Saturday, May 27, 2017

Cougars redo ticketing system ... Peterson has seen it all in Nashville ... Ex-WHL goalie retires


The Prince George Cougars, having lost a big chunk of change over the past three seasons, have moved to a new ticket-pricing system. As Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen writes: “The team has dropped age-based pricing and will instead sell tickets based on where the seats are located in the arena.”
Greg Pocock, the franchise’s president, told Clarke:
"We've lost $2.3 million in three years and we can't continue to provide the players with the experience they're getting, that they've earned and deserve, and lose that kind of money. It's not sustainable.
“Projecting forward, this will put us up in the middle of the league in our pricing structure and it should encourage more people to come out and enjoy Cougars hockey.”
Here’s how Clarke explained the new pricing system:
“The team has set up four tiers of ticket-pricing for season memberships. A premium centre ice red ticket in the two main sections of the arena which starts a few seats shy of each goal line on either side will cost $728. The next most expensive tickets ($576) are in the blue section to the sides and behind the goal in what will be the Cougars' attacking end for the first and third periods.
“Seats in the white section, which will be to the sides and behind the goal the Cougars will defend for two periods, are priced at $420. The cheapest seats ($252 for a full 36-game season) are in the green section and will be in the first four rows in either end. Based on a 36-game schedule, the per-game ticket cost is $20.20 (red), $16 (blue), $11.67 (white) and $7 (green).”
Clarke’s complete story is right here.
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Back in the day, Brent Peterson was a player (1974-78) with the Edmonton Oil Kings/Portland Winterhawks and a coach (1991-98) with Portland. He was the Winterhawks’ head coach when they won the 1998 Memorial Cup. . . . These days, he’s getting ready for the Stanley Cup final as a radio analyst on the Nashville Predators’ radio crew. Peterson, 59, has been with the Predators since Day 1, so you know how much this means to him. He was on the coaching staff until Parkinson’s disease made that untenable. . . . Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail has more on Peterson’s story right here.
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Nathan Lieuwen played in the WHL for seasons (2008-12) in the WHL, all of them tending goal for the Kootenay Ice. He’s 25 years of age now and has chosen to retire from hockey. He got into seven NHL games during his career, all of them with the Buffalo Sabres, but he got run over in the last one and ended up with a concussion, one that has had an impact on his vision. . . . Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada has more in his 30 Thoughts and it’s all right here.
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Winterhawks land big one ... Tigers deal goalie to Hitmen ... All OHL final at World Series


F Mads Eller (Edmonton, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract with Rødovre (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Eller played his minor hockey with Rødovre. This season, with Gentofte (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had a goal and four assists in 25 games. . . .
D Renat Mamashev (Moose Jaw, 2000-01) has signed a one-year contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, with Sochi (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and 13 assists in 47 games.
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F Kieffer Bellows is leaving Boston University to join the Portland Winterhawks. Bellows, who will turn 19 on June 10, is the son of former NHLer Brian Bellows.
Following this Memorial Day long weekend in the U.S., the Winterhawks will introduce Kieffer to the Portland fans and media at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
The New York Islanders selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the NHL’s 2016 draft. A native of
KIEFFER BELLOWS
Edina, Minn., he was a seventh-round selection by Portland in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. That pick was made by Mike Johnston, then Portland’s general manager and head coach. Johnston returned to the Winterhawks prior to this season after a stint as head coach of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 6-foot-0, 200-pound Bellows was a freshman at BU this season. He struggled at times against NCAA competition, finishing with seven goals and seven assists in 34 games. However, he was solid with the U.S. national team, with two goals and an assist in seven games, as it won the 2017 World Junior Championship. 
Bellows spent 2014-15 with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, scoring 33 goals and adding 19 assists in 58 games. In 2015-16, he played 62 games with the U.S. National U-18 team, putting up 50 goals and 31 assists in 62 games. He also played 23 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program U-20 team, scoring 16 times and adding 16 assists.
The Winterhawks see Bellows as a power forward along the lines of graduating captain Keegan Iverson, but with a better scoring touch. Iverson had 26 goals and 44 assists in 55 games this season.
You can bet the house that Bellows will get the opportunity to play alongside F Cody Glass, who will be an early first-round selection in the NHL draft next month. Glass, who turned 18 on April 1, is a tremendous playmaker who had a breakout season, with 94 points, including 62 assists, in 69 games.
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For the third time this week, two WHL teams have been involved in a deal involving a goaltender.
On Friday, the Medicine Hat Tigers dealt G Nick Schneider, who turns 20 on July 21, to the Calgary
NICK SCHNEIDER
Hitmen for a fourth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft.
This season, Schneider, from Leduc, Alta., went 32-11-1, 3.43, .886. In 142 career regular-season games, he is 76-47-5, 3.30, .893. The Calgary Flames signed him to a three-year entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent in September 2015. As a signed 20-year-old, he will be eligible to play in the Flames’ organization, perhaps with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. But don’t forget that the Flames’ parent company — Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation — also owns the Hitmen.
On the Calgary end, this trade was made by former general manager Mike Moore. He was moved up from vice-president business operations and general manager to vice-president and alternate governor on May 15, but is continuing to act as GM until a successor is found.
Schneider began his career by playing nine games with the Regina Pats in 2013-14. On Jan. 10, 2014, the Tigers traded F Logan McVeigh and G Daniel Wapple to the Pats for Schneider, then 16, and a third-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft.
Schneider joins two other veteran goaltenders on Calgary’s roster — Cody Porter, who turns 20 on Sept. 23, and Kyle Dumba, 19.
Aside from Porter, the roster includes four other 20-year-olds — F Matteo Gennaro, D Jaydan Gordon, D Brady Reagan and F Jakob Stukel.
On Tuesday, the Tigers acquired G Jordan Hollett, 18, from Regina for F Matt Bradley, 20, a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft and a fifth-rounder in 2019.
Having traded away Bradley and Schneider, the Tigers still have eight 20-year-olds on their roster, including G Michael Bullion. Others are Swedish F John Dahlstrom, F Zach Fischer, D Brad Forrest, D Jordan Henderson, F Mark Rassell, D Kristians Rubins, who is from Latvia, and D Ty Schultz.
The other trade involving a goaltender came down on Thursday, as the Everett Silvertips dealt Mario Petit, who will turn 20 on July 25, to the Kootenay Ice for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft.
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D Vojtech Budik of the Prince Albert Raiders has been invited to the summer camp of the Czech Republic’s national junior team. That camp is to run in Rokycany and Salzburg, June 9-16. . . . Budik, 19, had a goal and 25 assists in 56 games with the Raiders last season. . . . He was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth-round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . Budik played two games for Czech Republic at the 2017 World Junior Championship.
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Coaching Game

The Buffalo Sabres have fired Dan Lambert, who was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, for one season. Lambert, a former WHL player and coach, went 32-41-3 with the Americans this season. Last season, Lambert, 47, was an assistant coach with the Sabres. Prior to that, he spent six seasons with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, five as an assistant coach and the last one (2014-15) as head coach. The Rockets won the WHL title in his only season as head coach. . . . A defenceman, he played four seasons (1986-90) with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them to the 1989 Memorial Cup championship. . . . Even before the Sabres fired him on Friday, Lambert’s name had been mentioned in Spokane as a potential candidate for the Chiefs’ vacant head-coaching job.
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Anthony Noreen is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Noreen takes over from Bill Muckalt, the head coach for two seasons, who left to pursue other opportunities. . . . When this season began, Noreen, 43, was in his second season as head coach of the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. However, he was fired on Nov. 14. . . . Prior to that, the Chicago native spent five seasons with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, one as an assistant coach and four as GM/head coach. . . . Muckalt spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Michigan Tech before joining the Storm.
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Jessie Leung has stepped down as head coach of the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and has joined the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters as an assistant coach. . . . Leung spent six seasons with the Hawks, the last three as head coach. He guided them to a league title in 2015-16. . . . In Trail, Leung will work alongside general manager/head coach Cam Keith.
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FRIDAY’S GAME:

The OHL-champion Erie Otters broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of early third-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup semifinal on Friday night in Windsor, Ont. . . . The Otters will meet the host Spitfires in the tournament final on Sunday. Game time is 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET). . . .
Last night, F Dylan Strome broke the 2-2 tie with his sixth goal of the tournament at 2:38 of the third period and F Gera Poddubnyi added insurance at 3:45 with his first goal. . . . F Taylor Raddysh (5) upped the lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 12:31. . . . Saint John D Thomas Chabot (2) chopped the deficit to two with his second goal at 16:28. . . . Erie F Warren Foegele (1) iced it with an empty-netter at 19:26. . . . Erie D Darren Raddysh (3) had opened the scoring at 9:56 of the first period, with F Joe Veleno (3) of the Sea Dogs equalizing at 14:10. . . . Erie went ahead 2-1 when Taylor Raddysh scoring, on a PP, at 10:57. . . . Saint John F Julien Gauthier, who also had two assists, tied it, on a PP, at 19:18. . . . F Alex DeBrincat recorded three assists for the Otters and F Anthony Cirelli had two. . . . Erie G Troy Timpano stopped 20 shots. At the other end, Callum Booth turned aside 31. . . . Erie was 2-7 on the PP; Saint John was 1-2. . . . Announced attendance: 5,410. . . .
When they met in the round-robin portion of the tournament, Windsor posted a 4-2 victory despite being outshot, 35-19. . . . The Otters are hoping to become the first U.S.-based team from the OHL to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Sunday’s final will be the first since 2007 to feature two teams from the same league. In 2007, the host Vancouver Giants beat the WHL-champion Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-1, in the final. . . . This will be the third Memorial Cup in a row won by an OHL team. The London Knights won it last year, with the Oshawa Generals having won in 2015. . . . 
Both head coaches — Windsor’s Rocky Thompson and Erie’s Kris Knoblauch — are former WHL players and coaches, who may be coaching their final major junior game on Sunday. Both are expected to move on to the pro ranks after this season. There has been speculation that Thompson will be the next head coach of the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. 
Jim Parker of Postmedia has a game story right here.

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The WHL and its Memorial Cup nightmare: What to do?


What’s going on here?
In the nine Memorial Cup tournaments from 2000 through 2008, WHL teams were 22-19 against teams from the OHL and QMJHL. As well, five different WHL teams won the tournament.
The Vancouver Giants, as the host team, won the title in 2007. The WHL-champion Spokane Chiefs won it in 2008. The WHL was skating in high clover.
Since then, well, if you’re a WHL fan the numbers are ugly.
Since then, there have been nine Memorial Cup tournaments and only one has been won by a WHL team — the 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings. Don’t forget, too, that three of the tournaments in that stretch were played in WHL cities. That means that only one of 12 WHL teams to have played in the tournament over that time has brought home the loot.
If you take a look at those 12 teams, only four won more games than they lost in the round-robin portion of the tournament — the 2016 Red Deer Rebels, who were the host team, the 2013 Portland Winterhawks, 2010 Calgary Hitmen and 2009 Kelowna Rockets.
In the past two tournaments, the WHL champions — the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2016 and Seattle Thunderbirds this time around — went a combined 0-6 and were outscored 34-8 — yes, 34-8! — in six round-robin games. The Thunderbirds went 0-3 and were outscored 18-3 in the tournament that is ongoing in Windsor, Ont.
So . . . what’s going on?
The easy thing is to say, well, junior hockey is cyclical and this is all part of the cycle.
But that is supposed to be a three- or four-year cycle. Could this be deeper than that?
As one long-time observer suggested to me on Sunday, after the host Windsor Spitfires had whipped the Thunderbirds, 7-1: “Too many teams, not enough players.”
The WHL has 22 teams. There are 20 in the OHL and 18 in the QMJHL. In the past nine years, the OHL has won four Memorial Cup titles, the QMJHL three, with the 2017 event yet to be decided, but likely headed for an OHL team.
The WHL faces stiff competition from junior A teams in recruiting talent. This season, there were 56 junior A teams operating in Western Canada — 11 in the MJHL, 12 in the SJHL, 16 in the AJHL and 17 in the BCHL.
Of course, a player in junior A maintains his NCAA eligibility, while a player who signs a WHL contract loses his. With 22 teams, the WHL has to find a way to attract more of the better players. It needs to raise the talent level on the bottom half its rosters, which is where the OHL teams have an edge.
Then there is the issue of travel.
The WHL’s regular-season schedule — each team plays 72 games — with all of the travel that comes with it, works against it as it limits practice time, something that is invaluable in what is a development league. It’s worth noting that the OHL and QMJHL regular seasons are 68 games in length.
During Tuesday’s game, Sportsnet put up a graphic showing the playoff travel of each of the four
Memorial Cup teams. The Spitfires, who played only one round, were at 1,146 km. The OHL-champion Erie Otters finished at 5,376, with the QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs at 10,320. The Thunderbirds travelled 13,724 km. Keep in mind, too, that of all the CHL playoff series this spring, the one between Seattle and the Everett Silvertips featured the two teams in the closest proximity to each other. Yes, the Thunderbirds did some serious travelling in the other three series.
But . . . the Thunderbirds won the WHL title in Regina on a Sunday night, flew to Abbotsford, B.C., the next day and rode the bus home. Two days later, they flew to Windsor. Could they not have cut down on some of the travel by staying in Regina and flying from there to Windsor?
I wondered the same thing a year ago when the Wheat Kings won the championship in Seattle, bussed to Abbotsford, flew home for a couple of days and then drove to Red Deer, only to go 0-3 and be outscored 16-5.
The WHL needs to work harder to get its players more rest and more practice time. When the teams returned from their Christmas break this season, each of the 22 teams, with minimal if any practice time, promptly played three games in four nights. The WHL needs a schedule with a minimum of three games in three nights and no more four in fives. Oh, and one other thing — if a team plays on a Saturday night it shouldn’t have to play a Sunday game that starts before 6 p.m.
Of course, none of this would guarantee a WHL victory in the Memorial Cup, but surely it would make life at least a bit easier for its players, which can only be good for the product.
Meanwhile, a former WHL coach told Taking Note that there is one other thing involved in all of this. It seems that not all teams are able to come down from the high of winning a WHL championship and then scale the heights again a few days later at the Memorial Cup.
“It's really hard to reset your team mentally after you win your league title because of the grind it takes to win,” he said. “Then you have to get ready mentally for a one-win tourney format . . . not all young players can do it.”
Just more food for thought . . .

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ice gets goaltender from Silvertips ... Oil Kings sign early pick ... Name stays same in Regina


F Tomáš Karpov (Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) has signed a one-year extension with the Basingstoke Bison (England, Premier). This season he had 20 goals and 28 assists in 20 games, while serving as an alternate captain. Karpov also is attending the University of Winchester and working on his master's degree while playing with the Bison.
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The Kootenay Ice has acquired G Mario Petit, who turns 20 on July 25, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for a conditional sixth-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.
The pick is conditional on Petit making the Ice’s roster.
MARIO PETIT
Petit has backed up Everett starter Carter Hart for the past two seasons. From Île-des-Chênes, Man., Petit is 14-8-8, 2.89, .892 in 37 regular-season appearances. In the playoffs, he is 3-0, 1.30, .953.
This is the first trade made by Matt Cockell, the Ice’s new general manager.
The Ice is looking for a starting goaltender after Payton Lee completed his eligibility this season. Jakob Walter, 18, also is on the roster after getting into 30 game this season (4-17-2, 5.02, .868).
The Silvertips still have eight 20-year-olds on their roster — F Keith Anderson, F Cal Babych, F Patrick Bajkov, D Kevin Davis, D Mackenzie Dwyer, F Matt Fonteyne, D Noah Juulsen and F Devon Skoleski. Juulsen, a first-round pick by Montreal in the NHL’s 2015 draft, has signed and is expected to play in the Canadiens’ organization next season.
Hart, 19, remains No. 1 on their goaltending depth chart, with Dorrin Luding, 18, and Dustin Wolf, 16, also there.
Ludding, from Prince George, played this season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget League. He was a third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. On Dec. 5, Everett acquired him from Saskatoon for a sixth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.
Wolf, from Tustin, Calif., was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Wolf has been in the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program for three seasons. Some observers see Wolf as the heir apparent to Hart, the WHL’s goaltender of the year each of the past two seasons.
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The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Jake Neighbours to a WHL contract. From Airdrie, Alta., Neighbours was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He played this season with the Pursuit of Excellence’s bantam prep team, putting up 68 points, including 27 goals, in 30 games. That left him third in the Canadian Sports School Bantam Hockey League scoring race. He had five goals and six assists in five playoff games.
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The Brandt Centre, home of the Regina Pats, will be keeping its name for at least the next 10 years. Evraz Place announced Thursday that it has cut a 10-year deal with the Brandt Group of Companies for naming rights to the arena. . . . Regina Exhibition Association Ltd., which operates the facility, had been advertising that the naming rights were available. . . . Shaun and Gavin Semple, who are partners in Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Pats, are with the Brandt Group of Companies. . . . The 2018 Memorial Cup will be played in the Brandt Centre with the Pats in as the host team.
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Coaching

Cory Stillman is the new head coach of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. Stillman, from Peterborough, Ont., played three seasons in the OHL, with the Windsor Spitfires and Peterborough Petes, before going on to a pro career that included two Stanley Cup championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. For the past five seasons, he has been working in player development with the Hurricanes. . . . Stillman takes over from Dave Matsos, who had one year left on his contract when he and the Wolves parted company, saying they weren’t able to reach agreement on a contract extension.
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James Richmond, who added the general manager’s duties to his head-coaching responsibilities with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads earlier this week, has his hockey operations team in order. . . . From a news release: “Assistant coach Jeff Kyrzakos and Mike Doyle, the co-ordinator of analytics, have been promoted from within and will both take on assistant general manager duties. Kyrzakos will also remain as an assistant coach. Former video coach Brendan Taylor will step in to an assistant coach position and join Richmond and Kyrzakos behind the bench next season. Ryan Daniels will remain on staff as the team’s goaltending coach.” . . . As well, Rob Toffoli has been named head scout, after having scouted the Toronto area for the Ottawa 67’s. He is the father of Los Angeles Kings F Rob Toffoli.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spitfires have spot in Memorial Cup final ... Hitmen move two veteran scouts ... Rockets' top pick commits to UND


F Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year extension with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). This season, he had seven goals and four assists in 43 games. Hlinka also spent time with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga) this season, scoring three goals and adding an assist in 13 games.
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The host Windsor Spitfires claimed the first berth in the Memorial Cup final with a 4-2 victory over the OHL-champion Erie Otters on Wednesday night. The Otters (2-1) will play in Friday’s semifinal, where they will meet the QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs (1-2). The winner of that game will meet the Spitfires (3-0) in Sunday’s final. . . . The WHL-champion Seattle Thunderbirds went 0-3 and were eliminated on Tuesday when they lost 7-0 to Saint John. . . . 
OHLLast night, F Jeremiah Addison, who finished with three goals, got Windsor started with a pair of first-period goals, at 5:50 and 15:28. F Gabriel Vilardi earned the primary assist on both goals en route to a four-assist game. . . . F Mikhail Sergachev upped it to 3-0 with his first goal, on a PP, just 43 seconds into the second period. . . . F Kyle Maksimovich got Erie on the scoreboard when he scored off a rebound at 8:10 of the third period. . . . Addison completed his hat trick at 13:31. . . . F Taylor Raddysh’s third goal of the tournament got Erie to within two goals at 17:34, on a PP. . . . 
The Spitfires got a big game from G Michael DiPietro, with 33 saves. At the other end, Troy Timpano turned aside 15 shots. . . . Erie was 1-3 on the PP; Windsor was 1-4. . . . Erie F Alex DeBrincat, who scored 65 goals in the regular season, was helped from the ice late in the second period after taking a hit from Addison. However, DeBrincat was back for the third period. . . . Announced attendance: 6,136.
Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun has a game story right here.
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The Calgary Hitmen moved Mike Moore from general manager and vice-president of business operations to vice-president and alternate governor last week. The announcement was made by Ken King, the president and CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation. . . . Taking Note was told Wednesday night that the Hitmen also jettisoned Dan Bonar and Roy Stasiuk, although those moves weren’t included in the announcement. . . . Bonar, 60, had been with the Hitmen since 2003, starting as a scout. He was named head scout on July 11, 2011, and took over as director of player personnel prior to the 2013-14 season. Bonar, from Deloraine, Man., played three seasons (1974-77) with the Brandon Wheat Kings before going on to a pro career that included 169 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings. . . . Stasiuk, from Edmonton, was named Calgary’s Prairie scouting director on July 31, 2015. Before joining Calgary, he spent six seasons scouting for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Prior to that, Stasiuk, 54, spent 20 seasons in the WHL, working with the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton Oil Kings, Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
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F Ethan Bowen, whose WHL rights belong to the Kelowna Rockets, has committed to North Dakota, for 2020-21, while saying he will play for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs in 2018-19. Bowen, who turned 15 on May 14, is from Chilliwack. He played this season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up 33 goals and 29 assists in 29 games with the bantam prep team. . . . Had there not been doubts about which route he would take, Bowen would have been an early first-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. The Rockets took him with their first pick, which happened to be in the second round. 
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The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes have signed Craig Cunningham, 26, to a two-year contract as a pro scout. He also will work in player development. Cunningham, from Trail, B.C., played in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants and Portland Winterhawks (2006-11). He was the captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, when his playing career ended this season when he suffered a cardiac emergency prior to a game on Nov. 19. Doctors later had to amputate part of his left leg.
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If you enjoy stopping off here and would care to make a donation to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you have some information you would like to share or just a general comment, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

Darryl Sydor is back in the NHL. The St. Louis Blues announced Wednesday that Sydor has been signed to a three-year contract as an assistant coach. Sydor, 45, will work alongside Blues head coach Mike Yeo. . . . Sydor, a co-owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, was an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild for five seasons during Yeo’s time there as head coach. . . . This season, Sydor was an assistant coach with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Sydor, from Edmonton, played four seasons (1988-92) in Kamloops.
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Arnie Caplan is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Caplan, 49, most recently was the head coach of the Portage College Voyageurs of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. As a goaltender, he made brief stops in the MJHL and the WHL, before spending four years with the Acadia Axemen. . . . With the Wolverines, Caplan replaces Barry Butler, who had been the GM/head coach for all but two seasons since 1999-2000, when the franchise joined the MJHL.
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Kirk MacDonald has been named director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Reading Royals, who have a working agreement with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. MacDonald signed a three-year contract. MacDonald took over as interim head coach on April 3, replacing Larry Courville, who was fired with a week left in the regular season. He had revealed in February that he wouldn’t be returning for another season. MacDonald, who is from Victoria, had been an assistant coach since July 2014. 
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thunderbirds bow out of Memorial Cup ... Sea Dogs win, 7-0 ... Love staying in Everett


F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year extension with Orlik Opole (Poland, PHL). This season, he had three goals and an assist in four games there. He began the season with Frydek-Mistek (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), scoring a goal and adding three assists in 27 games, before joining Dukla Trencin (Slovakia, Extraliga), where he had one assist in 10 games. . . .
F Cody Sylvester (Calgary, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 20 assists in 50 games. . . .
F Stanislav Balán (Portland, 2005-06) has signed a one-year contract with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had a goal and an assist in 30 games with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Balán's contract has an option clause that extends it by one year should Karlovy Vary win promotion to Extraliga next season. . . .
F Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had eight goals and 16 assists in 52 games.
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QMJHLThe WHL-champion Seattle Thunderbirds bowed out of the Memorial Cup tournament in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday night after losing 7-0 to the QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs. . . . The Thunderbirds lost all three of their games and were outscored 18-3 in the process. . . . While the Thunderbirds are finished, the Sea Dogs advanced to Friday’s semifinal where they will meet the loser of Wednesday’s game between the host Windsor Spitfires (2-0) and the OHL-champion Erie Otters (2-0). The winner moves on to Sunday’s final. . . . Without the need for a tiebreaker, Thursday is a day off, as is Saturday. . . . 
Last night, Seattle and Saint John played through a goalless first period before the Sea Dogs exploded for six goals in the second period. . . . F Joe Veleno opened the scoring at 1:14. The next five goals came in the span of 3:09, starting at 14:04. . . . Veleno finished with two goals and an assist, with F Bokondji Imama adding a goal and two assists. F Spencer Smallman, F Mathieu Joseph, D Chase Stewart and F Cole Reginato also had goals. . . . G Callum Booth recorded the shutout with 31 saves. . . . Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk went back to G Carl Stankowski after lifting him after he gave up three goals, in 38 seconds, on six shots to start Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the host Windsor Spitfires. Against Saint John, Stankowski was beaten four times on 14 shots in 34:57. Rylan Toth came off the bench to stop 11 of 14 shots. . . . Seattle was 0-2 on the PP; Saint John was 0-3. . . . 
Seattle made one lineup change, inserting F Luke Ormsby and scratching D Anthony Bishop. . . . The WHL champion now is 0-6 in the last two Memorial Cup tournaments, the Brandon Wheat Kings having gone 0-3 a year ago in Red Deer. . . . Announced attendance: 5,062.
Andy Eide of 710 ESPN Seattle has a game story right here.
Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun has a game story right here.
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The number of empty seats at Memorial Cup games in the WCFU Centre in Windsor, which has a capacity of 6,500, is becoming a story in its own right.
They haven’t come close to a sellout through five games in the four-team tournament, this despite the fact the host Spitfires are 2-0 and proving to be highly competitive. The announced attendances, in order, have been: 5,926, 5,259, 5,237, 5,114 and 5,062. Games 1 and 3 featured the Spitfires.
So where are the fans? Well, perhaps junior hockey fans have a problem paying $70 or more for a single ticket.
As pensionplanpuppets.com points out right here, the cheapest adult season-ticket for the Spitfires (34 games) could be had for $425, while the cheapest Memorial Cup pass (nine games) was $672.35, tax included.
The piece at pensionplanpuppets.com is headlined: I love you Memorial Cup, but we need to talk about ticket prices.
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The Prince George Cougars have signed F Tyson Phare to a WHL contract. Phare, from Maple Ridge, B.C., was the 18th overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. He played this season with the Yale Hockey Academy Lions in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up 18 goals and 22 assists in 28 games.
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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Ben King, who was the 13th overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. King, from Vernon, B.C., played this season with the Pursuit of Excellence’s bantam prep team, putting up 16 goals and 30 assists in 22 regular-season games.
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Matt Cockell, the Kootenay Ice’s new president and general manager, is getting settled in Cranbrook and has begun the work aimed at re-establishing the WHL franchise in the area. Cockell, 38, is a former WHL goaltender and is eager to get things rolling. Brad McLeod of the Cranbrook Townsman has a piece on Cockell right here.
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Chase Souto has been named assistant general manager of hockey operations for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization. Souto, who is from Yorba Linda, Calif., played four seasons (2010-14) with the Kamloops Blazers before his career was ended by concussion problems. . . . Souto, 22, has been coaching with the Jr. Kings for three seasons. With his new title, he also will work as an assistant coach with three teams from midget to pee wee. . . . There’s more on Souto and his new position right here.
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OHLThe Mississauga Steelheads, fresh off their first appearance in the OHL’s championship final, have parted company with general manager James Boyd. He told John Matisz of Postmedia that “we were unable to come to an agreement on a contract moving forward.” According to Matisz, Boyd said the parting was “amicable” and that the decision was “mutual.” . . . Boyd had been the Steelheads GM/head coach for five seasons (2011-16). Prior to this season, James Richmond stepped in as head coach, allowing Boyd to focus on the GM’s duties. On Tuesday, after Boyd’s departure was made public, the Steelheads announced that Richmond now is the GM and head coach, and that he had signed a five-year contract. . . . Boyd is expected to interview with the Ottawa 67’s, who are looking for a GM and head coach to replace Jeff Brown. . . . Matisz reported that assistant GM Jan Egert also is gone from Mississauga, his contract having expired. . . . Matisz’s story is right here.
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The U of Waterloo, Ont., Warriors have commitments from two players who finished up their junior eligibility this season in the WHL. . . . G Trevor Martin, who was with the Calgary Hitmen, and F Markson Bechtold, who finished the season with the Saskatoon Blades, both have chosen to attend Waterloo. . . . Martin, from Androssan, Alta., also played with the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Blades. He spent some time with the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar this season before joining the Hitmen. . . . From Strathmore, Alta., Bechtold was dealt to the Blades by the Spokane Chiefs this season. In 231 career regular-season games, he had 38 goals and 62 assists. . . . Stick tap to Victor Findlay on the tweets about both players. He keeps tabs on the Canadian university hockey scene at @Finder_24.
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USHLIn the USHL, F Tyler Gratton scored at 11:30 of OT to give the visiting Chicago Steel a 2-1 victory over the Sioux City Musketeers in the final game of the championship series. The Steel won the best-of-five series, 3-2. . . . That goal was the first point in 14 playoff games for Gratton, a 17-year-old from Pottstown, Pa. . . . The Musketeers had a 46-25 edge in shots on goal. . . . Jay Varady, who is in his fourth season as the Musketeers’ director of hockey operations and head coach, spent eight seasons (2003-11) on the coaching staff of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Mark LeRose, in his third season as Sioux City’s GM, was an assistant coach in Everett for three seasons (2007-09, 2013-14).
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Coaching

Mitch Love will be returning as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips, who introduced Dennis Williams, their new head coach, to their fans on Monday. Jesse Geleynse of the Everett Herald reported that Love’s signing to a two-year extension should be announced shortly. . . . Love played five seasons (2000-05) in the WHL, the last two with the Silvertips. He is heading into his sixth season on their coaching staff. He spent four seasons alongside head coach Kevin Constantine, whose contract wasn’t renewed after this season. . . . Geleynse also reported that the Silvertips will employ only one assistant coach this season, a decision having been made not to replace Brennan Sonne, now the head coach of the pro team in Angers, France. . . . Geleynse’s story is right here.
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The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves are in the market for a head coach after parting company with Dave Matsos on Tuesday. Matsos had been with the Wolves since 2013 when he was the associate coach. He took over as head coach in January 2015. Matsos had a year left on his contract when, according to a news release from the Wolves, the parties “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . Rob Papineau, the Wolves’ vice-president of hockey operations and general manager, said in a news release: “We considered options on contract extensions but we were unable to come to an agreement moving forward.” . . . Assistant coach Barry Smith also is gone. He joined the Wolves in mid-November when assistant coach Drake Berehowsky left to take over as head coach of the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.
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