Royals get goalie from Portland. . . . More bantam draft odds and ends. . . . McCrimmon an NHL GM and a Hall of Famer


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Part II: More trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks appeared to clear up a logjam at the goaltender position, Portlandwhile the Victoria Royals have begun life after Griffen Outhouse. . . . The Winterhawks dealt G Shane Farkas, who is to turn 20 on Dec. 1, and a 2019 fifth-round bantam draft pick to the Royals for a fourth-round pick in 2019 and a conditional selection that could end up being in the fourth round in 2020. . . . The 2019 fourth-rounder that the Winterhawks acquired actually originated with them; it went to Victoria in a deal for D Jared Freadrich last summer. . . . The deal leaves Portland with five 20-year-olds on its roster, with F Lane Gilliss, F Jake Gricius, F Josh Paterson and D Matthew Quigley the others. . . .

Farkas, from Penticton, B.C., appeared in 84 games over three seasons with Portland. VictoriaRoyalsThis season, he finished 30-12-6, 2.71, .906 in 50 regular-season appearances. . . . His departure leaves the Winterhawks’ depth chart with Joel Hofer, who will be 19 on July 30, and Dante Giannuzzi, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 3, at the top of the goaltending section. . . .

Outhouse, who was so outstanding in goal for the Royals, has completed his junior eligibility. Farkas and sophomore Brock Gould, 18, are one-two on the Royals’ depth chart, at least for now. . . . The Royals now have six 20-year-olds on their roster — Farkas, F D-Jay Jerome, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, D Jameson Murray and D Jake Kustra.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Wyatt Wilson from the Lethbridge SCBroncosHurricanes for F Alex Thacker. . . . Wilson, from Swift Current, will turn 16 on Oct. 11. He was a sixth-round pick by Lethbridge in the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had six goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the elite 15s at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . . Thacker, 17, is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. This season, he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 34 games as he captained the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. He also had one assist in four games with the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, and was pointless in two games with Swift Current. The Broncos had selected him in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft.


Lethbridge also made a deal with the Prince George Cougars, landing D Tyson Phare in LethbridgePrinceGeorgeexchange for F Fischer O’Brien. . . . Phare, 17, was the 18th-overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. From Maple Ridge, B.C., he was pointless in 14 games with the Cougars this season. He also had a goal and nine assists in eight games with the prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, and was pointless in two games with the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames. . . . O’Brien, 16, is from Prince George. Lethbridge picked him in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. Fischer had two goals and five assists in 40 games with the Cariboo Cougars, who won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League title. His brother, Brogan, played three seasons (2015-18) with the WHL’s Cougars and now is at Carleton U in Ottawa.


JUST NOTES: The Portland Winterhawks selected F Marek Hejduk in the ninth round. He played this season with the bantam AAA Colorado Thunderbirds, scoring seven goals and adding nine assists in 13 games. . . . Six picks later, the Everett Silvertips grabbed D David Hejduk, Marek’s twin brother. David had one goal and one assists in 13 games with the Thunderbirds. . . . They are the sons of former NHL F Milan Hejduk. . . .

In the 10th round, the Edmonton Oil Kings landed F Cade Littler of East Wenatchee, Wash. He played this season with the bantam AAA San Jose Jr. Sharks. His father, Bliss, is a long-time junior coach. He has been with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild for seven seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . .

In the fourth round, the Seattle Thunderbirds took F Connor Gourley of Calgary. He had 36 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. His brother Jarrod, who will turn 20 on June 29, was a third-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2014 bantam draft. A defenceman, he chose to go to Arizona State U where he just completed his first season with the Sun Devils. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers, picking 12th overall, took F Oasis Wiesblatt of Calgary. He had 19 goals and 36 assists in 28 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . His brother Orca, who will turn 19 on June 2, got into 12 games with the Calgary Hitmen this season, after playing 49 with them last season. He now is with the MJHL-champion Portage Terriers. . . . Another brother, 20-year-old Ocean, also is with the Terriers, while Ozzy, 17, is in his first season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Google is your friend, so search out a story on the boys and their mother, who is deaf and a really wonderful story. . . .

The Hitmen selected F Mason Finley of Kelowna in the fifth round. His brother, Jack, just finished his freshman season with the Spokane Chiefs. Their father, Jeff, played three seasons (1984-87) with the Portland Winterhawks and now is in his 10th season as a scout with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, the last six as the team’s chief amateur scout. . . .

The Victoria Royals landed twin brothers who just happen to be from, yes, Victoria. . . . They took D Jason Spizawka with the 19th-overall selection then added his twin, Ryan, in the seventh round. . . . Both boys played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., this season. . . .

The Regina Pats picked D Layton Feist with the draft’s 17th-overall selection. From Dawson Creek, B.C., he is the younger brother of Pats D Tyson Feist. . . .

In the second round, the Prince Albert Raiders took D Graydon Gotaas, who is from Camrose, Alta., and played this season with the bantam AAA Sherwood Park, Alta., Flyers. . . . His uncle, Steve Gotaas, played four seasons (1983-87) with the Raiders. . . .

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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Kelly McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, will take over as general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights on Sept. 1. That means that McCrimmon, who has been the Golden Knights’ assistant GM, won’t be going to Edmonton, where the Oilers had an interest in him, or to the expansion franchise in Seattle, which also is believed to have bene interested in his services.

Meanwhile, McCrimmon also found out on Thursday that he will be part of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2019. . . . McCrimmon has served the Wheat Kings as a player, coach, general manager, owner and governor. . . . Going into the hall this year as players will be Bob Fitchner, Trevor Kidd, Marty Murray and Terry Yake, all of whom played for the Wheat Kings, along with Larry Bolonchuk and Susanna Yuen. . . . Builders to be inducted are McCrimmon and Barry Shenkarow. . . . Rob Haithwaite will go into the officials section, while the media wing will welcome Bob Holliday. . . . The 1957-58 St. Boniface Canadians, 1965-66 Flin Flon Warriors and 1972-73 St. Boniface Mohawks will be inducted in the team category. . . . Going into the veterans’ category will be Johnny Sheppard as a player and the 1929 Elmwood Millionaires. . . . The inductions will take place at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg on Oct. 5. . . . Bios of the inductees are available right here.


The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials made it official Thursday — they have signed Barry Wolff as their new general manager and head coach. Wolff, who spent this season as GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, will replace Joe Martin, who now is the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . With Wolff behind the bench, the Stampeders lost the MJHL final to the Portage Terriers, dropping Game 7 in OT.


Eric Ditto has been the head coach of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League for four seasons. Now he also is the general manager. The Chiefs won 38 games this season as they set a PJHL single-season record with 77 points in a 40-game schedule. Ditto takes over as GM from Ryan Marushak, who had been in that position for four seasons.


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Hope, Price are liking status quo in Victoria. . . . They’ve got Raiders Fever in P.A. . . . Bandits wrap up AJHL title


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F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he had four goals and nine assists in 44 games. The AIHL opens its 2019 regular season on Saturday. . . .

F Zach Hamill (Everett, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 10 goals and 29 assists in 34 games.


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In the world of hockey, you learn never to say never. But it certainly doesn’t sound as though there will be a coaching change with the Victoria Royals.

The Royals went 34-30-4 to finish second in the B.C. Division this season, 29 points behind VictoriaRoyalsthe Vancouver Giants (48-15-5). The Royals ousted the Kamloops Blazers from a first-round series that last six games and then got swept by the Giants.

Dan Price completed his third season with the Royals, his second as head coach since taking over after Dave Lowry signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, liked what he saw this season.

“In my time in hockey,” Hope told CHEK News earlier this week, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some terrific coaches, guys who are head coaches in the National Hockey League right now in the playoffs . . . I can tell you that there isn’t a coaching staff that works harder, prepares more, is more intelligent in the way they do it and get their players to buy in more than this coaching staff. It’s remarkable what Dan Price, J.F. (Best) and Doug Bodger have done. It’s remarkable.”

Best and Bodger are the Royals’ assistant coaches.

Price, for his part, told CHEK News that he isn’t wanting to move.

“I would love to be here for as long as Cam and (owner) Graham (Lee) would like to have me,” Price said. “It is one of the best jobs if not the best job in hockey. I am grateful every day. . . . I love it here. I don’t want to go anywhere.”


JUST NOTES: The Eastern Conference final between the Prince Albert Raiders and Edmonton Oil Kings is scheduled to begin with Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday nights in the Saskatchewan city. Single-game tickets went on sale in Prince Albert on Tuesday at 9 a.m. People started lining up as early as 5:30 a.m. . . . In the OHL, the Guelph Storm scored the game’s last five goals to beat the Knights, 6-3, in London in Game 7 of a second-round series. The Storm is the fifth team in OHL history to lost the first three games of a series, then win the next four. The Storm is the first team to do that against a No. 1 seed.


The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have fired Marc-Andre Dumont, who had qmjhlbeen general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brent Hughes. Dumont had been in that position since December 2012. . . . This season, the Screaming Eagles went 40-22-6 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they lost in five games to the Rimouski Oceanic. . . . “We made a commitment to evaluate the team back when I became president almost a year ago and under new ownership we also made the commitment that we would evaluate the team,” Gerard Shaw, the organization’s president, told Jeremy Fraser of the Cape Breton Post. “We felt that we wanted to go in a new direction, so we decided the time was right to make a change and to take a new direction.”


USA Hockey has named Scott Sandelin the head coach of its national junior team. USAhockeySandelin just completed his 19th season as the head coach of the U of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who have won two straight NCAA championships. . . . Sandelin was the head coach of the national junior team in 2005 and was an assistant coach in 2012 and 2019. . . . The IIHF’s 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled to run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.


The Brooks Bandits won their fifth AJHL championship in 10 seasons on Tuesday night, beating the Spruce Grove Saints, 2-0, to win the series, 4-0. . . . G Pierce Charleson, a 19-year-old freshman from Aurora, Ont., stopped 22 shots to earn the shutout. . . . The goals came from F William Lemay of Marieville, Que., who is committed to the U of Vermont, and F Jakob Lee of Owen Sound, Ont., who will attend Canisius College. Lemay and Lee both are in their first AJHL seasons. . . .

In the MJHL, F Bradly Goethals scored at 1:46 of the third OT period to give the Swan Valley Stampeders a 4-3 victory over the Portage Terriers. The Stampeders hold a 3-2 lead in the championships series, with Game 6 in Swan River on Thursday. . . . Goethals, from Île-des-Chênes, Man., has played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips and Saskatoon Blades. . . . Swan Valley also got goals from F Brian Harris, who has played 54 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings, F Kasyn Kruse of Luverne, Minn., and F Matthew Osadick of Grande Pointe, Man., who is ticketed for the U of Maine. . . .

In the BCHL, F Ben Poisson scored at 12:07 of OT to give the Prince George Spruce Kings a 4-3 victory over the Vipers in Vernon. . . . The Spruce Kings hold a 3-0 lead and get their first chance to wrap it up tonight in Vernon. . . . Poisson’s brother, Nick, drew the lone assist on the winner.


Garry Childerhose is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He replaced Clayton Jardine, who, according to a news release, “has stepped aside to pursue other career opportunities.” . . . Jardine just completed his first season as the Klippers’ GM/head coach, and he was named the SJHL’s coach of the year. The Clippers finished 36-16-6 in the regular season, placing second in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division. They lost a first-round playoff series to the Melfort Mustangs in five games. . . . Childerhose has been the Flin Flon Bombers’ assistant GM/assistant coach for the past five seasons.


The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have chosen not to renew the contract of Troy Leslie, who had been with the organization for seven seasons. . . . From a news release: “Troy helped lead the team to six straight playoff appearances and a league championship final, and helped develop many players to the next level of hockey and careers beyond the game.” . . . This season, Virden finished 31-21-8, good for fifth place in the 11-team league. The Oil Capitals were 4-6 in the playoffs, beating the Selkirk Steelers in six games, then losing in four to the Portage Terriers.


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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.

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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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Blazers, Lajoie go their separate ways. . . . Broncos taking games to the Internet. . . . Giants sweep way into conference final

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D Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 11 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL). This season, with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL), he had 12 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. Almond is a dual Swiss-Canadian citizen, and has played the past seven seasons in Geneva.


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The Kamloops Blazers announced late Thursday afternoon that they and head coach Serge Lajoie “have mutually parted ways.” Lajoie had replaced Don Hay as the team’s head coach prior to this season.

The four-paragraph news release didn’t mention assistant coach Dan Kordic, who came Kamloops1to the Blazers from the U of Alberta Golden Bears with Lajoie. They had helped the Golden Bears win the U Sports national title for 2017-18.

Jon Keen, the Blazers’ broadcaster, later tweeted that Kordic “has been retained.”

Lajoie, a defenceman in his playing days, got into seven games with the Blazers in 1986-87. He went on to play five seasons (1988-93) with the Golden Bears, where he played under head coach Billy Moores for four of those seasons. Interestingly, Moores is a former WHL coach, having spent one season (1985-86) as the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats. Moores is the older brother of Don Moores, who has been the Blazers’ president and chief operating officer for almost three years.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season as the Blazers’ general manager, explained things this way to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, who shared all of it on his Twitter account (@MarTheReporter):

“We had some reviews, discussing with Serge, talked about some things, both sides, and we came to the conclusion that I think a little bit was the fit. Might not have been the right fit for us and maybe for him.

“I think, even for Serge, being away from family played possibly a part of it. It’s tough for coaches, for anybody, when you’re away from family all year long.”

Lajoie’s family — wife Kelly and children Isabella and Marc — stayed in the Edmonton area. Isabella is finishing up Grade 12, while Marc, a first-round selection by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, spent this season playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team.

“I missed out on so much, in terms of my daughter’s accomplishments, my son’s accomplishments,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I would have loved to have been able to see his first WHL game. You sit down with your family and think — is this really worth it? It would not have been fair to the Blazers.”

In explaining his side of the decision, Lajoie said:

“I’m very comfortable with it. Both the Blazers and myself, totally on the same page. It was an evaluation that I made at the end of the year. I wanted to make sure I took some time at the end of the season to see if really this is something I could continue and commit the time and effort necessary to help continue to push the Blazers forward. Family was a big part in this decision. We came to an understanding, the Blazers and myself. Now is the right time to part ways and move on to the next opportunity.”

This season, the Blazers went 28-32-8, good enough for a third-place tie with the Kelowna Rockets in the B.C. Division. The Blazers then beat the visiting Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker that propelled them into the first round of the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals.

The writing may have been on the wall for the Blazers as early as Feb. 12 when they added co-owner Darryl Sydor as a full-time assistant coach. Sydor, who had moved back to Kamloops prior to this season, had been at most of the team’s home games, watching from the press box. After Feb. 12, he was behind the bench for all but a couple of games.

In a season-ending interview with Hastings, majority owner Tom Gaglardi said that Lajoie had a long-term contract. Asked if Lajoie would be back as head coach, Gaglardi told Hastings: “I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that.”

Gaglardi went on to praise Sydor’s contribution to the team and to the coaching staff. Asked if Sydor has “what it takes to be a head coach,” Gaglardi replied: “I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do.”

On Thursday, when Hastings asked Bardsley if Sydor would be the next head coach, the GM responded:

“We talked to Darryl and I think we’re comfortable Darryl is going to come back as a coach, At what capacity, we have to discuss that. Is it the head coach? We haven’t even discussed that. We’d like to have Darryl back as a coach.”

Despite the optics, Lajoie told Hastings that he didn’t see Sydor’s presence as any kind of threat. I recommend that you check out Hastings’ timeline on Twitter (@MarTheReporter) for more comments from Bardsley and Lajoie, along with a few quotes from Gaglardi.

The Blazers have completed 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi. The next hire will be the 11th full-time or interim head coach since they purchased the franchise.

In those 12 seasons, the Blazers have missed the playoffs four times, reached the Western Conference final once, gotten into the second round on one other occasion, and been bounced in the first round six times.

BlazersCoaches

The above chart is from the Blazers’ website. One asterisk indicates that he was replaced in mid-season; two asterisks indicates an interim head coach.


There are some nasty allegations being made by followers of the Prince Albert Raiders who journeyed to Saskatoon on Wednesday for Game 4 between their favourite club and PrinceAlbertthe Blades. Fans are claiming they had beer and macaroni thrown at them in the SaskTel Centre. . . . “I could feel something on the back of my neck, something really hard,” Raiders fan Matt Herbert told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “We discovered it was macaroni later, but they were just pelting it down on us. Next thing you know, I could feel some beer coming down my back. The guy beside me was soaked.” . . . The macaroni had been given to fans as part of a promotion. . . . D’Andrea wrote: “The Blades did not wish to comment on the record. The SaskTel Centre did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Raiders issued a response. . . . In it, they confirm that they’ve been told the occurrence is being examined by SaskTel Centre, and they hope nothing like this repeats itself for Game 5 Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.” . . . D’Andrea’s complete story is right here. . . . The Blades won Game 4, 4-1, to tie the series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Saskatoon on Sunday.


The Swift Current Broncos are taking their game broadcasts to the Internet. After being SCBroncoson The Eagle 94.1 since the late 1980s, the Broncos announced on Thursday that they are beginning “a new era of audio content production and distribution.” . . . According to the news release, “This will include streaming game-day broadcasts, podcasts and interviews that will provide Broncos Nation with leading in-depth coverage and access that we believe our fans will truly appreciate. . . . Further details are set to be released at a future date that is considerate of the parties involved and after a proper process has been completed.”


The Red Deer Rebels have signed D Blake Gustafson to a WHL contract. Gustafson, who will turn 17 on May 21, played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. He had four goals and one assists in 38 regular-season and playoff games. Gustafson was a 10th-round pick by the Rebels in the 2017 bantam draft.


There is an interesting story developing in the OHL where the Windsor Spitfires seem ohlabout to be sold, perhaps for as much as $12.8 million. According to reports, Dr. Azim Parekh is negotiating a deal that will end with him buying the Spitfires from a group that includes Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner. On Saturday, the Spitfires selected D Isa Parekh in the fifth round of the OHL draft. On Wednesday, the OHL held its U-18 draft, and the Spitfires, with the fifth overall pick, took D Aydin Parekh. . . . Yes, they both are sons of Dr. Parekh. . . . Dave Jewell of The Hockey Writers has a whole lot more on this story right here.


The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have signed Mat Hehr, their general manager and head coach, to a two-year contract extension. Hehr, 30, joined the Terriers as an assistant coach for 2016-17, then took over as head coach on Nov. 15, 2017. So he just completed his first season as the full-time head coach.


The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have promoted Brad Rihela to assistant general manager and associate coach. Rihela, 29, spent last season as their director of player personnel and assistant coach. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Rihela spent three seasons at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., coach in the bantam prep program. . . . In Chilliwack, Rihela will be working with Brian Maloney, the general manager of hockey and building operations and head coach.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants advanced to the Western Conference final by beating the host Victoria Royals, 6-1, in Thursday’s only WHL playoff game. The Giants, last in the conference final in 2010, swept the series, 4-0, and now await the winner of the series between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs. . . . That series will open in Langley, B.C., with games on April 19 and 20. . . .

The Chiefs lead that series, 3-0, and have a chance to wrap it up at home tonight. . . .

The other series also resumes tonight, with the Saskatoon Blades in Prince Albert to meet the Raiders. The Blades won, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Saskatoon to tie that series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 will be played Sunday in Saskatoon and, as of late Thursday afternoon, the lower bowl in the SaskTel Centre, with 6,000 seats, was sold out. . . . The winner of that series will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. They completed a sweep of the Hitmen with a 6-0 victory in Calgary on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants are into the Western Conference final after beating the Royals, 6-1, Vancouverin Victoria. . . . The Giants swept the series and will meet either the Everett Silvertips or Spokane Chiefs in the conference final. The Giants, who finished atop the conference standings, will have the home-ice advantage, so the series will begin with two games in Langley, B.C., on April 19 and 20. . . . Last night, the Giants took control with three first-period goals, from F Lukas Svejkovsky (3), at 10:04; D Bowen Byram (4), at 16:19; and D Dallas Hines (3), at 16:37. . . . F Owen Hardy (3) made it 4-0 at 9:39 of the second period, before F D-Jay Jerome (2) got Victoria’s lone goal at 11:58. . . . F Brayden Watts (3) and F Jared Dmytriw (4) had the Giants’ other goals, both in the third period. . . . Dmytriw, who played the first three seasons (2014-17) with the Royals, also had two assists. He also is Vancouver’s captain. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Victoria was 0-1. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 17 shots for Vancouver, while G Griffen Outhouse completed his WHL career with a 27-save effort. . . . The Giants held a 157-63 edge in shots in the series, but, because of Outhouse’s superb play, needed OT to win Games 3 and 4. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt, who missed Game 3, was back in the lineup. Royals F Phillip Schultz, who left Game 3 in OT with an apparent injury to his left arm, also was in the lineup. . . . F Kaid Oliver, the Royals’ leading scorer in the regular season, missed all of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald, who has used up his junior eligibility, completed a six-game suspension by sitting last night, while D Jake Kustra sat out the second of a two-game suspension. F Tanner Sidaway missed all of this series with a hand injury.


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WHL’s War of the Words continues. . . . Blades skate back into series. . . . Oil Kings, Giants win in OT, go ahead 3-0

MacBeth

D Blake Orban (Vancouver, Edmonton, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with the U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had one goal and five assists in 25 games.


ThisThat

OK. Let’s review . . .

Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders and one of eight men with more than 500 regular-season WHL victories, got his club’s second-round series with whlSaskatoon really going by accusing the Blades of doing more diving than members of the Saskatoon Diving Club.

Mitch Love, the Blades’ first-year head coach, waited until after the second game and, with his club trailing 2-0, suggested that the Raiders’ players dish out more headshots than competitors with the Prince Albert Boxing Club.

Love, though, went a step further and suggested that the WHL, a league whose pooh-bahs love to talk about the importance of player safety, has “turned a blind eye to that kind of thing . . .”

Love added that he had expressed his concerns to the WHL, but “it falls on deaf ears, and here we are.”

That brings us to Game 3, which was played Tuesday night in Saskatoon.

Prior to the game, it was Habscheid’s turn to fire a volley in the WHL’s latest War of the Words.

“This is all fun and games, but it comes to a bigger issue,” Habscheid told Trevor Redden of panow.com for a story that is right here. “The fact that he’s questioning the integrity of our league about player safety, that crosses the line. I did not think that was an appropriate comment.”

You will remember that it was Habscheid — aka Mark (The Entertainer) Habscheid — who started all this.

Yesterday, he told Redden that it’s all gamesmanship.

“That’s just a weak ploy to try to change the narrative,” Habscheid said. “He’ll probably start yelling at me from his bench, too, just to add to it . . . so whatever, we don’t care.”

For the record, Love wasn’t seen yelling at Habscheid as the Blades skated to a 1-0 victory last night.

——

With Habscheid and Love both having mentioned the importance of player safety, allow me to point out a thing or two.

The WHL issued a news release on March 28 announcing that F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds had been suspended indefinitely.

Richards had taken a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in a game the previous night.

In that news release, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted thusly: “Player safety is the first priority for the WHL at all times.”

That quote was recycled last week when the WHL announced that Richards’ suspension had been set at eight games.

One on-line dictionary defines hypocrisy like this: “The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform.”

A league that condones fighting simply cannot trumpet the importance of player safety.

A league that continues to hand out measly two-game suspensions for checking-from-behind fouls and headshots cannot trumpet the importance of player safety. It just can’t.

After D Jake Lee of the Thunderbirds drew a two-game suspension

for a hit from behind on Vancouver F Justin Sourdif in Game 1 of a first-round series, Giants head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia:

“I played with Brad Hornung. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. It was the same type of play. The only thing that saved Justin Sourdif was the net. It’s a terrible play. He (Lee) is a young guy. But somebody has to teach him. All two games is … I don’t know.

“It’s one of the worst plays in hockey. It had nothing to do with making a play. It’s emotion. I understand that. But you have to learn.”

Dyck, as I mentioned here after he was fined $1,000 for his comments, is right. But is anyone listening?

The time has long since passed by for the WHL to ban fighting and to issue suspensions to those who choose to engage in fisticuffs.

And it’s time for the WHL to get serious about suspensions for headshots and checks from behind. No more of this two-game stuff. Let coaches and players know that such a foul means a player could sit for a month.

Yes, start with 10 games, and then the league can puff out its chest and tell people that player safety is a priority in the WHL.

And when it comes to the neanderthals who continue to insist that hockey needs fighting, well, . . .

Patti Dawn Swanson, aka The River City Renegade, blogged about ‘the code’ the other day:

“You hit me with a cheap shot — or hit me legally but too hard for my liking — and I now must knock your block off. If not me, one of my guard dogs will take care of business. Might not do it immediately. Might not do it that same night. Might have to wait a year. But someone is coming after you and you better not turn tail when challenged. You want the respect of friend, foe and fan? Only way is to ‘man up.’ That’s the ‘code.’

Well, the ‘code’ is stupid and so are hockey players for following it.”

She’s right and that piece is right here.


It seems that the Swift Current Broncos no longer have a radio rights holder.

Shawn Mullin, the Broncos’ play-by-play voice for the past nine seasons, indicated in a SCBroncosTuesday afternoon tweet that talks on a new agreement have broken down between the Broncos and The Eagle 94.1

“Despite what I believe were the best intentions on all sides,” Mullin tweeted, “the Broncos and the radio station have been unable to reach an agreement to continue our broadcasts.”

Mullin, who is from Ottawa, moved to Swift Current after four seasons as the radio voice of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters.

Regan Bartel, who calls the Kelowna Rockets’ games, and Jon Keen, the Kamloops Blazers’ broadcaster, both are former Swift Current play-by-play voices.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were three second-round games on Tuesday night, and there will be three more tonight. The difference is that there is one team facing elimination tonight. . . .

Last night, the Edmonton Oil Kings went into Calgary and beat the Hitmen, 2-1 in OT. That means the Oil Kings can move into the Eastern Conference final with a victory over the host Hitmen tonight. . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades rode the goaltending of Nolan Maier to a 1-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. Still, the Raiders hold a 2-1 lead going into Game 4 in ’Toontown tonight. . . .

In Victoria, the Vancouver Giants beat the Royals, 5-4 in OT, and now lead that series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for Victoria on Thursday night. . . .

The Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs didn’t play last night. Their series resumes tonight in Spokane with the Chiefs holding a 2-0 lead. Remember that this series is following a 2-3-2 format because Cirque du Soleil is in Everett’s Angels of the Wind Arena through Sunday.

——

TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Nolan Maier stopped 26 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 1-0 victory over the Saskatoonvisiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Saskatoon tonight. . . . The teams will be back in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night. . . . This was only the second time the Raiders have been blanked this season and Maier has been the goaltender both times. On Dec. 9, he stopped 32 shots in a 1-0 victory in Saskatoon. F Tristen Robins scored the only goal, at 5:14 of the second period. . . . Last night, the game’s lone goal came from F Kirby Dach (5), who was able to fight off a check, reach into the crease and backhand a loose puck into the net at 4:21 of the first period. . . . The Raiders came within inches of equalizing in the dying seconds when F Sean Montgomery had a redirection go off the right post. . . . Prince Albert G Ian Scott also was stellar, with 26 saves. . . . Despite the ongoing verbiage from the head coaches, the game included only five minor penalties. The Blades were 0-2 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-1.


D Wyatt McLeod scored from the left point to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 2-1 victory EdmontonOilKingsover the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton holds a 3-0 lead in the series and gets its first chance to close it out tonight in Calgary. . . . F Zach Russell (1) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 7:57 of the second period. . . . The Oil Kings nursed that lead into the last three minutes of the third period when they were hit with back-to-back minor penalties. . . . Calgary scored on the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage, with F Mark Kastelic getting his sixth goal, at 18:53, to force OT. That goal came one second before the first minor was to expire. . . . McLeod won it with his second goal of these playoffs, at 2:46 of OT. Russell had the lone assist on the winner. . . . Calgary was 1-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-5. . . . According to the online scoresheet, Calgary was 38-19 on faceoffs, with Kastelic going 20-10. . . . G Dylan Myskiw blocked 24 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . The Hitmen got 27 saves from G Jack McNaughton. . . . The Hitmen had F Jake Kryski back in their lineup. He had been out since Jan. 11 with an undisclosed injury.


F Owen Hardy’s second goal of the night, this one in OT, gave the Vancouver Giants a 5-4 Vancouvervictory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The Giants, with a 3-0 lead in the series, will have the opportunity to end it in Game 4 on Thursday in Victoria. . . . Last night, Vancouver went ahead 1-0 at 3:32 of the first period when F Jared Dmytriw, a former Royals skater, scored his second goal of the playoffs. . . .  The Royals responded with goals from F Sean Gulka (2), at 9:10, and F Igor Martynov (2), on a PP, at 19:31. . . . F Milos Roman (2) tied it for Vancouver, on a PP, at 3:44 of the second period. . . . D Mitchell Prowse (1) put Victoria back in front at 13:06 on the Royals’ first shot of the period. . . . That lead lasted until Hardy (1) scored 14 seconds into the third period. . . . The Royals went back out front at 10:15 on a goal from F Carson Miller (5). . . . The Giants forced OT when D Alex Kannok Leipert (2) scored at 15:40. . . . Hardy, who had nine goals in 64 regular-season games, won it with his second goal of the game — and of the playoffs — at 13:34 of OT. He’s from Nanaimo, so no doubt had some familiar faces in the crowd, too. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Victoria was 1-3. . . . Vancouver held a 28-9 edge in shots through two periods. An interested observer told Taking Note that “of the Royals’ nine shots, three have gone in and two were clearing attempts from their own end of the ice that hit the net.” . . . In the end, the count was 57-20, including 15-5 in OT. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner stopped 16 shots, but the story was Victoria G Griffen Outhouse and his 52 stops. . . . In the three games, the Giants hold a 124-45 edge in shots, but are only ahead 10-5 in goals. . . . Vancouver won Game 2, 2-1 in OT. . . . The Giants were without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round and has yet to play in this series. . . . D Ralph Jarratt, who didn’t finish Game 2, was among Victoria’s scratches. The Royals also were without F Tanner Sidaway for a third straight game, while F Kody McDonald served the fifth of a six-game suspension. As well, D Jake Kustra began serving a two-game suspension. . . . With their lineup depleted by injuries and suspensions, the Royals had two APs in the lineup — D Noah Lamb and F Alex Bolshakov. . . . On top of all that, the Royals may have lost F Phillip Schultz, who has two goals and seven assists in nine playoff games, with some sort of arm injury. About a minute before the game ended, Schultz went hard into the boards at the Vancouver bench. The gate was open and he hit an edge of the boards. Schultz dropped his gloves and stick and appeared to be in serious pain as he went to the dressing room.


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Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

——

The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

——

The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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Latest on minimum-wage lawsuit front. . . . Battles of B.C., Saskatchewan open tonight. . . . Other two series begin Saturday

ThisThat

There was news on the minimum-wage battleground between former major junior players and the OHL on Thursday.

“The Ontario Hockey League will be forced to defend allegations of conspiracy, ohlnegligence and breach of contract after a three-judge panel in Ontario reinstated those claims against the league in its legal battle against former players over minimum wage,” writes Rick Westhead of TSN. “The judgment, released late Wednesday by three Ontario Divisional Court judges, comes after an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed those claims against the OHL in April, 2017. Lawyers for the former players appealed that decision.

“The judges on Wednesday also rejected an OHL appeal that asked for the case to be stripped of class-action status. As a class action, current and former players going back to the 2012-13 season automatically become plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Players will now have the option to opt out of the litigation.

“The judges also ordered the OHL to immediately pay roughly $500,000 worth of legal fees to the plaintiffs, in addition to another $700,000 in legal fees that must be paid if the OHL loses the lawsuit.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


F Nick Henry and F Jake Leschyshyn, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, have moved on Lethbridgeto pro teams. . . . Henry, who will turn 20 on July 4, has joined the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Leschyshyn now is with the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Henry, a fourth-round pick in the NHL’s 2017 draft, has signed with the Avalanche. He had 29 goals and 65 assists in 69 games this season. . . . Leschyshyn, who turned 20 on March 10, was a second-round pick by Vegas in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed an NHL contract. This season, he had 40 goals and 41 assists in 68 games. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Henry and Leschyshyn from the Regina Pats in an early-season trade.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Blake Swetlikoff to a WHL contract. The 15-year-old from Regina was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft after putting up 32 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Regina Monarchs. . . . This season, he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 40 games for the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians.


Whenever someone writes a WHL-related newspaper column that includes a mention of Bobby (The Brain) Heeney, well, you just know it has to be a good read. Ed Willes of Postmedia has that column right here and, while it’s more to do with Michael Dyck and Jamie Heard of the Vancouver Giants, there is a mention of Heeney. Oh, and Kelly Handy, a football player who once played for the Regina Pats, gets a mention too. Enjoy!


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League made it official on Thursday . . . Dean Maynard is their general manager and head coach. Maynard had been interim head coach since the firing of Mark Chase in January. . . . Maynard will be joined by assistant coaches Brandon Watson and David Gordon, while Tyler Liebel is on board doing work on skills instruction player development and video. Mitch Fritz will be involved with player selection and development.



The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have signed Kyle Adams to a two-year contract as general manager and head coach. Adams signed on as an assistant coach prior to this season, then was named interim GM and head coach following the firing of Devin Windle on Nov. 29.


EdChynowethCup

The WHL playoffs resume tonight with second-round series beginning on two fronts. . . . The other two series will open on Saturday night. . . . In each instance, if the outcome of the season series means anything, these all should be short series. . . . But, hey, it’s the playoffs and it’s junior hockey. . . .

The Battle of Saskatchewan opens in Prince Albert as the Raiders meet the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders (54-10-4) won the Scotty Munro Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions. . . . The Blades were second to the Raiders in the East Division at 45-15-8. . . . Prince Albert was 6-2-0 in the season series; Saskatoon was 2-5-1. . . . They have only met twice since the trade deadline. The Blades won, 3-2, at home on March 15; the Raiders on, 3-1 in Prince Albert the next night. . . . Saskatoon is in the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2013. . . . The first three games of this series will be televised by Sportsnet, with host Rob Faulds, play caller RJ Broadhead and analyst Sam Cosentino. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, played for the Blades back in the day. This season, he recorded his 500th regular-season coaching victory. He also understands that he is in the entertainment business as much as he is in the hockey business. That’s one of the reasons he says things like this:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

That was Habscheid chatting with Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. The complete story is right here.

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The Battle of B.C. begins in Langley, B.C., with the Vancouver Giants playing host to the Victoria Royals. . . . Vancouver (48-15-5) finished atop the Western Conference. . . . Victoria (34-30-4) was second in the B.C. Division, 29 points behind the Giants. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 6-2-2; Victoria was 4-4-2. . . . They played each other four times after the trade deadline. Vancouver won at home, 3-2 and 4-0, on Jan. 13 and Feb. 22. Victoria won, 5-4 in a shootout, at home on Feb. 23, then lost 2-1 on Feb. 24. Yes, they played each other three times in as many days. . . .

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The Battle of Alberta will open on Saturday with the Calgary Hitmen in Edmonton to meet the Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton (42-18-8) finished atop the Central Division, with Calgary (36-26-6) 14 points in arrears. . . . The Oil Kings won the season series, 7-0-1; the Hitmen were 1-6-1. . . . They have met four times since the trade deadline, with Edmonton winning all four of them — 3-2 and 6-1 in Edmonton, 5-1 and 3-1 in Calgary. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw went 6-0-0, 2.00, .935 in six games against Calgary. . . . Steve Hamilton, Calgary’s head coach, was fired by the Oil Kings after last season. He spent eight seasons in Edmonton, the last four as head coach.

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The Battle of Washington also gets started on Saturday as the Everett Silvertips play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett (47-16-5) finished second in the Western Conference and first in the U.S. Division, 12 points ahead of Spokane (40-21-7). . . . Everett won the season series, 6-0-2; Spokane was 2-5-1. . . . However, they have played only once since the Jan. 10 trade deadline. The Silvertips skated to a 3-1 victory in Spokane on March 5. . . . If the Chiefs are to win, they are going to have to solve Everett G Dustin Wolf, who went 6-0-1, 1.75, .929 against them.

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NOTES: F Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has been given a two-game suspension after taking a slashing major and game misconduct at the end of a first-round playoff game against the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday. Barlage slashed Calgary F Carson Focht right off a faceoff as the Hitmen closed out a 4-2 victory in Game 7. Barlage will have to sit out the first two games of the 2019-20 regular season. . . .

Focht, who scored twice in Calgary’s Game 7 victory, fell to the ice after the slash, clutching an arm. We won’t know whether he is injured until lineups are posted prior to Game 1 in Edmonton on Saturday. . . .

D Bowen Byram, who missed a couple of Vancouver practices this week, is expected to be in the Giants’ lineup tonight for Game 1 with the visiting Victoria Royals.


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