Major news from WCHA schools brings back memories of CMJHL’s birth

There was major news in the world of NCAA Division 1 hockey on Friday when seven schools served notice that they are on the verge of taking their hockey programs out of WCHAthe 10-team WCHA and forming a new conference in time for the 2021-22 season.

Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan, all of which are located in Michigan, along with Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Minnesota State/Mankato want out, a move that would leave Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville as the only three schools left in the WCHA.

A statement released by the seven schools reads, in part:

“They are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the potential new league with a focus on improving regional alignment and the overall student-athlete experience while building natural rivalries within a more compact geographic footprint.”

The seven schools, it seems, are tired of travelling to Alabama and Alaska.

As uncomfortable as it sounds, the seven schools would continue play in the WCHA through two more seasons before leaving for a new league.

At the same time, the future of the hockey programs at both Alaska schools has been in question for a few years due to financial issues. Those schools took another hit on Friday when Mike Dunleavy, the governor of Alaska, vetoed $130 million in state support.

Why was this potential move revealed on Friday?

Dr. Morris Kurtz, a former athletic director at St. Cloud, Minn., State, the spokesperson for the seven schools, told Austin Monteith of the Grand Forks Herald that WCHA bylaws call for a 25-month advance warning in situations involving future withdrawal, and that process now has begun.

Monteith’s complete story is right here.

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All of this brought back memories of something I wrote a while back about the birth of what now is the Western Hockey League. Here it is, in its entirety. . . .

To find the beginning you have to return to June 21, 1966, and the opening day of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s annual general meeting.

Oh, there had been a lot of back-room chatter and negotiating prior to that, but it was on June 21 when the doors opened and the sun beat back the shadows.

It happened in Wasagaming, a resort community in Riding Mountain National Park, just north of Brandon.

Prior to then, Canadian teenagers who aspired to play junior hockey didn’t have a whole lot of options. What now is considered Junior A was the top rung.

But people like Winnipeg’s Ben Hatskin, ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter of Edmonton, Estevan’s Scotty Munro, Moose Jaw’s Brian Shaw and Regina’s Del Wilson had visions of a Prairie-wide league, centred in larger communities.

A few years later, some of those same men would dream of even bigger things as they became involved in the World Hockey Association and its attempts to sour the NHL’s world.

Most of them were larger-than-life characters who were years ahead of their time in terms of marketing. They were entrepreneurs and more. Dick Chubey of the Albertan, then a Calgary-based newspaper, wrote a piece for the league’s first Yearbook — for 1973-74 — in which he referred to them as “rogues” and “pirates.”

Ernie (Punch) McLean, who later would be the head coach of the New Westminster Bruins, says there wasn’t any doubt who were the leaders.

“Bill Hunter, Scotty Munro and Ben Hatskin . . .,” McLean, who in those days was with Munro in Estevan, said in a 1990 interview. “Scotty Munro would have the idea on hockey, Bill Hunter would sell it and Ben Hatskin would financially back it. Those were in the days when we had nothing else but Household Finance to get us started the next year.

“It was so much different back then. The guys were friends. We were partners.”

Four days prior to the start of the SJHL meeting, word leaked that a new junior league — the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League — was in the works. This league would include Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, along with Brandon, Estevan, Moose Jaw, Regina and Weyburn, the latter five having decided to leave the SJHL.

At the same time, there were issues with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and the National Hockey League.

“We were getting very disgusted with the CAHA,” McLean recalled. “We weren’t getting any help from them and they were taking a percentage off the gates in the playoffs. At that particular time, we weren’t getting what we felt was a fair deal from the National Hockey League.

“At that time, the CAHA was bringing in any team that they thought could come into the league. They would apply and we were supposed to look after them. Melville was in, Yorkton was coming in.

“So at Clear Lake . . . it was really funny. In those days, you had to pay your dues or you couldn’t vote, you never had a vote. As it happened, (SJHL president) Frank Boucher called the meeting to order. . . .”

When asked, Hunter and Munro said they didn’t have cheques. Boucher told both men, “You can’t vote.”

“It went around the table like that,” McLean said. “All of a sudden they said, ‘Well, I guess we have no meeting.’ And Frank says, ‘I guess we haven’t.’

“At that point, the guys got up from the table, walked across to another room in the hotel and formed a new league.”

It wasn’t quite that simple, but that, in effect, was the genesis of what now is the Western Hockey League, even if it meant places like Melville, Flin Flon and Swift Current were left scrambling.

“What the hell,” Brandon Wheat Kings coach Eddie Dorohoy said, “if Melville can’t afford the opera, they gotta go for the barn dance.”

The CMJHL finalized its lineup later that summer. Before then, Melville filed a lawsuit, asking for $250,000 in general damages and $8,800 in special damages. As well, Brandon pulled out, Saskatoon came in, Winnipeg left.

Interestingly, the Saskatoon Blades are the only franchise to have been there since Day 1. In 1966, the Blades were an affiliate of the Los Angeles Blades, a team in the professional WHL that had hoped to become an NHL expansion franchise. When that didn’t happen, Saskatoon slid into the CMJHL.

If you are looking for an ‘official’ date to mark the league’s birthday that would be July 15, 1966. That is when the teams met in Regina. Munro moved for the dissolution of the SJHL. The motion passed. A new league was formed, and it announced it would accept applications.

By now, Boucher had left the SJHL and was commissioner of the CMJHL. When the 1966-67 season began, it featured the Calgary Buffaloes, Edmonton Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Moose Jaw Canucks, Regina Pats, Saskatoon and the Weyburn Red Wings.

While all of this was going on, the CAHA was refusing to recognize the CMJHL, something that didn’t particularly disturb the newcomers.

“We had quite a league,” McLean said. “Of course, we were outlaws from the CAHA. We preferred to call it independent.”

After Edmonton finished atop the regular-season standings, Moose Jaw won the first playoff championship, the only such title in the city’s history. That playoff season included best-of-nine series without overtime. In one semifinal series, Moose Jaw took out Edmonton 3-2 with four ties.

Prior to 1967-68, the league changed its name to the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League. The Buffaloes became the Centennials, and the league, still unrecognized by the CAHA, welcomed Brandon, the Flin Flon Bombers, Swift Current Broncos and Winnipeg Jets.

The Bombers didn’t win the championship — Edmonton beat the Bombers, 4-0, with one tie, in the final — but the Flin Flon Flu was born.

“Paddy (Ginnell) went into Flin Flon and turned that franchise right around,” McLean said. “He made them a tough, aggressive hockey club. It was worth your life to go in there and play.”

How tough?

“We always played Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Flin Flon. Well, Saturday night, they beat the crap out of Swift Current, just pounded the hell out of them. So they called for a conference call,” McLean said of the Broncos, who were coached by Mike Shabaga.

“Mike said, ‘Things are so bad, I’ve got the Red Cross signs on the bus so we can get out of town.’

 “Anyway, Mike didn’t have enough players to play the game. So it was decided that so it would be fair to both sides, however many Mike could dress, that’s all Paddy could dress. Paddy moaned and groaned and the whole thing, and then Mike won the hockey game. Paddy came out of there, he was just livid.”

By the time the 1968-69 season arrived, the league — now calling itself the Western Canada Hockey League — was down to eight teams. Moose Jaw, Regina and Weyburn left because of concerns with the outlaw status. As well, the league split into divisions — East and West — for the first time.

Flin Flon, led by Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Chuck Arnason, won the decade’s last two championships, winning 89 of 120 regular-season games and twice beating Edmonton in the playoff final.


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Raiders put Giants behind 8-ball. . . . P.A. scores seven in first period. . . . Winds of change blowing in Brandon

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F Yegor Babenko (Lethbridge, 2015-17) has been traded by Severstal Cherepovets to Traktor Chelyabinsk (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. This season, with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games. He also was pointless in three games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), and had two goals three assists in 15 games with Severstal Cherepovets. . . .

F Liam Stewart (Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-season contract with the Southern Stampede Queenstown (New Zealand, NZIHL). Last season,  with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 35 games. He didn’t play this season after suffering a concussion. . . . Stewart holds dual UK/New Zealand citizenship and is considered a local player in New Zealand. However, in the UK, he is considered an import because he played his minor hockey in the U.S.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings revealed on Tuesday that they won’t be renewing the contract BrandonWKregularof Grant Armstrong, who had been their general manager through three seasons. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, said in a news release that Armstrong “was responsible for many of the moves that will serve us well in the future. At the same time, I also felt a change was necessary as we look to return to a higher level as an organization.” . . . McCrimmon is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He will be taking over as the Golden Knights’ GM on Sept 1. . . . Armstrong signed as Brandon’s general manager to take over from McCrimmon when he signed with Vegas. . . . The Wheat Kings were 102-87-23 with Armstrong as the general manager. This season, they finished 31-29-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. . . . Before joining Brandon, Armstrong was with the Victoria Royals for four seasons as director of player personnel and assistant GM. Prior to that, he worked with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons, the last four as head scout. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here. . . .

With a new general manager to be hired at some point, you are free to wonder about the future of head coach David Anning and assistant coach Don MacGillivray. After three seasons, their contracts are up, too. . . . The news release on Armstrong’s departure doesn’t mention the coaching staff.


The Tri-City Americans announced Tuesday that they have renewed the contracts of goaltending coaches Eli Wilson and Liam McOnie “through the 2021 season.” . . . Wilson and McOnie have worked with the Americans since the 2017-18 season. They also run goaltending camps through Eli Wilson Goaltending.


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The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers have hired Jason McKee as general manager and head coach, Vernonreplacing Mark Ferner, who got the team into the BCHL final this season, his fifth season in his second stint with the organization. . . . Ferner, 53, was the Vipers’ head coach for four seasons (2007-11), getting them into three national finals and winning two of them, before spending time on the coaching staffs of the Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers. This time, he had been the Vipers’ director of hockey operations and head coach since early in the 2014-15 season. . . . This season, the Vipers went 26-21-11 to finish fourth in the seven-team Interior Division. They reach the championship final where they were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . McKee, 40, was the head coach of the Vancouver Giants for two seasons (2016-18). Prior to that, he was with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for 10 seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . . Brothers John and Tom Glen purchased the Vipers in September from Libby Wray, whose husband, Dr. Duncan Wray, had owned the franchise from 1992 through his death on Jan. 11, 2018. . . . John Glen was quite involved with the Saints, although not at the ownership level. He also is a former scout with the Giants.


If you’re a junior hockey fan you should be following Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) on Twitter. He always has up-to-date information on players moving from the WHL to the Canadian university scene, including F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility with the Victoria Royals this season and will be playing for the Carleton Ravens of Ottawa next season. Findlay also reports that Josh Curtis, who was a 20-year-old with the Prince George Cougars, will be joining the Queen’s U Gaels, who play out of Kingston, Ont. Findlay also has F Ryan Jevne (Medicine Hat Tigers) going to the U of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, F Nolan Yaremko (Tri-City Americans) off to the Calgary-based Mount Royal Cougars, and F Ryan Vandervlis (Lethbridge Hurricanes), F Mike MacLean (Prince George) and F Jeff de Wit (Red Deer Rebels) all joining the Montreal-based Concordia Stingers.


The Halifax Mooseheads broke a 1-1 tie with two second-period goals and then added two more in the third, en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL’s championship final on Tuesday night. . . . The series now is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday night, and Game 6 back in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. A seventh game would be played in Rouyn-Noranda on Monday. . . . Both teams already know they will play in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. . . .

In the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s will meet the Storm in Guelph in Game 4 tonight (Wednesday). The 67’s hold a 2-1 lead after dropping a 7-2 decision to the host Storm on Monday night. That was the first loss of these playoffs for the 67’s, who now are 14-1.


Rich Pilon, who was named the head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings on April 29, now is the team’s general manager, as well. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon will add the GM’s duties, taking over from Tanner McCall, who had been the GM and head scout. . . . McCall, who also scouts for the Moose Jaw Warriors, had been with the Red Wings for five seasons, the last three as general manager and head scout.


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NOTES: Well, who saw that one coming? The Prince Albert Raiders went into Langley, B.C., and humbled the Vancouver Giants, handing them an 8-2 loss in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. Game 5 is set for Friday night in Langley. . . . Last night’s decision means that if the Giants are to win the series, they will have to do it in Prince Albert. Games 6 and 7, if one or both are needed, would be played there on Sunday and Monday. . . .

In Game 3, the Raiders took control with seven goals in the first period. . . . The WHL record for most goals in one period of a playoff game is nine and belongs to the Saskatoon Blades (March 30, 1986, second period of a 12-5 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors). . . .

Oh the games people play now/Every night and every day now. . . . According to the lineup sheet circulated prior to the game, Raiders D Max Martin would play, with D Loeden Schaufler and F Jakob Brook listed with question marks beside their names. That would seem to have indicated that one of those two would play and the other would sit. . . . Martin didn’t finish Game 2 after suffering an apparent shoulder injury when he went awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Last night, he took the pregame warmup and then was scratched. Schaufler and Brook both were dressed and on the Prince Albert bench. . . .

F Dante Hannoun of the Raiders had a goal and two assists in Game 3. He leads the WHL playoffs with 12 goals. His 23 points have him tied with Vancouver D Bowen Byram for the scoring lead. Byram had one assist in Game 3. . . .

According to tweets from Steve Ewen, there were a number of NHL luminaries in the crowd, among them Scotty Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), and Rob Blake and Todd McLellan (Los Angeles Kings).

——

TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored 41 seconds into the first period and made it 2-0 at 2:27 PrinceAlbertas they went on to an 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. . . . Prince Albert had won Game 2, 4-0, so has outscored Vancouver, 12-2, over the last two games. . . . The visitors led 4-0 at 6:33 of the first period, 6-0 at 16:30 and 7-0 going into the second period. . . . The Giants took the game’s first four minor penalties, all of them in the opening 6:33. The Raiders responded with three PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (5,6) and F Brett Leason (8,9) each scored twice and added an assist for the victors, with F Dante Hannoun (12) scoring once and adding two assists. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (5), F Cole Fonstad (2) and F Noah Gregor (10) added a goal each. . . . D Sergei Sapego, F Aliaksei Protas and F Sean Montgomery added two assists each for the Raiders. . . . F Brayden Watts (6) and F Yannik Valenti (3) scored PP goals for the Giants after they had fallen behind 8-0. . . . Prince Albert was 4-8 on the PP; Vancouver was 2-8. . . . G Ian Scott blocked 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . Vancouver starter David Tendeck gave up three goals on 13 shots. He allowed two goals on four shots in 2:27, then was relieved by Trent Miner for the remainder of the first period. Miner allowed five goals on 14 shots. Tendeck returned for the final two periods and stopped eight of nine shots. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Chris Crich, with Ron Dietterle and Michael Roberts the linesmen.


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Ex-WHLer charged after incident at Kelowna beach. . . . Pilon takes over as Red Wings’ coach. . . . Storm is writing quite a story in OHL


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F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .

F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .

G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .

F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.


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Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.


At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him ohl$10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s WeyburnWeyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.


F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .

F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .

D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . . 

D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.


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NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .

Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.


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WHL sucks $1,500 out of Lauer. . . . No U-18 gold for Team Canada. . . . Ex-Tigers forward dead at 53


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“So it’s going to cost me a thousand bucks, but whatever it is, it is.”

That was Brad Lauer, who is in his first season as head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings, EdmontonOilKingsfollowing a 4-0 loss to the Raiders in Prince Albert on Friday night.

The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline spoke on Saturday night, posting on its website that Lauer had been fined $1,500 “for public comments.”

You can be the judge as to whether he got his money’s worth . . .

Early in the Eastern Conference final, Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid expressed concern about the officiating.

“One thing that concerned me a little bit,” Habscheid said after Game 2, “was it was open season on our goaltender. . . . He was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect (the officials) to take care of that and they didn’t. That was real disappointing.”

The referees that night were Mike Langin and Steve Papp.

At that point, the series was tied, 1-1.

On Friday night, it was Lauer sounding off.

“The officiating sucked,” Lauer told reporters after his PP unit wasn’t given even one opportunity in a 4-0 loss. The Raiders were 1-3 on the PP. “It’s not about their power plays because we deserved some calls (against us), but I’ve never been in a game where we’ve had no calls (for us). . . .”

(Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on Lauer’s rant right here.)

The referees for this one were Brett Iverson and Mark Pearce.

“There was a number of calls (that could have gone against Prince Albert). They could have called Vince Loschiavo, they hit him f—ing three seconds after the whistle goes, and then another trip in the third period. And Trey Fix-Wolansky is run from behind and no calls. Nothing. . . .

“So it’s going to cost me a thousand bucks, but whatever it is, it is.”

Habscheid wasn’t fined for his comments after Game 2, so one might have thought, at least for a moment at least, that perhaps Lauer would be given a freebie, too. But no such luck.

It could be that in this instance the difference between “real disappointing” and “sucked” is $1,500.

The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, going into Game 6 in Edmonton today (Sunday).


Before the IIHF U-18 World Championship got started, many observers were anticipating Canadaa championship final featuring Team Canada and Team USA.

Those two teams will meet today (Sunday) but it won’t be in the final; instead, they will play for third place after both were beaten in semifinal action.

Sweden, the host team, beat Canada, 4-3, on Saturday, after Russia had beaten the Americans, 3-2, in a shootout.

F Albin Grewe’s goal with 2:31 left in the third period broke a 3-3 tie and provided Sweden, which has never won this event, with its victory over Canada before 3,519 fans in Ornskoldsvik.

F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) scored twice for Canada, which went with Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) in goal.

Canada was hit with seven minor penalties, with Sweden taking two. Sweden scored one PP goal, that one giving it a 3-2 lead at 9:23 of the third period.

“Something we stressed all tournament was discipline,” F Alex Newhook of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies told the IIHF’s Lucas Aykroyd. “To have that effort tonight and to have that many penalties, it’s definitely a bit disappointing for our group. But we battled through a lot of that.”

In the other semifinal, F Rodion Amirov had two goals, the second one the only goal of the shootout, to spearhead Russia’s victory. Russia last won gold in this tournament in 2007.

Team USA, which was chasing its eighth gold in 11 years, got two goals from F Cole Caufield, who has tied the tournament record (14) that was set by F Alex Ovechkin in 2002.

Russian G Yaroslav Askarov, who isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2020, was outstanding, with 40 saves. He also got some help from the crossbar, as Team USA hit it twice, once by sniper Jack Hughes while on a PP late in the 10-minute OT period.

Meanwhile, in the relegation round, Slovakia beat Switzerland, 4-3, thanks to a late penalty shot, to tie the best-of-three series, 1-1, in Umea. . . . F Maxim Cajkovic scored on the penalty shot with 2:28 left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.

They’ll play Game 3 today in Umea.


Guy Phillips, who played three seasons (1984-87) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, has died. The Regina native was 53. . . . Phillips put up 186 points, including 81 goals, in 183 regular-season games with the Tigers, and added 23 goals and 28 assists in 51 playoff games. He helped the Tigers win the 1987 Memorial Cup. An alternate captain with that team, he had four goals and four assists in four games as he was named a tournament all-star. . . . He went on to play professionally and retired after the 1998-99 season. He played his last five seasons in Germany.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings are poised to introduce Rich Pilon, a former WHL and WeyburnNHL defenceman, as their new head coach. . . . Pilon, 51, is from Saskatoon. He played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then jumped right into the lineup of the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . He went on to play 631 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Islanders, although he also played with the New York Rangers (114 games) and St. Louis Blues (8). . . . Pilon has coached minor hockey in Saskatoon, including midget AAA teams. . . . It is expected that Tanner McCall will stay on as the Red Wings’ general manager and head scout, and will continue to scout for the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Red Wings fired head coach Wes Rudy in mid-December, with Kyle Haines taking over as the interim head coach. Haines remains with the Red Wings as an assistant coach. . . . Pilon’s son, Garrett, played for three seasons (2015-18) in the WHL, with the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. He had 10 goals and 23 assists in 71 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears this season.


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Brandon hopes to deal veteran d-man . . . McClennon nearly ready to return . . . Rebels pull victory out of the fire


MacBeth

D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has been released by Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had four goals and three assists in 27 games.


ThisThat

The Brandon Wheat Kings have dropped D Schael Higson, 20, from their roster and are BrandonWKregularhoping to trade him before the Jan. 10 deadline. . . . Higson, from Grande Prairie, Alta., has three goals and 14 assists in 20 games this season. . . .

The first indication that something was happening with Higson came on Monday prior to Brandon’s 3-1 loss to the Warriors in Moose Jaw. Higson was scratched and, prior to the game, Brandon Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted that he had been told Higson’s absence was a “coach’s decision . . . he did not make the trip.” . . . 

In his fifth WHL season, Highson has played 90 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades and 192 with the Wheat Kings. In those 282 games, he has 18 goals and 61 assists. . . . Higson’s departure leaves Brandon with one 20-year-old on its roster — F Linden McCorrister.

The Wheat Kings, who have lost four in a row and seven of 10, are at home to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. The skid has knocked the Wheat Kings out of a playoff spot; they had held the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but now trail the Calgary Hitmen by two points. Brandon has two games in hand. . . . The Wheat Kings are fourth in the East Division, 10 points behind the third-place Moose Jaw Warriors.


D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks has been suspended for four games whlafter taking a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. Quigley hit F Dillon Hamaliuk on the play. Hamaliuk was injured and isn’t expected to play again this season. . . . Quigley sat out Sunday’s rematch in Portland, and will miss road games Friday (Swift Current), Saturday (Moose Jaw) and Tuesday (Brandon) before being eligible to return on Jan. 9 in Regina. . . .

Meanwhile, Seattle D Cade McNelly drew a three-game suspension after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Michal Kvasnica in Portland on Monday. . . .

As well, Seattle F Matthew Wedman has a TBD suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jake Gricius in that Monday game. Gricius left the game and didn’t return. However, he is with the Winterhawks on their Central Division and is expected to play Friday in Swift Current.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have added F Mike Horon to their roster. Horon, 17, was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday. From Lethbridge, he was playing for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes and was leading the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring, with 50 points, including 25 goals, in 21 games. . . . Seattle got Horon, F Keltie Jeri-Leon, 18, and a 2019 fourth-round bantam draft pick from Lethbridge for G Liam Hughes, 19, and an eighth-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . . The Thunderbirds are to open an East Division swing in Brandon on Friday night.


The Spokane Chiefs have added D Graham Sward, 15, to their roster. He was Spokane’s first-round selection, 17th overall, in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Sward, from Abbotsford, B.C., has five goals and 12 assists in 19 games with the major midget Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. . . . He will be available to play with the Chiefs on Friday against the visiting Kamloops Blazers and on Saturday in Cranbrook, B.C., against the Kootenay Ice.


F Connor McClennon, who was the second overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, Kootenaynewappears to be close to returning to the Kootenay Ice’s lineup. . . . McClennon, 16, hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on Nov. 24 in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . McClennon, who has four goals and eight assists in 19 games, was a full participant in the Ice’s practice on Wednesday. . . . Kootenay will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend. It is to meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday, then return to Cranbrook, B.C., to face the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday and the Vancouver Giants on Sunday. . . . The Ice (8-24-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1) and is 1-6-3 in its last 10 outings. Kootenay is 15 points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Everett Silvertips have added F Justyn Gurney to their roster. Gurney, 18, has been playing with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder has six goals and seven assists in 23 games. . . . He has previous WHL experience, having totalled three goals and five assists in 86 games. . . . He played 85 games over two seasons (2016-18) with the Calgary Hitmen, who selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Earlier this season, he got into one game with the Regina Pats. . . . The Silvertips placed him on their protected list on Dec. 13. . . . The Silvertips are to visit the Tri-City Americans on Friday night.


F Jared Legien’s latest WHL stint has come to an end. Legien, 20, left the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers last week to join the Vancouver Giants. He played three games with the Giants, putting up a goal and two assists. . . . All three points came in his first game with Vancouver, a 6-0 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday. . . . On Wednedsay, the Terriers tweeted that “Legien is returning to the orange and black” and is expected to be in Yorkton’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Flin Flon Bombers. . . . Before joining the Giants, Legien had 28 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with the Terriers. . . . Legien, who was selected by the Kootenay Ice with the ninth pick of the 2013 bantam draft, has 28 goals and 34 assists in 148 regular-season WHL games split among the Ice, Victoria Royals, Regina Pats and the Vancouver.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Dawson Pasternak, 15, a Winnipegger who is playing in the Sioux Falls, S.D., Power program with the U-16 team. . . . Pasternak leads the Power in goals (13) and points (37) in 32 games. . . . Pasternak was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Prior to this season, Pasternak was a defenceman with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Cole Nagy, 17, to a WHL contract. Nagy, who is from Saskatoon, is in his second season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 37 games. . . . This season, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Nagy is leading the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring, with 49 points, including 21 goals, in 32 games. . . . Nagy was a sixth-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2016 bantam draft.


The Prince George Cougars have added F Craig Armstrong, 15, to their roster. From PrinceGeorgeAirdrie, Alta., he was the Cougars’ first selection, ninth overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Armstrong is playing for the Edge School Mountaineers’ midget prep team, and has 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 games. . . . Armstrong will help fill a spot on the roster that was created when F Ilijah Colina suffered an undisclosed injury during a 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Sunday. He is out week-to-week. . . . The Cougars are to meet the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday night, before completing an 11-game road trip against the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday and the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have removed the ‘interim’ from head coach Kyle Haines’ title. . . . Haines moved up from assistant coach following the firing of Wes Rudy on Dec. 15. . . . The Red Wings now have decided that Haines, 31, who played three seasons (2005-08) there, will be the head coach, at least through the end of this season. . . . This is Haines’ first season as a coach. Last season, he played for the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers.


WHL players at the World Junior Championship:

Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).

Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).

Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).

Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).

Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).

Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).

Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).

Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).

Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).

Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).

Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F James Hamblin scored twice and added an assist to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-Tigers Logo Official3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Tigers (21-15-3) have won four in a row. They are fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Giants (23-11-2) have lost three straight. They are 1-3-0 on a six-game Central Division trip. Vancouver leads the B.C. Division by 11 points over the Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. . . . Hamblin gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 15:13 of the first period. . . . The Giants took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Davis Koch (11), at 1:07, and F Justin Sourdif (8), just 22 seconds later. . . . Hamblin tied it with his 23rd goal of the season, at 14:45. . . . F Elijah Brown (6) put Medicine Hat in front 3-2 at 15:18, and D Hayden Ostir (8) upped the lead to 4-2, on a PP, at 8:48 of the third. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (3) got the Giants to within a goal at 11:39. . . . The Tigers won 41 of the game’s 60 faceoffs. . . . G Jordan Hollett, who was playing in his 100th WHL game, stopped 29 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Tigers were without F Bryan Lockner, who, according to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, “hit his head on the ice in a fight Sunday.” After the game, McCracken confirmed that Lockner is in concussion protocol.


F Cam Hausinger’s shootout goal gave the Red Deer Rebels a 5-4 victory over the visiting Red DeerLethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer (22-12-2) is tied with Lethbridge (19-10-8) for second in the Central Division, three points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (21-12-7). . . . Lethbridge has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . The Rebels forced OT with two goals in the last two minutes of the third period. . . . F Reese Johnson (17) was credited with the first of those goals after Lethbridge D Ty Prefontaine inadvertently scored an own-goal at 18:05. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel (23) tied it, on a PP, with 6.6 seconds left in the period. . . . Both goals came with G Ethan Anderson the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Hurricanes led 2-0 in the first period on goals from F Jake Leschyshyn (25), at 3:48, and D Calen Addison (7), at 10:12. . . . F Jeff de Wit (21) cut the Rebels deficit to one at 10:58. . . . F Dylan Cozens (22) restored the two-goal lead 51 seconds into the second period. . . . Hagel got his guys back to within a goal at 17:08. . . . F Taylor Ross (21) gave the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead at 5:59 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead in the shootout, but the Rebels won it on goals from Hagel, who also had an assist, and Hausinger. . . . Leschyshyn’s goal, the 70th of his career, left him with 150 points in 226 games. . . . F Nick Henry had three assists for Lethbridge, with the first one being the 100th of his career. He has 169 points, 102 of them assists, in 163 games. . . . Anders finished with 28 saves. . . . G Liam Hughes, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday, stopped 26 shots in his Lethbridge debut.


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Mattheos hat trick finishes Blades . . . Almeida, Langan too much for Pats . . . Fyten shines in his Edmonton debut


On the fourth day of our annual Christmas countdown, here are the Three Tenors, with Silent Night, and it’s all right here.


MacBeth

D Tomáš Kudělka (Lethbridge, 2005-07) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste bank Liga). He was released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga) on Friday for financial reasons. In 24 games, he had two goals and four assists. . . .

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) has been released by Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had four goals and four assists in 27 games.


ThisThat

Germany won the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) by going 4-1 (four regulation victories, one in OT) in the five-team tournament that was played on home-ice in Fussen. . . . By finishing first, Germany moves up to play with the big boys next season when the 2020 WJC is scheduled for the Czech Republic. . . . The German roster included F Yannik Valenti of the Vancouver Giants and F Sebastian Streu of the Regina Pats. Valenti had two goals and an assist in five game, while Streu had one assist. . . . Germany beat France, 6-1, in the final round on Saturday. . . . Belarus, which finished second at 3-2, dropped a 3-1 decision to Latvia on Saturday. The Belarusian roster included D Vladislav Yeryomenko of the Calgary Hitmen, F Vladimir Alistrov (Edmonton Oil Kings), F Igor Martynov (Victoria Royals), F Alexei Protas (Prince Albert Raiders), D Sergei Sapego (Prince Albert) and F Andrei Pavlenko (Edmonton).


The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Chase Lacombe, 16, to a WHL contract. Lacombe, from Moose Jaw, has three assists in 29 games with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . The Oil Kings dealt Lacombe to the Broncos on Aug. 21, along with F Matthew Culling, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a second-rounder in 2020 for D Jacson Alexander, D Chad Smithson and a sixth-round pick in 2020.


Scout Truman of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons has committed to the U of Massachussetts-Lowell and the River Hawks for 2021-21. Truman, 16, is from Lethbridge. He was a second-round selection by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . His brother Roc, 17, a forward who also plays for the Dragons, also has committed to the River Hawks for 2021-22.


With the WHL heading into the Christmas break after today games, don’t forget that there is a trade moratorium in place. It will be lifted on Dec. 27 at 12:01 a.m.

——

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Saturday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 13.

Players: 29.

Bantam draft picks: 21.

Conditional draft picks: 5.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings fired head coach Wes Rudy on Saturday. Rudy started with the Red Wings as their goaltending coach, then was promoted to assistant coach for 2015-16. He was in his third season as head coach, having replaced Bryce Thoma after the 2015-16 season. . . . The Red Wings reached the playoffs each of the previous two seasons. . . . This season, they were 10-19-3-0 going into last night’s game with the visiting Estevan Bruins. The Red Wings gave up six third-period goals and dropped an 8-2 decision to the Bruins. . . .  Assistant coach Kyle Haines, a former player in his first season on the coaching staff, was listed as Weyburn’s head coach on the online scoresheet.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Stelio Mattheos completed his hat trick in OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 6-BrandonWKregular5 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Brandon (15-10-6) had lost its previous three games. . . . Saskatoon (21-10-4) has points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The teams met Friday in Saskatoon, with the Blades prevailing, 3-2. . . . Last night, F Connor Gutenberg’s shorthanded goal, at 11:39 of the first period, gave the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead and was the Teddy Bear goal. . . . The Blades went ahead 2-1 on first-period goals from F Chase Wouters (5), at 15:04, and F Max Gerlach, at 19:09. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-2 lead as F Cole Reinhardt (5) scored 37 seconds into the second period and F Ben McCartney (8) counted, on a PP, at 3:43. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson (7) tied it at 11:34. . . . Brandon took a 5-3 lead before the period ended as Mattheos scored twice, at 12:15 and 16:32. . . . The Blades forced OT on third-period goals from Gerlach (19), at 10:05, and F Tristen Robins (6), at 11:30. Robins is a Brandon native. . . . Mattheos, who also had an assist, scored his 26th goal, at 2:25 of OT, to win the game and complete his third career hat trick. . . . F Luka Burzan drew four assists for Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings got 35 saves from G Ethan Kruger, 10 more than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . Saskatoon F Riley McKay was unsuccessful on a penalty shot at 1:07 of OT. . . . The Wheat Kings remain without five injured players — D Braden Schneider, D Jonny Lambos, D Vince Iorio, F Jonny Hooker and F Lynden McCallum. . . . F Nolan Ritchie, who played for the Wheat Kings on Friday, was returned to the midget AAA Wheat Kings after the game.


F Justin Almeida had two goals and four assists — his first career six-point game — to MooseJawWarriorshelp the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (17-8-5) had lost its previous two games. . . . The Pats slipped to 9-24-1. . . . On Friday night, the Pats beat the visiting Warriors, 2-1. . . . Last night, the Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Robbie Holmes scored 56 seconds into the game. . . . The Warriors tied it just 14 seconds later when F Tristin Langan scored the Teddy Bear goal, just like he did a year ago. . . . Almeida added a PP goal at 19:56. . . . F Austin Pratt (13) got Regina into a 2-2 tie, on a PP, at 11:41, only to have the Warriors grab a 4-2 lead on goals by D Dalton Hamaliuk (2), at 17:04 and Langan, at 18:57. . . . Holmes (6) scored Regina’s final goal, on a PP, getting the Pats to within 4-3 at 19:42. He also had an assist for a three-point game. . . . The Warriors put it away on goals from Almeida (8), on a PP, at 6:25 of the third period, and Langan (24), on another PP, at 14:59. . . . Moose Jaw was 3-7 on the PP; Regina was 2-6. . . . Almeida had six previous four-point games, but never more than that. He now has 42 points, including 34 assists, in 26 games. . . . Langan, who also had an assist, recorded his third career hat trick and fifth four-point outing while playing on his 20th birthday. . . . Langan has 54 points, including 30 assists, in 30 games. Last season, he finished with 42 points, 16 of them goals, in 70 games. . . . The Warriors were without F Luke Ormsby, who, according to the WHL website, was suspended for two games “for g.m. at Regina on Dec. 14.” Originally, the online scoresheet from Regina’s 2-1 victory on Friday showed Ormsby as having received a roughing minor and a game misconduct at 17:26 of the second period. But that was changed to a misconduct at some point after the game. Then, sometime Saturday evening, it was switched back to a game misconduct. No matter. Ormsby sat last night and will sit again on Dec. 27 when the Swift Current Broncos come to town. . . . The WHL doesn’t indicate what Ormsby did to warrant a suspension, but he apparently may or may not have spit his mouthguard at an opponent during an altercation.


The Prince Albert Raiders ran their home-ice record to 16-0-0 with a 7-5 victory over the PrinceAlbertSwift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders (31-2-1) have won three in a row, including a 6-4 triumph in Swift Current on Friday. . . . The Broncos (6-25-2) have lost two straight. . . . The Raiders, who had a 56-18 edge in shots, took a 1-0 lead 4:48 into the game when F Sean Montgomery scored the Teddy Bear goal. . . . F Dawson Springer, 16, made his WHL debut with the Broncos after signing a WHL contract on Thursday and scored his first goal at 13:46 of the first period to forge a 1-1 tie. . . . Springer was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in a Dec. 3 deal that had F Max Patterson go the other way. Springer leads the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with 21 goals in 27 games for the Prince Albert Mintos. . . . F Justin Nachbaur scored for the Raiders, on a PP, at 15:35. . . . The Broncos then scored three in a row to take a 4-2 lead. F Ethan O’Rourke (2) counted at 18:16, with F Joona Kiviniemi (9) scoring at 2:14 of the second and F Matthew Culling (4) finding net at 6:08. . . . The home side took control by scoring four times before the second period ended. Nachbaur (9) got his second at 8:22, before F Ozzy Wiesblatt (7), on a PP, tied it at 12:38. F Noah Gregor broke the tie with two goals, at 16:14 and 19:12. He’s got 19 goals. . . . F Alec Zawatsky (11) got the Broncos’ final goal on a PP, with F Parker Kelly (15) finishing the Raiders’ scoring. . . . The Broncos got 49 saves from G Joel Hofer. . . . G Brett Balas made his WHL debut for the Raiders, coming on in relief of starter Donovan Buskey, who gave up four goals on 10 shots in 26:08. Balas surrendered one goal on eight shots in 33:52. . . . Kivniemi, a Finnish freshman who will turn 17 on Monday, scored for a third straight game and also earned his first WHL assist. He has nine goals and one assist in 31 games. . . . The Broncos scratched veteran D Garrett Sambrook, who left Friday’s game in the second period after absorbing a high hit from Kelly.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period, to Lethbridgebeat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (17-9-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Kamloops (12-16-3) has lost six in a row going 0-5-1 on a Central Division trip that ended with this game. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (5) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:55 of the first period. . . . The Hurricanes grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from F Jake Leschyshyn (21), at 6:07, and F Jordy Bellerive (14), on a PP, at 9:12. . . . F Connor Zary (9) got Kamloops back into a tie on a PP, at 13:34. . . . The home side won it in the third period as F Dylan Cozens (17) scored at 4:44, F Taylor Ross (19) counted at 10:12, and F Nick Henry (16) got the empty-netter at 18:35. . . . Bellerive added two assists to his goal. . . . Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen was back in the lineup after serving a three-game suspension.


F Andrew Fyten, who was acquired in a Thursday trade, scored in OT to give the host EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton (17-12-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Calgary (15-14-4) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Oil Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to win this one. . . . F Kaden Elder (13) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 18:30 of the first period, with F Jake Kryski (17) making it 2-0, on a PP, at 2:19 of the second. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (15), at 13:19 of the seocnd, and F David Kope (6), at 11:32 of the third, got Edmonton into a tie. . . . Fyten, in his first game with his new club, won it 40 seconds into OT with his ninth goal of the season. . . . Fyten also drew an assist on Kope’s goal. . . . The Oil Kings held a 44-34 edge in shots, including 16-8 in the third period. . . . Calgary G Jack McNaughton stopped 41 shots, nine more than Edmonton’s Dylan Myskiw. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield were among the Oil Kings’ scratches. Both were injured in Wednesday’s 6-5 OT loss to the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . F Kobe Verbicky, 15, made his WHL debut with the Oil Kings. From Victoria, he was a second-round pick by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Verbicky plays for the North Island Silvertips of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.


F Leif Mattson scored twice, one of them of the bizarre variety, as the Kelowna Rockets KelownaRocketsskated to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Kelowna (16-17-2) had lost its previous two games. It went 2-2-0 on a four-game dip into the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (17-15-3) had won its previous four games. . . . Mattson was credited with the game’s first goal, an empty-netter, after G Jordan Hollett vacated the Medicine Hat net during a delayed penalty against the Rockets and an errant Tigers pass ended up in their vacated goal. . . . At 11:09 of the second period, Mattson scored a more conventional goal, on a PP, for a 2-0 lead. He’s got 16 goals. . . . F James Hamblin (17) had Medicine Hat’s goal at 14:08 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got 31 stops from G Roman Basran, including 12 in the second period and 10 in the third. . . . Among Kelowna’s scratches were D Lassi Thomson, who has joined the Finnish national junior team, and D Libor Zabransky, who is with the Czech Republic. . . . Hollett stopped 18 shots for the Tigers. . . . G Mads Søgaard of the Tigers was on the bench, but will be joining Denmark’s national junior team. Medicine Hat is bringing in Garin Bjorklund, a 16-year-old from the Calgary Buffaloes, to backup Hollett. . . . Bjorklund was a first-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


D Aaron Hyman scored in OT to give the Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the tri-cityPortland Winterhawks in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (16-12-2) has won two in a row. . . . Portland (19-11-3) has points in two straight (1-0-1). . . . They’ll play again today, this time in Portland. . . . Last night, the Winterhawks held a 2-0 lead with fewer than six minutes left in the third period. . . . Portland had gotten goals from F Joachim Blichfeld (30), shorthanded, at 18:27 of the second period, and F Michal Kvasnica (4), at 12:47 of the third. . . . F Nolan Yaremko got the Americans even with two goals, the first at 14:34 and the second, on a PP and with the extra attacker on the ice, with 9.6 seconds left in the period. . . . Hyman won it with his eighth goal at 3:26 of extra time. . . . Tri-City had an 18-9 edge in shots in the third period; Portland had a 4-1 edge in OT. . . . The Americans dressed 17 skaters — 10 forwards and seven defencemen. . . . F Booker Daniel, 17, made his WHL debut with the Americans. He plays for the major midget Cariboo Cougars, who play out of Prince George.


F D-Jay Jerome scored twice, including the Teddy Bear goal, as the host Victoria Royals VictoriaRoyalsdoubled up on the Vancouver Giants, 4-2. . . . Victoria (16-13-1) has won two straight. . . . Vancouver (21-8-2) has lost two in a row. . . . Jerome, who has 14 goals, got things started at 4:50 of the first period. . . . The Giants took a 2-1 lead before the period ended, with F Owen Hardy (7) scoring at 9:22 and F Tristen Nielsen (3) scoring, on a PP, at 17:29. . . . F Ty Yoder (2) got the Royals into a 2-2 tie at 15:20 of the second period. . . . Jerome’s second goal, at 8:46 of the third, snapped the tie, and F Dante Hannoun (13) got the empty-netter at 19:40. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse turned aside 25 shots in recording his 100th career regular-season victory. . . . F Milos Roman was among Vancouver’s scratches. He has left to join the Slovakian national junior team. . . . The Royals again scratched D Ralph Jarratt, who has played only 13 games this season, two of them since Nov. 2. . . . Vancouver leads the B.C. Divison by 10 points over Kelowna and 11 over Victoria. The Giants hold four games in hand on Kelowna; the Royals have one game in hand on Vancouver.


The host Everett Silvertips built a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-1 victory over the Seattle EverettThunderbirds. . . . Everett (27-7-2) has points in 14 straight games (12-0-2). . . . Seattle (11-16-3) has lost two in a row. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (9) started it for the Silvertips with the Teddy Bear goal at 7:57 of the first period. . . . Everett added four more goals before the second period ended. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (17), D Gianni Fairbrother (4) and F Riley Sutter scored before the first period ended. F Jackson Berezowski (6) made it 5-0 at 19:11 of the second. . . . F Jaxon Kaluski (2) got Seattle’s goal at 4:15 of the third. . . . Sutter ended the scoring with his 13th, at 12:48. . . . Everett outshot Seattle, 39-22. . . . The Silvertips lead the U.S. Division by 15 points over Portland; they lead the Western Conference by 12 points over Vancouver.


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Love has arrived in Saskatoon . . . Blazers’ co-owner leaves Blues . . . Ex-Winter Hawks forward dies at 52 . . . Americans say they’re staying put

MacBeth

F Emil Oksanen (Regina, 2017-18) signed a two-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). This season, as a 19-year-old, he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 58 games with Regina. . . . Oksanen played 18 games as a 16-year-old with the Espoo Blues U20 (Finland, A-Junior Liiga) for SaiPa head coach Tero Lehterä. Oksanen’s older brother attends university in Lappeenranta. . . .

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had nine goals and 30 assists in 56 games. He led his team in assists and was fourth in the league. . . . Ross played three seasons with Innsbruck before moving to Zvolen. . . .

D Mario Grman (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2014-16) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). This season, with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and four assists in 44 games. . . .

D Daine Todd (Medicine Hat, 2003-08) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). This season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 40 games. . . .

F Dane Byers (Prince Albert, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). An alternate captain, the had 24 goals and 46 assists in 55 games.


Scattershooting

As expected, the Saskatoon Blades introduced Mitch Love as their new head on Wednesday afternoon. A rugged defenceman in his playing days, Love has spent the past seven seasons on the Everett Silvertips’ coaching staff. . . . Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ manager of communications, has more on Love right here.

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If you were wondering, Mitch Love, the Saskatoon Blades’ new head coach, signed a four-Saskatoonyear contract, with the club holding an option on a fifth season. . . . Ryan Keller, an assistant coach through two seasons, remains on staff, while the Blades are expected to add an assistant to replace Bryce Thoma, who was fired, along with head coach Dean Brockman, at season’s end. . . . Long-time assistant Jerome Engele also remains on the coaching staff. We can only hope he is gearing up for another season of those tweets in which he rates the post-game meals when on the road.


With Mitch Love off the market, you have to wonder when a WHL team will reach into the Portland Winterhawks’ front office and sign Kyle Gustafson as their head coach. He has been on the Portland coaching staff for 14 seasons now, the last three as associate coach. . . . You have to think the Kamloops Blazers could do a whole lot worse than to sign Matt Bardsley, Portland’s assistant general manager, as general manager and Gustafson as head coach.


The other day, all in good fun, I mused in this space that perhaps the Kamloops Blazers Kamloops1might want to bring back Bob Brown as general manager and Ken Hitchcock as head coach. . . . After all, Brown’s scouting contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers is soon to expire, while Hitchcock has moved into an advisory role with the Dallas Stars. . . . Well, it seems that a reader of this blog ran into Hitchcock on a golf course in Summerland, B.C., that afternoon. “I mentioned to him that I just read a rumour that he might return to Kamloops as coach,” the reader tells Taking Note in an email. “He laughed and said the only thing he would be returning for was to play golf at Rivershore . . . and he laughed some more.” . . . Great to hear that Hitch is in such good humour.


So . . . Kim Kardashian met with President Trump in the White House on Wednesday to discuss prison reform. OK, America, I can hardly wait to get out of bed today to find out how you top that one.


Darryl Sydor, who owns a chunk of the Kamloops Blazers, has left the St. Louis Blues after one season as an assistant coach, the NHL team announced on Wednesday. According to a news release, Sydor “has stepped down in order to spend more time with his family.” . . . Sydor, who retired as a player after the 2009-10 season, has been in the coaching game for the past eight seasons, five of them with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. . . . The Blues also announced that they have added Mike Van Ryn as an assistant coach. A former NHL defenceman, he spent this season as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes.


The Tri-City Americans issued a news release on Wednesday, stating that they “are tri-citycommitted to the future of hockey in the Tri-Cities, as we work to improve the facility and fan experience for the 2018-19 season.” . . . According to the Americans, the WHL, Toyota Center and the City of Kennewick “have devised a three-year plan to address the WHL’s concerns” with the state of the facility that has been the Americans’ home arena for 30 years. . . . The news release, which is right here, doesn’t include any details as to what improvements are in the works.


Ray Podloski, who played for the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, died on Monday, a few Portlanddays after suffering a heart attack. He was 52. . . . An Edmonton native, Podloski played three seasons (1983-86) with the Winter Hawks. . . . He spent 1982-83 with the AJHL’s Red Deer Rustlers, but got into two regular-season games with Portland. He also played in one game in the Memorial Cup, as the Winter Hawks won the championship. . . . H also played for Portland in the 1986 Memorial Cup, putting up two goals and five assists in four games. . . . After three seasons of pro hockey in North America, he went on to spend 15 seasons playing in Europe, retiring after the 2004-05 season. . . . Earlier, Podloski obtained his Austrian citizenship and played for that country in the 1999 IIHF World Championship. . . . He owned and operated Podloski Hockey Training in Edmonton where one of his clients was F Sam Steel, the captain of the WHL’s Regina Pats. Podloski also was the head coach with the St. Edmund Hockey Academy in Edmonton.


The Vegas Golden Knights are three victories away from winning the Stanley Cup in their first NHL season. However, assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon knows he can’t afford to think about that. Still, he knows how much his late brother, Brad, would be proud of him for the role he has played in the Golden Knight’s inaugural season. . . . Arash Markazi of ESPN has more on the McCrimmon brothers right here.


The Prince George Cougars are preparing for their 25th season in the northern B.C. city. PGCougars25Yes, it really has been 25 years since they made the move from Victoria. . . . With that in mind, they have unveiled their 25th anniversary logo. . . . According to a news release, the logo “features the Cougars’ logo over the number 25, with a banner across the front. The years 1994 and 2019 inside the banner reflect the years the organization has been operating in Prince George.” . . . You can bet the Cougars’ home schedule will be loaded with celebratory promotions.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have signed Jeff Schaeffer as assistant general manager and assistant coach. Schaeffer, who is from Weyburn, has spent the past four seasons scouting for the Red Wings. . . . The Red Wings also announced that assistant coach Brock Appleyard has left the team “to pursue other opportunities.”


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