Wrapping up a busy week with a Friday feast of odds and ends . . .

MacBeth

D Riley Guenther (Tri-City, Prince Albert, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in 28 games with the U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West). . . .

F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had three goals and four assists in 10 games. . . . He started the season with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), putting up seven goals and eight assists in 31 games. He was traded to Banská Bystrica on Jan. 25. . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga Nord), he had 27 goals and 49 assists in 40 games. He led the team in goals, and was second in assists and points. . . .

D Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and nine assists in 38 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.


ThisThat

 

Now that F Matt Savoie has signed with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, you are free to wonder where he’ll play next season. I would suggest that he will end up at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy — Ice co-owner Greg Fettes owns a piece of the action there — or, if Hockey Canada should decide to give him exceptional status, he’ll play for the Ice. . . . Savoie will be one of a few Ice prospects to play at RHA, which before long will have other WHL owners exploring how to hook their wagons to nearby academies.

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Don’t forget that 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which owns the Ice, also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. So you can look for an Ice prospect or three to play there, too. . . . Maybe that also will bring on a rush of other WHL franchises looking to purchase their own junior A teams.

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Having Savoie playing at RHA will allow the Ice to take advantage of the WHL rule that covers 15-year-old players and emergency recalls. By playing with a short roster and declaring an emergency situation at various points during the season, the Ice will be able to get Savoie into its lineup for far more than five games.

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There are rumours out there that claim the WHL has changed its 15-year-old rule in order to allow Savoie to play more than 30 games with the Ice in 2019-20. We know that isn’t true because the WHL surely would have informed its fans were that the case. Right?

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On Friday, the Ice acquired the WHL rights to F Dylan Holloway from the Everett Silvertips. Holloway, a Calgarian who is to turn 18 on Sept. 23, had 40 goals and 48 assists in 53 regular-season games with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers last season. He was honoured as the AJHL’s MVP and the CJHL’s player of the year. However, he has committed to play for the U of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall. . . . The Silvertips got a fifth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft in the exchange, along with a conditional first-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder in 2022.


The WHL held its annual general meeting in Kelowna on Tuesday and Wednesday. When it was over, the league posted a news release on its website that contained nothing in the way of breaking news.

Included in that news release, under the headline Over $10 Million Invested in Capital Improvements to WHL Arena Facilities, was this:

“All WHL Arena Facilities across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States will undergo over $10 million in capital improvements prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, including the installation of new NHL-licensed acrylic rinkboard systems, improved video scoreboards, and ugraded lighting standards. The improvements are designed to address player safety and improve the fan experience.”

The WHL forgot to thank taxpayers in various communities for their help in funding these projects. An oversight, surely.



The best part of the Toronto Raptors’ championship-winning victory on Thursday night in Oakland? Drake chose to stay in Toronto so his TV time, at least on the ABC telecast, was, well, it wasn’t.

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Look, the Raptors’ victory on Thursday night was a terrific accomplishment. But please don’t try telling me it was the greatest moment in Canadian sporting history. Because of the political situation at the time, nothing will ever top 1972 and the eight-game series between Canada and the Soviet Union that was won by Paul Henderson’s goal. . . . Put the Raptors’ championship right there with the Blue Jays’ first World Series victory, one step below Team Canada’s victory over the big, bad Russian bear.


The CFL’s regular-season opener was three plays old on Thursday night and the Saskatchewan Roughriders already had lost their No. 1 quarterback — Zach Collaros — to a headshot. This really wasn’t the start that the league or the Roughriders had wanted. Collaros has a history of concussions, so this was horrible news for the Roughriders. . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were penalized 25 yards on the play, but Simoni Lawrence, who delivered the cheapshot, wasn’t ejected. . . . A four-game suspension would be about right if the CFL wants to deliver a message about such plays. That won’t happen, though. Instead, it’s likely to be one game and a stern warning.


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Savoie signs with Ice, says he doesn’t know where he’ll play in 2019-20. . . . Royals get Warm from Oil Kings


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had 11 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He actually started the season on a try-out contract with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga), going pointless in one game. . . .

F Braden Christoffer (Regina, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with Stjernen Fredrikstad (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, in 47 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had seven goals and three assists. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 27 goals and 17 assists in 55 games. He led the Flyers in goals.


ThisThat

F Matt Savoie, the first-overall selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft, has turned his back on the U of Denver Pioneers and signed with the Winnipeg Ice.

The Ice announced Thursday that Savoie had signed a WHL contract. The move comes wpgiceafter he made a verbal commitment to Denver in March.

“Obviously, it’s a tough decision,” Savoie told Winnipeg radio station CJOB. “Both are great options. It was a long process. . . . In the end I felt Winnpeg gave me the best opportunity to develop as a player and a person.”

Savoie and family members visited Winnipeg and the Ice’s training facility and the Rink Hockey Academy after the May 2 bantam draft.

Savoie, 15, and his older brother, Carter, also spent last weekend in a spring camp that was put on by the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The Ice also holds the WHL rights to Carter, 17, who was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Carter also has made a commitment to Denver. The Ice acquired Carter’s rights from the Regina Pats on April 3. On Thursday, Carter said in a tweet that he intends to return to the Crusaders and that he also intends to honour his commitment to Denver.

“We’re pretty close,” Matt told CJOB of his relationship with Carter, “but we know we both have different paths in our hockey careers.”

The Ice held the first two selections in the 2019 bantam draft in Red Deer on May 2. It used the picks to take Savoie and F Conor Geekie, both of whom now have signed WHL deals.

From St. Albert, Alta., Savoie had 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. In five playoff games, he put up three goals and nine assists, helping his club win the league title. He later was honoured as the league’s MVP.

That came one year after he was the bantam prep league’s MVP for finishing 2017-18 with 28 goals and 69 assists in 30 regular-season games for the X-Treme.

The Savoie family applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status late in 2018. While Hockey Canada has yet to make an official announcement, numerous reports this spring indicated that the application had been denied.

Had Savoie been granted exceptional status, he would have been eligible to be on the Ice’s roster in 2019-20. As things now rest, he is eligible to play five games before his club team has it’s season end, after which he could join the Ice on a full-time basis. He also is eligible to play games with the Ice in 2019-20 on an emergency basis, and who knows what the maximum is under that rule?

When it was suggest to him by CJOB that he could play five games with the Ice in 2019-20, Savoie responded: “That’s a question for the WHL.”

If Hockey Canada doesn’t grant him exceptional status, he could return to the X-Treme for a second season with the midget team. He also could play a number of junior A games with the Crusaders as an AP.

Asked by Winnipeg radio station CJOB where he will play in 2019-20, Savoie replied that it is “undetermined where we’re going or what we’re doing.”

In the same news release that revealed Savoie’s signing, the Ice announced that it has released 100 more seats at Wayne Fleming Arena, the rink on the U of Manitoba campus in which it will play at least its next two seasons. After renovations, that arena is expected to have a capacity of around 1,600. The Ice didn’t reveal whether Savoie will get a cut of tickets that were sold after his signing was announced.

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WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


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The Victoria Royals have acquired D Will Warm, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a VictoriaRoyalsfifth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Whistler, B.C., Warm played three seasons with the Oil Kings. Last season, he had two assists in 33 games. He missed a lot of time with a knee injury. . . . In 153 regular-season games, he has 10 goals and 28 assists. . . . The Oil Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Warm also was named the WHL’s humanitarian of the year for the 2018-19 season, winning the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy. . . . Warm is one of eight 20-year-olds on Victoria’s roster, joining F D-Jay Jerome, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford, D Jake Kustra and G Shane Farkas. . . . Farkas was acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on May 2. . . .

Edmonton’s roster now includes four 20-year-olds — F Zach Russell, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw. F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but has signed an NHL contract and is expected to play in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Ryan Nolan to a WHL contract. Nolan, from Calgary, was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had eight goals and 16 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Northstar Sabres.


Darrell Hay is back in the coaching game, having signed on with the Boise State Broncos. Hay, 39, is the son of Don Hay, who has more victories than any head coach in WHL history. . . . Darrell, a defenceman, played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Tri-City Americans. . . . During his pro career, he spent three seasons (2004-05, 2006-08) in Boise playing for the Idaho Steelheads. He is employed by the City of Boise, working in the Parks and Recreation Department, with a focus on the Ice Pilot youth hockey program. . . . Before relocating to Boise, Hay spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. . . . With the Broncos, he will work alongside head coach Lloyd Ayers. . . . The Broncos play in the PAC 8, an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II league.


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Ice’s Krebs suffers Achilles injury. . . . Viveiros in no hurry to return to WHL. . . . Dyck moves to U-18 team


MacBeth

D Valtteri Kakkonen (Kootenay, 2018-19) has signed a two-year contract with JYP Jyväskylä (Finland, Liiga). This season, with the Kootenay Ice (WHL), he had one goal and nine assists in 52 games. . . .

G Riku Helenius (Seattle, 2007-08) has signed a contract through the November international break with JYP Jyväskylä (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Ilves Tampere (Finland, SM-Liiga), he made 32 appearances, going 12-11-8, 2.69,.885, with two shutouts and two assists. . . .

F Ryon Moser (Lethbridge, Swift Current, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 47 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


ThisThat

F Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice, who is expected to be a first-round selection in this wpgicemonth’s NHL draft, has undergone surgery to repair a partially torn Achilles tendon.

Krebs, an 18-year-old from Okotoks, Alta., was injured on Tuesday when another player’s skate cut him during a workout. He had surgery in Calgary on Friday and now is in a walking boot.

A timeline hasn’t been established for his return to the ice.

The Kootenay Ice selected Krebs with the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Two seasons ago, he had 17 goals and 37 assists in 67 games as a freshman. This season, he finished with 19 goals and 49 assists in 64 games.

With the Ice missing the playoffs, Krebs played for Canada at the IIHF U-18 World Championship, putting up six goals and four assists in seven games.

The Ice moved from Cranbrook, B.C., to Winnipeg after the season ended.

NHL Central Scouting has Krebs ranked No. 10 among North American skaters eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft, which is scheduled to be held in Vancouver, June 21 and 22. TSN’s Craig Button had Krebs at No. 8, with TSN’s Bob McKenzie putting him at No. 9.


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Manny Viveiros is out of work at the moment, but he has told Jim Matheson of Postmedia that he doesn’t want to go back to the WHL. Viveiros, who guided the Swift Current Broncos to the Ed Chynoweth Cup a year ago, lasted one season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers before being fired shortly after Dave Tippett was signed as head coach. . . . Viveiros told Matheson that the WHL isn’t “really a place for me to go back to and no disrespect to that league. I’ve won in Europe (in Austria) multiple times, I’ve won in the Western League. I had choices last year but this is home, my family, my wife’s parents are here.” . . . Viveiros, who has two years left on his Edmonton contract, is from St. Albert, Alta.


D Valtteri Kakkonen won’t be returning to the WHL for a second season. From Finland, Kakkonen, now 19, had one goal and nine assists in 52 games as a freshman with the Kootenay Ice. . . . As you will have noticed in The MacBeth Report, Kakkonen has signed a two-year contract with JYP Jyväskylä of Finland’s Liiga. . . . Slovakian D Martin Bodak played this season as a 20-year-old so isn’t eligible to return to the Ice. . . . The Ice also had Swiss F Gillian Kohler on its roster when the season started. However, Kohler, now 19, was released as the Ice got down to the mandated limit of two imports. He returned home and played for Biel-Bienne’s U-20 team, scoring five goals and adding 23 assists in 26 games. . . . The Ice holds the fourth-overall selection in the CHL import draft that is scheduled for June 27.


Hockey Canada announced on Friday that Michael Dyck, the head coach of the CanadaVancouver Giants, has taken over as head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Dyck replaces Dan Lambert, who left his position as the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. . . . Dyck’s assistant coaches are Mario Duhamel of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips. . . . In his first season as the Giants’ head coach, Dyck guided his club to Game 7 of the WHL’s championship final where they lost to the host Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is set for Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . Earlier, Dyck had been named head coach of Team Canada White at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge that is to be played in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9. With Dyck now involved with the U-18 program, Hockey Canada is looking for a replacement for Team Canada White.


Might there be a hockey team anchored in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place in time for the 2019-20 season? According to a news release placed on the City’s website on Friday, “The City expects a significant announcement around the future of hockey in Cranbrook and Western Financial Place over the coming weeks.” . . . According to the news release: “An official tender was issued by the City of Cranbrook inviting submissions from potential hockey teams to locate in the community, which officially closed on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at 4:30 p.m. The tender garnered substantial interest from many hockey organizations from a variety of leagues at a variety of playing levels. The tender process was designed to qualify various interested parties and assess whether any groups bidding had a cohesive plan that met the expectations of the City to be a strong, long-term tenant at Western Financial Place. As of the tender closing, the local ownership group working to bring a KIJHL hockey club to Cranbrook was not able to provide all the necessary details around their proposal needed to set up a team in Western Financial Place. Additionally, the sublease proposal through the Kootenay ICE would have expired in 2023. The City is looking for a longer-term lease than four years.”


The Charlotte Checkers won the AHL championship — the Calder Cup — on Saturday, beating the visiting Chicago Wolves, 5-3. The Checkers won the best-of-seven final, 4-1, winning the last four games. . . . F Morgan Geekie, who played last season with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, scored his eighth goal of the playoffs and added an assist for the winners. Geekie, who finished his first pro regular season with 46 points, including 19 goals, in 73 games, had 18 points in 19 playoff games. . . . The Charlotte roster included a number of other former WHLers — D Jake Bean, F Stelio Mattheos, D Haydn Fleury and G Dustin Tokarski. . . . Included on the Wolves roster were seven former WHLers — F Cody Glass, D Griffin Reinhart, F Tyler Wong, F Gage Quinney, F Dylan Coghlan, F Brooks Macek and F Keegan Kolesar. Rocky Thompson, another former WHLer, is the Wolves’ head coach.


Dave Hnatiuk is the new head coach of the Selkirk College Saints of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League. Hnatiuk has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Regina Cougars of Canada West. . . . The Saints, who play out of Castlegar, B.C., needed a new head coach after Brent Heaven left after four seasons. Heaven left with a 62-25-0-10 record and one championship, that in 2016. . . . A complete news release is right here.


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No offer, Loewen now free agent. . . . 11 other ex-WHLers don’t get signed. . . . NYT with more on Boogaard, concussions

 

MacBeth

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had six goals and nine assists in 51 games. He started the season with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), going pointless in five games. He was released by Dynamo on Sept. 26 and signed with Barys on Sept. 27. . . .

F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had six goals and 23 assists in 57 games. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with Adendorf (Germany, Regionalliga Nord). This season,  with Harzer Falken Braunlage (Germany, Oberliga), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

G Garret Hughson (Spokane, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Acélbikák Dunaújváros (Hungary, rest Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he got into 25 games, going 8-13-1-0, 3.73, .909, with one shutout and one assist. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) has signed a one-year contract with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). This season, in 17 games with Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and eight assists.


ThisThat

The Dallas Stars selected F Jermaine Loewen from the Kamloops Blazers in the seventh Kamloops1round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and he then attended their development camp.

However, Loewen now is an unrestricted free agent.

Ray Petkau, Loewen’s agent, confirmed to Taking Note on Sunday that the Stars chose not to make an offer to Loewen prior to Saturday’s deadline, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

“We do have AHL offers,” Petkau told Taking Note. “(There is) interest at the NHL level, but not sure yet where it’ll go.”

Loewen, now 21, has been one of the WHL’s best stories in recent years, having come all the way from a Jamaican orphanage to captain the Blazers.

He played five seasons with the Blazers, scoring 36 goals in 2017-18 and adding 28 more this season.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Loewen grew up in Arborg, Man., after being adopted by Tara and Stan Loewen. He didn’t play organized hockey until he was 10.

A true power forward who loves to drive to the opposition’s net off the left wing, Loewen finished his WHL career with 78 goals in 295 regular-season games, which isn’t bad when you consider that he didn’t get No. 1 until Game No. 85.

After not being selected in the NHL’s 2016 draft, he attended the San Jose Shark’s development camp. He also wasn’t picked in the 2017 draft.

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At least 11 others players with WHL ties weren’t signed prior to June 1 by the NHL teams NHLwho held their rights. . . . Nine of those players were selected in the NHL’s 2017 draft . . .

D Daniel Bukac, a seventh-round pick by the Boston Bruins, played this season with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Bukac, 20, spent two seasons (2016-18) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

F Brett Davis of the Red Deer Rebels was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Stars. Davis also has played with the Lethridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice. He turned 20 on Saturday, so is eligible to return to the Rebels.

D Brendan De Jong of the Portland Winterhawks was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round. De Jong, who played five seasons with Portland, completed his junior eligibility this season.

F Zach Fischer, who played with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Spokane Chiefs (2014-18), was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round. Fischer, 21, split this season between the AHL’s Stockton Heat and the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks and Rapid City Rush.

G Jordan Hollett of the Medicine Hat Tigers was a fourth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators. Hollett, 20, is eligible to return for a fourth WHL season. The Tigers acquired him from the Regina Pats prior to the 2017-18 season.

F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans was taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round. Olson, 20, is eligible to return to the Americans after finishing with 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games this season.

D Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round. At 20, he is eligible to return for a fifth season with the Thunderbirds.

D Scott Walford of the Victoria Royals was a third-round selection by Montreal. Walford, 20, has played four seasons with the Royals and is eligible for one more.

F Lane Zablocki was a third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 27, but that means he has used up his junior eligibility. In the WHL, he played with the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. He finished this season, and his junior career, with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

Fischer and Zablocki now are unrestricted free agents; the others will be eligible for the 2019 NHL draft, which is to be held in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.

Two other players, both of whom were drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, also have gone unsigned. F Radovan Bondra (Vancouver Giants, Prince George Cougars, 2015-18) had been selected in the fifth round, while F John Dahlstrom (Medicine Hat Tigers, 2016-17) was taken in the seventh round.

Bondra and Dahlstrom, both 22, were drafted from clubs outside North American, so Chicago owned their rights for four years. Both players now are unrestricted free agents.


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The Winnipeg Ice has signed G Daniel Hauser to a WHL contract. Hauser, from Chestermere, Alta., was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he got into 23 regular-season games with the bantam prep team at the Calgary-based Edge School. He was 3.00, .911.


The New York Times story, written by John Branch, carries this headline: The N.F.L. Has Been Consumed by the Concussion Issue. Why Hasn’t the N.H.L.? . . . “With the Stanley Cup finals underway,” Branch writes, “Joanne Boogaard and a growing group of former players worry that people have moved on to a stage of acceptance — that the N.H.L. has emerged from its concussion crisis by steadfastly denying that hockey has any responsibility for the brain damage quietly tormenting players and their families.” . . . Boogaard is the mother of the late Derek Boogaard, whose brain was found to contain chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the disease that is caused by head trauma. . . . Branch is the author of the book Boy On Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard. . . . If you haven’t read the book, you should. . . . Branch’s latest piece on the Boogards, the NHL, concussions and all the rest is right here. You should read that, too.


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Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


MacBeth

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


ThisThat

A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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Three WHL coaches get Hockey Canada posts. . . . Rockets sign d-man from U of Denver. . . . McEwen now Blues’ GM, too

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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.


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Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior Canadateam 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.

Hockey Canada’s news release is right here.


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 KelownaRocketsDenver 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.


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Graham fighting to get back in booth. . . . Ice unveils plans for its temporary home. . . . Raiders can close out WHL final tonight

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D Martin Bodák (Kootenay, 2017-19) has signed a one-year contract with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Kootenay, he had 11 goals and 14 assists in 58 games. . . .

D Brent Regner (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had 11 goals and 23 assists in 44 games.


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As he had for more than 650 Edmonton Oil Kings games, Corey Graham was calling the play on March 18, 2018. That was the Oil Kings’ final game of the 2017-18 season because they missed the playoffs. . . . That also was Graham’s last game to date. What happened? . . .

Jason Gregor has the story right here . . .

“I met Corey and his wife Nicole in their new home last month. Corey greeted me at the front door of their newly renovated bungalow. Freshly painted walls and three gorgeous white pillars showcased a welcoming open area for the kitchen and living room.

“Instead of calling Oil Kings games, Corey has been battling to stand up. Literally.

“He moved his wheelchair close to the couch and we talked about the events of the previous 10 months.”


While they were preparing to move from Cranbrook, B.C., to Winnipeg, the owners of the wpgiceteam that now is the Winnipeg Ice had said they would spend $400,000 on dressing up Wayne Fleming Arena, the 38-year-old arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. On Thursday, Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, announced that figure will be closer to $1.2 million. . . . As Paul Friesen wrote in the Winnipeg Sun: “You can buy a lot of lipstick for $1.2 million.” . . . That will allow them, Cockell said, to increase the arena’s capacity by 200, to 1,600, and to add such things as a new clock with video boards, as well as new glass and netting. . . . The Ice has said it will spend two seasons playing in the Wayne Fleming Arena as it awaits construction of a new facility. That new arena is to be built in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, but a shovel has yet to be put in the ground because some rezoning apparently has yet to be done. . . . Friesen’s complete piece is right here.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored a pair of empty-net goals to finish off a 6-3 victory over the visiting Halifax Mooseheads in Game 5 of the QMJHL’s championship final on Thursday night. . . . The Huskies lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Halifax on Saturday. . . . Halifax is the host team for the Memorial Cup so both teams will be playing in the tournament regardless of who wins this series. . . .

The OHL championship series is scheduled to resume tonight in Ottawa with the 67’s and Guelph Storm tied, 2-2. Ottawa won the first two games; Guelph followed by holding serve on home ice. . . . Game 6 is to be played in Guelph on Sunday.



Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pretty much summed up the NHL playoffs with this:

“A blown major penalty that leads to four power-play goals in a crucial game can’t be reviewed, but a play where a guy’s DNA is on the wrong side of the blueline can.”

He’s right, and his entire piece is right here.


Men’s and women’s hockey teams from Trinity Western U in Langley, B.C., and MacEwan U in Edmonton will begin play in Canada West, one of U Sports’ top conferences, in 2020-21. . . . The applications were accepted on Thursday as Canada West’s annual general meeting wrapped up in Whistler, B.C. . . . The TWU Spartans men’s team is coming off back-to-back championship seasons in the B.C. International Hockey League. The women’s team plays in the South Coast Women’s Hockey League. . . . Both of MacEwan’s teams, the Griffins, play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference where both teams have won three straight championships.


Brad Elliott Schlossman covers the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and NCAA hockey for the Grand Forks Herald. He regularly writes a feature that he calls The Daily Skate, and it’s a really good read. . . . On Thursday, he wrote, among other things, about the number of standalone diving calls this season in NCAA Division I hockey. . . . He also had some info on college teams moving the starting times for Saturday games up to 6 p.m. Minnesota State U-Mankato is one of those teams. Here’s what Kevin Buisman, the athletic director, told Schlossman: “This is a strategy that has been effective in other markets and after consulting players, coaches, fans, event staff and other program supporters, we decided to move forward with immediate implementation. I think this change will be particularly appealing to families with younger children and this is a demographic we need to grow as they represent the future fan base of Maverick hockey.” . . . Schlossman’s complete piece is right here.


Rikard Grönborg is one of the hot names in the coaching community these days. Grönborg, the head coach of the Swedish national team, spent one season (2004-05) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. These days, it was thought that he was high on the Buffalo Sabres’ list of prospective head coaches. However, his day in the NHL is going to have to wait as he has signed a two-year deal with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup could conclude tonight as the Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants meet in Game 5 in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders, who have posted 4-0 and 1-0 shutouts in two of the past three games, hold a 3-1 lead. In between the shutouts, they beat the Giants, 8-2. . . . Should the Giants win tonight, Game 6 would be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday.


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