D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). This season, he had three goals and 10 assists in 60 games.
Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior team and its U-18 side. . . . Dale Hunter of the OHL’s London Knights has been named head coach of the national junior team. His assistants will be Mitch Love, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Andre Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . The 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . .
Dan Lambert, the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, will be head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Czech Republic and Slovakia in August. . . . Lambert’s assistants will be Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Mario Duhamel, who is an assistant coach with the 67’s.
Taras McEwen, the Winnipeg Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, now also is the general manager of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . According to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which purchased the Blues at about the same time it was moving the Ice to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., McEwen will continue in both roles. . . . As the Blues’ GM, McEwen takes over from Billy Keane, who has been the Blues’ head coach since 2016 and had been the GM since 2017. . . . The Blues haven’t yet announced if Keane will return as head coach. . . . McEwen, 28, is from Whitewood, Sask. He joined the Ice as the manager of scouting in 2016, and took over as manager of hockey operations a year later. His father, Brad, is a familiar face on the scouting circuit and presently is Hockey Canada’s head scout.
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The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Sean Comrie, 19, who played this season for the U of Denver Pioneers. . . . Comrie, from Edmonton, was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He chose to go the NCAA route, and had one assist in 18 games with the Pioneers as a freshman this season. . . . On May 2, prior to the 2019 bantam draft, the Rockets acquired Comrie and the 10th-overall selection from Brandon for the fifth-overall selection. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 54 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Comrie is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are attempting to rebuild their roster in a hurry after not qualifying for the playoffs this season.
When last we left the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, an Ontario judge had unsealed documents that were connected to the team’s having committed recruiting violations. . . . Today comes word that city council in St. Catharines, Ont., the home of the IceDogs, has voted to change the name of a street — IceDogs Way — near the team’s home arena, the Meridian Centre. . . . According to Karena Walter of The St. Catharines Standard: “The move was in response to the 2017 decision by the Niagara IceDogs’ owners not to go forward with a $1 million donation for naming rights after problems hammering out a deal with the city.” . . . Walter’s story is right here.
People are upset about a recent episode of @ArthurPBS which featured Mr. Ratburn marrying his male partner. Said one concerned parent, “It’s been two decades and Mr. Ratburn still won’t let Arthur graduate from third grade?!”
Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning to provide the last rites to the Kootenay Ice.
The WHL’s Cranbrook-based franchise is dead after 21 seasons. It will be reborn in Winnipeg after it plays nine more home games in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place.
In Winnipeg, the franchise will continue to be known as the Ice and will play out of the WHL’s East Division, something that will result in the Swift Current Broncos moving to the Central Division. That allows each division to remain at six teams.
The Winnipeg Ice began taking $50 non-refundable deposits this morning, noting that the team will spend a couple of seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena and that seating will be limited. That deposit will get you on “a priority list for season-seat membership,” according to a news release at winnipegice.ca.
As for ticket prices, the news release stated: “Season-seat pricing will be communicated
prior to the seat-selection period. At this time, no decision has been made on whether fans can choose a multi-year season-seat commitment option.”
Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the Ice from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season, joined Robison at the news conference that was held in WFP and lasted about 30 minutes.
They had met with members of the business community earlier in the morning in an event that one observer told Taking Note appeared to be by “invite only to friendly business people.”
That observer said the message was that “we are apologetic that it didn’t work . . . and we had to make a business decision,” and that the situation was looked at from a league point of view “for several years and we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work.”
When the scene shifted to the arena for the news conference, there were a few fans present who had hoped to be allowed in. However, they were told that it was for media only. Someone did stream it on Facebook, so there were people elsewhere in the building who were able to watch.
According to two Taking Note correspondents who were in attendance, Robison began by acknowledging that losing the franchise is difficult for Cranbrook fans. He also thanked the fans for their support over the team’s 21 seasons in their city.
Robison pointed out that the previous owners — the Chynoweth family — attempted to increase fan support but that it has continued to slide over the past number of years.
In Robison’s estimation, the Chynoweths, as well as Fettes and Cockell, did everything they could to get things turned around.
Robison tried to take some of the heat off the franchise’s owners by claiming that “this was a Western Hockey League decision ultimately — not the ownership decision — to transfer this franchise. It was a decision made over an eight- or nine-year period of assessment of this market and the ability of this franchise to be sustainable over a long period of time.”
It turns out that the WHL’s board of governors voted on the move in December; Robinson refused to say whether the vote was unanimous.
Asked what this announcement means for other small-market WHL teams, Robison responded that those teams, some of which are community-owned, have to work hard to maintain a balance. He added that moving the Ice isn’t a reflection on the Cranbrook community.
Asked what went wrong in Cranbrook, Robison referred to the WHL playoffs in the spring of 2011, pointing to poor attendance at Ice games, and adding that the attendance has been declining since then.
The Ice won the WHL championship that season, but the announced average attendance for nine home playoff games was only 3,049. Kootenay beat the Portland Winterhawks in the final, winning in five games, but the arena wasn’t sold out. Of course, it didn’t help attendance that a lot of WHL games, including all games in the final, were televised.
Robison also admitted that attendance league-wide has been declining, saying that it has changed overall for most teams, and stating again that the Ice’s owners, past and present, did all they could to boost attendance.
When Fettes was asked how long he has been looking at the Winnipeg market, he said he had been wanting to buy into the WHL long before purchasing the Ice. He added that the Ice’s owners have been studying the attendance situation and began working on moving plans last summer.
As for the chances of another team moving to Cranbrook, Robison told the news conference that there aren’t any teams interested in moving at this time.
The Ice is the first WHL team to change locations since the Chilliwack Bruins were sold and moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season.
Prior to the start of this season, the Ice launched a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — with a goal of selling 2,500 season tickets, which would have marked an increase of about 600 from the previous season. Instead of an increase, however, the drive resulted in about 1,700 season tickets.
In 2017-18, the first season under new ownership, the team had an announced average attendance of 2,442, up from 1,754 the previous season.
This season, attendance has slipped to an average of 2,218.
In November, a group comprised mainly of local businessmen — the Green Bay Committee — began work to sell tickets and sponsorships on behalf of the Ice. After raising what members said was more than $50,000, the committee ceased operations due to an “absence of active engagement” from the Ice owners, who chose not to attend GBC meetings or provide anything in the way of support.
At the time, John Hudak, the GBC’s marketing director, told the Cranbrook Townsman that “it’s extremely disappointing that we have had to terminate our campaign at this particular time, but it is what it is.”
On Tuesday, Hudak told Taking Note: “I have never ever heard of successful business people turning down business.”
Asked if 2,500 season tickets would have kept the franchise in Cranbrook, Cockell admitted the community had reacted well in Year 1, but ticket sales didn’t show well prior to this season and reflected a reduction in management’s benchmark goal.
But, Cockell added, management had to acknowledge that people in the community have worked hard in support of the team.
Robison, Fettes and Cockell also spent time with Mayor Lee Pratt and some city councillors, but the franchise’s exit from its lease has yet to be negotiated.
It’s believed that the Ice players were given the spiel earlier in the morning. They then were taken to Kimberley for a team outing, so there weren’t any players around the arena to speak with the media following the news conference.
Robison, Fettes and Cockell departed via a side door, so didn’t have any interaction with fans who were waiting in the arena’s foyer.
“Leaving town and throwing the fans under the bus” is how Hudak put it.
With 18 games left, the Ice is 10-32-8. It is ninth in the 10-team Eastern Conference and won’t make the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the second in a row under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell.
Last season, the Ice went 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points. This season, it is 22 points from a wild-card spot.
The franchise began as the Edmonton Ice, an expansion franchise that was owned by longtime WHL president Ed Chynoweth. Unable to gain any traction in two seasons (1996-98) in that marketplace, he moved the franchise to Cranbrook where it now is in its 21st season.
The Ice has won three WHL championships (2000, 2002 and 2011) and the 2002 Memorial Cup.
The Ice will play its final game in Cranbrook on March 17 against the Red Deer Rebels.
The Winnipeg Ice’s next game is scheduled for Friday against the Swift Current Broncos in Cranbrook.
JUST NOTES: Taylor Rocca, the WHL’s senior manager, communications, was on hand to do the introductions at the news conference in Cranbrook. Before going to work for the WHL, he was a sports writer at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman and, yes, he covered the Ice. . . . Fettes confirmed at the afternoon news conference in Winnipeg that he has reached agreement to purchase the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. The Blues are the only Winnipeg-based franchise left in the MJHL, which once also included the West Kildonan North Stars, St. Boniface Saints and St. James Canadians. . . . If you have been following this story, you will recall that Fettes purchased two domain names — WinnipegIce.com and WinnipegIce.ca — in April 2017. Asked about that, Fettes said that through his business (24-7 Intouch, a global call centre), he has hundreds of domain names. On this occasion, he claimed he and his eight-year-old son were playing around and just made up some more. . . . The website winnipegice.ca was up and running on Tuesday. . . . Robison has long wanted to have a WHL franchise in the capital city of each of the four Western Canadian provinces. Under his watch, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers were awarded an expansion franchise that began play in 2007-08 in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital; the Chilliwack franchise relocated to Victoria, the capital of B.C.; and now Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, has a franchise. Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital, has long been home to the Pats.
F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after being released by mutual agreement by Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). He had two goals and two assists in 17 games. . . . Kuvayev started this season with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had one goal and one assist in eight games when he was released on Sept. 26 by mutual agreement. . . .
D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had four goals and thee assists in 27 games. He was released on Jan. 2. . . .
D David Turoň (Portland, 2002-03) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zagłębie Sosnowie (Poland, PHL) after obtaining his release from Polonia Bytom (Poland, PHL). He had five goals and 11 assists in 27 games.
If you were wondering . . .
A year ago, I began counting down the WHL trade deadline on Nov. 13, 2017, because that was when the first major deal was made in the lead-up to Jan. 10.
It was on Nov. 13, 2017, when the Regina Pats, loading up because they were the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, dealt two players — D Jonathan Smart and F Cole Muir — along with two bantam draft picks and a conditional pick to the Kootenay Ice for D Cale Fleury.
By the time the deadline went by, the WHL’s 22 teams had made 58 trades involving 110 players, 77 bantam draft selections and 12 conditional picks.
So . . . how’d it go this time around?
This time, I started counting on Nov. 26. There hadn’t been a trade since Nov. 9; on Nov. 26, there were three trades — involving the Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans, the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades, and the Blazers and Spokane Chiefs.
That signalled to me that teams were open for business.
In the end, the 22 teams combined to make 44 trades involving 77 players, 63 bantam draft selections and 15 conditional bantam draft picks.
A year ago, there were 17 transactions made on Jan. 10; this time, there were 11.
The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Kaden Hanas, who turned 19 on Dec. 18, and added him to they roster. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hanas, from Strathmore, Alta., had been playing with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. An alternate captain, he had five goals and 12 assists, along with 85 penalty minutes, in 30 games. Last season, in 49 games, he had seven goals, six assists and 168 PiM.
The Chiefs also have released D Mike Ladyman, 17, who is expected to join the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. Ladyman is from Winnipeg.
He was a fifth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. However, the Pats dropped him from their protected list and the Chiefs added him to their list in November 2017.
This season, Ladyman had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs, who will keep on their protected list.
On Tuesday, the Chiefs released D Luke Gallagher, who is expected to join the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. Gallagher, 18, is from Mead, Wash., and was an eighth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft.
This season, he had two assists in 22 games. Last season, he finished with a goal and three assists in 33 games.
Like Ladyman, Gallagher will remain on Spokane’s protected list.
The Chiefs found themselves overstocked with defenceman as Filip Kral returned from a stint with Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship and 6-foot-5 Matt Leduc, who hadn’t played since Oct. 12, returned for the Chiefs’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Wednesday.
With these moves, Spokane now is carrying seven defencemen.
D Alec Capstick of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen has made a commitment to attend Miami of Ohio and play for the RedHawks next season. . . . Capstick, 19, made the announcement via Twitter. . . . On Feb. 12, 2015, he had made a verbal commitment to the U of Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish. . . . From Langley, he has three goals and 19 assists in 39 games this season. . . . He was a fourth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have added F Rylan Thiessen, 17, to their roster. He had been with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. A list player, Thiessen has 11 goals and 17 assists in 25 games with the Wheat Kings. Last season, he finished with eight goals and 24 assists in 48 games. . . . He has played two games with the Hurricanes this season, but has yet to earn a point.
The BCHL’s Penticton Vees have acquired the junior A rights to D Jonathan Smart, 19, who didn’t return to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice after the Christmas break. . . . The Vees acquired his rights from the Alberta Valley Bulldogs for future considerations. . . . Smart, a first-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, played 216 regular-season WHL games, splitting time between the Rockets, Regina Pats and the Ice. . . . “Jonathan decided to leave the Kootenay Ice to be closer to home for personal reasons,” Fred Harbinson, the Vee’s president, GM and head coach, said in a news release. “At that point we acquired his rights from Alberni who had listed him a few weeks prior. Jonathan has a smooth skill set and adds experience to our backend with over 200 WHL games under his belt.” . . . Smart could make his Penticton debut on Friday against the visiting Powell River Kings.
G Shane Farkas of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks had his junior A rights move from the West Kelowna Warriors to the Prince George Spruce Kings to the Cowichan Capitals on Thursday. . . . Farkas, 19, is 24-9-5, 2.86, .901 in 39 appearances with the Winterhawks this season. . . . On Wednesday, the Winterhawks sent six WHL bantam draft picks, including two first-rounders, to the Swift Current Broncos for G Joel Hofer, 18.
F Ryan Peckford, who left the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors in November, is going to be playing for the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Peckford, 19, left the Warriors on Nov. 26, and went home to Stony Plain, Alta., to contemplate his future. A second-round selection by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, Peckford has 49 goals and 61 assists in 200 regular-season WHL games over four seasons. . . . This season, he had eight goals and eight assists in 20 games with Moose Jaw. . . . Peckford played 140 games with the Royals, who dealt him to the Warriors on Dec. 11, 2017, along with a fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, for F Noah Gregor and an eighth-round pick in 2018.
F Quinton Waitzner, released this week by the Swift Current Broncos, has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Waitzner, an 18-year-old from Victoria, played 82 games with the Broncos. This season, he had two assists in 34 games.
The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have acquired the rights to F Jesse Mistelbacher, 17, from the Swan Valley Stampeders for a fifth-round pick in that league’s 2019 draft. Mistelbacher, from Ile Des Chenes, Man., had one assist in 15 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but has been released and will join Virden. . . . He was a sixth-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. They released him and the Warriors placed him on their protected list in October 2017.
The midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings made a coaching change earlier this week, with former head coach Ken Schneider returning to take over form the fired Chris Johnston. . . . Chris Jaster of the Brandon Sun reports that the change was made after Tuesday night’s practice. . . . Schneider was the team’s coach from 2010-14. . . . The Wheat Kings were 23-8-0 and in third place in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League at the time of the change. . . . Jaster reported that Bruce Moar, the team’s president, “wouldn’t say why Johnston was fired.” However, Jaster wrote, “it did come on the heels of a full line brawl at the end of Saturday’s road game against the Winnipeg Thrashers. Brandon also finished a game against Yellowhead in November in fisticuffs.” . . . Schneider played for the WHL’s Wheat Kings (1980-82) and now scouts for the Regina Pats. . . . Johnston spent five seasons (1990-95) in the WHL, playing with the Wheat Kings, Red Deer Rebels and Regina.
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D Colton Jobke (Kelowna, Regina, 2009-13) signed a tryout contract with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). The contract runs through the end of November. Last season, he had one goal and seven assists in 47 games with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). Jobke has dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .
D Shaone Morrisonn (Kamloops, 1999-02) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 29 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). . . .
D Cody Corbett (Edmonton, 2011-14) signed a one-year contract with Pusteral/Val Pusteria Brunico (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, he had three goals and 18 assists in 35 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), and two goals and two assists in 12 games with Orly Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga).
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F Jackson Shepard, 18, from the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for F Zane Franklin, 19, and a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Shepard, who is from West Vancouver, had nine goals and 13 assists in 72 games. In 115 career games, all with Kamloops, he has 12 goals and 22 assists. The Blazers selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . .
Franklin, from Marwayne, Alta., had 14 goals and 24 assists in 67 games with Lethbridge last season. In 137 regular-season games, he has 20 goals and 34 assists. Lethbridge selected him in the second round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . .
This is an interesting deal if only because both teams are putting together bids on the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament. That would be Shepard’s 19-year-old season, while Franklin would be 20. . . .
The Hurricanes feel they have acquired a top-nine forward who will provide them with a lot of energy and some offence. . . . The Blazers are thrilled with the fact that Franklin also has 30 games of playoff experience. On the subject of that experience, Kamloops general manager Matt Bardsley told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “That’s real valuable to a team. We don’t just want to make the playoffs. We want to be in the playoffs and make a bit of a run.” . . . The Blazers have missed the playoffs three of the past five seasons, including last season. . . . Hastings’ story is right here.
The OHL trading window opens Aug 1st. A player taken in this year’s OHL draft who has not signed with his drafting team can be traded if he doesn’t report 4 opening of training camp. (Approx Aug 27). Then he is deemed DEFECTED. Can only B traded for draft picks.
The Kootenay Ice announced Tuesday that it and The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group has agreed to a three-year contract extension involving play-by-play rights. . . . According to a news release, all games, “including select pre-season, all regular-season and playoff games will continue to be heard exclusively on 102.9 FM The Drive and through their website www.thedrivefm.ca.” . . . The Drive has carried Ice games since the franchise arrived in Cranbrook for the 1998-99 season. . . . Brant Hilton will be back as the radio voice of the Ice.
Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2018. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.
Brett Parker, a former WHL player, has signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . Parker, who is from Melville, Sask., joins head coach Brayden Klimosko in Battlefords. . . . Parker, 33, played thee seasons (2002-05) with the Prince George Cougars, then played five games with the Vancouver Giants in 2005-06. He also played four seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies.
The MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues have added Josh Green to their staff as an assistant coach. . . . Green, 40, played five seasons (1993-98) in the WHL, and had stints with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winter Hawks. In 282 regular-season games, he put up 142 goals and 136 assists. He went on to a pro career that included 341 NHL games. He has retired as a player after spending the past four seasons in Finland.
Sometimes the life of a hockey coach goes like this . . . Mark Dennehy had been the head coach at Merrimack College for 13 seasons when he was fired in March, following the 2017-18 season. . . . He wasn’t out of work too long, though, as he signed on May 30 as the head coach of the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, who are hooked up with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . However, he won’t coach even one game with the Nailers because he now is the head coach the Binghamton Devils, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. They received permission from the Penguins to speak with Dennehy and ended up hiring him. . . . Rick Kowalsky had been the head coach of New Jersey’s AHL affiliate for eight seasons before moving up to the parent club as an assistant coach.
Misko Antisin has joined the Wichita Falls Force as its director of player personnel and head coach. The Force is one of the franchises in the USA-Central Hockey League, which bills itself as a junior A circuit. . . . Antisin, 54, worked with league president Troy Mick with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the now-defunct Steamboat Wranglers in Colorado. . . . Antisin played two seasons (1983-85) with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars before going on to a lengthy pro career in Europe.
Words can't describe how much it means to be able to wear #27 in honour of my good friend and his beautiful family! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Paxton Schulte and the Belfast Giants! I won't take a game for granted everytime I put on that jersey! https://t.co/kYEc7VKU9u