Raiders can win WHL title tonight. . . . Giants hope to make some history. . . . Hudak wins Cranbrook by-election


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John Hudak, who was the spokesperson for the Green Bay Committee that attempted to help keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, won a seat on Cranbrook’s City Council in a by-election that was completed on Saturday. . . . Final preliminary results, as released by the City of Cranbrook, had Hudak with 1,115 votes (45.9 per cent of the vote), well ahead of Ron Miles, who was second at 518, and three other candidates. . . . The by-election was the result of Danielle Eaton having resigned in January. . . . A retired RCMP officer, Hudak was part of the Green Bay Committee, a group comprising mostly local businessmen who offered to sell sponsorships and season tickets in an attempt to benefit the Ice. However, the committee, which said it quickly sold $50,000 worth of sponsorships and tickets, disbanded when it realized that it wasn’t going to get any co-operation from the WHL team’s owners. . . . The Ice relocated to Winnipeg when its season ended.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the QMJHL championship with a 4-0 victory over the qmjhlhost Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday. The Huskies won the series, 4-2. . . . Huskies G Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout. Harvey, who is in his fifth season with the Huskies, has 20 career shutouts — 15 in the regular season and five in the playoffs. He put up four of those playoff shutouts in these playoffs. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup as the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . This is the 11th straight season in which the host team for the Memorial Cup hasn’t been able to win its league championship.


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NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants arrived back in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon and will resume the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Game 6 tonight (Sunday) at the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, and can win the second championship in franchise history — the first came in 1985 — with a victory tonight. . . . Should the Giants win tonight — and they won Game 5, 4-3, on Friday in Langley, B.C. — Game 7 would be played on Monday night in Prince Albert. . . .

Following the conclusion of Game 5 in Langley on Friday, fans in Prince Albert began lining up at the Art Hauser Centre at 11 p.m., with tickets for Games 6 and 7 going on sale Saturday morning. . . . Late Friday night, the Raiders advised fans via Twitter: “Tickets for Game 7 are non-refundable. If a Game 7 isn’t necessary, the tickets can be used as a voucher for any regular-season game in the 2019-20 season.” . . . Now I don’t know how much a ticket to Game 7 was selling for, but I have to think one of those tickets would be worth a whole lot more than one regular-season game. Wouldn’t it? . . .

If the Giants are to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, they are going to have to do something that has been accomplished only once before in WHL history. . . . There have been 11 championship finals go to Game 7; the first 10 were won by the home team. The last final to need Game 7 was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team in WHL history to win Game 7 on the road. They beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . .

Here is a look at the previous WHL championship series that have been decided in Game 7 . . .

1975 — The Saskatoon Blades actually won the first two games of what was an eight-point final — in other words, no OT — beating the New Westminster Bruins twice in legendary Queen’s Park Arena. The Bruins then won twice in Saskatoon, before the Blades won Game 5 at home. Back in New Westminster, the Bruins won, 4-1 and 7-2, to take the series, 8-6.

1976 — This also was an eight-point series featuring the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. The teams played to a 3-3 tie in Game 6 in New Westminster and the Bruins won Game 7, 3-1, the next night, winning the series, 9-5.

1981 — The Calgary Wranglers led the Victoria Cougars, 3-1, before the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back with 7-4 and 4-2 victories in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home, 4-2. This is the series that featured goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Victoria) and Mike Vernon (Calgary).

1984 — The Regina Pats won the middle three games at home to go ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2. The scene shifted to Kamloops where the Blazers won, 4-3 in OT and 4-2. In Game 6, the Pats were 12 seconds from winning the championship when Kamloops F Dean Evason tied the game. F Ryan Stewart later won it at 13;13 of OT.

1987 —The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks played a 3-3-1 format and were all even going back to Alberta for Game 7 after the Tigers won Game 6, 4-3. Back home, the Tigers won Game 7, 6-2.

1992 — The Kamloops Blazers took a 3-1 lead over the Saskatoon Blades in a final that used a 3-3-1 format. The Blades won Games 5 and 6 (5-1 and 4-3) at home. The Blazers won it all by taking Game 7, 8-0, at home.

1993 — The Portland Winterhawks led the series, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos after a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Oregon. The Broncos won Game 6, 7-5, in Portland, then went home and posted a 6-0 victory in Game 7.

1994 — For the third straight season, the WHL final went seven games, and for the second time in three seasons it featured the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades. Using a 2-3-2 format, Kamloops won twice at home and then took Game 4 in Saskatoon for a 3-1 lead. The Blades tied it by winning 3-2 at home and 2-1 in Kamloops, but the Blazers took Game 7, 8-1, at home.

2007 — For the first time in 13 years, the WHL final went seven games. This time, it featured the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead on the strength of three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0 — from G Tyson Sexsmith. But the Tigers went home for the last two games and won them both — 4-3 and 3-2 in double OT, the latter on a goal by F Brennan Bosch.

2012 — The Edmonton Oil Kings won Game 5, 4-3, at home to take a 3-2 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who went home and won Game 6, 3-2, two nights later. The series shifted to Edmonton for Game 7 and the Oil Kings won, 4-1.

2014 — It was the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks one more time. Portland won twice at home, then Edmonton did the same. The Oil Kings won Game 5, 3-2, in Portland, only to have the Winterhawks go into Edmonton and win Game 6, 6-5 in OT. The Oil Kings won the final with a 4-2 road victory in Game 7. The WHL’s first season was 1966-67. The Oil Kings are the only team in the league’s history to have won Game 7 of a championship series on the road.

(NOTE: Thanks to Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the legendary former play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, for laying the groundwork for all of this.)


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IceDogs’ situation looks awfully messy. . . . Pats, Hurricanes make a trade. . . . WHL final resumes tonight in Langley

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An Ontario Superior Court judge in Hamilton ruled last month that documents related to ohlthe OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and unauthorized contracts with players would be unsealed on Friday. They were, and TSN’s Rick Westhead has gone over those documents.

According to Westhead:

“The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs agreed to unauthorized side contracts with the families of two players — one of whom is still in the OHL — and likely had similarly secret and unsanctioned deals with a number of European players, according to an investigation into the team’s recruiting practices.”

Westhead provides a lot of details in this piece, which is particularly damning because the OHL, as he puts it, “is embroiled in a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of current and former players demanding they be paid minimum wage.”

The IceDogs are owned by Denise and Bill Burke.

Westhead continues:

“In connection with that case, Denise Burke testified in a Nov. 14, 2015, affidavit that while her OHL team brought in an average of $2.7 million, it still lost money.

“Seven months before the IceDogs purportedly signed a secret deal with the (Liam) Ham family, Denise Burke said that it would be ‘catastrophic’ if the IceDogs had to pay players.”

At that time, Denise Burke testified: “We knew that we wouldn’t become rich owning a team, but seeing as this is our only business, we have always hoped that we would at least be able to break even and at least make more money than we spend, otherwise sooner or later the ‘Bank of Burke’ will run dry.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


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The Regina Pats have acquired F Drew Englot, 16, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a Patsfourth-round selection in the 2022 WHL bantam draft. Englot, who is from Candiac, Sask., was picked by the Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . He has played the past two seasons with  the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds, who have won back-to-back league titles. This season he had 21 goals and 20 assists in 43 regular-season games.


Two former WHL coaches were fired by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers on Monday as they juggled their staff after the hiring of Alain Vigneault as head coach. . . . Kris Knoblauch and Rick Wilson both were dismissed. . . . Knoblauch, 40, had been with the Flyers for two seasons. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2006-07. He then spent five seasons with the Kootenay Ice, the last two as head coach. He also spent four-plus seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters. . . . Wilson, 68, joined the Flyers this season, on Dec. 4. He has been an NHL coach, mostly as an assistant since 1988-89. He spent eight seasons (1980-88) on Prince Albert’s staff, the last two as head coach.


Dave Andrews will retire after spending one more season as the president and CEO of the American Hockey League. Andrews, a former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, told the AHL’s board of governors on Monday that he is going to retire as of June 30, 2020. He is completing his 25th season as AHL president. . . . Andrews was the Cougars’ head coach for all of 1982-83 and part of 1983-84, when he was replaced by Les Calder. He later spent seven seasons as the director of hockey operations with the Nova Scotia/Cape Breton Oilers, then the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate.


The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s had their 14-game playoff winning streak come to an end on Monday as they were beaten 7-2 by the Storm in Guelph. The 67’s, who were outshot 36-20, lead the OHL championship series, 2-1. . . . They’ll play Game 4 in Guelph on Wednesday. . . . The 67’s had swept their first three series and then opened the final with two victories. . . . Ottawa G Mikey DiPietro, who suffered what is believed to have been a high ankle sprain in Game 2, wasn’t in uniform for this one. . . .

In the QMJHL, the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies dumped the Halifax Mooseheads, 5-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the championship final. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Halifax. . . . Both teams will play in the Memorial Cup because the Mooseheads are the host team. The tournament is to run from May 17 through May 26.


Mike Reagan has signed a new contract as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. This deal will take him through the 2020-21 season. . . . Reagan has been with the Bombers for 12 seasons, winning at least 30 games in six of them. The Bombers have been in the playoffs in each of those 12 seasons. . . . There is a news release right here.


Cam Basarab is the new head coach of the Trail-based Kootenay Ice of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He started this season as an assistant coach with the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He was moved up to head coach in November and then replaced on Jan. 23. . . . Basarab also was a video coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for the previous two seasons. . . . Basarab takes over from Kris Boyce, the head coach for the past three seasons.


F Liam Stewart, who played four seasons (2011-15) with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed on with the SkyCity Stampede of the New Zealand Hockey League. Stewart, born in Great Britain, has a New Zealand passport through his mother, ex-model Rachel Hunter, so won’t be classified as an import. . . . The Stampede, which plays out of Queenstown, is to open the season on May 31 against the Dunedin Thunder. . . . He was to have played this season with the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain, but was sidelined by a concussion. . . . Stewart’s father is rock musician Rod Stewart.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup resumes tonight (Tuesday) with the  Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Gains meeting at the Langley, B.C., Events Centre. . . . The series is tied, 1-1. . . . They’ll play again Wednesday and Friday in Langley. . . . The $64,000 question going into Game 3 is whether Prince Albert D Max Martin will play. He left Game 2 in the second period after falling awkwardly into the end boards and appearing to injure a shoulder. . . . Martin is key part of the Raiders’ back end. He had 41 points, including 35 assists, in 59 regular-season games, and has seven assists in 18 playoff games. . . . Here’s Darren Steinke of Stanks’ Sermon explaining the Raiders’ options: “If (Martin) doesn’t play that will likely shake up the Raiders normally locked-in defensive pairings of Martin with Sergei Sapego, captain Brayden Pachal with Zack Hayes, and Jeremy Masella with Kaiden Guhle.” . . . If Martin doesn’t dress, the Raiders likely will insert D Loeden Schaufler into what will be his fifth game of these playoffs.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, who has learned to change with the times.


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WHL mourns deaths of Shupe and Cooper, both early builders. . . . Raiders move into the series lead. . . . Silvertips stayin’ alive

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F Roman Pšurný (Medicine Hat, 2004-06) has signed a two-year contract extension with Přerov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had 14 goals and 30 assists in 53 games. He led the team in assists and points. . . .

F Mick Köhler (Medicine Hat, 2017-18) has signed a two-year contract extension with Cologne (Germany, DEL). He had two goals and two assists in 25 games there this season. On loan to Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had three goals and 10 assists in 27 games. . . .

F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract extension with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2). This season, in 52 games, he had 15 goals and 22 assists. He was second in the league in face-off winning percentage at .617.


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Jack Shupe, one of the winningest coaches in WHL history, has died. Shupe passed away whlWednesday night in Medicine Hat. He was 89. . . . Shupe, who was from Weyburn, Sask., was a WHL head coach for 11 seasons — six with the Medicine Hat Tigers and five with the Victoria Cougars. . . . He totalled 466 regular-season victories, which now has him tied for 10th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Tigers, with Shupe behind the bench, won the 1972-73 WHL title, getting him to the Memorial Cup for the first time. It was a three-team round-robin at the time and all three teams — the Tigers, Toronto Marlboros and Quebec Remparts — finished 1-1. The Marlboros and Remparts advanced on the tiebreaker, and Toronto won the final, 9-1. . . . Shupe guided the Cougars to the WHL final in 1979-80, where they lost to the Regina Pats in five games, then won the WHL title in 1980-81 with a single-season record 60 victories, a mark that still stands. The Cougars finished third in the Memorial Cup. . . . A funeral service is scheduled for May 4, 11 a.m., at the Saamis Memorial Funeral Chapel in Medicine Hat. . . . There is an obituary right here.


Gary Cooper, the first president of the Kamloops WHL franchise that now is the Blazers, Kamloops1died Tuesday at the age of 80. . . . The New Westminster Bruins moved to Kamloops for the 1981-82 season and started out as the Junior Oilers. Peter Pocklington, the owner of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, bought the Bruins from Nelson Skalbania and was looking to relocate them. Cooper was part of a Kamloops group that raised the funds necessary ($110,000) to purchase 33 per cent. The move was made official by the WHL on July 2, 1981. . . . Prior to the 1984-85 season, Cooper was part of the group that spearheaded the purchase of the franchise from the Oilers, and he was the Blazers’ first president. Cooper later was a regular on the board of directors. . . . According to a Facebook post by Rick Wile, a former sports director at Radio NL in Kamloops, Cooper “was diagnosed with a brain tumour six weeks ago and passed away in hospice.”


The Swift Current Broncos announced Thursday that they are taking their play-by-play game broadcasts off conventional radio and moving them to the Internet. . . . The Broncos’ games had been heard on The Eagle 94.1 since the mid-1980s. It’s believed that the Broncos and Golden West Radio, which owns The Eagle 94.1, weren’t able to agree on the monetary terms of their contract. . . . The Portland Winterhawks went this route a few seasons ago and, according to Rich Franklin, the Winterhawks’ vice-president for corporate partnerships, the Broncos aren’t the only WHL team thinking about it these days. . . . “I was contacted by two other WHL teams this season (not Swift Current),” Franklin said in a tweet, “asking for details/input about our streaming-only approach, so it’s definitely being looked at by multiple teams.” . . . As for why the Winterhawks went the way they did, Franklin tweeted: “Airtime cost, ability to expand content, no measurable radio audience, overall growth of streaming and unlimited data options for users, and ease of access to stream via our app. It wasn’t an easy decision but we’re happy with results.” . . . However, the Winterhawks are in the U.S., and the Broncos play in Canada. As long-time WHL fan Alan Caldwell noted in a tweet: “One thing I would add here, though, is there is a huge disparity in mobile data costs” between the two countries. “Unlimited data plans (with 20GB or more before throttling) are common and cheap in the States. In Western Canada, to get 20 GB a month, you’ll need to not eat.”


The midget AAA hockey team in Moose Jaw is being rebranded as the WHL’s Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriorsWarriors take on a much larger role with it. In fact, the Moose Jaw Minor Hockey Association is calling it a “renewed partnership and sponsorship.” . . . The teams plays in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and has been known as the Generals. It now will be the Warriors. . . . According to a news release, “Along with the rebranding of the AAA Warriors, the Moose Jaw Warriors will work with minor hockey in a mentorship and advisory role with the AAA Warriors, effective immediately.” . . . Trevor Weisgerber is the AAA Warriors’ head coach. Jeremy Ebbett was introduced Friday as the general manager, along with assistant coaches Carter Davis, Evan Schwabe and Carter Smith. . . . The full news release is right here.


The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has signed head coach Matt Keillor to a two-year contract extension. Keillor has been the club’s head coach since the middle of the 2016-17 season.


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NOTES: The Everett Silvertips staved off elimination on Friday night with a 4-1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. If the Silvertips are to keep playing, they will have to win again tonight in Spokane. . . . That will be tonight’s only WHL playoff game. . . . The winner of this series is to face the Vancouver Giants in the Western Conference final. . . .

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, the Raiders dumped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1, to take a 3-2 lead in that series. They’ll play Game 6 in Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . F Kirby Dach of the Blades didn’t finish Friday’s game, while Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson appeared to be injured late in the third period. . . . The winner of this series will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. . . .

D Ralph Jarratt of the Victoria Royals set a franchise record for career playoff games played on Thursday in a 6-1 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants. Jarratt finished his WHL career having played in 46 playoff games, one more than F Tyler Soy (2012-18). . . . The Royals, who were swept by the Giants, played in 10 playoff games this season and the team that scored first won all 10 of them.

——

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Noah Gregor and F Dante Hannoun each scored twice and added an assist to help the PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 set for Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . Hannoun (5) got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 2:51 of the second period. . . . Gregor (3) made it 2-0, shorthanded, at 6:01. . . . D Emil Malysjev (1) got the Blades to within a goal at 9:07. . . . Gregor (4) got that one back at 10:23. . . . Prince Albert put it away with three third-period goals, from F Aliaksei Protas (3), at 1:01; Hannoun (6), at 12:31; and F Sean Montgomery (6), at 13:54. . . . Gregor, a 43-goal man in the regular season, hadn’t scored in his previous five games. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason picked up three assists. . . . Prince Albert was 1-2 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-3. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 26 shots to earn the victory. . . . Saskatoon starter Nolan Maier was beaten six times on 25 shots in 53:54. Koen MacInnes played the final 6:06, but didn’t face a shot. . . . Saskatoon G Dorrin Luding was scratched after backing up Maier for a couple of games, so MacInnes was back on the bench for this one. . . . The Blades lost F Kirby Dach in the second period after he came together with Leason. Dach didn’t return. . . . The Raiders lost F Justin Nachbaur to an interference major and game misconduct at 14:52 of the third period for a hit on Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson, who needed help getting back to the bench. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad with an undisclosed injury, so D Loeden Schaufler got into the lineup.


F Connor Dewar scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 4-Everett1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. . . . The Chiefs lead the series, 3-1, with Game 4 in Spokane tonight. . . . Last night, Everett grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Robbie Holmes (3), at 6:21, and F Zack Andrusiak (6), on a PP, at 9:47. . . . F Adam Beckman (5) scored for Spokane, on a PP, at 18:53. . . . Dewar (4), the Everett captain, made it 3-1 at 6:41 of the second period, and he iced it with his fifth goal, an empty-netter, at 18:46 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs actually believed they had cut their deficit to 3-2 on a goal by Woods with 3:06 left in the third period. However, the goal was waved off due to what was ruled as incidental contact with the goaltender by F Luc Smith. . . . That ruling may have had something to do with Spokane head coach Dan Lambert taking a bench minor at 19:09 and D Filip Kral being hit with a game misconduct at 19:28. . . . Spokane was 1-3 on the PP; Everett was 1-5. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 27 shots for Everett, four more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin.


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No comment from Hurricanes on Memorial Cup bid . . . Silvertips’ sales booming . . . Winterhawks sign first-round pick

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D Rasmus Rissanen (Everett, 2009-11) signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had three assists in 31 games with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL).


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The WHL’s deadline for teams to declare an official interest in bidding to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament was May 31.

The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals had made no secret of the whlfact that they were all-in. The Blazers and Rockets made their intentions known at news conferences; Victoria didn’t hold a news conference but general manager Cam Hope said on numerous occasions that his organization would bid.

However, May 31 came and went and there was nary a word from the WHL. June 1 . . . June 2 . . . June 3 . . . nothing.

On the morning of Monday, June 4, Bruce Hamilton broke the silence. Hamilton is the president and general manager of the Rockets; he also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors.

Hamilton told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of intent with the WHL office and that those four teams were Kamloops, Kelowna Victoria . . . and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Hamilton even went out of his way to point out that the Hurricanes “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”

Until that moment, there hadn’t been even the smallest of hints that would have indicated the Hurricanes had an interest in bidding on the event.

On Monday, a WHL spokesperson told me that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”

As of Tuesday evening, there hasn’t been anything official from the Hurricanes or from the WHL office.

In fact, the only thing that I have seen from Lethbridge came in the form of a Tuesday tweet from Kaella Carr of CTV-Lethbridge.

So we are left to wonder if Hamilton spoke out of turn, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

One supposes that we will find out whenever it is deemed to be the appropriate time.


One team that apparently didn’t express official interest in bidding on the 2020 Memorial Cup was the Everett Silvertips.

It’s really too bad that American teams seem to be on the outside looking in when it Everettcomes to bidding on the Memorial Cup, because it would be interesting to see how fans in the Everett area would respond.

According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Silvertips averaged 5,686 fans through 12 home playoff games this spring, trailing only the Regina Pats (6,484 for three games) and Victoria Royals (5,726 for six games).

In the regular-season, Everett’s announced average attendance was 5,129, good for seventh in the 22-team league. That was up from 4,865 in 2016-17.

This season, the Silvertips finished atop the 10-team Western Conference, then reached the WHL championship final where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.

On Tuesday, Zoran Rajcic, the COO of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips, released a statement that read, in part:

“This last Saturday, we experienced a response and demand in Silvertips hockey from our community like we’ve almost never seen before.

“Our commitment to providing a first-class service to our season-ticket holders resulted in a projected boost of 500 new season tickets, adding to a 92 percent retention from this last season. It’s proof that our region’s thirst for the game has developed into a full passion.”

The Silvertips play in the Angel of the Winds Arena, which, according to the WHL Guide, has a capacity of 8,149.


Apologies to members of the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars, who won the WHL championship. In a piece I posted here Monday night, I made mention of the fact that Victoria had never VicCougarsplayed in a Memorial Cup tournament. That was in error. . . . The Cougars won a thrilling seven-game championship series from the Calgary Wranglers that spring. . . . Here’s what I wrote as part of an essay on the 1981 Memorial Cup that was played in Windsor:

Jack Shupe, a veteran of the western Canadian coaching wars, was running the Cougars. Shupe had last been to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1973 with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Cougars actually trailed the Calgary Wranglers 3-1 in the WHL’s best-of-seven final before rallying. They didn’t win the WHL title until Terry Sydoryk broke a 2-2 tie at 18:07 of the third period of Game 7. An empty-netter by Grant Rezansoff made the final score 4-2.

The Cougars had finished on top of the West Division, their 121 points (60-11-1) leaving them eight ahead of the Portland Winter Hawks.

The Cougars’ offensive leader was centre Barry Pederson, whose 147 points left him third in the scoring race, just 13 points off the lead.

Pederson added 36 points in the playoffs, second behind the 43 points put up by Calgary’s Bill Hobbins.

Pederson was supported by Rezansoff, who totalled 27 playoff points after a 97-point regular season, Rich Chernomaz (113 regular-season points), Torrie Robertson 111), Brad Palmer, Paul Cyr, Bud McCarthy and Mark Morrison. This was a team that could score — witness its league-high 462 goals.

But it was Fuhr who dominated this team. He was the primary reason for it surrendering only 217 regular-season goals, 49 fewer than any other team.

The Cougars opened the playoffs by sweeping the Spokane Flyers in four games. They then took apart the Winter Hawks in four straight.

That sent them into the final where they fell behind the Doug Sauter-coached Wranglers, who featured goaltender Mike Vernon, 3-1 in games before roaring back to win their first WHL championship since they entered the league in 1971.

“Fuhr was the difference,” Sauter said. “There’s no doubt he’s an all-star.”

This would also mark the first Memorial Cup appearance for a team from Victoria.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Gabe Klassen and G Lochlan Gordon to WHL Portlandcontracts. . . . Klassen, from Prince Albert, will turn 15 on June 30. He was taken in the first round, 19th overall, of the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 52 goals and 37 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Prince Albert Mintos. He led the league in goals and points. . . . Gordon, from Edmonton, was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Gordon, 15, played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, going 12-5-0, 2.68, .891, with four shutouts in 18 games.


WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Conner Roulette to a WHL contract. Roulette, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he played for the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks, putting up 52 goals and 49 assists in 34 games. He led his league in goals, assists and points.


Inde Sumal, the president and CEO of a Vancouver-based private equity firm, is leading the charge to build a new arena on B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Sumal sees a facility with about 10,000 seats somewhere in Surrey, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. . . . Kenneth Chan of dailyhive.com has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Ben Simon is the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He takes over from Todd Nelson, who left last week to join the NHL’s Dallas Stars as an assistant coach. . . . Simon, 39, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Griffins.


The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have signed Drew Bannister as their head coach. He had been the head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Bannister spent three seasons as the Greyhounds’ head coach and is the CHL’s reigning coach of the year. The Greyhounds were 136-50-18 under Bannister, winning two division titles and, this season, the OHL’s regular-season championship. This season, they set franchise records with 55 victories and 116 points.


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