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

MacBeth

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In explaining his side of the decision, Lajoie said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BlazersCoaches

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


EdChynowethCup

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

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

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

——

THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

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


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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.


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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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Changing face of WHL coverage . . . Denver commit to be in Kelowna . . . Broncos reveal full scouting staff


MacBeth

F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Davos (Switzerland, NL A) after a successful tryout. Last season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. He was an alternate captain, and led the team in assists and points.


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With WHL teams preparing to open training camps, these are interesting times, especially from the outside looking in on the media that covers the league and its teams.

It’s no secret that the times, they are a changin’ . . .

A sports reporter who isn’t a stranger to covering a WHL team phoned a veteran player whlthe other day for an interview.

Things were fine until shortly after the chat ended. That’s when the reporter received an email from a team informing him that “they want me going through them before talking to anyone in the future.”

The reporter points out that “I had the kid’s number from when he was 14 years old and had nothing to do with the (team in question).”

As well, the reporter was told that “they say it’s a league policy.”

Except that . . .

Another reporter who covers a different team noted that “I haven’t had any trouble with getting through to the players,” adding that he hasn’t had any problems getting cell numbers.

“On the few occasions I have to get those phone numbers through other channels,” he added, he hasn’t heard any repercussions.

As he pointed out, it could be that this particular team sees the logic in not putting clamps on media.”

And yet another reporter informs that he has the cell number “of every kid” on the team he now covers “in my phone, and if something comes up after hours or during the summer, I contact them directly.

“I know they would prefer I go through the team in those circumstances, but they don’t grumble too much because (my paper) covers the team more than anyone else in the market. Since it’s also up to me to find my guys after practice, it would be a bit rich to get too angry in other circumstances.

“My major frustration remains head coaches from visiting teams who consider it below themselves to speak to local media.”

One other veteran of the WHL beat interjected that times are changing in the media world, and not just when it comes to print.

The team that he has covered had a good season in 2017-18, he noted, but “there were nights when there was no media in the press box. TV came far less often than usual, plus no local daily and very sporadic coverage from the weekly. Coverage is stretched incredibly thin and seems to only be trending downward league-wide. If they want to put up barriers to coverage that’s their prerogative, but it’s beyond asinine in my book.”

Mine, too. But it seems that the WHL is turning more and more to its own social media team for coverage, perhaps because it then is able to control the message.


The Kelowna Rockets will get things going on Monday when they open rookie camp. F Trevor Wong, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is expected to KelownaRocketsbe there, and is expected to stay for the opening of main camp.

Wong, from Vancouver, had 43 goals and 70 assists in 113 games with Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam A1-T1 club two seasons ago. Last season, he put up 64 goals and 77 assists in 30 games with the bantam varsity team at St. George’s School in Vancouver.

However, Wong has made a verbal commitment to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers, starting in 2021-22. Wong made that commitment at the age of 14. He turned 15 on May 4, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021.

Meanwhile, the Regina Pats have veteran G Kyle Dumba, 20, on their training camp Patsroster. He is one of three goaltenders and one of six 20-year-olds on the Pats’ main camp roster. . . . G Max Paddock, 18, is atop the depth chart, with Dumba, who has had stints with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, on there, along with Matthew Pesenti, 17, of Saskatoon. Pesenti played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Last season, Dumba made stops in Kamloops and Everett, got into 30 games with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, then was with Regina at season’s end. . . . G Jacob Wassermann, 18, was in the Pats’ plans, but the Humboldt native won’t play after being injured in the Broncos’ bus crash. . . .

The other 20s on the Pats’ main camp roster are D Cale Fleury, D Aaron Hyman, F Bryce Platt, D Brady Pouteau and D Liam Schioler.



Dennis Ulmer is the lone returnee to the scouting staff of the Swift Current Broncos, the team announced on Friday. . . . The remainder of the scouting staff left the organization SCBroncosfollowing the hiring of Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach on June 27 and the subsequent departure of Jamie Porter, who had been director of hockey operations. . . .  For the past 33 years, Ulmer, from Wilcox, Sask., has been a student, teacher, principal, administrator and coach at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox. . . . Those joining the Broncos’ scouting staff for the first time are Dean Moisan of Lloydminster, Alta., who is the director of player personnel for the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs; Craig Anderson of Brandon, who scouted for the Edmonton Oil Kings for the past nine seasons, and is the head scout and assistant GM with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers; Chad Leslie of Virden, Man., who had been scouting with the Saskatoon Blades (2015-18) and also scouts for Winkler; Kerry Gladson of Surrey, B.C., who spent the past four seasons with the Blades; Blaine Shackleton of Medicine Hat, who spent the past four seasons scouting for the junior B Chase Heat of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and 14 seasons with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Chris Olson of Saskatoon, who has coached in that city’s minor hockey system for 16 years; Steve March of St. Albert, Alta., the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Elite 15s for the past three seasons; Matt Green of Edmonton, who had been an intern with the International Scouting Services; Tyler Oswald of Calgary, a former player with Saskatoon and the Red Deer Rebels, who is an assistant coach with the midget AAA Calgary Northstars while taking sport management at Mount Royal U; and Dan Ruggiero of Kelowna, who has scouted for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets and Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Check out scbroncos.com for the complete news release.


F Gage Ramsay has chosen to retire from the Saskatoon Blades and go to school, rather Saskatoonthan return for his 20-year-old season. Ramsay was acquired by the Blades from the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 19, 2016, in exchange for F Josh Bruce, another 1998-born player. . . . Ramsay, who is from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by Vancouver in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. He had 15 goals and 18 assists in 123 games with the Blades. In 166 career WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 18 assists. . . . From a Blades’ news release: “Ramsay plans to use his WHL scholarship as he begins his pursuit of a career in business, starting with classes at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in September and the University of Saskatchewan in the new year.”

Ramsay is the second Saskatoon forward to retire this summer. Caleb Fantillo announced on July 19 that he was retiring ahead of what would have been his 20-year-old season.

The Blades now have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Dawson Davidson, F Max Gerlach and F Bradly Goethals.


Danny Flynn’s time as a WHL assistant coach is over after one season. The veteran major Portlandjunior coach is leaving the Portland Winterhawks to work as an eastern amateur scout for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Flynn is from Dartmouth, N.S., and joined long-time friend Mike Johnson, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, prior to the 2017-18 season. . . . Flynn had spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, guiding them to the league championship in 2016-17. . . . In major hockey alone, Flynn also has coached with the London Knights, Belleville Bulls, Soo Greyhounds and Moncton Wildcats. He also has coached in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. . . . The Winterhawks are expected to name a replacement within days.


F Jared Legien isn’t returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. Instead, he is returning to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, where he put up 30 goals and 26 assists in 51 games in 2014-15. . . . From Pilot Butte, Sask., he was a first-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. In 2012-13, he put up 40 goals and 26 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Prairie Storm. . . . He went on to play 145 regular-season WHL games, split among the Ice, Victoria Royals and Regina Pats. Last season, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 36 games with the Royals, then added 10 goals and seven assists in 25 games with the Pats. His career totals show 27 goals and 32 assists.


Jody Hull has signed on as the associate coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. He will work alongside head coach Billy Burke. . . . Hull, 49, is a veteran of 831 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons. He spent the past 12 seasons with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, the last six-plus as head coach. He was fired by the Petes on Jan. 5, 2018.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have hired former NHLer Scott Barney as their new HumboldtBroncosassistant coach, while adding Tyrol (Skip) Deeg as athletic therapist and equipment manager. . . . The Broncos open training camp on Thursday, Aug. 24. . . . Barney, 39, is from Ennismore, Ont. His pro playing career included 24 games with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and three with the Atlanta Thrashers. He retired as a player after spending the past two seasons in the Asia League. . . . Deeg, 37, is from Wynyard, Sask. He joins the Broncos from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Mark Cross, the assistant coach last season, and therapist Dayna Brons died in the April 6 crash involving the Broncos’ bus. . . . The Broncos also have added Rhett Blackmur, a former player with them, as a volunteer assistant coach. He is the service manager at Discover Ford in Humboldt, and has experience in minor hockey in the community.


Former WHL F Dustin Cameron has joined the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie DelisleChiefsJunior Hockey League as an assistant coach. Cameron, a 29-year-old from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2004 WHL bantam draft. He went on to play 87 regular-season games with the Blades before being dealt to the Prince Albert Raiders. He spent three seasons in Prince Albert and was team captain for the last two. In 284 WHL games, he totalled 86 goals and 84 assists. He retired from playing after spending one season in Great Britain and three in Germany. . . . In Delisle, he’ll work with head coach Eric Ditto and assistant coach David Richard. Ditto, from Saskatoon, returns for a fourth full season, while Richard, also from Saskatoon, is back for a second season. Richard played four seasons (2005-09) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 42 goals and 60 assists in 256 regular-season games.


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Hurricanes captain back on ice . . . Three teams sign import picks . . . Schaefer back in coaching game


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F Curtis Hamilton (Saskatoon, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he was pointless in five games Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga), and had three goals and five assists in 16 games with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga).


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Slightly more than a month after F Jordy Bellerive of the Lethbridge Hurricanes was in hospital with burns, he has returned to the ice. Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, skated at Canlan Ice Sports in North Vancouver this week. . . . Ewen’s story is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos added two players to their roster on Thursday, as they SCBroncosclaimed D Ryan Pouliot, 20, off waivers from the Kootenay Ice and signed Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi. . . . Pouliot is preparing for his fourth WHL season, after playing with the Ice (135 games) and Red Deer Rebels (14 games). Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 64 games with the Ice. . . . In 169 career games, he had three goals and 27 assists. . . . Kiviniemi, who will turn 17 on Dec. 17, played most of last season with Karpat’s U-18 team in the Jr. B SM-Sarja. He had one goal and two assists in 12 games.


The Kamloops Blazers have signed their two selections from the CHL’s 2018 import draft Kamloops1— Czech F Martin Lang, who will turn 17 on Sept. 15, and D Joonas Sillanpää, 17. . . . Lang had 32 goals and 22 assists in 35 games with HC Plzen’s U-18 team last season. He is expected to play Czech Republic at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . The 6-foot-5 Sillanpää had two goals and six assists in 43 games split between HIFK’s U-18 and U-20 teams. . . . Last season, the Blazers’ imports were Czech D Ondrej Vala, who was traded to the Everett Silvertips in January, and Swiss F Justin Sigrist, who won’t be back for a second season.


The Kootenay Ice has signed D Valtteri Kakkonen of Finland, who was its only selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. Last season, Kakkonen, 18, had five goals and seven assists in 47 games with JYP’s U-20 team that played in the Jr. A SM-Liiga.


Peter Schaefer, the WHL’s player of the year for 1996-97 while with the Brandon Wheat Kings, has returned to the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. . . . Schaefer, 41, was the Eagles’ general manager and head coach in 2013-14. This time, he will work alongside head coach Brandon West and assistant coach Linden Saip.


F Branden Klatt won’t be returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. He has cleared WHL waivers and chosen to sign with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . Klatt, who is from Moose Jaw, was a sixth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . In 184 regular-season WHL games, 85 of them with Edmonton and 99 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, he had 15 goals and 30 assists. . . . Last season, with the Warriors, he had seven goals and eight assists in 69 games.


Nathan Oystrick is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He reported to work on Wednesday and Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix spent some time with him. . . . That piece is right here.


The Texas-based USA-Central Hockey League, which bills itself as a “non-tuition” junior A league, announced Thursday that Tory Mick is its first president. . . . Mick is a former WHL coach and player, who spent the past five seasons in the front office of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. . . . Kevin Mitchell of Black Press has more right here.


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