The WHL announced Saturday afternoon that four players off the Moose Jaw Warriors’ roster “have been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into possible violations of team rules and the WHL Standard of Conduct policies.”
The WHL made the announcement in a one-paragraph statement posted on its website.
The suspended players are D Marek Howell, 16, of Calgary; F Lynden Lakovic, 16, of West Kelowna, B.C.; G Connor Ungar, 21, of Calgary; and D Maximus Wanner, 19, of Estevan, Sask.
All four played in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary on Feb. 5. All four were scratched from a 6-3 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. Those were the Warriors’ last games before Saturday night when they met the Pats in Regina.
The announcement from the WHL comes with the WHL’s board of governors holding its annual Super Bowl meeting in Las Vegas. Every year, rather than hold the meeting in a WHL city, the governors choose to gather in Las Vegas. Such was the case again this weekend.
When asked about the situation by Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com on Saturday afternoon, Jason Ripplinger, the Warriors’ general manager, chose not to comment, saying “the WHL has advised us and we’re not making a comment at this time.”
“The WHL Standard of Conduct covers a number of issues that have been a concern for the league in recent years, including racial and derogatory comments, bullying and harassment, social media and networking conduct, personal conduct detrimental to the WHL and diversity and inclusion so participants are respected, valued and welcomed at all times.
“The Standard of Conduct states that all participants are obligated to report violations, and all participants are required to co-operate with investigations initiated by the WHL.”
Howell, the 16th overall selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft, had one goal and three assists in 44 games. He got into five games last season, picking up a goal and an assist.
Lakovic, a freshman, was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft. He had two goals and five assists in 37 games.
Ungar, who was acquired from the Red Deer Rebels on May 19, was having a terrific season. In 38 appearances, he was 26-7-3, 2.58, .925. He is tied for second in victories and leads the WHL in save percentage.
Wanner was a seventh-round selection by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He signed a three-year entry-level contract in September. This season, he had eight goals and 22 assists in 44 games. In 121 career regular-season games, all with Moose Jaw, he had 14 goals and 44 assists.
The Warriors had three new faces in their lineup for a Saturday game in Regina — F Owen Berge of the U18 Northern Alberta Xtreme; G Justen Maric from the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars; and D Brady Ness of the U18AAA Edmonton Jr. Oilers. The Pats won the game, 8-4.
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with some pertinent thoughts on today’s Super Bowl:
“Yes, this game will be the culmination of the 2022 NFL season and indeed the NFL season is the biggest deal of all in US sports. But the coverage is once again hugely overblown and obfuscates for some people that this is still at its core a freaking football game. It is not a cataclysmic event; it is not the rapture anticipated by many of the folks who will put the imminence of said rapture on hold for about four hours while they watch the game; it is a football game. It is a big deal in the world of professional football in the US to be sure; simultaneously, it is an event of no consequence in the world of people trying to dig their way out of devastating earthquakes in the Middle East today. As we all get ready to enjoy the biggest game of the season, please remember to keep it in perspective: It’s a football game, Folks!”
More of his observations are right here.
The Regina Pats played in front of the third straight sellout crowd (6,499) at the Brandt Centre on Saturday night. There isn’t any doubt that Pats F Connor Bedard is the attraction, especially since he returned from the World Junior Championship where he led Team Canada to the gold medal. . . . But exactly what has he been worth to the WHL? . . . From a story by Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: “Cliff Mander, a Vancouver-based agent with CKM Sports Management, told CJME/CKOM that Bedard’s estimated value to the league is $1.5 million. . . . Interviewed by CTV Saskatoon’s Tyler Barrow, Edwards School of Business dean Keith Willoughby said that Bedard’s financial impact ‘is in the millions of dollars.’ ” . . . Gotta think some of the WHL pooh-bahs had some Beard-related funds in their jeans as they enjoy Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas. . . . Vanstone’s latest Beard-related story is right here.
SATURDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
Playing in front of a third straight sellout crowd (6,499), the host Regina Pats got three goals and two assists from F Connor Bedard en route to an 8-4 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . F Martin Rysavy (6) got Moose Jaw into a 4-4 tie at 15:15 of the second period. . . . Regina F Borya Valis (18) put the Pats back in the lead at 18:08. Valis also had two assists. . . . Bedard completed his hat trick with goals at 3:56 and 11:17, and F Tanner Howe (24) finished the scoring at 17:42. . . . Bedard now has a WHL-leading 48 goals. He has five three-goal games and a four-goal outing this season. He has scored five points in a game on five occasions and also has a six-pointer to his credit. . . . Bedard leads the WHL with 96 points in 39 games. He finished last season with 51 goals and 49 assists in 62 games. Bedard won’t turn 18 until July 17. . . . F Brayden Yager had a goal (22) and an assist for Moose Jaw, the goal, at 14:50 of the first period, opening the scoring. . . . Regina (25-22-3) is tied with the Calgary Hitmen for sixth in the Eastern Conference. . . . Moose Jaw (33-17-3) had won its past three games. The Warriors are fourth in the conference, three points behind the Saskatoon Blades. . . .
In Brandon, the Wheat Kings scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Calgary Hitmen, 3-2. . . . F Brett Hyland (24) got Brandon into a 2-2 tie at 2:23 of the third period and F Dawson Pasternak (9) got what proved to be the winner at 4:56. . . . Hyland and Pasternak each had an assist. . . . F Chase Valliant scored his first WHL goal for the Hitmen, opening the scoring at 3:39 of the first period. A 16-year-old from Surrey, B.C., he was playing in his seventh game this season. . . . Brandon (21-22-7) has won two in a row. The Wheat Kings are 10th in the Eastern Conference, three points from a playoff spot. . . . Calgary (23-22-7) has lost nine straight (0-6-3). The Hitmen and Regina Pats are tied for sixth in the conference. . . .
F Austin Roest scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Everett Silvertips a 2-1 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . Roest was the fifth shooter in the circus. . . . D Brayden Crampton (2) gave Spokane a 1-0 lead at 7:11 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (35) tied it at 7:08 of the third. . . . G Tim Metzger stopped 32 shots through OT for the Silvertips, while Spokane’s Cooper Michaluk blocked 36. . . . Everett (27-22-2) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is tied with the Tri-City Americans for fourth in the Western Conference. . . . Spokane (9-35-6) has lost nine in a row (0-6-3). . . .
F Matthew Seminoff opened and closed the scoring as his Kamloops Blazers got past the visiting Prince George Cougars, 5-4. . . . Seminoff, who also had an assist, got his 21st goal at 4:39 of the first period, for a 1-0 lead. He snapped a 4-4 tie at 19:52 of the third period. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (31) had pulled the visitors into that tie at 12:22 of the third period. . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven ran his point streak to 34 games with three assists. He now has 76 points, 49 of them assists, in 34 games. Yes, he has at least one point in each game he has played this season. . . . The Blazers also got three assists from D Olen Zellweger. He has seven goals and 16 assists in 13 games since the Blazers acquired him from the Everett Silvertips. . . . F Ryan Hofer, who also came to Kamloops in that deal, gave the Blazers a 4-3 lead with his 33rd goal, on a PP, at 8:22 of the third period. However, he got tossed with a headshot major and game misconduct at 12:39 of the third period. . . . F Ondrej Becher (11) had two goals and an assist for the Cougars. . . . G Matthew Kieper earned the victory with 39 saves. . . . F Jakob Demek took the pregame warmup with the Blazers, but didn’t play in the game. He was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings earlier this season, but has yet to play after undergoing shoulder surgery after last summer’s World Junior Championship. . . . Kamloops (33-10-6) has won six straight. It will finish atop the B.C. Division. . . . The Cougars (24-22-4) had a five-game winning streak snapped. They are sixth in the Western Conference. . . .
F Jordan Keller scored twice to help the visiting Saskatoon Blades to a 4-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Keller, the son of Kamloops Blazers assistant coach Aaron Keller, enjoyed the third two-goal game of his freshman season. . . . F Jayden Wiens, in his second game since Dec. 10, scored once and added two assists. . . . Wiens (11) broke a 2-2 tie with a PP goal at 8:36 of the third period. . . . Keller (11) added insurance, on a PP, at 14:15. . . . F Trevor Wong, who began his WHL career with the Rockets, drew two assists for the Blades. . . . F Gabriel Szturc (17), a native of Czechia, scored twice with his parents in the stands. . . . Saskatoon finished with a 39-18 shot advantage. . . . After Kelowna was beaten, 9-2, by the visiting Prince George Cougars on Friday, Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice, updated the injury situation, noting that freshman F Logan Peskett didn’t return after a first-period fight and F Will Munro, another freshman, left after absorbing an early hit. As well, “Andrew Cristall missed his 13th straight game with injury (and) Ty Hurley missed his 12th, while Max Graham is still no less than three weeks away from getting back in the lineup.” All five sat out Saturday’s game, too, as did D John Babcock and D Marek Rocak, both of whom also are injured. . . . The Blades remain without injured forwards Josh Pillar, Justin Lies, Tyler Parr and Misha Volotovskii. . . . Pillar is on the B.C. trek and skating with the Blades so would seem close to a return. . . . Saskatoon (34-13-4) is 1-1-0 in the B.C. Division. The Blades are third in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Kelowna (17-30-3) has lost four in a row. It holds down eight in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Victoris Royals. . . .
F Shane Smith scored in a shootout to give the Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Medicine Hat. . . . The Hurricanes had beaten the Tigers, 3-0, in Lethbridge on Friday night. . . . The Tigers took a 2-1 lead into the second period. . . . F Joe Arntsen (9) got Lethbridge into a 2-2 tie with a PP goal at 13:07 of the second. . . . Arntsen also drew an assist on F Jett Jones’ 18th goal of the season in the first period. . . . D Rhett Parsons (4) and F Brendan Lee (21) also scored for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat (22-22-8) moved into eighth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen, and one ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Lethbridge (28-18-6) is fifth in the conference. . . .
G Tomas Milic stopped 36 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 3-0 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . The battle of Western Conference leaders drew an announced attendance of 8,057, the second- largest crowd in Portland this season. The same two teams drew 9,863 fans on Dec. 10. The Winterhawks won that one, 4-3 in a shootout. . . . Milic has two shutouts this season and six in his career. . . . D Kevin Korchinski’s seventh goal, on a PP at 11:58 of the second period, stood up as the winner. . . . F Brad Lambert had a goal (6) and an assist. . . . Seattle (38-9-2) has won three in a row and now leads the conference by two points over Portland (36-11-4). . . . Portland is 4-3-0 in the season series; Seattle is 3-3-1. . . .
The Prince Albert Raiders surrendered a goal 34 seconds into the game, then scored the last four goals to beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-1. . . . One night earlier, the Broncos had beaten the Raiders, 4-0, in Swift Current. . . . Last night, F Harrison Lodewyk (6) pulled the Raiders even at 10:13 of the first period. . . . F Ryder Ritchie (14) got the eventual winner at 4:04 of the second. . . . The Raiders got a goal (18) and two assists from F Keaton Sorensen. . . . G Max Hildebrand got the victory with 33 stops. . . . Prince Albert lost F Hayden Pakkala to a boarding major and game misconduct at 18:09 of the first period. . . . Prince Albert (20-28-3) had lost its previous three games. It is nine points from a playoff spot. . . . Swift Current (24-22-3) had won two straight. It is ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of eighth. . . .
F Frantisek Formanek scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Adam Mechura put Tri-City ahead in the shootout’s second round, but Red Deer F Ben King quickly tied it. . . . The Rebels had taken a 1-0 lead on F Jace Isley’s 24th goal, shorthanded, just 44 seconds into the second period. . . . Mechura (17) tied it at 9:02 of the second. . . . Red Deer (36-12-4) went 3-2-0 on its U.S. Division swing. It leads the Central Division by 14 points. . . . Tri-City (25-19-6) has lost three in a row (0-2-1), but has moved into a tie with the Everett Silvertips for fourth in the Western Conference. . . .
The Victoria Royals counted the game’s last four goals to beat the Vancouver Giants, 6-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . F Teydon Trembecky (8) gave the visitors a 3-2 lead at 18:34 of the second period. . . . D Justin Kipkie (5) added insurance at 4:49 of the third. . . . Victoria F Tanner Scott (10) scored the game’s first and last goals. He also had an assist. . . . The Royals lost F Luke Rybinski to a headshot major and game misconduct at 9:43 of the second period. . . . The Giants lost F Jaden Lipinski to a spearing major and game misconduct at 10:11 of the third. . . . F Ty Thorpe, the Giants’ leading scorer, was among their scratches. . . . The Royals remains without F Jake Poole, their top scorer, and D Gannon Laroque. . . . Victoria (15-32-6) had lost its previous five games (0-4-1). It is ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kelowna Rockets, who hold three games in hand. . . . The seventh-place Giants (20-25-6) had won their previous two games. . . .
The Winnipeg Ice struck for five first-period goals and went on to defeat the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-1. . . . F Owen Pederson (24) scored twice for the Ice, with D Carson Lambos adding a goal (8) and two assists. . . . This was the first time these teams met since last spring’s Eastern Conference final. The Oil Kings won that series en route to winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Ice (40-7-1) has won three straight. It leads the Eastern Conference by five points over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Edmonton (8-41-3) has lost four in a row.
Brad Lauer, a former WHL player and coach, now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. But he has had to step back from his role a bit as he deals with a herniated disc in his back. Rick Bowness, the Jets’ head coach, told reporters on Saturday that Lauer “is on IR from a coaching perspective.” . . . Lauer was the head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings last season as they won the WHL championship. . . .
The U of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team will go into the playoffs on a 23-game winning streak after completing the regular season with a 6-3 victory over the MacEwan Griffins in Calgary on Saturday. . . . The Dinos finished 25-3, setting program records for victories (25) and points (50).
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