this season, while Zimmer had 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games with a bantam team at the OHA in Penticton.

The Winnipeg Ice acquired the third-overall selection and D Reece Harsch, 20, from the wpgiceSaskatoon Blades for four draft picks — the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2019 bantam draft, as well as a 2020 second-round pick and a fifth in 2021. . . . That ninth-overall pick and the second-round selection in 2020 originated with the Red Deer Rebels; the fifth started with the Blades and was dealt to the Ice for F Cyle McNabb in January. . . . The Ice then cut a deal with the Prince George Cougars, giving up the third-overall pick and a third in 2020 that originated with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the second-overall selection in 2019. . . . Winnipeg selected F Matt Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., with the first pick, and then took F Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., with the second selection. . . . Savoie has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver Pioneers starting with the 2021-22 season. His brother, Carter, was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has committed to the Pioneers for the 2020-21 season. . . . Interestingly, the Ice recently acquired Carter’s WHL rights from the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice brought the Savoies to Winnipeg in mid-April to show them around and seriously begin their sales pitch. . . . Geekie’s father, Craig, played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1991-94). Conor’s brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans, while another brother, Noah, was a second-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was acquired by the Blades from the Seattle Thunderbirds this season. He totalled four goals and 16 assists in 57 regular-season games. In three full WHL seasons he has 17 goals and 40 assists in 178 games. He was a part of the Seattle team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two years ago.


In the fourth round, Winnipeg grabbed F Rieger Lorenz of Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary this season. . . . Lorenz has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2022-23 season.


Winnipeg also made a deal with the Tri-City Americans in which the Ice acquired F Isaac Johnson, 20. . . . Winnipeg gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in the exchange. That pick originated with Spokane, moving to the Ice in a deal made in June in which D Bobby Russell went to the Chiefs. . . . From Andover, Minn., Johnson had 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games with the Americans this season when he left the team and apparently retired. At the time, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Johnson had retired for personal reasons. . . . In 2017-18, Johnson had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . The Ice roster now includes three 20-year-olds — Johnson, F Davis Murray and D Chase Hartje.

The Kamloops Blazers had two first-round selections for the first time in franchise  Kamloops1history. They took D Mats Lindgren out of the Burnaby Winter Club with the seventh-overall selection, then picked F Connor Levis of the St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick. . . . Both players have committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines for 2022-23. . . . Lindgren’s father, Mats, is a former NHLer. . . . In 2016, the Blazers used the 15th-overall pick on F Massimo Rizzo, who just completed his second season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . In 2017, the Blazers took F Josh Pillar with the 14th selection. In 2018, they grabbed F Logan Stankoven with the fifth pick. . . . Pillar showed dramatic improvement with the Blazers as this season wore on, while Stankoven lit up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers and will be a big part of the Kamloops scene over the next few seasons.

Before the draft got started, the Calgary Hitmen made a huge splash by acquiring Jett CalgaryWoo, one of the WHL top defencemen, from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for D Vladislav Yeryomenko, F Ryder Korczak, the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and a second-rounder in 2021. . . . Woo, the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, was a second-round selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level deal with Vancouver. . . . From Winnipeg, Woo is to turn 19 on July 27. He just completed his third season with Moose Jaw, and has 114 points, including 26 goals, in 178 games. This season, he finished with 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games. . . .

“This was our No. 1 priority in getting a puck moving defenceman,” Jeff Chynoweth, Calgary’s general manager, said in a news release. “To add a player of his calibre, one of the top scoring defencemen in the WHL, a player who plays hard at both ends, is huge for our club.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 defender and to get him for a whole season instead of after the trade deadline is an added bonus.”

The deal also signals that the Hitmen have their eyes on the prize for 2019-20 and won’t be content just being one of the players.

Yeryomenko, 20, is from Mishutki, Belarus. He was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville MooseJawWarriorsPredators in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign a pro deal. This season, his third with Calgary, he had seven goals and 26 assists in 33 games. In 188 regular-season games, he has 26 goals and 72 assists.

The Warriors have two other Belarusians on their roster — F Yegor Buyalski, 18, and F Daniil Stepanov, 18.

There have been rumblings that the rule involving 20-year-old import players may be about to change, perhaps with the removal of the two-spot designation. It could be that a team will be allowed to have three imports on its roster, if one of them is a 20-year-old. This deal may signal that Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar is expecting that rule to be changed.

Korczak, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 23, is from Yorkton, Sask. The younger brother of Kelowna Rockets D Kaedan Korczak, he had eight goals and seven assists in 50 games as a freshman with the Hitmen.

The Vancouver Giants didn’t have a first-round pick, and took D Joshua Niedermayer, a Vancouverson of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, with the 30th overall selection. A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Joshua had 10 goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at OHA in Penticton, B.C. . . . His brother, Jackson, 18, is a forward with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to Arizona State U and the Sun Devils for 2021-22. . . . Jackson was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2016 bantam draft. . . .

The Giants used their second pick in the draft, No. 43, to take F Bowden Singleton of Calgary. He had 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, but has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. . . .

In the fifth round, the Giants took F Colton Langkow of Scottsdale, Ariz. His father, Daymond, played four seasons (1992-96) with the Tri-City Americans while an uncle, Scott, spent three seasons (1992-95) tending goal for the Portland Winterhawks.

JUST NOTES: Kamloops took G Dylan Ernst from the Weyburn, Sask., bantam AA Red Wings with the 28th overall pick. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft. Dylan’s brother Ethan, 17, just finished his freshman season with the Kelowna Rockets. After Dylan was drafted, their mother, Bonnie, tweeted: “It’s hard enough to watch him in net, let alone playing against his brother. And that many times.” . . .

The Blazers used a seventh-round pick to take F Nash Bamford of Lacombe, Alta. He had eight goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. His father is country music star Gord Bamford, who was born in Australia and raised in Canada. He has 26 CCMA awards to his credit. . . .

The Everett Silvertips took F Austin Roest of Vernon, B.C., in the third round. His father, Stacy, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is the director of player development with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors selected D Carson Brisson of Edmonton in the fifth round. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with the minor midget Leduc Oil Kings this season. He has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for 2023-24. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds used an eighth-round pick to take F Cruz Lucius of Grant, Minn. He played this season with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy, putting up nine goals and 32 assists in 13 games. He has committed to the U of Minnesota Gophers for 2022-23. . . . His brother, Chaz, was taken in the fourth round a year ago by the Portland Winterhawks. Chaz is poised to enter the U.S. National Team Development Program after putting up 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy. He is committed to Minnesota for 2021-22.

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.

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